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Coalition undermining ‘Yes’ vote for local government

Posted by Steve on June 27, 2013

Noosa News

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.

Govt must move fast to recognise local govt though election referendum

Posted by Steve on April 3, 2013

Constitutional recognition of local government

Federal Labor is getting dangerously close to missing the deadline to hold a referendum on local government constitutional recognition to coincide with the September election, said Greens local government spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon, following reports of NSW councils in dire need of secure federal funding to fix neglected bridges

“Federal Labor has still not given a clear indication about whether it will hold a referendum to recognise local government in the constitution”, said Senator Rhiannon.

“Time is running out to put the necessary legislation before parliament to hold the referendum.

“Educating the electorate about the importance of the referendum also needs to be top of the government’s to do list.

“Reports show there are hundreds of bridges in NSW in urgent need of repair, creating a big financial burden on councils.

“A referendum at the September federal election is necessary to secure federal funding for local councils to maintain safer roads and bridges and create sustainable transport options.

“The Greens support the federal government’s continued funding of the Roads to Recovery program.

“The referendum is key to ensuring this and other programs that involve direct payments from the Commonwealth to local governments are secure into the future,” Senator Rhiannon said.

Local, state and federal Greens support democracy for Noosa

Posted by Steve on March 10, 2013

Noosa-Greens

The Noosa and Hinterland Greens were strongly against the forced amalgamation of Noosa Shire with Caloundra and Maroochy. An ideological decision made by Peter Beattie and the ALP clearly in opposition to the express wishes of the community and against independent advice provided to him by the commissioner he himself appointed to review the viability of the decision.

The forced amalgamation not only seriously abused the democratic aspirations of the Noosa community but also effectively disenfranchised and marginalised the Noosa community in the Sunshine Coast Regional Council by allocating representatives solely on the basis of population. The Beattie and Bligh Governments took insufficient account of the community’s strong identification with the social, historical, geographical and environmental foundations of the Noosa Shire.

The Noosa Greens welcomed the pledge by Glenn Elmes and the LNP to give the people of Noosa the chance to vote on restoring Noosa Shire. We continue to believe it is unfortunate that Doonan, Eumundi and Verrierdale were excluded from the vote by the LNP given the expressed wish of many in those communities, for whom Noosa is their natural centre, to join the Shire.

The Noosa Greens always supported the residents’ vote and ensured it was written into Queensland Greens policy. The LNP policy originally proposed only an “advisory” vote but fortunately they changed their position when drafting the legislation, although the final decision still rests with the Minister. Unlike the LNP, it was our view that the costs should be covered by the State as amalgamation was forced on the community by the Queensland Government.

When the Noosa Shire is finally ratified as a local government authority in its own right, with the model proposed by the NIA, it will be closer to the model of proportional representation of the residents that The Greens have long called for.

The Greens want a referendum on including local government in the Australian Constitution. This commitment was part of the arrangement which saw the parliamentary Greens agree not to block supply or participate in any vote of no confidence in any Gillard ALP government. The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government was established as a direct result of these negotiations and its final report has recommended a referendum at the next election to recognise local councils in the constitution and allow the federal government to directly fund them.

Quick action needed to secure referendum on local govt recognition

Posted by Steve on

Noosa Council Chambers

The restoration of local government for the communities of Noosa is a victory for democracy. So many men and women contributed their time, their energy and their resources to a hard-fought campaign that brought together people across the political spectrum. However this magnificent achievement remains at risk and vulnerable to the whim or ideology of future state government who may choose to ignore the will of the people as did Peter Beattie and the Queensland ALP (remember them?)

With a parliamentary inquiry report recommending a referendum to recognise local government in the constitution at the September election, Australian Greens local government spokesperson and committee member Senator Lee Rhiannon has called on the Gillard government to introduce required legislation soon after parliament resumes next week.

The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government report has recommended a referendum at the next election to recognise local councils in the constitution and allow the federal government to directly fund them.

“Two expert committees have now found in favour of a referendum. The Labor government must move quickly to pass legislation between March and July facilitating the referendum and allowing time to build strong community and cross party support,” Senator Rhiannon said.

“If the government drags the chain it will rob the campaign of time to educate the community about the importance of constitutional reform to allow the federal government to fund local councils.

“Two High Court cases have created uncertainty around federal grants to local councils.

“This referendum should receive active support from all political parties, state governments and local councils across the nation.

“Referendums are notoriously difficult to pass, with voters approving eight out of 44 proposals to alter the constitution, so it is important campaigning gets going as soon as possible.

“This report reveals a big appetite from local councils for reform and strong capacity to campaign. The Gillard government must lead the way in securing this important change.

