New South Wales balance of power MP Fred Nile is planning legislation that would lift the legal drinking age to 21, ban face coverings in public and force women who are thinking about abortions to view ultrasounds of their foetuses.
The Christian Democratic Party (CDP) leader has given formal notice of 20 separate private member’s bills he wants to introduce to the new Parliament, which began sitting this week.
Many of the proposed laws are similar to bills Reverend Nile has tried and failed to introduce in the past.
While his party’s support is seen as crucial for the passage of the Government’s power privatisation policy, Reverend Nile has previously said he was likely to back the policy, even without Government support for his proposals.
Several of his proposed private member’s bills would place bans or conditions on abortions, including:
- banning “conduct that causes serious harm to or the destruction of a child in utero”
- banning “the destruction of any child in utero with a detectable heartbeat”
- forcing women who are “considering terminating a viable pregnancy to undergo counselling and to view an ultrasound of their unborn child”
- forcing women seeking abortions to be told the procedure may cause pain to their unborn child
Reverend Nile has also flagged his intention to introduce bills:
- banning the advertising of alcohol and gambling
- increasing the legal drinking age from 18 to 21
- banning people from wearing full-face coverings in public
- banning X-rated movies
- authorising the use of the term ‘State Senate’ for the NSW Upper House, and ‘State Senator’ for its members
The March election result gave Reverend Nile and fellow Christian Democrat Paul Green a balance of power position in the state’s Upper House, where the Coalition holds 20 of 42 seats – two short of the majority it requires to pass legislation.
The CDP is seen as vital to the success of Premier Mike Baird’s plan to lease the state’s “poles and wires” to the private sector for 99 years, which is opposed by Labor and the minor parties.
Reverend Nile wants an Upper House inquiry into the proposal before he gives it his backing.
“I don’t see the inquiry as blocking the privatisation, but putting to rest some of the scare talk from the Labor Party,” Reverend Nile recently told the ABC’s AM program.
Privatisation inquiry will be a ‘sham’, says Labor
The State Opposition has unsuccessful tried to amend the terms of reference for the privatisation inquiry, accusing the Government of trying to set up a “whitewash”.
Reverend Nile’s terms of reference were backed by the Government, which used its numbers to block Labor and Greens amendments, describing them as “politically motivated”.
Under the terms, the select parliamentary committee will consider the effects of leasing on pricing, customers, maintenance responsibilities, regulations, the likely proceeds of the transactions and several expert reports.
The Government’s leader in the Upper House, Duncan Gay, said the scrutiny would be welcome.
“Good governments are not afraid of this sort of examination,” he said.
“It is quite proper.”
The Opposition wanted the committee to consider additional issues including power industry jobs, the impact of the loss of dividends on the State Budget and changes made to an analysis by investment bank UBS during the election campaign.
Labor’s deputy Upper House leader Walt Secord said Reverend Nile’s terms meant many questions would go unanswered.
“Labor wants a tougher and genuine inquiry into the sale of the electricity network because once it is sold, it is gone forever,” he said.
“Instead, the Baird Government wants an inquiry to become a whitewash, a laundering, a veneer, a sugar coating, a sham.”
The committee will comprise four Government MPs, two Opposition MPs and three crossbench MPs, including Reverend Nile.
It will be required to report by the end of June.
This article was originally published by the ABC.