29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3791
Tuesday, 29 November, 1988
Mr Speaker (The Hon. Kevin Richard Rozzoli) took the chair at
Mr Speaker offered the Prayer.
ASSENT TO BILLS
Royal assent to the following bills reported:
Bail (Further Amendment) Bill
Children (Care and Protection) Further Amendment Bill
Crown Proceedings Bill
Defamation (Criminal Defamation) Amendment Bill
Dog (Amendment) Bill
Drug Misuse and Trafficking (Further Amendment) Bill
Evidence (Evidence on Commission) Amendment Bill
Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Amendment Bill
Human Tissue (Cornea Transplants) Amendment Bill
Lotto (Amendment) Bill
Motor Traffic (Blood Samples) Amendment Bill
Motor Traffic (Driving Hours) Amendment Bill
Motor Traffic (Penalty Defaults) Amendment Bill
Transport (Penalty Defaults) Amendment Bill
Motor Vehicles Taxation Management (Amendment) Bill
National Crime Authority (State Provisions) Amendment Bill
Sale of Goods (Amendment) Bill
State Sports Centre Trust (Amendment) Bill
Totalizator (Off-course Betting) Amendment Bill
Treasury Corporation (Amendment) Bill
Public Authorities (Financial Arrangements) Amendment Bill
Mr Speaker laid upon the table a copy of the New South Wales Auditor-
General's Report for the year ended 30 June 1988, volume 3, transmitted to
the Legislative Assembly under the provisions of the Public Finance and Audit
Ordered to be printed.
The Clerk announced that the following petitions had been lodged for
3792 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
Petitions praying that because the Government plans to increase gaming
privileges in hotels the great bulk of revenue from this would pass to individual
hoteliers, without providing increased public facilities such as are provided by
clubs, the House would not support that increased gaming privilege, received
from Ms Allan, Mr Arkell, Mr Beckroge, Mr Cruickshank, Mrs Crosio, Mr
Face, Mr Griffiths, Mr Hunter, Mr Jeffery, Mr Langton, Mr Peacocke, Ms
Read, Mr Small, Mr Tink, Mr Walsh, Mr Webster and Mr Yeomans.
Gordon Public School
Petition praying that the proposed closure of the Gordon Public School
at the end of 1989, as announced by the Minister for Education, has caused
dismay and disappointment in the community as the school has been an integral
part of the community since 1876 and has performed an essential community
service for 112 years, received from Mr T. J. Moore.
North Coast Overnight Express
Petition praying that because of the proposed cancellation of the North
Coast overnight express train between Sydney and Grafton the House will urge
the Government to reconsider that decision, received from Mr Singleton.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
Petition praying that because of the dramatic spread of the AIDS disease
the Parliament will take steps to prevent its spread by closing homosexual bath
houses and brothels, by blood testing homosexuals compulsorily, by repealing
the Crimes (Amendment) Act 1984 and by instituting a levy on all homosexual
organisations to pay for medical research, received from Mr Beckroge.
Petition praying that because there is concern about the administration
and future of Wyong hospital the Government will call for the immediate
reopening of ward 2, that the Minister for Health should make a special fund
allocation for that purpose, and that the hierarchy of the Central Coast area
health service should show cause as to why they should not be dismissed,
received from Mr H. F. Moore.
Child Welfare Regulations
Petition praying that because the proposed changes to the child welfare
regulations are of great concern if inexperienced persons can be employed in
lieu of trained staff, and unqualified teachers can be accepted as early childhood
teachers, that nurses will no longer be required for the care of infants and that
there will be a reduction in staff, the House will reject the changes, received
from Mr Phillips.
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3793
Berkeley Vale Industrial Estate
Petition praying that the establishment of a chemical factory by Ashland
Chemicals in the Berkeley Vale industrial estate should be prevented and the
area rezoned environmentally sensitive, received from Mr Graham.
North Shore School Closures
Petition praying that because the Minister for Education is disregarding
the electors in planning to close small schools on the North Shore of Sydney,
the House should recognize community support for the small local Balmoral
Infants School and reconsider the planned closure, received from Mr J. J.
Kiama Hospital Services
Petition praying that the projected closure of the operating theatres at
Kiama hospital should not proceed; that the surgeons, gynaecologists and
obstetricians should be appointed, and that an inquiry should be held into the
actions of the Illawarra area health service, received from Mr Harrison.
University of Western Sydney
Petition praying that because the legislation to establish the new
University of Western Sydney provides for the continued representation on the
governing body of both the academic and student sectors but provides no such
continued representation from the non-academic staff sector, the non-academic
staff cannot be expected to promote and provide support to the institution
without that, received from Mr Gibson.
Petitions praying that because Sunday trading will lead to higher
inflation and unemployment, disruption of family life, increased domination of
the retail industry by large retailers and further commercialization of Sundays,
the House will retain the existing law and prosecute general shops trading
illegally on Sundays, received from Ms Allan, Mr Amery, Mr A. S. Aquilina,
Mr Brereton, Mr Christie, Mr Cleary, Mrs Crosio, Mr Davoren, Mr Doyle, Mr
Face, Mr Ferguson, Mr Hunter, Mr Irwin, Mr Langton, Mr Lovelee, Mr
McManus, Mr H. F. Moore, Mr Newman, Ms Nori, Mr E. T. Page, Mr Price,
Dr Refshauge, Mr Rogan, Mr Rumble, Mr Unsworth and Mr Whelm.
JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE UPON ROAD SAFETY REPORT
In accordance with the resolution of the Legislative Assembly of 15th
November, the Clerk-Assistant tabled the Report of the Joint Standing
Committee upon Road Safety-Bicyclist Safety.
Mr SPEAKER: I draw the attention of honourable members to the
presence in the Speaker's Gallery of the Hon. L. Powell, Speaker of the
Queensland Legislative Assembly, and Mrs Powell, and Mr Alan Woodward,
Clerk of the Queensland Parliament.
3794 ASSEMBLY 29 November, I988
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
THE RITZ, CREMORNE POINT
Mr CARR: Has the Minister for Local Government and Minister for
Planning decided to release the property known as the Ritz at Cremorne Point
from the requirements of State environmental planning policy No. 10, which
protects low income accommodation? Is there any precedent for the exemption
of a single property from the requirements of such a policy? What
representations did the Minister receive about the matter? Was this decision
reached against the advice of the Minister's department?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Seven Hills to
Mr HAY: The Leader of the Opposition should be the last person to
talk about decisions of that type. One has only to look at decisions such as those
relating to the Sydney Harbour Tunnel and to the monorail.
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Mr HAY: I have received representations for the release from the
provisions of schedule 10 of the Ritz at Cremorne. Inspections have taken place
of that building. It certainly does not provide low-cost accommodation and
certainly is most unlikely to ever provide low-cost accommodation. The building
is in a deplorable condition and would be immensely costly to restore.
Consideration has been given to the exemption of the property from schedule
10, but at this stage no decision has been reached.
STATE RAIL AUTHORITY DISPUTE
Mr SMITH: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister
for Transport. In view of today's strike by employees of the State Rail Authority,
will the Minister advise the House what industrial conditions are in dispute
between the Government and the rail unions?
Mr BAIRD: I thank the honourable member for Bega for his question
on this issue, which affects a large number of people in this State. Of course
the Opposition does not want to hear the reply because it failed to do anything
about the State Rail Authority. That is why we have a system that loses $3
million a day, why we have total debts of $4.5 billion and liabilities of $6
billion. The former Government failed to do anything about the State rail
system. It failed to do anything about the situation where one in 10 employees
was on light duties. The sick leave rate was twice that in the private sector. In
many workshops up to 30 per cent of employees were away at any one time.
People were away continually on workers' compensation and at the same time
were playing first-grade football and running businesses. This group opposite
did not one thing.
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3795
The Government is prepared to take the hard decisions and to spread
the burden equitably across the community. Metropolitan users had to pay more
by way of fare increases. Rail users in the country saw the withdrawal of poorly-
patronized rail services. Of course the management of the State Rail Authority
has begun to improve under the leadership of Mr Ross Sayers who, despite the
untruths pedalled by the Leader of the Opposition, had an excellent track record
in New Zealand and was praised by all Ministers of the New Zealand
Government. What can the Opposition do? It simply bags the man who is going
to bring the State Rail Authority out of the depths of despair it was in under
that lot, and into the future. His decision to sell off Transport House, his
division of the State Rail Authority into a commuter group and a freight area,
Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is too much audible conversation in the
Chamber. I wish to hear the Minister in silence.
Mr BAIRD: It is good to see the past Minister for good times wishing
to contribute. The strike today arises from several issues relating to the
Transport Administration Bill, and the opportunity will be given to honourable
members to debate the bill in the House today. Several points are in dispute.
The Government believes it had the full support of the people of New South
Wales. Sick leave has long been a serious concern and the cause of inefficiency.
Salaried employees in the State Rail Authority receive 22 days' sick leave plus
66 half days' sick leave a year. Wages employees-talk about elitism; this is the
group that encouraged it, looking after the worker.
Dr Refshauge: On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I draw attention to a
ruling by Speaker Ellis, numbered 26.2.7, that questions should not canvass
debates not concluded. Later this evening there will be a debate on this matter.
There is no doubt that in answering the question it is reasonable for the Minister
to point out where the dispute is, but the Minister obviously is canvassing issues
that will be raised in the debate. He will have an opportunity to do that at a
Mr Singleton: On the point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is a point of order before the Chair. I will
hear the point in silence.
Mr Singleton: The question being answered by the Minister is one of
great import to many millions of people in New South Wales today. By the time
the Transport Administration Bill is debated in the Parliament, the strike will
be over. The people of this State have every right to know the action the
Government is taking in matters of this type.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am mindful that the Transport Administration
Bill is before the House to which the Minister for Transport in his answer
referred. In answering the question asked by the honourable member for Bega
the Minister must be careful to ensure that he does not enter upon debate of
those matters that will be before the House at a later hour. I draw that
requirement to the attention of the Minister. I am sure he will keep his response
within the bounds of this ruling. At the moment I consider the Minister to be
3796 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
Mr BAIRD: Of course the Opposition does not want to hear it because
it was a system of rorts that continued and was encouraged by the previous
Government. The rest of the public sector is entitled to 15 days' sick leave a
year. If one looks at private companies, such as Thomas Nationwide Transport
and National Panasonic, sick leave entitlements range from five to 15 days.
Dr Refshauge: On a point of order. Obviously the Minister has not
listened to the ruling and is now entering into the debate on the proposed
legislation. He has not listened to the ruling that he should not bring before the
House material that will be debated when the bill is before the House.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have the gist of the point of order.
Mr Baird: On the point of order. Clearly the Opposition is embarrassed
by this. I am providing the background to what led rail workers to take strike
action across the State. I am not debating the bill. I am referring to the
inadequacy of the Opposition, when it was in government.
Mr Brereton: On the point of order. On the Thursday before last the
Minister spent half an hour in this Chamber addressing these issues, when
delivering his second reading speech.
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Mr Brereton: He dealt with the legislation in great detail.
Mr Collins: What is your point of order?
Mr Brereton: Just wait for it; you will hear it.
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Mr Brereton: At that point I moved that the debate be now adjourned
and it was. It is due to be resumed later today.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The point of order being developed by the
honourable member for Heffron has already been made. The Chair is cognizant
of the point sought to be made by the Opposition. I have indicated to the
Minister what I expect of him. At this stage I believe he has kept his reply
within the directions I gave. The present circumstances are slightly different
from many situations in which the anticipation of debate rule is invoked in that
the strike to which reference is made is current. The dispute arose after the
Minister made his second reading speech, and the immediacy of its effect on
the people of New South Wales today brings it into sharper context than it
would be if he were referring simply to a matter that would be the subject of
later debate. I rule the Minister in order at the moment, but I caution him not
to stray too far into the substantive debate.
Mr BAIRD: I was referring to workers' compensation. Workers were on
workers' compensation and not returning to work because there was no
incentive for them to do so. They were on full pay. There was no incentive for
rehabilitation. We recognize that serious injuries occur. What is required is that
such situations come under the provisions of Workcover. The honourable
member for Heffron will have as long as he likes to debate this matter when
the legislation is before the House later today.
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3797
In relation to penalties for serious misdemeanours, over which there is
a dispute taking place today, the Government is planning to increase the fine
from $10 up to $100. Also, we know the background to the question of
promotion on merit. When he was the responsible Minister, the honourable
member for Rockdale tried to introduce the concept of promotion on merit.
But he was rolled by the trade union movement and by the Labor Council. It
took the guts and determination of this Government to introduce that system.
The Government is quite satisfied that it has public support for its efforts. There
is no justification for the strike. There is no reason why these generous
conditions should continue to apply to the State Rail Authority system,
especially when it is losing such large amounts of money every day. State Rail
has undergone quite significant changes in recent months, and it will continue
to do so in the future. Under this Government the railways have a future. The
administrations of honourable members opposite were rolling the railways
towards economic ruin.
ILLAWARRA RAILWAY LINE STABILITY
Mr McMANUS: I direct a question without notice to the Minister for
Transport. Did Mr Ross Sayers give a public assurance on 23rd November that
reports by "independent internationally renowned consultants have removed
any doubt about the stability of the Illawarra railway line"?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Burragorang will
address his question through the Chair.
Mr McMANUS: Have these engineering consultants subsequently
denied that they have reached any such conclusions?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I will hear the question in silence.
Mr McMANUS: What action will the Minister take against Mr Sayers
for his false statements on this vital safety issue?
Mr BAIRD: Nothing exemplifies better the inadequacy of the
honourable member for Burragorang than his asking in this House a question
based on a newspaper report without checking his facts.
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Mr BAIRD: He is not only wrong; he is totally wrong. There is,
understandably, wide concern about the whole incident relating to Coledale. The
issue has been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions, and therefore it
is not appropriate to canvass particular issues in this place. However, the safety
of the rail-
Mr Whelan: It is a cover-up.
Mr BAIRD: There is no cover-up at all.
Mr Whelan: There is.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Ashfield to
3798 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
Mr BAIRD: Since the Coledale incident we have had regular meetings
with the State Rail Authority. It has been monitoring the events taking place
at Coledale, and action is being taken right along the way.
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Mr BAIRD: The embankment at Coledale-
Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is too much audible conversation and too
Mr BAIRD: The embankment at Coledale has been closely monitored
and is considered stable. However, it will need to be restructured, and rebuilding
is scheduled for January next year. Mining and geotechnical experts of
international standing are assisting State Rail in this work. Since April, all
drainage systems in the Illawarra region have been inspected. Some modification
has been carried out. Inspection procedures and communication procedures
have been revised. Special inspections are also to be initiated during very heavy
rain or flooding, with particular attention being given to all drainage systems
near known slip areas on the escarpment. Apart from the Coledale site itself,
there are four other sites. Undoubtedly the honourable member for Burragorang
is talking about those-without any great degree of knowledge, it is clear. These
were the sites at Park Street, Coledale, Mountain Road, Thirroul, Rothery Road,
Corrimal, and at Bulli near Section Hut.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! 1 call the honourable member for Burragorang
Mr BAIRD: State Rail advises that all those sites are considered safe,
and we have been advised there is no threat to nearby residents. The honourable
member for Burragorang might listen to this part of my .answer. To ensure that
safety standards are raised to the highest level, State Rad has employed several
experts from overseas, and interstate rail services, to assist. A civil engineer from
British Rail with extensive experience in track maintenance and embankment
stability is currently working with State Rail, reviewing existing methods and
procedures associated with track inspections and maintenance. An international
consulting group specializing in geotechnical and mining engineering has been
investigating embankment collapse, and is preparing details for the
reconstruction of the embankment at Coledale. State Rail also is working in
conjunction with Booz Allen Hamilton, engineering consultants, to review
engineering standards covering track maintenance for the whole of State Rail's
network. A United States engineer has inspected the Coledale embankment and
track facilities, and has given an assurance as to their integrity.
Mr Brereton: What about the SMEC?
Mr BAIRD: The Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation is assisting.
Mr Carr: What about some Australians?
Mr BAIRD: So the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation is not
Australian? That shows the total ignorance of the Leader of the Opposition.
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3799
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Mr BAIRD: The Snowy Mountains-
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the Leader of the Opposition to order and
the honourable member for Heffron to order. On a number of occasions I have
given a general exhortation calling the House to order. Despite those
exhortations, interjections have persisted from honourable members on both
sides of the House. If further interjections occur, I shall name members who
persist with what I consider to be organized disorderly behaviour.
Mr BAIRD. The Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation is assisting
with providing an overview of State Rail's geotechnical functions.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Burragorang
to order for the second time.
Mr BAIRD: The honourable member for Burragorang should talk to the
Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation, which is renowned throughout the
world for its ability. In addition, safe working procedures for drivers identifling
track defects have been strengthened. Recording of all known track areas
suspected of slippage has been strengthened. Locations throughout the State are
listed in priority order for regular inspections and remedial work. State Rail
has taken every step possible to ensure that the events of 30th April do not
recur. The advice from State Rail engineers and every independent engineer is
that the Illawarra line is safe for the operation of trains and there is no threat
to trackside property. I wish that the honourable member for Burragorang,
instead of acting on media reports, would check his information. The
Government is convinced that its track record on maintaining the safety of the
State rail system compares more than favourably with what happened in the
PRISONERS BAKER AND CRUMP
Mr WOTTON: My question without notice is directed to the Minister
for Corrective Services. Will the Minister give an unqualified undertaking that,
irrespective of periodic emotional outbursts from religious groups and others,
and in accord with undertakings given by two immediate past Premiers and
former Ministers for Corrective Services, the recommendation of Mr Justice
Taylor that convicted murderers Baker and Crump are never to be released will
not be relaxed in any way by this Government?
Mr YABSLEY: As the honourable member for Castlereagh has pointed
out, on previous occasions, to the credit of various people in a position able to
make such an announcement, an undertaking has been given that the comments
made by sentencing judge, Mr Justice Taylor, with respect to the convicted
murderers Crump and Baker would be adhered to. In the spirit of everything
that this Government is on about in terms of the administration of law and
order, and the administration of the Department of Corrective Services in this
State, I can give the honourable member for Castlereagh-who has
demonstrated a longstanding commitment on this matter, and has a well-known,
personal and justifiable interest in this very serious crime-a total assurance
that convicted murderers Crump and Baker will remain incarcerated in the New
South Wales prison system for ever.
3800 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
Dr REFSHAUGE: My question without notice is to the Minister for
Health and Minister for Arts. Is the Minister aware of the comment made by
the Deputy Premier in his letter of 15th November to the Save the Bonalbo
Hospital Committee that, "The Bonalbo hospital will not close?'Is the Minister
willing to review his position, and will he guarantee that the Bonalbo hospital
will not close?
Mr COLLINS: My position, and indeed the Government's position, on
the Bonalbo hospital is perfectly clear: currently Bonalbo hospital remains open,
and that is the way it will remain.
MACQUARIE RIVER BRIDGE, BATHURST
Mr BERRY: I direct a question without notice to the Minister for
Transport. What steps have been taken towards the construction of a new bridge
over the Macquarie River at Bathurst?
Mr BAIRD: The honourable member shows far more interest in the
provision of roads and bridges for his constituents than was shown by the
previous Government. That Government took the electorate for granted and
did not build the roads and bridges that were so badly needed. A new bridge
is needed over the Macquarie River to replace the narrow, two-lane Denison
bridge. The Denison bridge carries in excess of 15 000 vehicles a day, and traffic
delays often occur during peak hours because of the structure's narrow width
and the winding road alignment of the eastern approach. On 7th September
tenders were called for the construction of a new four-lane bridge. I am pleased
to announce today that a contract worth almost $5 million has been awarded
for the bridge construction. The successful tenderer was Enpro Constructions.
Honourable members will be aware that that company was responsible for
building the spectacular Mooney Mooney Creek bridge near Gosford on the
New South Wales Central Coast.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Smithfield to
Mr BAIRD: The company also built the new Ryde bridge, which only
last Friday was opened by the Premier and will provide much-needed relief to
one of Sydney's worst traffic bottlenecks. The new Bathurst bridge will make a
tremendous difference to traffic flow in the region. The bridge will be 263 metres
long and carry two lanes of traffic in each direction. The contract calls for
completion of the new bridge in 1990. The existing Denison bridge will stay
and continue to have NationaI Trust classification. That structure will cater for
pedestrians and cyclists. An extensive tree planting scheme is in operation. I
am pleased to inform honourable members of the work the Government is
planning and how it intends to put taxpayers' money into building effective
roads and bridges in the Bathurst electorate.
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 380 1
THE RITZ, CREMORNE POINT
Mr E. T. PAGE: My question without notice is directed to the Minister
for Housing. What dealings has the director of his department had with the
owner of the property known as the Ritz at Cremorne Point? Why did the
director indicate to the owner of that property his concurrence under clause 8
of State environmental planning policy No. 10 to the development of that
property, in the absence of consent from North Sydney council? What role did
the Premier play in achieving this outcome?
Mr SCHIPP: This is the famous member who calls press conferences
at which no press people are present. I must add that the theme of the proposed
conference was to be housing into the nineties. The former Government took
public housing into the eighties-86 000 people on the waiting list; it took it
from the thirties to the eighties. That is less than a great record. I do not have
any information at all about the question the honourable member is asking. The
Minister for Local Government and Minister for Planning gave an answer that
he has not intervened in the State environmental planning policy No. 10 in
respect of the Ritz. I know of no dealing with the director. The Department of
Housing's role is one of either approval or veto.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Waverley to
Mr SCHIPP: I have been provided by the honourable member with a
letter. All it says is that the department has no interest in purchasing the
property. I asked the director to go to the Ritz to see whether it was occupied.
It is not occfupied, as was pointed out by the Minister for Local Government
and Minister for Planning. That building is providing no one with
accommodation. It is a derelict building, which would be costly to restore. The
department indicated it was not interested in purchasing the property. North
Sydney council has not approved its development, therefore the matter does
not come within the ambit of my responsibility. This question shows the
conspiratorial mentality of the honourable member for Waverley coming to the
fore. No dealings I have had have any relevance to the question.
Mr SCHIPP: I wish to give the House some additional information to
the answer I gave the honourable member for Waverley earlier in question time.
The honourable member asked a question about the Ritz property at Cremorne.
As I was giving my answer the honourable member walked across the Chamber
and handed me a letter from the Department of Housing signed by the Director
of Housing, Mr Dransfield. It is fair to place on the public record the inferences
that the honourable member drew from this letter. The letter reads:
Subject property: "The Ritz" 48-50 Milson Road, Cremorne
We refer to our discussion on 7th November, 1988.
We confirm our verbal advice that the Department of Housing has no intention
of acquiring the subject property as it is unsuitable for low cost housing.
In the event that State Environmental Planning Policy No. 10 applies to the subject
property and the consent authority grants development consent for the demolition of, or
alterations and additions to, "The Ritz". the Director of Housing would be willing to grant
his concurrence under clause 8 (1) of that State Policy.
As the Leader of the Opposition would know, it is up to the local council to
invoke that State environmental planning policy. What I said in my answer was
absolutely correct. I wanted to let this House and the public know of the
3802 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
conspirational attribute of the member for Waverley. He drew all the inferences
under the sun from a piece of paper that contained a straight answer to a
straight question. It is unbelievable that Opposition members allow him to
continue to act in the way he has.
NEW SOUTH WALES AGENT-GENERAL
Mr JEFFERY: I ask the Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Ethnic
Affairs a question without notice. For what reasons did the Government decide
to appoint a businessman as the State's new Agent-General in London?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The House will come to order and allow the
Premier to answer the question.
Mr GREINER: As I said when announcing the change in funding and
the change in strategy to be followed by the Government to its overseas offices,
the days when the principal functions of people appointed as agents-general or
as representatives in Los Angeles were as travel agents, guides or chaperones
for visiting New South Wales politicians and others are well and truly gone. So
far as the Government is concerned there is a legitimate role in London for the
New South Wales Government, especially in the lead-up to 1992 and the
opening of the European market as a single economic entity. There is a
legitimate role in the interests of the people of New South Wales for an office
which is small, which is focused, which is staffed from the top down with highly
skilled people who have a clear and explicit understanding of the requirements
of business and investment.
As honourable members will be aware, Mr Norman Brunsdon has been
chosen to be the next Agent-General for New South Wales in London. He was
selected from a large field of potential candidates. He has had a distinguished
career in business and commerce. He is a former chairman and senior partner
of the international accounting firm Price Waterhouse. Mr Brunsdon is a fellow
of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia, of the Australian Society
of Accountants, a certified practising accountant and a Fellow of the Institute
of Directors. He was also a member of the trustees of the committee for the
economic development of Australia for a decade up to 1986.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Coogee to
Mr GREINER: The realities are that Mr Brunsdon, from a business
point of view, is the most experienced and most highly qualified person ever
to represent New South Wales as Agent-General in London. He will do an
outstanding job in producing economic results that will be of benefit to the
people of New South Wales.
Mr MARTIN: My question without notice is to the Deputy Premier,
Minister for State Development and Minister for Public Works. For what
reasons did the Minister order a halt to the construction of four homes intended
for Aboriginal housing at Fingal Head on the North Coast, in close proximity
to proposed major coastal development projects?
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3803
Mr W. T. J. MURRAY: I did not order the cessation of construction.
The order was given by the Minister for Housing.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Kliama to order.
FORMER MINISTER FOR HOUSING
Mr MERTON: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Coogee to order
for the second time.
Mr MERTON: Will the Minister tell the House what has happened to
the luggage used by his predecessor on an overseas trip last year?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Londondeny
to order. I call the honourable member for Port Macquarie to order.
Mr SCHIPP: Honourable members will be interested in my answer to
the question asked by the honourable member for Carlingford about the
outcome of the inquiry into the much-vaunted missing luggage, particularly in
view of the new focus on ministerial responsibility. Some of the Ministers in
the former Government's administration-though not many are left in this
place, I might say-will want to know that an audit has been undertaken into
the activities of Ministers' offices during the period July 1987 to the end of June
1988. That may bring to the fore a few more missing pieces of luggage. I am
pleased to inform the House that the luggage turned up mysteriously one
morning in the basement of the Department of Housing. By agreement wlth
and clearances given by the various authorities, the luggage will become part of
a raffle to be run by the Hon. Johnno Johnson. I ask all honourable members
to contribute $5 to the raffle. I am sure Johnno will not let honourable members
off with purchasing only $5 worth of tickets, because the proceeds will go to
the Sydney City Mission. The luggage was valued at more than $3,000. It is
fold-down luggage, of good quality, widely travelled, but used only once.
Between now and the drawing of the raffle on 15th December I hope that all
honourable members will buy their share of tickets and that the raffle will be a
howling success and provide funds to assist the homeless.
Mr SCHIPP: We have $20 already. That is a good start.
PORT KEMBLA COAL LOADER
Mr RUMBLE: My question without notice is directed to the Minister
for Transport. I refer to the reported valuation of the Port Kembla coal loader
by Dominguez Barry Samuel Montagu Limited at $180 million. Was Mr
Dominguez a member of the Curran commission of inquiry set up by the
Greiner Government, which recommended a fire sale of government assets in
New South Wales? Why did DBSM subsequently value the Port Kembla loader
at only a fraction of the present valuation of the comparable Kooragang coal
loader at Newcastle?
3804 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
Mr Singleton: On a point of order. The question is far too long, and it
was impossible to hear the honourable member from this side of the House.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I was becoming concerned about the length of
the question. I rule it out of order at this stage, for not only is it too long, but
it contains a number of questions. If the honourable member for Illawarra cares
to rephrase the question, I shall give him the call, if I can, before the end of
Mr ZAMMIT: My question without notice is directed to the Premier,
Treasurer and Minister for Ethnic Affairs. Has any progress been made with
the projects proposed by him during his visit earlier this year to Toomelah?
Mr GREINER: The honourable member's question is particularly
timely, given the inane question just asked by the honourable member for Port
Stephens of the Deputy Premier, Minister for State Development and Minister
for Public Works, suggesting, by implication, that the Deputy Premier was not
interested in and concerned about Aboriginal housing. In July this year when I
visited Toomelah with the federal Minister for Aboriginal AEairs I saw a picture
of human degradation, which is an absolute disgrace to the previous 12 years
of Labor Government in this State. The realities are that in July, after 12 years
of pontificating about Aboriginal affairs by the former Government and former
Ministers, including the Minister about whose luggage honourable members
have just heard-
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Campbelltown
to order. I call the honourable member for Carlingford to order.
Mr GREINER: The quality of basic human services in Toomelah with
respect to sewerage, roads, housing, health-almost any area-was an absolute
disgrace that would make any human being cringe. It reflects in the most terrible
way on the administration of Aboriginal affairs in this State over the preceding
12 years. During that visit I announced plans for 16 new homes, for an
upgrading of a clinic, for sealing of the roads-I hope by the end of this year-
and for a multipurpose centre that will include child care facilities. I am
delighted to announce some of the progress that has been made. Given the
earlier question, I ought to say how much I appreciate the support given by the
Deputy Premier, who is the local member, and the shire president, Councillor
Hoolihan. Their support has enabled the Government to get something done.
Mr Ferguson: They are charged for water and there is no water up there.
Mr GREINER: The honourable member can be as unhappy as he likes.
The fact is that after 12 years absolutely nothing had been done for the people
of Toomelah, and members of the Opposition know it. I am sure the shadow
minister for Aboriginal affairs will be interested to hear that work on the
Tommelah sewerage and water system has begun and is expected to be
completed by the end of this year; the Minister for Housing has ensured that
tenders for eight of the 16 homes have already been let under the homes on
Aboriginal land program, and a further five new homes are to be built by the
Department of Housing nearby at Boggabilla, largely through the intervention,
let me say, of the Deputy Premier; a new technical and further education annex
is to be built at Boggabilla; the Toomelah health clinic is being upgraded, as I
promised; that upgrading will be completed in 1989: and, meanwhile, a
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3805
registered nurse has been appointed. Funds of $1 50,000 have been allocated by
both the State and Commonwealth governments for the construction of a
multipurpose centre, which will offer a range of programs-long day care,
vacation care, pre-school, and so on.
Toomelah is but one example of this Government's commitment to
getting some runs on the board for Aboriginal people. It is much to the credit
of the honourable member for Strathfield, who asked the question, that he has
undertaken a huge amount of work trying to get through the morass of vested
interest groups of selfish people who have sought to appropriate the Aboriginal
land rights movement, and the Aboriginal movement itself, to their own
purposes rather than to the purposes of upgrading the living standards of the
ordinary members of the Aboriginal community. Toomelah is only one example
of what occurs around the State. I make no bones about that. It is not an
exceptional case; and that is part of the tragedy. Many places similar to
Toomelah are scattered round the western part of the State. I simply give that
progress report to the House as an indication of my bona fides and the bona
fides of the Government on the question of improving the fundamental living
standards of Aborigines in New South Wales. Despite the vested interests both
inside and outside the Aboriginal community, the Government will continue
to move in the direction I have indicated today of actually doing something
that will enable the Aborigines to live in a self-respecting way.
PORT KEMBLA COAL, LOADER
Mr RUMBLE: I ask the Minister for Transport a shorter version of my
previous question. I refer to the reported valuation of the Port Kembla coal
loader by Dominguez Barry Samuel Montagu Limited at $180 million. Was Mr
Dominguez a member of the Curran commission of inquiry set up by the
Greiner Government? Why did DBSM subsequently value the Port Kembla
loader at only a fraction of the present valuation?
Mr Singleton: On a point of order. I draw your attention to question
190 of the questions and answers paper.
Mr SPEAKEX: Order! I do not consider the questions are so similar
that the question asked by the honourable member for Illawarra should be ruled
out of order. The Minister for Transport will answer the question.
Mr BAIRD: Honourable members can assume that the honourable
member for Illawarra is a slow learner. He has asked several similar questions
in the House. He spoke in the estimates debate on this issue. He has received
answers, yet he keeps going on. He feels there is a conspiracy at work and will
not rest until he is absolutely sure that the Government is going to sell off the
coal loader for $5 million. Then he will be happy about it. Let me inform the
honourable member of the real story. Dominguez Barry Samuel Montagu-
Mr Brereton: The Minister should just call it DBSM.
Mr BAIRD: The honourable member for Heffron would know because
that firm was working for him on the tunnel. Why does not the honourable
member instruct some other people? This conspiracy theory has emerged
because it is thought that Jim Dominguez worked on the Commission of Audit
and therefore some intrigue must be involved. The honourable member for
Heffron should explain to his colleagues that that gentleman was actually
advising the Government on the tunnel project. Dominguez Barry Samuel
Montagu estimated the value of the Port Kembla coal loader to be $180 million.
3806 ASSEMBLY 29 November, I988
Arthur Young valued it at $141 million. Various proposals have been put
forward by the coal industry, but none is acceptable to the Government. One
proposal was that no upfront money be provided for the coal loader. It involved
a cash flow of $1.40 per tonne at current levels. Since the coal loader has a
capacity of 14 million tonnes per annum, that amounts to $19.6 million per
Those putting forward that proposal would accept no risk in respect of
lowered throughput and they proposed that the rate per tonne would drop if
the throughput fell below 10 million tonnes per annum. The proposal was
conditional upon the co-operation of the unions and the work force; it left all
the debt with the Government, and at this stage the debt outstanding on the
loader is $288 million, $89 million of which is due to movements in the value
of the Australian dollar against foreign currencies. Under that proposal the
Government would also be required to meet any shortfall in the cash flow that
did not cover the debt repayments. The offer was for the management of the
loader, not its purchase. So that proposal has no real substance, because the
flow of revenue to the Government is well in excess of that amount. I will be
happy to explain this matter to the honourable member for Illawarra at any
time. I have told him before that we are not about to sell off the coal loader;
but he is just a very slow learner.
GUNDAGAI HIGH SCHOOL
Mr SCHULTZ: My question without notice is directed to the Minister
for Education and Youth Affairs. What action, if any, has been taken to honour
the promises made to improve conditions at the Gundagai High School?
Dr METHEMLL: I am absolutely delighted to receive this question
from the outstanding member for Burrinjuck who is rapidly becoming known
as the builder for Burrinjuck because of the number of capital works projects
he is delivering to his electorate. The Government is allocating more than $2.5
million for an extensive upgrading of Gundagai High School. The work for this
project will progress in three stages. Stage 1, which will commence in this
financial year, will comprise the construction of a metal technics room, ~ W Onew
science laboratories, a library, administrative area and physical education areas.
Stage 1 will go to tender next week, and $950,000 has been allocated for the
work in this financial year. Stage 2 of the project will include the construction
of a wood technics room and five classrooms, the provision of computer
learning space, senior study areas and improved teaching areas for home
science, music and graphics.
At present the department is investigating the feasibility of the
development of a multipurpose centre on the site as stage 3 of the project. There
are some difficulties in building the centre on the site until the completion of
stages 1 and 2. These major and much needed improvements to Gundagai High
School are part of the Government's overall strategy of rebuilding and upgrading
our government school system. This Government has increased capital works
spending in education by 23.5 per cent in the current financial year, and this
stands in stark contrast to the record of the previous Government which actually
cut capital works spending in education. The Government is proud of its
achievement in developing vital capital works projects in education. We are
proud to be giving the people of Burrinjuck these long overdue educational
facilities in an important regional centre. I assure the honourable member for
Burrinjuck that this will certainly not be the last of the major projects to be
delivered in his electorate, not only in fulfilment of the commitments that we
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3807
made in Opposition and he made as our outstanding candidate in the
Burrinjuck electorate but also in fulfilment of the broken promises made by the
previous Government and by the previous member for Burrinjuck who was a
Minister in the previous Government but who so sadly let down his
Just to demonstrate that this Government, again in complete contrast
with the previous Government, delivers to the electorates right around this
State, irrespective of the political complexion of the member representing
them-again that is in complete contrast with the record of the previous
Government that only ever delivered, if it delivered at all, for members on its
side of the House-I am happy to announce that today $1.8 million has been
approved for J. J. Cahill Memorial High School, which I understand is located
in the electorate of the former Minister for signs opposite.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Ashfield to
Dr METHERELL: The people in the area and the students attending
the J. J. Cahill Memorial High School had to wait for the arrival of the Greiner
Government to allocate that sum of money to that school which was so
shamefully represented by the honourable member opposite.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Heffron and
the honourable member for McKell to order.
Dr METHERELL: That expenditure of $1.8 million will involve
extensive renovations and the upgrading of existing buildings.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Smithfield to
order for the second time.
Dr METHERELL: The home economics and social science block will
be modernized, including repairs to all the water leaks. Sunscreening and
carpeting will be provided; heaters will be installed and ceiling fans will be put
in all the classrooms. All of those basic facilities were neglected by the previous
Mr Langton: On a point of order. I seem to recall that this question
related specifically to the Gundagai High School. The Minister is now making
no mention of that high school.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The question was framed in very specific terms.
I can allow the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs only a certain amount
of latitude in supporting his answer to that question by reference to other
schools. As question time has now expired, the Minister might draw his answer
to a speedy conclusion.
Dr METHERELL: I conclude by simply demonstrating how committed
this Government is to all the children in government schools in this State.
irrespective of where they are located. The assembly hall at the J. J. Cahill
Memorial High School will also be completely upgraded. We know that the
students who attend that high school will benefit greatly, as will the students
who attend Gundagai High School and all the other schools in this State. from
3808 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
the advent of the Greiner Government and from the delivery of quality
education in our schools.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Suspension of certain standing orders agreed to.
Mr DOWD (Lane Cove), Attorney General [3.20]: I move:
(1) That this House shall meet for the despatch of business on Wednesday, 30
November, 1988, at 10.30 a.m.; Friday, 2 December, 1988, at 10.30. a.m.; and
(2) That until the adjournment of the House for Christmas, unless otherwise
ordered, Government business shall take precedence of general business.
