Tuesday, 15 September 1998
Mr Speaker (The Hon. John Henry Murray) took the chair at 2.15 p.m.
Mr Speaker offered the Prayer.
ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
Mr SPEAKER: I report the receipt of the following message from His Excellency the Governor:
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
The Governor of the State of New South Wales the Honourable Gordon Samuels has the honour to inform the Legislative Assembly that he re-assumed the administration of the Government of the State on 13 September 1998.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Notices of Motions
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I inform the House that, following the resignation of Jill Griffiths Hall, former member for Swansea, I have directed that General Business Notice of Motion (General Notices) No. 13, standing in her name, be removed from the business paper in accordance with previous practice. Any member desiring to do so may give a fresh notice of the motion at the appropriate time.
DRIVEWAY ROAD SAFETY
Dr REFSHAUGE (Marrickville - Deputy Premier, Minister for Health, and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) [2.18 p.m.]: The serious injury of a child can have a profound effect on a family. The death of a child as a result of a needless accident is quite simply a tragedy. Many such accidents are indeed avoidable - no more so than a child being run over in a driveway. This year alone, 10 children have been treated at the New Children’s Hospital at Westmead after being run over in the driveways of their homes or a neighbour’s home. Each one of those children was seriously injured and their families were deeply traumatised. In 1996-97 six toddlers between the ages of one and four years were killed in their own driveways. Between July 1997 and June 1998 another seven children lost their lives, five of whom were under the age of four years. It is a parent’s worst nightmare.
With the onset of warmer weather, more children are playing outside, and the risk of those types of accidents occurring is increasing. I urge all drivers to exercise caution when driving into or reversing out of driveways, particularly when young children may be present. Make sure all children are safe and secure before moving a vehicle. Always be aware that neighbours’ children may be in the vicinity of your car. If possible, erect a fence between gardens and driveways to further reduce the risk of an accident. These are indeed frightening statistics. All of us have a role in keeping our children safe. Such accidents are devastating when they occur, yet they are so easily preventable.
Mrs SKINNER (North Shore) [2.19 p.m.]: On behalf of the coalition I join with the Government in urging all people, but particularly parents with young families, to take great care when backing vehicles out of their driveways. It is shocking that 10 children this year have been run over in the driveways of their own homes. Statistics relating to the causes of accidents and injuries to, and sicknesses of, young people are shocking. A number are victims of accidental poisoning, accidental burning and motor vehicle accidents. The Government must give priority to the development of policies and strategies to overcome these incidents.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Pursuant to standing orders, I lay upon the table a list detailing all legislation unproclaimed 90 days after assent as at 9 September 1998.
Governor of New South Wales
Petitions praying that the office of Governor of New South Wales not be downgraded, received from
Mr Blackmore, Mr Brogden, Mrs Chikarovski, Mr Collins, Mr Debnam, Mr Ellis, Ms Ficarra, Mr Glachan, Mr Hartcher, Mr Hazzard, Mr Humpherson, Dr Kernohan, Mr Kerr, Mr Kinross, Mr MacCarthy, Mr Merton, Mr O’Doherty, Mr O’Farrell, Mr Phillips, Mr Photios, Mr Richardson, Mr Rozzoli, Mr Schipp, Ms Seaton, Mrs Skinner, Mr Smith, Mrs Stone, and Mr Tink.
Macleay District Hospital
Petition praying that the Macleay District Hospital be adequately funded, received from Mr Jeffery.
Port Macquarie Base Hospital Mental Health Services
Petition praying that Port Macquarie Base Hospital provide a gazetted locked ward for mental health patients and an appropriate vehicle with qualified personnel to pick up those seeking help, received from Mr Oakeshott.
Petition praying that Ryde Hospital and its services be retained, received from Mr Tink.
Petitions praying that land tax on the family home be abolished, received from Mr Blackmore, Mr Brogden, Mrs Chikarovski, Mr Collins, Mr Debnam, Mr Ellis, Ms Ficarra, Mr Glachan, Mr Hartcher, Mr Hazzard, Mr Humpherson, Dr Kernohan, Mr Kerr, Mr MacCarthy, Mr Merton, Mr O’Farrell, Mr Phillips, Mr Photios, Mr Richardson, Mr Rozzoli, Mr Schipp, Ms Seaton, Mrs Skinner, Mrs Stone, and Mr Tink.
Petitions praying that land tax on the family home be abolished, and that the investment tax threshold be increased from $160,000 to $320,000, received from Dr Macdonald and Mrs Skinner.
Kings Cross and Woolloomooloo Policing
Petition praying for increased police strength at Kings Cross local area command and police foot patrols in Woolloomooloo, received from Ms Moore.
Surry Hills Policing
Petition praying for increased police presence in the Surry Hills area, received from Ms Moore.
East Sydney and Darlinghurst Policing
Petition praying for increased police presence in East Sydney and Darlinghurst, received from Ms Moore.
Kings Cross Policing
Petition praying for increased police presence in Kings Cross, received from Ms Moore.
Mrs L. Clyne
Petition praying that Mrs L. Clyne be fully reinstated as a teacher, received from Mr Souris.
Sir David Martin Reserve
Petition praying that the Sir David Martin Reserve be returned to the public following the Olympics, received from Ms Moore.
Petition praying that telecommunication carriers not be allowed to erect transmission structures within close proximity to residential homes, schools, child-care centres, hospitals, and aged-care centres, received from Dr Macdonald.
Northside Storage Tunnel
Petition praying that plans to construct a storage tunnel from Lane Cove to North Head be abandoned, and that the allocated funds be used to find a long-term sustainable solution to sewage disposal, received from Dr Macdonald.
North Head to Little Manly Point Spoil Tunnel
Petition praying that construction of the spoil tunnel from North Head to Little Manly Point be opposed and that the excavated sandstone stockpiled at North Head be used to rehabilitate the North Head sewage treatment plant, received from Dr Macdonald.
Western New South Wales Traffic Access
Petition praying for improved access for vehicular and rail traffic into the western areas of New South Wales, received from Mr Armstrong.
Northside Storage Tunnel Ventilation Exhaust
Petitions praying that a permanent ventilation exhaust not be located in Tunks Park valley or the car park adjoining Long Bay, received from
Mr Collins, Mr Hazzard, Mr Humpherson, Mr O’Farrell, Ms Seaton and Mrs Stone.
Manly Wharf Bus Services
Petition praying that plans to move bus services from Manly wharf to Gilbert Park be abandoned, received from Dr Macdonald.
Moore Park Passive Recreation
Petition praying that Moore Park be used for passive recreation after construction of the Eastern Distributor and that car parking not be permitted in Moore Park, received from Ms Moore.
Moore Park Light Rail System
Petition praying that a light rail public transport system be established to serve sporting venues and the Fox entertainment centre at Moore Park, received from Ms Moore.
Woolloomooloo Ferry Wharf
Petition praying that the Woolloomooloo wharf redevelopment project make provision for a ferry wharf, received from Ms Moore.
Lakes Way Link Road
Petition praying that the Government reinstate its commitment to the construction of the link road from the new Bulahdelah Mountain bypass to The Lakes Way, received from Mr J. H. Turner.
On-site Sewage Management
Petitions praying that the guidelines for on-site sewage management be withdrawn, received from Mr Beck, Mr D. L. Page, and Mr Rixon.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Placing or Disposal of Business
Business taking the place of matters of public importance Notice of Motion No. 1 postponed on motion by Mr Hartcher.
REGULATION REVIEW COMMITTEE
Mr Shedden, as Chairman, tabled the report entitled "Report on Regulations".
Ordered to be printed.
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Mr COLLINS: My question without notice is to the Minister for Gaming and Racing. What timetable is the Minister working to for reform of the State’s drinking laws to allow restaurants to serve alcohol without meals? Given that the Minister is now imposing licence fees of up to $15,000 on the restaurants involved, do the proposals amount to nothing more than a $50 million tax grab rather than a serious attempt -
Mr Speaker, I am entitled to ask a question.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the Opposition is entitled to ask only one question. He has now commenced to ask a second question.
Mr COLLINS: I continue my question: do the proposals amount to nothing more than a $50 million tax grab rather than a serious attempt to reform the draconian liquor laws of this State?
Mr FACE: Cabinet will make a decision on restaurant licences and I will report the outcome.
DRUGS IN PRISONS
Mr THOMPSON: My question without notice is to the Minister for Corrective Services. What is the Government doing to fight drugs entering our prisons?
Mr DEBUS: There is no room for drugs in society and there is no room for drugs in prisons. The Government is fighting hard to stop drugs entering our prisons. Inmates are inventive and will seek to coerce gullible accomplices and family members to bring them drugs. Some do not heed the emphatic warning: if people attempt to smuggle drugs to prisoners, they will end up on the wrong side of the bars. Over the weekend prison officers and police foiled a number of alleged attempts at importing drugs into our prisons.
These alleged incidents included: a female visitor attempted to smuggle rock heroin in her underpants, along with five Valium tablets, five needles and a syringe; another woman attempted to smuggle hashish in her purse; an offender in custody at Central Court was found with a set of scales and resealable plastic bags; and an inmate was found
swallowing heroin wrapped in plastic after being found with a quantity of drugs and implements.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Ermington to order.
Mr DEBUS: The latest figures relating to drug busts on visitors in the period January 1997 to August 1998 are also an indication that some prisoners will go to extreme lengths to feed their addictions. In 1997 more than 200 visitors were busted attempting to bring drugs into gaols - not prisoners but visitors. There were 503 drug seizures in 1996 and 716 in 1997. This year the figure is expected to rise above 800. In July alone 65 seizures were made: 27 from inmates, 18 from periodic detainees and 20 from visitors. July seizures this year included no less than 58 syringes - syringes that can be used for drugs or as weapons.
Since January 1998 more than 120 visitors have been caught trying to smuggle drugs into gaols. On average about four visitors are caught each weekend trying to smuggle contraband into New South Wales prisons. Based on these figures our improved techniques are having an effect. The methods used by those caught smuggling in this period include drugs concealed in underclothing; unbelievably, drugs concealed on children; drugs concealed in plastic bags in shoes; and drugs concealed under bandages or swallowed and regurgitated for later use. One visitor placed a syringe in a hollowed-out copy of the Germaine Greer classic The Female Eunuch.
Because of changes implemented by the Government, the chances of success for people attempting to import drugs into gaols have greatly diminished. The Government has massively increased penalties for attempting to traffic drugs into prisons and has set aside a budget of more than $3.7 million to fund multidisciplinary drug detection and search teams. This year they have undertaken almost 10,000 visitor searches and 300 vehicle searches. Drugs are a problem in our society and we must fight harder to resist them. Those wanting to bring drugs into prisons are warned that drug detection is more sophisticated than it has ever been, and those who continue to smuggle drugs will find themselves behind bars.
SYDNEY WATER SUPPLY CONTAMINATION
Mr PHILLIPS: My question is to the Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning. Of the 136 overseas trips taken by Sydney Water officers last year, why did only one involve the study of cryptosporidium? Will the Minister explain to the people of Sydney, who are still boiling their water, why he sent a public relations officer instead of a technical expert to this important conference in California?
Mr KNOWLES: These matters have now been canvassed twice in the metropolitan papers over the last couple of days and they are well covered in the annual reports. I refer the honourable member to those reports.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Ermington to order for the second time.
Mr KNOWLES: It is hypocritical in the extreme that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition should now talk about cryptosporidium and giardia. When he was the Minister for Health he tried to cover up such outbreaks in the course of setting water standards. What was he doing - asleep at the wheel - in 1995 as the principal health regulator adopting 15-year-old water standards? What gall! What a joke!
Mr Photios: On a point of order. Question time is an opportunity for the Opposition to ask questions. The Minister is provoking the Opposition by not answering the question.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY
Mr STEWART: My question without notice is to the Minister for Local Government. What is the Government doing to make local councils more accountable?
Mr Hartcher: On a point of order. The question anticipates debate on the legislation amending the Local Government Act, which is now before the House and which deals with this very issue. Under the standing orders the question is out of order.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am advised that the bill before the House is not all-encompassing; it deals with a particular matter. More importantly, the question allows the Minister to provide information so that members will be better informed when debate on the bill takes place in the House.
Mr E. T. PAGE: For local councils to be accountable it is vital that the community has easy access to information about what the councils are doing in relation to a range of matters. A publication I will release today entitled "Comparative
Information on NSW Local Government Councils, 1996/97" is the latest in a popular series of publications produced by the Government which allow people to compare the performance of their council with other councils of similar size. Since coming to office the Government has delivered on a commitment to improve the annual information that is provided on the relative performance of New South Wales councils. The publication’s format has been considerably changed during the term of the Government.
It is now the most comprehensive comparison of local government performance published anywhere in Australia. It is also extremely easy to access. It groups councils together according to national local government classifications so that valid comparisons of performance can be made. New South Wales is waiting for the rest of Australia to catch up so that these comparisons mean something in the other States. For the first time, this volume records the performance of councils in each category for the past three financial years so that trends can easily be seen. A category average is also provided so that the performance of each individual council can be compared with others in the group.
The most popular category of information has proved to be the average rate per residential assessment. Hunters Hill has the highest average residential rate at $915.10, followed by Pittwater at $832.10. Brewarrina has the lowest average rate at $65.78. The State average residential rate is $500. That is perhaps an indication of the great variance in the size and characteristics of the 177 New South Wales councils. The other popular categories are those that give figures for the number of days, on average, it takes a council to process a building application or a development application. It is pleasing to see that the statewide average for processing building applications is 37 days, which is within the 40-day period the Act allows for applications to be processed.
The average for development applications is 62 days, a slight improvement on the figure for the previous year. Shoalhaven City Council processed the highest number of development applications, that is, 1,768. The highest number of building applications, 4,419, was processed by Blacktown City Council. Those councils have occupied those positions for each of the last three financial years. A key commitment of this Government has been to improve the openness and accountability of local councils in New South Wales. Ultimately, it is up to the community to judge the performance of local councils.
To make this judgment the community needs good information about what councils are doing. The reforms introduced by the Government have increased the amount of information available to the community. One of the major reforms was the passage last year of the Local Government Amendment (Open Meetings) Bill, which restricts the reasons for which a council can close its meetings to the public. The bill also provides improved appeals procedures for any member of the public who disagrees with a council’s decision to close a section of its meeting to the public or to refuse access to certain documents. Amendments have also been made by regulation to improve the transparency of council processes. Amendments to the reporting requirements of councils now mean that they must publish in their annual reports exact salary details for all senior staff. Previously those figures were not publicly available.
I believe it is reasonable for people to have access to those figures so that they can make their own judgments about how councils spend their money. This provision also brings councils in line with the reporting requirements of State government agencies. Similarly, councils are now required to publish in their annual reports the amount of money spent each year on travel. In all these areas I am not seeking as the Minister to pass a judgment on councils as to how they spend their money. Councils are democratically elected bodies; the people who elect them must pass that judgment. As Minister I am determined to ensure that the community has the information available to it to make an assessment of councils. The comparative information series is a major part of that commitment.
Apart from the categories of information mentioned earlier, the publication also provides information on the sources of council revenue, library services, waste management charges, the amount of recyclable material collected per household, the cost of sewerage and water supply services, and the percentage of council’s planning budget spent on legal costs. As well as being available in hard copy format, the publication is also available on the Department of Local Government’s home page. I thank councils for their co-operation in providing the information for this publication, and also the staff of the department, who work hard each year to produce it.
SYDNEY WATER CONFERENCE TRAVEL
Mr HARTCHER: My question is addressed to the Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning. Why did taxpayers have to foot the bill for a public
relations officer to take a two-week trip to California, when the cryptosporidium conference he attended lasted only three days? Was it so that he could enjoy, in the words of the conference brochure, "a full range of water sports, seaside activities, art museums, golf and tennis, as well as many diverse experiences"?
Mr KNOWLES: I have already answered the question. However, I will take the opportunity to remind the House that this matter has now been reheated today for the third time. It was first dealt with on 22 January. I think that says more about the Opposition’s research capabilities, its capacity as an Opposition and the quality of its staff than it says about any particular issue.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Georges River to order.
Mr KNOWLES: So far as I am concerned the Leader of the Opposition should be increasingly concerned about the quality of the research and the capacity of its staff, particularly some bloke called Jack Simos. The Leader of the Opposition would be concerned to know that officially from last Thursday his office now leaks. His leadership is under such threat, he is under such pressure, and he is under such challenge from the honourable member for Lane Cove that even he -
Mr Hartcher: On a point of order. You will always allow Ministers a degree of latitude when they commence to answer questions. That is usually in relation to the person who asks the question, not in relation to a letter that may have been written by some staffer outside of this Chamber. Accordingly, I ask you to invite the Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning to answer the question.
Mr KNOWLES: The Government has already made the details of all of those trips clear to the readers of both the Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Telegraph and, indeed, they have been inquired into. If the Opposition chooses to reheat a story that has already been in the media twice since the beginning of this year, that is its prerogative. But the Opposition should be a little more worried about the competence of its own people. Last Thursday the Leader of the Opposition wrote a letter, under his own signature, to water companies suggesting -
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Ermington to order for the third time.
Mr O’Doherty: On a point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! If the Leader of the Opposition continues to interject, I will direct the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai to resume his seat.
Mr O’Doherty: Standing Order 138 is clear; it requires the Minister’s answer to be relevant. The question was very specific; it was about a trip. It asked the Minister, in his capacity as Minister, to account for what happened on the trip. It had nothing to do with the staff of the Leader of the Opposition or any letter that was written by -
Mr SPEAKER: Order! No point of order is involved.
Mr KNOWLES: I might save the letter for another time. Suffice it to say that the Leader of the Opposition now knows that his office is leaking on behalf of the honourable member for Lane Cove because the Opposition is sick to death of the Leader of the Opposition. The Australian Water Technologies trips have been addressed in detail publicly on at least two occasions, and that is where the matter can rest.
WATER MANAGEMENT REFORM
Mr BECKROGE: Will the Minister for Agriculture, and Minister for Land and Water Conservation advise the House what the Government is doing to assist farmers to access water?
Mr AMERY: I commend the honourable member for Broken Hill for his interest in water reform in New South Wales. He has related to me what many farmers have been telling other members of this House: it is of some interest that members of the Opposition in this Parliament who represent regional electorates spend their days down here talking about Sydney water, and have no interest in the major water reform package that affects their electorates. This is the first question I have been asked about water reform and, quite rightly, it comes from the honourable member for Broken Hill, who has brought to see me many farmers who are interested in the water reform package.
I should like to inform the House about progress on the Government’s water reform package and about the progress of our consultation with water users across New South Wales. A fundamental principle of the Carr Government’s water reform package is that water users need continued access to healthy river and ground water systems for ongoing viability. Without a sustainable water and resource
base this State will not have a sustainable agricultural sector. The right to water is, of course, fundamental. The Carr Government is committed to offering a more equitable deal for regional water users. I have received numerous representations from water users across New South Wales making inquiries about the current arrangements.
I accept that in some cases the current arrangements are poorly understood, discriminatory or fail to take into account the many changes in agricultural land use during the past 20 years. The arrangements are also somewhat fragmented. The rules governing farm dams, for example, have developed on an ad hoc basis over a number of decades. I continually see comments such as, "Rain that falls on my land should be my water", and "Why does the Government discriminate on the basis of water use?" It is now time to establish more equitable and clearly defined guidelines for water access and use rights that will take us into the twenty-first century. I am therefore pleased to advise the House that the Carr Government is developing a farm dams policy for New South Wales.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Coffs Harbour to order.
Mr AMERY: Many of my earlier comments have now been highlighted by laughter from the Opposition. Day after day has been spent talking about the management of Sydney Water, but there is nothing but laughter and cynicism from the Opposition about the management of regional water.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Coffs Harbour to order for the second time.
Mr AMERY: The farm dams policy, which is now in the process of being established, is based on representations made to me by water users in the discussion paper on water access and use, which is open for public comment until 31 October, and by the many delegations I have met during my travels throughout rural and regional New South Wales. The policy will also take on board the issues and comments raised during the recent water amnesty for breaches of the 1912 Water Act. During the amnesty, which ran from 1 July to 31 August, more than 7,000 inquiries were received relating to licensing requirements, particularly for farm dams. Today I can advise the House of the components that will make up the new farm dams policy.
The Government will remove the current seven-megalitre threshold for the licensing of dams used for stock and domestic purposes. In various forums I have often said that it does not make sense to have a seven-megalitre rule when climatic conditions and water requirements vary considerably between regions across New South Wales. I intend to end the seven-megalitre rule, and I believe many water users will be happy with that decision. In place of the seven-megalitre rule land-holders will be allowed to harvest and keep a rolling average of up to 10 per cent of the water run-off on their properties. That water incorporates the current riparian allowances; it can be used for any purpose whatsoever and will be tied to the land area. It will not be transferable. It is also my intention to have this change come into effect from 1 January 1999.
I believe 10 per cent is a reasonable temporary target, which will remain in place until more accurate scientific data is available on which to proceed. During the next few months my two departments and Mr Jack Hallam, the former Minister, as chairman of the water amnesty steering committee, will work with farmers and other use groups to define the formulas and methods by which the 10 per cent can be measured and monitored. That process will include regional seminars. The availability of this water, when combined with water purchased through the market, will assist emerging industries such as olive growing to develop, and will enable graziers, for example, to diversify into other enterprises. Water needed to support commercial activity above the harvestable right must be obtained by way of a licence, which will be transferable.
The Government is increasingly moving towards conversion from area to volumetric licensing on a valley-by-valley basis, which will provide a direct financial incentive for water users to become more efficient. I should like to make three points following the feedback I have received from the recent water amnesty. First, I will scrap the first five-year administration fee for those land-holders who have applied for licences under the water amnesty, for example, $95 for stock and domestic dams, and $117 for commercial-use dams. That will dispel any misconception that the water amnesty was solely a money-making exercise for the Department of Land and Water Conservation.
Second, I will immediately close off the exemption given to small area irrigators under the current embargo on the issue of new licences. That follows advice from the water amnesty steering committee, which includes water users, and relates to irrigated land of up to 10 hectares inland and two hectares in coastal areas. In the longer term, small area irrigators will not need the two-hectare and 10-hectare exemption because they will have the right to harvest and keep 10 per cent of their run-off, in
addition to buying other supplies on the water market. For the past six months small irrigators have been asking me for the right to harvest a portion of the water falling on their property, and rightly so. This decision will protect the rights of existing users. Those land-holders who have previously applied for a two-hectare and 10-hectare exemption but have not had a response will be considered under the water amnesty process. They will be treated according to the policy in place at the time the application was lodged.
Third, I am responding to concerns raised by representatives of developing agricultural industries who have claimed the interim trading rule specifically related to transfers of water from unregulated rivers to regulated rivers is too restrictive. I am, therefore, suspending that rule for five years to allow water users on unregulated rivers and streams time to develop their industries. That change will come into effect immediately. The other interim trading rules, which came into effect on 1 July, are working well. For example, I am pleased to advise the House that a recent trade involved the transfer of the water rights from 8.7 hectares for improved pasture to tea-tree production and more efficient water use. In addition, more than 200 inquiries were received during the amnesty for the transfer of water rights primarily from improved pasture to support dairying and vegetable crops.
I remind honourable members that these announcements come on top of my decision to review the way the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council cap is managed in New South Wales. Later this week the Director-General of the Department of Land and Water Conservation, Bob Smith, will begin a period of intensive consultation. During the next four weeks he will meet key water user groups across regional New South Wales to identify and discuss ways of achieving a greater degree of flexibility in the management of the cap, while still achieving the same environmental outcomes. I cannot underestimate the importance of the MDBC cap in sustaining the health of our river and ground water systems, as well as protecting the rights of existing users.
However, certain issues must be addressed once and for all as to how the cap is interpreted and managed in this State: for example, access to off-allocation water, historical usage, equity between high-security and general-security users, and the common perception that New South Wales applies the cap more stringently than other member States, such as Queensland or Victoria. The director-general will meet water users in Deniliquin, Hay, Leeton, Gundagai, Narrabri, Moree, Goondiwindi, Albury, Mildura, Forbes, Dubbo, Orange, Bourke and Broken Hill. He will report back to me via the Water Advisory Council, which is chaired by the Hon. John Kerin and consists of representatives of all stakeholders.
Mr Armstrong: A good old Labor mate.
Mr AMERY: Surely the Leader of the National Party would agree that John Kerin is doing a good job. Following that consultation I hope to make some clear announcements later this year on improvements to the present arrangements. Early in the new year I will seek endorsement from the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council for any substantial changes. The Carr Government is committed to continuing the water reform process in this State. It is obvious that extraction from our river and ground water systems cannot increase indefinitely. By the same token, the Government is committed to achieving a greater degree of flexibility so that our water users can benefit from a more equitable sharing of available water resources. The Government believes in a prosperous and thriving rural economy as we approach the twenty-first century. That prosperity will very much depend on a sustainable natural environment, and my announcement today will achieve that. I again commend the honourable member for Broken Hill, who has continuously lobbied for clarification of the water reform process.
SYDNEY WATER SUPPLY CONTAMINATION
Mr ARMSTRONG: My question without notice is to the Minister for the Olympics. Has the Minister withheld scientific or other information from the public that allows him to reassure International Olympic Committee President, Juan Antonio Samaranch, that Sydney’s contaminated water supply will be pure well before the Sydney 2000 Olympics, when the Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning has said that we may be boiling our water forever?
Mr KNIGHT: Here we are two years from the greatest sporting event in the world, a wonderful celebration of Sydney and a wonderful celebration of sport, and all we get is this narky stuff from the Opposition.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Pittwater to order.
Mr KNIGHT: No wonder hardly any Opposition members are wearing green and gold socks today to celebrate the successes of the Australian team in Kuala Lumpur as the race begins
for the Games. What a miserable bunch you are! I hesitate to tell the Leader of the National Party that he cannot believe everything he reads or hears in the media. I have not spoken to anyone from the IOC about the Sydney water situation. However, tomorrow in Seoul I will tell them the same as I have told the media and will tell anybody: unlike the Leader of the National Party, the Government is not prepared to wait until September 2000 for an improvement in the water quality.
MAIN STREET AND SMALL TOWNS PROGRAM
Mr PRICE: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Regional Development, and Minister for Rural Affairs. What is the State Government doing to ensure the economic viability of small towns in New South Wales?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Georges River to order for the second time. I call the honourable member for Baulkham Hills to order.
Mr WOODS: Unlike the National Party and the Liberal Party, the Government has a huge commitment to creating a secure future for regional New South Wales.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the Leader of the National Party to order. I call the honourable member for Coffs Harbour to order for the third time.
Mr WOODS: The Leader of the National Party has a huge preoccupation with Sydney Water. I wonder how many people in Cowra are talking about Sydney Water!
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Lane Cove to order.
Mr WOODS: The Government directions statement on regional development includes a raft of programs aimed at supporting and accelerating economic growth through targeted and strategic intervention.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for North Shore to order.
Mr WOODS: The State Government recognises that market forces alone have failed to deliver a fair share for country New South Wales.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I place the honourable member for North Shore on three calls to order.
Mr WOODS: The Government recognises that our small towns and villages need help, and it is working in partnership with communities like Cabonne shire, Milton-Ulladulla, Maclean, Kingscliff and Rylstone-Kandos to help secure their future.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Baulkham Hills to order for the second time. I call the honourable member for Northern Tablelands to order.
Mr WOODS: This week in Lithgow 170 delegates from across New South Wales will attend the State Government’s community economic development conference, which is part of the improved main street and small towns program that is now taking a broader look at the economic potential of small towns by extending the focus beyond the retail sector. Business retention and expansion is now part of the program. This helps towns to identify their businesses, to develop strategies to keep and expand them, and to attract new business.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I place the honourable member for Oxley on two calls to order.
Mr WOODS: Yesterday I opened the conference in Lithgow, and the atmosphere was optimistic and dynamic. Country New South Wales wants a helping hand from government. It wants partnerships to help secure its future. It does not want to feel abandoned and it does not want blind adherence to economic rationalism, which, more and more, is becoming the hallmark of the National Party and is reflected by the stance taken by Tim Fischer, John Anderson and the Leader of the National Party in this place.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the Minister for the Environment to order. I call the Leader of the National Party to order for the second time.
Mr WOODS: The State Government is achieving real results from the main street and small towns program. Cabonne is a shire of eight small villages and its population has increased, against perceived national trends, through the support of the State Government’s main street and small towns program. Not only has the population increased but the whole community is engaged in planning for the future. Cabonne Council and its community prepared Vision 2007 with help from the State Government’s main street and small towns program. Vision 2007 is an example of communities working together, looking at their strengths and creating a plan for the future that will meet the aspirations of both individual villages and other towns in the district.
