Greens reintroduce fracking ban and landholder rights bill

A bill to ban fracking and give farmers the right to say no to coal seam gas mining and fracking on their land was introduced to the Senate this afternoon for the sixth time by Greens mining and resources spokesperson and Co-Deputy Leader Senator Larissa Waters.

Senator Waters said:

“The Coaltion, led by the Energy Minister, is rolling out the red carpet for the gas industry and with Labor’s push to open up dirty natural gas drilling in the Galilee and Betaloo Basins there’s now even more urgency in giving farmers the right to say no.

“We are in the middle of a drought and climate emergency – we should not be opening new or expanding existing unconventional gas mines which threaten land and water when we have abundant renewable energy that is reliable, jobs rich and genuinely clean. Fracking just the Betaloo Basin would increase Australia’s emissions by 6.6 per cent according to the NT Government’s own report.

“The Greens have been campaigning against the polluting unconventional gas industry since 2010. Instead of expanding gas mining and fracking, the government should be driving a jobs and investment boom in clean renewable energy.

“We have energy alternatives which don’t threaten our climate, health, land, and that will create new jobs for workers and communities – CSG can frack off.

“Since 2011 the Greens have introduced this same bill to give landholders, including traditional owners, the right to say no to coal and gas, and to ban fracking six times now. Labor, Liberal and the National parties have previously voted against it.

“It is particularly shameful of the Nats who just this week have been claiming they stand for farmers’ right to farm yet they never back them against the fossil fuel industry which donates to their political party.
“This bill is a test for the Coalition on where they really stand on food security and the longevity of our rural communities.

“We have precious little good quality agriculture land in Australia and it should be protected from all other inconsistent land uses.

“Farmers should have the legal right to decide that they want to keep farming their land, rather than take the risk of possible long-term groundwater depletion or contamination from coal seam gas mining and fracking.”

LIGHT RAIL VEHICLE REACHES CIRCULAR QUAY

In a major milestone for the Light Rail project, trams have travelled along the length of George Street from Central Station to Circular Quay.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Transport Andrew Constance today inspected the first light rail vehicle to reach the end of the line at Circular Quay.

“It was an historic moment last night with light rail travelling along the wire-free section on George Street for the first time,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“The vehicle will now spend the day at Circular Quay, giving hundreds of thousands of ferry, train and bus commuters the chance to have a look.

“By the end of the year this exciting project will be open and those customers will be able to jump on the light rail as part of their daily commute.”

Mr Constance said trams are going to be a common sight in the CBD from now on.

“Today’s milestone means there will be regular testing on George Street from Town Hall to Circular Quay at night, before daytime testing begins in the CBD within weeks,” Mr Constance said.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Michael Corby reminded people to keep their heads up and be aware around the new light rail corridor.

“We have had a few near misses during the tram testing as people get used to having trams around. Mobile phone distraction and people crossing in front of trams are particular dangers,” Mr Corby said.

“The message for all road users is the same; ditch the distraction, follow the road rules and pay attention.”

Transport for NSW’s “Heads Up, Play it Safe around Light Rail” safety campaign will continue to be rolled out as tram day testing expands to Circular Quay.

Man dies after cliff fall – Newcastle

A critical incident investigation has been launched following the non-suspicious death of a man in the presence of police yesterday.

Police were called to Bogey Hole, Newcastle about 5pm following reports that there was a concern for the welfare of a man at that location.

About 7.20pm (Monday 29 July 2019), the 36-year-old man fell from the cliff with police in attendance.

A critical incident team from Lake Macquarie Police District will now investigate all circumstances surrounding the incident. Police were conversing with the man prior to his fall.

That investigation will be subject to an independent review.

All information will be provided to the Coroner who will determine the cause of death and make any findings about the events leading to the man’s death.

No further details are available at this time; however, Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward. Anyone who can assist Police should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Senate Calls on Government to Release PFAS Contamination Response

Australian Greens Senator for NSW, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, has welcomed the Senate passing her motion calling on the Federal Government to release its response to the Senate Inquiry into PFAS.

It has been more than seven months since the Senate Inquiry into PFAS contamination handed down its report, recommending that the Federal Government appoint a Coordinator-General to coordinate the national response to the PFAS contamination issue, undertake measures to improve participation in the voluntary blood testing program for PFAS, and assist property owners and businesses in the affected areas for demonstrated, quantifiable financial losses associated with PFAS contamination, including the possibility of buybacks.

