Canada Bay Greens submission on council amalgamations

A major issue affecting the people of Canada Bay, and across Sydney, is the NSW Government’s controversial council amalgamations, with the Government intending to amalgamate the councils of Canada Bay, Burwood and Strathfield, amongst many others across NSW.

Here is the Canada Bay Greens submission regarding the proposed merger.

Related issues include:

  • Westconnex, the NSW Government’s tollway nightmare, related because amalgamated councils will be less connected to local opposition by people whom this badly affects. Also,
  • “Urban Growth” which imposes the Government’s overwhelming skyscraper development plans on Sydney residents who have little idea about it, and little chance of affecting the outcomes. Again, council amalgamations make it harder for local opposition by disconnecting people from the council supposed to represent them.

Westconnex and “Urban Growth” are similar in that both impose massive change on residents, who have little chance to object, and are paid low recompense when their land is compulsorily acquired.

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Preventing domestic & family violence

Graphic - Prevention is the key to ending domestic & family violenceIn NSW, three-quarters of all women killed die at the hands of someone they were in a relationship with, about two in five of all assaults are domestic violence related, about 370 instances of domestic and family violence a day are dealt with by police but only half are reported.

These stark and shocking statistics highlight the unacceptability and injustice of domestic and family violence, meaning we need a fresh approach based on not just mitigating its effects but stopping it in the first place. According to a 2010 NSW Auditor-General’s Report ‘Responding to Domestic and Family Violence’, domestic and family violence is estimated to cost the NSW economy more than $4.5 billion each year.

The Greens NSW plan to end domestic and family violence

The Greens NSW plan recognises the critical importance of investment in primary prevention of family violence that impacts the psychological and physical safety of women and children.

WHAT CAN BE DONE

  • Appointing a Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence tasked with ensuring integration and coordination across government agencies, the community sector and the justice system.
  • Investing in violence prevention initiatives across all parts of society – communities, schools, workplaces, businesses, sport and recreation settings, and the media.
  • Funding targeted education programs in schools from early childhood to high school to build awareness of gender stereotyping, inequality and attitudes that encourage violence.
  • Funding community and workplace based initiatives to prevent violence and foster respectful and equal relationships between men and women.
  • Funding specialised services to support men and boys who are at risk or have a history of violent behaviour in domestic and family situations to acknowledge and change behaviour.
  • Restoring funding and increasing to women-only specialist services, refuges and shelters, and increasing funding to these services in rural/regional areas.
  • Investing in programs and services that meet the specific needs of at risk groups, such as Aboriginal, immigrant.
  • Investing in trauma informed support services for women and children that support and enable healing, including accommodation and post-crisis services.
  • Investing in skills development for community workers at the front line of supporting victims of domestic and family violence.
  • A safe and supportive justice system. Improving the justice system by providing access to specialist family violence support workers, court staff and magistrates who understand the dynamics of family violence, and increase funding for free legal advice for women.

The Coalition Government’s fractured response to the complex issue of domestic and family violence has forced uncertainty, competition and closure upon a sector whose core aim is to provide stability and support to those escaping domestic and family violence situations.  The rollout of the Government’s Going Home Staying Home program has seen the decimation of autonomous women’s refuges with scores of services forced to either close or hand their operation over to a larger generalist service, many with funding, staff and 24 hour access cuts.

We are particularly failing regional woman with 19 of the top 20 Local Government Areas (LGAs) with the highest rate of domestic assaults being regional, areas already suffering from a lack of services.

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Join us and Walk to save our Water

walk4waterimage

Building on the long history of walking for social justice – from Mohandas Gandhi to Martin Luther King – Sydney residents can walk to save our drinking water from being drained and cracked by mining exploration, starting on 21 February.

The journey will begin at 10am at the Cataract Dam on Saturday February 21 and end at State Parliament at midday Saturday February 28. Anyone can walk for as little as half an hour or as long as they like.

Greens candidate for Drummoyne, Alice Mantel will be walking on Thursday 26 February starting at Parramatta and ending at the Auburn Botanical Gardens.

Coal seam gas (CSG) fracking is now taking place within 300m of housing in the Camden and Campbelltown regions. The walk will pass these areas on the first and second days.

Most of Sydney is covered by Coal Seam Gas exploration licenses. These were temporarily frozen by the state government, but can be reactivated at any time. Apex Energy has a license near Warragamba Dam, and more recently the State Government’s Chief Scientist report could open the door to more fracking in Sydney’s water catchment.

