Greens denounce Bill Shorten’s turn-back policy

Thursday, Jul 23rd, 2015

The Greens have today denounced Bill Shorten’s move to back the Abbott Government’s “turn-back” policy for refugees seeking asylum in Australia.

“Labor’s move to adopt Tony Abbott’s turn-back policy is short-sighted and will only make things harder for refugees to find safety,” Greens Immigration spokesperson Sarah Hanson-Young said today.

“Turn-backs are dangerous. They have never been about saving lives, they are about pushing people away, often to die in someone else’s waters or trapped, unable to escape harm.

“Rather than pushing refugees over the horizon to die somewhere else, Australia needs to engage in our region to help provide safer passage and options for refugees.

“If every country turned boats away, thousands of refugees would die every week and the entire refugee system would collapse. Australia must stop being so arrogant and instead help our neighbours offer safety to refugees through humanitarian assistance, resettlement and search and rescue.

“Many Labor supporters will be heartbroken to see the ALP fail to stand up to Tony Abbott’s anti-refugee rhetoric.

“Back-flipping on turn-backs is a big mistake for Labor and will only accelerate the race to the bottom.

“History has shown that every time Labor backs the Coalition on refugee policy the LNP come up with the next cruel policy, making life worse for refugees, not better.

“Leadership requires more than kowtowing to the fear campaigns of others. Many people will be upset that the Labor Party has vacated the field on human rights and common-sense.”

Note: Audio from Senator Hanson-Young’s doorstop in Adelaide this morning is attached

 

 

Media Contact: Rachel Ryan 0427 604 760

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Solar power celebration at parlt house

solar shindig photo 20-7-15Every hour, enough sunlight blasts the earth to power humanity for a year. By 2050, across the entire world, solar energy could power our computers, phones, lights, hot water – anything we use electricity for today. There would be no need to pollute the planet with oil, coal or gas. Plus, solar panels are cheap at the moment. What better way to save a heating planet?

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APPRENTICES: EXPLOITED, UNDERPAID AND DISAPPEARING

Miller-TAFE_June-2015-300x171

Low apprenticeship and traineeship completion rates, declining enrolments and rising shortages of key skills are warning signs that something is going badly wrong in a key sector of the state’s education provision.

Department figures show there are 123,481 apprentices and trainees in NSW.  Apprenticeships usually last between three and four years. Drop-out rates are high, with just over half of those who enrol completing. Enrolment rates continue to fall.

As part of their campaign for the rights of young people in education, the Young Greens are working with my office to highlight the plight of apprentices. We jointly held a forum in Ashfield on 11 June, addressed by Mark Burgess from the Electrical Trades Union, Rebel Hanlon from the CFMEU Construction Division, Phil Chadwick from the NSW Teachers Federation and Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon.

Forum speakers highlighted the challenges facing the apprentices.

  • Barriers to entry: At a time of high youth unemployment, participation is falling. The number of people starting an apprenticeship in Australia fell by 21.9% from 2013 to 2014. Finding an employer, accessing a TAFE college and purchasing the tools and equipment needed for the trade are turning too many young people away.
  • Fewer employers taking on apprentices: There has been a sustained decline in the number of apprenticeships offered. Privatisation of the state’s electricity grid is likely to exacerbate the long term trend.
  • TAFE offers less assistance: The Baird government’s Smart and Skilled competitive training market has dumped TAFE into competition with low-cost, low-quality private providers. TAFE has responded with larger classes, cuts to teacher contact hours and increased inappropriate use of on-line learning. Pre-apprentice courses and learning support have become much harder to find. Young people with diverse learning styles are increasingly struggling to successfully complete their course work.
  • Federal assistance has cut: Grants to help apprentices purchase the tools and equipment they need (‘Tools for Your Trade’) have been replaced by the Abbott government with an income-contingent (HECS) loan for $20,000 (‘Trade Support Loans’). Many students cannot afford their tools and are turned away by the prospect of starting their working lives with a substantial debt.
  • Unliveable pay and conditions: Despite pay increases in 2013, many apprenticeship rates are below those for unskilled employment.

While apprentices receive one day a week release from work to attend TAFE, some employer groups are seeking to revert to night school or to force apprentices to spend two years studying full-time without wages before they receive on-the-job paid work and training.

Many employers prefer to employ overseas workers on 457 visas than train apprentices.

As NSW faces both increased expenditure on infrastructure and a growing issue of youth unemployment, government purchasing should focus on demanding contractors take on apprentices and support them throughout their training.