Senator Faruqi, who sat on the inquiry and is an environmental engineer, said:

“When the inquiry into PFAS contamination handed down its report in Parliament almost seven months ago, I urged the Government to take concrete action and not leave communities hanging for many months. It’s really disappoints that they have not swiftly responded to this important matter.

“This is an extremely serious issue that affects thousands of people across the country, including in my home state of NSW around the Williamtown RAAF base.

“This issue has caused significant mental, emotional and financial stress for people and it is simply not fair. The Government needs to stop stringing them along and show them the respect they deserve.

“More than 3 years after the contamination was publicly revealed, the Federal government is no closer to resolving this issue and allowing people closure. They must urgently release their response,” she concluded.

The Motion:

I give notice that on the next day of sitting, I shall move—That the Senate:

1. Note that:

a.     The issue of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination has caused significant mental, emotional and financial stress for communities where PFAS have contaminated  land and water, including the communities around the RAAF base in Williamtown in New South Wales, the Oakey Army Aviation Centre in Queensland and RAAF Base Tindal at Katherine in the Northern Territory.
b.     It has been more 7 months since the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade tabled its report into the management of PFAS contamination in and around Defence bases and the Government has still not issued its response.
c.      Communities are waiting anxiously on the Government’s response to the key recommendations of the Committee, such as, the Federal Government appoint a Coordinator-General to coordinate the national response to the PFAS contamination issue, undertake measures to improve participation in the voluntary blood testing program for PFAS, and assist property owners and businesses in affected areas for demonstrated, quantifiable financial losses associated with PFAS contamination, including the possibility of buybacks.

2.     Calls on the Federal Government to release its response to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade report into management of PFAS contamination in and around Defence bases.

FREE DENTAL CHECKS FOR PRIMARY SCHOOL KIDS

The first of thousands of kids are today getting their teeth checked for free in new mobile clinics that will visit primary schools, setting them up for a lifetime of good dental health.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Minister for Health and Medical Research Brad Hazzard and Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell officially launched the NSW Health Primary School Mobile Dental Program at Penrith South Public School.

Ms Berejiklian said 35 mobile dental clinics will provide checks and basic dental care to up to 136,000 primary school children, made possible by an investment of $70 million over four years.

“The mobile dental program builds on existing NSW public dental services that make  dental care available to all Medicare eligible children for free,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“This program will bring NSW Health dental practitioners into NSW primary schools, to make it easier for children to access vital services.”

Mr Hazzard said thousands of children are admitted to NSW hospitals every year with potentially preventable dental conditions and this program could reduce presentations.

“Children’s oral health can influence their general health,” Mr Hazzard said.

“A healthy mouth ensures kids can eat, speak and socialise without discomfort and embarrassment, so it’s important that we treat and teach them about oral health early.”

Ms Mitchell said dental problems can make it very hard for school children to stay focused in class and complete their homework, and it can also lead to school absences.

“Dental problems can disrupt a child’s sleep, so they arrive at school tired making it difficult to concentrate. It can also affect their chewing and swallowing,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Children are like sponges in primary school; so educating them on the importance of regular health check-ups when they’re young will hopefully transpire to later in life as well.”

Primary school children will be offered a dental check-up, teeth clean and x-rays to look for dental decay under the program, which will initially focus on Western Sydney, the Mid North Coast and the Central Coast.

For more information on the NSW Primary School Mobile Dental Program click here.

CONTACTLESS TRANSPORT PAYMENTS HIT THE ROAD

Bus customers will be able to tap their credit cards on Opal readers as a simple new way to pay under the NSW Government’s latest Australian-first innovation in transport payments.

Minister for Transport Andrew Constance today announced contactless transport payments will be rolled out on Opal-enabled buses from August.

“Launching this technology on buses marks the final piece in the contactless payments puzzle and we expect all buses on the Opal network to be able to accept credit and debit cards by the end of September,” Mr Constance said.

There will also be more savings for existing customers who choose to tap on with their credit or debit card, with full fare parity with Adult Opal cards.

“A credit card will now qualify for the same fare and travel benefits of an Adult Opal card on trains, light rail, ferries and buses once fully-implemented.

“From tomorrow, the weekly travel reward, the transfer discount and off-peak pricing, will be available for all contactless transport payments. This is a huge win for regular commuters who now have another convenient payment option with all the benefits of Opal,” Mr Constance said.

Customers wanting to pay for their trip using contactless will continue to have the option to tap on and off using mobile wallets on smartphones, tablets and wearable devices that are linked to their American Express, Mastercard or Visa card.

“Opal remains the foundation for customers to access the transport network in a digital world and contactless transport payments are just another piece of our expansive Opal network,” Mr Constance said.

