If Scott Morrison works in good faith with Greens and Labor, we could end legal discrimination against LGBT teachers this week: Greens

Greens LGBTIQ+ spokesperson Senator Janet Rice today said that if Prime Minister Scott Morrison works in good faith with the Greens and Labor, the Parliament could end exemptions this week to Federal anti-discrimination laws that currently allow religious schools to fire LGBT+ teachers and staff because of who they are.

“For years the Greens have fought to remove exemptions to our laws that allow religious schools to expel students and fire teachers and staff members simply because of who they are,” Senator Rice said.

“I am pleased that following pressure from the community and the Greens, Labor today announced that they support the Greens’ position.

“Scott Morrison and the Liberals must now listen to the public and commit to working with the Greens and Labor to change our laws to not only stop students being expelled because of who they are, but to stop LGBT+ teachers and staff members from being sacked because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or gender diverse.

“If Scott Morrison works in good faith with the Greens and Labor, we could end these outdated exemptions by the end of this week.

“Our laws should protect LGBTIQ+ Australians from discrimination, not enshrine the right to discriminate against them.”

The Greens took removing exemptions from federal anti-discrimination law for religious organisations to the 2016 Federal Election.

Greens Say Senate must work together to clear the air on ABC interference

The cloud that hangs over the independence of the ABC has come no closer to being cleared following the release of the Government’s departmental review today.

“The Department report raises more question than answers about the issues plaguing the ABC. This review is a white-wash that attempts to save the Morrison Government from any scrutiny for the part it has played in the ABC’s leadership turmoil,” Greens media spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“Today’s departmental review does not address the issues surrounding political interference between the Government, the ABC board and its leadership last month. This is not simply a tit for tat between the former Chair and Managing Director and must be investigated further.

“Without a Senate Inquiry into the political interference at the ABC,  there is a cloud over our beloved public broadcaster’s future independence.

“The ABC staff, and the Australian people, deserve better than this blatant political interference. For the future of a strong public broadcaster, we need to get this right and the Senate needs to work together.”

Governments must do more to end harmful LGBT+ conversion attempts: Greens

Following the release of the report into LGBT+ conversion attempts by La Trobe University, the Human Rights Law Centre and Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria, Greens LGBTIQ+ spokesperson Senator Janet Rice said governments must do more to stop these harmful practices.

“Gay and trans conversion practices are grounded in homophobia and transphobia. Conversion practices still exist in many forms across the country and are often insidiously hidden or dressed up as ‘mentoring’ or ‘counselling’,” Senator Rice said.

“These conversion practices are deeply harmful to LGBT+ people. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer young people already suffer worse mental health than their heterosexual and cisgender peers.

“LGBT+ people don’t need to change, society needs to change. No LGBT+ person should be made to feel shame or fear on account of their sexual or gender identity.

“Governments must do more to end these insidious and harmful practices and provide proper mental health and support services to LGBT+ people and survivors of these conversion attempts.

“The Greens have always stood alongside LGBT+ people in the fight for equality and against discrimination. We will look closely at this report’s recommendations to see what more we can do to support survivors of conversion attempts and put an end to these harmful practices.”

Greens call on Labor party: It’s not too late to defeat the TPP

The Australian Greens are calling on the Labor Party to dump its support of the dodgy TPP ahead of the debate in the Senate today.

“The dodgy TPP deal was designed by corporations, for corporations. It is baffling to Australian workers,  and the broader community, that the Labor Party has abandoned its base, and unions, to give this toxic trade deal the green light,” Greens trade spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“Labor has an opportunity to say no to the TPP enabling legislation and back withdrawing from the agreement. Labor is trying to walk both sides of the street on the TPP. We can only address the TPP’s failures of ISDS provisions and weak labour market testing before the deal is ratified. It is not too late for Labor to do the right thing.

“It would be a gross affront to our sovereignty to allow a piece of legislation that gives corporations the right to sue us for, among other things, strengthening environmental law or developing sound policy to arrest climate change in the wake of the UN’s harrowing report.

“The Greens will fight to stop the TPP.  We will use the powers of the Senate to expose just how bad a deal this is and force Labor to decide between Australian sovereignty or rolling over for the Morrison Government.”

LABOR SAYS IT WILL GET MELBOURNE’S SUBURBAN RAIL LOOP ON A FASTER TRACK

A Shorten Labor Government will invest $300 million in the Suburban Rail Loop – getting the project going faster and creating jobs sooner.

Labor’s investment will support the development of a business case and get the planning work done quicker, enabling the construction to commence in 2022. The project will provide a major boost to the economy, creating 20,000 jobs in the construction phase alone and employing 2000 apprentices.