“The Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 sets out the referendum process. This includes passing a bill setting out the proposed alteration to the Constitution, establishing ‘yes’ and ‘no’ committees of MPs to prepare a case supporting their position and the Government-General issuing writs,” Senator Rhiannon said.

Council loses environmental opportunity – slugs Noosa residents instead

Posted by Jim McDonald on July 1, 2012

Noosa residents have been slugged again by the Sunshine Coast Regional Council. Not only have we lost hard rubbish clearance and 2 free annual entry tickets to the tip but now we have to pay more for rubbish collection – even the recycling bins which provide income for the Council:

Coucil Rubbish

Letter to Noosa News, 19 June 2012

Jim McDonald
Noosa Greens

Greens call for early rollout of NBN for Noosa

Posted by Jim McDonald on March 30, 2012

The NBN rollout plans from 2012 to 2015, announced by the Federal Government, have bypassed Noosa, The Greens spokesperson for Noosa, Jim McDonald, claimed today.

He said that the plan includes Nambour, Maroochydore, Bli Bli and Coolum Beach, but excludes Noosa.

“The Federal Government and the NBN say that they cannot open up the network all at once, but the plan for the next 3 years cherry picks centres on the Sunshine Coast without considering the viability of other centres such as Noosa.

“This will have serious impacts on local businesses. They will be disadvantaged by any delays in gaining access to the high speeds promised for the nationial broadband network.

“Noosa is potentially a centre for IT and industries relying on a decent network that will suit a green industrial future. Many businesses are presently suffering from early 1990s dial-up speeds at times preventing the upload and download of essential information and data. Online services in Noosa presently work against business efficiency and disadvantage domestic users.

“I call upon the Member for Noosa, Glen Elmes, and the Member for Wide Bay, Warren Truss, in consultation with local business, to develop a submission to the Federal Minister for Communication and NBN Co. for Noosa to be brought forward in the NBN plans for industrial efficiency and better residential services.”

Media Release, Jim McDonald
Noosa & Hinterland Greens Spokesperson 


Vote 1 Jim McDonald – policy statements

Posted by Jim McDonald on March 19, 2012

Catch up with Noosa Greens Candidate Jim McDonald and read what he says on various election topics.

Jim has covered a wide range of issues during the election. They include:

  • My 30 second pitch to Mary-Lou Stevens “In the elevator” on ABC Coast FM:
    Noosa voters should vote for me because I am an experienced advocate with vision.
    I’ll introduce a Private Members Bill for a plebiscite so that Noosa residents can decide on de-amalgamation.
    I want a prosperous Noosa that is prepared for the new economy and for climate change, with regional food security, a Coast served by light rail and connecting to fast trains, a region with its own renewable energy sources, and jobs in clean industries.
    I’ll push to get the Noosa GPs After Hours Service put back in the hospital to take pressure off emergency services.
    I’ll oppose any exploitation of the coal reserves under the Coast.
    And I don’t owe vested interests any favours It will be the people I owe.
  • Jim mcDonald

Jim has been activiely campaigning to get some decent representation of Noosa into the parliament. More information available on the following sites:

 

Election signs ban trashes democratic tradition

Posted by Jim McDonald on March 4, 2012

Election signs are a sign that democracy is at work and there is an election in place.

Signs enable parties that aren’t supported by mining billionaires, like the sitting Noosa LNP member, Hon. Glen Elmes, to have a chance at getting their message out. The LNP is supported by mining magnate Clive Palmer. The Greens are supported by small  donations from individuals.

Candidate signage is an Australian and international democratic tradition found in every Western liberal democracy. However, Glen Elmes is prepared to support his mates on the Sunshine Coast Regional Council trashing an Australian electioneering  tradition and almost certainly breaching the Local Government Act.

The Council has announced that it will limit signs in Noosa to two for each candidate.

This limitation to two signs is disrespectful of the democratic political process. Mr Elmes runs the facile visual pollution argument, and rests his case on having both won and lost elections in the absence of signage. That reasoning is irrelevant to the matter of democratic principle. Indeed, I would argue that he presents the spectacle of an elected member of Parliament supporting the Council in breaking the provisions of the Local Government Act 2009. The Act expressly prevents the Council from prohibiting signs. While the Council limits two signs to a candidate, the Council prohibits any other signs. In my view the Council is breaking the law by putting any number on election signs.

Section 36(1)(b) of the Queensland Local Government Act 2009 states, without any caveat, that “A local government must not make a local law that … (b) prohibits the placement of election signs or posters.” What is clearer than that?

That provision leaves it open to regulation about placement but not limiting the number and certainly not insulting the intelligence of the voters and the candidates who put themselves forward for public office. If the Sunshine Coast Regional Council wants some consistency about placement, then it ought to consult the reasonable guidelines issued by the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

Mr Elmes’s support of the two sign announcement is another example of the LNP having lost any sense of a fair go and why his party is no better than the State Labor Government which ran roughshod over the Noosa Shire. The Greens stand much closer to the great Australian social justice traditions than either party, both of which have lost their way.

