CULTURAL PROBLEMS IN THE SAS MUST BE ADDRESSED

Australian Greens Peace & Disarmament spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John said today that the scope of the Office of the Special Investigator’s remit must be broad so that it can examine the conduct of all levels of command within the SAS and ADF, not just individuals mentioned in the Brereton Inquiry Report.

“The Office of the Special Investigator and their investigations must be completely independent, operate with full transparency and have the powers to examine all levels of command. It is unacceptable for this critical investigation to be led by an individual with professional or personal ties to the ADF,” Steele-John.

“With everything we’ve heard today from the Prime Minister, and from Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith’s defamation case against the Nine Newspapers, it is abundantly clear that there are significant cultural problems within the SAS that must be addressed.

“It is alleged on the public record that innocent people have lost their lives at the hands of Australian soldiers; the individuals responsible must lose more than just their medals and the Australian people must know to what extent those allegations are true.

“But, this is clearly not just a couple of isolated incidents, within a single SAS unit by a couple of rogue soldiers; these alleged incidents are the symptom of a much deeper cultural problem within the SAS.

“The Brereton Inquiry Report must be made public in full and not redacted to within an inch of being read by the public in any meaningful way. Australians deserve to know the truth.”

SERVICE NSW CUSTOMER CHECK-IN SOLUTION A STEP CLOSER

The Service NSW app is being retooled to include a QR code to allow customers to check in at hospitality venues across NSW, ensuring contact tracers can quickly access customer details and keep people safe.

Customers will be able to use the Service NSW app to check-in at hospitality venues in Dubbo and those owned by Merivale, thanks to a trial of the technology going live this week.

Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said the technology would make life easier for business and customers.

“Digital record keeping is a no brainer – it’s safer, saves time and helps officials for contact tracing purposes,” Mr Dominello said.

“Any registered COVID Safe business will be issued a unique QR code which customers can scan using their Service NSW app. It will also be used for customer and staff check-ins in over 100 Service NSW Centres across the state.

“This automatically captures the date, time and location, and securely stores them on a Service NSW database for 28 days for the sole purpose of COVID tracing in the event of an outbreak.”

Mr Dominello said the technology would also be trialled at NSW venues owned by hospitality group Merivale.

“We want to help businesses and customers to make the check-in experience as seamless and consistent as possible,” Mr Dominello said.

“The purpose of the trial in Dubbo is to test and refine the technology in a live environment to ensure it delivers the best experience for customers and businesses while also aiding the vital work of our NSW Health contact tracing team.

“I thank Merivale and all the local businesses in Dubbo for their involvement in the trial.”

The trial will help inform a state wide rollout of the check-in technology. More than five million customers have a MyServiceNSW Account and approximately 1.7 million customers already have the Service NSW app on their mobile phone.

HAVE YOUR SAY ON SYDNEY’S NEWEST PARK

The community is invited to help shape Sydney’s newest park, almost 10 hectares of open space on former inaccessible industrial land to be transformed as part of the Rozelle Interchange project.

Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said Rozelle residents would have access to this new space, similar in size to Victoria Park near Sydney University, to relax, exercise and enjoy the outdoors once the Rozelle Interchange is completed in 2023.

“It’s exciting to be delivering a new park for the people of Rozelle and neighbouring communities, and this is their chance to have a say about the revitalisation of this prominent location.” Mr Constance said

“Our goal is to create a treasured place for the community to enjoy including new walking, running and cycling tracks that connect to surrounding suburbs.”

A draft Urban Design Landscape Plan will go on public display from August 10 providing insight into how the park could look. Residents will have an opportunity to give feedback on its proposed landscape design, pedestrian and cyclist connections, playground equipment, fitness stations and lighting.

The park will be created on the former Rozelle rail yards, currently a project construction site.

A Technical Working Group will also be established, comprising NSW Government agencies and community members, to consider potential local sporting uses and the community’s needs.

“We want to work with the community and key stakeholders to understand their views on the ongoing use for the parklands such as community sporting facilities and playing surfaces,” Mr Constance said.

