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



Monday, 29 October 2012

Deadwood dealings for NSW


By Jeremy Buckingham MLC

“Be in my joint in two hours, we’re forming a fuckin’ government!”

So declares notorious casino boss and brothel owner Al Swearengen in the brilliant TV series Deadwood. Set in Deadwood, South Dakota, and based on the events and politics of the famous 19th century frontier mining and gambling town, Swearengen embodies the cavalier and corrupt attitude of those in power to democracy and the law.

It was this same reckless Wild West disposition that ran through the rotten heart of former Labor government in NSW. Deadwood’s cronyism, misbehaviour, scandals, dodgy decisions, and factional stabbings eventually brought down NSW Labor.

The ICAC hearings beginning in November will dig through the circumstances surrounding a decision made in 2008 by the then Minister for Mineral Resources, Ian Macdonald, to give a mining licence to a mate, John Maitland despite advice to the contrary.  It will also look into the decision to open a mining area in the beautiful Bylong Valley for coal exploration, including whether the decision was influenced by another former Labor Minister Eddie Obeid.

Premier Barry O’Farrell was elected with a whopping majority and mandate to bring about change for NSW and clean up politics. The Greens have helped him in that regard by passing donations laws that ban corporations and other organisations from donating to political parties – a good reform that his usual Shooters and Fishers Party buddies refused to back. This reform will help remove the influence of money on decision-making and democracy.

In other areas Barry O’Farrell and the new government seem to be repeating Labor’s mistakes.

Already we see a Premier lunching with a billionaire casino boss then making favourable decisions and announcements. A raft of pro-coal and coal seam gas decisions have the Premier out making lame excuses and flogging his Strategic Regional Land Use policy as a cure all – like snake oil from a wagon.

Minister Chris Hartcher follows the disgraced Ian Macdonald (Christened by Barry O’Farrell as ‘Sir-Lunch-A-Lot’) in the key mining portfolio.  Rumour has it that Mr Hartcher has been meeting lobbyists in expensive restaurants too, but the Minister refuses to reveal which lobbyists he has and has not met.

The Department of Planning is now required to keep a public ‘lobbyist contact register” after the Medich-McGurk fiasco revealed how lobbying was operating in that department.  However, the rules are different for Mr Hartcher.  He told a parliamentary estimates committee that he has a ‘policy’ of not revealing which lobbyists he may have met (although he felt the need to tell the committee that he’d ‘continue to meet freely’ with members of the Liberal Party).

Walking about the halls of Macquarie Street, it’s clear there is a conga line of big coal, gas and mining carpetbaggers pressing their cause. The farmers and residents of mining affected communities have no way of knowing whose lobbyists are talking to whom?  This can only lead to a public perception that deals are being done behind closed doors or at fancy lunches.

Amongst those wearing out the carpet in the corridors of power is former Deputy Prime Minister and National Party leader Mark Vaile. Vaile now chairs Whitehaven Coal 20 percent of which is owned by billionaire coal baron Nathan Tinkler. Tinkler appeared at the inaugural Parliamentary Spring Ball last year, has donated to the National Party, and this week his mega-coal mine at Malues Creek on the Liverpool Plains was approved. The open cut pit from this coal mine will destroy the ecologically sensitive habitat of the Leard Forest and affect nearby farmers.

Now we hear that Premier O’Farrell runs into James Packer at a fancy restaurant and ten months later Packer’s on his way to a casino licence and new hotel at Barangaroo. Former Labor power-brokers Mark Arbib and Karl Bitar are hired by Packer to work for Crown, and lo and behold, NSW Labor thinks Packer’s proposed casino is a great idea!

NSW deserves better than a continuation of shady politics where former politicians now lobbyists or billionaire mining and gambling bosses dominate decision-makers in back rooms or expensive restaurants. Barry O’Farrell promised a new broom of transparency, but when it comes to big decisions and political influence in NSW, it remains as clear as the mud of Deadwood.

Reblogged from Jeremy Buckinghams blog

"No Mining". Greens MLC to visit the Orara Valley Nov 7

IS MINING COMING TO THE BEAUTIFUL ORARA VALLEY?

Come and hear Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham. 

Jeremy is introducing his Responsible Mining Bill  (Protect land, water and communities) into the state parliament.

Bring your children. Bring your banners and signs for the cameras.

When: 12.00-1.00pm, November 7th, 2012

Where: At the Upper Orara Valley Community Hall
             Cnr Dairyville Rd and Upper Orara Rd

(When travelling on the Coramba Rd from Coffs Harbour, turn left at the Karangi store on to the Upper Orara Rd.

Please park safely and watch for pedestrians.

Have a picnic in the beautiful valley after the protest.



View Mt Brown NSW in a larger map


Mid North Coast Greens Media Release:

An Hour in the Orara Valley With Jeremy Buckingham, Greens MLC

Jeremy Buckingham, Greens MLC, will be speaking about his recent frack finding tour to inspect coal seam gas in the United States and his Responsible Mining Bill (Protect land, water and communities) 2012 at the Upper Orara Valley Community Hall, Cnr Dairyville Rd and Upper Orara Rd between 12.00-1.00pm, November 7th


It is expected that many will travel from Coffs Harbour, the Clarence Valley, the Orara Valley, Bellingen and the plateau to hear the facts about mining in NSW. Those attending the meeting are encouraged to attend with posters and banners.

"The Greens Responsible Mining Bill will prohibit coal seam gas and mining in certain productive agricultural areas and other sensitive areas.  Additionally it will provide local councils with the power to prohibit coal seam gas and other mining in certain areas under their local planning provisions," said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

A recent meeting in Coramba was attended by a large crowd seeking information. Altius Mining Limited is planning, according to announcements it has made to the ASX, to continue exploration in the area following the completion of its aerial magnetic survey in 2011.

