Morrison makes mockery of environment law review with latest legislation

The Morrison Government’s latest attempt to weaken Australia’s environmental laws completely ignores their own expert’s recommendations and will lock in the demise of our wildlife and iconic natural places, the Greens say.

Greens Environment Spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said:

“This move by the Morrison Government is a death sentence for Australia’s koalas and wildlife.

“The Morrison Government has blatantly ignored their own expert’s recommendations and is instead taking a chainsaw to environmental protections.

“They have absolutely no intention of reversing the unsustainable environmental trajectory Professor Samuel warned about in his once-in-ten-year review. They haven’t even bothered to respond after more than 100 days sitting on the final report.

“The Morrison Government’s only plan is to weaken environment laws to make it even easier to mine, log and pollute.

“This latest bill is a push to satisfy big miners, big developers and big polluters who donate to the Liberal party.

“We need strong environmental standards and laws that protect our iconic natural places and precious wildlife and an independent watchdog to hold governments and corporate interests to account. This bill doesn’t even get close to delivering that.”

Rape apologists and PM’s arse-covering contribute to sexist and misogynistic culture in politics

“Peter Dutton has finally confirmed when he was told about Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations and outed himself as a rape apologist in the process.  Mr Dutton is now the fifth government member who knew about the allegation, but apparently didn’t bother to pick up the phone to the PM”, said Senator Larissa Waters, Greens Leader in the Senate and spokesperson on women.

“The AFP this morning has called out a culture of silence that makes it harder to hold perpetrators to account.  Ministers need to report criminal allegations, or provide genuine support for their staff to do so.

“At the International Women’s Day event today, the PM spoke a lot about ‘protecting women’ and the rule of law.  Yet he failed to  acknowledge that it is men who are harming women, and continues to oversee a culture in which alleged crimes are covered up.

“The terms of the Gaetjens review released today make it clear that it is yet another narrow exercise in arse-covering.  The government yesterday voted against making the terms public, and it’s no wonder.

“Rather than a comprehensive inquiry into government mishandling of a rape allegation, Mr Gaetjens will investigate only what the PM’s staff knew – not what the PM knew, not what other Ministers knew, and not whether the appalling allegations that his staff have been backgrounding journalists against Brittany Higgins are true.

“In other concerning news today, it appears that the alleged rapist visited Parliament House for a private event after he was dismissed in 2019. I will be asking the President of the Senate to confirm who invited him to that event, who signed him in, and which MPs and/or Ministers were in attendance at the event.

“If the PM was serious about protecting and respecting women, he would ask himself how a man fired following rape allegations could be allowed back into the building, and why so many people in his government did so little in response to an alleged rape of a staff member just metres from his office.”

Agencies confirm growing far-right threat

Australian Greens Anti-Racism spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi has said that all key government agencies have indicated in initial PJCIS committee submissions that the threat of far-right extremism is growing.

However, the Greens say substantial policy change and political action is nowhere to be seen.

Senator Faruqi said:

“The unanimity of federal authorities on the growing threat of far-right extremism stands in sharp contrast to the dismissive rhetoric of Government MPs.

“The Liberals have completely failed here. Laws on extremist hatred must be strengthened and enforced. There are still no dedicated programs for tackling far-right extremism in the community, and no commitment to an anti-racism strategy or campaign.

“When MPs have their heads in the sand, or even tacitly endorse far-right ideas, it totally undermines the government’s response to this threat.

“The government was dragged into this inquiry kicking and screaming, and even deflected a clear-eyed focus on far-right extremism and white supremacy. Now they have to look at the evidence and respond accordingly.”

Step forward for South East Queensland 2032 Olympic Bid

Queensland is a step closer to hosting an Olympic and Paralympic Games for the first time in the state’s history following a decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to enter into exclusive negotiations for the 2032 event.

The decision is a game-changing development for the Bid which has long been supported by all levels of government.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has welcomed the decision from the IOC and reaffirmed the Commonwealth Government’s support to host the Olympic Games for the third time, and Paralympic Games for the second time.

“Since we announced our early support for the Bid in 2019, we’ve been working with the state and local governments, the Australian Olympic Committee and Paralympics Australia to put forward the best possible case for South East Queensland 2032,” the Prime Minister said.

