Liu scandal shows critical need for donations reform: Greens

The epidemic of scandals involving Liberal parliamentarians continues with Liberal MP Gladys Liu linked to a donor at the centre of a money laundering probe by Australian authorities.

Greens co-deputy leader Larissa Waters said, “It’s time to end cash-for-access and get the influence of big money and dodgy donors out of politics.

“Prime Minister Morrison should stop the protection racket for Ms Liu and his embattled Ministers and stop the rot by capping political donations and election spending.

“Both the Coalition and the Labor Party say they want to tackle undue foreign influence on politics but they won’t clean up political donations, because they are addicted to the money.

“If Australia capped political donations and election spending, we could address all those seeking to interfere in our democracy, whether they are foreign powers, corporate interests or donors with an agenda.

“The Greens want to cap all political donations at $1,000 per year and ban outright political donations from the mining, property development and gambling industries.

“Every member of parliament should act in the best interests of the community, not for their own self-interest and profit.

“It’s time Australia removed the corrupting influence of money in politics and give democracy back to the people,” she said.

Education Department Merger a Huge Mistake

Australian Greens Senator and Education Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi has called the proposed merger of the Department of Education with Skills and Employment a huge mistake.

Senator Faruqi said:

“Merging the departments of education and employment is a short-sighted decision that highlights the Government’s narrow, neoliberal idea of education. Education is a public good essential to building a socially and economically just society, not just an avenue to employment or profit – it demands a standalone focus.

“Already this year the merger of skills with the employment department has undermined lifelong education and continued the Liberal-Nationals disastrous record on vocational training. This decision takes us further down this path and is a huge mistake.

“Mergers inevitably result in huge amounts of money wasted on consultants and some new letterheads while nothing is done to properly fund public schools or save TAFE,” she concluded.

Shocking Footage of Cruelty Towards Live Export Cattle Show Need for National Animal Cruelty Laws

Australian Greens Senator and Animal Welfare Spokesperson, Senator Mehreen Faruqi and The Greens (WA) spokesperson for Animal Welfare Hon. Alison Xamon MLC have responded to the abhorrent allegations of animal abuse on Western Australian cattle farms that were revealed in an investigation by Sentient Media.

The footage was recorded by Israeli Animal Welfare Group ‘Sentient’ on Western Australian cattle stations and broadcast on Israeli TV. It shows  kicking and punching of animals, dehorning with no pain relief and other acts of cruelty. Many of these cattle enter the live export supply chain, including to Israel. The graphic footage and investigation is available here: https://sentientworld.org/investigations/cattle-investigation-australia/

“The animal abuse shown in this investigation is absolutely horrific – these allegations need further investigation immediately. I am deeply disturbed and saddened by the utter disregard for animal welfare shown,” said Ms Xamon.

Ms Xamon said that these allegations demonstrate precisely why WA must prioritise urgent animal welfare legislation that establishes independent, unannounced welfare inspections and provides adequate funding to ensure there are enough inspectors to perform them.

“From the appalling practice of live export to the absence of any regulatory oversight of animal welfare, the culture of animal cruelty we have seen lately is absolutely unacceptable,” Ms Xamon said.

“Western Australians detest animal abuse and need to feel confident that animals are being treated with the highest level of care possible. We need to get serious about animal welfare and prioritize legislation in Parliament that ensures it.”

Senator Faruqi said:

“This horrific footage shows a real breakdown in protecting animals. There must be an urgent investigation and hopefully prosecution by animal welfare authorities.

“Many people would be shocked to know that some of the practices seen in the footage, such as dehorning without pain relief, are entirely legal. It is shameful that as a country, we allow procedures on farm animals that would never be allowed to be carried out on our family cat or dog without pain relief. We need a radical overhaul of animal cruelty laws.

“It is so disturbing that many of the cattle that survive this torture are then exported on ships of misery and death to the Middle East. Live Export of animals is an abomination and must be banned.

“The Greens are listening to the community and pushing for nationally consistent animal welfare laws to protect animals from this cruelty.” she concluded.

Corporate greed real enemy of Murray-Darling

The Morrison Government is making things up as they go along, while the Murray-Darling is in deeper and deeper crisis and communities and the environment are suffering, the Greens say.

Greens Senator for South Australia and Spokesperson for the Environment and Water Sarah Hanson-Young said the Murray-Darling Basin Plan debate is not about farmers versus the environment, it’s big corporates versus everyone else.

