Full Day Hansard Transcript (Legislative Council, 5 August 2011, Corrected Copy)

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LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL

Friday 5 August 2011

__________

The President (The Hon. Donald Thomas Harwin) took the chair at 9.30 a.m.

The President read the Prayers.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Formal Business Notices of Motions

Private Members' Business items Nos 24 and 38 outside the Order of Precedence objected to as being taken as formal business.
FEDERAL BUDGET

Motion by the Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane agreed to:
      1. That this House notes that:
          (a) the Gillard Federal Government has delivered its first budget, which is on course for surplus in 2012-2013,

          (b) the budget has been well received, with economic and political commentators describing it as a tough budget, including Ross Gittens stating that "taken in sum, there are plenty of cuts and savings that suggest some courage in Canberra", and Peter Hartcher noting that it is not tough but definitely responsible, and a budget that ignores political pandering,

          (c) New South Wales reaps the lion's share of road funds and a budget that delivers, in part:
            (i) $6.6 billion on natural disasters recovery,

            (ii) $36 billion for roads, railways and ports,

            (iii) $16.4 billion in additional growth funding for public hospitals over six years,

            (iv) $1.5 billion for mental health services,

            (v) $4.3 billion of investments in regional hospitals, health care, universities and roads,

            (vi) $558 million for the National Workforce Development Fund,

            (vii) an extra $1.75 billion for vocational education and training,

            (viii) $233 million for new support programs for the long-term unemployed,

            (ix) $425 million to reward top performing teachers, and
          (d) mental health has been a critical issue which all political parties agree needs to be tackled, and
          (e) this budget provides a long-awaited mental health package that is most welcome for mental illness prevention, including early intervention for children and adolescents, and provides funds for the Headspace treatment program for young adults and those with mental health problems, including the homeless.

      2. That this House:
          (a) congratulates the Gillard Federal Government and in particular the Federal Treasurer, the Hon. Wayne Swan, MP, for his tough but in many ways fair budget, and

          (b) conveys special thanks for the Federal Government's focus on mental health and on the provision of significant roads funding to the State of New South Wales.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Formal Business Notices of Motions

Private Members' Business items Nos 116, 118, 120, 136 and 144 outside the Order of Precedence objected to as being taken as formal business.
EDUCATION WEEK

Motion by the Hon. Amanda Fazio agreed to:
      That this House notes:

      (a) that Education Week 2011 is being held from 1 to 5 August 2011,

      (b) that the theme for Education Week 2011 is 'New South Wales Public Schools—Creating the Future',

      (c) the dedication and hard work of teachers and staff in the education system in New South Wales, and

      (d) that the support of parents and the community is vital to a vibrant education system.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Formal Business Notices of Motions
    Private Members' Business item No. 153 outside the Order of Precedence objected to as being taken as formal business.
    GENERAL PURPOSE STANDING COMMITTEE NO. 3
    Reference

    Motion by the Hon. Cate Faehrmann agreed to:
        1. That General Purpose Standing Committee No 3 inquire into and report on rail infrastructure project costings in New South Wales and in particular:
            (a) methodologies used by the Transport Construction Authority, the Treasury and other government agencies to cost rail projects,

            (b) 'concept estimates' for rail project costs,

            (c) the differences between rail and road project costs methodologies,

            (d) cost estimate methodologies applied in other Australian states, by the Australian Rail Track Corporation and internationally,

            (e) tendering processes, and

            (f) any other related matter.

        2. That the committee report by Friday 11 November 2011.
    ARNCLIFFE SCOTS JUNIOR RUGBY LEAGUE FOOTBALL CLUB

    Motion by the Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane agreed to:

        1. That this House notes that:
            (a) the Arncliffe Scots Junior Rugby League Football Club has been serving rugby league in the St George district since 1926 and this year celebrates its 85th anniversary,

            (b) over this period Scots has become one of the most renowned and respected clubs in rugby league,

            (c) it has established its name for sportsmanship and fair play and is held in high esteem in the country, by the community, the local council and all rugby league circles, and

            (d) last Saturday, 30 July 2011, the club celebrated 50 years of Arncliffe Scots at Cahill Park, Arncliffe and on 13 August 2011 the club will celebrate its 85th anniversary players reunion.
        2. That this House congratulates Arncliffe Scots club, board and club members, club officials and all past and present players.
    RAMADAN

    Motion by the Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane agreed to:
        1. That this House notes that:
            (a) 1 August 2011 was the first day of Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic year, a month of prayers, fasting and charity,

            (b) Ramadan is a month of fasting, a month of mercy, forgiveness and compassion, while observing their fasting, Muslims share the suffering of the poor, the deprived and the vulnerable, and

            (c) the month of Ramadan presents all Muslims around the globe with an opportunity to reflect, sacrifice and generously give to those in need.
        2. That this House congratulates the Australian Muslim community on the advent of this blessed month of Ramadan and wish all a Ramadan Kareem and Eid Mubarak.
    AUSTRALIAN LEBANESE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

    Motion by the Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane agreed to:
        1. That this House notes that:
            (a) the Australian Lebanese Chamber of Commerce was founded in Sydney in 1985,

            (b) the first President of the Australian Lebanese Chamber of Commerce was Joe Ghazal, followed by Nick Aboud, Samir El Khalil, Richard Bobb, Michael Rizk, Ron Gedeon, Michael Symond and presently Joe Khattar,

            (c) the object of the Australian Lebanese Chamber of Commerce is the promotion and assistance of trade between Australia, Lebanon and all the Middle East, and

            (d) the Australian Lebanese Chamber of Commerce is a regular host of business seminars and business luncheons of the high profile level.

        2. That this House congratulates Joe Khattar and the board of the Australian Lebanese Chamber of Commerce on their contribution to business in New South Wales.
    TRIBUTE TO BARRY PALMER, AM
      Motion by the Hon. Amanda Fazio agreed to:
          1. That this House congratulates Mr Barry Palmer, AM, on his historic election as the 2nd International Vice President of Lions International.

          2. That this House notes that:
              (a) Mr Palmer is expected to become International President in 2013, and that is the first time in the Lion's 94 year history that an Australian has been appointed to such a high position in Lions International,

              (b) Mr Palmer was the motivator and instigator behind the successful "The Lions Children's Mobility Foundation" (also known as the Hart Walker program),

              (c) Mr Palmer started the Lions Cord Blood and Childhood Cancer Research project in conjunction with the Children's Cancers Institute Australia,

              (d) Mr Palmer was the founder of the "Education Builds Bridges" project in Indonesia with Durban Lions which now supports 120 children with the help of Lions and the public in Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America and Indonesia, and

              (e) Mr Palmer and his wife Anne also support an orphanage in Bangalore India with the help of his club.
      BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
      Formal Business Notices of Motions

      Private Members' Business item Nos 165 and 166 outside the Order of Precedence objected to as being taken as formal business.
      TRIBUTE TO SHEIKH UL ISLAM PROFESSOR MOHAMED TAHIR-UL-QADRI

      Motion by the Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane agreed to:
          1. That this House notes that:
              (a) the Honourable Shaoquette Moselmane had the pleasure of hosting a morning tea for Sheik Ul Islam Professor Mohamed Tahir-Ul-Qadri,

              (b) Sheikh Ul Islam is a former Professor of Law and Head of Department of Islamic Jurisprudence and legislation at the University of Punjab, Pakistan, and the founder of Minhajul Quran International, which has branches and centres in more than 90 countries,

              (c) the morning tea was well attended by cross sections of religious leaders, community leaders and ethnic media,

              (d) the morning tea was also attended by the shadow Attorney General, the Honourable Paul Lynch, and Deputy Opposition Whip in the Legislative Council, the Honourable Lynda Voltz, and

              (e) Sheikh Ul Islam addressed a peace conference in Sydney's west and spoke of Islam as the religion of peace, tolerance and compassion.

          2. That this House congratulates:
              (a) Sheik Ul Islam Professor Mohamed Tahir-Ul-Qadri on his message of peace and tolerance, and

              (b) Minhaj-Ul-Quran Australia on their services to the Australian Muslim Community.
      BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
      Formal Business Notices of Motions

      Private Members' Business item No. 168 outside the Order of Precedence objected to as being taken as formal business.
      ST FRANCIS XAVIER SCHOOL CENTENARY

      Motion by the Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane agreed to:
          1. That this House notes that:
              (a) St Francis Xavier School will celebrate Back to Arncliffe Centenary Day on Sunday 7 August 2011,

              (b) 2011 marks the Centenary of Catholics Education at St Francis Xavier School, Arncliffe,

              (c) Arncliffe Centenary Day celebrations will commence with a 9.00 a.m. Mass and is open to all who have had connection with St Francis Xavier, and

              (d) the celebrations will also involve the launch of the book entitled "View from the Tower", by Greg Davis.

          2. That this House congratulates St Francis Xavier School's Principal, Ms Patricia Fahey, Parish priest, Fr Brendan Quirk, all school officials, parents and teachers and all St Francis Xavier school children.
      BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
      Formal Business Notices of Motions

      Private Members' Business item Nos 170 and 172 outside the Order of Precedence objected to as being taken as formal business.
      DAFFODIL DAY

      Motion by the Hon. Marie Ficarra agreed to:
          That this House:
              (a) acknowledges that 2011 is the 25th anniversary of the Cancer Council's Daffodil Day, a day to give hope for a brighter, cancer-free future which also raises funds for vital cancer research, prevention programs and support services,
              (b) notes that in 2011:
                (i) the Cancer Council will contribute around $50 million for cancer research and take around 100,000 calls on the Cancer Council Helpline,

                (ii) will distribute over half a million publications to inform patients, family and friends about cancer treatment and support options and provide advice on cancer prevention through a range of public education programs, and

              (c) congratulates the Cancer Council on its excellent work in continuing to support research and maintain prevention programs and support services for patients, family and friends of those diagnosed with cancer.
        PENRITH PANTHERS WOMEN IN LEAGUE
          Motion by the Hon. Marie Ficarra agreed to:
                1. That this House notes that:

                    (a) on 20 June 2011, the Penrith Panthers Women in League held a Charity Lunch to recognise women's' involvement in rugby league and raise funds for the Jane McGrath Foundation which provides funding for McGrath Breast Care Nurses nationally, with particular emphasis on rural and regional areas right across Australia,

                    (b) in the spirit of the fundraiser for Breast Cancer, the Penrith Panthers players swapped their traditional black Panthers' strip for an eye-catching pink strip and the Penrith Panthers home ground, Centrebet Stadium, was also given the new name of McGrath Foundation Stadium for the week,

                    (c) the Penrith Panthers Women in League since its inception in 2006 have raised over $200,000 with funds donated to the Panthers on the Prowl Foundation, which helps local children who are at risk of disengaging with the education system, the Penrith Women's Refuge and St Vincent’s de Paul, and

                    (d) due to the generosity of the 270 guests in attendance at the 2011 fundraiser more than $15,000 was raised.

                2. That this House congratulates and acknowledges the organisers, special guests and contributors to the event, particularly:
                    (a) organisers of the event, Diane Langmack, Jill Hoff, Maddie Hoff, Anne McLaren, Chris Rhind and Jenny Matthews,

                    (b) the Master of Ceremonies, Channel Nine's Tim Gilbert,

                    (c) the Chief Executive Officer of the McGrath Foundation, Kylea Tink,

                    (d) the Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Liz Ann Macgregor OBE,

                    (e) the Managing Director of Harvey Norman, Katie Page,

                    (f) Professor John Rasko, a pioneer of gene cell research, from the Cure the Future organization and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital,

                    (g) Don Feltis, John Hiatt, Ric Simpson, Phil Gould, Luke Lewis, Michael Jennings and Michael Gordon, and

                    (h) sponsors Sanyo, Centrebet, ISC, Abcoe, York Jewellers, Astute Training and the Premier Communications Group.
              AUSTRALIAN DIAMONDS NETBALL TEAM

              Motion by the Hon. Marie Ficarra agreed to:
                  1. That this House notes that:
                      (a) on 10 July 2011 the Australian Diamonds won the World Netball Championships against New Zealand, 58 to 57 goals,

                      (b) the Australian Team consisted of Natalie von Bertouch, Catherine Cox, Caitlin Bassett, Chelsea Pitman, Erin Bell, Julie Corletto, Kimberlee Green, Laura Geitz, Mo'onia Gerrard, Natalie Medhurst, Sharni Layton, Susan Fuhrmann, Coach Norma Plummer, Assistant Coach - Specialist Coach Nicole Cusack, Assistant Coach - Specialist Coach Roselee Jencke, Team Manager Margaret Molina, Team Doctor Kath Gaffney, Physiotherapist Sean Mungovan, Massage Therapist Matt Durston and Performance Analyst Tara Handke,

                      (c) the International Federation of Netball Associations [IFNA] selected five Australian Umpires to officiate at the World Championships, being Sharon Kelly, Clare McCabe and Rachel Ayre of New South Wales; Paula Ferguson of Western Australia; and Kate Wright of Victoria, and

                      (d) that Sydney won its bid to be the host of the 2015 World Netball Championships.
                  2. That this House congratulates the Australian Diamonds on becoming World Champions, Netball Australia and Australian Sports Commission for their outstanding work and thanks all those who officiated and administered the 2011 World Netball Championships.
              SESSIONAL ORDERS
              Precedence of Business

              Motion, by leave, by the Hon. Duncan Gay agreed to:
                    That the sessional order relating to the precedence of business be amended by omitting "3.30 p.m. on the fourth sitting day" in paragraph 1 and inserting instead "3.00 p.m. on the fourth sitting day".
                FIREARMS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2011
                Second Reading

                Debate called on, and adjourned on motion by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile and set down as an order of the day for a future day.
                TRUTH IN LABELLING (FREE-RANGE EGGS) BILL 2011

                Bill introduced, and read a first time and ordered to be printed on motion by Dr John Kaye.
                Second Reading

                Dr JOHN KAYE [9.51 a.m.]: I move:
                    That this bill be now read a second time.
                I am proud to introduce the Truth in Labelling (Free-range Eggs) Bill 2011, which aims to end the large-scale deception of consumers who are genuinely repelled by the treatment of hens in the cage egg industry and who wish to express their ethical values through their purchase decisions. The bill will protect free-range egg producers who are forced into unfair competition with cage egg producers who misleadingly or falsely label their products as "free range".

                Firstly, this bill will achieve those objectives by creating a legislative definition of "free-range egg production systems" that facilitates the natural behaviour patterns of hens. This includes the number of hens allowed to be kept in a certain area, surgical procedures and prohibited and housing conditions. Secondly, the legislation will enforce labelling requirements for free-range, barn-laid and cage eggs. This includes restrictions on positive imagery and text on cage egg packaging, as well as specifying the font size and type used on the labels. The bill stipulates that to fall within the definition of "free-range eggs" producers must ensure that their laying fowl meet the following requirements: access to a range area with a density of no more than 750 fowls per hectare; available shade, shelter and vegetation in a range area; stocking density within a shed kept to a maximum of six fowls per square metre for more than 4,000 fowls; exposure to natural sunlight and/or artificial light not to exceed 16 hours in any 24-hour period; availability of natural food; and prohibition on practices inducing moulting by not feeding, toe trimming using poly peepers and beak trimming or any modification of the beak.

                The Hon. Scot MacDonald: It's a bit like cannibalism.

                Dr JOHN KAYE: I will get to that in a minute. The bill imposes a maximum penalty of $55,000 for corporations and $5,500 and six months imprisonment for individuals. The legislation responds to the growing number of consumers for whom the treatment of hens in the cage egg industry is simply unconscionable. The bill is based on the growing understanding of birds as social, sentient beings that need to develop complex relationships and whose wellbeing is fulfilled only when they can forage for food. For most consumers, the treatment of caged birds is simply unacceptable. There is increasing evidence as the consequences of cheaper egg production become clear: when hens are living in spaces smaller than an A4 page without enough space to stretch their wings; when hens suffer defeathering from rubbing painfully against the wire enclosure; when weaker birds die unnoticed in a cage, trampled to death by their cage mates; and, to compound their misery, when there is a lack of exercise causing a hen's bones to become weak, brittle and easily broken.

                Studies have shown that one in six hens in battery cages live with broken bones and the pain that causes. Also, necessary beak modification to stop birds from pecking each other to death is a symptom of overcrowding and the consequent destruction of normal social relationships. This bill provides protection to consumers for whom such treatment is unacceptable and who do not wish to participate in an industry that treats sentient creatures in this way. It protects consumers from unscrupulous cage bird farmers who misleadingly label their products to suggest a level of animal welfare that does not exist, and it stops those producers from marketing attempts to disguise the appalling treatment of birds in the cage industry and from misleading terms such as "barn laid".

                The bill provides protection to genuine free-range egg producers who respect both consumers and the birds in their care. It does so by allowing them to market their products without unfair competition from cage operators who can produce eggs at a lower cost because they do not respect the social and welfare needs of their birds. It rewards the efforts of farmers who respect their birds, and it will allow for growth of a genuine free-range industry that can connect to consumers and return profits to farmers who are meeting the market demand for free-range eggs. It is increasingly clear that it is not possible to achieve a successful market for free-range eggs with respect to both producers and consumers without a legislated labelling regime that is enforced and protects consumers. It cannot occur without a definition and a mechanism to enforce that definition.

                Quality information is central to both fair trading and the rights of consumers. To make it absolutely clear, this bill is not about stopping the cage bird industry. That is a separate debate on which The Greens and animal welfare groups have strong opinions. We believe that the cage bird industry should be phased out, but this bill is not about phasing out cage birds. Presumably many consumers and producers believe that it should be phased out, but this bill is not designed to achieve that outcome. The bill asserts the rights of ethical consumers to say that they do not want to be part of the cage bird industry and that cage bird producers do not have the right to mislead consumers or to unfairly compete with genuine free-range egg producers.

                The root cause of the problem in the free-range egg industry is that there are no legislated definitions relating to it outside Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. The definitions that do exist are not legislated, are inconsistent and create gaps in which unscrupulous egg producers can hide their products under labelling that deeply misleads consumers. For example, the New South Wales Government endorses the industry code of practice, whereas the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Free Range Egg and Poultry Australia have separate codes that are not necessarily consistent. The cage industry has developed expertise in labelling as a marketing tool to disguise the awful reality of birds that live in cages. Terms such as "farm fresh", "healthy hens", "natural" and the "environmental egg" connote expectations of production systems that are vastly different from the reality of the intensive farming practices employed by these producers.

                Even "barn laid" has little meaning. Animals are often crowded into high densities and dirty conditions, creating conditions for birds that lead to feather pecking and cannibalism. Without access to the outdoors, barn-kept animals cannot fulfil their natural behaviours and instincts. The model code of practice states that to meet the hens' needs under the barn laid standard, producers do not have to provide hens with perches on which to nest and ground litter in which to forage. Barns are permitted to have wire mesh on the ground, which causes major problems for the feet of hens. The title "barn laid" misleads consumers into thinking they are buying a product that has been produced under decent animal welfare conditions and standards. That is simply not true. Yet consumers have been demanding labelling that protects the animals that produce the eggs they consume.

                In September 2009 the Australian division of the Humane Society International released the results of a consumer survey of labelling in Australia. The 3,085 responses exposed extensive consumer misunderstanding over the labelling of animal products in Australia. The survey made explicit reference to confusion surrounding egg labelling, with respondents showing poor understanding of conditions for the different types of production systems. This confusion led to an overwhelming majority of respondents appealing for labelling reform. The introduction of labelling has been identified by both State and Federal authorities as a key to protecting consumers. This legislation emanates from a longstanding campaign about consumers being misled. A lack of labelling regulations of the egg industry has resulted in Australia experiencing multiple mislabelling violations in relation to free range eggs.

                On 24 September 2010 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission launched proceedings against a Western Australian egg company that falsely labelled its eggs as free range when they were produced from barn or cage production systems. From June 2008 until April 2010, C I and Company knowingly sold eggs that were mislabelled and in doing so engaged in egg substitution that breached the Trade Practices Act. However, prosecution in regards to egg labelling is extremely difficult under the Trade Practices Act because there is no clear legal definition of "free range", according to a 2000 report by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry [DAFF].

                A case that was prosecuted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission represents the tip of a very deep iceberg. That is borne out by a continued stream of anecdotal evidence of deliberately rebadging eggs that come from caged or so-called barn animals and selling them as free range. This anecdotal evidence does not stand alone. It is borne out by statistical analysis of the materials that are available from the Australian Egg Corporation Limited [AECL] and from other sources. The Greens' own analysis shows that between 2006 and 2007 the total laying hen flock in Australia declined by 6 per cent. At the same time the population of free range eggs required to produce the number of eggs that were sold, and were claimed to be sold as free range eggs, would have needed to have increased by a spectacular 37.2 per cent. In other words, between the years 2006 and 2007 an additional 332,000 free range hens would have had to have been added to the production stream.

                Every egg farmer to whom I have spoken has said the following: firstly, it did not happen, and, secondly, it would not have been possible for it to happen. It is simply not possible to increase the number of free range laid eggs by more than 300,000 in a 12-month period. Even allowing for a spectacular growth rate of 15 per cent—a substantial increase in the number of eggs and way beyond anything that anybody believes could be achieved—the equivalent 36.8 million eggs sold in the period between 2006 and 2007 as free range did not come from free range animals. In other words, approximately 16 per cent of eggs on the market today that are sold as free range probably are not free range. Approximately one in six eggs that consumers who are seeking an ethically produced product purchase, and for which they will spend more money to purchase, actually come from hens that are living in conditions which are unconscionable to those who pay additional amounts to purchase them. In other words, those consumers are being savagely ripped off by unscrupulous egg producers.

                But it is not just The Greens analysis that bears out the scandals that are occurring within the egg industry on a day-to-day basis. The New South Wales Food Authority 2006-07 annual report stated that inconsistencies occurred during the production, packing, wholesaling and retailing of free range eggs in New South Wales. The authority admitted that major inconsistencies existed, and that is bureaucratic language for rip-off. The Food Authority, which is responsible for regulating the food industry in this State, recognised that it did not have the requisite legislative teeth to produce an industry in which free range consumers could have confidence in the products they were buying, and confidence that those products came from hens that were treated in that way that consumers believe hens should be treated.

                The review also determined that at some packing sites in New South Wales that managed both free range and caged eggs, the packing process did not ensure that the eggs were separately graded. In other words, the Food Authority clearly is stating that at packing sites where those types of eggs are being processed, blending is taking place and inevitably caged eggs are ending up in the cartons that are labelled free range. Consumers are being ripped off and genuine free range producers are being undermined. Inevitably this situation has resulted in some eggs from caged birds being sold to consumers as free range. That means that the official food body in New South Wales, which is the body of the New South Wales Government that is responsible for regulating food, is agreeing with The Greens. There is a crisis in the egg industry. The egg industry is ripping off consumers and undermining free range eggs.

                It is not just the State Government that is making discoveries. In the Federal Government's synopsis report on the review of layer hen housing and labelling of eggs in Australia by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, it is made clear that the Federal Government also thinks there is a problem. The report highlighted the importance of a uniform and consistent approach to the labelling of eggs to best satisfy consumer preferences. The report did not dismiss the role of the egg industry in undertaking third party auditing and generation of its own industry standards. However, it made clear that if implementation of industry standards is not considered satisfactory, a move must be made to legislate label requirements. Since the release of the report, both the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania have introduced their own legislation with specific intention to regulate the production and labelling of eggs. This has not yet happened in New South Wales.

