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



Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Environment Protection Authority A Failed Regulator

NEFA MEDIA RELEASE 30 July 2012

 The Environment Protection Authority's decision to drop its case against Forests NSW for illegally logging an Endangered Ecological Community in Doubleduke State Forest has led the North East Forest Alliance to identify them as failed regulators who are unwilling to uphold NSW's
environmental laws.
Viewing the original damage in Doubleduke State Forest

NEFA spokesperson, Dailan Pugh, said that under its previous guise of the Department of Environment Climate Change and Water (DECCW) the EPA have been supposedly investigating a variety of complaints of illegal logging in Doubleduke State Forest west of Evans Head since June 2010.

"In May 2010 the Clarence Environment Centre first complained that logging had extended into an Endangered Ecological Community at Doubleduke State Forest, though DECCW's assessor was unable to find it.

"In June 2010 2 separate assessments by 4 botanists confirmed that  logging had indeed taken place in the Endangered Ecological Community (EEC) Sub-tropical Coastal Floodplain Forest. At one locality 20 trees were found to have been logged within it and numerous other trees and  shrubs bulldozed over.

"DECCW then belatedly started to assess it. NEFA's concerns that they weren't identifying additional areas led them to undertake a further assessment in October 2010 that identified 3 additional incursions into the EEC where an additional 46 trees had been logged and 1,387 other trees and shrubs had been bulldozed out of the ground, trampled by machinery, or had trees dropped on them.

"NEFA calculated that Forest NSW were potentially liable for fines of over $16 million under the National Parks and Wildlife Act where it is an offence to pick or harm endangered ecological communities 

"It wasn't until a year later in October 2011 that DECCW's successor the Office of Environment and Heritage had collected what it considered sufficient expert evidence to commence legal proceedings against Forests NSW for logging 120 trees in 7.5 ha of the EEC Sub-tropical Coastal Floodplain Forest.

"OEH refused NEFA's repeated requests to also pursue numerous other reported breaches on the grounds that they were already proceeding on one breach.

"NEFA was shocked to find out last week that the court case that was meant to start on the 23 July hadn't taken place.The now Environment Protection Authority told us they had decided to drop the case.We will be seeking detailed answers when we meet with them at Lismore on Tuesday.If they won't protect Endangered Ecological Communities who will?

"The EPA are failed regulators.This is the latest in a long list of environmental offences committed by Forests NSW that the EPA have failed to achieve any regulatory outcome on.

"Now that the EPA have no excuse for not proceeding on the other breaches NEFA documented in Doubleduke State Forest we challenge them to take legal action on them, particularly the logging and roading within a wetland that was meant to be protected by a 10 meter buffer, the logging and roading within a population of the endangered fern (Lindsaea incisa) that was meant to be protected by a 50m buffer and the failure to identify and protect Yellow-bellied Glider sap-feed trees."If the NSW Government is unwilling to enforce its own environmental laws then we ask that third-party appeal rights be restored so that we can" Mr. Pugh said.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Commit funds to NDIS Now!


The NSW Greens spokesperson for Disability Services, the Hon. Jan
Barham is calling on the Premier and the State Government to commit the
necessary funding to enable the full implementation of a trial in New
South Wales of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The call comes after the Prime Minister announced on Wednesday that an
agreement to implement trials of the scheme had been reached with
Tasmania, South Australia and the A.C.T but that the NSW State
Government had failed to commit the funds necessary to implement the
trial proposed for the Hunter region.

"The NSW Government should not be playing politics with some of the
state's most vulnerable people" said Jan Barham. "The NDIS trial is
essential for NSW to identify the practical issues for implementation".

"The NDIS is a ground breaking process for people with disabilities
that will provide self determination and dignity for those people and
their families"

The proposed trial in NSW would have meant that 10,000 individuals in
the Hunter region would have been involved and benefited. But its
implementation would require the NSW government to provide $70million in
funding over three years – money that Premier Barry O'Farrell says
should be coming from the Commonwealth government. Jan Barham says the
NDIS should be a top priority and the money should be allocated.

