Labor Statement – Vale Clive James

Clive James was a giant of Australian letters, and one of the greatest poets and intellectuals this country has ever produced.

Clive passed away at his home in the UK at the weekend after a long illness, aged 80.

The “Kid from Kogarah” started his working life as an assistant editor at The Sydney Morning Herald before forging a 50-year career as a scholar, poet, lyricist, essayist, novelist, memoirist, critic and broadcaster.

At home and abroad, he entertained and moved readers and TV audiences with his profound and provocative insights, acerbic wit and boundless sense of humour.

“Common sense and a sense of humour are the same thing, moving at different speeds,” Clive once wrote. “A sense of humour is just common sense, dancing. Those who lack humour are without judgement and should be trusted with nothing.”

Despite all the impressive achievements that made him a household name in Australia and the UK, he never lost his connection to his working-class roots or his commitment to a “fair go for the workers”.

He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1992 and that was upgraded to Officer level in 2013. He was similarly honoured in the UK for his services to literature and the media.

As Clive once said: “Fiction is life with the dull bits left out”.

Clive’s life was certainly not dull – but the world without him is a less intelligent and less colourful place.

Vale Clive James.

GOVERNMENT STAFF CAP HURTING NEWCASTLE CSIRO

The important work of CSIRO’s flagship Energy Centre in Newcastle is being compromised by an arbitrary staffing cap.

Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon and Shadow Minister for Science, Employment and Industry Brendan O’Connor met with Newcastle representatives from the CSIRO Staffing Association today to discuss the issue.

“Labor is concerned that the Morrison Government’s cap on public sector staffing numbers is hurting the CSIRO and undermining its role in advancing science and innovation,” Mr O’Connor said.

“The CSIRO staff association recently made a submission to a Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee inquiry outlining the impact of the 5,193 person cap on full time staff on Australia’s scientific capability.

“The submission highlights reports of increased use of external contractors, which is putting a number of major projects at risk and is sidestepping secure local jobs.”

Ms Claydon said, “The Government’s irrational Average Staffing Level policy has capped staff numbers at 2006/7 numbers. This has essentially created a staffing freeze that is forcing CSIRO researchers to fill vacancies with external contractors at a premium price.

“Staff have told me that job vacancies are being placed on hold even if projects have private external funding.

“Not only does this mean that taxpayers are spending more to get less, this also undermines the pay and conditions of existing workers and locking a generation of STEM graduates out of long-term scientific work.”

Mr O’Connor said research and innovation like that at the CSIRO is under threat under the Morrison Government which is overseeing an overall downward trend in R&D under their watch.

“This is the world-class institution that invented wifi, plastic bank notes and Aerogard, to name just a few,” Mr O’Connor said.

“It’s foolish to shackle Australia’s top scientists from making new important breakthroughs.

“The Morrison Government has no regard for scientists and this staffing cap is a clear continuation of their war on science.”

Fatal microlight aircraft crash near Maitland

An investigation is underway after two men died in a microlight aircraft crash in the state’s Hunter region today.

About 12.20pm (Saturday 30 November 2019), emergency services were called to a property on Paterson Road, Woodville, about 10km north of Maitland, following reports of an aircraft crash.

Upon arrival, a wreckage and the bodies of a 44-year-old man and a 71-year-old man were located.

Officers from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District established a crime scene, which was examined by specialist forensic police.

An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the crash has commenced and as inquiries continue, anyone with information is urged to contact Maitland Police Station on (02) 4934 0311 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

The Sports Aviation Federation of Australia is assisting with the investigation.

A report will be prepared for the information of the Coroner.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, DETECTION: DRIVERS BEWARE

Drivers using a mobile phone illegally risk being caught on camera when the NSW Government’s mobile phone detection cameras switch on this Sunday 1 December.

Minister for Roads Andrew Constance said the world-first safety technology will target illegal mobile phone use by drivers through fixed and mobile trailer-mounted cameras.

“The NSW Government is serious about reducing our state’s road toll and rolling out mobile phone detection cameras is another way we will do this,” Mr Constance said.

“As we enter a notoriously dangerous time of the year on our roads I want all drivers to know that if you use your mobile phone while behind the wheel of a vehicle in NSW you will have a greater chance of being caught, anywhere at anytime.

“Some people have not got the message about using their phones legally and safely. If they think they can continue to put the safety of themselves, their passengers and the community at risk without consequence they are in for a rude shock.”

For the first three months, drivers caught by a mobile phone detection camera will receive a warning letter. After that drivers will cop a $344 fine, or a $457 fine in a school zone, and five demerit points – 10 during double demerit periods.

Minister for Regional Roads Paul Toole said the program will progressively expand to perform an estimated 135 million vehicle checks on NSW roads each year by 2023.

