Bandt announces new portfolios, elevates dental health

Leader of The Australian Greens Adam Bandt MP has announced new portfolio allocations, including the creation of a new portfolio of Dental Health, which will focus on the Greens’ long-held goal of ensuring that all Australians have fully funded dental care provided through Medicare.

“I’m excited to announce our new portfolio allocations, especially the creation of a Dental Health portfolio, which will be held by Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young,” Bandt said.

“Getting dental into Medicare is unfinished business for the Greens. In the 2010 power-sharing Parliament we secured Medicare dental for 3.4 million children and now we want it for everyone else too.

“The Green New Deal is about universal services and high on the list is affordable dental care for everyone.”

“Too many people put off going to the dentist because it is too expensive. This doesn’t just lead to dental problems getting worse, it can lead to other health problems too, which is bad for people’s health and bad for the federal budget.”

“Having good teeth is also a social justice issue, as bad teeth can make it harder to get a job.”

“It’s a national disgrace that many Australians can’t afford dental care and I know that Sarah will put all her energy into getting dental into Medicare.

“Sarah is a great campaigner who will help make sure that every Australian knows the Greens have a plan to get dental into Medicare.”

The new Dental Health portfolio comes in addition to Sarah Hanson-Young’s existing roles, including Environment & Water. The full list of portfolio allocations can be found at this link

MP Portfolios
Adam Bandt
Australian Greens Leader
Member for Melbourne
Climate Emergency
Energy
Employment & Workplace Relations
Public Sector
Foreign Affairs
Larissa Waters
Leader in the Senate &
Co-Deputy Leader

Senator for Queensland
Women
Mining & Resources
Democracy
Representing Leader on Climate Change & Energy in Senate
Representing Leader on Foreign Affairs in Senate
Nick McKim
Co-Deputy Leader
Senator for Tasmania
Digital Rights, I.T. & NBN
Justice
Immigration & Citizenship
Rachel Siewert
Party Whip
Senator for West Australia
First Nations Peoples’ Issues
Family, Ageing & Community Services
Mental Health
Gambling
Janet Rice
Party Room Chair
Senator for Victoria
LGBTIQ
Sport
Agriculture & Rural Affairs
Forests
Sustainable Cities
Transport & Infrastructure
Science, Research & Innovation
Richard Di Natale
Senator for Victoria
Multiculturalism
Health
Mehreen Faruqi
Senator for New South Wales
Housing
Education
Animal Welfare
Industry
International Aid & Development
Local Government
Representing Leader on Employment, Workplace Relations & Public Sector in Senate 
Jordon Steele-John
Senator for West Australia
Disability Rights & Services
Youth
Trade
Peace & Nuclear Disarmament (covers Defence)
Veterans’ Affairs
Sarah Hanson-Young
Senator for South Australia
Dental Health
Arts, Media & Communications
Environment & Water
Tourism
Peter Whish-Wilson
Senator for Tasmania
Treasury & Finance
Healthy Oceans
Waste & Recycling
Consumer Affairs
Small Business

Greens send nuclear waste dump bill to inquiry

The Greens have referred the legislation to build a nuclear waste dump in South Australia to a Senate Inquiry for scrutiny of the laws and the process that led to this point.

“The Coalition has decided Kimba on SA’s Eyre Peninsula, home to some of the country’s best agricultural land, is the place to dump the nation’s radioactive waste,” South Australian Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“The site selection process for a nuclear waste dump has been dodgy from the start. It’s ripped small communities apart and Traditional Owners have vehemently objected to the proposal. It’s clear there isn’t broad community support for a nuclear waste dump in Kimba, despite what former Minister Matt Canavan would have everyone believe.

“The Government’s plans will result in ships of radioactive waste passing through South Australia’s regional roads, streets and waters for decades to come. Port Augusta, Whyalla, Port Pirie and Port Lincoln and every town living along potential transportation route, should have been consulted and given an opportunity to have their say.

“A radioactive waste dump in the heart of our food bowl puts at risk our clean, green reputation and our state’s key grain export industry.

“The Greens aren’t leaving it to the community of Kimba to hold the line on their own. A Senate Inquiry will give the entire proposal the scrutiny it needs.

“South Australians have already said no to nuclear, but this government doesn’t listen. It’s far more interested in building a radioactive waste dump than investing in renewable energy and our growing potential for green industry.”

Angus Taylor failing to meet his job title yet again: Bandt

Australian Greens Leader Adam Bandt MP has slammed Angus Taylor’s dim-witted plan to ditch support for solar and wind in favour of unproven and ineffective Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology.