The NSW State government is dismantling Sydney Catchment Authority at a time when its expert knowledge on protecting drinking water from mining is crucial.

In addition, the Federal government has offered funding to State governments as an incentive to privatise water. Premier Mike Baird welcomed this but has not yet publicly introduced the idea of privatisation. This could easily occur after the forthcoming NSW state election in March.

Ms Mantel called upon Premier Baird to rule out any such privatisation. “Protecting the precious water reserves of NSW requires banning all coal seam gas mining and keeping all water in government hands in trust for the citizens of the state,” she said.

Some of Sydney’s most reliable rainfall-fed drinking water sources have been cracked and drained by underground longwall coal mining, upstream from Woronora, Cataract, Cordeaux and Avon dams. The route will include stops to meet the Mining Minister, multi-cultural and multi-faith events and a rally to support Sydney Water employees.

A map of the route and further details can be found at www.walk4water.net

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Greens candidate calls for more State funding for Legal Aid

Alice Mantel campaign photo-reducedPress release from Alice Mantel, Greens candidate for Drummoyne

Legal aid is not currently available for all who need it. The NSW Government needs to provide more funds in this area,” said Alice Mantel, family law lawyer, and Greens candidate for Drummoyne. She called for immediate action on the issue by the NSW Government.

Ms Mantel was responding to a recent report of the Productivity Commission which has found that State and Territory governments need to provide an additional $200 million a year for Legal Aid Commissions to meet their stated service priorities.

The Commission report titled “Access to Justice Arrangements” and released on 3 December 2014 found that legal assistance funding for civil matters had not kept pace with increasing costs and demand.

The result was a growing ‘justice gap’ for the disadvantaged: those who would take private legal action to defend their rights, but do not have the resources to do so and who do not meet the restrictive means tests used by Legal Aid Commissions to determine eligibility.

The report identified gaps in service delivery particularly affecting family law matters, domestic violence and care and protection of children, including independent lawyer services for children. Other gaps were identified in civil law areas such as employment and tenancy law.

This report highlights a long-standing community issue which makes justice inaccessible for tens of thousands of people in NSW,” she said. “Urgent interim funding is required to meet the shortfall created since the Australian government cut funding to community legal centres, Aboriginal legal services and Aboriginal family violence prevention legal services in last year’s Federal Budget.”

The Commission’s report confirms that the current funding levels are extremely restrictive and only assist the most severely impoverished rather than providing assistance to all disadvantaged clients,” said Ms Mantel.

 The income tests used for Legal Aid are below many established measures of relative poverty. It is not the case that people are ‘too wealthy’ to be eligible for legal assistance, but rather that they are ‘not sufficiently impoverished’.”

Short-sighted budget cuts in this area have not only caused havoc for the affected people who are locked out of the justice system, but actually add to long-term costs, with unresolved problems shifted to other agencies.”

The Productivity Commission report acknowledges the severe social and economic impacts of an inaccessible and underfunded justice system and also recommends that Governments should fund services for strategic advocacy and law reform activities that identify and remedy systemic issues and so reduce demand for frontline services,” said Ms Mantel.

“In family law matters for example, the Commission found that not only was a relatively simple Court case likely to cost a party between $20,000 and $40,000, but it also cost the government in a Family Court matter on average $5,000 and where cases proceed to a final hearing, the average cost to government is in the order of $20,000.”

Contact: Alice Mantel, ph 9702 5761; email: alice.mantel@canadabaygreens.org 17/01/15

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Auditor-General slams WestConnex process

Alice Mantel campaign photo-reducedPress release from Alice Mantel, Greens candidate for Drummoyne

The release of the Auditor General’s report into the WestConnex toll road confirms community disquiet about how this Government is pushing through this project,” said Alice Mantel, Greens candidate for the State seat of Drummoyne.

The report highlights this Government’s failure to go through best practice independent reviews that have resulted in the preliminary business case being ‘deficient and fell well short of the standard required for such a document’.”

It is concerning that both the Liberal Government and the Labor Opposition continue to push for the WestConnex toll road to be built when the project and the process have so many flaws. The one and only external review of the preliminary Westconnex business case was done in June 2013 and there was so little information that the reviewers could not form a view as to whether it represented value for money.”

This Government has not been listening to the numerous community meetings that have been held in Haberfield, St Peters and Concord in the past 6 months and at each of these meetings, residents have expressed their concern that this $15 billion dollar project has not been properly scoped or costed. The Auditor-General’s report confirms that the project has not met any review processes as to funding and value for money.”