                However, what has happened in New South Wales and throughout the rest of Australia has been that the Australian Egg Corporation Limited has taken over the industry role as the industry self-regulator. The Australian Egg Corporation Limited is the national industry body that represents more than 90 per cent of the egg producers in Australia. However, it is dominated by the three largest egg producers in Australia—Pace, Sunny Queen and Farm Pride. Each of these businesses has substantial investments in caged bird equipment and has no interest in a wholesale transformation of the industry to free range. Four of the five non-executive positions on the corporation's board are held by persons with strong associations with the three largest producers who have little interest in respecting consumer preferences or in allowing the smaller genuinely free range egg producers to flourish.

                The Australian Egg Corporation Limited adopts the Industry Code of' Practice definition for free range eggs and runs an accreditation scheme, which is the Egg Corp Assured [ECA], to advise customers that the conditions of hens have been inspected. However, Egg Corp Assured services only a fraction of the egg industry. The participation rate of its registered businesses in New South Wales is approximately only 41 per cent. Low participation rate demonstrates that even if farms are represented by the industry body, there is no guarantee that they will adhere to free range egg standards. In 2010 the Australian Egg Corporation Limited left the world of generally understood common sense and, to protect its caged bird clientele, went to the extraordinary length of changing the stocking density requirement of free range farms under its representation from 1,500 to 20,000 chickens per hectare—that is, they increased it by a factor of 1,233 per cent.

                Therefore, the Australian Egg Corporation Limited would endorse egg producers to sell eggs labelled as free range under stocking density guidelines that keep 20,000 hectares per industry. That is some 30 times what genuine free-range egg farmers believe is reasonable. It is hardly surprising that the Australian Egg Corporation Limited is supporting the big producers who want dodgy standards for free-range eggs and are doing everything they can to stamp out small independent consumers. This is an industry where the big producers—Pace, Sunny Farm, Sunny Queen and Farm Pride—are working overtime to maintain their triopoly control, to destroy the small free-range producers and to mislead consumers so as to ensure that they maintain their triopoly.

                Therefore, it is hardly surprising that the Australian Egg Corporation Limited has entered debate over this legislation with hysterical opposition to The Greens bill. I will take members through its opposition to our legislation and identify how it is completely misleading. I parenthetically point out that The Greens supplied the egg corporation with a copy of our legislation, as we did to Free Range Egg and Poultry Australia, the Free Range Egg Producers Association of Australia and to a range of animal welfare groups and industry bodies. We consulted widely on this legislation and received a large number of positive comments. The Australian Egg Corporation Limited did not respond to us personally, but instead issued a media release, as is its right to do so. On 15 June 2011 the press release of the Australian Egg Corporation Limited was completely misleading and wrong. It claimed that our bill "goes beyond the current Government endorsed model code of practice". That is correct.

                The current model code of practice recommends practices for free-range birds that constitute grotesque forms of animal cruelty—for example, beak modification and trimming. The model code is not industry best practice and is a long way away from that of genuine free-range farmers. In fact, the model code is causing massive damage to free-range egg producers. The Australian Egg Corporation represents only those farmers who wish to engage in large-scale production of eggs.

                Mr David Shoebridge: Industrial producers.

                Dr JOHN KAYE: As Mr David Shoebridge has interjected quite accurately, the industrial producers of eggs; those who see hens purely as industrial units, not as sentient beings with instincts, desires and social relationships. The model code is not industry best practice; it is a minimum standard and it needs to be revised to account for community expectations of what free-range egg standards ought to be. People who bought an egg labelled "free range" and then told it came from an animal whose beak was mutilated would be horrified and feel ripped off. That is what is happening. The press release of the Australian Egg Corporation Limited states that our legislation would see free-range hen densities reduced to unsustainable levels for a number of egg producers. The Greens are committed to supporting free-range farmers.

                Mr David Shoebridge: There would be a shortage if they were honestly labelled.

                Dr JOHN KAYE: I acknowledge but reject that interjection, and I will address that issue in a minute. The Greens are committed to supporting free-range farmers. We have consulted with a large number of successful free-range farmers, all of whom have indicated that they can conform to the standards. In fact, they would welcome the standards because it would protect them from unfair competition. Our legislation has included a phase-in period for stocking densities to ease the transition for farmers who adopt the minimum standards. We are keen to see those producers make a transition to a level of treatment of their birds that can maintain the requirements and the interests of consumers.

                The egg corporation claims that The Greens would ban legitimate forms of marketing for caged egg producers. However, there is absolutely nothing legitimate about marketing by some unscrupulous caged egg producers. It is not unreasonable for a person buying caged eggs with smiley faces on the cartons and a slogan such as "farm fresh eggs laid by healthy hens" to think that that is an accurate depiction of the conditions in which caged eggs are produced. However, one in six hens has a broken bone, the weaker are trampled to death, almost all of them have lost significant numbers of their feathers and their beaks are mutilated.

                How on earth can a smiley face be a fair representation of the treatment of those animals? If the caged bird industry is okay about what it is doing with animals let it put a picture of a caged bird on the egg carton—a bird that has been force moulted or a bird with a trimmed and mutilated beak. Let it be honest about its standards. That is fair trading. That is being fair to consumers. However, putting smiley faces and "farm fresh eggs laid by healthy hens" on egg cartons is false and misleading. This legislation will stop that from happening. I am proud to be part of a move that will stop that from happening.

                The Australian Egg Corporation Limited firmly believes that there needs to be a cap on the outside densities for free-range production and that the cap being suggested in the draft bill is unsustainable and unrealistic. It might be unsustainable and unrealistic for Pace and Sunny Queen, but the genuine free-range egg farmers to whom The Greens have spoken say that it is a fair and reasonable standard. The consumers and the vets to whom we have spoken say it is a fair and reasonable standard. Consumers demand this standard, and not one that is bodgied up by the large egg producers.

                The Australian Egg Corporation Limited suggested our low densities in our draft bill will result in the industry not meeting the current demand for free-range eggs. That relates to the comment of Mr David Shoebridge as being correct. It is true that the current demand outstrips production. I was of the understanding that the majority of members of this Chamber like and support market dynamics, and if there is demand that exceeds supply then there should be a market signal that says, "Okay, we will increase supply." That can happen only when there is fair labelling. That matching of supply and demand will not happen. I think even the Government Whip would agree with me that there is a need for fair trading to allow markets to reach equilibrium.

                The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: I believe free trading leads to market equilibrium.

                Dr JOHN KAYE: We can have that debate in my reply to the debate. I hope that the Hon. Dr Peter Phelps contributes to debate on my bill. By defining the term "free range" and enforcing this standard we are giving genuine free-range farmers a fair go and a chance to expand. At the moment they are constrained from expanding and we have a dysfunctional market. Labelling is essential to make the market function appropriately. As consumer demand for genuine free-range eggs increases, more producers will be able to move into the industry.

                I conclude by speaking briefly about beak trimming and modification, and how it impacts on egg labelling. Beak trimming involves the removal of the top and sometimes bottom sections of a bird's beak. Usually it is done with a hot blade or some kind of infrared heat. It is done multiple times during a bird's life as a beak regrows. These animal husbandry practices are used to avoid pecking—and in many cases pecking other birds to death and cannibalism—where birds are kept in stocking densities that transgress their natural instincts.

                Beak trimming causes chronic pain, which the industry denies. However, independent animal scientists have unequivocally stated that the animal husbandry practice of trimming a bird's beak causes chronic pain. It reduces the ability of the bird to feed naturally and drink, leads to significant short-term and long-term stress, and it damages social status. The beak of a bird is an important organ in respect of how it relates to other birds. By trimming and mutilating the beak the capacity of the bird to live a normal social life to which it is genetically programmed to execute is taken away. Birds are foraging creatures and a healthy beak is essential for food foraging behaviour—

                Mr David Shoebridge: Particularly in my backyard.

                Dr JOHN KAYE: Mr David Shoebridge mentions his backyard, but I mention the forest floor. Anybody who keeps chickens, as Mr David Shoebridge and many other members of this Chamber—

                The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: As I do.

                Dr JOHN KAYE: And as the Government Whip does. As I was saying, anybody who keeps chickens knows that these birds need sufficient space to encourage them to be involved in normal behaviour so they avoid the abnormal aggressive pecking behaviour. Feather pecking cannibalism is directly linked with hens in stress, hens that are unable to carry out their normal social functions and hens living under environmental deprivation. Abnormal pecking results from poorly designed and managed production systems. Overcrowding reduces the ability for birds to ground peck and forage and that behaviour is redirected into cannibalism. The links between space and welfare and the absence of beak trimming and other forms of bird mutilation is central to the definition of "free range eggs" in the bill.

                Beak trimming is a quick-fix solution to the underlying production problems. Sweden, Norway, Finland and Switzerland have successfully banned it without significantly increasing pecking and hen injuries and without reducing the availability of eggs. As outlined in our definition, if free-range egg production systems are properly implemented with appropriate stocking densities there is no legitimate reason to allow beak trimming. In fact, our legislation suggests a stocking density of initially 1,500 birds per hectare, reducing over four years to 750 birds, which is a density that the Free-range Egg and Poultry Association of Australia [FREPA] has already adopted.

                The Greens have adopted the Free-range Egg and Poultry Association of Australia stocking density of 10 hens per square metre for up to 1,000 fowls in the shed, ranging down to six hens per square metre when there are more than 4,000 hens in the shed. This enforceable code will protect the hens' welfare, meet consumer expectations and lead to much better stocking densities, which will allow consumers when they buy a free range egg to know that the hen from which it was laid lived the sort of life that the consumer expects.

                In conclusion, this bill is the first step of putting egg consumers in charge of the products they consume. It recognises the need for a legislated definition to protect consumers and to protect free-range farmers. It attempts to bring to an end decades of deception that is not only an offence to the values of consumers but also an attack on all genuine free-range egg farmers. I commend the bill to the House. I look forward to the contributions of other members to the debate.

                Debate adjourned on motion by the Hon. Dr Peter Phelps and set down as an order of the day for a future day.
                LOCAL GOVERNMENT AMENDMENT (LOCAL DEMOCRACY—WARD REPRESENTATION REFORM) BILL 2011

                Bill introduced, and read a first time and ordered to be printed on motion by Mr David Shoebridge.
                Second Reading

                Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE [10.24 a.m.]: I move:

                    That this bill be now read a second time.
                The object of the Local Government Amendment (Local Democracy—Ward Presentation Reform) Bill 2011 is to make some straightforward amendments to the Local Government Act 1993 to provide that each council for an area that is divided into wards must have at least three councillors for each ward. The bill had some additional provisions with an eye to the upcoming local government elections in 2012. It provides that at least 12 months before the election councils with areas divided into wards that have fewer than three councillors for each ward need to take steps to alter their ward boundaries or change the number of councillors, or indeed both, to ensure that those councils comply with this new requirement. A council will not need to obtain approval at a constitutional referendum for this change to the number of councillors, which is consistent with other legislation that was introduced in this House only a matter of weeks ago.

                This bill, if passed, will ensure that local governments are not only representative but also are effective and accountable. It will put in place some necessary checks and balances at local councils that will prevent councils in the future from falling prey to what we have seen to be essentially corrupt conduct, corrupt behaviour that has brought down some key previous administrations. Two of the most high-profile administrations that were brought down through corruption or mismanagement were Wollongong and Shellharbour councils. Both councils effectively had one-party dominance through the undemocratic process of having two-member wards. However, there is also an unhealthy lack of democracy in a number of substantial councils in the metropolitan area, including Ku-ring-gai and Botany. Indeed, in the heart of the Premier's electorate is a deeply undemocratic system at Ku-ring-gai council. Ku-ring-gai council has two-member wards.

                I note that Marrickville has perhaps one of the most diverse groups on council—it has both Labor, The Greens and independents. It is an example of a democratically functioning council, unlike Botany Council. I note the irrational chirping from the Hon. Sophie Cotsis—

                The PRESIDENT: Order! I call the Hon. Sophie Cotsis to order for the first time.

                Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: We know what happens in Botany Council, that home of democracy governed by the Labor Party. Botany Council does not even have an election. It is so undemocratic that the people of Botany do not even bother contesting. At the last council elections Botany Council was the only council in New South Wales not to have an election. The councillors were simply re-elected because the people of Botany realised that the crooked electoral system that was in place was going to guarantee an ongoing Labor monopoly because of the undemocratic way in which the two-member ward system operates in New South Wales.

                Two-member wards, together with optional preferential voting—which is the system in place under the Local Government Act in New South Wales—inevitably produce non-democratic outcomes. That is because any party or ticket that gets 50 per cent of the vote plus one in a two-member ward dominates it and both candidates are elected. They fill both positions on the ticket regardless of the opposition vote. There can be the bizarre outcomes where one ticket gets 51 per cent of the vote and two members are elected and the other ticket gets 49 per cent of the vote and no members are elected.

                It is a denial of democracy. It is designed to put in place that kind of dominant party gerrymanders such as that in Botany and it is about time that this Parliament moved to change that system. In fact, I give credit to the Government. When it introduced the legislation dealing with Wollongong and Shellharbour councils the Government listened to the clear recommendations from the administrators in Shellharbour and got rid of the unrepresentative two-member wards. The Government, when it has had a close look at two-member wards, realised what a deeply undemocratic outcome they produce and has acted. I give it credit for that. The Government acted in both Shellharbour and Wollongong councils to put in place a more democratic system, indeed a very democratic system of having three-ward councillors in both of those local government areas.

                I deal now with the specifics of the bill. Clause 1 sets out the name of the bill—that is, the Local Government Amendment (Local Democracy—Ward Representation Reform) Act 2011—which clearly reflects its aim to provide democracy in these local government areas. Of course, the legislation will commence on the date of assent. The substance of the bill is in clause 3, which contains an amendment to section 224 of the Local Government Act by inserting after existing subsection (3) the following three subsections:
                    (4) A council for an area that is divided into wards must, following in the next ordinary election after the commencement of this subsection, have at least 3 councillors for each ward.

                    (5) At least 6 months after the next ordinary election after the commencement of this subsection, each council of an area divided into wards that has fewer than 3 councillors for each ward must do either or both of the following to ensure that the council complies with this section:
                        (a) alter the ward boundaries of the area in accordance with Division 1 of Part 1 of this Chapter,

                        (b) change the number of councillors in accordance with this Division.
                    (6) However, a council is not required to obtain approval at a constitutional referendum for a change to the number of councillors made in accordance with subsection (5).

                This is a straightforward and direct bill, and if it is enacted it will substantially improve the arrangements in a number of councils in New South Wales. More than half a dozen councils have an undemocratic process for the election of local councillors. I mentioned the metropolitan councils of Botany Bay and Ku-ring-gai, but a number of councils in regional New South Wales are subject to the same undemocratic arrangements. They are Cabonne, Conargo, Guyra, Tenterfield, Wakool, Walcha and Weddin, which all have two-member wards and small populations. Cabonne has the largest population with 12,994 citizens and the population in the other councils ranges from 4,500 to 7,000. This problem is not exclusive to large metropolitan councils; it is also being experienced in regional New South Wales. Why would this Parliament allow a situation to continue whereby one ticket attracting 51 per cent of the vote can have two candidates elected and another ticket attracting 49 per cent of the vote can have no candidate elected?

                The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: That is fundamentally wrong and it demonstrates your lack of knowledge of the electoral system.

                Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: The Government Whip clearly does not understand the legislation. I invite him to read it. If he is not happy to do that he can consult the New South Wales Electoral Commission, which will confirm my interpretation. I direct him to chapter 10 of part 3 of the Local Government Act 1993. He should do some research. If he did he would find, rather remarkably, that that deeply undemocratic system exists in New South Wales.

                The Hon. Sophie Cotsis: Let the people make the decision.

                Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: If the people are subject to a local gerrymander it is hard for them to do that. The Botany situation is a good example. An incumbent administration that has the benefit of a local gerrymander is hardly likely to decide to change the arrangement to the detriment of its obvious self-interest.

                The Hon. Sophie Cotsis: There was an election.

                Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: The member can say that as often as she likes, but the reality is that the poll was declared because no-one contested the seats. Ku-ring-gai—the Premier's own backyard—has five two-member wards. However, because of the stultifying effect of that arrangement there was no contest in the Wahroonga ward. Only one ticket was lodged and the councillors on that ticket were elected unopposed—the poll was simply declared. In the Gordon ward, group A attracted 46 per cent of the primary vote and group B attracted 40 per cent. After distribution of preferences the difference was less than 5 per cent or 6 per cent. However, group A had two candidates elected and no-one from group B was elected. That is a deeply undemocratic outcome.

                In Comenarra, group A attracted 43 per cent of the primary vote and group B attracted 33 per cent, and after distribution of preferences there was a margin of 10 per cent between the two groups. However, group A had two candidates elected and no-one from group B was elected. If the system in either of those wards had been genuinely democratic and if they had had at least three-member wards each of those groups would have had one candidate elected. Subject to the distribution of preferences, group A would probably have had two candidates elected. That would have produced an outcome that was far closer to reflecting the democratic wishes of electors in those local government areas.

                Why is the Premier willing to restore democracy in Wollongong and Shellharbour but not in his own backyard in Ku-ring-gai? It would appear that he is perfectly comfortable with the administration that is repeatedly returned to office in Ku-ring-gai, just as the Labor Government was comfortable with the repeated return of the administrations it preferred in Botany, Wollongong and Shellharbour. That is not a proper basis upon which to run local government in this State. The installation of a new government presents us with the opportunity to abandon this unrepresentative system and to institute genuine accountability and democracy. The House should support this legislation and ensure that it is enacted before the 2012 local government elections. Why will the Government not endorse this bill? If members opposite wish, they can take carriage of it and introduce it as a Government bill. This is more about democracy than party political outcomes. This is about ensuring that we have genuine democracy in local government in New South Wales.

                Both the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory have a number of two-member seats. However, they have genuine proportional representation and not the winner-takes-all scenario that we have in New South Wales. If Ku-ring-gai had a two-member ward arrangement and genuine proportional representation, one member would have been elected from each group. Of course, that is not the most democratic arrangement, and that is why the bill provides for a minimum of three councillors in each ward. That allows for a genuinely democratic contest. If one group attracts slightly more than 50 per cent of the vote that will be democratically reflected in that group probably having two candidates elected. The minority party that attracts 49 per cent, 48 per cent or 47 per cent of the vote will have one candidate elected. That will result in genuinely democratic representation that accurately reflects the wishes of the electors of that ward.

                In addition, it will result in a democratic outcome; that is, the group that attracts the greater percentage of the vote will have a larger number of candidates elected. That is why the model proposed in this legislation involves a minimum of three councillors per ward. The legislation does not impose any outcome other than that on local councils. Local councils can examine their electoral system and if they wish to abandon two-member wards, to amalgamate a few wards or to introduce three-member wards, they can do so. If they want two wards with five members in each ward, they are also welcome to do that. If they want to abolish wards entirely and have proportional representation across their local government area they are also welcome to do that. This legislation will not impose any model on any local council; it simply imposes the basic constraint that the electoral system must be democratic.

                The Local Government Association has examined this bill and I am told that it has resolved to support it and the reforms that it will achieve. This is a modest reform that has the support of the Local Government Association. It is a modest reform that has the support of residents that I have spoken to in both Botany and Ku-ring-gai who are sick and tired of seeing an undemocratic outcome at their local council elections.

                The Hon. Sophie Cotsis: They should run.

                Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: I hear the Hon. Sophie Cotsis again bleating about a constitutional referendum. The real difficulty with a constitutional referendum is that if it were held in 2012 Botany would not have democracy until 2016, and Labor would entrench its ongoing dominance in Botany. The figures show that the only likely way that the Labor Party could succeed in holding on to somewhere like Botany is by continuing to have this undemocratic outcome in two-member wards and discouraging other parties and other interests from running. Equally, some councillors in Ku-ring-Gai have run year after year and have an entrenched position. The way of breaking into entrenched positions, opening up local government to genuine democracy, is to give new entrants—other interests—a genuine opportunity to be elected. Two-member wards do not do that. A minimum three-member ward is required to have that mixture of democracy as well as a genuine political contest.

                I commend the bill to the House and look forward to the contributions of other members in relation to this key issue of local democracy in New South Wales. I particularly look forward to seeing how the Hon. Sophie Cotsis defends this gross lack of democracy—the failure even to have a contested election in Botany—and how Labor can defend its record of doing nothing to get rid of this blight on local government that sat on the statute book for the whole 16 years of its administration. I look forward to the Government advancing the reforms it put in place in Shellharbour and Wollongong and imposing that kind of democracy across local government in New South Wales.

                Debate adjourned on motion by the Hon. Lynda Voltz and set down as an order of the day for a future day.
                BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
                Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders: Order of Business

                Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE [10.42 a.m.]: I move:
                    That standing and sessional orders be suspended to allow a motion to be moved forthwith that Private Members' Business item No. 9 in the Order of Precedence relating to the Education Amendment (Ethics Classes Repeal) Bill be called on forthwith.
                Dr JOHN KAYE [10.42 a.m.]: One can only assume that the fix is in. This is the deal—the quid pro quo. This is the payment for voting against the disallowance motion on the industrial relations regulation. This is the deal that Mr O'Farrell and the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council have vigorously denied existed.

                The Hon. Duncan Gay: Point of order: The debate at the moment is about whether precedence should be granted. This is just the political diatribe that we expected.

                Dr JOHN KAYE: The Minister clearly—

                The PRESIDENT: Order! Has the Deputy Leader of the Government concluded his point of order?

                The Hon. Duncan Gay: Yes.

                The PRESIDENT: Order! The motion before the Chair is that standing and sessional orders be suspended to allow a motion to be moved forthwith that Private Members' Business item No. 9 be called on forthwith. All remarks should be directed to that motion.

                Dr JOHN KAYE: Clearly, the deal or fix was to allow this legislation to come on ahead of others in the order of precedence, to jump ahead of the Hon. Cate Faehrmann's legislation and to jump ahead of the debate about the day of mourning, the workers' rights issue. Instead of just waiting until it came up naturally in two weeks, possibly three weeks, or maybe next week—who knows—such is the eagerness of the Coalition to demonstrate its loyalty to Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile, its payback to Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile, its desire to make sure that it keeps the deal stitched up, it is going to agree to a contingency motion and allow him to jump the shark.

                What a shameful show this is. What an absolute reflection on Barry O'Farrell this will be. When the Coalition votes with Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile, it will be a complete and total reflection on Barry O'Farrell, who is out there saying, "No deal, no deal, no deal". We are seeing the deal right now in the upper House. Coalition members should be ashamed of themselves. They talked about transparency throughout the election campaign. The people of New South Wales did not believe them and here we are with the shonky backroom deals being played out by jumping Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile's ethics-killing legislation ahead.

                This is a complete shame. He cannot wait because he needs a demonstration right now, this very minute, that there is loyalty to him from the Coalition, that the Coalition will not let him down and will allow him to debate the bill. This is a down payment. This contingency motion before the House is the down payment on a much bigger deal with Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile. This is New South Wales being run by the Christian Democrats and the Shooters and Fishers, allowing the extremist tail to wag the dog. There is no support in the community for what is going on here today. The community is outraged by the idea that there is a sleazy backroom deal.

                This morning the Government Whip stopped me—stopped the people of New South Wales—from getting access to papers of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Premier in their discussion with Fred Nile. We asked for the papers. This is a Government dedicated to transparency and the question was: Deal or no deal? We do not need those papers anymore because we know the answer to the deal or no-deal question. We know exactly what the answer is—it is a deal! This is the deal happening right here, right now, in the New South Wales upper House, Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile being allowed to bring on his bill. The Premier said there was no deal. The Greens oppose this motion.

