Millers Point Public Housing Statement

The O'Farrell Government today announced the sale of 293 public housing properties in Millers Point and the Rocks with the move expected to displace more than 400 public housing tenants.

This is despite the fact that they have to date failed to undertake a complete assessment of the housing stock in question and that they have not developed a staged strategy to ensure certainty for the public housing tenants affected.

Greens MP and Housing Spokesperson, Jan Barham said:

"It is simply unacceptable that the government has made this announcement without notifying residents, and only days after it fronted the Parliament's Housing inquiry.

Greens Support Professional Engineers in Public Sector

Greens NSW Transport Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, has supported a campaign to protect engineering expertise in the public service. Professionals Australia is running a campaign 'On Solid Ground' to stop government deskilling of engineers in the Roads and Maritime Services.

"There is no lack of surveys and reports to tell us that there is still a massive skills shortage in the engineering and technology sector.

"I have worked in local councils where there have been only a handful of qualified engineers and technologists in the technical services divisions of these organisations. This is high-risk for the employees, the organization and our community, but most of all for our future.

"If we want to grow and progress to be an innovative nation, we need engineers and technologists -who are trained in the technical know-how but also as problem solvers and creative thinkers to develop the infrastructure required to move us towards sustainability in the 21st century.

"To transition to a sustainable and greener society and economy we also need investment in renewable energy, integrated water management - reusing, recycling stormwater, rainwater, greywater and innovative waste management systems - and we need engineers to do all this.

Coalition/Labor vote down Senate plan to sandbag against lobbyist scandals

With leading Coalition and Labor figures caught up in lobbying scandals the major parties combined forces in the Senate to vote down a motion backing greater regulation of lobbying activities in the federal parliament, Greens democracy spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said today.

"It is extraordinary that when given the opportunity to vote for a much needed clean-up of lobbyist activities that would provide greater transparency for the public, Labor and the Coalition choose to vote together to maintain the current feeble oversight system," Senator Rhiannon said.

"The existing Lobbying Code of Conduct captures little of the lobbying activity that occurs behind closed doors.

"The vote on the Senate motion puts the spotlight on the unwillingness of the major parties to clean up a system that leaves the door open to corrupt activities.

"The federal code limited to third party lobbyists lags well behind regulatory schemes in the US and Canada.

"The motion the Coalition and Labor voted against called for an Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying, a new definition of lobbying to include all MPs and Senators, including cross benchers and opposition MPs and for a ban on the payment of success fees to lobbyists.

"No major party Senator spoke against the motion to explain why they are opposed to these changes.

Snowy environment without watchdog

The O'Farrell government is leaving the Snowy River and Mountains environment without the protection of an independent watchdog, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

('Snowy loses the independent watchdog working to restore its health'', Sydney Morning herald, 18 March, p. 6, http://j.mp/smh140318)

The Snowy Hydro Corporatisation Amendment (Snowy Advisory Committee) Bill 2013 which will be debated in the NSW Upper House today dissolves the independent Snowy Scientific Committee and replaces it with an Advisory Committee that:

* Will not be independent of government; and * Will not produce an annual state of the environment report

Greens introduce legislation to end cruel cosmetics

Greens animal welfare spokesperson Senator Rhiannon will introduce a bill to

*         ban the testing and sale of cosmetics and cosmetic ingredients that have been tested on animals in Australia

*         ban the import and sale of cosmetic products tested on animals.

The bill modifies existing legislation (Industrial Chemicals Act 1989).

Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt said: "Today is a great day for animals and for Australian consumers.

"This bill gives certainty to Australia's consumers, who can now be 100% confident that cosmetics in Australia will cruelty-free.

"This bill also will give the cruelty-free cosmetics industry a significant boost and will put in place a thick red line, giving the entire industry certainty and clarity.

"The European Union, one of the world's biggest markets, is already cruelty-free and it's great that Australia will be joining the list of cruelty-free countries," said Mr Bandt.

Senator Rhiannon said: "We are encouraged that MPs from both Labor and the Liberals have pledged their support to the Be Cruelty-Free Australia campaign.  This takes us one step closer to ending cosmetics animal cruelty in Australia.

"It is disgraceful that an estimated 500,000 animals - mainly rabbits and rodents - are used each year around the world in tests of cosmetic ingredients or products", said Senator Rhiannon.

Hannah Stuart, Be Cruelty-Free Australia, said: "In this day and age it simply isn't acceptable to test cosmetics on animals. Nobody needs a lipstick more than a rabbit needs its life.  Be Cruelty-Free Australia is leading the call for a cruelty-free world so we are delighted to support this Bill to ensure no animal suffers for our vanity in Australia's labs or for the cosmetics sold in our shops."

Productivity Commission Report slams Coalition's approach on Infrastructure

Commenting on today's release of the Productivity Commission's report on Public Infrastructure, Greens spokesperson for Transport Senator Lee Rhiannon said:

"The Productivity Commission has taken a strong stand against the Abbott Government's support for expensive infrastructure projects that don't meet a rigorous cost-benefit test.

"Missing" letters from Metgasco finally released

Four "missing" letters from Metgasco Ltd to Government Ministers have finally been released indicating what Greens MP David Shoebridge has long been speculating, that a high level of political interference took place during police protest operations at Glenugie last year.

Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson wrote to the then Minister for Resource and Energy, now ICAC embroiled, Chris Hartcher as well as the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Brad Hazzard, Minister for Police and Emergency Services Michael Gallacher and the Attorney General Greg Smith requesting "greater legal reinforcement" for their operations.

Henderson also expressed concern about the "excessively lenient legal system" and its "unwillingness" to harshly penalise activists with "anti-development agendas." Henderson's suggestion to the Government in how to deal with protesters was to impose mandatory sentences.

The content in these letters now raises questions as to why the Government failed to hand over these documents following numerous GIPA requests lodged by David Shoebridge.

Study pushes ineffective and expensive flood option

Spending up to $1 billion raising the Warragamba dam wall is an expensive and environmentally damaging option that will not protect homes in the Hawkesbury-Nepean flood plain, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

('Backlash over review of $1b Warragamba flood protection', Sydney Morning Herald, 12 March 2014, page 8, http://j.mp/smh140312Wgba)

A study led by the NSW Office of Water (http://j.mp/HkyCtchRM) recommended further study of their preferred option of raising the crest by 15 or 23 metres to protect 20,000 homes from the risk of inundation.

Dr Kaye said: "The study report admits that raising the crest at Warragamba would have 'limited impact in the total number of people that will need to be evacuated in extreme flood events.'

Greens support action to give parents coherent voice

At a critical time for public education, legislative reform is urgently needed to give NSW parents a coherent voice, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

('Piccoli to force P&C reform', Sydney Morning Herald, 12 March, page 1, http://j.mp/smh130312pandc)

The emergence of two executive bodies claiming to run the NSW P&C Federation has prompted calls for action to change the state legislation.

The NSW Education Act currently allows the minister to regulate the rules of P&C Associations (school-based bodies) and their district councils, but not the state-wide body, which is not recognised in the Act.

Dr Kaye said: "The current situation is untenable. We will work with the government and the opposition to create a functional voice for parents, but the model must guarantee the independence of the organisation.

Greens Concerned About Committee Recommendation to Commercialise National Parks

Greens NSW Environment Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, has expressed concern about a conservative parliamentary committee recommending that the Government is directing National Parks to be open to more commercialisation.