NSW PARLIAMENT LIVE: Mardi Gras founders get their apology

UPDATE: New South Wales Parliament is expected to make a historic apology to Mardi Gras founders the "78ers" tomorrow for the discrimination and suffering they endured.

It follows the Sydney Morning Herald's apology today for identifying people arrested for attending the gay and lesbiasn march, a decision which amounted to public shaming and subjected the victims to further violence and prejudice.

"In 1978, the Sydney Morning Herald reported the names, addresses and professions of people arrested during public protests to advance gay rights," SMH editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir wrote today.

"The paper at the time was following the custom and practice of the day.

"We acknowledge and apologise for the hurt and suffering that reporting caused.

"It would never happen today."

A similar apology from the NSW Legislative Assembly is expected tomorrow.

Liberal Member for Coogee Bruce Notley-Smith made a motion in parliament to debate the issue and recognise the Mardi Gras founders for their contribution to NSW.

"In 10 days' time, we will once again be witness to the spectacle that is the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras," he said.

"This will be the 38th year that it will take place.

"But back on that first night on June 24, 1978, nobody could have imagined what we are going to see in just over a week's time."

Last year's Mardi Gras injected $30 million into the state and attracted 35,000 overseas visitors.

"For 38 years, we have not sought to offer an apology," Mr Notley-Smith said.

"I believe that the time is right."

Labor MP John Robertson gave the move his full support.

"The treatment of those people, I think, was appalling to say the least," he said.

"We do owe those people an apology, and this parliament has apologised for many things in its recent history.

"We can't apologise for what the media did, but we can certainly apologise for the way they were treated by government agencies, by the way the laws were structured at that time."

3.35pm: Bitten, bashed and backing DV laws

Deputy Premier Troy Grant has recalled his 22 years in the police force and supported new domestic violence laws allowing authorities to actively target repeat offenders.

A pilot of suspect target management plans in St George was extended state-wide today.

It gives police a list of perpetrators who are on bail and deemed at-risk of reoffending, then allows officers to monitor suspects and wait for them to commit another offence.

The crime need not be domestic violence related or particularly serious.

The St George trial over the past five months resulted in nine out of 13 high-risk offenders being charged, and almost a third being placed behind bars.

Mr Grant said police and victims would welcome the new powers.

"For the first time in this state and country's history, we are going after the perpetrators," he said.

"Too often, I used to go call up like Groundhog Day to the same premises, to the same victims of domestic violence who were screaming out for help, and yet were trapped in their circumstances.

"They were trapped where the domestic violence they were exposed to, the outrageous conditions they were supposed to live in, became their norm."

Mr Grant recalled attending a domestic violence call-out at Brewarrina in the state's north in 1992, where a woman opened the door and turned around with a steak knife in her back.

He also spoke of victims assaulting him when he and other police officers tried to help them.

"Battered and bruised and tormented and terrorised, they would then turn on us," he said.

"I've even got scars on my body from victims who have bit me as I've tried to arrest the offender.

"Because in their eyes, whilst we were there as their saviours to take care of the crisis at the moment, they knew nothing else other than to portray to the offender that it wasn't them to blame.

"So they acted out against the police.

"Too many times, police like myself were assaulted simply trying to look after the victim.

"Because they were trapped and thought they had no other opportunity to support themselves, to protect themselves and protect their families.

"Those days are over.

"From today across the state of NSW, perpetrators of domestic violence have been put on notice that we are coming after you."

Just some of the people who have been murdered since the start of 2015.
Just some of the people who have been murdered since the start of 2015.

The system has its detractors.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre has raised concerns people may be unfairly subjected to harassment, surveillance and victimisation.

The scheme has already been applied to perpetrators of armed robbery and other serious crimes.

"This may lead to a breakdown in relations between police and the individuals concerned," its website states.

"PIAC acts for a young man who was monitored under the suspect target management plan for a period of over two years.

"Our client was stopped and searched in public places, as well as monitored regularly at his home. 

"PIAC is concerned that many of the actions taken by police may not have had a lawful basis."

The NSW Government will soon roll out a trial of its domestic violence disclosure scheme, which allows people to check if their prospective partner has an abusive history.

The first police local area commands off the ranks will be Oxley Shoalhaven Sutherland and St George.

2.06pm: Taunts begin over Labor leadership

The claws are out over New South Wales Labor's deputy leadership as Linda Burney moves towards entering the federal sphere.

Premier Mike Baird was asked to confirm whether the government had awarded $150 million worth of road contracts to Burton Contractors.

The company's directors Paul and Chris Burton were also directors of Keystone Projects Group, which went into liquidation and left a string of subcontractors unpaid.