It is reported that exploration targets include Mt Brown (directly south of Karangi), Illabo Mine north of Coramba (near Coramba Nature Reserve), and the Beacon Group of Mines halfway between Coramba & Central Bucca.


"Gold and antimony mines produce large amounts of pollution.  The sensitive environment, terrain and rainfall patterns in the Orara Valley mean it is not the place for such mines," said Mr Buckingham.

The forum will be of particular interest to property owners concerned about a drop in land values, visual pollution and river pollution, small business owners dependent on tourism and all users of local roads, especially parents of school children.



The Threat

Download a map of EL 7332 at Dorrigo Environment Watch

"According to announcements it has made to the ASX, Altius Mining Limited is planning to continue exploration in the area following the completion of its aerial magnetic survey in 2011. This progression is to take the form of field surveying of the area. These field surveys are intended to consist of a soil sampling and mapping program to further identify drilling targets."

 .........................  “The intentions of Altius Mining are virtually unknown to the residents of the Orara Valley and Coffs Harbour. We have started looking for information on what Altius has done and what they are planning. What we are finding is very concerning and we think that everyone in the area should know about it.”  

 ..................... “Altius Mining are looking ahead with their intentions and following exploration will most likely want to employ open-cut mining techniques and the use of tailings dams in potential mining operations. We feel that this would be totally inappropriate development in such an area relied on for its natural resources and can’t understand why mining exploration is even allowed in such places"

Quotes from a local resident. 

Upper Orara Valley
 
Altius Mining Update:
 16th May, 2012


  • Overview of Karangi Exploration License
    Target is epithermal gold sulphide quartz vein deposits & exhalative hosted gold & base metal deposits(Gold & Copper).


Altius have:



Karangi EL has over 120 old historical gold mines. Mount Browne has copper-gold occurrence.
Potential to extend tenement to the west to include a further 42 old workings two with large open pit possibilities. 

• Reviewed previous exploration data.

• Completed an airborne high resolution geophysical survey. Completed identification of exploration targets.
 

• Plan a field investigation of exploration targets in 2012.

Exploration targets include Mt Browne(directly south of Karangi), Illabo Mine north of Coramba(near Coramba Nature Reserve), & Beacon Group of Mines halfway between Coramba & Central Bucca. 

Part of unverified report from an unknown source via Dorrigo Environment Watch

Visit to Mid North Coast by Jeremy Buckingham GREENS MLC November 7/8



Jeremy Buckingham MLC

Events you can attend


Wednesday November 7th

• 10.30 to 11.30 am Coffee with Coffs Harbour Greens at the Happy Frog. Car pooling to travel to 12.00 to 1.00 rally-meeting at Upper Orara Community Hall cnr Upper Orara Rd and Dairyville Rd.

5.00 pm Joint Coffs Harbour and MNC Greens meeting at the Alternatives Bookstore, Hyde St, Bellingen

• 6.30 pm Jeremy speaks at Lock The MNC event. Dinner included/Music/Bimblebox Film at 5 Church St Bellingen ($20/head)

Thursday, November 8

• 10.00 -11.30 am Responsible Mining Forum (with video highlights of USA tour) at Dorrigo Memorial Hall

• 2.15 – 3.45 pm Responsible Mining Forum (with video highlights of USA tour) at the Seniors Citizens Centre Hall, Princess St, Macksville

• 5.00-6.00 pm Jeremy Buckingham Responsible Mining  Forum in Kempsey

Jeremy Buckingham will be sharing a ‘cuppa’. Hear how his Responsible Mining Bill can protect the Kempsey area from further destructive mining practices.

Where: The Oddfellows (Macleay Valley Arts Council) Cnr Kemps Street & Edinburgh Lane, West Kempsey

• 7.00 pm Three Rivers Greens Group Meeting in Wauchope (Wauchope Arts Society Hall (might also be called Wauchope School of Arts) with Jeremy.





Greens congratulate Alex Greenwich on Sydney victory


Media release: 27 October 2012

Greens candidate Chris Harris and NSW MP John Kaye congratulated Independent Alex Greenwich for his victory in the by-election for the state seat of Sydney.

Mr Harris said: "Alex and his team ran a strong and effective campaign.

"The Greens are delighted that a progressive candidate continues to hold the seat.

"The result is a sharp rejection of the O'Farrell government and its attacks on public education and health and a proposed planning system
that shuts the community out of the process.

"The combined anti-Liberal vote appears to be 64 per cent.

"The Greens achieved a swing of over 5 per cent against two well-oiled
campaign machines.

"On many issues Mr Greenwich and the Greens are in strong agreement
and I am sure he will make an excellent contribution to state
politics.

"Both the Greens and Alex Greenwich are deeply critical of the second
casino proposal and the mates' deal that has made a mockery of the
O'Farrell government's claims to be different to Labor," Mr Harris
said.

Greens NSW MP John Kaye said: "The Greens are delighted our vote
increased by 5 percent and that a progressive candidate continues to
hold the seat.

"The Greens by-election campaign provides a springboard for a strong
showing at next year's federal election.

"Chris Harris has done a great job getting The Greens message to the
voters, despite Alex Greenwich running on a platform that is similar
to ours.

"Chris Harris would have made a very effective member for Sydney with
his local government experience, however I look forward to working
with Mr Greenwich.

"If he lives up to his campaign promises, he will have much in common
with The Greens," Dr Kaye said.

Strong Booth results for the Greens

St Barnabas Broadway: 31% (up 14%)

Ultimo Public: 26.7% (up 15%)

St Peters Surry Hills: 23.3% (up 10%)

For more information: Chris Harris 0407 469 384; John Kaye 0407 195 455

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Ducks in firing line as Shooters bully O'Farrell

Media Release - 26 October 2012

The fringe right wing Shooters Party is again holding the O'Farrell government to ransom, refusing to support privatisation legislation unless the government agrees to their demands for duck hunting.