For more information: John Kaye 0407 195 455

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VULNERABLE APARTMENT OWNERS SERVED UP TO BIG DEVELOPERS

Proposed changes to NSW’s strata title laws would see many elderly and vulnerable apartment owners turfed out of their homes to fatten up the profits of developers and other residents, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

Innovation and Better Regulation Minister Victor Dominello released draft legislation yesterday that would allow a strata title to be terminated and the land and buildings sold or redeveloped even if up to 25 per cent of the owners objected.

Owners could have flats sold from under them if laws go ahead,’ Sydney Morning Herald, 16 July, p. 2

Collective sale and renewal reforms’ NSW Office of Fair Trading, July 2015

Dr Kaye said: “The long-awaited draft of the strata laws contains a massive gift for the greedy at the expense of the vulnerable and elderly.

“Politically powerful real estate developers have won the argument and are set to be gifted a much lower barrier to getting their hands on older unit blocks.

“The frail and the vulnerable will be forcibly evicted from out their homes to allow the big developers to get their hands on prime real estate.

“This is the law that the Property Council would have written to set their members up for windfall profits.

“Instead of having to win over all of the owners or prove that the block can no longer be reasonably repaired, the tyranny of the majority can evict the minority from their homes.

“Lucrative offers might appeal to some unit owners, but others will see their plans for their last days of independent living destroyed.

“The Baird-Grant government has once again proved that it is the powerful vested interests that call the shots, even when it is the frail, the vulnerable and the elderly who are being sacrificed.

“The promise of advice and advocacy services is window dressing. A determined and well-cashed-up developer will have no difficulty in winning over the necessary 75 percent of owners, leaving the others powerless and evicted, regardless of the advice and so-called support they receive.

“The legislation will be a test for Labor.

“We will be moving to strike out these provisions when the bills come before parliament.

“If Labor is still caught up in their old habits of being the puppets of the developer lobby they will work with the government to disenfranchise flat owners.

“With Labor and conservative cross-bench support for our amendment, every flat owner will be better protected from the well-oiled developer industry and the pressure it can bring to bear on owners’ corporations,” Dr Kaye said.

For more information: John Kaye 0407 195 455

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FIT FOR THE FUTURE’ CREATING TURMOIL IN LOCAL COUNCILS

Canada Bay Council is the latest victim of the Coalition government’s ham-fisted attempts to force unpopular mergers on local councils, a process which is causing division, distrust and dysfunction across NSW local government. Just one week ago Canada Bay had resolved to stand alone and not merge with adjoining councils despite pressure from the State government.

However last night a minority of ALP councillors took advantage of a colleague’s absence to overturn the council’s position and propose a merger with Burwood, Auburn and Strathfield Councils. To add insult to injury the same councillors then moved a rescission motion and deliberately voted it down to avoid the democratic majority on Council returning to a stand-alone position when the absent councillor returns from leave.

Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“The Coalition government’s ‘Fit for the Future’ agenda is causing serious dysfunction, division and distrust across NSW councils.

“The government needs to abandon its local government scare campaign that is pitching councillors against each other as they try to avoid the heavy hand of the state government.

“These kinds of shenanigans, where the ALP councillors move a rescission motion with the clear intent to vote it down, give politics a deservedly bad name.

“This minority of ALP councillors have ignored the wishes of 70% of the people of Canada Bay who are dead against their council merging.

“The state government should now accept that the ‘Fit for the Future’ agenda is hopelessly compromised and needs to be abandoned in favour of a far more constructive engagement with local councils and communities,” Mr Shoebridge said.

Canada Bay Greens Councillor Pauline Tyrell said:

“I’ll be asking other councillors to support an extraordinary meeting for Council to suspend any submission to IPART while an urgent independent legal review of the ALP councillors’ abuse of the rescission motion is conducted.

“The mechanism of a rescission motion is designed to correct a situation where one or more Councillors are absent and their vote might make a material difference to the Council’s vote.

“The rescission motion can only be used once in any three month period, so to deliberately lose it at a meeting where they happen to have the numbers because councillors are absent is nothing short of a scandal.

“I believe the Council’s actions may well have been unlawful last night and we need an urgent legal investigation.

“As a Greens councillor, I will always stand with my residents, who have told me they don’t want Canada Bay becoming part of an inner west mega-council,” said Cr Tyrrell.

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Canada Bay Council votes unanimously to remain independent

In a blow to the NSW Government’s plans to create huge super councils in Sydney  Canada Bay Council has voted unanimously to remain independent.

A report by Council staff noted that merging with the six inner west Councils recommended by the NSW Government would cost ratepayers $96m in transition costs and result in a funding shortfall of $70m which would require 10 years of operation to break even.

Greens Councillor Pauline Tyrrell successfully moved the motion that Canada Bay submit a stand alone proposal to the NSW Government.

‘I congratulate all my fellow councillors for their support of the independence of Canada Bay.’ said Clr Tyrrell.