                The Hon. DUNCAN GAY (Minister for Roads and Ports) [10.47 a.m.]: It was an impassioned speech by one of the leaders of The Greens; the pity is that there was no element of truth to it. One of the issues he indicated—

                The PRESIDENT: Order! Dr John Kaye was heard in silence. He should extend the same courtesy to the Deputy Leader of the Government.

                The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: One of the issues he mentioned was that the Government deliberately wanted Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile to jump ahead of the Hon. Cate Faehrmann. We offered her contingency first—and the second reading—and he knows that his statement was incorrect because the Hon. Cate Faehrmann told me that she told Dr John Kaye that. Not only was he wrong, but he deliberately misled this House, and not for the first time.

                Mr David Shoebridge: Point of order: The honourable member, I think perhaps unintentionally, is misleading the House because the discussion at which I was present was about the relative precedence of Cate Faehrmann's matter as against the day of mourning matter.

                The PRESIDENT: Order! Mr David Shoebridge will resume his seat. There is no point of order. Mr David Shoebridge and the Hon. Cate Faehrmann will have an opportunity to contribute to the debate.

                The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: Within the private members' items in the order of precedence there are several bills. Dr John Kaye and Mr David Shoebridge have the first two. If possible, we would like the second readings, which take 20 to 30 minutes, to happen and then to move back. We approached the Hon. Cate Faehrmann to offer her contingency, and then Mr Buckingham, as I also indicated—not to Mr Buckingham—

                The Hon. Jeremy Buckingham: The honourable.

                The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: If the Hon. Jeremy Buckingham was ready, but my understanding is that he is not ready to have precedence as well. Yesterday no-one was more critical than the yabbering lot opposite when the House waited 15 minutes because they had nothing to say. The Government wants to bring some bills forward so that the second readings can proceed. At the completion of those second readings it is proposed that the House will deal with the International Workers Memorial Day motion. I support contingency.

                The Hon. LYNDA VOLTZ [10.50 a.m.]: The Hon. Duncan Gay has magnanimously offered the Hon. Cate Faehrmann to bring her bill before the House but under the order of precedence her bill will be dealt with today. The Hon. Duncan Gay knows full well that the matters listed in the order of precedence have already been discussed. A Friday practice of overthrowing private members' business in this Chamber is developing. For the third time in a row the Government is supporting the Hon. Duncan Gay in his attempt to do that yet again. First, it was done to overthrow the occupational health and safety laws in this State. On the second occasion it was to deal with the Industrial Relations Amendment (Public Section Conditions of Employment) Bill. Now the Government wants to bring forward a bill on ethics. It wants to satisfy the needs of Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile.

                No-one else in this Chamber has a problem with today's order of precedence. The Hon. Duncan Gay wants to move aside any woman from the Opposition listed in the order of precedence on private members' day in this House, including the Hon. Sophie Cotsis, the Hon. Penny Sharpe and me. According to the Hon. Duncan Gay overthrowing private members' business today will not be an imposition on anybody—other than Opposition members, as long as the Government can meet its agenda. Private members' day is not about meeting the Government's personal agenda. Private members' day is about what members think is important and what motions they put forward in this Chamber. Private members' day has an agreed order and there is no reason to overturn that order in this House on this day as the Government does time and again. If this issue is so urgent why did the Government not bring on contingency yesterday, when absolutely nothing was going on in this Chamber, and put this motion before the House?

                The Hon. CATE FAEHRMANN [10.52 a.m.]: It is disingenuous of the Hon. Duncan Gay to say that he engaged in a conversation with me in which he offered me contingency to speak on my private member's bill. In that conversation I told him that I did not need contingency, which the Hon. Lynda Voltz has also said. If deals were not being done in this Parliament with Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile and the Christian Democratic Party and the Shooters and Fishers Party I would not need contingency to bring in my bill. In good faith I had a conversation with the Opposition, and if deals were not being done the Opposition's motion on International Workers Memorial Day would be coming on next. Two people were to speak to that motion for 20 minutes each. I was then to deliver my second reading speech.

                The same thing happened on the last day of sittings in the last session of this Parliament. At that time the Marine Parks Amendment (Moratorium) Bill of the Hon. Robert Brown was moved by contingency, and those on this side of the House were incredibly thrown by that. That was a payoff to the Shooters and Fishers Party. Interestingly, the Government's suspension coincides with Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile's curious piece in today's Sydney Morning Herald as to his desire to deliver his second reading speech today. Dr John Kaye asked: Why the hurry? Why the urgency?

                As I understand it Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile's bill is within the order of precedence and he will get to the second reading stage of his bill. I feel as if I have been talking to my colleagues and the Opposition for months about the second reading stage of my bill. My bill is urgent and I am undertaking it in good faith. It is about good changes within threatened species conservation in this State. It is not about headlines or deals, and I am very keen to deliver the second reading speech of this serious bill. The Government's actions are disgraceful. I repeat for the record that I do not need contingency. I do not need to be a part of any deal, which I think the Government was trying to bring me into. Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile has a couple of weeks—in fact he probably has four years or more—to deliver his second reading speech.

                The Hon. HELEN WESTWOOD [10.55 a.m.]: I speak in opposition to the proposal to bring the Education Amendment (Ethics Classes Repeal) Bill on at the expense of all other items listed in the order of precedence for discussion today. Well might it be about ethics because there is nothing ethical about the deals that have been going on between this right-wing Government and the right-wing crossbenchers in this place. They should be ashamed of themselves. The Government wants to bring this bill on because it wants it out of the way. In the last few days we have watched Barry "Glass Jaw" O'Farrell copping it in the media.

                The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: Point of order: I ask that members in the Chamber be directed to refer to other members by their correct titles.

                The PRESIDENT: Order! Previously I have made rulings that when Government members speak about the Leader of the Opposition they will refer to him by his correct title. Conversely, Opposition members will refer to the Premier by his correct title.

                The Hon. HELEN WESTWOOD: The Government wants this off the agenda. For the last few days the Premier has been complaining because he has been criticised by the media. In fact, the Premier referred to a journalist from the Sydney Morning Herald as B-grade because the journalist dared to criticise him and questioned the unethical behaviour that has been going on since this Government won office. The Government is arrogant in thinking it has rights above the rest of us. I want to be able to continue to talk about those workers who have died or been injured at their workplaces. What did the Government do the last time we spoke about workers rights in this place? It gagged us. The Government's response to workers' rights has been to change 150 years of tradition is this place to prevent us from speaking. Today we see that response again. Those opposite should hang their heads in shame. They cannot even look up and face us—disgraceful.

                It is my strong belief that we should be allowed to work through the agreed agenda on private members' days. The Government continually changes the rules to suit its own political agenda and to save itself the embarrassment of the appalling deals it has been doing with the extreme right in this place. I understand why the Government does not want the ethics debate to continue beyond today; it wants it off the agenda. Other items listed on the business paper are of equal importance. I want to discuss the importance of safe workplaces for the workers in this State, in this nation and across the world. That should take priority over the belief of the Christian Democratic Party that it has the right to impose its religious views and perspectives of the world onto the rest of us, including the children in our public education system. The community has already spoken: It does not want that.

                The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: Point of order: The Hon. Helen Westwood is debating the substance of Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile's bill, not the motion before the House.

                The PRESIDENT: Order! I remind all members who contribute to this debate that their comments should be directed only to the question of whether the standing orders should be suspended forthwith to discuss this item of business.

                The Hon. HELEN WESTWOOD: I acknowledge your ruling and I will abide by it. I look forward to having the opportunity shortly to talk about the need for safe workplaces and the importance of ensuring that workers in this State and around the world are protected from injury and fatality in their workplace. I certainly will not be supporting this motion. Government members should be ashamed of themselves. [Time expired.]

                Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE [11.00 a.m.]: I commend the words of the Hon. Helen Westwood, Dr John Kaye and the Hon. Cate Faehrmann, who spoke against this motion.

                The Hon. Lynda Voltz: What about me?

                Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: And the Hon. Lynda Voltz, who made a jewel of a speech on the matter. They spoke against the motion moved by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile. The only possible justification for bringing on this item of business is that the Government, as part of a deal, must deliver something to Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile before the end of this week. Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile has been feeling unloved; he does not have anything in the public domain. Yet he has a deal. He wants something he can show his supporters. So the Government is giving him what he wants by allowing his moralising motion to be brought on, jumping ahead of other business that might threaten Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile getting a sop to his supporters by talking about his attack on ethics classes in the Parliament this week.

                Let us be clear about what the Government is delivering. The Government is delivering for Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile an advance platform to talk about his bill. That is what this motion is about. It is about delivering to Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile and his Christian Democratic Party a platform to talk about their opposition to ethics during this parliamentary sitting week. Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile can then tell his supporters, "Look, we're working with the Government on ethics. I've got a deal with the Government on ethics and I've been able to talk in Parliament this week about what an awful thing ethics is." Why is the Government giving Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile that privileged position? It is not explained, other than Government members have some strange attachment to second reading speeches today. However, if Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile is unable to make his second reading speech today he can make it on Thursday next week.

                Why is the Hon. Penny Sharpe, who is sitting behind me with a lap full of notes, not allowed to speak about her important motion on heart disease? Why is the Hon. Cate Faehrmann, who has been consulting broadly across the State on her Threatened Species Conservation Amendment (Ecological Consultants Accreditation Scheme) Bill, being put in the back seat so that Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile can get ahead? There is only one reason: Barry O'Farrell has done an ugly deal with Fred Nile and the Christian Democrats to get the question of removing ethics—

                The PRESIDENT: Order! I remind Mr David Shoebridge of my earlier ruling in relation to the use of the correct titles of members, including members of this House and the other place.

                Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: I accept the ruling. The Coalition Government is supporting this motion because the Premier has done an ugly deal with Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile to put the debate about ethics classes and the stripping of ethics classes from our State schools squarely on the political agenda in New South Wales. There is a community of interest between the Premier and Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile to strip away ethics classes in New South Wales to sew up the deal that delivered a gross statewide attack on public sector workers and their industrial rights. This is just the down payment on the deal. Over the coming months the Government, with its new four-member rainbow coalition, will support the moralising platform of Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile and the Shooters and Fishers Party will introduce so-called gun reforms and the watering down of gun laws. It is the tail wagging the dog. It is the Premier being wagged by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile.

                The Hon. Dr PETER PHELPS [11.05 a.m.]: The pomposity, arrogance and hypocrisy of members opposite seldom ceases to amaze me. Earlier Dr John Kaye said that members should "wait their turn" in relation to the order of precedence on the Notice Paper. The Hon. Lynda Voltz said that it was irresponsible to "overturn the order".

                The Hon. Penny Sharpe: Point of order: We are debating the urgency of this matter. The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps has not spoken one word about why the motion of Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile is more urgent than other business on the Notice Paper.

                The PRESIDENT: Order! The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps was replying to comments made by members earlier in the debate. However, I remind him of the motion before the House.

                The Hon. Dr PETER PHELPS: The principle of urgency is important in this case. Two members spoke about the importance of the principle of maintaining the status and numbering of items of business on the Notice Paper. Yet this morning, not 90 minutes ago, members opposite, in 22 separate attempts, tried to overturn the order of precedence on the Notice Paper. They attempted to bring forward a number of items—22 in all—which would have overturned the order of precedence. They attempted to give precedence to those matters.

                The Hon. Penny Sharpe: Point of order: The standing orders provide for formal business to be dealt with. It is not in any way out of order for members to bring on formal business.

                The PRESIDENT: Order! The Hon. Penny Sharpe is making a debating point, not taking a point of order. She will resume her seat.

                The Hon. Dr PETER PHELPS: So the principle of precedence can be invoked in this case, but not 90 minutes ago the principle of precedence was somehow quite easily violable.

                The Hon. Penny Sharpe: Point of order: I again refer to the matter before the House, which is urgency. The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps is speaking about a common principle in the standing orders. He is not dealing with the issue of why the bill of Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile should be debated before all other items of business on the Notice Paper today.

                The PRESIDENT: Order! There is no point of order.

                The Hon. Dr PETER PHELPS: As I said, the principle of urgency is fine when Labor members or The Greens wish to bring forward items outside the order of precedence for debate ahead of time. I find remarkable the chutzpah in the argument that members opposite said 90 minutes ago, "These are important, we need to bring them on"; but now that we need to bring on another item of business, that is somehow a gross violation of the principle of the sanctity of the Notice Paper. The Hon. Helen Westwood said that this was an attempt to keep the bill of Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile off the agenda. Bringing forward a matter for debate is a funny way of keeping something off the agenda. To say that a matter will be kept off the agenda by being brought on for debate is a remarkable assertion. This motion is a sensible and reasonable move to give precedence to an important bill that has some substance in commentary in the community at present. I commend the motion.

                The Hon. MATTHEW MASON-COX (Parliamentary Secretary) [11.09 a.m.]: I support the comments made by the Hon. Dr Peter Phelps and the Deputy Leader of the Government in debate on the motion moved by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile. It is interesting to observe our friends on the crossbench—the collection of avocados, watermelons and potentially tomatoes—with their coalition of self-interest.

                The Hon. Penny Sharpe: Point of order: My point of order relates to the Hon. Matthew Mason-Cox continuing to refer to members in this House not by their proper names and in an inappropriate manner. Mr President, several times in relation to similar matters during this debate you have called other members to order. I ask you similarly to call the Hon. Matthew Mason-Cox to order.

                The Hon. Matthew Mason-Cox: To the point of order: I was not referring to any particular member. I was referring to the party they represent as a collective.

                The PRESIDENT: Order! The remarks made by the Hon. Matthew Mason-Cox were not directed at an individual. If they had been, they would have been ruled out of order. There is no point of order.

                The Hon. MATTHEW MASON-COX: I make the observation in relation to the contribution made by the Hon. Duncan Gay that he approached each member who has given notice of a motion taking precedence over the motion moved by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile and sought their comments about bringing on their motions for debate. I thought that seeking members' views was very principled of him. However, I have found the response to that by members opposite to be quite disappointing. It is particularly disappointing to hear the comments made by the Deputy Opposition Whip that this is somehow a gender discrimination issue.

                The Hon. Penny Sharpe: Point of order: The motion before the House relates to urgency. It is up to Government members to speak to the motion and demonstrate why the bill proposed to be introduced by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile is more urgent than other items in the order of precedence. Remarks being made by the Hon. Matthew Mason-Cox go nowhere close to discussing that. He is instead reviewing what other members have stated. Mr President, I ask you to direct him to address the issue of urgency.

                The PRESIDENT: Order! The time for the speech of the Hon. Matthew Mason-Cox has expired. The point of order is superfluous.

                The Hon. LUKE FOLEY (Leader of the Opposition) [11.11 a.m.]: The only reason the Government claims this legislation is urgent is that Mr O'Farrell is outsourcing.

                [Time for debate expired.]

                Question—That the motion be agreed to—put.

                The House divided.
                Ayes, 17
                Mr Blair
                Mr Borsak
                Mr Brown
                Ms Cusack
                Ms Ficarra
                Mr Gallacher
                Miss Gardiner
                Mr Gay
                Mr Green
                Mr Khan
                Mr MacDonald
                Mrs Maclaren-Jones
                Mr Mason-Cox
                Reverend Nile
                Mr Pearce
                Tellers,
                Mr Ajaka
                Dr Phelps

                Noes, 14
                Ms Barham
                Mr Buckingham
                Ms Cotsis
                Ms Faehrmann
                Mr Foley
                Dr Kaye
                Mr Primrose
                Mr Searle
                Ms Sharpe
                Mr Shoebridge
                Mr Veitch
                Ms Westwood
                Tellers,
                Mr Secord
                Ms Voltz

                Pairs

                Mr ClarkeMr Donnelly
                Mr CollessMs Fazio
                Mr LynnMr Moselmane
                Mrs MitchellMr Roozendaal
                Mrs PaveyMr Whan
                Question resolved in the affirmative.

                Motion agreed to.
                Order of Business

                Motion by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile agreed to:
                    That Private Member's Business item No. 9 outside the Order of Precedence be called on forthwith.
                EDUCATION AMENDMENT (ETHICS CLASSES REPEAL) BILL 2011

                Bill introduced, and read a first time and ordered to be printed on motion by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile.
                Second Reading

                Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE [11.22 a.m.]: I move:
                    That this bill be now read a second time.
                The object of the Education Amendment (Ethics Classes Repeal) Bill 20011 is to amend the Education Act 1990 to repeal the provision inserted by the Education Amendment (Ethics) Act 2010, which allows special education in ethics as a secular alternative to special religious education at government schools. The effect of the repeal will be delayed until the beginning of the next school year immediately following the commencement of the proposed Act. This simple and concise bill contains the following three clauses:
                    1 Name of Act
                        This Act is the Education Amendment (Ethics Classes Repeal) Act 2011.
                    2 Commencement
                        This Act commences on the date of assent to this Act.

                    3 Amendment of Education Act 1990 No 8
                        (1) Section 33A Special education in ethics as secular alternative to special religious education
                          Omit the section.
                        (2) Schedule 3 Savings, transitional and other provisions
                          Insert at the end of the Schedule with appropriate Part and clause numbering:

                          Part Provision consequent on enactment of Education Amendment (Ethics Classes Repeal) Act 2011

                          Repeal of provision relating to special education in ethics

                          The repeal of section 33A by the Education Amendment (Ethics Classes Repeal) Act 2011 does not have effect in relation to the provision of ethics classes in government schools until the beginning of the next school year immediately following the commencement of the Act.
                  As has already been said, there has been extensive debate in the community and wide coverage in the media, in particular, in the Sydney Morning Herald, on the ABC and other media outlets, in relation to this bill and my perceived actions regarding the future of the secular humanist so-called ethics course. I believe that that course does not teach children right from wrong but promotes the secular humanist relative philosophy where there are no absolutes, such as "You shall not murder", "You shall not lie", and "You shall not steal." Even Dr Knight, who conducted the review for the Labor Government, said that the course should not be called an ethics course; rather, it should be called a philosophical relativism course, and I agree. Relativism is the basis of secular humanism. I believe, and I know other members will disagree, that that is the philosophy we saw during World War II with the Nazis and communists.

                  Dr John Kaye: That is outrageous. You just called St James Ethics Centre a bunch of Nazis. That is absolutely shameful.

                  Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE: I am saying that those philosophies followed situation ethics—

                  Dr John Kaye: Point of order: That was an act of extreme cowardice. To claim that those at the St James Ethics Centre are Nazis—

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! There is no point of order.

                  Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE: I made no reference to the St James Ethics Centre; I was speaking about the philosophy.

                  Dr John Kaye: You called them Nazis.

                  Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE: I never called anyone a Nazi.

                  Dr John Kaye: You did.

                  Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE: I never did; I was speaking of the philosophy. Situation ethics were followed by other regimes such as the Nazis and the communists. Situation ethics means that nothing is right and nothing is wrong; therefore, human beings can be killed without any embarrassment or reservation. Situation ethics is a dangerous philosophy upheld by The Greens. I agree with the need for the teaching of true ethics in schools, colleges and universities in New South Wales. Those ethics should be based on history's greatest teacher of ethics, the Lord Jesus Christ, who presented Almighty God's moral ethic for the human race beginning with the Ten Commandments. Of course, as members know, Jesus Christ was far more than a teacher of ethics. He came into the world to be the Saviour, to seek and to save that which was lost, which is the Gospel.

                  I sincerely regret that some parents, I assume, have objections to Christianity or scriptures and may be atheists, and will prevent their children from learning about the most important aspect of our Australian culture, our Christian heritage and faith. Even our atheistic Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said recently, "All children should have a knowledge of the Bible." She said:
                      … what comes from the Bible has formed an important part of our culture. It's impossible to understand Western literature without having that key of understanding the Bible stories and how Western literature builds on them and reflects them and deconstructs them and brings them back together".

                  I thank the Prime Minister for her comments. I am concerned that there has been a subtle change during the regime of the former State Government. Estimates have been given of up to 100,000 children who do not attend special religious education classes. Previously, the policy was that children would attend special religious education and scripture classes unless their parents wrote a letter asking for the child to be withdrawn. Some schools have reversed that policy by saying they want a letter from parents indicating the child is to attend religious education classes. That is a reversal of the traditional policy since 1880 and may account for what appears to be an increased number of children not attending religious education classes.

                  In view of the media commentary, I wish to state for the record that I have not sought to blackmail the Coalition Government. I simply reminded the Government that before it flatly rejected my Education Amendment (Ethics Classes Repeal) Bill it should consult and remember that it needs our votes to pass its legislation, particularly the controversial industrial relations legislation. I never said that I would vote against the legislation, even though I had genuine concerns about its impact. This is important. During my meeting with the Premier on Thursday 28 July—a meeting held at his request—we did not discuss the industrial relations legislation or my vote on any matter. Members may be surprised to hear that. We only discussed the best way forward for my ethics repeal bill. We came to the conclusion that my bill could proceed through the Coalition cabinet and then to the party room for discussion.

                  I have no way of controlling the Coalition party room, but I hope that through the discussion in the party room it may lead the 88 members to agree that they can support my bill in due course. The bill will be adjourned to 16 September by the Hon. Paul Green to allow those discussions to take place. I also want to provide an opportunity for the church leaders to give further consideration to their position. There has been some thought, because of the extreme views of The Greens and others, about whether the church should avoid controversy by saying nothing more about the Education Amendment (Ethics Classes Repeal) Bill. This is being discussed within the church. No-one in the church supports the ethics course. There is no question about that. The church is wondering only how to avoid controversy and perhaps some backlash against those special religious education teachers in our government schools.

                  My intention throughout the whole process has been to hold the Coalition Government to its original election policy. The Coalition, along with Christian church leaders, condemned the Education Amendment (Ethics) Bill in this House and in the other place. The Coalition voted against the bill, opposing the Australian Labor Party and The Greens'. Christian church leaders have requested that I do whatever I can. As members know, I campaigned strongly during the recent State election on that issue. That is why I introduced a repeal bill on behalf of my constituents, as well as those who voted for the Australian Labor Party or Liberal Party, but who also agree with the policies and strategies of the Christian Democratic Party.

                  Unfortunately, just prior to the State election on 26 March 2011, the now Premier told me—wrongly as it turns out—that the Coalition believed The Greens would hold the balance of power in the New South Wales upper House. He told me, privately at the time, that despite his desire to continue with his original policy he believed the Australian Labor Party and The Greens, if they had the balance of power, would block any attempt to repeal the bill. However, as members know, and the Hon. Dr John Kaye has made the point very clearly in his contribution this morning, the Christian Democratic Party, in cooperation with the Shooters and Fishers Party, now holds the balance of power—I call it the balance of prayer and responsibility—and not the pagan Greens, who are no longer relevant in New South Wales. That is part of the reason for their anger and criticism of what I am endeavouring to do.

                  Given the outcome of the election, the Coalition can now implement its original 2010 policy. I trust that in due course it will vote for the Education Amendment (Ethics Classes Repeal) Bill, which states that ethics courses will conclude in December 2011. School principals will have time to arrange suitable quality educational opportunities for children who are withdrawn from scripture classes in 2012 by their parents. Some church leaders were concerned that the repeal bill, if implemented immediately, would disrupt New South Wales schools. The church leaders do not want that to happen and neither do I. That is not my intention.