“On two occasions, I took up the case directly with IOC President Dr Thomas Bach and I know how enthusiastic the Committee is about working with Australia.”

“Today’s announcement from the IOC is a positive development but we still have a lot of work to do.”

“Particular credit must go to the Member for Fairfax, Ted O’Brien who has campaigned heavily to bring the event to the Sunshine State. It will see Queensland beamed around the globe, while delivering an economic and jobs boom.

“We saw how Sydney 2000 brought our nation together and took Australian sport to a new level, and that’s what we’ll be aiming to do again if we’re successful in hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games again in 2032.”

Federal Minister for Sport Richard Colbeck said Australia has an enviable reputation for its ability to hold world class international sporting events, having recently hosted the AFC Asian Cup 2015, the Sydney 2018 Invictus Games, the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, and the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020.

“You don’t have to be a sports fan to understand the profound impact hosting these major events can have on host cities, regional areas and the nation,” Minister Colbeck said.

“Just next year Australia will host the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, the FIBA Women’s World Cup, and the UCI Road World Championships.

“Last year we also successfully secured hosting rights for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, which will be co-hosted with New Zealand, and we are actively working with Rugby Australia to submit a host bid for the Men’s Rugby World Cup 2027.”

Member for Fairfax, Ted O’Brien said Queensland was ready, willing and able to host the Games in Australia in 2032.

He said Queensland is well placed in this regard, with more than 80 per cent of the venues existing or proposed to be delivered through temporary solutions.

“These Games will be a legacy event—affordable, beneficial and sustainable for Queensland and Australia,” Mr O’Brien said.

“This is a great milestone, but the real prize lies in being announced as the host ideally later this year. That would be an enormous shot in the arm to ‘brand Australia’ as we continue our economic recovery effort.”

Minister Colbeck and Mr O’Brien will continue to lead the candidature process on behalf of the Commonwealth Government with the IOC and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in partnership with the Queensland Government, the South East Queensland Council of Mayors, the Australian Olympic Committee and Paralympics Australia.

Finalisation of the candidature process is a matter for the IOC.

Parliament passes News Media And Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code

Parliament has today passed the Morrison Government’s world-leading News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code that addresses the bargaining power imbalance between news media businesses and digital platforms.

The Code was developed after extensive analysis from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), including almost three years of public consultation.

The Code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public interest journalism in Australia.

The Code provides a framework for good faith negotiations between the parties and a fair and balanced arbitration process to resolve outstanding disputes.

Importantly, the code encourages parties to undertake commercial negotiations outside the Code and the Government is pleased to see progress by both Google and more recently Facebook in reaching commercial arrangements with Australian news media businesses.

The Code is a significant microeconomic reform, one that has drawn the eyes of the world on the Australian parliament. Our commitment to legislating the Code reflects the importance of a diverse and well-resourced news media sector to our democracy and the Australian people.

The Government would like to thank all stakeholders for their contribution throughout this process, particularly the ACCC for its ground-breaking research which led to the drafting of the Code.

The Code will be reviewed by Treasury within one year of its commencement to ensure it is delivering outcomes that are consistent with the Government’s policy intent.

City’s draft Economic Development Strategy puts people at the heart of economic opportunity

City of Newcastle has put its people at the centre of driving the city’s economic opportunities and recovery from COVID-19 in its new Economic Development Strategy.

The strategy has been developed with extensive stakeholder and community engagement that included targeted conversations with population groups most impacted by the COVID-19 economic recession, including young people and international students.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said that the development of the Economic Development Strategy, which is designed to position Newcastle as a global city recognised for its innovation and creativity, has been strengthened by feedback from government, industry, business and the broader community, along with expert insights on global megatrends and contemporary economic development.

“As part of our commitment to creating strategies for the community to improve livelihood and wellbeing, we sought feedback through a community-wide survey, held workshops and had conversations with TAFE NSW, University of Newcastle, Hunternet and Hunter Young Professionals.

“By listening to a broad cross-section of our community, we have received valuable insights which contributed to building the new Strategy and vision that puts people at the heart of our city’s economic opportunities.

“We believe that Newcastle and Hunter region’s economic future will be built on the talent, skills and ingenuity of our people. People, not machines or infrastructure, drive innovation and creativity, which leads to new businesses and investment.

