Forced WestConnex home acquisitions unfair

Despite a finding by a parliamentary committee, for the past 3 years, the NSW Government has known that the process for valuing homes forcibly acquired for major infrastructure projects – including WestConnex – is unfair to home owners.

As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald (p1) this morning a parliamentary committee chaired by Liberal MP Matt Kean found the compulsory acquisition system is “unfair and inadequate”. Yet the Government has forged ahead, acquiring a number of homes along the WestConnex route, with many more targeted for acquisition in the coming months.

MP for Newtown and NSW Greens WestConnex spokesperson Jenny Leong has called for a moratorium on all home acquisitions until a fair process has been determined and an independent inquiry of WestConnex has been undertaken.

“This is yet another reason why the construction of WestConnex needs to be halted until a full inquiry is undertaken. With the whole WestConnex project looking shakier by the day, people should not be forced out of their communities for what is looking more and more likely to be a failed project.

“Over the past year I have been in direct contact with extremely distressed residents, some of whom have lived in their homes for 40 years, that are facing the loss of their homes.  The impact on so many families, elderly people and individuals is life-changing – it’s disgraceful.

“Families are being forcibly uprooted removed from their homes and communities, before planning approvals have even been granted. Without sufficient compensation these families are unable to find a new home in the same local area – and that’s unacceptable.

“Why hasn’t the Government taken the advice of a parliamentary committee chaired by one of its own MPs? Does it have something to do with the already massive budget blowout on this disaster of a project?

“The community opposition to WestConnex is clear. It seems like every other week there’s a new story about cost blowouts, health concerns, lack of transparency – and now confirmation that the Government is taking advantage of people who happen to live along the route, by not offering them fair and just compensation,” she said.

11 January 2016

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Showdown between Community and Coalition on forced council amalgamations

 

Council_Amalgamations_2

The NSW Government’s forced amalgamations plans for local councils have been announced.

The forced amalgamations will cut the number of councils from 152 to 112. In Sydney, 43 councils will be reduced to 25, while 109 regional councils will become 87.

NSW Premier Mike Baird has said the target population size for the proposed merged Sydney councils was 150,000.

State-wide opposition to forced amalgamations has already seen Mike Baird’s merger plans ‘Fit for the Future’ scaled back significantly.  Growing community opposition means that the plans are far from guaranteed.

Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“When a government dribbles out an unpopular policy a week before Christmas it’s a pretty clear sign that it’s feeling a lot of pain and just wants it to stop.

“For all the bluster and arrogance of the Baird government the proposed forced amalgamations on the table today are far less aggressive than his plans were earlier in the year.

“Six months ago the Baird government was planning to have a mass sacking of councils to appoint administrators and force Sydney into just six mega councils with dozens more council mergers in the bush.

“Growing community pressure has already forced a back down from Baird with no councils being sacked and a much reduced plan for forced mergers across the State.

“The Coalition now faces six months of even greater public pressure as each and every one of their proposed forced amalgamations grinds through separate public inquiries run by the Boundaries Commission.

“It’s no surprise this is being announced just before Christmas, it’s is a rubbish policy from an arrogant  government that knows forced amalgamations are deeply unpopular.

“What has been announced today is an incoherent plan for the future of local government without a scrap of evidence to support it.

“There is not a single report that supports a single one of these proposed mergers. What we see from Baird is a scrappy attempt at a political fix and councils and residents deserve far better.

“Baird is already finding that communities have far closer connections with their local councils and the services they provide than some smooth-talking bloke that they see on TV occasionally.

“The Greens remain committed to work with communities to stand up to the Coalition’s bullying, oppose forced amalgamations and keep local councils genuinely local.” Mr Shoebridge said.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

NEWCASTLE HERALD 15/9/15 – TAFE WARNING: SALE WILL “ROB REGION”

 tafe stop-privatisation-before-it-stops-tafe_website-slider

THE full and partial sale of Hunter TAFE campuses will raise more than $6million for the state government but potentially rob the region of a prosperous economic future, according to Greens MP John Kaye.

‘‘There’s no question theHunter has taken a fairly savage blow,’’ Dr Kaye said.‘‘For more than a century the state has provided young people, working class people and people with disadvantaged  backgrounds with a ladder to climb into employment and to get skills.‘‘The Baird government is now busy breaking that ladder.’

Mr Kaye said the leaked four-page cabinet document that named 27 TAFE sites across the state to be sold for a total of $62.97million earmarked four Hunter campuses to be fully or partially sold for $6.47million.

This includes the sale of the Scone campus for $1.17million, which will move primary industries training to the Kurri Kurri campus.
The western side of the Muswellbrook campus will be sold or ‘‘repurposed’’ in collaboration with Muswellbrook Shire Council for $1.48million.The western side of the Belmont campus will be sold for $2.96million, which will require courses to be delivered either in other campuses or to a limited extent in nearby leased facilities.Vacant land at the Glendale campus will be sold for $860,000.

Dr Kaye said the proposed closures would reduce the access of a whole generation of Hunter residents to education and training, particularly if they did not drive or have access to public transport to travel to another campus.

He said many of the students who attended TAFE needed the support of a face to face teacher and physical classroom and would struggle with courses being moved online.

‘‘It’s fine for people who have experience in learning and who have language, literacy and numeracy skills, but very bad for people who struggle with the use of computers and who will be isolated without access to teachers,’’ he said.

‘‘Many young people will have the chance of employment, the chance of building a life for themselves taken away because the Baird government wants to cut its investment in TAFE.

‘‘The Hunter community is being robbed of its economic future and pathway to employment and quality of life in return for more than $6million being ripped out by the government.’’

Dr Kaye said the Hunter faced employment challenges and needed tools to continue building the skills of its workforce. ‘‘Investment in public education produces a big return to the community and to government, and not just economically, but socially, too,’’ he said.

The leaked document said TAFE NSW required a $54.5million increase in capital spending this year to fund $32million for new projects.

NEW TRAINERS ROLE MOOTED

A PROPOSAL to replace TAFE teachers with trainers will be discussed when the NSW Teachers Federation meets with the state government on Thursday September 17 to negotiate a new enterprise agreement.

The state government has given teachers a document that reads ‘‘To continue to deliver quality training, TAFE NSW needs a modern educational workforce model that is responsive to the needs of our learners, who want training delivered anytime and anywhere, in a way that works for them.’’

It proposes adding a new role of trainer to the agreement, to ‘‘help us win new business’’.

It said a trainer’s responsibilities would include delivering training and conducting assessment using pre-designed materials, customising pre-designed delivery and assessment to a learner cohort, support compliance and liaising with industry on training needs.

NSW Teachers Federation President Maurie Mulheron said his members were concerned teachers would be replaced over time with unqualified trainers, who would be paid at what he estimated would be half the teacher rate.

‘‘Over time teachers will move to a smaller role at TAFE and be more supervisors working in the background, developing a curriculum to be delivered by an unqualified person,’’ he said.

‘‘The stability and assurance that comes with knowing your teacher is an expert in their field and on the cutting edge will be gone.

‘‘People graduating won’t be able to have the same confidence [in their qualifications] that TAFE was known for.’’

The agreement also includes increasing annual teaching hours from 720 to 820 and annual teaching weeks from 36 to 41, eliminating the five hours a week offsite ‘administrative arrangements’ and eliminating paid related duties for part time causal teachers.

The state government has proposed a 2.5 per cent per annum pay increase each year for two years.


First published in The Newcastle Herald on 15 September 2015.

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

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

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

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?

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

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

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

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.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter