Shorten doesn’t know the cost of his own policy

Bill Shorten has shown he either isn’t across the details or that Labor hasn’t done its homework on the cost of its own policies.

On Perth radio this morning Mr Shorten couldn’t tell listeners the cost of Labor’s 45 per cent emissions reduction target.

“I can’t tell you what the cost is going to be.”
Bill Shorten, Nova Radio Perth, 30 April 2019

Coalition Campaign Spokesman Senator Simon Birmingham said it was time for Bill Shorten to come clean with Australians.

“How can a man who wants to be Prime Minister not know the cost of one of his key policies,” Senator Birmingham said.

“Either Bill Shorten doesn’t know the cost of his policy or he is hiding the true cost.

“Australians deserve to know what Labor’s 45 per cent emissions reduction target and 50 per cent renewable energy target will cost them, just like they deserve to have Bill Shorten answer questions about Labor’s tax policies.

“Bill Shorten chose to release a policy that relies on Australian businesses buying international permits, so why won’t he be honest and upfront about how many permits will be bought and how much money will be sent offshore?

“Last week Labor were falsely spinning that there was no cost to their policies yet now Shadow Climate Change Minister Mark Butler claims it’s not even possible to cost their plans.”

“If I can go to the cost impact of the policy we have announced, it is impossible to cost.”

Mark Butler, Doorstop, 30 April 2019

However, we know from independent modelling by BAEconomics that Labor’s 45 per cent emissions reduction target and 50 per cent renewable energy target will:

  • cost the economy $472 billion
  • slash more than 336,000 jobs
  • cut the average wage by over $9,000
  • increase wholesale electricity prices by more than 58 per cent.

“It’s time Bill Shorten came out of the shadows and outlined the true cost of his reckless policies,” Senator Birmingham said.

Price Safety Net to Deliver a Better Energy Deal

800,000 electricity customers in South Australia, New South Wales and South-East Queensland will get a better energy deal as the Morrison Government continues to drive down power prices.

Effective from 1 July 2019, the Morrison Government has abolished the loyalty tax and the misleading use of discounts to attract customers.

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has today released the final determination for the Default Market Offer (DMO) which will cap prices for standing offers, acting as a price safety net for those who find pricing and discounts confusing, or who simply don’t have time to negotiate.

The DMO figure will also act as a reference price for all other small business and residential customers, requiring energy retailers to advertise their standing and market offers against a common price benchmark.

Households changing to default market offers from standing offer tariffs could save up to $481 in South Australia, $663 in NSW and $662 in south-east Queensland.

Small businesses on standing offer tariffs could save up to $896 in South Australia, $457 in south-east Queensland and $878 in NSW.

The DMO and reference price were recommendations of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and will prevent energy companies from slugging their customers with excessive standing offer rates and benefitting from the confusion created by misleading discounts.

The DMO will not apply in Victoria, after the Victorian Government followed the Morrison Government’s lead and implemented their own default market offer.

For too long, the energy companies have been taking advantage of loyal Australian families and small businesses who have been paying the highest electricity prices on the market.

The Australian Energy Market Commission found a family on a standing offer in Adelaide could be paying as much as $832 more per year for their electricity than a neighbour, simply because they’ve been loyal or haven’t shopped around. That is simply unfair.

The ACCC will also be watching retailers to ensure they provide their customers a fair deal and not increase better offers to offset the loss of their excessive margins from standing offer customers.

The savings delivered by the DMO builds on the price cuts that the Morrison Government secured from 1 January 2019 of up to 15 per cent for families and small businesses.

The Morrison Government actions to bring down electricity prices are in stark contrast to Labor’s policies. Electricity prices doubled when Labor was last in government. Independent modelling has shown that Labor’s 45 per cent emissions target will push up wholesale electricity prices by 58 per cent by 2030.

Labor simply can’t be trusted to address cost of living pressures for families and lower costs for small businesses.

$5 million for National Dust Diseases Taskforce

The Morrison Government will invest $5 million to establish a National Dust Diseases Taskforce to develop a national approach for the prevention, early identification, control and management of dust diseases in Australia.

The funding will also establish a National Dust Diseases Register, commission new research to support understanding, prevention and treatment of preventable occupational lung diseases.

There is an emerging trend of new cases of accelerated silicosis, a preventable occupational lung disease occurring in workers as a result of exposure to silica dust in parts of Australia. This can occur in various industries, with recent cases related to the manufacture and installation of artificial stone bench tops, in particular in Queensland.

Silicosis is caused by inhalation of very fine silica dust.

