Water saving at risk as El Nino heats up

As South East Australia faces increased risk of drought, the Baird government and the pricing regulator are planning to weaken requirements on NSW urban water utilities to save water by recycling and improving efficiency, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

('Sydney Water efficiency targets to be scrapped' Sydney Morning Herald, 14 July, page 3, , http://j.mp/aoi140714)

Dr Kaye said: "As NSW is at significant risk of another El Nino drought, it makes no sense to weaken water efficiency and recycling measures.

Fair Trading Minister compromised consumer safety

As more evidence emerges about the sacking and reinstatement of NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe, it is hard to see how Minister Mathew Mason-Cox can continue in his job, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

('Commissioner back, minister under fire', Sydney Morning Herald, 11 July, page 11, http://j.mp/smh140711)

Dr Kaye said: "Having mishandled the original media opportunities around the tragic death of a young woman using a USB charger, Fair Trading Minister Matthew Mason-Cox attempted to shift the blame for his own incompetence onto a well-respected and highly effective bureaucrat.

"The result has been chaos in a critical frontline government agency.

What will it take for Barnaby Joyce to take action on animal cruelty?

Greens welfare spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon has rejected Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce's attempt to shut down scrutiny of animal cruelty.

Animal welfare group PETA has released footage which shows sheep being punched, kicked and hit with electric shears and a hammer.

"Mr Joyce's attack on PETA is a crude attempt to avoid cleaning up farming practices," said Senator Rhiannon.

"The Minister's questions about where the camera was placed and if the abusers knew if they were being filmed fails to deal with the cruelty issue and is unhelpful for the majority of farm workers who care for their animals.

"This is why Mr Joyce is trying to introduce his ag-gag laws - he wants to punish people who expose cruelty to animals with harsher penalties than to those who actually commit the violence.

Caroona coal mine fails Gateway: Now government must lock the gate

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining and agriculture, Jeremy Buckingham today called on the NSW Government to lock the gate on the Caroona Coal mine after the Mining and Petroleum Gateway Panel found that the proposed coal mine would have direct and significant impacts on strategic agricultural land and highly productive groundwater on the Liverpool Plains. He called for Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce to step in if the NSW Government fails to act.

"The Gateway Panel report is damning and clearly fails this mine proposal as totally unviable if we want to protect our best agricultural land on the Liverpool Plains," said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

"This coal mine has failed 6 out of 6 critical criteria, indicating that mining coal under our most productive cropping and and important water resources is a terrible idea.

Senate passes Greens motion for public release of secret Senate voting system

The Australian Senate has passed a Greens motion that will require the Australian Electoral Commission to release information on how the Senate vote is counted and correspondence on why a FOI claim on this issue was refused.

The motion requires the AEC to publicly release the source code of the software used to count the Senate vote. Greens democracy spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon moved the motion after the AEC knocked back an FOI request by Michael Cordover and then declared him a vexatious litigant.

Senator Rhiannon said "There is no justification for the AEC refusing to release information on how the Senate vote is counted. It is widely known that it is very complex so surely the methodology used should be publicly available.

"The AEC are not only doing the wrong thing in refusing a legitimate FOI request. In the wake of the WA federal election debacle they are further damaging their own reputation.

Australia must end the silence on Palestine

The NSW Greens are calling on all political parties to condemn Israel's military attacks on Gaza and the West Bank.

According to reports, at least 41 Palestinians have been killed in the last 72 hours in Gaza by Israeli forces with 130 wounded. Eleven children under 15 are reported among those killed.

The Israeli Cabinet has authorised the calling up of 40,000 army reservists ahead of a possible ground offensive.  At least 1,500 soldiers have already been deployed around the perimeter of Gaza.

TAFE in education markets no solution

Responding to TAFE forced into higher education markets (The Australian 7 July 2014), Greens higher education spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said:

"The report from the L H Martin Institute highlights the damage that successive Coalition and Labor governments have inflicted on TAFE with VET deregulation and directing public funds to private providers.

"The struggling TAFE sector is already competing with universities. This is not TAFE's path to survival. Federal and state governments should restore TAFE as the primary vocational education and training organisation and wind back the role of for-profit private training centres.

"The only time a private company should receive public money is if they have demonstrated that TAFE cannot provide the required education and training.

"Labor and Coalition governments have gutted TAFE and unless there is an urgent and complete overhaul of the Vocational Education and Training (VET) funding system,  we are about to lose what little of TAFE we have left.

Santos break MOU commitment by failing to lodge CSG application

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today said that Santos had broken its commitment under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed with the NSW Government relating to the Narrabri coal seam gas project.  Under the terms of the MOU, Santos were required to lodge their Environmental Impact Statement by 30 June 2014, however, this has not occurred.

"Santos appear to have broken their commitment under the MOU, by failing to lodge their detailed plans within the set time-frame.  There has been no statement on this issue to the Australian Stock Exchange yet," said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

"The fast-tracked assessment process was meant to start on 30 June 2014 to determine an outcome on 23 January 2015.  If Santos fail to lodge, then the time frame must be extended as well.

"The decision will now be so close to the next State Election in March 2015 that it should be delayed until after the election has occurred and voters have had their say.  This project is too big and controversial to be signed off by a government in caretaker mode.

Time for truth on North Coast mental health workforce

The Greens are challenging Lismore MP Thomas George to come clean on the casualisation of the nursing staff in mental health facilities on the North Coast.

Greens NSW MP John Kaye is in Lismore to campaign with the party's candidate for the state seat of Lismore at the March 2014 election, Adam Guise.

Dr Kaye and Mr Guise will hold a media conference to discuss their concerns that mental health patients on the North Coast are increasingly being denied the benefits of permanent nursing staff.

Cash-starved public schools forced into private care operator contracts

Public school parents facing rising after-hours care costs are paying the price of a hidden wave of Baird government privatisation, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

('Principals cash in on after-school care', Sydney Morning Herald, 5 July 2014, http://j.mp/smhOOSH140705)

Dr Kaye said: "Public school principals facing woefully inadequate budgets are turning to private after-hours care operators to pay big licence fees.

"Parents lose twice over.

"They are confronted with fees that cover not only the cost of the licence paid to the school but also the operator's profits.

"Corporate child care has no place in public schools.

"This is an early glimpse of the consequences of Education Minister Adrian Piccoli's 'Local Schools, Local Decisions' autonomy agenda.