“For the NSW Government, the drive towards technology and digital products is part of turning Sydney into a smart city.

“In 2017, we became the first state to accept contactless transport payments and today only a handful of transport networks around the world offer similar options in this space.”

To date, 6.5 million contactless transport payments have been recorded across the Opal network – which is an average of one million a month, or roughly 250,000 per week.

ROLL OUT OF CONTACTLESS TRANSPORT PAYMENTS ON BUSES
(in order of location)

LOCATION          NUMBER OF BUSES
Outer Metro – Wollongong
16
Seven Hills
672
Blacktown
Further areas of Wollongong
513
Central Coast
Terrey Hills
Western Sydney
Inner West
1,378
Hunter Valley
Newcastle
Leppington
Punchbowl
Burwood
1,046
Campbelltown
Blue Mountains
Northshore, Eastern Suburbs
& Inner west
1,648

Library honours city’s convict women

The plights of convict women who overcame great hardships to help create the fabulous city enjoyed by latter-day Novocastrians will be explored in an upcoming Newcastle Library exhibition.Mary Eckford
They Sent Me North: Female Convicts in the Hunter features redemptive stories on the women’s struggles and achievements, a display of bonnets in the style they sported and a bonnet-making workshop in their honour.

Both the historical snapshot and a book of the same title were developed by Newcastle Family History Society to celebrate the lives of the 1,600 women sent to the Hunter between 1804 and 1822.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said people from right across the region would enjoy the look back at the hardy European pioneers.

“If you want to find out if you have a connection to those resilient women, this is a must-see exhibition,” Councillor Nelmes said.

“The book is a fascinating database of the female convicts sent to Newcastle and the Hunter, and includes 70 short biographies penned by their descendants.

“One remarkable character was retailer Ann “Hannah” Langham. Her Hunter Street shop was fondly remembered by Novocastrians well into the 20th Century, and we’d love to hear from one of her descendants ahead of the exhibition.”

‘Mrs Langham’s store’ amounted to Newcastle’s “commercial world” in 1859, the Newcastle Morning Herald wrote in 1897.

Transported for stealing a watch at age 19, Langham (nee Williams) was assigned to a reverend’s Aboriginal mission at Lake Macquarie after arriving at Port Jackson in 1829.

The former London laundress married Samuel Langham as a free woman in 1832 and, following his two-year jailing for indebtedness and the death of a daughter, they opened their store opposite the old courthouse in the mid to late 1840s. It became “the only business of any consequence on the main street” and a “fancy warehouse”, recalled the Newcastle Sun on 31 October 1938.

Mrs Langham closed her store in 1879 – 25 years after Samuel died – and was thought to have moved to Sydney. She had returned by 1890 and died seven years later at the Benevolent Asylum in Waratah at 87. Despite the cause of death being listed as “senile decay”, the Herald dutifully reported “she retained all her faculties to the last”.

The exhibition is part of Roses from the Heart, an Australia-wide initiative created by Dr Christina Henri, which pays tribute to all convict women sentenced to transportation in Australia.

Mel Woodford, Newcastle Family History Society President, said the bonnet displays and workshop idea emerged from the book.

“Jan Richards, fellow member of the Newcastle Family History Society, and I have been working on this publication for four or five years now, and it just seemed fitting to honour the convict women by displaying the bonnets created by their families,” Ms Woodford said.

The exhibition is a collaboration between Maitland & Beyond Family History Inc., Newcastle Family History Society Inc. and Raymond Terrace & District Historical Society Inc.

The exhibition runs from 31 July – 24 August during the library’s regular opening hours.

Image Caption: Mary Eckford (nee Horrell) was sentenced aged 14 in Devon for stealing an apron and a handkerchief in 1798 . She married Newcastle Harbour Master William Eckford in 1802 and they had eight children, who went to Newcastle East Public School.

Launch

When: Tuesday 30 July, 5.30pm
Who: Dr Christina Henri, 2014 Senior Australian of the Year (Tasmania) and Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes.
Where: Lovett Gallery, Newcastle Library, Lovett Gallery.