                  The St James Ethics Centre is now a secular centre. Some people believe that it is a voice for the Christian community. It is no longer in that role. The recent article by Dr Simon Longstaff in the Sydney Morning Herald contains a number of fallacies. First, he claims the churches now support the secular ethics course. The churches do not support it and that is the point I am making. The churches still strongly oppose it. I have a handwritten memo from Archbishop Peter Jensen stating:
                      I have always opposed the introduction of the ethics classes and regard it as an unfortunate breach of our long established principle.

                  Cardinal Pell has also contacted me. Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Peter Jensen are anxious there be no drawn out controversy in the media and in the public school system, and particularly that the church's position not be misrepresented—as it has been in this debate—to say that the Christian churches oppose ethics. That then becomes an untrue headline. The church and Christians support the Judea-Christian ethic and they have reservations about a secular humanist ethics course that does not teach children what is right or wrong according to its founders.

                  Secondly, Dr Longstaff claims that I wish to repudiate the whole tradition of western thought. That is not true. Thirdly, he says it is wrong that I, Fred Nile, repudiate honesty, respect and moral courage. That is not true. Dr Longstaff's comments are ironic, given that one of the major objections I have about the so-called ethics course is that it explicitly does not teach morals and therefore should not be called an ethics course. It is a course on philosophical discussion. Dr Knight said it is dealing with philosophical relativism. Fourthly, Dr Longstaff criticised me using the language that "might was right", stating that I am using political power gained through having the balance of power in the House. However, he has forgotten when the ethics legislation was originally introduced in 2010 the Australian Labor Party and The Greens used their might to force it through the Parliament, particularly the upper House. This is the ethical issue: The Greens and the Australian Labor Party rammed the bill through before Christmas because they knew they were going to be thrown out of Government; they knew they were going to lose the election. Their strategy was to tie the hands of a new democratically elected government.

                  Dr John Kaye: Was it a democratically elected government?

                  Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE: The Coalition was democratically elected, but The Greens wanted to block the process. They thought they would have the balance of power, so they rammed the legislation through this place before Christmas to ensure that the new Government would not be able to reverse the process. That is what happened in a number of cases. When it suits them, The Greens believe that might is right. I appreciate why Dr Longstaff is defensive given the serious questions being asked about the validity of his course. Nevertheless, I believe it is unethical to engage in the sort of invective and characterisation in his article and some of the reports in the Sydney Morning Herald.

                  I remind members and Dr Longstaff that Socrates—the philosopher to whom he often refers—was virtually alone and was ultimately executed because he dared to question the majority world view. He questioned what young people were being taught and the value of education. As we know, he was forced to take poison to end his life. I am simply questioning what children are being taught and the value of secular ethics education. As I have said a number of times, the course does not teach ethics as most parents understand the term and that is why they have questioned the churches' desire to get rid of the classes. We all want our children to be taught about what is right and what is wrong and the Ten Commandments, and people wonder why the churches would oppose that. However, they do not understand the specific nature of the so-called ethics course that is being offered to about 100,000 children in this State.

                  Some people tell me not to worry about it and say that they will concentrate on scripture teachers and special religious education. But what about those 100,000 children and those who are attending the ethics course? I understand that only 2,700 children are participating in the course. Because such a small number are involved some church leaders have told me that I am wasting my time pursuing this legislation. The ethics course is a dismal failure because of the 100,000 children who do not attend scripture classes only 2,700 have enrolled in ethics classes. That is despite their promotion by a number of teachers and in some Department of Education literature, which states that all children should have the opportunity to participate in the classes, not only those who do not attend scripture. That resulted in a number of children moving from scripture classes to the ethics course.

                  Dr John Kaye: How many?

                  Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE: Dr John Kaye will be pleased to know that a number of them have subsequently abandoned that course because it is so boring.

                  Dr John Kaye: Then why are you so worried about it?

                  Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE: I am simply saying that some church leaders do not believe we should be worried. However, I have a Christian conscience and I am concerned for the children who participate in secular ethics classes. I have a responsibility to them and I will not allow them to be abused or misled by that propaganda.

                  The Hon. Scot MacDonald: Point of order: I cannot hear Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile.

                  The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Jennifer Gardiner): Order! I am having difficulty hearing Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile. Members will allow him to be heard in silence.

                  Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE: Dr Longstaff assured me and others that we should not be worried because there is no movement to change religious education. He knows that even some of his own supporters, members of organisations such as the Teachers Federation, The Greens, the left wing of the Australian Labor Party and others wrongly believe that the separation of church and State means that there should be no religious education in government schools

                  Dr John Kaye: Did you say separation is wrong?

                  Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE: She said "right".

                  The Hon. Cate Faehrmann: No, I laughed.

                  Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE: She did not.

                  Dr John Kaye: She did.

                  Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE: Members know that what I am saying is true. Those groups are now attacking the new chaplaincy program in government schools, which was introduced by the Howard Government and which has been supported by the Gillard Government. Those people who question the value of religious education and scripture classes wrongly believe that when Sir Henry Parkes introduced state education and said that it should free and secular he meant that it should be non-Christian or non-religious. That was never his intention. In the 1880s, the term "secular" was used in a specific way to prohibit denominational teaching in New South Wales classrooms—that is, teaching the tenets of the Catholic, Baptist or Presbyterian faiths. He had no objection to scripture classes, which he decreed should be held for one hour each day. The official arrangement now is one hour of scripture classes each week. However, scripture teachers tell me that because of the administrative arrangements in many schools they are fortunate if they get 20 minutes in the class.

                  I make it clear to members that I have never said that the Premier should break his word. My position is that he should simply uphold the Coalition's original decision, particularly given that it strongly opposed and voted against the legislation that enabled the introduction of ethics classes. The Coalition quite rightly saw it as a long-term threat to the continuation of special religious education. Dr Longstaff became militant and sought to incite a mob uprising against me and my actions. His actions are more akin to those that he despises. Perhaps he should have a lesson in ethics. The Sydney Morning Herald's campaign in support of ethics classes is obvious on the letters page of that newspaper in that 99 per cent of the letters published have been critical of my actions.

                  The editorial published on 4 August is wrong in its assertion that "among the recent legacies of the NSW Government, few enjoy as much mainstream bipartisan political support and community endorsement as the introduction of ethics classes in state schools". The Sydney Morning Herald acknowledges that many people have made submissions opposing the introduction of the ethics course. A petition signed by 50,000 New South Wales citizens opposing ethics classes was presented in the other place and I have presented similar petitions in this place day after day. The Sydney Morning Herald's claim that the policy has widespread community endorsement is wrong. It is now claiming that a vote for the Coalition was a vote for the ethics course. I totally reject that; a vote for the Coalition was a vote against a corrupt, divided and inefficient Labor Government. That was what voters focused on when they went to the ballot box. Polling undertaken before the election indicated that the Labor Government would be thrown out. Anybody else could have been elected to throw them out.

                  The Hon. Lynda Voltz: So what you are saying is that none of Barry's promises count?

                  Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE: They all count, but the ethics course was not the key policy that people were voting for.

                  The Hon. Lynda Voltz: If he made a promise on ethics it does not count; the Premier's word is not as good as what he says—is that what you are saying?

                  Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE: I am saying that the Labor Party was so bad that it was going to lose the election even if he had no policies. Many Coalition voters and our own Christian Democratic Party voters assumed that if the Coalition were elected it would repeal the Labor-Greens ethics bill, which was rammed through the Parliament just prior to Christmas—an unethical approach to an unethical bill. The New South Wales Parents and Citizens' Associations annual conference statement claims that all its members support the ethics course and do not support my repeal bill., I know that in many parents and citizens' associations there has been a change in culture and a change in leadership of the Federation of Parents and Citizens' Associations so that it now reflects more closely the policy of the Teachers Federation. The parents and citizens organisation now reflects more closely the Teachers Federation—in other words, it has become more radical. People have questioned some of the policies—

                  The Hon. Lynda Voltz: The world has changed.

                  Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE: In the past parents and citizens meetings were peaceful and well behaved. However, if a person stands up at some parents and citizens meetings and says, "I oppose the ethics course", he or she will be screamed at, shouted at and told to sit down. That has never happened before in the history of the parents and citizens organisation. A number of organisations have been critical of the ethics course. As we know, during the previous debate, the current Minister for Education spoke strongly against the bill.

                  As members know, I also moved amendments during debate to add the word "philosophical" before the word "ethics", but those amendments were rejected by the House. Dr Sue Knight—who was handpicked by the Labor Government to do the evaluation—made it very clear that it should be called "philosophical relativism". As I indicated, I want to allow time for calm, rational consideration of this bill. Debate will be adjourned until 16 September 2011 so that further consideration can be given to the bill by the Coalition and other members of the House—I hope even the Labor Party, but I do not expect The Greens to give any consideration to it at all.

                  The Hon. PAUL GREEN [11.53 a.m.]: I move:
                      That this debate be now adjourned.

                  The Hon. LYNDA VOLTZ [11.53 a.m.]: I speak against the adjournment of this debate. The reality is that the views of this House with regard to ethics are well known by everybody. Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile has just put his views on record. The Government has constantly stated that it has a clear position on ethics. The views of Opposition members and other members in this Chamber are well known. We do not need an adjournment of this debate. We should bring it on now. Let the Government show its true position on ethics. Let us have the debate now. There is absolutely no need for an adjournment of this debate. Let us see where the Government stands on the bill.

                  Dr JOHN KAYE [11.54 a.m.]: I oppose the motion to adjourn the debate. Positions are on the table. This matter has been debated many times before. Let us bring on the debate now. I note that the Leader of the Government, who I presume has to be in the House, could not sit further from the podium if he tried and still be in the House. This is clearly a matter of grave embarrassment for Government members. They are trying to move away from this as quickly as possible. They should join with us, bring this matter on now and put it out of its misery—let us get rid of it.

                  Question—That this debate be now adjourned—put.

                  The House divided.
                  Ayes, 17
                  Mr Blair
                  Mr Borsak
                  Mr Brown
                  Ms Cusack
                  Ms Ficarra
                  Mr Gallacher
                  Miss Gardiner
                  Mr Gay
                  Mr Green
                  Mr Khan
                  Mr MacDonald
                  Mrs Maclaren-Jones
                  Mr Mason-Cox
                  Reverend Nile
                  Mr Pearce
                  Tellers,
                  Mr Ajaka
                  Dr Phelps

                  Noes, 14
                  Ms Barham
                  Mr Buckingham
                  Ms Cotsis
                  Ms Faehrmann
                  Mr Foley
                  Dr Kaye
                  Mr Primrose
                  Mr Searle
                  Ms Sharpe
                  Mr Shoebridge
                  Mr Veitch
                  Ms Westwood
                  Tellers,
                  Mr Secord
                  Ms Voltz

                  Pairs

                  Mr ClarkeMr Donnelly
                  Mr CollessMs Fazio
                  Mr LynnMr Moselmane
                  Mrs MitchellMr Roozendaal
                  Mrs PaveyMr Whan
                  Question resolved in the affirmative.

                  Motion for adjournment of debate agreed to.

                  Debate adjourned and set down as an order of the day for a future day.
                  INTERNATIONAL WORKERS' MEMORIAL DAY

                  Debate resumed from 17 June 2011.

                  The Hon. HELEN WESTWOOD [12.03 p.m.]: When I last spoke to the motion of the Hon. Sophie Cotsis I referred to those industries in which so many workers are killed or injured. I commented on the number of mining industry accidents that occur worldwide and result in the deaths of so many workers. Since then I have received an invitation from the United Mine Workers Federation of Australia to attend a memorial wall commemoration at Cessnock on 11 September 2011. All attending that service will be thinking about those who have lost their lives as miners, as well as their family and friends whose lives have been so terribly affected by the passing of their loved ones. International Workers' Memorial Day is about awareness and education. Services such as the one I will be attending in Cessnock all play an important part in what this day represents.

                  The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Jennifer Gardiner): Order! I am having difficulty hearing the Hon. Helen Westwood. Members who wish to engage in conversations should do so outside the Chamber.

                  The Hon. HELEN WESTWOOD: Disappointingly, many members in this place do not appear to appreciate the importance of speaking about workers' rights. Regrettably, I have learnt that since this Government came to office. I speak now of the memorial at Broken Hill, which I am sure a number of members have visited. In the late 1990s the remaining operational company at Broken Hill offered to lease the non-working surface infrastructure along the 7.3-kilometre Line of Lode ore body to the community for development as a centre for tourism and education. A number of organisations in Broken Hill helped to develop that wonderful facility. In addition to the visitors centre they have a beautifully designed memorial to those miners who have lost their lives. It is a powerful experience to stand and read the names of those workers who have lost their lives working underground in the mines at Broken Hill and surrounding areas. It is also an important reminder to all of us about the number of people who have lost their lives.

                  Pleasingly, fewer names appear on that memorial with the passing of each year. As time has progressed particular incidents have occurred where a number of miners have died in a critical event but, thankfully, the number of mine fatalities has declined over the years. In no small part that has been due to the awareness and education programs that have been undertaken by trade unions and because governments have been willing to respond to workers' calls to make workplaces safer. As a result fewer lives are being lost and fewer workers are being injured. When one speaks about workplace accidents one tends to focus on fatalities but the quality of life and the capacity to earn an income of many workers who are injured is often significantly reduced.

                  The statistics are overwhelming according to the International Labour Organisation. Across the world each year more than two million women and men die as a result of work-related accidents and diseases. Workers suffer approximately 270 million occupational accidents each year, and fall victim to some 160 million incidents of work-related illnesses. Hazardous substances kill 440,000 workers annually; asbestos claims 100,000 lives. We have certainly learnt the diabolical lessons of asbestos. One worker dies every 15 seconds worldwide; 6,000 workers die every day. More people die while at work than in fighting wars.

                  Although 28 April is used as the focal point for remembrance and a day of international solidarity, campaigning and other related activities continue throughout the year around the world. We may think workers in Australia are immune to deaths, injuries and such statistics. However, the deaths and injuries that occur here are damning. Every year about 440 workers are killed in work-related accidents. That equates to more than eight deaths per week. Diseases such as cancer and asbestos-related illnesses cause an estimated 2,300 additional deaths per year or 44 a week. Road accidents in Australia claim about 30 lives per week. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than 15 serious injuries occur every hour, that is, one injury every four minutes.

                  Even more frightening are the realities closer to home in New South Wales, where WorkCover statistics show that workplace injuries are on the increase and showing an upward trend. To that end I refer to an article in today's Australian. Indeed, I heard the head of organisational strategy for Leighton Holdings, Mr Stephen Sasse, on the AM program on ABC radio this morning. In an address yesterday Mr Sasse pointed out that the fatality rate in the construction industry in Britain was almost half that in Australia and is trending down. Regrettably, our fatality rate is not trending down. Mr Sasse said:
                      We are operating in such a way that we are inflicting twice the rate of injuries as our counterparts in the northern hemisphere.



                      Our performance is getting worse. The trend is quite clear—we are on track to increase the rate at which we kill our workers—at around 2 per cent compound per annum.
                  All of us should be concerned about these statistics. But they are not simply statistics; they represent workers who lost their lives and whose deaths are a great loss to their families, friends and the community. The report of Mr Sasse's comment also states:
                      Having been involved with investigations into construction fatalities, he said a distressing aspect of the work was "the constant reminder that the incident could have been avoided … if only someone had thought about the risks in a different way, or thought about the construction risks at all. It is this that makes fatal incident investigations so confronting.
                  Mr Sasse must be commended, particularly as someone employed in the industry, for telling it like it is and speaking out about the need to improve workplace safety so that workers do not lose their lives. Mr Sasse also talked about design and the need for work safety during the construction phase to be considered at the time the project is designed. I hope that the private sector and governments are willing to take that on board. Mr Sasse was critical of the occupational health and safety harmonisation laws—we debated them in this place only a few weeks ago—that came into effect recently. Mr Sasse expressed concern that the laws were not proscriptive enough.

                  When we argued that case, regrettably, many Government members dismissed us, derided the unions as being self-interested, and dismissed union concerns, which are simply the legitimate concerns of their members who keep our economy going and build our State. We should be willing to listen to the unions because the points they make are borne out by the statistics. Our workplaces are still not safe enough. As I said, that thousands of workers are killed and millions more are injured or diseased because of their jobs is all the more poignant because those deaths and injuries are largely preventable.

                  It is imperative that we defend our workplace safety legislation. The union movement actively campaigns on occupational health and safety, and those efforts are partly reflected in the fact that the greater degree of unionism in a workplace the safer it is. That is worth repeating. We should not disregard the trade unions or deride them as being self-interested. The fact is that the greater degree of unionism there is in a workplace the safer it is. Decades of struggle by workers and their unions have resulted in significant improvements in working conditions, but the toll of workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths remains enormous. In a world where, on occasion, death, injury and illness at work are hidden away and taken for granted, workers memorial day is an opportunity to highlight the preventable nature of most workplace accidents and ill health, and to promote campaigns and union organisation in the fight for improvements in workplace safety.

                  This year the slogan for the day is "Remember the dead—Fight for the living". It is our responsibility as legislators in the New South Wales Parliament to protect workers. It is important that we heed the warnings and listen to those who have knowledge about this important area of public policy and health. We must ensure that we legislate to make workplaces safer and ensure that workers return home to their family and loved ones, and return home well. I applaud and congratulate the unions on their diligent work to ensure the safety of our families and friends at work. I fully support and commend the Hon. Sophie Cotsis for moving this motion.

                  The Hon. WALT SECORD [12.17 p.m.]: I support International Workers Memorial Day. I commend my colleague the Hon. Sophie Cotsis for providing an opportunity to debate this matter. It is an opportunity to recommit to the safety of workers and to recognise the need for safe workplaces in Australia and overseas. Workers Memorial Day is an international day of remembrance and action for unions, workers, friends and their families. While foremost in our minds on this day are those who have been tragically killed at work, we also remember those injured at work, those who become sick from exposure to hazardous substances, those who are tortured, imprisoned, murdered or oppressed because of their trade union activities or their simple membership of a union, and those who have suffered degradation, pollution or destruction of their communities due to unsustainable work practices.

                  On Thursday 28 April WorkCover and Unions NSW, led by General Secretary Mark Lennon, organised the New South Wales memorial service at Reflection Park at Darling Harbour. The commemoration had the strong support of many religious and community groups, including the Asbestos Diseases Foundation. Of course, it was a personal day for families who had suffered the tragedy of losing a loved one. It is particularly apt that the campaign for asbestos victims was part of the proceedings. In New South Wales many heroes of the union movement have put community interests ahead of their own interests in order to help others. I pay special tribute to the late, great Bernie Banton. I was fortunate to meet Mr Banton through my work with Premier Bob Carr.

                  Mr Carr joined with the late Mr Banton and the then President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Greg Combet, to bring James Hardie to account. Together they fought for victims of asbestos to be paid fair compensation and receive appropriate healthcare treatment. Those who suffer asbestosis are a stark reminder that work-related deaths and injuries can strike people well after their employment has ceased. But a duty of care to them remains. The late Bernie Banton's wife, Karen Banton, is now carrying on his important work. I know that recently thousands of workers were inspired to see Mrs Banton at Parliament House with Mr Mark Lennon, fighting the O'Farrell Government's industrial relations laws.

                  On a personal note, when I was a teenager a community member was killed in a gyprock mine roof collapse in the small town of Caledonia on 13 April 1981. The mining company was charged, and six months later, an inquest into the death recommended improved work conditions at the mine. It was the subject of a court hearing. But to this day, his widow and her three children have never recovered from his death—and that was more than 30 years ago. There is another reason why this day is significant for me: the International Day of Mourning for Workers originated in my country of birth. The first Workers Memorial Day was held in 1984 and was conducted by the Canadian Union of Public Employees. A year later, the Canadian Labour Congress declared an annual day of remembrance on 28 April, which was the anniversary of the world's first modern and comprehensive Workers Compensation Act. It was passed in 1914 in Toronto. Workers Memorial Day is now marked in more than 100 countries.

                  This year carries another significant anniversary in the history of workers' safety. It marks the 100th anniversary of the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on 25 March 1911. This fire was one of the deadliest industrial disasters in the history of the United States, and changed occupational health and safety in North America forever. The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers, who either died in the fire or jumped to their deaths. When the fire started there was no audible alarm, no way to warn workers on other floors, no route of escape for many workers as management had locked the stairwells and exits, and no foreman with the keys to unlock them. He had already escaped. Facing an inferno, many workers—poor migrant Jewish and Italian women—jumped to certain death. The event, as horrific as it was, is rendered even more tragic by the fact that it could easily have been prevented.

                  The New York State Legislature found 200 more factories where a similar catastrophe was likely to occur. Safety codes were rolled out and by 1915 New York State had formed its equivalent to the labour occupational health and safety laws. That fire is very important for two reasons. First, it raised concerns about the rights of working people and their safety; and, secondly, it heightened concerns about workplace safety in general. As legislators, we have a duty to ensure the laws of this State provide the best possible coverage for workers so that when families send them to work, they can have faith that they will come home safely. This onus is on us as parliamentarians. While most businesses operate in good faith regarding the safety of their workers, this is the role of government. I assure members that the changes made as a result of that horrific event in 1911 would not have occurred through any effort of self-regulation.

                  The International Labour Organization reports that each year global workers suffer about 270 million accidents and fall victim to approximately 160 million incidents of work-related illnesses. Worldwide, one worker dies every 15 seconds. In the time I have been speaking, dozens of families have had their worlds changed forever. Many of those workers are in the developing world—in places such as China and India—where there is no workplace safety regulation. In Australia it is reported that every year about 440 workers are killed in workplace accidents. It is both a tribute to those who achieved this in this area, compared with our geographical neighbours, and a reminder of how far we have to go. We all still have an obligation to do everything we can to prevent such deaths. I think of the number of heavy vehicle drivers—our truckies—who die or are injured on our roads every year. I think of the many other occupations that carry a high risk of injury on duty, such as mining and construction. I remind myself that the fight to ensure that people continue to be able to work in a safe environment is ongoing.

                  It is very regrettable that one of the first bills of this new Government took away workers' rights and entitlements as well as the independent umpire. The Government may ask: What is the big deal? The Government may ask: What is the relevance? The answer is that the history of the issue shows that the rights and protections we have established have been hard fought for, and often paid for with the most tragic price. So they should never be erased at the stroke of a pen. Putting that aside, we should strive to ensure commemorative days such as this remain above politics. I commend the motion to the House.

                  The Hon. MICK VEITCH [12.24 p.m.]: My contribution to this most important debate will be brief. This debate is a call for this Chamber to reflect on workplace illness, injury and death and their causes, and it marks 28 April as the International Day of Mourning for Workers Memorial Day. I congratulate the Hon. Sophie Cotsis for providing us all with this opportunity to reflect. I cannot know, or imagine, what it must be like to have a family member leave home in the morning and not have them return at night, or not have them return ever. But I do know what it is like to receive a phone call advising that your brother is in intensive care as a result of a workplace accident. As most members of this House know, a couple of years ago my brother was involved in a serious truck accident at Sandy Beach near Coffs Harbour. That phone call was most distressing to me and my wife but the unbelievable stress and difficulty for us was the stress that it caused my mother. We felt helpless. We were so far away from my brother and there was simply no way we could help or assist him or his family.

                  My brother had to be cut from his truck, which is essentially his workplace. That took several hours. For the entire time it took to extricate him from the wreckage, he was hanging upside down. Thankfully, my brother is alive today due to the phenomenal efforts of all the emergency services personnel who attended that accident and the wonderful medical care he received at the Coffs Harbour hospital. My brother is now back at work driving trucks—something he did not think he would do again, and something we did not think he would do either. He loves driving trucks. However, he suffers as a result of lingering issues associated with the accident and most probably will suffer from those issues for the rest of his life. I know what it is like to get a phone call about a loved one, a close relative, after a workplace accident. I enjoy having a cold beer with my brother—I always have—but I have come to appreciate it even more over the past couple of years.

