TOUGHER, FAIRER, FASTER – LABOR’S RESPONSE TO THE BANKING ROYAL COMMISSION

A Shorten Labor Government will act faster and go further in standing up for victims of banking misconduct.

Labor fought for the Banking Royal Commission – unlike Scott Morrison and the Liberals who voted against the Royal Commission 26 times, called it a “populist whinge” and refused to give parliament more time to implement the recommendations.

A Shorten Labor Government will implement 75 recommendations of the Royal Commission in full and stand up for Australians affected by banking misconduct.

This stands in stark contrast with Scott Morrison and the Liberals, who continue to protect the big banks and are delaying, watering down or rejecting at least 15 recommendations.

Unlike the Liberals, we will fully implement the Royal Commission’s recommendation to end the hawking of insurance products, to ensure there are consequences when the big banks breach industry codes and to ban life insurance commissions if ASIC finds there is no clear justification for retaining them.

Labor has already announced tough new accountability mechanisms on the banks and regulators to ensure that a further 23 recommendations are implemented in full, as soon as possible.

Labor has also already drafted bills to enact five of Commissioner Hayne’s recommendations – these could be law before the election if Scott Morrison ends his protection racket for the big banks and agrees to extra sitting weeks in March.

Labor will establish a groundbreaking victim compensation package. It’s the courage of victims who have shared their stories that has shown us the need for reform. We must ensure that these victims aren’t left behind as we clean up the sector after a decade of misconduct. Under Labor’s plan, more victims will have the opportunity to pursue a just outcome, and all consumers will benefit from quadrupled AFCA compensation caps going forward.

Labor will also abolish trail commissions from lenders to mortgage brokers and aggregators on new loans from 1 July 2020 as well as banning volume-based commissions and ‘soft dollar’ payments being offered to brokers by lenders.

Labor will deal with the Royal Commission’s key concerns with mortgage broker remuneration, namely conflicted remuneration and incentives that drive higher average loans sizes that may not be in the consumer’s best interests. We will impose a fixed percentage upfront fee for brokers that will eliminate the conflict of interest that comes from different lenders offering different commission rates, while ensuring these upfront commission can only apply to the amount drawn down by the borrower, not the total loan amount.

Scott Morrison never wanted the Royal Commission – he voted against it 26 times. He described it as a ‘populist whinge’, a ‘reckless distraction’ and a ‘QC’s complaints desk’. For 600 days, while Labor pushed for this Royal Commission, the Liberals fought for the banks to get a $17b tax handout. Now his government is deliberately going slow on the implementation of its recommendations.

The Liberals simply cannot be trusted to crack down on the big banks.

Labor’s position is crystal clear – we will implement 75 recommendations in full.  The single remaining recommendation – Recommendation 1.3 – will be implemented in a manner that will achieve the objectives set out by Commissioner Hayne. More detail on this recommendation is in our full response.

Labor called for this Royal Commission, Labor fought for this Royal Commission, and Labor will work day and night to ensure that we deliver the reforms recommended by the Royal Commission.

LABOR’S NATIONAL FIRE FIGHTING FLEET

A Shorten Labor Government will boost Australia’s firefighting capabilities with a national fleet of aircraft and dedicated smokejumper units to keep Australians safe from bushfires.

All Australians understand the devastating impact that bushfires have. Lives are lost, homes destroyed and communities shattered.

Our firefighters and emergency services personnel are among the best in the world, and they do a tremendous job, often putting their own lives at risk. But they need more support from government.

At the moment, Australia doesn’t have a government-owned fleet of water bombing aircraft – making us reliant on borrowing from private companies domestically and from overseas.

The bushfire season in Australia is lengthening and already overlapping with the northern hemisphere, increasing the risk that we won’t be able to access the aircraft we need at times of peril.

At the same time, the Federal Government’s contribution to the National Aerial Firefighting Centre has plummeted from 50 per cent of funding to just 23 per cent, reducing our overall firefighting capability.

The Bureau of Meteorology has identified this summer as Australia’s hottest on record, which included devastating bushfires in Victoria and Tasmania. Now is the time to invest in giving our firefighters the resources they need to keep us all safe.

Labor’s national firefighting package will deliver:

$80 million to establish the National Aerial Bushfire Fighting Fleet of aircraft

This fleet will provide standing aerial firefighting capacity that can be used on demand in emergencies.

It will include retro-fitted Black Hawk helicopters as they are phased out from active use by the Australian Army and Erickson S-64 Air-crane helicopters (or ‘Elvis’ as they are commonly known) which has a 2,650 gallon tank capable of snorkelling or scooping fresh or salt water.

It’s expected that the national fleet will include a standing capability of up to six Large or Very Large Air Tankers, and up to 12 heavy rotary wing helicopters.