The Group will seek expressions of interest for community involvement in the coming weeks.

The Rozelle Interchange, part of the third stage of WestConnex, includes a new underground motorway interchange and underground bypass of Victoria Road between Iron Cove Bridge and Anzac Bridge. It will reduce traffic on Victoria Road by 50 per cent.

The project will create more than 15,000 jobs by the time it opens to traffic in late 2023.

Mr Constance said online community consultation would include two virtual presentations to give an overview of the Urban Design Landscape Plan, ensuring residents can have their say during COVID-19.

“This is a great opportunity to shape this unique project and I urge locals and those with an interest to get involved,” Mr Constance said

The plan can be accessed and commented on via the www.westconnex.com.au website from 9am on 10 August.

Greens call on Scott Morrison to pursue elimination strategy for COVID-19

Dr Richard Di Natale, Australian Greens health spokesperson, is today calling on the Prime Minister to adopt an elimination strategy for COVID-19 to keep restrictions in place until the rate of community transmission reaches zero.

“It’s now time to commit to eliminating COVID-19 from the community, and give Australians some level of certainty in the face of this pandemic.”

“We have already eliminated the virus in some states, which has allowed people to resume doing many of the things they love and provided some certainty for the business community,” said Dr Di Natale.

“The current suppression approach means allowing restrictions to loosen while there’s still virus circulating in the community. This is likely to involve a continuing cycle of see-sawing lockdowns as outbreaks pop up across the country, which means ongoing economic disruption and uncertainty.

“Here in Victoria, we have seen how quickly a handful of cases can turn into a second wave with devastating consequences for our community. Making our goal in Victoria elimination of the virus while we are already in a second lockdown will likely mean extending restrictions beyond six weeks. However, it’s a small price to pay if it means avoiding more lockdowns in the future and giving the business community some certainty.”

Key experts, including former secretary of the federal Department of Health and Director of the Health Program at the Grattan Institute Stephen Duckett, Professor Bill Bowtell and many others, are calling for governments to commit to an elimination approach. This would require restrictions to remain in place until the level of community transmission reaches zero and stays there.

“The current uncertainty in the community about the possibility of future lockdowns is bad for the community and bad for the economy. A clear roadmap towards the elimination of the virus in Australia would provide certainty for both people and the economy.”

REFORMS FOR A WORLD CLASS PLANNING SYSTEM

Drastically reduced planning assessment times, less red tape, and user friendly e-planning tools will help turbo-charge the economic recovery, through an $83 million NSW Planning Reform Action Plan revealed today.

Speaking at a Committee for Economic Development Australia (CEDA) event, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the plan would build on momentum created by the NSW Government’s efforts to use the planning system to keep people in jobs and keep the economy moving during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The planning system has proved an incredibly powerful tool in our fight against the economic impacts of the pandemic,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“This plan takes us into the next phase of reform, creating a system that is efficient, rigorous, supports our economy and our environment, is accessible online and is easy for anyone to use.”

The changes will slash times as follows;

  • Rezoning decisions cut by 191 days (33% time savings)
  • Decisions on Development Applications (DAs) for larger, regionally significant projects cut by 91 days (25% time savings)
  • Decisions on major projects of significance to the State cut by 20 days (17% time savings).

The Government has also invested almost $10 million to enhance its ePlanning platform and ensure all councils can get online to process DAs more quickly and transparently slash DA processing times by more than half.

“Homeowners can now lodge DAs online from the comfort of their home, making renovating quicker, easier and hassle-free,” Ms Berejiklian said.

All councils will have to adopt the online system by 1 July 2021.

Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said the NSW Planning Reform Action Plan builds on the momentum underway to create a more timely, certain and transparent planning system.

“In the past 10 weeks alone, we’ve approved projects worth more than $1 billion a week, unlocking the potential to create more than 30,000 jobs, 2 million sqm of open space and more than 8,000 new homes,” Mr Stokes said.

