Greens Support Queenslanders with Disability Network Calls For Better Disaster Response For The Disability Community

Today Greens Spokesperson for Disability Jordon Steele-John and Greens Senator for Queensland Larissa Waters have given their support for a range of policy commitments set out by the Queensland Disability Network.

These commitments aim to ensure the safety of the disability community during the increasingly common effects of the climate emergency such as the recent flooding in Queensland and New South Wales. It will also see the centering of disabled voices in how the government prepares and enacts its disaster response plans. 

These commitments are:

  • A commitment to refunding QDN $2 million over 2 years to continue to operate the Targeted Outreach project. QDN also supports the funding of the Queensland Government’s Assessment and Referral team to continue working alongside the project.
  • Commitment to the development of a national plan and roadmap to deliver on disability-inclusive disaster preparedness, resilience, and recovery, and investment for multi-sector targeted responses underpinned by collaborative and inclusive research.

Senator Jordon Steele-John, Greens Spokesperson for Disability Rights and Services said:
“Too often we have to hear stories from disabled folks who were unable to access the support and services they needed during times of crisis. Stories of inaccessible emergency centres, lack of planning for those unable to evacuate and communication systems inaccessible to the deaf or vision impaired are far too common”

“Severe flooding and bushfires are becoming more and more common and it’s time the government stopped treating the disability community as an afterthought. We need services designed by and enacted by disabled folks that properly take into account lived experience during times of crisis.”

“The commitments outlined by QDN and supported by our party today are a valuable first step for a framework to disaster response that puts lived experience and Co-design at its core so we don’t continue to leave disabled people behind every time there is an emergency” 

“The Greens in the balance of power will prioritise the needs of disabled people, work with the community invaluable co-design and ensure everyone has what they need to live a happy and healthy life”

Queensland Senator Larissa Waters said:

“I recently met with members of the Queensland Disability Network and was shocked to hear some of the things Queenslanders with disabilities experienced during the floods. It simply isn’t good enough that so many people were left without support at a critical time.” 

“Targeted outreach is essential so Queenslanders with disabilities are not ignored, and aren’t put at greater risk during future disasters.”

“As climate events become more frequent, we need to fund organisations like QDN to be a voice for people with disabilities in disaster management planning.” 

As major parties address oil & gas giants summit, Greens call for Australia to sign global methane pledge

Greens Leader Adam Bandt says Australia must sign the Global Methane Pledge to phase out toxic methane gas, which is one of the fastest growing sources of Australia’s emissions due to oil and gas production.

Addressing the Greens national campaign launch on Monday night, Mr Bandt said he would push for a Labor government to sign the pledge before the next global climate conference in Cairo at the end of the year.

Mr Bandt will join a climate protest at the APPEA Oil and Gas conference in Brisbane on Tuesday. Liberal Resources Minister Keith Pitt and Labor Shadow Resources Minister Madeleine King will both give plenary addresses to the oil and gas giants at the conference this week.

The Global Methane Pledge was launched by President Biden at last year’s Glasgow climate summit and already has 112 participant countries, including the United States, Canada, UK and the European Union. The pledge commits countries to reduce methane emissions by at least 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030, similar to the Montreal Protocol’s CFC pledge that saved the ozone layer.

Methane is a major cause of global warming. It is 86 times worse for the climate than CO2, and methane gas projects are Australia’s fastest growing source of emissions. 

Australia emits 4.5 million tonnes of methane each year, which given its higher warming potential makes up approximately a quarter of all of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Government’s own emissions projections, methane pollution is expected to decline by less than 1% between 2019 and 2030 under current policies.

Labor has walked back from outright opposition to signing the pledge if elected and will consult with ‘international counterparts and local stakeholders’ before making a decision.

The annual APPEA conference and expo is sponsored by the oil and gas giants Woodside and ExxonMobil and is the largest Australian gathering of oil and gas corporations from around the world.

The Liberals and Nationals have accepted at least $6.8 million in donations from the fossil fuel sector since 2012. Labor has accepted $4.9 million in the same period.

The Greens warn that if the Liberals and Nationals capitulate to their coal and gas donors, it will put a handbrake on global ambition. 