In the last six months in Queensland alone, over 100 stonemasons have been diagnosed with the preventable lung disease and one reported death associated with accelerated silicosis March this year in Queensland.

Members of the Taskforce will be drawn from the medical community, industry, researchers and Government, and be chaired by an eminent medical expert. The objectives of the Taskforce will be to identify ways to:

  • reduce the incidence and severity of dust diseases;
  • ensure availability of effective treatment;
  • reduce exposure through improved prevention, awareness and capacity building;
  • eliminate hazards through better machinery and workplace design;
  • ensure appropriate control of potentially hazardous materials;
  • achieve better work health and safety outcomes through improved regulation and compliance;
  • review the latest research into dust diseases and identify research gaps.

The Taskforce will report to the COAG Health Council, under the direction of the Minister for Health.

The taskforce will commence in July 2019 and will provide a final report by 31 December 2020

Red Lily Public Health Team Set to Bloom in the NT

Making sure health services in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are culturally appropriate, responsive, and safe is a priority of the Morrison Government.

The transfer of remote Northern Territory (NT) Government clinics to the control of First Australians is a key part of the Morrison Government’s significant primary healthcare agenda.

The Red Lily Health Board Aboriginal Corporation, with the support of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), will transition the Jabiru Remote Public Health team from Top End Health Service to community control from 1 April 2019.

This transition is the result of decisive action by Elders and the wider community to ensure culturally appropriate health services are provided close to where people live.

Country Liberal candidate for Lingiari, Jacinta Price said Red Lily’s delivery of primary prevention health programs will help address the poor health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the West Arnhem region.

“This is an important step in realising community aspirations for self-determination. Good health is a key enabler in supporting First Australians and in building strong and resilient communities.”

Transition to community control in the NT is a partnership between AMSANT, the NT Aboriginal Health Forum, NT and Commonwealth Departments of Health, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the NT Primary Health Network.

The Morrison Government is providing up to $4.3 million from 2017-18 to 2020-21 to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in the regions of Maningrida, East Arnhem and West Arnhem to assist with primary health transition activities.

A key to closing the gap in health outcomes is providing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with equal access to effective, high quality, comprehensive and culturally appropriate health and welfare programs no matter where they live in Australia.

Bill Shorten’s electric vehicle backtrack shows you can’t trust Labor on climate, say Greens

Bill Shorten has today confirmed that Labor’s 50% by 2030 electric vehicle target isn’t an election promise, and that it “doesn’t mean that [it] will happen.”

“The Greens are extremely disappointed that Bill Shorten and Labor have caved in to the scare campaign from the climate deniers on the hard right on their electric vehicle policy,” said Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens transport spokesperson.

“Labor’s backtrack on their already weak 50% by 2030 electric vehicle target shows that their commitments on climate change are all open to reversal under the slightest bit of pressure.”

“Having an electric vehicle target with no plan to get there is like saying you’re going to the moon with no plan to build a spaceship.”

“A real commitment to electric vehicles uptake will need subsidies, mandates, an accelerated build out of the fast charging grid, and a long term deadline to give industry certainty.”

“We need only look to Norway, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands. These countries are already achieving their strong targets by using a mix of these mechanisms to drive electric vehicle uptake.”

“The Greens have a plan to get to 100% of new car sales being electric by 2030. This isn’t a target, it’s a promise that we would write into law.”

“Today’s backflip from Bill Shorten makes it clear that to deliver real action on climate change, we’re going to need Greens in the parliament to hold Labor to account.”

​​​​​​​SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE FOR OUR FUTURE

The Australian Greens will:

  1. Deliver $100m a year of real support for drought affected communities

  2. Support farmers with grants to increase production while protecting land and soil

  3. Reverse the cuts to Landcare funding

  4. Create a Centre for Sustainable Agriculture and develop a climate smart plan for our agricultural sector

  5. Drive the domestic carbon farming and farm forestry industries

  6. A national ban on all new unconventional gas projects

  7. Conduct a thorough review of our agricultural chemicals and food safety

  8. Ensure that our existing genetic regulatory regime is protected and updated for new technologies

 

OVERVIEW

We want our agricultural communities to thrive, but because of our short-sighted politicians and the power of agribusiness we are failing to build an agricultural sector that can weather the shocks and the changes that are fast approaching.

Whether it be the effects of climate change, desertification and soil erosion, or changing consumer preferences, we need to ensure that Australian agriculture has an outlook that goes beyond the next political cycle.

Instead of the status quo of maximising profits to big business in the short term , our plan will give farmers and consumers genuine choice and control over the food that we grow and eat, and ensure that our agricultural industry is protected well into the future.

