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



Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Introducing our next Greens MP: Mehreen Faruqi

Dr Mehreen Faruqi

We're very excited to announce that environmental engineer and academic, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, has been preselected to replace sitting Greens MLC, Cate Faehrmann, when she resigns her seat to contest the Senate later this year.

Mehreen was preselected by a postal ballot of all members of the NSW Greens, in a field of seven all-women candidates.

Mehreen is an Associate Professor at the Australian Graduate School of Management, University of NSW. She worked as a consultant in Pakistan before migrating to Sydney with her family.

She has more than 20 years of experience as a Civil / Environmental engineer and a sustainability expert working in both regional and metropolitan NSW.

She has managed local government Departments of Natural Resources and Environment on NSW’s mid-north coast and in Sydney. She is a former Chair of the Orica Botany Community Participation Committee and a published author. She is a long term member of the party and is currently the Convenor of The Greens NSW Women’s Group.

A message from Mehreen:

"I’m incredibly humbled by the support Greens members across NSW have given me, in selecting me to become their next Greens MP.

“I’m proud of our grassroots democratic process and the fact that all members have the right to have a say in who represents them in our parliaments.

“I’m looking forward to working hard for the people of NSW and continuing Cate’s excellent work in protecting our national parks, fighting for gender equality and equal marriage, campaigning for public transport, taking The Greens message to Western Sydney and growing the campaign against coal seam gas mining.

“As the first Greens MP in NSW from a migrant background, I’m also excited about building stronger relationships between The Greens and migrant communities,"

A message from Cate:

"Mehreen is a very exciting addition to the Greens team in the NSW parliament. Her extensive experience in environmental and sustainability work means Mehreen will be a powerful voice on some of the key issues facing the people of NSW.

Congratulations to Mehreen and we're looking forward to having you in Parliament representing The Greens from July.

You can stay up to date with Mehreen's work by liking her Facebook page.

To get involved in the federal election campaign please click here.
The Greens NSW

19 Eve Street
Erskineville, NSW 2043
Australia
Authorised by James Ryan.

Premier gives Shooters veto on Game Council Inquiry


Media Release: 27 April 2013 

Revelations today that the Shooters Party had a veto over the terms of
reference of the review into the Game Council are proof positive that the
Premier remains tied hand and foot to the pro-gun lobby in the NSW
Parliament and call not question the independence of the review.

See reporting here:
http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/shooters-and-fishers-party-calling-shots-on-hunting-decision/story-e6freuy9-1226631156323


NSW Greens MP and Firearms Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“The Premier has again been caught out giving the two pro-gun Shooters MPs
an effective veto over the government’s regulation of shooting and hunting
in NSW.

“There is a clear conflict of interest in giving the Shooters MPs sign-off
over the terms of reference of the Game Council review.

“The two Shooters MPs are both former Chairman of the Game Council and
their behaviour as chairs should clearly be a key part of the review, so
how could the Premier decently give them sign-off over the inquiry’s terms
of reference?

“This has all the hallmarks of a sham inquiry that has been designed so
that the Premier can be seen to be acting rather than a genuine review of
the incompetence and conflicts within the Game Council.

“Politics rarely gets grubbier than this kind of deal that sees the Premier
promoting bloodsports on public land in return for a a couple of votes in
Parliament.

“Having already given the Shooters MPs the power to determine government
policy on guns in National Parks it is now revealed the Premier has also
given them power over the review of the Game Council.

“The regulation of guns and hunting on public land is a matter of prime
public importance and it is shameful that once again the Premier has handed
over the real decision making power on this to the minority pro-gun
Shooters Party.

“Just like Labor did in 2002 when it set up the Game Council, the O’Farrell
government is giving the Shooters MPs and its pro-gun agenda a prominence
in government that far outstrips their public support.

“The Premier should immediately establish a genuinely independent review of
the Game Council to seriously consider its failure to regulate a safe or
effective regime of amateur hunting on public land.

“This matter will not go away for Premier O’Farrell until he stands up for
the public interest and once and for all terminates the reckless plan to
allow amateur hunting in national parks,” Mr Shoebridge said.

Working single parents need support, not punishment

Jan Barham MLC and Dawn Walker, Greens candidate

27 April 2013

Australian Greens  Senator Rachel Siewert says working single parents on Newstart deserve far better support from the Federal Government, rather than ongoing punishment.

“The Australian Institute of Family Studies report ‘Parents Working Out Work’ shows us that the number of working single mothers has increased significantly over the last two decades, with the employment participation rate increasing by 13%,” Senator Siewert said today.

“This confirms yet again what we knew about the January cuts to parenting payments - single parents were already engaging in the work force.

"These cuts were about saving money, not helping parents.

“What is especially unfair is that the working single parents affected by January’s cuts have been effectively penalised twice by the change – first through the drop in income support, and secondly through the low Newstart income threshold.

“As it stands, you can only earn a paltry $62 per fortnight before your Newstart begins to reduce.

“It is incredibly hard to juggle work with raising a family, particularly for single parents. To compound matters, Newstart effectively penalises people for working by reducing their income support at a very rapid rate.

“It's all well and good for the Government to tell people to simply increase the number of hours they work, but what about the subsequent increase to childcare expenses and the reduction in time people have to spend with their families?

“By increasing Newstart by $50 per week and addressing the low income threshold, the Government can ensure parents are able to work part time and raise their families with the extra safety net provided by their income support payment.

“To date, there has been no care or compassion in the Government’s approach to single parents, and only the Greens are offering strong, costed policy alternatives to help single parents raise their kids and find secure work,” Senator Siewert concluded.

Single mum hires billboard to protest against parenting cuts

26 April 2013

Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has thrown her support behind a single mum from Melbourne who has hired a billboard in the Labor heartland of Preston to protest against the Government's cuts to parenting payments.

"The billboard highlights the fact that Government took more money from single parents than big mining companies through the mining tax when they tried to balance their books at the start of this year," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on families and community services said today.

"Rose Ljubicic has taken this action hoping that the Government will finally listen and improve conditions for single parents struggling to make ends meet.

"She has gone into debt for the sake of this campaign and is aiming to recoup the money through community crowd sourcing. It is an indictment on this Government that a single mum has felt it necessary to go this far.

"Many single parent families had their payments cut by between $60-130 per week in January and we know that some are now being forced to skip meals, go into debt, draw on the generosity of others or stop paying their bills.

"It is clear that the Government targeted single parents because they thought that it would be easier to take money from them than to fix the mining tax. They thought that single parents wouldn't be able to stand up for themselves - they obviously didn't think that they would come across people like Rose.

