Greens Senator Slams Lack of Transparency of Private School Slush Fund

Australian Greens Education Spokesperson, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, has called the Government’s so called ‘Choice and Affordability” package a private school slush fund. The fund is part of extra money announced for private schools by the Prime Minister in September, which Senator Faruqi has previously described as “hush money”.

In Budget Estimates today, the Department confirmed that it was a “decision of Government” and couldn’t answer how the figure was $1.2 billion figure was arrived at. The Greens have also confirmed that they will move to disallow the fund and call on the Government to reallocate it to the public system.

Senator Faruqi said:

“What has become pretty clear is the Government plucked the $1.2 billion figure out of thin air as a way to pay off the private school sector.

“This whole program is a farce. There are no rules, no criteria and the Department seems to have no idea how the amount of the enormous $1.2 billion private school slush fund was arrived at.

“The Greens unashamedly believe that with public money, public schools have to come first. It is beyond reprehensible that while one in ten public school classrooms in New South Wales are demountable, the private schools will be getting billions in special funds.

“There is absolutely nothing stopping the schools spending this money to subsidise school fees for wealthy parents. What a slap in the face for public schools.

“The Greens will be moving to disallow this fund as soon as it comes to Parliament,” she concluded.

Adam Bandt says Labor backing of Liberal coal plan outrageous

Greens climate change and energy spokesperson Adam Bandt MP today slammed revelations from Labor that they would allow the construction or refurbishment of coal-fired power stations if the contracts were signed under the Liberals before the election. Mr Bandt also attacked Labor’s apparent confirmation that they would revive the zombie NEG to be their climate and energy policy for the electricity sector.

“Labor will have blood on their hands if they honour a contract to build a new coal-fired power station,” said Mr Bandt.

“If a contract to build or extend a coal-fired power station is signed before the next election, Labor has just confirmed they’d wave it through if they proceeded to form government.

“While Labor would ‘honour’ any contracts, the Greens would rip them up.

“Labor will pay dearly at the ballot box if they continue with this policy announced by Chris Bowen today. Bill Shorten needs to overrule his Shadow Treasurer.

“Signing a contract for a new coal-fired power station is like signing a death warrant for the Australian people.

“This despicable admission from the Labor party shows that they’re as bad as the Liberals on coal.

“If that wasn’t enough, it appears that Labor confirmed it would take the zombie NEG as their policy to the next election.

“The NEG is an unproven, opaque mechanism that was cooked up to get through a climate-denying backbench. Instead of reviving a discredited policy, Labor should be revisiting policies that actually work.

“Labor have only committed to a pro-rata 45% reduction in the electricity sector and do not appear to have any plan to reduce emissions in other parts of the economy.

“What we’ve learnt today is that Labor is a pro-coal party with no credible climate plan.”

Contact: Gideon Reisner, 0429 109 054

TW: @AdamBandt FB: facebook.com/Adam.Bandt.MP
The relevant excerpts from Labor’s press conference are below:

Phillip Coorey: On energy, one of the things Angus Taylor said yesterday is that using this recommendation to under-write the investment in new plants, either through a loan or a purchase guarantee, that they’ll have a shortlist of projects ready to go early in the new year, which we understand could be as early as January. If any of these projects are contracted before the election, would Labor reserve the right to reverse any contract? I know it’s a bit hypothetical, but you can see where the government is going here. Would you be locked into any coal-fired power station for example that the government contracts?

Chris Bowen: As Mark said, this is policy on the run and if the Liberal/National government wants to engage in such poor policy that they are prepared to risk the national interest in doing this quickly, in a haphazard way, that is on them. Labor honours contracts, we don’t create sovereign risk. That’s been our consistent position across the board when it comes to any matter in the economy. We honour contracts, we don’t create sovereign risk…To answer your question, our position has always been consistent on a range of matters. An incoming Labor government honours contracts, even ones that we thoroughly and completely disagree with.

