Impounding Amendment (Unattended Boat Trailers) Bill 2015

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT (Prospect) [4.37 p.m.]: I address the House on the Impounding Amendment (Unattended Boat Trailers) Bill 2015. There is very little doubt that this Liberal Government loves boats. We know that the Treasurer loves the view of sails over Middle Harbour in the morning, that the Premier's constituency chooses the more adventurous game-fishing boats, that the member for Drummoyne sees mooring spaces at a premium in his electorate and that the member for Miranda deals with productivity loss in her electorate as a result of people taking sick days off work to go fishing in the Georges River. It is ironic that a party room of members with so many boats in their electorates to look after still put their faith in a national leader who was elected to stop the boats. It gets better. It is not the responsibility of the State Government to stop boats, so the Government has taken the responsibility upon itself to stop boat trailers instead. I can see Premier Mike Baird's new slogan: Stop the boat trailers.

Mr Guy Zangari: Turn them back.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: Turn back the trailers. Under this bill, local councils will have the power to impound boat trailers that have not been moved for three months or more. This is a reasonable policy; it makes sense. Boat trailers that are left kerbside for months at a time often obstruct the vision of drivers on busy roads as well as posing problems for pedestrians. Some even argue the extent to which boats affect the appearance of suburban streets. I understand that. Essentially, this bill is calling on the power of the State Government to introduce what is effectively an inflated council bylaw. This, too, is ironic, considering the Minister wants to cripple the effectiveness of local councils in New South Wales by amalgamating even the most financially prudent ones, against their will, to make councils regional in focus, rather than just local. The Minister is determined to change local government in New South Wales for the worse.

Mr John Sidoti: Point of order: My point is relevance. The debate is not about amalgamations and effectiveness of local government; it is about boat trailers.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! I cannot see in the bill any reference to amalgamations. I ask the member for Prospect to return to the leave of the bill.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: My electorate is covered by three councils: Blacktown, Holroyd and Fairfield. Luckily, Blacktown is not in the crosshairs of the Minister and will not be affected by the changes made in the amalgamation process. However, Holroyd and Fairfield will be. Councils like Holroyd have been fighting the amalgamation process. But I move on from that and look at what they have not been doing: wasting their time on—

Mr Mark Coure: Point of order: My point is relevance.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! I expect the member for Prospect will now return to the leave of the bill.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: I had noted that schedule 1 to the bill refers to the Local Government Act. That is relevant to what we are talking about here, because local government is affected by the amalgamation process. If Government members read their bill, they would know that.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! Does the Local Government Act refer to amalgamations?

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: I imagine it does not yet, but it may later this year.Holroyd City Council has not wasted time fighting over unlawfully parked boat trailers but has instead provided a fantastic local service to residents. The council's budget is balanced. Residents benefit greatly from the ease of access that they have to their council. Fairfield City Council is in a similar situation. Fairfield is the heart of multicultural Australia. I have been impressed by that council's commitment to creating a comfortable home for many of the tens of thousands of migrants who have come to this country. Some arrive on boats; some arrive by other means. Many are refugees fleeing conflict.

The Minister has not answered questions about the obvious loopholes and problems with this bill. For example, ordering a resident to move a boat trailer a metre or so or to the other side of the street every few months exempts the council from its responsibility under the bill. That is the expected response from a Minister who will not say why he feels it necessary to destroy the structure of local government as we know it. Supporting this bill is a "gimme". Of course action should be taken against nuisance boat trailers. That makes sense. It is good policy. However, the Minister should look at ways to strengthen local government and allow councils, not State Parliament, to make the determination.

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