"In the last five months we've seen thousands of single parents around the country taking individual and collective action to protest against the cuts to parenting payments, but despite the large campaign the Government has refused to listen and the Coalition is still nowhere to be seen on this issue.

"The Greens have two bills before Parliament that would boost Newstart by $50 per week and provide a supplement of $40 per week to all single parents on the payment, which could be funded by fixing the mining tax.

"Everyone knows that single parents can't raise their children on such a low payment, but MPs from the older parties remain steadfast in their unwillingness to take meaningful action in Parliament. The May Budget is this Government's last chance to prove they genuinely care about vulnerable people," Senator Siewert concluded.

Dinosaurs Set Government Energy Policy


MEDIA RELEASE

Friday 26 April 2013


Greens WA spokesperson on Energy and Climate Change issues, Robin Chapple MLC, today blasted the Premier's free-market warhorse, Hon Mike Nahan, as he stumbled into energy policy with a classic throwback to dinosaur-age thinking on energy policy.

"Let's not mince words - we all know what Minister Nahan really wants - an end to the Renewable Energy Target (RET), so his mates in the dirty fossil-fuel burning power generation sector can carry on churning out greenhouse gas emissions at a rate which has WA right up there in the top echelon of global polluters," Mr Chapple said.

"Mr Nahan's call for 'root and branch review' of WA's RET commitments is music to the ears of his Premier, who has long called for targets to be axed.

"Now is the time that we need strong government policy to set the framework for the transition to renewable power, so the sector can deliver it, but all we get from this government is ad-hoc, piecemeal tinkering.

"Criticism that spending on renewables is pushing up prices is a cheap shot. The major increase in household power prices is to help fund the maintenance of our aging electricity infrastructure, and to meet the very high peak demand times.

"We have vast renewable resources in this state but are forced to accept old technology for the sake of fossil fuel contracts that this dinosaur Government is locked into," said Mr Chapple.

"Of course this government can make renewable energy look uneconomic - by continuing to spend millions in taxpayer-funded subsidies to prop up our coal-fired clunkers.

"Get your heads out of the sand - follow our lead to a sustainable, pollution-free energy future, as detailed in our Energy2029 policy.

"Renewables can be economic - but only when we move away from the status quo of fossil-fuelled mega power stations.

Energy 2029 plan: http://www.greenswa.net.au/energy2029

Greens reject super-councils, support end to rate-pegging



The Greens NSW welcome the recommendations of the Local Government Review Panel to increase financial autonomy of local councils by ending rate pegging and recasting financial grants but oppose the long term agenda of the panel to merge metropolitan and regional councils against the wishes of local residents.
Greens NSW MP David Shoebridge said:

“There are many recommendations in the report, such as more flexible regional government structures and ending rate pegging, that are to be welcomed, but the focus on creating metropolitan super councils is misguided.

“The fact is that 86 per cent of Sydney metropolitan councils have sound finances so there is no economic case to fundamentally restructure them.

“The move to bigger, less representative, local councils is far more about ideology than common sense.

“Whether it is in the regions or in metropolitan areas, the Greens believe that local residents must have the right to determine the future of their local council and if there is a strong case for amalgamations then that must be decided democratically.

“The amalgamations proposed in the report are very disturbing and show a fixed mindset from the authors on amalgamations as the preferred method of reform.

“Study after study has proven that amalgamating councils does not produce either increased funding or inevitable efficiencies.  In fact on many occasions amalgamated councils have suffered from as many diseconomies of scale as economies of scale.

“Most ordinary residents are rightly suspect of the argument that bigger governments produce better or more effective governments.

“People know that they get far more personal service from local government than from state or federal bureaucracies and this will be lost if their local council gets expanded to have a population bigger than some states.

“The Greens are calling on the government to promptly adopt those recommendations that give greater financial autonomy and structural flexibility to local councils across the state.

“There is a very real concern that the O’Farrell government will use this report to implement a new Local Government Act that will allow it to force unpopular council amalgamations on NSW if it is elected to a second term of office.

“The likely outcome from a self interested O’Farrell government will be a reform package that delivers bigger councils, but refuses to grant them the right to set their own rates or be genuinely independent of the state government.  This would be a disaster on all grounds for local government.

Local Government Banner

Greens State Council resolves against forced Wagga Wagga City amalgamation


Local Government Banner

The Greens NSW State Delegates Council meeting in Wagga Wagga this past weekend passed a resolution (full wording below) in response to the Sansom Report on the future of Local Government in NSW, calling on the O’Farrell government to implement resolutions relating to greater financial autonomy for councils but opposing forced amalgamations.

Greens NSW Local Government spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“The Greens have strong concerns that the Local Government review panel is proposing the merger of Wagga Wagga City Council with Lockhart Shire Council without consulting the residents in either local government area.

“There are many recommendations in the report, such as more flexible regional government structures and ending rate pegging, that are to be welcomed, but the focus on creating mega-councils is misguided.

“Study after study has proven that amalgamating councils does not produce either increased funding or inevitable efficiencies.  In fact on many occasions amalgamated councils have suffered from as many diseconomies of scale as economies of scale.

“Whether it is in the regions or in metropolitan areas, the Greens believe that local residents must have the right to determine the future of their local council and if there is a strong case for amalgamations then that must be decided democratically,” Mr Shoebridge said.

Wagga Wagga Greens Councillor Kevin Poynter said:

“In all the people I have spoken to no one has ever told me that they want Wagga to amalgamate with neighbouring Shires.

“Wagga council is already big enough and councillors already have to travel literally hundreds of kilometers to consult with the villages.

“If the council got any bigger it would be next to impossible to do the job properly.

“The council’s finances are already pretty tight and the chances are that any amalgamation would make matters worse,” Clr Poynter said.
————
Motion as adopted:

That this Greens NSW State Delegates Council in Wagga Wagga:

1)      Resolves to:
a)      Commit to continue to strongly support local government as the level of government with the greatest grassroots participation and closest connection to people in NSW.

b)      Maintain the right of local residents in local councils to determine the future of their local councils and their local representation.

c)      Work with other parties to implement those recommendations of the Local government review panel that increase the financial autonomy of local councils by ending rate pegging; and

d)      Oppose the long term agenda of the O’Farrell government and the Local government review panel to merge metropolitan and regional councils regardless of the wishes of local residents.

2)      Notes that:

a)      It has strong concerns that the Local Government review panel is proposing the merger of Wagga Wagga City Council with Lockhart Shire Council without consulting the residents in either local government area.

b)      Wagga Wagga City Council has solid finances and strong community support and that there is no clear case for it to be merged with neighbouring councils; and

c)      That any merger of Wagga Wagga City Council with neighbouring councils will inevitably reduce the level of local representation and strength of local democracy in the Riverina.