See Daily Telegraph: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/barry-ofarrell-cant-duck-the-shooters/story-e6freuy9-1226503478631

Greens NSW MP and Firearms spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

"Once again the O'Farrell government is being held to ransom by its commitment to continue to deal with the far right Shooters party.

"Having given in to the Shooters on hunting in National Parks to get electricity privatisation, O'Farrell has set himself up to be blackmailed again, this time over the ports privatisation.

"NSW will be doubly damned if O'Farrell again gives in to the Shooters, with our ports privatised and our native animals pumped with pellets.

"Duck hunting can be an extremely cruel practice with the ducks often maimed and dying agonising deaths.

"The former Labor government opened the door to duck hunting in NSW via the Orwellian-named "Game Bird Mitigation Program".

"Farmers and land holders are already able to use licensed hunters to shoot native ducks on their own land and there is no case to extend this cruel program to public land.

"These pro-gun extremists have proved time and again that they will try and shut down any government who will not bend to their demands.

"Labor and the Coalition in government both have a 'whatever it takes' attitude to the Shooters Party in NSW, which is seeing an emerging U.S. style culture of guns and hunting," Mr Shoebridge said.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Taser Report from Ombudsman - misses half the story

David Shoebridge
Media Release 23 October 2012

The Ombudsman's report on Tasers released today has failed to even consider
the deeply disturbing evidence of potential abuse of Tasers from the high
profile Roberti Curti coronial case.  Missing this key evidence, the
recommendations are at best half-baked and fail to address many of the real
concerns about inappropriate Taser use by NSW Police.

Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

"It is quite remarkable that the Ombudsman has released his Taser
review without even considering the disturbing evidence and compelling
submissions from the Roberto Curti coronial.

"The highest profile potential abuse of Tasers by NSW Police has flown
under the Ombudsman's radar and failed to inform this report.

"One of the clear options for limiting Taser use by Police is to withdraw
them from general duties officers and limit them to specially trained
squads.

"This was the recommendation of the Ombudsman in his last review but,
despite the ongoing abuses of the weapon, has not been supported in this
review.

"This report raises serious ongoing concerns with the police use of Tasers
but proposes little other than tinkering with the existing regulations.

"On the Ombudsman's findings one in eight cases was an inappropriate, and
potentially unlawful, use of a Taser.

"This means that in just five short months at the end of 2010 there were 27
people who were wrongly Tasered by the NSW Police.

"In another 53 cases at the end of 2010 people were inappropriately
threatened with a drawn Taser by NSW Police.

"A large proportion are by very junior officers with 4 or less years on the
job who are clearly baffled by the Police's poorly drafted operating
procedures.

"At a minimum there must be strict external review of each Taser incident
and a prohibition on their use by general duties police."


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Devine's fear mongering out of touch – Greens


Greens MP Cate Faehrmann says Miranda Devine's attack on the Proud
Schools program which is helping end homophobia in our schools is a hark
back to 60s era prejudice and discrimination. Ms Faehrmann is calling on
the Education Minister to stand strong in the face of fear mongering
from an extreme minority.

"Ms Devine is completely out of touch with mainstream Australia on this
one. We've got multi-partisan support for this critical education
program. I call on the Education Minister to stand strong in the face of
fear mongering from an extreme minority," said Ms Faehrmann.

"The rest of us have moved on from the days when people thought being
gay was somehow abnormal. It's 60s era thinking and Ms Devine should
catch up.

"Unfortunately homophobia in schools is still a big issue, with
homophobic abuse and bullying causing significant distress and harm to
young people. That's why programs like Proud Schools exist in the first
place – to make sure young people understand that same-sex attraction
is perfectly normal.

"With two thirds of same-sex attracted young people experiencing abuse
and around 80% of that happening in schools it would be extremely
dangerous for programs like Proud Schools not to be expanded and
encouraged.

"Regardless of sexuality, all students should feel safe and accepted at
school. The sad reality is that we still have hangovers of unjust
discrimination that need to be challenged, in schools, in workplaces and
in the community.

"Of much greater concern to parents than same-sex education programs
these days is that their children may be the target of homophobia in the
playground. MPs from all the major political parties have been working
together to challenge homophobia and remove discrimination.

"Ms Devine's attempt to stir fear about the Proud Schools program will
fall flat because the fact is, people have grown up on this issue –
it's time she did as well," said Ms Faehrmann.

Media contact: Peter Stahel 0433 005 727

Uranium is a blight, not a blessing for India

Australian Greens spokesperson for nuclear policy Senator Scott Ludlam.

Senator Scott Ludlum
15 October 2012.

"The Prime Minister should put human rights and safety before uranium profits during her current visit to India," said Australian Greens spokesperson on nuclear issues, Senator Scott Ludlam, today.

"This visit will no doubt be spun as a triumph for the uranium industry, a deal is a long way from reality. Australia and India are months away from a formal agreement, and the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties should be expected to conduct an exhaustive inquiry into any agreement that emerges.


"Recently at the site of a nuclear reactor in Koodankulam, police have used brutal tactics against tens of thousands of peaceful protestors.  Two people have been shot dead by police, most recently Mr Anthony Samy in September.  There have been at least five deaths in the struggles against Koodankulam (Tamil Nadu), Jaitapur (Maharashtra) and Gorakhpur (Haryana) nuclear power plants since 2010.



"There were more arrests in September and as recently as three days ago - 12 October - an 'All India Fact Finding' team of about 12 people was intercepted at Nanguneri on route to Idinthakarai, interrogated and remanded in Tirunelveli Jail. This is part of a pattern of intimidation to silence dissent.

