TIME FOR ACTION ON A NATIONAL INTEGRITY COMMISSION

Today, the Leader of the Opposition has written to the Prime Minister urging him to agree to a bipartisan taskforce, led by the Attorney-General and Shadow Attorney-General, to create a National Integrity Commission.

At the beginning of 2018, Labor announced our plan to legislate for a federal anti-corruption body. All year, the Government has ignored our requests for cooperation.

This issue should be above politics. The time has come for the Liberal and National parties to support a federal anti-corruption body.

A bipartisan process would help ensure the complex consultation and design work can be completed swiftly, and a body established as a priority.

In recent years there has been a loss of public faith in government and Commonwealth institutions. The Liberal Party’s chaos and division have further eroded Australians’ trust in politics.

Labor welcomes the support of members of the cross-bench for a federal anti-corruption body. This provides an opportunity to secure broad parliamentary support to establish a National Integrity Commission before the next election, if Scott Morrison and the Liberals finally come on board.

Mr Morrison delayed the Banking Royal Commission by voting against it 26 times. He should not let his arrogance and stubbornness get in the way of a National Integrity Commission.

Mr Morrison should learn from his mistakes, and join with Labor now so we can work on this issue together.

We are prepared to work with the Liberals, but we will not wait for them.

If Mr Morrison continues to block a National Integrity Commission, a Shorten Labor Government will deliver it.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

Greens say Four cents a week for women won’t improve financial security

The Government’s attempt at winning back female support with its women’s economic statement today will fail for its lack of funding and lack of vision, Greens spokesperson for women, Senator Larissa Waters said.

“The women’s economic security statement by the Women’s Minister today contains only minor reforms and pittance of new funding – it equates to a mere four cents per week for adult Australian women. Four cents a week will not fix anything for Australian women.

“The Prime Minister is still nowhere on addressing issues women face, and has been utterly silent on the gender pay gap, rates of domestic violence, and has denied internal bullying of women. His only utterance has been teen-worthy sexualised remarks about Pamela Anderson, for which he still hasn’t apologised.

“Making paid parental leave more flexible is inconsequential when it is still limited to 18 weeks not 6 months, still doesn’t encourage fathers to take more time with their children, and still doesn’t include Super.

“Accessing super early when fleeing DV will still be complex and will simply worsen women’s financial security later in life. And while moves to stop alleged perpetrators cross-examining survivors are welcome, they are long overdue and don’t address the need for vastly more funding so women can access the legal support they need, rather than 40 per cent of callers being turned away.

“What Australian women need to be safe is paid domestic violence leave, a massive funding boost for frontline domestic violence crisis services so no woman is turned away, leadership to drive cultural change so that women are viewed as equals in society, and decent funding for primary prevention of DV.

“What Australian women need to be equal is longer paid parental leave with superannuation, employers to be forced to disclose and close their gender pay gap, equal representation in parliaments and on boards, increased rate of Newstart and for single parents not to be forced onto lower Newstart, affordable and accessible childcare, fairer superannuation taxation, and the right to make decisions about our reproductive health.

“What Australian women need is to not be invisible to Prime Minister Morrison. Get on board or get out of the way,” concluded Senator Waters.

Greens call on PM Scott Morrison to apologise to trans and gender diverse Australians on Trans Day of Remembrance

On this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, Greens LGBTIQ+ spokesperson Senator Janet Rice acknowledged the importance of the day and paid her respects to the trans and gender diverse people who are no longer with us.

Senator Rice also called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to apologise to all trans and gender diverse Australians for the hurt and damage his past actions have caused.

“This Trans Day of Remembrance I remember the beautiful trans and gender diverse people we have lost because our society refused to celebrate them,” Senator Rice said.

“It is devastating that in Australia and around the world trans and gender diverse people continue to face daily discrimination, violence and vilification.

“Is this any wonder when transphobic, hateful bigots like Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro have been elected into high office around the world?

