CENTRELINK CUTS HURTING NOVOCASTRIANS

Novocastrians are bearing the brunt of ongoing cuts at Centrelink, with many being forced to wait for up to six months for applications for pensions or income support to be processed.

Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon said the number of Novocastrians contacting her for help after going months without income was distressing.

“My office takes too many calls from desperate constituents forced to live on nothing and navigate a system that seems rigged to demoralise and delay,” Ms Claydon said.

“With well over 35,000 Novocastrians on income support or pensions, the impact of these cuts has been felt widely across our community.

“Staff morale is also an all-time low with department jobs being cut and outsourced to labour hire firms.”

Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services Linda Burney said the Federal Government had cut and outsourced 2,500 Centrelink jobs in the past three years.

“Centrelink is in crisis under the Liberals. It’s under-staffed and under-resourced,” Ms Burney said.

“We have heard shocking stories of people waiting hours to speak to someone on the phone, or waiting months for their allowances or pensions.”

“The only winners of the cuts are labour hire firms who charge the taxpayer more, but pay their staff less.”

Labor has committed to invest in Centrelink’s workforce with 1,200 permanent, full-time, properly trained staff, who are best able to deal with the complex issues facing income support recipients.

Greens slam ‘Trumpesque’ decision to recognise West Jerusalem as Israeli capital

Leader of the Australian Greens Dr Richard Di Natale has slammed the Prime Minister’s decision to formally recognise West Jerusalem as the Israeli capital as a foolish move that undermines genuine efforts at peace.

“The Prime Minister was roundly condemned when he first flagged this irresponsible thought bubble during the Wentworth by-election.  The fact that he has refused to back down in the face of overwhelming criticism, including from his own hand-picked advisory panel, is Trumpesque in its stupidity,” Di Natale said.

“The Greens have said time and time again that recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is another body blow for the peace process and for the Palestinian people. This decision rewards Israel’s Netanyahu Government for policies like rampant settlement building that not only break international law but also severely diminish the prospects of peace.

“Once again we are blindly following Donald Trump’s dangerous foreign policy agenda, with a decision that has already been near-universally rejected – by the United Nations, European and Middle Eastern leaders and religious leaders.

“Like the rest of the sensible international community, the Greens unequivocally condemn today’s decision. We urge the Australian Labor Party to confirm that they will overturn it as soon as it forms Government next year.  The best way to advance the prospect of peace in Israel and Palestine is to recognise a Palestinian state, and I sincerely hope that the ALP chooses to follow the advice of their foreign policy elders and commit to this policy at their national conference in the coming days.”

Urgent action needed to save Tassie’s East Coast reefs

The federal and state governments must take action to save Tasmania’s East Coast reefs.

“Our reefs are far too important to lose, but right now they are being devastated by urchin barrens and the rapidly warming waters of Tasmania’s East Coast,” Greens Senator for Tasmania Nick McKim said.

“Tasmania’s East Coast is one of the world’s ocean warming hotspots, and the destruction of our reefs will have widespread impacts on species that rely on them and the wider marine environment.”

‘A new report last week from IMAS stated that we have already lost 15% of our reefs. This is set to double in the next three years with an explosion of sea urchin numbers. Meanwhile, rock lobsters are down to 13% of original biomass.”

“For too long governments have put profits ahead of the environment and the public good.”

Tasmanian Greens MP Rosalie Woodruff said:

“This report shows the urgent crisis that is the state of the East Coast reefs. All Tasmanians need all levels of government to act urgently.”

“It’s past time for the government to take serious action to prevent climate change and any further loss of our reefs.”

“It’s great to see so many environmental groups standing together today to defend our reefs.”

Colourful family-fun on offer for NYE

Novocastrian families are invited to roll up their sleeves and unleash their DIY home renovation skills this New Year’s Eve on a pop-up Funhouse on Market Street Lawn provided by the City of Newcastle and presenting partner Port of Newcastle.