Time will be allocated on Thursday for private members' statements. I suspect
there is no detriment to anyone with that arrangement. It is still my intention,
though it is difficult to predict the course of debate, to conclude as many of the
bills in the program as it is possible to do by Thursday evening. In the event
that any matter cannot be debated until February, it will wait until February.
We cannot predict entirely the course of debate. It is hoped that we will not
need time to debate on Friday, 2nd December, but that will depend on the
significance of the bills remaining. It is sincerely and confidently hoped that we
will not be here next week.
Motion agreed to.
SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDERS
Mr DOWD (Lane Cove), Attorney General [3.22]: I move:
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would preclude the:
Anglican Church of Australia Trust Property (Amendment) Bill
Bread (Amendment) Bill
Electricity Commission (Amendment) Bill
Hunter Water Board Bill
Water Board (Amendment) Bill
Water Supply Authorities (Amendment) Bill
Local Government (Hunter Water Board) Amendment Bill
Local Government (Subdivisions) Amendment Bill
Motor Accidents Bill
Miscellaneous Acts (Motor Accidents) Amendment Bill
Prisons (Release on Licence Board) Amendment Bill
Probation and Parole (Parole Board) Amendment Bill
Private Hospitals and Day Procedure Centres Bill
Nursing Homes Bill
Miscellaneous Acts (Private Health Establishments) Amendment Bill
Soil Conservation (Amendment) Bill
Standard Time (Amendment) Bill
Superannuation (Amendment) Bill
Police Regulation (Superannuation) Amendment Bill
State Authorities Non-contributory Superannuation (Amendment) Bill
State Authorities Superannuation (Amendment) Bill
Superannuation Administration (Amendment) Bill
Water (Amendment) Bill
being brought in and proceeded with up to and including the Ministers' second
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3809
The purpose of this motion is that many of those bills can be introduced and,
if time permits this year, they can be debated. Not all of them will be debated.
The purpose of the motion is to give us the option, in some cases by
arrangement with members of the Opposition and other members in the House,
and in some other cases not, to debate the bills.
Mr DOWD: Despite the inane interjections from the odd member of
the Opposition, there is no intention to rush any of them through. If members
wish to debate on Friday, and next Tuesday, next Wednesday and next
Thursday, that is a perfectly proper course of action for them to take. There is
no rush associated with any of these bills. All I ask honourable members, keen
as they are to get back to their electorates and to their school speech nights, is
that they do not waste unnecessarily the time of the House. If they wish to make
a contribution they will not be precluded from so doing. As I have notified to
the shadow leader of the House, the honourable member for Blacktown, it is
the Government's intention to enable debate on as many of these bills as is
possible this year. If honourable members opposite wish to make a contribution
to a bill, such as the Standard Time (Amendment) Bill, that can be done. Some
of these bills are of significance to the public, even if they are not of significance
to honourable members opposite.
Motion for suspension of standing orders agreed to.
BELLINGEN SHIRE COUNCIL
Mr Singleton: I wish to make a personal explanation.
Mr Singleton: On the last sitting day the honourable member for
Smithfield made an attack on me, quite wrongly, and in fact lied to the House
and defamed me. It was brought to my attention only when Hansard was
available, as I was at a meeting at the time the comment was made. In a lengthy
speech to the House the honourable member for Smithfield said, "he did not
want to see his friend Mr Warner sent broke". I do not know Mr Warner. I
have never met Mr Warner. The comments were made in relation to a canal
development on the Bellinger River at Urunga. I have discussed the problems
of the company of which Mr Warner is a principal with his surveyors, Lockett
and Montgomery, and with Mr Lockett of Coffs Harbour, on a number of
occasions. I support canal development but the attack made on me by the
honourable member for Smithfield was a complete lie and fabrication, drawn
in part from newspaper articles. I say to the honourable member for Smithfield
that she should try to get her facts straight and try to keep out of the sewage-
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Minister has made his persona1 explanation.
I cannot allow it to go any further.
STATUTE LAW (MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS) BILL (No. 3)
Bill introduced and read a first time.
38 10 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
Mr DOWD (Lane Cove), Attorney General [3.28]: I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
As I foreshadowed during the passage of the second Statute Law (Miscellaneous
Provisions) Bill through this House, the Government has extended the program
of statute law revision to allow for preparation of a third bill in this year's series.
The statute law revision program commenced in 1983, since which time there
have been eight bills. Honourable members will recall that the program has two
purposes, to repeal Acts that are no longer of practical use and to effect minor
amendments to the existing Acts. The minor amendments fall into two
categories. The first relates to changes that are matters of pure statute law
revision, that is, formal drafting matters, such as corrections to descriptions of
departments and organizations to accord with alterations in their titles. Minor
technical changes to legislation, identified as appropriate by the Parliamentary
Counsel, also fall within this category. Such technical changes include
amendments to the citation of Acts, cross references within Acts, and changes
to achieve consistency with modern style. For example, penalty provisions in
several Acts have become otiose since the enactment last year of the
Interpretation Act, section 56 of which provides for general application of
penalty units. These pure statute law amendments are all contained in schedule
29 to this bill.
The second category of amendments relates to minor policy changes to
Acts which are considered by the Minister responsible for the legislation to be
too inconsequential to warrant the introduction of a separate amending bill. The
enactment of a multitude of separate minor amending bills would prove
exceptionally time-consuming and a needless and inefficient use of resources.
By presenting minor amendments to the House in the form of one bill, the
Government is able to ensure that the statute books are under constant review
and that access to the law is not impeded by irrelevant or out-of-date provisions.
The House may be assured that the minor policy amendments contained in
schedules 1 to 28 will not affect the general thrust and purpose of the principal
Acts. To illustrate this point, and for the benefit of honourable members, I will
now briefly outline the contents of each schedule to this bill.
Schedule 1 contains an amendment to the Children (Detention Centres)
Act which will enable regulations to be made to cover detainees' escorted
absences from centres. The regulations will provide, amongst other things, for
the circumstances in which the Director-General of the Department of Family
and Community Services may make an order and the conditions to be imposed
on such orders. Schedule 2 substitutes section 17 of the Chiropractic Act 1978
to give the Chiropractic Board a discretion as to whether to remove the name
of the chiropractor or osteopath from the register of chiropractors and
osteopaths of New South Wales, when such a request is received from a
chiropractor or osteopath. Under the Act the board may hold an inquiry into
persons who are registered in order to assess fitness or any other matter. At
present there is a mandatory requirement that a name be removed from the
register on request, and this amendment will close that loophole against
The amendments contained in schedules 3, 5, 9 and 15 are similar in
nature and will increase administrative efficiency by removing the necessity for
the Minister for Industrial Relations and Employment personally to authorize
each and every departmental prosecution under the Construction Safety Act,
the Dangerous Goods Act, the Factories, Shops and Industries Act and the
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 38 11
Occupational Health and Safety Act. Schedule 4 contains an amendment to the
Criminal Procedure Act which will clarify the operation of section 9 of the Act.
This section requires the criminal Listing Director to bring to the attention of
the court matters which have not been listed for trial within the prescribed
period. The purpose of this section was to require the prosecution to be ready
to proceed at an early date, and the amendment in this schedule will limit this
provision to these matters and thus relieve the directorate of an unnecessary
drain on resources.
Schedule 6 contains two amendments to the Disability Services and
Guardianship Act. The first concerns the definition of dental treatment, and the
second provides that legal practitioners who have changed rolls will not be
disqualified from appointment to the Guardianship Board. The amendment to
the Election Funding Act contained in schedule 7 concerns a minor change to
the machinery provisions relating to the funding formula contained in section
57, and is completely uncontroversial in nature. Pursuant to the recent
amendments to the Parliamentary Electorates and Elections Act electoral rolls
now close three days after the issue of the writ for an election. The formula for
determining funding for each general and by-election presently includes as a
component the number of electors enrolled on the day of issue of writs. In the
interests of administrative efficiency this component will be amended to
conform with the closing time for rolls set down in the Parliamentary
Electorates and Elections Act. Schedule 8 contains two amendments to
definitions under the Exhibited Animals Protection Act.
The amendment to the Government Names Act contained in schedule
10 will enable a person to represent the Surveyor-General at meetings of the
Geographical Names Board. At present the Surveyor-General, who is ex oficio
a member of the board, may only be represented by a person acting in the office
of Surveyor-General. Schedule 1 1 contains a number of pure statute law
amendments, which include updating of references to the department and a
union, and also an amendment which will enable certain payments to be made
into a bank account, permanent building society, or a credit union, by electronic
funds transfer or other means. Schedule 12 contains a number of amendments
to the Jury Act which will streamline and clarify procedures for empanelment
and discharge of juries.
The Motor Traffic Act amendments contained in schedule 13 will first,
extend the definition of ambulance to include all emergency vehicles controlled
by the New South Wales Health Department; and, second, enable regulations
to be made in relation to appointment of civilian supervisors at children's
footcrossings. Schedule 14 contains an amendment to the Nurses Registration
Act which will enable temporary registration of interstate nurses for periods of
up to 24 hours, as may be required in emergencies or for purposes of escort
duty. The amendments to the Periodic Detention of Prisoners Act include a
provision for a court to order that a term of imprisonment of less than 3 months
imposed under the Summary Offences Act can be served by way of periodic
detention. The amendment to the Poisons Act contained in schedule 17 will
substitute references to a prohibited substance with references to a prescribed
restricted substance, and thereby bring this section into line with similar
definitions in other Acts.
Schedule 18 contains several amendments to the Prisons Act in the
nature of pure statute law revision, and two other minm amendments relating
to release of a prisoner's private property and penalties of confinement. The
amendment to the Public Finance and Audit Act contained in schedule 19 is
complementary to the amendments to the West Scholarships Act contained in
3812 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
schedule 27. These amendments will have the effect of ab~olving trustees
of this small private trust from the responsibility of meeting statutory annual
reporting requirements. As a result of the amendments, the Minister for
Education will be empowered to appoint a suitably qualified person to conduct
the annual audit of the trustees' accounts.
The amendment in schedule 20 to the Public Reserves Management
Fund will extend the existing provisions of the Act concerning payment of
insurance premiums in relation to public reserves. The schedule 2 1 amendment
will bring references to age of apprentices in the Seaman's Act into accord with
current industrial practice in New South Wales. The amendment in schedule
22 is aimed at avoiding unnecessary duplication of stock disease notices, which
requirement may currently apply to properties situated in more than one
Pastures Protection Board district. The amendments in schedules 23 and 24
refer to sections in the Strata Titles Act and Strata Titles (Leasehold) Act which
provide for a proprietor, mortgagee or lessee to obtain certificates from or
inspect records of a body corporate. The amendment will extend these
provisions to enable a covenant chargee also to obtain this information.
The amendment to the Trustee Act contained in schedule 25 will extend
the Trustee Advisory Committee established under the Act to include two
members from the private financial and trustee sectors. The committee, which
presently comprises the Public Trustee, a Master of the Court and an officer
nominated by the Secretary of the Treasury, will also be empowered to seek
advice on authorized trustee matters. The amendments to the University of
Technology Act contained in schedule 26 will remove an anomaly whereby the
presiding member of the academic board is not ex oficio a member of the
university council. The amendments relating to water rates and charges
contained in schedule 28 replace references in various Acts to the State Bank
with references to the Water Administration Ministerial Corporation. Finally,
schedules 30 and 3 1 will repeal obsolete Acts and contain savings, transitional
and other provisions. I have undertaken this lengthy examination of each and
every schedule in the bill in order to assure the House that none of the
amendments contained therein reflect significant changes from the original
intentions of the principal Acts. I cannot emphasize too strongly the scrutiny
and checking procedures to which proposed amendments are subjected, by both
Parliamentary Counsel and officers of my own administration. I commend the
Debate adjourned on motion by Mi- Whelan.
WESTERN LANDS (AMENDMENT) BILL
Bill introduced and read a first time.
Mr CAUSLEY (Clarence), Minister for Natural Resources [3.40]: I
That this bill be now read a second time.
The primary objectives of this bill are to abolish the restrictions relating to home
maintenance areas, restructure the system for disposal of Crown land in the
Western Division, up-date the provisions relating to payment of rentals and to
pave the way for more efficient administration of western lands. The objectives
of the Western Lands Act, 1901, when it was introduced at the turn of the
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 38 13
century, were closer settlement and reconstruction to increase the size of
holdings of lessees experiencing severe viability problems. Accordingly, key
provisions in the Act concerned withdrawal of lands from the large pastoral
holdings built up during the nineteenth century and the reallocation of these
lands to existing small holders and new settlers. Central to this process of
redistribution were the provisions of the Act, which limited the area of land
which could be aggregated by the one owner, to one home maintenance area.
This ceiling on aggregation was also enforced, as a matter of policy, in the
Minister's exercise of discretion in consenting or refusing consent for
applications to transfer leases.
By the 1960s, there was little land left for reallocation and the objective
of closer settlement had, by and large, been achieved. As a consequence, over
the last two decades very little land has become available for reallocation. In
the same period a declining trend in the rural terms of trade called for policies
which encouraged farm build-up rather than further breakdown. This was first
recognized by the coalition Government in 1968, when the ceiling on
aggregations through transfer was lifted to two home maintenance areas. A
number of economic studies and the Joint Select Committee upon the Western
Division of New South Wales, which reported in 1984, have concluded that
closer settlement is no longer an appropriate objective for the Western Division.
The studies have indicated a direct link between the small size of holdings,
problems of economic viability and overstocking. In recognition of the fact that
the process of redistribution was no longer warranted, the 1985 amendments
to the Act repealed all provisions relating to withdrawal of lands except where
lands may be required for public purposes.
In 1987 the limitation on the area which may be aggregated as a
consequence of the transfer of a lease was substantially relaxed and more flexible
criteria adopted on ownership. This bill will repeal the remaining restrictions
on land aggregation based on the home maintenance area concept. In future,
applicants for leases will no longer be required to meet the criteria of not
holding substantially more than one home maintenance area, nor will the
extension of term leases to perpetuity be limited to an area not substantially
greater than one home maintenance area. Under the present provisions for
disposal of vacant Crown land, the land is set apart for a particular purpose
under section 24. Applications for the land are lodged by the public under
sections 25 and 26 and, where there are competing claims, these are referred
to a local land board which must decide on the eligibility of applicants and
recommend an order of priority among the various applicants. The Minister,
after considering a report from the board, is empowered under section 23 to
grant a lease subject to the home maintenance area restriction. This is a
cumbersome method of land allocation which involves significant administrative
costs without a commensurate revenue generation. On the other hand, the
successful applicant receives a lease title, which is a very valuable asset which
may be sold immediately for a handsome windfall capital gain.
The bill before the House will repeal the existing provisions relating to
disposal and in schedule 4 item (6) will insert a new section 2 8 to provide a
comprehensive lease granting mechanism which, in future, will be used for the
disposal of both rural and urban lands. The new section 2 8 will provide the
Minister with a general power to rant leases and it is envisaged that, in the
majority of cases, leases will be o ered at auction, or by way of tender. In the
case of rural lands the rentals will be pre-determined and bids or tenders will
be invited in respect of a lease premium. In the case of other lands, there will
be flexibility to invite bids or tenders on the rent, or a lease premium, or a
combination of both. Under this method of disposal it will be the Crown, rather
3814 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
than a successful applicant for a lease, which will benefit from any premium
which the market places on a western lands lease. If tenders are invited for a
lease, provision is made for the tenders to be considered by a tender board
consisting of the Western Lands Commissioner as chairperson and two persons
nominated by the Minister. The option will remain for the Minister, where he
considers it appropriate, to call for applications and to seek recommendations
from a local land board prior to granting a lease.
I turn now to the amendments that relate to the conditions of leases.
Over the past decade there has been an increasing desire on the part of lessees
to enhance the productivity of their land by either clearing for pasture
improvement or for the cultivation of dry land crops. In some areas very
successful crops can be grown making use of soil moisture remaining after
floodwaters recede. There are also a number of successful intensive cropping
enterprises based on irrigation. It is generally accepted that there must be
controls on both cultivation and clearing in the semi-arid environment of the
Western Division and, accordingly, under section 1 8 of ~ ~ the Western Lands
Act a permit must be obtained before a lessee cultivates land on a grazing lease,
and under section 1~ D a licence must be obtained to clear any area of land in
excess of half a hectare. At present, these provisions apply only to leases under
the Western Lands Act 1901.
Other Crown tenures in the Western Division, such as permissive
occupancies or occupation licences issued under the Crown Lands Consolidation
Act, reserves, commons and public watering places, are still subject to clearing
controls under the Forestry Act. They are not subject to restrictions on
cultivation, apart from any conditions which may be attached to the instrument
authorizing occupancy. In the interests of ensuring a comprehensive system of
controls on clearing and cultivation in the division and of simplifying access
for applicants, the bill seeks to ensure that Crown tenures under Acts other than
the Western Lands Act are brought within the jurisdiction of sections 1 8 and ~ ~
1~ D B Tenures under the Forestry Act and the National Parks and Wildlife Act
will not be included, having regard to the special purpose of the lands
administered under those Acts. A number of amendments are also proposed
which will correct deficiencies in the existing provisions relating to cultivation
and clearing. These amendments are dealt with in items (1) and (2) of schedule
2 to the bill.
Section 1 8 of~ ~ the Act includes a provision for exemptions from the
need for a clearing licence in respect of relatively small areas or activities which
have no detrimental impact on the environment. A similar provision is to be
included in section 1 8 to enable regulations to be made specifying
circumstances where cultivation may be camed out without the need to obtain
a permit. A good illustration of a situation where an exemption is warranted is
the sowing of previously cropped areas with native grass species which have
the potential to regenerate such areas and to establish protection against soil
erosion. When section 49, which specifies offences under the Act, was
introduced in 1985, cultivation without a permit was not included among the
offences. As a consequence, prosecution may not be commenced unless the
lessee fails to comply with a notice issued under section 47 to cease cultivation.
This leaves a serious loophole, which will be corrected by the proposed
amendment to section 49-contained in schedule 5 (3) to the bill-in which
cultivation of land without consent, or contrary to the conditions of a
cultivation permit, will be specified as an offence.
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 38 15
In the interests of closer settlement and to ensure proper supervision of
the land, section 1 8 of the Western Lands Act, which was introduced in 1934,
placed a condition of residence for five years on all leases granted from land
set apart for disposal generally; that is, not restricted to lessees located in the
western or central divisions. No leases remain in respect of which this condition
has not been fulfilled, and the enforcement provisions introduced in 1985
provide ample powers to deal with any case of neglect arising from a lessee not
residing on a lease. As this condition is now obsolete it will be repealed by
schedule 2 (4) to the bill. It is proposed also in schedule 2 (5) to the bill to
amend section I ~ Grelating to the Minister's consent to transfer, to encourage
early lodgement of dealings for registration in the Land Titles Office. Where
purchasers fail to register dealings, administrative difficulties arise as the
Western Lands Commission can deal only with a person registered on title. The
amendment will limit the currency of the Minister's consent to a period of six
months after which the consent will lapse.
In recognition of the difficulties which sometimes arise in land
transactions, provision is also to be made for an application to be made far
extensions of time for lodgment for further periods of six months. A review of
the rental system applicable to western lands leases has revealed that the present
level of rentals is unduly concessional and that rental revenues are severely
eroded in real terms due to the 10 year reappraisal period specified by the Act.
The 10 year redetermination of rent is also proving unpalatable to lessees who
usually face rental hikes of 100 per cent or more at the end of each 10 year
period. The measures in the bill will provide for the rent of leases to be
redetermined at five yearly intervals. This will be achieved by a transitional
arrangement under which all leases will be phased onto a five yearly reappraisal
period by 1993. With a five yearly reappraisal period there is no justification
for continuing the right, extended under section 1 9 ~for certain lessees to apply
for a mid-term rental reappraisal and so this provision will be repealed.
Recent assessments made by officers of the Valuer-General's Department
indicate that rentals on leases held for the purpose of grazing are some 6.5 per
cent of the rental that would be payable in the free market for similar land.
The average grazing property with 5 000 to 6 000 sheep pays an annual rental
in the vicinity of $1,000, which is usually less than shire rates and often less
than rates paid to the Pastures Protection Board. An analysis of the relationship
between the level of Western Lands lease rentals and the trends in economic
indicators, such as the consumer price index and property values, reveals that
rental revenues have been allowed to run down over the past 30 years. This has
been due, in part, to the interaction of the 10-yearly redetermination period
and relatively high levels of inflation. It has also been due partly to the
reluctance of successive governments to increase the rental rates in periods of
depressed commodity pnces or severe drought.
Many of us can readily recall when the price of wool typical of that
produced in the Western Division fell to a low of 59c a kilogram in 1970. The
same quality wool is now fetching close to $10 a kilogram. The wool market
was by no means fully recovered when the disastrous drought of the early 1980s
hlt producers in the Western Division. The outlook has now changed-for the
better, with booming wool prices and a major upturn in wheat prices coinciding
wlth one of the best seasons on record. It is timely therefore to move grazing
rentals to a more appropriate level. Accordingly, the maximum rental per sheep
area will be increased from the present 35c to 50c. Leases for the purpose of
agriculture wlll continue to pay rental on the basis of 2.5 per cent of capital
value. Revenue from these leases is already increasing due to the recent surge
in property values.
3816 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
At present only special leases issued under section 2 8 are subject to a
minimum rental, which may be applied only when a lease is first issued or when
the rental falls due for redetermination. As a consequence, a significant
proportion of leases are subject to rentals that do not even cover the costs
associated with rental collection. The bill will provide for the regulations to
specify a minimum rental to be applicable to each class of lease at the time the
rent is payable. The existing provisions under which rent relief may be provided
are inadequate. A major deficiency has been the inability of the Minister either
to apply or terminate a concession part way through a rental determination
The proposed section 20 provides the necessary flexibility to grant a
rebate of rent payable by a prescribed class of lessee and to discontinue this
rebate if the circumstances of the lessee change, or the lease is transferred.
Because of the long recovery period associated with the collapse of commodity
prices and droughts, the maximum period for deferral of rental payments has
been extended from five years to 10 years. Under section 185 of the Act the
conditions or purpose of a lease may be altered with the consent of the lessee.
When these provisions were introduced in 1934 and 1949 no parallel provisions
were enacted to establish the basis for determination of rentals for leases whose
purpose was altered. This deficiency was pointed out in a recent legal advising
that questions the validity of the basis for rental determinations that has been
applied to a number of leases that were subject to a change in purpose from
grazing to agriculture or mixed farming. Upon the alteration of purpose, the
rental for those leases was redetermined on the basis of 2.5 per cent of capital
value, which is the same basis as prescribed for land that was originally set apart
for these more intensive uses.
As it is both logical and equitable that such leases be subject to the same
rental basis as other leases used for the identical purpose, this bill will validate
any determinations made on the basis of 2.5 per cent of capital value and put
beyond doubt that this method of rental determination applies whether or not
the land was originally set apart for agriculture or a similar purpose. Since the
enforcement provisions of the Western Lands Act were inserted in 1985
experience has indicated two deficiencies, which this bill seeks to correct. First,
no provision was made in respect of the period in which prosecution action
could be commenced after an offence is alleged to have been committed and,
consequently, section 56 of the Justices Act provides that the prosecution must
be commenced within six months of the commission of the offence. Because of
the difficulties involved in detecting offences and gathering evidence in the vast
area of the Western Division, the six-month limitation is simply too short.
Accordingly, this bill will specify that prosecution action may be initiated within
a period of twelve months following the offence. This is consistent with the
limitation for similar offences under the Forestry Act.
The other matter of concern relates to a purchaser who, having settled
on a contract of sale, takes possession of a lease before the dealing is registered
with the Land Titles Office. The provisions of the Act that impose conditions
and obligations on the occupant of land in the Western Division refer only to
the lessee. As a consequence, it may be possible for a purchaser in those
circumstances to avoid any obligations to comply with the conditions of the
lease. It is therefore proposed that the definition of a lessee be extended to
include a purchaser in such circumstances. Finally, I wish to outline two
important initiatives in this bill which relate to administration.
29 November, I988 ASSEMBLY 38 17
In keeping with the Government's general commitment to budgetary
constraint and efficient use of resources within the public sector, careful
consideration is being given to the efficacy of the present structure of the
Western Lands Commission. In this regard, a management review team from
the Premiers Office has been conducting a management audit of the Western
Lands administration. The management audit team has questioned the
appropriateness of the senior executive structure within the Western Lands
Commission. At present, the Western Lands Act provides for the appointment
of two assistant commissioners and that a local land board shall be chaired by
an assistant commissioner. Provision is made also for an assistant commissioner
to act as deputy to the commissioner in his absence.
From my earlier remarks on the history of land settlement in the
Western Division it will be apparent that the workload of the Western Lands
Commission has shifted progressively away from land redistribution, with
greater emphasis now being placed on land management. As a consequence of
this shift in emphasis, the number of cases that need to be referred to a local
land board has declined. The number of matters has been further reduced by
the 1985 amendments to the Act that enabled rentals and other matters to be
determined by the Minister, where there is agreement reached with the parties
concerned. The provisions relating to land disposal contained in this bill will
further reduce land board activity. Until recently the management and conduct
of land board business constituted virtually a full-time workload for one
assistant commissioner. This is no longer the case.
Clearly, in those circumstances there is need for a rationalization of the
executive structure in the interests or reducing overhead costs and making the
most effective use of staff resources. The amendments in the bill will abolish
both positions of assistant commissioner and instead provide for the
appointment of a deputy commissioner with responsibilities similar to those
now assigned to an assistant commissioner. Provision is made also for the
deputy commissioner to assume the functions of the commissioner in his
absence, where the Minister has not made an appointment of a person to act
as commissioner. These amendments are contained in items (2) and (6) of
schedule 6 to the bill. A transitional provision is made by item (4) of schedule
7 to ensure that an incumbent of a position of assistant commissioner who is
displaced by this rationalization will have the same rights relating to
reappointment in the public service or compensation as is conferred on term
appointees by the Public Sector Employment Act 1988. This reduction in the
commission's overhead costs will free resources that can be reallocated to
operational positions, which will result in more effective land administration
and higher standards of service to the commission's clients.
In parallel with this rationalization of the commission's executive, the
opportunity has been taken to revise the provisions relating to the appointment
of a chairperson of local land boards. The new provisions follow those included
in the recently introduced Crown Lands Bill, whereby the Governor may
appoint a person as chairperson subject to certain prescribed qualifications. The
reforms contained in this proposed legislation are very much in line with the
Government's aim to reduce unwarranted regulation and bureaucratic
intervention in matters such as land allocation and ownership. The rental and
land disposal provisions seek to restore revenues to a more acceptable level
without threatening the financial viability of lessees. Where justified, the controls
on land management have been made more effective, but also more flexible in
recognition of the practicalities of land management in the Western Division.
I table detailed explanatory material on the provisions of the bill. I commend
38 18 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Amery.
PRIVATE HOSPITALS AND DAY PROCEDURE CENTRES BILL
NURSING HOMES BILL
MISCELLANEOUS ACTS (PRIVATE HEALTH ESTABLISHMENTS)
Bills introduced and read a first time.
Mr COLLINS (Middle Harbour), Minister for Health and Minister for
Arts [4.0]: I move:
That these bills be now read a second time.
The object of these bills is to repeal the Private Health Establishments Act 1982
and to make provision for the licensing and control of private hospitals, day
procedure centres and nursing homes. The reason for their introduction is to
remove the excessive degree of regulation that has been imposed for 12 years
under the previous Government. I guess one could say that this proposed
legislation has four main objectives. The principal objective is the strengthening
of standards to ensure patient care and safety; the second objective is the
reduction of economic regulation of the private health sector; third, the
elimination of arbitrary and trivial bureaucratic interference; and, fourth, the
provision of a sound legislative base for day procedure centres for the first time.
At present New South Wales has 100 licensed private hospitals, providing 6 100
beds. More than half of them have fewer than 50 beds, and most of them
provide routine medical and surgical services. Some also provide obstetric or
psychiatric services. Eighty per cent of the private hospitals are located in the
Sydney metropolitan area and tend to be concentrated in the inner suburbs
where public hospital provision is also historically high.
Private hospital use has traditionally been lower than the use of available
beds in the public hospital sector. Despite pressure upon the public hospital
system, most private hospitals in New South Wales still have not operated at
optimum capacity. Utilization of private hospitals in New South Wales in
1987-88 was 57 per cent. This situation has hardly been aided by the cvrrent
Medicare arrangements which have so severely penalized the private sector and
overloaded the public hospital sector. This rate of use is lower than the
occupancy in most other States, suggesting that there is scope for much more
effective use of private hospital facilities than has occurred in the recent past.
I believe that the restrictive policies of the previous State Government towards
private hospitals had much to do with this state of affairs. On 19th May this
year I informed the House that the existing legislative framework, which inhibits
the private hospital sector in particular, would be reviewed by the present
Government. The bills which I now present to this House are the result of that
The Government's policy in relation to private hospitals is to redress
the imbalance between the public and private sectors and relieve the pressure
on public hospital beds and services. The first step in implementing that policy
was a complete review of all private hospital proposals held by the Department
of Health. As a result of that review, I was able to announce on 30th June that
approval in principle had been given for 14 new private hospitals and the
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3819
expansion of another 11 existing private hospitals throughout New South Wales.
Further approvals in principle for the development of new services, particularly
obstetric services, have also been given in accordance with the policy of this
Government. It was my pleasure on 16th September to officially open the first
private hospital established in response to the Government's policy, the new
95 bed Mount Wilga private rehabilitation hospital at Hornsby. Plans have also
been submitted for several of the other approved developments.
In July, the Department of Health published a discussion paper which
outlined various options for licensing and regulating private hospitals, ranging
from total regulation to total deregulation. Comments were invited from all
interested parties on the various options put forward and on the issues to be
considered in developing legislation. All the major organizations involved or
interested in the provision of hospital services responded, and some very
constructive and useful comments were received. The majority of responses
supported the minimum regulation option, which is consistent with the
Government's approach to the development of the private hospital sector. The
suggestions made by respondents to the discussion paper have helped to shape
the bills which are now before the House.
I shall now outline the main features of the bills for the information of
honourable members. The first point to note is that, unlike the legislation which
they replace, separate Acts will provide for the licensing and regulation of
private hospitals and day procedure centres on the one hand and nursing homes
on the other. This reflects the different nature and roles of these establishments.
Though the bills themselves are similar in many respects, licensing standards
will differ more widely than in the past to correspond with their different nature
and roles. The involvement of the federal Government in the regulation of
nursing homes is a further complication which must be taken into account.
The Private Hospitals and Day Procedure Centres Bill provides for the
establishment of an advisory committee to give advice on the effective operation
of the Act, proposals for making regulations and other matters which may be
referred to it for advice. The committee will have representation from the
private hospital industry, the medical and nursing professions, health insurance
organizations and consumer interests. Advice on appeals against certain
licensing decisions, which is part of the function of the corresponding body
under the Private Health Establishments Act, will be the responsibility of
another committee which I shall describe shortly. I expect the advisory
committee to give early attention to proposed licensing standards and other
regulations required to bring the proposed Private Hospitals and Day Procedure
Centres Act into effect.
The Government is strongly committed to the maintenance of strict
controls over standards to ensure that the private health care sector meets
modern standards of health care delivery. There are deficiencies in standards
in both public and private facilities, and we wish to ensure that there is one
high standard for both the public and the private health sectors. The
Government has been concerned that licensing standards in the past have given
insufficient attention to standards of care, and have delved into areas which are
not the province of a health authority or government departments. Licensing
standards under the proposed new Acts will be restricted to matters relating to
the safety, care and quality of life of patients at private hospitals and day
procedure centres and residents at nursing homes. I expect the licensing
standards developed for the purposes of the proposed new Acts to have equal
application in the public sector.
3820 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
Quality assurance is an important aspect of the promotion of high
standards of care. Specific reference is made in the bills to quality assurance in
relation to licensing standards. Several respondents to the department's
discussion paper referred to the need to give legal protection to people involved
in quality assurance programs to enable them to fulfil their functions effectively.
This applies equally to the public sector, and separate legislation to cover both
areas is at present being considered. This legislation would provide qualified
privilege for people furnishing information to or participating in the work of
an approved quality assurance committee, and would protect documents
prepared specifically for quality assurance purposes from discovery or subpoena.
I hasten to add that these provisions would not apply to normal clinical records
and the people making those records.
Another departure from previous legislative arrangements is the
proposed establishment of a two-stage licensing process. An application for a
licence will be considered at the first stage for approval in principle, and only
after such an approval has been given will detailed plans and specifications have
to be submitted. This reflects the reality of the process which has been followed
in the past, and gives it a proper legislative basis. The Government believes
that the market-place is much better than any bureaucrat at determining what
services should be provided by the private sector and where the facilities
providing those services should be located.
Accordingly, the powers of the secretary to refuse to give approval in
principle to a licence application are restricted to four issues: first, whether the
applicant is a fit and proper person to conduct a private hospital, day procedure
centre or nursing home, as the case may be; second, whether the proposed
establishment is capable of being conducted in accordance with the relevant
licensing standards; third, whether the proposal is consistent with the
Government's objective of promoting a high quality, comprehensive alternative
to the public hospital system, thus providing a choice which is too often
unavailable to patients with private health insurance; and, fourth, whether the
proposal is consistent with the Government's policy of supporting the
consolidation of scattered, small private hospital bed allocations into larger
private hospitals offering a comprehensive range of diagnostic, medical, surgical
and other services around the clock seven days a week, 365 days a year. An
approval in principle may be subject to conditions. Those conditions will usually
require the submission of a development timetable and the preparation of plans
and specifications which must conform with licensing standards unless otherwise
approved. Environmental factors, on the other hand, are considered to be
matters for determination by the developer and the local council.
Until recently no right of appeal lay against decisions of the secretary
in respect of licences, other than a right of appeal to the District Court against
the cancellation of a licence. This deficiency was remedied to some extent in
the Private Health Establishments Act, but that Act did not go far enough.
These bills will provide a right of appeal to the Minister against any of the
following decisions of the secretary: a decision to refuse an application; a
decision relating to the class or classes of an establishment; a decision relating
to the number of beds at an establishment; a decision to require a licensee to
carry out specified repairs, maintenance, alterations, extensions or
improvements; and a decision to amend a licence otherwise than in accordance
with an application by the licensee.
The bills provide for the establishment of committees of review to advise
the Minister on any appeal. A chairperson of committees of review is appointed
by the Minister, and it is the responsibility of the chairperson to form a
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3821
committee for each appeal. Each committee of review is to consist of the
chairperson and one representative of each of the following interests: the private
hospital or nursing home industry, as the case may be; the health care
professions; and consumers. For this purpose a panel of names of persons from
each interest group of those who are respected by their peers and are willing to
undertake this responsibility will be maintained. This appeals mechanism is
modelled on the standards review panels established recently under
Commonwealth legislation to advise on appeals against the imposition of
sanctions against nursing home proprietors. The first of these standards review
panels has been established on a pilot basis in New South Wales, but it has not
yet had any appeals referred to it for consideration.
If an appeal against a decision of the secretary is made, the Minister is
required to refer the matter to the chairperson of committees of review, who
will convene a committee, have the appeal considered, and submit the
committee's recommendation to the Minister. If the committee is unable to
agree on a recommendation, the recommendation of each member is required
to be submitted to the Minister. A decision on the appeal is the responsibility
of the Minister, who must take account of the advice of the committee of
review, unless the committee has failed to provide advice within a reasonable
time. The right of appeal to the District Court against a decision of the secretary
to cancel a licence has been retained, and in fact has been strengthened by
allowing an appeal against a decision made on the grounds that the annual
licence fee was not paid by the due date.
The provision in the Private Health Establishments Act relating to the
disclosure of pecuniary interests by practitioners to their patients has been
retained, but the requirement for the licensee to maintain a register of pecuniary
interests has been discarded. A medical or dental practitioner who has a
pecuniary interest in a private hospital, day procedure centre or nursing home.
will be required to disclose that interest to any patient when advising on or
arranging the admission of that patient to that establishment, or when treating
that patient at that establishment.
The form which the notification is to take will be determined by
regulation, which will be drafted in consultation with the private hospitals and
day procedure centres advisory committee. These bills represent an important
step in implementing the Government's policy on private health care facilities.
They remove the planning barriers which the previous Government raised
against the development of a vigorous, competitive, private health care sector.
They will facilitate the introduction of strategies to improve the utilization of
private hospitals and reduce the pressure on the public hospital system. They
will contribute to the development of a better health care service for the citizens
of New South Wales. I commend the bills.
Debate adjourned on motion by Dr Refshauge.
SOIL CONSERVATION (AMENDMENT) BILL
Bill introduced and read a first time.
Mr ARMSTRONG (Lachlan), Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs
[4.14]: I move:
That this bill he now read a second time.
3822 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
In New South Wales the statutory body responsible for the control over the
destruction and removal of trees on protected land is the Catchment Areas
Protection Board. Established in 1935, the board was reconstituted under the
Soil Conservation Act, 1938, and, with myself as chairman, consists of the
Commissioner of the Soil Conservation Service as deputy chairman, the
Secretary of the Department of Lands, the Director-General of the Department
of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Director of Public Works, the Forestry
Commission, the Director of the Department of Water Resources, the Director
of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Director of the Department of
Planning, and the Director of the State Pollution Control Commission. In
addition there are two representatives of rural interests.