“Here in Australia we have a Prime Minister who labelled a program to help teachers support trans and gender diverse kids as ‘gender whispering’, saying we should ‘let kids be kids’.

“These kind of statements from our Prime Minister and elected leaders contribute to trans and gender diverse people suffering worse mental health outcomes than their cisgender peers and the high rate of self-harm and suicide of trans and gender diverse people.

“I call on the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, to use today to reflect on the hurt and damage his past actions have caused and apologise to trans and gender diverse Australians.”

Senator Rice also recommitted the Greens to working with the trans and gender diverse community to fight discrimination and realise their rights.

“To trans and gender diverse Australians I say the Greens will always fight alongside you to make your lives easier and safer, so you can thrive and access the health and support services you require.

$51.5 Million Boost to pursue Criminal Prosecutions for Financial Misconduct

The Liberal National Government is providing an additional $51.5 million to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) and the Federal Court of Australia to enable further prosecutions of criminal misconduct by banks and other financial institutions and to ensure civil claims are dealt with effectively and expeditiously.

ASIC’s increased enforcement activity, stemming from the additional $70 million in funding from the Liberal National Government, is expected to give rise to more prosecutions by the CDPP and more civil corporate misconduct cases before the Federal Court. This includes cases highlighted by the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

As part of this funding boost, an additional $41.6 million will be provided to the CDPP over eight years. This funding will allow the CDPP to consider more prosecutions put forward by ASIC and hire additional prosecutors to manage the increased caseload. This additional funding will also allow the CDPP to prosecute cases faster to ensure individuals and companies that have broken the law face justice sooner.

A further $9.9 million will also be provided to the Federal Court of Australia over four years to fund the appointment of additional resources including two new judges to support civil cases. These appointments will enable the Federal Court to accommodate an increase in disputes with financial institutions as well as civil claims resulting from ASIC’s increased enforcement activity.

The Government has also asked the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) to conduct a review of whether the Federal Court’s criminal jurisdiction should be expanded to include corporate crime. Any criminal prosecutions for misconduct by banks and other financial institutions are currently heard in state courts and hence have to compete with state cases for resources and scheduling. The creation of this additional criminal jurisdiction in the Federal Court would allow these prosecutions to be prioritised and penalties for breaches of the law to be handed out faster. The AGD will consult with relevant stakeholders including the states in undertaking the review and provide its report to the Government in January next year.

Further, the Government will establish a Committee of Regulatory Enforcement Strategy chaired by the Attorney-General’s Department and comprising representatives from the relevant agencies that regulate the financial services sector. These agencies will meet on a regular basis to discuss enforcement matters in the sector and provide feedback to the Government on regulatory and civil enforcement policy.

These initiatives and the additional funding underscore the Liberal National Government’s commitment to ensuring that these agencies and our broader justice system are appropriately resourced to effectively hold banks and other financial institutions to account for misconduct. A strong financial sector which is trusted by Australians is part of the Coalition’s plan for a stronger economy.

NATION’S FIRST YOUTH HOSPICE A STEP CLOSER

A first look at Australia’s first ever hospice for young adults, to be built on the Manly Hospital site, has been unveiled today by the NSW Government.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Member for Manly James Griffin also launched a community fundraising program for the Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice.

“This will be a purpose-built, first-of-its-kind facility, which will provide 24/7 support to young people and their families,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“The NSW Government will provide $2 million each year to contribute to the operating costs of this revolutionary facility to cater for older teens and young adults from across NSW who suffer a life-limiting illness.”

The hospice will be specifically designed for adolescents and young adults with life-limiting conditions requiring short-term respite care, symptom management or end-of-life care.

It will provide a welcoming environment with a flexible design to suit each individual, be light-filled with easy access to outdoor areas, and have the latest digital technology for connecting with friends and family.

Mr Hazzard said the facility will work closely with Bear Cottage, Manly’s renowned children’s hospice that is also unique to NSW, to assist families caring for young people as they become adults.

