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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Rinehart a threat to Australian egalitarianism

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.”

Greens announce new bill to deliver $50 per week Newstart increase

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.

Pyne’s elitist education u-turn deserts struggling students

Posted by Steve on December 1, 2013


Hundreds of thousands of Australian students will continue to struggle at school if the Coalition refuses to honor funding promises to Australian public schools, says Australian Greens spokesperson for Schools Senator Penny Wright.

Senator Wright said after days of deliberate deceit by Education Minister Christopher Pyne, a meeting of education ministers today had revealed Federal Government’s education cuts would only affect public schools.

“This government has finally revealed their true education agenda – to give even more to those who already have more, and take from those who can least afford it,” Senator Wright said.

“This is an utter betrayal of the public and our students to so completely abandon the principles of the Gonski review, which was about finally ending the huge education gaps between the most and least privileged children.

“Whether it is kids from the country, kids with disabilities or kids with tough family circumstances, the students who need extra help overwhelmingly attend public schools.

“If public schools lose out, thousands and thousands of these kids suffer. The Coalition’s plan is elitist and shameful in the extreme.

“State education ministers said today’s meeting was heated – I can only imagine how inflamed it would have been if the room had been filled with parents from around the country because a more complete duplicity is difficult to imagine.

“The Australian Greens will continue to stand up for schools and students all around this country and we are committed to blocking the Coalition’s efforts to desert Australia’s most needy children.”

‘Name and Shame’ laws a dangerous approach

Posted by Steve on September 29, 2013

Justive reinvestment

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.

Wage rise needed to keep talented teachers in classrooms

Posted by Steve on April 7, 2013


A push for higher salaries for teachers should spark a national conversation about the recognition of the teaching profession, says Australian Greens spokesperson for Schools, Senator Penny Wright.

“It is wonderful that there is growing recognition of the need to treat teaching as we treat other professions,” Senator Wright said.

“At the moment, teachers reach the highest pay level very quickly and the only way they can advance their careers is to move out of the classroom to administrative roles.

“The Australian Greens know that if we want the best and brightest to be teaching our students, we have to offer career opportunities and incentives to stay in teaching positions.

“Last year, an OECD Education at a Glance report showed that the salaries of experienced teachers in Australia are lagging behind their counterparts in other countries.

“A very large number of prominent institutions, businesses and individuals are calling for a new approach to teacher pay, and I encourage State and Federal Governments to begin this discussion in earnest.

“We need to attract the best to teaching and we need to keep them there once they are in the workforce, which means fair wages, appropriate career structures and support for the challenging work they do.”

Greens to push for vote on voluntary euthanasia bill

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.”

Quick action needed to secure referendum on local govt recognition

Posted by Steve on March 10, 2013

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.

Children’s Commissioner a win for Noosa kids

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.”

Qld govt actions to weaken rights shows need for federal marriage equality reforms

Posted by Steve on June 22, 2012

The Newman government has taken the extraordinary step of beginning to remove the rights of some of its citizens through its introduction of amendments to the Civil Partnerships Act and related legislation, according to the Australian Greens.

“The Greens are appalled that a state government would crumble to the Australian Christian Lobby’s demands and start to legislate to weaken the relationships of same-sex couples,” Greens’ human rights spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said.

“This decision is another reason why we need federal marriage equality reforms which cannot be weakened at the whim of a malleable state government.

“Civil unions are not marriage, and only marriage says to same-sex Australian couples that their love is equal.

“The Greens have legislation in both houses of federal parliament to remove discrimination faced by same-sex couples who want the right to choose to celebrate their love with a civil marriage ceremony.

“Tony Abbott needs to stop defying Liberal party tradition and grant a conscience vote to Coalition members, following the leadership displayed by the NSW Premier recently for a marriage equality motion.”

Time for Australian Government to recognise local government in Constitution

Posted by Steve on June 20, 2012

Senator Christine Milne

Addressing the National General Assembly of Local Government, Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne, has called on Regional Affairs Minister Simon Crean to respond to the recommendations of the Expert Panel which examined the recognition of local governments in Australia’s Constitution.

Senator Milne also told the Assembly that the work local governments do is crucial in building a clean economy and creating strong and healthy communities.

“In 2010, Bob Brown stood here and made a commitment to a referendum on recognising local government in the Constitution. The Greens have delivered, included a referendum on this issue as part of the Agreement to form Government with Labor,” Senator Milne said.

“In December last year, Simon Crean committed to responding to the Panel’s report in early 2012. So far no response has been forthcoming, while The Greens have continued to work for greater recognition of local government and the vital role it has in Australia.

“Australia’s councils are supporting our local communities to go green, with energy efficiency and solar hot water programs, biodiversity projects funded by the $1 billion Biodiversity Fund secured by the Greens, and building public support for nuclear free council zones.

“There is no doubt that local government is integral to building the cleaner, smarter and healthier Australia that communities want.

“There should be no more delay – I encourage local governments and communities to campaign with the Greens in Parliament to put pressure on the Government to schedule the referendum for the next election.”

“Local governments are on the frontline of building a clean green economy and providing essential public services, but councils are under pressure to make a small pool of money go a very long way,” Australian Greens spokesperson for local government, Senator Lee Rhiannon, said.

“Constitutional recognition would provide funding security for local councils to continue to deliver services that people expect and deserve.

“Greens Senators – standing alongside over 100 Greens local councillors around Australia – will continue to campaign for a referendum on constitutional recognition for local government.”

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