Labor and Coalition remove presumption of innocence from NSW Bail Act

NSW Labor has tonight joined with the Coalition to pass amendments to the NSW Bail Act that remove the presumption of innocence from the purposes of the Bail Act and reinstate complicated and unwieldy presumptions against bail. They made these changes with no supportive evidence and after only a few short months of operation of the new Bail Act.
 
*NSW Greens MP and Justice spokesperson David Shoebridge said:*
 
“This Bill undermines the presumption of innocence for every citizen in NSW, and is an attack on this fundamental principle in our criminal justice system.
 
“Again we have seen both NSW Labor and the Coalition undermine public confidence in our State’s world-class criminal justice system in pursuit of cheap media copy.
 
“Unlike the Coalition and Labor, the Greens have faith in the ability of our courts to protect the public interest and rationally apply risk-based bail laws.

‘Government-endorsed evangelists’ must be stopped

The only way to protect public school students from aggressive scripture providers is to shut down Special Religious Education entirely, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.
 
Dr Kaye was responding to a comment on the website of a scripture provider in the Hunter saying that “A SRE Teacher is not just a teacher, but a government-endorsed evangelist!” (See: http://j.mp/C3scripture)
 
‘School scripture figures an utter fiasco’, Newcastle Herald, 16 September 2014 (http://j.mp/NewcastleHerald)
 
Dr Kaye said: “It is time to confront the reality that the justification for 134 years of state-endorsed evangelism has to come to an end.
 
“The protocols that are supposed to protect students from non-religious backgrounds have failed. The churches are seeing SRE as an open invitation to recruit young and impressionable converts.
 
“Public school administrators are not coping and Education Minister Adrian Piccoli is doing nothing.
 
“Scripture started as a compromise to keep the dominant nineteenth century churches from blocking the growth of public education.

Greens.Reboot.Future conference – fresh perspectives for a progressive Australia

In the week that Australians have been forced into a military conflict in Iraq the Greens are hosting a major public conference that will offer new perspectives on key issues and ask some of the big questions facing progressive activists and politicians in Australia today.
 
British Greens leader, Natalie Bennett, will speak along with peace activist, Donna Mulhearn.
 
Ms Mulhearn said,  “This conference is a timely opportunity to debate Australia’s war role. Going to war in Iraq in 2003 was never in Australia’s interest. Going back 11 years later because of the chaos that war created is even less so. Now is the time for a robust public and parliamentary debate, about Australia’s involvement in the wars of other nations.”

Unanimous call to restore lost compensation benefits

A unanimous Parliamentary committee report tabled today recommends the urgent restoration of some workers compensation benefits that were slashed from the scheme by former Minister Pearce in 2012.
 

Does the NSW Government even realise that it has no Social Housing Policy?

Answers to questions in the NSW Legislative Council this week have revealed that some Ministers appear to be unaware that their Government is operating without a social housing policy, says Greens MP and Housing spokesperson, Jan Barham.
 
"Despite the fact that the Auditor-General pointed out the need to deliver a Social Housing Policy last year, and that less than a fortnight ago our Parliamentary Inquiry repeated that call, Ministers in the Upper House seem to have no idea that their Government is operating without a policy," Ms Barham said.

Liberals and Shooters team up to vote down democracy

The Coalition has today forced the City of Sydney Amendment (Elections) Bill 2014 through Parliament. The bill was designed by the Shooters party and delivered by the Coalition in order to entrench corporate voting and halve the voice of residents on council.
 
While the Coalition and Shooters teamed up to double the corporate vote, the Greens succeeded in amending the bill to prevent the undemocratic scheme from being applied in any Local Government area outside the City of Sydney.
 
*Greens NSW MP and Local Government spokesperson David Shoebridge said:*
 
“This bill is designed to disenfranchise residents in the City of Sydney and hand political power to corporate Australia.
 
“Corporations should not have a single vote in council elections, let alone two as this undemocratic law provides.

Abbott under pressure to wind up Free Enterprise Foundation

The Greens are calling for the controversial Liberal party slush fund, the Free Enterprise Foundation, to be shut down.
 
Greens spokesperson for democracy Senator Lee Rhiannon said "the Free Enterprise Foundation is toxic to democracy with this fund raising arm of the NSW Liberals laundering more than $700,000 for that party.
 
"There is now overwhelming evidence before ICAC of the role of Free Enterprise Foundation in funnelling money into the NSW Liberal Party from banned donors.
 
"Geoffrey Watson, SC counsel - assisting ICAC, has stated that the Free Enterprise Foundation has been used to 'disguise donations from prohibited donors'.
 
"This alone should be a good reason for Prime Minister Tony Abbott to instruct his party to shut down this secretive fundraising body.

NSW Government Must Oppose Shooters Native Vegetation Bill or Risk a Return to Broadscale Clearing

Greens MP and Environment Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, has called on the Government to oppose a Shooters and Fishers Party bill that would gut the Native Vegetation Act and risk returning NSW to the bad old days of broadscale clearing. The Government cabinet will reportedly meet today to take a position on the bill.
 
Dr Faruqi said:
 
"The Government must oppose this destructive Shooters bill. If it doesn't, it will merely confirm that this is the most anti-environment Government NSW has seen.
 
"Just a few weeks back, the Environment Minister reaffirmed that he had carriage of the Native Vegetation Act. It is now time for him to show leadership and commit the Government to opposing this bill which would devastate out natural environment.

Greens fight to protect regional higher education in Lismore

During a visit to Lismore today, Australian Greens spokesperson for higher education, Senator Lee Rhiannon and Greens candidate for Lismore, Adam Guise confirmed the Greens would vote to block the Coalition’s $5 billion cuts to higher education that will increase student fees and devastate regional communities.
 
Mr Guise said: “The Coalition’s budget cuts will rip $60 million in funding out of Southern Cross University, leading to staff cuts, course cuts and severe impacts on education quality.
 
“There are nearly 15,000 students studying at Southern Cross and almost 1000 staff who are incredibly anxious about the possibility of these cuts becoming law.
 
“Most of the students at Southern Cross are from regional areas and the university plays a crucial role in training up teachers and nurses who go on to work in regional areas.
 
“It’s incredibly disappointing that the Nationals voted with the Liberals in the House of Representatives to pass these cuts and sell out regional NSW. The Greens will continue campaigning on the ground to make sure these cuts don’t pass the Senate and become law.”

Time for Baumann to face the music

Evidence heard at ICAC on the final day of public hearings last Friday should give cause for Port Stephens MP Craig Baumann to reconsider his position in the NSW parliament, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.
 
Dr Kaye said: "Mr Baumann admitted to the ICAC that he created a sham invoice in attempt to hide $79,684 in secret donations from developers Jeff McCloy and Hilton Grugeon before the 2007 election.
 
"The admission is telling. The secrecy is very hard to explain unless Mr Baumann thought he was doing something wrong.