The Missing Ethics of Mining: Link to ABC program


On ABC Radio National, Late Night Life(LNL), an interview was broadcast about the Missing Ethics of Mining.

It raised numerous important points about the operations of mines everywhere and their total disregard of people, communities and the environment.

 
Missing Ethics of Mining

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Greens reject super-councils, support end to rate-pegging

 
Media Release – 24 April 2013

Could Clarence Council be amalgamated?


The Greens NSW welcome the recommendations of the Local government review panel to increase financial autonomy of local councils by ending rate pegging and recasting financial grants but oppose the long term agenda of the panel to merge metropolitan and regional councils against the wishes of local residents.

Greens NSW MP David Shoebridge said:

“There are many recommendations in the report, such as more flexible regional government structures and ending rate pegging, that are to be welcomed, but the focus on creating metropolitan super councils is misguided.

“The fact is that 86 per cent of Sydney metropolitan councils have sound finances so there is no economic case to fundamentally restructure them.

“The move to bigger, less representative, local councils is far more about ideology than common sense.

“Whether it is in the regions or in metropolitan areas, the Greens believe that local residents must have the right to determine the future of their local council and if there is a strong case for amalgamations then that must be decided democratically.

“The amalgamations proposed in the report are very disturbing and show a fixed mindset from the authors on amalgamations as the preferred method of reform.

“Study after study has proven that amalgamating councils does not produce either increased funding or inevitable efficiencies.  In fact on many occasions amalgamated councils have suffered from as many diseconomies of scale as economies of scale.

“Most ordinary residents are rightly suspect of the argument that bigger governments produce better or more effective governments. 

“People know that they get far more personal service from local government than from state or federal bureaucracies and this will be lost if their local council gets expanded to have a population bigger than some states.

“The Greens are calling on the government to promptly adopt those recommendations that give greater financial autonomy and structural flexibility to local councils across the state.

“There is a very real concern that the O’Farrell government will use this report to implement a new Local Government Act that will allow it to force unpopular council amalgamations on NSW if it is elected to a second term of office.

“The likely outcome from a self interested O’Farrell government will be a reform package that delivers bigger councils, but refuses to grant them the right to set their own rates or be genuinely independent of the state government.  This would be a disaster on all grounds for local government.

Revenue collapse means mining tax must be fixed

Monday 22 April 2013
Senator Milne


The Grattan Institute report released last night shows that if Australia is to avoid a national revenue crisis the Gillard Government must fix the mining tax immediately and stop handing over billions in fossil fuel subsidies to Australia's biggest and wealthiest mining companies.

"Labor needs to come clean on why it won't fix the mining tax and why it is handing over billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies to people like Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer when we are facing both ongoing deficits and a national revenue collapse," Australian Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne said.

"Closing the loopholes in the mining tax and scrapping $13.8 billion in fossil fuel subsidies would help fund important initiatives like the Gonski school funding reforms and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

"Clearly, Labor does not have the courage to take on the big mining companies, particularly in an election year.

"The Greens are the only party who have put costed revenue raising proposals on the table that would boost government coffers by tens of billions of dollars.

"The Grattan Institute supports what the Greens have been saying for a long time - that the accelerated depreciation rate for mining companies is sucking billions out of the budget that should be going to single parents, public schools and health care.

"Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott cannot afford to keep squandering the benefits of the resources boom while single parents are struggling to survive and our schools miss out.

"Just as the Greens have said, the report shows a race to a budget surplus is poor economic management and cutting government services is not the best way back to a balanced budget.

"The report also exposes the Coalition's fiscally reckless economic management with Tony Abbott proposing to burn a $11 billion hole in the budget by 2020 with uncosted policies such as paid parental leave and Direct Action, while abolishing effective and important revenue raising measures such as the mining tax and carbon price.

"The Grattan Institute says that fixing the budget will require more tax, increased savings and some tough political choices.

"So my question to the Prime Minister and Tony Abbott is - do we keep giving billions of dollars in tax concessions to big mining companies or is it time to help Australians by funding better education, improved healthcare and lifting people out of poverty?

"Only the Greens can be trusted to stand up to the big mining companies and deliver revenue-raising measures that won't hurt Australia's most vulnerable.

"This report also shows that you need the Greens in the balance of power to stop Tony Abbott's wrecking ball economics."

Liberal/National government cheats public housing tenants of compensation payments

22 April 2013

Greens MP Jamie Parker has slammed the NSW government as stingy and mean for taking a cut of the clean energy supplement paid to public housing tenants, saying it's unfair for the compensation payment to be considered income.

"The Liberal government's decision to increase rents by extorting part of a compensation payment is a slap in the face to public housing tenants who are already struggling financially," Mr Parker said.

"This is a tax-exempt lump-sum payment to assist households in meeting the impacts of carbon pricing on living expenses - it is simply wrong for it to be considered income and used as an excuse to increase rents.

"After being neglected under the Labor government for so long, public housing tenants are now being treated with even more disdain by the Liberal Coalition.

"The former Labor government left a 300 million maintenance backlog, which the Liberal government is still failing to adequately address.

"I'm appalled that some of our most vulnerable residents are being taken advantage of, and I will continue to campaign for a more caring approach," Mr Parker said.

Policy beats politics as Premier gets on with Gonski

Add caption
23 April 2013

Opposition leader Tony Abbott must re-evaluate his position on the Gonski school funding reforms in light of New South Wales's partnership with the Federal Government, say the Australian Greens.

Australian Greens spokesperson for schools Senator Penny Wright welcomed Premier O'Farrell's clear show of leadership today and said other premiers must be quick to follow his example in getting on with Gonski.

"That a Coalition Premier is the first to sign up for fairer school funding is a win for policy over politics and a blow to Mr Abbott's claim that the education system is not broken," Senator Wright said.

"Premier O'Farrell has shown true leadership on this issue and we can only hope other Premiers will swiftly follow to move towards a world-class education in every Australian classroom.

"The children of New South Wales, both today and in the future, will be immensely grateful for Mr O'Farrell's willingness to put their interests above politics.

"If we want to be a clever country, we need to start by being a caring country and that means addressing the inequality in our schools.

"Mr Abbott's claim that school systems only need 'fine-tuning' has been left totally exposed by today's announcement. To deny the need for reform in our schools is ignorant and inexcusable.

"The sooner Mr Abbott realises his position on Gonski is untenable, the better for all Australian children."