To help the Cabonne shire secure its future the State Government has provided funds to secure the services of a co-ordinator for a further year to bring to life some of the ideas in the vision statement. I met the co-ordinator only recently in Manildra and I can attest to the great job she is doing. The Cabonne story is a model of the way the State Government can provide seed funding and resources in partnership with the local community and act as the catalyst for each community to become involved in addressing its own development. In Kingscliff, in the north of the State, help through the main street and small towns program has resulted in the creation of 44 full-time jobs and the establishment of 13 new business. Some 17 businesses have renovated or expanded their premises and many traders have experienced an annual increase of 20 per cent in retail turnover. Turnover in the food and beverage sector increased by approximately 200 per cent in the first year of the program.
Since April 1995 more than 30 regional communities have been helped by the main street and small towns program. In 1996 an independent evaluation found that the program brought about significant change in those communities, which felt better about their future and more secure about their potential, and were better placed to attract new investment. As a result of that review the business retention and expansion program was introduced; the second round of funding is now open. Ten communities will be selected to take part in the program. The program gives us a more accurate understanding of the role of existing businesses in sustaining local economies and the concerns of local business people about problems and opportunities in their towns. It also demonstrates that the State Government, through the Department of State and Regional Development, can provide practical on-the-ground support by referring businesses to people who can help them solve their problems and explore opportunities for growth and expansion. Communities with populations between 1,500 and 15,000 are eligible to apply to take part in the program.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I place the honourable member for Monaro on two calls to order.
Mr WOODS: The State Government recognises the challenges faced by small business in rural towns and will continue to work in partnership with them to secure their future - unlike the National Party, which has completely dropped the ball.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Monaro to order for the third time.
KINGS CROSS POLICE PRESENCE
Ms MOORE: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police. Given that cocaine dealing has dramatically increased in Kings Cross in recent months, when will the Minister allocate adequate police numbers to provide a regular uniformed presence for a community under siege?
Mr WHELAN: The honourable member knows that this is a serious matter. She should also acknowledge that I met with her on several occasions and told her about the initiatives being taken by police. I understand that the honourable member has spoken to Ken Moroney, the regional commander, and Ray Adams, the local area commander, about the serious issues confronting her Kings Cross constituency. I advise the honourable member that, as a result of the Government’s commitment, we have a record budget and a record number of police in New South Wales.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Barwon to order.
Mr WHELAN: We have adequate resources. Police are allocated to those areas where crime is worst. I assure the honourable member that this matter is receiving all the attention that the Police Service can give it.
Ms ANDREWS: My question without notice is directed to the Deputy Premier, Minister for Health, and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. What is the Government doing to help health workers protect children from abuse and neglect?
Dr REFSHAUGE: The honourable member has had an ongoing interest in child protection. The Carr Government is putting families first. Protecting children and helping families is one of its top priorities. As we all know, abuse and neglect can destroy young lives. We are continuing to investigate the best ways of protecting children who are at risk. Our focus is on prevention, early intervention and treatment for victims and those responsible for abuse. It is extremely rare for parents and carers to set out to harm their children.
Research indicates that abuse is the result of a complex mix of factors - the environment, the parent, the child and the immediate circumstances. Every year New South Wales Health cares for tens of thousands of children and their families. Health
staff have an important role to play in recognising abuse and in helping those children and their families. To support our staff we have introduced a statewide training program to help frontline health professionals protect children.
Mr Armstrong: Can you pay them though? Can you pay the butcher?
Dr REFSHAUGE: This matter is about child protection; it is about children not being abused. The interjection of the Leader of the National Party was rather inappropriate. The training package was developed for New South Wales Health by the Education Centre Against Violence. More than 50 sexual assault and social workers in the area of physical abuse and neglect of children are currently using the training package to help nurses, doctors, ambulance officers and other relevant frontline health professionals recognise child abuse and to help those children.
The package aims to provide health workers with information about different forms of abuse; it examines how children talk to adults about abuse; it explores the effects of abuse on children and young people; and it outlines the responsibilities of health workers in recognising abuse and neglect. Four videos are a key part of the package. In the videos actors are used to portray life stories based on real experiences of abuse. Each video provides an account of a different form of abuse - physical, emotional, sexual and neglect.
The training program is already under way. The goal for New South Wales Health is for all relevant frontline health staff to have completed the training by the middle of next year. The program will be continued to ensure that new employees also benefit from the training package. New South Wales Health has had an extraordinarily positive response to the training. The training, which has been extremely well received, demonstrates the level of commitment that health workers have to keeping children safe.
The Director of the Education Centre Against Violence, Dr Lesley Laing, said that this package assists health workers to understand that child abuse can have serious long-term effects and that early intervention can relieve the suffering of children and prevent further problems. I support her comment that one of the most important messages in the training is that children are helpless in abuse situations and need adults to take action to protect them. Just one person can make an enormous difference in a child’s life. Health workers, through their contact with children and families, are uniquely placed to recognise the signs of possible abuse and neglect and to take action to begin the process of helping the child and family.
This training program is part of the comprehensive approach of New South Wales Health to child protection. Other child protection initiatives in New South Wales include $5 million for specialist services in all area health services for children and families in relation to physical abuse and neglect of children; 46 sexual assault services across New South Wales to provide 24-hour crisis counselling and medical services for children and young people; a new early intervention program targeting adolescents who display sexual offending behaviour; a new position of statewide education officer has been created to cater for staff working in the area of child abuse; and criminal records screening is under way on all employees throughout the health system. New South Wales Health has recognised that no mitigating factors exist which would justify the risk of permitting a person with a child sexual assault conviction to work with children. I thank Dr Lesley Laing and Ms Kathy Horn from the Education Centre Against Violence, who are present in the gallery today, for the work they have done to ensure that we do more to protect our children.
Questions without notice concluded.
CONSIDERATION OF URGENT MOTIONS
Mr WHELAN: The Government is of the view that the motion to be moved by the Leader of the National Party should take precedence today. We will, therefore, dispense with the necessity for a five-minute debate to determine whether that should occur.
Question - That the motion for urgent consideration of the honourable member for Lachlan be proceeded with - agreed to.
SMALL BUSINESS FLOOD RELIEF
Mr ARMSTRONG (Lachlan - Leader of the National Party) [3.17 p.m.]: I move:
That this House views with concern the New South Wales Government’s efforts to assist flood-affected small businesses in north-western New South Wales.
The Government realises that if it did not allow this matter to proceed today it would be dramatically
disadvantaged and it would suffer embarrassment because of its lack of assistance to people in the Broken Hill electorate and to sensible, realistic people in the north-west of New South Wales. It would be a major embarrassment for the Minister for Regional Development, and Minister for Rural Affairs. The viability and fundamental infrastructure of a number of small towns in the north-west and west of New South Wales are in question. Since July this year there has been repeated flooding of rivers in the north-west and much of the far west of New South Wales. Small businesses in towns such as Mungindi have not been accessible to customers.
People have not been able to obtain goods and services and businesses have not had any support since July. The butcher in Mungindi currently has his meat flown from Darling Downs in light aeroplanes. He is paying a 50 per cent surcharge to obtain sufficient supplies of beef, mutton and pork to satisfy his customers. The owner of one of the supermarkets in Mungindi, who purchased his business only three or four months ago, does not know what his turnover should be. However, in a period of about three or four months his sales have dropped by about 40 per cent. Because of the floods he has been unable to obtain sufficient stock for his shelves. The level of demand is low, but he does not have enough tins of jam, bags of flour or rolls of toilet paper to satisfy his customers.
Farmers do not want steel posts, insecticides or fertilisers in the middle of a major flood, so sales of those items have dropped by 40 or 50 per cent. The suppliers understand that because they live in a flood-prone area the country will be flooded from time to time. However, they do not expect to be effectively cut off from the rest of the world for four or five months. The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted that the floods could continue for at least another two or three weeks. In the coming months towns downstream of the Murray-Darling system will also be flooded and their commercial activity will be cut off.
Last week I asked the Minister for Agriculture, who is responsible for rural assistance and therefore for funding in such emergencies, what assistance was available to small businesses which suffered financial loss. The Minister made light of the plight of those businesses that are adversely affected. He also tried to cover up the facts. He said that the Premier had that day announced a magnificent assistance package of up to $80,000 to farmers and small businesses that were affected by floods. But he ignored the fact that my question related to the economic hardship facing small businesses that are isolated from their customers and from their goods and materials because of the floods.
The package offered by this Government is no different from the packages offered by previous Liberal-National governments, except that in the past the Liberal-National governments offered loans of up to $80,000 to farmers and small businesses affected by floods, whose goods or premises had been damaged. The last Liberal-National Government, under the then Minister for Regional Development, the honourable member for Northern Tablelands, also offered financial assistance to small businesses that were affected by economic circumstances or natural disasters such as floods. This Government has removed the assistance package that was previously offered to small businesses that suffered economic disadvantage because of natural disaster. There is no assistance for the butcher, the grocer or the rural supplier in Mungindi.
Mr Peacocke: Or the road contractors.
Mr ARMSTRONG: Or the road contractors, the aerial agricultural operators who are virtually unemployed, or the raft of people who depend on seasonal activity, such as contract crutchers in the sheep industry, contract fencers, and contract cotton chippers. They are just some of the people who are out of work. Their spending power has diminished. The butcher, the grocer, and the rural supplier cannot get goods into their shops and their takings have fallen. In addition, many of their regular customers have no money and ask for credit. The new owner of the supermarket in Mungindi has been confronted by people tearfully asking for food.
The Government made a fool of itself last week when it ignored my question. It pretended it had covered that hole. The Government should be embarrassed. I hope the Minister for Agriculture will apologise, because he ignored the plight of those people when he responded to my question. He has not offered any assistance to the Mungindi butcher, supermarket owner or rural supplier. People in Walgett are also affected, because they do not have a cash flow. When I visited Walgett last week I was told that wholesalers were not offering suppliers extended credit. The butcher has to pay for his meat, the supermarket owner has to pay for his groceries, and the rural supplier has to pay for his steel posts.
I asked them how their banks felt about the situation. They said the banks have given them no indication that they are prepared to extend the terms of their loans or overdrafts. Either the Minister does not understand or the Premier has told him there is no more money - the Government is broke. The Government is prepared to ignore the people in those towns. Their business existence is being sucked out by the larger communities. Moree is
taking the business from Mungindi. The population of the small centres is contracting.
Those essential service centres provide their communities with a certain quality of life, and they must be maintained if they are to attract doctors, schoolteachers, police officers and other essential services. But the Government is prepared to desert the businesses, and that will result in a lower quality of life and make it more difficult for rural communities to remain sustainable. The Government’s approach is to centralise services such as health, education, police and agriculture, at the expense of those communities. I ask the Minister to be serious for once in his life, and to stop his flippant Mr Comedy act. This is not a comedy.
These ordinary, decent people have invested their money; they do not receive a cheque every month as the Minister does. They are hurting. They want to provide a service, and the Minister is not assisting them. Last week he fudged the question but today he has a chance to be honest and show that he has the ticker to stand up to the Premier, who does not understand what is going on outside this House. [Time expired.]
Mr AMERY (Mount Druitt - Minister for Agriculture, and Minister for Land and Water Conservation) [3.27 p.m.]: It is obvious that the Leader of the National Party did not realise that the Government would allow him to move this motion. His ranting and raving made it clear that he was not prepared for a debate on the floods in New South Wales. He said that the Government is not helping the butcher and various other businesses affected by the floods; that the Government does not care; and that the criteria is too tough. The criteria for access to assistance as a result of the current floods is the same as that which applied to the 1990-91 floods, when the Leader of the National Party was Minister for Agriculture.
The Leader of the National Party, in criticising this Government for its criteria for access to flood relief, is actually criticising his own stewardship of the financial assistance provided to farmers and small businesses when he was in government. Apart from the improvement in the interest rate, there has been no change at all in the access criteria.
Mr Armstrong: On a point of order. The Minister just reinforced the point when he said he has made no change.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! No point of order is involved.
Mr AMERY: Apart from a couple of areas, the normal criteria have not changed. When I visited the flood areas I took deputations from small business people and from the farming community. The main concern raised by John Cobb, President of the New South Wales Farmers Association, at the delegation meetings was that the 6 per cent interest rate on government loans was too close to the market rate of 7 or 8 per cent that was charged by financial institutions. The Government has reduced the rate to 4 per cent. We visited the flood areas, we listened to the people, and we reduced the interest rate. The slight change in the access criteria is that under this Government the loans are cheaper.
Another issue raised by the Leader of the National Party was that the Government was not assisting people who are affected by the floods. The Premier and I have visited areas to obtain information and offer assistance. People in Queensland who have been affected by floods are saying that the New South Wales Government has been more generous than the Queensland Government. That statement by the Leader of the National Party is another example of using people as political footballs.
We have seen it with the Sydney water problem and the drought, and now we are seeing it with the floods. By criticising the amount of government assistance that is provided for flood, drought and bushfire assistance, the Opposition is using people as political footballs. The Premier has been very active in this area. Under a new initiative, a co-ordinator has been appointed to visit flood-affected areas and the Premier will call on the Federal Government to look at natural disaster relief on a national basis.
In his statements today and last week, the Leader of the National Party said that the natural disaster funding allocated by the Government - announced time and again in press releases by me, the Premier and the Minister for Emergency Services - does not reach small business people because they cannot access the Rural Assistance Authority loans. He is wrong. Small businesses do access the loans that are provided through the Rural Assistance Authority.
An Opposition member who had never held ministerial office or a Minister who had never held the portfolio of agriculture could be excused for saying that such loans are not available to small business people. But the Leader of the National Party, a former Minister for Agriculture who signed off these loans, previously allocated funding and has
made a number of trips to flood-affected areas, should know better. Not only should he know better, he does know better. He is telling porkies.
The Leader of the National Party was the most opportunistic of any Opposition members when he said that the Government should be responsible for all losses incurred from a flood. It could also be said that the Government should be responsible for all losses incurred from a bushfire or drought. All honourable members know that the role of government in natural disasters is to assist people in immediate danger, to protect property wherever possible, and to provide funding to assist people to get back on their feet. But governments of any persuasion that administer funding in this State, or in any other State, have never acted as insurers for all losses incurred in a flood, bushfire or drought. The Leader of the National Party must have told people that they received more government funding when he was Minister. He should be honest with them and tell them that nothing has changed.
As a result of the meetings, other forms of assistance have been made available through the Rural Assistance Authority that do not depend on a person suffering a natural disaster such as a flood, bushfire or drought. I referred to those forms of assistance last week in the House. When the Premier and I inspected the flood areas, many farmers asked for a change in the criteria for loans that are available under the normal special conservation scheme, which can be accessed at any time. In response, the Government increased the criteria from $800,000 to $1.2 million.
The Premier’s Department co-ordinator will consider all forms of government assistance during natural disasters. The Premier’s policy has been consistent: everything that can be provided by the State should be provided. He is also considering the introduction of a national system, through the Council of Australian Governments or ministerial council meetings, to provide a co-ordinated national approach to the handling of natural disasters. Severe flooding has occurred during the winter months in regional areas, in coastal areas such as Wollongong and in various areas of Sydney. As a result, lives have been lost, farmers have lost livestock and property and people have been made homeless. The Government and the private sector have done a great deal of work to assist people and address the issues.
It is dishonest and an appalling abuse of his political role for the Leader of the National Party - a former Minister for Agriculture, who previously administered assistance funding - to give people false hope by saying that the Government should compensate for all income losses and damage caused by flooding. I say to those who have been seriously affected by flooding that the Government will, firstly, continue to provide all the assistance that has historically been provided and, secondly, continue to listen to their concerns about improved access to such assistance. As I said, that has already been done in some areas. The Premier will co-ordinate a national approach to funding in the event of natural disasters, and the co-ordinator will get the real picture from those who have been affected by floods. The Leader of the National Party should heed this message: keep your grubby politics out of natural disaster issues.
Mr SLACK-SMITH (Barwon) [3.37 p.m.]: The Minister’s response to the Leader of the National Party amounted to eight minutes of complete drivel. The Minister for Agriculture may not be aware that the people of my electorate have experienced six floods in the last two months - a very rare occurrence. For two months they have been isolated; they have not left their properties and have not been able to go to work. For the benefit of the Minister, who obviously did not read it, the motion refers to the small businesses in north-west New South Wales. It refers to people and businesses in the towns of Narrabri, Moree, Gunnedah, Pilliga, Walgett, Mungindi, Collarenebri and Lightning Ridge. Soon the flood waters will reach Brewarrina and, in a week, Bourke, and whose towns will experience what the other flood-affected towns have experienced.
This motion is about the survival of small country towns and businesses. For every small business in a country town servicing the farming community that goes broke, one farmer will be out of work. It is a one-to-one ratio; they are interdependent. The farming community cannot survive without small businesses, and small businesses cannot survive without the farming community. Small businesses in country towns are experiencing income loss. They have financial commitments to banks and wholesalers, yet many are reluctant to retrench employees because they know there is no other employment for them.
People in those towns cannot go out to work on farms because all the roads are shut. Only this morning the Wee Waa-Narrabri road was reopened. I do not know how long the road will stay open, as it has started to rain again. People cannot work and they are frustrated. If the people in the towns cannot go to work they will not be paid and they cannot go to the shops to spend. People who live out of town need to go to town but cannot do so because the roads are closed.
This is a short-term problem. We are not asking the Premier to consider long-term low interest loans. All we want is assistance for a few months, which could easily be justified. That assistance is needed to tide businesses over. Once the flood waters have abated there will be plenty of work and a great deal of money will be generated. A stop-gap measure is needed so that businesses can continue to trade, because once businesses are closed they will not reopen. Even now the doors of some businesses in Mungindi are closing. We do not want our small towns turning into ghost towns. This motion is about the survival of small business communities in rural towns and it is urgent that this matter be considered.
Mr DEBUS (Blue Mountains - Minister for Energy, Minister for Tourism, Minister for Corrective Services, Minister for Emergency Services, and Minister Assisting the Premier on the Arts) [3.41 p.m.]: As I listened to the honourable member for Barwon I recalled that the Premier and I arrived in the Namoi Valley within 24 hours of the second wave of flooding that occurred in August.
Mr Slack-Smith: We have had four since, and worse.
Mr DEBUS: The honourable member for Barwon is second only to the Leader of the National Party in the hypocrisy with which he approaches this matter. The Leader of the National Party has not been near a flood in months. He is very worried about that -
Mr Slack-Smith: He was there last week.
Mr DEBUS: He had not visited that region until last week. He is so worried about his situation that he found it necessary to use Alan Jones’ program to tell everybody that he had been to the flood-affected region. I wonder whether the honourable member for Barwon knows that the Premier, the Minister for Agriculture, the Minister for Community Services and I have travelled to the flooded regions on several occasions. We have been to the Namoi Valley, Wollongong and Bathurst. At the end of this week the Premier and I will once again travel to the far north-west. That is the first demonstration of the hypocrisy of the National Party on this matter.
Also, as the Minister for Agriculture found it irresistible to point out, arrangements that presently exist for assisting small business are similar to those that existed when the coalition was in office, they are similar to arrangements that have existed for many years and they are appropriate. This Government has spent more money than the coalition ever dreamed of spending on such arrangements to help local government, farmers and small businesses with loans.
What Opposition members are doing is shameful. Opposition members are so ashamed of their neglect of people in flooded parts of regional New South Wales that they now find it necessary to introduce a hypocritical motion such as this, as if the Government were not looking to assist the people of the affected towns and to recognise that as the floods have gone on - in the worst period of flooding since 1990, and the Government knows more about that than the coalition -
Mr Slack-Smith: What do you mean, since 1990?
Mr DEBUS: Recently we have experienced the worst periods of floods across the State since 1990. Surely there is nothing wrong with that proposition.
Mr Slack-Smith: In the north-west the floods have been the worst since 1890.
Mr DEBUS: Across the State we have experienced the worst period of flooding since 1990. The honourable member for Barwon cannot help himself. The significant fact I wish to add to the debate is that as we speak, and before the Leader of the Opposition started to speak, a regional co-ordinator for the north-west and New England, Ms Maureen Chapman from the Premier’s Department, has been conducting a tour of the region. During the next few days she will visit seven towns to assess the effects of floods and isolation. She will be doing exactly the things that Opposition members seem to suggest the Government is not doing.
Local government, business and community representatives in Moree, Mungindi, Lightning Ridge, Walgett, Wee Waa, Narrabri and Gunnedah will meet Ms Chapman in the next few days. Her tour will be followed by a tour by the Premier and probably me on Friday. In other words, the Government is paying attention to the needs of small business and primary producers in towns in the north-west, as it has paid attention to the needs of communities all over the State in this extraordinary extended period of flooding. I move the following amendment to the motion:
That the motion be amended by leaving out all words after the word "House" with a view to inserting instead:
"recognises the plight of those affected by flood-affected north-western New South Wales and calls on the Federal
Government to agree to the Premier's request to provide $50 million from the Federal Government towards the costs of damage and support to small business."
The Premier made that call -
Mr Fraser: What about the $50 million?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! If the honourable member for Coffs Harbour wishes to take part in the debate he should seek the call at the appropriate time.
Mr DEBUS: The Premier has called on the Federal Government to do that, and the Federal Opposition has supported the call. We are yet to hear the response of the Prime Minister and the Federal Government. [Time expired.]
Mr CHAPPELL (Northern Tablelands) [3.46 p.m.]: I remind the House that the motion reads as follows:
That this House views with concern the New South Wales Government’s efforts to assist flood-affected small businesses in north-western New South Wales.
The motion is focused specifically on north-western communities and on small business. The House has heard all about these being the worst floods around the State for 10 years, about support for farmers and about related matters, yet the motion refers specifically to the effects of the floods on small businesses in north-western New South Wales. The north-west is facing not its worst flood in 10 years but its worst flooding this century. There have been six consecutive floods in the past couple of months, and the impact of those floods is continuing. Some people have not had access to their local town to conduct business - and therefore the businesses have not had patronage - for eight or nine weeks.
These floods have constituted an extraordinary event. We are not talking about a one-time flood and this is not merely a matter of comparing the recent peak flood level with the previous flood peak. Communities of the north-west have experienced a succession of floods that have impacted on them in ways that have not been experienced before in this century. That is why the Opposition calls on the Government for special consideration for small businesses in these specific circumstances. I remind the House that the previous Government introduced special provisions for drought assistance for rural-related businesses in country New South Wales. It did so because it recognised the importance of sustaining businesses. It was necessary to ensure that those businesses would still be operating when the drought broke and good times came again.
In this debate the Opposition wants the Government to address the importance of maintaining the small business infrastructure of our country towns and regions so that when the floods and their effects subside the businesses will have remained in operation to supply necessary services. In this debate we are talking not only about the shops on the main streets of country towns or about agricultural services that might be provided out of someone’s home or sheds on the back streets of towns and villages, but about all businesses, all private sector support units that underpin our rural communities and agricultural industries.
I am talking about the shops in the town, but I am also talking about the contractors - those who do the planting, the harvesting, the shearing, the spraying and the fencing, and those who supply the transport services. We need to make sure that those businesses will still be there after these floods have abated. Such has been the protracted nature of the floods in the north-western areas that we are really talking about an extraordinary set of circumstances and a long, drawn-out impact on those businesses. Over the course of this century very few businesses, households or individuals have had to face floods of such magnitude.
Flood at any time is bad enough, but the situation is worse when one flood is receding and you know another one is coming. It is worse when you know that in the past few days another couple of inches of rain have fallen on the northern tablelands or in the hills behind Tamworth and that in a week, or in some cases three or four or five weeks, you are going to be flooded yet again. Some of those people I mentioned a few moments ago, who have not had contact with the outside world for eight or nine weeks; who have been unable to go to town to do their household shopping, to buy equipment, or to conduct their trade and commerce, face the prospect of a similar delay. It will be three or four months before they will be able to contract any business. Although some of that business will not have been lost but merely delayed, a lot of it will never take place.
There will be a tremendous impact on the cash flow of those businesses, be they the shops in the street or the contractors who provide various services. Many businesses will fail completely and on the next occasion when those goods and services are required there will not be anyone there to provide them. That means a diminution of the infrastructure of rural communities and districts in a way that we simply do not want to contemplate. The purpose of the coalition’s action is to press this Government into recognising the different nature of
these floods that have been dragging on and on and on and the impact they are having on our business infrastructure. It is imperative that the Government take this matter seriously and respond in a very positive way.
Mr ARMSTRONG (Lachlan - Leader of the National Party) [3.51 p.m.], in reply: I have in my hand an official document from the New South Wales Rural Assistance Authority dated 10 September. The document entitled "Disaster Relief Scheme, Assistance for Flood Affected Small Businesses" states:
Assistance is provided by way of a loan or concessional interest rate. The amount of the loan is the minimum required to cover reasonable necessary carry-on requirements, replace losses and make repairs not covered by insurance, to an upper limit of $80,000.
Fixed interest rate equivalent to 50 per cent of the NSW Treasury 10 year bond rate, rounded upwards to the nearest half a percentage point, and with a minimum interest rate of 4 per cent when the Treasury 10 year bond rate lies below 8 per cent.
Current interest rate is 4%
Assistance can be either short or long term, depending on requirements. The maximum term is 10 years, which may be preceded by an interest only period of up to 24 months.
Mortgage over Land and/or Fixtures (Not necessarily First Mortgage)
The document sets out the purposes for which the loan or concessional interest rate may be granted and includes the following points:
•Replace/Repair lost and/or damaged stock and fixtures.
•Repair damage to premises (if owned).
Under the heading of eligibility criteria, the following points are set out:
•the applicant must be in urgent and genuine need of assistance which, if obtained commercially, would place the enterprise’s financial viability at risk;
•the business enterprise must provide the majority of total gross income of the applicant and be assessed to be viable in the longer term;
•the applicant must be in working occupation of the business;
•satisfactory security (not necessarily a first mortgage) is required to support the advance.
Those eligible are invited to apply to the New South Wales Rural Assistance Authority, Locked Bag 23, Orange, New South Wales. The document does not mention covering financial loss. It refers to two points: replace/repair lost and/or damaged stock and fixtures, and repair damage to premises, if owned. There it is! I have in my possession also a letter dated 8 September from C. H. and D. A. Newbold Transport of 23 Edward Street, Coonamble. It is addressed to the honourable member for Dubbo and states in part:
During the last three months we have endured well above average rainfall resulting in major flooding. We have experienced heavy rain weekly and the ground is saturated with no chance of drying.
As the bulk of our contract work relies on Walgett Shire in which we have large back orders but are unable to deliver the aggregate due to saturated stockpile sites throughout Walgett’s road system. The stockpile sites are still flooded.
The simple fact is that this New South Wales citizen and small businessman is saying that he has not been able to deliver his contracted aggregate to the shire for three months because of floods. There is nothing in the Government’s package to assist his cash flow dilemma. The letter states also:
People have given me the advice to register for unemployment benefits . . .
My wife currently works two days a week in a local supermarket which pays for our basic food costs but our ongoing debt is growing.
This Government has not recognised that its package for natural disaster does not cover the loss of cash flow for these premises. If businesses cannot get stock onto the shelves, if they cannot get customers in the door or if customers cannot afford to pay because they do not have the money, those businesses will not have a cash flow. If that were the case for only a couple of weeks it would be an accepted business risk, but this is an exceptional circumstance because in some cases it has gone on since July of this year. In the case of Mr and Mrs Newbold of Coonamble, it has gone on for more than three months. How will they pay their mortgage instalments? How will they meet the commitments they may have on their machinery or on their trucks? How will they pay their everyday expenses when they do not have cash flow? If any of the grinning Ministers opposite had their salary cheques delayed for three months they would understand. The bottom line is that this Government has refused to acknowledge the plight of small business people, such as the aggregate contractor for the Walgett
shire. I seek leave to table the advice from the New South Wales Rural Assistance Authority to support my comments.
Mr SPEAKER: Permission is not granted, but you may lay it on the table.
Mr ARMSTRONG: It is unfortunate that the debate is not able to be fully satisfied when we have irrefutable evidence from a government authority, the New South Wales Rural Assistance Authority, which refers to replacement or repair of lost and damaged stock but not to cash flow. That is what the Opposition has been saying for a week, but this Government is so pig-headed and so thick that it does not understand the plight. The Minister for Regional Development, and Minister for Rural Affairs sits there saying, "Yap, yap, yap, yap". There is not one bit of substance in him. He might know something about a pub, but he does not understand business. He is a joker. He is a disgrace. [Time expired.]