                  A few years ago a friend of my son lost his father in a workplace accident. This young fellow has grown through his teenage years without his father. He has not had the benefit of his father's knowledge on matters ranging from advice from the sidelines at a football match, relationships or his schooling. His mother has done an outstanding job raising this young man and his siblings without her husband. I have referred to these two very specific examples of workplace accidents and their impacts on a range of people for this reason: in country towns and villages, workplace accidents have significant impacts. I know that all members of the House who reside in wonderful country areas of New South Wales will appreciate the significant impacts of workplace accidents and deaths. That is why we should all take the time to reflect and consider why workplace safety is so important. It is important for people to come home from work uninjured. It is important that they simply come home. Many children deserve nothing less. I congratulate the Hon. Sophie Cotsis on moving this motion. Well done! I support the motion.

                  The Hon. PENNY SHARPE [12.28 p.m.]: My contribution to debate on the motion will be brief. I congratulate the Hon. Sophie Cotsis for moving the motion. In Solidarity Park in West Perth there is a monument to a young man who died at the age of 23 years. His name is Mark Allen. At the top of the monument there is the triple-eight symbol, which is the historical labour symbol representing eight hours work, eight hours rest, and eight hours of recreation. Mark Allen was a friend of mine from Western Australia. Our paths happened to cross during our time in student politics. As I moved on to bigger and better things, Mark went to work for the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union to protect workers' rights.

                  Mark fell off a worksite at the age of 23. His death was the direct result of massive safety breaches by a company that was undertaking demolition work in East Perth. Mark and another organiser from the union visited the site to inspect reported unsafe conditions and to call a stop-work meeting. After the meeting the employer ordered some of the workers back onto the roof, despite the dangerous conditions. Mark was on the roof to recall the workers when he fell through the roof and was killed. The Mark Allen Memorial stands in Solidarity Park. I encourage anyone who is in the vicinity to visit it. I recall the words of a Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union delegate who spoke of Mark in the following terms:
                      I was a personal friend of Mark Allen, killed on a building site in Perth on September 6, 1996.

                      He and another organiser, John Lennox visited a work site where they were demolishing the old Perth bus terminal. Mark and John went on site as organisers. The demolishing company was found to have no industrial compliancy, or Occupational Health and Safety compliancy.

                      The workers were on top of the terminal burning asbestos. There was no fall protection, no safe access, no scaffolding. Cash-in-hand was rampant. It was a non-union, no super, no workers' comp site … a company with a previous record of fatalities. Despite this, the Richard Court Government awarded it a number of State contracts.

                      So John Lennox and Mark Allen went on-site to organise a meeting, and Mark Allen scaled three levels up the ladders of the bus shelter site. He was up there to bring the workers down for a meeting to discuss the terrible safety conditions. He fell roughly 18 metres through a penetration. He died before the ambulance arrived, in John Lennox's arms.
                  It is for those reasons that it is important to commemorate the International Day of Mourning to remind all legislators and governments of their role in protecting workers rights. I draw the attention of members who are interested in confronting health and safety issues in Australian workplaces to a paper by Rosemary Webb from Southern Cross University who states:
                      This paper argues that a state's management of workplace safety is a substantive indicator of its social and political integrity. History resonates support for this position. Where capital has refused to eliminate dangerous substances or processes from the workplace for reasons of profit, outcomes have included accident, debility and death. A state which accepts that negligence is deficient in duty of care to its citizens. This argument rests on the power vested in the state, as both government and legislator, to dispense justice in occupational health and safety … Failure to use that power to rein in employer (workplace) safety crime renders the state complicit in the crime.
                  Let us remember all workers who have died on the job and let us do all that we can as legislators to protect them in the future.

                  The Hon. SOPHIE COTSIS [12.33 p.m.], in reply: I have been inspired by the passionate and heartfelt speeches made by all those who contributed to the debate on this motion. As parliamentarians we should do everything we can to be vigilant and to ensure that working people have the highest quality occupational health and safety standards. It would be remiss of me not to mention that a few weeks ago I was sickened when I heard on the radio that the O'Farrell Government had failed to appoint a new Dust Diseases Board in time for a key meeting, which affected compensation payments to victims of asbestos disease and their families.

                  This motion should receive bipartisan support. It is important for Government members to remain vigilant about occupational health and safety for working people in New South Wales. This motion is not one-sided. I have received many phone calls about this matter from people in business or members of the local community. I note that the Government acted quickly on the matter; however, when it receives important files it should attend to them immediately.

                  A letter was sent out to cancel a scheduled meeting of the Dust Diseases Board because the Government failed to approve new board appointments. The Dust Diseases Board awards compensation to people who have contracted an asbestos-related disease at work. It awards weekly payments, medical expenses and death benefits for widows and dependents. Years ago when I was a union official I represented many people who have since died from dust diseases, including an uncle of mine who had worked in a factory and who for many years had suffered from such a disease. We must not forget all those who have died and we must remain vigilant. The late Bernie Banton fought hard for justice for victims of asbestosis and mesothelioma. Each month the Dust Diseases Board considers up to 80 applications and in many cases makes awards. I brought this serious matter to the attention of the Government even though the matter has subsequently been rectified.

                  I thank the Hon. Lynda Voltz for supporting this motion. She talked about her experience as a clinic coordinator at the Workers Health Centre at Lidcombe, and she spoke passionately about workers in the construction industry and about the continuing and significant problems that have arisen as a result of exposure to asbestos at work. I commend the Hon. Greg Donnelly for reminding us about the success of New South Wales occupational health and safety laws in decreasing the incidence of workplace injury and death. He also voiced his concerns and expressed his honest and legitimate view that those successes might well be affected with the passage of the Work Health and Safety Bill 2011 and the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Bill 2011. I thank the Hon. Charlie Lynn for providing an insight into occupational health and safety from a European perspective. [Time expired.]

                  Question—That the motion be agreed to—put and resolved in the affirmative.

                  Motion agreed to.
                  THREATENED SPECIES CONSERVATION AMENDMENT (ECOLOGICAL CONSULTANTS ACCREDITATION SCHEME) BILL 2011

                  Bill introduced, and read a first time and ordered to be printed on motion by the Hon. Cate Faehrmann.
                  Second Reading

                  The Hon. CATE FAEHRMANN [12.40 p.m.]: I move:
                      That this bill be now read a second time.

                  In introducing The Greens Threatened Species Conservation Amendment (Ecological Consultants Accreditation Scheme) Bill 2011 I acknowledge the hard work and efforts of the Hon. Ian Cohen and Scott Hickie, his staffer, who carried out extensive consultations with environmentalists and the ecological consultants' community in order to draft this bill. I acknowledge also Holly Kendall in my office who has been working on this bill since then. Members may be aware that the Ecological Consultants Association of New South Wales recently proposed a voluntary industry accreditation scheme in the absence of any statutory scheme to accredit ecological consultants. However, in this voluntary scheme decisions, whether for accreditation, review, discipline and appeals, are made only by members of the association. It would have no statutory basis for public disclosure or a public register for hearing complaints or for penalising bad practice. A voluntary scheme is more likely to result in a conflict of interest than the proposed mandatory scheme set out in this bill.

                  Above all the purpose of this bill is to establish an accreditation scheme for ecological consultants who conduct ecological assessments, primarily to inform good decision-making under a number of Acts: the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, the Fisheries Act 1994 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. A statutory basis for accreditation of ecological consultants is able to offer a more transparent, accountable process than an internal, voluntary scheme administered by one of several professional associations. For ecological consultants to be accorded professional status, a statutory accreditation scheme is far more preferable in the eyes of the community. Over the years, the community—developers, environmentalists and determining authorities and the environment—has sometimes been let down by defective practices of ecological consultants. They have lacked appropriate mechanisms for lodging complaints to be reviewed impartially and, where necessary, the ecological consultants to be disciplined and/or their future practice conditioned.

                  The Threatened Species Conservation Amendment (Ecological Consultants Accreditation Scheme) Bill 2011 has an important and necessary purpose. Its purpose is to establish an accreditation scheme for ecological consultants, that is, people who are suitably qualified to undertake ecological assessments and surveys, species impact statements, to advise on land-use proposals, and to make recommendations for vegetation management and habitat protection plans. From its inception the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 intended that there be regulation of ecological consultants who assess the ecological value of land. Proposed section 113 will empower the director general of the relevant department to institute an accreditation scheme for suitably qualified and experienced consultants who undertake species impact statements. However, to date this has not been given effect.

                  Accreditation schemes have been introduced for practitioners identified as suitably qualified to conduct equivalent complex site assessments, such as biobanking assessors pursuant to the Threatened Species Act 1995, and site auditors under the Contaminated Lands Management Act 1997. It is an anomaly to have left accreditation of ecological consultants to this stage. The role of ecological consultants is of increasing importance in New South Wales. Under the Threatened Species Act 1995, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and the Fisheries Management Act 1994, they have an important role in producing ecological studies and advising developers and determining authorities on proposed developments and rezonings that might more broadly threaten ecological biodiversity and the environment. An external body that accredits suitably qualified and experienced individuals as ecological consultants will accord professional recognition, set and uphold standards and strengthen the integrity of ecological assessments in New South Wales.

                  As the practice of ecological assessments is currently unregulated, ecological consultants are vulnerable to criticism that their ecological assessments are being influenced by their commercial relationships with developers. Commercial pressure to obtain approval for the developments and the prospect of continuing referral of work by developers may be compromising the ethical conduct of ecological consultants. An accreditation scheme would support the independent and ethical conduct of ecological consultants who generally carry out their work with the highest level of diligence and honesty. However, there are consultants who do not, a matter about which I will speak later. An accreditation scheme would help to address concerns about assessment impartiality and quality by identifying ecological consultants, certify their eligibility to practice and to practice a specialty, as well as establishing a system of peer review if assessment reports are disputed.

                  Given the pivotal role that ecological consultants play in decision-making and public consultation processes under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, the Threatened Species Act 1995 and the Fisheries Management Act 1994, it is a matter of concern that there is no formal requirement for any level of training, knowledge or skill to undertake ecological assessment and for ethical conduct, in particular, with respect to animal welfare. Ensuring the skills and expertise of people responsible for assessing the impacts of growth and development is critical for the effectiveness of environmental protection. Ecological consultants should be regulated in a manner similar to doctors, lawyers and accountants.

                  This bill provides that only natural persons are eligible for accreditation as ecological consultants. It makes provisions for eligibility to be accredited as an ecological consultant, including specialist accreditation. It also makes provisions for continuing requirements including continuing professional education for ecological consultants. It also provides for the responsibilities of accredited ecological consultants to maintain the current skills and knowledge conforming to industry best practice in ecological assessments under the relevant Acts.

                  There is a need for specialist accreditation because of the diversity of fauna and flora, landscapes and projects and special skills, for example, in conservation genetics, and in which ecological consultants are required to make assessments. The creation of a class of specialist accreditation will help develop skills in ecological consultants and create a system that allows proponents to easily find ecological consultants with the specialist skills required. Specialist accreditation may include accreditation in the areas of estuary and river systems, koala habitat, bell frog specialisation or invasive species expertise. It may extend to cover specified ecosystems or biodiversity processes or threats. Increasing specialisation in ecological consultants will improve environmental outcomes.

                  The bill will require the establishment of an accreditation panel. The panel will have five members which will include the chief executive of the Office of Environment and Heritage or his or her representative, and four or more other members appointed by the chief executive who are recognised for their expertise in biodiversity values. The panel will advise on the criteria for accreditation and eligibility of applicants for accreditation, including specialist accreditation, and it will undertake peer review of assessments that are referred to the panel. Accreditation as an ecological consultant is granted for three years and may be renewed on application. This is longer than doctors and lawyers who are required to renew their registration or practising certificate every year. In comparison, a period of three years registration before renewal is not overly onerous, but it is short enough to require that ecological consultants' skills and knowledge continue to be updated. It also allows continuous oversight of the industry. This will allow further refinement of the regulations, if necessary.

                  The chief executive will be required to keep a register of all accredited ecological consultants that is publicly accessible on the website of the Office of Environment and Heritage. This register will be an important public resource that will allow proponents of a development to check that ecological consultants are accredited before engaging them. The register will also include the names of any ecological consultants whose accreditation has been suspended or revoked as well as the company name of their clients. This is intended to encourage corporate responsibility by corporations who hire ecological consultants. It will also deter corporations from leaning on ecological consultants to meet commercial rather than ecological objectives. If that happens they will be named and shamed in the public domain.

                  Another function of the panel is to review an ecological assessment carried out by an accredited ecological consultant. The request to review may be made by an accredited ecological consultant or consent authority or any individual who is supported either by an ecological consultant or by a consent authority. Having a formal procedure the peer review will set out standards for accredited ecological consultants and enable councils and community groups to refer concerns to the accreditation panel. As a result of the peer review the panel would have powers to impose conditions on the accreditation of the ecological consultant, suspend or revoke the accreditation. The panel will have the discretion to reject requests for reviews that it considers are frivolous or vexatious. The panel will be required to disclose any interest held in relation to employment, a partner's employment or specified interest in a corporation that a member may have that is to be recorded and publicly accessible for a fee. This disclosure ensures transparency in the recommendations of the panel.

                  The chief executive will have the power to revoke or suspend accreditation on the basis of recommendations from the accreditation panel if the ecologist is no longer eligible for accreditation, has failed to meet a requirement of the act or conditions of accreditation, or has failed to pay required fees. The chief executive will be required to notify the ecologist in writing and provide him or her with an opportunity to make submissions on the decision which the chief executive will be required to consider before making a final decision.

                  Applicants who are denied accreditation or have their accreditation revoked or suspended or have conditions attached to their accreditation will have a right to have the decision reviewed by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal. Grounds for revocation or suspension would be specified in regulation, but the bill does include a responsibility for ecological consultants to avoid conflicts of interest. These disciplinary powers would not be available under a voluntary scheme. Experience shows that this statutory scheme is necessary to ensure that standards are enforced and ecological assessments that have extensive impacts on the local environment are carried out with the highest level of diligence.

                  It is important that ecological consultants not participate in projects in which they have a conflict of interest. However, they must also not be perceived to have any conflict of interest. In placing a responsibility on ecological consultants to avoid conflicts, the bill aims to ensure that ecological consultants do not carry out assessments for people or corporations that they or their families are connected to or hold a pecuniary interest in. Given the commercial relationship between ecological consultants and developers, all appearance of conflict of interest must be minimised.

                  In essence this bill sets up an accreditation scheme that draws on the expertise of the ecological consultants' community, their understanding of the industry, the range of and complexity of field work and the culture of this profession. Their expertise in biodiversity values will mean that they are well aware of the environmental outcomes of the standards they set, the recommendations that they make and the impacts that these will have on the livelihoods of ecological consultants. This industry focus will be complemented by strong enforcement mechanisms and ministerial oversight. The recommendations of the panel are made to the chief executive of the Office of Environment and Heritage and the Minister for the Environment.

                  The bill will also introduce two offences. The first relates to the carrying out of an environmental assessment without accreditation and the second relates to the making of false representations as to accreditation. These offences will be a deterrent to those who seek to avoid accreditation and create a framework in which consultants are required to meet the requirements set by the accreditation panel to maintain their livelihood. In particular, these enforcement mechanisms differentiate this accreditation scheme from any possible industry scheme. It gives the regulation of the industry teeth to ensure that only accredited ecological consultants are conducting assessments.

                  In preparing this bill, the Hon. Ian Cohen made inquiries to the Minister for the Environment as to the cost of operating comparable accreditation schemes. The scheme for auditing site auditors under the Contaminated Lands Management Act 1997 cost $272,740 to administer in 2008. The proposed ecological consultant's accreditation panel is anticipated to have a comparable cost. Under the Contaminated Lands Management Act the accreditation panel for site auditors consists of an officer of the Office of Environment and Heritage, a representative of community environmental groups appointed on the nomination of the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales, a representative of industry and a representative of academia with tertiary qualifications in a discipline relevant to contaminated sites.

                  The application process under this bill would be very similar. Under the Contaminated Lands Management Act applicants are required to provide specific information to allow the Office of the Environment and Heritage to determine whether the applicant is eligible for accreditation, applicants are required to pay an application fee, and accreditation can be granted for anywhere up to three years. The ecological consultant application mirrors this. Under the Contaminated Lands Site Auditors Scheme, failure to comply with conditions of accreditation is a ground for suspension, revocation or non-renewal. Auditors must renew accreditation. The Office of Environment and Heritage monitors the activities and reviews the work of site auditors on an ongoing basis to ensure that the standard of their performance is acceptable.

                  The Office of Environment and Heritage undertakes routine monitoring, including reviewing site audit reports and site audit statements, examination of records held at auditors' offices, discussion with auditors on audits in progress and internal consultation. The Office of Environment and Heritage can also undertake a special review of an auditor's performance where it considers that there has been a breach of legislation, where the auditor is believed to have failed to adhere to guidelines, where there are perceptions of conflict of interest, or where the Office of Environment and Heritage has received complaints about an auditor's work. The Ecological Consultants Accreditation Scheme would be less onerous in that referrals are made only by an ecological consultant or consent authority or a member of the community supported by either an ecological consultant or consent authority.

                  Under the Contaminated Lands Site Auditors Scheme, the Office of Environment and Heritage is empowered to take disciplinary action that may include placing conditions on the auditor's accreditation, issuing directions to the auditor, suspending or revoking the auditor's accreditation or not renewing the auditor's accreditation or renewing it for a shorter period than previously. The Ecological Consultants Accreditation Scheme provides similar powers. A cost of $272,740 is a minimal impost on the State to ensure the integrity of ecological assessments and the independent professional conduct of ecological consultants.

                  The first illustration of the need for this bill is the Cobaki Lakes proposal for development. The proposed development is on the Cobaki Lake floodplain in far north-east New South Wales. This region is at the centre of a biodiversity hot spot that together with far south-east Queensland has the second highest diversity of plants and vertebrate animal species on the continent. It has the highest diversity of marsupial and microbat species, equal highest diversity of frog species and the second highest bird species diversity of any of Australia's bioregions. The area is of national significance for over-wintering migratory and nomadic birds and fruit bats.

                  On 11 May this year the Northern Region Planning Panel at Tweed Heads was to determine the Cobaki Lakes development application based on supporting documents, including a fauna assessment and an ecological report together with management plans to maintain biodiversity values. The ecological assessment provided by the proponent has been fiercely criticised by David Milledge of Landmark Ecological Services Pty Limited—a fauna ecologist with more than 40 years experience in field survey and research in south-east Australia. Mr Milledge was commissioned to prepare an expert submission by a concerned community group, Northern Rivers Guardians. David Milledge noted that the fauna assessment prepared by an ecological consultant for the developer recorded 12 threatened species within the site.

                  Milledge drew attention to a number of major defects in the developer's ecological assessment, including: incorrect assessment of koala habitat under State environmental planning policy 4 that concluded there was no designated koala habitat on site overall despite the fact that the ecological report refers to vegetated areas on the site dominated by stands of koala tree species, such as swamp mahogany—the very areas that would be adversely impacted by the proposed development—and the failure to refer to the presence of the rufous bettong and long-nosed potoroo on this site recorded in a past study in 2006 conducted by a consultant for the developer. A further failure is the omission of past records of koalas on the site.

                  David Milledge also reviewed the concept plan and found it so defective he called it "a plan for extinction". In submissions to the regional planning panel, Mr Milledge stated that the proposed concept plan failed to provide corridors of sufficient width to function as habitat to support resident individuals of threatened species, the proposed corridor lands are surrounded by high-density urban development, the corridor lands are severed by internal pathways and cycleways, are compromised by constructed ponds that will serve as a breeding habitat for cane toads and have no dedicated fauna underpasses to cater for major road crossings. These omissions constitute a failure to apply basic principles of ecological landscape design. Such serious failures of the ecological assessments demonstrate the need for a statutory peer review process.

                  The bill provides that following a peer review with adverse findings the accreditation panel may recommend to the chief executive, as chairperson, that the ecological consultant's accreditation be conditioned, suspended or revoked. This bill will deter accredited ecological consultants from making avoidable errors and misleading their clients and determining authorities. It should not be up to concerned members of the community to raise the alarm without a process for redressing defective practice by ecological consultants. A second example occurred in the Liverpool local government area. The Office of Environment and Heritage criticised the ecological assessment undertaken to support a proposal to amend the draft Liverpool Local Environmental Plan 2008. The proposal was for rezoning an area known as Cooper's Paddock, which is zoned for private recreation, into parcels to be zoned for general industrial use and public recreation. The proposed rezoning would have significantly reduced this environmental refuge by reduction and destruction of the vegetation and habitat on Cooper's Paddock.

                  The Office of Environment and Heritage stated that the ecological assessment prepared to support the planning proposal failed to use appropriate survey techniques to establish the condition of the vegetation on site, made inappropriate assumptions about the vegetation condition and the likely loss of vegetation from the site to justify the lack of a comprehensive fauna survey, failed to reference data that was publicly available in the Atlas of NSW Wildlife prior to drafting of the reports demonstrating the presence on site of the vulnerable species the black-chinned honeyeater, varied sittella and little lorikeet, and that the presence of these species means that this land is an "environmentally sensitive natural area" serving as both a vegetated buffer area and a significant fauna habitat.

                  The review listed failures in the methods of surveying flora and fauna used by the ecological consultant. For example, the survey was conducted over too small an area and the survey design resulted in failures to collect data on specific areas of the site described as "exotic understorey characteristics" or "understorey absent managed exotic grassland". In response to these deficiencies, council has required the applicant to commission a peer review; that is, with safeguards of the statutory accreditation scheme provided for in this bill. A third example, and there are countless more, revealed the flawed practices of some ecological consultants who undertake ecological assessment for major projects such as coalmines that destroy the existing environment. The proposed expansion of the Boggabri coalmine will result in the destruction of 1,384 hectares of remnant forest in the Leard State Forest.

                  Item of business set down as an order of the day for a later hour.

                  [The Deputy-President (The Hon. Jennifer Gardiner) left the chair at 1.01 p.m. The House resumed at 2.00 p.m.]

                  Pursuant to sessional orders business interrupted at 2.00 p.m. for questions.
                  QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
                  __________
                  KINGS CROSS INJECTING ROOM

                  The Hon. LUKE FOLEY: My question is directed to the Leader of the Government, representing the Premier. Given calls today to close down the medically supervised injecting room, will the Premier rule out closing it down or will this too be up for consideration by his party room?

                  The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: As is always the case when a question is asked of the Premier or a Minister in the other place, I will refer the question to the Premier. He will respond in due course.
                  M2 MOTORWAY

                  The Hon. JENNIFER GARDINER: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports. Will the Minister update the House on progress to make the M2 Hills Motorway cashless?

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: Last month the Deputy Premier and I had the pleasure of announcing in Marsfield that cashless tolling would be implemented on the Hills M2 Motorway. Unfortunately for the long-suffering motorists of Marsfield, Epping, Pennant Hills, Baulkham Hills and Ryde, the former Labor Government failed to negotiate an agreement with Transurban, the operator of the M2, on cashless tolling. Little wonder Victor Dominello annihilated Labor at the last election, with nearly 63 per cent of the primary vote in Ryde—

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! I call the Hon. Eric Roozendaal to order for the first time.