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Kevin Humphries can’t cop the heat, so lies about the Greens

Christine & Jeremy – on farm

Agriculture, Media, Portfolios, Western NSW

Kevin Humphries can’t cop the heat, so lies about the Greens


MEDIA RELEASE - 18 April 2013

Christine & Jeremy - on farmCountry Greens MP, Jeremy Buckingham responded to a press release by Nationals MP Kevin Humphries, accusing Mr Humphries of lazy politics and misleading the media and community.

“Everyone knows the National Party is too close to the mining and gas industry with senior Nationals like John Anderson and Mark Vaile sitting on the boards of coal and gas companies.
“The Greens are pleased to stand up to protect farmers, land, water and regional communities, and are filling the void left by a failing National Party.

“Kevin Humphries is afraid of political competition, so after a visit by Australian Greens leader Christine Milne to Moree last week, he has been spinning lies about the Greens.  Humphries has never been the sharpest pencil in the box, but misleading his constituents is lazy and disrespectful.”

Kevin Humphries asserts that the Greens:
  • “Want to extend National Parks onto prime agricultural land”.  Wrong!  Australian Greens agriculture policy says: “6. Government policy should not compromise the primacy of sustainable food and fibre production” and “20. Protection of prime agricultural land, water and infrastructure from urban expansion, mining, inappropriate biofuel crops and other competing uses and encroachments. “
  • Will “remove the Diesel Fuel Rebate”.  Wrong!  The Greens want to keep the diesel fuel rebate for agriculture.  We want to remove the rebate only for the mining companies.
  • Support a “return to death duties”.  Wrong!  The Greens no longer support an inheritance tax.  This was dropped as a policy last year.
  • “Do not support irrigation or broad scale farming”.  Wrong!  The Greens support efficient and productive irrigation and agricultural systems that are sustainable and benefit farmers and regional communities.
  • “Want a total end to the forest products industry”.  Wrong!  The Greens natural resource policy supports “A sustainable and productive wood products industry on public and private land that maintains or enhances the resilience of natural ecosystems and that creates long-term skilled jobs and social sustainability in regional communities.”
Mr Buckingham said: “It’s time the National Party dropped the lazy clichés and there was a genuine policy debate about the future of country Australia.

“The Greens have policies for successful and robust regional communities and economies based on sustainable agriculture, value adding to food and fibre production, investment in clean renewable energy, responsible mining that does not damage land and water resources, sustainable forestry, manufacturing, carbon abatement and other environmental services, tourism, and healthy service industry hooked into the world via an NBN.

“The Nationals are stuck in the past, towing along behind their Liberal Party masters.  MPs like Kevin Humphries need to lift their game,” he said.

Uni funding cuts: Coalition keeps the bad despite rejecting the good

Posters at Coffs Harbour Tafe rally
MEDIA RELEASE - 22 April 2013

The Australian Greens today condemned the Coalition as opportunistic for throwing their weight behind Labor's $2.3 billion raid on university funding despite rejecting Labor's reason for the cuts - the Gonski reforms (SMH, http://tinyurl.com/dx6pz2f 22 April)

"It seems Abbott's Coalition will never miss a chance to squeeze university funding", said Greens higher education spokesperson Lee Rhiannon.

"Federal Labor, by targeting the university sector as a honey pot to raid to the tune of $2.3 billion, has opened the door for the Coalition to opportunistically jump on board the funding cuts.

"It is clear that the Coalition cannot be trusted to stand up for and properly fund our universities and students.

"In February, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott refused to rule out deregulating or increasing university student fees.

"During the Howard years, the gap between the cost of higher education and public funding received by the sector grew to almost 30 per cent.

"Federal Labor have set up a destructive trade-off between funding for higher education and funding for schools and it is disappointing but not surprising that the Coalition have used this moment to jump on board university cuts", said Senator Rhiannon.

Curtin Detention Centre no place for children



Monday, 22 April 2013

The government's plan to send children to the Curtin Detention Centre is unacceptable, the Australian Greens said today.

"We know that children shouldn't be in detention but remote, isolated detention centres are the last place they should be sent," the Greens immigration spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

"The Curtin Detention Centre was shut down because it is not an acceptable environment to house refugees and now this government is planning on sending children there.

"Curtin was so disastrous that the Howard Government shut it down and when the Labor Government reopened it we were promised families and children would not be sent there.

"The current plan to lock children up in the Curtin Detention Centre shows that Labor can't be trusted to look after and care for refugees.

"One child in detention is too many, but 1000 children behind bars in Australian detention centres is an absolute disgrace."

Monday, 22 April 2013

O'Farrell puts the squeeze on public schools


Media release: 21 April 2013

Two report commissioned by the NSW government reveal plans to crowd public
school students into even tighter spaces, according to Greens NSW MP John
Kaye.

('Students facing squeeze on classroom space,' Sun Herald, 21 May, page
10,  http://j.mp/sh130421)

Dr Kaye said: "The O'Farrell government is forcing public schools to
shoehorn students into higher density teaching spaces to free up land for
sale.

"This year's state budget is likely to see the cramming get a lot worse as
Finance Minister Greg Pearce scours the public sector for assets he can
privatise.

"The O'Farrell government is sacrificing the quality of schooling and the
future of public education by cutting the space available to each student.

"Despite their denials, this is an appallingly short-sighted grab for cash
that comes straight out of the UK Conservative's playbook.

"Education Minister Adrian Piccoli should stand up to the surplus junkies
in cabinet like Treasurer Mike Baird and Finance Minister Greg Pearce and
demand that public school students should not be victimised to prop up the
budget's bottom line.

"Last year's target required the teaching space per student to be cut to
free up 29 hectares of indoor area.

"No private school would compromise the quality of its educational outcomes
by cramming students into tight spaces but the NSW Liberals and Nationals
have no problems sacrificing public schools to the budget bottom line," Dr
Kaye said.

For more information: John Kaye 0407 195 455


Sunday, 21 April 2013

The Greens are the only party standing up for Gonski

Christine Milne

Australian Greens Leader

Penny Wright
Greens Education Spokesperson

Friday 19 April 2013



The Australian Greens have expressed disappointment and frustration that COAG has wasted an historic opportunity to deliver fair funding for Australian schools.

"It is totally unacceptable the Liberal state governments are playing politics with education, while Australian children are missing out," Australian Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne said

"Equally, Labor had six years to address school funding and 14 months to respond to the Gonski recommendations, and it is a poor reflection on their commitment to education funding that they left it to the last gasp of government.

"The Greens are the only party that have consistently stood up for and are committed to legislating Gonski in the federal parliament.