Amendment agreed to.
Motion as amended agreed to.
PUBLIC EDUCATION SESQUICENTENARY
Matter of Public Importance
Mr AQUILINA (Riverstone - Minister for Education and Training, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Youth Affairs) [3.58 p.m.]: This week we celebrate Education Week. The occasion provides us with an opportunity to pay tribute to the 50,000 teachers and 760,000 students in more than 2,200 government schools, and to the many thousands of parents, for their hard work, their dedication and their commitment to education in this State. In 1998 Education Week takes on special significance as this year marks also the 150th anniversary of public education in this State and in this nation. In our sesquicentenary year we can look back with pride on our history and look forward with confidence to the future of public education in New South Wales. During this week and this year we especially acknowledge our highly trained teachers who provide our young people with the skills and knowledge they need to fully prepare them for their future educational job and life opportunities.
As Minister for Education and Training, as a former teacher and, first and foremost, as a fellow educator, I am proud of the students and teachers who are the face of public education in this State. Our students are the citizens and leaders of the next generation, drawing on the knowledge, experience and values gained in those influential years of schooling. Our teachers are charged with providing students with those credentials and as such should be proud of their profession, as I am. Their commitment and determination to help every child achieve his or her personal goal deserves our respect. Individually and collectively they deserve our gratitude. Everyone remembers a teacher who acknowledged one’s individuality and helped one experience the world in a better, more meaningful way - I certainly do - and it is those lessons that live on.
Education Week 1998 is an opportunity to welcome to our schools all students, regardless of their race, religion or socioeconomic status. New South Wales schools will continue to teach young Australians how to live in harmony, respecting the values, beliefs and way of life of others. In 150 years, public education in this State has come a very long way. In 1848 an entity known as the Board of National Education established the government school system and the first school opened in Kempsey. In 1998 there are more than 2,200 government schools in New South Wales. In the 1850s a one-month training course was established at the Teacher Training School at Fort Street, and training and development are now an integral part of a teacher’s career. Since 1995, 15,000 teachers have been trained under the technology in learning and teaching - TILT - program.
An additional 1,405 specialist teachers have been appointed to schools, including 400 reading recovery teachers, 96 community language teachers, 46 higher school certificate teachers and 833 technology teachers. Honourable members may be interested to know that in the 1860s homework was officially introduced, in 1918 the New South Wales Teachers Federation was established, in 1922 the Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations was formed and in 1926 the Federation of Infants Mothers Clubs - renamed the Federation of School Community Organisations, known as FOSCO - held its first meeting. In 1965 the first school certificate examinations were held and two years later the first higher school certificate examinations were held.
More than 30 years later the flagship of public education in this State, the higher school certificate, is being reformed and enhanced. The new higher school certificate will be better and fairer than its predecessor. It will have a renewed and reinvigorated curriculum which will prepare students for the next millennium. In 1848 the school curriculum consisted of reading, writing, arithmetic and religion. In 1998 every school is connected to
the Internet and the equivalent of 90,000 desktop computers have been delivered to schools as part of the Carr Government’s $186 million computers in schools program. However, the importance of the basics has not been lost in 150 years of public education.
While embracing the age of technology and ensuring that students are equipped to take their place on the information superhighway, the Government has also placed a renewed focus on the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. The Carr Government’s $200 million literacy strategy continues to lift reading and writing standards for all students. The Government is endeavouring to ensure that no student slips through the literacy net - and the strategy is working. Since 1996, 22,000 students have received targeted one-on-one training under the world-renowned reading recovery program. That is 22,000 students who may otherwise have slipped through infants school without ever learning to read and write. During my recent visit to a central coast public school, the principal, who had been teaching for 40 years, told me that reading recovery was not only the best literacy program but the best educational program he had seen in four decades.
The average results in this year’s ELLA - English literature and language assessment - tests were better than last year’s results. The resources and efforts that have been ploughed into the literacy strategy are paying off. Today I was pleased to announce, together with the Premier, the results of the ELLA tests, which ensure that we not only test students but ensure that positive mechanisms are in place for them. The Government has a proud record on literacy. In 1998, 22,000 year 1 students have been diagnosed as requiring additional attention and 400 new reading recovery specialist teachers have been specifically trained to provide one-on-one teaching for them. In past years those pupils would have fallen through the net and largely been ignored.
The basic skills tests are carried out in years 3 and 5. The ELLA tests are carried out in year 7 to make sure that any students who require assistance with literacy at the start of high school are recognised and are able to get specialised attention. As a result of this year’s literacy test 3,300 students have been recognised as requiring such assistance. Today, in conjunction with the Premier, I announced a special program of 340 specialist teachers who will be trained to ensure that the 3,300 students who still require assistance in year 7 - they were not caught up in the reading recovery program, because they completed year 1 before the program was introduced - are able to receive specialist assistance. The Government is doing great things to improve literacy, not only in primary schools but also in high schools.
As Minister it is my expectation that no student will be allowed to leave school at the compulsory leaving age functionally illiterate, as so many did in years gone by. While reflecting on the past, the sesquicentenary is also a time to consider how we will educate and prepare our children for the third millennium. The Government is doing that in a way which has never been done before. I emphasise the success of the computers in schools program. By and large computers are becoming the tools of teaching and learning in the classroom. Gone are the days when computer studies were the only opportunities students had to access computers. The equivalent of 90,000 desktop computers have reached, or will reach, classrooms and they are being put to good use. Teachers are being trained to ensure that they can provide meaningful instruction to students.
Finally I pay tribute to the teachers: 150 years of teaching is a time to reflect upon the great contribution and professionalism of teachers in our classrooms. They ought to be thanked and thanked again. But no thanks are great enough to reflect their dedication and professionalism, which are of worldwide repute. Countries which run short of teachers have no hesitation in applying for teachers who have been trained and experienced in New South Wales public schools. Why? Because they are among the best. As Minister for Education and Training I am proud of the quality of our teachers; I am proud of the dedication they show to our students; I am proud of their professionalism and the way in which they continue to provide leadership and training for all students. I am particularly proud of school principals, because principals play a pivotal role in any education system. Certainly they do our public schools and public education proud. A good school will invariably have a good principal, and vice versa. The principals are the marching foot soldiers of the public education system. I compliment the principals and thank them, as I do all teachers. [Time expired.]
Mr O’DOHERTY (Ku-ring-gai) [4.08 p.m.]: On behalf of the Opposition I join with the Minister for Education and Training in paying tribute to the teachers and pupils of public education in New South Wales over its proud 150-year history. It is true, and has been said by many, that public education has played perhaps the most important role in making our society a cohesive one, one which is a model for the rest of the world. We must never forget the importance that education in general and public education in particular have played and
will continue to play in the development of Australia. The Minister’s contribution contained the clear message that the Government has no new ideas, it has nothing new to contribute; it is living off the experience and ability of past governments to progress education in New South Wales.
We heard nothing new from the Minister at all. He proclaimed loudly the benefits of basic skills tests. Who introduced them? They were introduced by the Greiner Government. The Minister proclaimed loudly the benefits of having reading recovery teachers. Who introduced them? They were introduced by the previous coalition Government as well. The Minister proclaimed standardised testing and the targeting of resources through the use of such testing. Those tests were also introduced by the previous Government under Nick Greiner.
The Minister for Education and Training has not presented any new vision for education. People interested in education are concerned that the drift in education policy will not allow New South Wales education to enter the new millennium with anything like the excitement and tempo with which it went into the twentieth century. A century ago there was great growth in education in New South Wales. Indeed, the history of education in New South Wales is one of growth underpinning the expansion that needed to take place in our economy and society. That kind of growth has come to a halt under this Government.
The Government has provided schools with computers but it has not provided any resources to connect them and few resources to train teachers. No wonder people are cynical about the current Government! The time of teachers in schools is taken up with memorandums about lack of government resources. The Government sends memorandums to the principals stating, "You are now responsible for fixing this latest social problem." Increasingly the Government is seen as irrelevant to education: it simply sends out press releases and has little real idea of an agenda for education.
The higher school certificate review, on which the Government will trade until the next election, is contentious and incomplete. Even today we learnt that the Board of Studies has taken the kind of leadership that the Minister should be taking; it has proposed that the program should be extended. Once again, the previous Government started that program, under which higher school certificate students jointly study university courses. The previous Government also introduced vocational education as a joint venture with high schools, for example, the joint secondary schools-TAFE program, which this Minister has been winding down. All that growth took place under the previous Government.
The higher school certificate review is inconclusive and contentious; it dumbed down the curriculum. No-one likes it. However, the Minister spent a large amount of public money on trying to sell its supposed benefits to an incredulous community of teachers, parents and students. The Opposition believes that an extra year should be allocated to complete work on the higher school certificate - work which this Government began but then stuffed up. The Opposition is concerned about the dumbing down of the higher school certificate, but the House will debate that another time.
The Government introduced school report cards, once again as a sort of press-release inspired populous movement, but they are meaningless gobbledygook and full of generalisations. The schools that were made to hold public meetings reported that no-one turned up because people were not interested, so politicised and meaningless had the process become. This Government has turned the values of the system on their head. It talks about drug education and then allocates $1 per student per year to its drug education initiative. We are all supposed to be so grateful!
At the same time, the Government will not allow the principal of Castle Hill High School to expel two students who were caught in a drug deal - two students that the school wanted to expel. The teachers, the principal, the parents and the students at the school wanted the students expelled. What did this Minister do? He sent the thought police to talk to the students, saying, "Don’t you dare talk to the media because that will get the department in trouble." The Minister runs a system based on fear. Through a centralised system - the most centralised system since the early days of the 1900s - the Minister has instituted a system based on fear alone.
The Government tried to ban scripture classes from performing a passion play at Easter. In this House the Minister - and I am amazed that he did this - said that Easter was a story all about violence. I interjected - I remember it well because Mr Speaker placed me on three calls to order - that that is what Easter was all about. The Government has no clear idea about the values that should underpin social growth and education. It is spending $71 million less this year on school buildings than was being spent by the outgoing coalition Government in 1995. This Government is spending one-third less on
the major capital school works program, although it is spending $55 million every year on the back-to-school allowance.
The back-to-school allowance has no educational benefit at all. I defy the Minister to tell me about one student whose education has benefited from the allowance. Yet today the Minister told us once again that we are all supposed to be awfully grateful because the Government has given $2 million to targeting help for students in year 7 who have been identified as having reading problems. We are supposed to be grateful for the $2 million that the Government is giving to an additional literacy program. What about the $55 million the Government has spent on the back-to-school allowance, which has no educational benefit whatever? Schools say that the scheme is an absolute waste of money for education, and the Minister knows that.
The Government has instilled in schools a lack of confidence about what they are doing. In paying tribute to 150 years of public education I shall talk about the kind of development that needs to take place in the future. The Opposition believes that one essential task of education is to develop individuals in all their fullness. If education is about not only what we know but who we are then we must instil, through education, values that are based on developing the character of students. Education must develop the skills and knowledge of students who will face the next millennium, but education must also develop character.
The development of character should be a major aim of any approach to the positive development of young people. We want to ensure that core values are instilled in young people through education, through both the formal curriculum and the informal curriculum, as part of the culture of schooling. We must have values that are based on respect for all Australians. Only through education will we be able to instil the respect in all people that is necessary for us to counter the worst excesses of people such as Pauline Hanson who are trying to divide our nation. Education has the great role of unifying the nation, so values based on respect for ourselves and for others must be at the centre of what we do.
We must address the chronic lack of morale in schooling; therefore, we must address school cultures, including the leadership role of principals. We must give principals more support. The Government does not do that; it takes away their authority, and therefore defies the respect that principals should have in their own schools. One focus of our system must be to build relationships at every level, between principals and teachers, between teachers and their colleagues, and between staff and students. Importantly, we must involve parents as partners in education. We must find better ways to involve parents and to resolve disputes which occasionally arise.
We must build the community of schools. We must build communities within schools, support communities in local schools and, importantly, encourage community between schools. We see a future in which groups of schools co-operate to serve comprehensively the needs of the broad community. The Government has not addressed the serious problems that comprehensive schools face at the end of this century, and that is why it is failing the students and teachers of New South Wales. Finally, we must look at the classroom as the basis of our education policy. We must return to the days when education itself - pedagogy and curriculum - formed the basis of government policy, not press releases, policies designed to make the government look good and show pony events such as giving to literacy programs $2 million that is already being spent in the system. The Minister has simply given a few teachers new badges. He has not provided new resources; he has simply reannounced old initiatives.
The system must be based on the needs of the classroom and a return to the days when we understood the teaching and learning process. Above all, we must look at the black hole of education - something that the Government has not addressed. We must look at the middle years of education, given that so much needs to be done to take advantage of different student development levels these days. This Government is not addressing those different levels, but it must be done in the future. The curriculum demands in the junior years must be simplified. More must be done in early education following the example of the previous coalition Government with its early childhood initiatives, its parents-as-teachers style programs and the joint initiatives involving the Health Department and the Department of Community Services which set up preschools and community centres based around schools.
In summary, public education has come a long way in 150 years but it has stalled during the centralised, fear-driven and politicised era of the past 3½ years. On 27 March 1999 an opportunity will arise for the people to reverse that impasse. New South Wales must return to the great growth that took place under previous coalition governments - growth on which the Government is still trading. Previous coalition governments had a
sense of vision, a sense of direction and a clear plan for the progression of public education in New South Wales.
Mr WATKINS (Gladesville) [4.18 p.m.]: It is a great pleasure to take part in this celebratory debate to mark the 150th anniversary of public education in New South Wales. All citizens of New South Wales can be proud of this event. New South Wales has a unique public education system that delivers the highest quality of education to more than three-quarters of a million students in 2,222 government schools across the State. The system employs more than 50,000 teachers and more than 10,000 administrative staff - a huge system by world standards. Based on those world standards this premier system delivers the highest quality of education to a wide range of students.
Central to the success of the New South Wales public education system are the principles that underpin all aspects of teaching and learning in our schools. It is important to note and celebrate those principles. Public education is firmly student centred and welcomes all young people without discrimination or distinction. No matter what race, religion, socioeconomic background, status or ability, government schools accept all, and provide secure and safe educational environments in which equity and excellence of opportunity are available to all students.
The New South Wales public education system has been an integral part of the development of New South Wales and Australia as a tolerant, democratic and prosperous community living in harmony and respecting the values, beliefs and way of life of others. Our schools have been integral to our social cohesion and peacefulness - qualities that have made us the envy of many nations. It is important to acknowledge the strength of the system over 150 years. Few education systems around the world could match the leading role played by public education in New South Wales in initiating and introducing educational reform.
From the establishment of the first schools in the 1840s for young people throughout New South Wales, often in remote places, to the provision of free education and the prohibition of child labour in the 1870s, the public education system has always been at the forefront of child care, protection and education. Public education has always had as its central purpose the development, advancement and the widest possible education of our children - a truly noble and virtuous calling. That purpose is evident in the many milestones of public education such as the provision of school counselling in the 1930s, careers advice in the 1940s, the Wyndham scheme in the 1960s, the integration of children with disabilities into mainstream classrooms in the 1970s, and rapid educational reforms in the 1990s.
In particular I refer to the growth of vocational education, expansion of literacy and technology education, and the recent reforms of the higher school certificate. All those changes, and many others, reflect a dynamic public education system which continually searches for the best opportunities for its children. Those children have the widest possible intellectual, emotional and social needs. Those needs have been provided for in secure, non-violent and supportive classrooms. The range of opportunities provided for in local schools in my electorate indicates the strength of the system.
Opportunities provided at schools in my electorate are: single sex high school education at Riverside Girls High School or Epping Boys High School; comprehensive education at Malvina High School; and the provision of special classes for the intellectually gifted, the emotionally disturbed or the intellectually and physically disabled at local primary schools. The schools in my electorate are fine examples of the child-centred education system in place across the State. The schools also have a typical cross-section of the teaching profession in New South Wales. Highly educated, with the highest levels of professional training and experience, those teachers are committed to excellence of teaching and care of students.
Women play a most important part in our public education system. As early as the 1870s women made up more than 40 per cent of the profession. Today women form more than 60 per cent of the profession. Women’s skills, leadership and sheer hard work have been integral to the success of public education. Mention should also be made of the New South Wales Teachers Federation which, since 1918, has provided leadership, support for teachers and the defence of public education. The federation’s current campaign to defend public education from Federal Government cuts is typical of its inspired activism.
Finally, parents have provided the foundation to the system. Their confidence in public education for the past 150 years has led to its growth and development. Parents have entrusted generations of their sons and daughters to our public education system, confident of the rewards it will provide. This is a wonderful anniversary for New South Wales citizens who have been touched by our public education system. It is appropriate that this Parliament acknowledge this State’s 150 years of
public education and give thanks to those hundreds of thousands of people who have worked to establish, support and protect our public education system.
Mr AQUILINA (Riverstone - Minister for Education and Training, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Youth Affairs) [4.23 p.m.], in reply: The honourable member for Gladesville is secretary of the Government’s education committee. I thank him for his supportive comments in celebrating 150 years of public education in New South Wales. I was more than a little disappointed with the contribution of the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai. I thought that the Opposition would be bipartisan on a motion which highlights and pays tribute to 150 years of public education.
Instead, the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai spent more than half of his 10-minute speech obliquely attacking what the Government is trying to do and what governments before it have attempted to do throughout 150 years of public education in this State. The honourable member for Ku-ring-gai first said that the Government lacks initiatives and new ideas and is not spending any more money on public education. In response, I say that the Government has boosted public education by more than $1.1 billion since it was elected. The Government now spends more per student within the public education system than ever before.
The honourable member for Ku-ring-gai said that standardised testing was introduced by the previous Government. That is so but this Government has continued and strengthened that testing and uses the diagnostic content of the results to do something positive for students. That is why the Government introduced reading recovery, provided 400 additional teachers to diagnose students in year 1, provided one-on-one teaching to 22,000 students and introduced standardised testing in year 7. That testing was part of the program last year and is a compulsory program this year.
Today the Premier and I announced the training of 340 specialist teachers to give one-on-one tuition to those in year 7 who still require individual treatment and attention to improve their literacy. Initiatives of this Government are the $200 million literacy strategy in our schools and the $186 million computer-in-schools program which has put 90,000 computers into classrooms in this State. The Government has turned computers into tools of teaching and learning in New South Wales classrooms. Under the coalition that idea was tokenism but this Government has made it a reality. Computers are now commonplace in every classroom in every school throughout New South Wales.
The honourable member for Ku-ring-gai had the hide to comment on and criticise drug education. Rather than $1 per pupil, as he said, this Government has provided $5 million more than the previous Government. The previous Government did not allocate funds for drug education in New South Wales. Instead of commenting on and contributing to a celebration of public education over 150 years the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai spent 10 minutes negatively attacking public education, without providing any fact, argument or substance. He said that the Opposition would teach values, build values and develop character.
This Government is about developing character and teaching values every day of the week, and in all forms. The shadow minister had the hide to say that our current teachers are not developing character in their students or teaching appropriate values. Here we are supposed to be celebrating what we are doing in our New South Wales schools, as we have done for more than 150 years. Does the honourable member dare to say that for the past 150 years we have not been developing the character of our young Australians?
I would argue, as the Director-General of Education, Ken Boston, has said on many occasions, that the public education system in this State, more than any other institution in Australia, has moulded the Australian identity. Public education has a proud legacy in the sending of volunteers to the First World War, and it has a proud legacy in the provision of public education for parliamentarians, both Federal and State. It has a proud legacy in moulding the Australian identity to a calibre of which we should be and are proud. Despite what was said by the Opposition spokesman, I am proud of the past 150 years of public education and what it is still producing. [Time expired.]
PRIVATE MEMBERS' STATEMENTS
Motion by Mr Aquilina agreed to:
That standing and sessional orders be suspended to permit private members' statements to be taken forthwith and for 17 statements to be made.
CRANEBROOK HOUSING REDEVELOPMENT
Mr GIBSON (Londonderry) [4.30 p.m.]: I congratulate the Minister for Housing and the
Government on a great public housing initiative in the electorate of Londonderry. Years ago some parts of New South Wales and many areas of Sydney were developed for public housing. Many of those developments were based on what is called the Radburn style. That style of development was to be the panacea to deliver credible living for residents in Department of Housing areas. However, the Radburn-style developments included a web of laneways and walkways which, rather than being a haven for residents, turned out to be a haven for thieves and vandals of houses and property, because that web of thoroughfares enabled the thieves and vandals to escape apprehension by the authorities.
The Government and the Minister are to be congratulated because they are doing something about this problem. They have committed a great deal of money and resources in an attempt to rectify problems that have existed for many years. This rectification will provide decent standards of living for those who live in these types of dwellings, in parts of Campbelltown and particularly Bidwill. The rectification work in that suburb has to be seen to be believed. Parts of Bidwill have been turned into virtually a new suburb, with improvements that would make the area rank with most suburbs of Sydney as far as quality is concerned.
I am pleased that the Minister has announced that the next program of such developments is to take place within the Londonderry electorate at a place called Cranebrook. This area has been calling out for this type of improvement for a long time. Physical improvements, to be carried out on about 25 Cranebrook homes, will start in February 1999 and will be completed by the end of June 1999. The sum of $800,000 has been earmarked for spending at this stage, and more funding will become available as other parts of Cranebrook are earmarked under a similar program. The cost of each unit or home in the area will be in the vicinity of $25,000. This will include survey work and other works done on those houses.
This great initiative not only will give the people of the Cranebrook area a better quality of life now, but also will mean that the cost of maintenance over the next 10 years will be reduced to almost zero due to the works that will have been done. The general work will include design that retains privacy while allowing surveillance of parks; streetscape improvements, including fencing and carports; the updating of parks; and the closure of many of the walkways. The walkways have been the main problem. Not a week would go by without someone coming into my office to complain about the walkways and about the noise and vandalism that people who live near them have to suffer. In many cases people call the police, but by the time police arrive the vandals have disappeared through the web of lanes and walkways peculiar to the Radburn style of development.
In many areas the problems associated with the Radburn-style developments have made the lives of householders a hell. Through the initiatives of the Government and the Minister, improvements will be made to these developments to provide a level of safety which the people do not enjoy today. Security fencing will be constructed, and garage locations and access will be a feature of the new work, as will potential house reversals in new streets. It is obvious to anyone who looks at the Radburn-style developments that the houses are virtually built in reverse. The program of works will make what is now the back of the house the front of it, giving the residents not only a new address but a marked improvement in safety. Many areas have the potential for private housing and more areas of public accommodation, because some existing cul-de-sacs will be closed. Improvement in security is the basis of the work to be carried out in the selected areas. I again congratulate the Minister for Housing and the Government on their initiative in implementing this program to give the people who live in this public housing a better quality of life. [Time expired.]
LAKE CARGELLIGO POLICE RESOURCES
Mr ARMSTRONG (Lachlan - Leader of the National Party) [4.35 p.m.]: I wish to raise the matter of policing in Lake Cargelligo, in the west of New South Wales. A number of contentious issues have been affecting the community for a long while. Notable among them have been the lack of resources available to police in Lake Cargelligo to maintain a reasonable level of law and order in the town. The current staff at Lake Cargelligo are very much respected by the community and they have done a great job, but they are not getting the support that they deserve because of a major problem with housing in Lake Cargelligo.
At present, two of the four officers in Lake Cargelligo who live in rented premises will be out of their premises within the next two months, one within the next month. Constable Garry Twentyman will have to leave his premises within the month. He and his wife, who was expecting their first child, had to live in a motel for over a month around last Christmas while they were awaiting new accommodation. The simple, hard, cold fact is that Lake Cargelligo has experienced an unprecedented demand for housing over the past couple of years.
The lack of accommodation has been exacerbated by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs making available $1.7 million for the purchase of housing in Lake Cargelligo for members of the Aboriginal community. Virtually all rental premises that had been on the market were taken off the market as houses were acquired for the Aboriginal community.
There is not a proper return on investment capital to encourage investors. I have made repeated representations, as has the Police Association, to the Minister and the Government to recognise that there is a unique case to provide police accommodation in Lake Cargelligo. I inform the Minister and the House of an opportunity that is offering at the moment. The Colonial State Bank has withdrawn its salaried staff from the town and has given a franchise over the bank. The bank owns two premises in Lake Cargelligo, one fronting the lake and one within approximately two blocks of the police station. I understand that both houses will be coming on the market shortly. Both are of brick veneer and are suitable for the accommodation of police. Further, a double block of land opposite the police station in Lake Cargelligo is available for purchase. The owner of that land, who is a builder in the town, is quite content to construct two brick-veneer cottages on the site to police accommodation standards.
This matter came to a head last Saturday when a football competition was held in Lake Cargelligo. Twelve teams were invited, and five of those turned up on that very wet weekend. It must be appreciated that very few beds are available in Lake Cargelligo. There are two motels and three hotels, but their accommodation is limited. Matches were held in the afternoon. Later that night, when the Commercial Hotel closed its doors, drinkers spilled onto the street. Then, according to media reports, there was somewhat of a riot. I think it was more of a fight that broke out involving about 100 people.
Police were called in from West Wyalong, Condobolin and Parkes. Condobolin and West Wyalong are an hour’s drive away and Parkes is two hours drive away. The local constabulary had the responsibility of controlling 100 drunken brawlers in the main street of Lake Cargelligo. The previous night the local command anticipated the need for more police and two extra officers were sent to the town, but early in the afternoon there was a breach of an apprehended violence order and two police had to take the offender to Parkes. So the anticipated increase in strength was negated because the Government still insists on police escorting prisoners. Specialist constables, not police, should transport prisoners so that the security of country towns is not reduced.
Police accommodation at Lake Cargelligo should be provided urgently so that the local people can be assured of having full-time police there to do their job. Outlying areas such as Lake Cargelligo, an hour’s drive to the nearest other police station, have a specific need. It is absurd that following the breach of an AVO two police should have had to leave the town before the main street Saturday night brawl. I call on the Minister to appropriate funds now to provide two houses in Lake Cargelligo so that there can be a reasonable law and order presence in the town.
LIDCOMBE HOSPITAL SITE PRESERVATION
Mr NAGLE (Auburn) [4.40 p.m.]: In the year 2000 the Lidcombe hospital site will become the media centre for the Olympic Games. A permanent conservation order should be placed on the heritage buildings on the site. The information in this speech has resulted from the hard work put in my very good friend Mrs Lee Rossi, and Liz Roveen, the honorary secretary of the Auburn District Historical Society. The sources of the information include the Lidcombe State Hospital conservation plan of February 1995 by Noel Bell, Ridley Smith and Partners, "A Historical Tour of Lidcombe Hospital" by Gregory Marcar and John Ballard, the document entitled "Lidcombe Hospital - Its Early History and Development", the Lidcombe Heritage Group and the Auburn District Historical Society.
The hospital site is very old and it has a great deal of historical and social significance for the area. A boys reformatory was the first institution to be built at the site. It was known as the Rookwood Boys Reformatory and it was one of the first attempts to deal with the problem of youth delinquency and rehabilitation outside the general prison system. An asylum at Rookwood was built to house the homeless and destitute men associated with the influx of single men to Australia in the 1850s and 1860s and the severe economic depression of the 1890s. I still live in Regents Park and remember that in my early days the asylum was known as the old men’s home.
In 1879 the State Government purchased 1,340 acres of land in what was then known as the district of Rookwood. During 1884 a portion of the area was cleared under an unemployment relief scheme - it seems that things have not changed since those days - for a proposed reformatory for boys and a model farm. In 1885 plans were drawn up by James Barnet to build the Victorian mansion which became known as the superintendent’s cottage. It was constructed by 1887. A large orchard and vegetable garden became part of the old Lidcombe site. The
dining hall and kitchen were built between 1885 and 1887, and they are fine examples of late Victorian Georgian design. Wards 8, 10 and 12 were built as the first stage of the institution in 1887. They are in early Australian colonial style. Ward 12 is a red brick building built in 1928 as an annex dining room to wards 9 and 11. Wards 10 and 12 were built in 1885 to 1887 as ablution blocks for men. Wards 14, 19, 4, 9 and 11 are all fine buildings. Nurses home No. 1 was built from 1910 to 1912. The sandstone gatehouse was erected in 1913.
