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.”

NSW GOVERNMENT BUILDS THOUSANDS MORE SOCIAL HOUSING HOMES

Under the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government the total number of social housing homes has increased by 11,480 since Labor’s time in power, according to the Australian Productivity Commission and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Social Housing Pru Goward today toured a new development in Westmead, which will provide 67 new units to people currently on the social housing waiting list and others in need of affordable housing.

A number of properties on the site are being managed by St George Community Housing under the NSW Government’s $1.1 billion Social and Affordable Housing Fund, which will provide 3400 additional homes across NSW for vulnerable families.

“The Labor Government reduced the total number of social housing dwellings by more than 600 a year in its last term in office. Since then, the number of social housing homes has increased by more than 1600 a year,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“The Labor Government sold off social housing without a comprehensive strategy to re-invest the funds into new, fit-for-purpose housing. Our Future Directions social housing program will continue to increase the number of homes, build better communities and improve the quality of social housing in NSW.

“The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is embarking on the biggest social housing construction program in Australia, building almost 27,000 social and affordable homes over ten years.”

Ms Goward said the proceeds of the Millers Point sales has already added new social housing properties in locations such as Penrith, Blacktown, Parramatta, Ryde, Canada Bay, Lane Cove, Bankstown and Sutherland, with hundreds more under construction.

“Each sale has resulted in almost five new and fit-for-purpose homes being built, which helps many of our most vulnerable families on the social housing waiting list find safe and secure housing,” Ms Goward said.

“The NSW Government is committed to ensuring the most vulnerable people in our community have a place to live and are supported to break the cycle of disadvantage.”

Greens Protest Australia’s Richest Greyhound Race Citing Animal Cruelty

Australian Greens Animal Welfare Spokesperson, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, will speak at a protest tomorrow afternoon outside the Wentworth Park, to protest the ‘Million Dollar Chase’ and the $500,000 in taxpayer funds for the event. Senator Faruqi is one of the leading voices against the cruel greyhound racing industry.

When: Saturday, 20th October at 5pm

Where: Millard Reserve 38 Wentworth Park Rd, Glebe, Opposite Wentworth Park.

More Information: https://www.facebook.com/events/1089839827846195/

Senator Faruqi said: “Two years after the Liberals banned greyhound racing, we are now witnessing a race where they are shamelessly throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars of public money at.

“This is such a slap in the face of the community who has been fighting hard to end the cruelty. It is a slap in the face of those incredible, kind and compassionate greyhound rescuers who take in and look after these beautiful animals who have been mistreated so badly.

“It is nothing other than complete arrogance from a government so completely out of touch and an opposition who do not care about animals, and they don’t care about the people they represent. The only thing they care about is their donors and their powerful pals—the gambling industry, big business and media shock jocks.

“They don’t care that trainers continually engage in cruel training practices. In just a three months period, 26 trainers were charged, including for drugging of greyhounds, arsenic, unauthorised export of greyhounds, extreme animal cruelty and live baiting. Imagine how many are happening that aren’t caught,” she concluded.

Greens say it will be A vote for change at the Wentworth by-election

The Wentworth by-election has become a referendum on climate change and refugees and is a unique opportunity to send a message to the Liberals who don’t deserve to govern.

Our Greens candidate has run a great campaign. It’s important to turn out tomorrow and to vote for our excellent Greens candidate, Dom WY Kanak, if you want action on climate change and refugees.

After that I urge voters to take note of Kerryn’s progressive views on refugees and climate change which are a welcome change from both the major parties.

With the Government at risk of losing this seat and Labor running dead, people can vote Green and choose Kerryn over yet another Liberal backbencher.

LNP DELIVERING TAX RELIEF FOR SMALL & MEDIUM-SIZED BUSINESSES

Millions of small and medium–sized businesses across Australia will pay less tax five years sooner, with new laws fast-tracking tax relief for the sector passing Parliament today.

This is great news for the 3.3 million small and medium-sized businesses and the seven million Australians they employ.

This means businesses will keep more of their own money – that’s money they can invest back into their business, to create jobs, to boost their productivity and grow.

From 2021-22, a business with a turnover below $50 million will have a tax rate of just 25 per cent, five years earlier than planned. Similar timing changes will also apply to the roll out of the 16 per cent tax discount for unincorporated businesses.

For example, a small business such as a café that makes $100,000 profit will have an additional $1,500 in 2020-21 and $2,500 in 2021-22.

Fast-tracking tax relief is part of our plan for a stronger economy and will drive more investment, more jobs and higher wages and builds on the first stage of business tax relief that our Government delivered in May 2017.

Our plan to fast-track tax relief for Australian businesses is an important investment in the future economic growth of our nation.

The Coalition Government’s economic plan is delivering, the economy is growing at 3.4 per cent through the year, our AAA credit rating has been reaffirmed and more than a million jobs have been created, as promised.

LNP says a Record number of Australians are in work

The latest labour force figures show that the Coalition Government’s plan for a stronger economy is working.

The latest figures, released today by the ABS, show that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell by 0.3 percentage points over the month, to stand at 5.0 per cent in September – the lowest level since April 2012.