The Soil Conservation Act provides that nobody shall ringbark, cut
down, fell, poison, top, lop, remove, injure or otherwise destroy any tree, or
cause such to be done, on any protected land, except in accordance with an
authority issued by the board. A tree for this purpose includes a sapling, shrub
or scrub. The requirements of the Act in this regard override the provisions of
all other legislation. Protected land is that land which is considered to require
protection against uncontrolled tree destruction. Land mapped as protected land
by the board under the Act must come within one of the following three
categories: any land within a notified catchment area, such land being land of
which the surface generally has, in the opinion of the Catchment Areas
Protection Board, a slope greater than 18 degrees from the horizontal; land that
is situated within, or within 20 metres of, the bed or bank of any part of a river,
stream, lake, lagoon or swamp, et cetera, whether permanent or temporary and
whether or not consisting of or including saline water; and land that is, in the
opinion of the board, environmentally sensitive or affected or liable to be
affected by soil erosion, siltation or land degradation.
Before injuring or destroying any trees the onus is on the landholder to
check the relevant protected land map displayed in the nearest office of the Soil
Conservation Service to ascertain whether the subject trees are on protected
land. The Soil Conservation Service of New South Wales services the board with
some assistance from the Department of Water Resources, and meets monthly
to consider applications from landholders for authorities. Applications are the
subject of inspections and technical reports by field officers and it is on the basis
of this information that the board makes its decisions, each application being
examined and considered individually. However, many of the more
straightforward matters have been delegated to senior officers of the service and
the Department of Water Resources. Although there are several exemptions in
the Act so far as concerns the need to obtain the board's authority before
destroying trees on protected land, they are inadequate. These exemptions apply
only to steep land and not the other two categories, that is, prescribed rivers
and environmentally sensitive land, and though these exemptions can be applied
by regulation to the other two categories of protected land, this would not solve
the principal problems of noxious plant eradication and maintenance clearing
under powerlines. In the first instance, anyone wishing, or required under the
Local Government Act, 191 9, to eradicate noxious plants, for example,
blackberry, along the bank of a prescribed river must first obtain an authority
from the board, or be liable to a $10,000 penalty.
Similarly, county councils, which must continually clear under
powerlines to prevent bushfires, must get the board's approval. Accordingly,
schedule 1 (2) of the bill provides for the board to make exemptions by
regulation or order published in the Government Gazette, as the circumstances
require, thereby resulting in a very .considerable reduction in bureaucratic
procedure. Problems have been experienced on a number of occasions by the
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3823
board in making amendments to its two forms-the application and the
authority. This is because both forms are prescribed by regulation and, as
Ministers and former Ministers will be only too well aware, this involves two
separate ministerial submissions, the Attornney General's approval, the
Governor's approval, publication in the Government Gazette, and tabling in
both Houses of Parliament. Though this may be appropriate for most
regulations, the procedure often takes months and is certainly not appropriate
each time the board needs to make changes to its forms. Therefore, schedule 1
(3) provides that the board may approve of its own forms, which is in step with
current practice in other administrations.
The Soil Conservation Advisory Council was constituted by the Soil
Conservation (Amendment) Act 1985, and its stated purpose is to advise me,
as Minister, on matters relating to soil conservation, soil erosion, and land
degradation as are referred to it by the commissioner or myself. The
commissioner is the chairman, and there are seven other members. However,
the advisory council has met on only a few occasions since its establishment
and, in accordance with the criteria laid down by our Government for the
review of statutory bodies, its continuation is not essential, either in terms of
the community's needs or the Government's objectives in this portfolio.
Unfortunately, the benefits expected of the council did not materialize, and it
was becoming a burden to the service rather than a help. My predecessor was
not a supporter of the council, it has not met since we took office, and the
original concept and benefit of the council could be much better achieved by
encouraging community advice and consultation at the district level where the
real issues are via catchment committees. Accordingly, schedule 1 (4) repeals
section 23 so as to abolish the council.
Nevertheless, provision was also made in the Act by the previous
Government for the constitution of catchment committees. However, because
of the wording of the provisions, and particularly because of the complexity of
the complementary 21 pages of regulations, no such committees have ever been
set up. The commissioner and I are firmly of the view that we should establish
these catchment committees around the State to advise and assist on soil
conservation land management issues, and once the statutory provisions are
simplified and the regulations repealed this can be commenced. Schedule 1 (5)
will enable such committees to be set up simply, quickly, and cheaply, with
considerable benefit to the rural community. In order to attract able people to
serve on these committees I consider it only fair that I be authorized to
reimburse the reasonable expenses of members, especially as some will have to
travel fair distances, and this is provided for by schedule 1 (9).
The Soil Conservation Service has for many years been engaged in
undertaking specialized consultancy tasks for both private and government
organizations within Australia and overseas. These consultancy contracts have
involved the preparation of environmental and resource surveys of proposed
major development projects and the implementation and staff training in
connection with such projects, particularly for foreign governments and United
Nations agencies. The service enjoys worldwide recognition as an authority in
the specialized fields of soil conservation engineering, soil surveys. land
capability assessment, erosion control, rangeland management, watershed
planning, and land rehabilitation practices. The private sector does not provide
the full range of these specialized services or possess this technical knowledge.
With international awareness of the need for environmental management and
protection increasing, the demands on the service to provide technical
knowledge and advice in respect of major development projects have increased.
3824 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
However, increasing participation by the service in future consultancy
proposals has been severely curtailed by the legislative constraints of the Soil
Conservation Act and the Public Service Act and its successor, thus substantially
reducing the potential income to the State from consultancies. The service
generally has been limited to supplying the necessary expertise for consultancies
on a leave without pay basis with the obvious risks and complications this
entails in respect of personal liability, superannuation, health and travel
insurance, and workers' compensation. However, by a minor amendment to
section 25c of the Act extending the commissioner's corporate powers outside
the State, thereby allowing staff to carry out consultancies on duty, with the
necessary protection, and variation of inappropriate working conditions, this
legal impediment would be overcome. This amendment is contained in schedule
1 (7) to the bill and will be a welcome relief to the officers, and their families,
who assist the State in this way.
Though many departments and authorities do make good use of the
advice and assistance of the service, many do not. Similarly, on a number of
occasions the Catchment Areas Protection Board has had difficulty in requiring
government departments and statutory bodies to comply with the law covering
the destruction of trees on protected land. It has also been embarrassing in the
past to have to admit that while the board frequently prosecutes private
landholders for breaking the law, it cannot compel departments and authorities
to even comply with it in the first place, and double standards in this area are
not conducive to public co-operation. It is an anomaly that the Soil
Conservation Act does not bind the Crown whereas the State's other major
environmental legislation does; for example, the Environmental Planning and
Assessment Act 1979, the Heritage Act 1977, the Wilderness Act 1987, the
Water Administration Act 1986, the Lake Illawarra Authority Act 1987, the
Coastal Protection Act 1979, part VIII of the Water Act 1912, and the Prickly
Pear Act 1987. Honourable members would not argue, I trust, that our soil
resources should receive any less protection by departments and authorities than
any other element of our environment, and this will be accommodated by
schedule 1 (8), with the very minor exception in schedule 1 (I), which deals
only with State Forests within areas of erosion hazard. I commend the bill.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Amery.
ANGLICAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA TRUST PROPERTY
Bill introduced and read a first time.
Mr DOWD (Lane Cove), Attorney General [4.26]: I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
Honourable members will be aware of the policy of this Government, and
indeed of the previous Government, of assisting churches by sponsoring up-to-
date property legislation. Such legislation enables churches to manage their
temporal affairs in an efficient and economic manner and thus facilitate their
religious and charitable work. The bill now before the House is in keeping with
that policy. It provides for amendment of the Anglican Church of Australia
Trust Property Act 1917 so as to authorize the synod of a diocese of the
Anglican Church to make ordinances authorizing the use or acquisition of
property jointly by the Anglican Church and a church of another denomination,
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3825
and to make provisions consequential on the joint use or joint ownership of
property in these circumstances.
The Anglican Church of Australia Trust Property Act 19 17 provides for
the regulation, management, and control of the temporal affairs of the church
in the State of New South Wales. The Act incorporates trustees for each diocese
within the church, the membership of the body corporate being determined by
the synod of each diocese. The Act vests the property of the church in the
trustees and provides the trustees with powers of management and investment
of trust property. The Act also empowers the synod of a diocese to provide and
vary provisions for the use and management of trust property and the
investment of trust funds by the trustee. The blending of trust funds for the
purpose of investment is allowed by the Act and may be specifically authorized
by a diocesan synod. However, the Act does not allow the trustees to use or
acquire property jointly with other bodies. Most of the church buildings are held
upon an express or implied trust for use as a church in connection with the
Anglican Church of Australia. In general terms, such a trust does not permit
use of a church building on a regular basis by another denomination, however
desirable this may be. To overcome this limitation, inherent when property is
held solely in trust for the Anglican Church of Australia, a new section 3 2 is ~
As well as providing for the joint use of church buildings the bill allows
for the joint ownership and acquisition of property, whether real property or
otherwise, by the Anglican Church and a church of another denomination. The
church believes that it would be able to better utilize its property, maximize
returns on investment, and further promote its religious and charitable
activities, if church trustees could use, acquire, and own trust property, in
conjuction with the church of another denomination. The bill arises as a result
of a request by the provincial synod of New South Wales. The ordinance of the
provincial synod proposing the amendment was passed in February 1984 and
subsequently adopted by all of the diocesan synods, and it reflects the wish of
the church within the province of New South Wales. The bill is consistent with
the Government's policy of assisting churches with property legislation so as to
maximize the funds with which to carry out religious and charitable work. I
commend the bill.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Whelan.
STANDARD TIME (AMENDMENT) BILL
Bill introduced and read a first time.
Mr DOWD (Lane Cove), Attorney General [4.30]: I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
The commencement date for daylight saving is set by the Standard Time Act
1987 as 2 a.m. on the last Sunday in October. At present the Act provides that
the daylight saving period ends at 2 a.m. on the third Sunday in the following
March. The Standard Time (Amendment) Bill implements the Government's
decision that the end of daylight saving should revert to the first Sunday in
March, which was the date initially fixed by Parliament in 1971. The first
Sunday in March of each year was the date approved by the majority of the
citizens of New South Wales in the referendum of 1st May, 1976. At that
3826 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
referendum 67 per cent of the electors and 82 per cent of the electorates voted
in favour of retaining daylight saving for the period commencing on the last
Sunday in October and ending on the first Sunday in March the following year.
There were a number of temporary extensions of the daylight saving
period prior to the period being permanently extended to the third Sunday in
March by virtue of the Standard Time Act 1987. The temporary extensions
were: first, a one-month extension from 7th March to 4th April, 1982, which
was granted to conserve electrical energy; second, a two-week extension from
2nd March to 16th March, 1986, at the request of the Victorian and South
Australian authorities; and, third, a three-week extension in the summer of
1986-87-one week at the beginning and two weeks at the end-again at the
behest of the Victorian and South Australian Governments to facilitate the
organization of the Moomba Festival and the Adelaide Grand Prix respectively.
In 1987, the governments of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania
subsequently decided to permanently extend the period of daylight saving.
Following discussions with those governments, the Standard Time Act 1987,
introduced by the Unsworth Government, permanently extended the period of
daylight saving by two weeks in March of each year but that extension was never
put to the people. The Unsworth Government had no mandate to permanently
entrench the extension of daylight saving in the manner it did. It is difficult to
understand why it ever proceeded with the legislation for it was adamant that
the variation to daylight saving in the summer of 1986-1987 was only to be
temporary. In September 1987 the then Attorney General, Mr Sheahan,
informed the House that his Governrnent had indicated to the Victorian
Government, "that its preference was to stay with the referendum position, that
is, from the last weekend in October to the first weekend in March". Likewise,
the then Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council, the Hon. J. R.
Hallam, informed the Council that the Unsworth Government regretted that
an extension to daylight saving had been necessary.
Though the Governrnent acknowledges there may be difficulties with the
lack of uniformity with the southern States, particularly Victoria, the concerns
of the rural community must be considered. I would have thought that the
honourable member for Broken Hill would have enthusiastically supported the
Governrnent in this measure. That has not been the case in the past. The rural
community has been disadvantaged by and many problems have arisen as a
result of the difference in solar time between coastal and country areas. The
actual solar time difference between Sydne and say Wilcannia in the west in
the electorate of the honourable member or Broken Hill is 30 minutes. The
effect that such an occurance has on rural New South Wales cannot be
underestimated. Towards the end of March in the western areas of the State,
the hour of sunrise can be as late as 7.30 a.m. and would be equivalent to the
hour of sunrise on the shortest day of the year, 22nd June. Workers and children
are particularly disadvantaged in the central and far western regions of the State
where they are required to travel to work and school during darkness and return
home in the hottest part of the afternoon.
The Government's stand balances the needs and interests of citizens
living in the city and their fellow citizens in the country. Let us not forget that
there will have been 18 weeks of daylight saving when the period ends on the
first Sunday in March. Business, the media and the airlines will need to make
some adjustment to their operations but there is ample time to do so prior to
4th March, 1989. The are, at present, required to make such adjustments in
respect of the time di erences which exist between Queensland and the other
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3827
States. In the interests of all the citizens of New South Wales I commend the
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Whelan.
MOTOR ACCIDENTS BILL
MISCELLANEOUS ACTS (MOTOR ACCIDENTS) AMENDMENT BILL
Bills introduced and read a first time.
Mr DOWD (Lane Cove), Attorney General [4.36]: I move:
That these bills be now read a second time.
This legislation implements the Government's commitment to return to a
common law based scheme for compensating motor accident victims. As can
be seen from clause 5 of the Motor Accidents Bill, TransCover is to be repealed.
The new scheme follows an extensive examination of a number of options by
a committee formed to consider how the Government's election commitment
might be implemented. That committee comprised: Dr Ian Bryan, representing
the Medical Services Committee and who served previously on other
committees relating to compensation; Mr John Coombs, Q.C., representing the
New South Wales Bar Association; Mr Bill Jocelyn, General Manager of the
Government Insurance Office; Mr Neville King, company solicitor for the
National Roads and Motorists Association; Mr Maurie Stack, representing the
Law Society of New South Wales; Mr John Walsh, representing the Australian
Council for Rehabilitation of the Disabled; Mr John Westmore, Assistant Ch~ef
Executive of the Insurance Council of Australia; Mr Dallas Booth from the
Attorney General's Department; Mr Michael Lambert from Treasury; and Mrs
Antoinette Wyllie of the Ministry of Transport.
In addition, the committee was assisted by Mr Ray Willing, General
Manager of NRMA Insurance Limited, and a Director of the Insurance Council
of Australia; Mr Dennis MocMer of the Government Insurance Office; Dr Mark
Aronson, a member of my staff; Mr Tom Goudkamp, solicitor, and Ms Anne
Deans of the Department of Health. I place on record my gratitude and the
Government's gratitude for the immense amount of time, energy and intellectual
input of that committee and the assistance it was to me in formulating the
proposals and drafting the report.
The committee identified a number of possible options for reform of the
motor accident scheme, and sought assistance from a leading firm of actuaries
in relation to the cost of those options. After much detailed discussion, the
committee recommended the abolition of TransCover and the introduction of
a modified common law scheme for compensating motor accident victims. The
recommended scheme was based on the former common law scheme operating
in New South Wales prior to the introduction of TransCover on 1st July, 1987,
but with a number of significant changes. The Government has accepted that
recommendation, and the legislation now before the House gives effect to the
' Before looking at the bill in detail, I propose to outline the reasons why
TransCover has been rejected as a scheme for compensat~ngroad accident
victims. To consider TransCover properly, we must cons~derbnefly the
common law scheme that preceded it. The main features of a common law
3828 ASSEMBLY 29 November, I988
negligence action are: an injured person may recover damages if the person can
establish that the injury was caused by the fault of another; damages are reduced
to the extent to which the victim was to blame for the accident; damages are
assessed in the form of a lump sum, and are paid on a once and for all basis;
damages are designed, in theory, to provide full compensation for all the
victim's loss, including compensation for pain and suffering and loss of
amenities which cannot readily be assessed in monetary terms; and claims may
be made by dependent relatives of a person killed as the result of another
The negligence action has been developed over a long period as a means
of ensuring that those injured as a result of the negligence of others have access
to compensation for any loss resulting from that injury. This is in accordance
with community expectations. It can be said also that victims' rights at common
law are protected by the courts, which are best able to determine the appropriate
level of compensation, are responsive to community needs, and are not
vulnerable to political control. It is generally accepted that there were a number
of major deficiencies with the scheme operating prior to TransCover. These
included: the cost of the scheme was such that to remain viable it would have
been necessary to increase premiums substantially to a level beyond the means
of many motorists; a lottery mentality had developed whereby people with very
minor injuries were seeking damages to cover the cost of an overseas trip or a
new car; for the seriously injured, there were difficulties in assessing future
losses, as predictions had to be made as to the future needs of the victim many
years after the date of the assessment; claimants were delaying effective
rehabilitation until their matter had been determined or settled-often a
number of years after the accident; the costs of administering claims was
prohibitive, since court proceedings were invariably commenced even though
they were unlikely to proceed to a court hearing, thereby building up substantial
legal costs even if the injuries were minor.
In 1981 the New South Wales Law Reform Commission was given a
reference to study the common law negligence action, and in 1984 a major
report was produced in which the commission recommended a no fault accident
compensation scheme offering a range of benefits to road accident victims. After
an extensive community debate on the issue, the former Government decided
to implement a scheme based on the Law Reform Commission's range of
benefits, but with a requirement that the accident victim continue to be required
to prove fault before being entitled to benefits. Features of TransCover, as the
scheme became known, were: benefits would be paid periodically, and expenses
incurred by service providers would be paid directly to those providers;
emphasis was placed on handling claims administratively by the Government
Insurance Office on behalf of the Government, with a right to approach the
court as an appeal only; compensation for pain and suffering and similar matters
was abolished, and a lump sum was provided to those who could demonstrate
permanent impairment, that is, a permanent loss of bodily or mental function;
there also was emphasis on the need to rehabilitate accident victims, and action
was taken to identify areas where rehabilitation services were deficient and
implement strategies to cover those deficiencies.
The major emphasis of TransCover was to direct compensation to the
seriously injured, and to take all necessary steps to ensure the rehabilitation of
injured accident victims. There can be no doubt that these two goals are both
admirable and essential. The difficulties arose in how TransCover achieved
them. First, under TransCover, officers of the Government Insurance Office are
required to advise claimants in relation to their benefits, while at the same time
being responsible for dispensing public funds. These are conflicting roles, and
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3829
are quite incompatible. They have to be judge, jury and defendant at the same
time. Second, TransCover provides specific defined rights to compensation that
are limited in their scope, and do not take account of the individual
circumstances of each accident victim. In the absence of permanent impairment,
there is no compensation for non-economic loss, which normally covers pain
and suffering, disfigurement, and so on. This means that if someone is seriously
injured but substantially recovers, they receive little other than out-of-pocket
expenses even though they may have suffered considerably in the meantime,
and, indeed, continue to suffer.
The death benefit under TransCover is a fixed sum determined by the
legislation, and does not relate to the family circumstances of the deceased,
although replacement household services and weekly compensation for eligible
dependent spouses and children was provided in certain circumstances. Most
important, the payment of weekly benefits rather than a lump sum results in
the development of a pension mentality among claimants, and the
institutionalization of seriously injured accident victims. There is no
opportunity to change direction by, for example, allowing those with long-term
disabilities to purchase a business that can be handled within the limits of their
disability. They remain dependent on the scheme and its administrators for all
benefits. The emphasis on return to the work force ignores the historical
reluctance by employers to provide work for disabled employees because of the
risk of aggravation and the consequent effect on workers' compensation
insurance premiums. There is concern that this reluctance has been exacerbated
since the introduction of claims-experience-related premiums for all employers
paying workers' compensation premiums in excess of $2,000 a year.
Finally, TransCover does not recognize the rights of accident victims to
have their claims prepared by an advocate-usually their lawyer. If a solicitor
is engaged, the costs must be met from the compensation provided under the
scheme. This has had the effect of denying ready access to independent advice
for accident victims, and inhibits the ability of the legal profession to speak on
behalf of accident victims. The result is that those victims become voiceless
against a large organization more than capable of having its views put to the
community. A scheme has therefore been devised that will continue the
desirable aspects of TransCover but address the major defects of that scheme
without reintroducing the major areas of concern of the former common law
scheme. At the same time, regard has been had to the need to ensure the new
scheme can be afforded by the community.
In this regard, I should say something about costings. The consulting
actuaries have examined a number of compensation schemes in Australia and
New Zealand, but in each case there is nothing directly comparable with either
TransCover or the proposed modified common law scheme. TransCover has
been operating since July 1987, but the experience under that scheme has not
been sufficient to give a good indication of the likely long-term cost of the
scheme, particularly as many claimants who were entitled to make claims under
the scheme have not done so. Similarly, the modified common law scheme is
sufficiently different from the former scheme and known common law schemes
operating in other States as to make comparisons difficult. In these
circumstances, the actuaries were forced to make a number of assumptions when
undertaking the costings. The accuracy of the costings will depend on the extent
to which the assumptions are proved to be valid. Some of the assumptions relate
to the scheme itself, such as the likely number of claims, and some assumptions
relate to the performance of the economy as a whole.
3830 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
Under either scheme, there is a real possibility of superimposed inflation
developing. Superimposed inflation is the increase in the cost of the scheme over
and above the usual inflation rate. It is the extent to which a scheme controls
superimposed inflation that determines the ability to keep premium increases
to a minimum. Superimposed inflation was a major factor in the former
common law scheme in New South Wales, but it is not necessarily present in
all common law schemes. For example, there has been little or no superimposed
inflation in the Australian Capital Territory for the past 10 years, where an
unrestricted common law scheme operates under NRMA Insurance Limited. I
am satisified that the measures contained in the legislation will operate to
restrict the number of claims in future, and will limit the cost of claims overall
to manageable proportions. With the introduction of private insurers who have
a direct incentive to administer claims effectively, I am sure the scheme, while
initially being marginally more expensive than TransCover, in the long term
will be considerably cheaper.
I shall now discuss some of the major provisions of the legislation. The
legislation will take effect on a specified date. After receiving assent, the
proposed Motor Accidents Authority will be established to advise the
Government on the entry of private insurers into this type of business. After
insurers have been licensed under the Act, and market shares have been
determined, the -bulk of the legislation will be commenced, and I expect that
will occur on 1st July, 1989. The process of negotiation over the next few
months and the timing involved in the complicated work that must occur to
attract the private insurers to the scheme, because there is no compulsion for
them to join the scheme, will be difficult. Part 2 of the bill will repeal the
Transport Accidents Compensation Act 1987 and restore common law rights
as from the date TransCover took effect. Clause 7 provides that the
modifications to common law will be backdated to that date, in accordance with
the Government's undertaking. Part 3 reintroduces a system of insuring
registered motor vehicles similar to that operating prior to the Commencement
of TransCover. For the first few years, premiums will continue to be paid at
the time registration is renewed, and the Roads and Traffic Authority will collect
premiums on behalf of insurers.
Division 3 of part 3 relates to determining premiums for third party
policies. As an interim measure, the premiums will be determined by the
Minister having regard to a number of factors. It is the Government's intention
that when insurers have gained experience with the new scheme and are able
to determine for themselves the premium needed to meet their potential
liabilities for claims under their policies, this division will be substantially
repealed. From that time, premiums will be determined by the insurers in the
same way they determine premiums for comprehensive motor vehicle or other
general insurance lines: according to ordinary insurance principles. Clause 91
of the bill requires the new Motor Accidents Authority to investigate and report
to the Minister on the deregulation of third party arrangements, especially as
regards statutory controls over market share and the fixing and payment of
insurance premiums. I expect that report will be prepared quickly, and
amending legislation will be submitted to the Parliament preparing for the move
to a deregulated environment. At that time, the Roads and Traffic Authority
will cease to collect premiums on behalf of insurers, and they will be responsible
for ensuring vehicle owners may easily renew their third party insurance.
Other provisions in part 3 relate to the usual provisions needed for a
compulsory insurance scheme, including the creation of the nominal defendant
who acts as respondent to claims when the vehicle at fault was not insured or
cannot be identified. Part 4 is a significant feature of this legislation. It seeks
29 November, I988 ASSEMBLY 383 1
to guarantee accident victims continuing access to all neccessary rehabilitation
services, and to require insurance companies to ensure those services are
provided to accident victims who can prove fault as soon as possible. It is a
condition of the insurer's licence that he comply with that provision.
Further provision is made in clause 36 for the Motor Accidents
Authority to continue the work commenced by the Government Insurance
Office in identifying the rehabilitation needs of accident victims and ensuring
those needs can be met. In addition, the authority will be able to contract with
insurers to provide rehabilitation services to accident victims on behalf of the
insurers. This provision will allow the continued funding of important new
initiatives in this area. Facilities for the brain injured and spinal injured are
particularly lacking, and strategies to remedy this situation have been developed.
Insurers will be required to contribute towards a central pool of funds which
will be available to be applied for that purpose.
Finally, clause 39 will require claimants to demonstrate the extent to
which they have taken steps to reduce the impact of their injuries. In future,
anyone who waits until after the settlement or verdict before commencing
effective rehabilitation will be penalized, and attempts to maximize losses until
that time will be rejected. This is one area where the new scheme differs
significantly from the former scheme; for the first time there will be a direct
onus on the claimant to demonstrate the extent to which he or she has taken
steps to mitigate his or her loss. A plaintiff in a breach of contract case has that
same obligation. This is fundamental to the change of philosophy contained in
Part 5 seeks to continue the emphasis commenced under Transcover of
making a claim shortly after the accident. Under this scheme, it will be
necessary to make a claim on the third party insurer before proceedings can be
commenced. In many cases, this will remove the need for litigation completely,
as the insurer will have the opportunity to determine liability and assess the
level of damages to be provided. Under clause 45, there will be a duty on the
insurer to endeavour to resolve the claim quickly, and once liability has been
admitted the insurer must commence payments in relation to out-of-pocket
Clauses 48 to 50 seek to introduce new requirements whereby the
claimant is to provide all necessary information to enable the claim to be
properly assessed, and the person responsible for the accident will be required
to assist the insurer to defend the proceedings if liability is to be disputed. This
is an important new provision, because far too many defendants who have no
real interest in a matter can be as much a witness for the plaintiff they have
injured, thereby in some ways expiating their guilt, though that guilt remains.
Where court proceedings are commenced, clause 56 will provide for costs
penalties in cases where an offer has been made and rejected, and the party
rejecting the offer does not achieve a better result from a full hearing of the
matter. Costs penalties have not operated effectively in the past, and it is the
intent of this legislation that they provide a real penalty against unnecessary
Division 5 of part 5 seeks to abolish the rules against hearsay evidence
for the purposes of proceedings under the Act. The proyisions are generally in
accordance with recommendations made by the Atistralian Law Reform
Commission and the New South Wales Law Reform Commission in their
respective reports on the laws of evidence. The intention behind the changes is
that it is better to have evidence of what occurred at the time of the accident,
3832 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
even if it is hearsay evidence. Protections are included to ensure only direct
evidence is admitted, and to ensure fairness to all parties. The amendments
recognize the proper role of the courts to have final responsibility for
determining the admission of evidence, the weight to be attached to that
evidence and the credibility of the person giving the evidence. In an effort to
guard against fraudulent and exaggerated claims, it will be an offence to make
a statement in a claim knowing that it is false. Where this occurs the insurer
can recover amounts paid because of the false statement. A register of personal
injury claims will be established to enable insurers to cross-check claims where
excessive numbers of claims have been made or where fraud is suspected.
Part 6 is the first step towards a general revision of the law of damages
for personal injuries. A number of important modifications are introduced by
the Act, and those changes will be available in respect of all motor accidents.
This means that if the accident occurs in New South Wales, the provisions
limiting damages will be available to the defendant or his insurer, including
Commonwealth vehicles and interstate vehicles not insured under this scheme.
That is one of the matters that is now the subject of contention before the
courts. The restrictions will also be available for forms of transport previously
covered by Transcover, such as State Rail Authority trains, Urban Transit
Authority ferries and the monorail. Ordinary common law principles will
continue to apply to the assessment of damages for personal injuries sustained
other than in a transport accident. This includes injuries sustained as a result
of the negligence of an occupier, such as a supermarket or building site, and
injuries resulting from negligent medical attention.
Particular difficulties are being experienced by local councils,
unincorporated associations, sporting bodies and the like-indeed, such a case
was reported in the press today-which are finding adequate insurance cover
either impossible to obtain or prohibitively expensive. The potential for
unlimited damages clearly makes insurance difficult, especially where there is a
vigorous legal profession ready to pursue the rights of accident victims. We have
such a profession here in New South Wales. The profession should make no
apology for fulfilling its duty. It is for governments to determine the extent to
which members of the profession can succeed on behalf of their clients under
established legislation and under the rule of law. The fundamental basis of the
negligence action must remain, but the community cannot afford the situation
where services become unavailable, or where service providers deliberately
assign all their assets in an effort to avoid damages claims.
The Government will therefore undertake a further review in this area
to determine whether changes made in this legislation should be applied to all
personal injury claims, and whether further action should be taken to limit the
cost of such claims and make adequate insurance available to the whole
community. I hope to be able to take the results of this further review to
Parliament before the end of 1989. Honourable members may remember that
I raised this matter some years ago in the context of problems with tidal pools
within my electorate of Lane Cove, and the fact that it was better to get rid of
the tidal pools than have the children swim in the river at no risk to the council
but at immense risk to the children. The cost of insuring skate board facilities
and all such similar facilities is more than the council or the community can
bear, and this, of course, puts the kids at risk. So we have reached a crisis point
in the calculation of damages. We have a problem to solve in order that proper
insurance cover can be obtained. TransCover and Workcover were only bad
examples of dealing with the problem. I know it is a view supported in the legal
profession, and I suspect in the Opposition, that we must grasp this problem
and deal with it.
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3833
I propose now to examine the provisions of part 6 in detail. Under
clause 7 1, the discount rate of 5 per cent established in 1984 is proposed to be
continued. In leading for the Opposition in that debate, I supported the
establishment of that rate at that time. Some calls have been made to increase
the rate-for instance, to 6 per cent-but the only effect of introducing a higher
rate would be to reduce the damages available to seriously injured accident
victims. It is the intent of this scheme that such persons be assisted, not
penalized. The marginal reduction in premiums was a small benefit compared
with the harsh penalty imposed on the catastrophically injured. Clause 72 seeks
to continue the 1984 changes that restricted payments in respect of services
Further restrictions are proposed in this area so that no compensation
will be available in this area unless the service is provided for more than six
months and for more than six hours per week. Under the previous scheme this
was a vast head of damages; but it has now gone beyond the figure that can
reasonably be covered by insurance. This might be seen as a penalty on
volunteers, but it must be remembered that this limitation applies only where
the claimant is under no obligation to pass the compensation on to the service
provider. Payment of interest is limited by clause 73. In future, interest will be
available only if the defendant has not taken reasonable steps to settle a valid
claim. In such cases, it is appropriate that interest be awarded as a penalty, but
in all other cases the availability of interest in the past meant claims were not
pursued as quickly as they could have been, It constituted one of the best
investments in town and there was no incentive on the plaintiff to take the lump
sum and to invest that money at a lower rate of interest.
Clauses 74 and 76 emphasize the role laws relating to contributory
negligence play under a common law scheme. In future, any actions by the
claimant that contributed to the injury, or where the claimant voluntarily
assumed a degree of risk, must be taken into account by the court when
assessing damages. This is another significant reform to common law rules,
which should have a large impact by placing responsibility for safe conduct on
all road users. Clause 79 imposes an upper limit on damages that can be
awarded for non-economic loss, that is, pain and suffering, loss of amenities of
life, loss of expectation of life and disfigurement. Under the scheme the
maximum amount will be $180,000, although that figure will be indexed to
increase in line with movements in average weekly earnings. In an effort to
reduce the number of small claims and direct available resources to seriously
injured accident victims, provision is made for the amount of general damages
to be reduced in accordance with the formula set out in the clause.
If the amount of general damages is less than $15,000, no general
damages can be awarded. If the amount is between $15,000 and $40,000, the
amount is calculated according to ordinary principles, and reduced by $15,000.
This will automatically exclude small awards of general damages, although
claimants in this category will still receive out of pocket expenses. Where the
amount of general dama es exceeds $40,000, the amount deducted will taper
off, so that awards over 55,000 are not affected by the deduction. Clause 81
provides the courts with power to make what have become known as structured
settlements. These will be available when it is not possible to assess accurately
the future needs of the accident victim, and will allow the court to order that
the insurer provide a given level of service for as long as is necessary. Part 7
establishes the Motor Accidents Authority, which will have overall responsibility
for the operation of the scheme and will monitor developments and draw
important matters to the attention of the Minister.
3834 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
One of the majoi responsibilities will be the licensing and control of
insurers. The authority will determine which insurers will be licensed to
undertake this type of business and monitor the administration of policies by
those insurers. This will essentially be done through the use of business plans
prepared by the insurers indicating how they will undertake their business, with
the obligation on insurers to indicate when there is a substantial departure from
the plan. During the initial phasing-in period the Minister will allocate the
market share of insurers, and policies will be allocated to those insurers on a
completely random basis according to that market share. This will prevent
vehicle owners from having a choice as to who they will use as a third party
insurer for a period of time; but this restriction is required to ensure all insurers
receive a fair proportion of risks. In any event, even when there is freedom of
choice, the victim will have no choice as to who to claim against-the insurer
will be the insurer of the vehicle at fault. It is a random basis selection.
After the initial phasing-in period, the market share entitlements will be
removed, and the market will be determined in open competition between the
insurers. Part 10 guarantees that accident victims injured since 1st July, 1987,
can claim under the new scheme; but they will be subject to the limitations
introduced under the scheme. The existing third party fund will be available to
meet the cost of those claims and any claims under the former common law
scheme that are still outstanding. The Government is aware that there are
insufficient funds to meet all claims, and consideration is being given to how
the shortfall will be covered. One option is to impose a levy on motorists when
they register their cars, and for this purpose power to make such a levy has
been included in the bill. That power will not be exercised until the Government
has concluded its review of options as to how the shortfall will be funded, but
its inclusion in the bill at this time will prevent the need for a later amendment
to the legislation if a levy on registration is considered appropriate.
The figures published as to the extent of the unfunded liability have been
shown to be considerably less than expected, as set out in the report that I have
made available to the honourable member for Ashfield to assist him in
preparation for debate on the bill. It is still an unknown figure and will become
clearer as we remove the backlog. The Miscellaneous Acts (Motor Accidents)
Amendment Bill contains a number of consequential amendments to statutes
resulting from the repeal of Transcover and the creation of the new scheme.
Important changes include the abolition of stamp duty on third party insurance
policies, and amendments to the Workers Compensation Act to ensure claims
can be made when someone other than the employer is at fault. Common law
proceedings against employers have been abolished, and it is not proposed to
change that situation. The issue will be further examined as part of the
Workcover review initiated by the Government.
I regard this legislation as one of the significant achievements of the
Greiner Government, a matter for which we have a clear mandate from the
people. I am confident the new scheme will provide a truly fair and equitable
range of compensation to motor accident victims at a cost the community can
afford. I express the thanks of the Government to those in the insurance
industry and the legal profession who have given of their time to work on the
preparation of this scheme. I express particular thanks to the Parliamentary
Counsel. He and his staff have spent much time in preparing this proposed
The scheme that has been worked out has been calculated actuarially
on the best assumptions we can make. It would be nice to change some part of
the mechanism to give more emphasis in specific areas. However, it must be
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3835
remembered that this is not a compulsory scheme for the private insurers. It is
compulsory for the driver, for the person insuring. To bring in the insurers we
have worked out a mechanism, which we believe to be fair and will give an
incentive for proper claims management to reduce the extent of the liability.
We have changed a series of common law principles to create a framework of
incentive on the part of the claimant to reduce the size of the claim and to give
incentives to third party insurers to properly manage claims. Solicitors on the
North Coast have told me of the stark contrast between the Queensland
Government Insurance Office and the New South Wales Government Insurance
Office in the system for bringing common law claims. They had to work harder.
It is no reflection on the good will of those in the Government Insurance Office.
My own experience of barristers working in that area led me to be concerned
about the way claims were administered in certain areas.
One of the big problems of a single insurer is the ability for good
financial and economic reasons to manipulate the risk in one area. Where there
is one insurer, it is possible to clear the list in one region by settling, or clog up
the list by deciding not to settle. That is something that may suit the insurer's
needs. The running of the court system is expensive and takes a large amount
from the public purse. There is no doubt that the implementation of this scheme
will have an impact on the court system. The measurers that I and the
Government have already initiated have started to make significant inroads into
the length of the court lists. Soon I hope to be able to give some idea to the
Parliament and the people of New South Wales of the extent to which we have
curtailed the court list. I thank honourable members for listening to my lengthy
explanation. I thank especially those members, including the honourable
member for Ashfield, who came to a rather novel briefing-and I hope it sets
a precedent for other times-for members on both sides of Parliament, before
the legislation was approved at the joint party meeting. The fact that I am here
today would lead one to believe that the Government joint parties support the
legislation. I commend the bill.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Whelan.
HUNTER WATER BOARD BILL
WATER BOARD (AMENDMENT) BILL
WATER SUPPLY AUTHORITIES (AMENDMENT) BILL
LOCAL GOVERNMENT (HUNTER WATER BOARD) AMENDMENT
Bills introduced and read a first time.
Mr T. J. MOORE (Gordon), Minister for Environment and Assistant
Minister for Transport [5.10]: I move:
That these bills be now read a second time.
These bills seek to achieve the following objectives: first, to reconstitute the
Hunter Water Board under a separate Act having the same provisions, with
necessary changes, as the Act constituting the Sydney Water Board-the Water
Board Act 1987-and so enable it to operate effectively on a more commercial
footing in line with Government policy; second, to provide for the establishment
of consultative forums for the Hunter Water Board and the Sydney Water Board
3836 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
and allow for community input on environmental and other issues relative to
the exercise of each board's functions; third, to amend certain provisions of the
Water Board Act 1987 and include the effect of these amendments in the
principal bill and cognate bills. These amendments seek to facilitate operational
and administrative processes of both water boards as well as water supply
authorities administered under the Water Supply Authorities Act 1987.