At present there is a double cyclone wire fence around the buildings to protect them. When the land is developed it will have a village atmosphere. They are significant cultural buildings. The days of 1885, 1889, 1890, 1912 and 1920 may not seem long ago but the site is still significant: the oldest building in the area is the old Government House at Parramatta. Australia does not have a long history compared with the United Kingdom and Ireland. I commend the Auburn Historical Society and all those who were involved in putting together the submission for a permanent conservation order to be placed on the heritage buildings at the Lidcombe Hospital site. I commend its preservation to the Labor Government. When all the buildings have been renovated with modern amenities it will be a great step forward in the preservation of the history of western Sydney.
Mr AQUILINA (Riverstone - Minister for Education and Training, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Youth Affairs) [4.45 p.m.]: I am pleased to support the honourable member for Auburn in his request for a permanent conservation order on heritage buildings at the Lidcombe Hospital site. As a former teacher of history I made a study of a number of local historical areas and buildings, and as education Minister I am the guardian of probably the largest number of historical buildings in the nation. It is a privilege and an honour which I take very seriously, as I am sure the Minister for Health does: a large number of historical buildings also come within the ambit of his portfolio.
Local history is very important in ensuring that we maintain the link with our past and the vestiges of our identity. I am proud of the number of local history associations and committees set up not only in the Sydney metropolitan area but throughout rural New South Wales and around Australia. For 21 years I have been patron of the Blacktown and District Historical Society. That society - as with the Auburn District Historical Society - has been responsible for the preservation of much of our local history which otherwise would have been lost under the bulldozers of developers with little or no conscience.
The honourable member for Auburn should be congratulated on doing his bit to support the Auburn District Historical Society. Australia is a very young country. We have lost too much of our history. We should put a stop to its loss and maintain as much of it as we can. History shows the way to the future. We should not only preserve history but also make sure that historical buildings continue to have relevance, purpose and use into the future. I am sure the Lidcombe Hospital site will do this. I commend the matter raised by the honourable member for Auburn. [Time expired.]
SUTHERLAND TRAFFIC CONGESTION
Mrs STONE (Sutherland) [4.47 p.m.]: As the member for Sutherland I put on the record a proposal by one of my constituents to relieve the traffic congestion. Mr Robert Zindler, a long-time resident of Woronora, has prepared an analysis of the road system which would impact on local traffic and local residents. Mr Zindler’s analysis raises many issues that other constituents have raised with me, in particular, Mr John Cox and the Sutherland Chamber of Commerce, who support the view that the new bridge and a network of roadworks are an essential combination. The analysis offers realistic solutions and I congratulate Mr Zindler on the work that obviously has preceded the document.
The region west of the Illawarra railway line in the Sutherland shire has grown by about 35,000 people since 1976. Problems have emerged which impact adversely on the current population of about 60,000 people. The population can be expected to increase by a further 20,000 during the next 10 to 15 years before levelling off. Increased traffic problems during peak hours are due to roads that are inadequate to accommodate this tremendous population increase. Severe traffic congestion occurs in Anzac Avenue and nearby streets in Engadine, the Grand Parade roundabout and nearby streets in west Sutherland, and the intersection of Old Illawarra Road, Menai Road and Alfords Point Road in Menai.
Those who live in the Menai cluster of suburbs are separated by the Woronora River from the Engadine business and commercial centre and are deprived of easy access to all public amenities. They also have no access to a railway station. Therefore, the business and commercial centres can only draw on local people. Presently the only access between the neighbouring areas of Menai and Engadine-Woronora is Loftus Avenue via the Woronora Bridge and Heathcote Road and Heathcote Bridge, which many drivers avoid because of the high accident rate.
There is an alternative. A direct access road between these two regions is Sabugal Pass, a route with a raised causeway that provides a direct connecting road between Engadine and the Menai area. Sabugal Pass between Engadine and Barden Ridge, which was once used by Cobb and Co., was recommissioned in September 1960 but was allowed to slip into disrepair because there were not enough people in the Menai region at that time. However, the situation has now changed. Sabugal Pass is only 5.5 kilometres between the Engadine and Menai business and commercial centres. This important link road is critical for the integration of the whole area within the shire. The newly created seat of Heathcote now includes both the Menai and Engadine-Woronora areas.
The advantage of the Sabugal Pass option would be quick and easy access between the Menai and Engadine areas, something which is currently unavailable. Opening up Sabugal Pass will give the people of Menai the opportunity to avail themselves of the public amenities and other services in Engadine. It will permit circular routes between Menai and Engadine, with easy access for ambulance, emergency services, police, buses, taxis and access to a railway station. It will also mean alleviation of many traffic problems. Additionally, the impact of the gridlock last December during the bushfires would have been avoided had Sabugal Pass been opened.
In the absence of Sabugal Pass, all Engadine residents along the full length of Anzac Avenue and most of the nearby streets must now endure the unnecessary extra northbound traffic that is generated by residents in Engadine and Woronora Heights, adding much to the current and increasing traffic problems in Engadine and the Grand Parade roundabout. All residents in Yarrawarra, Loftus, west Sutherland and the nearby suburbs of Woronora and Bangor must now endure unnecessary traffic chaos. Previous traffic surveys and reports have indicated that a new Woronora bridge will automatically increase traffic by 30 per cent, 90 per cent being truck traffic automatically drawn from other congested arterial roads. I call on the Minister for Transport, and Minister for Roads to consider the matters raised in this analysis in conjunction with the RTA Menai-Engadine traffic study that is currently being undertaken.
Mr AQUILINA (Riverstone - Minister for Education and Training, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Youth Affairs) [4.52 p.m.]: I will be happy to refer the comments of the honourable member for Sutherland to the Minister for Transport, and Minister for Roads. My preliminary information is that this is a shared-cost area between the Sutherland Shire Council and the Roads and Traffic Authority which at present are carrying out a road study to determine what is required for the district. I understand the issues raised by the honourable member for Sutherland, in particular the increased volume of traffic brought about by the construction of the Woronora Bridge.
However, one should recognise that the Government has made a commitment by allocating funds to construct the bridge and this will provide great relief to the people of that area. Admittedly when a new infrastructure, such as a major bridge, is constructed, increased traffic occurs, but I am sure that the Minister is well aware of that fact. Indeed, that is why the joint study is being conducted. When that study is completed a determination will be made as to future road needs in this locality which, I trust, will be to the satisfaction of the honourable member for Sutherland.
MUTAWINJI HAND-BACK CEREMONY
Mr THOMPSON (Rockdale) [4.54 p.m.]: On Saturday, 5 September I was privileged to witness a ceremony at Mutawinji National Park in which ownership of that fantastic area was formally restored to the traditional owners. Since my election to Parliament in 1991, I have had a wonderful opportunity to learn about, appreciate and deeply respect the Aboriginal people of Australia. I wish this opportunity had been open to all Australians because I am confident that much of the prejudice that unfortunately exists is based on simple ignorance. The more one is associated with indigenous people the easier it is to understand their close, spiritual relationship with the land and the crucial importance and significance of land rights.
On 27 November 1996 the National Parks and Wildlife Amendment (Aboriginal Ownership) Bill passed through this House. That legislation provides for the reservation or dedication of lands of cultural significance to Aborigines to be revoked and their ownership vested in Aboriginal land councils, to be simultaneously reserved or rededicated under the National Parks and Wildlife Act and then leased to the New South Wales Government. Mutawinji is the first of a number of areas of land which have been identified as lands to be returned to the indigenous traditional owners. Others will follow in the future.
Mutawinji is especially significant because for many thousands of years it was a meeting place and ceremonial place for Aboriginal people throughout western New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland. A number of sites in the area are held
to be sacred and of great significance. There are stark and impressive rock formations, Aboriginal art and fabulous rock etchings. It is both beautiful and awe inspiring. In officiating at the hand-back ceremony Premier Bob Carr and William Bates, chairman of the Mutawinji local Aboriginal land council, symbolically sealed the agreement by having their hands stencilled onto a rock which will be retained as a special feature in the park. The hand-stencilling tradition in this area goes back at least 15,000 to 20,000 years.
I am proud to be a member of a government that has assiduously worked to address the many recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Recommendation 315 of the April 1991 report of the royal commission aims to protect and reserve the rights and interests of Aboriginal people with cultural, historical and traditional association with national parks through the negotiation of lease-back arrangements that enable title to land on which national parks are situated to be transferred to Aboriginal owners, subject to their lease-back to the relevant State authority on payment of rent to the Aboriginal owners. The recommendation also encourages joint management of the parks between the representatives of the Aboriginal people concerned and the relevant State agency.
Under the 27 November 1996 legislation the care, control and management of the lands will be carried out under a board of management that has a majority of members who are Aborigines with a cultural association with the lands and representatives of the relevant land council, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, local government, local conservation groups and neighbouring land owners. The Mutawinji case is the pioneer in this process. In a practical sense it will mean jobs for Aboriginal people as park rangers and tour guides. Indigenous people who have a deep and abiding identity with the area will interpret for visitors and tourists the meaning of the different cultural aspects of Aboriginal life and beliefs that are encountered in Mutawinji. It will stimulate and assist the work and efforts that are being made to revive the language and culture of the area.
The traditional owners will also have a majority say in its management and that is how it should be. It is indeed very satisfying to be part of a government that had the vision and foresight to enact the Aboriginal ownership legislation that made the handover possible. I want to acknowledge also the work of a journalist, Eileen Mulligan, who attended the ceremony and wrote a feature article for the Illawarra Mercury on 12 September, which in part, stated:
NSW Land Council chairman Ossie Cruse, who has battled for civil rights since 1963, travelled from Eden for the handback ceremony.
"This is an historic and important step," he said.
"I see this as an opportunity of working together and a true ingredient for reconciliation.
"I have a lot of faith in humanity, in our people and the future of our youth, wanting something better for them, wanting a better legacy for youth," he said.
The journalist wrote:
Mutawintji is God’s own country. It is an oasis in the Bynguano ranges, a place of permanent water, redgum, mulga and cypress trees, when the fruiting quandong grows, where tangy bush lettuce can be found, home to the wedge-tailed eagle and only surviving colony of yellow-footed rock wallaby in the state.
Its rock pools are said to be the footprints of the Aboriginal god Gulawarra, the last place he stood on earth before he went into the sky after he made the land beautiful again after a long period of suffering.
Hopefully, another period of suffering has ended for the Mutawintji mob.
Not only have the Aboriginal people regained their land, but their dignity.
PARRAMATTA LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL PLAN
Mr TINK (Eastwood) [4.59 p.m.]: I draw to the attention of the House the gazettal of the Parramatta local environmental plan 1996, which relates to heritage and conservation. Amendment No. 1 relates to potential heritage items and conservation areas. During question time today I raised this matter privately with the Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning and I gave him a letter. The Minister indicated that he would address the matter. The history of the draft plan is as follows. On 24 February 1997 Parramatta City Council issued a decision to proceed with the preparation of a new planning instrument to amend the existing Parramatta local environmental plan - LEP - to provide interim protection to items and areas of potential heritage.
The draft LEP was placed on exhibition between 3 December 1997 and 11 February 1998. Advertisements were placed in three local newspapers - the Parramatta Advertiser, the Northern District Times and the Review Pictorial - on 3 December 1997, 14 January 1998 and 28 January 1998 respectively. Public exhibition of the draft plan closed on 11 February. Parramatta City Council formally adopted the draft plan, as amended, on 16 March. On 30 March the draft plan,
together with a section 68 report, was submitted to the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning. On 15 June the department requested amendments - which I understand to be chiefly typographical corrections - to the draft plan. On 3 September the draft plan, with requested amendments, was delivered to the Parramatta office of the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning.
I understand that about three weeks ago a development application was lodged for the demolition of two houses in the Eastwood area. One of the potential heritage conservation areas listed in schedule 5 of the draft plan submitted to the department for the Minister’s approval was the Eastwood estate. The estate, which is in the suburb of Eastwood-Epping, comprises early twentieth century suburban housing up to the 1940s associated with the railway. The two houses proposed for demolition, Nos 15 and 16 Railway Avenue, are key heritage properties within the Eastwood estate now recognised by the Parramatta council in its draft plan as being heritage items, which is the highest categorisation of an item within the draft plan.
Concern has been expressed about the development application that has been lodged to demolish those houses. The concern goes right to the heart of the integrity of the heritage plan, which has been strongly supported by Parramatta council. I urge the Minister, under section 70 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, to sign off on the draft plan to ensure that it becomes a formal plan and that the Eastwood estate part of it is accordingly formally recognised. As appears from the Parramatta council records, a development application was lodged to demolish the existing dwellings and to erect seven three-bedroom, single-level dwellings with double garages underneath and two three-bedroom, single-level dwellings with attached double garages for the purpose of a villa development. The Parramatta council notification states:
The site is located within the Potential Heritage Conservation area under the Draft Parramatta Local Environmental Plan 1996 . . .
It is critically important and urgent that the Minister sign off on the draft plan, which is strongly supported by council. I believe the object of the development application is to get in at the last minute prior to the plan being signed off, to thwart any opposition that is made after the heritage plan has been publicly exhibited. The matter is of great concern to a number of local residents. Within a short space of time a petition requesting the Minister to sign off on the draft plan has been circulated and already has more than 200 signatures on it. If the development application is proceeded with the heritage integrity of that area will be destroyed forever. It will change the entire building alignment and frontage to heritage properties which have been there since the turn of the century. Basically, the development application is the thin edge of the wedge and should not be allowed to proceed. It has come after the relevant local government area has indicated its intention to preserve the heritage of the area and will totally destroy it. I request the Minister to sign off on the draft plan immediately.
TORONTO HIGH SCHOOL UPGRADE
Mr HUNTER (Lake Macquarie) [5.04 p.m.]: Today I raise the issue of the Toronto High School upgrade. Honourable members may remember that in April I raised in the House education matters in the electorate of Lake Macquarie, particularly capital works improvements that have taken place since the election of the Carr Labor Government. Part of my contribution dealt with Toronto High School and the problems the school had faced since a disastrous fire in 1994 destroyed sections of it. I stated that the fire rebuilding program had taken place and that the Government had further invested approximately $4 million to upgrade the school to cater for 1,000 students. I stated that the construction work was being undertaken by Richard Crooks Construction and that during the construction period I had visited the school on a number of occasions to inspect the work and to assist the school with any concerns it had with regard to those works and the contract or the Department of Public Works and Services and the Department of Education and Training.
During my contribution I said that as a former student of the school I was impressed with the work being undertaken and I was sure that the current students would be very pleased with the final outcome of the upgrading works. I pointed out that by the time construction work was completed some $6 million would have been spent on the school since the fire and the school would cater for 1,000 students, which would place it in a good position for the future. I took the opportunity to point out that the Labor Party had honoured the promise it made prior to the last election that it would upgrade the school to cater for 1,000 students. I concluded my speech by extending an invitation to the Minister for Education and Training to come to the Lake Macquarie electorate to officially open the extensions.
Today I am pleased to report to the House that the upgrading of Toronto High School has been completed and that on Wednesday, 29 July, the Minister attended the school to officially open the
extensions. I was pleased that he was able to leave a Cabinet meeting early to travel to Lake Macquarie for the official opening - and I know that he had quite a bumpy flight. It was a great day. The students were pleased to receive an early mark from school and to celebrate with their families the opening of the extensions to the school.
I wish to acknowledge the great work undertaken by a number of people during the upgrading works over the past few years. I particularly thank Margaret Scott, the past president of the Toronto High School parents and citizens association, with whom I worked closely on the building project. Margaret has done a great job and should be congratulated for the dedication that she has shown to the school. I thank also Margaret Thomas, the secretary of the high school’s staff building committee; her work at the school spans more than 20 years. Margaret was the school librarian when I attended the school in the 1970s; she was the librarian when I left in 1977. She is a dedicated teacher and she is dedicated to Toronto High School. I thank also Henry Wellsmore, the current parents and citizens association president; the principal, Mr Jim Barnes; the deputy principal, Gary Coughlan; and Mrs Kay Peno, the leading teacher.
The school captains, Donna Easey and Brent Wellham, did a wonderful job as master of ceremonies at the official opening. The school musical ensemble performed fine musical items. Overall it was a good day. I was glad that the former Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Virginia Chadwick - who was the Minister at the time of the fire - and the present Minister for Education and Training could join us. Bob Brown, the Federal member for Charlton, pointed out that taxpayers’ money had paid for the upgrading of the school. But it was the Minister for Education and Training, the Hon. John Aquilina, who decided to allocate taxpayers’ dollars to ensure that Toronto High School was upgraded to cater for 1,000 students. I thank the Minister for that decision. I know there are a number of education priorities around the State, so I was glad that the commitment made prior to the election was honoured. All the people of the Toronto area congratulate the Minister on the upgrade and thank him for it.
Mr AQUILINA (Riverstone - Minister for Education and Training, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Youth Affairs) [5.09 p.m.]: I join with the honourable member for Lake Macquarie in extending my congratulations to the staff, students, parents and former parents of Toronto High School on the way in which they fought through adversity after the horrendous fire in 1994 to see through to fruition the construction of their new school. I taught in a demountable high school for some 12 months, so I am aware of the difficulty of teaching in a school that consists mainly of demountables. I seem to recall making a remark along those lines at the official opening of the new school on 29 July, when complimenting the staff, parents and school community for putting up with adversity and, at the same time, achieving great acclaim and accomplishment.
In particular, I was impressed by the musical talent at the school as I was at a more recent official opening. I praised the school band, and noted that Toronto High School had won the Rock Eisteddfod for the past two years with outstanding productions. The musical talent in schools in the Hunter never ceases to amaze me. There must be something in the soil or the atmosphere up there, or perhaps in the genes, because the musical talent is certainly outstanding. Once again, I compliment the principal, Jim Barnes, for outstanding leadership of the school. I also congratulate Henry Wellsmore from the parents and citizens association; Margaret Scott, the past President of the association; Margaret Thomas from the building committee; Donna Easey and Brent Wellham on their leadership of the student body; and the whole school on the way it is providing a unique and outstanding educational environment at the school for students and teachers in partnership with parents.
Mr PEACOCKE (Dubbo) [5.11 p.m.]: Late last year and early this year the State Valuation Office, under contract from the Valuer-General’s Department, completed a re-assessment of land values for all properties in the Warren and Narromine shires, and perhaps elsewhere. The new land values were determined after a market analysis, and reflect the market value of the land at the base date of 1 July 1997. Previous valuations were established at a base date of 1 July 1993. It is apparent that the market prices reflect the value of the water licences attached to the land, and are not truly representative of the land value. Given the Council of Australian Governments water reform principles, which will move to separate land and water titles and create tradeable water rights, the valuations seem to be open to challenge. In addition, there is no guarantee in respect of water licences that allocations will be available in any given year.
New land values have been assessed under the provisions of section 6A of the Valuation of Land Act, which requires the determination of a land value on a freehold basis, excluding improvements.
The new valuations will be available to both the shires I mentioned for the purposes of the 1998-99 rating year. They will have quite extraordinary results. For example, the rates of a property owned by Mr McAlary will increase from $21,567.91 on the present rating structure to $34,482.37 - a significant increase.
The property "Gillawarrina", owned by the Kater family, will have a rate increase of more than $7,000. Similarly, there have been other massive valuation increases in percentage terms. Irrigation property in the eastern parts of those shires has had a valuation increase of 252.25 per cent, and will have a rate increase of $3,043 or 142 per cent. Others will vary accordingly. As a consequence of increased valuations and their obvious unfairness, meetings were held in Warren in January this year at which the following motion was passed:
That the meeting support Macquarie River Food and Fibre in its endeavour to have the Land and Valuation Act of 1972 amended.
The purport of that resolution was to change the valuation system to exclude water rights, which, next year, will be saleable and trafficable, independent of the land. They may also be subject to capping, although after this current season it is unlikely. However, in future years they will fluctuate in value because water rights allocations may be reduced, as they were last year, to 10 per cent of their nominal value. This is a matter of considerable concern to people within my electorate and, indeed, in the neighbouring electorate of our friend and colleague the honourable member for Broken Hill. It will cause massive increases in the rates payable by various land-holders if they retain irrigation licences - and for no real advantage. The values in most other areas of the shires in question have remained stagnant. They will be reduced. This matter needs urgent attention, and I urge the Government to give it that attention.
Mr WATKINS (Gladesville) [5.16 p.m.]: It is appropriate that today, the 150th anniversary of public education in New South Wales, I draw attention to the continued attack by the Federal Government on higher education in Australia. I am aware of the state of tertiary institutions because of my membership of the Macquarie University council and by contact with the many tertiary students who live in my electorate who are concerned at the changes in the tertiary sector. Several have spoken to me about their concerns for the future and worry over further studies. The election of the Howard Government was a devastating day for universities, the tertiary education sector, and thousands of students and families who either are at university or hope to attend in the future.
Unannounced and unwarranted, the Howard Government launched a devastating budgetary attack on all centres of higher education. The scope and intensity of the attack was overwhelming. Massive cuts to operational funding, leading to the loss of student places, lost research opportunities, and a drastic program of staff redundancies in most universities have occurred. This was matched by the introduction of up-front fees and the dramatic increase in fees for many courses, effectively cutting off many students from their chosen vocation or career. Then came the ideologically driven and shameful review of higher education, which proposes changes to further commercialise our universities and make their product a tradeable economic resource.
Given the refusal by the failed Minister Vanstone and the current ideologue Minister Kemp to fund overdue salary increases for academic staff and a constant undermining of the value and status of higher education and those who work in that sector, the drop in morale and spirit in our higher education institutions is understandable. This vicious and deliberate attack has impacted adversely on tertiary education. Student numbers have dropped, the staff to student ratio has skyrocketed, many courses have been cut, and research has been undermined, with some research areas being closed. Staff have been forced out of schools and departments, resulting in a new brain drain to overseas.
The result of this attack on education is that years of experience, resources and commitment in particular subject areas have been lost to universities, communities and the nation. However, the most disturbing, virulent and stupid result has been the impact on students. Many students already enrolled are lowering their goals and leaving training earlier. Many cannot afford to remain at university. There is also a devastating effect on potential students. Surveys reveal that far fewer school leavers now consider further education. The deliberate attack has achieved the expected obvious and devastating result for this nation: young people being turned off university.
Clearly our future is in education. Our hope for economic recovery and protection lies with a well-educated community. All surveys reveal that the best educated are the best protected from long-term unemployment. The Howard Government has dashed this protection and hope for the future. I
have participated in many debates in Macquarie University council as it struggled to maintain student numbers and course choices and cope with staff loss. I do not know why the attack on education has been so extreme and ideological, but it must stop. Unfortunately, the Howard Government will not stop. The only hope for the future of our education institutions is the release today of Federal Labor’s "Better Plan for Education". That plan has a range of initiatives, but central to it is a commitment of $1.5 billion over Labor’s first term in office to repair the damage done by the Howard Government.
A Beazley Labor government will provide $110 million over three years in increased university operating grants, which could fund up to 1,500 fully funded student places; abolish up-front fees for Australian undergraduates; progressively increase the higher education contribution scheme repayment threshold; progressively lower the independence age of student youth allowance from 25 years to 23 years; commit $50 million over three years to establish an innovation fund to assist Australia’s post-education sector to respond to the challenges of internationalisation of education services; and provide additional funding to the Australian Research Council.
Labor’s plan provides also for major TAFE initiatives by providing $120 million over three years to create additional full-time TAFE places, which could create up to 10,000 full-time places by 2002. In addition, community education and schools will be the recipients of major initiatives. The only hope for our tertiary education institutions is the election of the Beazley Labor Government in a few weeks time, and I wait for that day for some relief.
Mr AQUILINA (Riverstone - Minister for Education and Training, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Youth Affairs) [5.21 p.m.]: The honourable member for Gladesville is well versed in educational matters, particularly those associated with higher education, because of his strong involvement with the council of Macquarie University and his active interest in its affairs. Certainly he has raised relevant issues. As Minister for Education and Training in this State, I and other State education Ministers have had to deal with the savage attacks on education by the Howard Government through the introduction of outrageous policies such as the enrolment benchmark adjustment, the Commonwealth youth allowance, and the dramatic cuts to higher education across the nation that incurred the wrath of students and academics and will continue to cause enormous hardship to thousands of current and potential students.
Like the honourable member for Gladesville I share with concern the anxiety of so many people - particularly those from lower socioeconomic areas for whom the reality of attending university has been hindered, if not obliterated - about the Howard Government’s savage cuts to university spending. I am pleased to note in today’s education plan introduced by the Federal shadow minister for education, Mark Latham, and the Federal Leader of the Opposition, Kim Beazley, called "A Better Plan for Education" that, among other things, Labor will provide an additional $110 million over the next three years to fund initiatives such as an increase in the number of student places in Australian universities. The plan will also abolish up-front fees for Australian undergraduates and lift the income-free threshold for higher education contribution scheme repayments. Federal Labor university grants will be allocated to assist universities in areas with low tertiary participation rates, which hit at the heart of the needs of western Sydney, the Hunter and the Illawarra.
MAITLAND RUGBY GRAND FINAL
Mr BLACKMORE (Maitland) [5.23 p.m.]: It is with enormous pleasure that I bring to the attention of the House news of history made in the Hunter region on Saturday. For the first time in 122 years since the rugby code was introduced to Maitland, the Maitland Rugby Union Club won the grand final in all three grades. Standing in the crowd cheering the mighty Blacks on to victory was something to savour. Reading newspaper clippings brings back so many good memories of three brilliant games. The Maitland first grade team beat Waratah 8-7 in what was obviously an extremely close game. Two minutes before full time Maitland’s hero, winger Dan Gollan, crossed to score.
It was a wonderful feeling to watch both first grade teams clawing for the lead in muddy ground conditions that were unsuitable for a grand final. Unfortunately, many grand finals played in these conditions do not allow teams to display the skills that spectators hope for at the end of a season. However, the crowd was treated to a magnificent and close game, as reflected in the final score. Dan Gollan was named man of the match. His father, Jock, a local publican who is well known in Maitland, and his uncles Steve, Rory and Ian, who are all legends of Maitland rugby, were part of the crowd.
Dan Gollan’s younger brother, Matt, was named man of the match in the second grade after his team beat the Waratahs 15-6. One can imagine the enjoyment and pride of the Gollan family,
particularly of Jock when his sons were named man of the match in the first and second grades respectively. Of course, the grand final also brought retirements from the game. I refer particularly to Rod Clarke, or Moose as he is affectionately known to the people of Maitland, who was a former State player and played his last game for the Blacks on Saturday. Rod suffered a dislocated shoulder only two weeks prior to the game and it was doubtful whether he would make the game. He went onto the field in the sixtieth minute and the chanting of the crowd, "Moose, Moose, Moose", lifted the team. I too felt like giving him a hand because of the enormous pride within the crowd.
The third grade team won its first premiership, beating Hamilton 20-10. I congratulate the third grade man of the match, hooker Matthew Parkinson, and its captain-coach, Todd Bowd. I congratulate also second grade coach, Steve Scobie, and first grade coach, Tim O’Toole, who was assisted by Nick Wickham. In the first grade game Jeff Cooke was taken off injured. Rugby is of course a contact sport and throughout the season players suffer injuries, but it is a shame, as often happens, that players sometimes have to carry injuries onto the field for a grand final.
I reiterate the feeling of jubilation experienced by the Maitland community. Yesterday hotels in Maitland did excellent trade, and I suspect that will continue for the rest of the week as the annual pub crawl takes place. I congratulate the sponsors and committee of Maitland Rugby Union Club on rebuilding their club. I congratulate them also on the excellent work carried out on the grounds at Marcellin Park. The community deserved such a win. I congratulate Maitland Rugby Union Club. Go hard the Blacks!
Mr MARTIN (Port Stephens - Minister for Mineral Resources, and Minister for Fisheries) [5.28 p.m.]: Everybody in this Parliament who has had anything to do with the Hunter region will commend the rugby players in that region. I wish those players well. Members of the Gollan family are well known and well respected. Generally I commend them for their voting habits. What a fitting end to the career of Moose Clarke. I pay tribute to him. The drought in Maitland has broken. There have been good competition results in all-round sport right across the Hunter region. This was a fitting win for Maitland, and I am sure that our other favourite teams will have a better chance next year.