"It's a great disappointment that the prioritising of funds for this
important project are not being made available" said Jan Barham. "NSW
will suffer if there isn't a trial and people with disabilities are
right to be disappointed. The recognition of the rights of people with a
disability is long overdue and by not progressing the NDIS, this
disadvantage is continuing rather than being resolved."

"Both the State and Commonwealth Governments have indicated a
willingness to keep negotiating and I strongly encourage them to do so
in a spirit of cooperation and good will to secure an improved living
standard for people with a disability in NSW because every Australian
counts".

·         NDIS Website: www.everyauthraliancounts.com.au

·         Productivity Commission Report into Disability Care and
Support (August 10th 2011):
http://www.pc.gov.au/projects/inquiry/disability-support/report/

·         Jan's Speeches in Parliament on the NDIS:
(1)   August 23rd 2011 :
http://parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/hansart.nsf/V3Key/LC20110823043?open&refNavID=HA8_1

(2)   May 3rd 2012:
http://parliament.nsw.gov.au/Prod/parlment/hansart.nsf/V3Key/LC20120503016?open&refNavID=HA8_1


For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0407 065
061

Thursday, 26 July 2012

O'Farrell's cost cutting at its deadliest


Media release: 24 July 2012

The O'Farrell government's cost cutting crusade has reached a new and dangerous low with the axing of the overnight emergency doctor position at Mullumbimby Hospital.

Greens MP John Kaye said: "Despite strong public outrage NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner is withdrawing a service that has the potential to determine life or death.

"Using the excuse of staff shortages the Health Minister has made a mean and nasty cost-cutting decision to remove a vital service from a small community.

"This important medical position is situated in the popular NSW North Coast and can be filled. Local health district chief executive Chris Crawford is just hiding behind spin.

"This is simply part of the O'Farrell government's cost cutting crusade which is now putting human lives at risk.

"Three weeks into the cut and one man has already suffered a very close call due to the lack of an emergency doctor. Ms Skinner needs to put down her budget papers and start listening to the community.

"Every community deserves to have appropriate services they know they can rely on in times of emergency. Peace of mind for Mullumbimby residents has been sacrificed to penny-pinching.

"Local MP Don Page, can't sit on his hands on this issue. He owes it to his constituents to stand up to his cabinet colleagues.

"The Greens welcome the community meeting in August. We urge the government to take this opportunity to listen to the pleas of concerned health professionals and residents.

"If the position is not reinstated, the Greens will be raising the matter in Parliament and calling on the Upper House to condemn this government's failure to protect lives in the North Coast," Dr Kaye said.

For more information: John Kaye  0407 195 455

Ashfield Council backs Greens Mayor in McDonald's stoush


Ashfield Council tonight unanimously rejected a recommendation from a Code of Conduct reviewer to censure Ashfield Greens Mayor Lyall Kennedy for
speaking out against a McDonald's outlet trading 24 hours in the local area

Ashfield Greens Mayor Lyall Kennedy said:

"A majority of councillors tonight took the common sense view that elected
representatives need to be able to speak up in the interest of residents.

"I'm proud to be mayor of a council that looks out for the needs of
residents.

"It was heartening to have the support of the council and to see this
vexatious complaint knocked on the head," Mayor Kennedy said.

Greens NSW MP and Local Government spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

"It takes courage to stand up to a powerful multinational company and that
courage has been vindicated tonight.

"This case highlights how, time and again, the NSW planning system favours
big corporations at the expense of local communities.

"NSW needs a planning system which allows the voice of the community to be
heard not stifled," Mr Shoebridge said.

*Media contact: David Shoebridge 0408 113 952*

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Government excludes local government from key reviews


The NSW government has moved to exclude local councils from making submissions to two key reviews, on the planning system and the future of
local government, by requiring submissions to be provided by 14 September 2012, just six days after state wide council elections.  The Greens are
calling for both dates to be extended by a further two months.

The Greens NSW Local Government spokesperson David Shoebridge said,

"It is just remarkable that the government has set the deadline for
submissions on both the planning and the local government review at 14
September 2012, just six days after council elections.