The need for restructuring of the Hunter Water Board is two-fold. First,
under the present portfolio arrangments I have ministerial responsibility for the
two major urban water authorities-the Sydney and Hunter boards. My
colleague the Minister for Natural Resources has responsibility for all other
water supply authorities in New South Wales. In the course of introducing water
legislation reforms in 1987 the Sydney board was reconstituted under the Water
Board Act 1987, a separate Act for its own administration and the Hunter
Water Board was reconstituted under the Water Supply Authorities Act 1987.
This created in the present Government joint ministerial responsibility for the
Water Supply Authorities Act 1987 when portfolios were allocated by the
To allow for common policies and directions to be implemented under
both portfolios it is appropriate that the Hunter Water Board revert to the
position of being administered under its own legislation which was the case
prior to the advent of the Water Supply Authorities Act 1987. It has become
firm government policy following the recommendations of the Curran report in
July 1988 that statutory authorities be constituted to operate as business
enterprises, and to have proper levels of commercial and other appropriate skills
on their governing boards.
The first step towards implementing this policy in relation to water
boards is to appoint a board made up principally of people with significant
experience in the successful direction of commercial enterprises, and to ensure
that other skills such as environmental and industrial skills are brought to the
boards, as has happened with the Sydney Water Board. The proposed legislation
will bring the composition of the Hunter Water Board into line with the Sydney
Water Board. The Hunter board has a long history. It was incorporated
originally in 1892. It then drew part-time members from the local government
bodies in the board's area of operations. Membership followed election by
popular vote. This however changed in 1972 when the board was reconstituted
providing for appointment of part-time members by the Governor.
The new constitution comprised three members from local government
bodies, that is, three from amongst the five local government areas in the region,
and three members having special knowledge or expertise, a president and a
vice-president, all members being part-time except the president. In 1979 an
employee representative was added in place of one of the specialist members.
The Sydney board up to that time had a similar constitution but was soon to
change. Following a restructure in its organization in 1985 its constitution was
changed to place the board on a commercial footing in tune with the needs of
the expanding metropolitan area it served. The new structure provided for seven
members appointed by the Governor, comprising a full-time member as
managing director and six part-time members. These latter part-time members
include a chairman and one employee representative.
It is appropriate in pursuance of government policy that the Hunter
Water Board, with identical functions as the Sydney Water Board, should be
constituted in a similar fashion and the provisions of the bill so provide. Such
a constitution will allow the Hunter board to proceed on a more commercial
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3837
footing and respond to the growth and expansion presently being enjoyed in
the Hunter region. I wish to acknowledge that the process of reconstitution has
not occurred because of any dissatisfaction that I or the Government have with
the performance of the present members of the board. Indeed, I pay tribute to
the present board which has presided successfully over a lengthy period of
change and reform beginning some ten years ago in its operations.
The Hunter Water Board has led the field among water authorities in
the State in many years of operation and management. It has introduced
improvements and initiatives which have increased efficiency in its organization
and productivity and developed business oriented accounting. It is the leader
in the field of water supply under demand management, and it has been in the
forefront of allowing development of its water resources for recreational use. I
wish to make it clear that with the passage of this legislation I will be having
the board advertise in Newcastle for expressions of interest from among the
men and women of the region for membership of the board. I will be writing
to my parliamentary colleagues within the electorates encompassed by the
board's area of operation, asking them if they wish to put forward names for
consideration for part-time membership of the board. It is important that the
board have on it, as has occurred in the Sydney Water Board, not only
commercial orientation among its part-time members but also those who have
some knowledge of industrial relations matters and of environmental issues.
Recently I had great pleasure in appointing the chairperson of the Nature
Conservation Council, Dr Judy Messer, as part-time member of the Sydney
Water Board, to provide particular skill and input to the Sydney Water Board.
Quite apart from being large private enterprises, both water boards are
significant bodies for the regulation of environmental pollution, discharge of
effluent and regulation of public health matters. The next matter in the
legislation relates to the creation of consultative forums for the Sydney Water
Board and the Hunter Water Board. It is proposed that forums be constituted
to be known as the Hunter Water Board consultative forum under the Hunter
Water Board Bill and the Water Board consultative forum under the Water
Board (Amendment) Bill.
The constitution of each forum is basically the same. Twelve members
will be appointed by the Governor. Five members will be local government
representatives nominated by the Minister. I would add that in the case of the
Hunter Water Board there will be one local government representative from
each of the five local government areas served by the Hunter Water Board. In
the case of the Sydney Water Board there will be one local government
representative from each of the five regions of the Sydney Water Board. The
remaining seven members of the consultative forum will be nominated-chosen
by me from special interest groups in the community served by each board.
Schedules 5 and 6 of the Hunter Water Board Bill and the Water Board
(Amendment) Bill set out the details relating to membership and meetings of
these forums. In the composition of these consultative forums. I have included
representation in the case of the Sydney Water Board, of the Labor Council of
New South Wales, after consultation with its secretary, and of the trade union
movement in Newcastle.
This government has a clear policy in favour of community participation
in the decision-making process in relation to environmental and other issues
relative to the exercise of the functions of both the Hunter and Sydney water
boards. Members of a forum will meet on a regular basis at meetings convened
by the appropriate board and discuss matters of community interest and
concern which have bearing on a board's operations. The direct involvement
3838 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
of a range of special interest groups in consultative forums should enhance the
implementation of this policy.
There is currently no regular formal mechanism for public participation
in the determination of customer service policies or providing for public input
to the board's deliberations. This public participation is seen as important in
ensuring that each water board is responsive to customer and public needs and
opinion. Public participation will be a means of encouraging informed debate
on urban water resource issues and constraints and ensure a representative input
of opinion to decision making.
I now come to the matter of miscellaneous amendments which are
contained in the cognate legislation, namely the Water Board (Amendment) Bill,
Water Supply Authorities (Hunter Water Board) Amendment Bill and Local
Government (Hunter Water Board) Amendment Bill. These amendments
involve statute law revision and have been introduced to relieve water
authorities from minor regulatory restraints imposed in the drafting of the
Water Supply Authorities Act 1987 and the Water Board Act 1987 and to clarify
and facilitate charging procedures. I commend the bills.
Debate adjourned on motion by Ms Allan.
ELECTRICITY COMMISSION (AMENDMENT) B I U
Bill introduced and read a first time.
Mr PICKARD (Hornsby), Minister for Minerals and Energy [5.20]: I
That this bill be now read a second time.
It is with great honour that I present to the House, the first bill as Minister for
Minerals and Energy. The Electricity Commission (Amendment) Bill is a
legislative indication of the Government's intention that its major energy utility
should be operated in the most commercially viable manner possible. Our
commitment is to provide the electricity consumers of this State with the
cheapest power possible consistent with totally reliable supply. This bill is
another step towards making the Electricity Commission a more commercially
viable and efficient organization. Its principal purpose is to provide a new
structure for the board of the Electricity Commission of New South Wales. The
proposed arrangements will give the commission its strongest opportunity to
manage its affairs in a sound, commercial and business-like environment.
It would be irresponsible for the Government not to provide a board
structure with a strong emphasis on managerial and commercial leadership. This
is particularly important at a time when the organization must undertake major
restructuring. With the $6.1 billion debt bequeathed by the former Government,
the commission faces an enormous task to achieve necessary organizational and
financial change. Its board leadership should be like the technology of power
stations like Bayswater-state of the art. The inclusion of the requirement that
commissioners of the board must have commerical, managerial or other
qualifications in order to carry out its functions is an example of the absolute
resolve held by this Government, and I believe, by the Electricity Commission
at all levels, that change is desirable and essential.
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3839
The new board will build upon the initiatives already taken to deal with
problems of debt, overstaffing, restrictive work practices, and administrative
inefficiencies. The objects of the bill are to amend the Electricity Commission
Act 1950; to reduce the number of members of the Electricity Commission
Board; to omit the requirement that one of the part-time commissioners be an
elected employee; and to provide that the part-time commissioners must have
appropriate managerial, commercial, or other qualifications. In essence, the
proposals basically provide for a smaller board whose members are
commercially, managerially or otherwise suitably qualified.
The number of board commissioners who shall be appointed by the
Governor, upon the recommendation of the Minister, will be reduced from a
previous maximum of 10 and a minimum of eight to a maximum of eight and
a minimum of six. The quorum will be reduced accordingly to three
commissioners, or four if there are more than six commissioners in all. In all,
there will be up to a maximum of seven appointed members as well as the
general manager of the commission. The present requirement for an elected
part-time commissioner who is an employee of the commission will be omitted.
In all senses, there will be no requirement for sectional interest representation
on the board. The only acceptable qualifications for membership of the board
will be the capacity, experience and expertise of the individual. The bill contains
the consequential provisions to effect these changes. It provides also that any
existing member of the commission would be eligible for re-appointment. The
Government believes that these changes will provide the necessary board
structure for the Electricity Commission successfully to meet the challenges
I wish to convey to the House my special appreciation for the work
undertaken by the existing board in taking up the challenges set by this
Government to initiate reform in the commission. In particular, I make mention
of the outstanding contribution made by the Chairman of the Electricity
Commission, Mr John Conde. I have already said that the bill provides for the
eligibility of existing members for re-appointment to the new board. It is my
intention to recommend to the Governor the re-appointment of some of the
existing members. The changes proposed do not reflect on the capacity of the
present board or its members personally. The changes are only a serious
response to the structural changes necessary to ensure that our large public
corporate enterprises operate in the most commercially efficient manner.
Changes in the shape of public administration are a cornerstone of this
Government's belief in making better use of public assets and providing more
cost efficient public services.
One of the telling conclusions of the New South Wales Commission of
Audit was that the boards of the State's statutory authorities overall did not
have the necessary composition to act in a commercial manner. They were
unable to discharge their commercial obligations to achieve satisfactory results.
In eight months this Government has consistently and successfully worked to
improve public administration for the immediate and direct benefit of the
taxpayers and residents of this State. This is the basis for our reforms to the
Electricity Commission Board. Other recommendations of the Commission of
Audit are also being implemented in the Electricity Commission. It has already
called for expressions of interest for the sale and or redevelopment of surplus
power station sites. The Ravensworth Coal Washery is now available for lease
3840 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
This Government is about maximizing taxpayers' investments. The
return on these assets will benefit the electricity consumers of New South Wales.
The New South Wales Electricity Commission has a clear task and responsibility
to ensure electricity is generated and provided to this State at the most cost-
effective price. In the past 10 years average prices paid for bulk electricity have
risen by 220 per cent. If electricity price rises are to be contained, there must
be new cost efficiencies implemented in the generating authority. The
Government proposes to legislate for a board that will best take the Electricity
Commission into the years ahead and prepare it for the next century. The
Government will appoint to the board people with the proven ability to ensure
electricity consumers in New South Wales receive value for the money which
each taxpayer has invested in their electrical future. The Commission of Audit
made a substantive observation when it responded:
If the Authorities (the State's Statutory Authorities) are to operate as commercial
boards, the members of the Board should have commercial experience in running a
Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr J. D. 00th): Order! Pursuant to sessional
orders, business is interrupted.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' STATE
Mr ROBERTS (Cessnock) [5.30]: I bring to the attention of the House
my great concern about roads, particularly those in the Cessnock city council
area. The condition of the roads is abysmal and they are a disgrace. They have
been in that condition for generations. However, the problem is being
exacerbated by the high volume of traffic coming off the F3 freeway at
Freeman's Waterhole and traversing the existing road to Cessnock, which is
inadequate to cope with the normal flow of traffic, let alone this increased
volume. Since March the traffic on Main Road 220 at Mulbring has increased
40 per cent; on Main Road 220 at Cessnock, 30 per cent; and on Main Road
195 at Leggett's Lane it has increased 50 per cent. Since becoming a member
of this House I have received only one letter from Cessnock council. As a result
of my representations $1.43 million has been allocated to repair roads damaged
by floods. Also, there has been a 50 per cent increase in funds taking to
$875,000 the amount allocated for road maintenance.
In this year's road construction program the Government has provided
$874,000 for the reconstruction of Main Road 220, including a deviation for
the Black Creek bridge approaches. The amount of $78,000 has been allocated
for the rehabilitation of Aberdare Road in 1987-88. The Minister has made a
personal inspection of the area and has given the council permission to proceed
with the installation of the long awaited traffic lights at the bottom of Vincent
Street. Further funding, in the sum of $150,000 was provided for repair of flood
damage. The Department of Main Roads has become concerned about the
efficient use of funds made available to the council. A Department of Main
Roads memo read:
The needs of Main Roads servicing the F3 have been recognized and addressed in
thc Newcastle Region Road Improvement Program 1985-1992. Cessnock City Council has
consistently received higher than average grants from the Department since the program
was developed . . .
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 384 1
Funds in excess of $4.5 million have been made available to Council since 1982,
for the upgrading of Main Road No. 220, which caters for much of the local traffic using
Additionally, Council received funding of $4.4 million for the deviation of Main
Road No. 195 along Leggetts Lane.
As I said, I have had meetings with the Department of Main Roads and we are
concerned about the effective use of the funds given to the council. At a meeting
the council said it will signpost major intersections on Main Road 220 to the
effect, "These roads are funded by the Government. Do not blame council for
these conditions". If one were to deviate off the main roads and travel along
council-controlled roads, one would perceive no noticeable improvement in the
standard of the roads. So the problem is common throughout the area. I ask
the Government to investigate this matter, particularly the way in which the
funds provided are being used. To my knowledge this is the first time a council
has admitted that it cannot fulfil its road construction program; as a result the
Department of Main Roads has removed from the council's control certain
sections of Main Road 220. I bring to the attention of honourable members
and the Minister that the Department of Main Roads has said that the matter
must be looked into.
Mr SINGLETON (Coffs Harbour), Minister for Administrative Services
and Assistant Minister for Transport [5.34]: The honourable member for
Cessnock raises a problem which is common throughout New South Wales.
Both Government and Opposition members are complaining about roads. The
honourable member for Port Stephens spoke about roads also. The Labor Party
was in government in this State for 12 years and virtually screwed down the
roads the whole of that time. The Commonwealth has cut not only funding for
roads this year but also $540 million off the general funding for New South
Wales, which has made it extremely difficult for this State. The honourable
member for Cessnock is to be congratulated on the way he is representing his
area in this place. It is the first time for many years that I have heard a member
representing the Cessnock electorate raise in Parliament matters of a local
nature. It is a welcome change. The people of Cessnock will benefit greatly in
the next four years.
The Government has placed a high priority on roads and has increased
funding dramatically. This years' funding for roads has increased by 14 per cent.
The Government has reintroduced flood damage restoration funding, and bridge
subsidy funding will commence shortly. It is to be hoped that allocating moneys
collected from fuel tax for road maintenance and construction will be of much
benefit to road users. The honourable member has raised the matter of Main
Road 220, which honourable members know is an important road in the
Cessnock area. I have travelled the road. I acknowledge that it is in a poor state
of repair; it has received a low level of maintenance. It does not stand up to
the traffic. I shall ask the Department of Main Roads to inspect that road,
having in mind funding for next year's road funding program. It is hoped that
special consideration will be given to Main Road 220, which will assist the
council to provide for the people that the honourable member for Cessnock so
excellently represents in this House.
3842 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
Mr NEWMAN (Cabramatta) [5.37]: I refer to an article published in
the Sydney Morning Herald on 12th November entitled, "The Wild West",
written by Malcolm Brown and John Sampson. Apart from the headline, "The
Wild West", the article pictured a young, tough looking school student, a non-
resident of Cabramatta, with a knife wound in his side. It included statements
like "Death in Cabramatta", "Sydney's Wild West: The War of the Gangs",
and this quote from a police liaison officer:
There are godfathers out there who are older. They deal in drugs and they deal in
murder and young people follow them.
It included also a heading that would not please the police community relations
people, "Coming from a police State, Vietnamese retain a fear and distrust of
police". This is the worst example of an article on Cabramatta that I have seen
for some time. It is an insult to the Vietnamese community and the residents
of Cabramatta generally. Malcolm Brown was not interested in the good or fair
side of Cabramatta. He was interested only in the bad side of Cabramatta, not
the people as a whole. He virtually came to Cabramatta to look at the toilet
bowls and nothing else. I am ashamed of the article. Malcolm Brown portrayed
himself as a good-guy reporter coming out winning the confidence of people,
talking to the innocent public. We thought Cabramatta was going to get a fair
go in this article. He has made it most difficult for future journalists coming to
The Cabramatta shopkeepers have become most sensitive to newspaper
reporters. I have had to defend some reporters who have come to Cabramatta
to learn the real facts and depict the true story. Many people, such as local
aldermen, the police, community liaison officers and residents, have reflected
on the article. Honourable members could visit any suburb in New South Wales
and find something on which to reflect. It is a shame that Cabramatta is so often
singled out for notoriety. The newspaper article fails to recognize that when the
reporter denigrates Cabramatta he paints the whole community with the same
brush. It is unfortunate that only one square kilometre of Cabramatta-the town
centre-receives notoriety repeatedly and is jumped on from time to time by
the newspapers in these sorts of circumstances.
Cabramatta should be commended for its racial integration and
tolerance. It is an Asian wonderland of shopping, food and culture. It has had
its share of crime, which is deplored by all communities, but that is receiving
the strongest police attention. During the day and in the evening Cabramatta
shopping centre is as safe as any in New South Wales, with police foot patrols
operating in the midnight to early morning hours. The Cabramatta police unit
is one of the most hard working units, and in 95 per cent of crimes reported
has made a successful arrest. Property and commercial rates have increased by
100 per cent. Tourism is booming in Cabramatta, with more than 10 000
visitors on a weekend. A Cabramatta tourism development council has been
set up, with a membership of 21 notable local people. The council's intention
is to improve the image of Cabramatta, attract tourism to it, and co-operate
with the Faideld city council to improve its standing and image. Whatever one
may call Cabramatta-and I say this to members of the print media-one
should remember that 55 000 people call it home.
Mr CAUSLEY (Clarence), Minister for Natural Resources [5.42]: The
honourable member for Cabramatta has raised an interesting issue this evening
about which I have been concerned in the past few weeks-the standard of
reporting in some of Sydney's newspapers. It is a sad reflection on the great
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3843
newspaper that the Sydney Morning Herald used to be that some of its present
reporting is not factual. Furthermore, some of the reporters-and I have had
reason to become aware of this in recent weeks-do not bother to check the
facts with a Government department; they write a story without any facts. Why
spoil a good story with facts! Unfortunately, those types of stories are
irresponsible. I am appalled that the standards of such a newspaper could have
fallen to such an extent that when one complains to its editors, they are not
willing to print a retraction, though it has been proved to them that their
reportin is incorrect. Surely there has to be some self-discipline in the print
media i its freedom is to be acknowledged in Australia, which it should be. If
there is no self-discipline, the print media may be responsible for printing non-
BALLINA ELECTORATE ROADS
Mr D. L. PAGE (Ballina) [5.43]: I wish to raise an important matter of
concern to the people in my electorate-namely two roads that give access to
the City of Lismore. The two roads I wish to bring to the Minister's attention
are the section of the Bruxner Highway between Rous Road and Kadina Street
at Goonellabah, near Lismore, and Main Road 147 between Woodburn and
Wyrallah. The section of road at Goonellabah is know to the locals as the
missing link, because it does not conform to the standard of road on either side.
On both approaches to the missing link there are duel carriageways, which
abruptly narrow to a single lane each way. The effect of this sudden narrowing
is to create serious con estion in peak hours, causing long delays and many
accidents. We expect tra c jams in Sydney, but not 2 kilometres from Lismore.
In view of the high traffic flow of 20 000 vehicles a day and because this
is the only major road to and from Lismore from the Alstonville and Ballina
areas, it is essential to look seriously at doing something about this 1.2
kilometres of narrow road. I note that upgrading of this section of highway is
listed on the capital works program, but it will not be commenced in the
foreseeable future. I have contacted the Lismore city council engineer who has
given me a council estimate of $270,000 to correct the situation. This would
be done by widening the road by one lane, thereby making the road of uniform
width and eliminating the missing link. The council informs me that the
foundation for the widening is in a good state of preparedness, so preparation
costs would be minimal. Council is keen to create this extra lane as soon as
funding could be arranged. I therefore ask the Minister whether he would be
willing to make a special one-off grant to Lismore city council of $270,000 to
enable the council to do this relatively minor but essential upgrading. Not only
will this measure reduce congestion, but it will save lives and avoid many
In making this request, I especially thank the Goonellabah Progress
Association for its support in this matter. I know the Minister for
Administrative Services and Assistant Minister for Transport is conscious of
the terrible state of many New South Wales country roads and is working hard
to rectify the legacy left by the previous Labor administration. He knows about
these problems because since coming to office he has visited 60 councils all over
New South Wales and has received another 24 councils in his office. The other
section of road I wish to draw to attention is the 12 kilometres of unsealed road
leaving Woodburn on the way to Wyrallah on Main Road 147. Since the
construction a few years ago of the Woodburn bridge there has been a marked
increase in daily commuter traffic to Lismore on this road. However as the road
has deteriorated, owing to the extra load and lack of maintenance in recent
3844 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
years, most of this traffic has been compelled to take the longer trip via Coraki.
The Department of Main Roads and Lismore Council have concluded that the
present traffic flow does not warrant the sealing of the 12 kilometres of Main
Road 147, so it remains unsealed. This section is almost impassable on
occasions so it is little wonder traffic flow has decreased.
In addition to the new bridge completed a few years ago at Woodburn,
another new bridge is planned for Coraki and expected to be completed by the
end of 1989. Unfortunately, unless something is done to seal the section of road
between the two bridges, the local community, and indeed the taxpayer, will
not receive the full benefits of having the two new bridges at Woodburn and
Coraki. Furthermore, after flooding, this road is the first road to re-establish a
road link between Lismore and the mid-Richmond townships. The 12
kilometres of road would be relatively easy to upgrade, as it is flat, relatively
straight and wide. Money spent trying to maintain the road in an unsealed
condition is not cost efective. As soon as it is put into a reasonable condition,
it attracts larger volumes of traffic and quickly reverts to its present sorry state,
especially after rain. It is used by cane trucks, which do a lot of damage on
unsealed roads in areas like Woodburn where the annual rainfall is among the
highest in the State.
If the 12-kilometre section of road were sealed, the entire road from
Woodburn to Lismore, covering about 36 kilometres would then be sealed,
which would not only reduce the accident rate; it woud lessen the costs to
motorists of damage incurred to vehicles having to negotiate potholes, in some
cases a foot deep, and would open up the towns of Woodburn, Evans Head
and Lismore, bringing economic benefits to all three centres. I am sure the
Minister is aware that Lismore council, though regarding sealing this section of
road as a lower priority than other projects, would appreciate any assistance or
suggestions the Minister may have to bring forward the sealing of this important
section of road in my electorate.
Mr SINGLETON (Coffs Harbour), Minister for Administrative Services
and Assistant Minister for Transport [5.48]: I acknowledge the problems raised
by the honourable member for Ballina, who has expressed grave concern to me
previously about the roads in this electorate. At his invitation I have visited
the shire to inspect the roads. The missing link, as it is known, on the Bruxner
Highway is a death trap for motorists travelling either way, because one is
travelling on a good road and suddenly one comes to a two-lane piece of road
with broken edges that is very poor indeed. The $270,000 for upgrading is not
insignificant when one realizes that almost every council in the State has similar
problems with roads. When one travels further west on the Bruxner Highway,
because of the lack of concern, lack of interest and lack of money provided by
the former Labor Government, parts of that highway are broken up and have
reverted to gravel.
Our great highways and the web of roads throughout the State provide
the proper infrastructure on which country people can travel and they ensure
that those engaged in trade and commerce can travel to and from the markets.
Of course, when roads start to break up and become gravel, the cost of their
maintenance increases dramatically. The federal member representing the area,
the Hon. Ian Robinson, has also raised this matter with me on the telephone.
He has pointed to the desperate need for this piece of road to be completed. I
will take up the matter with the Department of Main Roads. However, its
completion is not the first priority of the Lismore city council. I would like the
council to re-examine its priorities in relation to that road. The Government is
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3845
keen to return to local councils as much authority as is possible in relation to
Main Road 147 is part of a large network of roads feeding the great
regional city of Lismore, as the honourable member has stated. I have noted
that it does not have a high priority with the Department of Main Roads as
there is an alternative sealed route through Coraki. The honourable member
has raised the matter of the proposed new bridge at Coraki. I believe that its
construction will change the need for the upgrading of this road. The
Government has placed a high priority on the construction of that bridge. I
know that the honourable member is working hard for his electorate; he is
already a man of the people in the area and is well recognized for his attention
to the problems in the electorate. I assure the honourable member that I will
raise the matter with the Department of Main Roads.
Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr J. D. Booth): Order! The Minister has
exhausted his time for speaking.
CIVIC REFORM ASSOCIATION OF SYDNEY LIMITED
Mr NAGLE (Auburn) [5.51]: As the member for Auburn, I represent a
seat in the Sydney metropolitan area, and my electors and I travel to the city
of Sydney to shop and to work. Today a serious matter involving the
forthcoming election for the Council of the City of Sydney has come to my
attention. The people of the city of Sydney are entitled to know that if they
vote for the Civic Reform Association in reality they will be voting for an
incorporated company, namely the Civic Reform Association of Sydney
Limited, which was incorporated on 25th August, 1959. In advertisements
which have appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald from 23rd November to
Saturday, 26th November, as well as today in the Daily Mirror and in the
Australian Financial Review, the word "Limited" had been deleted. Section 2 18
of the National Companies Code requires that a company should at all times
use its incorporated title in its advertising, in setting out its letters, in paying
accounts by cheque, and so on. I table all the advertisements, as well as
pamphlets and campaign material.
Mr ACTING-SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member does not have
the capacity to table anything. He should ensure that he uses the correct
Mr NAGLE: I make the documents available to honourable members.
Only one document, which is a letter from Jeremy Bingham, contains the word
"Limited" at the bottom; all the other material has omitted the word "Limited
from the title. The second point that has been brought to my attention is that,
when one examines the register of disclosures of the Sydney city council
concerning development applications in regard to the central business district
from 9th April, 1984, to 9th March, 1987, one finds that 18 disclosures were
made by the 28 aldermen; seven of those were made by Jeremy Bingham, which
means that 38.8 per cent of the disclosures were made by that one person; and
the value of those disclosures was $104,730,000, representing 38.5 per cent of
the total value of disclosures.
Mr Causley: On a point of order. It has been long acknowledged in this
House that private members' statements should deal with matters concerning
the member's electorate and matters. of concern to his or her electors. The
matter being raised by the honourable member for Auburn is way outside that
3846 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
Mr Nagle: On the point of order. The electors of Auburn constantly
travel into the city of Sydney to work; they shop here. They are invited to visit
the Darling Harbour project. They are entitled to know what will happen to
the city of Sydney. The 50 000 people in my electorate are entitled to know
what is going on in the city of Sydney.
Mr ACTING-SPEAKER: Order! During private members' statements
members have raised matters that have had nothing directly to do with their
own electorates. In that sense, the honourable member for Auburn is on
reasonable ground and did not need to advance the rather spurious argument
that he put forward in an effort to justify the line he was taking. However, I
indicate that traditionally private members' statements deal with matters of
concern to a particular member, and they should not be used to make a general
attack either on members of this House or persons outside this Parliament.
Nevertheless, I shall allow the honourable member for Auburn to continue.
Mr NAGLE: Mr Bonthorne, who was also an alderman of the Sydney
city council, declared an interest over that same period in developments worth
$160,430,000, representing 59.8 per cent of developments in the central business
district which were declared by the 28 aldermen. Thus, 97.66 per cent of all
declarations made during the period by the 28 aldermen were made by Mr
Bingham and Mr Bonthorne. These matters become very important when one
considers the occupations of these two gentlemen, the companies with which
they are connected, and the way in which they have dealt with developments
in the past and the way in which they might do so in the future if they are
successful at the forthcoming council elections. The people of Sydney need to
know that when they vote for the Civic Reform Association of Sydney Limited
they vote for an incorporated public company which was registered in 1959.
These people have wilfully and recklessly ignored the requirements of the
National Companies Code by deliberately deleting the word "Limited" from
their advertisements. As a lawyer Mr Bingham would know that he is required
under section 2 18 of the National Companies Code to declare that his company
is a limited company and that anyone who deals with his company is entitled
to the protection of the Companies Code.
Mr CAUSLEY (Clarence), Minister for Natural Resources [5.56]: The
honourable member for Auburn has raised a fairly spurious matter this evening,
obviously for political reasons. When the electors of the city of Sydney go to
the polls no doubt they will remember who sacked the Sydney city council in
the first place. They will remember quite well the shambles to which the Sydney
city council had been reduced, the fact that the council had problems, and that
the Labor Party was mainly responsible for those problems. In that
circumstance, no doubt they will vote for the Civic Reform party at the election.
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3847
Mr GRAHAM (The Entrance) [5.58]: I wish to bring before the House
a serious problem. This problem was brought to my attention by a Mrs Baines,
one of my constituents, who has two sons, one aged 25 and one aged 27, both
of whom suffer from an insidious disease. I speak of chronic fatigue syndrome
or myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as post viral syndrome. In my
electorate alone there are at least 400 sufferers from this debilitating disease,
and it is estimated that Australia may have up to 10 000 sufferers from the
disease, which, until recently, had been completely dismissed by the medical
profession as a disease of malingerers. The typical signs and symptoms of
patients in Australia include chronic fatigue with bouts of extreme muscle
tiredness, often accompanied by dizziness and a fear of falling. Even simple
forms of exercise can render a person too weak to lift his or her arms and legs.
Some people find it difficult to hold a cup or clean their teeth. It is quite
common for patients to make the comment that they feel that there is really
nothing wrong with their muscles except that they just feel weak. Frequently
nausea accompanies the tiredness, and abnormal periods of weight gain or
weight loss are quite common. Confused thinking, lack of concentration,
memory loss and mood swings are common. Imtability and insomnia are also
frequent. Changes in perception, blurred vision and noise intolerance are
common. Muscle pains are a prominent feature in some cases, together wlth
muscle twitching, headaches and neuralgic pains, particularly to the head and
neck, which could be localized in any part of the body.
Mrs Baines, a very hard-working member of the New South Wales
branch of the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Society, has requested my assistance
in approaching the Minister to support the society's application for non-
government organization funding for 1988-89. The society has 1 100 members
in New South Wales, some severely disabled, and most unable to hold down a
job. There are more ME sufferers than there are victims of multiple sclerosis.
Lack of medical knowledge and the inappropriate treatment of people with the
syndrome, with some being sent from doctor to doctor, have resulted in
overservicing with inappropriate diagnostic tests and treatment. Some patients
have been labelled as neurotic or malingerers, and this is most distressing for
people with an organic illness. Therefore, up until now, many sufferers have
been treated unjustly by the health system. As a result of this, the role of the
society has been to distribute information kits to the medical profession and to
carers and sufferers of the syndrome.
The society also provides a back-up role to the medical profession for
sufferers, as many are unable to work. This results in financial hardship and
family and relationship breakdowns. That is why the society, in its non-
government organization funding submission, has sought funding for a social
worker to help carers and patients to resolve their problems. Through fund
raising the society is supporting major research being undertaken into the illness
at Prince Henry Hospital, Prince of Wales Hospital, and at the University of
New South Wales, headed by its patron, Professor John Dwyer, head of the
School of Medicine at the University of New South Wales. The society provides
also an annual research scholarship to a medical researcher and is assisting with
a major study being conducted by the Department of Health in the North Coast
In New Zealand the department of health recently sponsored an ME
awareness week and submitted clinical information to doctors and pharmacists.
In the United States of America the department of health provided recently $1.3
million for ME research. In Britain a legislative bill has been passed requiring
3848 ASSEMBLY 29 November, I988
an annual report to be made to Parliament on progress made with investigation
of the causes and treatment of ME. As New South Wales lags behind these
progressive nations, will the Minister please take this into consideration in
reaching his decision on funding?
Mr CAUSLEY (Clarence), Minister for Natural Resources [6.2]: I shall
pass on the concerns of the honourable member to the Minister for Health.
Undoubtedly this is a disease that has raised its head in recent times and is
certainly worthy of exploration of its problems and how they can be treated. I
shall be pleased to pass the matter on to the Minister for Health.
Private members' statements noted.
[MrActing-Speaker (Mr J. D. Booth) left the chair at 6.3 p.m. The House resumed
at 7.30 p.m.]
ELECTRICITY COMMISSION (AMENDMENT) BILL
Debate resumed from an earlier hour.
Mr PICKARD: The Commission of Audit found that the composition
of boards of authorities generally included various sectional interest groups.
Often such specific interest groups work against the overriding objective of
efficiency within the Electricity Commission. The Government believes that the
supreme and ultimate function set forth in the creation of the commission was
that it should be a commercially viable enterprise free from interference from
other sources, so that it might produce for the people of New South Wales the
cheapest power possible. The Commission of Audit reported that, because of
this practice, too much emphasis was placed on representing specific interest
groups, to the detriment sometimes of the board and the commission itself, with
insufficient emphasis on managerial and financial expertise.
It is most important to take appropriate action to overcome the vast
handicaps that were left to this Government and to the commission. I remind
the House that the problems foisted upon the commission and its board started
with a concept that may have been good in its origin but in its result was totally
wrong. There was no positive attempt to ensure that the excess capacity, created
by the commission in building mammoth power stations, was taken up by
industries that were locked into the end product. The vision may not have been
bad, but the conclusion was not taken care of. This Government believes that
it is most important to have the most efficient and commercially expert
managerial team possible in order to give the people of New South Wales the
commission that they require and should have. The Commission of Audit
reported that, because of the practice of taking members of specific interest
groups and putting them into positions on the board, insufficient emphasis was
placed on the management and financial expertise required and demanded by
the commission. This is not an acceptable situation for the people. The public
should not subsidize deficiencies in statutory authorities as a result of the lack
of appropriate business skills. The most efficient level of management possible
should be available to State enterprises.
The 2.3 million electricity consumers in New South Wales are faced with
an annual debt repayment by the Electricity Commission of $585 million. That
means that each electricity consumer is burdened with a charge of $256 a year
over and above the cost of energy they use in their home. It is imperative that
that charge is removed and that the cost of electricity is stabilized and reduced.
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3849
Electricity consumers have the right to know that the decision makers on
electricity matters are well qualified for this task. The commission board is, in
essence, a group of people supervising the construction and operation of power
stations which at today's prices would cost nearly $3 billion each. The electricity
industry has almost $23 billion in assets, and a multi-billion turnover, and is
one of the largest business enterprises in this State. It must have in its employ
the most competent people available to ensure that it can do efficiently what it
was created to do. In conclusion, I expect the support of all members of the
House in seeking to provide for the Electricity Commission a board structure
which will serve best the interests of all electricity consumers in New South
Wales. I commend the bill.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Rogan.
SUPERANNUATION (AMENDMENT) BILL
POLICE REGULATION (SUPERANNUATION) AMENDMENT BILL
STATE AUTHORITIES NON-CONTRIBUTORY SUPERANNUATION
STATE AUTHORITIES SUPERANNUATION (AMENDMENT) BILL
SUPERANNUATION ADMINISTRATION (AMENDMENT) BILL
Bills introduced and read a first time.
Mr FAHEY (Southern Highlands), Minister for Industrial Relations and
Employment, and Minister Assisting the Premier [7.38]: I move:
That these bills be now read a second time.
These bills represent a very substantial reorganization of the financial
management of government employee superannuation in the State. In particular
provision is made for substantial reorganization of the employer financing
arrangements of the closed State Superannuation Fund. One might be prompted
to ask why the Government has taken these apparently drastic and
unprecedented measures. The fact of the matter is that the measures have been
largely dictated by the announcement on 25th May, 1988, by the federal
Treasurer, Mr Keating, of quite sweeping changes to the taxation of
superannuation. Of special consequence for the Government's employee
superannuation schemes was the announcement that, for the first time, statutory
schemes would be taxed. Essentially, these announcements imposed a tax of 15
per cent from July 1988 on the employer contributions to superannuation and
on the investment income of superannuation funds. The income earned by
funds held to meet pensions in payment will be exempted. The taxation on
employer contributions will be offset by a reduction of tax on end benefits in
the hands of the recipients.
At the same time the federal Treasurer announced that, from 1st July,
1990, public sector schemes would be brought under the umbrella of the
Commonwealth Occupational Superannuation Standards Act 1987, and would
be subject to the "Reasonable Benefit Limits" imposed by that legislation. Non-
compliance would mean exposure of schemes to punitive rates of taxation.
Because the impact of the Commonwealth's main tax proposals was virtually
immediate-that is, from 1st July, 1988-it was necessary for the Government
3850 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
to act at the earliest opportunity. The proposed legislation has two basic
purposes: first, the financial rearrangement of the major schemes is required to
ensure that they are not exposed to punitive taxation; and, second, the putting
in place of a mechanism that would permit adjustment of employee benefits
where tax is paid on employer contributions, and offset by reductions in tax in
the beneficiaries' hands, or where benefits are subject to "Reasonable Benefit
Although in a sense this State is fortunate in having recently upgraded
and financially rationalized its main ongoing scheme by introducing the State
authorities superannuation scheme, the restructure of the now closed State
Superannuation Fund, which still covers more than 100 000 employees has long
been overdue. This is because of the patchwork quilt approach to amending
benefits in the scheme and hence the employer funding arrangements for those
benefits over a period of more than 70 years. Hence a major element of this
legislative package deals with the simplification of the employer funding
provisions of the scheme.
