ADJOURNMENT NOTES- 3 SEPTEMBER 2020

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Welcome to Adjournment Notes. 

It has been a busy few weeks as Parliament returned to the normal sitting calendar and the resumption of Committee work after the winter recess in July. 

Last week was a busy Parliamentary sitting week after Labor and the Greens recalled the Upper House.


I was pleased to speak on a number of matters including the Strata Schemes Management Amendment Sustainability Infrastructure Bill 2020Private Members Statement on the Rhododendron GardensOrder for Papers on the Bushfires and an Adjournment speech on Public Spaces. 

A recent highlight for me was the site visit by the Social Issues Committee, which I Chair, to the NSW State Archives at Kingswood and Elizabeth Farm at Parramatta as part of our inquiry into the State Records Act and the proposal to merge the Sydney Living Museums and State Archives. It was a very insightful visit that was enjoyed by all on the Committee. 

In the next few weeks I will be undertaking Committee work on inquiries including the operation of the Point to Point Transport (Taxis and Hire Vehicles) Act 2016, Public works Committee inquiry into Coal Ash Repositories, Proposal to raise the Warragamba Dam WallFuture of Work inquiry, Rationale for, and impacts of, new dams and other water infrastructure in NSW and the Social Issues inquiry into the State Records Act

Whilst we continue to live with the daily challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic it is important that we maintain social distancing, wear a mask when on public transport and social distancing isn't possible, practice good hand hygiene and get tested even if you have the slightest symptoms.  

COVID-19 is still circulating in the community, particularly in Sydney’s West and South West.There are 302 locations for the public to get COVID-19 testing in NSW, with more opening every day. 90 are drive-throughs and 22 are pop-up clinics. To find your closest testing clinic please click here. 

I am sure you will all join with me in supporting the Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her leadership during this unprecedented crisis. 

As always, if I can ever be of any assistance please do not hesitate to contact me. 

Sincerely, 
INQUIRY INTO STATE RECORDS ACT SITE VISIT
The Social Issues Committee which I Chair recently inspected the Museum of Sydney, NSW State Archives at Kingswood and Elizabeth Farm at Parramatta as part of our inquiry into the State Records Act and the proposal to merge the Sydney Living Museums and State Archives.

We also held a final hearing at Parliament House, hearing from a range of witnesses regarding this proposal. The Committee has now completed its hearings for this inquiry and the report deliberative will be held in October.

For further information on the Social Issues Committee inquiry into the State Records Act 1998 and Policy Paper on its Review please visit the Committees website
STRATA SCHEMES MANAGEMENT AMENDMENT SUSTAINABILITY INFRASTRUCTURE BILL 2020
Speaking on the Strata Schemes Management Amendment Sustainability Infrastructure Bill 2020.
Last week I spoke in Parliament on the Strata Schemes Management Amendment Sustainability Infrastructure Bill. The bill delivers on the election commitment made by the Government in early 2019 to progress initiatives with a view to boost renewable energy usage and reduce power bills for the people of New South Wales.

In fulfilment of the election commitment, the bill reduces the voting threshold in the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 required for owners corporations to approve the installation of sustainability infrastructure in strata schemes.

The strata community is rapidly growing in New South Wales and it is forecast that within 20 years 50 per cent of Greater Sydney's population will be living in a strata scheme. The change to make it easier to install sustainability infrastructure is the first step in addressing this gap in the uptake of sustainability infrastructure by strata schemes.

To listen to my speech please click the link above or to read my speech on Hansard please click here.
PUBLIC SPACES ADJOURNMENT
Speaking on the Public Spaces portfolio for my Adjournment speech. 
I was pleased to speak in Parliament last week about the fantastic work being done in the Public Spaces portfolio and by Minister Rob Stokes. 

We have never been more appreciative of open space since the onset of the COVID‑19 pandemic. We have witnessed an explosion of engagement with our open spaces with a renewed passion and enthusiasm, which I am seeing particularly in the Blue Mountains.

All my life I have had a passion for creating, expanding and adding quality to our public spaces—long before my career in public office. I was most proud to apply my passion in this area as a councillor at the City of Sydney for over 12 years. 

