Posted by Steve on March 20, 2014
The Australian Greens have renewed calls for Attorney-General George Brandis to drop his bid to amend the Racial Discrimination Act, following the minister’s responses in Question Time today.
Australian Greens spokesperson for legal affairs Senator Penny Wright today asked the Attorney-General why he would not reconsider in light of concerns raised by Liberal MP Ken Wyatt.
“It seems that nothing will stop the Abbott Government from pushing ahead with these changes to the law to license the public humiliation of people because of their race,” Senator Wright said.
“These amendments should be called the ‘Andrew Bolt Protection Bill’ from now on, because that can be the only reason the Government remains so determinedly single-minded.
“Ethnic groups from around the country, the Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council Mr Warren Mundine and now several MPs within the Liberal Party have raised concerns that drastically altering sections 18C and 18D would give a green light to hate speech.
“It’s all well and good for Mr Brandis to say that the Liberal Party allows for these kind of disagreements, but if he and Prime Minister Abbott have no intention of listening and taking on board the feedback of their party room and the community – what’s the point?
“The Australian Greens will not support any bid to weaken protections for vulnerable people.”
Posted by Steve on March 19, 2014
Despite leading Coalition and Labor figures, including the Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos, caught up in lobbying scandals the major parties have combined forces in the Senate to vote down a motion backing greater regulation of lobbying activities in the federal parliament.
“It is extraordinary that when given the opportunity to vote for a much needed clean-up of lobbyist activities that would provide greater transparency for the public, Labor and the Coalition choose to vote together to maintain the current feeble oversight system,” Greens democracy spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said.
“The existing Lobbying Code of Conduct captures little of the lobbying activity that occurs behind closed doors.
“The vote on the Senate motion puts the spotlight on the unwillingness of the major parties to clean up a system that leaves the door open to corrupt activities.
“The federal code limited to third party lobbyists lags well behind regulatory schemes in the US and Canada.
“The motion the Coalition and Labor voted against called for an Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying, a new definition of lobbying to include all MPs and Senators, including cross benchers and opposition MPs and for a ban on the payment of success fees to lobbyists.
“No major party Senator spoke against the motion to explain why they are opposed to these changes.
“The motion also called for the scope of lobbying to include corporations and organisations employing in-house lobbyists.
“News about lobbyists using underhand tactics is becoming a regular reminder of why reform is needed.
“The decision of the Coalition and Labor to vote together sets back moves to raise the standard on lobbyists’ behaviour and achieving better outcomes for the public.
“Lobbyists work to influence the decisions of parliament for the group or business that pays them. There is nothing wrong with this but the public has a right to know what they do.
“Lobbyists can change government decisions. How they use their power needs to be opened up to scrutiny.
“Labor has a track record of opposing reform to tighten up lobbyist activities. In 2012 they opposed a Senate Inquiry to review the federal Lobbying Code of Conduct. The Greens initiated Inquiry was set up with the support of the Coalition,” Ms Rhiannon said.
Posted by Steve on March 7, 2014
Greens Deputy Leader, Adam Bandt, has hit back at claims from Gina Rinehart that Australia needs a dose of Thatcherism.
“Gina Rinehart is a threat to Australian egalitarianism,” said Mr Bandt.
“Gina Rinehart is full of suggestions about how to balance the budget, but none of them involve her paying a fairer share of tax and all of them involve getting the rest of us to pay more.”
“If Gina Rinehart and Tony Abbott get their way, Australia will have a US-style health system where the quality of your healthcare depends on the size of your wallet.”
“Gina Rinehart has already warned that she wants Australia to be competitive with countries that pay their workers $2 a day.
“If Gina Rinehart thinks Australians are paid too much and have health care that’s too good, she’s welcome to leave.”
Posted by Steve on December 30, 2013
The Australian Greens have called for reform of the Senate voting system after the release of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Palmer United Party and the Motoring Enthusiasts Party failed to clarify the relationship between the parties.
The Motoring Enthusiasts Party’s Senator-elect, Ricky Muir, was elected despite polling only half a per cent of the primary vote in the 2013 federal election in one state Victoria.
“Australians should be able to feel confident that when they vote for a party in the Senate, if preferences are distributed they flow according to the voter’s choice,” said Greens Democracy spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon today.
“The current Senate voting system does not do that. The system we have now encourages the creation of front parties to harvest preferences and unprincipled backroom preference deals.
“Senate Group Voting Tickets have led to the election of Mr Muir on a tiny fraction of the vote. They need to be abolished to restore fairness to our elections.
“The MOU between the Palmer United Party and the Motoring Enthusiasts Party does not clarify the relationship between the two,” Said Senator Rhiannon.
Posted by Steve on June 27, 2013
While welcoming the final passing of the laws to set up the Referendum for constitutional recognition of local government, Greens local government spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon has accused the Coalition of running a spoiler campaign to undermine the chances of the Referendum passing.
“The split in the Coalition vote shows that Abbott is a wolf in sheep’s clothing on the Referendum for constitutional recognition of local government,” Senator Rhiannon said.
“In the Senate seven Coalition senators voted against the Referendum bill and nineteen others abstained, including Senators George Brandis and Eric Abbetz.
“While the Coalition officially support including a reference to local government in the Constitution, their actions seem designed to put roadblocks on any momentum around a ‘Yes’ vote.
“A number of Coalition MPs in the Senate debate said that they did not want the Referendum campaign to distract from their election campaign.
“Liberal Senator Mathias Cormann summed up his party’s approach when he told the Senate that the Coalition will be campaigning for a change of government not a change to the Constitution.
“The deceptive tactics of the Coalition could jeopardise financial certainty for many local councils and shires.
“Former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown played a key role in initiating this Referendum.
“Despite the undermining tactics of the Coalition the Greens are still confident that the Referendum can pass. The Greens are mounting a strong ‘Yes’ campaign,” Senator Rhiannon said.