“This plan will cut unnecessary duplication of processes and boost resources in our assessment team, so that we can keep as many people in jobs and keep our State moving both now and in the months and years ahead.

“NSW Government agencies are also on notice as part of this plan both to reduce the number of unnecessary concurrences and referrals cases, and reduce those that are outside statutory timeframes, with support from the newly established Planning Delivery Unit that is unblocking projects that are stuck in the system.”

The NSW Planning Reform Action Plan also includes:

  • Implementing the next phase of the ePlanning Program to make it easier to interact with the planning system;
  • A reduction in applications requiring agency concurrences and referrals, and new benchmark timeframes on key assessment and planning functions;
  • Complying development reforms to support emerging industries and fast track government projects; and
  • Boost the role and resourcing of the Land and Environment Court by establishing a new class of appeals for rezonings to help unblock the planning system and appoint an additional two commissioners to enable more cases to be heard each year.

For more information on the Planning Reform Action Plan visit www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Planning-reforms

LABOR WILL REVERSE MORRISON’S ABC CUTS TO SAVE REGIONAL JOBS

An Albanese Labor Government will reverse Scott Morrison’s $83.7 million cut to the ABC to save regional jobs, protect critical emergency broadcasting and support local news and content.

ABC emergency coverage saved lives during the summer bushfires and staff came off leave to ensure Australians were kept informed. Now 250 dedicated ABC staff face the sack as a result of Scott Morrison’s cuts.

Labor Leader Anthony Albanese will make the announcement in Eden-Monaro today with Labor candidate Kristy McBain.

This builds on Labor’s pledge to improve broadcast coverage across Eden-Monaro with a focus on ABC local radio black spots, as well as power back-up for broadcasting transmission facilities so they work for longer during natural disasters.

The ABC has worked tirelessly to support regional communities across Australia, particularly through drought, bushfires and now coronavirus. Labor thanks hardworking ABC staff for their dedication.

This Saturday, the people of Eden-Monaro have the chance to send the Government a message: Don’t cut ABC jobs, regional news or emergency broadcasting.

The only way to ensure a strong voice for Eden-Monaro and the ABC is to vote for Labor’s Kristy McBain.

Rio Tinto must sack boss and front Environment Committee: Greens

The Australian Greens have called on the chief executive of Rio Tinto Iron Ore, Chris Salisbury, to resign or be sacked over the growing scandal regarding his company’s destruction of the sacred Pilbara site.

The Greens will also move for Rio Tinto and the Federal Environment Minister to be called before the Senate Environment References Committee.

“The mining industry in WA have a long history of disregard of First Nations peoples connection to their sacred sites and land. The Aboriginal Heritage Act in WA is so weak because of the mining industry influence and their agenda of prioritising profit and access to land over all else,” Greens spokesperson on First Nations issues Rachel Siewert said.

“This site was knowingly destroyed and someone must be held accountable. Rio Tinto knew this site was of deep cultural significance and should have been protected, not blown up.

“This time Rio Tinto have been caught out and they will be held accountable.

“This must be the last time this wanton destruction occurs. All laws must be strengthened to ensure this never happens again.

“I am deeply upset for the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people.”

“After this morning’s train wreck of an interview it is clear that Chris Salisbury needs to resign or be sacked,” Greens Leader Adam Bandt MP said.

“Rio can not just wash its hands and move on. They can’t walk away from this. Responsibility rests at the top and they need to be held accountable.

“Continuing to obfuscate and pretend they didn’t know what they were doing is just further injury.”

Chair of the Senate Environment References Committee Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the Greens will move for Rio Tinto and the Federal Environment Minister to be called before the committee.

“Rio Tinto needs to be held to account for what they have done and the Environment Minister has serious questions to answer about her involvement or lack thereof,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

“It seems lots of people knew about this and nobody did anything to stop it.

“More than 40000 years of heritage and history has been destroyed. If it was Stonehenge or the Pyramids there would be global outrage.

