The first sitting week of the NSW Parliament since the March state election has been a productive one.
The week ended with an opportunity to welcome Prince Harry to Sydney after his month-long secondment with the Australian Army. Thousands of Sydneysiders arrived on the Opera House forecourt to catch a glimpse of the Prince and I was impressed by his genuine enthusiasm and interest in having a chat to them.
After meeting with Prince Harry it was back to Parliament where legislation to extend our successful Jobs Action Plan for another four years was being introduced. The plan is a key plank of our election promise to create 150,000 jobs between now and 2019.
Under the plan, businesses that create a new position receive a $5,000 payroll tax rebate on that position. The rebate is roughly equivalent to the annual payroll tax bill for one employee and will be paid in two instalments after an employee is hired. The rebates are beneficial not only for employers and jobseekers, but will also ensure the engine-room of the nation’s economy remains right here in Sydney.
Businesses across NSW have strongly supported the Jobs Action Plan by making over 90,000 payroll tax rebate applications since it was implemented four years ago. We’re determined to build on the hard work we’ve put in to turnaround the state’s economy and keep NSW leading the nation. The extension of the Jobs Action Plan will provide incentives and support for businesses looking to expand and create more employment opportunities for people across NSW.
Legislation to extend this successful rebate program was one of the first items to be discussed as part of the first week of Parliament for the second term of the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government. However, the very first issue discussed in Parliament was the new laws to validate past corruption findings made by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
The urgent legislation was needed in response to the decision of the High Court in the case ICAC v Cunneen. The ICAC Amendment was introduced and was passed by both Houses of Parliament on the first sitting day of the new Parliament. It then came into effect as law when the Governor assented to The Bill late that evening. This is a process that normally takes weeks or months to complete and shows that we are united in our zero tolerance approach to corruption in this state. The new laws validate past ICAC investigations and ensure that evidence obtained by the ICAC can be used by police and prosecuting authorities. Without the new laws, numerous corruption findings made by ICAC were at risk of being challenged as a result of the High Court’s decision in ICAC v Cunneen, and the new laws make clear ICAC’s findings remain valid.
On another note, I would encourage readers to consider nominating their favourite reporter or media professional for this year’s Premier’s Multicultural Media Awards.
These awards recognise the best and most inspiring work of ethnic professionals working across all mediums, including print and online publications, radio and television services. I conduct regular interviews with the community media and am always impressed by the level of professionalism shown by our ethnic media reporters and support staff.
Nominations are now open until 5pm on Friday 22 May 2015. Application details are available on the Multicultural NSW website, www.multicultural.nsw.gov.au