Joe Kelly: Mr. Butler, could I just clarify something? If Labor wins office at the next election, to meet the 45% emissions reduction target you’ve set, your preferred mechanism to do that would be the National Energy Guarantee that Mr. Turnbull and Mr. Frydenberg were working on, to meet that target?

Mark Butler: Well certainly in the energy sector. The Paris targets apply across the economy but the debate has been about the energy sector. The very clear view is that bringing the different stands of energy policy, reliability and emissions reduction together in the NEG, is the best way to do that.

Prime Minister avoiding party room fight over removing discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people in schools: Greens

‘The Government’s failure to introduce a Bill today proves that Prime Minister Morrison is more interested in avoiding a divisive party room so soon after the Wentworth disaster than protecting LGBTIQ+ students and staff from discrimination,’ said Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens LGBTIQ+ spokesperson.

‘Once again LGBTIQ+ people are being held to ransom by the hard right of the Liberal party.’

‘Scott Morrison himself said last week that removing discrimination in schools is “such a simple amendment” that “we should use the next fortnight to ensure this matter is addressed.”’

‘The only complexity now is because of the internal politics of the Liberal party and the hard right that control the Liberal party room.’

‘The Greens have a bill before the Senate that is already being debated and would remove all discrimination in schools against both LGBTIQ+ staff and students.’

Labor’s hit to the property market exposed

New analysis has confirmed that Labor’s property tax will damage Australia’s property market and broader economy.

Independent economic modelling commissioned by the Master Builders Association (MBA) has confirmed that new builds will slow, jobs will be lost and billions drained from the economy under Labor’s property tax.

The MBA found that by raising taxes on housing over five years, Labor’s policies could result in up to 42,000 fewer new dwellings being built, 32,000 less full time jobs and an $11.8 billion drop in building activity.

The MBA report joins a growing list of experts saying that Labor’s policies would have a significant impact on Australia’s economy and property market, particularly at a time when the housing marking is softening.

RiskWise warned that median house prices in New South Wales and Victoria could fall about 9 per cent, Citi’s research found Labor’s policy could “accelerate the cyclical weaknesses in housing prices” and Standard and Poor’s warned of the consequences of falling house prices on the broader economy.

Labor’s property tax will punish not only the 1.3 million Australians who negative gear, but every Australian with equity in their home.

Bill Shorten must admit he got this one wrong and ditch his ill-conceived property tax plan.

With Australia’s housing market cooling over 12 consecutive months in our capital cities, this is the worst possible time for Labor to push its property tax.

Under Labor you will always pay more with its $200 billion in extra taxes whether it be on your earnings, savings, housing or retirement.

Prime Minister, deliver on your promise to remove discrimination against LGBTIQ+ students this week: Greens

The Australian Greens are calling on Prime Minister Morrison to deliver on his promise during the Wentworth by-election to remove the ability of religious schools to discriminate against LGBTIQ+ students.

“When the heat was on during Wentworth, the Prime Minister promised a bill would be passed by the end of this week removing discrimination in religious schools,” said Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens LGBTIQ+ spokesperson.

“Where is the bill? Or did the Prime Minister lie to the people of Wentworth?”

“There is one day of parliament left, so he better hurry. Time is ticking, Prime Minister.”

“The Greens have a bill that is already being debated in the Senate. If the Prime Minister doesn’t deliver on his promise to pass a government bill this week, the Greens will do the job for him when the Senate next sits.”

Adam Bandt Says the Government’s plan to bring down Energy prices is a con

Greens climate change and energy spokesperson Adam Bandt MP today slammed the government’s latest attempt at an energy plan, saying the price ‘safety net’ was a con and the coal slush-fund an irresponsible use of public money that will make global warming worse.

“This price ‘safety net’ move is an absolute con,” said Mr Bandt.

“When you read the fine print, the so-called ‘cap’ won’t apply to 80-90% of customers.

“And the CEO of Energy Australia has even threatened to put up the prices of the 80-90% of customers to make up for their lost profits if the government forces the power bills of 10-20% of customers down.

“The government’s so-called safety net has holes so big that most people will fall through them.

