- Protect our land and water from mining.
- Honesty and integrity in politics
- Local jobs
- People before profits
- Improved heath and education services.

Friday, 29 March 2013

'GAS LEAK!' goes to air Monday 1st April at 8.30pm on ABC1

By Matthew Carney and Connie Agius 

GAS LEAK!, reported by Matthew Carney and presented by Kerry O'Brien, goes to air Monday 1st April at 8.30pm on ABC1.

It is replayed on Tuesday 2nd April at 11.35pm.

It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.

The coal seam gas industry promotes itself as a cleaner carbon-fuel alternative; but how do we know this is true? Until now much of the information used to back this claim has come from the industry itself.
The problem is this "cleaner-greener" claim doesn't always square with experience on the ground. Next on Four Corners reporter Matthew Carney talks to farmers who've seen rivers bubble with methane, their bore water polluted with chemicals, while the reserves of ground water on their property have dropped alarmingly.

He also looks at the latest research that suggests the coal seam gas industry might be a much bigger greenhouse gas emitter than previously thought.

But why weren't these problems picked up in the development approval process? The answer is simple: according to one insider, the approval process is significantly flawed. Four Corners reveals what really happened when two major companies applied to develop thousands of square kilometres of southern Queensland for coal seam gas. Using hundreds of pages of confidential documents, the program reveals that the companies didn't supply enough basic information for an informed decision to be made about environmental impacts. Despite this, various government agencies permitted the developments to go ahead, allowing the companies to submit key information at a later date. A decision which shocked some who were involved:

"It was quite frightening that they would consider approving such a project without the basic information that a normal mining project would have been asked to submit, given that this was like six hundred times the size of your standard, large mine."

This same insider claims pressure was applied to the bureaucracy to fast track approval for coal seam gas development. This allegation would deeply concern many farmers who have seen their land used for coal seam gas sites and raises significant concerns about the future expansion of the industry across Australia.

From ABC site

Go to the site to see the promo

Big banks’ world-leading profits could help Treasurer’s budget task: Bandt

Adam Bandt
27 March 2013

Responding to today’s report by the Reserve Bank that Australia’s big 4 banks are amongst the most profitable in the world, making ‘robust’ profits that are expected to ‘rise strongly’ this year, Greens Deputy Leader and banking spokesperson, Adam Bandt, said the time had come for the Treasurer to make the major banks contribute more to the May Federal budget.

“By slugging consumers with fees and making more from mortgages, Australia’s big banks have been raking in world-leading profits over the last few years,” said Mr Bandt.

“The government gives the big banks effective subsidies worth billions of dollars a year and it’s helping them make record profits.”

“It’s time the big banks contributed a fair share to the public purse so that there’s more money to pay for schools and public housing.”

“If Labor had the guts to stand up to big business, a ‘public support levy’ on the big 4 banks could raise $11bn over 4 years.”

“If Labor doesn’t make the banks contribute more of their record profits to the public purse, Labor will keep cutting services and benefits or raising the amount of money the rest of us have to pay.”

The Greens have proposed a ‘public support levy’ on the big 4 banks, similar to that in place in many European countries, which would raise $10.9bn over 4 years.

RBA Financial Stability Review: http://www.rba.gov.au/publications/fsr/2013/mar/html/contents.html

Barry O’Farrell’s mid-term report card:

As the O’Farrell government enters the second half of its term, the Greens NSW MPs have put together a report card on the O’Farrell government’s worst failures and the Greens top achievements for a more sustainable and caring NSW.      

  The O’Farrell government’s mid-term mark failures: 
  • Launched attacks on wages and conditions of teachers, nurses and other public sector workers, and drastic cuts to our workers compensation laws
  • Overturned the 26-year ban on uranium exploration in NSW, prompting widespread community concern and condemnation
  • Savaged schools and TAFE stripping a staggering $1.6 billion of funding from public education
  • Opened up national parks to recreational hunters for the sake of a political deal with the extreme Shooters Party to enable electricity privatisation.  
  • Broke an election promise to oppose mining in drinking water catchments with approval of massive coal mine in the Sydney catchment
  • Gave tunnel vision priority to more tollways with $1.8 billion committed to the WestConnex without traffic modelling or cost-benefit analysis.
  •  Launched a “dob-in a rorter” program that demonised public housing tenants, while they failed to clear the maintenance backlog and left tens of thousands on social housing waiting lists.
  • Watered down coal seam gas policy, failing to protect our farming lands and water with a weak strategic land use policy
  • Proposed child protection reforms that focus on punitive approaches to parents in at-risk families and prioritising adoption under short timeframes.
  • Eroded civil liberties and failed to deal with police accountability - from the expansion of the sniffer dogs program, the removal of the right to silence and the failure to ensure that police do not investigate police.
  • Squandered opportunity to transition to low carbon clean energy economy throwing $11 billion of wind industry investment into doubt with unrealistic and unreasonable wind farm guidelines.
  • Trashed marine science with the closure of The Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre of Excellence and continuing the deal with the Shooters Party for a moratorium on new marine parks.
  • Replaced one pro-developer planning system with another, failing to put planning decisions back in the hands of local communities.
Greens achievements:
  • After years of strong campaigning with the community, the Greens efforts to stop the corrupting flow of political donations from corporations were rewarded with sweeping changes to the electoral donation laws which limited donations to those on the electoral role and placed a cap on electoral communication expenditure.
  • Following the disgraceful parade of Labor figureheads before the Independent Commission Against Corruption, in 2012 John Kaye proposed changes to the requirements on members of the NSW parliament to disclose their incomes and assets. All Greens members have adopted the disclosure reforms as a measure of their commitment to transparent and democratic political process.
  • Cate Faehrmann’s motion calling on the Commonwealth to enact marriage equality laws successfully passed the NSW Legislative Council. MPs from all sides voted in favour of ending discrimination, putting to shame the recalcitrance of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott
  • Member for Balmain Jamie Parker launched the Inner West light rail plan, which will build on the huge success of the existing light rail extension and further expand light rail within the CBD, along Parramatta Road and to the Balmain Peninsula.
  • At the request of survivors of sexual abuse and their supporters, David Shoebridge was a key part of the campaign which led to a Special Commission of Inquiry into Catholic Church sexual abuse in the Hunter region and the Federal Royal Commission into sexual abuse in religious organisations.
  • NSW Legislative Council supported Jan Barham’s move for foster kids leaving care plans, a basic requirement for those who have been in the care of the state.
  • Established Australia’s first comprehensive inquiry into coal seam gas, after helping to kick start NSW’s largest grassroots environment campaign in a decade. After exposing the St Peter’s urban coal seam gas approval, the Greens helped city and country unite to oppose destructive gas mining.  
  • Kick started pollution law reform in NSW, with Cate Faehrmann’s work with the community to expose the extent of the Port Botany pollution legacy and an amendment for immediate notification of pollution incidents taken up by the government after the Koorangang Island fiasco.
  • Jeremy Buckingham used parliament to expose the secret Nimmie - Caira water buy back, the largest in Australian history.
  • Jan Barham’s move for a NSW Forced Adoption Apology was taken up by the government and successful with cross party support.
  • John Kaye’s Truth in Labelling (Free-range Eggs) bill successfully passed the NSW Upper House after a strong community campaign calling for a stop to the misuse of the label. The bill is currently awaiting debate in the Lower House.
  • Jan Barham successfully moved a motion calling for more action to reduce homelessness, with support for local solutions to this blight on our wealthy society.
  • Working with community groups, David Shoebridge drove a successful campaign against a proposal for children as young as twelve to hunt unsupervised on public land in NSW, with the government eventually backing down and scrapping the plan.