The benefits of aerial firefighting are clear. Aircrafts offer speed, access and observation advantages over ground crews. Containment is more effective and the final fire burned area minimised using aerial capability, thereby reducing demand on ground crews.

Australia’s first ‘smokejumper’ units

Smokejumpers are firefighters trained to be rapidly deployed by helicopters at remote fires during the short window during which those fires can be contained.

Smokejumpers usually rappel from helicopters and use chain-saws, hoes and other dry firefighting tools to establish a containment perimeter around the fire. They then patrol the perimeter to ensure the fire does not jump containment lines while working with water-bombing aircraft to ensure the contained fire is fully extinguished.

California and other US states currently have a number of smokejumper units which have proven successful.

As part of the $80 million commitment to establish a fleet, Labor will work with the states and territories to establish smokejumper units across the country.

$21 million for the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC)

A Shorten Labor Government will stop the Federal Government’s reduction in funding for our firefighting capabilities by returning to a 50-50 funding split between the states and territories and the Commonwealth.

Labor’s investment will ease the burden on state and territory governments, develop new national programs including a national risk management model, and national research and development programs including trials of new aircraft and night firefighting activities.

Labor can pay for new firefighting aircraft the smokejumper units because we are making multinationals pay their fair share and closing tax loopholes for the top end of town.

Australian Greens announce commitment to a 21st Century NBN

Australian Greens Digital RIghts spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John has today announced the Australian Greens commitment to a 21st Century NBN, finished using best-choice technology, to ensure everyone has access to affordable, reliable and high quality internet services into the future.

Senator Steele-John said our internet was slower and less affordable than comparable countries, with Australia ranked 56th in the world for internet speed and 57th in world for affordability.

“The reality is that Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to having access to reliable, affordable and high quality internet services,” he said.

“The Coalition’s Multi-technology mix has been a disaster that has left many people without reliable or affordable services, particularly in rural and regional areas.

“This is not what was promised, nor what Australia needs to ensure that our companies are able to remain globally competitive into the digital future.

“Our commitment is to keep the NBN infrastructure publicly owned and ensure that the rollout of the NBN is finished using best choice technology, not the multi-techology mongrel that the Coalition will leave us with.

“Our promise is to make quality telecommunications affordable for all Australians and ensure regional telecommunications are funded, fair and fit for purpose.

“Affordable, quality telecommunications are fundamental to the future of Australia’s economy, jobs, education, essential services and way of life.”

Key points – 21st Century NBN:

  • $1.3 billion to establish Federal Telecommunications Concession
  • $250 million NBN migration program to close the digital divide
  • Keep NBN infrastructure publicly owned
  • Finish the NBN using best-choice technology
  • Make quality telecommunications affordable for all Australians
  • Ensure regional telecommunications are funded, fair and fit for purpose

Details of the policy can be found here: https://greens.org.au/platform/public-ownership#telecomm

Mount Roland Cable Car

The Tasmanian government is continuing to privatise public land through its secretive expressions of interest process, Greens Senator for Tasmania Nick McKim says.

“The first-stage approval of the Mount Roland cable car is effectively a sell-off and lock up of one of the most precious and beautiful parts of our state,” Senator McKim said.

“The Liberals have learned nothing from the backlash over Lake Malbena, and want to push ahead with their secretive process.”

“Tasmania’s reserves, national parks and the TWWHA are not theirs to sell.”

“The Greens will keep fighting to keep our precious places in public hands.”

Greens Statement In Response to Offensive Comments from Peter Dutton

Dr Mehreen Faruqi, Senator for NSW, has has responded to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s disgraceful comments attacking her this morning. Senator Faruqi is the first Muslim woman to serve in any Australian Parliament and Australia’s only Muslim Senator.

Senator Faruqi said:

“Peter Dutton is the Minister for Home Affairs and is meant to be keeping us safe. For some time we have been saying he isn’t fit for the job but this morning’s tone deaf comments further prove it.

“He still refuses to take responsibility for his role in demonising Muslims, migrants and refugees. Trying to claim that my response to the horrific massacre and Senator Anning’s disgraceful comments that harm our community are in any way equivalent is just vile.

“Peter Dutton’s comments show that Australian politicians are still not listening. Our country needs leadership and reflection on how to stamp out hate and Islamophobia,” she concluded.

Two injured in Lake Macquarie home invasion – Cardiff

Two men have been injured during a home invasion at Lake Macquarie at the weekend.

Police have been told two men, dressed in black and armed with a baseball bat and crowbar, forced their way into a home on Harrison Street, Cardiff, about 11pm yesterday (Sunday 17 March 2019).

They assaulted two men, aged 41 and 46, before fleeing in a vehicle.

Officers from the Lake Macquarie Police District and NSW Ambulance paramedics arrived a short time later and established a crime scene.

The men were taken to John Hunter Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to come forward.

