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

Posted by Jim McDonald on February 29, 2012

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

Greens call for return of Noosa’s water supply assets

Posted by Jim McDonald on February 7, 2012

The Greens candidate for Noosa, Jim McDonald, called for the State Government to restore Unity Water assets to the Councils that developed them.

Dr McDonald said, “Ratepayers funds helped develop Noosa’s water supply and so it belongs to the community. It should never have been grabbed by the Bligh Government to be corporatised in preparation for selling off another public asset. Lake Macdonald was a Noosa Council project.

“Unity Water has done nothing but slug consumers and adopted practices that look more like a mafia operation: exhorbitant metre reading guesses and residents slugged for costs even if they are not connected to the grid are, frankly, unethical standover tactics.

“Separating Unity Water from the Council is also dysfunctional. Subsided trenches crossing Noosa’s streets remain unrepaired despite the Sunshine Coast Regional Council having just completed asphalt road repairs throughout Noosa.

“In one case, a subsided trench on Hill Street in Sunshine Beach lies unrepaired not 10 metres away from the recent round of resurfacing. The Council claims maintenance of the trenches is Unity Water’s responsibility.

“We can blame Labor for that nonsense. But what does the LNP propose? Their so-called “CanDo” policy States that Glen Elmes’ party will combine Unity Water into an even larger body, claiming it would be more efficient. What that will do is make it easier to sell it off to private enterprise and the LNP should come clean about their plans.

“Not being known for its consistency, the party that tries to tell us that the amalgamated Sunshine Coast Regional Council isn’t efficient for Noosa ratepayers argues for State centralisation of water assets developed by the Noosa Shire!

“In no case in Australia has the sale of publicly owned utilites resulted in cheaper prices for consumers whether they have been sold by Labor or Liberal/Nationals.

“Voters are entitled to straight answers from the LNP for their ultimate plans for Unity Water and other publicly-owned assets. Mr Elmes should come clean and state unambiguously that the LNP will return Noosa’s water assets to a reconstituted Noosa Council.

“The Greens are committed to retaining essential public services in public ownership to be run in the public interest.

“I will work in the Parliament for residents to get back Noosa Council control over the assets their rates paid for.”

Jim McDonald
Greens Candidate, Noosa
Media Release, 6 February 2012 


Greens launch first stage of campaign to defend media diversity in Australia

Posted by Steve on February 3, 2012

Australian Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam today launched a campaign urging the Government to strengthen media cross ownership laws and protect diversity in the Australian mass media.

Senator Ludlam said the recent Fairfax raid by mining billionaire Gina Rinehart was just an example of the ongoing concentration of media ownership in Australia.

“This is not about Mrs Rinehart’s personal world view. It’s about the mass media in Australia being run by a tiny handful of people which is getting smaller and smaller.”

“Eleven of Australia’s twelve capital city daily papers are owned by either Fairfax or Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd. The remaining newspaper is effectively controlled by the owner of Channel Seven. It stands to reason that the concentration of media ownership in this country has gone far enough.”

“Disturbingly, Australia is already ranked 30th in the world for press freedom. By comparison, Canada is 10th and New Zealand is 13th.” (Reporters Without Borders – Press Freedom Index 2011/2012)

Mining billionaire Gina Rinehart has bought almost 14% of Fairfax Media, adding to her 10% stake in Channel Ten. The reach of Fairfax extends beyond the city mastheads the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age into regional towns right across Australia.

“The weakening of Australia’s media ownership laws by the Howard Government has had a negative impact on the integrity of public debate in Australia, a situation that will worsen if further concentration of ownership is permitted.”

“With the support of the Australian Greens, the Government can take the urgent action required to protect diversity in media ownership in Australia. We have asked the Australian people to write to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy through our website – http://www.greensmps.org.au/media-ownership – to urge him to take action before it is too late.”

Media Release: Greens ready for March election

Posted by Jim McDonald on January 25, 2012

The Greens candidate for Noosa, Dr Jim McDonald welcomed the announcement for an election date by Premier Anna Bligh, this morning.

Dr McDonald said that the LNP and Labor leaders had descended to a schoolyard level of debate on the election date.

I have no doubt that the decision will be controversial concerning the decision to push back the Council elections, but people have been confused between coverage of State and local government elections.

The Greens policy supports fixed terms and the adoption of that principle will take away the demeaning argy bargy that we have seen this week between Campbell Newman and Anna Bligh.

However, the biggest problem we face in Queensland is that no party once in government seriously commits to any long term action planning.

People often say to me that The Greens can never win government so it is a wasted vote. But voting for The Greens is a vote for the future. We must leave behind the dysfunctional ratbaggery that has characterised the Queensland Parliament and deal with long term issues beyond the three-year electoral cycle instead of short-term, populist programs.