Adam Bandt MP, Leader of the Australian Greens said:

“Gas is as dirty as coal and toxic methane is a climate bomb exploding in our backyard.”

“The United Kingdom, EU and the US are asking countries around the world to sign the Global Methane Pledge, but Liberal and Labor are giving them the middle finger.”

“Agricultural emissions are flatlining, but climate pollution from the gas industry is rising. Instead of sucking up to the oil and gas giants, Liberal and Labor should sign the Global Methane Pledge.”

“The Greens will push the next government to sign the methane pledge before the global climate summit in Cairo at the end of the year.”

“Australian voters want climate action, but instead Liberal and Labor are lighting the fuse on a giant climate bomb by fracking the Beetaloo basin in the Northern Territory and opening the giant Scarborough gas project, both against the wishes of First Nations people.

“The only way to get climate action is to kick the Liberals out and put the Greens in the balance of power, where we’ll push the next government to stop new coal and gas projects and sign the Global Methane Pledge.”

Fisheries buyout from climate change indictment on federal government

In an unprecedented intervention by the federal government fisheries permits will be bought-out for the first time in Australia’s history because of climate change and environmental factors. 

In what was described as a  necessary but “shocking” development by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, the federal government will spend $20m to buy out vessel permits in the south-east trawl fishery because the climate crisis is affecting population numbers of some species, making current fishing levels unsustainable.

The south-east trawl fishery is the largest commonwealth-managed fin fish fishery in Australia and includes waters right around lutruwita/Tasmania.

Greens spokesperson for healthy oceans, Peter Whish-Wilson said:

“This is the first time in Australian history that we’ve seen a fishery buyout due to the impacts of warming oceans, primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels. 

“This is a troubling precedent for Australia’s commercial fisheries and a warning to the thousands of livelihoods that depend on healthy oceans right around the country. 

“For too long our oceans have been taken for granted. Scientists have determined that the ocean absorbs more than 90 percent of the world’s excess heat, so we can expect to see more fisheries go into decline or collapse unless we act on strong 2030 emissions targets. 

“There is significant work to be done in restoring marine ecosystems that have lost habitat due to climate impacts, and the Greens urge Labor and Liberal to match pledges requested by TSIC and TARfish this election for much needed funding to do this.” 

A New Bentley Hospital Surgicentre for Perth

An Albanese Labor Government will partner with the McGowan Government to deliver a new Bentley Hospital Surgicentre, benefiting patients in the Eastern metro area of Perth.

The new Surgicentre will separate non-complex elective surgery from emergency surgery. This means less interruptions and fewer delays for elective surgery, and a safer and more efficient service.

This innovative model will ensure the right care is given to patients at the right time. As well as providing better care for patients in the most modern surgical facilities, it will cut waiting times for elective surgeries.

The investment will deliver:

  • Six new surgical theatres;
  • Two new procedure rooms;
  • A 24-bed surgical ward; and
  • A new central sterilisation services department.

This $150 million project will be a joint effort between the McGowan Government and a Federal Labor Government, with costs shared on a 50/50 basis.

This is yet another demonstration of a Federal Labor Government’s ability to work cooperatively with the States to get things done – compared to Scott Morrison’s approach of division. 

The new Surgicentre is another plank in Labor’s plan to strengthen Medicare, which includes 50 Urgent Care Clinics nationwide to take pressure off emergency departments, reducing the cost of medications listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme by $12.50, and establishing a $750 million Strengthening Medicare Fund.

Anthony Albanese said:
“Only Labor can be trusted to protect Medicare, and strengthen it for future generations. I’m proud to announce a new Surgicentre for Perth, which will reduce elective surgery waiting times. Labor’s plan will ensure Australians get the care they need, when they need it.”

Mark McGowan said:
“Labor’s new Bentley Hospital Surgicentre will be a significant boost for communities in our eastern suburbs. 

“The innovative model will also provide relief to our health system which, like other States, is under pressure due to ongoing challenges from the pandemic.

“My Government is proud to join forces with an Albanese Government, if elected, to fund this $150 million dollar project, which will further improve the rollout of elective surgery in Western Australia.”

Mark Butler said:
“Labor has a comprehensive plan to strengthen Medicare and take pressure off emergency departments. The new Bentley Surgicentre will do just that for the east metro area of Perth, and ensure elective surgery happens on time. This is just another example of how an Albanese Labor government would work with State Governments to get things done.”

