For the voters in New South Wales 1991 was an election year. The Liberal-National Party was seeking a second term in office and its narrow win led to a minority government. Greiner continued on with his wide-ranging reform agenda of the public sector.
Acknowledgement: The text below contains excerpts from the essay, ‘Conciliation, negotiation and consultation’: the 1991 New South Wales Cabinet Papers by Dr David Clune, OAM as well as links to the relevant Cabinet Papers.
Please visit our catalogue, Collection Search for digital access to all the 1991 Cabinet Papers »
The Greiner agenda
The agreement between Cabinet and the Independents provided for parliamentary reform and independence; reform of Parliamentary procedures and the legislative process; scrutiny of the election funding process; improvements to Freedom of Information legislation to guarantee open and accountable Government and increased scrutiny of Statutory Authorities; introduction of Whistleblower legislation; reform of defamation laws, increased scrutiny of the legal profession; increased independence of the Ombudsman and Auditor General and Parliamentary scrutiny of appointments of the Ombudsman, Auditor General and Commissioner of the ICAC.
The Charter of Reform was embraced by the Premier as the ‘most far-reaching change ever in the governance of New South Wales’. In return for implementation of the Charter the Independents would vote with the Government on appropriation and supply bills and no confidence motions, except in matters of corruption or gross maladministration.
Fixed Term Parliaments
A key point in the Charter of Reform, fixed four-year terms of Parliament, stopped the practice of calling early elections for politically opportunistic reasons. Proposed legislation specified that future general elections would be held on the fourth Saturday in March every four years, unless the Legislative Assembly was dissolved earlier by the Governor and was entrenched so that it could not be repealed without a referendum. The Bill provided that for the next election to be held in March 1995 was passed in December 1991, and the Bill covering future elections was passed in 1993.
- Proposed agreement with Members for Bligh, Manly and South Coast: 10 September 1991, Minute No: 91-215, NRS-12082-15-36- pp 244-324
- Constitution (Fixed Term Parliaments) Special Provisions Bill: 29 October 1991, Minute No: 91-259, NRS-12082-15-40- pp 148-268
- Constitution (Fixed Term Parliaments) Amendment Bill: 29 October 1991, Minute No: 91-259, NRS-12082-15-40- pp 148-268
Privatisation of GrainCorp; privatisation of the Government Insurance Office; privatisation of port pilotage services; corporatisation of the Hunter Water Board; proposed corporatisation of the Electricity Commission.
Cabinet approved a Bill to privatise the Government Insurance Office (GIO) and the Act was passed in 1991. The GIO was publicly floated in 1992. Cabinet also agreed to privatise port pilotage services and corporatise the Hunter Water Board and the Electricity Commission. The Electricity Commission proposal was withdrawn when the Independents insisted on linking it with strict environmental controls over power stations emissions.
- Privatisation of GrainCorp: 29 January 1991, Minute No: 91-13, NRS-12082-15-25- pp 252-272
- Privatisation of the Government Insurance Office: 14 October 1991, Minute No: 91-241, NRS-12082-15-38- pp 165-230
- Privatisation of port pilotage services: 9 December 1991, Minute No: 91-254, NRS-12082-15-43- pp 121-212
- Corporatisation of the Hunter Water Board: 3 September 1991, Minute No: 91-195, NRS-12082-15-35- pp 2-151; and 29 October 1991, Minute No: 91-261, NRS-12082-15-40- pp 101-270
- Proposed corporatisation of the Electricity Commission: 14 October 1991, Minute No: 91-242, NRS-12082-15-38- pp 107-436
Industrial Relations Bill 1991
The stronger position of the Government in the Legislative Council allowed the passage of the previously blocked Industrial Relations Bill. Approved by Cabinet in August, the Bill was passed by Parliament in November and brought about an end to preference for unionists, the outlawing of closed shops and the creation of a new and separate industrial court.
Casino Control Bill
Cabinet considered a discussion paper by the Premier on the legalisation of casinos in January and oversaw the drafting of legislation to provide for the establishment, operation and control of casinos in New South Wales. The Bill, which divided responsibilities for operating casinos between different entities to minimize the possibility of corrupt conduct was approved by Cabinet in August and passed by Parliament in May 1992. A temporary casino opened in 1995 and The Star Casino opened at Pyrmont in 1997.
National Parks and Wildlife (Karst Conservation) Amendment Act; extraction of sand and gravel in non-tidal rivers; Nattai National Park; Aboriginal custodianship of national parks
Conservation of Karst areas
In March Cabinet agreed to the Environment Minister’s proposal to establish a framework for the conservation of significant limestone features/limestone cave, or karst areas, by conservation agreement over, or acquisition of, the karst area without necessarily acquiring title to the surface above such areas. The National Parks (Karst Conservation) Amendment Act, 1991 was assented to in December.
Nattai National Park
90,000 hectares in the Nattai region was conserved as State Conservation areas, a National Park and a wilderness area under the Wilderness Act 1987.
Aboriginal custodianship and land management
Cabinet approved the National Parks and Wildlife (Aboriginal Ownership) Amendment Bill in April. The Bill proposed a framework for acknowledgement of Aboriginal custodianship of dedicated areas within land reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act and the involvement of local Aboriginal Land Councils in the management of this land. The Bill was finally passed by the Carr Government in 1996 after the resolution of legal uncertainty over inconsistency with the Commonwealth Native Title Act, 1993.
- National Parks and Wildlife (Karst Conservation) Amendment Act: 12 March 1991, Minute No: 91-14, NRS-12082-15-27- pp 323-410
- Extraction of sand and gravel in non-tidal rivers: 19 November 1991, Minute No: 91-245, NRS-12082-15-42- pp 173-360
- Nattai National Park: 12 November 1991, Minute No: 91-280, NRS-12082-15-41- pp 2-280
- Aboriginal custodianship of national parks: 23 April 1991, Minute No: 91-115, NRS-12082-15-31- pp 244-276