Published on: November 2020
Legislation Review Committee
Report: Legislation Review Digest No. 23/57
Report: Legislation Review Digest No. 24/57
Ms FELICITY WILSON:
As Chair: I move:
That, in accordance with Standing Order 306 (7), the reports of the Legislation Review Committee being orders of the day committee reports Nos 1 and 3 be considered together.
Motion agreed to.
TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Ms Sonia Hornery):
The question is that the House take note of the reports.
Ms FELICITY WILSON (North Shore) (12:43):Legislation Review Digest No. 23/57
:59 I address the House on behalf of the Legislation Review Committee regarding digest No. 23/57 and digest No. 24/57 of this Parliament, tabled on 10 November and 17 November respectively. In the committee examined the six bills introduced in the prior sitting week. The committee also considered three statutory instruments, commenting on each. I will now draw the Parliament's attention to some of the issues raised.
The object of the Stronger Communities Legislation Amendment (Domestic Violence) Bill 2020 is to amend the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 and the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 in relation to domestic violence matters. In reviewing the bill, the committee noted that the amendments would permit a complainant's evidence to be given in a closed court during domestic violence proceedings. The court could only make a direction that part of the proceedings be heard in open court at the request of one of the parties and if the court is satisfied that special reasons in the interests of justice require that part of the proceedings to be held in open court or if the complainant consents to giving their evidence in open court. The committee noted that these provisions may impact on open justice principles of an open court and the right to a fair trial. However, the committee acknowledged that the amendments are designed to recognise the particular dynamics of domestic violence matters and balance the public interest and principles of open justice with the need to protect vulnerable witnesses. Even so, as open justice principles are fundamental to our criminal justice system, the committee referred this issue to Parliament for its consideration.
I now turn to a statutory instrument dealt with in digest No. 23/57, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust Regulation 2020. The regulation remakes with amendments the 2013 regulation and deals with the management, use and regulation of the land vested in the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust. The amendments provide that a person requires written permission from the trust or the executive director to jog or run, other than on a road, path or specifically designed circuit, or to jog or run in a group of more than 10 persons. This may impact a person's right to freedom of movement in the space. The committee noted that the regulatory impact statement indicated that partitioning certain areas of the Domain will better preserve the wider greenspace and commercialising access to certain areas will fund maintenance costs. Having regard to these factors, the committee referred the matter to Parliament with particular regard to the potential to reduce public access and the commercialisation of the space.
I now turn to digest No. 24/57 in which the committee examined the nine bills introduced last sitting week. In this digest the committee reviewed the Bushfires Legislation Amendment Bill 2020, which makes amendments in response to the final report of the NSW Bushfire Inquiry dated 31 July 2020. The committee noted that the bill contained some strict liability offences. The committee generally comments on strict liability offences as they depart from the common law principle that mens rea, or the mental element, is a relevant factor in establishing liability for an offence. Strict liability offences are not uncommon in regulatory settings to encourage compliance and, particularly in the current case, the amendments are to ensure compliance with bushfire hazard reduction notices. Given the substance of the offence already exists under the Rural Fires Act and remains unchanged as it relates to individuals and imprisonment, the committee made no further comment.
Turning now to another bill considered by the committee, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Increased Penalties) Bill 2020, this is a private member's bill introduced in the Legislative Council. The bill seeks to increase penalties for various offences under the Act and to make consequential amendments to the Crimes Act 1900. The committee noted that the changes significantly increase penalties for offences, including some strict liability offences under the Act, in some cases imposing penalties 28 times larger for corporations and 10 times larger for individuals and doubling the maximum penalty of imprisonment for individuals. The bill also introduces mandatory minimum monetary penalties for certain offences. The committee acknowledges that the bill intends to toughen the New South Wales position on penalties for animal abuse offences. However, given the significant increase in penalties for numerous offences, the committee referred the matter to the Parliament for its consideration of whether the penalties are reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances.
Legislation Review Digest No. 23/57Legislation Review Digest No. 24/57
That concludes my remarks on and . In closing, I note my thanks to all members of the committee for this year's work, including deputy chair Trevor Khan and my fellow members Mr David Mehan, the member for The Entrance, who will always contribute to this debate in the Chamber; the member for Heathcote; the member for Port Macquarie; the member for East Hills; and our upper House colleagues who have come through the committee during the year, Mr David Shoebridge, the Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane and the Hon. Anthony D'Adam, and now Ms Abigail Boyd is joining us as well.
I particularly thank our committee secretariat. The staff work very hard, particularly in the middle of the two sitting weeks, on turning around very detailed analyses of the bills and regulations put before this Parliament, and they do an outstanding job in the work analysis that they put forward to us as a committee. We would not be able to undertake this role of scrutiny without their work. I particularly thank our new manager of the committee, Caroline, and our outgoing manager, Elspeth, for the work that they have done in leading the team this year. I also thank Elaine Schofield for the work that she does to support them. I thank our committee secretariat and wish them all a merry Christmas. We are very grateful for the work they do and we look forward to working with them again in 2021.
Mr DAVID MEHAN (The Entrance) (12:50):Legislation Review Digest No. 23/57Legislation Review Digest No. 24/57Legislation Review Digest No. 23/57
:07 I refer to and of the Legislation Review Committee. In the committee considered six bills, and commented on five of them. It also considered 32 regulations, and commented on three of them. I refer specifically to the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust Regulation 2020. The commentary in the digest gives an interesting background as to how regulations are developed and organised by the State. The original regulation was repealed on 1 September 2020 by section 10 (2) of the Subordinate Legislation Act 1989 and this new regulation has been made and is now bigger and better than ever. The regulatory impact statement prepared by the Centre for International Economics suggests that there is a need for the Government to manage a number of new risks on the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust lands and, as a consequence, the regulation has added a list of conditions that it was felt needed to be regulated by the State and about which the committee has commented.
I like to run through The Domain when I am in Sydney and I was particularly distressed by the prescription of certain activities in relation to jogging and running. Jogging in groups of more than 10 persons can happen now only with permission of the trust. There is an increase in the regulation around people cycling through The Domain about which the committee commented. The committee noted the common law right to peaceful assembly had been perhaps narrowed by the regulation, and those matters were referred to Parliament for its consideration. The committee also commented on the amount of the fines for breach of the regulations. The committee noted that breach of the new provisions carries the second-highest penalty notice under the regulation, at $750, which was also referred to Parliament for its consideration, bearing in mind that regulations considered by the committee are subject to disallowance by either House of Parliament.
Legislation Review Digest No. 24/57
is likely to be the last digest for the year. The committee's practice is to include an appendix showing the responses received by the committee to correspondence sent to the Minister or the member responsible for bills containing the committee's comments. This digest includes as an appendix responses received. Members should be aware of that if they are interested, and certainly people watching on Facebook will be delighted to hear that that service is available if they download the full digest. To help them even further, the committee has improved its website, which is accessible through the parliamentary website. Members of the public as well as members of Parliament can search for each bill that has been considered by the committee. Beside each bill is the name of the digest in which it is referred to, the minute extract that the committee considered and, more importantly, the responses received. It is a great improvement to our service to the Parliament and the wider community. I thank my committee members for their work. I echo the comments of the Chair, who I welcome back to the committee. The committee is well served by the secretariat. I wish them all a merry Christmas.