“The government’s energy plan is also to pay polluters to keep on polluting through a coal-slush fund.

“While the Greens want to make the polluters pay, the Liberals want to pay the polluters to keep on polluting.

“The government’s latest appalling move is to strip money from schools and hospitals and give it to coal-fired power stations.

“It’s like taking money from the health budget and giving it to an asbestos business.

“Scientists are telling us to shut down one coal-fired power station per year between now and 2030 but instead the Liberals want to build more.

“If the government takes public money and gives it to coal, they’re toast. They won’t survive the next election and I’ll be glad to see the back of them.”

Greens say Corrupting Influence of the Gun Lobby Out to Water Down Gun Control Laws

Australian Greens Spokesperson for Gun Control, Senator Mehreen Faruqi and Greens spokesperson for Democracy, Senator Larissa Waters, have reacted to today’s reports that the gun lobby is trying to weaken Australia’s gun laws and that pro-gun groups have used Ministerial Advisory Panels to lobby against greater gun controls.

Australian Greens Spokesperson for Gun Control, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, said:

“Federal and State Governments have dropped the ball on gun control. No Australian State or Territory has fully complied with the National Firearms Agreement which is absolutely appalling. We need to rekindle the kind of political courage we saw after the Port Arthur Massacre and push back against any move to weaken our gun laws.

“We should be tightening restrictions on guns, not entertaining militaristic fantasies or the weapons industry which simply want to sell more guns.

“The scourge of gun violence in the United States is directly related to the power and money the gun lobby has there. We don’t need a corporate lobby pushing to roll back our gun laws,” she concluded.

Greens spokesperson for Democracy Senator Larissa Waters said:

“A major overhaul of political donation laws in this country is long overdue, but any watering down of gun laws puts public safety at immediate risk making it even more important for the corrupting influence of the gun lobby to be eliminated from our democracy urgently.

“Firearm interest groups have donated at least $500,000 to political parties including the LNP, Labor and The Katter Party. How can Australians have any faith that these political parties are acting in their best interests on gun laws rather than the interests of their donors and their corporate profits?

“If we have any hope of restoring trust in our democracy we need to ban donations from vested interests and end the revolving door between lobbyists and politicians and we cannot allow the power wielded by weapons manufacturers over political parties to go unchecked.”

LNP Say we will now Get A Fair Deal on Energy

Australian families and businesses will save hundreds of dollars a year off their power bills, thanks to action being taken today by the Morrison Government.

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) will start work on a “price safety net” today.

This will stop big power companies ripping off loyal customers who don’t have time to shop around for a better deal.

However it will still allow retailers to offer more competitively-priced market offers.

The price safety net is consistent with the recommendations of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry.

The Australian Energy Market Commission found that customers on standing offers could be paying up to $832 per year more than the cheapest market offer in some regions. Small businesses could be paying up to $3,457 per year in higher electricity costs.

The AER has been tasked with introducing default prices by 30 April 2019 with savings being passed through to families and small businesses by 1 July 2019.

Other measures announced today by the Morrison Government that will bring prices down and increase reliability are:

  • Stopping price gouging by the big energy companies. This includes banning sneaky late payment penalties and making energy retailers pass on savings in wholesale prices to customers. It will increase regulator’s power to crack down on dodgy, anti-competitive practices – through fines, penalties, enforceable undertakings, structural separation and divestiture. We have already seen prices come down in Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales on 1 July 2018, and we have directed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to monitor electricity prices until 2025 to ensure prices are fairer for consumers.
  • Backing investment in new power generators to improve competition. Underwriting new electricity generation will attract investment in the electricity market, increasing supply and reducing wholesale electricity prices. The Government will consult on the Underwriting New Generation Investments program, with submissions open until 9 November 2018. Based on feedback from the consultation, the Government will release initial program guidelines and invite proponents to nominate projects through an expression of interest process open from December 2018 to January 2019.
  • Supporting reliable power by requiring energy companies to sign contracts guaranteeing enough energy to meet demand. We will work with state and territory governments through the COAG Energy Council to ensure these contracts are signed.

