PRINTING OF PAPERS
(Kogarah - Minister for Transport, and Minister for Tourism) [7.32 p.m.]: I move:
That the following papers be printed -
Report of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal of New South Wales on Sydney Water Corporation Prices for Miscellaneous Customer Services, dated June 1997.
Report of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal of New South Wales on Pricing of Backlog Sewerage Services: Sydney Water Corporation, Gosford City Council, Hunter Water Corporation and Wyong Shire Council, dated July 1997.
Report of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal on Review of Regulation and Licensing of Air Service Operators in New South Wales, dated July 1997.
Report of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal on Electricity Prices, dated July 1997.
Report of the Lake Illawarra Authority for the year ended 31 March 1997.
Report of the Office of the Legal Commissioner for the year ended 30 June 1996.
Report by the Minister for Land and Water Conservation under the Forestry Restructuring and Nature Conservation Act 1995 on Forest Industry Restructuring Expenditure for the 6 months from 1 January 1997 to 30 June 1997.
Report by the State Coroner into Deaths in Custody/Police Operations for 1996.
(Gosford) [7.34 p.m.]: I move:
That the motion be amended by leaving out the words "Report of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal of New South Wales on Pricing of Backlog Sewerage Services: Sydney Water Corporation, Gosford City Council, Hunter Water Corporation and Wyong Shire Council, dated July 1997".
The Sydney Water Corporation report, the printing of which I object to, fails to address the salient issue of the northern suburbs ocean outfall sewer tunnel - NSOOS - which the Government is planning to construct. The development of the tunnel constitutes yet another broken promise by the Carr Government. Before the last election the Premier complained in his water protection plan about the level of sewage being pumped into the ocean. He promised that a Carr Government would introduce water recycling alternatives to reduce reliance on ocean outfalls.
In February last year the Premier said he was committed to a new era in managing waste water as a potential resource rather than a waste to be pumped out to sea. Now he has opted for a $375
million tunnel which will pump increased sewage into the Pacific Ocean through the North Head ocean outfall, which can only end up on our coastal beaches. This comes from a government that when in opposition complained bitterly about sewage outfalls. This comes from a government that pledged it would bring an end to sewage outfalls. Yet the Government is going to build the big daddy of all sewage outfalls - the NSOOS tunnel from Camellia and Lane Cove right across to Manly. The impact of that tunnel on the northern beaches will be devastating. Yet, this Government -
This is not on the agenda.
Of course the matter is on the agenda; it is before the House now. The Minister for Transport, and Minister for Tourism just moved the motion. I will continue. The Premier’s plan for a tunnel puts him at odds with the Minister for the Environment, who, on 12 February 1997, described the tunnel as "an engineer’s fantasy" with a doubtful future. So much for the reputation of the Minister for the Environment, now overruled by her leader. According to leaked Sydney Water documents, the tunnel significantly delays nine major capital works programs, including upgrades at North Head and Malabar. The tunnel was chosen without properly assessing cheaper, cleaner alternatives. It is for this reason that the Legislative Council has voted to set up a special select committee to investigate the tunnel and its options. There has not been any public tender process, despite companies expressing an interest in underwriting the project, completely eliminating financial risk to taxpayers.
The Government has been obsessed with meeting an Olympic deadline, which could add tens of millions of dollars to the final cost. This tunnel was organised so it did not go to public tender, and there is reason to believe that the Government has already made a deal with a preferred company which will in fact get the contract without it going to public tender at all. The whole thing is open to grave suspicion. The Government has ignored the Codd inquiry’s recommendation that a Government policy on sewage management should be articulated to provide for the long-term sustainable management of sewage. This is too much like hard work for the Carr Government. The tunnel is a political outcome, not a scientific one. [Time expired
(Wakehurst) [7.37 p.m.]: I support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Gosford. The Opposition is particularly concerned that -
On a point of order. Mr Acting-Speaker, I think you should be commended for the extraordinary latitude which you allowed the honourable member for Gosford. However, the standing orders clearly provide that debate on the motion can only relate to whether a paper should be printed and may not explore the substance of the document which is to be or not to be printed. It is clearly outside the standing orders to debate anything except the printing of papers; the substance of the issue cannot be debated.
On the point of order. Standing order 307 simply provides that the question of the motion is open to amendment and debate, and I am debating it.
On the point of order. The question is that certain papers be printed. It does not enable wide-ranging debate on any of the reports in question that are to be adopted or accepted by this Parliament, or otherwise. The simple question is whether the papers are to be printed, and that requires a short, deliberative speech. I refer honourable members to Speaker Rozzoli’s rulings.
Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Gaudry):
Order! I have listened with great interest to contributions from the Minister for Transport, the honourable member for Wakehurst and the Leader of the House. The honourable member will restrict his remarks to the motion that the papers be printed.
For the record I point out that opposition by Government members is obviously designed to hide the Premier from any criticism of what amounts to nothing more than a flight of fantasy by him. He wants to be in a position to jump up and down -
Order! The member will confine his remarks to the papers being printed.