"The September 2012 Comptroller and Auditor General's report on India's Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and on nuclear safety regulation in India highlighted a series of grave organisational and operational flaws, and raised serious concerns about the lack of independence of the Board.  The Indian government has legislation before parliament to replace the board with a new Regulatory Authority which will have even less independence than the current board.

"Earlier this year India was ranked 28th out of 32 countries in terms of the security of their nuclear stockpiles, and in 2011 one of India's pioneer nuclear scientists and formerly a member of India's Atomic Energy Commission - Dr MP Parameswaran - said India should suspend its entire nuclear program because of safety risks and the unresolved problem of nuclear waste.

"Pushing uranium onto India's market temporarily benefits a dying industry in Australia at the expense of Indians who deserve energy that is clean, safe, and affordable. Nuclear is none of those things."


Media Contact: Giovanni Torre - 0417 174 302

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Cansdell 'off the hook' says SMH

UPDATE: Clarence Valley Review Story


UPDATE: SMH Story:

Police lying about MP case: whistleblower

Steve Cansdell Steve Cansdell .. Photo: Simon Hughes

Reblogged from the Sydney Morning Herald

Former MP off hook as police decide to drop speeding charges


POLICE will not pursue speeding charges against the disgraced former Clarence MP Steve Cansdell even though he admitted blaming a worker in a false statutory declaration in 2005 to avoid losing his driver's licence.

Dozers back and govt turns a blind eye to illegal clearing

The NSW Government must act on illegal vegetation clearing today, not sometime 'before Christmas' said Greens MP and environment spokesperson Cate Faehrmann.

"This government's attitude to environmental protection and slack enforcement has invited the bulldozers back," said Ms Faehrmann.

"The broadscale vegetation clearing of the 1980s and 90s was brought under control with the NSW Native Vegetation Act 2003. Now, this government is sending signals to rogue farmers that the controls are weakening.

When Ms Faehrmann questioned Ms Sally Barnes, Chief Executive of the Office of Environment & Heritage (OEH), over the government's blind eye to illegal vegetation clearing in Estimates yesterday, she said "I would be hopeful to make a decision on any regulatory action before Christmas".

This was in relation to clearing of vegetation that is protected and koala habitat on a property that was reported at the beginning of the year and where the bull dozers were still in action last week. A stop work order was issued in February and withdrawn leaving the landholder to continue clearing unchecked.

"I have been made aware of numerous properties where OEH has been notified of illegal vegetation clearing around Gwydir and Moree. Clearly, some landholders are under the impression that they can get away with it," said Ms Faehrmann.

"This is grossly unfair to the majority of responsible farmers that are doing the right thing and complying with native vegetation laws.

"I am calling on the Minister today to instruct OEH to issue stop work orders immediately for all incidents of illegal vegetation clearing currently under investigation.

"It is unacceptable for the department to take months to work out if vegetation clearing is illegal or not and for protected vegetation and koala habitat to be bulldozed with impunity in the meantime," said Ms Faehrmann.

Jails still full of people awaiting trial

MEDIA RELEASE

12 October 2012

David Shoebridge outside Grafton Jail
More than half of the young people in NSW jails and more than a quarter of the adults have not been found guilty and are being held on remand awaiting trial.  The fresh figures provided in NSW budget estimate hearings show the ongoing failure of the State's bail laws.

Greens NSW Justice spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
  "The O'Farrell Government came to office promising to fix the bail laws and reduce the number of people spending months in jail awaiting trial, but so far the situation is getting worse not better.

"For young people a staggering 53 per cent of those in jail are on remand awaiting trial.

"Worse still an extraordinary 84 percent of the young people held on remand, when they finally come to trial, are either acquitted or get a non-custodial sentence.

"Many of these kids should not have spent a single night behind bars, let
alone months.

"Added to this, after 18 months of the Coalition government, the proportion
of Aboriginal young people in detention is growing.

"Aboriginal young people now make up 50 per cent of the juveniles in NSW
jails, when they represent just 3 per cent of that age group in the general
population.

"The situation for adult prisoners is also disturbing with 2,534 adults in
jail awaiting trial.

"From a total prison population of 9,624 this means 26 per cent of all
adult prisoners are in jail without having been found guilty of the crime
for which they are charged.

"It is well and truly time the government produced its response to the NSW
Law Reform Commission's Bail report.

"Every day that it is delayed costs the State government thousands of
dollars and sees far too many people being inappropriately held in our
jails.

"At a minimum this Government must immediately commit to funding supported
accommodation for those young people who are refused bail because they do
not have a fixed address," Mr Shoebridge said.

Link to the full Budget Estimates  transcript
here<http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/PARLMENT/committee.nsf/0/9cc66ef84228b15fca257a9400057140/$FILE/67592099.pdf/Transcript%20-%2010%20October%202012%20-%20Uncorrected%20-%20Budget%20Estimates%20201213%20-%20Attorney%20General%20-%20Justice.pdf>
:

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Rock the Gate Rally Bellingen October 20

 

Rock the Gate Rally  

Bellingen October 20

As part of the National Week of Action on coal seam gas mining, a Rock the Gate march and concert is being held in conjunction with the monthly Bellingen Markets.

1.00 pm March rally at markets

1.30pm March to Maam Gadyung where there will be music, speakers, information and discussion.

Speakers from Dorrigo, Lock the Gate and former Greens councillor Mark Graham.

Bands and Artists will include: Caravana Sun, Macropod, Polly's Whistle, Joe Newton and Luke Wilton

Special attention will be given to the probable renewal of the mining of antimony on the Dorrigo Plateau.




Australian universities thrown into bipartisan black hole by Labor and Coalition

Senator Scott Ludlum
Subject: [Greens-Media]

Australian Greens spokesperson Assisting on Defence - Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam - 11 October 2012.

Australia's research institutions risk being strangled by restrictions imposed by a massively flawed treaty with the United States, the Australian Greens said today.