“The water sharing arrangements are supposed to stop communities being pitted against each other and to avoid water wars in times of crisis,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

“Corporate greed is the real enemy, not the environment. It is deceitful of the Liberal Nationals to blame environmental flows that are crucial for the River’s survival, for the lack of water available to river communities and farmers.

“This Government has turned a blind eye to six years of mismanagement, water theft and corruption while big corporate irrigators drain the River. It is the over-allocations and floodwater-harvesting of big corporate irrigators and water barons that must be reined in.

“Greed and corruption are killing the River and leaving River communities to suffer.

“It’s unacceptable that the Government’s own Inspector General will have no powers to act until mid-next year.  We should’ve been dealing with the legislation this week before the summer break.”

Senator Hanson-Young said NSW was again calling for the 450GL SA was promised to be written out of the plan, and called on the SA Water Minister David Speirs to stand up for his state.

“Failing to deliver the remaining 450GL will condemn the Lower Murray to death. The SA Liberal Government must stand up for our state and protect the water the River needs to survive,”  she said.

“There’s no jobs on a dead river.”

National Party unleashes assault on Murray River, environment and South Australia

Barnaby Joyce and the National Party have unleashed an assault on the Murray River, the environment and South Australia, the Greens say.

Senator for SA and Greens Spokesperson for Water Sarah Hanson-Young said it would be a terrible step to tear up the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and cut water to the environment throughout the Basin.

“The National Party has stuffed the River, and now they want to blame SA and cut water to the environment. This is an assault on the River, an assault on SA and lets the greedy corporate irrigators off the hook,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

“Barnaby Joyce and the National Party want to cut water to the environment, cut off South Australia and let the upstream states and their corporate irrigator mates continue on business as usual.

“South Australians will be furious and the SA Liberal Government needs to stand up to their Coalition mates upstream and say this is not on.

“This summer is going to be really tough. There is going to be less water in the system and it should be the big corporate irrigators, the political donors to the National Party, who feel the heat.

“If you want to put water back in the system then you stop those big corporate irrigators irrigating cotton and irrigating almonds, and you stop letting foreign companies come in and buy up our water rights.

“More than 1.2million people in SA rely on the Murray. This is our drinking water and this is our environment and I am not going to sit by and let Barnaby Joyce and the National Party sacrifice us for their big corporate mates upstream.”

School Testing Results Show Need for Increased and Better Targeted Funding

Australian Greens Senator and Education Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi has responded to reports that Australian students are slipping in international testing standards by calling for more and better targeted education funding in Australia, especially for the most disadvantaged schools. She has also called on the Government to invest more in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.

Senator Faruqi said:

“I think we should take global standardised testing results with a grain of salt. However,  this is clearly a wake up call for State and Federal Governments to invest properly in education and public schools, especially targeting investment towards our most disadvantaged schools.

“By 2023, 99% of public schools will be stuck below the national resource standard, while 99% of private schools will be at or above it. Public schools are massively underfunded but are in many cases outperforming private schools. Imagine what they could do if we funded them properly.

“Governments across Australia need to step up for the most disadvantaged students who are struggling with a lack of funding and educational facilities. They must stop showering already overfunded private schools with cash and redirect that money to public schools who serve the vast majority of disadvantaged students.

“It is clear that we need much more support for students to excel in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. It’s time for State and Federal Governments to take this issue much more seriously.

As Sydney chokes Scott Morrison must lift his climate ambition to save Australian lives: Greens

The Australian Greens have called on Scott Morrison to lift his climate ambition to save Australian lives, as the NSW climate bushfires leave Sydney air quality as unhealthy as smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes a day.

Quotes attributable to New South Wales Senator Dr Mehreen Faruqi:

“Sydney has been choking under heavy smoke for days now.  We know particle pollution kills and people are suffering. We are in a health and climate emergency.

“What we are experiencing is completely unprecedented and this is only going to get worse if we don’t take climate action now.

Quotes attributable to Greens spokesperson for the climate crisis, Adam Bandt MP:

“Scott Morrison must lift his climate ambition now to save people’s lives.

“As COP25 launched in Madrid overnight, Australia was once again awarded ‘Fossil of the Day’ for our climate denialism and pollution failures. Australia should be global leaders on climate, but instead we’re climate laggards.

“Decisions made over the next few weeks as part of global climate negotiations could determine whether we’ll be sweltering through 50 degree days in Sydney and Melbourne. Decisions now will determine whether the record breaking drought Australians are living through becomes the new normal.