I will briefly outline the measures taken in this legislative package. The
first is major amendments to the Superannuation Act 1916 have been framed
so as to provide for a more flexible system of employer financing, improved
financial accountability and staff mobility. Second is amendment to all major
public sector superannuation schemes to allow reduction in employees' pre-tax
benefits to offset payment of taxation by employers-with the result that
employees are no worse off than they would have been before the impost of the
Commonwealth tax arrangement. The third is streamlining of the
superannuation administration in the new tax paying environment by
accelerating transfer of members of minor closed schemes to the State
authorities superannuation scheme. And the fourth is amendment of provisions
where essential in remaining public sector superannuation schemes that do not
comply with regulations under the Commonwealth's Occupational
Superannuation Standards Act, or with anti-discrimination legislation either of
the Commonwealth or the State.
Before I deal with these proposed amendments in more detail I think it
is incumbent upon me to say something further about the announcements of
the federal Treasurer which have brought about the need for the amendments,
and the way the new Commonwealth tax regime for superannuation has been
put in place. To date the Government has not had the benefit of the guidance
of any legislation enacted by the Commonwealth. Indeed, until the
Commonwealth legislation is passed, there can be no legal basis for the
Commonwealth's proposals. All that the Commonwealth has produced so far
are several obviously hastily conceived press statements by the federal Treasurer
and a series of supporting papers. First of all, what is the substance of the
Commonwealth proposals, for that is all they are at this time?
From the point of view of public sector superannuation, there were five
key elements of the announcement of the federal Treasurer on 25th May, 1988.
First, the investment income of schemes less deductions as presently permitted
for taxpayers, and allowing for dividend imputation, is to be taxed at 15 per
cent, but earnings on assets held to meet pensions in payment will not be taxed.
Second, employer contributions to "funded" schemes after 30th June, 1988, will
be taxed in the hands of the scheme at 15 per cent. Third, the tax on employer
contributions will be offset by a reduction in the tax on end benefits in the hands
of employees by 15 percentage points, but this reduction would not apply to
"unfunded" benefits where the employer contributions had not been taxed.
Fourth, public sector schemes are to be brought under the same regulatory
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3851
framework, namely the Commonwealth Occupational Superannuation Standards
Act 1987, as private sector schemes from 1st July, 1990, and are to be taxed
in the same way as private sector schemes from 1st July, 1988. Fifth, a sliding
scale of "Reasonable Benefit Limits" will apply to maximum benefits payable
in superannuation schemes.
The impact on New South Wales public sector schemes of these five
changes was significant mainly because of the vulnerability of the schemes, not
simply in being exposed to taxation for the first time but in being exposed to
standards which would carry severely punitive taxation rates for non-
compliance-currently at 49 per cent. Previously State schemes were exempt
under section 23 (JAA) of the Commonwealth Income Tax Assessment Act 1936.
Baldly stated, the Commonwealth's plan is to bring forward taxation receipts
in the form of taxation on end superannuation benefits in the hands of the
beneficiaries by several decades. It is all very well for some Commonwealth
policy to be activated to temporarily assuage an apparently unquenchable thirst
for more and more revenue but, as I stated in my speech to the Conference of
Administrators of Government Superannuation Schemes held in Sydney on 20th
July this year, it is simply not acceptable for changes as sweeping as those
announced to be made by press statement.
To make the matter worse, these changes were to apply almost
immediately-from 1st July 1988-in an area of administration complicated
enough, but already made more complex than it should have been by
Commonwealth changes similarly announced by press release in 1983 and 1985.
Indeed, some elements of those earlier releases are only now being put into
legislation-three years after they were announced. The impact of the present
changes on public sector schemes is amplified by the sheer numbers of persons
affected, about 400 000 in New South Wales alone, and the size of the money
sums involved, amounting, again in New South Wales alone, to literally billions
of dollars of State revenue. To introduce measures of the magnitude involved
here by press release is not the action of a responsible and well ordered
government. This view, and the fact that the measures themselves have not been
thought through were referred to by the Premier, the Hon. N. F. Greiner, in
his speech on 6th October, 1988, in opening the 27th National Conference of
the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia in Sydney. Mr Greiner
had this to say:
It was with some dismay that we heard of Mr Keating's proposals to tax the
earnings and employer contributions to superannuation schemes. As you are all aware,
Mr Keating's assertions that there will be no net tax on earnings (because funds will change
their investment allocations to achieve that result) are nonsense. In the current climate,
nearly a year after the great stock market crash, any large fund which was so imprudent
with its members' contributions could find its members taking some legal action.
From this State's point of view, as an employer of some 400 000 persons in various
ways, the imposition of tax on a fund with some $8 billion has fairly serious implications.
Indeed, as originally stated, Mr Keating's proposals would have increased the unfunded
liability of $ I0 billion by about 17 per cent-some $1,700 million-since the employer
contributions to fund that liability would have been taxed whilst it would have been
impossible to reduce benefits.
My Government made strong representations to Canberra on this matter and Mr
Keating then issued another press release. This latest statement removes much of our
concern about the financial effects of Canberra's proposals but 1 am concerned that such
an obvious problem had not been foreseen and that there was no consultation prior to
But, as I am sure you are all too well aware, there is still no legislation available
from Canberra. We now have a situation where tax is supposed to be payable in respect
of fund income since 1st July. This means that a prudent fund administrator should
3852 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
withhold that part of the fund's income rather than paying it to members-without any
legislative authority. If the administrator did not do this, the fund would eventually have
to find the taxes from other sources.
I sympathize with fund administrators and trustees who have been put into such
difficult positions. It is time that Government by press release was replaced by proper
public administration-i.e., the timely passage of appropriate legislation, preferably after
a process of consultation with all sectors of the superannuation industry.
The Premier's reference to the unfunded liability is a reference to disclosures
in the report of the New South Wales Commission of Audit established to report
on the State's liabilities as soon as the Government came to office. Though large
sections of New South Wales public sector superannuation are funded by the
State as they accrue-an appropriately responsible approach-some large
sectors are only partly funded, and some are fully unfunded. The
Commonwealth's original announcements as to taxation of employer
contributions made no distinctions between employer contributions which were
in respect of a liability accrued prior to 1st July, 1988, or after 1st July, 1988-
as opposed to the date of the payment. Thus the new tax regimen would have
severely affected the Commonwealth's own schemes which have at least some
element of funding. With these obvious flaws and having in mind the sheer size
of the problem to be confronted, the New South Wales State Government was
not satisied to accept the Commonwealth's proposals for superannuation as a
fait accornpli. Accordingly, while continuing to press upon the federal Treasury
the flaws contained in the original announcement, the Government has sought
appropriate legal and tax management advice. To do otherwise would have been
an act of irresponsible government given the present circumstances.
The first question that exercised the Government's mind was the
constitutionality of the Commonwealth's proposals. The advice of the New
South Wales Solicitor General, Mr Keith Mason, Q.C., was obtained. Once it
was established that there was an intention to bind the Crown in right of the
State by the proposed new tax, and there was no question of a superannuation
scheme being an agent of the Crown, the key question was whether the proposals
would impose a tax on the property of the State. Section 114 of the
Commonwealth Constitution invalidates such a tax. The view of the Solicitor
General-and this is supported by other eminent constitutional lawyers
consulted by the State Authorities Superannuation Board-is that section 114
does not protect the funds and the income deriving from those funds held in a
The second concern of the Government was whether its proposals for
legislation would be effective to protect the superannuation funds from the
imposition of punitive tax rates and would be effective to comply with the
requirements of the federal Treasurer's announcements. The seeking of
appropriate advice was of course severely hampered by there being available
no Commonwealth legislation upon which to frame either a request for advice
or an informed response. Nevertheless, the advice of the eminent consulting
business advisers and chartered accounts, Price Waterhouse, was obtain.=d.The
international firm of consulting actuaries William M. Mercer Campbell, Cook
and Knight Pt . Limited was also consulted. Subject to an appropriate caveat
on the need or review once legislation is available, Price Waterhouse and
Mercer Campbell Cook and Knight both confirmed the effectiveness of the New
South Wales proposals for ensuring compliance of the public sector schemes
with the Commonwealth's new tax regime and that the proposals would not
breach existing anti-avoidance legislation.
29November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3853
In this context I emphasize that the legislative package before the House
has been designed with the purpose of enabling compliance of State schemes
with the Commonwealth proposals. There is no suggestion that any attempt is
being made to evade or avoid tax. The provisions are designed simply to enable
the State to benefit from the concessions in the Commonwealth's proposals to
which it is fairly entitled, and to ensure that beneficiaries of the schemes do
not receive windfall gains to which they are not fairly entitled at the expense
of the State where tax offsets are available in their hands under the new
arrangements. The State is not in the business of setting up a tax avoidance
scheme and the appropriateness of the proposals is confirmed by advice received
from the Commonwealth. Advice of senior Commonwealth Treasury officers is
that these proposals pose no difficulties in terms of the Commonwealth's
proposals, and are consistent with them.
I turn now to a closer examination of the legislative package. In devising
an appropriate and effective way of dealing with the Commonwealth's proposals
a number of problems had to be faced. First, the State's public sector
superannuation schemes are peculiarly vulnerable to high level taxation because:
assets held to meet pension payments are not distinguishable from assets held
for future emerging benefits; and most schemes are at least in part of the benefit
promise or defined benefit type which prevents a tax offset for tax paid by the
employer on benefit payment to the employee. Second, though the more recent
State authorities superannuation scheme complies with the standards now to
be imposed by Commonwealth legislation, many schemes now closed to new
members-including the State Superannuation Fund-do not. Third, the
imposition of reasonable benefit limits implies the power to reduce benefits;
such a power is not contained in the State legislation. In devising legislation to
cope with these problems, the State has had regard not only to the
Commonwealth's new tax requirements but also to questions of public
accountability and superannuation funding following the report of the New
South Wales Commission of Audit. Also importantly, employment relations and
efficiency objectives such as mobility of employment have received appropriate
attention. I will return to these matters later. For the present I will outline the
broad provisions of the proposed legislation.
First I would like to say that, should the Commonwealth produce
legislation, in the fullness of time, which substantially varies from the position
as it is currently understood, the legislation before the House is flexible enough
to accommodate such changes. The legislation only provides for the framework
within which my superannuation administration can react, in consultation with
member representatives and industry experts. The legislation does not bind the
Government to any inflexible course of action. The most important elements
of this legislation, which are directly the outcome of the Commonwealth's
proposals, are those which relate to the reduction of employee benefits to offset
the tax paid on employer contributions and the imposition of reasonable benefit
limits. It will be recalled that in the hands of the beneficiaries, there will be a
tax reduction of 15 percentage points of any employer-financed lump sum
benefit. This reduction is intended to mirror the taxation already charged by
the Commonwealth on employer contributions. It will be perceived that where
there is a benefit promise or defined benefit payable by the employer and that
employer has paid a 15 per cent tax on its contributions, the benefit is fixed
and the recipient will, as a result, receive a windfall in the form of the tax
concession I have just mentioned. The tax concession is intended by the
Commonwealth as an offset to the reduction of benefits brought about by taxing
employer contributions. However, almost all of the New South Wales
superannuation schemes for State employees are of the defined benefit type.
3854 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
The response of this Government has been to draft legislation that will
enable the reduction of employer financed defined benefits by the amount of
tax that has been paid in each case on the employer contributions for those
benefits. This, it is considered, will then permit the operation of the
Commonwealth taxation concession to the benefit recipient in the way
intended-as an offset for a reduction that has aIready taken place for tax paid
by the employer. It would be unrealistic to expect that the new tax regime was
intended to permit a windfall concession to employees without this form of
offset. The mechanism put in place in the several pieces of superannuation
legislation governing the major ongoing schemes has been framed flexibly
because there is not yet in force any Commonwealth legislation setting out the
precise details of the tax to be levied. Nevertheless, the powers of the
administering State Authorities Superannuation Board to reduce a benefit have
been suitably confined to protect the employees and beneficiaries.
The Acts amended in this way are: the Police Regulation
(Superannuation) Act 1906; the Superannuation Act 1916; the State Authorities
Superannuation Act 1987; and the State Authorities Non-contributory
Superannuation Act 1987. Schemes for State employees governed by other
pieces of legislation, for example, under part 9 of the Government Railways
Act 19 12, and under part 12 of the Transport Act 1930, have not been amended
at this time. This is because of the expectation that in the near future
negotiations will be completed to roll these and other minor closed schemes into
the State authorities superannuation scheme. There are regulation-making
powers under legislation governing that scheme that enable that to be done, and
I expect negotiations under way to reach finality within the foreseeable future.
Accordingly, people at present under such schemes would ultimately come under
the taxation and benefit adjustment provisions to meet taxation of the SAS
The second major thrust of the Commonwealth's proposals affecting the
taxation status of public sector superannuation, as I have already said, has been
to bring the public sector schemes under the umbrella of the OSSA legislation-
that is, the Commonwealth Occupational Superannuation Standards Act 1987-
which will take effect from 1st July, 1990. The Commonwealth has announced
also the provision by regulation under that Act of so-called reasonable benefit
limits, or RBLs. The effect of the RBLs is to limit the lump sum, or lump sum
equivalent, paid or payable from any source whatsoever to a person on
retirement to some predetermined multiple of salary at or near retirement. The
RBLs proposed to be imposed on lump sums are on a sliding scale as follows:
0-$35,000 per annum salary, a multiple of 7; for the excess $35,000 to $65,000
per annum salary, a multiple of 5; and for the excess over $65,000 per annum
salary, a multiple of 3. Similar provisions are proposed for pension benefits.
The sanction for payment of a benefit which together with payments
from any other source exceeds the RBL for the individual beneficiary is the
imposition on the fund of punitive tax at the full personal rate. It hardly needs
to be said that this is a very severe sanction. Operating as it does, so far as
employer-financed benefits are concerned, largely defined benefit schemes, the
State is faced with a similar problem to that I have outIined already in relation
to the payment of tax. It cannot pay a lesser benefit than that defined without
a specific power of reduction. The proposed amendments to deal with RBLs
are thus cast similarly to the reduction provisions in relation to tax on employer
contributions and are confined to the four Acts referred to already in relation
to those earlier proposed amendments. Again, because of the lack of
Commonwealth legislation, and also because of the expectation that the
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3855
Commonwealth is likely to vary the multiples and the salary thresholds relevant
to RBLs, the reduction provisions, with suitable safeguards, are flexibly cast.
The future application of OSSA standards generally has brought about
several other amendments in this package. They relate, first, to the application
of scheme earning rate in calculating interest to be paid on employee
contributions refunded on termination of employment due to resignation, or
other discharge prior to retirement. Amendments are included to the Police
Regulation (Superannuation) Act 1906 and the Superannuation Act 1916 to
meet this requirement. Certain discriminatory aspects of the spouse benefits
payable under the Police Regulation (Superannuation) Act 1906 have also been
removed to ensure compliance with OSSA. In preparing these complex
amendments to the State's major employee superannuation schemes necessary
to meet the Commonwealth7s new tax proposals, the Government has been
mindful of the fact that it was legislating in respect of employee rights.
The Government accepts that it is the legitimate area of concern of
employee unions and other representative bodies to be aware of and involved
in proposals that essentially affect the benefits and entitlements of employees.
To this end, I authorized the Secretary of the New South Wales Superannuation
Office to set up a working party and dialogue with the Labor Council of New
South Wales, representing all the unions concerned. Arrangements were also
made for an independent actuary, Mr D. Steel of the Alexander Consulting
Group, to advise the Labor Council. I am pleased to report that this dialogue
was conducted in an excellent spirit of co-operation and understanding and will
continue during the implementation stages of the proposals. The Labor Council,
on behalf of the relevant employee unions, accepts the need for the measures
to be taken and has raised no objection to the Government's proposals. In fact,
the Labor Council wrote to me on 9th November, 1988, supporting the
proposed legislation and thanking the Government for setting up the working
party and for allowing the Labor Council's nominated actuary to participate in
discussions with the New South Wales Superannuation Office. This form of
open information sharing has undoubtedly enabled the unions to understand
the complexity of the proposed changes.
I come now to two elements of this legislative package that have derived
from the rearrangement of employee superannuation in the State but are not
direct results of the taxation of public sector superannuation. The first, and by
far the most voluminous in terms of amendments, is the financial restructuring
of the closed State Superannuation Fund governed by the Superannuation Act
1916. Though it is intended in the longer term to roll this scheme into the State
authorities superannuation scheme, that is a considerable undertaking. In the
shorter term, confronted with the need to meet the new tax requirements and
rationalize the employer funding provisions of the scheme for that purpose, the
opportunity has been taken to align these provisions with the far simpler
provisions of the State authorities scheme.
Under the State Superannuation Fund there were, in effect, separate
employer funding provisions devised for every benefit contingency, and every
amendment to benefit provisions. Some of these provisions were awesomely
complex, to the point where years down the track from original enactment no
present administrators of the scheme fully understood them. In addition.
considerable inequities were produced as between various employing bodies in
the State, particularly causing restrictions on employee mobility. I shall
endeavour to outline the major changes. Present provisions establishing the
financial structure of the SSF and the employer funding of the scheme have been
3856 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
repealed. In their place are provisions that set up a series of separate reserves-
one reserve for contributors' contributions and then a set of reserves for
individual employers, or groups of employers. Provisions are made for crediting
and debiting the fund and reserves as appropriate and for the purposes of
payment on earnings of the fund and reserves.
A very important provision seeks to disaggregate the present fund and
distribute it between the new reserves. For this purpose actuaries will be
required to be retained to set the initial values to be attributed to the
contributors' and employers' reserves. This disaggregation process wdl be subject
to publication of the outcome in the Government Gazette. New separate
provisions will enable the setting, in consultation with the Treasurer, of the
employer funding appropriate to each employer or employer group. New
provisions will also enable adjustment of employer reserves in respect of
transfers of employees; there was no previous provision for this purpose in the
SSF. There are, of course, provisions for payment of the various benefits from
the appropriate reserves. Finally, there are also new provisions covering
transfers of employees as a result of government initiatives enabling camage of
cover, preservation of benefit, or portability of benefit, as appropriate. The effect
of these structural changes will be to align the financial arrangements for this
major closed scheme with those of the later ongoing schemes. This should vastly
simplify questions of employer funding for State employers. But, more
important, it will vastly simplify the new and, at first, strange task for the State
to comply with the Commonwealth tax requirements affecting public sector
Finally, I come to questions of overall government policy which are
reflected in this legislation. I have already mentioned the question of mobility
of employees in relation to several of the provisions affecting the State
Superannuation Fund. Now for the first time in that scheme there will be the
ability for people moving to employers not covered by the scheme to carry their
cover. The lack of such provision was previously the major hurdle to general
mobility of State employees in New South Wales. In addition, the provision
for adjustment of employer reserves on transfer of employees will overcome the
second major impediment to mobility of State employees. As I have already
mentioned, too, the putting in place of a government initiated transfer provision
in the SSF, together with the extension of a similar provision in the SASS, will
further enhance employee mobility.
A signal element of the Government's political philosophy on coming
to office found its expression in the report of the New South Wales Commission
of Audit. This was the matter of public accountability for the actions of
government and the expenditure of public funds. The commission's report
sought to establish the liabilities of every New South Wales government
employer. In relation to superannuation, a total unfunded liability for all
employers of the order of $10 billion.was identified. The financial structure of
the State Authorities Superannuation Fund, and that now being put in place in
the State Superannuation Fund, has the important advantage of enabling the
vastly simplified identification of superannuation liabilities. In addition there
is for the first time now to be put in place a common and flexible employer
funding arrangement which will enable employers across the spectrum of State
employment to know and address from year to year their employer liabilities
for superannuation. With the advice and concurrence of the Treasurer, the
Consolidated Fund employers can begin to address responsibly the full
unfunded liability identified by the Commission of Audit.
29 November, I988 ASSEMBLY 3857
In conclusion, I am obliged to say that the measures before the House
are largely foisted upon the State by the precipitate action of the
Commonwealth. Whilst one might philosophically accept that taxation of
superannuation in the overall taxation framework, and its application to public
sector schemes might have been inevitable, I, on behalf of the New South Wales
Government, take issue with the ill-conceived way in which the proposed tax
measures have been framed and announced. As I said at the outset, the
proposed Commonwealth measures, to the extent that the federal Treasurer has
been forced by the representations of this State to go back on important aspects,
are poorly conceived and articulated. Additionally, as I said also at the outset,
legislation by press release is just not acceptable, as it results, in this case, in
even more confusion, particularly among the most seriously affected people-
employees-in an already complex arena. Unfortunately, because of the very
significant meaning of superannuation to employees who have it, they are forced
to dance to the federal Treasurer's tune-and so are their employers, including
governments. The most regrettable aspect of the Commonwealth's proposals is
that, by creating confusion and directly taxing savings for retirement, they may
in fact be driving employer funds away from provision for superannuation and
forcing greater reliance on social security in the future.
Without this present proposed legislation, the State and its employers
in the long term face additional imposts to fund employer superannuation of
the order of $100 million per annum. This is in present dollar terms. I am
pleased to note that the representations made by the State, which forced a
review of the Commonwealth's proposals in respect of unfunded liabilities,
saved the State in present dollar terms approximately $1.7 billion. In the context
of facing the Commonwealth's new tax arrangements, which for obvious reasons
the Government had to do, the opportunity has also been taken to improve the
administration of superannuation in the State and further important
government objectives of responsible financial management, and enhanced
employee mobility. I commend the bills.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Lovelee.
BREAD (AMENDMENT) BILL
Bill introduced and read a first time.
Mr FAHEY (Southern Highlands), Minister for Industrial Relations. and
Employment, and Minister Assisting the Premier [8.18]: I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
The former Labor Government was responsible for introducing amendments
to the Bread Act in 1985 which would allow regulations to be made fixing the
starting and ceasing times for the baking and delivery of bread in New South
Wales. This represented a change to the previous system whereby the State's
industrial tribunals determined operative times for the bread industry through
award coverage. As can be gleaned from the second reading speech of the former
Minister for Industrial Relations, the Hon. P. D. Hills, in sponsoring the 1985
bill, the then Government believed that the Executive was better placed than
the industrial tribunals to assess the public interest in the settlement of the
industry's relevant starting and ceasing times.
3858 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
It is pertinent to inquire how this public interest has been thus far
interpreted. Interestingly, I can inform honourable members that the previous
Labor Government considered that the public good was best served by the
setting of bands of permissible daily times which officially outlawed weekend
bread baking and delivery; rendered unlawful the expanding activities of
speciality hot bread shops in satisfying the public's late-night and weekend
demand for fresh bread; and generally disregarded the production possibilities
of bread manufacturers to efficiently supply a range of quality bread products
at lower prices.
Honourable members on this side of the House are firmly of the view
that government has no rightful role in dictating to the bread industry the
allowance hours in which baking and delivery operations may be conducted.
Indeed, we say that the current regulatory scheme amounts to unwarranted
interference by government in the free market system, serves to deny public
access to fresh bread supplies seven days a week, and promotes unlawfui
conduct by bakers and their employees to defeat these restrictions. The Bread
(Amendment) Bill now before this House will honour the Government's
commitment of introducing deregulation in the bread industry, which I
announced to industry parties last August.
Honourable members will note that the bill will achieve deregulation in
the making, baking and delivery of bread through a two-part process. First, the
Bread Act 1969 is to be amended by repealing the provisions of that Act
allowing regulations to be made fixing the starting and ceasing times for the
making, baking and delivery of bread. Given that bread baking and delivery
will now be permitted on an unrestricted basis, the offence provisions of the
Bread Act relating to the conduct of operations outside prescribed hours will
be rendered meaningless and will accordingly be repealed. Second, the proposed
new section 6 to be inserted into the Bread Act will expressly preclude industrial
tribunals from fixing either earliest starting and or latest ceasing times relating
to bread making and delivery, or periods during which bread may not be baked
or delivered. Moreover, the proposed new section further stipulates that any
provision of an award, an industrial tribunal order or decision, or an existing
industrial agreement purporting to fix such times or periods, is of no effect.
It is necessary to expressly oust industrial award coverage of operative
hours in order that deregulation may be guaranteed. Without this added
measure it would be legally possible for currently dormant award times to revive
and for bread industry starting and ceasing times to be classed as an industrial
matter for future consideration by the industrial tribunals. The bill provides
further in clause 4 for the repeal of the Bread (Amendment) Act 1985, which
contains uncommenced amendments of the Bread Act, allowing for the issue
of special licences to certain bread manufacturers. Quite simply, this new
licensing scheme, which was intended to be used by the former Government to
regulate hot bread shops, is no longer required in a deregulated setting.
Mr Justice Sweeney, in his report on the bread industry in New South
Wales, presented to the former Government in 1984, found that regulation of
the bread industry by statutory and other controls had not been a success.
Whereas the former Labor Government did act a year ago to remove bread
price control, it remains for the present Government to complete the essential
task envisaged by the Sweeney inquiry. By activation of this bill's provisions,
and through my intended abolition of the discredited bread zoning system by
administrative means, the bread industry is finally to be freed from unnecessary
regulatory control and its participants will be allowed to compete as ordinary
economic forces dictate. The deregulation of bread industry hours, as provided
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3859
for in the Bread (Amendment) Bill, will remove the unacceptable and
unenforced controls of a bygone era, allow operational efficiencies to be achieved
by bread manufacturers, and benefit consumers in satisfaction of their week-
long demand for fresh bread. I commend the bill.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Amery.
WATER (AMENDMENT) BILL
Bill introduced and read a first time.
Mr CAUSLEY (Clarence), Minister for Natural Resources [8.25]: I
That this bill be now read a second time.
The main objects of the bill are: First, to allow the Government, through the
Water Administration Ministerial Corporation, to exercise control over the
quantities and timing of those water diversions made by specified water trusts
and irrigation trusts. Second, to facilitate the levying of reasonable water charges
on water diversions made by such water trusts and irrigation trusts. Third, to
provide for offences for unauthorized water use by any such prescribed trust.
This bill is designed to enable certain water trusts and irrigation trusts, being
those situated on the regulated Murray and Lower Darling rivers systems, to
be placed on the same footing as other authorized diverters from those rivers
and lakes of our State which have regulated supplies of water, that is, supplies
controlled by a Crown-owned upstream headwork, such as a dam.
Presently, most surface water users are allocated a certain volume of
water each year and they pay a charge for the right to be able to take that water.
Quite inequitably, water trusts and irrigation trusts, constituted under part I11
of the Water Act, 1912, are exempt from these controls and charges. It is
considered that this major anomaly and unfair privilege should be removed in
instances where the public interest would be better served. In other words, the
bill vests a discretionary power in the Water Administration Ministerial
Corporation as owner, on behalf of the State, of the resource to activate both
volumetric water allocation controls over, and water charges on, those water
trusts and irrigation trusts where usage is substantial.
The Water Administration Ministerial Corporation was set up on 1st
January 1987 by the former Government, with the enactment of the Water
Administration Act 1986, by virtue of which that ministerial corporation was
given the responsibility of assuming a more pro-active role in managing the
State's vitally important water resources. As the bill gives that ministerial
corporation a managerial discretionary power, the objects of this bill facilitate
the rightful capacity, and promote the statutory role, of that ministerial
corporation to act as an overall co-ordinator, distributor and manager of this
limited and precious resource within our great State. The need to control such
water diversions more fairly is highlighted even more so in times of water
shortage and greater user competition. Unauthorized use of water by a
prescribed trust will attract an offence involving a maximum penalty of 100
penalty units which, as defined in the Interpretation Act 1987, is $10,000. The
proposals in the bill also offer a relatively modest increased revenue opportunity
to our State, thereby furthering the goal of the user-pays principle to which this
Government is firmly committed. I commend the bill.
3860 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Amery.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT (SUBDIVISIONS) AMENDMENT BILL
Bill introduced and read a first time.
Mr CAUSLEY (Clarence), Minister for Natural Resources [8.30]: I
That this bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the bill is to clarify which kind of lease does not need the
subdivision approval of a council. Just what is a subdivision requiring council's
approval is defined in the Local Government Act 1919. That definition has, for
many years, been taken by the Land Titles Office, the legal profession and
various authors to exclude a certain kind of lease. This is a lease of a portion
of land for a term which, together with the term of any option of renewal of
the lease, does not exceed five years.
While admitting that the Land Titles Office practice with leases gives
effect to the legislature's intention, Justice Needham of the Supreme Court has
adopted a different interpretation of the relevant part of the Local Government
Act in the recently decided Misiaris case. But an unfortunate result of the
decision in that case is that, however short its term, a lease will require council's
approval as a subdivision, if the lease contains an option of renewal. In his
written judgment Justice Needham acknowledged that his interpretation is
objectionable on practical grounds. The Law Society of New South Wales and
the Land Titles Office have likewise commented on the impracticality of the
decision, and have sought an urgent amendment of the legislation.
The amendments that are proposed are twofold. First, the bill will
amend the definition section of the Local Government Act to make it clear that
a lease of a portion of land is not a subdivision under the Act if the lease is for
a term which, together with the term of any option of renewal of the lease, does
not exceed five years. Second, the bill will amend a related section, section
3 2 7 ~of the Local Government Act to reflect the alteration to the definition
section. These amendments will restore the position obtaining before the
Misiaris case and thereby remove the difficulties presently existing in the
conveyancing of leasehold interests. I commend the bill.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Amery.
PRISONS '(RELEASE ON LICENCE BOARD) AMENDMENT BILL
PROBATION AND PAROLE BOARD (AMENDMENT) BILL
Bills introduced and read a first time.
Mr YABSLEY (Vaucluse), Minister for Corrective Services [8.34]: I
That these bills be now read a second time.
29 November, 1 988 ASSEMBLY 386 1
Under existing legislation a judicial member of the Parole Board or Release on
Licence Board must vacate office when he or she attains 72 years of age. Until
1987 the retirement age for all board members was 70. This was increased to
72 for judicial members, including retired justices of the Supreme Court and
retired judges of the District Court. These amendments were made because the
amount of time spent by judicial members in carrying out their board
responsibilities seriously interfered with their court duties. The object of
appointing retired judges was to enable judges to return to normal bench work.
This has proved to be the case. Since July last year it has been possible to avo~d
calling the Deputy Chairman of the Parole Board away from his court work.
The proposed amendments to the Probation and Parole Act 1983 and
the Prisons Act 1952 will extend the general principle of appointing retired
judges by removing the age restriction. The term of office will still remain as a
three year maximum, but judicial members will not be required to retire when
they reach 72 years. In this regard the substitute chairman of the Parole Board
will celebrate his 72nd birthday on 15th February next. If the proposed
amendments are passed, he will be able to remain on the board until his term
would otherwise expire. The amendments are a recognition of the Government's
commitment to providing all available resources to clear the severe backlog in
the courts. I commend the bills.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Langton.
STATE DRUG CRIME COMMISSION (FURTHER AMENDMENT) BILL
Bill received and read a first time.
Mr DOWD (Lane Cove), Attorney General [8.37]: I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
The objectives of the bill are to amend the State Drug Crime Commission Act
1985 by changing the constitution of the commission and management
committee, conferring on the commission and the management committee
functions in relation to the investigation of all types of organized crime, the
review of police inquiries into criminal activities, and the provision of police
task forces to assist the commission to carry out investigations. The bill also
includes provisions with respect to the conduct of hearings under the Act,
production of documents, the content of the annual report, and necessary
consequential amendments. The sunset provision in respect of the principal Act
is also repealed.
The State Drug Crime Commission Act 1985 established the State Drug
Crime Commission to investigate matters relating to drug activity referred to
the commission by the management committee. This bill, in widening the ambit
of the commission's activities and increasing its effectiveness, reflects the
absolute commitment of the Government to combating drug trafficking and
organized crime. Both of these insidious evils now impact upon every member
of society in a manner unparalleled in our history. This Government is
unequivocal in its determination to pursue and suppress those involved in drug
trafficking, organized crime and corruption.
The Government accepts its responsibility to do all it can to provide
young people of New South Wales with a society in which they can develop to
their full potential without falling prey to those who place self gratification
3862 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
above human dignity. The Government regards the drug problem as the most
significant threat to our society today. This Government will not be moved from
its resolve to vigorously pursue those who seek to perpetuate the problem. To
this end it is a commitment of the Government to establish an integrated and
co-ordinated drug law enforcement portfolio to maximize the fight against the
This strategy includes establishing a new centralized drug body within
the police, the drug enforcement agency, and restructuring the State Drug Crime
Commission. The drug enforcement agency will be operational in the first half
of next year. It will be a multidisciplinary body of police, lawyers, accountants,
analysts and other civilian support. It will have as its charter the targeting of
traffickers, and in this regard will work closely with the State Drug Crime
I now turn to specific provisions of the bill. The bill will expand the
role of the State Drug Crime Commission by replacing the existing definitions
of "relevant drug activity" and "relevant drug offence" with the new wider
definitions of "relevant criminal activity" and "relevant offence". The new
definitions are similar to those used in the commonwealth National Crime
Authority Act 1984. This means the commission will have a role that goes well
beyond illegal drug trafficking, and will extend to all aspects of organized crime.
The constitution of the commission will be amended to provide that the
commission shall be constituted by one full-time chairperson and one or more
full-time or part-time members. This will provide greater flexibility in the
operations of the commission.
In future, a hearing may be conducted by one or more members of the
commission, instead of two as required at present. However, the member
presiding must have special legal qualifications as defined in section 3 of the
principal Act. Part-time members will be able to require information from
certain State agencies and to apply for the issue of search warrants. The present
situation where these powers may only be exercised by full-time members is
considered to be unnecessarily restrictive and to impair the full operational
potential of the commis'sion. Membership of the management committee will
be increased from four to five members. The extra member is the chairman of
the Police Board.
A very significant amendment to the existing Act is the expansion of
the functions of the commission to include the review of police inquiries into
matters relating to any criminal activity. This will enable an independent audit
of the investigative operations of the police force generally. It is a first in this
country. This initiative will serve to enhance, to an unprecedented extent, the
integrity and effectiveness of criminal investigations conducted in this State. The
Commissioner of Police is required to provide police task forces to assist the
commission to carry out investigations. The members of these task forces will
be bound by the secrecy provisions of the present Act in their activities with
the commission. The bill envisages a co-operative role between police and the
commission. Support for such a relationship can be found in a recommendation
of the commonwealth Parliamentary Joint Committee on the National Crime
Authority. Specifically, the joint committee recommended the National Crime
Authority give consideration to the use of task forces external to the authority
to carry on investigations under the co-ordination of the authority.
A major impairment to the efficiency of State Drug Crime Commission
operations is to be rectified. Section 2 9 ~ will restrict the disclosure of
information concerning an investigation by the commission if the disclosure is
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3863
likely to prejudice the investigation. The section will apply to a person who is
giving evidence or producing documents relevant to the investigation, such as
an officer of a government department or of a bank or other financial institution.
It will be an offence for that person to disclose the information if the person
has been notified that it must not be disclosed. The section is similar in effect
to section 1 14 of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act. The
value the Government attaches to the role of the commission in the fight against
drug trafficking and other organized crime is reflected in the fact that the sunset
provision is to be repealed. The Government is determined to give the
commission its full support in the fight against illegal drug trafficking and
organized crime. I commend the bill.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mrs Crosio.
PARRAMATTA STADIUM TRUST BILL
Bill received and read a first time.
Mr WEST (Orange), Chief Secretary and Minister for Tourism [8.43]:
That this bill be now read a second time.
This bill honours a Government pledge to constitute a truly independent trust
to administer Parramatta Stadium. The Parramatta Stadium Trust will comprise
seven trustees, all of whom shall be appointed by the Governor upon the
recommendation of the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Racing for a term
of four years. The bill provides that on and from a date to be proclaimed the
lease of the stadium under section 4 of the Cumberland Oval Act from the
Minister for Sport, Recreation and Racing to the Sydney Cricket and
Sportground Trust will be deemed surrended. This five-year lease, which
commenced on 6th January, 1985, will be curtailed by approximately one year.
The Parramatta Stadium Trust Bill vests the land on which the stadium is
erected in the new trust.
In recognition of the contribution made by the Sydney Cricket and
Sportsground Trust to the development of Parramatta Stadium, the bill provides
for the establishment of a compensation committee. This committee will
recommend an appropriate compensation to be made by the Parramatta
Stadium Trust to the outgoing lessor, the Sydney Cricket and Sportsground
Trust. The bill provides for the Minister to then determine the compensation.
The interests of the Parramatta Stadium Trust and the Sydney Cricket and
Sportsground Trust are thus protected. Financial examination of the proposal
supports the viability of an independent trust. Honourable members may be
assured that the Government would not proceed with the bill if this was not
the case. The bill will protect the rights of all employees attached to Parramatta
Stadium and permits the transfer of their employment to the new trust on
existing terms. Those who have contracted with the Sydney Cricket and
Sportsground Trust in relation to the stadium will have their rights preserved
and carried forward so as to bind the new trust.
I wish to make it clear to the House that the bill is not intended to be
seen in any sense as a denigration of the work of the Sydney Cricket and
Sportsground Trust in constructing the stadium and establishing it on a sound
basis. The creation of a truly independent trust to administer Parramatta
3864 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
Stadium is recognition by this Government of the importance the stadium has
as a sporting and cultural centre to the people of western Sydney. This
Government will preserve that status by ensuring appointees to the trust are
persons of the highest calibre possessing the blend of business, commercial and
sporting expertise necessary to the proper administration of the stadium. The
Government believes that western Sydney has an abundance of such talent and
guarantees that the region will indeed have a strong voice on the trust. Let me
assure honourable members on both sides of the House that there will be no
political appointments to this trust-and definitely no parliamentarians. It is
the policy of this Government that politicians will not be appointed to any
trusts. The primary consideration in the appointment of any trustee is, and will
always be, the welfare of the stadium and its patrons. I commend the bill.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mrs Crosio.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT (RATES AND CHARGES) AMENDMENT BILL
Debate resumed from 17th November.
