Latest government rort must be investigated by the Senate

Senator Larissa Waters will call the Senate to vote on an inquiry into the Coalition’s rorting of government grants, which will include the Shine Energy’s controversially won federal funding to investigate a coal-fired power station at Collinsville, QLD.

Waters said the inquiry has never been so important, following reports today showing links between Shine Energy and multinational mining giant, Glencore.

“The Coalition is out of control. Another week, another article exposing their systematic and strategic misuse of public funds to buy election outcomes,” Senator Waters, Greens Leader in the Senate, said.

“That is why on the first sitting day back in parliament, we’ll urge the Senate to vote to set up the inquiry into the Coalition’s flagrant pork barrelling and use of funding programs as an election slush fund.

“The Greens have called for a Senate inquiry into rampant pork-barrelling of federal grant programs. The Supporting Reliable Energy Infrastructure program that awarded $3.3M to Shine Energy prior to any application should be investigated as part of that inquiry.

“This is Sports Rorts on a whole new level. Shine Energy had no relevant experience and no past projects. They have a clear connection to Glencore, a mining magnate that would directly benefit from the power station’s construction and has been lobbying the government to support the coal industry.

“We support calls for an auditor general investigation into how an inexperienced company secured $3.3M for a feasibility study, especially if supported by a wealthy multinational mining corporation.

“Propping up a project that was championed by the Nationals in North Queensland, but rejected by the existing UNGI program is yet another example of this government using public money to suit its own political interests.

“We’ve seen grants awarded with no criteria, grants that ignored the criteria but were in marginal seats, and now grants with criteria drafted specifically to suit a pre-selected project after the funding decision has been made.”

Senator Waters, who is the Greens spokesperson for Democracy, said today’s revelations vindicate the Greens’ ten years of calls for a federal corruption watchdog.

“It’s been almost a  year since the Senate passed my bill for a federal ICAC with teeth. But the Morrison government is refusing to call the bill to a vote in the House of Representatives.

“I ask the Coalition: why are you so afraid of public scrutiny?”

AUSTRALIAN MANUFACTURING IN NEED OF COMPREHENSIVE PLAN

The Australian manufacturing sector is in critical need of a comprehensive future plan from the Morrison Government to drive employment and boost GDP as Australia navigates the deep recession we are in.

Federal Labor welcomes the release today of the AMWU report A Fair Share for Australian Manufacturing, which outlines a detailed plan for the future of the industry, which is so critical for encouraging well paid, highly skilled secure jobs.

The AMWU report highlights the critical need for reform of high energy costs, and skills and training. It explores a plan to deliver, “400,000 new manufacturing jobs, a further 265,000 in supply chains – all of them working together to put that famous Australian Made label on an extra $180 billion worth of products every year.”

The report stands in stark contrast to the failure of the Morrison Government to outline a plan for manufacturing in last week’s Budget update.

COVID-19 has demonstrated just how vulnerable Australia is to global supply chain shocks. The Liberals’ lack of a economic plan is leaving Australia, and the manufacturing sector, dangerously exposed to turbulence in the global economy.

While some of our manufacturers have adapted to produce much needed Personal Protective Equipment and other essential suppliers during COVID-19, Australia needs a more sophisticated manufacturing plan than just responding to crises.

The only plan the Morrison Government currently has is to rip $1.8 billion from research and development. Research and Development is inextricably linked to a recovery led by advanced manufacturing, and the manufacturing sector is the second largest spender on R&D.

As we look to the future and how we best emerge from the health crisis and recession, the Morrison Government must do more to support the Australian manufacturing sector. A strong local manufacturing industry will create jobs and long term export and trading opportunities

They need to come up with a genuine plan to get the economy moving again.

COMMONWEALTH MUST HELP FUND PAID PANDEMIC LEAVE

The Morrison Government must help fund a universal paid pandemic leave scheme to ensure every Australian worker who needs to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19 can do so without financial penalty.

A paid pandemic leave scheme is a critical measure to protect both workers and public health by preventing further COVID-19 outbreaks. It should have been introduced months ago.

Workers cannot be forced to choose between paying their bills and protecting their colleagues, customers and patients. Whenever we force that choice on people the community is put at risk.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has said “about 80 per cent” of the state’s new infections since mid-May have been ” driven by transmission in workplaces.”

A universal paid pandemic leave scheme could have prevented some of this terrible toll.

Unless we get a universal scheme we will have more community transmission, leading to more outbreaks and economy-smashing lockdowns. We cannot afford not to do this.