Meanwhile in the Senate:
Senator Lee Rhiannon

Lee Rhiannon profile picture

Strikes and student action spotlight university funding shortfall

I spoke at a picket line at Sydney University protesting management’s attempt to drive down conditions - Media Release  and to students rallying at UTS at a National Day of Action demanding no more course cuts or fee hikes. The new Higher Education Minister Craig Emerson should make his mark and increase base funding for universities - Media Release.


More of the same: Labor’s grubby politics continues under Coalition

Greens MP and Party Room Convenor Cate Faehrmann says the report card is a clear indication of the benefits of a strong Greens voice in the NSW Parliament when the two old parties continue to morph into one.

“The O’Farrell government’s term has been marred by the same kind of political deals that destroyed trust in Labor’s brand,” said Ms Faehrmann.

“When Barry O’Farrell commenced his term in office by doing deals with the extreme right-wing micro parties in the NSW Upper House, he broke a key promise that he would not do deals that aren’t in the interests of the people of NSW.

“Since then the Premier has given the thumbs up to savage cuts which are wreaking havoc on people’s lives and the environment, not to mention our international reputation.

“Despite the political deals being done by the O’Farrell government to the detriment of the people of NSW, the Greens have continued to stand up for the community and the environment. Our achievements reflect this,” said Ms Faehrmann.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

In 2009 Malcolm wrote "Abbott's climate change policy is bullshit."

Abbott's climate change policy is bullshit

Malcolm Turnbull December 07, 2009
Malcolm Turnbull MP (courtesy Wikipedia)
While a shadow minister, Tony Abbott, was never afraid of speaking bluntly in a manner that was at odds with Coalition policy.

So as I am a humble backbencher I am sure he won't complain if I tell a few home truths about the farce that the Coalition's policy, of lack of policy, on climate change has descended into.

First, lets get this straight. You cannot cut emissions without a cost. To replace dirty coal fired power stations with cleaner gas fired ones, or renewables like wind let alone nuclear power or even coal fired power with carbon capture and storage is all going to cost money.

To get farmers to change the way they manage their land, or plant trees and vegetation all costs money.

Somebody has to pay.

So any suggestion that you can dramatically cut emissions without any cost is, to use a favourite term of Mr Abbott, "bullshit." Moreover he knows it.

The whole argument for an emissions trading scheme as opposed to cutting emissions via a carbon tax or simply by regulation is that it is cheaper - in other words electricity prices will rise by less to achieve the same level of emission reductions.

The term you will see used for this is "least cost abatement".

It is not possible to criticise the new Coalition policy on climate change because it does not exist. Mr Abbott apparently knows what he is against, but not what he is for.

Second, as we are being blunt, the fact is that Tony and the people who put him in his job do not want to do anything about climate change. They do not believe in human caused global warming. As Tony observed on one occasion "climate change is crap" or if you consider his mentor, Senator Minchin, the world is not warming, its cooling and the climate change issue is part of a vast left wing conspiracy to deindustrialise the world.

Now politics is about conviction and a commitment to carry out those convictions. The Liberal Party is currently led by people whose conviction on climate change is that it is "crap" and you don't need to do anything about it. Any policy that is announced will simply be a con, an environmental figleaf to cover a determination to do nothing. After all, as Nick Minchin observed, in his view the majority of the Party Room do not believe in human caused global warming at all. I disagree with that assessment, but many people in the community will be excused for thinking the leadership ballot proved him right.

Remember Nick Minchin's defense of the Howard Government's ETS was that the Government was panicked by the polls and therefore didn't really mean it.

Tony himself has in just four or five months publicly advocated the blocking of the ETS, the passing of the ETS, the amending of the ETS and if the amendments were satisfactory passing it, and now the blocking of it.

His only redeeming virtue in this remarkable lack of conviction is that every time he announced a new position to me he would preface it with "Mate, mate, I know I am a bit of a weather vane on this, but....."

Third, there is a major issue of integrity at stake here and Liberals should reflect very deeply on it. We have an Opposition whose current leadership dismisses the Howard Government's ETS policy as being just a political ploy. We have an Opposition Leader who has in the space of a few months held every possible position on the issue, each one contradicting the position he expressed earlier. And finally we have an Opposition which negotiated amendments to the Rudd Government's ETS, then reached agreement on those amendments and then, a week later, reneged on the agreement.
Many Liberals are rightly dismayed that on this vital issue of climate change we are not simply without a policy, without any prospect of having a credible policy but we are now without integrity. We have given our opponents the irrefutable, undeniable evidence that we cannot be trusted.
Not that anyone would doubt it, but I will be voting for the ETS legislation when it returns in February and if my colleagues have any sense they will do so as well

This first appeared in former opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull's blog this morning.