In a speech today, the Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister will signal a shift away from renewables towards Carbon Capture and Storage and brown hydrogen.

“Angus Taylor’s one KPI is in his job description and he can’t even meet it,” said Mr Bandt.

“The only energy sources in Australia that have cut pollution are wind and solar. Now is the time to be backing them in and supporting investment, not cutting support.

“CCS won’t save coal and it won’t save people from the climate crisis. For over a decade this has been hailed as the miracle cure, but it’s just snake oil.

“Australia could be a renewable energy superpower, exporting our wind and solar to Asia through green hydrogen. This is the vision we need from Angus Taylor instead of more of his CCS pipedreams.

“Angus Taylor should extend the Renewable Energy Target to drive the clean energy revolution that will save us from the climate emergency.”

EMPOWERING HOMES FOR A BRIGHTER ENERGY FUTURE

Eligible Hunter residents will be able to access interest-free loans for battery and solar-battery systems which could deliver more than $250 in savings a year, thanks to a NSW Government pilot program launched today.

Environment Minister Matt Kean said the pilot is an important first step in the delivery of the NSW Government’s Empowering Homes program which will reduce energy bills for up to 300,000 households while helping the State to transition to a clean energy future.

“This is about unlocking the saving and sustainability benefits offered by solar-battery systems” Mr Kean said.

“For households that use more than 6,000kWh of electricity a year, installing a solar and battery system can help reduce their annual electricity bill by putting more than $250 a year back into your pocket.

“This will help create jobs, reduce emissions, increase system security and reliability, and place downward pressure on energy costs for everyone.

“The NSW Government remains committed to achieving net zero emissions in NSW by 2050 and this is one of the many clean energy initiatives we’re introducing to deliver on that target.”

Interest-free loans of up to $14,000 for a solar-battery system, or up to $9,000 for the addition of a battery to an existing solar system will be available to owner-occupiers with an annual household income of up to $180,000.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation will provide finance for the pilot, which will be administered by delivery partner RateSetter.

Running for up to 12 months, the pilot will be available to eligible residents who have postcodes in the areas of Cessnock, Dungog, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Mid-Coast, Muswellbrook, Port Stephens, Singleton and Upper Hunter.

Homeowners in the Hunter region are encouraged to check the Energy Saver website to see if their postcode is eligible and for details on how to apply. Homeowners across NSW can also register their interest in the broader program, which will be rolled out across the state after the pilot is complete: www.energysaver.nsw.gov.au/solar-battery-loan-offer

HELPFUL HOUSING APP A HIT WITH TENANTS

More than 20,000 social housing tenants are now accessing services and support at the touch of a button thanks to the NSW Government’s MyHousing app.

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said the app has been an overwhelming success and means both tenants and housing staff are saving significant time when seeking and providing support.

“Since the app went live in August, it has been used more than 112,000 times, with each individual engagement averaging less than three minutes,” Mr Ward said.

“Having access to important services and support at your fingertips means less time spent on the phone to housing staff and more time raising children, working and enjoying life.”

The app allows tenants to manage and view accounts including rent and water, as well as to make payments, lodge maintenance requests and connect to a range of supports, including temporary accommodation and homelessness services.

Tenants have given the app a resounding thumbs-up, with MyHousing receiving a 4.7/5 rating on iOS and 4/5 on Android.

Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said the app is making life easier for thousands of housing tenants across the state.

“This app saves time and provides people with greater choice and convenience by putting more power in their hands. We are committed to using technology to tackle pain points across Government and help some of the most vulnerable in the community,” Mr Dominello said.

DCJ manages 100,000 tenancies and 60,000 applications for social housing assistance. A survey of 14,000 clients in 2018 revealed 98 per cent of them owned a smart phone and could therefore potentially access services online.

The NSW Government is also rolling out self-serve terminals at Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) offices to help streamline services for people who visit our centres to access services.

You can download the free app from the App Store (iOS) and Google Play (Android).

Man charged over possession of pistol on Belmont street

A man will appear in court today after being found in possession of an unregistered firearm yesterday.

About 2.20pm on Thursday 27 February 2020, a 21-year-old was walking south along the Pacific Highway, Belmont, when passing police allegedly noticed a man in possession of what was believed to be a pistol.

Officers approached the man where he resisted arrest for a short time.

He was arrested shortly after before police searched the man and located a pistol.

Following an inspection of the weapon, it was determined to be a modified gel blaster.

The man was taken to Belmont Police Station and charged with possess unregistered firearm in public place, possess unregistered prohibited firearm and resist arrest.