“We know that only about 50% of our community has post school qualifications but that the emerging jobs will require additional skills and knowledge. Our strategy is all about building the capacity and capability for our community to be able to be part of emerging economic opportunities.

“Too often our best skilled and talented people feel the need to leave our community, and whilst we understand the need for our youth to ‘spread their wings’, we need to create an economy where there are opportunities for them to return,” Cr Nelmes said.

The vision for Newcastle is to strengthen existing and create new economic opportunities for all by investing in people, their skills, network and investments. The Economic Development Strategy’s delivery program highlights four priority areas including ‘Skilled People’, ‘Innovative People’, ‘City Shaping’ and ‘Vibrant City’ to make the vision a reality.

The delivery program will be inclusive and aims to provide a range of opportunities for locals, as well as attract new talent to the city where there are current or emerging skills gaps.

Newcastle is currently home to a range of economic opportunities which are identified as the ‘Innovation Arc’ within the Economic Development Strategy. The Innovation Arc names key sites including Williamtown, Port of Newcastle, University of Newcastle, Summerhill Waste Management Centre, John Hunter Health and Innovation Precinct, and the Broadmeadow Precinct as catalyst areas for new businesses to establish, and new talent to create new opportunities.

The Economic Development Strategy will on public exhibition from Thursday 25 February until Sunday 11 April 2021. The community is encouraged to have their say online at newcastle.nsw.gov.au/YourSay

Next step in coastal plan for north Stockton

The management of Stockton’s coastal areas remains a priority when City of Newcastle facilitates meetings with members of the Stockton Community Liaison Group (SCLG) and the relevant northern landholders Hunter Water Corporation, Defence Housing, Family and Community Services, and Crown Lands today.

The Stockton Coastal Management Program (CMP) 2020 was certified by the NSW Government last August. The CMP 2020 took into account City managed land from the Northern Harbour Breakwall to Meredith Street, providing a long-term strategy with the focus on provision of mass sand nourishment.

SCLG Chair Barbara Whitcher said it was important for all stakeholders to work together to protect Stockton’s coastline.

“The SCLG, facilitated by council, are now working with other landowners and stakeholders through a rigorous process to ensure the northern section of Stockton has a viable and acceptable long-term plan to manage coastal hazards,” Ms Whitcher said.

“We believe it’s important to work with all stakeholders to achieve a solution that protects Stockton Bight from predicted coastal hazards.”

The Coastal Management Act 2016 requires all relevant northern landholders to agree to the preferred management options for this expanded area.

“The collaboration between City of Newcastle staff, the Stockton Community Liaison Group, agency stakeholders and the NSW Government was essential during the preparation of the original CMP,” Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“Any proposed management options for the Stockton CMP 2021 should complement the current goal of mass sand nourishment and be assessed in terms of their economic and technical feasibility.”

The adopted strategy of mass sand nourishment in the Stockton CMP 2020 will be incorporated into the Stockton CMP 2021.

Consideration of all protentional management options is a crucial component of feasibility assessment stage of the CMP development process as mandated by the Coastal Management Act 2016. Consultants Bluecoast have applied a methodology to refine the long list to a short-list of feasible management schemes for further consideration and assessment.

These options for this expanded area must be committed to by the relevant northern landholders who are Hunter Water Corporation, Defence Housing, Family and Community Services, and Crown Lands.

City of Newcastle has already begun implementing the 2020 CMP, including kyowa rock bags as a temporary protection structure at the Barrie Crescent section of Stockton Beach. Other maintenance and protection works are ongoing to help maintain access to the beach and manage severe weather events.

Earlier this month, Deputy Premier John Barilaro announced the NSW Government had approved an exploration licence to identify suitable offshore sand for renourishment. The work off the coast of Newcastle is set to occur in the coming weeks as part of a long-term plan to permit offshore dredging to secure sand for Stockton Beach.

POSITIVE ECONOMIC SIGNS AS CONFIDENCE RETURNS

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet today released the 2020-21 Half-Yearly Review with the State’s recovery on track following the unprecedented economic shocks of 2020.

The steady reopening of the NSW economy, recent easing of domestic border restrictions, and the first COVID-19 vaccinations delivered this week, have all boosted confidence since the NSW Budget was handed down in November.

