NSW PARLIAMENT LIVE: Hazzard makes Cunneen phone statement

UPDATE: Former Attorney-General Brad Hazzard has released an official statement over the Margaret Cunneen phone call saga.

"While I was Attorney General, my office received a call from a member of the public who claimed to have information regarding an incident that was part of an investigation that had been announced by ICAC, and involved Margaret Cunneen SC," he said.

"I telephoned the person and she confirmed she had certain information as she alleged she was an eye witness.

"It is not appropriate that I detail the assertions made by the alleged witness.

"I recollect that the person wanted to give evidence that she felt would support Ms Cunneen and wanted to contact her.

"I recollect referring her to ICAC and indeed I spoke to ICAC to ensure that contact between ICAC and the witness was made.

"I don't recollect whether I gave the witness the details of how to contact Ms Cunneen or her lawyers but if I did so, it would have been entirely appropriate to ensure that the witness could give both the ICAC and Ms Cunneen's lawyers her alleged observations."

3.30pm: Hazzard 'cannot remember' phonecall

Former NSW Attorney-General Brad Hazzard says he cannot remember if he told an eye-witness to the car crash that sparked an ICAC investigation into Margaret Cunneen to contact the Deputy Senior Crown Prosecutor.

When grilled over the phonecall, Mr Hazzard said a witness had contacted him but his memory was hazy as to whether he passed on Ms Cunneen's personal mobile phone number.

"I don't recollect if I told her to ring Ms Cunneen. I don't think I would have, but it's possible," he said.

"I don't know. Does it matter?"

ICAC investigated Ms Cunneen for allegedly counselling her son's girlfriend, Sophia Tilley, to feign chest pains to delay a breath test after she crashed her car.

The investigation was cancelled when the High Court found ICAC lacked the authority to carry it out.

Premier Mike Baird refused to answer questions about the issue.

"As much as the Leader of the Opposition might be interested in any private discussions that may or may not have taken place, I'm not going to provide evidence to him," he said.

"If there is a concern you have, obviously there is an appropriate body that would investigate such things and that's where it should be left."

On a lighter note, Innovation Minister Victor Dominello grew a slight beard over the holidays.

He has been named parliament's newest "hipster".

STAY TUNED FOR UPDATES

 

3.21pm: Government rules out sniffer dog ban

NSW Police Minister Troy Grant has rejected any changes to laws around sniffer dogs at festivals. In fact, he wants more of them.

Mr Grant was scathing in his response to rookie Labor MP Jo Haylen's call for drug possession to be decriminalised and pill testing to be made available at festivals.

He said festival management had a duty of care to protect patrons from overdose, and should be forced into a "user-pays system to allow dogs to sweep the grounds for drugs, including those drugs stashed on-site before events".

"This government will not run a quality assurance regime using taxpayers' dollars to prop up drug dealers' businesses," he said.

"Pill testing is giving those using illegal drugs a very, very dangerous false sense of security before they're popping these pills in their mouth."

2.25pm: Emotional farewell to govt staffer

PARLIAMENT has just paid an emotional tribute to government staffer Nicholas Ruygrock, who was killed after being hit by a car while cycling in December.

Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton said the newly-engaged 25-year-old was a young man with boundless potential.

His fiancee, Verity, was watching from the public gallery.

"Nick had measure, and that's not something you find readily in a 25-year-old," Ms Upton said.

"In all the right ways, he was 25 years old going on 40.

"In the eight months he worked in my ministerial office, he proved he wasn't just smart, but hard working.

Coogee MP Bruce Notley-Smith said his thoughts were with Mr Ruygrock's family.

"His interpersonal skills and manner were just of the highest calibre," he said.

"It's been particularly hard for us but not nearly as hard as it's been for (his family) who had this incredible human being.

"I don't say that lightly. He was absolutely incredible.

"And he will forever be a mate of mine and a dear friend and live in my heart and the hearts of those who worked with him."

1.55pm: Female MPs win 'loo coup' for toilet

NEW South Wales Parliament's "loo coup" has finally ended, with female MPs excited to have access to a decent bathroom from 7am tomorrow. 

