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 6, 2014
The Australian Greens have reintroduced critical legislation in the Senate to deliver a $50 per week increase to the single rate of Newstart and Youth Allowance.
“Single people living on Newstart and Youth Allowance are significantly disadvantaged by Australia’s current income support system,” Australian Greens spokesperson on families and community services said today.
“These are two of our lowest and most inadequate income support payments. They force people to live below the poverty line and do not adequately support them as they study, look for work and raise a family.
“It is nothing more than punishment to offer people just $250.50 per week on Newstart and expect them to be able to pay bills and put food on the table.
“Raising the single rate of Newstart and the away-from-home rate of Youth Allowance by $50 per week will bring relief to almost a million households, including single parent families.
“This bill also corrects the imbalance in payment indexation which continues to widen the gap between pensions and allowance payments. Newstart is $156.20 per week less than the age pension.
“The call for a $50 increase has received widespread support from not only welfare and social service groups but also from business groups, unions, various economists and members of parliament.
“The Business Council of Australia argued in its submission to the Senate Inquiry into the adequacy of allowances payments that there is a need for an increase in the Newstart Allowance on an ‘adequacy and fairness basis’ and that ‘there is concern that the low rate of Newstart itself now presents a barrier to employment and risks entrenching poverty’.
“A $50 increase to the base rate of eligible payments will ensure a fairer, and more straightforward social security system and immediately reduce the extent to which Australian people are living in poverty. Better indexation will help maintain the value of an increase into the future.
“Punishing people by condemning them to poverty is not contributing to the caring society that the majority of Australians want for themselves or for their children,” Senator Siewert concluded.
Posted by Steve on March 5, 2014
The Australian Greens’ inquiry into the attack on the Manus Island detention camp, which resulted in the death of Reza Barati, has been supported by the Senate.
“we have secured the only genuinely independent investigation into Reza Barati’s death,” the Greens’ immigration spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.
“A man has died in the Australian Government’s care and anything less than a Parliamentary Inquiry would have been grossly insufficient.
“It was disappointing, though not surprising, to see the Liberal Party once again vote against transparency and accountability in an attempt to continue its cover-up campaign.
“Through this inquiry the workers who were there that night and the refugees who were attacked will have the opportunity to tell their stories, free form the Government’s gag order.
“It’s essential for us to find out exactly what happened that night and the Government’s internal review, as part of its coordinated whitewash, is simply not good enough.”
Posted by Steve on September 29, 2013
Queensland’s proposed ‘Name and Shame’ laws are a dangerous approach to punishing juvenile offenders, says Australian Greens Senator Penny Wright.
Spokesperson on legal affairs, Senator Wright, said the proposed laws are out of touch with evidence that shows that naming and shaming may well increase juvenile crime.
“The Queensland Government’s so-called tough approach to juvenile repeat offenders is punitive and will actually be counterproductive,” Senator Wright said.
“There is no reliable evidence that this form of ‘Naming and Shaming’ will deter young people from offending but there is the real risk that it will become a badge of honour for those few who do reoffend.
“Pandering to a desire for punishment and retribution may win votes but it does not actually make our communities safer.
“If the government is truly serious about prevention rather than punishment, it will heed the evidence that addressing the causes of offending where they occur, is much more effective.
“Justice Reinvestment is a far smarter approach. It targets the communities where offending is most prevalent and leads to less crime and therefore less victims.
“We need to address the causes of why young Australians are facing court. The Queensland Government’s approach is strong on rhetoric and retribution but it will not produce safer communities. It is time for a new strategy,” Senator Wright said.
Posted by Steve on April 3, 2013
Australian Greens health spokesperson, Dr Richard Di Natale, said today that he would be pushing for a vote on his Restoring Territories Rights (Voluntary Euthanasia Legislation) Bill, before the election.
“Dying with dignity is an issue that deserves to be on the national agenda this election year,” said Senator Di Natale.
“The front page of today’s Age tells the story of environmental campaigner Beverly Broadbent who took her own life at the age of 83 because she wanted to be in control of the way in which she died. Beverly was quoted as saying that if dying with dignity laws had been available to her in Australia then she may have waited longer.
“Dying with dignity laws provide a sense of comfort for people as they approach the end of their lives. The vast majority of the Australian population was to see voluntary euthanasia legalised but neither of the old parties have been willing to touch it.
“Euthanasia was legal in the Northern Territory 15 years ago before the parliament passed a federal law that banned the territories from legislating in this area. I have a bill before the Senate that would overturn that ban and I will be pushing for a vote on the bill before the election because the old parties can’t keep running away from this issue.
“This isn’t just about dying with dignity, it’s also about making sure that Australians living in the territories have the same democratic rights as Australians living in other states.
“It’s about time the old parties caught up with the Australian community and the Greens on this issue.”
Posted by Steve on February 25, 2013
After paving the way for the creation of the position, the Australian Greens have today welcomed the appointment of Megan Mitchell as the National Children’s Commissioner.
“Children are some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” the Greens’ youth and early childhood spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.
“It is only right that we created the essential role of National Children’s Commissioner.
“Until now there hadn’t been a person whose sole focus was on the needs of our young people, at a national level.
“Ms Mitchell has vowed to listen to our nation’s youngest citizens to make sure that their voices are heard and I commend her for that.
“This is a major step in improving the situation for our young people and I look forward to seeing Ms Mitchell assume the role and stand up for Australia’s children.
“I welcome this news, but now the government needs to act to protect children who come to Australia fleeing war and persecution.
“The government must move to establish an independent guardian for unaccompanied refugee children.
“Currently the Immigration Minister’s role as their legal guardian is a conflict of interest and he has abandoned the very children he is supposed to protect.”