Some employers have established their own schemes and Labor welcomes that. The Fair Work Commission has also granted paid pandemic leave to some aged care workers, and the Victorian Labor Government has also introduced some payments.

But it must go further. The Government must step in and help fund a scheme to reach all workers.

Labor believes the scheme should be available to any worker, regardless of industry or employment status, who needs to be away from work to: undergo a COVID test; isolate while awaiting a result; isolate if a test is positive; or isolate if directed to do so by a public health officer.

An estimated 3.7 million Australians don’t have any access to paid sick leave or the other protections of permanent employment, including casuals, contractors, freelancers, sole traders and gig economy workers. And many permanent workers have exhausted their sick leave entitlements.

Without pandemic leave, many will continue to turn up to work when they’re sick or should be isolating.

Labor first called for paid pandemic leave on March 10 – 142 days ago.

But Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter dismissed our call at the time, saying the Government would not “jump to a solution in anticipation of a problem”.

The Government says it is now considering the idea.

There is no excuse for any further delay. The Government must act immediately.

Continuing To Make It Easier For Business To Operate During COVID-19

The Morrison Government is continuing to provide certainty to businesses about how they can meet their legal obligations by extending temporary regulatory relief in respect of online meetings and electronic document execution for a further six months.

The changes allow companies to convene annual general meetings, and other meetings prescribed under the Corporations Act, entirely online rather than face-to-face. The changes also give businesses certainty that when company officers sign a document electronically, the document has been validly executed.

These changes will be made under the instrument-making power that has been inserted into the Corporations Act 2001 as part of our response to the Coronavirus crisis.

The feedback that the Government has received from industry is that these temporary changes have provided certainty to business and helped them continue to operate through the coronavirus crisis. Under the social distancing measures that are currently in place, and the ongoing challenges in Victoria, it is difficult for shareholders to physically gather and for companies to execute documents in person.

Under the extension of the temporary relief measures, companies will continue to:

  • provide notice of annual general meetings to shareholders using email;
  • achieve a quorum with shareholders attending online; and
  • hold annual general meetings online.

Meetings must continue to provide shareholders with a reasonable opportunity to participate. Shareholders will continue to be able to put questions to board members and vote online.

To execute documents, company officers will continue to be able to sign documents electronically, so for the duration of the extended relief, signatories will not be required to sign the same physical document. This will ensure that documents can continue to be properly executed at a time when ordinary business operations have been disrupted.

The current arrangements will be extended for another 6 months so that they expire on 21 March 2021.

The Morrison Government will continue to provide the necessary flexibility for businesses to deal with the challenges that have been presented by the coronavirus crisis and help facilitate the recovery on the other side.

Michael Bell wins KILGOUR PRIZE 2020

Local Mambo artist and art teacher Michael Bell has won the prestigious KILGOUR PRIZE 2020 with a whimsical double self-portrait.

Councillor Carol Duncan announced Michael Bell as the winner of the $50,000 art prize via a livestreamed announcement at Newcastle Art Gallery today.

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Chosen from more than 350 entries and 30 finalists from across Australia, Bell’s painting Starting The after party (Two self-portraits) 2020, depicts the artist standing in front of another self-portrait The after party, which was a finalist in the KILGOUR PRIZE 2019.

The KILGOUR PRIZE 2020 was judged by Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton and invited judges Rachel Arndt – Gallery Programs and Touring Exhibitions Manager, Museums and Galleries of NSW, and Stephen Gilchrist – Curator and Lecturer Art History, The University of Sydney.

The judges were impressed by the composition of the winning painting and details of the studio throughout – the bottle of linseed oil, the motivational quotes stuck up on the wall, the tip of the dog’s nose on the canvas to the right – a nod to some of the artist’s most well-known dog beach works.

“The City of Newcastle is honoured to be the home of the KILGOUR PRIZE, which has firmly established itself as one of Australia’s major art prizes,” Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“This is highlighted by the immense quality of the works and artists who have entered this year. I congratulate Michael Bell on joining the list of accomplished artists to have taken out the KILGOUR PRIZE.”

Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton said it was a wonderful acknowledgement of a much-loved and highly respected local artist.

“Michael Bell’s career spans over 30 years. A teacher at the Newcastle Art School, Bell has been included as a finalist in exhibitions such as The Archibald Prize, The Sulman Prize and the KILGOUR PRIZE. Bell has also designed for iconic Australian brands such as Triple J and surf label Mambo Australia,” Ms Morton said.