Printed in the SMH Dec 7, 2009

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Abbott wrong: Australia behind world on climate

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world in addressing climate change, according to a new report by the Climate Institute and GE.

The Global Climate Leadership Review shows Australia is now third last, leading only India and Saudi Arabia in preparing for the global low carbon economy.  By contrast, China has leapt ahead and is now in third place.

"Tony Abbott has spent the last three years pushing the lie that Australia is acting before the rest of the world on climate change and is damaging our international competitiveness. The fact is we have long been behind and are failing to catch up." Greens Leader Christine Milne said.

"Tony Abbott must now admit that he has been wrong and needs to end the uncertainty immediately and stop threatening to destroy our transformation to a clean energy future.

"Tony Abbott has said he will spend two years in a white paper talk fest about how to implement his absurd Direct Action Plan, which no economist will support.

"Under a Coalition government Australia risks falling further behind the world in improving our low-carbon competitiveness, and will fail to tap into the $4 trillion global green technology economy.

"Far from Abbott's claim that Australia's carbon price is too high, the report highlights that 29 out of 34 OECD countries have a higher effective price on carbon than Australia, averaging at $35.

"Will Tony Abbott now finally admit, as John Howard did, that emissions trading is a market mechanism designed to deliver emissions reductions most efficiently and at the cheapest price?"

The Greens demand Gary Gray comes clean on coal

Tuesday 26 March

So Gary Gray you have changed your mind on climate science ... what does that now mean for expanded coal mining and exports? Senator Christine Milne, Leader of the Australian Greens said.

"You either accept the science and accept the overwhelming volume of existing fossil fuel reserves have to stay in the ground in order to have any hope of constraining global warming to less than two degrees.

"Or you accept the science and with informed consent you drive fossil fuel extraction, climate change and extreme weather events.

"Which is it Gary Gray?"

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Nature Conservation Council of NSW reports on state government

O’Farrell Government is ‘failing the grade’ on environmental protection and sustainability

 Reblogged from the Nature Conservation Council of NSW site

The state’s leading environmental organisations will today release a mid-term report card on the O’Farrell Government’s performance on environmental protection and sustainability.

The report card, which is based on a comprehensive review of the government’s statewide environmental performance over the past two years, has found that the NSW Government is “failing the grade” on environmental protection and sustainability.

The review assessed the government’s performance across ten key policy areas, from climate change to urban sustainability. The government received a total score of 33% (E), with grades ranging from 10% (F) for marine conservation to 60% (C) for pollution and waste (see attached).  
“The government’s performance over the past two years had been characterised by inaction, broken promises and backward steps on important environmental issues”, said Pepe Clarke, Chief Executive Officer of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.

“The government’s positive nature conservation achievements, such as declaration of Dharawal National Park, have been overshadowed by a succession of environmentally damaging policy decisions, from attacks on marine sanctuaries to hunting in national parks,” he said.

“The government’s decision to allow recreational shooters into national parks will place the public at risk and divert resources from effective pest control programs,” said Kevin Evans, Executive Director of the National Parks Association of NSW.

“Tens of thousands of ordinary people from across NSW have spoken out against this outrageous decision, and will not rest until this irresponsible plan is abandoned.”

Rapid expansion of mining and coal seam gas has featured prominently on the public agenda over the past two years, but the NSW government’s policy responses have left many community concerns largely unresolved, particularly in rural and regional areas.

“The government has comprehensively failed to deliver on its promise to protect critical agricultural and environmental assets, leaving productive farmland, water resources and iconic natural areas at risk,” said Bev Smiles, spokeperson for the Central West Environment Council.

The Hillgrove Mine poised above the Macleay River valley
While flooding rains have provided a reprieve for rivers and wetlands, the government has placed their long-term health at risk by reducing environmental water allocations and opposing federal water buybacks in the Murray-Darling Basin.

“The O’Farrell Government has taken every opportunity to obstruct and delay measures to restore the Murray-Darling to health, compromising the recovery of wetlands, water birds and freshwater fish,” said Belinda Fairbrother, NSW Campaign Manager for the Wilderness Society.

Many conservationists are concerned that more damaging changes are on the way, with the government reviewing environmental protections in the planning system, land clearing laws and forestry regulations.

“There is a real risk that decades of hard-won environmental protections will be lost unless ordinary people stand up now for the protection of our state’s precious natural environment,” said Susie Russell, President of the North Coast Environment Council President.

Conservationists are calling on Premier O’Farrell to adopt policies that will protect and restore the state’s environment and build a more sustainable society.

“The pressing environmental issues facing our state require leadership and decisive action,” said Jeff Angel, Executive Director of the Total Environment Centre.

“It’s time for the Premier to step up to the challenge, for the benefit of the people of New South Wales, and the remarkable natural assets of our state,” said Mr Angel.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Greens focused on delivering on progressive reform

Greens Leader Christine Milne
Saturday 23 March

Greens Leader Christine Milne, attending the Greens National Council meeting in Hobart this weekend, said the Greens are ready for an election but are focused on delivering a fairer school funding model, the national network of marine parks, and $50 a week to Newstart recipients, before the polling day.

“While the Prime Minister is working to keep her party together I urge Labor to focus on cementing socially and environmentally progressive reform and not tear themselves further apart.” Christine Milne said.

“Before people call for a no-confidence vote and an early election I urge them to think of the children of Australia who have been waiting for a fair funding model for decades and will be denied it under a Coalition Government.

“Specifically Tasmania will lose millions if the clean energy package is undermined and the renewable energy target cut, as the Coalition has indicated it will do – Tasmanian Hydro will lose $70 million a year.

“In choosing a new energy and resources minister I call on the Prime Minister to recognise that to transition Australia away from the old fossil fuel age and onto a path to a clean, green and clever it will take a minister who is committed to getting Australia off a path to 4 degrees of warming.