“We are starting to see both consumers and businesses returning to more normal patterns of behavior and this is helping drive economic activity,” Mr Perrottet said.

“More than 80 per cent of jobs lost in the peak of the pandemic have returned, and each new step we take in reopening the economy improves people’s lives and helps business which feeds through to the bottom line.”

The forecast deficit for 2020-21 had been revised down by $2.7 billion from $16 billion to $13.3 billion.
Mr Perrottet said while the forecasts were encouraging the economic impacts of COVID-19 would continue to be felt well into the future.

“The roll out of the vaccine this week has provided more good news, but there are still thousands of people who are out of work and businesses struggling,” Mr Perrottet said,

“Conditions remain challenging, and any improvements in the Budget will allow us to continue to invest in our record $107 billion infrastructure program and support more jobs.”

Mr Perrottet said reform remained on the agenda with consultation on possible changes to stamp duty ongoing, with community feedback open until mid-March.

“Stamp duty is one of the biggest barriers to home ownership and allowing people to buy and sell without a big upfront cost is a key reform proposal,” Mr Perrottet said.
Read the Half-Yearly Review here.

Find out about the proposed stamp duty reforms and have your say here. 

MAJOR MILESTONE FOR CAMPBELLTOWN HOSPITAL

The $632 million Campbelltown Hospital redevelopment has reached a major construction milestone, with the 12-storey Clinical Services Building reaching its highest point.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Health Minister Brad Hazzard visited the new building and met with nursing graduates who are among 264 nursing and midwife graduates starting at hospitals across Sydney’s south-west next month.

“The new Clinical Services Building will be the centrepiece of the Campbelltown Hospital Redevelopment and will boost bed capacity across the hospital by more than 50 per cent,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Construction of the redevelopment is supporting around 700 direct jobs helping stimulate the economy, a key part of the State’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan.”

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the redevelopment will also deliver a new maternity unit almost double in capacity, as well as significantly expanded cancer and mental health services.

“The NSW Government’s record investment in south-west and western Sydney public hospitals will ensure people living in the fastest growing region in our state will have access to state-of-the-art health services closer to home,” Mr Hazzard said.

“I’m also so pleased to welcome a total of 264 nurses and midwives to the South Western Sydney Local Health District in coming days and weeks, 51 of which will work at Campbelltown and Camden hospitals.”

The $632 million Stage 2 Campbelltown Hospital will include:

  • New state-of-the-art digital operating theatres and procedure rooms;
  • Dental and oral health department for the first time;
  • Double the ICU bed capacity;
  • Expanded cancer therapy centre;
  • Almost double the number of maternity beds;
  • New and expanded surgical services including interventional radiology; and
  • Expanded specialist mental health services.

Member for Camden Peter Sidgreaves said the new hospital reflects the NSW Government’s commitment to meet the needs of the growing south-western Sydney community.

“This $632 million investment is a tremendous boost for health services in the region, ensuring we are well placed to welcome the 133,000-plus new residents expected to call our south-western community home in the next 12 years,” Mr Sidgreaves said.

Member for Wollondilly Nathaniel Smith said the Campbelltown Hospital redevelopment is a huge win for the Macarthur Region.

“Top class healthcare services, a strong economy and jobs growth are vital for our Macarthur region community to flourish as it grows, and the Campbelltown Hospital redevelopment is delivering on all counts,” Mr Smith said.

The $134 million Stage 1 redevelopment was completed in January 2016. An additional $34.1 million was invested for a multistorey car park completed in early 2020, providing more than 800 spaces.

Armed robbery – Newcastle

Police will address the media after an armed robbery in Newcastle overnight.

About 8.30pm (Wednesday 24 February 2021), a man, armed with a firearm, entered a takeaway food store on Cowper Street, Wallsend, and threatened four employees before stealing cash, a handbag.

The armed man fled out the back door and a female employee chased him into nearby Irving Street where he was seen to get in the passenger side of a car and drive off.

Officers attached to Newcastle City Police District attended and established a crime scene.

The employees were not physically injured.

As inquiries continue, police are looking to speak to a man they believe may be able to assist them.

He is described as being aged between 25 and 30, 180cm to 185cm tall, of medium build and was seen at the time wearing a grey hooded jumper, a face covering and long black pants.