 

ONE:  REAL SUPPORT FOR DROUGHT AFFECTED COMMUNITIES

 

The frequency and intensity of drought is growing in a warming world. In the last year alone we’ve seen the awful impact of drought on communities in Western Queensland, in the Murray-Darling Basin, from Eastern Gippsland to across the Nullabor in South West WA.

But instead of delivering a real strategy for drought affected Australia, the Coalition have created a policy that gives the Agriculture Minister the ability to pork barrel resources with very minimal safeguards, all while gutting funding that had already been allocated to the NDIS and regional infrastructure.

That’s why the Greens would create a real drought fund that doesn’t raid the NDIS, while providing short-term relief and helping farmers adapt to our changing climate. It would deliver $100 million a year in real, sustainable and independently assessed grants to communities and business, grants that would improve water security and soil quality and better insulate farms and communities from the impact of drought.

 

TWO: GREEN FARMING

 

Australia needs a viable, long-term agricultural industry. But to have it we need to ensure that agriculture and the environment aren’t at odds with each other. Carefully directed environmental subsidies – to encourage farmers to reduce fertiliser use, improve land productivity and reduce water consumption – help ease pressure for land clearing and improve gross yields per hectare. It’s better for the farmer, it’s better for the planet. The Greens will make available $80 million a year in direct agricultural subsidies for farmers to improve per-hectare yield without degrading the land.

We will also fund a large scale rollout of the Whole of Paddock Rehabilitation Program. The Whole of Paddock Rehabilitation Program is an Australian-first, developed by farmers in conjunction with Greening Australia. It’s an entirely voluntary program that allows farmers to repair degraded or cleared paddock over 10 hectares of size through the planting of a broad range of native trees and shrubs in widely spaced belts across the land. The paddock is ‘rested’ by excluding livestock for a period of five years. Unlike other land restoration programs, this involves no land lost to production. Instead, payments are made to farmers in return for ‘renting’ the land for five years while a mix of native trees and shrubs are established.

Land restored through the program is more fertile, healthier, and demonstrates higher yields than its pre-restoration state. Farmers report ewes with lambs actively seeking out windbreaks created by the landscape restoration, and the lambing percentage for twinning ewes has increased by over 140 per cent.

 

THREE: INCREASED FUNDING FOR LANDCARE

 

The Liberal National Government’s cuts to Landcare have put the program under immense stress. The National Landcare Program (NLP) supports vitally important work across Australia’s amazing landscapes, from helping small farmers develop new land management techniques, to providing grant funding for communities to play a bigger part in caring for the land they live on. Yet the Coalition Government has drastically cut funding to the program, undermining its vital work.

The Greens have been in the fight for Landcare funding for years – managing to secure an extra $100 million in 2016. Now we’ll fully restore this crucial program to health, increasing funding by $84 million a year over the course of the next Parliament. With extra funding, the NLP can provide for the productive and responsible use of our land and safeguard it for future generations

 

FOUR: FUNDING RESEARCH FOR A CLIMATE SMART FUTURE

 

Climate change is the largest single crisis facing our regions, and its impacts on our farming communities become more and more apparent by the month. It is outrageous that the Government’s agriculture white paper process did not include climate change in its terms of reference, and because of this the final paper paid only lip service to it. The Greens would empower the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to conduct a whole of sector review and begin planning for the range of climate scenarios that we are fast approaching.

The Greens would also create a Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, an RD&E agency which would focus on working on the ground with best  practice farmers who are building the on-farm solutions for water efficiency, fertiliser efficiency, soil health, biodiversity retention and developing localised food production and sales. The centre would then provide the infrastructure to extend these best practices to farmers across the country.

 

FIVE: SUPPORTING CARBON FARMING, FARM FORESTRY AND REVEGETATION

 

The need to protect biodiversity and carbon stocks comes with many benefits and potential revenue streams for our farming community. Too often we see a false narrative of farmers vs the environment, when we know that native vegetation can improve water management, soil health and other environmental services to the benefit of both farmers AND the environment.

That’s why the Greens would restore integrity to the carbon farming initiative, allowing farmers to deliver genuine abatement. And we would rule out international carbon offsets, allowing Australia farmers to  bid into carbon markets without having to compete with dodgy international carbon credits.

Finally, the ability of farms to provide plantation timber is significant. That’s why the Greens will also commit $3 million of seed funding to contribute to the establishment of a national farm forestry cooperative for farmers, to expand the potential for farm forestry to contribute to supply of plantation wood products.

