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“If Scott Morrison works in good faith with the Greens and Labor, we could end these outdated exemptions by the end of this week.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

NSW Labor pledges $1 billion fund to upgrade train stations

Today, NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley announced a $1 billion fund to upgrade train stations, including providing lift access and commuter carparks.

Right now, stations in need of upgrades have been ignored under the Berejiklian Government.

In 2013, a list of 100 priority projects was created. Since then, only five have had lifts installed.

Yet, in June, the Innovation and Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean was caught on video confessing to constituents that “skullduggery and manoeuvring” led to Hawkesbury River Station being bumped as many as 150 places up the priority list.

Our announcement comes as new documents have revealed that 14 of the top 30 stations in need of a disability upgrade have been deferred by the Liberal Government.

We understand that public transport should be accessible to all NSW residents.

That’s why Labor will commit $1 billion to complete these vital upgrades and allow access for all train commuters.

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.

Woman dies in hospital after Charlestown stolen car crash

A woman has died in hospital after a crash involving a stolen car at Charlestown in September.

Just before 2am on Friday 21 September 2018, a stolen Subaru WRX was travelling north along the Pacific Highway when it lost control near the intersection of Frederick Street and crashed into a service station and an unattended parked car.

Emergency services attended and the three occupants of the car were taken to John Hunter Hospital.

The driver, a 24-year-old man from Taree and his rear-seat passenger, a 32-year-old woman from Gateshead, were both in a serious but stable condition at the time they were taken to hospital.

The woman was pregnant at the time of the crash.

The front-seat passenger, a 22-year-old man, also from Gateshead, had suffered minor injuries and was released a short time later.

On Friday (12 October 2018), the 32-year-old woman, died in John Hunter Hospital.

The 24-year-old man remains in hospital in a stable condition.

Police from Newcastle Crash Investigation Unit continue with inquiries into the incident.

A report will be prepared for the Coroner.

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.”