Abigail demanded transparency from the Minister for Roads, questioning whether the Government received any external legal advice before ramming through anti-protest laws.
ABIGAIL BOYD: My question is directed to the Minister for Metropolitan Roads. What external legal advice did the New South Wales Government obtain in relation to the legality or otherwise of the draconian anti-protest laws otherwise known as the Roads Amendment (Major Bridges and Tunnels) Regulation 2022 before it was made?
The Hon. Sarah Mitchell: Point of order: I have two points of order. The first is that the question contains argument. The second is that I believe it concerns a piece of legislation that is on theNotice Paper today. I am not entirely sure whether it has been introduced to the House yet, but I question whether the Minister can answer a question concerning business that is before the House today because normally they cannot.
Ms Abigail Boyd: To the point of order: I will deal with the Hon. Sarah Mitchell's second point first. This question is about the regulation that has been made, not the bill that is yet to come before the House, as was made clear in the question. Secondly, to the extent it is felt that argument was contained in the question by calling those draconian anti-protest laws "draconian" and "anti-protest", I am quite happy to strike those terms from the question.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (The Hon. Wes Fang): I uphold the first point of order. However, I acknowledge that Ms Abigail Boyd has withdrawn the argumentative part of the question. On the Minister's second point of order, the question does state "regulation", which was debated in the House earlier today. I also note that the bill has not been introduced in the House, so it is not up for debate. The Minister has the call.
The Hon. NATALIE WARD (Minister for Metropolitan Roads, and Minister for Women's Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence)(12:44): I note that in my capacity as Minister for Metropolitan Roads I signed the Roads Amendment (Major Bridges and Tunnels) Regulation 2022 to deal with the protesters who were disrupting our roads. Under section 144G of the Roads Act 1993, it was to make it an offence to disrupt or obstruct all major bridges and tunnels across Greater Sydney. The maximum penalty for breaching that section of the legislation is 200 penalty units or $22,000, or imprisonment for two years, or both. That was the most immediate regulatory change at my disposal in my capacity as Minister for Metropolitan Roads. That is my job. That is what I am here to do. As I have stated and will state again for the benefit of the House that those protesters are selfish. The protesters are disrupting people trying to get to work—
Ms Abigail Boyd: Point of order: My point of order is no doubt obvious. The Minister has not referred to whether or not she received external legal advice before making the regulation, which is what the question asked. Therefore, she is not being directly relevant in her answer.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (The Hon. Wes Fang): The Minster does need to be directly relevant to the question that was asked by the member.
The Hon. NATALIE WARD: I think the honourable member took a point of order at the point at which I mentioned protesters and how much they disrupted the people of Sydney trying to get to work, to school and to hospital appointments in peak hour. Nonetheless, I will move on.
The Hon. John Graham: Point of order: Deputy President, you have directed the Minister back to the question and she has continued on regardless. I ask you to draw her back to the question.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (The Hon. Wes Fang): I note the question talks about the legal advice for the regulation change. The Minister was discussing the issues around that change. As she said, she was about to be directly relevant to the question so I will allow her to continue. The Minister has the call.
The Hon. NATALIE WARD: I took the most immediate regulatory change at my disposal as Minister for Metropolitan Roads. In doing so, as members would know, the normal process was followed. Advice was sought from the department. That advice was obtained and provided. The regulation was drafted, it was signed off and there it is. We responded to the selfish protesters.
Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (12:47): I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister elucidate on how seeking advice from the department is a response to a question on whether external legal advice was obtained?
The Hon. NATALIE WARD (Minister for Metropolitan Roads, and Minister for Women's Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence)(12:47): The process is very simple. I ask advice of my department. My department provides that advice to me. I take that advice from the department. The regulation was drafted and the regulation was signed off on.
You can view a copy of the transcript here.