The giant cardboard Funhouse will form the centrepiece of a fun family-friendly evening inspired by a colourful cast of roving characters and local makers, while Foreshore revellers also enjoy a free outdoor concert headlined by legendary rockers Dragon.

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An epic 15-minute fireworks display will follow and be bigger and better than ever, with an explosion of colour launched from Stockton’s Griffiths Park offering uninterrupted views from the harbour’s southern shore.

A line up of live music, including Bowie Unzipped, will drive the party beat across the foreshore as market stalls and food vans round out the list of attractions.

“Our New Year’s Eve event will see families celebrate with a hands-on creative collaboration for the whole community and a fantastic line-up of entertainment throughout the evening – before enjoying our fireworks display,” Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“I want to thank Port of Newcastle for partnering with the City to provide this safe and fun activation to celebrate the New Year.”

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CEO Craig Carmody said the Port was proud to be part of the celebration.

“Since our first shipment in 1799, the Port and the City have grown and prospered together,” he said. “We are proud to partner with the City of Newcastle to deliver a celebration for the community that will mark the beginning of our 220th year of commercial shipping in the Port.”

In keeping with the night’s DIY vibe, event goers can let their creativity run wild across a number of maker stations, designing and decorating their own colourful cardboard costumes before taking part in a giant musical parade led by professional performers.

Working with a team of experienced local makers and artists, all comers will be provided with fun materials to decorate the multi-roomed Funhouse.

Inflatable slides and jumping castles will be on offer in the family-friendly zone, while local artist Bliss Cavanagh of Happy Senses creates a safe and magical sensory experience harbour side for people with disabilities and their families.

Cr Nelmes said New Year’s Eve is one of the most exciting nights of the year and it’s important to ensure that celebrations can be enjoyed by every member of the community.

“This is a night designed to be welcoming, accessible and inclusive of everyone, with a wide range of entertainment for all ages,” she said.

“Following positive feedback from last year’s event, we’re repeating the VIP Sensory Area, which provides a safe base from where registered participants can explore the whole event or simply relax and enjoy the music and fireworks.”

For more information, visit newcastle.nsw.gov.au or follow us on Twitter (@CityNewcastle), Facebook (@CityNewcastle.au) and Instagram (CityNewcastle).

EVENT SPECIFICS

ENTERTAINMENT
NYE Concert Stage, in the car park east of Queens Wharf

ARTIST SCHEDULE
5:00 – 5:30pm: Ultraviolet
5:50 – 6:35PM: GW Freebird Blues
6:55 – 7:40PM: Bowie Unzipped
8:00 – 9:00PM: Dragon
9:00 – 9:15PM: Fireworks Finale
MC: Grant Walmsley

Family Fun Zone, Market Street Lawn
Join in the DIY fun at the giant cardboard Funhouse or make and decorate a costume to take part in the hourly parades along the event precinct. Work off some energy on the safe and accessible inflatable slides and jumping castles and enjoy the free family-friendly entertainment.

Food Alley, Market Street Lawn and along Wharf Road
Discover the range of mouth-watering treats on offer from a wide range of food vans, located in the New Year’s Eve food alley at either end of the event precinct. From burgers to desserts and everything in between, the vendors will have something to suit every taste.

Best Seats in the House Competition
Keep an eye out on City of Newcastle’s social media channels for the chance to win the Best Seats in the House for your family or friends. You could win seats in a comfy space with the best view of the fireworks, including a gourmet hamper with nibbles and drinks for the group.

VIP Sensory Area, west of Queens Wharf
Following the success of last year’s pilot, local artist Bliss Cavanagh will once again create a very special VIP Sensory Area to help make the event more accessible, safe and fun for people with disabilities. Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity, as spaces are limited! Register now via our online form at www.studiobliss.com/nye2018.

For more information about our VIP Sensory Area contact Bliss Cavanagh on 0415 701188 or https://www.studiobliss.com/nye2018

Foreshore Precinct
Find the perfect place to sit back and relax along the harbour side precinct, stretching from Honeysuckle to Foreshore Park, and get ready to be amazed by the colourful pyrotechnic display on show during the 9pm fireworks.