“The decision to pick up your phone can have fatal consequences. Whether you’re driving on a major highway or an isolated road in the bush, there’s no excuse for using your phone illegally – and from Sunday, there’s a much greater chance of getting nabbed,” Mr Toole said.

Executive Director of Transport for NSW’s Centre for Road Safety Bernard Carlon said a trial of cameras earlier this year caught over 100,000 drivers illegally using a phone.

“Independent modelling has shown these cameras could prevent around 100 fatal and serious injury crashes over five years,” Mr Carlon said. “There is strong community support for more enforcement, with 80 per cent of people surveyed supporting use of detection cameras to stop illegal mobile phone use.”

NSW Police will continue to enforce illegal mobile phone use and issue infringements as part of regular operations during the warning phase of the camera program.

For more details on the program visit http://mobilephoneroadrules.com.au.

NATION UNITES ON DEFAMATION REFORM

The NSW-led process to update national defamation laws reached a new milestone today, with Australia’s Attorneys-General agreeing to release draft reforms for public consultation.

NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman encouraged anyone interested in this vital area of law to  have their say.

“These draft amendments are a major step towards modernising Australia’s defamation laws, protecting responsible public interest journalism and addressing the growing volume of trivial matters proceeding to court ,” Mr Speakman said.

The draft amendment provisions were developed following a robust national consultation process that took place throughout 2019.

The Council of Attorneys-General is releasing the draft amendments for further public consultation, giving interested parties another opportunity to provide feedback before reforms are finalised and Parliament-ready legislation is agreed in the middle of next year.

The proposed reforms contain a new single publication rule, meaning the limitation period for bringing an action will commence from the date material is uploaded rather than restarting each time it is downloaded.

The reforms also include a serious harm threshold, defence of responsible publication on a matter of public interest and mandatory pre-litigation processes to encourage settlement of disputes out of court.

“The reforms will ensure defamation law does not place unreasonable limits on free speech, address the increasing number of frivolous defamation matters and modernise provisions to apply better to digital publications,” Mr Speakman said.

The draft amendment provisions will be available to read via www.justice.nsw.gov.au/defamationreview.

People and organisations wishing to provide feedback on the draft amendment provisions can send submissions to defamationreview@justice.nsw.gov.au. Submissions close on Friday, 24 January 2020.

A second stage of the reform process will start next year, including examining whether or not digital platforms should bear responsibility for defamatory material published on their sites among other matters.

MORE PRESCHOOL OPTIONS FOR NSW COUNTRY KIDS

Preschool services will be more accessible for families in regional parts of the State, with the NSW Government today announcing $8.3 million in grants to expand and establish new services.

Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell said the Capital Works Grants program increases the number of places in community preschools, providing families with more opportunities for early childhood education.

“When it comes to early childhood education, I think families should have options that are accessible, affordable and high quality,” Ms Mitchell said.

“As a Government, it is important we do what we can to support our regional communities that have endured a tough few years.

“No matter where your family lives, every child should have access to a top-quality early childhood education service, because we know how important the early years are for their social, cognitive and emotional development.”

Ms Mitchell added that since 2018, the NSW Government has allocated $62.1 million to increase community preschool places in areas of high demand.

“Successful applicants can use this funding to support a variety of service improvements, including opening new centres, extending and renovating existing sites and in some cases, investing in new vehicles to support the continuation of mobile preschool services,” she said.

“We implemented the Capital Works Grants program in 2013, and since then we have expanded preschool capacity across the State by thousands of places.

“There will be some exciting projects taking place thanks to the 2019 round of Capital Works Grants, including two new vehicles for Gwydir Mobile Children’s Service, $1.5 million for a new preschool at Cootamundra and $350,000 for a significant extension of Leeton Preschool.”

For more information, visit the Department of Education website.

REGIONAL COMMUNITIES RECEIVE A BOOST FROM CLUBGRANTS PROGRAM

Community organisations across the state have been awarded a total of $4 million to fund local projects under the NSW Government’s Infrastructure Grants program.

Projects that build or upgrade facilities across sport and recreation, arts and culture, disaster readiness and essential community infrastructure have received funding.

Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said the 32 projects receiving funding will help local organisations deliver tangible, long-term benefits to the communities they serve.

“We’re proud to support these important community organisations that work tirelessly to create resilient, healthy and connected communities,” Mr Dominello said.

“The projects they’re delivering will boost participation in sport, recreation and arts, social inclusion and disaster resilience – making a real difference in people’s lives across NSW.”

Since 2013, the NSW Government has funded over 350 community projects worth $82 million under the Infrastructure Grants program.

This year the program expanded to fund projects that build community connections by supporting drought-affected communities and youth, mental health and domestic violence services.