"With councils going into caretaker mode in early August, and most newly
elected councils not meeting until at least a week after the elections,
this deadline excludes almost every council from making a submission on the
these two critical reviews.

"For the local government minister, in particular, to set this deadline for
submissions on the local government review shows either complete ignorance
of the election date or a real indifference to the views of local
government.  Either option is disturbing.

"The government needs to wake up and recognise reality that with
submissions due on 14 September 2012, no council in the state will be able
to seriously comply.

"If the government is serious on consultation then the date for submissions
must be extended by a further two months to allow newly elected councillors
to have a say on the future of local government and planning in this State.

"If the government fails to act it will be confirmation of their utter
contempt for local government and its role in NSW," Mr Shoebridge said.

*Media Release, 24 July 2012

*Media contact: **Mark Riboldi 9230 3030 | 0433 753 376

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Boggabri open-cut coal mine a disgrace - Greens

Greens MP and environment spokeswoman Cate Faehrmannsays approval for the Boggabri coal mine expansion is a disgrace.

"The damage this coal mine will inflict is environmentally irresponsible on so many levels," said Ms Faehrmann. "For the Planning and Assessment Commission approval to pretend the impacts from this mine can be 'offset' and 'mitigated' is preposterous.

"The mine expansion will produce 7 million tonnes of coal per year, raze 1300 hectares of Leard State Forest, including endangered woodland and habitat for threatened species, blight the local community with coal dust pollution and exacerbate carbon pollution.

"The NSW Government had mapped this area as Tier 1 Biodiversity of high conservation significance and now the O'Farrell Government sees fit to open it up to mining. The so-called offsets can not possibly compensate for destroying 1300 hectares of intact forest and the biodiversity within, which will be lost forever," said Ms Faehrmann.

"This mine is one of three pending that will carve up the Leard State Forest.  Approval for this one in the absence of any strategic plan makes a mockery of the O'Farrell Governments promises for stronger strategic land use planning processes.

"The Planning and Assessment Commission offers the local community little protection from the health hazards of PM2.5 coal dust pollution except an excuse that there are no national standards in place and requiring only that it be monitored.

"This approval once again puts big business interests ahead of the community's health and environmental protection," concluded Ms Faehrmann.

Media contact: Nicola Beynon 0416 843 131

Georges River fiasco demands pollution overhaul - Greens


Greens MP and environment spokeswoman Cate Faehrmann says the George's River fiasco should be a wake up call for the Environment Minister to undertake a major overhaul of the state's pollution laws.

"The reason Illawarra Coal has not faced any fines for the ongoing, chronic pollution it spews into a Georges River tributary is because the pollution is effectively sanctioned under the Government's current pollution regime," said Ms Faehrmann.

The company's West Cliff coal mine operates under an environmental protection licence that does not require limits on the pollutants that are of concern. Salt, nickel, zinc and turbidity are the pollution problems from the mine but the EPA only has discharge limits on oil & grease, pH, and suspended solids that are not linked to any environmental damage.

"This licencing arrangement is typical of the EPA's laissez fair approach to pollution regulation. Polluters tell the EPA how much pollution they want to make to run their business and the EPA grants a licence for it," said Ms Faehrmann.

"So far the Minister has tinkered with pollution laws and improved the independence of the EPA but this falls short of the major shake up required."

"With a succession of pollution scandals the Minister needs to wake up and deliver the major reform needed to clamp down on pollution to protect the community and environment," said Ms Faehrmann.
Greens NSW congratulate the environment groups who have filed a case against the mining company in an effort to stop the pollution.

Media contact: Nicola Beynon 0416 843 131

Friday, 20 July 2012

"O'Farrell keeps truckin' while rail suffers"

Cate Faehrmann
NSW Road Minister Duncan Gay and Treasurer Mike Baird have announced they are abolishing stamp duty on the purchase of new truck trailers, describing it as a strong price signal to the road freight industry.

"This is just another indication of how much the O'Farrell Government is bowing to the demands of the trucking industry at the expense of everyone else's amenity," said Cate Faehrmann, Greens NSW MP and transport spokeswoman.