Jim McDonald
Greens Candidate,
Noosa Electoral District


Greens will work to support Seniors in Noosa

Posted by Jim McDonald on February 29, 2012

The Greens candidate for Noosa, Jim McDonald, said that he would work to ensure a positive environment for seniors in the electorate.

“My approach will be to ensure that seniors get the opportunity to participate in the social, economic and political aspects of life and to maintain their independence to whatever degree they feel able.”

He said the present percentage of residents who are 65 years or older was between 12 and 15 percent and this will grow as Baby Boomers seek out Noosa as an ideal place to retire to.

“All seniors have the right to exercise plenty of choices for a fulfilling retirement; to employ, where they wished, their skills and life experience to the benefit the whole community; and to enjoy a strong local health system.

“This is what the Greens policy means when it affirms the rights of older people to live with dignity. Most retirees do not regard their life post-work as having one foot in the grave.

“The state government must play a central role in the provision, regulation and support of aged care services integrated into an accessible community-based health system in Noosa on the basis of need and not the ability to pay. The Labor Government has  resided over an increasingly dysfunctional Queensland Health and seniors are affected.

“I will use my position in the Parliament to improve services for the elderly who are frail by improving respite services to carers, supporting existing community care programs aimed at supporting older people in their own homes, increasing the number of  places in our region for aged care and retirement living, and addressing transport issues for senior’s mobility throughout the community.

“Critical to the care services that are available is increasing funding to enhance the numbers, skills and salaries of community health nurses and workers in the aged care sector to reduce the incidence of ’emergency’ care.

“We will also introduce legislation to provide free public transport to all Government Seniors and Government Concession card holders.

“Managing an inevitable increase to the number of retirees in Noosa will require expanding the scope of the Queensland Housing Affordability Strategy to include an emphasis on current and future demand for affordable housing.

“Our Seniors program is based upon the critical choice for seniors to live in their own homes where possible. The Greens will work to provide assistance to make renovations that will allow them to age in their own homes.

“The Greens and Independents have demonstrated in the several Parliaments in Australia and overseas that the cross bench can play a powerful role in cutting across the vested interests represented by the old parties.”

Jim McDonald, Noosa Greens Candidate, Media Release 27 February 2012

Greens candidate says Noosa ban on election posters is anti-democratic

Posted by Jim McDonald on

The Sunshine Coast Regional Council’s ban on effective poster advertising in Noosa is an attack on election democracy according to the Greens candidate for Noosa, Jim McDonald.

He was responding to the report in the Noosa News on Tuesday, 28 February that candidates in Noosa will be allowed only two posters.

“Some limitations are reasonable but the approach in Noosa is unsophisticated, cunning and over the top. It actively assists the sitting candidate in elections because new candidates’ faces are usually less well known in the electorate.

“The two poster limit is an effective ban on public political advertising during a campaign.

“It’s a backwoods strategy more at home in local government in the Appalachians in Alabama and is at odds with Australia’s democratic system.”

Dr McDonald said he believes that the Council is breaching the Act. “I believe that local government can regulate issues like placement, but not effectively ban, candidates’ advertising.

“Section 36(1)(b) of the Queensland Local Government Act states that ‘A local government must not make a local law that … (b) prohibits the placement of election signs or posters.’

“That prohibition does not allow for the Noosa bans imposed on campaigning for the State election. The term “prohibition” in its ordinary meaning applies. And the Council is hindering and preventing candidates in Noosa from campaigning using posters and
election signs.

“I would go as far as to say that limiting the number of signs in an electorate also breaches the Act.

“The Department of Transport and Main Roads have a set of reasonable limitations on election posters on road reserves and there is prohibition on motorways. The Department’s guide addresses safety issues on all roads.

“Even if the limitation on numbers is legal, the Regional Council’s bans on Noosa candidates are inequitable because candidates whose electorates were in other shires within the Sunshine Coast allow for greater numbers.

“Cr Green is quoted as saying that the ‘Noosa community was offended by election signage’. How can he know that? And which community is he talking about: Noosa in the 1970s or Noosa in 2012?

“People in Noosa have a right, and it is a responsibility of citizenship, to know who their candidates are and temporary election signage is a significant source of knowledge about candidates in Western democracy and the Australian political tradition.”

Jim McDonald, Noosa Greens Candidate, Media Release 29 February 2012

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We would love to hear from you, what you consider our priorities should be to ensure our community remains special and sustainable. Please feel welcome to contact our Convenor Steve Haines directly at steve@noosagreens.org or mobile 0421 00 1956.

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