Two shortened bios from the Exhibition

Margaret McGreavy (nee Tynan):

A few months after Margaret’s husband was transported from Ireland in March 1817, she too was convicted of stealing. In a planned penance, she found herself in Port Jackson aged 21 the following year. The couple were living together in Sydney in 1820 when both were caught receiving stolen goods and sent north to Newcastle. An alleged rape of their daughter somehow led them to Port Macquarie, but both Margaret and her husband James returned to run Newcastle pubs from 1833. Margaret died in 1865 and was remembered as a pioneer of the Newcastle East End. Her grandson, James Nixon Brunker, after whom Brunker Road was likely named, became a Member of Parliament in 1880, Minister for Lands in 1888, Colonial Secretary in 1884, and was considered one of the Founding Fathers of the Australian Constitution,

Maria Courtney

Maria was transported with six members of her family for counterfeiting sixpences in the Borough of Berwick-upon-Tweed in northern England. Initially sentenced to hang, she gave birth to a son two weeks before her date with the gallows on 5 August 1816. Their sentence was commuted to life and transportation to Australia. Aged 27, Maria arrived in Port Jackson aboard the Friendship in January 1818. She married Dennis Hammil in September that year and had two daughters before the family took on a 10-acre farm at Windsor on the Hawkesbury. Two sons followed their move to Richmond before they moved to East Maitland (then Wallis Plains), where Maria died aged 38 in 1828, leaving Dennis to raise four young children.

Greens to consider Digital Platforms Inquiry report and consult on recommendations

The Greens will consider the Digital Platforms Inquiry report and its 23 recommendations handed down today from the ACCC.

“Social media and digital platforms have fundamentally changed the way that we receive and consume news and information. Australia’s hyper-concentrated traditional media environment is not helped by this concentrated digital environment, with too much power amassing in the hands of just a few key players,” said Senator Hanson-Young, spokesperson for media and communications

“Big corporate media giants have been getting away with too much for too long.

“Last election the Greens developed a comprehensive strengthening media diversity policy, which called for a Productivity Commission Inquiry into the role and strength of our regulatory bodies.

“This is an important report and we will consider and consult the on the recommendations thoroughly.”

New concept plans for Newcastle Beach

City of Newcastle has released updated concept plans for the Bathers Way – Newcastle Beach project, including a beachside skate bowl positioned within the existing promenade at South Newcastle Beach.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the improvements were in response to feedback on the original design which had been partially built over the beach.

Bathers-Way-Newcastle-Beachinside.jpg
“While these are concept plans only, they demonstrate that we can have a bowl suitable for intermediate skaters and accessible for wheelchair sports, without the need for it to protrude onto the beach,” the Lord Mayor said.

“These concepts allow us to work with the community, skaters, coastal engineers, environmental and geotechnical experts to determine more detailed designs for this stage of the Bathers Way project.

“We’re now asking the community to have their say on these concepts as we undertake formal consultation, refine the detailed designs, and ultimately start construction.”

Following community engagement on the concept images, detailed design will continue towards a state-of-the-art skate park for intermediate to advanced users and wheelchair athletes. Construction is scheduled to commence in 2020.

Bathers-Way-Newcastle-Beach-2inside.jpg
Bathers-Way-Newcastle-Beach-3inside.jpg
Bathers-Way-Newcastle-Beach-4inside.jpg
“This will ensure that we continue to achieve our vision of delivering this fantastic public pathway along one of the most magnificent stretches of coastline in the country,” the Lord Mayor said.

The Bathers Way – Newcastle Beach is the largest and most complex stage of the Bathers Way project.

This stage, which also includes a new kiosk and amenities and outdoor exercise equipment, will transform a section of coast which has long been dormant into a vibrant and attractive place.

Further upgrades are proposed for the Bathers Way between King Edward Park and Newcastle Surf Life Saving Club, including access improvements and a community hub in the Newcastle Beach Pavilion following its redevelopment.

“When the King Edward Park and Memorial Drive sections are completed, Newcastle will boast a stairless six-kilometre coastal pathway that will surpass any in Australia,” the Lord Mayor added.

Have your say on the new concept plans, here, now until the end of August.

Fourth man charged over alleged Toronto armed robbery – Strike Force Bergs

A fourth man has been charged following investigations into a series of armed robberies across the Lake Macquarie region earlier this year.

Detectives from the State Crime Command’s Robbery and Serious Crime Squad established Strike Force Bergs to investigate eight armed robberies at bowling clubs and a golf club, which occurred between February and May 2019.

As part of their inquiries, three men – aged 24, 27 and 36 – were arrested and charged by strike force detectives last month. They remain before the courts.

Following further investigations, police arrested a 29-year-old man at a home in Tamworth about 10am today (Thursday 25 July 2019).

He was taken to Tamworth Police Station and charged with two counts of robbery armed with offensive weapon.

Police will allege in court this was in connection with an armed robbery at a club in Toronto on Friday 24 May 2019.

The man was refused bail to appear before Tamworth Local Court today (Thursday 25 July 2019).

Investigations under Strike Force Bergs continue.