Seasonally adjusted employment now stands at a record high of 12,636,300, and is 280,900 higher than it was a year ago.

Full-time employment increased strongly, by 20,300 over the month, to stand at a record high of 8,654,400, and is now 217,500 higher than it was a year ago.

Encouragingly, female full-time employment is at a record high of 3,178,300.

“These figures show that the Coalition Government’s plan for a stronger economy is working,” the Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations, the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP, said.

“1,149,600 jobs have been created since the Coalition came to office in 2013, an increase of 10 per cent.

“In contrast to our approach, Bill Shorten and Labor want to hit Australians’ hip pockets with $200 billion worth of taxes on electricity, workers, housing, savings, investments and retirement.”

Greens Call for Newstart Increase

Newstart is currently just $38 a day – and it hasn’t changed since 1994. People are living in poverty and this has to change.

The fact is people don’t want to be on Newstart that want work. People seeking work deserve to be supported adequately, and living in poverty  is a barrier to work. Those seeking work should be able to afford the essentials, the current payment of less than $40 a day doesn’t cover that.

It’s disappointing that both major parties are refusing to budge in this space when people are clearly living in poverty.

The Government and the Labor party need to find the political will and exercise some compassion and common sense. It is accepted by all major stakeholders that the payment is too low and that needs to change.

Greens say Leigh Creek Energy project must be stopped

A team of senators from the Morrison Government, the Labor party, and Nick Xenophon’s Centre Alliance has rejected a motion calling for a ban on dangerous underground coal gasification. It followed a protest at Leigh Creek Energy’s AGM today.

“It is a disgrace that the Morrison Government, the Labor party and Nick Xenophon’s Centre Alliance teamed up today to vote down a motion that called on a ban to underground coal gasification. They were faced with the facts of the disastrous effects UCG has on communities and still backed poison over people,” Greens environment spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“Passionate activists and community advocates are working hard to put an end to this poisonous practice in Leigh Creek. The Greens  will continue to fight in the Parliament for a nation-wide ban, in the hope that the environmental disaster seen in Queensland is never repeated.

“Poisoning the water table and contaminating soil and air for the sake of profits that will mostly go offshore does not fly with the South Australian community. It is widely known that this toxic practice is not only harmful to the environment, but it makes workers sick and has been linked to some cancers.

“Queensland has acknowledged what a gross error it made when it allowed underground coal gasification to go ahead, and it was revealed yesterday that taxpayers are forced to pay the clean-up bill. It is devastating that the project ever got the go-ahead in South Australia.

“The Greens will continue to fight against this toxic project, and stand up for the community in Leigh Creek, and the traditional owners who want this project stopped.”

Greens Senate motion:

The Senate—

a)            notes that Leigh Creek Energy have produced their first syngas using underground coal gasification (UCG);

b)            notes that UCG was banned in 2016 in Queensland after the Linc Energy disaster in Chinchilla, which was declared Queensland’s worst environmental disaster;

c)            notes further that UCG has been responsible for incidents of poisoning the water table and contaminating soil and air and has been linked to an increase in cancers, including lung and breast cancers.

Calls on the government to urgently intervene and stop the Leigh Creek project from progressing any further and ban UCG across the country.

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young

Janet Rice on Greens bill to remove discrimination against LGBT+ students and staff in religious schools

I’m proud to rise to speak on this Greens bill, the Discrimination Free Schools Bill, which would remove exemptions from our federal anti-discrimination laws that currently allow religious schools to expel lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or gender-diverse students and to fire LGBT teachers and staff members simply because of who they are. The Greens have been fighting for years to end these exemptions. They were written into our anti-discrimination laws by the Labor Party and have persisted for far too long. These exemptions must be removed.

Imagine being a student at a religious school and knowing that, if you come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, gender-diverse or non-binary, you risk being expelled. Imagine the extra stress and burden that that places on you at a time when you’re already feeling particularly vulnerable. The majority of Australians have been unaware of these discriminatory exemptions, but for LGBT+ people working at religious schools, many of them have gone to work each day knowing that, should they come out or let slip something that they shouldn’t, or somehow have their sexuality or their gender identity discovered, they risk being fired and losing their job—just because of who they are. These exemptions have a devastating impact on people’s lives.

Over the past week, so many people have come forward sharing their stories. We’ve heard how some teachers and staff members have been forced back into the closet as soon as they’ve been offered a job.

We’ve heard how they’ve feared holding their partner’s hand in public in case they bump into a colleague or a student who could out them, which would see them lose their job and their livelihood. We also know that LGBT+ people already suffer worse mental health than their heterosexual and cisgendered peers, because of the stress of things like these exemptions, which mean they could be expelled from their school or fired from their workplace.

Rainbow Families Victoria have collected stories of LGBT+ families whose lives are being affected by our current discriminatory laws and have shared them with members and senators. A future stepmother of five children, who’s engaged to her same-sex partner, spoke out this week saying:

I teach at a conservative Catholic primary school. I am constantly afraid that someone will find out and that I will lose my job. I am the main income earner and my employment is incredibly important. I worry that I will lose my job. I worry that my employer won’t give me a good reference if she finds out. This could affect my future employment opportunities. I feel like a criminal and I have done nothing wrong.