This is scandalous. But even worse to see it from a government who promised to clean up after 11 Liberal politicians have resigned, stepped down or stepped out – that’s unbelievable. There is no transparency here.”

This government has no idea about public transport. Imagine any big city – New York, London or Moscow – without an extensive underground rail system. Imagine any international city seriously planning a 33km tolled mainly underground motorway that does not include an extensive rail system. Then imagine a government that announces a motorway, begins to purchase properties but then changes its route without any accurate costing, engineering study or environmental impact statement.”

The Greens are calling for this Government to make its business case public before the March 2015 election and to answer the questions around cost benefit, traffic projections and financial analysis of the proposed toll road.

Contact: Alice Mantel, ph 9702 5761; email: alice.mantel@canadabaygreens.org 23/12/14

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Have yourself a Greener little Christmas

CandleYou don’t have to be a Grinch to have a Green holiday season. It should be a time to think about reducing waste as well as giving sustainable gifts to friends and family.

“At Christmas time, the message is not just about receiving things but also about doing things that are good for other people and for the environment. And we can all be just a little bit green while we enjoy this festive time of the year,” said Greens candidate for the Drummoyne State electorate, Alice Mantel.

“We can all do such things as donating to local and international aid agencies or giving vouchers for activities instead of giving another plastic present,” said Alice. “Or making a handmade present, or giving an IOU to do something for somebody like cleaning their oven. It actually means more than giving an unwanted present that just ends up in the back of the cupboard.”

Some alternative options you might consider –

  • Make a donation to a local or international aid charity instead of giving an unwanted gift.
  • Give your time to someone who needs a visit.
  • Give a voucher for an activity rather than giving a gift.
  • Make your own handmade gifts using local produce to make special cakes, jams or chutney.
  • Give battery-free gifts to reduce impacts on landfill.
  • Think globally, buy locally. Buy gifts from local crafts people who use local recyclable materials.
  • Give green gifts – trees, plants, flowers or seeds.
  • Make a blood donation.

Recycle

  • Give your old books, toys, food and makeup to charitable organisations.
  • It’s ok to re-gift an unwanted present. Give it to someone who can use your gift – just make sure it wasn’t the donor!
  • Re-use wrapping paper, old comics, magazines or use shopping bags to wrap your gifts. Keep little used wrapping for next time.
  • Replace or re-use light ornaments using LED light bulbs which use only 10% of the energy of incandescent bulbs.
  • Leftover food tastes even better on the next day when made into a casserole.

Renew

  • Use timber, cotton and natural items as a centrepiece on your table or when making decorations, wrapping items and making gifts.
  • Decorate a potted tree or plant rather than an artificial tree with shells, driftwood, ribbons, fruit and handmade decorations.
  • Don’t run down your credit card to buy your Christmas cheer.

On the day

  • Volunteer to help an aid agency serve Christmas lunch.
  • Use a fan and turn off the air conditioner.
  • Share a car when travelling to your celebration event or jump on your bike.
  • Use organic or locally produced meat, fish or veggies for your lunch or dinner.
  • Put veggie food scraps into the compost.
  • Don’t forget a little food gift for your pets.
  • Be a tourist at home rather than going on international holidays.

Contact: Alice Mantel, ph 9702 5761; email: alice.mantel@canadabaygreens.org 27/11/14

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Say NO to the politics of fear – Opinion piece for Ciao magazine, November 2014

rant cioa mag-1026497-6 - ImageOnly

Alice Mantel, Greens candidate for Drummoyne

The apparently reasonable idea of “protecting Australian borders” from boat arrivals conceals a subtle but implicit racism. Amidst the absurdity of Australia needing protection from a few wooden boats with refugees, this slogan uses the threat of strangers, especially dark skinned, and especially Islamic, as the reason behind stopping refugee boats coming to our shores.

We are now seeing a government campaign worse than the decision to send troops to Iraq to fight in a poorly thought out war. It is not an isolated response but part of this government’s policy of promoting irrational fear to support both racism and hatred of Muslims, who have become a convenient scapegoat. We see this government focusing on security for its own sake, because fear allows leaders to take steps which would otherwise not be possible. The Abbott government harnesses our fear of Muslims through new counter-terrorism laws which include limiting the freedom of the press, increasing anti-terrorism raids, and nearly “banning the burqa” by trying to stop covered women entering the Parliament.