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: Greg Smith retained his seat of Epping with a solid swing against Labor of 17 per cent. Once in office, the Coalition worked quickly with communities along the M2 and with the operator of the motorway to ensure that full electronic tolling is introduced in a seamless manner. Cashless tolling is expected to be up and running on the M2 in early 2012. Gone will be the days of motorists being forced to bunch behind a line of cars as they slow down to hand over cash.

                  As the current M2 widening project progresses towards its completion date in early 2013, toll booths will undergo a phased removal. Combined with full electronic tolling, this will allow a consistent 100-kilometre per hour speed limit to be in place for the length of the motorway. The Government quickly realised that this was an ideal time to make the change to cashless tolling because it could be easily incorporated in the upgrade and widening works currently underway. The Coalition is bringing a commercial acumen and practical approach to roads management and infrastructure that was lacking under the previous Labor administration.

                  In relation to today's article in the Daily Telegraph, the Government has listened to frustrated motorists and is examining whether it is possible within the terms and conditions of the current M2 widening contract with Transurban—negotiated and signed by the former Labor Government last year—to fix or reduce tolls during the construction phase of the project. Scrapping tolls altogether during the widening work would result in a breach of contract and likely hefty compensation claims—a poor outcome for taxpayers.

                  Sadly, today's taxpayers and motorists continue to pay the price of the past practices and failures of Labor. Seven Labor Roads ministers in just five years did not create a working environment conducive to the proper analysis and negotiation of complex contracts. Even though Labor has locked taxpayers into a tight contract, the Coalition Government is working hard to fix Labor's mess. It is determined to reduce the frustration of motorists and commuters who use the M2. For example, during the widening works and ahead of the introduction of cashless tolling, we have been able to identify some improvements to the current bus configurations, which will help improve congestion and traffic flow on the M2. [Time expired.]

                  The Hon. JENNIFER GARDINER: I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister elucidate his answer?

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I am most willing to do so. By the end of this month, a dedicated westbound lane for buses will be introduced through the main toll plaza during the afternoon weekday peak. This improvement will help buses get in front of the queue and avoid congestion. Next week will also see changes to the left westbound lane, which is designated for Beecroft Road traffic only. Buses will be allowed to use this lane and then merge into the general motorway lanes near Beecroft Road. These changes will provide priority for buses, thereby benefiting thousands of people who commute by bus each weekday on the M2. Given the New South Wales Government is already fast-tracking the North West Rail Link, such reforms to M2 traffic management are more good news for the long-suffering commuters of north-western Sydney.

                  The New South Wales Government and the M2 operator will continue to monitor traffic conditions and make adjustments where possible to improve traffic flow during the widening of the motorway. The project includes widening the motorway between Windsor Road, Baulkham Hills, and Lane Cove Road, North Ryde, as well as four new ramps to provide better links between the motorway and growing residential and business areas. The two-year widening project is now one-quarter completed with recent work, including the installation of large girders—known as "super-T" girders—at the Windsor Road bridge. The noise coming from Opposition members is interesting. When in Government they were not interested in the people who used this road and they are still not interested. [Time expired.]
                  PAY EQUITY

                  Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services. Noting that the latest submission of his Government to Fair Work Australia on the equal pay case for community sector workers sought to limit any gender equity pay rise by reference to the State's public sector pay regulations, does the Minister now accept that he is using the new pay regulations to entrench pay inequity in the community services sector?

                  The Hon. Michael Gallacher: Remember when the Labor Party used to ask questions about workers?

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I thank Mr David Shoebridge for his question. I am at pains to have to admit that The Greens, unlike the Labor Opposition, ask questions of relevance to the community of New South Wales, and indeed to the workers of New South Wales. In relation to the Australian Services Union case, I have to be a little careful about what I say. I need to be somewhat circumspect about what I say because it is a live case. Mr David Shoebridge, being such a fine lawyer, would not want me to—

                  The Hon. Duncan Gay: You are misleading the House now.

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I just wanted to see who would bite when I said that, but none of those opposite did. I do not want to transgress the case. Mr David Shoebridge obviously has a copy of the Government's latest submission. I should give a little bit of history in relation to the case. It is a novel and important case. This case is transgressing new ground. The background to it is that when Julia Gillard was the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations she entered into a memorandum of understanding with the union, which was basically the genesis of this case. What has happened since then? The Federal Government—that Labor mob now headed by Julia Gillard—throughout this case has refused to agree to any increase in funding to support the workers. The Federal Government has repeatedly refused to agree to any extra funding.

                  What did that mob over there do? Early in March they put in a submission in which they declined to fund any increase in this case. They put in a submission in early March, which followed earlier submissions, in which this Labor mob refused to fund any extra money to support this case. Not only did they put in a submission refusing to fund it, they also put in a Treasury paper—Eric was, of course, the Treasurer at the time—which argued that any increase under this case would be unaffordable to the New South Wales Government. That is what they said, "There is no money. It is unaffordable." Guess who wrote that paper? Listen to this name: Michael Gadiel. In answer to the member's question, I refer the member to my submission to Fair Work Australia.

                  Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister elucidate his answer by responding to what the New South Wales Government is doing in its latest submission?

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! The question is in order.

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I refer the member to my previous answer.
                  PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARIES

                  The Hon. STEVE WHAN: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Primary Industries. Did the Minister make a promise before the election that a Coalition government would appoint a parliamentary secretary for recreational fishing? Did the Minister forget to tell the Premier about that promise or has the Premier just ignored the Minister?

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: There are very few people who enjoy the pleasure of having the best Parliamentary Secretary of all; I have that Parliamentary Secretary. It is interesting that the former Minister, who we thank for our being on this side of the House, as we thank Eric—and the people of Monaro thank him and Eric for allowing us to be in government as well—has asked me a question on behalf of the Minister for Primary Industries on something I said. Why did he not ask me? He thinks in this sort of convoluted way—

                  The Hon. Michael Gallacher: Warped.

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: Warped is a harsh call.

                  The Hon. Michael Gallacher: Whan the warped.

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: Maybe you wave the Whan. I passionately believe there should be a Parliamentary Secretary for Primary Industries, and there is. The one who is the Parliamentary Secretary is an absolute cracker.

                  The Hon. Eric Roozendaal: Who is it?

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: Troy Grant, the member for Dubbo. He beat one of their coalition colleagues. He walked it in.

                  The Hon. Steve Whan: Point of order: My point of order relates to relevance. I draw the President's attention to Standing Order 65, which says that an answer must be relevant to the question. I very clearly asked about the Minister's promise to have a secretary specifically for recreational fishing.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! There is no point of order.

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: Those opposite ask the questions but they do not like the answers. As the Leader of the Government said, they think they are still in the lower House and they think they are under the protection of their breed. They ask a proper question and we give them a proper answer. We talk about the calibre of the person who is the Parliamentary Secretary and they don't like it. Well, they will just have to suck it up.
                  ILLAWARRA TOURISM

                  The Hon. MARIE FICARRA: I address my question to the Minister for the Illawarra. Will the Minister update the House on Wollongong's new brand of tourism and marketing initiatives?

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I am delighted to answer that question from a very good Parliamentary Secretary. I note the particular interest taken in the Illawarra by those on this side of the Chamber. While those opposite have taken the Illawarra for granted, the Government is taking action to address key issues for the region. On 2 July 2011 I had the pleasure of launching Brand Wollongong. I was able to announce a $100,000 grant of seed funding for the Brand Wollongong project from the Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services, which is a new initiative to promote Wollongong. The Brand Wollongong project is a long-term place marketing and major events strategy to promote Wollongong under a unified brand. In a press release of 2 July the Wollongong City Council welcomed that funding. In that press release Andrew Carfield, the council's Acting General Manager, said:
                      This is a long-term strategy that aims to promote awareness and enhance perception of Wollongong, both locally and from outside the region. The level of support we have received both by way of funding from the Minister for the Illawarra, Greg Pearce, along with the enthusiasm and expertise provided by key regional stakeholders, augurs well for a unified approach that will achieve real market traction.

                  I am happy to represent this region because we on this side of the House are committed to Wollongong and to the greater Illawarra. That is why we want to ensure that it is a growth centre for business, tourism activities and new residents. We do not take the region for granted as those opposite do. These programs and initiatives will assist such a desire to see the region grow and expand because, as we all know, branding is an essential part of business and tourism. Brand Wollongong is a project that will promote the region's strengths in tourism, trade and liveability. Those who frequently visit the Illawarra, such as I do, know it is a great place to live, work and do business. It is time we sold this message to others. The shadow Minister for the Illawarra—I am not sure who that is—would not know this since he or she so seldom visits the area. The Brand Wollongong project is a long-term initiative involving research that will canvass perceptions of the image Wollongong should portray. It will promote new visitors and investment into the city.

                  A Brand Wollongong project team, including government, council, business and industry representatives, has been established to develop a collaborative marketing approach. Over the next 12 months the team will provide initiatives to stimulate a revitalised city centre marketing campaign, a centralised events strategy, and a cohesive marketing program. The Brand Wollongong project is part of the Government's commitment to the region and to repairing the damage left by the lazy approach from Labor. Under Labor the local tourism industry was completely isolated, with Labor failing to generate new campaigns that brought business, investment and tourism events into a single integrated marketing model. It is little wonder that the region's economic growth slumped and business confidence declined.

                  In stark contrast, this Government will aggressively promote the region and its surrounds, which I have already started to do. I acknowledge the efforts made by the steering committee to get this program up and running. I particularly acknowledge all those who attended the launch. Ms Noreen Hay, the member for Wollongong, was supposed to attend the launch but she did not turn up, nor did she apologise.
                  HOMELESSNESS

                  The Hon. JAN BARHAM: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Family and Community Services. In light of the fact that the State Government has committed to a 7 per cent reduction in the overall level of homelessness in New South Wales by the year 2013, will the Minister update the House on what processes are in place to collect relevant data and measure the level of homeless? What is the current estimated homeless figure in New South Wales?

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I thank the Hon. Jan Barham for her question, which is basically the continuation of another question she asked me recently. The question allows me to outline for the House—this will take some time—the Government's real commitment to social housing. That commitment is reflected in the fact that we have not one but two housing Ministers.

                  The Hon. Eric Roozendaal: That is because they are half-wits.

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: We have two Ministers committed to public housing.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! I call the Hon. Eric Roozendaal to order for the second time.

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: As I said previously, the Government is committed to public housing. We have not one but two Ministers committed to public housing. I have responsibility for the asset management part of the portfolio.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! I call the Hon. Lynda Voltz to order for the first time.

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I do not mind doing research to help The Greens; I object to doing research to help the Labor Opposition.

                  The Hon. Duncan Gay: Be fair: The Greens have more staff.

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: They need more help, let us face it. We know that The Greens will be wiped out in the next two elections. We are sure of that because they have gone into government with the Labor Party in Canberra led by Julia Gillard.

                  The Hon. Lynda Voltz: Point of order: My point of order is relevance. So far all we have heard from the Minister is that the Government has two new bureaucrats. The question is about the actual contribution.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! I am surprised the Hon. Lynda Voltz heard much of the Minister's answer, given her level of interjection. I remind members that the question was asked by the Hon. Jan Barham. The Hon. Jan Barham and The Greens members have not been interjecting at all. I am sure they would like an answer to the question. The Minister is encouraged not to respond to the Opposition's interjections and instead to give the Hon. Jan Barham an answer.

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I am trying to help the Hon. Jan Barham and The Greens by explaining how these responsibilities are allocated in our Government and how the Ministers are then responsible for taking action. The other Minister with housing responsibilities is the Hon. Pru Goward. Through her department we are endeavouring to take a much more effective approach to delivering State Government services to clients in need.

                  The Hon. Sophie Cotsis: How many will be built?

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: Members opposite should show compassion and a bit of interest in the community, particularly people with needs. [Time expired.]

                  The Hon. JAN BARHAM: I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister elucidate his answer?

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I refer to my previous answer.
                  M2 MOTORWAY

                  The Hon. SOPHIE COTSIS: My question is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports. Will the Minister promise the commuters of north-west Sydney that he will not increase the period in which tolls are payable on the M2 if the Government moves to scrap tolls on the road while an upgrade is underway?

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I thank the Hon. Sophie Cotsis for her terrific question. First, it is obvious that the member was not listening to my contribution earlier. Had she been listening she would not have asked the question, because I categorically said that we will not scrap tolls. If she had listened to the Premier on the radio this morning she would have heard him say that the Government will not provide cash back or scrap the tolls.
                  POLICE ACCOMMODATION SAFETY

                  The Hon. SCOT MacDONALD: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Will the Minister update the House on what is being done by the New South Wales Police Force to make police stations and police housing safer?

                  The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: Ensuring the safety of our hardworking men and women of the New South Wales Police Force is the highest priority of both the Government and the Commissioner of Police. This is not only about providing the latest equipment and technology to help officers fight crime; it is also about providing safe workplaces. The New South Wales Police Force has previously undertaken a review of a number of police sites across New South Wales to identify those that may contain hazardous building materials. While this type of work is routinely undertaken by the New South Wales Police Force, earlier this week I was advised that a working party has been established to oversight the program of rectifying issues with hazardous materials. The program is focussing on both police residential properties and police stations.

                  The program has identified sites at risk and is prioritising any necessary remediation works. The program is specifically looking at assessing sites that contain asbestos in fibro products and lead in paint, as well as other sources of lead. Tens of thousands of buildings in the general community contain lead paint or asbestos. Most members would be aware that that includes Parliament House. I am advised that 460 properties within the police properties portfolio have been identified as containing at least some asbestos or lead paint. This week the New South Wales Police Force has begun the process of notifying commanders and police in affected areas directly of the issues in their local properties.

                  I am advised that detailed briefing packs are being forwarded to these officers today, and they are expected to be received by early next week at the latest, if not today. It is an important notification process which I had sought to happen before making a public statement. While I do not want to pre-empt these notifications, I believe it is important that there is no perception that we are not being transparent with the community. I became aware of this issue earlier this week, and I am continuing to receive briefings. It is important to ensure that staff are not exposed to potentially dangerous conditions either at work or at home in police residences. I understand that remediation works have already commenced at a number of sites. Lithgow police station will be closed for one day on 10 August while asbestos material is removed from a heating duct. I understand that other material has already been removed from a plant room at the station.

                  Work has been completed at the Sydney Police Centre to remove lead residue in the firing range. I am advised that remediation works will not affect the day-to-day operations and services to the community will not be disrupted. I have been assured that commanders and staff in affected areas will be kept up to date on the progress of works. They are and will be provided with information on what to look for, what steps to take if they identify a potential issue, and where to seek further information. I also understand that the working party has been consulting with both the Police Association and the Public Service Association. In conclusion, I assure members and the community that I will give the House a further update on this matter next week.
                  CARBON TAX AND POWER STATIONS

                  The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is the Minister aware of recent calls by The Greens to close the Munmorah and Liddell power stations and that the Premier should take advantage of the carbon tax scheme through a grant to pay to close the power stations? If both power stations were shut down, what impact would that have on local communities? How long would it take to build the two new large thermal power stations that The Greens suggest as a replacement for the two power stations?

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: Often The Greens do not weigh up the issue and they say the first thing that comes to mind.

                  [Interruption]

                  Do members opposite want these power stations to close? Is that what the Labor Party is telling me? Such is the hubris of Labor Party members that they want these power stations closed down. They are the people who are supporting Julia Gillard and the carbon tax.

                  The Hon. Eric Roozendaal: Point of order: Unfortunately, the Minister is explaining the question, not answering the question. Mr President, I ask you to direct him to make his answer relevant to the question.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! While the Minister is permitted to make a preamble when answering a question, I remind him of the requirement for his answers to be generally relevant.

                  The Hon. Jeremy Buckingham: That was a ramble, not a preamble.

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: Preamble. It is like Shenhua, only spelt differently. I will resist the temptation of interjections made by Labor members, although it is difficult considering they are the supporters of Julia Gillard's carbon tax. Part of the question related to closure of power stations because of the carbon tax. The Greens would say that the alternative is to have more wind farms. That is terrific. That is fine—for people who live in the inner city areas of Sydney. Members who live in Marrickville want to assuage their conscience by putting more wind farms in Crookwell—not in their backyard but in my backyard. That is the type of good corporate citizens they are! They worry only about themselves. They do not give a damn about anyone else. This is a serious question and it is a proper question that deserves a detailed answer. I will refer it to the Minister to obtain a response.
                  UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY LIBERAL CLUB

                  The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL: My question is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and Leader of the Government. Is he aware of disturbances of the peace at recent meetings of the University of Sydney Liberal Club involving clashes between supporters of the Hon. David Clarke and Mr Alex Hawke, the Federal member for Mitchell? Will he discuss with the Commissioner of Police the deployment of police resources to future meetings of the University of Sydney Liberal Club to ensure the safety of students and other members of the university community? Further, will he discuss with the Hon. David Clarke ways to control his supporters?

                  The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: The police resources called for by the Hon. Eric Roozendaal are absolutely flat out trying to protect the Leader of the Opposition in the lower House from political assassination. There will be no open cars. Supporters of the Leader of the Opposition in the lower House will not allow him to drive through the city in an open car because members opposite want to knock off Robbo.

                  The Hon. Eric Roozendaal: Point of order: Mr President, noting your previous ruling about pre-rambles, my question was very specific about David Clarke's supporters battling Alex Hawke's supporters. I ask you to direct the Minister to answer the question and say what he will do about safety on the University of Sydney campus and what he will do to stop the fracas that is breaking out.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! There is no point of order.

                  The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: I recall what happened a few minutes before that question was asked. The Leader of the Opposition in this House went up to the backbench and was getting the Hon. Eric Roozendaal ready to ask the question. That is why the Leader of the Opposition in the lower House has been banned by his supporters from going anywhere near open cars. They know that standing by the window of the Legislative Council is Eric the Jackal.

                  The Hon. Eric Roozendaal: Point of order: My question was very specific. The Minister's response is not within a bull's roar of what I asked. I am not particularly interested in the Minister's fantasies about open-topped cars and driving through the streets of Sydney. Mr President, I ask you to direct him to answer the question.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! There is no point of order.

                  The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: I am happy to talk about the deployment of police resources, particularly when they are being used to protect public figures. I would be particularly concerned if I was a supporter of the Leader of the Opposition in the lower House, considering the moves that are on. The Hon. Eric Roozendaal stays by the window. We have Eric in a pair of sunnies standing on the grassy knoll, and all Labor members are starting to move into place.

                  The Hon. Amanda Fazio: Point of order: My point of order relates to relevance. I know the Minister for Police and Emergency Services is loath to take any action that might upset David Clarke because the Minister has to keep his preselection safe, but the question was about the Liberal Club at the University of Sydney and the violence between the Right sections in the Liberal Party. That is the question that was asked. That is the question we want answered.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! There is no point of order.

                  The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: I assure the Hon. Eric Roozendaal, who has expressed concern about police resources, that we are trying to get Angel, the police dog, up to scratch so that she can be there to protect the Leader of the Opposition.

                  The Hon. Eric Roozendaal: Point of order: The issue of violence between David Clarke and Alex Hawke supporters is a very serious matter. I am disgusted that the Minister for Police would think that violence on a university campus is a frivolous matter and would joke about it. This is a serious issue. Will he do something about what David Clarke and Alex Hawke supporters are doing?

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! The Hon. Eric Roozendaal is making a debating point. There is no point of order.

                  The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: I am particularly concerned that somebody in Labor could be trying to jump ship. I think Eric might be trying to get himself into the Liberal Party. He is probably trying to get into these meetings. [Time expired.]

                  The Hon. Eric Roozendaal: Point of order: I wish to ask a supplementary question.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! As I have pointed out on previous occasions, supplementary questions are asked at the discretion of the President.
                  PRINCES HIGHWAY UPGRADE

                  The Hon. JOHN AJAKA: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports. Will he update the House in relation to the progress of upgrades to the Princes Highway and initiatives to improve road safety on the South Coast?

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I thank the Hon. John Ajaka for this question because finally I have been asked a relevant question. Labor Party members had their chance but all they wanted to talk about was our actions in the Liberal Party and their real concerns about their leader in the other place. In July I had the pleasure of visiting the South Coast, which is another area that had been forgotten and forsaken by the former Labor Government. Country Labor was relegated to minor party status in the recent election following the staggering defeat of Labor in electorates such as Kiama, where Gareth Ward won by achieving a 19.4 per cent swing—sending Matt Brown dancing off into the sunset—and South Coast, where Shelley Hancock won with 70.4 per cent of the overall vote, and where there is a great Mayor of Shoalhaven.

                  While preoccupied with dysfunctionality and disgrace and in a bid to hang onto power, the former Labor Government forgot the people of New South Wales. Labor made promise after promise but, as the people of New South Wales now know, nothing weighs lighter than a Labor promise. In contrast with that, the current Government is focused on delivering much-needed services to the people of the South Coast. The Government has committed $500 million towards both the upgrade of the Princes Highway between Gerringong and Bomaderry and the completion of the South Nowra upgrade between Kinghorne Street and Forest Road.

                  The Hon. Amanda Fazio: Completion of a project we started.

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: It is interesting that Labor members chip in, because a former Labor Minister for Roads in the Legislative Council did not even know about the Princes Highway. He did not realise it was a highway named after a prince. He used to call it the princess highway. That is how little Labor knew about it. I am pleased to report that on my trip to the South Coast I announced the award of the major contract for the Princes Highway upgrade at South Nowra—delivering on another of our election commitments. Nace Civil Engineering will start work in the coming months on the New South Wales Government funded project, which involves upgrading the Princes Highway to four lanes between Kinghorne Street and Forest Road. This duplication will improve traffic flow for local motorists and for those travelling through the area, particularly during peak holiday periods. Daily there is a problem in peak periods with traffic at South Nowra.

                  Pedestrians and cyclists will also benefit from the upgrade, with a 2.5 metre wide off-road shared footpath/cycleway on the eastern side of the Princes Highway between McKay Street and Warra Warra Road and an on-road cycle facility south of Warra Warra Road planned as part of the upgrade. The mayor of Sydney should talk to the mayor of Shoalhaven.

                  The Hon. Cate Faehrmann: You should talk to the mayor of Sydney.

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I have trouble getting a meeting. I have been trying to meet with her for three years. I pay rates in this city and I asked for a meeting but could not get one. Pedestrians will benefit from improved road safety, with the installation of pedestrian activated traffic lights on the Princes Highway near the Park Road cul-de-sac. It is expected that major work will start later this year and take about two years to complete. Shelley Hancock must be congratulated on her advocacy on behalf of her community in securing this project. Good on you, Shelley. In addition to visiting Kiama I inspected the progress on the installation of two intelligent warning signs on the Princes Highway at Kiama Bends. These warning signs, which will be completed soon, will improve road safety for motorists driving on Kiama Bends. [Time expired.]
                  TOORALE NATIONAL PARK

                  The Hon. ROBERT BROWN: My question is addressed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for the Environment. Will the Minister inform the House how much money has been spent in the Toorale National Park on signage to assist tourists or other travellers going through that enormous park to find their way around that historic property? Do the signs direct tourists and travellers to particular camp sites and facilities that are available to them? Has any progress been made on removing the 100-year-old weirs across the Warrego River, which is where most tourists want to go, as promised when the property was purchased?

                  The Hon. Luke Foley: Tell him where it is, Robert.

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I was going to ask. I thank the member for—as usual—a well thought out question, reflecting an interest in the community of New South Wales, in economic growth, in freedom and in ensuring that the members of this House properly represent the people who have elected them. I do not know where Toorale National Park is but I would love to visit it with the Hon. Robert Brown at some stage. We could perhaps take a look around the place in a nice big four-wheel drive. I could see those weirs that the member has referred to. It would be very, very interesting; I would really enjoy that.