“At the same time Tony Abbott must come clean on whether he will maintain the current gigawatt hour target for large-scale renewable energy.

“He cannot continue to fudge this issue as the wind industry is being undermined and being held back every day that he fails to answer the question.”

Right to Silence Traded by the Shooters

20 Mar 2013

The O'Farrell Government has now removed the centuries-old right to silence from all NSW citizens after the Shooters MPs reversed their stated position, presumably following "talks".

Astoundingly the Shooters MPs failed to speak on the bill and explain why they changed their position.

NSW Greens MP and Justice spokesperson, David Shoebridge said:

"The Shooters' sudden backflip on this bill shows their original stand was little more than a bargaining chip in their negotiations with the Government.

"Once more the Government will be selling out the people of NSW by dealing with the Shooters on unrelated proposals.

"Who knows what the O'Farrell Government  has traded off this time? Is it further watering down of gun laws, further access for amateur hunters in our National Parks or even the introduction of silencers?

"The Government has not just destroyed the four hundred year old principle that defendants have the right to silence for accused bikies, everyone has lost this right.

"The model proposed by the Attorney General and supported by the Shooters is utterly unworkable for both police and the criminal justice system.

"In the bill, an adverse inference can only be drawn from a person being silent if their lawyer is present during police questioning, meaning it will be almost professional negligence for any lawyer to attend a police station even if their client asked them.

"The end result will be even less co-operation with police and most lawyers giving the advice that the client is better off not being represented and just saying nothing to police.

"The pre-trial disclosure requirements are also unworkable. Far from narrowing the issues for Courts, both sides will be far more likely to put every issue on the table, just in case.
"This law is wrong in principle, and wrong in practice" Mr Shoebridge said.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Lowering Seniors Card Eligibility Age Would Help to Close the Gap

Jan Barham MP
Thu, 21 Mar 2013

Jan Barham, Greens MP and spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs, has welcomed the NSW upper house's passage of a motion calling on the Government to consider a key initiative to close the gap in health outcomes for older Indigenous people.

"This motion called on the NSW Government to consider lowering the eligibility age for the Seniors Card to 45 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I am pleased that the members of the Legislative Council across all parties supported it," Ms Barham said.

"Making the Seniors Card available earlier is a simple, immediate way that we can ensure Indigenous people have improved access to primary health services. By having Seniors Card entitlements, including concession rates on transport and other discounts, we can help to overcome problems with the accessibility and affordability of health services."

The motion was passed on National Close the Gap Day, a campaign that aims to eliminate the health inequality between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians by 2030.

"On average, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can expect to live more than a decade less than other Australians. Closing this gap requires a range of solutions from governments at all levels. Seniors Card eligibility is one part of the solution," Ms Barham said.

"The Aboriginal and Community Care Gathering Committee recommended this initiative, and other organisations involved in the health and human service sectors, including NCOSS, support it. This should be a broadly supported and effective reform."

In its submission on the upcoming budget, NCOSS estimated that lowering the eligibility age would cost approximately $2 million per annum.

Ms Barham noted, "This is an investment worth making, and one that will pay back society as a whole. It will improve the lives of Indigenous people and deliver a more effective allocation of resources."

"I look forward to the day when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people share in the expectation of a healthier and longer life."


After sustained pressure from the Greens, the Independents and the community, federal responsibility to protect water resources from coal seam gas mining, has been passed through the Lower House today.

"The Greens are thrilled that by working with Independent MP Tony Windsor we have strengthened the government's protection for water resources from the impacts of coal seam gas by ensuring the impacts are assessed at a federal level, even under an Abbott government.

"Mr Windsor's amendment, which has the full support of the Greens, prevents Mr Abbott from his plan to hand responsibility for this new protection to the state governments, who have let the coal seam gas industry run rampant.

"Today we've come a long way toward locking the gate and Abbott-proofing the fence.

"The achievement has only been made possible through the dedication of the strong community campaign, led by the Lock the Gate Alliance, in voicing the serious concerns of the communities that rely on our precious groundwater.

"The Greens look forward to proudly passing this Abbott-proofed protection for water resources from coal seam gas mining, which reflects our long-term policy position, through the Senate," Senator Waters said.

Coal seam gas protection doesn't hold any water

Senator Larissa Waters

The Australian Greens today circulated amendments to Abbott-proof proposed protection for water resources from coal seam gas mining and to give landholders the right to so no to coal seam gas mining on their property.

"There's no point locking the gate if you don't Abbott-proof the fence," , the Australian Greens mining spokesperson, said.

"Tony Abbott has clearly stated that, if Prime Minister, he will hand national environment protection, including this new protection for water, to state governments.

"The very reason the we need a water trigger is because Tony Abbott's state cronies have let the coal seam gas industry run rampant - they can't be trusted to check the impacts of coal seam gas mining on water resources.

"Yet Tony Abbott wants to give state governments the final say on whether coal seam gas projects go ahead, giving Labor's water protection a shelf life that could last just a few months.

"Labor's water trigger is nothing more than a tokenistic gesture and the community is not buying it - the Lock the Gate Alliance and the environment movement have been calling loud and clear for it to be Abbott-proofed.

"Labor is still failing to give landholders the right to deny coal seam gas mining on their own property with this water trigger.

"The Australian Greens will move amendments in the Lower House to give landholders the right to say no to coal seam gas mining on their property and to ensure national environment protection, including the water trigger, is kept in federal hands.

"If the Government, the Independents and the Nationals are serious about protecting water resources and landholders' rights, they will support these amendments," Senator Waters said.

Coal seam gas SEPP has giant loophole and leaves out agriculture

Reblogged from site of Jeremy Buckingham MP

MEDIA RELEASE        Posted on 21 March 2013 by maxphillips

Jeremy Buckingham
The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham today welcomed elements of the coal seam gas exclusion zone State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), but expressed concern that agriculture was still unprotected and that a potential loophole had been created that allows local councils to opt out of exclusion zones.