The KILGOUR PRIZE is administered by Newcastle Art Gallery and funded via a bequest from Australian artist Jack Noel Kilgour, administered by The Trust Company, Part of Perpetual.

The KILGOUR PRIZE 2020 exhibition showcases the 30 finalists and is on display at Newcastle Art Gallery from 1 August to 15 November 2020.

People’s Choice Award

In addition to the overall prize, the KILGOUR PRIZE 2020 competition includes a People’s Choice Award of $5,000. Visitors to the exhibition can vote for the People’s Choice Award until 5pm Wednesday 21 October 2020. The winner will be announced Monday 26 October 2020.

KILGOUR PRIZE 2020 finalists:

Elizabeth Austin, Michael Bell, Andrew Bennett, Daniel Butterworth, Lileana Colarelli, Tony Costa, Greg Creek, Dagmar Cyrulla, Tracy Dods, Esther Erlich, Peter Gardiner, Craig Handley, Jacqueline Hennessy, Corinna Howell, Brittany Jones, Erik Krebs-Schade, Bronni Krieger, Kenneth Lambert, Kerry Mcinnis, Joshua Mcpherson, Anh Nguyen, Lori Pensini, Jordan Richardson, Melissa Ritchie, Ben Ryan, Lynn Savery, Wendy Sharpe, An Sheng, Oliver Shepherd, Kylie Melinda Smith

PYRMONT PERFECTLY POISED FOR VIBRANT FUTURE

A new 20-year vision for Pyrmont will shape the waterfront peninsula as an innovative, connected and creative around-the-clock destination, providing much-needed jobs, investment and economic growth, part of the NSW Government’s COVID Recovery Plan.

Up to 23,000 new jobs and 800,000 square metres of new commercial and office space are forecast in a new draft plan released today, supported by better transport connectivity to grow a mix of hi-tech, tourism, media and information industries.

Launching the plan, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said the NSW Government’s draft Pyrmont Peninsula PlaceStrategy and Economic Development Strategy would help map the area’s future.

The strategy considers big moves for transformation such as a potential metro station at Pyrmont as part of the Sydney Metro West project, a new indoor sports and entertainment venue like our own Madison Square Garden, more and better public spaces (including the return of Wentworth Park as local parkland) and the revitalisation of key sites to attract commercial investment.
“Great cities evolve, grow and continue to improve all the time, and our vision is to ensure Pyrmont leads Sydney as a home for innovation, employment and  entertainment as well as retaining its unique character,” Mr Perrottet said.

Mr Stokes added that Pyrmont has always been an extension of the CBD as a bustling hub for a variety of industries, and the draft strategy outlines the latest incarnation in the peninsula’s renewal.

“Pyrmont has always been a hub for cutting edge industry. In recent decades it was transformed into commercial and entertainment precinct with accessible pedestrian walkways and the Light Rail,” Mr Stokes said.

“This new vision builds upon that. As well as a jobs hub of the future, we want the peninsula to be a premier cultural and entertainment destination which is connected to museums, theatres, bars and cafes, the Sydney Fish Market, the ICC, Harbourside and The Star.

“It has the potential to be a 24/7 destination for locals and visitors alike within walking distance from the city. Pyrmont is more than a local village – it is a vital part of our global city.”

Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said world-class public transport was a vital part of the innovative plan.

“This vision would cement Pyrmont as one of the key employment hubs in Sydney and the entire NSW Government has come together to ensure it will have the infrastructure it needs,” he said

“Connecting Pyrmont with Western Sydney would encourage jobs, investment and economic growth. My job is to ensure the area is easily accessible and has the right transport options in place.

“We’re still working through the potential for a Metro station in Pyrmont, but it has progressed to the next stage of the process.”

Mr Stokes said the revitalisation will focus on key sites for renewal, including the existing Sydney Fish Market site at Blackwattle Bay, The Star site at Darling Island, development of Harbourside Shopping Centre, and the UTS Haymarket campus.
“These sites have been identified for revitalisation over the next 20 years and we are keen to ensure that parks, public spaces and the unique character of Pyrmont is protected,” he said.

“Delivering public benefit is also vitally important which is why part of our vision is to return Wentworth Park to the people as beautiful, high-quality green open space.”

The Pyrmont Peninsula Place Strategy and Economic Development Strategy are on public exhibition for community feedback until 13 September 2020.