This is the sort of vision Melbourne needs – to keep up with the demands of Australia’s fastest growing capital city, investment in world-class, modern transport network is critical.

Melbourne is a great place to live and work. But between now and 2046, the city’s population is projected to grow to 7.3 million residents. Without proper planning and investment in the city’s roads and public transport infrastructure, the annual cost of traffic congestion will more than triple to $9 billion by 2030.

Labor understands how important it is to invest in decent public transport that will take the pressure off our cities, ease traffic congestion, and connect the suburbs and the regions – bringing jobs and apprenticeships along the way.

On completion, the Suburban Rail Loop will comprise of a 90 kilometre rail line through Melbourne’s northern and eastern suburbs via the airport, linking all of the city’s major train lines. It will connect the suburbs directly to major employment hubs, universities, TAFE and hospitals outside the city, making it much easier for Victorians to get around for work and recreation.

Labor’s investment will help finalise exact station locations, route alignments, rolling stock and staging, and get construction underway faster.

Expected to be used by 400,000 passengers a day, the project will take pressure off existing lines, as well as an estimated 200,000 cars off the city’s road network. Fewer cars on the road mean less congestion and shorter travel times.

Federal Labor’s investment follows expert analysis showing the project will slash travel times across the city. When complete, commuters will be able to travel from Box Hill to the airport in 25 minutes and to Monash Clayton in around 15 minutes. Travel from Broadmeadows to Deakin Burwood will be less than 25 minutes – connecting Victorians to education and work opportunities quicker and easier.

This commitment to the Suburban Rail Loop builds on Labor’s strong track record of delivering job-creating infrastructure that eases congestion for Victorians, and will match the funding commitment announced by the Andrews Labor Government in August this year.

Labor has made hard budget decisions to ensure our priorities are fully paid for – we will make multinationals pay their fair share and close unsustainable tax loopholes, because we want to build the cities and society that will give the next generation a better deal.

One way or the other, this Government is lying about Ruddock Review: Greens

Following the leak of the Ruddock Review into Religious Freedom, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told journalists this morning that “this has not been through cabinet at this point. It hasn’t been considered by cabinet, so we will take it through that orderly process, and we will come out with our response to the Ruddock review.” However, last month Sen. Mathias Cormann refused to comply with an order from the Senate to produce the review, citing ongoing confidential cabinet deliberations.

“Either Scott Morrison is lying to the Australian people, or Mathias Cormann is lying to the Australian Senate. Either way, it’s absolutely unacceptable and they need to come clean,” said the Leader of the Australian Greens Dr Richard Di Natale.

“Twice the Senate has ordered the Government to produce these documents and twice Sen. Cormann refused on the basis of Cabinet confidentiality. Was Cormann lying to the Senate when he said the review was being considered by Cabinet or was the Prime Minister lying when he claimed it never had been? They can’t have it both ways.”

“This is just one more example of a Liberal Party at war with itself, willing to do or say whatever it takes to hide its complete dysfunction from the public,” he said.

“LGBTIQ+ communities have been left in the lurch for months awaiting the release of this report. Our human rights and lives are at stake and we’re being kept in the dark. The government must release this report in full immediately,” said Greens LGBTIQ+ spokesperson Senator Janet Rice.

“The Liberal candidate in the upcoming Wentworth by-election, Dave Sharma, said he personally doesn’t support any new discrimination. The government must come clean with its plans to enshrine new discrimination before the by-election.”

Sen. Cormann’s letter is attached here.

According to the Senate’s published grounds for claims of public interest immunity, only revealing the deliberations (ie minutes of who said what and why they came to their decision) is treated as beyond the power of the Senate:

      (5)    Disclosure of Executive Council or cabinet deliberations

                It is accepted that deliberations of the Executive Council and of the cabinet should be able to be conducted in secrecy so as to preserve the freedom of deliberation of those bodies. This ground, however, relates only to disclosure of deliberations. There has been a tendency for governments to claim that anything with a connection to cabinet is confidential. According to a famous story about a state government, trolley loads of documents were wheeled through the cabinet room so that it could be claimed that they were all “cabinet-in-confidence”, a story which serves to illustrate the abuse of this ground. A claim that a document is a cabinet document should not be accepted; it has to be established that disclosure of the document would reveal cabinet deliberations. The claim cannot be made simply because a document has the word “cabinet” in or on it.

                Neither legislatures nor courts have conceded that internal deliberations of government departments and agencies are entitled to the same protection.

Greens say there is a Humanitarian crisis on Nauru

Medecins Sans Frontiers’ revelations about the conditions of the people Australia is detaining on Nauru have laid bare the truly despearte situation, Greens Immigration spokesperson Nick McKim says.