“Allowing local councils to opt out of the SEPP is a highly unusual step and adds a loophole that may allow coal seam gas in these areas and expose local Councils to corruption risks and pressure from powerful mining interests,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“While urban areas and some vineyards and thoroughbred breeders are partially protected by this SEPP, all other land uses are not protected from the risk of coal seam gas mining.

“The SEPP should apply state-wide so that all citizens enjoy the same protection. Allowing local councils to opt out of a SEPP is a giant loophole ripe for exploitation by a ruthless industry.

“The Greens are very concerned that multi-billion dollar oil companies will be able to exert influence on local councils and open the door to coal seam gas mining in areas that would normally be excluded by this SEPP.

“Local councils struggling to provide infrastructure and services may be susceptible to industry offers of assistance, voluntary planning agreements, or other incentives in return for the council exempting areas from the SEPP to allow coal seam gas mining.

“Section 9A (2) and (3) should be deleted from the SEPP.

“The Greens encourage the community to lodge submissions and call for the loophole to be deleted.”

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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Advocacy secured through Greens' NDIS amendment

An important Australian Greens amendment to the NDIS package has passed the Senate today, broadening the capacity of the National Disability Insurance Agency to advocate on behalf of people with a disability.

"Our amendment enacts a key recommendation from our additional comments to the Senate Inquiry into this Bill, in order to ensure the agency is as effective as possible in securing support and accessibility for Australians living with a disability," Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

"Our amendment ensures the agency is able to undertake advocacy in areas not funded by the NDIS but that are crucial to ensuring people have improved accessibility in important areas of life.

"This important clause means that the agency can help push for better services in mainstream areas such as education, employment, housing and public transport- all of which are fundamental aspects of living in our society.

"It is essential that there is improved accessibility in these areas for people with a disability, and I am confident our amendments will help deliver that.

"I am pleased the Greens have been able to deliver an amendment which will emphasise the important role the National Disability Insurance Agency will play in delivering support for people with disability," Senator Siewert concluded.

NSW Upper House supports Constitutional Recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Jan Barham, Greens MP

Jan Barham, Greens MP and spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs, has welcomed the passage of her motion supporting Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by the NSW Legislative Council.

"The passage of the Act of Recognition through the Senate last week was another important step toward Constitutional Recognition, but it is crucial that politicians across all Parliaments and parties help build support for a referendum," Ms Barham said.

"The Parliament passed an amendment to the NSW Constitution in 2010, and now the upper house has thrown its support behind constitutional change for Australia. I hope the Premier and his Government will work toward ensuring public support for Constitutional Recognition."

The motion that was passed by the Legislative Council also recognised the contributions of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians, along with community organisations such as Recognise, for their work in establishing the path toward a Commonwealth Referendum.

"It is a credit to the dedication of many people and organisations that Indigenous recognition has finally been achieved in the Commonwealth Parliament. The next step is for everyone who supports Constitutional change to make their voice heard," Ms Barham said.

"I encourage all MPs across our states and territories to seek their Parliament's expression of support for Constitutional Recognition. A demonstration that our politicians across all parties support a 'yes' vote would help to ensure that this referendum would see support as strong as at the Indigenous referendum in 1967."

"Now is the time for everyone who cares about this issue to make their voice heard. People should contact their elected representatives and ask them to commit their public support to Constitutional change."

Yet more animal cruelty that could have been prevented by CCTV – Greens

Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 11.11.58 PM

Posted on 20 March 2013

Responding to a shocking Lateline report of animal cruelty in a turkey abattoir exposed by Animal Liberation activists, Greens MP and animal welfare spokesperson Cate Faehrmann says it is up to the NSW Parliament to prevent future acts of cruelty by supporting the Greens’ bill for mandatory CCTV in abattoirs.

“This footage is incredibly distressing. The behaviour of the abattoir workers can be described as nothing less than sadistic. It’s time the government acted to ensure that abattoir workers and operators can no longer get away with  animal cruelty” said Ms Faehrmann.

“If we’d had mandatory CCTV in abattoirs, this appalling cruelty could have been prevented. The Greens have a bill ready to go that could prevent acts of cruelty like this in the future and we urge the government to support it.

“Our mandatory CCTV bill came on the back of the disgustingly cruel treatment of pigs and sheep, exposed by whistleblowers, at the Hawkesbury Valley Meat Processors in Wilberforce.

“After this incident, the government assured the community it was working with industry to stamp out cruelty yet the cruelty continues. This latest incident shows that the Minister for Primary Industries has no control over what goes on behind closed doors in abattoirs and meat processing centres in this state.

“Mandatory CCTV in all abattoirs with regular inspections is needed to restore the community’s faith in this industry.

“Animal welfare organisations have called for this for a long time, several supermarket chains in Europe demand it of their suppliers and, while some meat processing companies have installed CCTV voluntarily, the NSW Government failed to include it in their response to the Wilberforce abattoir exposé last year.

“Now we have yet another incident of cruelty that could have been prevented by CCTV – this is clearly not an isolated incident. Mandatory CCTV is essential if we are to stamp out such gross cruelty,” said Ms Faehrmann.

A briefing on the bill is available on request.

Take action by sending an email to the Primary Industries Minister.

The financial risk in investing in fossil fuels and lending to coal and gas companies.

From Renew Economy
WOW! This article talks about how major institutions like HongKong and Shanghai Bank etc are now talking about the concept of unburnable carbon and the financial risks in investing in fossil fuels and lending to coal and gas companies. 

A quote: "It is now realistic to imagine removing the coal, oil and gas industries from the economy in less than 20 years. Doing so is required if we are to have an 80 per cent or greater likelihood of preventing the climate warming past 2°C, a point past where the system could spin out of control.
What we are now hearing from major international economic institutions is that this is a binary choice. Either this happens or we head for social and economic breakdown. As the World Bank argues, the latter “must not be allowed to occur”.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Government must work to end whaling as Sea Shepherd returns to Australia

Whales off the Kimberley coast
20 March 2013

The Australian Greens have welcomed the Sea Shepherd fleet back to Australia after a successful campaign in the Southern Ocean against the increasingly antagonistic Japanese whalers.