Seven in court, V8 Supercar, drugs seized in raids across Orana Mid-West/Hunter

Seven people will face court today charged following an investigation into large-scale drug supply in the Orana and Hunter regions, which also saw a V8 Supercar seized as proceeds of crime.

Strike Force Bato was formed in July 2018 by officers attached to Orana Mid-Western Police District targeting the commercial supply of cannabis from the Newcastle, Hunter Valley and Dubbo areas.

Following an eight-month investigation, strike force investigators executed five search warrants at properties at Dubbo and two search warrants at properties at Cessnock yesterday (Monday 18 March 2019).

The operation consisted of more than 80 officers from Orana Mid-Western Police District, Hunter Valley Police District, Western Region Enforcement Squad, and the Dog Unit, as well as Australian Border Force and the NSW Crime Commission.

During the searches, officers seized more than $140,000 cash, a Falcon V8 Supercar, a GTS HT Monaro, a further three cars, seven motorbikes, a tractor, and a quad bike, which are alleged to be the proceeds of crime.

They have also seized cannabis with an estimated potential street value of almost $900,000.

Eight people were arrested during the operation and taken to local police stations. Officers have now charged;

A 43-year-old Dubbo man with 43 counts of supply prohibited drug including supply commercial quantity, deal with proceeds of crime, and knowingly direct activities of criminal group.

A 29-year-old Dubbo man with 43 counts of supply prohibited drug including supply commercial quantity, deal with property proceeds of crime, and knowingly participate in criminal group assist crime.

A 38-year-old Dubbo woman with 10 counts of deal with proceeds of crime, and four counts of supply prohibited drug.

They were refused bail to appear in Dubbo Local Court today (Tuesday 19 March 2019).

A 56-year-old Cessnock man with three counts of supply prohibited drug including supply commercial quantity, and knowingly participate in criminal group assist crime.

A 51-year-old Cessnock man with three counts of supply prohibited drug, and participate criminal group contribute criminal activity.

They were refused bail to appear at Maitland Local Court today (Tuesday 19 March 2019).

A 47-year-old Cassilis man with 16 counts of supply prohibited drug including supply commercial quantity, deal with property proceeds of crime, and knowingly direct activities of criminal group.

He was refused bail to appear at Mudgee Local Court today (Tuesday 19 March 2019).

A 54-year-old Cessnock man with two counts of supply prohibited drug, and two counts of possess prohibited drug.

He was granted strict conditional bail to appear at Cessnock Local Court on Wednesday 10 April 2019.

An eighth person – a 45-year-old Cessnock man – has been released pending further inquiries.

Police will allege in court that this operation has resulted in the dismantling of an organised criminal enterprise involved in the commercial supply of drugs.

Inquiries under Strike Force Bato continue.

Second man charged as inquiries continue into fatal fight – Hamilton South

A second man has been charged as inquiries continue into the death of a man at Newcastle earlier this month.

About 3.30am on Friday 8 March 2019, officers from Newcastle City Police District were called to Donald Street, Hamilton, following reports of men fighting in the street.

When police arrived they were told the men had left the area.

A short time later, officers were called to a unit on Coady Street, Hamilton South, where they found the body of a 51-year-old man, and a 23-year-old man unconscious, suffering head injuries.

A 25-year-old man, who was also in the unit, has been charged and remains before the courts.

The injured man was treated at the scene by paramedics before being taken to John Hunter Hospital in a serious but stable condition.

Following inquiries, detectives attended John Hunter Hospital yesterday (Monday 18 March 2019), and charged the 23-year-old man with manslaughter.

The Cooks Hill man was refused bail and will appear in court via bedside hearing today (Tuesday 19 March 2019).

Inquiries into the incident are continuing under Strike Force Delline.

NEW POLICE POWERS TO CRACK DOWN ON DRUG DEALERS

Police will get tough new powers to search the homes and vehicles of convicted drug dealers, under a pilot program to be introduced by the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced today that the introduction of Drug Supply Prohibition Orders will help the NSW Police Force smash organised crime gangs who prey on young people, in particular, and profit from the large-scale supply of illegal drugs in NSW.

Following consultation with the NSW Police Force, the pilot program will operate across four police commands – Bankstown Police Area Command, Coffs-Clarence Police District, Hunter Valley Police District, and Orana Mid-Western Police District.

“Community safety is the highest priority of the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government, and I want convicted drug dealers to know that they will have nowhere to hide if they want to prey on, and profit from, the people of NSW,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“These new powers will assist our brave police men and women, including the 1500 additional police that a Liberals & Nationals Government will deliver over the next four years – the single biggest increase to the Force in more than three decades.”

“We have also established a powerful Special Commission of Inquiry into ice and related drugs because we want every option on the table to bolster our existing efforts to combat the evolving threat of dangerous illegal drugs – and to get help for those who need it.”