 

SIX: A NATIONAL BAN ON ALL NEW UNCONVENTIONAL GAS PROJECTS

 

The rapid and destructive expansion of the unconventional gas (coal seam, shale and tight gas) industry across much of Australia demonstrates what happens when governments put big gas mining companies ahead of local communities, the environment and our long-term future.

We will always act to protect our groundwater, climate, precious farmland and regional communities. The Greens would implement a national ban on all new unconventional gas approvals or expansions to existing projects, and put an end to underground coal gasification.

 

SEVEN: ENSURING OUR FOOD IS SAFE

 

The existing pathways that our Government use to assess our food and the chemicals that go into growing them is broken. The integrity of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Authority has been compromised by its  relocation, and many chemicals that sit on their books haven’t been assessed in decades.The ad-hoc nature of our current regime for chemical review, as demonstrated by the approach of the APVMA to community concerns about glyphosate, is clearly not up to the task of keeping our community and environment safe.

Because of this, the Greens would reintroduce the mandatory scheme for re-approval and re-registration of already registered pesticides and veterinary medicines, and establish a clear public interest voice advocating for consumers in both the APVMA and FSANZ.

 

EIGHT:  TAKING BACK CONTROL OVER OUR FOOD SYSTEM

 

The Government is looking to deregulate genetic modification technology like CRISPR and other new breeding techniques, allowing them to be released into the Australian supply chain and ecosystem without any oversight. Experts from a number of academic institutions have called  this change unnecessary, and the European Union has already ruled that these technologies must be regulated under the same criteria as existing genetic modification technology.

It is clear that these changes would put Australian exports, state based moratoriums and organic certifications at risk. The Greens will stand with farmers and ensure that new breeding techniques go through the same regulatory system as existing genetic modification technologies

Greens launch science and research policy

Greens science, research and innovation spokesperson Adam Bandt MP will today launch the Greens’ policy to put Australia on a pathway to reaching 4% investment of GDP in science, research and innovation. Mr Bandt launched the policy today in his electorate at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Australia’s oldest medical research institute.

The Greens’ plan injects $19.4 billion into the sector over the next decade, reversing funding cuts to key institutions, including the CSIRO, continued funding for the Medical Research Future Fund and over $2.5 billion for a suite of measures to support equitable and ongoing employment opportunities for researchers, including a ‘Secure Work for Researchers’ fund to assist universities and research institutes to transition their workers to ongoing, secure employment and targeted support for women in science.

Other policy measures in the package include:

  • Creating a ‘Protecting Science’ package, consisting of a $2.557 billion boost to the Australia Research Council, National Health & Medical Research Council, and Cooperative Research Centres over the next decade;

  • Providing $185.1 million over the forwards to ensure Open Access Publishing of Government funded research.

  • Providing $60.2 million over the forwards to invest in strategic opportunities for international collaboration

  • Improving the R&D Tax Incentive by reversing millions of dollars of government cuts and providing a 20% non-refundable tax offset for companies that hire STEM PhD students to work in their field of expertise.

Quotes attributable to Mr. Bandt:

“The Greens want a strong research sector in Australia to help move away from the polluting industries of the past and deliver the jobs of the future.”

“After six years of neglect and cuts from an anti-science Coalition government, we’ll improve access to information, foster international collaboration, protect key research institutions and fund the research and innovation Australia needs.”

“We must make life and work more secure for our researchers. We also need to do more to support women who take time out of the science and research workforce to have children.”

“By winding back unfair tax breaks to big polluters and big corporations, we can invest $19.4b into science, research and innovation to set us up for the future.”

“Australia is lagging behind. Commonwealth investment in research and development is at its lowest level in 40 years.”

“The old parties are stuck in the past. They’re addicted to the donations of old, entrenched and polluting industries so they don’t have the vision or the ability to usher in the jobs and industries of the future.

“This plan will put Australia on a path to joining other advanced countries that spend 4% of GDP on research and development.

Greens announce agriculture policy with $100m yearly to support drought-affected communities and restoring $84m funding that was cut from Landcare

The Australian Greens have announced an eight point plan to grow Australia’s agriculture industry sustainably and prepare for a changing climate.

“The Greens agriculture plan will grow the industry sustainably, provide $100 million annual support for drought-affected communities, protect farmers’ land with a national ban on fracking, and support farmers with grants to increase production and protect land and soil,” said Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens Agriculture and Rural Affairs spokesperson.