"I am pleased that Sea Shepherd have returned safely to Australia after a long and tough time in Antarctic waters," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens whaling spokesperson said today.

"Sea Shepherd continue to work hard in the absence of an Australian Government presence in the Southern Ocean. This year, they have encountered an increasingly hostile whaling fleet.

"This hostility reflects the growing desperation of the Japanese Government to persist with this barbaric practice despite its increasing irrelevance to Japanese people.

"Japan has publicly admitted it is carrying out commercial whaling and will continue to do so  in spite of international regulations. It is Australia's responsibility to protect whales in our territorial waters from this ongoing threat.

"Japan's increasingly hostile and erratic behaviour has seen a maritime self-defence vessel, with helicopter and troop capacity, deployed to support the fleet. We have also seen dangerous refuelling efforts undertaken in contravention of international treaties, at great risk to the Antarctic marine environment.

"The Japanese whaling hunt is a contravention of Australian laws and a Federal Court injunction.

"The Australian Government should be ensuring Paul Watson is free to enter Australia and should be making a concerted effort between now and next summer to ramp up the pressure against Japan's whaling efforts," Senator Siewert concluded.

National Party covering up for Ian Macdonald on Shenhua Watermark coal project

Link to Jeremy's blog

ShenhuaMEDIA RELEASE – 20 March 2012
The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham today condemned the National Party for rejecting a parliamentary call for papers on the Shenhua Watermark coal project in the Liverpool Plains.

 The Greens moved in formal business for all papers relating to the controversial mine licence granted by former Minister Ian Macdonald in 2008 to be provided to Parliament within 14 days, but Nationals MP Rick Colless objected to the call for papers.

“It’s very concerning that the National Party have stopped the parliament accessing documents related to the Shenhua Watermark coal project and the exploration licence granted by former Minister Ian Macdonald,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Why is the National Party covering up information on a coal licence issued by former Labor Minister Ian Macdonald? Once again the National Party is failing country people by siding with the big mining companies.

“Shenhua paid the NSW government a record $300 million for the exploration licence, promised a further $200 million on approval, and has spent $213 million purchasing farm properties in the Liverpool Plains area. The development application for this mine is currently before the Department of Planning.

“Given the revelations coming out of current ICAC investigations and the controversy surrounding the Watermark project, it is only sensible that Parliament have a look into the matter by calling for all related documents.

“Barry O’Farrell and the National Party should explain why they want to hide information from the public about how Ian Macdonald handled the Shenhua Watermark project.

“The Greens will continue parliamentary moves to shed light on the Watermark project.”

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Monday, 18 March 2013

Better Planning Network Media Release

PO Box 989
Lane Cove NSW 1595

An affiliation of more than 310 community groups 

Planning? What Planning? 

The Better Planning Network has slammed the Government’s proposals for Urban Activation Precincts as ill-timed and contrary to its own proposals for good planning. 

‘The O’ Farrell Government is promising a new planning system that relies on evidence-based strategic planning in consultation with the community,’ said Corinne Fisher. ‘It is extraordinary that the Government has decided to rush ahead with Urban Activation when it hasn’t even managed to produce a White Paper for its proposed planning reforms. It would be easy to conclude that the Government is hell bent on development but doesn’t really care about planning.’ 

‘The urban renewal sites announced yesterday were apparently chosen because of their proximity to transport hubs. The problem is that they are largely reliant on transport infrastructure that won’t be built for many years, if at all. Until then, many new residents will have to use their cars, adding to already congested road corridors. What sort of planning is that?’ 

This Government seems addicted to big development. The community is supposed to be placated by the promise of more housing, but where are the houses? It’s all medium and high density. While 15 to 30 storey residential towers are certain to maximise profits for developers,’ said Ms Fisher, ‘there seems to be no mention of affordable housing and surely that should be an essential element in any urban activation proposal.’
Where are the new public parks? Where are the provisions for new schools or land allocations for expansion of existing schools? Where are the local sustainable jobs when residential development is considered more important than commercial?’ 

Ms Fisher pointed out that the changes proposed for these areas are profound but the Government is allowing a mere six weeks for community comment. ‘You have to wonder whether they are really open to suggestions. These changes are so major, with such grave implications for residents that most people will not be able to absorb and comment on them in such a short time. Once again, the community that has to bear the consequences of these grand plans is the last to know and has the least influence. This is unacceptable and just a continuation of the bad planning and poor community engagement processes we saw under the last State Government.’ 

For more information, contact Corinne Fisher 0421 831 889. 17th March 2013

Amalgamations ‘firmly on the agenda’

Chris Dobney
A state government review is considering dramatically consolidating councils for all of NSW, and Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell believes they will be forced.

Read more in Echonet Daily

Thein Sein visit a chance to take a strong stand for human rights in Burma

Senator Scott Ludlam

Australian Greens spokesperson on Burma, Senator Scott Ludlam. 18 March 2013.

The visit of Burmese president U Thein Sein must be used by the Australian Government to promote human rights in Burma and press for a free and fair election in 2015, the Greens said today.

Australian Greens spokesperson on Burma Senator Scott Ludlam said the Government must put much more than trade on the tour agenda.

"Foreign Minister Bob Carr should offer Australia's assistance in ensuring the 2015 general election is conducted without intimidation and threat of imprisonment of candidates, so that all Burmese citizens - including those in the ethnic minority areas - can exercise their civil and political rights in the lead up to the poll.

"Minister Carr has been an enthusiastic supporter of business with Burma - but despite some progress the situation in that country remains grim.  Uncritically embracing the current regime will remove their incentive for further reform.

"The military continues to dominate the country, and several hundred political prisoners are still incarcerated in prisons across the country.  One quarter of the seats in Parliament are automatically held by the army and the rest of the parliament is dominated by pro-junta candidates elected in the rigged general poll of 2010.

"While the violent persecution of ethnic minorities such as the Rohingya and Kachin peoples goes on, while the Generals dominate the country and its commerce and industry, the rush to profit from trade with Burma will only strengthen the military's grip on power, and shatter the hopes of the Burmese people."