Mr LOVELEE (Bass Hill) [8.47]: I have spent five years as an alderman
of Bankstown council, which is progressive and entrepreneurial. Its computer
section processes rate notices for many other councils. Anyone involved in local
government and trying to strike a rate for inclusion in rate notices for next year
would understand the turmoil that those in the computer section must be
encountering. One cause of that turmoil is lack of information, and another is
lack of consultation. The timetable for dispatch of rate notices for next year is
extremely tight. The Sutherland council in particular issued a report printed on
2 1st November. It states that the council's rate section is endeavouring to come
up with accurate and current valuation totals for fixing base rates. It said that
the exercise was expected to be completed within a few days of the printing of
that report and that, accordingly, a report would be prepared for submission to
council's meeting on 12th December.
The Sutherland council announced its intention to make certain rates
and charges, including the minimum rate, from 12th December. By 13th
December it hoped to have its submission to the Minister, seeking approval for
differential rates and the minimum rate. On 19th December the council will
adopt its estimates for 1989, but under section 138 of the Local Government
Act an interval of 10 days is required after publishing the estimates before the
rate may be made. In early January it will have a special council meeting to set
the rate for 1989, and will subsequently issue rate notices.
On 17th November, before the Sutherland council knew what it was
going to do, the honourable member for Heathcote explained to honourable
members that, "As recently as a few hours ago inquiries were made of the
council there". That was Sutherland council. He went on to say, "Although it
could provide an assessment only, it believes that 80 per cent of the Sutherland
shire residents will pay 6.5 per cent or less". The honourable member for
Heathcote must have had a crystal ball because the Sutherland shire council
still has not worked out what its base rate will be or what the rate will be.
Mr Downy: Yes it has.
Mr LOVELEE: Not according to that report.
Mr Downy: I was the crystal ball.
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3865
Mr LOVELEE: The honourable member was not the crystal ball; it was
the honourable member for Heathcote. The honourable member for Heathcote
may have had a crystal ball or he may have just had a guess. He did say he
would check in Hansard the remarks of the honourable member for Camden.
I checked on him. The majority of people from my area believe the Minister
must be taking a leaf from the Minister for Education's book on consultation.
Had the Minister consulted, he would have discovered that 12 years ago some
bright spark had tried to get the Minister for Local Government to implement
proposals similar to this. Former local government ministers Jensen, Gordon,
Stewart and the present honourable member for Smithfield would not introduce
them. I suppose the same bright spark waited until he or she could foist the
proposals upon a Minister gullible enough to implement them. He or she waited
long enough and finally got someone to buy it.
The measures will have severe ramifications for the people of Bankstown
and Bass Hill. This measure is a result of the Greiner bash the west mentality
towards the working men and women of Bankstown. Take the case of Mr Ken
King, a battler who fixes lawnmowers part-time to make ends meet. Under this
legislation Mr King will be the proud owner of a 77 per cent rate increase. Mr
King's rate increases will be based on 1983 valuations. Imagine how he will feel
when he receives the 1988 valuations. The family home of three generations
will have to be sold, possibly to some developer living in a unit overlooking
Rose Bay, who is paying $220 a year in rates. The major employer in Bankstown
and the western suburbs is small business-commercial and industrial
enterprises. The honourable member for Smithfield cited the case of a small
factory owner who has now to find an extra $58,000 to make ends meet. That
small-businessman is no Robinson Crusoe. His plight is common all over the
Mr Rixon: Does not the honourable member understand how rates are
Mr LOVELEE: I will come shortly to deal with the honourable member
and the rating at Kyogle. Some businessmen will have little option but to
dismiss workers, creating even more misery, spreading poverty, increasing
evictions, breaking up family units and transferring the debt to the
Commonwealth social security bill. I suppose it is appropriate to pass on the
gratitude of Labor candidates in electorates such as Parramatta, Minchinbury
and Penrith and probably bid farewell to the one-term wonders who are minding
those seats. I shall cite a few projections from the Bankstown computer section
based on the 1983 valuations. Six properties will be subject to a rate increase
in excess of 300 per cent; 77.5 per cent of property-owners will receive a rate
increase. Of those paying the residential rate, 78 per cent will receive a rate
increase; 49.7 per cent will pay more than a 10 per cent rate increase. That leads
one to question the figures from Sutherland about 80 per cent of people being
better off. Of our non-residential, commercial and industrial ratepayers, 77 per
cent will have to meet an increase; 50 per cent will get an increase of more
than 10 per cent. Of those subject to the rural rate, 50 per cent will get an
increase and 50 per cent will get a reduction. For those with properties in the
non-residential town centre, 89 per cent get an increase, and 70 per cent will
get an increase of m'ore than 10 per cent. In the residential town centre, 97 per
cent will get an increase, and 90 per cent will get an increase of more than 10
3866 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
Bankstown is a good area to use as an example, because it has the
equipment to work out those projections, which are based on 1983 figures.
When the 1989 figures are applied-or the 1988 figures for that matter-
imagine the hardship that will cause. This is supposed to be good local
government management. The honourable member for Lismore said that
members on this side do not know anything about rating. The Kyogle shire
council of which he was a member, was a good, sound, National Party-
dominated council. One could hardly say that members of the Upper Richmond
Ratepayers and Citizens Association are politically motivated. They are people
who are concerned about their rates, which is understandable as they will be
looking at a 30 per cent or 40 per cent rate increase in Kyogle.
Mr LOVELEE: The honourable member for Lismore was the president
of that council for some time. At a recent meeting of the Upper Richmond
Ratepayers and Citizens Association much concern was expressed over the
serious situation now facing Kyogle council, as widely reported through the
media. Huge errors in accounting were regularly surfacing for which neither the
shire clerk nor the auditor were willing to take responsibility. The financial
position of the council is very worrying, and the overdraft on 3 1st January was
in excess of $2 million. In March the draft statements of account for 1987
revealed an accumulated working funds deficit of $425,000. Of particular
concern to that association is that the auditors' overview report was sent to
council but withheld from councillors for six weeks and not presented until the
day after the designated hearing date of a matter involving the suspended shire
clerk. Though there were eight grounds for his suspension, the hearing did not
take place. Instead, councillors were prevailed upon to agree to a negotiated
settlement. A very sympathetic local government inspectors' report came up
with this paragraph:
The mspectron has h~ghl~ghtednumber of areas wh~ch have contributed towards
the Council's adverse financral positron, especially rts decis~on not to levy rates in
accordance wrth the maximum permitted by the State Government, its involvement in
land development and weaknesses In accountmg practices.
This council is a legacy of the honourable member for ismo ore who, from 1977
to 1983, played an active role in the management of Kyogle shire.
Mr Rixon: And a very good one too.
Mr LOVELEE: Honourable members can see that-it has a $2 million
overdraft. The inspectors reported also that as at 3 1st December, 1987, the
council's accumulated working funds deficit was more than $1 million. Yet the
honourable member for Lismore preaches to us about good local government
management. The inspectors reported further that the council relies heavily on
a bank overdraft, to a point where council's bankers expressed concern with
the council's financial position. As at 31st January the overdraft exceeded $2
Mr Rixon: Did the honourable member find out that I have not been
on the council for six years?
Mr LOVELEE: That is the legacy the honourable member left. I got this
story from Kyogle shire. The inspectors reported that the reasons for the decline
include decisions by the council not to raise rates at the maximum level
permitted by the State Government since the introduction of rate-pegging in
Mr Rixon: Since 1987 it has been increased by more than $1 million.
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3867
Mr LOVELEE: It will be increased this year by 30 per cent or 40 per
cent. As a result of other decisions, the 1988 rate levy was approximately
$8 19,000 less than it could have been. More appropriately, expenditure was not
reduced to match the reduction in income. The compounded rate forgone for
1987-88 is of the order of $7 million. The council embarked on a land
development in 1982 in which 20 blocks have been developed and only four
blocks sold, despite an expenditure of $689,000. The inspectors recommended,
among other things, that the council should ensure that it is provided with
detailed financial reports when quarterly financial reviews are prepared. The
report concludes that there has been a failure to supervise properly the finances,
and, because of the adverse financial position, the council, and succeeding
councils, will have to meet the challenge of revising the situation.
Honourable members have been informed by the honourable member
for Lismore how local government should operate and about good financial
management for local government. They have been informed by the honourable
member for Heathcote, with his crystal ball, about the position in Sutherland
shire. The Sutherland shire council does not know what the position is. Kyogle
is in a mess, and the Government is trying to preach to the Opposition how to
run local government. It has introduced this amending bill, but basically it does
not know what councils do. If the Government had consulted with all sections
of local government, it would not be in the mess it is in, which is only minor
compared with the mess it will be in when the 1988 valuations come out. I
should not mind betting that next year the Government may revert to the
original rate-pegging legislation. I oppose the bill.
Mr HARRISON (Kiama) [9.2]: I join with my colleague the honourable
member for Bass Hill in opposing the alteration to the local government rating
structure contained in the bill. Like my colleague, I do not pretend that no
anomalies exist in the present legislation. For example, the practice of increasing
rates by a percentage factor each year on a rate based on a valuation applicable
to the 1980 base date made no provision for alteration of value because of any
change in the usage of the land. I instance the rezoning of rural land for
residential or industrial usage, change of zoning to a higher value usage, strata
subdivision, and the council being unable to levy the minimum rate on new
strata units or subdivisions of land, which create more allotments. As far back
as 1984 the Shellharbour municipal council campaigned for amendments to the
existing rating legislation to provide for rate increases on the creation of more
allotments by subdivision, changes of rural usage to a higher usage, creation of
more allotments by strata subdivision, or a change of zoning of the land. The
amendments are a great disappointment. The proposed changes to the rating
legislation will restrict council's maximum increase in rate income to 6.5 per
cent, despite the fact that large tracts of broadacre land will be released for
residential block subdivision with thousands of extra residents requiring council
services of one sort or another.
The proposed changes requiring councils to rate on a valuation at a base
date of 1st July, 1983, by the end of 1989 will create further anomalies. In the
case of the Shellharbour municipal council, a preliminary examination of the
base date valuation as at 1st July, 1983, has revealed that if the present rating
structure, that is, a general rate and a lower general rate on rural land, were
retained for 1989, rates would fluctuate between plus 4 per cent and plus 35
per cent for residential properties and up to minus 39 per cent for commercial
and industrial properties. Rural property would vary between 20 per cent and
40 per cent. Though the council will still be permitted to increase rate income
for 1989 only by 6.5 per cent, the rate burden will be shifted to residential
3868 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
ratepayers, whose property values have increased substantially, and away from
commercial and industrial ratepayers, whose property values have not increased.
Commercial properties in Fairfield will have rate increases of 74 per cent
and 174 per cent, as outlined by the honourable member for Smithfield earlier
in the debate, and Shellharbour municipal council has reduced rates for
commercial ratepayers by up to 39 per cent. Honourable members will agree
that those fluctuations are wild indeed. The fluctuations will be visited upon
the Government when councils realize what is happening. A 1 these wild
fluctuations suggest that the Government does not have the slightest idea what
it is doing when it presents legislation such as that before the House. In the
case of the Shellharbour municipal council, the large fall in commercial and
industrial rates is due to valuations for those properties either not increasing
or increasing only by a small percentage owing to the economic downturn that
prevailed in the Illawarra region when valuations were determined by the
Valuer-General at a base date of 1st July, 1983.
In contrast, the residential properties in such areas as Shellharbour,
Albion Park, some parts of Barrack Heights and, to a lesser extent, Oak Flats,
were assessed by the Valuer-General to have increased greatly in value, no doubt
owing to the application of comparative sales criteria. The honourable member
for Bass Hill mentioned that this was only the tip of the iceberg. The
fluctuations in increases in valuations between the years 1980 and 1983 are
nothing compared with the fluctuations that will be manifest when the 1988 or
1989 valuations become available. That is when the Government's chickens will
come home to roost. Though councils in this position could seek to impose a
differential rate to non-residential areas, ministerial approval would be required
to do so. I wish to comment on the philosophy underlying this particular
amendment to the rating structures, the philosophy being that the only real way
to judge the rates residents should be paying is related to the valuation of the
I put it to honourable members that that is not always the case. If a
person bought a block of land 30 years ago, paying £400 or £500, that implied
that he had the ability to pay rates based on that particular valuation. That may
not be the case today, where more affluent people may have moved in alongside
that ratepayer, paying $50,000 or $60,000 for the block of land because they
have the ability to pay rates based on that particular valuation, whereas the
position of the person who bought his block of land 30 years ago may not have
improved-in fact, it may have become worse through becoming redundant,
retiring early, by being retrenched, or through sickness or anything else. It does
not in any way relate to a person's capacity to pay or valuation of his property,
nor does it relate to the level of services provided to him by the council for the
rates that he pays.
I turn now to that part of the bill which provides that the maximum
amount of a minimum rate shall not exceed $220. I can conclude only that the
honourable member for Smithfield was on the right track when she stated that
the mates of this Government living in high-class strata title units overlooking
the nicest beaches-units worth up to $1 million-will be paying only the paltry
sum of $220 a year, while pensioners, small-businessmen in some areas and
residents in other areas will be slugged to the hilt. I turn to the Minister's
announcement that the Government will increase from $175 to $250 the
maximum rebate available to eligible pensioners in respect of general purpose
rates. I regard this as one of the greatest examples of sleight of hand that I have
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3869
The pensioner rebate policy of the council in my area has been to write
off 50 per cent of the general rate, up to a maximum of $175, under section
1 6 0 of the Local Government Act. This is a mandatory rebate. To date, the
council has written off some $350,696 under that section of the Act; and 50 per
cent of that amount was subsidized by the State Government. The council also
writes off an additional 50 per cent of the general rate, up to a maximum of
$120; and that is done under section 1~ O B section 503 of the Act. That
reduction in rates applies to ratepayers who have lived in the Shellharbour
municipality for more than five years, and it applies in cases where no income
derives from the property. This is a voluntary rebate; and, to date, the council
has written off $206,322 under those sections of the Act; and 50 per cent of
that amount was subsidized by the State Government. The Government's
decision no longer to match voluntary rebates given to pensioners under section
1 6 0 and section 503 will adversely affect 51 of the 175 councils in the State.
The council in my area has actually canvassed a number of councils
about this matter, and I shall provide to the House some comparisons to
reinforce what I have just said. The Wollongong city council gives a voluntary
rebate of $130. The Sutherland shire council, subject to residents having lived
in the area for three years, gives a voluntary rebate of $105. So much for the
claim made earlier that the Sutherland shire council would not be affected by
this proposal. The information I have is that it definitely will be affected. The
Liverpool city council gives a voluntary rebate of $130. Marrickville municipal
council writes off pensioner rates to the extent of 100 per cent; Blacktown city
council writes off pensioner rates to the extent of 100 per cent also. The Botany
municipal council gives a voluntary rebate to pensioners of $75. I give this
information as a means of comparison only.
All of the councils surveyed had not resolved their policies in respect of
the 1989 estimates at the time they were contacted. In the light of recent changes
in government policy, some or all of these councils could be expected to change
the level of rebate. Prior to 1983, rates written off under section 1 6 0 were~ ~
fully subsidized by the State Government, and rates written off under section
1 6 0 and section 503 were fully funded by council. In 1983 the Government
required councils to contribute 50 per cent of the rates written off under section
1 6 0 ~ and to ensure that councils maintained their voluntary rebate, the
Government contributed 50 per cent of the rates written off under section 1 6 0 ~
and section 503. I believe the council in my area will continue to give pensioners
a rebate on their rates up to the amount provided last year. However, the
matching contribution from the Government is to be discontinued. So, despite
the Government's sleight of hand, pensioners in my local government area will
be paying substantially more than they did last year. So much for all the hoo-
baa we have heard about the great increase that is being given to pensioners; it
will not apply to everybody. I was surprised when I first heard it said that that
proposal would cost the Government only $1.2 million. When one becomes
aware of the sleight of hand and the fact that 5 1 of the State's 175 councils will
be adversely affected by the Government's decision, I guess one can understand
why the cost of introducing this initiative was estimated to be so low.
Though I fully acknowledge that the legislation introduced by the
previous Government was not perfect, it was extremely popular by virtue of
the fact that for 11 years every ratepayer was aware what his or her next rate
assessment would be. The amount of increase was pinned down to a percentage
which was generally consistent with the level of inflation. By 1990 wild
fluctuations in the amount of rates paid will have occurred with ratepayers in
some cases facing crippling increases to subsidize the well to do living in their
3870 ASSEMBLY 29 November. 1988
luxury penthouses overlooking the beaches and paying the maximum in rates
Although this legislation has proceeded this far, I sincerely ask that it
be recalled and redrafted. As has been stated by previous speakers in the
debate-I emphasize this point-the rates set to catch up following the
valuations that become available for 1988 or 1989 will be really horrific. Over
the past few years one just could not give away industrial lands in certain areas
of this State. Those areas have been affected by serious downturns in the
economy. At the same time the price of residential land has really been reaching
for the sky. With the current hike in the price of residential land, if rates are
to be assessed rigidly according to land valuations, residential ratepayers will
be substantially subsidizing industry and commerce well into the next decade.
This bill is a recipe for disaster. I call on all honourable members to vote against
Mr BOOKS (Parramatta) [9.17]: It is with pleasure that I speak to the
Local Government (Rates and Charges) Amendment Bill, even if I am to be
the last contributor before the very capable Minister for Local Government and
Minister for Planning replies to the debate. It is interesting to look at the history
of rate-pegging in New South Wales. It was introduced by the previous Labor
Government to arrest the spiral on rate charges which had been brought about
by what I call the cargo cult mentality of governments in Australia. This cargo
cult mentality was started by Gough Whitlam who thought that there was a
never-ending supply of money to the public purse. So the State Government
introduced rate-pegging legislation, which restricted rate increases to 5 per cent,
6 per cent or 10 per cent. This story may be apocryphal, but all of a sudden
the aunt or uncle of one of the ministers of the day owned a property whose
unimproved capital value increased rather rapidly and was facing a fairly large
increase in rates. So the Government scurried off to change the legislation so
that the rates liability of every single ratepayer could be increased only by the
amount stipulated under the rate-pegging formula.
What happened was that those properties which should have borne their
fair share of the total rate income were provided with rate relief. So the
horrendous situation arose whereby every council had to apply to every single
ratepayer the amount stipulated under the rate-pegging formula each year.
Earlier in the debate we heard about the late introduction of this legislation
and how it would present problems to the councils. What has been forgotten is
that some months ago we announced that the total rate increase would be 6.5
per cent so that each council could calculate its total rate income. Honourable
members will receive a satisfactory explanation in this Chamber tonight of the
way in which that increase was to be achieved. The honourable member for
Smithfield said when we last met that the late introduction of this legislation
would impose a burden on all councils. In my role as chairman of the Western
Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils l have spoken to a number of my
councils. They can firmly determine their rate of income for next year. Some
councils have already brought down their estimates. So, what the honourable
member said is not true.
Mrs Crosio: It is now December, so they should have brought down their
Mr BOOKS: It is December, but certain smart councils knew in
November what their rate income would be. I shall address what has happened
by the Government adopting a system of basing rates on current valuations.
Fluctuations have occurred in land valuations. I have been interested to hear
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3871
it said in the debate tonight that all the commercial ratepayers will have to pay
more. I shall refer to a council not far from my electorate of Parramatta. Under
our legislation the average ratepayer in that council area would have paid $48
a year less-not a percentage-but $48 a year less, which represents 12.95 per
cent less than the rate for the previous year.
The non-residential rate would have increased by 32.13 per cent on the
previous year's rate, a figure about which I make no apologies because with the
rapid increase in valuations in Parramatta my residential ratepayers have been
subsidizing the high-income earners in Parramatta. Tonight I have heard several
speakers talk about commercial ratepayers suffering. What about the little man?
I thought we were elected to represent the average constituent, the average
ratepayer. A couple of weeks ago we heard of the doom and gloom in Fairfield
with industrial rates going up by 73 per cent, 117 per cent and 174 per cent. A
couple of nights ago I spoke with a senior official of the Fairfield city council.
He said, "It is amazing, John, that 81 per cent of residential rates in my area
will not change". That is an interesting figure.
Mrs Crosio: I will send to you the 62 per cent who complain.
Mr BOOKS: I handle half your constituents now, so why should I not
take the other half?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Parramatta will
address the Chair. The honourable member for Smithfield will come to order.
Mr BOOKS: I shall not name the senior official of the Fairfield council
with whom I spoke, because he wishes to remain in that employment for some
time. He said to me, "Why should the industrial rates not increase? They have
been ripping off the residential ratepayers in my area for years. Why should
they not increase?" In the time remaining to me in this debate I wish to refer
to the rate rebate that we will offer to pensioners. Tonight it has been
documented that in 1984 the $150 rebate was introduced, with a 50 per cent
contribution from the council and 50 per cent from the State Government. In
1987 this was increased magnanimously to $175. With rate-pegging the gap
became further and further apart, with the result that from 1984 the State
Government gave no more than $150 and by 1987 there was a $65 gap. We
have heard about very generous rate schemes operated by 51 councils. About
10 of the 176 councils in New South Wales received the lion's share of that
Mr Graham: Labor councils.
Mr BOOKS: I was going to say, Blacktown, $1.5 million.
Mrs Crosio: A Labor council, is it?
Mr BOOKS: It was a Labor council until September last year when they
saw the light.
Mr Ferguson: You used to be there.
Mr BOOKS: When I was a young boy I was the deputy mayor. Lake
Macquarie council received $1.6 million.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Seven Hills to
3872 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
Mr BOOKS: Wollongong receives $1.4 million. Under the new
calculation Canterbury comes out $1 16,000 in front. No one else has quoted
that figure tonight. Our increase in the rebate to $250 a year will cost the
Government more than it cost the previous Government, because a few councils
had their snouts in the trough. A few favoured pensioners were ripping off other
pensioners in New South Wales. I wish to refer also to minimum rates. We have
heard about subsidized rates for home units worth millions of dollars on the
foreshores of Sydney, whose owners were paying a minimum rate of $220.
Under our valuation system they will pay full rates. Champagne socialists livlng
on the peninsula at Birchgrove will not be charged rates linked to 1977, while
a poor elderly lady living in Leichhardt subsidizes their rates. We will change
that system and for the first time offer a rebate on water and sewerage rates. I
heard no mention from our friends opposite about this innovation. Rebates will
now apply to water and sewerage rates.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Smithfield to
Mr BOOKS: A disadvantaged pensioner will be offered a rebate.
Mr Ferguson: There will be quite a few of them in Parramatta.
Mr BOOKS: Apparently the honourable member for Granville does not
realize that Parramatta council will offer a full pensioner rate, as it did before.
Relief will be provided under new sections 160c and 1 6 0 of ~ Local ~ the
Government Act. To date this is the most forward-looking piece of legislation
introduced to this Chamber. The truth lies in the fact that most of the
information was available to the previous Government, and it was not willing
to introduce it.
Mr HAY (Manly), Minister for Local Government and Minister for
Planning [9.26], in reply: If ever the Government was lashed with a feather, it
was in this debate. The Opposition referred to four or five specific points on
which it based its arguments. The major point related to consultation. It
criticized the Government for failing to consult with local government. It is
absurd for the Opposition to make such claims. The department and I have
had extensive meetings with the executive of the shires association and with
the executive of the Local Government Association, Officers of the department
have attended numerous seminars throughout the State and have addressed
local government conferences about the proposed rating reforms for the coming
year. As an indication of the falsity of the Opposition's claim I shall read a
media release dated 20th October by the Local Government Association. It
The Local Govenment and Shrres Assocration of New South Wales today welcome
the decrs~onby the Mrnister for Local government to reform the system of rating by
The release continued:
Thc proposal has been developed In close consultation with my associat~onand
the shrres assoclatlon.
That comment was made by Councillor McKay, the president of the association.
If anything puts the lie to that claim, it is the response from the industry itself.
The honourable member for Camden, who is also the mayor of Campbelltown,
mixed his facts. He claimed the council had no idea about the proposals.
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3873
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Mr HAY: The deputy town clerk of that council was a member of the
rates group that worked on the preparation of the proposals the Government
is introducing. Consultation has been our keynote. The Opposition criticized
the way the bill will be administered by local government. Local government
has asked for these changes and is anxious to administer them. I shall quote
from a letter from the Guyra council indicating the general feeling of local
government, something that the Opposition does not understand. In September
the clerk of the Guyra council wrote:
Council at its last meeting discussed problems inherent with the current system of
Concern was expressed that the removal of the catch-up provision had seriously
eroded council's flexibility in setting rate levels each year.
Whilst under the previous State Government's application of rate-pegging, a low
maximum level was set, councils generally felt that, without the catch-up provision, the
full permissible limit was essential.
This council believes that councils should not be placed in the position each year
of having to go to the full permissible limit because of concern about catch-up.
That is symptomatic of the approach of the previous Government and a major
factor in this Government introducing this new legislation.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Smithfield to
order. The honourable member had the chance to speak in this debate. I am
rather tired of her persistent interjections.
Mr HAY: Opposition members have claimed that movement in
residential rates will favour commercial ratepayers. The bill provides for
councils to be able to introduce a differential rate so that they can eliminate
any of the hardships or inequities that may exist in that respect. A keynote of
the bill is the flexibility that local government will have, something that was
denied to it by the former Government. The honourable member for Kiama
made some incredible claim that waterfront units with valuations of millions
of dollars will be charged a minimum rate of $200.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for The Entrance
and the honourable member for Parramatta to order.
Mr HAY: That is a further indication of the shallowness of the
arguments of the Opposition. I commend this bill. It is an essential review of
and improvement to the local government system. The measures in the bill will
eliminate inequities that the previous Government introduced and permitted
to continue. As the honourable member for Parramatta said, the previous
Government did not have sufficient concern for the community to introduce
the bill now before the House. Local government throughout this State will be
enthusiastic about the implementation of the measures in the bill.
Question-That this bill be now read a second time-put.
The House divided.
3874 ASSEMBLY 29 November, I988
Mr Andrews Mr Hatton Mr Roberts
Mr Armstrong Mr Hay Mr Schipp
Mr Baird Mr Jeffery Mr Schultz
Mr Berry Mr Keegan Mr Singleton
Mr Books Mr Kerr Mr Small
Mr J. D. Booth Mr Longley Mr Smiles
Mr Caterson Miss Machin Mr Smith
Mr Causley Mr Matheson Mr Souris
Mr Chappell Mr Merton Mr Tink
Mr Cochran Dr Metherell Mr Turner
Mrs Cohen Mr T. J. Moore Mr Webster
Mr Collins Mr Morris Mr Welsh
Mr Cruickshank Mr W. T. J. Murray Mr West
Mr Dowd Mr D. L. Page Mr White
Mr Downy Mr Park Mr Wotton
Mr Fahey Mr Peacocke Mr Yabsley
Miss Fraser Mr Petch Mr Yeomans
Mr Glachan Mr Photios Mr Zammit
Mr Graham Mr Pickard Tellers,
Mr Griffiths Ms Read Mr Beck
Mr Hartcher Mr Rixon Mr Phillips
Ms Allan Mr Harrison Mr Paciullo
Mr Amery Mr Hunter Mr E. T. Page
Mr A. S. Aquilina Mr Knight Mr Price
Mr J. J. Aquilina Mr Langton Dr Refshauge
Mr Brereton Mr Lovelee Mr Rogan
Mr Carr Mr McManus Mr Rumble
Mr Cleary Mr Markham Mr Shedden
Mrs Crosio Mr Martin Mr Unsworth
Mr Davoren Mr H. F. Moore Mr Whelan
Mr Doyle Ms Moore
Mr Face Mr Nagle Tellers,
Mr Ferguson Mr Newman Mr Beckroge
Mr Gibson Ms Nori Mr Christie
Mr Greiner Mr Knowles
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion' agreed to.
Bill read a second time and passed through remaining stages.
REGISTERED CLUBS (AMENDMENT) BILL
LIQUOR (AMUSEMENT DEVICES) AMENDMENT BILL
GAMING AND BETTING (POKER MACHINES) TAXATION
Debate resumed from 10th November.
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3875
Mr CLEARY (Coogee) [9.44]: I lead on this bill for the Opposition,
which will not be opposing the measure. However, others may express a
different view about this package of legislation and may not agree with all of
its provisions. Notwithstanding that, the Opposition believes that the legislative
package will be a great boost not only to the registered club industry but also
to the liquor industry as a whole.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Honourable members wishing to converse should
leave the Chamber.
Mr CLEARY: I preface my remarks on the bill by telling the House of
my experience in the liquor industry. Although things have changed in that
industry since I was involved in it, it is relevant that I inform honourable
members that in 1965 I became involved in the liquor industry through the
R. W. Miller group of companies. That group was heavily involved in the
brewing side of the business and in hotels, and gave financial support to a
number of New South Wales clubs; two that come to mind are Wentworthville
Leagues Club and Eastern Suburbs Leagues Club. They were assisted financially
to become involved in the club industry. That industry grew because the hotels,
which had at that time a monopoly of the liquor industry, neglected to provide
some services. The hotel industry then had the right to service restaurants, and
other rights related to sale of bottled liquor, accommodation, and so on. In those
early days the hotels relied almost solely on the sale of liquor and neglected to
provide the associated services. It is to the credit of the club industry that it
took up the section of the industry that had been neglected by the hotels, by
providing recreational facilities and amenities fostering conviviality.
Apart from my club involvement, I was associated also in development
of hotels. A number of them were built when I was marketing manager for the
R. W. Miller group. The Marayong hotel, the Prospect hotel and El Rancho
hotel were some with which I was involved. In the R. W. Miller chain were 42
hotels, 21 of which were under management arrangements. After leaving the
R. W. Miller group I took advantage of an opportunity to buy a freehold hotel,
which I ran in conjunction with a consortium of executives of the R. W. Miller
group. I refer to the Oxford Tavern at Petersham. After selling that hotel I once
again came back into the club industry, and was involved in the rejuvenation
and saving of the South Sydney Leagues Club. I formed a group of people to
take that club out of receivership. I was active also in the saving of the Cronulla
Sutherland Leagues Club, as well as the development of St Marys RSL Club
and other clubs in New South Wales.
I mention those matters to show that the liquor industry has been a
rewarding part of my life. Through my involvement in it I gained an
understanding of the groups in the industry. I am pleased to say that there is
room for both the club industry and the hotel industry. However, I am
concerned about a division between the Registered Clubs Association and the
Australian Hotels Association. One industry is competing against the other, and
jealousy has arisen. The Registered Clubs Association has expressed the view
that the extent of assistance being offered by the Minister to the hotel industry
is unreasonable. I repeat, there is room for both industries. They should work
together. In their own ways they provide recreational facilities for the
community. A number of people do not like to drink at clubs, while others get
considerable satisfaction from that industry. The hotel industry has the right to
exist. I say, in the full knowledge that Registered Clubs Association
representatives are present in the galleries of this place, that I am most
3876 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
concerned about the campaign that has been launched by that body. It suggests
a greed that I did not believe existed in the RCA. Among the amendments
contained in this comprehensive package are measures to assist both industries.
A detailed examination of these amendments reveals that the benefits extended
to the club industry far outweigh the assistance that is being offered to the hotel
industry. I add that the benefits enjoyed by the club industry have been deserved
I have been involved in both parts of the industry. I saved one club. It
was an easy task: I simply banked the money. In six months it went from
sustaining a $260,000 loss to making a $260,000 profit. It is easy to do, if one
banks the money. I compliment also the executive of the Registered Clubs
Association on its work, but it is time for it to back off-enough is enough. As
shadow minister for matters affecting the liquor trade industry-whether it be
clubs or hotels-I do not believe the industry should be used as a political stick.
I will be working with the Minister to prevent the RCA and AHA from playing
one organization against the other. What the Minister's right hand is doing, I
will know; what my right hand is doing, he will know. That is the way it has
We are concerned about the people who use the facilities provided by
both arms of the industry. I am sick to death of reading articles in newspapers,
club journals and press releases about the RCA critical of the AHA, that a
certain amount of money will go to the Government if the clubs get so many
machines; or the coffers of Treasury will be deprived of a certain amount of
money. We all have a right to exist. The RCA provides an amenity; the AHA
provides an amenity. There is much talk about publicans diverting funds to
their pockets. Publicans put up money to gain their involvement in hotels; they
get leases or buy the freehold. A club meets a requirement. When I was involved
in the club industry 250 members had to keep a book, go to the Licensing Court
and prove a requirement. What happens if a club goes broke? I have not heard
of a club director being put in gaol. When the club with which I was involved
got into trouble I was told that one cannot be sent to gaol for being a dope.
The doors of the club were closed and the receivers moved in. What does a
publican do? He loses his investment. A publican pays rates, wages and licence
fees. Why should he not have the right to exist?
There is room for both sections of the industry. I have received only
one petition from my electorate, though it probably has more hotels than clubs;
but they work together. When a strike occurs, they will swap kegs. When one
is short of stock the other helps. Why should petitions be signed and money
spent in an effort by one group to kill off the other? Why do clubs not reduce
their fees? If they want to destroy the pubs, they can discount beer prices to
such an extent that the pubs cannot survive. Why spend all this money on
propaganda, playing the Minister against the hotels? Can they not weigh up the
politics of the situation? Politicians are in a no-win situation. If they support
the clubs, they are hated by the pubs. If they support the pubs, what do the
clubs do? People in the hotel and club industry should go through this legislation
in detail to find out what it provides-exclusive rights to keno; sky channel;
pubTAB; clubTAB-they are all making a fortune, which is beautiful. While
they are making money everyone is happy. But why should one group try to
destroy the other? Why are they all fighting? Why do they not work together?
The clubs have more assets between them than any of the publicans.
There has been much discussion about all the pubs being owned by two
people and those two people getting all the money. When I was employed at
Millers, that group had 42 hotels-21 of them managed, the rest leased. I do
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3877
not know what Bond has or what Elliott has. How many of those premises are
managed? I wager most of them were leased and the lessee paid good money.
Some lessees are in awful trouble because of a court decision that they cannot
sell goodwill. A number of lessees have committed suicide. The clubs should
be fair. This is a democratic society where everyone deserves a go. This is good
legislation, and will improve and help the industry-hotels and clubs. Like the
Minister, I am sickened by what is going on. The registered clubs and the AHA
should pull their heads in. I am aware of those who are in the public gallery,
but I should tell the House that I was sickened when, at the funeral of Ken
Booth, I was lobbied about what I was going to do. The coffin had not even
left the churchyard when I was approached and asked whether I would support
the registered clubs. I told them to "go and get fd".
I support both sections of the industry, and there is room for both. That
is the way I will play the game. There have been many changes in the industry.
I admit I do not understand all of what has happened, but I understand some
of it. I understand that a certain poker machine at South Sydney Leagues Club
used to pay out when a vacuum cleaner went past. I understand that the
cleaning contract was exorbitant. I understand the indoor plants cost $300 a
month. When I questioned that amount I was asked what sort of an invoice I
would like. When I said $15 a month, I got it. I understand $29,000 worth of
Christmas brew was distributed; but I am glad that has all changed and that
the controls on clubs and hotels are now appropriate. The old days have gone.
The industry will now profit and be beneficial to the community.
The clubs cannot destroy the pubs. Some people want to drink in pubs.
I am mindful of and respect the hard work the RCA and its executive have
done to improve their industry. They have got the majority of clubs together
and conduct their meetings and have days at Port Macquarie, and that sort of
thing. I am sick and tired of one segment of the industry seeking to undermine
the other. It should not happen. Of course clubs give much of their profits back
to the Government. Nevertheless, club directors have a good time. They receive
honorariums. Not too many club directors pay for their food or drinks; so the
more they spend, the more the profit is reduced. If they all want to be fair
dinkum, they should not receive credit. The publican has to be fair dinkum.
The publican has to work a pub the right way so far as stock control, bar
percentages and daily yields are concerned. He has to make sure the hotel runs
at a profit.
This matter should be handled delicately. The infighting between the
AHA and the RCA should stop. I give the clear message that in my position as
shadow minister I will examine everything on its face value; but I will not let
the two groups play one against the other. I will not be doing any political point
scoring against the Government; I will discuss matters with the Minister. I give
him that assurance. I have been honest enough to say that there are a couple
of things in this legislation that are obnoxious to some of my colleagues, and
they will speak their minds. I hope their comments are accepted in the way they
are intended. Perhaps they will speak their minds because the club movement
has lobbied them more heavily than has the AHA. But one has to stand up and
be counted. There is room for both sections of the industry. I say to the RCA-
because it is firing the bullets at the moment-that it should ease up; this
package contains measures the likes of which I have never seen since I have
been in Parliament or involved in the industry.
In this bill the Government has a fair go package that I could not jump
off. When I studied the proposed legislation I wished I could return to my
former position as a director of a leagues club, as the secretary-manager of a
3878 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
club, as a licensee or marketing manager of hotels, or as the advertising manager
not. only of hotels but of breweries. When I saw the proposals I thought, gee
whiz, I wish the devil I had the same pub I had in 1972, or I wish I was
managing the same club I was managing in 1972. I wish the Minister good luck
and congratulate him. I shall examine the bills in detail and draw some
comparisons. Honourable members know the objects of the bills-to approve
devices; to increase and enhance the industry; to enable poker machines to be
linked. Honourable members have debated that already, but the proposals
contained in this bill, so far as I am concerned, are a licence to print money
for the clubs. It will give the club movement an incentive to attract patrons to
As I said when I was debating the legislation dealing with linked poker
machines, I have had discussions with the club movement, and I want to say
also, aim up. I used to tell the club movement that when they come to see the
Minister he will tell them what his right hand is doing and he will want the
clubs also to tell him what their right hands are doing. I remember discussions
I had with the late Ken Booth when he was Treasurer, after I had sat down
with members of the club movement when they first came to the Government
with the proposal for linked poker machines. I asked, "Who is involved with
the company?'They said, "We are, and Sky Channel". When I asked who else
was involved, they said that no one else was involved. I asked the same question
for two weeks. I had a copy of the contract, and I left it with Mr Booth. It
showed that 20 per cent of the company was held by the clubs. But, 3 per cent
was theirs and the other 17 per cent was purchased through the letting of the
disc that the clubs paid for. And, 10 per cent was owned by a man called
Mackay. That was fine. I did not care. They should aim up and tell the
Government what is happening.