                  The Hon. Eric Roozendaal: This is getting creepier every minute.

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I am sure that I can find something really very interesting—

                  The Hon. Robert Brown: Provided Eric doesn't get jealous.

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I am sure Eric would like to come with us as well. Eric would be very welcome.

                  The Hon. Eric Roozendaal: Point of order—

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! I call the Leader of the Government to order for the first time.

                  The Hon. Eric Roozendaal: My point of order is one of sensibility. I have no intention of going on a little Deliverance fantasy with the Hon. Robert Brown and the Hon. Greg Pearce.

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: The Hon. Eric Roozendaal misunderstood me. I intended to say that we would look through the unemployment pages of all of the publications in the area and we could try to get him a job while we are on the trek. We could probably take Walt as well because Walt would sample the pies in all the pie shops and then he could twitter about the pies at the pie shops. He is a fisherman too. As we know, he put on notice 200 questions as a fishing exercise, including the famous question about Northern Territory statehood: What is the New South Wales Government doing to deliver statehood for the Northern Territory? What a great question from Walt.

                  The Hon. Eric Roozendaal: Point of order: I am concerned that the Hon. Greg Pearce needs to have a lie down. He was asked a question in relation to a national park. He is now rambling about Northern Territory statehood and questions placed on the notice paper. I ask you to address the issue of relevance and bring him back to the question.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! I remind the Minister that his answers must be generally relevant to the question asked.

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I will take this question on notice as it asks for a very detailed answer, which I will obtain as soon as possible.
                  EYEWATCH PROJECT

                  The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: My question is addressed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Will the Minister update the House on the latest developments in relation to community participation in addressing crime?

                  The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: The Liberal-Nationals Government has promised to breathe new life into Labor's failing Neighbourhood Watch Program for some time. Left in the hands of the former Government, Neighbourhood Watch was dying a very slow death—much like the Labor Party itself. That is what happens when a government pays too much attention to itself and not to the people it is supposed to serve. But there remains within the community a great deal of interest in reinvigorating the Neighbourhood Watch Program. It is a theme that has been repeated to me as I have travelled around the State by people concerned about crime and anti-social behaviour in their neighbourhoods. They want Neighbourhood Watch back. For that reason the O'Farrell Government has committed to ensure that that occurs and, furthermore, that it embraces today's technology. I am pleased to announce that I have recently approved this project.

                  The New South Wales Police Force has commenced project Eyewatch as the implementation of the Government's election commitment to a twenty-first century Neighbourhood Watch. The project was launched this morning while those opposite were cackling over whatever insignificant item of amusement was distracting them from rebuilding their shattered political brand. I will be delighted to stand up with the project team and introduce a welcome renewal to Neighbourhood Watch. Ten New South Wales Police Force local area commands have been selected for trial sites for Eyewatch.

                  The local area commands will be contacting existing Neighbourhood Watch groups to determine if they wish to be involved in the new project. Training days have commenced in some of the trial areas, which include: Barrier, Cabramatta, Campbelltown, Griffith, Newcastle, Orana, Quakers Hill, Sutherland, Tweed/Byron and Parramatta. They are all local area commands in communities abandoned by Labor, now being reinvigorated by this Government. Eyewatch enhances and revitalises the Neighbourhood Watch program by using Facebook. The project involves closed group profiles for Eyewatch precincts, so that the sites are secure and private for the group members, and open pages for each local area command so that the groups can talk to police in their local area.

                  [Interruption]

                  I am disappointed with the continual wall of sound from those opposite.

                  The Hon. Amanda Fazio: As if we care.

                  The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: "As if we care", I note the interjection of the Hon. Amanda Fazio. "As if we care" about the people of New South Wales and this trial and ensuring that the public are kept up to date with live information about crime in their community. Members of the Opposition would have cried crocodile tears a couple of week ago about the death of the elderly lady Natalie Wood in a Sydney suburb just south of Parliament House. They would have said "Isn't that terrible?" Today the Government's proposal is to rebuild the connection with individuals in communities so that we know who our neighbours are, we know who lives across the road, and we look out for, communicate and protect them. But what is the response from the Opposition? "As if we care." Responses like that will ensure that they remain in opposition for many years. I feel so sorry for the Hon. Steve Whan.

                  The Hon. Steve Whan: No, you don't.

                  The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: Yes, I do, because he came here with a little hope that one day he would get back to this side of the House. But he will not if he continues to work with those fools opposite.

                  The Hon. Eric Roozendaal: Point of order: While the Minister is having his stream of consciousness I ask him to stick to the question and stay relevant and not go off on another ramble, following the example of his sidekick sitting next to him.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! The Minister will not respond to interjections.

                  The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: I predict that when Eyewatch is fully operational all of those clowns opposite will join it so that they lose— [Time expired.]
                  DOYLES CREEK TRAINING MINE

                  The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: My question is directed to the Minister for Roads and Ports, representing the Minister for Energy and Resources. When will the Government release findings from the audit it has promised into the granting of the Doyles Creek Mine Exploration Licence? Is the Government aware that exploration work planned for the Doyles Creek project was approved by the department in April and May this year and that the company Doyles Creek Mining has now forced local farmer, Mr Ian Moore, into arbitration over access? Will the Government assure Mr Moore that he will not be forced into an access agreement before the audit into the granting of the licence is completed?

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: I thank the member for his question, which relates to people who, quite frankly, have been badly treated. Probably one of the darkest days of the previous Government was the day it granted this licence for a so-called training mine, as it was known to its friends and colleagues across the State. An inquiry is being conducted into the granting of that licence but I am unaware at this time when its findings will be reported. The matters the member has reported to the House are important and I will pass them on to the Minister for a detailed answer.

                  On behalf of my ministerial colleagues I congratulate The Greens on their questions today, which have been of relevance to people of this State. They are in stark contrast to the petty and silly questions asked by the members of the weaker half of the Opposition, who are more interested in the internal workings of the Liberal Party than they are about the people of New South Wales. They will never get out of their current malaise unless they cease trying to find fault with the Coalition. They must examine and resolve their own problems.
                  LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL SITTING ARRANGEMENTS

                  The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: I direct a question to the Minister for Finance and Services. In light of the Minister's recent warnings of a horror budget, how much has his decision to extend parliamentary sitting days to have members of the Legislative Council sitting in their offices without legislation to debate cost the taxpayers of New South Wales?

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I invite members to recall 11 November 2008. Do they remember what happened on that day? That was the day that the Hon. Eric Roozendaal brought down his mini-budget. Let us look at some of the highlights of that mini-budget. First of all there was a $917 million deficit. The mini-budget included more than $3.64 billion in tax increases and additional revenue measures.

                  The Hon. Greg Donnelly: Point of order: My point of order goes to relevance. My question was specific and the Minister heard it. I ask that he be directed back to the question.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! I was listening carefully to the Minister's answer. I am hoping to see the relevance of it shortly.

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: As I was saying in relation to budgets—

                  The Hon. Greg Donnelly: Point of order: My question was very specific and it related to the forthcoming horror budget and I ask that he be drawn back to it.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! As the Minister has just recommenced his answer, it is not possible for me to determine whether his answer was relevant.

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I think the Hon. Greg Donnelly hit the nail on the head when he paraphrased the question in relation to the forthcoming horror budget.

                  [Interruption]

                  It is quite relevant for me to put the budget in context by referring to previous budgets. I was talking about the horror mini-budget brought down by the Hon. Eric Roozendaal.

                  The Hon. Greg Donnelly: Point of order: My question is not about a past mini-budget but the forthcoming 'horror" budget.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! The time has well past for the Minister to give a preamble. I encourage him to give a relevant answer.

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: The issue that I was trying to address is that the Hon. Greg Donnelly has called the forthcoming budget a "horror budget."

                  The Hon. Greg Donnelly: They were your words.

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: No, they were the member's words. The Hon. Greg Donnelly has not seen the budget yet.

                  The Hon. Greg Donnelly: They were your words.

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: The member is thinking about it as a horror budget.

                  The Hon. Greg Donnelly: You called it a horror budget.

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE: No, the Hon. Greg Donnelly called it a horror budget, and that was because of what he experienced with the Hon. Eric Roozendaal's mini-budget when he was sitting on this side of the House. That mini-budget increased land taxes on high-value property, amended land rich duty provisions, increased nominal duties, deferred private duty cuts, deferred business duty cuts, deferred non-land business duty abolitions, doubled car park levies; increased mineral royalties, increased victims compensation fund levies, increased waste and environment levies and— [Time expired.]
                  PORT KEMBLA GRAIN LOADER UPGRADE

                  The Hon. MICK VEITCH: I direct a question to the Minister for Roads and Ports. What action will the Government take to improve road and rail freight infrastructure to support the proposed upgrade to the grain loader at Port Kembla?

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: This important question gives me an opportunity to highlight our approach to integrating transport—the new integrated transport authority, Transport for New South Wales. It will have a new division focused on freight and regional development. This means that for the first time the key freight system components, including road, rail, and marine ports—

                  [Interruption]

                  Mr President, it really is difficult to answer questions with so much interjection from the Opposition.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! An Opposition member asked the question. I presume that that member and other Opposition members have an interest in the answer. The Hon. Penny Sharpe will cease the ongoing barrage of sound.

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: The new integrated transport authority, Transport for New South Wales, will have a new division focusing on freight and regional development. This means that for the first time the key freight system components including road, rail, marine, ports and intermodal terminals will be consolidated. The Freight and Regional Development Division will be a key feature of the new organisation, integrating freight strategies and programs to meet the current and future needs of the New South Wales economy, in particular our vital regional economies. For the first time there will be a Minister overseeing the coordination of freight from paddock to port and from ship to shop. Gone are the days of no coordinated freight plans. We want to ensure that there is a focus on the whole freight chain. Our Government is determined to get the right load on the right mode.

                  [Interruption]

                  Members opposite joke about it and do not listen. That is why they did nothing about it when they were in government.

                  The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: If members have further questions, I suggest that they place them on notice.

                  Questions without notice concluded.

                  Pursuant to sessional orders business interrupted to permit a motion to adjourn the House if desired.

                  The House continued to sit.
                  GRAFFITI LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2011

                  Bill received from the Legislative Assembly, and read a first time and ordered to be printed on motion by the Hon. Michael Gallacher.

                  Motion by the Hon. Michael Gallacher agreed to:

                      That standing orders be suspended to allow the passing of the bill through all its remaining stages during the present or any one sitting of the House.

                  Second reading set down as an order of the day for a later hour.
                  SPECIAL ADJOURNMENT

                  The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER (Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for the Hunter, and Vice-President of the Executive Council) [3.03 p.m.]: I move:

                      That this House at its rising today do adjourn until Tuesday 9 August 2011 at 2.30 p.m.

                  The Hon. LUKE FOLEY (Leader of the Opposition) [3.03 p.m.]: I oppose the motion moved by the Leader of the Government because a very serious incident happened early in question time today and I think it is appropriate that the Government take action to correct the record before this House adjourns. Earlier today, the Minister for Finance and Services misled this House. I invite him to stand up when I sit down, to withdraw his misleading answer and to correct the record. I challenge him to state clearly that the New South Wales Government is the only government in Australia not to commit to funding the pay increases that Fair Work Australia will award in the equal pay case.

                  The Hon. Duncan Gay: Point of order: The motion before the Houses relates to the special adjournment. What the Leader of the Opposition is saying is not within a bull's roar of the motion.

                  [Interruption]

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! Does the Deputy Leader of the Government wish to continue his point of order?

                  The Hon. Duncan Gay: Yes, I do. I was waiting for your attention and for the wall of sound to recede. This motion relates to the special adjournment. We will move the adjournment later. If the Leader of the Opposition feels suitably aggrieved, he can do his damndest at that stage. He is now simply making a political statement. His contribution is not within a bull's roar of the motion before the House.

                  The Hon. Amanda Fazio: To the point of order: The motion before the House relates to the special adjournment and it is that this House at its rising today reconvene on Tuesday 9 August at 2.30 p.m. The Leader of the Opposition has clearly stated that his speech is in opposition to the special adjournment because he believes there is a matter of importance that should be dealt with before the House adjourns today. There is no opportunity for that debate to occur in the ordinary adjournment debate; the only time that that can occur is now, during the debate on the special adjournment motion.

                  It is the right of any member of this House at any time during debate on the special adjournment motion either to oppose the motion or to move an amendment nominating a different time from that nominated by the Government. In those circumstances I believe the contribution of Leader of the Opposition is clearly in order and that he should be allowed to continue to explain why he believes the motion should not be agreed to.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! In relation to the point of order taken by the Deputy Leader of the Government, it is indeed possible for members to debate the special adjournment motion. The special adjournment motion states when the House will resume. While a member makes a contribution that is directed towards the question of when the House will resume, the member is in order. However, it is a narrowly focused motion and wide latitude is not permitted. It is outside the terms of the special adjournment motion for a member to enter into substantive debate on other issues. So long as the member directs his attention to when the House should resume, he will be in order.

                  The Hon. LUKE FOLEY: Given what happened in question time today, I do not believe this House cannot meet until Tuesday. Unless the Minister clarifies the record after I sit down, I submit that the House will need to sit on Monday because I will then move to censure the Minister for misleading the House. I do not say that lightly.

                  The Hon. Duncan Gay: Yes, you do.

                  The Hon. LUKE FOLEY: I do not. I have documentation that clearly states that the—

                  The Hon. Michael Gallacher: Point of order: The member is now engaging in substantive debate. He should limit his argument to whether we should continue sitting or when we should resume sitting.

                  The Hon. Amanda Fazio: To the point of order: The Leader of the Opposition is explaining to members why he is opposed to the motion that the House resume at 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday 9 August. He is justifying his position that the House should in fact meet on Monday 8 August to allow this very important matter to be dealt with. It is very difficult for the Leader of the Opposition to explain why he believes that the House should resume on Monday unless he is allowed to outline the issue that he believes is so important that it must be resolved today before the House adjourns, or debated in full on Monday as a matter of urgency.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! I have been listening carefully to the contribution of the Leader of the Opposition. It is in order for a member to give a brief explanation as to why an alternative special adjournment date is appropriate. However, his comments should go no further than that.

                  The Hon. LUKE FOLEY: I believe that the House should sit on Monday to debate the fact that the Minister for Finances and Services misled this House during question time today. I have a document from the Australian Services Union, which is running the equal pay case, which states that the Gillard Government has committed to funding those pay increases that Fair Work Australia—

                  The Hon. Duncan Gay: Point of order: Mr President, you gave a ruling and I believe that the Leader of the Opposition well and truly briefly made his point some time ago. He is now adding detail to that.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! I am listening carefully to the response of the Hon. Luke Foley. It is in order for him to briefly outline why he thinks the Minister has misled the House. I will allow him to do so. However, he must go no further.

                  The Hon. LUKE FOLEY: As I was saying, I have documentation from the party running the equal pay case that the Gillard Government has committed to funding pay rises and that the O'Farrell Government is the only government in Australia failing to support that.

                  The Hon. Duncan Gay: This is a substantive argument.

                  The Hon. LUKE FOLEY: The Minister misled the House in his answer and we will need to come back on Monday to move to censure him for that if this afternoon he does not—

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! The Leader of the Opposition has made his point. Is the Leader of the Opposition proposing to amend the motion?

                  The Hon. LUKE FOLEY: I was speaking in opposition.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! If the Leader of the Opposition was speaking in opposition he has made his point.

                  The Hon. LUKE FOLEY: I have, thank you, Mr President.

                  The Hon. GREG PEARCE (Minister for Finance and Services, and Minister for the Illawarra) [3.10 p.m.]: The Leader of the Opposition, who is well known for hyperbole and stunning overstatement, has alleged that I in some way misled the House earlier today. He has not provided any particulars of how he alleges I misled the House. I state categorically to all members of the House and to anyone else who is interested that I did not mislead the House today. I am perfectly happy to come back on Monday—or Tuesday or Wednesday, whatever day members would like—to debate the issue, which was the subject of the question to which we are referring. However, I note that if the only thing the Leader of the Opposition is relying on is a bit of paper from a union suggesting that there is a commitment, he has a long way to go to substantiate his case in any way. I am here to support the motion moved by the Leader of the Government.

                  The Hon. AMANDA FAZIO [3.11 p.m.]: I move:
                      That the motion be amended by omitting "Tuesday 9 August 2011 at 2.30 p.m." and inserting instead "Monday 8 August 2011 at 11.00 a.m.".

                  My reason for moving that amendment is as follows. The Minister for Finance and Services was given an opportunity to correct his misleading of the House today and he refused to do so. I believe we now have no option but to come back on Monday to discuss this important matter: to censure the Minister for Finance and Services. Quite simply, if somebody made a mistake and accidentally misled the House, had it pointed out to him or her and got up and admitted that he or she was wrong, we would have no problem with that. However, this Minister misled the House, had it pointed out to him and he got up and still blatantly continued to support his misleading of the House. I believe we have no option but to come back on Monday to debate this important matter. To have a Minister so early in the reign of the O'Farrell Government deliberately misleading the House and refusing to correct the record reveals this Government's lack of accountability and transparency. I urge all members to support the amendment to the motion for the special adjournment.

                  Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE [3.13 p.m.]: The question that I asked of the Minister was to give a response to and commitment about the New South Wales Government's position on funding the pay equity case. I listened intently to the Minister and was genuinely hoping for an answer from him about the New South Wales Government's position in funding the pay equity case in light of the submission made by the State Government which relied on the recently passed public sector pay regulations to minimise any sum it had to pay in respect of the Fair Work Australia case. I was waiting for an answer from the Minister about the position of New South Wales. It was unfortunate that the Minister's only response was to misrepresent the position of the Federal Government as it has made a commitment.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! Mr David Shoebridge is debating the issue. I encourage him to direct his remarks to the special adjournment motion.

                  Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: For those reasons I ask the Minister to clarify the position and to confirm he was mistaken in the position that he put to the House, or he should commit to turning up at the opening of the House on the next sitting day with a statement of clarification. If the Minister agrees to make a statement that clarifies his position at the opening of the Parliament on the next sitting day, whatever time that might be, I would be content with that, given that the issue arises out of a question I asked. However, I need that commitment from the Minister on the record today.

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY (Minister for Roads and Ports) [3.15 p.m.]: Is it not good to see an Opposition in chaos? The Leader of the Opposition is taking this opportunity to score political points. Having done so and after being asked whether it was his intention to amend the special adjournment motion, the Leader of the Opposition said that it was not his intention to do so.

                  The Hon. Luke Foley: Point of order: I invited the Minister to correct the record.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! That is not a point of order; it is a debating point.

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: There is no rationale to this amendment. Opposition members are trying to play catch-up. They not only need a question time committee; they need a committee to run the Opposition. They are too busy trying to destabilise the Leader of the Opposition in the other place. Today they breached all protocols in this House.

                  The Hon. Luke Foley: Point of order: Mr President, you made a ruling earlier about the very narrow grounds of debate on this matter. I believe the Leader of the House has departed from those very narrow grounds. If he does not have any material to address the very narrow grounds that you said were permissible in this debate, he should be asked to sit down.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! The Minister is entitled to reply to what has been said in debate. However, the Minister is speaking to the amendment. He should direct his remarks to the amendment.

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY: The amendment that is before the House is another example of what the Labor Party has done on two occasions today. Opposition members bleated about the loss of democracy in this House but earlier they removed the right of Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile to adjourn debate on his own bill—something that has not happened for a long time. I am sure that the Hon. Peter Primrose was trembling on the backbenches when that happened. The other thing they did today, which is virtually unheard of, was to attempt to remove the Government's right to move a special adjournment motion. Opposition members bleat about democracy but they are the biggest hypocrites in the world.

                  Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE [3.18 p.m.]: The Christian Democratic Party opposes the Opposition's amendment to the special adjournment motion which I believe will undermine a previous well thought out resolution of this House to sit from Tuesday through to Friday next week. For some reason Opposition members are trying to undermine that arrangement. Perhaps they are holding their caucus or party room meeting on Monday and they want to be here.

                  Dr JOHN KAYE [3.18 p.m.]: From the information that has been provided to us it appears as though the Minister accidentally misled the House. This matter could be brought to an end immediately if the Minister comes to the podium—and I am sure the House would tolerate this—and corrects the record.

                  Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile: Next Tuesday.

                  Dr JOHN KAYE: Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile says next Tuesday, but this is a serious matter. This relates to a pay equity case decision which tens of thousands of workers are awaiting. This is an important issue and it is inappropriate to leave it to fester for three more days. The Minister should come to the podium and say, "Maybe I was wrong." However, if the Minister was not wrong he should explain why he was right. It appears to Opposition members that the Minister was wrong. If he were to say, "I was wrong, I misled the House, it was a mistake and I was having an off day", that would be fine and we could all get on with it and go.

                  The Hon. JOHN AJAKA (Parliamentary Secretary) [3.20 p.m.]: I oppose the amendment. The Opposition has failed to convince me of the necessity for such an amendment. Opposition members, who have been screaming about democracy—

                  [Interruption]

                  They will not even let me finish what I have to say. Opposition members, who have been screaming about democracy and matters being attended to efficiently in this House want to incur additional costs by requiring members to return on Monday as opposed to Tuesday without demonstrating the justification for those costs. The Opposition opposed the original motion moved by the Leader of the Government but it has not told us why everything that it raised today could not be raised on Tuesday. Opposition members have failed to do the very thing they are supposed to do. It is completely irrelevant for those opposite to say that the matter could be resolved if the Minister did X, Y or Z. In order to justify such an expense, Opposition members would need to demonstrate that this matter was so vital and urgent that it should be dealt with on Monday and not on Tuesday, which is nonsense.

                  The Hon. ADAM SEARLE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [3.22 p.m.]: I will endeavour to take up the invitation of the Hon. John Ajaka to set out the reasons why this matter is so urgent and important that it requires members to return on Monday, without members of the Government taking points of order. The Gillard Government has committed to funding the pay increases that Fair Work Australia may award in the equal pay case. The Minister, perhaps unwittingly, has misled the House. But it is important that a Minister of the Crown not mislead the House, even unintentionally, and that the record be set straight. The Opposition invites the Minister to do that—

                  The Hon. Michael Gallacher: Point of order: Again the Hon. Adam Searle is debating the substantive matter which has already been dealt with by the Leader of the Opposition. There is no need for him to elaborate on or further enunciate the substantive matter of concern to Opposition members. The question is whether or not we come back on Monday.

                  The PRESIDENT: Order! I remind the Hon. Adam Searle of my earlier ruling. Debate should be confined to the special adjournment motion.

                  The Hon. PENNY SHARPE [3.24 p.m.]: I accept that what is happening this afternoon is unusual but Opposition members have been left with very little room to move. The Leader of the Opposition raised a serious matter, that is, that the Minister for Finance and Services misled the House. Opposition members have no other means of dealing with this issue before the Parliament returns next week. Opposition members asked the Minister to correct the matter relating to the equal pay case and to put the position of the Federal Government on the record. The Minister refused to do so. As a result, the Opposition is left with no choice other than to flag its intention to move a censure motion. It is now seeking an appropriate time to do that.

                  Question—That the amendment of the Hon. Amanda Fazio be agreed to—put and resolved in the negative.

                  Amendment negatived.

                  Question—That the motion be agreed to—put and resolved in the affirmative.

                  Motion agreed to.