"If Labor was serious about education reform these negotiations would have been finalised long ago and Gonski would have already been legislated with the support of the Greens.
"I cannot stand the idea that the Prime Minister is putting the future of Australian school children as an at-risk policy leading into the election.

"And if Tony Abbott and his state counterparts put the same energy and effort into education and giving school kids a fair go, as they do promoting and supporting big mining companies, we would have started investing in education long ago," Senator Milne said.

Australian Greens Education Spokesperson Senator Penny Wright said the public shouldn't have to wait until the election to get action on Gonski.

"It's time Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott put the needs of Australian students and schools first," Senator Penny Wright said.

"If we don't invest in education, Australia will continue to fall behind other countries in the OECD and Asia Pacific region and the gap between disadvantaged schools and privileged schools will widen even further.

"Australian schools need a fairer funding model so that every student has an equal chance to receive a high quality education and reach their full potential.

"The Greens will continue to fight for public education and the Gonski school funding reforms to ensure that all Australian students have a brighter future," Senator Wright said.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

WE CAN'T ALLOW BIG MINERS TO BULLY AWAY WATER PROTECTION

18 April, 2013

Senator Larissa Waters
Australian Greens Senator for Queensland



The influence of mining magnates, made clear in a public hearing at Parliament House today, cannot be allowed to sabotage a bill for federal protection for water resources from coal seam gas mining and large coal mines, say the Australian Greens.

"Mining bodies admitted during hearings today that they've been lobbying behind closed doors to water down this protection," Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens mining spokesperson and a member of the Senate committee examining the bill, said.

"In an age of food insecurity, state governments are letting the coal seam gas industry run rampant, despite clear warnings from the National Water Commission and CSIRO that we don't know how destructive this high-risk industry will be for our precious water resources in the long term.

"We can't let the mining magnates get away without federal scrutiny of their impacts on our water.

"Already, they've succeeded in using their influence to delay this protection and get approval for major coal seam gas projects in the meantime.

"It's all too convenient for the mining industry that just weeks before the government announced it would introduce this protection to Parliament, it approved four major coal seam gas and coal mining projects -  Gloucester, Maules Creek, Boggabri and Tarrawonga.

"In the Senate, I'll be moving to amend the bill so that it applies retrospectively to those four projects approved just before the government announced this new protection and so that it allows landholders the right to say no to coal seam gas mining.

"If the government truly wants to protect water rather than just electioneer, they will back my amendments to strengthen this bill. Likewise the Coalition will reveal where their loyalties lie when they vote on whether landholders should have the right to say no to coal and coal seam gas," Senator Waters said.



Friday, 19 April 2013

Mid north coast communities under threat from rushed development

Media Update from Better Planning Network
For those of you who did not catch the report on planning by Quentin Dempster last night, you can view it at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-04-19/planning-game-changer/4640680 .

Today, there were also 2 major articles in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) and the Australian Financial Review (AFR). 

The SMH article can be viewed at: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/grand-designs-in-new-blueprint-20130419-2i5mr.html
Ø  Send your letters to letters@smh.com.au

 

• Mid north coast communities, along with other communities in NSW, are now under threat from development that will be approved without adequate community consultation. Those who live in this unique mid north coast environment could well find it rapidly becoming a confused sprawl of commercial and residential areas.

• Community input at the initial planning design stage will necessarily be sparse and inadequate. Residents should have consultation with each new development as the threat to their property or lifestyle emerges.

• Times change. Traffic flows increase. Flood patterns change as climate changes. Populations increase or decrease. Aging populations have unique needs. Community consultation is required at the time of development, not in the past.

• The results of poor planning will be with us for lifetimes. It takes time to ensure a development is appropriate. There are already numerous local examples of developments being approved in unsuitable areas.

• In Coffs Harbour a hospital was relocated from a hill to a floodplain.

• A major hardware store is now approved where the previous buildings regularly flooded.

• Every time a floodplain area is filled and raised the waters are pushed into other areas. Residents near the recently approved Hearnes Lake development have stated they will have more water in their streets because of the filling of the floodplain for an extra 280 homes. Coffs City Council could not prevent this development from proceeding.

• “The NSW Government’s planning White Paper and Draft Legislation is a cynical betrayal of every promise made to the community,” said Better Planning Network’s Corinne Fisher.

‘Code Assessable development is not benign or necessarily low impact,” said Ms Fisher. “It includes residential flat buildings in town centres, new commercial buildings, mixed use buildings and subdivisions with twenty or fewer villas or town houses. These developments can have a major impact on a neighbourhood or small town centre. The community should have the right to comment and to negotiate for the best possible outcome in such cases.” 

• Greens Councillor James Ryan (Cessnock) says Mr Hazzard's new planning system is a Trojan Horse which offers the appearance of community engagement but in reality presents a mighty gift to the developers waiting with drawn swords for the gates to be opened.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

NSW Government’s Cynical Betrayal of Community


Better Planning Network Media
Release
PO Box 989
Lane Cove NSW 1595

betterplanningnetwork@gmail.com
betterplanningnetwork.good.do
An affiliation of more than 350 community groups 




“The NSW Government’s planning White Paper and Draft Legislation is a cynical betrayal of every promise made to the community,” said Better Planning Network’s Corinne Fisher. 

“The Government is trumpeting its push for rapid development approvals but speed comes at the cost of community consultation. So much for assurances that community will be at the heart of the planning system,” Ms Fisher said. 

The White Paper has at its core the ability of developers, small and large, to achieve approval for most developments in a rapid time frame. The onus will be on decision makers to approve complying developments within ten days and code assessable developments within 25 days. In neither case will neighbours or the local community have a right or opportunity to comment. 

‘Code Assessable development is not benign or necessarily low impact,” said Ms Fisher. “It includes residential flat buildings in town centres, new commercial buildings, mixed use buildings and subdivisions with twenty or fewer villas or town houses. These developments can have a major impact on a neighbourhood or small town centre. The community should have the right to comment and to negotiate for the best possible outcome in such cases.” 

“The Better Planning Network is deeply disappointed in the State Government. Barry O’Farrell’s election promise to: give planning powers back to the people (Contract with NSW. March 2011) has proven to be a cynical ploy. This planning system is a developer’s dream.” 

Ms Fisher said that the community has been almost entirely cut out of the planning process at the local level. “The Government hopes that within five years 80% of development will be complying or code assessable. The rest will be merit assessed developments, including the really big developments that are determined by the Planning Assessment Commission or taken into the Minister as State Significant.” 

“This is the first major overhaul of the planning system for thirty years,” said Ms Fisher. “It is a disaster for communities all over NSW.” 