If I am elected to the Parliament for Noosa I can focus my contribution in representing Noosa on the solutions requiring long-term strategy and action, such as a commitment to the infrastructure planning and programs necessary to prepare for the effects of climate change in the region and economic prosperity for Noosa in the post-carbon economy.

This is not something you ever hear from Mr Elmes or the Young Labor candidate from Brisbane.

Because I am not constrained by the vested interests that support Labor and the LNP, my focus will be on the benefits for the whole of the electorate and the region rather than select groups and the coal and gas industries.”

Dr McDonald said, “The Noosa and Hinterland Greens Branch are organised and ready for the long campaign.”

campaigning

Jim McDonald campaigning for the Greens

Jim McDonald
Greens Candidate Noosa
Media Release, 25 January 2012

Noosa Greens Candidate dissects LNP policy on de-amalgamation and finds a “Yes Minister” policy designed to fail

Posted by Jim McDonald on January 24, 2012

Jim McDonald, the Greens Candidate for Noosa, writes to the Noosa News about de-amalgamation:

I’d like to thank Bob Ansett for pointing out what the LNP’s website says about Noosa’s de-amalgamation because what the LNP spokesperson for Local Government, Gympie MP, David Gibson, says and doesn’t say on that website is quite different from the LNP’s actual policy.

As The Greens candidate for Noosa, I have called for a referendum to establish the ratepayers’ wishes as the primary step in giving the Noosa community the local government it really wants. This is a community-focussed process of decision-making and the role of the Government will be then to facilitate – through community consultation – any changes resulting from the community’s response.

The LNP proposal is for “an advisory poll of voters in any proposed new Local Government boundary” after a Queensland Boundaries Commissioner has prepared their “preferred options” for any changes after he or she has considered submissions from the community.

These are important differences that need to be understood by all the groups involved. The LNP offers the Noosa community an “advisory” role in a poll. The policy does not indicate what kind of poll that might be. The Greens have called for a local  referendum – let the community decide on deamalgamation not some appointed Commissioner fiddling with boundaries, “advised” by the community.

This “advisory poll” is something quite different from Mr Newman’s and Mr Gibson’s undertaking that “residents living within the proposed new council area will, by a simple majority, vote whether or not they wish to establish a new Noosa Shire Council”.

In designating a role for a Commissioner to make the decision on whether Noosa is to get the Council it wants, the LNP has developed a process that pushes the community to the side. LNP policy also will load the cost of a new Noosa Council on the residents: “ratepayers of any proposed new local authority would bear the full costs of any de-amalgamation.”

The Greens position is that if the community decides on separation the cost should be borne by the Government since it was the Queensland Government that forced amalgamation on us in the first place.

The Commissioner’s process of decision-making looks very like a “Yes Minister” scenario. I say that because the LNP policy includes the critical statement of principle: “The LNP has made it clear that its preference is for Queensland’s Councils to remain as  currently constituted to avoid any further disruption and cost for local communities.” With that statement goes any confidence that accommodating the electorate’s interests is anything more than a sop to the community’s wishes.

As a Noosa resident who favours de-amalgamation, I’m rather disappointed that Friends of Noosa and the Alliance find the LNP position so attractive since any close examination of the LNP policy shows that Campbell Newman and David Gibson have made an offer that is designed to fail the wishes of the Noosa community, and the LNP cannot be trusted to carry out their wishes.

Jim McDonald
Greens Candidate
Noosa
13 January 2012

Media Release: Greens candidate says the debate on a new Noosa Council misses the most important issue

Posted by Jim McDonald on

The Greens candidate for Noosa, Dr Jim McDonald, said that the most important issue in the de-amalgamation debate was that the State Government should give Noosa residents the Council they really want.

He said, “No-one should assume that the Noosa community as a whole still has the views that were evident in 2007 – 8. There is significant churn in this electorate as residents come and go. “At the moment, the activists and the other candidates hitching a ride on the de-amalgamation campaign only think they know. People I talk to are not of a single voice on the issue.

“We need to get away from the hysteria evident in the public debate. The State Government owes it to the people of Noosa and those communities willing to join in a new Noosa Council to conduct a referendum in the Noosa region when the State election is held.”

Dr McDonald said that a referendum in Noosa and communities wishing to join in on the establishment of a new Council would be a smart move for the Queensland Government. It would establish once and for all what Noosa people really want for their area.