Greens spokesperson assisting on Defence Senator Scott Ludlam today said the Government and Opposition had ignored Australian universities' warning of the impact of the Defence Trade Controls Treaty, which threatens to subordinate the Australian research effort to suffocating security restrictions.

"The Government, with the connivance of the Opposition, is pushing the Defence Trade Controls Bill through Parliament to suit the November visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta.

"The legislation will impose severe restrictions on Australia's research institutions.  In the name of increased defence research ties between Australia and the US, the Government is pushing a lopsided treaty that sells out our universities.  And the Coalition - despite three of their own Senators signing the dissenting report with the Australian Greens - turned to water today and refused to send the Government's complex last minute amendments back to Committee.

"In its preliminary report<http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=fadt_ctte/trade_controls/preliminary_report/index.htm> the Senate Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Committee asked the Defence Department to go back and consult the university sector as it should have in the first place.  While some discussions have occurred chaired by the Chief Scientist, a consensus has not been reached.

"The Government needs to stop the clock and get this right, in the interests of the entire Australian research community."

Labor and Coalition unite to keep Australians in the dark on data retention

Subject: [Greens-Media]

Senator Scott Ludlum
Labor and Coalition unite to keep Australians in the dark on data retention
Australian Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam. 11 October 2012.

A move by the Australian Greens for the Government to make information about the proposed data retention scheme public has been defeated by the Government and Opposition voting in the Senate together.

Australian Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said the Labor Party and Coalition had united to "keep Australians in the dark about a proposed scheme to monitor every piece of electronic correspondence and every phone call".

"With two orders for the production of documents the Greens sought to make public legal, technical, and political advice received by the Government and any other relevant information pertaining to the proposed data retention scheme.  It was a perfectly reasonable request made in the interest of open and honest public debate - and the Labor Party and Coalition united to keep this information secret.

"Today's vote is a travesty.  While the Government believes in the total exposure of private citizens' correspondence - which is what data retention would mean - it colludes with the Opposition to keep its own plans concealed."

Media contact:  Giovanni Torre

Friday, 12 October 2012

30,000 people in NSW are considered homeless

Reblogged from Jan Barham's site

People without homes shouldn’t be without hope.

Posted on 06 August 2012 by Bronwen Regan

The NSW Greens spokesperson for Housing and Homelessness, Jan Barham MLC, is calling on the State Government to demonstrate their commitment to people across the State who find themselves homeless.

The call comes as National Homeless Person’s week is marked across the country.

“This week we will be reminded that approximately 30,000 people in NSW are considered homeless” said Jan Barham. “That’s 30,000 people spending tonight without a bed and without a home.”

“The reality is that people find themselves in this position for a whole host of reasons – they may have been rejected from their family home, have mental health issues,  be fleeing domestic violence or dealing with addiction or they may just suddenly find themselves in financial trouble, unable to cope with the increasing cost of living.”

“Whatever the reason for someone becoming homeless, it’s up to all of us as a responsible and caring society to ensure there is support and help available. I am presenting a motion to the Parliament seeking a Government commitment to increase the delivery of support for these vulnerable people.”

The motion will be presented when Parliament resumes next week, calling for a range of initiatives including that:
  • the Premier’s Advisory Council on Homelessness be retained and meet regularly;
  • all Councils to have a nominated staff member responsible for ensuring their Council adheres to the Homeless Persons Protocol;
  • all Councils to be required to report on local initiatives for addressing homelessness in their Local Government Area in their Annual Report
  • the 10 Regional Homeless Action Plans developed in July 2010 be reviewed;
  • the balance of funds from the NSW allocation under the 2009-10 National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness be identified  for a funding program to support local government to meet the needs of homeless people;
“I believe there is a stronger role for local councils to play in the provision of services” said Jan. 

“They know the local problems and they know the local solutions. I’m encouraging the State to work more closely with local government  to allow them to be part of the solution, working with non government organisations – but only with adequate support and funding from the State.  There is a role for the Government in providing a funding source to local communities to assist in supporting those who find themselves without a home and desperately in need of access to services and support”

Full text of Jan Barham’s Motion in Parliament – NSW LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL.Motion 698 – Homelessness (BARHAM)

National Homeless Person’s Week 2012 runs from August 6th – 12th and more information can be found at www.HomelessnessAustralia.org.au

A summary of Jan’s actions on homelessness – Summary of Greens Actions on Homelessness May 2012

Labor sides with Coalition: votes down Greens motion supporting public TAFE system

Reblogged from Senator Rhiannon's site

The Labor government has failed to protect the public TAFE system by voting against a motion put by the Greens Higher Education spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon.

The motion was voted down by the major parties.

"Labor has again left TAFE teachers and students out in the cold," Senator Rhiannon said.

"It is not surprising that the Coalition voted against a motion backing a publicly resourced TAFE system.

"Labor in siding with the Coalition to vote down the Greens' motion revealed their intent for the future of vocational education and training.

"The Greens motion called on the government to protect the integrity of the TAFE system by introducing measures to stop the growth in enrolments in private VET providers and Registered Training Organisations.

"Labor's vote against this motion is inconsistent with statements Labor MPs have made at protests against Coalition state government cuts to TAFE.

"The increase in private providers and recent budget cuts in Victoria and NSW are hurting the public TAFE system.

"It is time the Federal government phased out entitlement based funding and fee help and focused instead on improving and developing the public TAFE system.

"TAFE is crucial to providing the relevant training needed to deliver the skilled workforce mix that Australia requires.

"Private providers whose primary purpose is profit cannot always be trusted to provide this crucial training," Senator Rhiannon said.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

NSW Government must aim for zero euthanasia of healthy pets – Greens

Cate Faehrmann

Responding to reports of high euthanasia rates at RSPCA animal rescue
facilities, Greens MP and animal welfare spokesperson Cate Faehrmann
says that ultimate responsibility for high euthanasia rates of companion
animals rests with the NSW Government because of inadequate regulation
of the pet industry and the resulting over supply of domestic cats and
dogs.