Deputy Premier John Barilaro has praised the efforts of National party candidate for Dubbo Dugald Saunders for his relentless campaign to introduce these new powers.

“Drug addiction and ice have become a major issue in parts of regional NSW, and police need every measure available to combat them.”

“Too often, police know who is responsible for dealing these drugs but don’t always have the capacity to shut them down – these new powers will help overcome that,” Mr Barilaro said.

A court issued Drug Supply Prohibition Order will give police the power to search the homes, vehicles and person of convicted drug dealers at any time without a warrant, if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that there is evidence of drug-related crime.

An order will ensure that police are able to specifically target convicted drug dealers who are considered likely to continue to engage in drug supply, without having to apply for multiple court warrants, helping to ensure that convicted drug dealers are held to account if they continue to engage in drug-related crime.

Minister for Police Troy Grant said this was another example of the Liberals & Nationals Government taking strong action to protect our communities from the scourge of drugs.

“As a former police officer, I’ve seen the harsh reality of illegal drugs in our communities, and I’m confident that these orders will help our police take the fight to drug dealers, and show them that we will not tolerate having this filth on our streets,” Mr Grant said.

“At the same time, we’re boosting police resources to enforce these powers and crack down on organised crime gangs, which includes more Region Enforcement Squads as well as specialist police for Raptor Units.”

Drug Supply Prohibition Orders will initially operate as a two-year pilot program, after which the results will be assessed to inform the future operation of the new powers. Orders made will remain in force for the duration of the pilot program and will allow police to search a person or their property for prohibited drugs, drug pre-cursors, drug paraphernalia or equipment for drug manufacture, or other evidence of drug supply or manufacture.

An application for an order may be made in relation to any person convicted of a serious drug offence, such as supply or manufacture of an indictable quantity, in the past ten years. Consistent with the exercise of any police power, Drug Supply Prohibition Orders will be subject to oversight by the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission.

Greens push environmental protection as top priority for next Government

The Australian Greens are committed to real protection and restoration of our environment, backed up by solid investment and a plan to make Australia a climate hero, not a climate villain.

“The environment has been ignored by successive governments. We are seeing mass species extinction, habitat loss and the degradation of our national landscape and waterways. It is time to give the environment the protection and value it deserves,” Greens environment spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“We have listened to the advice of The Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL) to develop new laws that will protect and restore the environment. While the Labor Party has signalled support for strengthening our environmental laws, a strong Greens presence in the next Senate will hold them to implementing APEELs blueprint.

“We have a plan for a cleaner, healthier planet. We will create a tough, independent environmental watchdog that can enforce a new generation of laws. Our Environmental Protection Authority will be a cop-on-the-beat, enforcing real consequences for corporations that put communities and our environment at risk. An independent Environment Commission will tell us where money should be spent, how much we need and whether it’s working.

“Too often our natural world is exploited. In just the last few months we have seen the Murray Darling in collapse with unprecedented fish kills, the world’s first climate related extinction here in Australia, protected wetlands up for sale and threatened birds exported to dodgy collectors. There is little consideration given to protecting and preserving nature by a Liberal Government that gives more in fuel subsidies to the mining industry than they spend on the environment.

“With a Labor Government the most likely outcome of the next election, it is vital we have a strong Greens team in the Senate to make sure protecting the environment is prioritised both in law and funding. We will always stand up to the fossil fuels lobby, corporate irrigators and keep up the fight to end new coal, oil and gas projects.

“Our care for the environment should be based on facts, not the whims of the government of the day. We need to get down to the business of restoring ecosystems, addressing climate breakdown and making sure we leave a thriving planet. We are living with the effects of climate change right here and now, this is about our children as much as future generations. We cannot continue down our current path if our planet is to survive.

“We have a plan, because we know we can be the generation that saves the planet.”

 A tough new environment watchdog

The Greens will introduce a new generation of environmental laws overseen by an independent regulatory body with real power to enforce environmental laws.

The Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act is a relic of the Howard era. We need a new generation of environmental laws that actually protect our shared natural resources, our wild places and our threatened species.

The Greens will provide real protection for our animals, land, air and water with a national Environmetal Protection Authority with real teeth to enforce the law and provide independent expert advice, at arm’s length from the influence of politicians and the big business lobby.

Backing this Authority, the Greens’ new environmental laws would expand federal responsibility for:

•          National parks and reserves, including critical habitats, climate refugees and national biodiversity hotspots;

•          Vulnerable ecological communities;

•          Impacts from land clearing;

•          Greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution;

•          Water resources (including rivers, wetlands and aquifers);

•          Ecosystems and wetlands of national significance;

•          Invasive species.

These new laws will also allow increased community access to justice by implementing “open standing” for people and communities to challenge environmentally damaging decisions in court, without risking huge costs in public interest cases.