He was refused bail to face Belmont Local Court today (Friday 28 February 2020).

Lake Macquarie Commander, Superintendent Danny Sullivan APM, said police will always treat instances with imitation weapons as if they real firearms to ensure the safety of the community.

“Imitation firearms can often be hard to distinguish from the real deal, as they are modelled closely on real weapons.

“If a weapon looks real, officers will treat it as authentic until such a time that the weapon can be analysed – public safety will always come first,” Supt Sullivan said.

Government subverts democracy twice in two sitting weeks to gag transparency on rorts

The Morrison Government is actively subverting democracy by twice in the past two sitting weeks using procedural games to avoid greater transparency on rorts.

The Government has today blocked Greens Senate Leader Larissa Waters from postponing a motion which would require them to disclose when ministers have departed from advice of independent bodies under Commonwealth Grants Guidelines, with risk of pork barrelling.

Last week, the Government used its numbers in the lower house to narrowly avoid voting in the House of Representatives on a motion to pass the Greens’ bill for a national corruption watchdog with teeth.

“The Government has pulled some extraordinary manoeuvres recently to twist the procedures of parliament and cover up rorts,” she said

“When a minister doesn’t follow the Commonwealth Grant Guidelines or advice when allocating a grant, they have to tell the Treasurer why – but it stays secret.

“Today the government blocked a Greens motion that would have lifted the secrecy and exposed any pork barrelling of all grants funds covered by Commonwealth Grant Guidelines on an ongoing basis.

“The Morrison Government prefers to keep their rorts secret and gag any dissent.

“They won’t improve transparency over how grants are made, they won’t release the Gaetjens Report and they won’t vote for a Federal ICAC.

“The Greens won’t stop pushing for disclosure of other grants fund rorts.

“Taxpayer money is not just a slush fund for Ministers to further their own interests. If a Minister ignores the advice of officials, the public deserves to know why,” she said.

 

IT’S OUT THERE CAMPAIGN SHINES SPOTLIGHT ON BROKEN HILL AND THE CENTRAL DARLING REGION

Australians are being encouraged to experience ‘a different kind of outback’ in Broken Hill and its surrounds through a new marketing campaign launched by the NSW Government today.

It’s Out There has been developed by the Government’s tourism and major events agency Destination NSW in collaboration with Broken Hill City Council and Central Darling Shire.

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the campaign is designed to drive visitation to the region and encourage longer stays.

“Many people have heard of Broken Hill but what they don’t realise is how many incredible, quirky and diverse experiences this region has to offer,” Mr Ayres said.

“This marketing campaign will showcase Broken Hill and the Central Darling region as a ‘different kind of outback’ – one that is full of spirit, history, diversity and character to explore and uncover. In addition to its striking landscapes, this region has a strong community of incredible artists, a vibrant drag culture and a unique Aboriginal cultural heritage.

“The NSW Government recognises the importance of supporting communities in rural and regional NSW – particularly those that have been affected by drought or bushfires – and one of the best ways we can do that is by motivating people to book a trip to regional NSW, where they stay and spend locally.”

Minister for Western NSW Adam Marshall said that while towns in the region continue to deal with the impacts of drought, it has never been more important to visit these areas, and provide a cash injection to local economies.

“Whether you’re from the bush, or from the city, there has never been a better time to explore what Broken Hill and the wider Central Darling region has to offer,” Mr Marshall said.

It’s Out There targets couples aged 45 to 60 years and is designed to inspire them to visit Broken Hill and the Central Darling region as a holiday destination.

Broken Hill City Council Mayor Darriea Turley AM said, “Broken Hill City Council has been very keen to get out there and pursue strategic marketing and this campaign will show the world that we can provide a unique and genuine outback experience in the Far West.

“I believe we offer a level of authenticity that is unmatched in the tourism market and our product is showcased perfectly in this campaign.

“This project represents months of hard work between Destination NSW and our respective Councils, and we’re all very excited for it to hit the market and drive tourism to our region.

Central Darling Shire Council Administrator Bob Stewart said, “This marketing campaign reveals the landscape and cultural features that our Shire has to offer, with the opportunities to learn about Indigenous culture, early European history and explore the vast area in which we live, work and play.

“I encourage anyone who has never been here before – come and see it for yourself – you will be surprised and enchanted.”

Broken Hill City Council contributed $120,000 to implement the campaign, which Destination NSW matched through the Regional Tourism Fund (RTF). Central Darling Shire contributed $170,000 from the Menindee Support Package, resulting in a total campaign budget of $410,000.