"As it is trucks don't pay the full cost of the damage they cause to roads and after this announcement even less so.

"The government needs to be doing all it can to shift more freight on to rail, not making the rail sector less competitive.

"If the government was serious about improving freight transport it would ensure rail was the most attractive option. Right now trucks win hands down."

Media contact: Nicola Beynon 0416 843 131

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Office of Environment job losses another attack on science by O'Farrell government - Greens

Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2012, Subject: [Greens-Media]

Greens MP and environment spokeswoman Cate Faehrmann says slashing 350 so-called 'back office' jobs in the Office of Environment and Heritage will undermine responsible science based policy development and is yet another indication of just how anti-science the O'Farrell government has become.

"Gutting professional staff like this once again shows this Government's contempt for science based environmental policy," said Ms Faehrmann.

Cate Faehrmannn (second from left) in Doubleduke Forest

"Environment Minister Robyn Parker is trying to dress this outright attack on environmental protection as restructuring to meet the needs of the OEH 'customers'. Howeverwhen it comes to a public service like OEH, it is precisely these 'back office' staff who undertake scientific research and policy development," Ms Faehrmann said.

"The OEH is being hit with job cuts at the same time as they are being hit with the extra responsibility of babysitting amateur hunters following the Premier's deal with the Shooters Party.

"The Minister is pretending that the job losses will improve the public's access to National Parks. This is absolute rubbish. The job losses will damage service delivery right across the department to the detriment of the community and, unfortunately most of all, the environment," said Ms Faehrmann.

Media contact: Nicola Beynon 0416 843 131

Planning proposal is the very opposite of restoring local control: Greens


Media release: 14 July 2012

Communities will lose what little control they have over their own
neighbourhood under the O'Farrell government's new planning scheme,
according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

(See SMH: <http://smh.com.au/nsw/plan-first-then-green-light-for-developers-20120713-221cn.html
>)

Dr Kaye, who is acting planning spokesperson, said: "The O'Farrell
government promised to restore local community control over planning.

"What Planning Minister Brad Hazzard has delivered is the very opposite of
local control.

"Putting state-appointed bureaucrats in charge of development decisions
will completely disenfranchise neighbours and community members.

"It is a massive gift to developers at the expense of communities and the
environment they live in.

"The O'Farrell government is deliberately confining public involvement to
having a say in the abstract plans. Developers will then be able to build
what they want, free of community criticism.

"Planning Minister Brad Hazzard knows how hard it is to involve the
community in the debate over theoretical planning instruments and character
statements that have little meaning until a developer moves in and destroys
a block to build a glass and concrete monster.

"Excluding the community from the assessment process might make the
proponents much richer but it will  result in more inappropriate
developments that degrade urban and rural environments.

"Labor ran the planning system as a gravy train for  the developers using
the threat of large developments being called in by the state government.

"The O'Farrell government now wants to operate the entire development
assessment process using bureaucrats many of whom they appoint.

"It turns out the Coalition is every bit as bad as Labor when it comes to
facilitating developers wrecking local communities.

"Community involvement in the writing of strategic plans and neighbourhood
character plans would be a valuable step but any benefit is completely
undone by locking the public out of the development assessment process.

"Behind-closed-doors approvals will heighten community anger and lead to an
environment of even greater corruption.

"The Greens will campaign with the community to secure a driving seat for
the public in every stage of the planning process," Dr Kaye said.

For more information:  John Kaye 0407 195 455

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Pilliga coal seam gas operator fined for water pollution

Unlined evaporation pond in the Pilliga

JEREMY BUCKINGHAM MLC - MEDIA RELEASE

6 July 2012

Pilliga coal seam gas operator fined for water pollution

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham has expressed concern at the extremely light fines imposed on Santos for polluting waterways with coal seam gas waste water, after the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) issued two penalty notices for a total fine of only $3,000.

The EPA announced two penalty notices to Eastern Star Gas, and issued a formal warning to Santos - http://bit.ly/LZ7by8

"It is good that the EPA has investigated these incidents of coal seam gas pollution, but the penalty is hardly a disincentive to the industry not to pollute," said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

"Coal seam gas produces large amounts of waste water that can be highly saline and can contain heavy metals and volatile organic compounds and poses a risk to our water resources.