Mr Acting-Speaker - [Time expired.
(Davidson) [7.40 p.m.]: I wish to argue against the printing of this paper, which is of significant public interest, particularly to constituents in the area of the peninsula from which I come. Their interests will not be protected; in fact, they will be adversely affected.
On a point of order. This great old book is called the standing orders.
Order! The Minister will address the point of order.
Mr Acting-Speaker, your previous ruling still stands. The matter that can be debated in this motion -
Order! There is no point of order.
I intend to argue against the printing of this paper as that would be contrary to the interests of those I represent, and of all residents of the entire peninsula and Sydney region. It will not be in the public interest if the contents of these papers are published and distributed widely. The Government made a number of commitments prior to coming to office in relation to water quality in Sydney Harbour and provision of money for infrastructure capital works and recurrent expenditure. Those commitments have not been fulfilled.
Order! The motion is that the papers be printed, whereas the amendment is that one of the papers not be printed. The member is widely canvassing government policy and should restrict his comments to the motion.
I was arguing that the paper should not be printed and that the public interest will not be preserved if it is. If it is printed, widely distributed and made available, that will not be in the public interest. The Government has ignored the wishes of the community. The commitments it made about water quality in Sydney Harbour have been ignored. If the paper is printed and widely distributed, that aspect of government policy will become entrenched. Over the last four years of its term in office the former coalition Government allocated $1.2 billion towards capital works improvements and infrastructure relating to water quality. This Government has carved that down to virtually nothing. [Time expired.
(Manly) [7.43 p.m.]: The motion proposes that certain papers should be printed. The amendment seeks to omit the report of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal on the pricing of backlog sewerage services remaining with the Sydney Water Corporation. Standing Order 307 allows for an amendment to the motion and one could not possibly support an amendment without giving a reason for it. Members on the Opposition benches have expressed concern about the wet weather tunnel from Lane Cove to Manly, and have asserted that no opportunity has been given for proper debate of the issue in the House. We have an opportunity to rectify that shortcoming.
As the member of Parliament most affected by the activities of Sydney Water Corporation, I seek to make a number of comments. However, I am restricted to three minutes and would be disappointed if that time were to be abbreviated. The justification for this engineering solution is totally flawed. It is the result of political pragmatism based on Olympic mania. The quick fix has been employed throughout the history of Sydney Water. I emphasise that $400 million is about to be spent on a paradigm which has persisted for 100 years, a paradigm based on transporting sewage and disposing of it on the doorstep of my electorate.
I have grave concern about the cost benefit of this proposal. Middle Harbour, the body of water closest to the peninsula electorates, will improve in water quality if the tunnel is constructed. However, that improvement will be achieved by a reduction of the number of unsafe swimming days from 22 to 15, and there will be at least two major events during the year when there will be pollution. I do not believe that justifies expenditure of this amount. Finally, construction of such a tunnel will have enormous local impact on my electorate, especially in the Little Manly area. Work will continue 24 hours a day for 18 months, and 500,000 cubic metres of sandstone will be extracted. There will be 4,000 barge movements, each barge being two-thirds the size of a Manly ferry. The tunnel should be abandoned and alternatives pursued.
(Rockdale) [7.46 p.m.]: I move:
That the question be now put.
On a point of order. The motion moved by the honourable member for Rockdale is not within the competence of the House at this time. Standing Order 307(5) allows a period of 30 minutes for debate.
The standing order uses the word "may".
Accordingly, it is not within the province of the honourable member for Rockdale to move his motion until a period of 30 minutes has expired. Therefore, the motion is out of order.
On the point of order. Standing Order 307 is specific and clear. The Leader of the House is incorrect in claiming that the standing order says "may". It states that the Speaker may call
the Minister in reply if the debate exceeds 30 minutes. It is now not quite 7.50 p.m. -
Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Gaudry):
Order! The operative word is "may". There is no point of order.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
(The Hills) [7.49 p.m.]: The Opposition opposes the Government’s proposal to print the Sydney Water Corporation report, for the reasons outlined by previous speakers. The Government has not fully represented all the facts relating to a tunnel that will carry more sewage out to the ocean. I was a member of the Joint Select Committee upon the Sydney Water Board that the honourable member for Manly chaired for approximately 18 months under the previous Government. Committee members had a lively debate about the value of not just maintaining but enhancing the pipe-based technology that has served Sydney for the past 100 years. Committee members felt that other options needed to be explored. Prior to the last election, the Labor Party complained about the amount of sewage that was being pumped into the Pacific Ocean and promised that the Carr Government would introduce water recycling alternatives to reduce reliance on ocean outfalls. What did we get? Another tunnel so more sewage effluent can be pumped into the Pacific Ocean.
On a point of order. It is clear that members of the Opposition are prepared to flout the standing orders and to debate issues that are not relevant to whether the paper should be printed. Mr Acting-Speaker, I ask you to draw the attention of the honourable member to the standing orders. He should address the substantive motion.
Order! The member will not extend the debate; the question is that the paper not be printed.