Liu scandal shows critical need for donations reform: Greens

The epidemic of scandals involving Liberal parliamentarians continues with Liberal MP Gladys Liu linked to a donor at the centre of a money laundering probe by Australian authorities.

Greens co-deputy leader Larissa Waters said, “It’s time to end cash-for-access and get the influence of big money and dodgy donors out of politics.

“Prime Minister Morrison should stop the protection racket for Ms Liu and his embattled Ministers and stop the rot by capping political donations and election spending.

“Both the Coalition and the Labor Party say they want to tackle undue foreign influence on politics but they won’t clean up political donations, because they are addicted to the money.

“If Australia capped political donations and election spending, we could address all those seeking to interfere in our democracy, whether they are foreign powers, corporate interests or donors with an agenda.

“The Greens want to cap all political donations at $1,000 per year and ban outright political donations from the mining, property development and gambling industries.

“Every member of parliament should act in the best interests of the community, not for their own self-interest and profit.

“It’s time Australia removed the corrupting influence of money in politics and give democracy back to the people,” she said.

Foreign Aid Cuts to South Asia, Pakistan, a Backwards Step

Australian Greens International Aid and Development spokesperson, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, has responded to revelations that the Morrison government will cease all bilateral aid to Pakistan as funds for development assistance are diverted to the Pacific. Nepal will also have its budget almost halved.

Senator Faruqi said:

“Raiding the aid budget of one country so Australia can further its national interest in the Pacific is a shameless pursuit of self interest by Australia.

“The reality is that we could be providing sufficient overseas development assistance to both South Asia and the Pacific if the Coalition hadn’t cut the aid budget consistently since they came to power.

“Australia is already in an embarrassing position globally, with our aid budget well behind the OECD average. Australia can and should be a global leader in foreign aid.

“Pakistan is already bearing a huge burden of the climate emergency, with rising sea levels and increasing extreme weather events like floods and storms. Coal is the biggest contributor to climate breakdown and Australia is the biggest exporter of coal. We have a special obligation to assist countries with climate change mitigation and adaptation.

“The brutal impact of aid budget cuts to vital programs in Pakistan and South Asia will be borne by the people most in need – women and children. This is unacceptable. The Australian Government must reverse cuts and reinstate aid programs.” she concluded.

Labor and Coalition Betray Central Coast and Newcastle on Gas Plan Vote

Australian Greens Senator for NSW, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, has said Labor and the Coalition have betrayed the Central Coast and Newcastle Community by voting down a Greens motion calling for genuine community consultation on Asset Energy’s plan to conduct seismic testing for gas.

The motion (below) expressed community concern that Asset Energy and its partners would lodge their environmental plan over the holiday period, restricting genuine community participation. It called on the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority to extend the consultation period to sixty days if a plan is lodged over the holidays.

Senator Faruqi said:

“It is pretty clear that Labor and the Coalition have betrayed the Central Coast and Newcastle communities by voting down this very reasonable request to give the community a genuine say on  this environmentally devastating project.

“Labor says they stand with the community, but every time the issue has come in the Federal Parliament, they buckle and sit with the Liberals and Nationals. The community won’t tolerate politicians who say one thing and then do another.

“The local community is firmly against this proposal and is deeply concerned that the Environmental Plan will be sneakily lodged during the holiday period, denying the time to properly scrutinise it. I cannot fathom how Labor and the Coalition could argue with the premise that the community should be given a fair go to have their say on the plan.

“It is just further evidence of how fossil fuel companies call the shots for Labor and the Coalition while the community is always put last.
“Seismic testing poses a huge risk to marine animals and the environment. The Greens will continue to stand with the community and against the fossil fuel lobby’s offshore drilling proposals which will accelerate the climate crisis.

The Motion

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

a.     Asset Energy and their project partners are planning to conduct further seismic testing for gas off the coast of Newcastle and the Central Coast in New South Wales;
b.     The Environmental Plan for the seismic testing is currently being developed and once submitted, the community will have only 28 days to respond to the regulator;
c.      The community is concerned that the Environmental Plan may be lodged with National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) during the holiday period, limiting opportunities for genuine community consultation and feedback.
2. Calls on NOPSEMA to:
a)     ensure that if any Environmental Plan is exhibited for community consultation during December 2019 or January 2020, that the community consultation period is extended to at least sixty days;
b)    conduct extensive public hearings in the affected communities of the Central Coast, Northern Beaches and Newcastle and to advertise the hearings extensively in local media.