The government’s response to the arrival of refugees by boat has significantly damaged Australia’s reputation as a supporter of international law and human rights. The decision by both major parties to commence and increase offshore processing of refugees is unlawful, irrational and excessively expensive. It cannot be sustained in the long-term.

This policy totally reverses the 1950s decision by Robert Menzies (founder of the Liberal Party) to open the doors to those seeking asylum by signing the Refugee Convention, conveniently ignored by his current heirs.

This policy has already resulted in two unnecessary and unlawful deaths of refugees in the care and custody of the Government’s contractors. More chillingly, while offshore processing in Nauru and Manus has been in place for over 2 years, no policy yet clearly states the performance indicators that the Government must meet to process refugee applications. These people face an endless hopelessness that one day they may be resettled somewhere to some country, whether PNG, Cambodia or Nauru, that is ill-equipped to receive them.

Research shows the devastating mental health impacts on adults and children under these conditions. The Greens stand for alternatives to this policy, which begin by recognising that Australia can actually implement humane and workable options that meet its treaty obligations. We can increase the number of refugees allowed, we can close down all offshore processing centres and abolish artificial “migration zone” rules. All refugees can have their application considered and processed in a reasonable time, with a visa to allow them to work and receive medical treatment while their children attend school.

There is another way beyond fear.

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Morrison’s real failure is his refusal to treat refugees as human beings

The Abbott Government must commit to quickly and fairly processing the asylum claims of 157 Tamils who will reach the Australian mainland”, said Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

“The Immigration Minister is a spectacular failure by his own measure, as well as the measure of the international community and decent, caring Australians, said Senator Hanson-Young , Green’s  immigration spokesperson.

“The Abbott Government has spent weeks showing nothing but contempt for the Parliament, the courts and the Australian people’s right to know by acting illegally and failing to treat refugees as human beings with dignity.

“This shameful spectacle, that has seen the government making up cruel policy on the run, will continue until the people on this boat are offered genuine and permanent protection.  The Abbott Government must guarantee that the people on this boat will be given access to their lawyers.

“After the traumatic experience that the children on this boat have been put through, the Government must give assurances that they won’t be sent to Nauru or Christmas Island.

 (25/7/14 Sen Sarah Hanson-Young)

media-releases

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EIS Reveals More Congestion After WestConnex is Built

Greens MP and Transport Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, has responded to the Environmental Impact Statement released for the M4 East Widening Stage of the WestConnex toll road.

Dr Faruqi said:

“The widening will just shift the bottleneck of the M4 a few kilometres further down the road. Even if motorists have a faster run on the widened and tolled M4, they will still be essentially sitting in a paid car park when they reach Parramatta road, which the Government’s own consultants admit will remain the most direct road for a large number of trips even if the whole of WestConnex is built.

“In the EIS, the Government’s own numbers predict increased congestion on surrounding roads such as Parramatta Road if WestConnex is built, which will also delay bus services and impede access to train stations”.

“It is concerning that some traffic modelling assumptions are inadequate, utilising anecdotal evidence and Brisbane-based data, which means WestConnex runs the same risks as the failed Lane Cove Tunnel.

“The case for the WestConnex toll road is unraveling and the Greens will continue to work with the community and transport experts to expose WestConnex for what it is: a wasteful, unnecessary and expensive $13 billion dollar toll road to nowhere.

“The Government needs to commit the billions of dollars earmarked for the wasteful WestConnex toll road to effective and efficient public transport that gives people options to leave their cars at home, and reduces congestion for people that have to use their car” she concluded.

 

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LiberalNationals back fracking as Gloucester residents get shafted

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham condemned the government’s renewal of AGL’s Petroleum Exploration Licence (PEL 285) over the Gloucester Valley, saying it was the start of fracking in NSW again and that local residents were being given less protection than those in Western Sydney.

Coal seam gas activity is banned within 2km of urban areas, however AGL has been given permission to frack within a few hundred metres of houses at the outskirts of the town of Gloucester.

“This is a clear signal that the Liberal and National parties are pro-fracking and pro-coal seam gas,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“This is a dark day for NSW with the Baird government giving the green light to fracking once again, including within a few hundred metres of people’s homes in Gloucester, while people in Western Suburbs enjoy a 2 kilometre buffer zone.

“The community is overwhelmingly opposed, the scientists have warned of contamination of groundwater and the Manning River, and there is no clear plan to dispose of waste products.

“The local community will blockade fracking in the Gloucester Valley, just as they resisted at Bentley in the Northern Rivers and elsewhere,” he said.

(6/8/14 Jeremy Buckingham, MP)

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