“ICE” SPECIAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY

The NSW Government welcomes the Report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug “Ice” and thanks the Commissioner, Professor Dan Howard SC, and his team for their extensive work.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the report’s 109 recommendations are being considered by the Government in consultation with stakeholders, except five recommendations the Government has already indicated it does not support.

Those five recommendations are:

  • 51 – additional medically supervised injecting centres
  • 53 & 54 – substance checking
  • 80 – ceasing the use of drug detection dogs
  • 97 – needle and syringe programs in correctional centres.

The report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug “Ice” puts forward a broad range of health, social and criminal justice issues, which require a whole-of-Government response across portfolios.

“The Government wishes to acknowledge all those with lived experience, their families and friends, along with the broad range of experts, health practitioners and service providers who contributed to the Special Commission,” Mr Hazzard said.

“The Government will consider the remaining recommendations from the Inquiry in consultation with stakeholders and will prepare a final response before the end of the year.”

The NSW Government’s interim response is now publically available online.

In 2019-20, the NSW Government is investing $231.6 million on preventing and treating harms associated with drug use and ensuring people have access to the care and support they need.

This includes the $11 million investment in 2015 over four years to specifically address the problem of crystalline methamphetamine ‘Ice’, with $7 million to enhance existing programs and establish new Stimulant Treatment Programs; and $4 million to purchase non-government treatment services in rural and regional NSW.

The Government already has a range of measures in place to address alcohol and other drug-related harm in NSW, including “Ice”, and remains committed to considering any further measures to reduce its use and impact on individuals, their families and the community.

The Special Commission’s report identifies that many of the initiatives already in place to deal with the use of alcohol and other drugs are working.

Please find the Special Commission of Inquiry Report and the Interim Government Response here: www.dpc.nsw.gov.au/iceinquiry

NATION LEADING CHILD ABUSE REFORMS INTRODUCED TO PARLIAMENT

A significant barrier preventing child sex offenders from being held to account and leading to ‘unwarranted acquittals’ will be removed under landmark reforms introduced into NSW Parliament.

Attorney General Mark Speakman said NSW is the first Australian jurisdiction to introduce agreed legislation enabling greater admissibility of tendency and coincidence evidence, such as evidence about an accused person’s tendency to have a sexual interest in children.

“These crucial reforms will help deliver justice for survivors of child sexual abuse – one of the most despicable and damaging crimes to confront the justice system,” Mr Speakman said.

“NSW has led the way on this reform, spear-heading a consistent response with the Commonwealth Government and relevant states and territories to key findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.”

The Royal Commission heard about many criminal proceedings in which evidence of an accused person previously offending against children was ruled inadmissible due to courts’ concerns that it may unfairly prejudice the accused person.

The Royal Commission found the exclusion of this kind of evidence led to cases of unwarranted acquittals in child sexual offence proceedings, and recommended law reform to facilitate greater admissibility of this evidence.

“While maintaining an accused person’s right to a fair trial, these reforms will help to ensure that offenders don’t evade justice through the exclusion of relevant evidence,” Mr Speakman said.

“We can’t undo the horrors of the past, but we can make sure that our legal system offers a fairer and more effective response for victims and survivors.”

The Evidence Amendment (Tendency and Coincidence) Bill 2020 introduces a new rebuttable presumption that evidence of a defendant having a tendency to have a sexual interest in a child or children will have ‘significant probative value’ to the relevant proceedings, as well as limiting what courts can consider in rebutting that presumption.

The reforms will also lower an additional threshold for the prosecution to use tendency and coincidence evidence against the defendant.

Uniform Evidence Law jurisdictions, including NSW, agreed to implement a Model Bill at the Council of Attorneys-General meeting in November last year, following a two-year development and consultation process led by a NSW working group.

Child Abuse Royal Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald AM said consistent, nationwide reform on this issue was one of the most important recommendations of the Royal Commission.

“Over many years, Australia’s criminal justice system has failed to provide adequate justice for survivors of child sexual abuse, in part because of the unnecessary exclusion of tendency and coincidence evidence in criminal proceedings,” Commissioner Fitzgerald said.

“Following the Royal Commission’s comprehensive inquiry, and in the context of alarmingly low conviction rates for child sexual assault offences, we were convinced of the need for change.

“I congratulate the NSW Government for leading this reform process among Uniform Evidence Law jurisdictions, which will support survivors accessing justice across the country.”

Read more about the Bill via: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/bills/Pages/bill-details.aspx?pk=3732.