WOLLONGONG FLOOD DAMAGE
Mr MARKHAM (Keira) [5.30 p.m.]: Tonight I refer to the incredible storm damage that occurred in Wollongong on the night of 17 August and I bring to the attention of honourable members a few issues that concern me greatly. Last week three gentlemen - Mr John Hugo, Mr Ken Gausden and Mr Shane Hugo - came to see me about the Northern Bowl, a bowling alley in Bellambi, one of the suburbs that was inundated by rain that night. The bowling alley was covered with raw coal that washed down from South Bulli Colliery. Insurance assessor Mr Tony Morgan of GAB Robins Australia Pty Ltd, Sydney, is trying to get Water Studies, Queensland, to undertake a hydrology test and make an assessment of that area. The insurance broker representing Allied Bellambi Colliery will not allow the hydrologist onto that site to assess whether the creek burst its banks or whether surface water washed thousands of tonnes of coal into Bellambi, into Northern Bowl and into many other houses and properties as far down as Bellambi Beach.
I am concerned also about a problem that occurred at Harkness Avenue and Cassian Street, Keiraville. Coal from the old Mount Keira mine washed down and inundated houses. At the back of some houses there was coal about three or four feet deep. Who will pay for this damage? Insurance companies are refusing to pay damages to many people in the Illawarra. I will quote from headlines in the Illawarra Mercury to illustrate the extent of the damage that occurred in Keira - the electorate most affected by the storm. On Tuesday, 18 August, the following headline appeared, "Raging waters wash away homes, cars, trap dozens. One dead". John Thompson died on Monday night, 17 August, when his car was swamped by a river of water in Brompton Road, Corrimal.
One headline on Wednesday, 19 August was, "Thank God we’re alive". On Friday, 21 August, a headline stated, "Abandoned. Flood victims left in ruins. Thumbs down from insurance companies". A headline on Saturday, 22 August, stated, "Governor-General tells insurers, ‘You have a moral duty to pay up’". A headline for Monday, 24 August, was, "PM to visit flood victims". The headline for Thursday, 27 August, stated, "Government’s flood relief insult." Peter Cullen, Editor-in-Chief of the Illawarra Mercury, in an article on Saturday, 29 August, headed "Flood victims’ treatment a national scandal - You have to be joking Johnny", stated:
I was silly enough to think that when Prime Minister John Howard came to town to see our devastated people, he would show compassion and write out a multi-million dollar cheque.
His deputy, Tim Fischer, had been there a few days earlier, shaking hands with the victims and making mealy-mouthed promises.
I should have realised it was nothing more than a political circus, a sick charade.
And what have they done? They have given a miserable $100,000 to the Lord Mayor’s Relief Fund.
Well, Mr Howard you can shove it. You have not only insulted our people, but you have indulged in a callous exercise - one, I think, that is unforgivable.
How can a Prime Minister of a country see so much distress and care so little?
An article on Tuesday, 1 September, headed "High and dry - Nation ignores city’s flood victims", stated:
Australia has abandoned Wollongong flood victims in their time of need, leaders of the region’s main charities asserted yesterday.
How many people are suffering? What damage was caused by this torrential rain? Drainpipes burst, water ran where it has never run before, and streets and roads became rivers. On Tuesday morning the Premier and I visited a house in Anama Street that had been five feet under water. It took 15 minutes or less for the water to reach that level. Families were trapped in their houses. The Prime Minister does not believe this to be a national disaster because only one person died in Keira. Shame on the Prime Minister! The Federal Government should use some of its budget surplus - money it has taken from ordinary people - to assist people in the Illawarra.
MANNING BASE HOSPITAL
Mr J. H. TURNER (Myall Lakes) [5.35 p.m.]: Tonight I draw the attention of honourable members to the proposed closure of post-natal units at Manning Base Hospital - units that were built about nine years ago. I apologise to the Minister for Health for not informing him of my intention to raise this matter, but we have been receiving very short notice of the taking of private members’ statements. The units, which are referred to locally as motel units, are used by mothers and their babies from the obstetrics ward. The units have an en suite, a common room and a kitchen, and they have been well used by mothers and babies. During the redevelopment of Manning Base Hospital it became apparent that the units would no longer be used for post-natal care; that they would be used instead for administrative purposes. The units lend themselves to conversion to nice offices as they all have en suites.
This decision is clearly wrong. When I questioned management about it I was told that it was too hard to move the administration people twice; that the mothers and babies would have to be inconvenienced by having to stay in the obstetrics ward and would no longer have the use of these units. As a result a number of mothers and prospective mothers headed by Elenka Otmar formed the Save our Post-Natal Unit Action Group. Others in the group include Kay and Christine Price and Sophie Shields. The Country Women’s Association is also concerned about the closure of the units. The Save our Post-Natal Unit Action Group, whose members are not versed in politics and have not played any leadership role, managed to get the community behind them in their important protest to maintain this important asset.
Over 1,000 letters and a petition were sent to the Minister, and finally, the hospital administration’s stonewalling fell apart. I was able to arrange a meeting with the hospital administration and the action group at the hospital to discuss some alternatives; but no alternatives were achieved. The meeting established only that the hospital was hell-bent on ensuring the comfort of its administrative staff. The obstetrics ward, which is located in a separate part of the hospital, will have to be extended into the surgical ward. That will provide only a few showers and it will result in communication difficulties and all sorts of other problems.
The hospital claimed this regime would operate only from now until December next year, when different arrangements would be made after the new clinical services block opened. That was not good enough. Why should the ladies be inconvenienced and the administrators be convenienced? I am pleased to say that the pressure brought to bear at a grass roots level has resulted in the deferment of the closure of the post-natal unit. I use the word "deferment" because the board has said it will not guarantee anything more than a deferment. However, that is one step forward. Another problem of great concern is the layout of the obstetrics ward in the new clinical services block that is to be incorporated into the hospital redevelopment. A letter dated 10 September to Mr Paul Sefky, acting chairman of the area health service board, from the Save Our Post Natal Unit Action Group stated:
After viewing and discussing development plans, we would like to express our concerns re the MBH consolidating the Special Purpose Post Natal Unit within obstetrics in the new Clinical Services Block.
Currently the combined number of beds available for Obstetric/Post Natal use is 26 beds - 9 in the Special Purpose Post Natal Unit, 16 ward beds and 1 bed in special care room on 1st floor Obstetrics.
In the Obstetrics ward in the new Clinical Services Block, there are only 13 beds solely allocated to obstetric/post natal use - 1 x four bed room with shared en suite, 4 x two bed rooms with shared en suites, and 1 x single bed room with en suite.
There are four single rooms, but they are swing beds, so it would appear there has been a net loss of a considerable number of beds in the new redevelopment. That has to be addressed by the Government. [Time expired.]
AUSTRALIAN SPRINGTIME FLORA FESTIVAL
Mr McBRIDE (The Entrance) [5.40 p.m.]: The central coast’s major tourism event, the Australian springtime flora festival, was held last Thursday and Friday and over the weekend at the Mount Penang Juvenile Justice Centre. The festival was again an outstanding success. It was introduced in 1987 after Gosford City Council recognised that its long-running annual festival of the waters was no longer attracting the interest of the local community. Local businessman Ed Manners was commissioned by the council to put forward a proposal which would rekindle interest and promote some of the wonderful features of the central coast. Mount Penang Juvenile Justice Centre was chosen as the most appropriate location, and strong support was subsequently provided by the staff and the boys from the centre. The festival has been recognised as a positive rehabilitation opportunity for selected detainees at the centre.
Wyong Shire Council joined forces with Gosford City Council to make the event a truly regional occasion and, in 1987, both the flora festival and the festival of the waters were run concurrently. Following the response to the flora festival that year, which was attended by 16,000 people, it became the one event from 1988 onwards, with the popular arts and crafts component of the previous festival of the waters being retained as part of the new event. Since its inception, a non-profit incorporated association, comprising local business people and representatives of Mount Penang, and Gosford and Wyong councils, has been in place to control the festival operation. The festival is expected to be financially independent, but presents an annual financial report to both councils for accountability.
Managed through Central Coast Tourism Incorporated since 1995, the festival has attracted major sponsorship from Yellow Pages. The festival is held over four days in mid-September at Mount Penang, which is adjacent to the freeway and has magnificent views over Brisbane Water. Last year’s festival attracted 80,000 visitors, and the research of Central Coast Tourism, which was undertaken by the event’s development department, shows a steady increase in visitors from outside the region - some 30 per cent in 1997. That is, 23,000 new tourists visited the central coast last year, spending an estimated $2 million as part of the total of $6.5 million that was spent during the four days.
The festival has developed into the largest flora festival in New South Wales and has won the New South Wales Award for Excellence in Tourism in both the major and the significant regional festivals categories. Each year three hectares of grassland are transformed into an exciting display of landscaped garden settings, interspersed with exhibits and demonstrations of garden crafts, providing a total picture of outdoor and garden living, with exhibitors from all parts of Australia. A garden theme has been adopted by Gosford City Council for the nearby Gosford city centre, which is now promoted as the garden city by the waters.
The council is currently undertaking a multimillion dollar revitalisation of the city centre, incorporating landscaping, urban design and traffic control. The garden theme is a reflection of the central coast’s strong association with the horticulture industry. The central coast is home to numerous garden centres and nurseries which serve both the wholesale and retail sectors. The central coast is also the home of Burbank Biotechnology Pty Limited and ForBio, which are international organisations involved in plant genetics. The region is quickly earning the reputation for being a centre of excellence for the horticulture industry. These factors strengthen the festival’s reputation.
With the support of a regional flagship event grant from Tourism New South Wales, in 1997 the festival expanded as a result of increased marketing activities which showed tangible results. Travel and accommodation packages are now included in the overall strategy, which targets intrastate and interstate markets. These packages provide the visitor with the opportunity to experience the numerous attractions found within the region, including Gosford Art Centre, Sculpture Park, the Forest of Tranquillity and the Fragrant Garden. Packages were supported by a brochure and were distributed through garden centres, travel agents, and McDonald’s outlets, and by direct mail in New South Wales.
The festival is a truly central coast community event. As the local attendance attests, it is an opportunity for my local community to celebrate as a community. Well over 60 community organisations are involved in the event and last year raised or received donations from the festival totalling close to $100,000. The festival has now completed 12 years at the Mount Penang site. In 1987 the attendance was 16,000. Today it is more than
80,000. That is more than a fivefold increase. In 1987 there were 60 exhibitors. Today there are 250 - more than a fourfold increase.
Despite the outstanding success of the festival during its 12-year history with temporary facilities, its potential for future growth and improvement is limited. A recreation park with permanent exhibition halls and facilities is needed at Mount Penang. That would mean large numbers of people could visit in bad weather and a year-round garden display could have changing exhibitions. I hope that goal can be achieved. I note the contributions of Tony Collits, the executive director of the springtime flora festival; Ed Manners; Councillor Cliff Russell representing Wyong Council; all the local nursery and craft associations; and the general community of the central coast.
HILLCREST ESTATE TRAFFIC
Ms FICARRA (Georges River) [5.45 p.m.]: I voice the concerns of the residents of Hillcrest Estate, which covers Maher Street, Mabel Street, Alma Street and Hillcrest Avenue in South Hurstville. The residents, hundreds of them, are very concerned about safety issues in their area and about their lifestyle and amenity. Their properties have been devalued by traffic and parking problems. Those problems have been brought to the attention of both Kogarah Municipal Council and the Minister for Transport, and Minister for Roads. I commend Mrs Christine Capper of 18 Maher Street, Hurstville, for her unending efforts to bring the residents together and give them a democratic voice. Ultimately the residents approached my office because of their frustration with the lack of progress of Kogarah council on the issue.
The area of the Hillcrest Estate, South Hurstville, has been turned into a racetrack and a commuter car park. With the growth over the past few years of Hurstville as a regional centre many commuters leave their cars parked in the Hillcrest Estate when they catch trains. Many of them work at the Australian Taxation Office and at the Emergency Services Centre as well as in the city. The use of the estate as a commuter car park has made life terrible for the residents and has caused many safety problems for children, motorists and pedestrians. On 28 May a successful public meeting was held at the South Hurstville Public School. I thank the Mayor of Kogarah, James Jordan, and the assistant traffic engineer, Frank Tambosis, for attending that meeting and helping me propose a number of ways of alleviating the problems.
Some of those measures have been adopted by Kogarah council, but the major proposals, which concern traffic movements and a four-hour residential parking scheme, need to be approved by the regional committee of the Roads and Traffic Authority. Therein lies the reason for my appeal to the Minister for Transport, and Minister for Roads. I wrote to the Minister on 18 June, outlining the problems faced by the Hillcrest Estate residents. He was good enough to reply on 1 September, giving me a great deal of hope that, because of the large file of complaints, the RTA is taking these issues seriously.
In conjunction with the South Hurstville Public School the Roads and Traffic Authority is conducting an audit of the safety aspects of roads in the vicinity of the school and the school crossing. That has been welcomed by the school community, particularly Anne McIntyre, the principal. With the student council and parents and citizens association, she does a fantastic job. I ask the Minister for Transport to give compassionate consideration to the four-hour residential parking scheme, because residents have been suffering from the regional emphasis on Hurstville. Both Kogarah Municipal Council and Hurstville City Council should examine the incorporation of both short-stay and long-stay community car-parking facilities in the many commercial developments being undertaken in Hurstville. Such facilities could be aesthetically pleasing if they were built underground. I implore the Minister to respond favourably to the residents’ concerns.
LAKEMBA SERVICES MEMORIAL CLUB
Mr STEWART (Lakemba) [5.50 p.m.]: Last Friday I had the pleasure of attending the fiftieth anniversary dinner of the Lakemba Services Memorial Club. For the past 50 years the club has had an outstanding reputation for its commitment to the needs of my area and for delivering on that commitment. In particular, the club has worked hard to support and represent thousands of returned servicemen and servicewomen who have lived, and still live, in the Canterbury area. It has provided them with recreational facilities, meeting venues and assistance for their special needs. The Lakemba Services Memorial Club has built up a solid reputation by catering for the needs of the diverse community of my electorate. The club has changed with the times to meet modern market needs and is today patronised by hundreds of locals from all walks of life.
The club began under complex circumstances. The premises were originally the site of the Lakemba Memorial Hall, which, being a public acquisition, required a transfer by an Act of Parliament. After much debate in this Parliament,
the hall and property were transferred to the club on 10 June 1948. Since that time the club has never looked back. The Lakemba Services Memorial Club epitomises the club movement in New South Wales. The club is a product of the local community and displays a caring attitude towards local people. The club is always willing to help those in need; it supports local and other charities and is involved in many local activities. The backbone of any successful licensed club is its membership and management. In that regard it is important to note the club’s life members, who have played an integral part in making the club the success that it is today.
The 11 life members who were present at the fiftieth anniversary dinner were Bob Blake, Ken Charlton, Tom Crotty, Jack Harmer, Jack Hession, Alf Kemister, Les May, Bill Smith, Bill Stevenson, John Urquhart and Mrs Ethel Wood. Mrs Brenda Hilton, the widow of life member Errol Hilton, also attended. The other five life members who could not attend were Mr E. Betts, Jack Cahill, Barry Fyfe, and Tom McQuillen. Mrs Ann Garland, a long-standing supporter of the club was, unfortunately, hospitalised on the evening. As I have said, an ingredient of any successful club is its management. Over the years, the club has had a very committed and diligent management, most recently Jack Hession, the President, and Bob Blake, the Secretary Manager, who work tirelessly to support the local community and to make the club the success it is today.
Last Friday evening’s celebration was extremely successful. The club’s rooms were filled with past and present supporters, people from all walks of life. Many supporters who had not been in the area for years attended that night, along with former member for Lakemba, Mr Wes Davoren, and former member for Canterbury, Mr Kevin Stewart. The attendance of the management of the Canterbury-Bankstown Leagues Club was timely, given the great success of the Bulldogs the following day. It was interesting to see them getting charged up that evening for the following day’s game. The Lakemba Services Memorial Club has also been a great supporter of the local leagues club. It was a fantastic night and a great opportunity to demonstrate how the club movement, particularly the Lakemba Services Memorial Club during its 50-year history - and hopefully with another 50 years or more to come - has contributed to my area. I look forward to attending the club’s centenary celebrations.
CURRAWARNA PUBLIC SCHOOL
Mr SCHIPP (Wagga Wagga) [5.55 p.m.]: I thank the Minister for Education and Training for coming to the House to hear my presentation. I want to make a simple request of him in the hope that a satisfactory outcome can be negotiated. Yesterday, as part of Public Education Week, I visited the small Currawarna Public School to congratulate it on winning an Environment Protection Authority grant for a bird-watching project. I found a very enthusiastic school with friendly, relaxed and uninhibited students who were totally involved with the proceedings. The school is an outstanding example of public education, and that ties in with a comment made by the Minister in an earlier debate today about the real Australia. This school is an example of the real Australia.
Currawarna Public School is a small one-teacher school 30 kilometres west of Wagga Wagga which will celebrate its centenary in the year 2000. Although it presently has 14 students, that number ebbs and flows. There are signs of growth at Currawarna and the school’s future is not in jeopardy at this stage. The school has an outstanding teacher in Mrs Helen O’Connell. It also has a very capable part-time teacher and an enthusiastic and supportive community. Mums, dads, grandmothers, grandfathers, family and friends attended yesterday’s function. The school forms the heart of the local community and provides the only facility for local meetings.
Currawarna Public School has a requirement for extra space to use for a library and meeting room and to provide the local community with a better community facility. At present, because of the small nature of the school premises, all areas are used. In fact, they are overused. Nevertheless, through innovative ideas - walls have been opened up and verandahs closed in - computer areas, a small canteen and a teachers’ area have been created. It is all go, and it is a worthwhile experience to walk through the school.
I suggest to the Minister that the school be given a grant, perhaps on a dollar-for-dollar basis, to purchase an affordable relocatable building. The building would not be glamorous or elaborate and certainly would not be the size of a normal school transportable, which the teacher has acknowledged would be too large. The school needs a building that could be used as a private area for older students, a library, a meeting place for the parents and citizens association and for other community activities. I understand that the project has some priority at the district office of the Department of Education and Training, so the school is not trying to jump the queue. I thank the school for the way I was received yesterday, and I hope I can achieve this grant as my retirement present to the school. I will not have the pleasure of attending such schools after 27 March next year because I will be leaving the political arena.
Small schools should be recognised as much as the larger schools. I congratulate the local community on its spirit of self-help and the way in which the school grounds are kept. Mrs O’Connell, the teacher, took pride in taking me to the back of the school to show me cubbyhouses the children had built for themselves. Efforts are being made to restore the school’s tennis court, to continue the community role of the school. It is to be hoped that the extra building I seek will add to the school’s facilities and bring more joy to the Currawarna community.
When travelling back to town the day I visited the school I could not help but notice the building of the former Malebo Public School, which is now in private ownership. At the time I wondered whether I should not do a U-turn and request that the school building be made available for relocation at Currawarna. I am tempted to make that proposal, as the building, being of a similar style, would be a great adornment to the school. Perhaps that is possible, or perhaps I should go to a manufacturer of relocatable homes with a proposition for a compromise on price to enable the relocation of a building at the school site. Either proposition would be feasible. I am not putting a figure on the funding sought at this stage, I merely bring this matter to the attention of the Minister. I will talk to him further about this matter in future weeks, if he will allow me to do so.
Mr AQUILINA (Riverstone - Minister for Education and Training, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Youth Affairs) [6.00 p.m.]: The comments made by the honourable member for Wagga Wagga about Currawarna school struck a seminal chord with me. Currawarna school is very similar to the school at which I started my teaching career, Oakland central school, some 90 miles from Wagga Wagga. I was the only English and history teacher at that school, and one of only four high school teachers at the central school at the time. My first teaching post reinforced to me what a great asset the small rural schools are to our education system. Schools such as the Currawarna Public School carry on the great tradition of public education in this State, a tradition that is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.
I take this opportunity to congratulate Helen O’Connell, principal of Currawarna school, on her hard work. Teachers such as Mrs O’Connell often have a hard task, being located in fairly isolated places. Those who teach at schools with one, two or three teachers do not have a great deal of opportunity for comparing notes with one another and often they have to rely very much on the local parents to assist them. The honourable member for Wagga Wagga has spoken specifically about the need for a library at Currawarna school. I appreciate his positive approach to the matter. I am very happy to consider this request. I shall be keen to consider a specific figure of about $15,000 and to give a commitment of at least that amount. I hope that we may be able to resolve this problem for Currawarna school.
BLIGH ELECTORATE LAW AND ORDER
Ms MOORE (Bligh) [6.02 p.m.]: This evening I speak about the worsening problem of drug dealing, crime and safety. This is a matter of utmost concern for the people of Bligh. During the parliamentary recess I held community meetings throughout the electorate at which residents and business people voiced their anger and fear about increasingly violent crime and drug dealing. Residents who regularly see drug dealing on their local streets say that the problem has got out of control in the past six months. Dealers have no fear of police, operating day and night in full view of residents and passers-by. Residents have to negotiate drug deals when they go to the corner shop to buy milk or go to the station to catch a train.
In Kings Cross and Woolloomooloo drug dealing is so common that drug users rule the streets. Even more frightening and dangerous is the crime associated with drug dealing. Witnessing offensive and illegal behaviour is distressing; being threatened or intimidated by a drug dealer is chilling. Residents are harassed for money by drug users needing cash for drugs. Many residents and business operators - including my immediate neighbours at my electorate office in Oxford Street, Paddington - have been assaulted, mugged, robbed or held up at gun, knife or syringe point.
When I set up for constituent interviewing in Springfield mall two Saturday afternoons ago I dispersed a large number of dealers. Annoyed that I had interrupted afternoon trading, they hung around at a distance, covertly conducting their business in front of the local member, a police officer and numerous residents who were signing petitions calling for more police on the beat. Similar incidents were recently reported on ABC television, and the Sydney Morning Herald only last week included an article about the same matter.
Last week a meeting was called outside 1A Roslyn Street, Kings Cross, at which a resolution was passed by occupiers to evict drug dealers or require them to lodge a development application for operating a business. Local police have told
residents at my meetings what they can do to secure their homes and what they can do with police and other agencies to reclaim their streets and neighbourhoods. Police are doing their utmost with the resources they have. I have received plenty of feedback from residents saying they are happy with police responsiveness, but still we do not have a permanent uniformed presence on the streets to protect a community under siege.
In the past few months I have received petitions with 2,500 signatures calling for increased uniformed police foot patrols across my electorate, including Woolloomooloo, Kings Cross, east Sydney, Darlinghurst, Surry Hills and Moore Park. The petitions also call for local community safety plans for Kings Cross, east Sydney and Darlinghurst. They urge that police be released from holding cell duties in Surry Hills to do work on the streets. They call for a permanent police van or shopfront at Taylor Square to reduce street violence in Oxford Street.
The Government has failed the community, which expected benefits following the recommendations of the $70 million Wood royal commission. Residents in crime-ridden inner-city areas are not seeing the results in reduced crime and a permanent police presence on our streets. It is drug users and drug-related crime that have the biggest impact on my electorate, and law enforcement is clearly ineffective - even the New South Wales Commissioner of Police has said so! The problems are beyond our local police service. At my meeting with the Minister for Police on 20 May he told me that there is evidence of an influx of drugs into Kings Cross.
Supply of drugs and drug dealing must be the primary focus of our law-enforcement resources. Police operations are rightly focused on catching dealers. That is no easy task, and it is complicated by the increase in underage dealers on the streets. Underage dealers are used by adult suppliers to protect adult criminals from detection and prosecution. The tough-on-drugs policy has failed residents. So far the Federal Government has canned the heroin trial which was supported by extensive and careful research, and the State Government and Opposition have turned their backs on a proposed trial of safe injecting rooms, one of the recommendations of the Wood royal commission.
Government refusal to take a realistic and progressive stance on dealing with serious problems of addiction is made worse by funding cuts to services such as detoxification centres. Users cannot get methadone treatment. My constituents are paying the price for the Government’s failure to address the bigger problem. I call on the Government to act seriously to reduce crime, create safer communities and stop the untimely loss of young lives to drug overdoses. It is time for comprehensive drug law reform that takes a health-based approach to drug use in conjunction with strong law enforcement for dealers and suppliers. Under current Federal-State government policy two young people are dying a day. It is time for a change, and I take up the Premier’s challenge to debate this issue.
Mr WHELAN (Ashfield - Minister for Police) [6.07 p.m.]: Earlier today the honourable member for Bligh asked me a question relating to police numbers. She had not indicated to me her intention to ask that question. Likewise, I wish she had advised me of her intention to raise this matter this evening, in order that I could now make a more detailed reply. I certainly will reply in more detail. As I said in the House earlier today, I acknowledge that the problems at Kings Cross are very serious. I also acknowledge that there is available a much greater volume of both heroin and cocaine, particularly cocaine. That is regrettable.
I remind the honourable member for Bligh that those illicit drugs are imported into Australia. Without turning this matter into a political bunfight, I point out that it would be of great advantage were some assistance available from the Federal Government, such that we could expect more than three out of every 10,000 containers that reach Australia or more than one in 50 aeroplanes coming into Australia to be examined. The honourable member is correct in that respect. She is seriously in error, however, when she suggests that the police are not doing their job properly in protecting the community. When the honourable member for Bligh last met me I advised her that the Police Service was undertaking continuing operations as part of a variety of measures designed to rid the Kings Cross area of drug dealers as far as humanly possible.
The honourable member would be aware that some most successful operations by police have led to large-scale arrests within the Kings Cross area, and that will continue. Additional police have been allocated to the Kings Cross area. The question of deployment of police out of operational areas, such as looking after the cells, is an ongoing issue that both this Government and the former Government have considered. One of the last areas to be considered is the Sydney Police Centre, which has 56 cells. I hope to be able to make an announcement in that regard in the future.
Private members’ statements noted.
Standing Order 190: Procedure for Division
Mr WHELAN (Ashfield - Minister for Police) [6.11 p.m.]: I move:
That, during the current session, unless otherwise ordered, Standing Order 190(1) be amended to provide that when a division has been called for, the Speaker shall order the division bells to be rung for five minutes.
Almost all Government members have now been reallocated to the twelfth floor, which was previously the home of members of the Legislative Council. In the week since Parliament resumed there have been few divisions, but it is felt that some Government members may be disadvantaged if, as a result of the move to the twelfth floor, they were not able to answer the division bells and reach the Chamber within the four minutes provided in the standing order. I therefore propose that, on a trial basis only, the standing order be amended to enable members to answer the division bells within five minutes instead of four. If a problem does not arise, and members are able to reach the Chamber within four minutes, the sessional order will be repealed. There have been difficulties with the lifts. We do not want to exacerbate the problem, and we do not want it to continue.
Mr HARTCHER (Gosford) [6.12 p.m.]: The Opposition has no objection to the amendment by way of sessional order. The way to resolve the problem is to put some funding back into Parliament and ensure that the lift system works effectively and that members of Parliament can attend to their business. It will become anarchic and time consuming if, instead of having the Parliament operate efficiently, we simply extend the time for members to attend for divisions. When I visited the United States of America some time ago I noted that 15 minutes is allowed for divisions in the Senate. Members have progressively been pushed out of the main Capitol building to ancillary buildings. They have to catch a train that runs underground from the buildings to the Senate. We do not want that type of situation here. I hope that the Leader of the House will monitor the situation and will not allow it to go into the never-never.
I hope also that an effective system of managing the structure and fabric of the Parliament will ensure that members have time to reach the House when division bells are rung. Mr Stafford Bennett, Manager, Parliamentary Building Services, is now also Acting Security Manager, Parliamentary Security Services. In addition to that, he has a third job. The Government, under the Treasurer, has so stripped the budget that there is insufficient funding to ensure that staff are available for the administration of the Parliament. While we have an excellent team of Clerks and our parliamentary attendants do a first-class job, many other ancillary services that are not visible to us as members of Parliament have been considerably reduced.
It is happening right across the board, but it is most evident in the lift system. Our lifts should be as efficient as those in any major building in Sydney, but they are so inadequate that we must envisage extending the time for division bells to be rung. Members should be able to respond to division bells. The Opposition does not oppose the motion, but expects the Leader of the House and the Government to honour their undertaking to keep this sessional order under review and to return to the four minutes provided by standing order 190(1) as soon as is reasonably practicable.
Motion agreed to.
NATIVE TITLE (NEW SOUTH WALES) AMENDMENT BILL Mr WHELAN (Ashfield - Minister for Police) [6.13 p.m.]: I move:
That standing and sessional orders be suspended to allow the Native Title (New South Wales) Amendment Bill, notice of which was given this day for tomorrow, to be brought in and proceeded with up to and including the Minister's second reading speech.
Mr HARTCHER (Gosford) [6.13 p.m.]: It has to be understood that certain allowances have to be made for the Premier. We have made those allowances over the last 3½ years, and I am sure that the present Leader of the House will make allowances for us after the 27 March election, if he is shadow leader of the House at that time. But I hope the Government does not expect that for the next three months, or however long the House sits, standing orders will be suspended in regard to second reading speeches, and that proper notice need not be given.
Mr Whelan: You want the bill, don’t you?
Mr HARTCHER: That is the Government’s attitude. It reminds me of Paul Keating’s wonderful statement: "Question time is an indulgence which the Government extends to Parliament." And he did not always bother to attend.
Ms Moore: You could always -
Mr HARTCHER: No, I am not going to extend the parliamentary sitting time. The
Opposition will not oppose the motion on this occasion, but expects the House to be run in accordance with the standing orders. At the very least bills should be introduced the day following notice having been given, and not on the same day.
Motion agreed to.
[Mr Acting-Speaker (Mr Gaudry) left the Chair at 6.15 p.m. The House resumed at 7.30 p.m.]
Bill introduced and read a first time.
Mr CARR (Maroubra - Premier, Minister for the Arts, and Minister for Ethnic Affairs) [7.30 p.m.]: I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
At the outset, let me place this legislation firmly in its fundamental context. The Federal Parliament passed the Native Title Amendment Act last July. The main purpose of this bill is to ensure that State laws can operate validly and consistently with the new requirements imposed upon the States by the Commonwealth’s recent legislation. As section 109 of the Australian Constitution states:
When a law of a State is inconsistent with a law of the Commonwealth, the latter shall prevail, and the former shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be invalid.
But my Government’s basic position remains unchanged. This bill is the outcome of our acceptance of our constitutional obligations, combined with our opposition to certain aspects of Mr Howard’s 10-point plan. Despite objecting to aspects of the 10-point plan, the New South Wales Government has continued to play a constructive role in negotiations with the Commonwealth on native title legislation. We achieved, for example, the inclusion of provisions to protect small-scale opal mining at places such as Lightning Ridge and White Cliffs and special provisions to ensure that certain grants under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act of the Wran era were validated.
The New South Wales Government’s rejection of the application of a sunset clause, which I enunciated very clearly at the Premier’s conference held on this subject, was supported by the Senate and the clause was dropped. My Government’s most vigorous opposition was directed against the proposal to remove the right to negotiate. We lost that battle. The result will be fragmentation of native title rights across the country. Western Australia and the Northern Territory are already proceeding with proposed alternative regimes to remove the right to negotiate over pastoral land. Unlike the proposed Western Australian and Northern Territory legislation, this legislation does not include an alternative regime for pastoral lease land.
As I have said, the main purpose of this bill is to ensure that State laws can operate validly and consistently with Commonwealth laws. This is, however, the first of a range of legislative measures we will take on native title. But, unlike Western Australia and Northern Territory, ours will be a timely, workable, careful response. Most of the Commonwealth’s Native Title Amendment Act will come into force on 30 September. This Act sets up a completely new procedure for certain types of compulsory acquisitions. It requires the State to confer jurisdiction upon an independent body to hear objections. It also imposes new notification requirements and other obligations. Avoiding protracted and costly litigation is the best way to guarantee certainty and fairness. It is proposed that the State law be enacted within the next two weeks so that it can come into effect on 30 September, at the same time as the Commonwealth law.
I refer now to validation. The Native Title (New South Wales) Act already validates past acts. A new division will be added concerning the validation of "intermediate period acts". These are acts, such as the grant of freehold title, which were made during the period from 1 January 1994 - when the Commonwealth’s Native Title Act came into force - and 23 December 1996 - the date of the Wik decision. These grants were made in the belief that native title had already been extinguished by the grant of a pastoral lease. People have now acted in reliance on these grants, building homes or businesses or investing money in these properties.
The grants were made by the Government in good faith and should be validated. Any native title holder whose native title rights and interests are affected by this validation will, of course, be compensated. Any reservations or conditions for the benefit of Aboriginal peoples will not be affected by the validation. The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council has asked the Government to validate certain grants made under the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Rights Act which may be invalid because of the application of the Commonwealth’s Native Title Act. This is included in part 5. A new type of validation may occur under indigenous land use agreements. This is addressed in a new part 6 to be inserted in the bill.
Indigenous land use agreements are an alternative method of dealing with native title issues
by way of agreement rather than the application of law. Acts that are invalid because of the operation of the Native Title Act will now be able to be validated by way of agreement. The high level of complexity of the Commonwealth’s Native Title Act, combined with the ongoing uncertainty as to the application of the common law, will inevitably lead to cases in which acts are done in good faith but are later found to be invalid.
I refer now to confirmation. Part 4 of the bill will confirm in statutory form the application of the common law to certain types of land grants. The High Court reaffirmed, as recently as last week, that native title has been permanently extinguished by the grant of freehold title. Court decisions, however, are not readily accessible by those who hold genuine concerns about the application of native title to their homes or businesses. This confusion and uncertainty can be exploited. This part will make the common law clear to all. It provides that native title has already been extinguished on freehold, residential leases, commercial leases, leases for community purposes, and leases listed in a schedule to the Commonwealth’s Native Title Amendment Act. Tenures such as western lands pastoral leases will be left to the courts to determine.
Mr Fraser: It should be scheduled.
Mr CARR: Not even your Federal Government went along with that proposition. There is currently a test case before the Supreme Court to decide whether native title can coexist on these leases. The Government hopes that this case will be resolved quickly. I turn now to the conferral of jurisdiction on the Administrative Decisions Tribunal. Part 7 of the bill deals with new procedures imposed by the Commonwealth in section 24MD(6B) of the Native Title Amendment Act. These procedures deal with compulsory acquisitions in which the purpose is to confer rights or interests in the land on third parties for the construction of infrastructure.
The same procedures also apply to the construction of mining infrastructure and the renewal of pastoral leases in certain cases. If parties request, their objection must be referred to an independent body. The independent body may uphold the objection, or it may allow the act to occur, with or without conditions. This bill confers the jurisdiction of the independent body on the Administrative Decisions Tribunal. This tribunal will be truly independent of the interests of the different parties, and is best placed to maintain the confidence of all interested groups. Part 7 lays down the procedures.
The bill makes other amendments to the Native Title (New South Wales) Act to ensure that it is consistent with the new provisions in the Commonwealth’s law. The procedure for dealing with the notification of native title holders and for satisfying other procedural rights in relation to native title holders has been revised. The Commonwealth’s Native Title Amendment Act sets out a procedure for dealing with the grant of small-scale opal mining titles. This follows the strong representations made by this Government.
In New South Wales there has been opal mining at Lightning Ridge and White Cliffs for more than 100 years. Opal mining titles are known as mineral claims, and they are granted and renewed over small areas for average periods of only 12 months. Approximately 7,000 mineral claims are granted at Lightning Ridge each year, and an additional 400 claims at White Cliffs. I attended a meeting with representatives of the holders of these leases which was organised by the honourable member for Broken Hill, and that was followed up with another meeting a few months later.
Clearly, it is not practical to go through the right to negotiate procedure in relation to each of the 11,000 leases every 12 months. That is a commonsense approach. Section 26C of the Commonwealth’s Native Title Amendment Act allows the Commonwealth Minister to declare an area to be an approved opal- or gem-mining area. That section requires that the Commonwealth Minister must be satisfied that the size and extent of the claims meet certain limitations. The Mining Act already contains most of these limitations. However, two amendments are included in the bill so that New South Wales legislation will conform with the requirements of section 26C. Section 26A of the Commonwealth’s Native Title Amendment Act allows the Commonwealth Minister to approve the grant of exploration licences which are limited to low-impact exploration acts.
Once approved, the State may grant these low-impact exploration licences. The bill will insert provisions into New South Wales mining legislation so that in the future the State can apply to the Commonwealth for approval of the grant of low-impact exploration licences. However, before this approval can occur there must be consultation with the relevant Aboriginal-Torres Strait Islander representative body about the nature of these low-impact exploration acts.
In relation to any land proposed to be covered by a low-impact exploration licence, the provisions
in the bill will require that all registered native title bodies are notified before the licence is granted. The explorer will be required to negotiate an access agreement with registered native title bodies, just as with other land-holders. The access agreement will address the manner in which the exploration acts are to be done and the compensation to be paid. After receiving representations from communities in the far reaches of the State, this Labor Government pressed the case in discussions with the Commonwealth and we fixed their problems. I note the enthusiastic endorsement of the honourable member for Broken Hill. At present in the western division a lease may be divided only by way of surrender of the lease and the regranting of two leases. That is cumbersome.
It is proposed to include in the Western Lands Act a power to subdivide a lease, with ministerial approval. This power already exists in the eastern division and in the central division. The subdivision of a lease will not of itself allow a pastoralist to undertake other primary production activity on the subdivided parts of the lease. Nor does the Commonwealth’s Native Title Amendment Act give pastoralists carte blanche to do any kind of primary production activity on their leases. While holders of western lands pastoral leases have the right to undertake grazing on those leases, and other activities such as fencing, they must still comply with State laws if they want to undertake other primary production activities such as agriculture.
In all cases in which a change of condition or a change of purpose is desired it is necessary under the Western Lands Act to obtain the approval of the Minister for Land and Water Conservation. The usual environmental assessment procedures will apply to ensure environmental sustainability. This is a balanced and fair legislative response to the Commonwealth’s Native Title Amendment Act. As I said, this bill is the first of a range of measures that the Government will take. It provides the benefits of validation to Aboriginal people and to all Australians. It does not remove the right to negotiate over pastoral land, but it does assist miners by allowing the State to apply to the Commonwealth to protect small-scale opal mining at Lightning Ridge and White Cliffs, and to defer the right to negotiate at the exploration stage when only low-impact exploration acts are being undertaken.
It does not provide for native title to be extinguished over pastoral leases, but it does confirm that pastoralists can continue to undertake pastoral and ancillary activities permitted by their leases. It will allow them to subdivide those leases so that part of the lease may be used for other primary production activities, subject to continuing environmental and social requirements, and the protection of Aboriginal sites. It facilitates the use of agreements, rather than law, to ensure the validity of acts in the future. It enforces only two of the Prime Minister’s 10 points and it gives a great deal of certainty. I am proud of the legislation, and I am proud of the consultation that took place as the Government framed this response. It is important that the legislation be in place on 30 September. I repeat and emphasise that I present this bill in recognition of our obligations under the Australian Constitution and our commitment to a fair and workable native title response to the Commonwealth’s law. Those are the grounds on which I bring this bill forward and commend it to the House.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Collins.
DEATH OF THE HONOURABLE HENRY FREDERICK JENSEN, A FORMER MINISTER OF THE CROWN
Mr CARR (Maroubra - Premier, Minister for the Arts, and Minister for Ethnic Affairs) [7.46 p.m.]: I move:
(1) That this House desires to place on record its sense of the loss this State has sustained by the death of Henry Frederick Jensen, a former Minister of the Crown.
(2) That this House extends to Mrs Jensen and family the deep sympathy of the members of the Legislative Assembly in the loss sustained.
I pay tribute to the man known as Harry Jensen and I acknowledge his service to the community in a distinguished career that spanned more than 31 years. As I was growing up Harry Jensen was truly a household name. He had been mayor of Randwick, the area in which I grew up, and people were proud and pleased to say that they knew Harry Jensen. People joked good-naturedly about his nickname, Headline Harry, because by that stage he was Lord Mayor of Sydney. I remember a schoolteacher saying to me, "Our Lord Mayor is on the right track because he wants our city to be a city of flowers and fountains." I remember Harry Jensen with affection.
I remember vividly Paul Keating, who was something of a sentimentalist, saying to me in the late 1970s that one of the nice things about the Wran Cabinet - he was talking about the first Wran Cabinet - was how some of the older blokes in the Labor movement like Harry Jensen and Pat Hills have a chance to be Ministers in a Labor government. That encapsulates the goodwill that existed for Harry. I did not sit in a Cabinet with
Harry Jensen. He had retired and the formidable Harry Moore had taken his place by the time I got here. But Harry Jensen was spoken of very fondly and he was seen as a very effective Minister. Other honourable members in the House can elaborate on his career as a Minister. Harry was elected to Randwick Council in 1950 - a very long time ago - and was elected mayor in 1954. He became chairman of the Sydney County Council and was elected Lord May of Sydney in 1956.
Harry Jensen was regarded as the Australian Labor Party’s golden boy of that era. He had a terrific career in the tradition of Labor: although he came from a working class background, he carefully cultivated and developed the skills he needed to be a servant of the people in local government, and a legislator. I know other honourable members will talk about his earlier career, including his time as an organiser with the Electrical Trades Union, a union whose officers have gone on to make a big impact in the leadership of the Labor movement in this State. People of my generation and older will remember that in 1961, the first Federal election of which I have any memory, Mr Jensen stood as a candidate in the blue ribbon seat of Bennelong and achieved a swing of 19.5 per cent for Labor. At the time Bennelong must have been a very safe Liberal seat! He did not win the seat, but missed out by a mere 852 votes.
Mr Lynch: To John Cramer.
Mr CARR: Yes, Sir John Cramer held it. The Menzies Government won that election by one seat. I joined the Malabar branch of the Australian Labor Party in 1962-63 and I recall the time when Harry sought Labor preselection for the electorate of East Sydney and was defeated in the ballot. I remember reading the Sydney Morning Herald editorial - I took the editorials seriously at that time, but I later learned how they are thrown together - which lamented that the Australian Labor Party had not been big minded or generous enough to elevate Harry Jensen, a man of exceptional talent, to a safe seat in the House of Representatives. Nonetheless, and this is a tribute to Harry’s career, he then bobbed up in a State preselection on the central coast and won!
Harry’s political career took him from Randwick into the inner city as Lord Mayor, to a preselection tussle in the inner city and to a safe Labor seat on the central coast, which was the base for his contribution in this House and to the Wran ministry. Harry Jensen will be remembered as one of the most colourful and dedicated lord mayors of Sydney. Harry was a man of his era. We should not bridle too much at Harry’s plan to demolish the Queen Victoria Building because in the spirit of the time that is what people from all over the State would have considered appropriate. Fortunately, Harry did not succeed. I am sure that in retrospect he would have discounted it as an enthusiasm of the period that happily came to nothing.
Harry Jensen established senior citizen welfare centres throughout Sydney and launched Meals on Wheels. He is remembered for his support of the Opera House and for welfare and charity work. He loved Sydney and was a tireless ambassador. I should also refer to Harry Jensen’s contacts with the State of Israel. The fiftieth anniversary of the State of Israel having recently been celebrated, it is worthy of note that in 1958 he was the only Australian to attend the tenth anniversary of the State of Israel. Harry held a public meeting in Sydney to protest anti-semitic activities and that was acknowledged by the Jewish community. In 1991 I saw Harry as I toured the polling booths in Maroubra and strayed across into Coogee. He gave me the sort of encouragement that counts so much coming from an old trooper of the Labor Party. The Australian Labor Party remembers Harry Jensen with very great affection and extends its condolences to his family.
Mr COLLINS (Willoughby - Leader of the Opposition) [7.53 p.m.]: I join with the Premier and extend the Opposition’s condolences to the family of the late Harry Jensen. Henry Frederick Jensen, known as Harry, the only son of Mr and Mrs Lawrence Jensen, was born in Newtown on 12 July 1913. He was educated at that great citadel of football, St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill. As someone who attended Waverley College, I do not hold that against him. Harry later trained as an electrical engineer and contractor. On 21 December 1935 Harry Jensen married Beryl Allard and the couple had six children. It is pleasing to see the family represented in the gallery tonight.
As the Premier said, Harry Jensen was elected to local government as an alderman of Randwick municipality in 1950 and he served as mayor of Randwick between 1954 and 1956. Indeed, I well remember his lengthy term of office as Lord Mayor of Sydney from 1956 until 1965. Harry cut a dashing figure in that high profile post and brought great dignity to that office. It should be remembered that Harry was credited with the creation of senior citizens welfare centres in Sydney city. He launched Meals on Wheels which was initiated by the government of the day. It is customary for honourable members to have the odd sparring match across this Chamber, but the achievements of a
former member of this House should be recognised and remembered on an occasion such as this. The achievements of Harry Jensen should be a great source of pride to his family.
Harry Jensen was responsible for establishing the Lord Mayor’s Relief Fund for the dependants of victims of the HMAS Voyager disaster in 1964, something that certainly attracted my attention as one whose cousin survived the sinking of HMAS Voyager. Harry also established a welfare fund for the aged. He was elected as member for the New South Wales seat of Wyong on 1 May 1965 - the first State election in which I was ever involved as a student at the University of Sydney, although at that time I was not a member of a political party. I did not serve in this Chamber with Harry Jensen who retired 16 years later in 1981. I believe that only two or three members of this Parliament actually served with him.
I have always regarded Harry Jensen as a true achiever - someone who had a number of runs on the board at local government level, and as a former member of Parliament and a Minister for this State, the oldest State in Australia. During his period as a member of Parliament Harry Jensen served in many ministerial posts, among them Minister for Local Government and Minister for Planning, and Minister for Roads. He served the State with distinction and with an unblemished record. The coalition parties support the Premier’s earlier remarks about Harry Jensen’s contribution to public life in this State. I commend the motion to the House.
Mr FACE (Charlestown - Minister for Gaming and Racing, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Hunter Development) [7.57 p.m.]: I pay tribute to the honourable Henry Frederick Jensen who was always affectionately known as Harry. It would be true to say that Harry was a legend. I was in awe of Harry when I came to this House in 1972 because he, the late Billy Sheahan, the late Pat Hills and various other people had made a considerable contribution in the 1950s and 1960s. Pat Hills and Billy Sheahan served in Labor governments from 1965. By the time Harry arrived in 1965, he had served as one of this State’s most colourful and capable lord mayors in his three terms in the city hall between 1956 and 1965.
During his time Harry was responsible for many important innovations. The one for which he is best remembered is the introduction of welfare centres that provided food as well as comfort and social interlude for the elderly. Harry could see what was happening in the inner city at the time. Harry himself was born into a family of dedicated service. He had lost his father, Lawrence Francis Jensen, at Gallipoli in 1915. His mother Agnes, despite those hard and difficult times, probably put on Harry the stamp that was symbolised by his humanitarian works throughout his time as a member of Parliament and most especially during his service on the Sydney City Council.
Harry was my neighbour in the sense that we represented adjoining seats. That had come about in 1973 after yet another of the redistributions that took place under the conservative governments between 1965 and 1976. Harry originally was elected as the member for Wyong in 1965, in somewhat controversial circumstances. Once again, my knowledge of those circumstances is from what I have read in the newspapers and what was conveyed to me by my father, involving events surrounding Ray Maher leading up to the 1965 election. It is true to say that Harry was under some pressure in standing for a seat on the central coast when he was in fact domiciled in and associated with Sydney. Not to be deterred, Harry took up premises, which he always maintained, in Marine Parade at The Entrance. He set about the task of retaining that seat for Labor in those controversial circumstances, which in some part led to the defeat of the Labor Government in 1965.
Harry continued as the member for Wyong until the redistribution of 1973, when he stood for and was successful in the seat of Munmorah. That electorate ranged from Wyong to an area abutting my seat at Belmont North. Harry then became in part a Hunter-based member, as few would remember apart from myself and those who were a member of this House at that time. That was yet another change that confronted Harry. But he took it all on board, and became part and parcel of a group of Hunter members. In the early years of the 1976 Government he served on our task force with the late Ken Booth.
Harry had a great ability for campaigning. He was one of the great campaigners. He had the common touch, a feature to which I will relate on several occasions during my contribution tonight. In this particular Wyong seat Harry was trying to simmer everything down. He produced a magnificent pamphlet. For some weeks now I have been trying to find that pamphlet. It was one of the early three-fold pamphlets that were popular in the 1960s and were commonplace in the United States of America. On the back of the pamphlet was a photograph of an angelic face, accompanied by the caption, "I think Harry Jensen’s great - but, then, he’s my dad." That was, of course, Harry’s nice quiet way. I do not know to this day, because I never discussed it with
Harry, whether that was his son or not, but it was a good catchline.
In the Munmorah campaign Harry did a similar thing. Bear in mind that he was pushed up the coast as a candidate for a new seat. He produced a fantastic pamphlet called "The Link". It set out a link between him and Munmorah and various local happenings. I well recall the trouble that he went to. He was a consummate campaigner and the best person at putting people at ease that I have seen in my 25½ years in this Parliament. Harry undertook the task of securing the new seat of Munmorah.
Harry had said to me, "Richard, if you can do something that will help me and you, go ahead, don’t worry about standing on ceremony." I did just that. It was a great and rewarding experience. After Harry became Minister there were many things in which he had little time to be involved, but he took a view that was for the party’s sake and my sake, saying, "You are younger than I am, you will be a long time in this Parliament, and therefore if it is of benefit to you it will be of benefit to me." That is the sort of fellow he was. He was not upset if I got involved in his electorate because he knew I was trying to help him. I might say that a few of the other members in Newcastle were inclined to stand on ceremony. But Harry was not one of those, and he made that well known.
Harry had a great sense of humour. You really had to get to understand Harry, because he had this quiet way about him. There are some famous stories told about Harry in this place. One of those - and I do not know whether it is true, but Kevin Stewart often told it, and they were great mates - was about Harry at some mayoral or cities conference in Europe. Harry always got up early, went for a walk and had a bit of a swim before going to breakfast. The waiter who brought him breakfast the first morning said, "Bon appetit." Harry said, "Harry Jensen." This went on for about four days, before Harry decided he would put an end to it. One morning he got in first, and said to the waiter, "Bon appetit." The waiter replied, "Harry Jensen." I do not know whether it was true, but it was a great story that Kevin Stewart used to tell.
At one time we had a debate on NBN3 Newcastle called "Who’s for the House?" We all got our script, which had to be no more than 1½ minutes, raced up to the podium and said our piece. Harry asked, "What do you do here?" I said, "I have only done it once before, Harry, but I think this is what you do." Anyway, a fellow from the Socialist Workers started his blurb by getting stuck right into the Libs. Harry said, "Gee, I like this bloke." About halfway through the blurb this fellow got stuck into us as well. Harry said, "Gee, I’m changing my opinion of this bloke pretty fast." That was Harry’s dry humour.
There was a piece reported in The Messenger on the occasion of Harry’s eightieth birthday. It was a great tribute to Harry written by someone who obviously knew Harry really well. Typical of his projection of his own deep and abiding love of the city, Harry on one occasion had an audience with Pope John in Rome. On hearing the word Sydney, the Pope proclaimed it as one of the great harbour cities of the world. On his five fingers, the Pope nominated the great cities, including Rio de Janeiro, Venice, New York, but mentioned Sydney last. Harry said, "Your Holiness, I have a great belief in the infallibility of your office, but if you continue to put Sydney last I will be forced to review that belief." The Pope shook with laughter. That was the real Harry.
I remember an occasion when people were gathered in a hall awaiting to celebrate the arrival of Flora Grubb, a young girl who had just returned from Scotland after winning, for the first time for Australia, a world championship in highland dancing. However, there were all sorts of problems and Flora did not arrive. A fellow who was among those waiting told me, years later, that Harry, who was also there, spoke with everyone in the hall and put them at ease. He said, "I have never seen anybody with a greater ability to quieten the whole place, and with a nice manner." That was Harry Jensen.
As I have said, Harry was a great campaigner. I remember the Byron by-election of 1973. I had only just entered Parliament. Harry came up, and Don Day was running all over the place, reckoning he could win the seat. Harry and Beryl sat down and went through the electoral roll, setting up the whole scheme of things by classifying various people. This was at the time that the honourable member for Hawkesbury was standing for his seat; we had three by-elections on our hands. That was my first experience of Harry the consummate campaigner. He set it up in such a way that Don did not have to run all over the place. Don was inclined to get a little impetuous about things, but Harry and Beryl spent a few hours going through the electoral rolls and set up the campaign.
Harry married Beryl Allard in 1935. They had seven children, one of whom did not survive, and 14 grandchildren. He loved the members of his family and their achievements. He would often come to the Parliamentary Library to do research for his family.
I used to very much enjoy seeing him and talking about old times. Harry probably could have been leader of the party after the 1968 election. It is not generally known in this place that there were moves at the time to bring Harry into the leadership but he declined. I will not go into that but it demonstrates the admiration sections of the Labor Party had for Harry.
Harry got into local government - his forte - in 1950 when he was elected to Randwick council. Within a short time he was a councillor on Sydney County Council, as it was known in those days. Soon after he became chairman of the council and served with distinction. I was upset that I could not attend his funeral because of a pre-arranged trip to various parts of the State but my thoughts were with him. As I said, local government was Harry’s forte. Before becoming Minister for Local Government he was shadow minister for planning and local government - from soon after he was elected to this Parliament in 1965 and through four periods in opposition. It was a great thing for Harry, Syd Einfeld and Pat Hills to get into government after serving so long in opposition.
In conclusion, I wish Beryl and other members of Harry’s family every best wish. They can be very proud of a great Australian and a very fine human being. I and many other members thought he was an exceptional friend. He was a great man for the State and the city of Sydney. May he rest in peace.
Mr CLOUGH (Bathurst) [8.12 p.m.]: I join with the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition and the Minister for Gaming and Racing in paying tribute to a man who was above all in this place a friend. When I was elected to the Parliament on 1 May 1976 members of the Opposition front bench were a very formidable group, men with years of experience and tons of talent - on both sides. It was reassuring to have a person with Harry Jensen’s strength and knowledge look after me, particularly in the first months I was here.
For many months each night after Parliament adjourned Harry, who lived at Coogee, would take me home to where I was staying with my daughter Elizabeth at Maroubra. I remember going home along Anzac Parade in Harry’s ministerial vehicle the night the first day-night cricket match was played. As the Minister for Gaming and Racing said, Harry was a particularly fine campaigner. He was a great Minister but he was a man of tremendous feeling for people. He often found legislation not to his liking, but he supported it.
He introduced me to a system of campaigning that I had not seen previously, and have not seen since. He told me, "Get hold of a public address system, go to selected corners in your electorate, pull up and start to speak. You will see curtains move and you will see people come out to the front gate. You won’t see a lot of activity but you can bet that they are listening to you." This was the case. In the electorate of Blue Mountains, my former electorate, Doreen and I used to go to a corner, set up and start to talk - apparently to no-one. And it worked. Harry also introduced me to using the press.
Mr Armstrong: You have not stopped since, Mick.
Mr CLOUGH: I learnt it from Harry. It is indicative of his tuition that I continue to do it today. When he was Minister for Roads he would get in touch with me and say, "The councils in your electorate are going to get this much money for roads. I want you to issue a press release saying, ‘I am attacking the Minister for Roads to get funds for my area’." That was easy to do. He also said, "I want you then to say, ‘I am confident that we will get funds for roads in my electorate’." He said that when the funds turned up I should go out and skite about it and tell people how I got the funds.
I owe so much to Harry Jensen. He was a good friend. Every time he would come to Parliament House he would come to say good day. When I became a member of this place it was a fairly fearful job: on my first day in the Chamber points of order were called on me by no less than Eric Willis, Tom Lewis and John Maddison - not a bad trifecta to start with. Harry was a compassionate man. The honourable member for Hawkesbury and the honourable member for East Hills were also members in the days when we introduced legislation to cope with the insurrection by the truckies.
Mr Rozzoli: Green Dog Stevenson.
Mr CLOUGH: That is right. We had problems with the truckies. Harry said that it was draconian legislation that a Labor government should not introduce but he said that we must do it. I thank the members of his family for the things that Harry did for me. I join with other members in remembering a man who made his mark not only in this Parliament but in this State. Harry Jensen was amongst the last of the old-style Labor people but he was amongst the best.
Mr ARMSTRONG (Lachlan - Leader of the National Party) [8.18 p.m.]: With other honourable members I pay tribute to the late Harry Jensen. This
State and this city have much to thank Harry Jensen for. Harry was an extremely popular man, a man who crossed political borders with ease. Born in Newtown in 1913, Harry never got to know his father, who died of wounds received at Gallipoli in 1915. He was educated at St Joseph’s College at Hunters Hill. After schooling he was employed at Mark Foy’s and then the Singer sewing machine company. He was later apprenticed to an electrical company and then was employed as an electrician by the Shell oil company, then the national oil company, and later at Cockatoo Island dockyards.