TRANSPORT INFORMATION

Public Transport
Newcastle buses and ferries will be in service throughout the event, with a range of set down areas throughout the CBD. For timetables, travel plans, ticket and fare information call the Transport Infoline on 131 500 between 6pm and 10pm seven days a week.

Trains will also be running to the Newcastle Interchange on their normal schedules.

Parking
We’re offering free parking in our King Street Parking Station from 5pm to 10.30pm. Parking is also available in designated areas throughout the CBD. Off-street paid parking is available at Care Park Lee Wharf, Mall Parking Station, Wilson Parking, Civic Park West carpark and East End Beach and Nobbys Beach parking areas.

Ride your Bike
A bike valet service will be available next to Lynch’s Hub. Ride your bikes into the hub, have your bike valeted there (BYO bike locks) and pick it up at the end of the night. Places are limited. You can also pre-order a gourmet picnic hamper online at Lynch’s Hub to be ready for pick-up when you drop off your bike.

Road Closures 
The following streets will be closed from Monday 31 December to Tuesday 1 January.

  • Wharf Road (Watt Street to Argyle Street) from 6am – 3am
  • Wharf Road eastbound (Merewether Street to Argyle Street) from 6am – 3am
  • Scott Street, eastbound (Darby Street to Watt Street) from 3pm – 9.30pm (NYE)

South Australia must fight for 450GL delivery

The Australian Greens are calling on the South Australian Water Minister to come home from Friday’s Ministerial Council meeting with a commitment of the delivery of the 450GL promised to South Australia.

“South Australia mustn’t give in to the bullying from Victoria and New South Wales. Minister Speirs must fight for the delivery of the 450GL of water that South Australia’s was promised,” Greens water spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“We heard at the last hearing of the South Australian Royal Commission that state governments and the MDBA had all but admitted that SA would never get a  drop of the 450GL.

“The Victorian and New South Wales Governments have cooked up terms for the delivery of the 450GL that are virtually impossible to achieve. South Australia needs a fierce defender at today’s ministerial council meeting in Melbourne.

“The Murray Darling Basin Authority has today highlighted the risk that recovery measures will not be met by the June 2019 target. With a bleak history of mismanagement at the MDBA, non-compliance, rorting, water theft, and upstream states writing their own rules, it is little wonder this milestone will be missed.

“Water Minister David Speirs raised the white flag and came home empty-handed after the last meeting of Water Ministers. This is a chance at redemption.”

A sham ICAC from a sham government

Greens spokesperson for democracy Senator Larissa Waters said 10 years after the Greens first called for a federal anti-corruption body to oversee parliamentarians and the public service, the Morrison Government has finally got on board – but there’s so many catches.

“The Morrison Government’s proposed Commonwealth Integrity Commission is the ICAC you have when you’re not really having an ICAC. It’s the poor cousin of the state ICACs and basically a Clayton’s ICAC,” Senator Waters said.

“The powers this new body would have are so weak it won’t change a thing, which is no doubt deliberate.

“It will be limited in what and who it can investigate, only looking into ‘criminal’ corruption and not regular, confidence-eroding, damaging corruption.

“And in a move that will only serve to increase distrust in federal politicians, all investigations and hearings will be in secret and there will be no retrospectivity or complaints taken from outside of government departments and agencies.

“The Eddie Obeid investigation started with an anonymous tip off – this would not be allowed under the Government’s model.

“It won’t be allowed to make any findings of corruption, and can only gather evidence and refer it on to other agencies – it’s like a glorified research assistant to the Department of Public Prosecutions.

“If the Government was serious about getting this done, it would have presented draft legislation. Instead it’s just a discussion paper designed to appear like the government is doing something, when clearly they have no intention of acting before the election to set up this body.

“Australians won’t be fooled – they will see straight through this sham body like they see through this sham government.