Amber-Jade Sanderson said:
“The surgicentre model has proved successful in other jurisdictions and would be a welcome addition to Western Australia’s world-class public health system.

“Understandably, elective surgeries sometimes have to be rescheduled, but this new facility would create two streams of elective surgery in our eastern suburbs, greatly reducing the need to postpone non-complex surgeries when emergencies occur.”

$25 million boost for rural health workforce in Northern Queensland

A re-elected Morrison Joyce Government will invest an additional $25 million into rural health in Queensland to boost the rural health and medical workforce.

As part of this funding an additional 20 Commonwealth Supported Medical Training Places will be made available at James Cook University in Cairns.

The Morrison Government is committed to delivering quality healthcare for Australians in our regions and rural and remote communities.

That’s what our 10-Year Stronger Rural Health Strategy is all about.

This new funding commitment will support the costs of the additional training places in Cairns and necessary funding to support education, training and placement of doctors in local hospitals in Northern Queensland.

This will give more Australians the opportunity to study and become a doctor in far North Queensland from 2023.

Studying and training in rural and regional areas has proven to lead to doctors living in and practicing in rural areas.

As part of our 10-Year Stronger Rural Health Strategy the Coalition Government is delivering $1 billion to boost rural health with $296.5 million in the 2022–23 Budget and $146 million in additional funding announced recently, building on the original $550 million investment in the 2018–19 Budget.

The Coalition Government provided significant funding in the recent budget to boost medical training and education opportunities in rural and regions, including 80 additional Commonwealth Supported Places so more students can study medicine at rural campuses.

Home-grown technology lowering emissions in cement industry

Australia’s largest construction materials and building products supplier Boral is being supported by the Morrison Government to explore the feasibility of developing a carbon capture plant in the NSW Southern Highlands to lower emissions across the cement industry.

In collaboration with environmental technology company Calix, Boral has been awarded $30 million to develop a commercial scale plant that captures and compresses up to 100 kilo-tonnes per annum of unavoidable CO2 emissions resulting from the decomposition of limestone in cement manufacturing.

Through the Technologies Stream of the Carbon Capture Use and Storage (CCUS) Hubs and Technologies Program, the Morrison Government is backing businesses which are developing projects to help achieve long-term emissions reductions.

Boral’s proposed FutureCem plant will use Calix’s world-leading Low Emissions Intensity Lime and Cement (LEILAC) technology to re-engineer the existing process flows of a traditional calciner, indirectly heating the limestone via a special steel vessel. The unique process enables CO2 to be captured as it is released from the limestone, as the furnace exhaust gases are kept separate.

Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Tayor said cement manufacturing accounts for around seven per cent of all global emissions and projects such as FutureCem will help lead the way in bringing them down.

“This is game-changing, home-grown technology being tried and tested right here in regional NSW,” Minister Taylor said.

“Not only will this investment help to deliver long-term emissions reductions in a hard-to-abate sector, it’ll also generate new jobs across the Southern Highlands region with 140 new roles expected to be created during construction.”

The Morrison Government is also backing manufacturers in New South Wales with four innovative New South Wales business sharing in almost $23 million of funding under Round 2 of the Integration and Translation Streams of the Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI).

Successful recipients include Sydney-based medical device company EmVision which has been awarded $5 million to help develop a portable brain scanner to help transform stroke care for patients.

This significant investment will allow EmVision to manufacturer this Australian innovation at commercial scale and export it across the globe and here at home helping the company to grow and be recognised as a global leader in medical imaging.

Minister Taylor said the Morrison Government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy will accelerate job creation and support a strong, modern and resilient economy which is better able to respond to a rapidly evolving geopolitical landscape.

“Backing businesses to grow our manufacturing sector and securing our sovereign capability is critical to our plan for a strong economy and a stronger future for Australia,” Minister Taylor said.

Other projects funded under the latest round of MMI in New South Wales include:

  • $13.9 million for Wetherill Park-based packaging company Pro-Pac Group to create Australia’s first fully circular supply chain to divert plastic from landfill into high-value packaging products.
  • $1.7 million for radiopharmaceutical manufacturer Cyclotek which will use the funding to support a streamlined supply chain of next generation nuclear therapeutics at Lucas Heights. The medical technology will help diagnose and treat cancer.
  • $2.1 million for Thomas Global Systems in Newington to create onshore capability to develop and manufacture military avionics equipment for export into the global defence market.