The grants are made possible by the Clubgrants Category 3 Fund which re-invests profits from registered clubs’ gaming machines into community infrastructure projects across three key areas:
·         Arts & Culture
·         Disaster Readiness & Community Infrastructure
·         Sport & Recreation

Applications for the second round of funding for 2019/20 have opened and close on 16 December. Learn more at responsiblegambling.nsw.gov.au/funding-opportunities/infrastructure-grants.

GROWING SYDNEY’S NIGHT-TIME ECONOMY

The NSW Government will enhance Sydney’s night-time economy with extended trading hours for venues and bottle shops, a relaxation of after-midnight drink rules and other changes to be introduced from January.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the initiatives introduced five years ago had undoubtedly made Sydney safer, but now was the right time for change in the CBD, particularly with light rail services commencing soon.

“Sydney has transformed dramatically over recent years, and we need to ensure we have a strong and vibrant night-time economy that reflects our position as Australia’s only truly global city,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Following a detailed review of the Joint Select Committee’s recommendations, we will implement changes over summer to ensure Sydney has a thriving, safe and diverse night life that can be enjoyed by all.

“While the extended trading hours will provide a boost for the night-time economy, community safety will always be a focus.”

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the changes would stimulate the economy and attract more businesses into the CBD.

“We are working to ensure the NSW economy grows and provides an improved standard of living for our citizens and a big part of this is stimulating growth in the night-time economy,” Mr Perrottet said.

“The NSW Government’s changes will help drive investment, grow jobs and attract more businesses to the CBD.”

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said an enhanced night time economy would provide a huge boost for tourism, providing another incentive for people to visit Sydney.

“It’s time to embrace a 24 hour economy that creates jobs, fosters arts, culture, live performance and safety on our streets. You don’t have to trade safety for liveability but we all need to take responsibility for making Sydney the best it can be,” Mr Ayres said.

“Sydney is Australia’s number one tourism destination, with the world’s most iconic harbour, scenic beaches, world-class transport, and a vibrant arts and culture scene.”

The following changes will occur from 14 January 2020:

  • Remove 1.30am last entry for all venues in the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct, including those on Oxford Street (see map).
  • Remove restrictions on serving cocktails, shots and drinks in glass after midnight in this precinct.
  • Extend ‘last drinks’ at venues with good records in this precinct by 30 minutes.
  • Extend bottle shop opening hours across NSW until midnight from Monday to Saturday, with 11pm closing on Sunday.
  • Increase small bar patron capacity from 100 to 120 across NSW.

Consistent with the Joint Select Committee’s recommendations, existing arrangements will be maintained in the Kings Cross precinct.

The Joint Select Committee consisted of members from all sides of politics working in consultation with police and health authorities, and taking feedback from community, and entertainment and live music stakeholders to develop the recommendations.

The lockout laws were introduced by the NSW Government in 2014 following a number of alcohol-fuelled violent deaths and attacks in Sydney.

The Government will monitor the impact of these changes and conduct a review after 12 months. Minister Ayres will be responsible for the implementation and review of the NSW Government response. To view the Government’s full response to the Committee’s recommendations, visit this link.

INNOVATION AND INTERVENTION TO PREVENT WORKPLACE ACCIDENTS

Construction sites, hazardous chemical facilities and sites with mobile plant equipment are some of the workplaces targeted in a new High-Risk Workplaces Strategy launched by the NSW Government today.

The strategy utilises current and historical data to identify risk trends within industries, which will then allow SafeWork to run targeted programs so that there is a better chance of intervening before an incident occurs.

Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson said the strategy is part of a commitment to reduce fatalities and serious injuries at work.

“The High-Risk Workplaces Strategy is a game changer in the fight to reduce workplace fatalities and serious injuries,” Mr Anderson said.

“Using state-of-the-art data science, SafeWork NSW can better identify businesses most at risk of having a workplace incident, and then work with those businesses to remove or reduce the risk before someone gets seriously injured or killed.”

The SafeWork NSW High-Risk Workplaces Strategy uses a predictive model that generates a risk score for each business. When applied against last year’s data, the model has an 80 per cent success rate in predicting whether or not a business will have an incident.

“We’ve seen the devastation workplace deaths and serious injury can have on the community, which is why SafeWork NSW continues to find new and innovative ways of addressing unsafe work practices, so that everyone makes it home at the end of their shift,” Mr Anderson said.

SafeWork NSW’s compliance, prevention and regulatory function is guided by the Work Health and Safety Roadmap for NSW 2022. The six-year strategy commits NSW to a 30 per cent reduction in work related fatalities and a 50 per cent reduction in the incidence of serious injuries, illnesses by 2022.  To date NSW is exceeding national targets and is the only state to increase its targets.

The full strategy is available via www.safework.nsw.gov.au. To watch a short clip about predictive modelling to generate a WHS risk score visit Using Predicative Modelling to Generate a WHS Risk Score