The White Paper will be on public exhibition until June 28th 2013 despite communities asking for a minimum consultation period of 6 months, Ms Fisher said. ‘Community comments on the Green Paper have been largely ignored in the White Paper. So how does Government expect us to believe that communities will be at the centre of the NSW Planning system?’ 


Desperation lead to MITA hunger strike, compassion needed to solve immigration crisis

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

A hunger strike being carried out by refugees who are being held, potentially forever, because of adverse ASIO assessments is an unavoidable result of the government's ruthless policy of indefinite detention without trial or fair process, the Australian Greens say.

"These people are being driven to the very brink of what the human mind is capable of suffering and now we are seeing the results," the Greens immigration spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

"All of those on hunger strike are genuine refugees but, instead of offering them safety, the government has locked them up and thrown away the key.

"With news of more medical emergencies emerging from MITA I'm concerned that the Australian Government is pushing vulnerable refugees, including families and children, to their absolute limits.

"It is shocking that people are being locked up in Australia, potentially forever, without access to a fair legal system while others are being shipped off to island prisons offshore.

"It is also concerning that we have seen today the Immigration Department criticising its own Manus Island detention centre.

"When the Department itself slams conditions on Manus Island it is clear that it needs to be shut down.

"We need to bring everybody, including the families and children, to Australia so that they can have their claims for protection processed in accordance with our obligations as signatories of the refugee convention.

"Australia is a country built on a strong foundation of fair and proper process but that is being ignored as the government continues to lock people up potentially forever.

"Whether a person is from Afghanistan, Iran, Sri Lanka or Australia they deserve access to a fair and just legal process, but currently that is not the case in our own country."

Independents and Greens to sponsor voluntary euthanasia bill in the NSW Lower House

Cate Faehrmann, senate candidate
Date: Mon, 15 Apr 2013
Subject: [Greens-Media]

Independents and Greens to sponsor voluntary euthanasia bill in the NSW Lower House. Alliance to give dying with dignity legislation its best ever chance of success.
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann's Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill will be jointly sponsored in the Lower House by Greens Member for Balmain Jamie Parker, Independent Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich and Independent Member for Lake Macquarie Greg Piper.

Today's announcement follows recent confirmation that the bill will be debated in the Upper House in early May. If successful, the team will work together to ensure its passage through the Lower House to become law.

Greens MP Cate Faehrmann said: "This issue well and truly crosses the political divide. I'm committed to working with all MPs in the coming weeks to give this much-needed reform its best ever chance of success."

Greens Member for Balmain Jamie Parker said: "If we want to be a caring society, we need to do something about the fact that our current laws allow some people to suffer terribly at the end of their lives. Terminally ill adults who are suffering intolerably should have the right to an assisted death if that is their wish - this is about personal choice."

Independent Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich said: "The reform is important to families across NSW. I am sure all MPs will consult respectfully with their electorates, experts, and particularly people with terminal illnesses whose pain and suffering no longer be alleviated."

Independent Member for Lake Macquarie Greg Piper said: "As a mature educated society, I believe that we should be able to accept the right of a person to determine the time of their own death, when they freely and with sound mind, choose to do so on the basis that due to illness and suffering, their life affords little or no quality of life, and is no longer bearable to them.  With appropriate legislative and societal checks and balances, voluntary euthanasia would respect a person's right to self- determine this most important part of their life; it would allow a choice to die with dignity."


Greens call for legislative agenda for full Gonski, not half a Gonski

MEDIA RELEASE
Monday 15 April 2013


With only three full weeks of parliamentary sitting before the election, the Government needs to commit to a legislative agenda to guarantee the full Gonski school reforms, the Australian Greens said today.

"When is the Gillard Government going to legislate the full Gonski school funding reforms?" Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne said today.

"We need a clear commitment from the Government that we will legislate Gonski before the election, not a transitional or half Gonski reform. We only have three full sitting weeks left - when will this reform go through the Federal Parliament?

"This reform is too critical to play politics with - our schools are in desperate need of adequate funding.

"It is ludicrous the Gillard Government will pay more in fossil fuel subsidies in the next six years than it will pay for school funding.

"It is wrong to rob Peter to pay Paul by cutting funding to universities to fund schools.

"This is a direct result of the Government's failure to fix the mining tax, which could have contributed so much to our ailing education system.

"The Government needs to stop cutting funding where it hurts, and start getting serious about spreading the benefits of the resources boom, and transitioning away from a dig it up, cut it down, and ship it away economy, to a diverse, knowledge based, clean, green and clever economy.

"Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne also need to come clean on why they do not support a fair go for all and why they are prepared to let public schools crumble even further.

"Education is the best way to overcome disadvantage and create a strong and resilient community and economy.

"We cannot expect to remain competitive in the Asian Century unless we offer students the best schooling and university qualifications needed to drive a skilled, knowledge-based economy."






Gov must act on CSIRO job cuts: Bandt

Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2013

Adam Bandt MP
Deputy Leader, Australian Greens
Federal Member for Melbourne


Greens Deputy Leader and science and research spokesperson, Adam Bandt MP, says the government must boost CSIRO funding in the upcoming Budget to stave off possible job cuts.

The CSIRO Board have announced a cut of 5% to jobs and operating costs.

“The CSIRO Board is ringing the alarm bell and the government must listen. A loss of up to 200 jobs will be a blow to Australia’s research community,” Mr Bandt said.

“Research and innovation is crucial to our economic prosperity and CSIRO is the cornerstone of our national research effort.”

“In the last couple of budgets, funding for CSIRO has essentially stalled and so any changes in industry funding can knock them sideways.”

“The government needs to step in and boost CSIRO funding in the coming Budget.”

The Greens want the government to set a national target of 3% of GDP for public and private research and development funding, bringing Australia in to line with the top tier of the OECD.



O’Farrell to strip communities and environment from planning laws


Media Release – 16 April 2013


The planning white paper released today by the O’Farrell government lays out a blueprint for a developers’ paradise in NSW which will see communities sidelined and the environment trashed.

Greens NSW MP and planning spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“This plan will tear the heart out of community consultation and is a direct betrayal of the O’Farrell government’s pre-election promise to return planning powers to the community.

“This legislation removes the rights of residents to have any say on up to 80 per cent of developments.

“Local councils will be reduced to rubber stamping decisions made by Regional Planning Panels and Sub-Regional Planning Boards.

“Urban Activation Precincts with little or no planning controls will deliver rampant development with no provision for adequate accompanying infrastructure.

“Developers will be given a free pass to make little or no contribution towards crucial infrastructure to accompany new developments, with new home buyers across the state being forced to subsidise endless urban sprawl.