“We need a plan for agriculture that looks beyond the next election cycle. The effects of climate change, drought, water mismanagement, soil erosion and changing consumer preferences are all already having a huge impact on farmers and rural and regional communities.”

“The Coalition continues to sell out farmers and primary producers in favour of their corporate agribusiness mates and coal industry donors. Just look at the rampant pork barrelling and water mismanagement by Barnaby Joyce when he was agriculture and water minister.”

“Farmers and the agriculture industry are bearing the brunt of drought and a changing climate. The Greens plan provides the real solutions to the challenges that our critical agricultural industries  face.”

“The Greens plan also supports the essential work of Landcare, from helping small farmers develop new land management techniques, to providing grant funding for communities to play a bigger part in caring for the land they live on.”

“The Greens secured an extra $100 million for Landcare in 2016. Now we will restore the $84 million in funding that was cut by this government.”

The Australian Greens eight-point agriculture policy includes:

  1. Deliver $100m a year of real support for drought affected communities

  2. Support farmers with grants to grow production and protect land and soil

  3. Reverse the cuts to Landcare funding

  4. Create a Centre for Sustainable Agriculture and develop a climate smart plan for our agricultural sector

  5. Drive the domestic carbon farming and farm forestry industries

  6. A national ban on all new unconventional gas projects

  7. Conduct a thorough review of our agricultural chemicals and food safety

  8. Ensure that our existing genetic regulatory regime is protected and updated for new technologies

“Our housing system is fundamentally broken” – Greens respond to Anglicare Rental Snapshot and call for 500,000 new community and public homes

Australian Greens Housing Spokesperson, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, has commented on the latest Anglicare Australia Rental Affordability Snapshot which has found that there is a huge shortage of secure, affordable rentals across the country.

The Australian Greens have a plan to more than double the amount of social housing across Australia by building 500,000 new ecologically sustainable and affordable homes, with a net addition of 33,000 dwellings each year. The homes would be funded by scrapping negative gearing and capital gains tax exemptions, as well as redirecting part of the banking levy on major banks.

Senator Faruqi said:

“Housing in Australia is monumentally messed up and this latest report from Anglicare Australia further reinforces this. The near complete lack of rental places available to people living on Newstart or the Disability Support Pension across the country underlies the need for sweeping changes to boost affordable housing in Australia.

“The primary goal of a housing system should be to supply long term secure homes to people, not unbridled profits for investors.

“Everyone has the right to a safe, secure and permanent home. We know the situation is getting worse. We need urgent intervention, coupled with significant financial resources and reform of the housing system, or more and more people will be without a home.

“The Greens are the only party with a plan to massively boost the amount of social and affordable housing in Australia. We will more than double social housing in Australia by building 500,000 new ecologically sustainable and affordable homes” Dr Faruqi concluded.

More oil and gas will fuel the climate emergency

Greens Senators Richard Di Natale, Nick McKim and Peter Whish-Wilson will today join Tasmanian surfers in calling for a ban on oil and gas exploration in the Great Australian Bight.

Senator Di Natale said, “Today we’re standing with surfers and other oceangoers in saying no to oil and gas in the Great Australian Bight.

“It’s just not worth the risk to our marine environment and to our climate.

“The fossil fuel era is coming to an end. This means companies are chasing the last oil and gas into deeper and more dangerous waters than ever.”

Tasmanian Greens Senator Nick McKim said, “Modelling has shown that an oil spill from the Bight could travel thousands of kilometres, even as far as Tasmania.

“The emergency response times to a spill would be much longer due to the remoteness of the Bight.

“This poses an enormous threat to a pristine marine environment that should be under World Heritage Protection.”

Greens Healthy Oceans spokesperson, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, said, “Despite the danger to our marine life and our climate, the major parties can’t get enough of it and are running a protection racket for the industry.

“Last year, they voted against the Greens attempt to hold a senate inquiry into seismic testing.

“Seismic testing involves continuous blasts from an air gun that are louder than a jet engine and can go on for weeks on end. Just how much harm it does to other marine life, including dolphins and whales, is unknown.

“The Federal Government has a responsibility to protect Australia’s oceans and marine life, and to take the strongest possible action to protect future generations and prevent dangerous climate change.”

A new report by Global Witness showed that the opening up of any new oil and gas reserves is inconsistent with the Paris Agreement.

The Greens would:

  • Ban all new offshore oil and gas exploration, including a ban on seismic testing.
  • Ban all new offshore oil and gas extraction.
  • Stop all oil and gas exploration and extraction in marine parks and in the Great Australian Bight, including by revoking existing permits.

The Greens’ Healthy Oceans policy can be found here.