Driving towards a future of possibilities

Breaking down barriers faced by newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers on their pathway towards education and employment is the goal of a new initiative being rolled out with City of Newcastle’s support.

CatholicCare Hunter-Manning’s Refugee Hub Driving Program will provide support to 20 refugees through funded driving lessons, a NSW Driving Test and NSW Driver’s Licence.

CatholicCare-Refugee-Hub-Driving-Program.jpgImage: Director of CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning Gary Christensen, Councillor Peta Winney-Baartz, CatholicCare Refugee Hub Driving Program participants Madina and Edeni, NRMA driving instructor Jackie Chestney and Team Leader – Refugee Hub CathlicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning Mirja Colding-Moran

Ward 3 Councillor Peta Winney-Baartz said the worthy initiative is a recipient of City of Newcastle funding under the expanded Community and Economic Resilience Package, which aims to support vulnerable communities through the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.

“Newcastle is enriched by our multicultural residents and City of Newcastle wants to ensure that all members of our community can access the services they require to seek and maintain employment, explore study options and connect with their local community, regardless of their background and language spoken at home,” Cr Winney-Baartz said.

“That’s why we’re pleased to provide support to CatholicCare’s Refugee Hub Driving Program, which will ensure that refugees can get the driving experience they require to obtain a licence.”

Gary Christensen, Director of CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning said equipping refugees with driving skills and ultimately a driver’s licence will open future employment opportunities and provide access to study and other community services.

“We know that transport is essential to access work, study and community services, but often many refugees, asylum seekers and recent arrivals find it difficult to get a driver’s licence and car when in Australia for a number of reasons,” Mr Christensen said.

“We’re extremely grateful to have backing from City of Newcastle, as the grant funding will enable the delivery of a driving program that aims to combat the barriers faced by refugees including language, comprehension, cost and access to affordable training, by providing no-cost certified driving lessons with a qualified trainer, driver knowledge and hazard perception tests, driving test and ultimately a P1 driver’s licence.”

Driving program participant Madina, who moved to Newcastle in 2017 from Afghanistan said she is happy to be taking part in a program that will help create a pathway towards a fulfilling future.

“I appreciate the chance to participate in this program and ultimately gain my driver’s licence so I can access study and future work in the army or police force,” said Madina.

Awabakal Limited has also benefitted from funding under City of Newcastle Community and Economic Resilience Package. The grant was used for an emergency relief program to support vulnerable members of the Newcastle First Nations community through the provision of essential items including fresh food, toiletries and sanitary items.

To find out more about how we’re responding to COVID-19 visit www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/covid-19

New ideas for improved public space coming to Darby Street

City of Newcastle is working to enhance the outdoor dining experience along Darby Street while improving safety and accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists.

A six-month trial starting in spring will see the footpath widened between Sanctum and Goldbergs restaurants. This work will see a removable platform installed to increase space for outdoor dining. This will be made possible during the trial period by extending a dining platform over seven existing car parking spaces.

Darby-Street-public-space-trial-1.jpgThe project will bring new life to the Darby Headphones Courtyard with new street seating, paving, lighting and public art to encourage people to visit, stay and connect. The project will also include the installation of vibrant murals on both the walls and footpaths, celebrating local and upcoming artists in collaboration with local art festivals. A new pedestrian crossing leading to the courtyard will improve accessibility and safety.

The temporary loss of car parking spaces in the area will be offset by the conversion of sixteen existing paid all-day parking behind the Newcastle Art Gallery (which is currently closed for the long-awaited expansion) into free, two-hour parking spaces during the trial. A convenient drop-off /pick-up zone near the shops and eateries will also form part of the trial.

Newcastle Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said safety improvements and beautification of the popular eat-street would bring a range of benefits to the community.

“Our local hospitality industry was hit hard during COVID-19. Investment in our local centres helps restore confidence, create local jobs and boost our twilight and after dark economy, which employed 12,000 Novocastrian and created $1.4 billion per year in economic activity prior to COVID,” Councillor Clausen said.