"It is heartbreaking to know that so many cats and dogs are being
euthanised for no good reason. The government needs to urgently address
the source of the problem: over supply from greedy puppy farms that
aren't regulated effectively," said Ms Faehrmann.

"The NSW Government is receiving advice from the Companion Animals
Taskforce. Their report should be released publicly and the government
needs to respond with urgent law reform and a significant injection of
resources. Every year tens of thousands of animals are being put down
unnecessarily so there cannot be any delay.

"If we had an industry that was less able to take advantage of impulse
purchasing we wouldn't have such appallingly high rates of unwanted
animals being put down.  At the moment the industry is simply selling as
many dogs and cats as possible. The NSW Government must put
responsibility back on the breeders to breed and sell responsibly," said
Ms Faehrmann.

The Greens are calling for a comprehensive strategy involving all
stakeholders to get the euthanasia rates for healthy animals to zero,
including initiatives such as:

-          breeder licencing

-          mandatory breeder standards

-          an end to puppy farms

-          high volume low cost de-sexing programs to control unplanned
breeding; and

-          incentives to encourage people to purchase from pounds and
rescue shelters such as lower pet registration fees.

48,000 cats and 68,800 dogs have been impounded annually since 2008/09
and 30,300 cats and 21,600 dogs were euthanased in 2010/2011.

Government tries to avoid Emblems questioning in Estimates

Media Release - 9 October 2012

The NSW government is seeking to avoid senior police answering direct questions in this week's budget estimates hearings about the police wiretapping scandal, by referring the matter to the NSW Ombudsman.

Greens NSW Justice spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

"The Premier was forced to play catchup over the weekend by first announcing the referral of the police wiretapping scandal to the Ombudsman and then only later agreeing to expand that office's powers to include oversight of the Crime Commission.

"Over the past decade the Ombudsman has repeatedly had the question of Task Force Emblems raised with it, but to date has not investigated the matter nor requested any additional powers to undertake a thorough investigation.

"This office raised the issue with the Ombudsman as recently as last month and was told emphatically that the Ombudsman's powers were limited to police oversight and did not extend to the Crime Commission.

"We now have the government referring the matter to the Ombudsman on the weekend before budget estimates hearings commence in NSW parliament where senior police will face direct questions on the wiretapping scandal.

"The government is scrambling to establish some form of inquiry before Thursday, but has yet to release any details of the Ombudsman's additional powers or resources that it has promised.

"Without fresh legislation the Ombudsman remains constrained by the secrecy provisions in the Crime Commission Act despite the Premier's announcement.

"Even if the Ombudsman's powers are expanded this will not provide the full judicial inquiry with public hearings that many senior police and the public deserve to get to the truth in this matter.

"The Greens will continue to pursue the matter in budget estimates this week in order to force some daylight on the continuing scandal surrounding these police wiretaps," Mr Shoebridge said.

Media contact: 9230 3030 | 0433 753 376

Read more online here: http://davidshoebridge.org.au/2012/10/09/government-tries-to-avoid-emblems-questioning-in-estimates/

Minor compo reprieve for already injured workers


Media Release - 8 October 2012

The NSW Finance Minister today stated in budget estimates that the time limits now applying for workers to receive medical expenses and weekly benefits will not include periods where benefits were paid before the retrospective changes were made to the law in June of this year.

Greens MP and Industrial Relations spokesperson David Shoebridge said: "Answers from Minister Pearce in Budget Estimates today indicate that the Government has had a partial change of heart about how to apply these savage cuts.

"This minor back flip from the Government is a small reprieve for those workers affected who risked being cut off from medical care and support payments as soon as the Government chose to apply the relevant provisions.

"Thousands of injured workers have been facing the prospect of losing all their compensation benefits on 1 Jan 2013, when the government applies its workers compensation changes to every existing claim.

"This is the first time the government has confirmed the position for the many thousands of injured workers and their families who are currently in receipt of compensation benefits.

"The government has made it clear that they intend to apply the new time limits, of 12 months for most medical benefits and 2.5 years for most weekly payments, to all claims from 1 January 2013.

"If the time limits included periods where benefits were paid before 1 January 2013 then literally thousands of workers would lose all their entitlements from that day.

"This does not stop the laws applying retrospectively to injuries received before the changes were made in June of this year, but it does soften their application and gives thousands of injured workers a little more breathing room before their benefits are cut.

"While it does not change the fundamental unfairness in the new system, it is a commitment that the Greens will be holding the government to.

"The bulk of the government's brutal cuts will continue to apply retrospectively and those workers affected have very good reason to ask why they should not be exempted," Mr Shoebridge said.

Media contact: 9230 3030 | 0433 753 376
Read more about the changes to the workers' compensation scheme in NSW here: http://davidshoebridge.org.au/2012/06/22/barry-ofarrells-cuts-to-workers-compensation-get-the-facts/

Monday, 8 October 2012

Legislation needed to end free range egg scams

John Kaye meets chook at the Bellingen Growers' Market

Media release: 7 October 2012

Until there is a legislated definition of 'free-range', millions of NSW egg consumers will continue to be ripped off by unscrupulous producers who are hiding behind the absence of a single enforceable standard, according to
Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

(''Free range egg scam" Sunday Telegraph, 7 October 2012, page 7,
http://j.mp/PgTse8)

Dr Kaye said: "Yet another egg producer has been caught selling eggs as
free range when the chickens that laid them are clearly not able to enjoy
generous amounts of outdoor space.

"This is just one more piece of evidence that the standards are in a mess.
The producer claimed ignorance about the need for openings to allow his
chickens to access the outdoor space.