For others, these discriminatory exemptions have prevented them from applying for their dream jobs. Tim Hoffmann in my home state of Victoria shared his story with The Age earlier this week:

I have a Masters in Theology and want to teach in religious schools. However, I will never apply. I have absolutely no chance as, though I’m Christian, I am an openly gay man.

It was almost a year ago that the marriage equality postal survey results came in showing that the majority of Australians supported ending the discrimination in our marriage laws and making marriage equality a reality. It was a hard-fought and, for many queer Australians, personally difficult win but it confirmed what we had known for years—that Australian people have opened their hearts and truly embraced their LGBTIQ+ family members, friends and colleagues. For years now the majority of Australians have stood side-by-side with LGBTIQ members of our community in our fight for equality and against discrimination, and on this issue it is no different. A Fairfax poll released this week showed that an overwhelming majority, 74 per cent, of Australians oppose this discrimination. I am so heartened and unsurprised that the vast majority of Australians do not support this legalised discrimination against LGBT Australians.

Our parliament must support the people we represent and fix up these discriminatory laws. Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ordered the Ruddock religious freedom review last year as parliament moved to legislate for marriage equality. It was said that he did this as a sop to the right-wing hate-filled conservatives who continue to fight against equality until the very end, but it now seems the Ruddock review has not quite turned out the way they thought. It’s only through the review’s recommendations being leaked that the Australian people have been alerted to these discriminatory exemptions that have sat within our antidiscrimination laws for many years.

This Saturday, voters in the seat of Wentworth will be going to the polls to elect their new representative to replace former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Despite the Liberals comfortably winning this seat in 2016 there is a very real chance the Liberals will lose Wentworth this Saturday, because the people of Wentworth are shocked by what this Liberal government has done—its devastating inaction on climate change, its ongoing torture of people seeking asylum and its interference with and funding cuts to the ABC. In the Liberals’ desperation to cling on in Wentworth we’ve seen them release some shocking policies in the lead-up to this Saturday, yet we are still to see Prime Minister Scott Morrison release the full report of the Ruddock review, because the Liberals are afraid of drawing more attention to their awful policies towards LGBTIQ people. Ruddock is a former Liberal government minister after all. His review quite reasonably can be seen as a reflection of where this government is currently at with regard to allowing and entrenching discrimination.

We have now heard both Labor and the Liberals speak up big over the last week about how we need to make sure that LGBT students are not discriminated against. I was pleased to hear from Minister Cormann that he is now going to move quickly to amend legislation to stop the discrimination against LGBT students. It has been wonderful to see this backflip in the Liberals’ position. It has also been wonderful to see the Labor Party come out to say that their position now is to end discrimination against students and to end discrimination against teachers and other staff. But it has only been because of the intense community pressure that both the Labor and the Liberal parties have changed their positions over the last fortnight.

So, us bringing on this debate today is a very important opportunity. It’s an opportunity to get the government and the Labor opposition on the record about ending this discrimination before the pressure comes off after the vote in Wentworth on Saturday. We heard Minister Cormann say that, yes, he was happy. The government are going to move to end discrimination against students. But when it comes to teachers and other staff, he is silent. Despite the impact that this discrimination is having on teachers and staff at schools, the government remain silent. One can only presume that their intention is to continue to prosecute the case for allowing those discriminations to continue on in our antidiscrimination laws, to allow the continuation of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teachers and other staff.

We’ve got the Wentworth by-election coming up, and it’s important that the voters of Wentworth know, because they overwhelmingly voted for equality and against discrimination in the marriage equality postal survey last year. Wentworth delivered an 81 per cent yes vote in the postal survey last year. So they deserve to know. Through this debate, they are able to hear where Labor and the Liberals stand before Wentworth goes to the polls this Saturday.

I’m really proud of the bill that we are debating today. It would remove exemptions not just for students at religious schools but for all teachers and staff members as well. And it would not just work to protect students, teachers and staff members on the basis of their sexuality and their sexual orientation but also on their gender identity. Trans and gender diverse people have hardly been mentioned in the public debate over the last fortnight. We must ensure that trans and gender diverse students cannot be expelled because of their gender identity and that trans and gender diverse teachers and other staff members aren’t able to be fired.

Yesterday Prime Minister Morrison said, and I quote: ‘We must act right now. We can deal with this once and for all.’ Well, Mr Prime Minister, you have an opportunity to act right now and remove this unfair discrimination once and for all. To do act now and particularly once and for all means we’ve got to remove discrimination against students but also against teachers and other staff. We need to do it now. Labor and Liberal must turn their words into action and vote for this bill, vote for our Greens bill, to protect students, teachers and other staff members from being expelled or fired by religious schools just because of who they are. So I call on both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to work with us in good faith and support this Greens bill today—no ifs, no buts. Together, we can end this unfair discrimination once and for all.