“Across the City, public investment into our local centres is translating into improved consumer and business confidence – delivering safer and more inviting local places for Novocastrians to shop and eat.

“Outdoor dining is more popular than ever, and this project is perfectly timed for long Spring meals at Darby Street’s quirky cafes, small bars and restaurants.

“Walkable and cycle-friendly local centres are critical to making great places. Trialling of traffic calming infrastructure will make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists, and help create an environment where dining spaces for local cafes and restaurants can be extended.”

The trial has been made possible with funding from the City of Newcastle Urban Centres Revitalisation Program and a $500,000 grant from the NSW Government through the Streets as Shared Spaces program (Round 2). The program funds trials that support immediate community needs and test and build the case for more permanent changes that positively impact local economies and community health and wellbeing.

Community consultation will commence tomorrow, Monday 16 May, gathering feedback on the proposed trial. This feedback will also help inform future projects in the area. Visit newcastle.nsw.gov.au/yoursay

Sydenham Station transformed for Metro services

Sydenham Station’s multi-million-dollar transformation marks a significant milestone in the delivery of the Sydney Metro City & Southwest section of Australia’s biggest public transport infrastructure project.

Minister for Transport and Veterans David Elliott said the $301 million program of works delivered a modern first-class railway station which is ready to be integrated into the Sydney Metro system once services are running.

 “The completion of works at Sydenham highlights the progress that is being made on this once in a generation public transport project and the commitment of this government to deliver transformative infrastructure projects,” Mr Elliott said.

“The Sydney Metro is a visionary project which will revolutionise the public transport network with commuters able to catch an air-conditioned metro service every four minutes.

“These large-scale projects connect people and places, communities and businesses, while supporting future employment and population growth. They also provide a boost to the construction industry with more than 6,500 workers inducted onto the Sydenham site and more than 2.5 million total hours worked since the project started,” Mr Elliott said.

New metro platforms enables commuters easy access to interchange from metro services on platforms 1 and 2 with Sydney Trains services on other platforms.

Other features to be progressively delivered include: a new pedestrian concourse and station entrance at Burrows Avenue; new signage and wayfinding, lift access, and platform safety screen doors which make platforms safer for customers and improves travel efficiency by allowing trains to get in and out of stations much faster.

So far more than 100 metres of the total 340 metres of barriers have been installed along metro platforms, improving safety by creating a 1.7 metre barrier between the platform and the new tracks.

Major milestone for fee-free training in NSW

NSW is enjoying a fee-free training boom with more than 200,000 enrolments recorded under JobTrainer, a program helping people get skilled for in-demand jobs.
 
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Government’s strong economic management means we can deliver programs such as JobTrainer to equip people with the skills they need to get their first job, a new job or a better job.
 
“The NSW Government is turbocharging the take-up of vocational education and training to create a strong pipeline of skilled and qualified workers, which is helping secure a brighter future for NSW families,” Mr Perrottet said.
 
“Our record infrastructure program is creating enormous demand for jobs and our investment in fee-free training is helping meet that demand so we can continue to build what matters to make daily life better.
 
“The success of the JobTrainer program is helping strengthen our economy, which means more money for services, community amenity and less pressure on households.”
 
Training under the program is fee-free and fully funded for eligible people wanting to upskill or reskill.
 
The NSW Government has expanded the eligibility criteria for the program to target more in-demand industries, including construction, manufacturing, transport, logistics, aged care, disability care, childcare and digital skills.
 
JobTrainer has also supported more than 5,000 women into construction-related courses through the Built for Women initiative.
 
Minister for Skills and Training Alister Henskens said the number of people commencing apprenticeships and traineeships in NSW has sky-rocketed since the launch of the program.
 
“JobTrainer is all about helping people get the skills they need for the job they want, while helping drive our economic recovery from the pandemic,” Mr Henskens said.
 
“Whether you’re a young person exploring your career or someone wanting to re-skill for an in-demand industry, JobTrainer can provide the fee-free training to help you kick-start your journey.”
 
JobTrainer is a joint State and Federal funded program, which is injecting $637 million into the NSW skills and training market. More information about eligibility and training courses on offer is available online.