To view the strategies and have your say visitwww.planning.nsw.gov.au/pyrmontpeninsula

Riverina pub and publican among latest Public Health Order breaches

A pub at Temora, which was fined $5000 and its licensee $1000, are among three incidents and six Penalty Infringement Notices (PINs) for non-compliance with COVID-19 Public Health Orders in the last 24 hours.

About 12.30pm yesterday (Thursday 30 July 2020), officers from Riverina Police District attended the premises on Hoskins Street, Temora, as part of proactive compliance operations.

On arrival, police noted there was no sign-in book at the entry to the premises, and when officers asked the licensee to provide advice regarding his COVID-19 Safety Plan, he claimed to not speak English.

It was subsequently established by officers that no steps had been taken by the business to comply with COVID-19 Public Health Orders.

The pub was issued with a $5000 PIN for failing to comply with a ministerial direction, and the licensee was issued with a $1000 PIN for the same offence.

In a second incident, officers from Eastern Suburbs Police Area Command attended serviced apartments at Bondi Junction following reports a woman had breached self-isolation requirements.

Police were told the 26-year-old woman arrived in Sydney from Victoria on Wednesday (29 July 2020), and was self-isolating at the Bondi apartments, but left on Thursday to apply for a visa at a nearby embassy.

Following inquiries, it was determined that applying for a visa was not a valid exemption to enter NSW and she did not meet the requirements for a permit. Further, she was not permitted to leave isolation.

The woman was issued with a $1000 PIN before being directed to return to Victoria.

In a third incident, officers from Murrumbidgee Police District attended a house at Griffith to conduct compliance checks on three men, who are Malaysian Nationals and had travelled into NSW from Victoria earlier in the week.

Inquiries revealed the men – aged 22, 28 and 34 – had been going to pick fruit at local farms and therefore not self-isolating as required under their exemption permit to enter NSW.

The men were subsequently each issued with $1000 PIN for failing to comply with noticed direction in relation to section 7/8/9 – COVID-19.

Local police have also referred inquiries into the men’s immigration status to Australian Border Force.

Police continue to appeal to the community to report suspected breaches of any ministerial direction or behaviour which may impact on the health and safety of the community.

Anyone who has information regarding individuals or businesses in contravention of a COVID-19-related ministerial direction is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.

 

Fatal crash near Charlestown

Police are investigating a fatal single-vehicle crash on the state’s Lake Macquarie District.

About 9.25pm (Thursday 30 July 2020), emergency services were called to the Pacific Highway at Charlestown, following reports a car collided with a telegraph pole.

Police have been told the vehicle was travelling north on the Pacific Highway when it left the road and crashed.

Emergency services were unable to revive the driver, who was the sole occupant of the car. The driver died at the scene.

The driver, believed to be a man aged in his 40s, is yet to be formally identified.

Officers from Lake Macquarie Police District secured a crime scene and have established traffic diversions, which will remain in place while police conduct their investigations.

Police will prepare a report for the information of the Coroner.

Motorists are urged to avoid the area. For the latest traffic information visit www.livetraffic.com.

National Agreement On Closing The Gap

The new National Agreement on Closing the Gap has today come into effect, upon signature by the First Ministers of all Australian Governments, the Lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, and the President of the Australian Local Government Association.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new Closing the Gap agreement is an historic achievement.

“Today finally marks a new chapter in our efforts to close the gap – one built on mutual trust, shared responsibility, dignity and respect,” Prime Minister Morrison said.

“The gaps we are now seeking to close are the gaps that have now been defined by the representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This is as it should be. This creates a shared commitment and a shared responsibility.”

“This is the first time a National Agreement designed to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been negotiated directly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives.”

“By focusing our efforts on these more specific, practical and shared objectives we can expect to make much greater progress.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the National Agreement demonstrates the Government’s commitment to work in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“The way all levels of government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives have come together to negotiate this National Agreement and collectively determine how we strive to close the gap demonstrates our commitment to working together through meaningful partnerships,” Minister Wyatt said.

“We know that the best out comes are achieved when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are equal partners with governments, and when they have a direct say in how we are going to be successful in driving the desired outcomes.”

The Lead convenor of the Coalition of Peaks, Ms Pat Turner AM, said “for the first time, First Nations people will share decision-making with governments on Closing the Gap. The National Agreement makes this a reality, not just for the Coalition of Peaks, but for all First Nations people that want to have a say on how things should be working in their communities.”

“If the Priority Reforms are implemented in full by governments and through shared decision making with First Nations people, we should see changes over time to the lives and experiences of our people.”