He said that although the Independent Alliance had taken some of the party political spin out of the issue, the old party politics had hobbled the Noosa Council issue. “I’ve been listening for years now to Bob Ansett rail against Anna Bligh. When Friends of Noosa threw their lot behind Glen Elmes and the LNP, and claimed to speak for the residents, they cut off any opportunity for the Noosa community to negotiate separation with the Queensland Government before the Coast councils were amalgamated. They made it an Opposition campaign
issue.

“The Greens campaigned for de-amalgamation during the last State election. It is still Greens policy for Noosa. However, establishing the actual wishes of Noosa residents today is the fundamental priority in considering Noosa’s future.

“The Greens believe in strong Local Government,” he said, “but the most important point is that a separate council should not be imposed on Noosa any more than amalgamation was. If the majority want the Regional Council to work better, then the new Government should respond to that.

“Earlier this year, Greens Leader, Bob Brown, sought to strengthen local government by calling for a federal referendum to include provisions in the Constitution to protect Councils in areas like Noosa. “Meanwhile the local branches of the Labor Party remain silent. I am sure that Glen Elmes himself is sincere about de-amalgamation but the LNP makes promises that have so many back-out provisions their commitment cannot be believed.

“Considering the affordability question is critical, but the debate is off the rails. On the one side the Alliance costings would support the argument for a new council. On the other side, Cr Brennan has aligned himself with the technocrats in the Regional Council and some opposition is based almost solely on the costs.

“The Noosa Greens believe the State Government, which inflicted amalgamation on Noosa, should cover the costs of separation if the residents of Noosa and surrounding communities wishing to join with Noosa are given an opportunity to vote on it and they actually support the creation of a new Noosa Council.”

Jim McDonald
Noosa Greens Candidate
13 December 2011

Greens urge big parties to get behind constitutional reform

Posted by Steve on January 4, 2012

Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown has welcomed the release of the report by the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government.

“The Gillard government and the Opposition should get behind this important and needed constitutional reform,” Senator Brown said.

“The panel’s outcome is the result of the process that stemmed from the agreement the Greens signed with Labor on 1 September 2010.”

The agreement stated that the parties would work together and with other parliamentarians to:

Hold referenda during the 43rd Parliament or at the next election on Indigenous constitutional recognition and recognition of local government in the Constitution.

An open letter to Drew Hutton facing court for trying to protect our land

Posted by Jim McDonald on August 22, 2011

Good luck on Thursday, Drew.

There is no doubt about the immorality of CSG extraction and coalmining on productive land and in people’s homes, but the laws are not geared towards what is best for Australia’s food security, nor what is best for the aquifers and the Great Artesian Basin, nor for the atmosphere as methane leaks, nor for the destruction of family lives and the peace of communities. On these grounds alone you have an absolute reasonable excuse.

The work you have done for the farmers and communities of the Darling Downs is sowing seeds across the country sustained by your’s and the farmers courage to stand up against multi-nationals and Australian companies out for a fast buck whatever the damage they do.

Drew, you should be proud of what you have achieved for all of us in bringing the pernicious industrialisation of our land and its resources to the public consciousness. I am!

Jim McDonald

Greens’ initiative on local government announced

Posted by Steve on June 21, 2011

Greens Leader Bob Brown has welcomed the announcement of an expert panel to guide Australia to a referendum to recognise and protect local government in the Constitution, delivering on the Greens’ initiative in the agreement signed with the Government.

The Agreement signed on 1 September 2010 included the following goal:

f) Hold referenda during the 43rd Parliament or at the next election on Indigenous constitutional recognition and recognition of local government in the Constitution.

“The Greens will have a representative on the panel,” Senator Brown said.

“Local governments deliver for communities and need to be able to call on federal government support, as we saw during the financial crisis.”

“Without recognition in the Constitution direct grants from the Commonwealth to local government face massive legal uncertainty.”

“Previous attempts, in 1974 and 1988, to have the status of local government recognised through a referendum failed because of the confusing nature of the questions put to the Australian voters. This time, the process will be supported by an expert panel,” Senator Brown said.

Big Tobacco should butt out of the political process

Posted by Steve on May 26, 2011

The Australian Greens will move to amend electoral laws to ban donations to political parties by tobacco companies, Greens Leader Bob Brown said.

“We hope the Government’s proposed plain-packaging legislation, which the Greens support, gets through soon. The Greens will also move to ban donations to political parties from tobacco companies,” Senator Brown said.

“The few brave Liberals, who are about to cross the floor if necessary to stop the end of glossy advertising on cigarettes, should be applauded. But it doesn’t need to stop there. All parties should also stop taking donations from Big Tobacco.”

“The Australian Greens don’t accept donations from tobacco companies and Mark Latham should be applauded for putting a stop to the ALP’s acceptance of donations from tobacco companies back in 2004.”

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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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