“This proposal takes the environment out of planning in NSW. In two pages the Premier’s press release doesn’t mention the environment once – the word ‘environment’ has been removed from the title of the legislation.

“In 1979 the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act enshrined the best interests of the environment and placed communities at the heart of the planning system, in what was recognised as world-leading planning legislation.

“Labor spent decades trashing that legislation, including the much maligned Part 3A, and we’re seeing the results of Labor’s failings play out in ICAC.

“With developers getting freebies for infrastructure and up to 80% of all new development being approved in 25 days or less, this is the O’Farrell government delivering on the previous Labor government’s discredited pro-developer agenda.

“The Greens will continue to stand side by side with community groups and residents to demand planning laws driven by the long-term needs of communities not the market driven profits of big business,” Mr Shoebridge said.


Get Serious and Impose CSG Moratorium Now: Greens

Tuesday 16 April 2013

News the Federal Government will now require much better monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from coal seam gas operations (CSG) is a shameful and belated admission the state and federal governments have given approval for CSG operations without knowing their impact, the Australian Greens said today.

"This is a shocking breach of the precautionary principle and another example of the Labor and Liberal parties racing into the arms of the miners and not being able to be trusted to look after our agricultural land and water," Australian Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne said.

"We need a moratorium on the roll out of CSG and these new conditions should apply to all existing operations immediately and their carbon liabilities adjusted accordingly.

"Why should CSG companies get away with this for another two years and not have to face the full price of their methane emissions immediately?

"The Greens have been calling for in-field measurement of methane emissions and an introduction of a water trigger for the EPBC for years and they have been ignored as the Gillard Government has not wanted to put any barriers in the way of the miners.

"Now with an election looming and residents in Western Sydney complaining and rural communities up in arms, the Gillard Government has come up with a voluntary monitoring scenario.

"The Minister needs to explain why the improved monitoring regime will only be mandatory for CSG operations where fracking has been used. What about other types of CSG operations?

"Neither the Gillard Government nor the Abbott opposition are taking the precautionary principle seriously and would prefer to give the big tick to the miners with no questions asked."



Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Hunting on Public Land Petition

The Sun Herald featured a strong editorial yesterday titled "the time is right for O'Farrell to kill off
hunting plan." In case you missed it we've reprinted it below.

This kind of positive coverage is a sign that the actions we are taking opposing hunting on public land in NSW are having a real effect on public debate in NSW.

We're still collecting signatures on our petition (attached), so please grab a few more signatures if you have time, and also share the editorial below with people you know via social media.
Hunting_on_Public_Land_Petition.pdfHunting_on_Public_Land_Petition.pdf
120K   View   Download  


Time is right for O'Farrell to kill off hunting plan

It was a pig of a plan from the start: allowing amateur shooters into national parks because the NSW government's real agenda was being held hostage by a couple of minor-party upper house MPs. Slowly but surely, the plan has unravelled as the keeper - the Game Council NSW - has become the hunted.

Two senior members of the council, installed to oversee the national parks shooting program, will appear in court in May charged with multiple offences, including hunting without permission, firing a firearm into inclosed land and possessing a prohibited weapon in a nature reserve. One of them is the chief executive of the Game Council, Greg McFarland. NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has suspended the national parks plan until the cases are resolved and a governance audit of the Game Council is complete.

He should be commended for this.

But now, the other of those men charged, Edward Hoogenboom, has admitted even he thinks shooting in national parks is a bad idea.


So does former vice-chairman of the Shooters and Fishers Party Jim Pirie, who fears a death would result in a crackdown on firearms and opportunities to hunt; never mind the grief of the family involved.

And this is where O'Farrell must step in. His job, unequivocally, is to act in the best interests of the people of NSW. The 79 national parks that shooters have in their sights are visited by more than 6 million people a year. Last year, more than 26,000 permissions were issued to hunt in state forests. That's a very compelling statistical imbalance.

O'Farrell should take advantage of the Game Council's difficulties and put an end to the plan entirely. On the other side of the deal with the Shooters Party and Christian Democrats is electricity privatisation. O'Farrell has already come up with an alternative plan to enact legislation for that - take it to the 2015 election - so there is no need to pander to the interests of minor-party upper house MPs.

On top of the charges laid against Hoogenboom and McFarland, the Greens have exposed almost a dozen examples of serious transgressions the Game Council has had to consider. These include licensed shooters being caught with prohibited firearms, using drugs and alcohol, trespassing on restricted land, illegal hunting in national parks, the use of cannabis while hunting illegally with dogs in a state forest and an unlicensed 17-year-old being allowed to shoot deer while supervised by his licensed father.

The Game Council's Hoogenboom says it best: ''National parks are for the public, the park users. There are other ways to control feral animals apart from just shooting them.''
And so say all of us.

Published originally in the Sun Herald 14 April 2013.

Hunting_on_Public_Land_Petition.pdfHunting_on_Public_Land_Petition.pdf
120K   View   Download  

Residents cut out of planning approvals in O’Farrell’s big gift for developers


Media Release – 16 April 2013

The NSW government is planning to remove any say residents have over what is built in their local
neighbourhood, with plans that most new homes will be approved in just ten days, meaning for most people the first they know the house next door will be demolished is when the bulldozers arrive.


Greens MP and Planning spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“The government is crowing about getting DAs approved in just ten days but what this means in reality is that there will be no notice or consultation with neighbours before DAs are approved.

“If this becomes law then the first notice most people will have that a new house will be built next door is when the bulldozers arrive.

“If you don’t get a say on development next door then that can lead to new development that cuts all the light from your kitchen, overshadows your backyard or new solar panels and greatly reduces the amenity of your home.

“Most new development is there for 40, 80 or 100 years and taking one or two months to get the approval right makes a great deal more sense than doing a 10 day rush job.

“This plan will tear the heart out of community consultation and is a direct betrayal of the O’Farrell government’s pre-election promise to return planning powers to the community.

“To top it off, the O’Farrell government is also planning to tax residents across NSW to pay for infrastructure to make new greenfield developments profitable for big developers. Developers should be paying for this not new homeowners who are 50 or 100 kilometers away.

“With developers getting freebies for infrastructure and up to 80% of all new development being approved in 25 days or less, this is the O’Farrell government delivering on the previous Labor government’s discredited pro-developer agenda,” Mr Shoebridge said.



Monday, 15 April 2013

Greens: Guarantee Gonski before election

14 April 2014

The Australian Greens are calling on the Gillard Government to guarantee legislation for Gonski school funding reforms will brought to Parliament before the election to ensure extra funding goes ahead.