The package of measures announced today builds on the ACCC’s July report, Restoring electricity affordability and Australia’s competitive advantage.

The report found that the National Energy Market is not operating in the best interests of consumers and needs reform, in particular around competition and affordability.

Our plan will lower power prices, supporting Australians struggling with the cost of living, and back small businesses so they can take advantage of new opportunities and employ more people.

The Government is also developing legislation to implement a strong regime to monitor electricity prices including:

  • empowering the ACCC to recommend a range of enforcement remedies;
  • empowering the Treasurer to order the divestiture of assets on advice from the ACCC; and
  • supporting the COAG Energy Council agenda through Commonwealth legislation if required.

We will also propose an ambitious agenda for the COAG Energy Council including:

  • introducing a market cap on generation ownership;
  • increasing transparency in the wholesale contract market;
  • introducing higher penalties for breaches of the National Electricity Law and related laws, of up to $10 million; and
  • increasing the AER’s powers to investigate market manipulation and impose appropriate remedies.

Adam Bandt says Wentworth is a lesson—plan for coal exit or get punished

Greens Co-Deputy Leader and spokesperson for climate change and energy Adam Bandt MP today said that the Wentworth by-election result makes it clear that if you’re a government without a plan to tackle climate change, you need to plan for your inevitable demise. On Monday, Bandt re-iterated that an election is required as soon as possible so action can finally be taken on climate change and to end the torture on Nauru.

“The Wentworth result is the canary in the coal mindset. If you don’t have a plan to get off coal and onto renewables, voters will punish you,” said Mr Bandt.

“Even Australia’s richest electorate knows that you can’t make money if the planet is cooked.

“Voters have heard the scientists’ message that we need to shut two thirds of coal-fired power stations by 2030.

“I won’t be offering support to the Morrison Government. It’s time to go to an election.

“It’s clear that people have had enough of this rotten government’s agenda.

“We’re also one step closer to getting kids and their families off Nauru.

“If Labor got behind the crossbench bill in Parliament today, we could bring kids and their families here to receive the medical attention they need before Christmas.

Greens call to Reduce conflict between water used in coal/gas mining, and the environment and agriculture: Senate Committee

The final report of a Senate Inquiry into water use by mining operations has recommended expanding Commonwealth control over water use, and dramatically improving understanding of water use by mining industries to help reduce the conflict between water use by mining operations, and agriculture and the environment.

“Australia is at a crossroads – large parts of our country are facing extreme drought, yet the fossil fuel mining industry is taking billions of litres of water which would otherwise be available for our regional communities and the environment,” said Chair of the Committee, Australian Greens Senator Janet Rice.

A key recommendation of the Inquiry is to expand the application of the ‘water trigger’. Currently only coal and coal-seam gas projects projects need to be assessed by the Commonwealth. The Senate Committee recommends that the use of the water trigger be expanded to include all unconventional gas projects.

Other recommendations include prioritising a better knowledge of the cumulative impacts of projects, more funding for the Department of Energy and Environment to monitor and ensure compliance by the fossil fuel industry, and publishing real time data so the community knows just how much water is actually being used by mining.

“This report demonstrates that massive and poorly regulated mining projects using billions of litres of water each year are in direct conflict with a healthy environment and agricultural production.”

“I’m pleased that Labor supported many of the recommendations in the report. But the recommendations don’t go far enough. We need a phase-out of coal and unconventional gas to better protect our water resources.”

“And we absolutely must stop projects like the Adani coal mine, which has recently been granted an unlimited water licence to extract 12.5 billion litres of water per year from the drought-stricken Suttor River, on top of its licence to use unlimited amounts of groundwater. This is just obscene and untenable.”

“Both major parties have taken millions from the fossil fuel industry. In return the major parties are continuing to prop up polluting and dying industries like coal. This must stop.”

“For the health of our agriculture industry and environment, the major parties need to get their hands out of the pockets of fossil fuel corporations.”