"The industry claims it does not pollute water, but here we have two fines and one warning for water pollution.

"The government should not let this industry go ahead while it remains unclear how it can deal with the large volumes of waste water it produces without risk to the environment," he said.

Contact: Max Phillips - 9230 2202  or  0419 444 916

Friday, 6 July 2012

The Greens back Grafton Gaol protests.


The Greens back Grafton Gaol protests.

The Greens pointed out the threat to Grafton Gaol
during the Clarence byelection that elected Chris Gulaptis.

The Greens today supported protesters at Grafton Gaol who are concerned about its closure. 

Greens NSW MP and acting Corrective Services spokesperson John Kaye said:
“The effective closure of Grafton Gaol is bad for the local community, for corrective services officers and for the prisoners.

“Grafton gaol is a significant employer in the local area, and these lost jobs will have a negative knock-on effect in the community.

“It’s not just corrective service officers who face the prospect of having to move, families of prisoners will also now have to make a long commute to see members of their family.

“Moving prisoners away from their families and support networks is going to have a negative effect on their rehabilitation.

“It will also increase their chances of re-offending.

“Aboriginal people are tragically over-represented in the NSW prison system.

“The O’Farrell government should be implementing policies that will reduce that over-representation, not increase it,” Dr Kaye said.

  Sydney Morning Herald July9

Grafton jail workers speak out (ABC)

A sea of blue corrective services uniforms were amongst the crowd at a rally to save Grafton jail

Related Story:


5 July, 2012 5:40PM AEST

'I stuffed up' says Gulaptis

Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis says he 'stuffed up' in supporting cuts at Grafton jail

Grafton Gaol: Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis told to stand up or stand aside


via North Coast Voices blogspot.com.au 

 

Gulaptis: I stuffed up: The Daily Examiner

Grafton Gaol and Cansdellgate - on the same agenda:

via North Coast Voices 

 

NBN News Story: Chris Gulaptis eats humble pie

 


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Baird's budget exposed: unlimited cuts to public sector jobs and services


Media release:  3 July 2012

NSW public sector workers and the communities that depend on the services they provide face a bleak winter after one of Treasurer Mike Baird officials has been caught admitting there will be no caps on the number of positions scrapped, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

("No limit to state jobs cleanout" Sydney Morning Herald 3 July 2012 page 1 http://j.mp/LTlYRg)

Dr Kaye said: "The leaked memo shows that Treasurer Mike Baird was being less than candid when his budget speech implied that the number of jobs cut would be 10,000 or less.

"This has to be one of the least transparent budgets in living memory.

"Every public sector worker and very community member that depends on the services they provide now knows that they are at risk.

"The Treasurer is hiding behind the O'Farrell government's department heads to disguise the real impacts of their budget.

"The Coalition's myth that the cuts will only affect 'back office' jobs is not only misleading but also thoroughly exposed as nothing but spin.

"TAFE teachers, child protection workers, fire brigade officers, teachers aides and national park rangers all face cuts.

"The O'Farrell government has become the masters of blame shifting.

"First they try to make public school principals the scapegoats for cutting the state's budget. Now they are passing the buck on public service job cuts to the department heads.

"The Treasurer wants to balance the budget without increasing revenue. He is afraid of the bid end of town.

"Instead of taxing wealthy corporate activities, he punishes public service employees and households that rely on quality education, child protection and fire fighting," Dr Kaye said.

Background:

Mike Baird Budget Speech 12 June 2012: "Directors General will be given as much flexibility as possible to achieve the savings in the most appropriate way to meet the service requirements of their agencies. If it was solely achieved through headcount this would equate to up to 10,000 jobs over four years."

The clear implication is that the cuts to jobs would be less than 10,000 if other spending reduction mechanisms that are not related to employment can be found. Savings on, for example, purchasing of materials would mean that less than 10,000 positions would be axed.

It is impossible to read into this statement that job cuts could be larger than 10,000.

For more information:  John Kaye 0407 195 455

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