"I want to help her die with dignity" - Greens MP ramps up campaign for voluntary euthanasia with Loredana's plea for an assisted death

NSW Greens MP Cate Faehrmann is ramping up her campaign for the Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill by launching an online campaign video and
photo book to build public support and lobby MPs for reform.

The video features Loredana Alessio-Mulhall, who is in the advanced stages of multiple sclerosis and wants law reform so that she can die with dignity at a time of her choosing. Cate has written to all NSW MPs about Loredana, urging them to make contact with her to hear her

The campaign video, which has been launched online and will be
distributed via social media can be watched here

"I am helping Loredana tell her story because she represents a growing
movement of people who are experiencing first-hand how cruel our laws
can be," said Ms Faehrmann.

"Loredana is given every assistance to live an increasingly
undignified life, yet society is turning its back on her when all she
is asking for is the right to die with dignity.

"While suicide is not a crime, Loredana could not take her own life
now because the multiple sclerosis that has ravaged her body over the
last few decades means she has totally lost the use of her limbs.

"If a loved one assisted Loredana to die out of compassion they would
be trialled for manslaughter or murder. There could not be a more
stark example of how unjust and senseless the law is in this area.

"The majority of terminally ill people who choose assistance to die in
jurisdictions where it is legal are atheist. Those people whose
religion does not allow them to support voluntary euthanasia do not
have to go down this path should they suffer from a terminal illness
in the future. But they should allow other people the choice.

"It's time those people with strong religious views who are blocking
the passage of voluntary euthanasia laws recognise their views are
making some very vulnerable people's lives even more wretched. It's
time they recognised they are in the minority and got out of the way.

"As Loredana says in the video, she is not afraid of dying, she is
afraid of the way she will die. Loredana is appealing to all
parliamentarians to support law reform that will allow terminally ill
people like herself to die with dignity at a time of their choosing if
that is their wish," said Ms Faehrmann.

Watch the video here http://youtu.be/IYw1wmmtWNg, or view the
photobook of other personal stories and a summary of the bill's
provisions here http://tinyurl.com/d99mjr4

The Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill has undergone an extensive
consultation process. Final amendments are with Parliamentary Counsel.
The bill is expected to be debated in May 2013.

Greens won’t be bullied on media reform

Australian Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam. 17 March 2013.

The Greens will not be bullied by big media interests or constrained by arbitrary timelines on Labor’s media reform proposals, communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said today.

“We need to focus on getting it right – regardless of ultimatums from the Minister and hysteria from certain media proprietors.  Our overriding objective is to protect media diversity in Australia.”

“The Minister has provided an extraordinarily short time frame to analyse the proposals but we have identified concerns we will raise in the committee hearings on Monday and Tuesday, and take up in the chamber if necessary.

“The legislation may lead to the establishment of multiple press councils competing in a self-regulatory race to the bottom.  There is nothing to suggest that the fragmentation of the Press Council into a number of smaller entities will provide adequate self-regulation.

“The Public Interest Media Advocate also has wide discretion that could fail to address further consolidation of media ownership; including protecting local and regional news.  The package must address the level of media ownership concentration in Australia, which is amongst the highest in the Western world.

“In addition, Australian content producers could be disadvantaged through exploitation of flexibility provisions in production quotas.  We need to see meaningful quotas and guidelines to foster local production, in particular local drama.

“There are some definite positives in the proposals, including enshrining the right of SBS and the ABC to operate online in their charters, and reserving a dedicated digital frequency for community broadcasting.”

Friday, 15 March 2013

End the Rorting of Disability Parking Permits

Jan Barham

Jan Barham, Greens MP and Disability spokesperson, is calling on the NSW Government to release its report on the review of the Mobility Parking Scheme which was due out late last year.

"The disability sector is keen to see action from Government to ensure Mobility Parking Permits only go to those individuals with a disability who genuinely need it. Many people have been concerned about the levels of abuse in the scheme and a question in Parliament has requested an update," Ms Barham said.

In 2012, an independent advisory committee was established to review the Mobility Parking Scheme in New South Wales. For a number of years the scheme, which allows people with mobility restrictions to park for extended periods in time restricted parking spaces, has suffered from abuse.

"The review of the Mobility Parking Scheme will define the tightening of the eligibility criteria and advance the harmonisation of state and territory disability parking schemes into a single Australian Disability Parking Scheme (ADPS). Improving the scheme would allow for international recognition of the scheme and allow Australians who hold a permit to use it when travelling overseas."

Ms Barham noted that there had been over 60,000 revoked permits recorded by the RTA/RMS and that in 2010-11, there were 728 infringements issued. Some past reports have estimated that one in three permits displayed in ticket/meter and time-limited areas for long periods of time are being used unlawfully.

"We know some people have been flouting the rules but there has also been inadequate enforcement. Disability parking fines in NSW are the highest in the country but most offences are committed by persons other than the permit holder, whether by other family members or from stolen permits," Ms Barham said.

"The Government needs to release this report and explain how it will reform disability parking to support those who genuinely need it and stamp out the problems and abuse."

Greens cannot support ASADA bill in current form

Media Release, 14/03/13
Australian Greens spokesperson for sport, Senator Richard Di Natale, said today that the Greens cannot support the government's ASADA bill, which would create new coercive powers.

"The Greens are absolutely committed to the protecting the integrity of sport but it should not be done at the expense of important legal rights and protections," said Senator Di Natale, a former VFA footballer.

"The government's investment of greater resources in ASADA is long overdue and the Greens support ASADA conducting investigations that go beyond mere drug testing. But this shouldn't mean that we treat athletes worse than common criminals.

"The government's bill would give ASADA the power to take a footy player off the street and compel them to answer any question. People facing criminal investigations will have more legal protections than a player at the Essendon Football Club or the Cronulla Sharks.

"I hate the thought of a game or race being corrupted by doping and like any sports fan I want to see a clean and fair contest. But we cannot put long held legal rights and protections at risk without appropriate safeguards."

Australian Greens spokesperson for Legal Affairs, Senator Penny Wright, said the Bill threatened legal rights.

"Removing the privilege against self-incrimination, a basic right, isn't justified by the context here," Senator Wright said.