When the Minister in this Government and I debated the issue and he
said that the clubs had to formulate the linked system, I said, "You are putting
the cart the other way". The former Government was trying to introduce
legislation that would ensure everything would work well, but the Chief
Secretary and the Minister for Tourism is saying "You can do it. Now tell us
how you are going to do it". That is what the former Government was trying
to find out. I am merely saying that the Labor Government was not born
yesterday. I ask this Government please to aim up, because as I said earlier, I
respect the industry; I want to work with the industry, but I want its members
to show their hands and put their cards on the table. That is what it is all about.
I am affronted and annoyed at what is happening. I know I am stronger in my
statements than the Chief Secretary and Minister for Tourism, but that is what
I believe that this situation is embarrassing. Honourable members do
not have much time in which to debate the bill as a result of the forthcoming
recess, nevertheless, I intend to get my point of view across. I am going to tell
the Government what I think, as it does not matter what happens to me. I have
been here long enough to speak my mind. The Government has to show guts;
it has to aim up when it is asked to; it has to show some spirit. I am standing
up for the industry as a whole, not one sectional group. That is important.
Honourable members should look at the petition. It says the maximum number
of machines be increased from five to 10-it says nothing about "up to". It
does not mention up to 10, but the choice is there. It says the maximum jackpot
payout should be increased from $100 to $500. That is not accurate. There are
no bonuses. Under the old legislation, bonuses are not provided for, but this
bill makes provision for bonuses to be paid. It mentions 10c machines, but says
nothing about paying the same tax for the 10c machines as for the 20c
29 November, I988 ASSEMBLY 3879
machines. It says bingo should be allowed in hotels. In a small country town
that does not have a club or church hall, if bingo is held in the lounge of the
hotel the publican gets nothing out of it except a few bums on seats, but the
charity does well. What is wrong with allowing that?
The Australian Hotels Association has issued a press release in which it
mentions spoilt children. What is the industry coming to? The Government is
being lobbied by people in advertising agencies who have told me that they have
$800,000 to spend. If I was running a club and had that much money to spend,
I would put a hotel out of business by discounting beer or upgrading the club-
by marketing and merchandising. The Government should look at the salaries
some of those people receive. The registered club movement is important, but
it is not so important that its members have to start fighting one against the
other. The linked poker machine system, with which the Minister has some
problems until the proposed legislation goes through, is important. It is a
potential goldmine to the Government, which is entitled to the revenue. Coins
of the realm in 5c, 10c and 20c denominations may be used.
When the Labor Government was in office it introduced a $1 coin
machine. When 50c coins and $2 coins came into existence, the Government
decided it was preferable to extend the range of coins that may be used in poker
machines. That may have an impact on the general public, but the Registered
Clubs Association does not mention that. That will have some sort of bite in
the community. At present one can put $1 in a poker machine. The proposed
legislation will allow people to put $10 in a poker machine and press a button.
The machines will be like piranhas. Now that the $2 coin has been introduced,
the Government should say it will allow people to play poker machines only
with $2 coins. However, that might be objectionable to some people.
How does one protect people against themselves? I would let it go
through. Some of my colleagues will not agree with me, but I know that the
Government has to do this. I know that because when I was Minister for Sport
and Recreation I was at the Totalizator Agency Board and I said, "You cannot
protect people against themselves if they are going to bet". It is a good
amendment and should go through. The Registered Clubs Association has made
a recommendation about the terms of tenure of club directors. That
recommendation has been approved by the Minister, and I support it. I should,
however, like to go even further. If honourable members look back through
Hansard, they will find that in 1975 the Attorney General in charge of clubs
and I, when in Opposition, said that changes had to be made. I told honourable
members then that the way to be elected as a director of a club was to stand in
the comer, buy the most beer, get fuller than anyone else, and get on the board.
Then, for the rest of his term the director sits in the board room worrying about
the price of matches or the price of a glass of beer so that his mates will vote
for him again.
I wish to make a recommendation, which unfortunately is not legislative
but merely optional, that no one should stand as a director of a club unless he
stands up at the annual general meeting and says. "I want to be a director
because I have the following qualifications", not because people know him or
he says, "I am the best drunk in the joint". But, that is what happens. The
Government has made a move in the right direction, which I support. I brought
in the same recommendations to all the trusts with which I was involved-
whether it was the Sydney Cricket Ground or the Totalizator Agency Board.
There has to be a rollover of experience on the board. The bill is good
le$islation, but it should go further. Amalgamation of clubs is one of the best
things I have ever seen.
3880 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
We only have to go back to the days of the Western Suburbs Football
Club and the problems it faced when it tried to amalgamate with the Dancers
Club at Lidcombe. The Licences Reduction Board told the club it could not
amalgamate with the Dancers Club. The club battled and did everything it could
think of. The Dancers club went out of vogue and the Western Suburbs Football
Club finished up almost out of the first grade competition and has now moved
to Campbelltown. These sorts of initiatives should have been taken long ago.
Perhaps the former Labor Government should have introduced them. Poker
machine taxation has to be examined further. It is a time-consuming operation,
but it is good because it necessitates the keeping of records and makes clubs
accountable. There has to be a better way, and the Minister will try to find a
better way. It may take time, but he will look at it because the taxation side of
it is a great contributor to New South Wales. Centralized cash control permits
machines to be operated without inserting a coin. It is modem technology.
Wowsers will be told that it is not credit betting. The Minister made that clear.
One has to have the money to be able to play.
When I introduced the electronic transfer of funds to the TAB, people
came out of the woodwork. I wrote to them all saying that they could not get
credit, that they could not use money they did not have. I argued that it was
all right to buy petrol at the service station and groceries at the supermarket
on credit cards but that they could not bet with a credit card. It is not credit
betting, they should spend only what they have. It is said that it would be a
good move in that it would utilize modern technology. But I did allow it because
they did not have the cash in their pockets; it was in the bank. They did not
have it in their pockets because they did not want to carry it, society being what
it is nowadays.
I turn to the definition of games, features and so on. Since 1956
registered clubs have had the exclusive use of the spinning reel-type poker
machines. When video gaming devices were introduced into hotels in 1984, the
primary game was simulated draw poker. Although it was recently proposed to
the clubs and hotel industry that this form of demarcation be abandoned in
favour of other distinctions such as maximum stakes, maximum prizes, and the
number of devices on premises, both industries rejected the idea. What worries
me about that proposal is the effect it will have on the younger generation. If I
understand it correctly, what is proposed is that clubs will have poker machines
and the pubs will have video games, keeping them separate. I see a probleni irr
that the younger generation cannot cope with poker machines. Young peo
love to play their video games. If that is what they want and that is what
Minister believes they should have, that is all right. I know that with the
poker machines one does not need to pull a handle. One can throw $10 in
throat, press buttons, reserve the machine, walk away, go for a boat ride a
come back. I know all that; but, unfortunately, as I have said as Minister and
as I have said to Cabinet, the modern generation wants a different sort of game.
I just hope that this proposal does not work against the clubs. I am trying to
be even-handed; I am not trying to knock the clubs. This proposal may be
restrictive; the younger generation might not fancy it. However, we should give
it a go.
I come now to the repossession of poker machines. What is proposed is
fairly logical. Many poker machines in clubs are funded by financial institutions
under commercial arrangements. If they wish to take possession of the machine
or sell the machine when the club defaults on its payments or discontinues an
arrangement, an exemption from the usual requirements to hold a poker
machine licence will be provided for the financial institutions. That is a fairly
logical proposal. Years ago people who were making a rort of selling secondhand
29 November, 1988 ASSEMRLY 388 1
poker machines and that sort of thing in the Philippines were being pulled off
planes in Manila. I can understand that sort of brief being included in the
legislation, and I support it. The bill deals also with the private possession of
poker machines. As the Minister indicated, some people need machines for
therapeutic purposes. Members of gamblers anonymous and people who have
a problem with gambling with poker machines may need to have a machine at
home for therapeutic purposes. The proposal to allow them to possess such
machines is a good one. As I said, one has to be flexible in these things, and
that proposal provides that sort of flexibility.
I turn now to the matter of offences by minors. It is proposed to increase
the penalty for entering the restricted area of licensed premises or a bar of a
registered club to $1,000 from the present penalty of $200 or $500, depending
on the circumstances. The general public might think that such an increase is
too severe, but I think the general public and the community have had enough
of under-age drinking. As a former publican and secretary-manager of a club, I
understand the problems encountered by such people. They hate to be faced
with the dilemma posed by a young person trying to gain admission. One cannot
tell these days how old young people are or what they will do. If they do not
buy alcoholic drinks themselves, someone will buy them for them. When I was
on the liquor inquiry and we first changed the hotel trading hours and liquor
trading hours in New South Wales, we examined these penalties.
I have a son who is 19 years old and daughters aged 2 1, 18 and 15. I
have a devil of a time trying to keep them out of these situations; we all do.
They ask me where they can go. If I tell them to go up to the youth club, they
laugh at me. I tell them that I do not want them to go to the Gresham hotel,
that I do not want them to go into town or to Kings Cross. They tell me that I
am a nark and a goose. I am faced with that. We have forgotten more than
they know, yet we cannot tell them anything. If we were to hit them, they would
leave home; one cannot do that. What happens is that they stay out all night
while I stay at home with my wife, who develops a migraine; and we worry
about where they are. This is an important matter, and this measure is
emphasizing the fact that the clubs, the hotels and everyone should take as much
responsibility for these matters as they possibly can. I understand the difficulties
involved, but the Opposition does not propose to oppose this part of the
legislation. I just hope that the necessity to use it never arises.
We then come to that part of the bill which deals with the hotels. A
couple of the proposals have caused controversy. Since the introduction of video
draw poker machines in hotels in 1984, those devices have used only 20c coins
in their operation. When the coalition parties were in opposition they gave an
undertaking to introduce 1Oc coin machines. So what? In the club industry 5c
and 10c machines were going out of vogue. They seem to have come back into
vogue; I do not know the reason. If those machines are allowed to be operated
in the clubs, why not allow the hotels to have them? The same licence fee will
need to be paid to operate those machines as is paid to operate the 20c machine.
The Government will get its revenue.
I come now to commercial financial arrangements. Hoteliers may acquire
video draw poker machines only through a purchase using their own funds. In
other words, the publican will have to buy them with his own funds. This
proposal will allow the finance to be arranged through commercial credit
providers. There is nothing wrong with that. If the hoteliers want to finance the
purchase of such equipment, why should they not be able to? The clubs can do
so, so the pubs should be able to do so. I still do not believe that that provision
will result in the hoteliers buying up to 10 machines. They will buy the type of
3882 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
machine from which they will be able to get sufficient return to pay for it. They
are entitled to do that. The hotel industry went through turmoil. The industry
started with a boom period. It had cash flow, funny money and all the tricks.
Anyone without experience thought it was a good idea to get a pub, to get that
cash flow. After a period they found that the barmaids were ripping them off.
The till drawers were open and there were pencils left alongside the tills. The
barmaids, not the publicans, were taking the money.
Then the publicans got themselves organized; they started to understand
what was happening. Professionals got back into the industry and started to
watch the tapping of their kegs. They started to check off the deliveries.
Previously when the driver asked the publican to sign for 12 kegs, he would
sign though in fact, unknown to him, he had received only 10 kegs, two kegs
had been dropped off at the club down the road. The publicans started to wake
up and look at their bar percentages. They did a caiculation of the daily yield.
They started to work out what the industry was all about. They have made a
comeback. But they must also realize that in some places the video draw poker
machine is the lifeblood of publicans. They are entitled to run a business, into
which they put good money to buy the lease or the freehold, by offering their
patrons the service that they want. Before it was legalized, they were all having
a ball on the black; they all had the machines installed.
If they did not have the machines, they had pool tables, some of which
were installed in the pubs at a site fee of $100. Hotels should be able to have
these forms of entertainment. Does one say to a fellow who wants a drink in a
hotel, "Sit on your bum, have a packet of chips and a beer, but do not play a
machine. You can play a pinball machine or an electronic game, but you cannot
play anything else?'If the customer wants it, they should be able to play it,
that is my view, although all my colleagues may not agree with me. As I have
said before, I have been in the industry and I understand it, although I will not
be so conceited as to say I know all the changes that have taken place. I have
had success in clubs and in hotels, and I believe there is room for both facilities.
So far as the provision that hotels be permitted to provide no more than five
video draw poker machines, known as approved amusement devices, the former
Government made a commitment to increase the maximum permissible number
to 10 and this commitment is being implemented.
I say with all sincerity that I did not ask to be the shadow minister for
this portfolio. Only two weeks ago I asked the Leader of the Opposition to give
the responsibility to someone else, because it might be thought that I was being
one-sided or a bit difficult. However, he gave that responbility to me, and I am
stuck with it. I believe that the industry is entitled to this facility. Hotels are
entitled to have up to 10 AADs. I do not believe all hotels will have 10 AADs,
but if they do it is an indication that they can afford them and that there is a
demand for that number, which is created by the patrons. It is not a demand
created by the public. If a publican has a demand for 10 AADs, he should be
allowed to have them, to pay the full taxation on the machines, and to be
controlled by the existing legislation, which is very tight. The old days have gone
of changing chips, of taking kings off poker machines and sticking tens on the
wheel, and that sort or thing.
The industry is controlled very closely by the Minister's department. The
people of New South Wales will not lose anything by this legislation. The
industry is so good that I might go back into it-not yet, but perhaps one day.
If I return to the club industry I will become a member of the Registered Clubs
Association. Earlier this afternoon the legal officer of the Australian Hotels
Association was in the gallery. His association does not have the tenacity of the
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3883
Registered Clubs Association. Time beat him, as it is beating many of us. 1 say
the system should be implemented and that there is room for both clubs and
hotels to operate. So far as the credit amount redeemable on AADs is
concerned-and I have touched on that only briefly-I shall read from my
The maximum value of payment to AAD players for accumulated credit is $100.
The devices automatically cease to function once that level is reached. The player must
then be paid out.
If a player happens to win a prize (say $100) when the credit meter stands at say
$60, the AAD will recognise entitlement to a total credit value of $100, not $160.
This unfairness will be addressed by allowing patrons to redeem the full entitlement
of prizes won on AADs up to $500 maximum. This move will effectively ensure all player
entitlements will be paid.
I see nothing wrong with that. How would an honourable member feel if he
were in a pub-
Mr Graham: Drunk, probably.
Mr CLEARY: No, not at this time of night; I do not do that. If an
honourable member won a prize of $60 or $100, and kept playing and won
another $60, and was paid out $100, he would spit out his dummy. If one puts
in good money, one is entitled to get good money back. I say that is fair and
equitable and there is nothing wrong with it. I wish the industry good luck, and
I include the clubs. My notes contain four matters relating to hotels and 10
relating to clubs, that is, 10 amendments to the legislation. It is good,
competitive legislation. It is one industry against the other, and it is fair and
equitable. Who benefits from this legislation? The patrons do. The clubs will
not suffer, nor should they. As I have said, the Registered Clubs Association
should back off and give the hotels a go. I know large investments are made in
clubs, and it is members' money that is invested. Successful clubs have good
A publican uses his own money and if the venture fails he sacrifices his
own livelihood and his family suffers. It is unfortunate if a club closes and
members suffer. However, they can go to a new club, or an amalgamation of
clubs. The club industry is unique. I predicted the situation that occurred at
South Sydney Leagues Club 18 months before it happened. What happened? I
got the DCM-don't come Monday. I then went to Easts. I had said to the
members at South Sydney Leagues Club that the club would fold, but they did
not believe me. While the doors were open everything was rosy. When the
receivers went in and the sign was put on the door, they asked what they should
do. It was a difficult time, having to form a group to get the club out of
receivership. We did it in 24 hours. I was nearly put in the boob because I was
floating debentures without a prospectus. The Labor Party was not in
government at the time but the matter was sorted out.
I have been strong, perhaps forceful and a little overboard in my
comments, but I have been honest and sincere. This legislation is fair and
equitable. Without having a quid each way, I say to both groups that I
appreciate what the club industry has done and what it is doing, but I do not
appreciate the friction that has developed over the trivial matter of the clubs
presenting a petition on this legislation. With the greatest of respect, I say to
the clubs that they should cease this line of conduct. Clubs have had a fair go
and have done well. There is room for both clubs and hotels to operate. The
clubs should leave me alone, leave the Minister alone and get on with
administering their organizations and making sure that the amendments
3884 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
contained in this legislation come to fruition as quickly as possible, because
there is much legwork yet to be done and recommendations to be made.
Get keno going and all the other Government proposals. Get out there
and market the industry and compete on an equal footing. If the club industry
wishes to crush the pub industry, let it do so fairly and equitably, not with all
this propaganda. Save the money, save the contributions of member affiliated
clubs. If that is done, some of the clubs that have pulled out of the organization
might return. I have not mentioned them by name but I know they are a little
fed up, like me, because some of them are saying, "What are we contributing
to-a power base, an ego trip? Or are we contributing to an organization that
will be fair within the industry? Are we contributing to propaganda that we do
not support? Are we contributing to salaries and administration costs that are
higher than they should be?'
I am not saying that, but I know I will read about it probably in next
January's edition of Club Life. Going through it, I see one photograph of Kenny
Booth and one of his wife. The magazine sprayed the Minister, and why would
it not? Let us be fair and not use this magazine in such a way. It is a news
magazine. Let us use it for its proper purpose-to distribute information to club
directors and secretary-managers. I hope honourable members understand that
I support both industries. I believe there is room for each of them. I hope that
my remarks here tonight have been a fair assessment of these activities because
I support what they are doing.
I congratulate the club movement on its enthusiasm and the lobbying
that it has done in the past three years to achieve these changes. I am sure that
the club movement will go on to bigger and better things. So it should, because
its services are unique. The club movement is of benefit to the community, and
so it should, because it is owned by the community. They are the members.
Good luck to them. I congratulate the Minister on having the strength to
proceed with this legislation despite some heavy lobbying against it. The
Opposition takes a non-partisan view of it.
The Minister and I have a mutual admiration for each other. It is not
because of his personality but perhaps because we worked closely together when
I was Minister and he was the shadow minister. The fact is that I did not
introduce legislation that he thought was offensive to the community, and I
believe that he is not doing that either. This House is all about working together
to make sure that the community benefits. With those strong remarks I support
the legislation. I do not know what my colleagues will say, but I can say that
there will be no vote against it.
Mr GRAHAM (The Entrance) 110.341: How does a humble fellow like
me, still wet behind the ears, follow an act like that? I have learned one thing
from the honourable member for Coogee: I shall keep my office door locked
because he has lifted my speech. However, I shall struggle on as best I can. I
commend the honourable member for Coogee for his speech. I commend also
the Chief Secretary for his generosity toward the club industry in forming this
legislation. Much of the legislation will benefit the club industry more than the
hotel industry. I too wish to mention coins of the realm, referred to by the
honourable member for Coogee, a subject that some honourable members might
not find to their liking. If one wishes to gamble, one can go to the TAB, the
racetrack or to the lotteries office and wager whatever amount one desires. The
previous Government wanted to establish a casino at Darling Harbour, where
one could have invested a dollar, a thousand dollars or $10,000 on a hand of
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3885
I cannot see any argument against coins of the realm. It is a good
addition. Centralized cash control systems were mentioned. I spent four years
on the board of directors of the Mingara Recreation Club on the Central Coast.
In those four years on many occasions I headed to the club on Sunday mornings
to help count the money in the poker machines. That was fairly horrendous on
a Sunday morning after a heavy Saturday night. Security of coins in the machine
will be tightened with centralized cash control. With that system, the player
chooses the machine that he wants to play, inserts whatever amount he desires,
says that he wants to play a machine No. 179, which is registered on that
machine and he then proceeds to play. That is something similar to what is
done in a self-serve garage, where the car is filled with petrol and the details
are registered on equipment in the office. With centralized cash control, that
operates in reverse. The money is put in and the machine is played. A little
later the player of the machine may wish to play another machine. With this
system he can take his money out and put it into another machine.
The main reason I support this system is the security aspect. Jackpots
have been mentioned, which are a wonderful benefit to smaller clubs that do
not have a large patronage but want to provide a larger jackpot by being linked
to other machines throughout the State. The smaller club will be able to offer
that service. The honourable member for Coogee mentioned club mergers and
an instance involving the Western Suburbs Leagues Club. At the moment club
mergers can be between two clubs only. Often a large club in an area completely
engulfs two or three smaller clubs. Why should we stop the larger club taking
the smaller club under its wing to assist it rather than letting it go to the wall-
for instance a smaller bowling club or golf club that incurred huge green fees
or fees for greenkeepers. The honourable member for Coogee mentioned club
directors. I too am concerned about directors and I would like to look at
bringing in some control on directors of clubs. When I was a director of a club
at one stage only three members of the board of 11 could read a balance sheet.
This legislation will amend sections 51 and 52 of the Act to increase
penalties for offences committed by minors. The penalty for entering the bar
of a registered club will be increased to $1,000. At present the fine ranges
between $200 and $500, depending on the circumstances. The penalty for a
minor operating a poker machine will be increased from $200 to $500. For
consuming of, obtaining or carrying away liquor from licensed premises, the
penalty will increase from $200 to $500. That means that an under-age person
pla ing a poker machine in a licensed club while having a beer can be fined up
to $2,000 for those offences. I agree with the honourable member for Coogee
that these measures are difficult to police.
The legislation contains a number of generous measures for the club
industry, resulting from the initiatives of the Chief Secretary. However, I too
am concerned that some members of the Registered Clubs Association continue
to behave like schoolchildren. They should have their bottoms spanked. Clubs
rightly claim that they generously support their local communities. But so do
hotels. In The Entrance electorate are local surf clubs, cricket clubs. football
clubs and other sporting organizations that benefit from fund raising activities
carried out in hotels. Charities also benefit from those activities. A few years
ago I was president of the Toowoon Bay Surf Club. I am still a proud member
of it. For many years the club has held a raffle of a Saturday afternoon in the
Long Jetty Hotel. That has raised much of the money used by the club to save
lives on Toowoon Bay beach.
3886 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
As the honourable member for Coogee said, legislative changes to benefit
hotels have been far less significant. The example was given of allowing hotels
to have up to 10 amusement devices, and allowing hotels to install 1Oc
machines. Why should hotels have only 20c machines? The Chief Secretary is
concerned for those less fortunate than we are. Many people want to invest in
a machine the 10c coins they get in change from buying beer. The Chief
Secretary is offering the hotels the opportunity to provide their customers with
10c machines. This measure will increase the credits redeemable on amusement
devices from $100 to $500. The honourable member for Coogee dealt
thoroughly with that matter. Once again it seems he has read my speech; I give
him credit for that. As can be seen, the clubs are by far the winners from
legislative changes. I commend the Chief Secretary for the fair manner in which
he has addressed this matter. It is a pity that the Registered Clubs Association
could not be as fair.
Mr DAVOREN (Lakemba) [10.45]: I preface my remarks by stating that
I am a supporter of the club movement. It represents the simple philosophies
of co-operation in which I firmly believe. The club movement provides services
for the good citizens of New South Wales. It has supported community projects,
Interestingly some hotels and clubs operate in close proximity to one another.
Close to the border of the electorate of Lakemba is a hotel right beside a club;
in fact, they share a common parking area. I said to the president of the club,
"How come both club and hotel seem to be operating satisfactorily though in
close proximity?'he said: "It is quite simple. If you were cutting your lawn of
a Saturday afternoon, dressed in a singlet and pair of shorts, and on finishing
felt like having a drink, you would slip up to the hotel. On the other hand, if
you wanted to have a drink with your wife or acquaintances in more appropriate
surroundings, without being bothered by others standing around, you could go
to the club". As the honourable member for Coogee said, the sooner hotels and
clubs realize that they both have a role to play in community activity, the better
off they will be.
I have some concerns about the Liquor (Amusement Devices)
Amendment Bill. I firmly believe in the concept of an equal playing field.
Honourable members may be aware that when a club buys a poker machine,
the machine is accompanied by a certificate that shows the return to the player.
This return is checked by the Liquor Administration Board, and if the return
of the machine is outside certain limits, there are problems for the proprietor.
Let us consider the approved amusement devices now installed in hotels. This
measure allows hotels to have up to 10 of these amusement devices. However,
there is no certification about the return from these machines to the player.
All honourable members will recall what used to happen with poker
machines in clubs. It is to the credit of successive governments that legislation
has tightened controls over poker machines and made sure that everything is
fair and square, as it should be. I suggest that approved amusement devices
installed in hotels should carry a certificate of the return to the player. The
Liquor Administration Board should require the publican to provide a return
on the turnover through his machines. I hesitate to say it, but it seems to be a
fact of life that some people, given the opportunity, will cheat on taxation. This
is not a matter confined to Australia. I recall that in a pastoral letter to his flock,
the Archbishop of Milano said that it was not a sin to cheat on tax. That
statement was later denied by the Pope, who made it quite clear that his
eminence was voicing his own personal opinion, and that it was not to be taken
as a teaching of the church. Hotelkeepers and saloonkeepers should give an
account of what is put through a machine for the purposes of taxation. The
29 November, I988 ASSEMBLY 3887
State Government should provide an even playing field, ensuring that the
saloonkeeper pays tax based on a percentage of what goes through his machines.
I believe firmly in the principle of equal playing fields. What applies to
one should most certainly apply to the other. That is relative competition. If
the Government, as it keeps reminding us, is all for private enterprise and a
fair go for all-a can-do Government as the Minister tells us often-this is a
great opportunity for it to demonstrate what it can do. Let it provide an equal
playing field. I am sure the clubs would not mind if the hotels were placed on
exactly the same footing and had to provide the same amount of accounting as
the clubs have to. I have no objection to that.
I have no real objection to the legislation. I agree with the honourable
member for Coogee that the clubs have done reasonably well. Hotels deserve
to keep going. There is a place in our community for hotels and for clubs. Some
people would not want to drink in a club. They may feel that poker machines
are sited in such a way that it is difficult for them to enjoy a quiet drink without
being open to the temptation of playing a poker machine. That is marketing,
and I have no objection to it. But if a person is aware of that problem, he would
go to an hotel to have a drink. There is a place for both, but I appeal to the
Minister to establish the principle of an even playing field. If on the one hand
clubs have to provide returns to the Liquor Administration Board and poker
machines must have a certificate giving firm certification of the return to the
player, exactly the same should apply to any other amusement device used for
the purpose of gaming. Other than that, I have no real objections to the
legislation. I agree with my colleague the honourable member for Coogee. There
are goodies in the bag for both sections of the liquor and gaming industry. I
applaud the legislation and appeal to the Minister to consider these points I
Mr MORRIS (Blue Mountains) [10.52]: I congratulate the honourable
member for Coogee on a fine speech. I am only new to this House, but I believe
he is a man who knows the game very well. These bills are part of a package
that meets the Government's election commitments and sets industry standards
for the twenty-first century. Although some degree of government intervention
is necessary, the amendments will streamline the regulations to ensure they are
effective and assist the industry, while meeting social expectations. These bills
will ensure a balance between the varying interests in the industry, namely the
clubs and the hotels. The objects of the bills are twofold: first, to facilitate the
easing of some of the more severe regulatory controls that have proved to be
inappropriate, unduly restrictive and awkward to administer; second, to grant
concessions that will provide a stimulus to registered clubs and hotels in the
operation of poker machines and approved amusement devices. The club
movement and hotel industry play important roles in the lives of people in the
electorate of Blue Mountains, as well as the people of New South Wales in
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I note that the member for Blue Mountains is
reading his speech. I trust he will not continue to do so for the entirety of his
speech. He is aware of my ruling in this regard.
Mr MORRIS: I agree with the Opposition. I should like to mention the
initiatives put forward by the club movement to expand the definition of poker
machines to permit clubs to operate a variety of additional equipment. This
equipment and the persons involved in its manufacture, supply and service. will
have to meet the standards that currently apply to poker machines. The
implementation of this system will improve poker machine operations with the
3888 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
result that clubs will grow close together in the true spirit of the club movement.
Such a development will help smaller clubs and the club industry in general.
To this end, should the Minister be concerned with management or
supervision, proposed new section 1065 will allow him to issue directions to
the manager of an interclub linked poker machine system. Proposed new section
1 0 6 ~ allow controls over key persons employed in connection with the
interclub linked system, should those persons be deemed to be jeopardizing the
integrity of the system. Stricter controls are to be introduced in relation to
contracts. Proposed new section 1 0 6 will provide for the termination of certain
contracts without compensation, if the Minister considers that the contract is
not in the public interest. The legislation will remove the existing restrictions
on amalgamation of clubs. It will make the option for election of club directors
for three-year terms more achievable.
I refer now to the Liquor (Amusement Devices) Amendment Bill. The
coalition, when in opposition, undertook to allow up to 10 devices to be
installed in any one hotel. The Australian Hotels Association sought to
introduce 1O devices to provide assistance for small hotels. The Government
has agreed to the operation of 1Oc devices, but the licence fee will be the same
as for the 20c devices. Prizes are not to be increased, with the maximum prize
payable for any one play on a device remaining at $100. This is an important
part of the legislation. The Liquor (Amusement Devices) Amendment Bill
proposes to overcome several anomalies in the present law relating to
amusement devices in hotels. Many rules applying to hotels do not apply to
clubs or to the poker machine industry, thus causing frustration. This bill will
bring hotel amusement device operations into line with poker machine
operations. The bill will remove restrictive practices. The Government has been
told that delays experienced in the licensing process for amusement devices and
poker machines have caused people to leave the industry.
The revenue from poker machines for the year ended June 1988
amounted to about $212 million, and revenue from the operation of hotel
amusement devices for the same period was almost $18 million. One can see
this bill affects a big industry. The Government intends to implement a new
scheme to address the collection of State revenue from poker machines. The
bill includes regulation-making powers to enable new rates of revenue to be
introduced at the appropriate time. The Government is to continue the
consultation process with both the club movement and the hotel industry. This
is to be commended. The Government also will introduce a new revenue
assessment scheme. The maximum penalty for the offence of a minor using a
poker machine or an approved amusement device is to be increased to $500.
The maximum penalty for the offence of a minor consuming alcohol on club
premises or licensed premises is to be increased also to $500.
The Gaming and Betting (Poker Machines) Taxation Amendment Bill
has two main purposes. The first is the amendment to the sections of the Act
relating to the use of coins of the realm and centralized cash control for poker
machines; second, to ensure that an appropriate rate of government revenue is
gained from machines. In summing up, the bills will simplify and make more
practical many of the practices and procedures of the Government and the club
and hotel industries generally and allow greater flexibility to implement
efficiency swiftly and realistically in those important growing industries. I
support the bills.
Mr HARRISON (Kiama) [11.0]: I intend to make possibly the shortest
and most pertinent speech in this debate. I am not a drinking man. I found out
young in life that I did not handle alcohol well. I have vivid memories of
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3889
starting to go into hotels when I was a young lad when publicans used to put
on the beer for two hours and then tell the patrons, "The beer is off, boys, but
you can go down to the Hibernian and it will be on there for the next couple
of hours", and the way in which one could buy a couple of bottles of beer after
hours for six shillings a bottle when it was two and tenpence during the day.
But, it was not available during the day because it was under the counter. I do
not suggest that those in the hotel industry today are the same types of people
who were in that industry in my youth, It has improved greafly since then, but
I have vivid recollections of the way in which the publicans treated the
community when they had a monopoly.
The New South Wales club scene is unlike any other in the world. People
from other parts of the world have visited me and I have taken them to the
local club for a night out. They have asked me, "How long has this been going
on?'Visitors from the United States of America, Great Britain and various
other places have been amazed at what they have seen as they have nothing at
home like we have in New South Wales. One can have a reasonable time out
at a club with one's wife and one is not pestered by drunks because they are
asked to leave and will not be allowed back in. Also, one knows that a meal
will not cost a fortune and one does not have to play the poker machines if one
does not wish, but if one does, one knows that the profits are put back into
amenities for club members or are used to support vanous sporting
organizations or other local community groups. I regard the New South Wales
club industry as socialistic. It is an opportunity for workers and people generally
to manage their own entertainment activities. To some,
proposed legislation to increase the incidence of mechanized
hotels as highly undesirable. The most reprehensible act o
recorded in human history was when Roman soldiers cast
Our Saviour at the foot of the cross. Mechanized gambling
in some ways it is quite evil.
I am not a wowser. When I go to a club at night I often put $5 or $10-
the amount of money I can afford to lose-through the poker machines and
regard it as a donation to the club of which I am a member. I belong to a few
clubs. I know that the money will not go into someone else's pocket, that there
are no rip-offs, and that it will go towards providing increased amenities for
members of the clubs of which I am proud to be a member, or will be donated
to various sporting or other community organizations in the district in which
I live. The gambling dollar is only so large. Previous speakers-have quoted
figures. I believe the revenue from poker machines and other similar machines
added up to $240 million a year. It is a big industry, as has been pointed out.
The cake is only so big. If it is made any larger, people will lose more money
than they can afford. I have no arguments against people who want to drink in
hotels. Clubs, because of their nature, often provide a glass of beer cheaper than
a hotel. I wish to touch also on the point made by one of the previous speakers,
who said that the clubs are strictly accountable for any money that passes
through their poker machines. I do not believe that that same accountability
will be imposed on publicans by the proposed legislation. In any event, if the
split is 70 to 30 in favour of the players, I do not believe that the majority of
that 30 per cent will go back to the community in the way that is does with
I suppose at some point everyone must make a stand and examine his
conscience about how he feels about various matters. I remember my father
telling me when I was a young fellow, "Always speak your mmd; always look
people in the eye, and remember that a straight left is the shortest distance
between two points". That is the way I have tried to live my hfe. I would be
3890 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
remiss if I did not at least place these thoughts on record,tonight. There has
been much to-ing and fro-ing throughout the course of the debate. Many
honourable members have adopted a foot in either camp attitude. That is not
my style. I do not believe that the gambling cake should be made larger by
encouraging the proliferation of mechanised gambling. I am one of the members
on the Opposition benches who privately does not support the introduction of
casinos. I believe they are a harbour for organized crime and are designed to
separate the mugs from their dollars. Having said those things, I shall not be
voting against the bills tonight. In order that I am able to look at myself in the
mirror tomorrow morning when I shave, I wished to make the statements I have
made tonight. I thank the House for the courtesy of listening to what I have
had to say. There were not many interjections, but on some things one just has
to be counted.
Mr D. L. PAGE (Ballina) [I 1.81: I wish to make three short points in
support of the bills. First, I believe that the linked progressive jackpot system
will be a bonus for small clubs. It will enable them to offer a jackpot prize that
will enable them to compete with the bigger clubs. The amalgamation proposals
will enable smaller clubs also to amalgamate to achieve economies of scale,
which will be beneficial to them. Second, I congratulate the Minister for insisting
on the same level of security and probity requirements in relation to the
Registered Clubs (Amendment) Bill as will apply in the Lotto Act for the
statewide linked arrangements. That will be important for the long-term probity
and reputation of the club industry. Third, and finally, there has been a debate
about the club versus hotel contribution. I should like to remind the club
industry that the hotels like clubs, make a contribution to the community, a
very worthwhile contribution. After all, the clubs pay payroll tax, land tax,
income tax, and council rates, but they are not exempt from any tax. Those
points should be borne in mind by the club industry. I do not wish to enter
into any club bashing exercise. I congratulate the honourable member for
Coogee on his very useful contribution to this debate. I congratulate him on
the fact that he was able to demonstrate to the House, his colleagues, and indeed
the club and the hotel industries that he is a man of his convictions. Having
been lobbied so hard by the club industry in the past week or two, he must
have been very tempted to try to score a political point in this forum, and I
congratulate him on not attempting to do so.
Mr WEST (Orange), Chief Secretary and Minister for Tourism [ l 1.101,
in reply: I thank all honourable members for the contributions they have made
to the debate on this proposed legislation. I thank those Government members
who have spoken in the debate-obviously they are members of my backbench
committee-for their co-operation and assstance in ensuring the passage of this
complex piece of legislation. I believe that what we have presented to the people
of New South Wales is a very balanced package-a package that will assist
people in so many different walks of life. It is important that we view the
legislation in that light. Over the past week or so Government members have
expressed concern to me about the legislation. I respect those concerns; they
are concerns held by members on both sides of the House. I have taken the
trouble to speak to those involved with many of the clubs-not as many as I
would like, but many of the smaller clubs-in order to discuss their concerns.
If that sort of discussion continues, a degree of understanding will be achieved
of the Government's objectives, and the aims and objectives of the club
movement will be able to be facilitated.
I thank also members of the Opposition for their contributions to the
debate. I refer to the honourable member for Coogee, the honourable member
for Lakemba and the honourable member for Kiama. I thank in particular the
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3891
honourable member for Coogee. He has been in this place for almost 13 years.