From his position as an Electrical Trades Union organiser Harry stepped up to local government by being elected to Randwick council in 1950. He became mayor of the council in 1954 and a year later he became chairman of Sydney County Council, which changed to Sydney City Council, and in 1956 he defeated Pat Hills for the lord mayoral post. He filled that position with distinction and endeared himself to Sydney and visiting dignitaries with his affable and easygoing style. In 1958 Harry was elected Father of the Year. He was an important Labor Party figure and his profile in local government made him the focus of much speculation that he would eventually lead the Federal ALP.
Harry Jensen narrowly failed to win the Federal seat of Bennelong in 1961 and in 1963 he failed to win the seat of East Sydney, which may have had something to do with the difficulty of making the transition from local government to the Federal sphere. Two years later Harry was elected to the New South Wales Parliament as the honourable member for Wyong, which later became the electorate of Munmorah. In 1968 he challenged Jack Renshaw for leadership of the parliamentary Labor Party and lost by a mere five votes. His period in opposition seasoned him for the 1976 Wranslide, after which he was appointed Minister for Local Government and Minister for Planning. He subsequently filled the portfolios of Acting Treasurer, Acting Minister for Decentralisation and Development and Minister for Primary Industries, Acting Minister for Lands, Acting Minister for Mines and Minister for Energy, and Minister for Roads.
Harry Jensen served this State for 38 years in public life, nine as Lord Mayor of Sydney and 16 in State politics, five of them as a Minister. Labor’s age limit forced him to retire from politics at the age of 68. I did not serve with Harry in this Parliament; I was elected after he had retired. However, in the years preceding my arrival in 1981 I knew him quite well in his avocations both as Lord Mayor and as a member of this Parliament. It did not cross one’s mind what his political allegiance might have been because he was affable, intelligent, warm and friendly with everyone, irrespective of their side of politics or status in life.
Harry Jensen was truly an Australian man. He was a quintessential Sydneysider, a quintessential Australian. He was very proud of his country, but he was not necessarily boastful. He delighted in the company of other people. Despite his opposing political views, I had a common bond with him because of his easy nature. He was a person one warmed to automatically. It was said that Harry never reached his potential but it must be said that he made a great impression on this city and this State. He did that for no other reason - apart from his political aspirations - than the fact that he was very human. That trait is lacking in so many people in this day and age. One cannot replace the warmth, feeling and compassion of people such as Harry Jensen with someone who is seeking to get headlines in the paper. Harry Jensen was known as Headline Harry but I suspect that he seldom sought those headlines - his natural affinity with people gained him those headlines and that reputation.
He did much to promote Sydney and shape it for the future. He was a powerful supporter of the Sydney Opera House project. Sydney gained momentum under his mayoralty. Harry Jensen leaves a wife, Beryl, and children Larry, Jan, Diane, Cathy, Mark and Ron, and 14 grandchildren. I note that two of his daughters and some of his grandchildren are present in the gallery. I am sure that they join with all members of Parliament in being proud of their father and grandfather. Harry Jensen served his country well. There is no doubt that he enjoyed his life and his time in this Parliament. Sydney and New South Wales are the richer for Harry Jensen having served in this Parliament and this State.
Mr ROZZOLI (Hawkesbury) [8.23 p.m.]: It is my privilege to add my condolences to Beryl Jensen and to the members of her family on the death of Harry Jensen. I served in this Parliament with Harry for a number of years - at the same time as the Minister for Gaming and Racing, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Hunter Development. I have my own special memories of that time. One of the things that impressed me most about Harry was the degree of professionalism that he brought to his task as a member of Parliament.
Honourable members have referred to his capacity as a campaigner, and the honourable member for Bathurst referred to his use of a loud hailer. However, there was one occasion during a
by-election in my electorate when it did not work out as he anticipated. I was campaigning in Cambridge Park and because it was the bad end of my electorate I had doorknocked three times and other candidates had doorknocked twice. Towards the end of the campaign Harry came along with his loud hailer and was almost driven out of the electorate. This was during the Christmas period and the residents had literally had enough of politics. It was no doubt a great technique in those days, but it would not be used today - a noise notice would be slapped on anyone using such a device.
Harry brought to his task as a member of Parliament and Minister a degree of professionalism which many members today would do well to model themselves on. He made an impression on me with his professionalism. I refer to his maiden speech to demonstrate what he saw as the qualities that should be brought into this place. He commenced his speech by stating - and all honourable members would relate to this:
I had intended to pay a very special word of thanks to a man who about twenty-five years ago took me aside after fair and close observation and assured me that he believed I ought to be in Parliament. From time to time in the course of the past twenty-five years I have been stimulated by this man’s obvious sincerity. Upon my election to Parliament I went along to see him to thank him for all the encouragement he had given me through the years but when I stood before him he did not recognize me. Later when I discussed this fact with a friend who has also known this man for a long time, he said: "Well, fancy your believing that: he has been saying the same thing to thousands of people during the past twenty-five years." Though I was the only one to believe him I am grateful to him. In the circumstances, however, I shall ensure that his name is not recorded in Hansard.
That summed up a number of things about Harry: his measure of naivety - though in a nice way - and that he truly believed in what he was doing, something that sustained him through those years. Having found out the truth, he accepted it and had the grace to allow this person’s name to pass into the dim mists of time. However, he had another shock awaiting him when he became a member of Parliament, as he records it. He came from being Lord Mayor of Sydney, with the appurtenances that came with that office -
Mr Nagle: And the honour.
Mr ROZZOLI: And the honour, but more importantly in this particular story the appurtenances. Honourable members who were in the Parliament in those days will well remember that he found himself sharing a room with 10 other members. In his maiden speech he said:
I have no doubt that the colleagues with whom I share the room would make some of their inadequate accommodation available to any other members of this Chamber who have not yet definitely decided which side of the House they will sit on. They are welcome to come and join us. However, I must say that it was a disappointment, and it is a continuing disappointment, to become as familiar with the problems of the electors of Auburn, Parramatta, Bankstown and Randwick as the representatives of those electorates are with the difficulties of my constituents in Wyong.
In those days it was a difficult row to hoe as a member of Parliament. As he points out later in his speech we shared amanuenses, as they were known in those days - the secretaries, who had offices of their own while numerous members had to share offices. A member might ring up and say, "Please, miss, can I give you some dictation?", to which the secretary would reply, "No, I’m busy today. Come tomorrow." That was Parliament in those days but, by the same token, it was a great training ground and a humbling experience because members had to do everything for their electorates more or less on their own. I have no desire to go back to those days; I am happy working the way I work today. Nonetheless, the apprenticeship that members of Parliament served in those days was of value in that it developed a level of professionalism which, sadly, is sometimes lacking today. Harry talked about a number of matters in his maiden speech which showed his great humanity and interest in justice, fairness and equity - principles he held through the whole of his parliamentary career.
I remember Harry Jensen as a great champion of local government. Not only did he have a long career in local government, but he was dedicated to the service of the people through the local government mechanism. He was a good and practical Minister for Local Government. I took many a deputation and many a problem to Harry, and he helped me - as he no doubt helped many other members of Parliament - in a fair and equitable fashion. He carried the fairness and equity that he espoused in his maiden speech through his career. Unfortunately, members of this place sometimes espouse principles which in practice - when they get the chance to put them in practice - they do not always honour. Harry Jensen always honoured his principles.
One of the greatest challenges Harry Jensen faced as Minister for Local Government occurred when he went overseas. The Premier and the Minister representing Harry announced a wholesale series of amalgamations throughout New South Wales. Harry did not know that this was to come about, so I am informed, and when he came back he was deeply distressed at what he saw as the emasculation of many a fine local government area.
But by that time it was beyond the point of no return. Harry attempted, and succeeded, in making some minor changes. However, despite the fact that he did not agree with what the government of the day was doing, and it went against the tenets of local government that he believed in, Harry, like a true trooper and true professional, got behind the legislation, promoted and managed it, and carried it through to fruition. We may now look back and say, "Well, it has all worked out okay." Perhaps it may have been better if it had stayed the way it was. Nonetheless, that was a measure of the professionalism that Harry Jensen brought to the job.
As has been pointed out, Harry had a series of remarkable turns in his career. One of those turns brought Harry and me into somewhat close contact. I refer to 1973 when Harry was mooted as a possible candidate for the Federal seat of Parramatta. At that time various pressures were brought to bear, which resulted in Harry's decision not to stand for preselection. We had a few laughs about it at the time because of some of the things that were said in the media about him. However, it is interesting to look at what may have happened if Harry had succeeded in gaining preselection at that time. The most outstanding feature of that by-election was that the second airport for Sydney raised its head - a subject that would be familiar to honourable members. At that time the Federal Government promoted Galston as a possible site for the airport, and we were able to put a spin on the Galston situation that took every plane over the seat of Parramatta.
Mr Nagle: With great enthusiasm.
Mr ROZZOLI: Yes, with great enthusiasm.
Mrs Grusovin: We still haven’t got a second airport.
Mr ROZZOLI: We still do not have a second airport. The Parramatta by-election was won by Philip Ruddock, who is the current Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs. Who knows what the outcome may have been if Harry had won preselection? As I pointed out, Harry was a veteran campaigner, and perhaps he may have won the by-election despite the odds. It would have been sad if he had stood for a Federal seat a second time and lost, because New South Wales would have been deprived of a fine Minister.
Harry Jensen and I were brought a little closer in latter years - and this was again a measure of the nature of Harry the person and Harry the family man - when we discovered, when sitting around a table at a civic luncheon, that one of his daughters had gone to school with my wife at Brigidine convent. As Harry and my wife talked about Brigidine, a bond was immediately kindled. Every time I met Harry afterwards he would raise the issue and it was always the trigger for five or 10 minutes conversation. They were the sorts of little things that endeared Harry Jensen to all of us.
I remember with great pride the connections, liaisons and friendships that I had with Labor members of that time, a number of whom became very good friends. That was part and parcel of the nature of politics and the Parliament in those days - something we struggle to maintain today. I think across-the-Chamber camaraderie is very important. I do not resile from the fact that members of Parliament have an extremely difficult job. We have to combat many diversities to try to do our job, and at times we take it a little too seriously, we take it out of the Chamber and into the private arena, and we lose a little of our integrity and effectiveness by not realising that we are here to do a job.
Harry Jensen was the longest serving Lord Mayor of Sydney and he was undoubtedly one of the most popular mayors, if not the most popular. He brought that characteristic through to the Parliament; he served the Parliament well. He was a formidable debater and an excellent Minister in the early years of the Wran Government. Indeed, Harry Jensen was a fine person, a fine public servant, and a fine servant of the people. The world is always the poorer for the loss of people of Harry’s calibre. On behalf of my constituents and my wife, who was also very fond of Harry, I extend to Harry’s wife, Beryl, and his family our sincere condolences and wish them well for the future.
Mr ROGAN (East Hills) [8.37 p.m.]: I am honoured to join the Premier, the Leader of the National Party, the Minister for Gaming and Racing, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Hunter Development, the honourable member for Bathurst and the honourable member for Hawkesbury in supporting this motion and extending condolences to the family of Harry Jensen and those who had the honour and privilege of knowing him. Nice things are always said during condolence motions - it is only appropriate and correct that that should be so.
However, if Harry were in the Chamber tonight the same words would be said about him. Harry was one of those people who always engendered a great deal of warmth. He fought the good fight in this House with great vigour and distinction, but I detected a great deal of warmth
towards Harry from the Government when Harry was sitting on the Opposition benches, and from the Opposition when he was sitting on the Government benches. Harry was a decent, honourable and sincere person. Much has been said about Harry, and I do not wish to repeat those sentiments. However, as a member who had the honour and privilege of serving with Harry in this House throughout those early years, I am delighted to join my colleagues in this condolence motion.
As we all know, Harry started in that very honourable trade of electrician. As one who started from those same humble beginnings before going back to night school and studying engineering, I readily associate with that trade. It is interesting to note that at one time we electricians in the House might have outnumbered the lawyers, which is unusual because lawyers and schoolteachers seem to predominate in this Chamber. Laurie Brereton, Keith O’Connell, Harry Jensen and I - and I could name several others - started in the noble calling of electrician. Harry moved on to become a contractor. After I completed my engineering course I joined Honeywell.
It has been said that Harry was a person with great charisma. He was known as Headline Harry. I remember reading about him before meeting him in this Chamber. As the Lord Mayor of Sydney he served three terms from 1956 to 1965 before being elected to this Chamber in 1965. The honourable member for Wyong, Paul Crittenden, intends to say a few words about Harry, and I am sure he will speak on behalf of the countless organisations - including parents and citizens, and progress associations - and people who, if they could speak to this motion tonight, would be pleased to do so. I am sure the honourable member for Heffron will agree that people like Kevin Stewart, Peter Cox, the late Syd Einfeld and Pat Hills were giants in their time in this House.
As has already been mentioned, Harry was compassionate and had a great concern for people. As lord mayor, that compassion and concern drove him to establish a number of charitable and other institutions. They were also part and parcel of his drive as a member of this Parliament and as a Minister. The honourable member for Hawkesbury said that Harry Jensen was offered the seat of Parramatta. I well recall sitting around in the old dining room and jokingly saying, "One day I might get the call, Harry, for greatness." Regrettably, it always eluded me.
Harry said, "I got it on one occasion. Gough Whitlam rang me and said, ‘Harry, I want you to stand for the seat of Parramatta.’" However, at the same time Gough had announced his intention to build an airport at Galston. All of those who recall that time will agree that the furore surrounding the proposal to build a second airport at Holsworthy and the problems with Sydney airport were absolutely nothing compared with the furore that enveloped the announcement by Prime Minister Whitlam of his intention to build an airport at Galston.
Harry was wonderful with new members. He always had a little bit of wisdom to impart. When I first came here in 1973 I remember sitting on the Opposition benches with Harry. A Government member, whom I shall not mention because he has long since gone, was standing at this very lectern raving and ranting. Harry leaned over and said to me, "You know, son, more people have talked their way out of this place than have talked their way into it." I recall that as good sound advice from Harry. If members intend to say something in this House, they should always think about what they are going to say and always remember that one day it may come against them.
Harry was well known for his wit and humour. I had the honour and privilege to serve with him while he was here. I join with my colleagues in offering his wife, Beryl, his children, Larry, Jan, Diane, Cathy, Mark and Ron, and his 14 grandchildren my sincere condolences on their loss. They can all be proud that Harry Jensen served in this Chamber with great distinction and achieved a record that will be hard to beat.
Mrs GRUSOVIN (Heffron) [8.45 p.m.]: I am privileged tonight to join with my parliamentary colleagues in paying tribute to a great man. Growing up as I did in the Labor Party and living in the eastern part of Sydney, there were three icons: Harry Jensen, Pat Hills and Syd Einfeld. Now we have lost them all. I felt a sense of continuity of history at that wonderful mass last week to celebrate Harry’s more than satisfactory 85 years of life to see Stella Hills, Billy Einfeld and Marcus Einfeld joining with so many other stalwarts from the Labor Party, the trade union movement, business and all walks of life to talk about, commemorate and celebrate the life of this very special man.
Harry started off as a very special boy, a Joey’s boy, and that probably left an indelible mark on him. Some stories have been told in the House tonight, and mention has been made of what could
have happened if Harry had achieved the impossible: a more than 19.5 per cent swing in the 1961 election in the seat of Bennelong. I know some stories of that period. One was told at the mass of celebration. Brother Othmar, an institution himself and the Principal of St Joseph’s College in later years, always had and retains a great reverence for Harry Jensen. Together with so many friends, he attended the mass of celebration to bid Harry farewell.
At the time of the Bennelong election Harry Jensen was invited by Brother Othmar back to the school at Hunters Hill, which was part of the electorate, to speak to the school community. Another candidate at that election - as I recall it was the Democratic Labor Party candidate, if not the Liberal Party candidate - found out that Harry had been to the school to speak to the school community. This other candidate rang the principal and said he wanted the same opportunity to talk to the students. The principal, Brother Othmar, said to him, "I think you should understand that Harry was here because he was an ex-student. It was not really to do with the election."
That story was told the other day, but that was not the whole story. On the day of the election a large gathering of people was at the college, a number of whom had to leave the college to vote. As I recall, it was a wet day. Brother Othmar had an announcement put over the public address system that cars were leaving from a certain part of the grounds for those voting Labor, and that those who were not would have to find their own way to the polling booth. That story has become quite a legend. How Harry would have changed the course of political history had he won the extra 800 votes! He served at local government and State government levels in so many ways, but mention has not been made of another great legacy he left to this community, the formation of Wingap homes. In giving a eulogy at Harry’s farewell, former Deputy Prime Minister Lionel Bowen spoke of how Wingap homes was established and how it has provided for thousands of young people with intellectual disabilities. As Lionel said, only Harry could have done it.
Harry became aware of a woman’s difficult circumstances in trying to care for her own children and a number of disabled children without facilities or support and with no available funding - times were different then. Harry was distressed at the difficulties families faced coping with these problems and at the fear parents held of not being able in their old age to continue to look after those children, so he gathered together a disparate group of people from the community - from businesses and all sides of politics. He undertook an amazing fundraising campaign that raised enormous amounts of money to help establish Wingap.
Today Wingap flourishes and provides for many young and old people who need special care. We will always be grateful to Harry for that, and for his commitment to those less well off in the community. Harry was recognised not only on the local scene. He was Australia’s first recipient of the Universal Brotherhood Award of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, in 1961. When the award was given it was said that if the mayors of Europe had spoken out as Harry Jensen had spoken out against anti-Semitism and discrimination, perhaps the lives of so many Jewish people would not have been lost in the dreadful holocaust or in the 1939-45 war. So, Harry was recognised across the world. I am indebted for a communication I received from Harry Moore, who succeeded Harry Jensen in this Parliament. Harry Moore said:
Hope you remembered what I told you about the horse Harry Jensen owned that won at 100 to one.
I have remembered that story, but the crux of it was that Harry Jensen had not told anyone that the horse seemed to be a real goer. Nobody had bet any money on that horse and it came in at 100 to one. His friends were most upset, so the next time, unfortunately as it turned out, Harry tipped his friends to back the horse. The horse did not finish in the placings! That story is still popular today. Harry Moore said also:
Another item that may interest you was about 1948. Harry was an organiser of the Electrical Trades Union. There was a strike at the Exide battery factory in Sydney. The workers wanted sixpence per hour extra. However, the parent company which was owned in England refused to have anything to do with the men. So they all went on strike. After about 5 weeks all the men were on bread and water and were about to throw in the towel - Harry then urged them to go another week, which they agreed to - it then shows how lucky you can be as the firm had another large factory in India, and during that last week that factory burnt down. Therefore, the Exide company could not fulfil their orders and agreed to come to the table. The result being that the firm offered the men a bonus system of sixpence an hour extra and the dispute was resolved to the satisfaction of everyone.
Harry did it again! We have heard so much about his distinguished career, but it is most important to acknowledge that Harry always remained in touch with the real world. He was charming, warm and urbane, but he was always close to real people and aware of their needs. Many tributes and achievements were listed in the funeral service program. Among them, in 1982 he was awarded the
Officer of the Order of Australia Award. But I like the last line of the tributes most of all. It simply says:
Wonderful son, husband and father 1913-1998.
I know Harry Jensen has left his family a wonderful legacy. We are all grateful for the service he gave to the community and the example he set in his wonderful career and long and contributive life.
Mr NAGLE (Auburn) [8.55 p.m.]: To Beryl, Larry, Mark, Jan, Cathy, Diane and Ron, and his 14 grandchildren: a good bloke has gone. Harry was a champion of the people. When I came into this place he said to me, "Honour what you say and honour what you do, but don’t let the bastards get you down." They have not got me down. I remember also the words of my father, Hilton Nagle, that at the end of the day there are only two things that are left: your good name and those who come to your funeral because they want to and not because they have to. Everyone who attended Harry’s funeral remembers his good name and each wanted to be there, including many who were unable to attend.
That great poet, writer and fighter for the working man, Robert Louis Stevenson, once said profoundly, "So long as we are loved by others, I should say that we are almost indispensable, as no man is useless when he has a friend." Harry was our friend. My father introduced me to Harry at Australian Labor Party conferences and during gatherings of the trade union movement, where they both fought for the great principles in which they believed and struggled for the great ideals that they held and wished for their children and grandchildren, which my father encourage me to strive for, with all the accompanying love and honour.
Harry talked to me about the depression years, about the soup kitchens, about the suffering of his fellow Australians in those years that left a deep impression upon him. That is why he was, as Paul Keating said, Labor true blue. Harry honestly believed in the people of New South Wales particularly and of Australia generally. Harry was a great man. To quote an Englishman - which I rarely do in this place - philosopher Sir Samuel Johnson proclaimed, "It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. The act of dying is not important, it lasts so short a time."
I remember the words that were inscribed on my mother’s headstone: "To live in the hearts of those left behind is never to die." Harry will never die in our hearts. Harry gave me the last letter written by his father at Gallipoli before he left the ship to fight at Lone Pine, where he was mortally wounded. I read that lovely, beautiful letter written by that man in 1915 to his wife before that terrible day at Gallipoli. When he left Australia to fight in the First World War Harry’s father did not know that his wife was pregnant with Harry. Unfortunately, I do not have a copy of that beautiful letter. I would have liked to have read it to the House because it was the stuff of which human drama is made. I was so moved that Harry gave me that letter to read because I was going to Gallipoli to celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the battle.
Some of the people who attended that service were Janet Walker, Mark Williams, old Doug, whose father and uncle died at Gallipoli, Kevin and his wife and Bob Hawke. We took that beautiful letter, went onto the shores of Gallipoli, dug a hole and buried it where Harry’s father - the grandfather and great grandfather of those in the gallery - gave up his life. Harry’s father died on that ship five days after being shot. When I came back to Australia, had lunch with Harry and related that story to him, he broke down and cried. Harry Jensen was a great man. I say to Harry Moore, a great friend and devotee of Harry Jensen who would have loved to have been here, that he has lost a great mate.
We will never forget the service that Harry Jensen gave to New South Wales and to the people of New South Wales. As long as this Parliament exists, as long as Hansard exists and as long as members of Parliament remember Harry Jensen this Parliament will be a better place because of him. To live in the hearts of those left behind is never to die. Harry is not dead. He still lives in the heart of each member of Parliament, his children and his grandchildren. We have lost a great mate. Lest we forget.
Mr SCHIPP (Wagga Wagga) [9.02 p.m.]: As one of only two Opposition members who served with Harry Jensen I convey my condolences to his family. I reiterate the concluding remarks of the honourable member for Auburn. Harry Jensen was a great Australian and a person who was respected in this House. Harry commanded that respect because of his actions. When I became a member of Parliament Harry’s reputation was as El Supremo. In his capacity as Lord Mayor of Sydney he was referred to as Headline Harry and many stories were told about him. I had a close involvement with him when he was Minister for Local Government and local government councils were to be amalgamated. He was hurt by the fact that those amalgamations took place while he was overseas. When Harry returned the Acting Minister, Pat Hills, announced that 42 councils had been amalgamated, leaving a total of 18 councils.
Three of the councils in my electorate were amalgamated into one. I advised the councils that they should have a fall-back plan. I suggested that the two rural electorates should look after themselves, that they should give some ground to Wagga Wagga municipal council, and that they should negotiate with the Minister, who had had this matter thrust upon him. The councils took advice from Tim Fischer, who was then a member, and from Wal Fife, the former member for Wagga Wagga. They were told that, if they stood their ground, the Government would wilt on the issue and that they would keep what they wanted.
I took the opposite view because I knew that the amalgamations had already occurred while the Minister was overseas. Finally, at the eleventh hour I went to Harry Jensen’s ministerial office with a proposal to merge rural councils with larger municipal councils. Tears came to his eyes. He was sincere about the issue but he said, "If you had come to see me a month ago I might have been able to do something. Because of the way things have turned out I cannot do anything." I took comfort from that because I knew that Harry was genuine about the issue.
When I was shadow minister for local government I sat behind Harry at a meeting in the main hall of the city council at which about 2,000 enraged country residents were protesting about the council amalgamations. I could not help noticing a nerve on the back of Harry’s neck about the size of a bantam’s egg. Harry, who was very emotional about the issue, was regarded as the great doyen of local government. He was proud of the fact that he was the father of local government. The onerous task of managing those council amalgamations, a decision taken against his wishes, really affected him.
Not many people in this place are as genuine as Harry was. Harry was mature and tough. He could take anyone down if he wanted to and he was capable of doing it in a matter-of-fact or a calculating way. This place would be much more relevant if we had a few more Harry Jensens around. I extend my sympathy to Harry’s family in their loss. As I said earlier, Harry Jensen was a great Australian, someone who deserved the respect of this House and of the community.
Mr CRITTENDEN (Wyong) [9.06 p.m.]: In August 1915, when Harry Jensen was only two years old, his father, Lawrence, was mortally wounded at Lone Pine, Gallipoli. As a result, his mother was assisted in various ways by Legacy. In typical fashion, Harry was one of those people who repaid more than he received. Many people in my electorate are members of the Legacy foundation because of Harry Jensen. Last Sunday, at the Legacy golf day at Toukley Golf Club, there was much talk of the late Harry Jensen. Harry’s schooling was carried out at Gardeners Road Public School, Marist Brothers at Darlinghurst and, as has been mentioned, St Joseph’s College at Hunters Hill. On leaving school Harry was an apprenticed to an electrical contractor and he completed his apprenticeship in 1934. During his apprenticeship Harry joined what was called the Australian Labor Party younger set in 1929 and became active in his local branch of the party.
Harry spent the war years as an electrician at Cockatoo Island, where he learned the hard knocks of politics. He suffered his first defeat after being asked to stand as a delegate for the Electrical Trades Union. He became quite active in the union movement and some years later became a full-time official of the Electrical Trades Union. Later he was partly responsible for forming an organisation called the Electrical Trades Union Advancement Group, of which he became secretary. He left the group in 1953 because of his dissatisfaction with its actions. Harry turned his attention to the local government arena and in December 1950 ran number one on a ticket of three candidates for the east ward of Randwick council. The third candidate on the ticket was a young Lionel Bowen, who later became Deputy Prime Minister of Australia. I understand that Harry and his two colleagues were elected as aldermen and Labor won control of Randwick council for the first time. Prior to this campaign the Labor Party had always been decimated in that east ward.
Hence the beginnings of the now legendary campaign skills of Harry Jensen. In 1951 he was elected as a councillor on Sydney County Council. In 1953 he was re-elected to Randwick council and in 1954 he was elected mayor. The following year he became Chairman of Sydney County Council, a predecessor organisation of EnergyAustralia. In December 1956 he was Labor’s candidate for the position of Lord Mayor of Sydney and won the ballot. He then went on to win the next two terms as Lord Mayor, creating a record of nine years as Lord Mayor of Sydney. That record stands to this day. During this period as Lord Mayor Harry was responsible for the implementation of the Meals on Wheels service. That organisation has grown extensively throughout the entire State.
In 1957 Harry established the first welfare centre for the aged in Redfern. During the nine years he was Lord Mayor he established 15 of those centres. They were the forerunners of today’s senior citizens centres which are now situated throughout
Australia. In January 1960, as the honourable member for Heffron has indicated, there was an outbreak of anti-semitism in Sydney. Harry Jensen’s intervention was so resolute that some international visitors were sufficiently impressed to nominate him to be the recipient of the tenth annual Universal Brotherhood Award from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. To this day Harry Jensen is the only Australian to receive this award and joins other distinguished recipients such as Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt and Senator John F. Kennedy, who later became President of the United States. Harry believed that stamping out racism was a process, not an act.
In 1961 Harry tried unsuccessfully to enter Federal politics by contesting the Federal seat of Bennelong. He lost by only some 800 votes against the sitting Liberal Minister John Cramer. Interestingly, that is the same seat the present Prime Minister is contesting in the forthcoming Federal election. All of us would acknowledge that there is always an element of luck in politics. At the eulogy delivered at the requiem mass for Harry Jensen, Lionel Bowen made the interesting point that if Harry Jensen had won the seat of Bennelong in 1960 the history of Federal Labor may have been entirely different, as it was Lionel Bowen’s firm contention that within a short time Harry Jensen would have become leader of the Federal parliamentary Labor Party.
In politics there is an element of being caught in space and time. To a member who has already left this place Harry Jensen once made the remark that the trouble with he and Pat Hills was that throughout their lives they were always trying to go through the same door at exactly the same time. More often than not Pat Hills managed to get his nose in the door first. Harry was affectionately known as Headline Harry, as every few days his face would be on the front pages of afternoon newspapers. That was not because he was vain but because of the foresight and vision he displayed when he was Lord Mayor of Sydney.
