May 2015

Greens to push for marriage equality on the back of historic Irish win

Greens have always stood for full equality and always will

The Australian Greens welcome the historic vote of ‘YES’ for same sex marriage in Ireland and call on Australia to follow suit.

“The news of a resounding ‘YES’ vote in Ireland for amending their constitution to extend the right to marry to all couples, regardless of gender, is fantastic and it is time for Australia to catch up” Greens marriage equality spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“The Greens will push for a vote on a bill for same sex marriages to be recognised before the year is out

“There is nothing in the Australian constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. A vote by parliament is all that is needed and Tony Abbott should allow his party a conscious vote on the subject

"Cupid doesn't discriminate and neither should the law

Greens call for national overhaul of NAPLAN

The Australian Greens are calling for drastic changes to the annual NAPLAN tests, which begin again tomorrow, saying the scheme undermines quality education.

Spokesperson for schools Senator Penny Wright said research has shown the tests are narrowing the curriculum, discouraging creativity and placing too much pressure on students and schools.

"More and more class time is being spent on NAPLAN coaching and parents are withdrawing their kids at record rates," Senator Wright said.

"It's clearly time to acknowledge this isn't working as planned and start doing something about it."

Senator Wright said the tests could be improved by examining a broader range of subjects and skills and by removing the whole-school scores from the MySchool website.

"The hyper-competitive environment created by the MySchool site has distracted from student needs," Senator Wright said.

"It has turned NAPLAN into a high-stakes test with very little public or private benefit."

"NAPLAN tests such a tiny area of the curriculum and very few student skills, but the publicity around school rankings is distorting what we value in education.

"Because it's easier to mark a multiple choice test, a tick-a-box style of learning is creeping back in, at the expense of creativity and real-world application.

"Most teachers say NAPLAN only tells them what they already know from working with these kids every day - yet we see a ridiculously pressured atmosphere where more than two-thirds of principals think the tests actually damage student wellbeing."

Read the Greens fully funded education policies here

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Cost-effective battery storage will entirely disrupt the economics of traditional wires and poles utilities

Tesla Powerwall

Today's announcement by US electric car manufacturer Tesla of a roll-out of household, business and utility-scale batteries will be a game changer for the future of the state's electricity industry, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

While the new technology offers unprecedented opportunities to generate jobs, cut emissions and reduce energy bills, NSW Premier Mike Baird's plans to lease the wires and poles will now have to face the challenge of households opting for energy independence from the grid.

Details of the announcement are available at: http://j.mp/TeslaBatts

Dr Kaye said: "Cost-effective battery storage will entirely disrupt the economics of traditional wires and poles utilities.

"As solar panels and storage become cost-competitive with grid connection, households who can stump up the cash will leave the network in droves.

"Many of the existing 298 thousand solar households in NSW will be looking at the battery option to escape the cost and environmental impacts of being connected to the grid.

"The business case for private sector bidders for the wires and poles leases just took a massive hit.

"Premier Mike Baird's dream of reaping $15 billion on the leases has been dashed by Tesla and the other companies who will inevitably join the energy storage revolution.

"The wires and poles companies recover their investment by charging consumers for their costs and a healthy additional profit. When those household that can afford stand-alone systems disconnect, the rest of the community are left to pay.

"If the leases proceed, low income households and renters will be even more vulnerable to private sector owners recouping their investment from a diminishing pool of customers.

"Public sector ownership is now even more important to protect low income households and apartment dwellers from becoming the victims of corporate power monopolies.

"The roll-out of cost-effective battery storage is now inevitable.

"Household energy storage will disrupt the business models of every sector of the electricity industry.

"The technology offers unprecedented opportunities to generate jobs, cut emissions and reduce energy bills.

"There are limitless possibilities for the state's economic future and for a community seeking to slash their greenhouse gas emissions.

"The benefits of decentralisation of the electricity generation can only be guaranteed by maintaining public ownership.

"Premier Mike Baird now has to explain how his privatisation plans can survive both the Australian Energy Regulator's latest determination and Tesla's cost-effective battery storage," Dr Kaye said.