"The Bill reverses the fundamental principle  of 'innocent until proven guilty' - we don't do this for criminal matters, so why do it for sport?"


Senator Larissa Waters
Thursday 14 March 2013

Senator Larissa Waters
Australian Greens Senator for Queensland

The government's proposed protection for water resources from coal seam gas and large coal mines will be worthless if the government does not Abbott-proof environment law, say the Australian Greens.

"In senate debate today, the government made it clear that it will not lift a finger to stop Tony Abbott from handing over federal environment protection to his state cronies, who have let the coal seam gas industry run rampant," Senator Larissa Waters, the Australian Greens mining spokesperson, said.

"It's great that the Gillard Government has finally decided to consider the devastating effects of coal seam gas on water resources through national environment law.

"But the government has not ruled out handing its power to administer national environment law to state governments and it's not doing anything to stop Tony Abbott from handing it over either, even though he has clearly stated he will if he has the chance.

"In a senate debate today, the government said it would not support my bill to stop the handover of national environment protection to state governments. This just makes them complicit given Tony Abbott's promise to put environmentally reckless premiers in charge of approving damaging development, including coal seam gas mining.

"Without my bill, there's nothing to stop Tony Abbott from handing over environment protection powers to state governments, including the new power to consider water impacts from coal seam gas and large coal mines.

"Again we see the government is all talk and no action on environment protection. It says it's going to look at the impacts of coal seam gas on water after it's approved massive coal seam gas projects and then it doesn't do anything to stop Tony Abbott from putting state governments in charge of checking these impacts," Senator Waters said.

Green economics: saving the planet and creating jobs

Check out John’s slides from his presentation “Saving the Planet and Creating Jobs” here.

To keep updated on the Greens NSW work in the area of progressive economics sign up to John’s mailing list.

Farewelling Metgasco- From the bridge at Urunga

Is the Metgasco rig travelling to the Taree area?

Whales at risk in W.A.

14 March 2013

JPP whale study shows WA EPA greatly underestimated development impact

A new report on whale numbers at James Price Point shows that Woodside has grossly underestimated the number of whales using the area, and that the science that informed the impact assessment is flawed.

"The potential impact of a gas hub at James Price Point on the vulnerable humpback whales that use the area has not been adequately assessed and is far higher than the company wants people to believe," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson for the Kimberley said today.

"The report, produced by the Kimberley Community Whale Research Project, shows significantly higher numbers of humpback whales using this area than was considered by the EPA during the assessment process.

"This reinforces the inadequacy of the environmental assessment already undertaken by the EPA and the WA Government," said Senator Siewert.

The Kimberley Community Whale Research Project was initiated in collaboration with the Traditional Owners, the Goolarabooloo people, and the Broome Community's No Gas Campaign to ensure a more comprehensive study of the humpback whales using the area near the gas hub site.

"Our study indicates that the science that has so far informed the environmental impact assessment is inadequate and grossly underestimates the importance of the James Price Point area to calving humpback whales," researcher Charlotte Buckton said today.

"This inadequate science was then used by the WA EPA in their assessment of the proposed development, and has been used by proponents of the hub to justify its location at James Price Point. This is deeply concerning because even the minimum number of 2669 whales counted in our study greatly exceeds the 1000 whales that the science used by the EPA estimated would pass within 8 km of the proposed development.

A whale plays offshore of James Price Point and one of Woodside’s jack up barges used in their preliminary geotechnical surveys. Annabelle Sandes, Kimberley Media

"Our results also show that many humpback whale calves use the James Price Point area for their vital first interactions. The waters of the area represent a resting and nursing area for the population," Ms Buckton said.

Senator Siewert says the onus is now on Environment Minister Tony Burke to protect the Kimberley and the humpback whales using the area.

"The Federal Government needs to thoroughly assess this project," Senator Siewert said.

"The WA Government has totally failed to properly assess this project and have not met their environmental responsibilities. It is essential that the Minister now steps up and does the right thing for the Kimberley," Senator Siewert concluded.

More amendments needed for NDIS - Greens

Senator Siewert
13 March 2013

The Australian Greens said today that further amendments would be needed to the NDIS legislation following the tabling of a Senate Inquiry report.

"The Australian Greens have supported the majority report of the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee Inquiry, but have also provided important additional comments and recommendations," disabilities spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert said this afternoon.

"The Government should adopt the recommendations made in the committee's majority report, along with the additional  recommendations made by the Greens.

"The Greens have long supported a scheme which provides greater choice and control for people living with a disability and it is our desire to see the NDIS be as effective as possible.

"For that reason we have made additional recommendations to address lingering areas of concern we have with the legislation.  Age restrictions, services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the capacity of the National Disability Insurance Agency to promote systemic change are areas addressed by the Greens in our additional comments.

"The issue of age restrictions has been much discussed during this inquiry. The Australian Greens believe that we need to address the remaining issues relating to the age barrier of 65.

"We need to ensure that people aged over 65 with a disability are able to access quality care and support. This cannot be the case under the current aged care system. Therefore we either need to completely remove the age restriction and include over-65s in the existing launch sites, or the Government need to puts in place specialist support services for those over 65 who have a non-age related disability that will not be picked up by the early intervention component.

"To ensure that this scheme adequately provides for the need of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, we are recommending that the Government creates an additional launch site which focuses on NDIS delivery to one or more rural and remote Aboriginal communities.

"Community participation and full integration for people living with a disability is a fundamental aim of the NDIS and the Greens are recommending that the National Disability Insurance Agency be empowered to push for systemic change in all areas of service delivery. This aspect needs to be firmly embedded in the objectives and principles of the Bill and given operational effect within its relevant sections.

"We also recommend that that Government increase the funding for available for legal assistance and advocacy that is conducted on behalf of a person living with a disability.

"The Greens are eager to see the launch sites begin operation from 1 July 2013, so I encourage the Government to take on board our recommendations and those of the majority report as soon as possible," Senator Siewert concluded.

The Report & Greens Additional Comments will be available online shortly: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=clac_ctte/ndis/index.htm


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