My immediate predecessor as member for Wyong, Harry Moore, OAM, enjoyed a long political association with Harry Jensen, both in Sydney when Harry Moore acted as Harry Jensen’s campaign director at the branch level in his campaigns for Lord Mayor, and when Harry Jensen came to the Wyong area in difficult circumstances to contest the seat of Wyong. I am indebted to Harry Moore for his research for my contribution to this condolence motion. Harry Jensen once told me that when he was contesting the 1965 election in very trying circumstances a then right-wing branch of the Labor Party, the Swansea branch, passed a motion of no confidence in his candidature. Harry politely said, "Let’s put that in the minutes and have the next item of business." Apparently, within three months Harry had the entire branch eating out of his hand.
Harry Jensen also liked to tell the story about the campaign running up to the 1965 election. He attended a small hall in one of the valleys of the electorate west of Wyong on a dark and stormy night. The wind was howling, the lightning was flashing and the rain was coming down in bucketloads. After Harry had given his election address his audience of one applauded him. Harry then thanked him enthusiastically for venturing out on a night of inclement weather. When Harry had finished the chap finally said to him that he hoped Harry would pay him the same courtesy, as he was Harry’s opponent in the forthcoming election. Harry was one of those people who did not mind telling a joke against himself.
When the seat of Wyong was abolished in 1973 Harry went on to contest the seat of Munmorah and held it until his retirement from State Parliament in 1981. When the Wran Government was elected in 1976 Harry gained the position of Minister for Local Government and Minister for Roads, as previous speakers have mentioned. I had an interesting experience at the memorial service held at The Entrance last Friday. The person regarded as the pea for the seat of Wyong in 1965 was a fellow called Artie Mollett. In politics, when people clash and then miss out there is often a certain amount of reserve for all time. Artie Mollett and his wife were at the memorial service and it was great to hear Artie acknowledge the contribution Harry Jensen made to State Parliament.
Harry was a past master at election campaigning, and I certainly gained a few valuable tips when he assisted the Labor campaign for Wyong in 1988. Throughout his political career he was ably supported and sustained by his wife, Beryl, and their six children. Harry was an extremely humble man, a man full of compassion. He was always approachable and, as a member, he was dedicated to his constituents. Perhaps the highest accolade I can give Harry Jensen is that when I did some door-knocking before my election to this House I was stunned by the number of people who not only mentioned my immediate predecessor, Harry Moore, but who also remembered very fondly Harry Jensen.
Members and officers of the House stood in their places.
Motion agreed to.
GREYHOUND RACING AUTHORITY AMENDMENT BILL
Debate resumed from 24 June.
Mr ROZZOLI (Hawkesbury) [9.16 p.m.]: I lead for the Opposition in this debate. The Opposition does not oppose the legislation as we regard it as a basic and necessary step in reshaping the body controlling greyhound racing in New South Wales following the privatisation of the Totalizator Agency Board. Other legislation is before the House relating to harness racing. That legislation will cover similar, although not exactly the same, ground and has been introduced for the same reason that this bill was introduced. Although the Opposition does not oppose the bill, I should like to raise a number of matters which are of some concern to me. As the Minister for Gaming and Racing knows very well, I have a longstanding interest in greyhound racing. I believe it is the most interesting of the three racing codes.
I am sure the Minister for Gaming and Racing will agree with that It is important in any field of endeavour as comprehensive as the sport of greyhound racing that the industry has a strong input into the manner in which the industry is conducted. Page 3 of the strategic plan for greyhound racing issued by the department lists what are identified as the 15 sectors included in the industry. I will not read them all but they range from government and related agencies at the top of the list to manufacturers and engineers of greyhound equipment at the bottom. That plan points out that by far the most influential and significant of the 15 sectors are government and related agencies.
That causes me some concern. That is not because I do not believe that government should take a strong role in the administration of this or the other racing codes, but I believe it is far better if the wisdom, managerial skills and dedication necessary to properly run any of the racing codes come from the industry than from government agencies. I am aware that some see a dichotomy in that presumption: if it is left to run its own course the industry will diverge in a way that may afford preferential treatment to certain sections of the industry, to the disadvantage of others. The Government has an important part to play in averting that possibility. Unless the industry is tightly regulated, various elements within the racing code, more particularly the punters and the general public, will be adversely affected.
The problem with that premise is that if the Government becomes too involved, it may skew the outcome, which is no more preferable than the course that might be followed if the industry is the dominant force. The regulation and management of racing codes requires a mix of government-related agency involvement and industry involvement; a blending of the development that comes from Government with the innovative, entrepreneurial and interest factors that come out of the industry. With that background, I refer to the legislation.
The Act sets up a new board of authority consisting of seven directors, four of whom are to be nominated by the greyhound racing industry. As defined in the legislation, one of those four directors is to be jointly nominated by the two major metropolitan clubs, two by other greyhound racing clubs, with at least one of those being nominated as a representative of TAB clubs, and one by participants in the greyhound racing industry, which presumably involves the great plethora of interests within the industry. The other three directors are to be nominated by the Minister.
Although it is the shape of things to come, a curious format is that the other three directors must produce the chairman and deputy chairman, and those who chair the board must come from outside the industry. I suppose they may have a general interest in greyhound racing but, more likely, they will bring an arms-length attitude to the industry. They will be impartial and objective and will bring skills that will enhance their principal functions in the regulatory side of the board’s activities.
The Act specifically allocates to the four directors who come from the industry all those basic industry functions that are not described as regulatory or appeal functions, to which I will refer later. I have difficulty with the composition and with the separation of the authority into two sections. Whilst I wish the Minister well, and I hope for the sake of the industry that the board of authority works, I have grave fears that we will have to return to the drawing board at some later stage to fix it. Unfortunately, the history of appointments to the former Greyhound Racing Control Board was not marked by brilliance. I say that objectively and not in criticism of all board members. There have been some fine board members. However, there has always been conflict about the nominations by the Minister and lobbying about who should be appointed.
In the past the feeling has been that nominations to the board should represent various
interests. On the surface that would seem to be an admirable feature, but the essence of success at this level lies in the capacity of the board members to deliver the necessary skills. The appointments are even more important now that the TAB privatisation gives the Greyhound Racing Authority much wider power than it previously had. The necessity to be able to harness and develop the gaming market for the maximum return to the industry means that this board will make many important commercial decisions, as well as practical management decisions.
I am not certain that the formula will develop the merit element that the board should have. A great deal of responsibility will be placed on those who make the nominations. I am curious to know how the nomination of the person representing the participants in the greyhound industry will be executed. Perhaps that will be prescribed in the regulations, although I am not certain that is the way to go. Many of my comments are not necessarily on behalf of the Opposition because most Opposition members are not obsessed with greyhound racing and do not possess a great knowledge of it.
I would like to see a pro forma document showing the skills that are required of board members and requiring that all seven positions be filled against the criteria. In utilising the criteria one would take into account the necessity for managerial skills and attributes as well as the need for representatives from various parts of the industry. The success of any organisation is dependent upon having the best possible people managing it. I would like to see some level of criteria in the regulations, particularly because three positions are nominated by the Minister.
Whilst I have complete faith in this Minister, who is a decent and honourable man, we do not know who will fill the position in years to come. We cannot look into the future and we do not know whether the person who holds the position of Minister with responsibility for racing will always have an interest in greyhound racing that will enable him to make the right choices. I would prefer the regulations to stipulate some criteria to guide the Minister, and which the Minister would have to apply, in filling those positions.
I am concerned also about the four:three split of the board into a section that principally looks after the management functions and the day-to-day running of the industry and a section with responsibility for the regulatory functions. Despite doubts one may have about direct representatives of the industry being involved in the regulatory functions, this provision is rather a slap in the face for people who have honourable intentions towards the industry, hold the industry in very high regard and are dedicated to doing the right thing by the industry irrespective of their particular interests. Surely there can be no-one better to guide all the board’s functions. I am not keen on the them-and-us situation created by this model. I do not know who developed the model or what it is based on but in my opinion it is a formula for division and there is reason for some concern for the future.
The bill sets out an appeals mechanism. If the provisions relating to the regulatory functions are curious, this section of the bill is even more curious. I would be grateful if the Minister in reply could advise me of any misinterpretation I may have on this section of the bill. With all due respect to those who have drafted the legislation, I believe this section to be poorly drafted. The bill provides for two levels of appeals. An appeal may be made from decisions of stewards, whether they be stewards appointed by a club - or decisions of a club committee - or stewards of the authority. A person who is aggrieved by a decision of either of the two categories provided in new section 18A(1) may make an appeal to either the authority or the tribunal as determined by the regulations. There is also provision for an appeal from a decision made at that level.
The nature of the offence and whether an appeal is made to the authority or the tribunal affect what occurs subsequently. New section 18A(2) contains another element of appeal taken from a decision of the authority - but which is not a matter falling within the terms of new section 18A(1). In that instance an appeal from a decision of the authority may be made to the tribunal. New section 18A(3) provides that the decision of the authority or the tribunal on appeal under the two elements of appeals to which I have referred, appeals from the decision of a steward or club and appeals from the decision of the authority, is taken as final and conclusive and stands in the place of the body that made the original decision. New section 18A(4) provides an exclusion from new section 18A(3) in the operation of new section 18C.
New section 18C provides that the authority may hold a special inquiry into a matter that the tribunal has decided on appeal. As I have said, new section 18A provides for appeals from the decision of the authority going to the tribunal. The reverse is now provided: appeals from a decision of the tribunal are heard by the authority. It is stated, however, that appeals from a decision of the authority to the tribunal are excluded from appeals
against the tribunal’s decision that go back to the authority. Careful reading of the provisions is necessary if one wants to understand what they mean. I suggest to the Minister that the wording of the appeals provisions be examined before the bill goes before the other House. The provisions should be rewritten so that they are easier to understand. At present a considerable amount of detailed examination and cross-referencing are necessary for an understanding of the section.
The intent of the appeals section is not necessarily wrong but it is poorly worded and may lead to confusion amongst those who need to use the appeals processes. The authority may set up an appeal against a decision of the tribunal because new facts have come to light that may have caused a different decision had the tribunal known about them in the first place. There is no reason for the provision to wash backwards and forwards between the two parallel mechanisms that hear appeals in the first place. In the normal hierarchy of appeals a further appeal from the tribunal would go to a higher body.
The nature of the two appeal mechanisms has to be considered. The body that hears an appeal is not the seven-person authority but the three-person part of the authority that deals with the regulatory functions and is external to the industry. Over the years I have been involved in matters that have come before greyhound tribunals. An understanding of the detail of what is involved in some of those appeals requires some understanding of the code of greyhound racing. Therefore, to place an appeals mechanism before the authority made up of the three outside people would appear to be somewhat strange.
On the other hand, the tribunal - a legally qualified person, for example, a judge or retired judge - is permitted to have assessors to assist in the determination of a matter before it. Those assessors would have special knowledge of and experience in the racing industry and, although they cannot adjudicate, they can act as advisers to the tribunal in respect of the more detailed aspects that may be argued. No similar provision relating to assessors applies to the Greyhound Racing Authority. One can only presume it is considered that the members of the authority have the requisite skills. However, I would suggest that that may not necessarily be the case.
I would prefer it if appeals of a relatively minor nature were decided by the authority, that is, the regulatory members of the authority. It would also be appropriate to include the capacity for the authority to appoint assessors because that would be a useful aid to the authority. Appeals of a more serious nature above a certain defined level should be decided by the tribunal, together with appeals from decisions of the authority, bearing in mind that there are no legally qualified people on the Greyhound Racing Authority. I believe the element of legal knowledge is important in these matters if we are to avoid challenges by way of natural justice. Such challenges have been the fruit on the sideboard of many a good lawyer in the past, because tribunals did not take into account matters they should have taken into account, or took into account matters that should have been omitted.
That probably does not matter provided the appeals that come before the authority are relatively minor; that matters of a more serious nature come before the tribunal; and that appeals from decisions of the tribunal come before another jurisdiction. That jurisdiction may be the District Court and it may be that such appeals should be restricted to matters of law. The other thing I find curious is the capacity of the discovery of additional information to generate a right of appeal against a decision of the tribunal. If at a later stage matters emerge that were not known at the time but should have been taken into account by the tribunal in reaching its decision, I see absolutely no reason why those matters cannot be recommitted to the same tribunal. It is obviously not a question that challenges the decision of the tribunal, which was based on the facts at the time, and therefore is not an appeal against the decision in the strict sense of the word; it is a regenerated hearing based on additional facts.
If there is a problem in recommitting the matter to the same tribunal - and I frankly do not see that there could be - one suggestion might be to have more than one person capable of sitting as the tribunal. Only one person would sit as the tribunal, but there is no reason why there could not be a bench of two qualified people so that a matter that is recommitted with different information could be heard by the second member of the tribunal sitting alone. I think it is a very strange occurrence in terms of the normal process of hearing appeals for a matter to go back to the authority which has all the appearance of being the lesser appellate body. I may have misunderstood the thrust of this aspect of the legislation and I would be more than happy to hear the Minister’s explanation if my assumptions are wrong.
My discussions with quite a number of people within the industry have revealed that they too are concerned about this matter. I believe that what may be regarded as the curious structure of the appeal
system could be improved in the interests of the sport. The other provisions of the Act are basically machinery provisions. A number of sections of the old Act, which came into being in 1985 as the Greyhound Racing Control Board Act, have been rewritten. The Government has reworked those sections in many instances to reflect the changes that are necessary to accommodate alterations to the industry resulting from the sale of the TAB, but also I note that the opportunity has been taken to tidy up some of the wording and to regroup the Act so that it reads more easily in those sections. Again, I am not sure that some of them are an improvement. I do not consider that they are a detraction from the original Act, but I do not see that they necessarily make all that much difference. I am aware of the amendments which the Minister intends to move at the committee stage which, again, is a bit of a shuffling of chairs - I will not say the chairs on the Titanic; I will not put it in that class - or clauses presumably with the object of trying to get them to read a little better.
In summary, the Opposition supports the general thrust of the legislation. We agree with the Government’s decision to amend the legislation to reflect the changes that have taken and will take place. I have given my interpretation of some of those matters. My analysis of some of those matters may not reflect the belief of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the shadow minister for racing, but I flag that we will watch with interest the operation of this legislation. We will maintain a watching brief on it and consult with the industry. If it works admirably, which would be my hope because I would like to see the industry progress, we will be happy to carry on the legislation should there be a change of administration in March.
If we consider that it is not working as well it might, of course we reserve the right to amend the legislation at a later date. In that event we would certainly look at the matters I have raised to try to make the authority bond better with the industry generally and to allow the strongest possible consultative framework throughout the industry, at the same time maintaining the discipline which the Government must maintain. Certainly we will watch the appeals mechanism with interest to see whether it works and whether there may be a better method of constructing the appeals mechanism than is laid out in the Act. However, the Opposition will support the Act. We do not intend to try to make any amendments at this stage because I believe it would be too complex and would be unlikely to be accepted by the Government. We will wait to see the outcome and if it becomes necessary to amend the legislation later we will turn our minds to possible amendments at that stage.
Mr FACE (Charlestown - Minister for Gaming and Racing, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Hunter Development) [9.48 p.m], in reply: I thank the honourable member for Hawkesbury for his contribution to this debate and his support for the proposals contained in the bill. There is certainly no doubt that he has had a long and abiding interest in greyhound racing. That has been evidenced over the years that I have been involved both as shadow minister and as Minister. I place on public record the fact that his significant contribution in a very constructive way is deeply respected by those in that industry. I have no doubt that everything he has said here tonight has been in that vein. It was probably a slip of the tongue, but the honourable member mentioned that the strategic plan for the industry had been issued by the department; it was in fact issued by the Greyhound Racing Authority following consultation with the industry.
I made it quite clear when the strategic plans were foreshadowed with both the Thoroughbred Racing Board and Harness Racing New South Wales that I wanted strategic plans to be provided by the industry. In my early days as Minister, the industry did not have strategic plans for the future. That led to many problems for the three racing codes. In part that situation led to the formation of the Thoroughbred Racing Board and the privatisation of the TAB to ensure their long-term future. Although the three codes have had problems, I have not given in, nor have I taken the mid-course, but by introducing this bill I have taken this matter one step at a time.
The honourable member for Hawkesbury acknowledged that the purpose of the bill is to take control of the industry from government and give industry a greater say in its functioning. Ministerial appointments will include a chairperson and deputy chairperson, and the industry nominees will retain the majority vote on commercial and strategic matters. I emphasise that, as a consequence of the privatisation of the TAB, for the first time the industry will have the majority vote on all strategic and commercial matters. If this provision fails, it is on their heads - they cannot use the excuse that the Government is at fault. The Government intends that the separation of powers of the authority will be only a short-term measure. It is the first step in a process in which I could have gone the full gamut.
I tempered that approach on advice from my ministerial advisers and the department. In the past, Ministers from both political persuasions had appointed inappropriate people to those two controlling authorities. The previous Minister, Chris Downy, for whom I had great respect, would admit
that the appointments of Mr Atkins and Mr Humphries were probably most unwise, and I agree. Atkins was previously discredited on a motion of censure against me in the early days of this Government. Humphries, whom I do not know, was the veterinarian at Wentworth Park. He presided over appeals, which created quite a conflict. Such a situation will not happen under the new board of this authority
One important tenet of this legislation is that the appeals mechanism will move from the authority. I was confronted with that difficulty when I had to fill the positions. As the honourable member for Hawkesbury would know, one of my first duties, which led to criticism of me and the Government, was to dismiss that board. Several distinguished members of that board, especially Neville Bailey and Cyril Rowe, were dismissed because of the actions of other people. I have agonised over that for a long time. When I reappointed that board, prior to the introduction of this legislation, I faced the difficulty that everyone in the industry - more so in the greyhound industry - either owned, trained or bred dogs. I had to put together a board that was indicative of the industry and had expertise, but had to exclude anyone with that kind of involvement. It was an almost impossible task.
Since that time the board has survived without any controversy. That is indicative of my judgment on appointments to the board. In this industry there will always be difficulties, because it is a fact of life that we cannot please everyone. Unfortunately, that applies more to the two minor codes. I have been around for a long time and have weathered the storm. We will never please everyone. As far as the appeal mechanism is concerned the chief executive of the National Coursing Association, Phil Bell, does not want to accept a lot of things, and I know he has visited members of the Opposition. That is what democracy is all about.
Frankly, he does not understand the situation. My officers have tried to explain this legislation to him. The model for the appeals tribunal is based on the successful model that already exists for harness racing. Greyhound racing is the last code in which we have a situation of Caesar appealing to Caesar. The chairman and the chief executive of the Greyhound Racing Authority have had long experience in greyhound appeals. The chief executive has worked for this Government and the former Government. No-one can cast aspersions on Bob Cartwright. When I first entered Parliament he was working for Bluey Griffiths.
This legislation has been drafted following a great deal of consultation. I give an assurance that my department and the authority will issue detailed explanations in the interests of the appeals provision. There is a misunderstanding in regard to the Government’s intentions, and I do not want any angst amongst the industry. The legislation is at a fragile stage and we do not need more complications. The special provisions relating to new evidence are similar to appeal structures for the galloping and harness racing industries. In other words, this legislation is no different from legislation which covers the TRB and Harness Racing New South Wales.
The new evidence provisions were initially introduced into the harness racing appeals system following the infamous poppy seed case of the mid-1980s. The Government believes that a consistent approach should be adopted across the three codes, which I have tried to do since I became Minister. The bill will establish a Greyhound Racing Appeals Tribunal to bring greyhound racing into line with the other two codes, both of which have independent appeals tribunals. It is proposed that the tribunal will hear appeals against more serious matters such as disqualifications and monetary penalties in excess of $200. Most importantly, that action will reduce much of the time-consuming role of hearing appeals and will enable the tribunal and the authority to concentrate their efforts on control, regulation, and the promotion of the greyhound racing industry. I was criticised when I appointed two people to that board - one who, by her own admission, had very little knowledge of the greyhound racing industry. During her time in that position she contributed significantly to the board’s promotion of itself. From that viewpoint her appointment to that position was worthwhile. The powers for and protections in holding an inquiry that are being sought are identical with those in separate Thoroughbred Racing Board legislation. The TRB sought these amendments in order to hear an application by Robert Waterhouse to have his warned-off appeal held.
In this regard the legislation is being amended to ensure that the Greyhound Racing Authority will have protection from defamation action in respect of the conduct of inquiries and to provide the authority with the discretion to hold inquiries in public. In addition, the authority will be given the power to administer oaths to persons appearing before it at all inquiries. In subsequent legislation the same authority will be provided to Harness Racing New South Wales. In other words, the same authority will be mirrored across the three codes.
I am pleased that the Opposition has adopted a bipartisan approach to this important initiative which will set the scene for the administration of greyhound racing in the post-privatisation era. I take on board what the honourable member for Hawkesbury said about a watching brief. Tonight I said that this bill is an initial step. I am not blowing my own trumpet but in terms of everything I have done as Minister I have always said that there will be a monitoring period because legislation that is passed by this House may work in theory but not necessarily in practice. That is especially the case in relation to liquor legislation. The House may pass a liquor bill which stays on the statute book forever and no-one ever looks at it. Another good example is legislation relating to charities.
The legislation will create a unique framework for the control and regulation of the racing industry in the State, with a separation of the commercial and regulatory responsibilities of the Greyhound Racing Authority. It will enable the Government to evaluate whether the industry now has the maturity to adapt properly to self-regulation. I reiterate that we must take one step at a time. If the industry has the maturity to adapt properly to self-regulation the Government will consider transferring complete responsibility for administering greyhound racing back to the industry. Accordingly, I now challenge the industry to embrace the new legislation and, thereby, capitalise on the opportunities created by the privatisation of the TAB and the deregulation of the racing industry which accompanied that.
Honourable members will note that new section 6(5) provides that the representatives of greyhound racing clubs and industry participants selected will be determined by the Minister by order published in the gazette. I can now confirm that in the case of club representatives under new section 6(2)(b) one director will be selected by way of a ballot conducted amongst TAB clubs, with the other director being selected by way of ballot amongst all greyhound racing clubs. The process could not be more democratic.
Under new section 6(2)(c) the industry representative will be selected by a reconstituted greyhound industry advisory panel. That proposal did not meet with a great deal of accord but I persevered with it. The TRB advisory council has worked well in the harness racing industry. If people in the industry want to boycott the advisory council they may do so. In the past people in the greyhound industry have done so. I have put the people in the greyhound racing industry on notice. It is marvellous to see how quickly they reunited when I told them that they would be represented on the advisory panel. The advisory panel will include a representative from each major section of the industry, that is, owners, breeders, trainers, and bookmakers, together with a representative of the United Greyhound Association. Some people will be surprised to learn that the UGA will be involved. However, my officers have checked the credibility and credentials of the association.
The United Greyhound Association represents many people in the industry and it cannot be ignored. My officers have confirmed that it is not a fly-by-night organisation, as some people in the industry have tried to paint it. As the association represents a large section of the industry it will be represented, despite what some people would like to do to it. I will communicate with the industry on this matter during coming weeks to facilitate the appointment of the new authority. However, I must clarify one important issue, that is, the method of appointing the person representing the two metropolitan clubs. I want everyone to take this on board so that there is no confusion.
Unfortunately I have been informed that the Greyhound Breeders Owners and Trainers Association and the New South Wales National Coursing Association have not been able to reach agreement on the joint nomination and have indicated their intention to submit separate nominations. If they think that I will referee the fight they have another think coming. I suspect that they will both submit nominations and put me in the invidious position of trying to pick only one representative. I am sure the honourable member for Hawkesbury agrees that it is like the War of the Balkans: agreement will never be reached in this way. I make it patently clear that I will not be placed in the position of adjudicating on this matter.
The legislation specifically provides that a failure to nominate a person to a category of nominations specified under new section 6(2) does not affect the appointment of the directors, who are nominated in accordance with the section. I suspect that the two associations would say that the legislation cannot be implemented because they have not been able to reach an agreement. However, the legislation is here and that is what will happen. The tram or the bus will depart and it will be their tough luck if they are not on it. Accordingly, in the event that the metropolitan clubs are unable to put forward a joint nomination I will be left with no alternative but to recommend the appointment of the six-person board. That will definitely not be in the best interests of the greyhound racing industry. Indeed, the industry will forgo the opportunity it is being given by the Government to control its own destiny
by virtue of having the majority of the directors on the board. This is an opportunity to stop the in-fighting between the two clubs, a position which exists only in this State.
I have never bought into the wars in the industry and I do not think the in-fighting has done the industry any good. I have friends on both sides of the arguments. When I first became a Minister I was told that the NCA belongs to the Liberals, the GBOTA belongs to Labor, and never the twain shall meet. The honourable member for Hawkesbury has dealt with the matter in the same way as I have. Another matter I mention relates to the body known as COBIDD - the Committee on Budgeting, Industry Development and Distribution. I requested that that body be established to ensure that the industry, especially the clubs, had appropriate input into decisions relating to the distribution of industry funds, including funds for racecourse development. That action was essential under the previous authority structure, which did not have direct industry representation. However, as I have previously identified, under the structure proposed in this bill the industry will have a majority of members on the new authority board. Therefore, I must question whether COBIDD will continue to serve any useful purpose or whether it will merely duplicate or cut across the orderly decision-making process of the board.
Accordingly, I will be calling on the new board to address that issue as a matter of urgency following its appointment. Since the introduction of this bill I have consulted industry representatives. As a result of those discussions I shall be moving several minor amendments in Committee to clarify certain provisions in the bill, including the accounts established by the authority in accordance with new section 17A. The purpose of these amendments is threefold. Firstly, the provisions relating to the eligibility of persons to be appointed to the authority will be amended to remove any doubt that directors or committee members of race clubs are eligible for appointment to the authority. It is recognised that the racing club nominees will most likely be club directors or committee members.
Secondly, the amendments will ensure that persons who are disqualified or otherwise prohibited from participating in or being associated with a greyhound racing club will not be eligible to serve on authority boards. This measure is designed to ensure the integrity of board members - something that may have emerged with people participating in one of the other two codes. As the honourable member for Hawkesbury said, the final amendment is of a machinery nature, being a savings provision relating to the Greyhound Racing Authority fund and the transfer of an existing clause to schedule 1 to the Act. In Committee I shall propose that the amendments be dealt with in globo as they relate to the same schedule. That will expedite the passage of the bill, which I now commend to the House.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Amendments, by leave, by Mr Face agreed to:
No. 1 Page 3, schedule 1, lines 27 and 28. Omit all the words on those lines.
No. 2 Page 4, schedule 1, proposed section 6(3), lines 31-34. Omit all the words on those lines.
No. 3 Page 17, schedule 1. Insert after line 27:
 Schedule 1, clauses 1 and 1A
Insert after the heading to Schedule 1:
1 Employee of club not eligible for appointment
A person who is an employee of a greyhound racing club is not eligible to be appointed as a director.
1A Person disqualified or prohibited not eligible
A person who is disqualified under section 9(2)(b) or who is prohibited from participating in or associating with greyhound racing under section 9(2)(d) is not eligible to be nominated or appointed as a director while the disqualification or prohibition remains in force.
No. 4 Page 17, schedule 1. Insert after line 31:
 Schedule 1, clause 2
Omit "Chairman" wherever occurring. Insert instead "chairperson".
No. 5 Page 18, schedule 1. Insert after line 14:
 Schedule 1, clause 6(1)(f) and (f1)
Insert after clause 6(1)(e):
(f) is an employee of a greyhound racing club,
(f1) is disqualified under section 9(2)(b) or prohibited from participating in or associating with greyhound racing under section 9(2)(d),
No. 6 Page 25, schedule 1. Insert after line 11:
15 Greyhound Racing Authority (NSW) Fund
Schedule as amended agreed to.
Bill reported from Committee with amendments and passed through remaining stages.
All money in the Greyhound Racing Authority (NSW) Fund immediately before the commencement of Schedule 1 to the amending Act is to be paid into an account established by the Authority in accordance with section 17A.
BANANA INDUSTRY AMENDMENT BILL
HARNESS RACING NEW SOUTH WALES AMENDMENT BILL
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AMENDMENT (COMMUNITY LAND MANAGEMENT) BILL
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AMENDMENT (OMBUDSMAN’S RECOMMENDATIONS) BILL
Suspension of standing orders agreed to.
House adjourned at 10.13 p.m.