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Potential parliament breach dismissed | The Border Watch

Raquel Mustillo | Border Watch

A POTENTIAL breach in parliamentary rules regarding the identical nature of independent MP Troy Bell and Greens MLC Mark Parnell was dismissed by Legislative Council president Andrew McLachlan.

Mr McLachlan responded to comments made by Mr Parnell after the crossbencher pressed the State Government on why they were supportive of the same bill debated earlier this year.

Mr Parnell introduced the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy (Moratorium on Hydraulic Fracturing) Amendment Bill to the Upper House in June, with the council voting down the bill in July.

The bill sought to impose a 10-year moratorium backdated to the state election and ending on March 17, 2028.

Mr Bell’s bill, while attempting to do the same thing, will not begin until given assent by the Governor.

Mr McLachlan said the bill received from the House of Assembly “contains ostensibly the same objects” as Mr Parnell’s bill, ultimately determining no action was required due to differences in the
moratorium’s duration.

He said he had given significant consideration to the application of the standing order and had taken advice from top-level parliamentary officers in the Legislative Council.

“By definition, a moratorium is a period of delay or temporary prohibition on an activity and the period for which the moratorium applies is a matter of substance in considering whether it should be applied,” Mr McLachlan said.

“Given the start date for the moratorium could not be known at the time of the second reading and by prescribing a specific end date to the moratorium, Mr Parnell’s bill presents a scheme that would have resulted in the moratorium being in place for a shorter duration than that proposed by the House of Assembly bill, had it eventually been assented to.

“The House of Assembly bill is clear the moratorium will be in place for 10 years, should it receive royal assent.

“The difference in the duration of the moratorium is of substance and its effect on all stakeholders may be profound.”