The women of parliament last year armed themselves with hairdryers and straighteners and held a mini protest in the men's toilets against their lack of facilities.

While men had three showers on each level, women had only one.

Their existing facilities were also described as dingy, compared to the lavish opulence of the men's fortresses of solitude.

Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Shelley Hancock told parliament she took the matter very seriously when announcing the Level 2 men's bathroom would be swapped for the women's from 7am tomorrow.

"I think it's a very important symbolic gesture to show that parliament is an inclusive workplace for both men and women," she said.

There was a fair smattering of sniggering from the men of parliament despite every one of them signing their support for the exchange.

Ms Hancock said she would give a gold star to Liberal Member for Camden Chris Patterson for being "by far the most enthusiastic male advocate for the swap".

12.53pm: Liberal MP calls for tougher porn laws:

NSW Liberal MP Damien Tudehope is calling on parliament to do something about internet porn, a scourge he says is robbing children of their childhood.

Mr Tudehope attended a recent Porn Harms Kids symposium with child and mental health experts and became convinced something needed to be done.

One study of 13 to 16-year-olds found 90% of boys and 60% of girls had been exposed to porn.

Another found 80% of online scenes contained verbal or physical aggression towards women.

"The most popular content on the internet is content that aims to push boundaries and give the viewer something they perhaps have not seen before," Mr Tudehope said.

"It is certainly a far cry from the magazines of Hugh Heffner and Larry Flint that people of my generation would associate with mainstream pornography.

"It sends the message to young men in particular that women respond positively to aggressive or degrading behaviour, and that they like it."

Mr Tudehope says introducing sex education earlier in schools "would be a defeat rather than a victory".

"There is scope for the Federal Government to work in partnership with internet service providers who already have very robust measures in place to restrict the sale of alcohol online and prove that purchaser is of legal age," he said.

"Perhaps we ought to be doing something similar in relation to accessing pornography."

He also suggested taking money out of the controversial Safe Schools gender and sexuality education program to fund better internet filtering.

"We are depriving a generation of young people of their childhood, and it is a social tragedy that we have not yet paid the price for," he said.

12.44pm: Greens push for sniffer dog ban as NSW Parliament returns

GREENS MP Jenny Leong will introduce a bill to ban drug detection dogs without a warrant on public transport, at festivals and in bars as NSW Parliament returns today.

The Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Amendment (Sniffer Dogs-Repeal of Powers) Bill 2015 aims to repeal parts of the Law Enforcement Powers and Responsibilities Act 2002 relating to the use of drug detection dogs.

It is part of the Greens' long-running Sniff Off campaign against the use of "error prone" sniffer dogs.

"Given the growing public criticism of drug dogs and the support in the community for an end to ineffective and harmful approaches to drug policies - now is the perfect time for the reintroduction of this bill," Ms Leong said.

"The Greens will continue to stand up in parliament and call for laws that respect our civil liberties.

"Statistics show that thousands of people are humiliated each year by false-positive readings by sniffer dogs that result in intrusive personal searches."

12pm: Lockout laws set to dominate as NSW parliament returns

THE Baird Government's controversial Sydney lock-out laws are expected to dominate debate when New South Wales Parliament returns for the first time in 2016 today.

Opposition Leader Luke Foley has said Labor will be pushing for more transparency from the government around several issues - from forced council amalgamations and a proposed GST increase to TAFE cuts.

Premier Mike Baird took a hard-line approach last week when reproached over Sydney's last drinks laws, saying the criticism was "hysterical".

The backlash that followed came from all over the world, let alone in New South Wales, causing the premier to soften his rhetoric and suggest on Valentine's Day he had been humbled.

29 years ago on Valentine's Day I had my first date with Kerryn. She's been by my side ever since. Sometimes you go...

Posted by Mike Baird on Saturday, February 13, 2016

The State Government will today introduce legislation making it easier for survivors of child abuse to sue for damages.

Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton said the proposed changes were a response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommendations on redress and civil litigation.

"There should be no use-by date for justice for survivors of child abuse," Ms Upton said.

"This change will remove a significant barrier in the way of that justice."

-APN NEWSDESK



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