                  Pursuant to sessional orders Government Business given precedence.
                  BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

                  Postponement of Business

                  Government Business Order of the Day No. 1 postponed on motion by the Hon. Duncan Gay.
                  JUDICIAL COMMISSION OF NEW SOUTH WALES CONDUCT DIVISION APPOINTMENTS

                  Motion by the Hon. Duncan Gay agreed to:
                      That, according to clause 4 of Schedule 2A of the Judicial Officers Act 1986, this House concurs with the nomination of Ken Moroney, AO, APM, and Rosemary Sinclair, AO, as community representatives for appointment to a panel of the Conduct Division of the Judicial Commission of New South Wales.

                  Message forwarded to the Legislative Assembly advising it of the resolution.
                  ADJOURNMENT

                  The Hon. DUNCAN GAY (Minister for Roads and Ports) [3.29 p.m.]: I move:
                      That this House do now adjourn.
                  NEGOTIATIONS ON LEGISLATION

                  The Hon. CATHERINE CUSACK [3.29 p.m.]: In St Paul's letter to the Galatians he said:
                      Don't delude yourself: God is not to be fooled; whatever someone sows that is what he will reap. If his sowing is in the field of self indulgence then his harvest from it will be corruption; if his sowing is in the Spirit, it will be eternal life. And let us never slacken in doing good; for if we do not give up, we shall have our harvest in due time. So then, as long as we have the opportunity let all our actions be for the good of everybody, and especially of those who belong to the household of the faith.

                  The letter urges us to live ethical lives. It is also a prescription for ethical public policy. In view of some remarks made yesterday by the Hon. Robert Brown, John Robertson, the Leader of the Opposition in the other place, should read St Paul's letter in full. Last night the double dealings of the former Labor Government were exposed—namely, saying one thing to the Shooters and Fishers Party in secret deals behind closed doors and saying the exact opposite to the public. I am proud to be a member of a Liberal-Nationals Government whose leader, Premier O'Farrell, has given his word that things will change. He will not do secret deals that sell out our national parks. He will take a principled position for the environment and conduct his dealings with crossbench members in an open, transparent and ethical manner. Premier O'Farrell has said that he will not cave into crossbench blackmail. I hope that those members who are used to trading in secret understandings with Ministers, at the expense of good legislation, will reconsider those undemocratic tactics. I listened attentively to the Hon. Robert Brown's remarks last night when he said:
                      The then Minister for Environment—the current Leader of the Opposition—was the first Minister with whom we dealt as part of a senior ministerial negotiating team.

                  That is a fascinating insight. It was on 12 May 2009 that notice was given of the private member's bill in question, the Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment bill 2009. The bill was second read on 3 June 2009. The Environment Minister at the time was not John Robertson; it was Carmel Tebbutt. Ms Tebbutt was in the environment portfolio from 8 September 2008 to 14 September 2009. It is interesting because the bill's key initiatives amend the National Parks and Wildlife Service Act, legally administered by the Minister for the Environment. I also noted this in the Sydney Morning Herald on 12 June:
                      Mr Brown said the bill drew on many of the recommendations of a Government backed review of existing laws undertaken with staff from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industry and the Game Council.

                  What sort of dysfunctional government allows its National Parks Act to be reviewed by the Game Council and the agriculture department without involving the national parks service? I can only suggest that the primary industries Minister at the time, Ian Macdonald, deliberately excluded his colleague the environment Minister because he wanted to achieve sly understandings with the Shooters Party and ram unethical agreements through Cabinet. Shopping legislation is a Machiavellian and high risk way to run a government. As we have seen, you reap what you sow. Secondly, I quote Heath Aston in the Sun Herald 10 April 2011, which followed my demotion. He said:
                      There are differing views about Cusack. Some who worked with her say she was across her brief and would have made a good minister. Others who share the upper house chamber with her say her performances could be patchy, with certain commitments about what would happen under an O'Farrell Government raising eyebrows—and some ire—among colleagues. One such commitment was vital to her axing: hunting in national parks and the protection of marine parks. Cusack had staked her potential ministry on preserving Labor's no guns in national parks policy, much to the aggravation of the Shooters and Fishers Party.

                  In response, I place firmly on the record that any commitments I made about our approach to the Shooters and Fishers Party legislation were approved by the shadow Cabinet, reported in detail and approved by the Liberal-Nationals party room. They are spelled out in our 24 proposed amendments to the bill which were tabled in the Legislative Council on 17 June 2009. I know that the Shooters and Fishers Party did not like those amendments but there was nothing patchy about it. As the Hon. Duncan Gay can attest, they were approved policy. Because it had been presented to Parliament as a primary industries bill with Ian Macdonald as the lead Minister, the Hon. Duncan Gay led for the Opposition and as a result those 24 amendments stand in the name of The Nationals. Indeed, the amendments are still available on the Parliament's website.

                  Our position was that if the amendments were defeated we would vote against the bill. Our opposition to hunting as a sport in national parks was publicly stated prior to the election by our leader, Barry O'Farrell, campaigning in the Monaro electorate and reported by AAP. The environment portfolio is full of sensitive issues, and all side of politics will appreciate that you cannot please them all, and I certainly copped that from time to time. However, all policy statements I made on behalf of my team were properly approved, and I believe that my record of abiding by policy enhanced the credibility of all our environment messages. The Hon. Duncan Gay can attest to the consultative approach I took with him as a key colleague, as well as a large number of stakeholders. I sought to be thorough and consistent, and I challenge any critics to show evidence to the contrary.
                  COMPUTER GAMES CLASSIFICATION

                  The Hon. GREG DONNELLY [3.33 p.m.]: Honourable members would be aware of my concerns, expressed both privately and publicly, about the proposed introduction of a new R18+ classification for computer games. As many would know, there is an R18+ classification for films that provides for more extreme violent and sexual content than found under the MA15+ classification for games. While there is a MA15+ classification for computer games, there is no R18+ classification for computer games. However, following a regulatory change in 2001-02, the violent and sexual content of MA15+ computer games was significantly liberalised.

                  On various occasions over the past few years as this debate has been playing out through the Standing Committee of Attorneys'-General process, I expressed to the New South Wales Attorney General my view that the proposal to simply bring into line the computer games classification framework with the existing film classification framework was a con job for which, respectfully, he should not fall. The MA15+ classification for computer games is already loaded up with what can only be described as strongly violent and sexualised content. The real agenda of some of those pushing for reform on this matter is to essentially keep what is currently there intact and add a new R18+ classification that will provide for even more violent and sexual material.

                  If honourable members think that I am exaggerating this matter, I encourage them to take the time to play, or at least watch, some of these computer games. It was not until I did so that I started to fully grasp what we are actually talking about. If honourable members in this House and in the other place would like to view some of the material, I would be happy to send them electronically some YouTube clips. The particular clips I encourage honourable members to look at relate to the computer game Grand Theft Auto IV and School Shooter: North American Tour 2012. With respect to Grand Theft Auto IV, a version of this very well-known game is available for purchase in Australian shops. It is rated MA15+ and contains within it what can only be described as high levels of violence. The clip I have relates to an overseas version of the same game, available on the internet, that contains what I consider is an appalling virtual experience called "we are going to murder a prostitute".

                  I struggled to find suitable words to describe the disgust I felt when I saw the clip for the first time a couple of months ago. The piece involves the planning of the murder of a prostitute using a baseball bat, petrol bomb and machine gun. The player is walked through the steps of one of the narrators "favourite pastimes"—murdering prostitutes. Once the plan is settled, the player goes out with the narrator to murder the prostitute. First, the player and narrator carjack a vehicle, pushing a woman out of her car and then dragging her along the street for several metres. They are then told that this is done instead of "shooting her in the face". They then proceed and pick up a prostitute. Next they take her to a "secret location" under a freeway overpass. They then have sex with her in the driver's seat.

                  As she leaves the vehicle they follow her. Firstly, they strike her with a baseball bat. After she manages to get away, they chase her and bring her down with a petrol bomb. As she rolls around on the ground, burning in agony, they finish her off with a machine gun. Before leaving the scene they "get your fucking money back" from the deceased prostitute's body. The piece ends with the narrator restating, "this is the way that he likes to kill prostitutes". Players are then invited to post on the internet "novel ideas" that they have about killing prostitutes. The sequence ends.

                  The second computer game I refer to is School Shooter: North American Tour 2012. I understand that the game is not currently being sold in Australia. Once again, the content is appalling. As the title suggests, players make their way through school buildings shooting at point-blank range anybody they find. In one sequence the shooter, the player, keeps repeating the word "boring" as they walk through rooms shooting virtually all innocent victims in the head. Without exaggeration, it is almost impossible to keep count of the number of exploding heads that pass before the player in the sequences. These are only two examples of the many computer game titles that would be vying to get a new R18+ computer game classification. I find this a particularly disturbing prospect. I call on all Attorneys General in Australia to proceed with great care. There are enormous implications, particularly for our children and young people, of bringing the computer games I have described into lounge, family and entertainment rooms throughout Australia.
                  MARRICKVILLE COUNCIL

                  The Hon. ROBERT BORSAK [3.38 p.m.]: Today I refer to the transformation of The Greens, who have gone from greenies to noxious weeds. The Greens in this place claim that they are the friend of the worker and the farmer. However, it seems that the words and actions of The Greens are not always in tune. The Shooters and Fishers Party has continually pointed out that the Greens are not the friend of the workers, and now the Greens have proven it. Two days ago in this place we heard from the Woollahra Green—not the Walcha green, wherever that might be—that he has been defending the workers. But the reality in worker land is different.

                  Early last month Marrickville Council, which is run by The Greens, pulled a stunt that would not have been out of place on the waterfront a few years ago. The Greens were at the forefront of criticism of the Federal Government's actions on waterfront reform. However, what happened at Marrickville was a bit like watching a replay, but this time The Greens are in charge of crushing workers. We all know that the council's garbos and recyclers, who were taking legitimate strike action over serious industrial problems at the council, were stealthily replaced by outside labour.

                  As I understand it, over the past four years, under the watchful eyes of The Greens, led by that well-known Middle-East peace broker, Mayor Fiona Byrne, the council has introduced approximately 15,000 green waste bins without proper consultation with workers. It seems the council simply introduced the bins in the hope that the green waste fairy would find a magical way of collecting them. The council forgot to introduce any structures or any new trucks or equipment to collect them. The garbos have been struggling with the increasing workload and the lack of council investment in new equipment. When they said enough was enough, they took the only action left to them and went on strike. The council knew they were going to take that action. One would have thought that The Greens—the champion of the workers—would have been trying to negotiate a resolution.

                  The day before the strike took place, the council's general manager—supported by the council's senior management, The Greens and Mayor Byrne—told the workers union that the green waste collections and contract would be advertised in the newspaper on the weekend. There was no consultation by the "workers champions", just a blunt instrument response, which I am told was in breach of the industry award. The workers saw the management response as a provocative and well-planned operation to bust them and their union, aided and abetted by The Greens councillors. And what was the Mayor's response when questioned? That is simple. She washed her hands of the whole issue and stated:

                  It's not our problem—that is between the General Manager and his staff ... it's an operational matter.

                  Here we have a Greens-led council hiding behind the general manager, and when they are questioned about it they hide behind the weak lily-livered excuse that it is "an operational matter" between the staff and the general manager. What have these Green hypocrites done to date about the general manager and his anti-worker policy and disgraceful actions of bringing in contract labour to do the work of striking workers? They gave him a pay rise. That is what the noxious weeds have done. They have rewarded the general manager with a pay rise. Those Green hypocrites talk the talk, but when it comes to walking the walk, they fail dismally. They have been caught out by the very people they purport to represent.

                  Is it any wonder that some people in Marrickville consider the council's actions against the garbos and recyclers on 7 July as the day The Greens became the noxious weeds. They believe The Greens are more concerned about human rights in Palestine than caring about workers' rights in Marrickville. The Greens claim to be the worker's friend. Well, that was certainly blown apart in Marrickville. When they had the chance to stand up and support workers at Marrickville what did the Greens-controlled council do? It employed scab labour, who were hiding down the street in some hall. They gave them the keys to the trucks and sent them out to undermine the striking workers. I am told that if any scab worker refused to do what they were told they were threatened with hefty fines by their labour hire employer. Is that consultation? No, it is escalation.

                  This Parliament should condemn Green hypocrites for their disgraceful attack on workers. They continue to hide behind the general manager. They have been running the workers down, bagging Graeme Kelly and the United Services Union, and using big end of town lawyers against poor old garbos, who have been pounding the road for decades and loyally serving the ratepayers of Marrickville by clearing the garbage 365 days a year. In return what do the garbos get? They get the big end of town lawyers. One can only hope the noxious weeds are eradicated and removed from office and that the ratepayers elect a decent caring council—one that really cares about them and the issues that concern Marrickville instead of human rights issues in Palestine.
                  TRIBUTE TO MARGARET OLLEY, AC, AO

                  The Hon. NATASHA MACLAREN-JONES [3.43 p.m.]: I pay tribute to the life of Margaret Olley, AC, AO—one of our most celebrated artists both at home and aboard, who sadly passed away on 26 July 2011 at the age of 88. Margaret Olley will be best remembered for her vibrant and elegant still-life paintings, with the majority of her work focused on subjects from her home. Margaret was also a proud monarchist and signatory of the Foundation Council of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy.

                  Art touches aspects of our daily lives in ways that no other medium can. In these days when we are all very conscious of icons Margaret Olley ranks with the best. Margaret Olley was born in Lismore. During her high school years she attended Somerville House in Brisbane. It was there that her talent for painting and drawing started. She received encouragement which led her to move to Sydney to study art at the East Sydney Technical College. After graduating she became involved in the post-war Sydney art scene and that led her to become one of the first artists to spend time painting as a visiting resident in the historical Hill End area of New South Wales.

                  I note that, with the support of the Fahey Government, the Hill End Artists in Residence Program was introduced in 1994. The aim of the program is to provide Australian and international artists with the opportunity to experience the unique environment of Hill End in New South Wales. The arts are an essential part of healthy and sustainable communities. A vibrant arts sector means that creative expression is more accessible to all Australians. The Hill End Artists in Residence Program contributes to the long-term cultural development and economic sustainability of the town. Over the years each visiting artist responded to the region and our unique New South Wales landscape in different ways, and Margaret Olley was no different.

                  In 1947 her painting New England Landscape won the inaugural Mosman Prize. She went on to travel and study in Europe. In 1952 she exhibited in Paris her collection of favourably reviewed paintings. On returning to Australia in 1953 she was commissioned by the Queensland Art Gallery to paint a mural of Paris for a French exhibition, leading to more commissions to paint murals. Margaret Olley received countless art prizes and awards for her work and she was declared a national treasure. In 1991 she was awarded the Order of Australia and in 2006 the highest honour that any Australian can have conferred—the Companion of the Order—was bestowed on her for her service as one of Australia's most distinguished artists.

                  Margaret Olley was the subject of two Archibald Prize winning paintings. The first was painted in 1948 by William Dobell and the second was painted this year by Ben Quilty. Margaret Olley, proved to have a gift that all artists crave, but few obtain—the power to create and to inspire others to create. Margaret Olley was a cultural ambassador and a generous donor to the arts. She was instrumental in helping to shape the changing attitudes of Australians towards art and culture. In 1990 she established the Margaret Hannah Olley Trust to support young and emerging artists. Through her philanthropy the Art Gallery of New South Wales celebrated the "Great gifts, great patrons" exhibition, to which she donated works by Arthur Boyd, Duncan Grant, Matthew Smith, Edgar Degas and Donald Friend.

                  Margaret Olley has been the subject of more than 90 solo exhibitions. Her paintings are sought by collectors both in Australia and abroad. She is represented in the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Queensland Art Gallery, and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. Her work also appears in numerous regional galleries throughout Australia. Art generates innovation, creativity and diversity and assists with defining and shaping who we are. Margaret Olley's art, and the inspiration it gives to millions, is her parting gift to us. Through her works, Margaret has given permanent life to objects we often overlook. She will always be remembered as one of our nation's greatest artists.
                  LOCAL GOVERNMENT WEEK

                  The Hon. SOPHIE COTSIS [3.48 p.m.]: As many members are aware, this week is Local Government Week. As the shadow Minister for Local Government it gives me great pleasure to inform members of some of the activities in which I have been involved recently. Before doing so I point out that since 2005 Local Government Week has provided a focus for councils and an opportunity to promote the importance of local government to the community. Local Government Week is coordinated by the Local Government and Shires Associations. It provides a platform on which local councils can promote the importance of local government to the communities they represent. Local government is of paramount importance. It is often said that it is the level of government that is closest to the community, and I believe that to be so. So does the Labor Party.

                  Councils also deliver a huge range of essential services and facilities, including local roads, rubbish collection, libraries, leisure centres, sporting fields, youth and age services, and child care. It is therefore fitting that the theme for this year's Local Government Week is empowering communities. The theme aims to celebrate the positive services that councils provide to empower their communities. Across New South Wales this week councils are hosting a range of great events and activities. Examples include multicultural fairs, photographic competitions, family fun days, mock council meetings for local students, heritage walks and bushcare days.

                  The Local Government and Shires Associations also hosted an awards evening recently to recognise the good work of councils in improving services in their local communities. The evening was a celebration of the great entries from councils across the State and included awards such as the R. H. Dougherty Awards, which is awarded by the associations to recognise leading practising communications management, and the Alive and Well Partnerships Award, which is awarded by the Cancer Council of New South Wales in recognition of particular councils' efforts in fostering healthy local living, thus reducing the impact of cancer in their communities, and a whole host of other awards. I congratulate all of this year's award recipients; I will write to them. As local government is the level of government closest to the people Labor has always and will continue to value its importance. We also recognise the importance of local services, as I outlined previously. That is why as part of Labor's back to basics listening tour I have been meeting with councillors and council staff across New South Wales.

                  In the lead up to Local Government Week last week I met with mayors and general managers at a number of councils, including Maitland City Council, Greater Taree City Council, Kempsey Shire Council, Coffs Harbour City Council and Clarence Valley Shire Council. On Wednesday morning, together with the member for Lakemba, Mr R. A. Furolo, I visited Canterbury City Council's main depot to meet with parks and gardens staff, street sweepers, rangers, painters, plumbers, engineers, garbage collectors, vehicle mechanics and a number of apprentices who were on duty. We also visited the Lakemba Child Care Centre. The visit highlighted a number of issues to the member for Lakemba and me, including the important role councils play in skilling the workforce through the training of apprentices, promoting water conservation through the building of rainwater tanks for local facilities, removing graffiti and providing child care services and family day care, which is of vital importance.

                  I thank Jim Montague, General Manager, Canterbury City Council, Andy Summit, Col Meyers and the fantastic workers, many of whom we met that morning. Over the coming months I will continue to visit local councils throughout New South Wales and meet the thousands of workers who provide these essential services. It is also important during Local Government Week to recognise the contribution of more than 50,000 men and women who work for local councils and make a huge contribution to local communities. Those workers are essential to provide local services, including road maintenance, rubbish collection, child care and family day care services, and youth and aged services.

                  It is also fitting that we recognise the good work of the United Services Union in representing the interests of these more than 50,000 men and women. That is why in light of the Government's recent public sector industrial relations changes—the worst laws in the history of this State, which will cut the real wages of public sector employees and wind back their workplace conditions—I have given notice of a motion calling on the Government to guarantee that these changes will not lower standards and therefore also drag down the wages and conditions of local government workers. It is my sincere hope that wages and conditions of council workers will not be affected by the Government's recent changes to public sector working conditions. [Time expired.]
                  HOMELESSNESS

                  The Hon. JAN BARHAM [3.53 p.m.]: National Homelessness Week provides an opportunity to raise awareness across the community of issues surrounding homelessness and to provide activities and services for those working in the homelessness sector and those affected by homelessness. We are all aware of the public and tragic face of homelessness. We all pass the huddled figures in our streets every day—almost literally on our doorstep of Parliament House—curled up in sleeping bags in Martin Place or huddled on the steps of the State Library. They are just some of the estimated 3,559 people of New South Wales who sleep rough each night. National Homelessness Week is a chance for us to think about the less visible aspects of homelessness: the 10,950 people in our State who are forced to rely on family and friends for a bed each night, the 5,201 using crisis accommodation and refuges, and the 7,665 living in boarding houses on a medium-term to long-term basis

                  They are the harsh figures of homelessness in our State—in total at the last census in 2006, nearly 28,000 people in New South Wales were classified as homeless. But even that figure is probably an underestimate as one of the consistent challenges facing those working in the homelessness sector is the lack of reliable data. Accurate and credible figures are integral to understanding homelessness not only so we can measure the extent of the problem but also so we can also evaluate the effectiveness of services. I note this week that the Minister for Family and Community Services launched the Platform 70 Program in Woolloomooloo. I commend the Government for supporting that program which aims to provide housing and support services to 70 chronically homeless people in this area of Sydney. This concept of combining accommodation with essential support services is exactly what non-government organisations such as Mission Australia have been calling for.

                  On Monday Mission Australia detailed that its frontline staff spent more time helping people with mental health issues than helping people with homelessness issues. This has prompted calls for the model for shelters to be modified to incorporate the provision of essential services. This move towards shelters providing easy access to services is not new to me. I will give an example from my home Byron Bay area. In Byron Bay a house is used as a drop-in centre for homeless people. It is a joint venture of the Byron Bay Community Centre, the Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul and Byron Shire Council. The cottage provides a shelter, the safe storage of personal belongings and access to a variety of services. It is a case of the service providers coming to those in need rather than the expectation that those people make their way to the disbursed services in the area. This example could be replicated across the State, and I would welcome the opportunity to speak with other members about how it can be implemented while we await the long-term program of trying to provide housing for all people in New South Wales.

                  This move towards a coordinated and person-centred approach to homelessness is completely consistent with priority 6 of the New South Wales Homelessness Action Plan to streamline access to crisis accommodation and specialist homelessness services. This State Action Plan, named "A Way Home", was released by the State Government in 2009 and lays out some ambitious targets, namely, a reduction of 7 per cent in the overall level of homelessness in New South Wales by 2013, a reduction of 25 per cent in the number of people sleeping rough in New South Wales by 2013 and a reduction of one-third in the number of Aboriginal people that are homeless in New South Wales by 2013. These targets are commendable and the strategies outlined to meet them centre around three key approaches: preventing people from being at risk, responding quickly and effectively to homelessness when it occurs, and ensuring people who have been homeless do not become homeless again.

                  There are many reasons why people find themselves in a position of homelessness—domestic violence, family violence, financial hardship, mental illness or sometimes an unfortunate run of hard luck. For those who find themselves in such a position it is more than just having no bed or food for the night; it is a lack of security and privacy, and a profound sense of isolation and disengagement. In conclusion, I wish to mark this National Week of Homelessness by thanking the hundreds of workers across our State—both paid and volunteers—who do their best every day to assist the homeless. Their patience, compassion and dedication are to be commended.
                  JEANS FOR GENES DAY

                  The Hon. NIALL BLAIR [3.58 p.m.]: I acknowledge that today is Jeans for Genes Day, a day when people wear jeans to their place of work. They dress down and buy badges to raise money for the Children's Medical Research Institute, which is busily putting time and effort into trying to conduct research to reduce the number of children who are born with genetic illnesses. I commend members who have bought a badge and congratulate the organisers of the event. I am sure the money will go towards some great research.

                  [Time for debate expired.]

                  Question—That this House do now adjourn—put and resolved in the affirmative.

                  Motion agreed to.
                  The House adjourned at 3.59 p.m. until Tuesday 9 August 2011 at 2.30 p.m.