Australian Greens spokesperson for Schools, Senator Penny Wright, urged action to protect public schools from a Tony Abbott Government.

“The Australian Greens want fair funding so every Australian child has equal opportunity,” Senator Wright said. “It is time for all State Premiers to get on board.”

“We’re willing to work with the Government get on with it and to get this passed before the next election and protect our schools from Tony Abbott’s Coalition.

“Education is the way to overcome disadvantage and create a stronger economy. What the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott needs to explain is why he doesn’t support fair funding and why he wants to keep the poorest schools poor.

“I call on all State Premiers and Tony Abbott’s Coalition to stop playing politics and go into COAG negotiations this week aiming to get the best outcomes for all Australian children.

“The Australian Greens have been pushing for Gonski to be legislated for a long time and the Prime Minister’s announcement today brings us closer to that, but this needs to be introduced to the Parliament as soon as possible so it can be passed before the election.”

“However, Labor needs to urgently re-think the drastic cuts to higher education. It is robbing Peter to pay Paul and it is a direct result of the Government’s failure to fix the mining tax.

“We can fix our schools without robbing our universities if Labor only has the political courage to stand up to the big miners.”

"Burning The Bush Isn't 'Renewable" By Senator Lee Rhiannon

8th April   
   
Should burning forest waste count under the renewable energy target? 
NO WAY

Forests serve us better while they're in the ground, writes Senator Lee Rhiannon.
Woodchipping of Australia’s native forests continues across the country, despite feeble woodchip prices and shrinking markets. The industry is desperately looking for ways to extend its life by generating an income from burning wood waste for electricity.

Granting a renewable energy subsidy for clear felling and burning our native forests would result in a massive loss of habitat and biodiversity. Logging is a significant source of carbon pollution, so it is perverse that any government would consider creating a financial incentive for the forestry industry to log and ignite native forests in the name of climate action.

Yet the Opposition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt has indicated he is in favour of the proposal. He has said not backing the initiative would "both destroy renewable energy from waste through biomass and destroy blue collar jobs".

The Climate Change Authority released its final report on the Renewable Energy Target late last year and recommended support for the use of native forest wood waste in biomass burners. This is so incongruous one is left wondering whether the Climate Change Authority is taking advice from the forestry industry.

Lobbyists for the industry are pushing the simplistic line that greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by replacing fossil fuel with native forest logging wood waste to generate electricity.
The 2003 review of the mandatory Renewable Energy Target received conflicting submissions with two main proposals. The first recommended removing wood waste from the scheme altogether. The second sought to leave native forest wood waste in but to separate it from plantation wood waste sources so that the value of renewable energy certificates from plantation wood waste generation would not be effected.

The Howard government left native forest residues in the Renewable Energy Target.
 Wood waste from native forests was removed in 2011 following agreement of the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee and after persistent campaigning by Greens Senator and climate change spokesperson Christine Milne.

Just over a year ago, during the House of Representatives debate following the passing of the clean energy future legislation, Independent MP Rob Oakeshott lodged a disallowance motion to reinstate native forest waste in the package. Oakeshott claimed his proposal would not result in one additional tree being felled because only forest waste would be eligible — a naïve argument at best.

After the vote in the lower house was tied, thankfully the Speaker used his casting vote to defeat the motion.

Some optimists thought the demise of Oakeshott's disallowance motion would finally convince the native-forest based timber industry to restructure rather than seek quick fixes to its long-term decline, but such predictions have proven premature.

On 11 December 2012 Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke announced additional funding to help implement the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement. Part of this additional funding included $25 million to support regional structural adjustment and sustainable residue solutions, and to encourage innovation in the use of plantation timber. In this case, "sustainable residue solutions" — as it was called — was code for a subsidy to help fund a new native forest biomass burner.

Just over a week later the Climate Change Authority's favourable recommendation to include the burning of native forest residues in the RET review gave further encouragement to the native forest industry's misguided strategy. The Climate Change Authority's reasoning was that if a forest would have been logged in any event then burning the wood waste in a power station is a better environmental outcome, in greenhouse gas emission terms, than burning the waste alone or allowing it to decompose.

On the surface this seems plausible, but the logic is deeply flawed. The argument goes that if wood waste from logging native forests is used to generate electricity, then this will displace fossil-fuel based generation and, as a result, reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This logic is in keeping with the Climate Change Authority's goal to find a balance between promoting investments in renewable generation and containing the costs of the arrangements to electricity users.

Andrew Macintosh, Associate Director of the ANU's Centre for Climate Law and Policy, and Richard Denniss, Executive Director of the Australia Institute, have both expertly argued their opposition to the eligibility for native forest wood waste under RET.

The first of their four arguments combats the Climate Change Authority’s claim that burning native forest wood waste to generate electricity will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the context of Australia's carbon pricing scheme this claim is unsustainable.

While Australia has a national emissions target, nothing that alters emissions within the sectors that count towards the existing emissions cap should have any impact on the national or global emissions outcome. All that a change within one participating sector will do is alter the distribution of emissions between participating sectors or countries. Even if, as the industry claims, the burning of native forest biomass did displace fossil-fuel based electricity generation, the purported reduction in total greenhouse emissions would not occur. It would simply result in more emissions coming from an alternative source.

The second argument that giving native forest biomass furnaces access to renewable energy certificates will result in a boost to renewable electricity generation is also unsustainable.
The Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) sets a compulsory amount of renewable electricity that needs to be generated each year. Including native forest wood waste in the scheme would only result in the displacement of other forms of renewable electricity. In other words, an increase in electricity generation from native forest biomass would only diminish the electricity generated by other renewable sources such as wind, solar or hydro.

Forest furnaces would also conflict with the stated aim of the LRET to lower the cost of alternative technologies more rapidly than would normally occur in the absence of financial incentives. Biomass burning is an old technology and promoting it would be at the expense of sustainable technologies.
The proposal to allow native forest biomass burners to attract Renewable Energy Certificates under the large-scale renewable energy target needs to be crossed off any Australian government’s to do list.
Australians do not want native forests and the homes they provide to wildlife become fodder for furnaces in a bid to rescue a dying industry.
Macintosh and Denniss point out:
“Ironically … the final nail in the industry’s coffin could come from the valuable carbon credits that could be generated by not harvesting native forests. While it has been spoken about for decades, the day has come where native forests are more valuable standing up than chopped down.”



Lee Rhiannon is Australian Greens Senator for New South Wales. Lee was a NSW state MP for eleven years. For four decades she worked in the social justice and environment movements. She was a founding member and former director of AID/WATCH and the Coalition for Gun Control.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...