“This hospice will fill a much-needed gap for young people who outgrow Bear Cottage or are diagnosed with life-limiting conditions as a young adult,” Mr Hazzard said.

“The NSW Government is committed to providing appropriate palliative care services right across the State and that includes for our young people transitioning from paediatric to adult care.”

Last year the NSW Government committed an additional $100 million over four years on top of the record $210 million a year for palliative and end-of-life care services.

Mr Griffin said the NSW Government is thrilled with the positive response received from the community and that several generous benefactors had already pledged significant funds towards the capital cost of building the facility, and he urged others to also give.

“This new hospice has tremendous community support and demonstrates our commitment to provide vital health services on this site into the future,” Mr Griffin said.

“The challenges these families face are enormous. More than a quarter of the admissions to Bear Cottage in the past year have been of young people aged over 16, and there’s no appropriate place for them to go when they reach 18.”

Northern Sydney Local Health District and Health Infrastructure have convened a panel of clinical experts to advise on what services are needed at the facility, and the best design. They will consult closely with patients and the community.

Construction of the Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice is expected to start in 2020.

CHILDREN’S CHAMPIONS’ FUTURE SECURED

Children and young people involved in sexual abuse cases will receive ongoing support through difficult court proceedings thanks to a major new investment from the NSW Government that will enable a highly-successful pilot program to become permanent.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Attorney General Mark Speakman and Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward announced today that the NSW Government will invest more than $28 million in the Child Sexual Offence Evidence Program, which includes ‘Children’s Champions’ to help support young people through the courts process.

The pilot program is being made permanent after a glowing independent assessment by the University of NSW, which showed that it received very strong support from participants, reduced stress for children and resulted in a better quality of evidence from child witnesses.

“NSW is leading the country with this important initiative which delivers support to young victims of sexual abuse and child witnesses,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“We know that going to court to give evidence can be a tough experience for children and young people, so I am extremely proud that the NSW Government is investing this funding to make the experience easier.”

Mr Speakman said the program is proving vital to ensuring children understand and are understood during the court process.

“Going to court can be stressful and traumatic for anyone, let alone young people. This program ensures that some of the most vulnerable people who come in contact with the justice system get the support they need,” Mr Speakman said.

The Child Sexual Offence Evidence Pilot began in Sydney and Newcastle District Courts in March 2016. It provides victims and child witnesses for the prosecution with specialist intermediaries, sometimes known as ‘Children’s Champions’. It also enables them to have their evidence pre-recorded in advance of a trial.

“Almost 70 matters in the pilot have been finalised and a further 46 were still to be determined at the time of writing the evaluation report. Specialist witness intermediaries have assisted these young people answer questions from police and lawyers, enabling them to provide their best evidence, without affecting the defendant’s right to a fair trial,” Mr Speakman said.

The funding announced today will ensure the program continues to be delivered in Sydney and Newcastle District Courts until June 2022.

Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward said the program is part of the $127 million package of reforms to deliver the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

“We are supporting government and non-government institutions to better protect children and respond to child sexual abuse,” Ms Goward said.

NORTHERN BEACHES HOSPITAL OFFICIALLY OPEN

In a great day for the people of Sydney’s Northern Beaches, the new state-of-the-art hospital at Frenchs Forest is officially open, as part of a $600 million health services redevelopment.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian was joined by Health Minister Brad Hazzard, doctors, nurses and local residents to cut the ribbon on the hospital today.

“This is a momentous occasion for the people of the Northern Beaches, who now have a world-class public hospital like no other right on their doorstep,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Delivering life-changing infrastructure like this is only possible due to the strong economic management of the Liberals & Nationals Government.”

The new 488-bed Northern Beaches Hospital sits at the heart of a revamped healthcare network for the Northern Beaches – including Mona Vale Hospital and three new community health centres at Brookvale, Seaforth and Mona Vale.