“MSF have made it clear that they have never seen such traumatised people and that every refugee presented with suicidal symptoms,” Senator McKim said.

“These are stomach turning revelations which confirm yet again that offshore detention is destroying innocent lives.”

“No longer can Morrison and Shorten ignore the humanitarian calamity caused by their bipartisan policy of cruelty.”

“Every single person Australia is detaining on Manus Island and Nauru must be evacuated to Australia immediately.”

Greens Say Leigh Creek UCG project must be stopped

The Australian Greens are calling on urgent Federal Government intervention into the Leigh Creek Energy underground coal gasification project, after today’s announcement the company has produced its first syngas.

“The Federal Environment Minister must intervene and put a stop to this project before any irreversible damage is caused. It is a disgrace it was ever given the go-ahead by the South Australian Liberal Government,” Greens environment spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“The Greens will move in the Parliament to stop the Leigh Creek project and ban this absurd and harmful practice.

“This toxic practice poisons the water table and contaminates soil and air. It does immeasurable damage to the environment, and the climate. It has been linked to an increase in cancers, including lung and breast cancers. UCG is banned in Queensland and across the world, for good reason, because of the demonstrated harm it causes to people and the environment.

“The Greens stand in solidarity with Traditional Owners and community members who have been fighting this going ahead. South Australian lives must be protected, like Queenslanders finally are. We must stop the government putting us at risk for the sake of a company making a profit for shareholders offshore.”

Greens express deep concern over Baha’i persecution in Yemen

Greens Leader Senator Richard Di Natale expressed his deep concern at news that 24 Yemenis of the Baha’i faith, including a child, continue to face serious charges for nothing more than their expressing beliefs and for conducting peaceful activities. Some of the charges may result in the death penalty.

“A recent court date was an opportunity for justice to prevail – but Houthi authorities seem content to threaten peaceful people with execution just for expressing their religious beliefs.  The world will be closely watching the next hearing, currently scheduled for mid-November.

“This mass trial is another disturbing sign of persecution of Yemenis of the Baha’i faith in Houthi-controlled Yemen.  I urge the Houthi authorities to immediately drop these bogus charges and release those who are detained.”

LABOR WILL EXTEND PRESCHOOL ACCESS TO 3 YEAR OLDS

A Shorten Labor Government will introduce a new two year National Preschool and Kindy Program, guaranteeing around 700,000 Australian children a year will be able to access subsidised preschool.

This is the biggest ever investment in early childhood education in Australia.

For the first time, every three year old in Australia will be able to access 15 hours of subsidised early childhood education, so they can get the best start to learning.

Labor will also extend the current arrangement for four year olds accessing preschool – creating a quality, two-year program to support the most important years of a child’s development, an investment of an additional $1.75 billion into early education.

90% of a child’s brain development occurs in the first five years of life – an investment in early education is one of the smartest investments our country can make.

Labor’s plan is good for children, good for parents, and good for the economy:

  •       Children – Studies have shown that children who access quality early education achieve better results in tests throughout their schooling. Early education is particularly vital in closing the disadvantage gap before a child starts school. Labor’s plan will see around 340,000 three year olds and a similar number of four year olds able to access preschool every year.
  •        Parents – One of the biggest barriers to accessing early education is finance – expanding access will help with the cost of living, help parents balance work and family and help reduce the child care bill for families with children already in early education.
  •       Economy – evidence shows that the return on investment in early childhood education is significant. A recent study from the EU showed that for every dollar spent on early childhood education for 3 year olds, $4 was returned to the economy.

Labor’s universal access to preschool scheme for four year olds has laid the groundwork for this announcement – since the first agreement was signed by Labor in 2008, preschool enrolment for four year olds has increased from 77% to between 93-97%.
But more needs to be done. Our global competitors have recognised the value of a two-year early childhood education program, and it’s time Australia gets on board, before we fall further behind.

The United Kingdom, New Zealand, France, Ireland and China have all expanded their early childhood education programs to include three year olds.

Currently, Scott Morrison has failed to extend preschool funding for four year olds beyond next school year – after his child care changes cut early education from some of Australia’s most vulnerable children.

The Liberals see education as a cost – that’s why they’ve cut $14 billion from public schools and left preschool funding in limbo. Labor sees it as an investment in our collective future.

Labor will work in partnership with the states and territories to deliver this important reform, including in setting enrolment and attendance targets, particularly for Indigenous and vulnerable children.

We’ve made tough and overdue decisions to rein in unfair tax concessions that predominantly benefit the wealthy – including negative gearing reform and dividend imputation reform – so we can fund the priorities that will make a fairer and more successful nation.

Only Labor will give every child the early education opportunities they need for the best start in life.