“Our Greens bill for a national anti-corruption commission with teeth, and our plan to end the influence of big money over politics, it’s what’s needed to actually help clean up politics and end the cronyism and corruption that typifies politics these days.”

Greens will leave no stone unturned to block government spending money on coal: Bandt

Greens will leave no stone unturned to block government spending money on coal: Bandt

Referring to Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s call for proposals for the government’s underwriting fund, Greens climate change and energy spokesperson Adam Bandt warned the government that the Greens will leave no stone unturned in efforts to block public money being spent on coal-fired power stations. Mr Bandt has introduced legislation to prohibit public money going to coal-fired power stations and flagged amendments to the government’s so-called ‘big stick’ bill that would also prohibit coal-fired power stations from receiving public money.

“If the government wants to use this fund to prop up coal, we’ll leave no stone unturned in trying to stop them,” said Mr Bandt.

“Public money shouldn’t be poured into coal at the expense of schools and hospitals.

“I have introduced legislation, supported by Labor and the crossbench, that would block public money from going to coal.

“If we can’t get my bill passed, we will attempt to amend the government’s ‘big stick’ bill.

“We can’t take any risks with our coal-cradling Prime Minister and the motley coal crew on the backbench.

“This power-sharing Parliament must act to stop the government from recklessly exposing taxpayers to huge liabilities by underwriting coal.

“Otherwise, taxpayers will be left paying for stranded assets while climate change gets even worse.”

Morrison’s new laws must not undermine anti-discrimination protections

A Religious Discrimination Act should not be used to undermine or override state based anti-discrimination laws, the Australian Greens say, following the release of the government’s response to the Ruddock Review.

Greens Justice spokesperson Senator Nick McKim said: “Religious freedom cannot be viewed in isolation, nor should it be used as a political weapon in an act of vengeance for the marriage equality vote.”

“Attorney-General Christian Porter has made it clear today he intends to override strong, state-based anti-discrimination laws which protect people from harm – this cannot be allowed to happen.”

“We need a Charter of Rights to balance the right to religious freedom against other important rights, such as freedom from discrimination.”

Greens LGBTIQ+ spokesperson Senator Janet Rice said: “Scott Morrison’s Religious Discrimination Act must not be a Trojan horse to expand discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, like his proposed discrimination in schools bill.”

“Discriminating against someone because they are LGBTQ+ is not religious freedom, it’s discrimination. Plain and simple.”

“The Prime Minister has already demonstrated he is out of touch with Australians who want discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in schools removed. Freedom of religion is not a licence to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.”

Australian Greens deeply concerned by deterioration of human rights in Bangladesh

The Australian Greens are deeply worried by the deteriorating human rights situation in Bangladesh, in particular the ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly against the media, students, activists and the opposition.

Leader of the Australian Greens Senator Richard Di Natale said problems were only worsening as Bangladesh approaches its general elections on 30 December.

“I have been very concerned by recent reports that the use of torture has become widespread in Bangladesh, and at news of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, politically-motivated detention and the excessive use of force,” Di Natale said.

“Members of the Bangladeshi community in Australia have told me that they are extremely worried about the situation in their homeland, and have little faith that the upcoming elections will be free and fair.  I have received a petition with nearly 800 signatures expressing their deep concern.

“In the lead-up to Bangladesh’s election later this month, I urge the Australian Government to join the Greens and local community members in publicly calling for free and fair elections in Bangladesh, so that people can fully exercise their democratic rights”.

M1 truck crash – Brooklyn

A truck driver has been taken to hospital following a crash north of Sydney early this morning.

The crash happened just after 1am (Friday 14 December 2018), when a B-double truck travelling northbound on the M1, south of the Hawkesbury River Bridge, Brooklyn, hit the dividing rock wall rapturing the fuel tank.

The truck driver, a 46-year-old man was taken to Gosford Hospital in a stable condition.

An operation is now underway to unload the truck before it can be removed.

Significant traffic delays are expected with lane three northbound of the M1 remaining closed.

For the latest traffic information visit www.livetraffic.com.

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.