Fund TAFE First: The Greens alternate vision to training privatisation

The Greens have announced that they will be moving to protect TAFE’s public funding from competition and slash fees, in a $900 million boost to the public provider’s annual secure budget.

Under the Greens’ “Fund TAFE First” replacement program for the Baird government’s “Smart and Skilled”, the public provider would have first access to all funds for each course that it teaches or could teach.

According to Greens NSW MP John Kaye, this would reinstate more than $600 million a year to TAFE’s secure budget and enable TAFE to restore the 1,100 staff positions that have been deleted since the Baird government moved to impose the ‘Smart and Skilled’ training market.

TAFE colleges would be able to reverse the cuts to courses, colleges and contact hours, reinstate face-to-face teaching, including where it have been replaced by on-line, and restore outreach programs and services for students with disability.

The Greens also announced an additional $180 million a year to cut fees and a process for negotiating with the Commonwealth to restore publicly funded Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas. This money would come from existing state funding of non-government schools. TAFE would be free for most students.

Greens NSW MP John Kaye said: “TAFE has been brought to its knees by a decade and a half of policies that have stripped out its budget and increasingly handed the money over to for-profit training corporations.

“TAFE is critical to the future of NSW. The quality and affordability of vocational education and training has to be protected from privatisation and the impacts of unfair competition with profit-focused corporations.

“Voters in Victoria and Queensland changed governments in part because they were deeply disturbed by what they saw happening to TAFE in their states.

“Now it’s NSW’s turn to decide on the future of skills training and education in this State.”

Dr Kaye said that while his party felt that there should be no competition for TAFE’s budget, the worst case scenario should be a limit of no more than 15 percent of public funds, applied on a course-by-course basis and for-profit private providers should be excluded from receiving public funding.

The Greens will also initiate a wide-ranging inquiry into competitive funding and the impacts of changes to vocational education and training over the past two decades, including the introduction of training packages. The inquiry would look at the fundamental causes of the change from public responsibility for education and training to market-based allocation for training.

For more information: Julie Macken 9045 6999

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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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Government privatisation gives with one hand takes away with the other

While Premier Mike Baird is holding the inner city community to ransom with the redevelopment of the Cleveland St school dependent on his wires and poles privatisation, he is also quietly selling off the Bridge St Education Department headquarters, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

(‘$60m high-rise high school for city’, Sydney Morning Herald, 16 Feb, p. 3, http://j.mp/1L1gT3L)

Dr Kaye said: “Mike Baird’s privatisation program gives with one hand and takes away with the other.

“While the Cleveland St development will provide much needed additional high school capacity in the City’s south, the site that could provide for the next increase in student numbers is scheduled for sale to the tourism industry.

“In NSW governments never learn from past mistakes.

“At the very least, the Bridge St site should be kept in public hands to make sure that inner city communities don’t face another education capacity crisis in ten years.

“The Liberal-Nationals’ pea-and-thimble privatisation game will take away public control over the future of the electricity industry and turn the obvious site for the next increase in student numbers into a luxury hotel.

“The Greens congratulate the parents and communities in the Inner City who lobbied so tirelessly and effectively to force the NSW government to act.

“However providing quality public education in Parramatta, Inner Sydney and across NSW should not be dependent on selling public assets.

“Ensuring that the Intensive English Centre is moved to an equally accessible and appropriate location is also essential,” Dr Kaye said.

For more information: John Kaye Media release: 16 February 2015

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Have your say about the Parramatta Road Urban Renewal Strategy

Parramatta Rd WestConnex Jan/Feb 2013 Model released? No Strathfield

The Draft Parramatta Road Urban Renewal Strategy has finally been released by UrbanGrowth NSW, thanks to political pressure. It is only on exhibition until 12 February 2015.

The Strategy proposes overriding local planning controls and could impose high rise residential development of up to 25 storeys onto large parts of Leichhardt, Lilyfield, Annandale and Camperdown.

The Strategy contains no public transport plans, no new open space for sporting fields and playgrounds and no new childcare centres, schools or community facilities to support the significant increase in population proposed. The timeline suggests that rezoning could start as early as next year.

Councils have raised concerns about the poor quality of the high density development maps and the general lack of information in the strategy.

Following exhibition until 12 February 2015, a report will be prepared by Urban Growth which will guide the development of more detailed rezoning plans for high rise development in the Inner West and West. It is therefore critical to make a submission on the Parramatta Road Urban Renewal Strategy now.
Get Informed and Involved
Read the Draft Strategy at the New Parramatta Road website
There is an online survey, however please be aware that this survey does not provide opportunity to respond to the proposed high rise development which is, in fact, the key issue. The survey limits its scope to some very general questions and to the aesthetics of Parramatta Road itself. Doing the survey alone is therefore not enough and it is important to also make a written submission.

Written submissions should be sent it to: info@newparramattard.com.au. You can also visit in person at the New Parramatta Road Public Display Office. Urban Growth NSW team members can answer your questions and provide information at the display office.

 

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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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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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The Greens announce candidate for Drummoyne

Greens candidate for Drummoyne, Alice Mantel

Greens candidate for Drummoyne, Alice Mantel

With the NSW State election 7 months away, the Greens have announced Alice Mantel as their candidate for the seat of Drummoyne.

I think it’s going to be a very volatile election this time,” said Ms Mantel. “There are so many issues to engage electors. Whether it’s the political integrity of our politicians or the lack of transparency in the proposed Westconnex project, most residents will have an issue that will directly concern them.”

In the Drummoyne electorate, she sees residents as being very concerned about the effect of the proposed WestConnex tollway on the amenity of the area, on the properties adjacent to the roadway and the increased road traffic which is likely to follow the widening of the road.

For a project which has not given any evidence of its supposed benefits, voters have real concerns about the lack of planning information and detailed costing for the proposal. Residents also face great uncertainty with the apparent changes in the actual route,” said Ms Mantel. “Instead of providing a coordinated transport plan with public transport alternatives, the tollway just reinforces the reliance of workers on their own vehicle to get to work. In a year or two the roads will be as congested as they are now, but residents will also be charged an estimated $4.50 each way on top of the costs of fuel and car use.”

Link this up with the proposed North West Rail Link and we still do not have an integrated transport system which enables commuters to travel easily around Sydney to get to work. Public transport infrastructure is the first and essential element of any new transport plan rather than just tunnels and roads. Putting the same amount of money into public transport instead would have far more benefit for many more people.

Ms Mantel is a lawyer and has lived in the local and inner west areas for the past 8 years. She runs her own legal practice focusing on family law but has also had extensive experience in the public sector. She has long had an interest in social justice issues particularly in relation to the treatment of refugees by the current and the previous Federal governments which she believes have been contrary to international law conventions.

From my perspective, the Greens have policies which focus on jobs and social justice for all, not just to benefit cronies of the winning party. Members of both of the recent State governments have had connections with corrupt individuals and have acted to benefit themselves at the expense of taxpayers,” said Ms Mantel.

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

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Protect NSW’s renewable energy future

Protect NSW's renewable energy futureThe future of the most cost effective renewable energy technology in NSW is now at risk. The capacity to cut 17 million tonnes of CO2 from the state’s greenhouse gas emissions while creating 4,000 new jobs could be lost if the $10 billion worth of wind farm developments currently proposed for NSW are driven away by guidelines proposed by the O’Farrell government.

The Greens urge you to write a submission opposing the highly restrictive provisions of the O’Farrell government’s Draft NSW Planning Guidelines: Wind Farms.

A guide to making a submission can be found here.

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