A little straight talking every now and again does not hurt this Parliament. This
Parliament and the life of politics is often full of what is called doublespeak;
people are not always willing to say what they believe. In the years ahead
Parliament will do well to reflect on the honesty that we have seen in this
debate. This package of legislation does not seek to benefit the club industry as
opposed to the hotel industry, or vice versa. This package will benefit the
hospitality industries of New South Wales-the industries that are involved in
looking after people. It will benefit those involved in tourism and entertainment,
which are important facets of the social fabric of the New South Wales
When I became Minister I realized that there was a large degree of
interconnection between the club industry and the hotel industry. I well recall
reflecting at a meeting of the New South Wales branch of the Australian
Tourism Industry Association on the important contribution that the club
industry and the hotel industry make to tourism. I recall John Ross, the
President of the Australian Hotels Association, jumping down my throat saying
that the clubs do not contribute anything towards tourism in New South Wales.
The fact is that the hotels and the clubs both contribute to the tourist industry,
the hospitality industry and the entertainment industry. They contribute to what
I call the social fabric of this State.
I set about putting together a package that would allow the hotel industry
and the club industry to market their product to their patrons. I acknowledge
the important contribution that the club industry makes to the New South
Wales community, of which it is a significant part. I am concerned about all
clubs, but I am concerned most about the small clubs. It is those 600-odd small
clubs with which this package of legislation deals. About two weeks ago the
poker machine council got up my ribs and started to stir up this matter. It says
that these clubs will go broke because of what the Government is doing in the
hotel industry. It points out that those clubs are paying site fees only, that they
do not pay any supplementary taxes. However, those clubs wl gain significantly
under this package of legislation. Though they might not generate the large
turnovers that the bigger clubs generate through the inhouse and statewide links,
the small clubs will be able to access the statewide links in particular, and that
will be an important facet of their involvement in this entire network. It is
important to place on record, though this matter is not dealt with in the
legislation, that as Minister I told the Liquor Administration Board that
machines manufactured prior to 1986 needed to be allowed to be linked to this
network. That is an important cost consideration that must be taken into
account. If that proposal were not accepted, the small clubs might have been
excluded from participating in this network. Small clubs, as well as the whole
club industry and the hotel industry, need to be rejuvenated. This package gives
them that opportunity.
The honourable member for Coogee has experience in both facets of the
industry. He has hands-on experience in both the club industry and the hotel
industry. The Parliament values the sort of contribution made by the
honourable member tonight, and I know that he will continue to make that sort
of contribution. In opposition I found it of value to be able to tell the Minister
clearly my ideas and to get a full briefing on the Government's program. Since
I have become Minister, I have been able to reciprocate the courtesy shown by
the honourable member for Coogee, and I intend to continue that practice. I
believe that the workings of this Parliament and the process of debate in this
Parliament can be enhanced by that degree of co-operation.
3892 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
The honourable member for Lakemba expressed ,concern about the
increase in video draw poker machines in the hotels and the fact that poker
machines that are installed in clubs are certified to the effect that they provide
to players the minimum 85 per cent return. I inform the honourable member
for Lakemba and the House that the certification that is required in relation to
machines that go into clubs will be required also in relation to video draw poker
machines that go into the hotels. In fact, it is interesting to note that an
examination of the statistics reveals that the average return to players in the
club industry is about 87 per cent, whereas the average return to players in the
hotel industry is 90 per cent. That is significant, and I believe it is important
that it be placed on the record.
I was pleased that the honourable member for Ballina referred to the
contribution hotels make to taxation revenue. Hotels pay taxation in the form
of water rates, land tax and every other tax that one can think of; they are not
extended any exemptions from paying tax. They contribute significantly to the
finances of this State and this country. As the honourable member for Lakemba
said, we are a can-do government. It is pleasing to know that Opposition
members have been listening to what my colleague the Minister for Transport
has said so often in this House. He has demonstrated on many occasions that
we are a can-do government. That is what this package is all about-about
helping people. But it is also about, as the honourable member described it,
getting an even playing field. The accounting procedures applied at present to
the hotel industry and the club industry differ only slightly. The hotels are
required to pay only site fees on their video draw poker machines. However,
we need to know the turnover of the clubs because their taxation contribution
is based on turnover. Therefore, there is a degree of difference in the accounting
By the same token I state clearly that the differentiation is mild indeed
because we still have an obligation under the legislation to ensure that minimum
returns to players are maintained. A hotelier has to provide two sets of records,
one being the electromechanical meter recording system, and the other being
the electronic meters, and the readings must balance at the end of the exercise.
It is a careful, calculated method of readings. I understand the concerns held
by the club industry. In my discussions with that industry I have made it clear
that I wish to put both industries on a even basis. That will be an important
part of the objective in our future discussions. This is important legislation and
I respect the contributions that have been made by all honourable members.
Reference has been made to the intensive campaign conducted by the
club industry, identifying its important role in the community. No one denies
the importance of that role, as set out in the community awareness campaign.
However, we must be honest. That campaign came to its ultimate conclusion
today with advertisements in today's newspapers. It was not only a campaign
to alert the community to the benefits of the club industry, but to tell members
of this Chamber and members of another Chamber that the club industry does
not want hotels to have access to up to 10 approved amusement devices, that
is, AADs. That is what the campaign is about. It is the Government's intention
to proceed with this legislation, despite the petitions and the call for a
moratorium. This package will do much more for the club industry than it could
possibly do for the hotel industry.
This legislation, together with the keno legislation that went through this
House a fortnight ago, will provide potential inhouse and statewide benefits to
the club industry. The legislative changes will affect the marketing of the club
industry in this State, I support the club industry, as I believe all honourable
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3893
members of this Chamber do. We want to encourage and foster it in its
endeavours but we want the industry to work with us and to be open and honest
with us. I shall not discuss all the measures in the legislation but I believe it is
important that in reply I succinctly answer two important criticisms that were
made. One related to the fact that the petition stated we are increasing the
amount than can be won on AADs in hotels from $100 to $500. There is an
important difference that we are making. In my talks with the clubs, that
industry made the point that hotels already pay out more than $100. The hotels
do that because they realize that the present system is discriminating against
players and is not fair. Any hotelier who does that does so as an act of grace,
and it is paid off the top, from his own profits.
We are insisting that an AAD player will not be able to win more than
$100 on a machine. We are increasing the credit payout to $500. Players will
be able to enjoy the credit of the wins they make while they play the machine.
The other falsehood in the petition is the reference by the hotel industry to
bingo. This is a question of allowing charity bingo the use of non-restricted
facilities, not only in the hotel industry but also in the club industry. Some
towns have no community hall or church hall. It is basically charities that wish
to conduct bingo in hotels. The Government believes that if the charities have
the permission of the hotelier or the club proprietor to have access to amenities
that are valuable to them, the members of that charity should have the
opportunity to play a game in peace.
It is important to remember in this legislation package that we are
talking about up to 10 AADs in hotels. There is no limit on the number of poker
machines in clubs. We are talking about coins of the realm and a restriction in
hotels of $10 for each player. No other form of gambling has any such
restriction. We are saying that the restriction should be lifted. I have been
bagged by some of my colleagues for saying that, as well as by some honourable
members opposite. Let us talk about the prize limits. As I have said, the
maximum credit on an AAD will be $500. The maximum payout on a stand
alone poker machine is $10,000, and $100,000 on a linked machine. That is
an incredible difference and it is what this package is all about.
The club industry is operating well in this State. When I first became
Chief Secretary I wanted to give the industry the marketing tools to be able to
get out and push itself into the future. Clubs have an important future in our
society. I believe that with this package they will be encouraged enormously. It
is important, milestone legislation that will benefit many people, not just in the
club industry but in the entertainment industry, the tourism industry and in
the community generally. I thank all honourable members for their
contributions to the debate and I commend the bills.
Motion agreed to.
Bills read a second time and passed through remaining stages.
3894 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
TRANSPORT ADMINISTRATION BILL
MOTOR TRAFFIC (TRANSPORT ADMINISTRATION) AMENDMENT
MOTOR VEHICLES TAXATION BILL
STATE ROADS (TRANSPORT ADMINISTRATION) AMENDMENT
STATE TRANSPORT (CO-ORDINATION) (TRANSPORT
ADMINISTRATION) AMENDMENT BILL
TRANSPORT LEGISLATION (REPEAL AND AMENDMENT) BILL
Debate resumed from 17th November.
Mr BRERETON (Heffron) [11.28]: What a splendid night it is and what
a night bathed in irony, because for the past couple of years all we heard from
those s$ting opposite was moaning, groaning, bleating and complaining about
legislation being introduced into the Parliament at a late hour and passed
through all stages of debate. Here we are tonight at exactly 11.29, the legislation
declared urgent in this Parliament so that it could be dealt with and pushed
through all stages tonight, that is, the Transport Administration Bill. The fact
is that the Government is anxious to get this legislation passed. For that reason
it has been introduced at this extremely late hour and is being pushed through
the Parliament. It is fair to say that those who have waited in the gallery, and
who heard the Minister's comments during question time that there would be
unlimited opportunity for the Opposition to debate this legislation, have now
waited about 11 hours for this debate to proceed.
Mr Baird: The honourable member knows what it is like to be in
Mr BRERETON. The Minister, in saying that, is showing what a
hypocrite he is and the hypocritical behaviour in which the Government
Mr BRERETON: When the honourable member has been in this House
a little longer he will be entitled to object.
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Mr BRERETON: The Opposition supports any genuine moves to
improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the govemment transport services.
Those genuine moves are subject at all times to one vital proviso, that rail, bus
and ferry services exist to provide a public service. That proviso was always
underlying the approach of the Labor Party to public transport, but it has been
missing from the policies pursued by the present Government for the past eight
months. We have heard a great deal from the Government about the debts of
the State Rail Authority.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Gosford to
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3895
Mr BRERETON: This House has heard much from the Government
about the debts of the State Rail Authority. It has been a never-ending process
to criticize, condemn and bag the State Rail Authority. On not one occasion
has there been any indication from the Government of the achievements of the
State Rail Authority. So that this House may know the difference between the
approach of those sitting opposite and honourable members on this side, the
previous Government's record in the State Rail Authority stands in stark
contrast to the performance of the Government.
Mr Photios: The previous Government left the State $6 billion in debt.
Mr BRERETON: Well might members opposite jump up and down
about railway debts. Well might they forget about that vital proviso, the
commitment to the delivery of vital services. But remember that the Labor
Government undertook a massive revitalization and total rejuvenation of those
services following many long years of neglect by Liberal Party-Country Party
governments. I do not need to remind the public at large but I have to remind
honourable members opposite of the condition of rail tracks, safety, carriages,
and of the whole rail service when the Labor Government was elected in 1976.
We are very proud that the Labor Government was committed to that
rejuvenation program, that it sped up work and completed the eastern suburbs
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Ryde to order.
Mr BRERETON: We are proud that we completed the Sandy Hollow
to Gulgong railway, that we electrified the rail lines to Newcastle and
Wollongong. We are proud that we commenced work on the Avon tunnel, a
project that has been abandoned. We are proud that we undertook a major
upgrading program of all the rail tracks in New South Wales, that we duplicated
and quadrupled the lines in the metropolitan system, and that we proceeded
with $65 million worth of extensions to the East Hills-Glenfield line. Those
achievements are among our proudest, together with the fact that we renovated
and rebuilt the State's railway stations, upgraded over 12 000 kilometres of
railway track, commenced a metropolitan track upgrading program, and
provided commuter parking stations at railway stations. These are all high
achievements in concert with the Labor Party commitment to rail services, a
commitment that is lacking in Government supporters opposite, who talk of
nothing else but putting those services on a paying basis so that they can return
a dividend to the State. The Labor Government installed the sophisticated
computerized signalling and communications system.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Ryde to order.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Parramatta to
Mr BRERETON: The Labor Government introduced improvements in
on-time performance of metropolitan and inter-urban trains, provided 190 new
loco.mot~ves,3 200 new freight wagons, 560 new suburban double-decker
carnages, 167 new inter-urban double-decker carriages, 50 XPT trains, and $500
million worth of track for new generation double-decker suburban cars-that
is 450 Tangaras-as well as building bus-rail interchanges such as at Granville,
3896 ASSEMBLY 29 November, I988
Liverpool and Rockdale. I pay tribute to the great work done by a series of
dedicated Ministers, especially the honourable member for Rockdale, who from
his very early days as a member of the Public Transport Commission had a
great commitment to the upgrading of our rail system to make it safer and more
effective. Well might that record be contrasted with the activities of the
Government over the past eight months. The Government's first move was to
increase rail, bus and ferry fares to make it harder for the average commuter.
That was a savage blow to workers and low income earners, resulting in the
CPI in NSW being inflated above that in all other States, with the consequence
of pensioners being robbed of their travel concessions.
Mr BRERETON: Honourable members opposite do not like what I am
saying because this is what the Government has done. No matter where one
goes in New South Wales, supporters of the Government, the people who
elected it, are complaining about the way in which this Government sold out
their interests in public transport, about how the trains are not running on time,
that they are not stopping. This Government has made a series of scandalous
moves aimed at slashing services especially the rail services of our State as a
follow-up to the increases in rail fares. I do not think any example could be
worse than the axing of the 5.10 Canberra Express, a well patronized train.
Mr BRERETON: Honourable members do not like any of this but they
will have to listen to a lot more because the Minister said today that the
Opposition would have unlimited time to talk about this legislation. The
Government removed that 5.10 Canberra Express service and re-allocated it to
provide services to the electorate of the Leader of the National Party and his
colleagues in northwest New South Wales. Not a week goes by that I am not
inundated with dozens of press cuttings from all over New South Wales; mainly
from electorates represented by Government members, complaining bitterly
about the sell-out by the Liberal Party and National Party of the rail services
in this State.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Eastwood to
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Gosford to
order for the second time.
Mr BRERETON: Here are the headlines: "Greiner cuts country
services" and "Baird continues attack on rail workers".
Mr Yeomans: On a point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the Minister for Transport to order,
Mr Yeomans: I am aware that the Chair allows a certain latitude to
speakers to make passing references to other matters. The honourable member
for Heffron has been speaking for several minutes on matters that are t~tally
unrelated to the bill. I draw to the attention of the Chair that the bill Cwers
matters pertaining to conditions affecting SRA employees.
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3897
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have allowed the honourable member for
Heffron considerable latitude in making his preparatory remarks. The
honourable member stated that the Minister for Transport earlier today had
said that honourable members would be given ample time to discuss this
legislation. The phrase "ample time to discuss this legislation" is important. The
honourable member for Heffron has spent considerable time on his introductory
remarks, and I now ask him to speak to the measure before the Chair.
Mr BRERETON: What I have to say on this legislation is important,
because this measure provides for further cuts to vital services. Honourable
members on the Government side do not like to be reminded of headlines
appearing in newspapers in their electorates. Let me give further examples.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have directed the honourable member for
Heffron to address the provisions of the legislation. Though the honourable
member for Heffron believes comment should be made about some matters,
those matters are not dealt with in the legislation and he may not necessarily
make those comments. I have allowed the honourable member considerable
latitude in making his preliminary remarks. I now ask him to debate the
legislation before the House.
Mr Brereton: Mr Speaker, I seek clarification. Are you ruling that I
cannot refer to these headlines in recent editions of New South Wales
newspapers dealing with the Government's program of cuts in the State Rail
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have heard sufficient from the honourable
member on his point of clarification. The honourable member may refer to any
matter affected by the measures before the House. He may not address other
matters. If the honourable member can link his comments to the legislation, he
will be perfectly within his rights in making those comments. But he cannot
use this measure to engage in general debate on public transport. He must link
his remarks to the legislation. The honourable member has been a member of
this place for a long time, and I am sure he can comply with that rule.
Mr BRERETON: I certainly will link my remarks to the legislation,
which will create-
Mr SPEAKEX Order! I ask the honourable member for Heffron to deal
with the legislation. If he does so, he will have no further problem.
Mr BRERETON: Members on the Government side do not want to hear
my comments because they do not like them. In each of their electorates grave
concern is being expressed. It is being expressed by mayors and municipal
officials. It is being expressed by men at their jobs, and by commuters. That
concern-is being summarized in headlines throughout the State. It is being
summanzed in headlines that deal with railway crisis meetings in a number of
G~vernment~held electorates. Those articles talk about poor morale and its
effect on railway services. They speak of Country Women's Association
presidents speaking out about passenger train cutbacks. The articles speak of
calls at public meetings to put train service cuts on the back burner.
Mr Baird: On a point of order. The honourable member for Heffron
continues to relate articles that he claims are relevant to the bill. He has quoted
from a number of union newspaper articles which are not relevant to the bill.
3898 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Heffron will resume
his seat while the Minister speaks to his point of order.
Mr Baird: Because the honourable member has not done his homework
on the bill, he is reduced to delivering a general diatribe on cuttings from
magazines and newspapers.
Mr Brereton: On the point of order. One article to which I have referred,
and which you have said I should not deal with individually, is contained in a
union magazine. The Minister told the House today that honourable members
would have unlimited time to debate this measure and that he would not restrict
Opposition comment on this vital legislation-legislation that led to 30 000
people in this State stopping work today.
Mr SPEAKJ3R: Order! I have heard sufficient from the honourable
member for Heffron on the point of order. The difficulty facing the Chair is
that the honourable member for Heffron does not seem to have dealt with a
single matter arising from the legislation. I have told the honourable member
that he may refer to whatever newspapers or magazines he wishes provided he
can link those comments to the legislation. If the honourable member does not
come to deal with the legislation very soon and show how his remarks are linked
to it, I will have to ask him to resume his seat, which the Chair is reluctant to
Mr BRERETON: I will deal in considerable detail with a number of
important aspects of this legislation. I am aware of much concern expressed in
recent days resulting from the actions of the Government and the manner in
which it has sou ht to pursue these legislative amendments. I have been visited
by employees o a number of government departments, expressing distress at
these proposals. I have been told of loss of morale-
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Minister for Transport has delivered his
second reading speech and will have the opportunity to reply to this debate. I
ask the Minister to withhold comment until then.
Mr BRERETON: This Government program is a blueprint for slashing
services and reducing public rail services.
Mr Baird: On a point of order. The honourable member for Heffron
claims that this bill is a blueprint for slashing services across the State. This
measure does not in any way deal with the level of services across the State. It
deals particularly with a set of conditions and commercialization of the State
Rail Authority. I submit that the honourable member for Heffron is continuing
to speak on matters outside the scope of the bill.
Mr Nagle: On the point of order. I have had the benefit of reading the
bill and the Minister's second reading speech. With the greatest of respect, this
bill has wide-ranging ramifications for the people of New South Wales because
it affects the Department of Main Roads, the Department of Motor Transport,
the State Rail Authority, and the Urban Transit Authority. The shadow minister
for transport has been trying to tell the House that the people of New South
Wales are opposed to the bill. The honourable member for Heffron should be
permitted to put that argument to this democratic House, which for a thousand
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3899
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Auburn will come
to his point or order.
Mr Nagle: The honourable member for Heffron should be permitted to
express his views on the bill so that the people of New South Wales will know
that there is a view contrary to that of the Minister. Most people would say
that on this issue the Minister is wrong, wrong, wrong.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have heard sufficient on the point of order from
the honourable member for Auburn. The honourable member for Heffron has
almost got to the point of indulging in tedious repetition in making his
introductory remarks. It would be of benefit to the House if he made specific
reference to the legislation. It would assist the Chair if the honourable member
could show how his remarks are linked to the legislation. This is the last time
on which I will give this instruction to the honourable member for Heffron, and
if he does not address the legislation, I will ask him to resume his seat, which
I am reluctant to do. The honourable member must come immediately to deal
with the legislation. He may well be able to mount an argument that some
matters in the legislation will have an adverse effect on transport generally.
Unless he deals with some specific matter in the legislation, he will be out of
order, for the scope of the debate is limited by the ambit of the bill.
Mr BRERETON: The Opposition will oppose the second reading of this
legislation because a number of its aspects are repugnant. Further, in Committee
I will propose some amendments to protect certain rights and entitlements of
Mr Morris: I am glad the honourable member has informed the House,
after 20 minutes.
Mr BRERETON: Honourable members should know right from the
outset that the provisions outlined in clause 27 of schedule 7 of this
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Members on the Government benches will cease
interjecting and allow the honourable member for Heffron to continue.
Mr BRERETON: -which allow for both the Department of Motor
Transport and the Traffic Authority staffs' rights and entitlements to be reduced,
will be the subject of an amendment in Committee. Clause 46 of that schedule
does not properly protect people with pre-existing injuries, particularly recurring
injuries. This clause of the proposed legislation should be amended so that those
employees are afforded existing rights and entitlements protection. Those two
amendments will be dealt with in due course. The union movement and the
individual workers I have spoken to in the past week have expressed great
concern that the legislation in this important area of workers' compensation,
which was so central to today's industrial dispute, is really being pushed ahead
by the Government.
This is happening despite the fact that the WorkCover provision that
applies to workers previously covered by schedule 5 of the existing legislation
is now the subject of an extensive review, and the Government has indicated
that legislative enactments are likely next year to alter that provision. In other
words, we are moving to WorkCover; schedule 5 will go and WorkCover will
be introduced, and the same workers are faced with the prospect of WorkCover
itself being reviewed and amended early next year. They have put it to me that
it is quite reasonable that in those circumstances the Government should wait
3900 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
until the first quarter of next year when the results of that WorkCover review
will be known. At least then the workers in the public transport sector will know
with certainty what their workers' compensation benefits will be if they are
incapacitated by any sort of accident at work. Instead of that, this legislation
will change their entitlements now, and they will change again early next year
following that review.
The anxiety of workers in the various government authorities has been
exacerbated by the number of poor efforts in a number of respects by
government departments on the question of occupational health and safety.
Only last month, the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission
handed down a decision in a dispute between the State Rail Authority and the
Australian Railways Union over a lubricant called Rocol. The court determined
that the SRA should ensure that before any further use of the product by
employees the supervisor should ascertain that all employees are given face-to-
face instruction in the safe use of the product; that employees are instructed
that overalls, rubber gloves and face shields are to be worn at all times when
decanting or mixing the product. A number of other recommendations were
made to the State Rail Authority arising from the fact that insufficient care and
attention was being given by the SRA to these dangerous substances-
insufficient to the extent that the union had to take this matter before the court
to have it resolved and to guarantee the safety of employees. That is not the
only concern that has been expressed to me about dangerous working conditions
confronting employees of the SRA and other authorities daily. The question of
creosote-treated sleepers has also been of great concern.
Mr Caterson: They have been doing that for the past 50 years.
Mr BRERETON: People were using asbestos for about 50 years too, but
that does not make it any safer. This creosote treatment posed a real and
distinct health hazard.
Mr Caterson: What has that to do with the bill?
Mr BRERETON: It has everything to do with the bill. It is one of the
things that gives rise to workers' compensation claims. Those workers'
compensation claims are greatly curtailed by the provisions of this legislation,
because schedule 5 is eliminated and schedule 7 provides for benefits to be
limited to WorkCover. That means that any rights at common law are
eliminated. These are important, outstanding health and safety issues and they
have greatly exacerbated the concern of the workers who see the Government
rushing this legislation through, despite the fact that they know that WorkCover
itself is to be altered in the near future.
Even at Botany in my electorate there have been real disputes between
the State Rail Authority and employees on the question of occupational health
and safety in the workplace. I draw the House's attention to numerous problems
that have occurred over the years involving rail workers who have been exposed
to toxic gas leaks at the ICI chemical plant. That plant is immediately adjacent
to the Botany rail yards. In the past there have been instances of State Rail
Authority employees being required to receive hospital treatment. Yet the State
Rail Authority refused to establish an occupational health and safety workplace
committee. That is a real issue in the minds of all those workers who see their
workers' compensation entitlements being curtailed. They are aware that the
SRA has not demonstrated at all times a total commitment to occupational
health and safety.
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3901
Recently at the Clyde maintenance depot 47 railway employees, working
in conjunction with local management, formed an occupational health and
safety workplace committee. The senior management of the SRA refused to
acknowledge the committee, notwithstanding that it has been formed in
accordance with the SRA occupational health and safety unit policy officer's
guidelines. He agreed to it, and the committee was formed in accordance with
the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations. As with the earlier
example I cited at Botany, it was not until there had been intervention by the
Department of Industrial Relations that the State Rail Authority finally agreed
to take some action.
The performance of the Government and particular authorities in
relation to occupational health and safety leaves much to be desired. I have
provided the Minister with a copy of a number of questions to which I seek
answers. For the information of honourable members I shall read those
questions. First: What is the status of employees who have been injured prior
to the date of the enactment of the Transport Administration Act and associated
legislation, but following the introduction of Workcover on 1st July, 1987?
Second: What is the status of employees injured prior to 1st July, 1987, who
elected to take entitlements under schedule 5 rather than opting for entitlements
pursuant to the Workers Compensation Act 1926? This is a matter of crucial
importance, as such workers made decisions relating to alternative workers'
compensation options that were available at the time of their election. Third:
Which body of legislation will cover an employee claiming under the table of
maims for the loss of a limb if he or she were injured pre- or post-Workcover
and who is at present covered by schedule 5 of the existing legislation? Schedule
5 will be abolished by this bill.
The fourth question is as follows: What is proposed as the definition of
total incapacity? Is it based on medical evidence alone or does it include
notional incapacity as defined in the Workers compensation Act 19871 Fifth:
What will be the status of a worker who, for example, has sequential periods
of total and partial incapacity causally linked to a pre-enactment injury? That
is also of vital importance. The penultimate question asks: Where an employee
has been totally incapacitated for at least six months, and where there is little
or no likelihood of a return to work, it has been the policy of the State Rail
Authority to terminate employment and for the employee to be paid at the
maximum rate provided by the Workers Compensation Act 1926. What will be
the attitude towards such employees in the future, and if terminated what will
their entitlements be to compensation? The final question is in the following
terms: How and by whom will this term defined in the new legislation "undue
hardshipw-contained in clause 46 (5)-be determined? What will be the
criteria relating to the rights of representation in appeals?
I made a copy of those questions available to the Minister prior to the
commencement of debate on this legislation tonight so that the Minister and
his officers-who I notice are present in great numbers and who are
professionals dedicated to their jobs-could have time to prepare answers that
I may relay to the workers concerned. I now address individual aspects of the
legislation about which the Opposition has some concern. The first matter
relates to the issue of ministerial control. This aspect as it relates to the State
Rail Authority and the Urban Transit Authority is contained within clauses 13
and 29 respectively. The Opposition rejects this phoney attempt to avoid
government responsibility for fare increases. This measure is a ploy adopted by
the Government to suggest that it is not responsible for setting fares.
3902 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
The Government has been elected to govern. I serve notice that the
Opposition wants to ensure that the Government is held responsible for
increases in fares and does not hide behind the proposed arrangements, which
it would be simple to apply to avoid that responsibility. The Opposition is
concerned also about clause 25 of the principal bill, which will eliminate
commuter representation on the board of the State Transit Authority. The
Opposition believes that Mr Kevin Parish has given great service during his
term with the Urban Transit Authority. It is regrettable that representation from
that sector of the industry, whence Mr Parish came as chairman of the New
South Wales Commuter Council, is a backwards step in the accountability of
the State Rail Authority. Further concerns of the Opposition arise from clauses
37 and 38 of the principal bill. The functions and powers of the Secretary of
the Ministry of Transport are outlined in those clauses. In effect, the secretary
will become the licensing authority. That role will take him well beyond the
traditional role of the Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, which was to co-
ordinate transport administration.
One must ask the Government why it thought that role should be carried
out by the secretary rather than being vested in the State Transit Authority,
which will take the place of the Urban Transit Authority. It, after all, is the
statewide transit authority. The Opposition points out that the new
arrangements will have the potential to create areas of conflicting advice because
the registration of private buses will be the responsibility of the Roads and
Traffic Authority, licensing of private buses will be the responsibility of the
Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, and bus routes will become the
responsibility of the State Transit Authority. The Oppposition is concerned that
three areas will overlap when there should have been a maximum of two.
Clauses 42 and 60 state that the State Transit Authority shall provide staff to
enable the secretary to undertake the licensing functions to which I have
referred, yet clauses 44 and 45 provide for the State Transit Co-ordination
Advisory Council to advise both the Minister and the secretary.
When the proposed legislation is studied in depth, one sees that clause
44 (2) (a) (i) provides that the same secretary will be an ex oficio member of
the council. That provision is contained also in clause 3 of schedule 3 of the
principal bill, where he will become chairman of the State Transit Co-ordination
Advisory Council. In that sense, that council will not be an advisory board at
all if it is chaired by the man it has been formed to advise. I highlight that
The Opposition is concerned about some aspects of the corporatization
involved in the proposed legislation. At the outset, let me say that the
Opposition supports the broad concept of corporatization. It applauds the
concept of establishing corporate plans, which will set out the business and
commercial objectives of the authorities. That will go a long way towards
providing for greater responsibility from officers of those departments. The
Opposition would like service objectives to be included along with business and
commercial objectives. However, having said that it supports that aspect of
corporatization, the Opposition must express considerable concern about the
provisions in clause 17 and clause 33 of the principal bill, which provide for
the State Rail Authority and the State Transit Authority to establish subsidiary
corporations that the Opposition believes are likely to be a backdoor route to
privatization. The Opposition rejects that route to privatization as it believes
that when the authorities find something thpt can be sold at a profit, that is
what will occur. Another aspect of the legislation that concerns the Opposition
is the extent to which it takes the principle of user pays. That principle is taken
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3903
right to the point of government profit. Clause 72 (1) of the principal bill
The State Rail Authority shall pay to the Treasurer, out of any surplus for a
financial year, such dividend as the Minister determines.
If anyone thinks that the Government is not intent on bringing the services from
a present loss position to a future profit position, he is kidding himself, The
Government envisages that the authorities will make a profit.
Mr Baird: They have a long way to go.
Mr BRERETON: 1 shall be content, as will the Minister, if we can move
away from some of the tremendous financial losses suffered by the authorities.
The Opposition queries why clause 78 of the principal bill does not provide for
vehicle weight tax to go direct to the Roads and Traffic Authority Fund. The
clause raises the spectre of payments into the fund being purloined. Perhaps
they will go into the Budget and straight back to the department. If that is so,
why is there not a guarantee, and why are the moneys not being paid to the
Roads and Traffic Authority Fund in the first instance?
Why will the Country Roads Fund, which has been sacrosanct through
many years of road funding legislation in this Parliament, be abolished? On my
reading of the legislation, the Country Roads Fund will be replaced by the
Budget. New arrangements contained in the State Roads (Transport
Administration) Amendment Bill and clause 31 of schedule 7 to the principal
bill indicate that the Country Roads Fund will cease to exist. Clause 54 (I) and
(2) provides for the establishment of a Roads and Traffic Advisory Council.
Why are no cyclist representatives included in the membership of the council?
Nine members are specified but no provision has been made for a representative
of the cyclists of this State, who are frequent road users.
Clause 83 provides for increases in fares. The Government has made
much of the fact that fares will not increase automatically. However, why is
there a need for the Minister to direct payments into or from different funds?
Where is the guarantee under clause 85 (2) that fares will not be adjusted more
regularly than annually? The public deserves some explanation of that. Clause
6 of schedule 2 to the principal bill, together with the Transport Legislation
(Repeal and Amendment) Bill, appears to provide for legalization of the salary
package offered to Mr Sayers, the new chairman and chief executive of the State
Rail Authority. That clause suggests that the payment to date has no legal
sanction. I ask the Minister to tell the House the legal basis on which Mr Sayers
has been paid. If the payments have been made legally, why the need for this
As regulations are outside the scope of the bill, I do not intend to deal
with them other than to say that considerable discussions have taken place with
the union movement and the Government on this matter. The Opposition will
be raising a number of concerns about some aspects of such things as merit
promotion when it has the opportunity to do so. The Opposition supports merit
promotion but it is worried about the Government's performance in this field.
We have witnessed incidents such as the replacement of Dr Allan Pattison as
Director-General of Technical and Further Education and Ms Allison Ziller as
Director of the Equal Opportunity in Public Employment Office. They were
clearly the most capable people for the positions they held, and the most
meritorious of appointments, but their applications for re-appointment were
rejected as a result of this Government's policies.
3904 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
The Opposition is concerned about certain aspects of sick pay, namely,
the manner in which the Government has sought over the past couple of days
to sensationalize sick pay entitlements. Today's newspaper reveals that State
Rail Authority employees claim to be sick for an average of 10.4 days a year,
and the latest annual report of the Department of Motor Transport shows that
its employees take off 11.1 days a year and the Department of Main Roads
employees take off 11.2 days. Against that background, one must ask why the
Government is reducing those salaried officers to the lowest common
denominator. The Government has said that it is really about parity across the
public service. Why has it not gone for real parity, and why is it not providing
the other entitlements that public servants in this State enjoy, such as paternity
leave? The Government says that it wants to reduce these people to the lowest
common denominator but it does not want to provide for true and complete
parity and commonality right across the public service. It just wants to introduce
these things when it suits the Government. I noticed in the weekend newspapers
a cheeky advertisement for the Parramatta Road closure. That advertisement
was placed by the Roads and Traffic Authority of New South Wales. The officers
of the Department of Main Roads have perhaps jumped the gun and should
have waited for this legislation to be enacted before placing that advertisement.
Mr Baird: Why does not the honourable member read the editorial; it
is a good one.
Mr BRERETON: I shall come to that document, because I know that
the Minister wants to refer to the editorial at length. I am more inched to draw
his attention and that of the House to the comments in David Armstrong's
analysis. He said:
Premier Nick Greiner regrets tomorrow's transport strike.
Regrets, that is, the unions involved did not show more ticker and pull on an
If they had, he could have trundled out his essential services legislation,'forced the
workers back, under threat of stiff fines, to their jobs and made himself a hero in the eyes
of inconvenienced commuters . . .
And Industrial Relations Minister John Fahey wanted to wait for the big one-a
rail strike, with maximum disruption to people's lives and minimum sympathy for the
Then he could behave like an industrial Dirty Harry and let the unions make his
That is not what we ought to be about; we ought to be about reform and making
the State Rail Authority and the other authorities more cost effective and
efficient. I have pointed to the record of the previous Government, during its
long term in office, in relation to rail services in particular, and that is something
of which we are intensely proud. In view of the late hour that this debate was
brought on and the fact that it is now almost 20 minutes past 12 in the morning,
I shall conclude my remarks.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr J. D. Booth.
House adjourned at 12.19 a.m., Wednesday.
29 November, 1988 ASSEMBLY 3905
QUESTIONS UPON NOTICE
The following questions upon notice and answers were circulated in
Questions and Answers this day.
INLAND WATERS LEGISLATION
Mr WELSH asked the Deputy Premier, Minister for State Development and
Minister for Public Works-
(1) When will the draft legislation for the control of coastal inland waters
(2) Will this legislation include the setting up of a single authority for Lake
(3) How soon will the legislation be implemented?
(1) As you would be aware the Government is committed to major
environmental restoration works in both Lake Illawarra and Tuggerah
In answer to your question earlier this year, I also advised of the
availability of substantial funds for similar works in Lake Macquarie.
The Public Works Department has prepared advice as to how the type of
works proposed for Lake Illawarra, Tuggerah Lakes and Lake Macquarie
can be extended to estuaries state-wide. Subject to resolution of some
aspects of the Department's advice in conjunction with other authorities
the matter will be considered by Cabinet.
Subject to Cabinet approval any necessary enabling legislation will then
be prepared and submitted for consideration by members of Parliament.
(2) As far as possible it is the intention to make local authorities
responsible for implementation of such works.
(3) In view of experience related to the environmental repair of Tuggerah
Lakes it may well be possible for similar works at other estuaries to be
implemented without the need for enabling legislation. This matter is
currently under review.
Mrs SHIRLEY BALL
Mr E. T. PAGE asked the Minister for Housing-
( 1 ) Is Mrs Shirley Ball, his appointee to the homelessness inquiry and
leading member of the Millers PointIDawes Point proprietors' group, a
tenant of public housing in Millers Point?
(2) Is the residential property occupied by her used in part for commercial
purposes for the operation of a museum?
(3) What is the departmental market rent on the property?
(4) What rent is paid by Mrs Ball to the department for the property?
(5) (a) How many people reside in the property; and
(b) How many bedrooms does the property have?
(6) What is the status of the rental account?
(7) Is Mrs Ball also the legal head tenant of one or more rooming houses
owned by the Department of Housing in the Millers PointIDawes Point
3906 ASSEMBLY 29 November, 1988
(8) Does Mrs Ball's signature appear on the weekly legses relating to the
property or properties?
(9) What is the departmental market rent on the property (properties)?
(10) What rent is paid by Mrs Ball on the property or properties?
( 11) How many bedrooms does the property or properties have?
(12) How many sub-tenants reside in the property or properties?
(13) What rental income does Mrs Ball derive from the operation of the
property or properties?
(14) What is the status of the rental account on the property or properties?
(15) Has he, through his office, been negotiating with solicitors acting for
Mrs Ball and over 30 other head tenants of rooming houses in Millers
PointIDawes Point, on the future terms and conditions of leases for
rooming houses in the area?
(16) Under what terms and conditions does he propose leasing these
department-owned rooming houses to Mrs Ball's proprietors' group?
(17) What is the current market rental of each of the rooming houses
(18) What rent is payable to the department by the head tenants on each
of the rooming houses?
(19) How many of the properties are not used as rooming houses but are
occupied as family homes?
(20) What is the status of the:
(a) rental accounts on each of the rooming houses involved; and
(b) total arrears in rent owed to the Department?
All members of the Ministerial Inquiry into Homelessness were my
Mrs Ball has been a long term occupier of premises at Millers Point.
Matters relating to the Department's arrangements with its tenants and
lessors are confidential.
A small committee is representing me to negotiate an agreement with 35
rooming house proprietors at Millers Point.
The negotiations follow a Court decision to overturn the former
Government's takeover of the proprietors' rights.
As previously indicated, market rents will be used in future as the basis
for setting all Department of Housing rents, with appropriate safeguards
for low income earners.