"Only a legislated definition of free-range will remove the uncertainty
consumers face when they want to avoid being part of the treatment of
animals that they see as cruel and unnecessary.

"The NSW government is trying to hide its inaction on producing a single
standard behind a so-called crackdown that only catches a handful of the
most obvious rorters.

"Without legislation, the Egg Corporation's free-range definition will
dominate the industry. Those chickens that can access their outdoor area
will have only a half a square metre to themselves. This is not much better
than the caged standards.

"Liberal and national MPs are threatening to block the Greens legislation
in the NSW Lower House to limit free-range stocking densities to 1,500
birds per hectare rather than the Egg Corporation's 20,000.

"The O'Farrell government is refusing to resolve the gaping differences
between the different definitions of free range where unscrupulous producer
can hide the reality of the cruelty they inflict on their birds.

Even if a few more openings are cut in the barn wall, there is no guarantee
that there will be adequate outdoor space for the birds . If the producer
relies on the Egg Corporation's definition of free range, each chicken will
be lucky to have one half a square metre.

"This is not what consumers expect when they pay a premium to avoid the
over-crowding, beak mutilation and other cruelties of the caged and barn
laid industries," Dr Kaye said.

Friday, 5 October 2012

I support TAFE

Reblogged from John Kaye's site

John Kaye outside Grafton TAFE

TAFE: Vital to Australia's Future

The Greens are committed to a well funded, publicly owned TAFE system as the dominant provider of vocational education and training. We will work to reverse the damage done to TAFE by State and Federal Governments.
I Support TafeAustralia's economic future depends on a strong, well funded public TAFE system. We must reverse the deterioration in working conditions of TAFE teachers and students and the growth in poor quality private providers.
The Greens are campaigning to:
  • End the casualisation of TAFE. Restore full time teaching to 70% of hours taught. Protect the rights of casual teachers, including access to professional development.
  •  
  • Provide growth funding to TAFE. Reduce class sizes, restore course lengths, increase administrative support and end the axing of courses to save money. Fund teacher salary rises and professional development. Reduce the workloads on teachers.
  •  
  • End the growth in the "user choice" funding of private providers. An immediate freeze on government funding of private providers. Ban public funding of private providers where TAFE can supply the same training.

For more information:

UPDATE Jan 2013: Chris Hartcher speaks out on the dangers of coal seam gas exploration, May 3, 2005

Remember when Chris Hartcher was in opposition?

This is what he said in 2005. Watch the video.



This is what he has said in the Telegraph today:

"There are two million gas extraction wells throughout the world now, and it's difficult for the anti-gas protesters to point to one that is causing problems," he said.
"The challenge for them is to find a single example where the water has been tainted or the ground has been damaged. But they don't have a single example - anywhere in the world."

This is the same person who in Parliament in 2005 said the following in relation to coal seam gas exploration plans in his area on the Central Coast:

“It is well-known that in the northern Pilliga forest, massive environmental damage was caused by Eastern Star Gas at its Bohena No. 2 drill site as a result of exploration practices. Experiences in the United States of America, and in the State of Wyoming especially, clearly demonstrate disastrous problems associated with this industry through groundwater loss, contamination and waste water.”


The hypocrisy is rank. This guy has got to be dumped as Minister.

and the link:
http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw-to-frack-on-with-its-gas-plan/story-e6freuy9-1226562425282

Energy and water planning from the 1980s

Media release: 3 October 2012

Greens NSW MP and Energy, Health and Water Utilities spokesperson John Kaye described Infrastructure NSW's strategy as a series of lost opportunities to lower costs, improve environmental performance and ease the pressure on household budgets.

Dr Kaye said: "The report is an engineer's dream that will rapidly turn into an environmental and social nightmare.

"INSW's bias towards big water and energy supply projects systematically underestimates the ability of households and businesses to strategically reduce consumption at times of constraint.

"By ignoring the massive potential for decentralised water and electricity options, efficiency measures and strategic conservation, Infrastructure NSW's vision will push up household bills and inflict unnecessary damage on the environment with new dams, power lines and power stations.

"Reading Nick Greiner's vision for NSW is like taking a trip back to the 1980s. It is as if three decades of technology changes and new thinking about minimising costs and impacts on the environment did not happen.

"It's hardly surprising that Nick Greiner's panacea to the shortage of capital is to hand over crucial infrastructure to the private sector. The report conveniently ignores the fundamental truth that non-government investors will extract their costs and a healthy profit at the expense of households and the environment.

"INSW's answer to the massive challenges faced by the state's public health system is to outsource hospital services. The supposed cost savings are nothing but a statement of ideological faith that will inevitably compromise the welfare of patients, doctors and nurses. Under a decentralised system, the O'Farrell government will be able to pass the blame to the Local Health District boards when private provider profits trump health outcomes.

"Nick Greiner's Magic Pudding solution is selling the wires and poles and Snowy Hydro. After generations of NSW residents have paid for these assets, INSW wants to cash them in and surrender both the income stream they generate and the flexibility they provide in a time of massive technological and environmental change.

"The Strategy is written as if there is little reason to be concerned about the 60 million tonnes of CO2 produced by the electricity industry each year. Rather than looking to the cleaner, greener, higher-employment alternatives, Infrastructure NSW wants to lock the state into yet more fossil fuels and the climate damage they create.

"Despite acknowledging the impacts of four years of over-investment in the state's wires and poles and the systematic failure of electricity demand forecasting, INSW is pushing for yet more transmission and distribution infrastructure spending.

"It looks like the lessons of one of Labor's biggest debacles have not been learned by the Coalition and its advisers. In the end, it is households and communities that will pay the price," Dr Kaye said.