Mr Baird began the ridiculing when Shadow Treasurer Jodi McKay rose on a point of order.

"It's quite a day for the Member for Strathfield to be getting up to make a point of order, when all of a sudden the deputy leadership is available," he said.

"What yesterday was the 'dream team' has come apart.

"They're now competing for the same job.

"Dream and team: where did they go?"

Ms McKay is expected to throw her hat in the deputy leadership ring alongside Michael Daly and Ryan Park if Ms Burney, the state's first Aboriginal MP, is successful in her bid to contest for the federal seat of Barton.

12.42pm: Tamara Smith has music up her sleeve

It turns out Greens Member for Ballina Tamara Smith has a musical side.

Ms Smith paid tribute in parliament to Byron Bay Bluesfest director Peter Noble on receiving an Order of Australia Media for service to live and recorded music, tourism and community.

"Peter has been a champion for musicians and artists from all over the world, as well as a passionate advocate for Aboriginal culture and people," Ms Smith said.

"He believes that culture as the heart of society and music as the universal magic that unites us."

The rookie Greens MP then let slip that she had a few musical tricks up her own sleeve.

"Peter has supported countless charities within my electorate, and as a musician myself - and even as a past semi-finalist at the Bluesfest busking comp - I salute the man and the music and culture he brings to my community," she said.

Our crack team of 37 private investigators is madly scouring YouTube for evidence of Ms Smith's performance.

In the meantime, here is some video from last year's Bluesfest.

UPDATE: Both sides of NSW politics have backed legislation that would remove the statute of limitations on civil child abuse claims.

The bill is moving through the lower house and attracting support from all corners.

However, Labor Member for Prospect Hugh McDermott claimed the government was playing politics with the issue.

Mr McDermott used his maiden speech to parliament last year to pay tribute to his mother, who was abused after being taken from her parents and sent to Bidura Children's Home as a small child.

"I do express my disappointment that a similar bill was put forward by the Opposition last year, and the government decided to oppose that bill," Mr McDermott said.

"Simply playing politics with this matter, I find offensive.

"And it beggars belief that the government would basically vote down a similar bill last year simply because the Opposition put it forward."

When government members interjected to say Labor's law was "similar" but not the same, Mr McDermott said he had read the fine print and knew exactly what he was talking about.

"I've also lived with these matters all my life," he said.

Fingers crossed today's parliamentary sitting will continue without any of yesterday's power hiccups, when the whole place fell dark during a blackout.

12.11pm: Shooters and Greens... no love lost

NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham has never been great mates with his political opponents in the Shooters and Fishers.

In congratulating the Federal Government on changes to preferential voting laws which the Shooters and Fishers say could destroy their party, Mr Buckingham dipped into some classic 1980s cinema for inspiration.

He was scathing of so-called "vote whisperer" Glenn Druery, who has been credited with getting micro-parties elected.

"In the words of Private Hudson in the seminal 1986 movie, Aliens: 'Game over. Game over. Game over, man.'" Mr Buckingham said.

"Bad luck, Glenn Druery. The game is up. The game is over.

"Your long reign of cynical manipulation of senate and upper house voting tickets has come to a long overdue end."

Mr Buckingham had little sympathy for the Shooters and Fishers, who plan to change their name to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party as a reaction to the voting system changes.

"If you support democracy and you're a democrat - a 'small d' democrat - then you support these," he said.

"These reforms are about reflecting the will of the people in our senate, not about an opaque, arcane system of preference negotiation, dodgy deals, backroom deals."

11.15am: Shooters and Fishers add farmers

THE Shooters and Fishers Party has applied to change its name to include "farmers" in an obvious jab at the National Party.

The party's New South Wales branch, which has two members in the upper house, has applied to the NSW Electoral Commission to change its name to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.

A post on the party's Facebook page said the name change was a reaction to the Federal Government's senate reform legislation, backed by the Greens and independent Senator Nick Xenophon, to change the preferential voting system.

We're changing our name because we've always been fighting for farmers!Soon, we'll be known as the Shooters, Fishers,...

Posted by Shooters and Fishers Party on Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"These imminent changes to the voting system will prevent our party and other minor parties from ever having a senator elected," it said.

"Irrespective of this setback, the party will continue its Federal and State based drive for representation, despite the best endeavours of the Liberal/Greenc cabal that seeks to limit democracy and representation.

"Farmers, like shooters and fishers, have been largely neglected and oppressed by the major parties and the Greens.

"More interested in playing green, city centric politics than delivering common sense good and progressive policy for the farming sector, all major parties have forgotten our nation's farmers."

Other states and the federal branch are also believed to be considering the name change.

- APN NEWSDESK

 



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