“Every Australian should be angry that our nation’s history has been trashed in the name of corporate profit.

“This has happened on Sussan Ley’s watch and if we are going to stop such wanton destruction from happening again we need to know what went so wrong and what changes are needed to the law to make this type of destruction illegal.”

New And Stronger Energy Laws To Put Australian Families And Small Businesses First

The Morrison Government’s new measures to deal with misconduct in the electricity sector and ensure Australian households, businesses and industries get a fair deal on energy are now in force.

For too long, electricity companies have, in the words of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), “played a major role in poor outcomes for consumers”.

To address this, the ‘Big Stick’ legislation which holds the energy companies to account for misconduct comes into effect today, six months after royal assent and will drive down energy prices and strengthen supply.

The ‘Big Stick’ legislation will ensure reductions in wholesale costs are passed on to customers, while penalties will apply for anti-competitive behaviour or moves to manipulate electricity prices.

This new law comes at an important time, with an increased number of households and small businesses experiencing hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ACCC will be responsible for enforcing the legislation, and will have a graduated range of penalties at its disposal to punish misconduct ranging from public warnings and court ordered fines.

For the most egregious breaches, the legislation makes available two additional significant remedies:

  • Treasurer-issued contracting orders that will require electricity companies to offer electricity financial contracts to third parties; and
  • Federal Court ordered divestiture orders relating to misconduct in the wholesale market.

This legislation is part of the Government’s plan to deliver a fairer, more affordable and reliable energy system and a stronger economy for all Australians. This includes:

  • Establishing an ongoing ACCC inquiry into the National Electricity Market to 2025.
  • Introducing the Government’s Default Market Offer ‘price safety net’, leading to reductions in both standing offers and high-priced market offers for Australian families and small businesses.
  • Getting rid of sneaky late payment penalties.
  • Extending the Consumer Data Right to energy, to make it easier for consumers to switch energy providers to get a better deal.
  • Progressing the Underwriting New Generation Investments program to improve competition and reduce wholesale prices.
  • Establishing a new $1 billion Grid Reliability Fund, to support Government investment in new energy generation, storage and transmission infrastructure.

More information about the new laws is available at energy.gov.au

JOB CREATION THE REMEDY TO COVID RECESSION

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the state’s focus on job creation in its economic response to COVID-19 was the right approach to recovering from Australia’s first recession in almost thirty years.

National account figures out yesterday indicated consumer and business confidence had fallen to their lowest levels on record, reflecting the combined impacts of the drought and bushfires, as well as the beginning of COVID-19 social distancing and travel restrictions. In NSW, ABS data showed NSW state final demand (SFD) fell by -1.5 per cent in the March quarter, the weakest result in 20 years.

Mr Perrottet said the figures were worrying but not unexpected given the impact the pandemic has had on spending, with household consumption down 1.6 per cent, partly offset by a 1.8 per cent increase in government financial support.

“Right from the start of this pandemic, we’ve said we’ve got to keep our infrastructure projects moving and keep people in jobs and businesses in business,” Mr Perrottet said. “That’s why our pipeline has increased to over $100 billion and this will be an infrastructure led recovery.”

“We’ve allocated almost $11 billion in self-funded stimulus support measures – more than any other state – and we’re committed to supporting projects that create jobs across NSW.”

Mr Perrottet said figures for the next quarter are unlikely to be much better and the end of the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program in September is likely to see a further increase in unemployment.

“When hundreds of thousands of people are losing their jobs, we need to divert every dollar to create many more jobs through stimulus programs.”

“That’s why we need to hit the pause button on public sector pay rises so that we can get thousands of people off the Centrelink queues and back to work.”

“Household saving increases during times of crisis and a pay-rise would only boost that. What we really need right now is more jobs, jobs, jobs.”

“The only people who are unaware we are in a pandemic-induced recession is the NSW Labor party and they need to get with the program or get out of the way.”

The GDP result is expected to be just the start of bleak economic figures for the country, with the next set of national accounts figures due out in September.