Have your say on O'Farrell's Renewable Energy Action Plan

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Christine Milne addresses the National Press Club, Sep. 26, 2012

 Video

Reblogged from the Australian Greens

An economy that serves people and nature, not the other way around

26 Sep 2012 | Christine Milne, Treasury





  

 

ABC Video Link

Thank you, Lyndal, distinguished guests, friends. I begin by acknowledging the Ngunnawal people, the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, and pay my respects to their elders past and present.

I also undertake to keep campaigning for indigenous recognition in our constitution because it goes to the heart of who we are as a nation: a country big and generous enough to acknowledge where we have gone wrong and what we need to do better.

That leads me to today's question:

How do we build an economic system that serves the needs of people and nature, both for today and for tomorrow?

That our economic system is broken and needs fixing is not just the view of the Greens. It is the view of the World Economic Forum, which in its report "More with Less: Scaling Sustainable Consumption and Resource Efficiency" of January this year said:

"Current trends clearly show that business as usual no longer works. Unless the present link between growth and the consumption of scarce resources is severed, our resource base, governance and policy structures are unlikely to sustain the standard of living societies have grown accustomed to or indeed aspire to. Action to decouple business and economic growth from resource intensity and environmental impact, has never been more critical to the long term success of business."
In Australia, this is heresy. Witness state and federal governments massively expanding coal mining and coal ports, approving the destruction of the Tarkine and Great Barrier Reef seagrass beds.
Surely it's time that those who advocate economic growth derived from resource extraction and pollution as the major path be the ones labelled "wacky", "loopy", irresponsible, divorced from reality or connected to the CIA.

Depleted uranium info and sample letter


Depleted uranium (DU) weapons are chemically toxic and radioactive conventional weapons designed to pierce armor. 
They were used by the US in the 1991 Gulf War, in the Balkans in the mid and late 1990’s and again in Iraq in the 2003 occupation. Upon impact with hard targets, DU munitions burn generating a fine dust that may be inhaled by civilians and soldiers alike. Intact munitions or fragments slowly break down, contaminating soils and groundwater.
Animal and cellular studies have shown that DU damages DNA and has caused cancer in laboratory rodents. The US and other DU users have shown little interest in studying civilian populations but laboratory studies have demonstrated that DU is toxic to the body. Since 1991, reports have come from Iraq of increasing numbers of cases of childhood leukemia and birth defects which may be the result of DU exposure. DU contaminates the environment and is very expensive and difficult to clean up.
These weapons are inherently indiscriminate and need to be banned. 
The United Nations will vote on a fourth resolution considering their acceptability in October. Even without comprehensive civilian health studies, the failure of states to clean-up contamination, their use against civilian infrastructure in built up areas and the lack of transparency from users over where the weapons have been used clearly demands action to ban these weapons on a precautionary basis.
The United States, Israel, the UK and France are the only four states opposing these resolutions. Australia abstained. The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and Veterans for Peace are calling for people around the globe to write to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ask her to reconsider the United States‘ voting position at the UN First Committee this October. 
To learn more about ICBUW and depleted uranium weapons, see www.bandepleteduranium.org and take five minutes and watch our animated short clip: When the Dust Settles
Below is a sample letter to Australian Foreign Minister, Bob Carr and your local MP.
----------------
I  write to draw your attention to the upcoming vote in this year’s United Nations First Committee on a fourth resolution regarding the Effects of the Use of Armaments and Ammunitions containing Depleted Uranium (DU).

As you are aware, DU munitions were used in the 1991 Gulf War, in the Balkans in the mid and late 1990’s and again in Iraq in the 2003 war. DU is a by-product of the enrichment of uranium for nuclear fuel and weapons.

Soldiers and civilian populations have been exposed to residues from these chemically toxic and radioactive weapons in areas of combat. Upon hitting their targets, DU penetrators release a fine dust which can be inhaled and lodge in the lungs or travel to other parts of the body irradiating surrounding tissues with serious consequences that may not be revealed for years.

Cellular and animal studies by the U.S Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute (AFFRI) have shown that DU can turn cells cancerous, that it can cause chromosome damage, leukemia, genomic instability, alpha particle induced cell transformation and can also pass on damage to the next generation.

The use of uranium weapons generates toxic remnants of war with an inherent risk of indiscriminate harm. They interfere with post- conflict reconstruction, spread fear and are difficult and expensive to remove. The properties of DU weapons ensure that it is impossible to completely decontaminate sites where they are fired.

The European Parliament has issued four resolutions calling for a moratorium on the use of DU weapons, the most recent and far-reaching calling for a global ban. The United Nations General Assembly passed its third resolution on DU in December 2010 urging release of information from users in order to facilitate assessment of areas where DU has been used. Only four countries voted against the 2010 Resolution, as you are aware Australia abstained.

The global opposition to and stigmatization of DU weapons is growing. I strongly urge you to reconsider Australia’s voting position at the UN First Committee this October and instead show leadership on these indiscriminate and unacceptable weapons that put both civilians and our own personnel at risk.

----------------

Sincerely, 


from Australian Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons



[Your name]

SA power prices plummet as green energy impact finally recognised

[Greens-Media] PARNELL

In a great result for SA long suffering electricity consumers, ESCOSA has issued a draft determination that reduces electricity rates by 8.1% or $160/year, says Greens Leader Mark Parnell.

The Essential Services Commission, which sets the standing electricity contract rate in SA, has reviewed the retail cost of electricity in the wake of falling wholesale prices.  The final decision on the rate cut is expected in December.

"Finally - sanity has prevailed.  We have the lowest wholesale electricity prices in South Australia in 8 years, yet the retail price has continued to soar," Mr Parnell said.

"Back in June I said the failure to pass on wholesale price reductions to SA households was a sign of market failure.

"The Greens are delighted the fall in wholesale prices, mainly driven by wind and solar, is finally being passed on to long suffering consumers.

"Today's draft determination is an exciting recognition that the state's investment in clean energy from wind and solar will deliver long term price benefits for households, he said.

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