Yes, I understand that. I am giving the reasons why the paper should not be printed. I do not think I have said anything untoward in that regard. It is obvious that the Minister is trying to seek some sort of publicity to make up for his appalling faux pas earlier today.
It was good television.
Yes, it was. Why did the Government make this decision? There was no transparent and open consideration of the tunnel proposal; a deal was done in a back room; a hand-picked group of four people of the Waterways Advisory Panel -
On a point of order. Mr Acting-Speaker, you have ruled on a number of occasions on the restricted nature of the debate. I refer you to Speaker Rozzoli’s rulings in this regard. The Opposition is wasting the time of the House on this issue. If it does not want parliamentary papers to be printed, the Government is happy to consider not printing them. The papers are published for the benefit of the community.
Order! No point of order is involved.
(Coffs Harbour) [7.52 p.m.]: As I listened to the debate I read a memorandum of understanding that is relevant to it. It talks about the treatment of effluent on the north coast -
On a point of order. The honourable member for Coffs Harbour was not in the Chamber when you ruled earlier, Mr Acting-Speaker. This is a restricted debate about whether a paper should be printed; it has nothing to do with a memorandum of understanding.
Order! The honourable member for Coffs Harbour will restrict his comments to whether the paper should be printed.
This is relevant on the basis that the paper will be printed and mislead the people of New South Wales, including those in the Coffs Harbour electorate. The Government is saying that it can have a tunnel that goes out to the ocean, put raw sewage in the ocean -
On a point of order. Mr Acting-Speaker, I ask you to ask the honourable member to resume his seat. He is defying your ruling. He is not entitled to conduct a wide-ranging debate. He can use other forums of the Chamber to canvass this issue, such as notices of motion and motions of urgency.
Further to the point of order. The honourable member for Manly canvassed the issues in this debate, which I believe I am entitled to do. The Opposition opposes the printing of the paper and must be allowed to outline why. There is a double standard. The people of Coffs Harbour -
Order! The amendment relates to the printing of a paper, pertinent to the Sydney Water Board. Drawing an analogy wider than that is not within the leave of the debate. The honourable member will restrict his remarks to the specific question before the House; namely, that the paper not be printed.
The report gives the people of Sydney the impression that they can put raw effluent into the ocean. We are going to put that report into the public domain and tell people that is what should be done. That is wrong.
What about Coffs Harbour?
In Coffs Harbour there is a double standard. [Time expired.
I seek leave to suspend standing orders to allow me to speak again in the debate.
Leave not granted.
Are you trying to hide something? The Government does not want the Opposition saying what it is.
Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
Question - That the words stand - put.
The House divided.
On a point of order. The Acting-Speaker, the honourable member for Newcastle put the question on the amendment and declared that the ayes had it. The Opposition challenged his decision and called for a division. It is not competent for you, sir, to take the chair and preside over a decision that you did not make. The only person who is competent to take the chair is the honourable member for Newcastle. In accordance with the convention of the House you should call off the division until the honourable member for Newcastle has resumed the chair.
Order! The Deputy Clerk has confirmed my belief that the Speaker has the right to take the chair on any occasion he chooses. On this occasion I shall remain in the chair. I would be happy to discuss the matter with the honourable member at a later stage.
Ms Allan Mr Markham
Mr Amery Mr Martin
Mr Anderson Ms Meagher
Ms Andrews Mr Mills
Mr Aquilina Mr Moss
Mr Clough Mr Neilly
Mr Crittenden Ms Nori
Mr Debus Mr E. T. Page
Mr Face Mr Price
Mr Gaudry Dr Refshauge
Mr Gibson Mr Rogan
Mrs Grusovin Mr Rumble
Ms Hall Mr Scully
Mr Harrison Mr Stewart
Ms Harrison Mr Sullivan
Mr Hunter Mr Tripodi
Mr Iemma Mr Watkins
Mr Knowles Mr Whelan
Mr Langton Mr Woods
Mrs Lo Po’ Mr Yeadon
Mr Lynch Tellers
Mr McBride Mr Beckroge
Mr McManus Mr Thompson
Mr Beck Mr D. L. Page
Mr Blackmore Mr Peacocke
Mr Brogden Mr Phillips
Mr Chappell Mr Photios
Mrs Chikarovski Mr Richardson
Mr Debnam Mr Rixon
Mr Downy Mr Rozzoli
Mr Ellis Mr Schipp
Mr Fraser Mr Schultz
Mr Glachan Ms Seaton
Mr Hartcher Mrs Skinner
Mr Hazzard Mr Small
Mr Humpherson Mr Smith
Dr Kernohan Mr Souris
Mr Kinross Mr Tink
Mr MacCarthy Mr J. H. Turner
Dr Macdonald Mr R. W. Turner
Mr Merton Mr Windsor
Mr Oakeshott Tellers
Mr O’Doherty Mr Jeffery
Mr O’Farrell Mr Kerr
Mr Carr Mr Armstrong
Mr Knight Mr Cochran
Mr Nagle Mr Collins
Mr Shedden Mr Cruickshank
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.