I would welcome new open spaces across our city, suburbs and country towns. The use by Sydneysiders of green spaces has increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic and quality green, open and public spaces are important to everyone. Green spaces support our health and wellbeing and environmental resilience and encourage prosperous local economies.

To watch my speech please click the video above or to read my speech on Hansard please click here. 
$740,000 IN FUNDING FOR VARUNA NATIONAL WRITERS HOUSE
I was pleased to announce along with Minister for the Arts the Hon. Don Harwin that Varuna the National Writers House at Katoomba will receive $740,000 in long-term funding over the next 4 years to develop and deliver multiple arts and cultural activities.

Varuna the National Writers House are among 58 small to medium organisations sharing in $10 million a year over 4 years in funding under the refreshed guidelines of the 2020/2021 Independent Arts and Cultural Organisation (Multi-year Funding). Successful recipients were assessed by the NSW Government 10 Artform Boards – who comprise of the State’s key leaders in the arts sector.

Varuna the National Writers' House will deliver professional development and mentorship to writers nationwide. As Australia's only residency devoted exclusively to literature, Varuna's program will provide residencies to over 190 writers every year, present the annual Blue Mountains Writers’ Festival, and support a vibrant program of writing workshops and events.

Varuna is one of the best kept secrets in the Blue Mountains cultural landscape. This funding will allow Varuna and its important work to be more broadly appreciated in the Blue Mountains community.
HEALTH ADVICE ON MASKS
The NSW Government is strongly encouraging greater use of masks in high-risk public settings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The advice from the NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant specifically recommends:
  • The use of face masks in indoor settings where physical distancing is hard to maintain, such as on public transport or in supermarkets;
     
  • The use of face masks (where practical) in indoor settings with a higher risk of transmission, such as for the staff of hospitality and customer-facing venues i.e. cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs; and
     
  • During attendance at places of worship. Wearing a mask in any of these settings is not mandatory but is highly recommended, especially in areas where there has been community transmission.

    Please remember: masks are not a substitute for social distancing. 
LAND TAX CUT TO DRIVE BUILD-TO-RENT REVOLUTION
The NSW Government will introduce a land tax discount for new build-to-rent housing projects until 2040 and a new Housing Diversity SEPP to provide more housing options, greater surety for renters, boost construction and support jobs during the COVID-19 recovery.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said the tax cut would encourage build-to-rent developments by ensuring they were subject to similar overall amounts of State tax as comparable build-to-sell developments.

This will provide further confidence, boost the housing construction industry, create more options for investors and builders of developments and ultimately more housing options and security for tenants.

The discount will be equivalent to at least a 50 per cent reduction in land tax, dependent on the unimproved land value. To be eligible for the discount, a build-to-rent development in metropolitan areas must be at least 50 units, with a different threshold for regional areas to be considered.

Construction must have commenced on or after 1 July 2020 and the projects must provide purpose built rental units, be managed under unified ownership, and include options for longer leases.

An exemption from foreign investor surcharges will also be provided until 2040 for Build-to-Rent developers, and integrity measures will be included to ensure that these discounts are not used for tax avoidance.

Full eligibility criteria for build-to-rent projects will be set-out in guidelines for the industry in coming weeks.
 
BLACKHEATH CAMPBELL RHODODENDRON GARDENS SECURES $20,000 GRANT

Everyone knows I’m a passionate gardener, so I was very pleased to organise $20,000 grant from the NSW Liberal government for the famous Campbell Rhododendron Gardens at Blackheath to assist in their restoration following the serious impacts of the summer bushfires.

Earlier this year I inspected the significant damage to the world renowned Rhododendron Gardens and was moved by the resilience and optimism of the small dedicated group of volunteers.

They faced a huge task to replace hundreds of destroyed plants and infrastructure and the restoration of the gardens to their popular prime.

The grant made available through Destination NSW is also a recognition by the NSW Liberal Government of the importance local attractions like the Campbell Rhododendron Gardens play in the local visitor economy.

I congratulate the dedicated team of volunteers at the Blue Mountains Rhododendron Society led by President Deborah Wells for their years of selfless service to the community of the Blue Mountains.

Please click here to read the story in the Blue Mountains Gazette.