“Together, these facilities will ensure that our local communities here on the Northern Beaches have access to healthcare and specialised services, now and well into the future,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Mr Hazzard said the hospital’s opening was a proud moment for him as the local member and Health Minister.

“Our community has been waiting for this for many years and I am delighted all the community’s hard work has finally paid off,” Mr Hazzard said.

“The NSW Government is delivering on its promise to provide public health services for the Northern Beaches community for decades to come.”

The nine-storey Northern Beaches Hospital includes:

  • 50-bed Emergency Department
  • 14 theatres, two cardiac catheter labs and four procedural rooms
  • birthing, intensive care, paediatric, renal, cancer care and mental health services
  • outpatient services
  • medical centre
  • medical imaging, pharmacy and pathology facilities
  • Education Centre for doctor and staff training
  • 1400-space car park
  • restaurants and patient amenities.

Since 2011, the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has completed 94 new and upgraded hospitals and health facilities, including more than 50 in regional NSW, with another 111 projects underway.

Gallery lands $40,000 for major exhibition of Japanese ceramics

Newcastle Art Gallery has received a $40,000 grant to support a 2019 major exhibition of its extensive collection of Japanese Sodeisha ceramics.

SODEISHA: connected to Australia will be on display from 2 March to 19 May 2019, supported by the Dobell Exhibition Grant from Museums and Galleries (MGNSW).

Kazuo_Yagi_Sodeisha_HERO_SM.jpgThe Gallery hosted its first Sodeisha exhibition in September 1979.SODEISHA: Avant-Garde Japanese Ceramics featured 32 members of the Sodeisha group of artists including founding members Kazuo Yagi, Osamu Suzuki and Hikaru Yamada.

“After the exhibition completed a tour of six capital cities, the Sodeisha group elected to gift 58 of the 62 works exhibited to Newcastle Art Gallery,” said Gallery Director Lauretta Morton.

“This generous gift means that our Gallery holds one of the largest collections of Sodeisha ceramics by this important group of artists outside Japan.

“SODEISHA: connected to Australia, is one of the major highlights of our 2019 exhibition program and will enable us to create new dialogues between this significant movement and contemporary ceramic artists today.

“Sodeisha artists were ground breakers- revolutionaries if you will – and they have forever impacted on the contemporary landscape of ceramics and art.”

The Sodeisha movement began in post WWII Japan – when young potters were rebelling against the constraints of tradition, seeking to use clay as an expressive medium in its own right without the need to conform to a functional aesthetic.

Although the influence of Japanese techniques on the development of Australian ceramics is well documented, this is the first major exhibition in Australia to celebrate the legacy and influence of the pioneering Sodeisha group on contemporary ceramics.

The work of 10 contemporary Australian and Japanese ceramic artists will be exhibited alongside the Gallery’s Sodeisha collection, including originating member of the Sodeisha movement Satoru Hoshino. Hoshino will also present exclusive workshops for Australian ceramicists to gather insight into his techniques and practice.

The Australian artists involved are: Alterfact Studio, Penny Byrne, Juz Kitson, Julie Bartholomew, and Kenji Uranishi, while artists Takashi Hinoda, Satoru Hoshino, Yusaku Ishida, Rokube Kiyimizu, and Hideo Matsumoto will represent Japan in the exhibition.

SODEISHA: Connected to Australia 
Exhibition and public programs

SODEISHA: Connected to Australia aims to form a dialogue between the post war avant-garde Sodeisha movement and contemporary Australian and Japanese ceramic arts practice today.

Sodeisha literally translates from Japanese to English as ‘crawling through mud’  and with the support of the MGNSW funding, an extraordinary performance has been commissioned by the Gallery inspired by the original performance Challenging Mud by Kazuo Shiraga (1924-2008). Hong Kong born Australian dancer and choreographer Kristina Chan will develop a work incorporating mud in the same manner as the original performance.