At the centre of the National Agreement are four priority reforms that commit governments to change the way they work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

These reforms will embed joint-decision making; build the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled service sector; transform mainstream government services; and improve data to support informed decision-making.

The new National Agreement builds on the draft targets endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments in 2018. It establishes 16 targets in areas such as education, employment, health and wellbeing, justice, safety, housing, land and waters, and languages.

For the first time, all governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations share responsibility for achieving targets and significantly more reporting will increase accountability for all parties This acknowledges that all parties have a role to play in improving outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

Each jurisdiction will report annually on their progress and contribution towards Closing the Gap, and the Productivity Commission will make more data publicly available and conduct an independent review of progress every three years.

Parties to the National Agreement – the Commonwealth Government, State and Territory governments, the Coalition of Peaks, and the Australian Local Government Association – will now develop plans that set out how they will implement the priority reforms and contribute towards achieving the targets.

The National Agreement is available on the National Indigenous Australians Agency website, https://closingthegap.niaa.gov.au/

City invests $500,000 in supporting COVID-19 hit local industries

Newcastle’s tourism, entertainment and arts community will benefit from more than $500,000 from the City of Newcastle to city-shaping projects targeting those industries hardest hit by COVID-19.

Developed in collaboration with the City Taskforce, comprising 17 leaders from business, community and educational sectors, the response program will foster community connections and industry resilience.

IndustryResponseGrantscrop-(1).jpgCollaborative partnerships from the Hunter Writers Centre, Field Frequency, University of Newcastle, Olive Tree Markets and the Business Centre have received funding for unique projects that will boost the local economy.

City of Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the program encouraged collaboration between industry groups, businesses and community organisations to provide long-term, strategic benefits for the City.

“Newcastle’s visitor economy has been one of the hardest-hit sectors in our community, along with hospitality, arts and recreation,” the Lord Mayor said.

“These local initiatives are unique, innovative and leverage our City’s strengths to provide support to people hardest hit by COVID-19.

“From harnessing the vibrancy of Newcastle’s live music scene and attracting visitors to our City, to developing stronger connections in our creative community, the funded projects will provide much needed support.

“The five projects will be delivered within 6-months and will leave a positive legacy for our city.”

Newcastle Business Chamber CEO and City Taskforce Member Bob Hawes said the industry targeted funding approach has resulted in projects that present new opportunities for businesses, locals and visitors to support Newcastle’s economy.

“Now more than ever, people are looking to explore their own backyard as they recognise the need to support local businesses,” Mr Hawes said.

“If we want to be able to return to the lifestyle we enjoyed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to support our local businesses now to ensure that they can survive this unprecedented economic and social disruption.”

“The successful grant recipients showcase what the region can achieve when we harness the collective knowledge of our corporate, not-for-profit and government sectors.”

Industry Response Program Grant Recipients

University of Newcastle – Hometown Holiday

The Hometown Holiday project will incentivise Newcastle residents to have a ‘hometown holiday’ inclusive of overnight accommodation and curated experience itineraries. Locals will be encouraged to visit Newcastle as tourists and engage with the City as a tourism destination, providing economic benefits to local tourism businesses.

Field Frequency – Smart City LIVE Music TV Show

Field Frequency will produce a live-stream music series, using live-stream broadcast collaborations to maximise the recovery of the local arts and entertainment industry. The show will showcase a diverse range of established musicians and new talent growing the City’s identity as a collaborative and inclusive community.

The Business Centre – Small Business Recovery Centre

The COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Project will provide much needed support and advice to local businesses, curated and coordinated by the Business Centre and based at 265 King Street. The Centre will bring together government and non-government agencies, banks and financial services providers, mental health and well-being providers, to offer support and provide information, and services, that lead to sustainability and job creation, to small businesses during and after COVID-19.

Hunter Writers Centre Inc – Multi-arts activation

Hunter Writers Centre will lead a multi-arts activation benefiting local arts, cultural, and tourism businesses. The project will include exhibition studio spaces for Indigenous and non-Indigenous writers, musicians, visual and digital artists and performers to develop work for exhibitions of cultural and maritime history and stories of local sites.

The Olive Tree Market – The Olive Tree Virtual Online Platform

The Virtual Olive Tree Market Platform will develop new income generating opportunities, capacity building and educational workshops for local creatives. Existing customers, supporters, and new online audiences will be targeted to buy local online, to re-connect and forge ongoing connections with creatives.