‘Canada Bay Council was formed by an amalgamation of Drummoyne and Concord Councils in 2000. We know how disruptive an amalgamation can be and how long it takes the scars to heal.’

‘With 87,000 residents, a growing population and sound financial performance there is no reason Canada Bay should be forced to merge, particularly when 70% of residents surveyed independently said they want to remain as Canada Bay.’

‘I particularly congratulate my Liberal councillor colleagues for being clear that they support an independent Canada Bay and also having the courage to vote how they did even though it does not accord with the NSW Liberal Government agenda.’

‘I also want to thank the Mayor of Canada Bay for his clear support of my motion and allowing full debate on all the options.’

‘I understand that Auburn, Burwood and Leichhardt Council have all reluctantly said that if they have to amalgamate they would do so with Canada Bay. I hope this vote at Canada Bay sends a message that we represent our community who have said no to amalgamations, and we will not amalgamate with any of those Councils.’

Clr Pauline Tyrrell

Mob. 0438 694 652

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10 facts about Richard Di Natale

1. He’s a doctor

Richard worked as a GP all over the country, from Geelong to Tennant Creek where he worked in an Aboriginal health service. Richard’s work in public health also took him to India where he worked to combat the spread of HIV.

 

2. He speaks fluent Italian

Richard’s family is part of the wonderful Australian experiment called multiculturalism, and their story is not an uncommon one. His father came from Siracusa in Sicily at age 29 and learned English while doing his apprenticeship to become a sparky. His mum and her parents came here from San Marco, a small village in Southern Italy and opened up a grocery store in Brunswick.

 

3. He lives on a farm

Richard lives with his wife and two boys on a farm in the foothills of the Otway Ranges. The farm is home to cows, chickens and pigs and Richard makes his own homemade vino and olive oil.

 

4. He’s a sports tragic

A long suffering Richmond supporter, Richard was himself a ruck rover in the VFA for six years. A knee injury put an end to his footy days, but he’s still loves to play golf or cricket when he gets a chance.

 

5. He knows a lot about dogs

As a child Richard tried to convince his parents to buy him a puppy by studying up on dogs as proof of his commitment. His plan failed but Richard continues to claim that identifying dog breeds is his superpower.

 

6. His favourite movies are…

The Godfather and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He also loved watching the Muppets movie with his kids.

 

7. He went to Ebola-affected West Africa

Richard travelled to Sierra Leone and Liberia during the peak of the Ebola crisis. As a Senator with a background in public health, Richard felt he had an opportunity to shine a light on the situation, meet with key people on the ground who were leading the global response, and to allay fears about people from the area.

 

8. He has a passion for photography

Richard has a passion for photography and at one stage of life he briefly considered pursuing it professionally. He even has a diploma in freelance photography.

 

9. He loves to surf

One of the reasons Richard loves living in the Otways is the proximity to the Surf Coast. He’s a keen surfer, but he’s no Kelly Slater.

 

10. He makes a mean pizza

True to his Italian roots, Richard loves to make pizza in his outdoor wood fired oven.

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Coalition government shows its true colours on forced amalgamations

The Coalition has today opposed a Parliamentary motion moved by the Greens in support of local government and the rights of community members to determine the future of their own councils.

The government’s opposition shows its plan to force local government amalgamations even where councils are financially sustainable and have the support of their communities.

Greens MP and Spokesperson for Local Government David Shoebridge said:

“The Coalition government has today shown its true colours on forced amalgamations by refusing to support the right of local communities to determine their own future.

“This government talks about empowering local government yet none of their actions live up to this rhetoric.

“Only a government with an anti-community agenda would oppose a resolution that supports the right of members of communities to determine the future of their own Local Councils and opposes the forced amalgamations of councils that are financially sustainable and have the support of their communities.

“The Greens have said all along that Fit for the Future is an attempt to push forced amalgamations by stealth and the government’s opposition to this motion further evidences that.

“Across NSW, people have strong links with their local council and it is undemocratic for local voices to be silenced by Premier Baird and his friends in big business.

“Forced amalgamations, bigger bureaucracies and less democracy is not the answer for local government.

“The Greens support local areas having the right to amalgamate where there is genuine community support but we will oppose any legislation that forces unwilling communities to merge.” Mr Shoebridge said.

The terms of the motion moved by the Greens and opposed by the Coalition are as follows:

Mr Shoebridge says—
Mr PRESIDENT:
I give notice that on the next sitting day I will move:
1. That this House supports the right of members of communities to determine the future of their own Local Councils.
2. That this House opposes the forced amalgamations of councils that are financially sustainable and have the support of their communities.
Media contact: David Shoebridge 9230 3030 or 0408 113 952

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