Kazuo’s seminal and physically demanding 1955 performance has long been recognised as having a close association with the Sodeisha movement.

A comprehensive suite of public programs will support the exhibition, including masterclasses, artist-led workshops and forums, and regional clay community activities, drawing in new audiences for this ancient and contemporary art form.

Dobell Exhibition Grant (DEG) 

The Dobell Exhibition Grant, supported by the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation, offers $40,000 in funding to one regional NSW gallery per annum. The program aims to support high-quality exhibitions that speak to a broad audience across NSW. To assist in expanding appreciation for the visual arts, these exhibitions should be supported by innovative public and education programs that creatively engage both artists and the community.

The Dobell Exhibition Grant is supported by the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation and managed by Museums & Galleries of NSW.

Image caption:
Kazuo YAGI
Applause space 1974
black fired earthenware
22.0 x 16.5 x 14.0cm
Gift of members of the Sodeisha Group 1981
Newcastle Art Gallery collection

City adopts paid family and domestic violence leave

City of Newcastle today marked adoption of paid family and domestic violence leave as a part of its newly ratified enterprise agreement.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes joined the United Services Union, the union representing City workers, to announce adoption of the staff support scheme, which entitles victims of domestic violence to 10 extra days paid leave a year.

USU-and-LM.jpgLeft to right, Ross Warren and Kevin Burgess, City of Newcastle USU delegates, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and United Services Union General Secretary Graeme Kelly.

“This is an important day for victims of family and domestic violence moving forward,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“The City is committed to providing employees with support if they’re experiencing family and domestic violence or providing support to an immediate family or household member experiencing it.

“As part of this support, we will offer up to 10 days additional paid leave per year if they are in these terrible circumstances or supporting someone affected by it.”

United Services Union (USU) General Secretary Graeme Kelly congratulated the City on the move during a meeting of local union representatives this morning.

“The United Services Union has been campaigning for over a year to ensure that employees of City of Newcastle have access to this important workplace entitlement,” General Secretary Kelly said.

“Whether directly, or indirectly, family violence is a workplace issue that affects working people every day, so we thank City of Newcastle for their leadership.”

The new enterprise agreement was ratified by the Fair Work Commission on 5 November 2018 and comes into effect on 2 January 2019.

First of six fitness parks built on Fernleigh Track

One of Newcastle’s best-known exercise routes, the Fernleigh Track, is now giving outdoor enthusiasts another way to keep fit thanks to a new workout station built just north of the City Road tunnel at Adamstown Heights.

The open-air exercise station, funded by the City of Newcastle with the support of State MP Jodie Harrison, is the first of six to be built in the next few years as part the Outdoor Exercise Facility Plan to help keep Novocastrians in shape.

Inside-(1).jpgMember for Charlestown Jodie Harrison and Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes at the Fernleigh Track fitness station

Camp Shortland, South Newcastle Beach, Cooks Hill’s Nesca Park, National Park in Newcastle West and Stockton’s Griffith Park are among coastal locations being considered for fitness stations, while Wallsend, Beresfield and Maryland are the other possible options located further west.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the provision of new exercise parks would help meet the City’s population growth targets and reduce obesity and health risks.

Inside1.jpgMember for Charlestown Jodie Harrison and Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes at the Fernleigh Track fitness station

“It’s a priority of this council to provide quality parkland and recreation facilities that are diverse, accessible and responsive to these changing needs,” the Lord Mayor said.

“By building these new parks we are also increasing our commitment to supporting the community to be physically active, contributing to improved health outcomes and lowering obesity levels. Research has found that exercise outdoors is considered to be refreshing, gives a sense of wellbeing and reduces tension and depression.

“I’m pleased that we’ve been able to identify park sites for outdoor exercise facilities in locations right across the City of Newcastle, with new equipment proposed for each of the four wards of the Newcastle Local Government Area.”

The facilities will be funded through a partnership between Council and local and state grant providers.