Labor Mayor opposes light rail extension to Balmain

Leichhardt Council's Labor Mayor Darcy Byrne has pushed a motion through Council to oppose a light rail extension to Balmain, taking an extraordinary anti-public transport stance with the support of Labor and Liberal Councillors.

Greens Councillors argued in support of the expansion of light rail in the inner west, including backing Greens MP Jamie Parker's plan for extension along Parramatta Road and to Balmain.

Greens MP Jamie Parker said:

"The expansion of light rail within the Inner West is crucial for local business and commuters, while providing an environmentally sustainable commuting option and opening up Parramatta Road to become more than just a parking lot.

Community ignored as controversial development gets green light

Former factory sites in Leichhardt have been rezoned to allow up to 330 apartments in a controversial amendment to the Leichhardt Local Environment Plan this week by the Liberal State government.

Greens MP Jamie Parker has been leading the campaign against the rezoning, alongside Kegworth Public School's P&C and hundreds of residents, including lobby group Save Our Suburbs Leichhardt.

Mr Parker said: "We have serious concerns about the bulk and scale of the development, which is not in keeping with the surrounding streets and will destroy our residential streetscape.

"Independent traffic analysis shows that the surrounding road network is already experiencing significant congestion, with delays likely to increase as a result of this development.

Wood-chip power not clean or green

The O'Farrell government is condemning the native forests of NSW to decades of devastation by creating a new market for woodchips, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye

Dr Kaye was commenting on Energy Minister Anthony Roberts' announcement that native forest materials that are currently produced for wood-chipping to make paper pulp will no longer excluded as fuels for powers stations.

Dr Kaye said: "The O'Farrell government has condemned the forests of this state to decades of destruction.

"Instead of using the collapse in the woodchip market as an opportunity to give the forests a much-needed reprieve, Energy Minister Roberts has green-lighted an industry that will consume millions of trees.

"The O'Farrell government cannot hide behind the excuse that the biomass industry will not increase current logging and clearing rates.

"The Minister had the opportunity to take the pressure of the forests by letting the woodchip industry sink under its own failing business model. Instead he has created a new market and perpetuated the unsustainable exploitation of the state's forests.

"Apart from consuming more than 1 million tonnes of trees each year, the native forestry logging industry receives annual state-government subsidies of more than $8 million.

National Parks at risk from tourism activities

The recommendations of an inquiry into the impacts of tourism would leave NSW National Parks at risk from development and fossicking, warns Greens MP Jan Barham.

"I'm alarmed that the inquiry has recommended allowing the development of tourist accommodation and supporting fossicking within parks. This is a missed opportunity to recognise the importance of reserving pristine natural areas, and the value it contributes to the state's tourism appeal," Ms Barham said.

"The NSW Visitor Economy Taskforce's Action Plan documented that nature and wildlife experiences are a key drawcard for the tourism industry in NSW. We need to maintain the state's reputation for protecting the natural appeal of NSW."

Principals' concerns demand reinstatement of NSW Drug and Alcohol Unit

The Drug and Alcohol unit within the NSW Department of Education, destroyed by the O'Farrell government as part of their budget-cutting 2012 restructure, should be reinstated to address the growing impacts of substance abuse on schools, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

('Teachers deal with students' drug and alcohol abuse, report says' Sydney Morning Herald, 6 March, p. 12, http://j.mp/MO263h)

Dr Kaye said: "Since June 2012, schools are being left to deal with the impacts of drug abuse without the support of the experts in the Drug and Alcohol unit.

Greens secure support for Senate inquiry into Qantas

The Greens have secured Labor's support for an inquiry into Qantas and potential forms of government assistance first floated earlier this week (http://bit.ly/1e09Gik).

Greens transport spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said:

"After a week of constructive negotiations, The Greens are pleased that we've managed to secure support in the Senate for an inquiry investigating potential options available to the government and Parliament to assist Qantas.

"The Terms of Reference to be passed by the Senate tomorrow are almost identical to what The Greens moved in the Senate on Wednesday afternoon, with the support of Senator Xenophon, but were blocked by Labor and the Coalition.

"The Greens don't want to play politics with people's jobs and livelihood.

"This inquiry could be very significant in light of the thousands of Australian jobs that Mr Joyce and Mr Abbott have put at risk.

Greens Call on Shoalhaven Council to Suspend Tree Destruction at Gerroa Road

Greens NSW Spokesperson for Environment, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, has responded to reports that Shoalhaven Council plans to remove over 140 trees, some hundreds of years old and also provides habitat for local wildlife by calling on Shoalhaven Council to suspend tree clearing. Over 1200 people have signed a petition to save a local iconic tree and it is clear that there is no community consensus for the mass removal of trees.

"The removal of these hundreds of year old trees would deal a devastating blow to local wildlife that currently rely on them for connectivity and habitat.

Public sector workers saved from O'Farrell meanness

The NSW Upper House today voted to ensure that the NSW Government passed on in full the 2.5% wage increase for public sector workers that was agreed with the public sector union in 2013. By voting to disallow the Industrial Relations (Public Sector Conditions of Employment) Amendment Regulation 2013 the Upper House prevented the O'Farrell government from siphoning off part of the 2.5% wage agreement to meet the 0.25% increase in Federally mandated superannuation.

Muckaty no Solution for Sydney’s Radioactive Waste

Greens NSW Spokesperson for Environment, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, has stated that Muckaty is no solution to radioactive waste problems for Sydney, in response to reports that the State Government is planning to send nuclear waste from Hunters Hill to Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory.

“Neither Muckaty in the Northern Territory nor Western Sydney should be the dumping grounds of nuclear waste.

“I note the great campaign the Greens Federal Senators like Senator Scott Ludlam have been running against the proposed Muckaty nuclear waste facility that seeks to turn Australia into a nuclear waste dumping ground.

“The Muckaty plan is opposed by the Aboriginal traditional owners of the land and there are serious concerns about its ecological impact – the New South Wales Government should not be dumping its problems half way across the country.

Tamil MP to speak about human rights in Sri Lanka and Australia’s role

The UN Human Rights Council adopted US-initiated resolutions in March 2012 and March 2013 (which were co-sponsored by Australia), urging Sri Lanka to address concerns of ongoing human rights abuses, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

With the failure of the Sri Lankan government to comply, further initiatives are likely at the UNHRC during the March 2014 session.

Mr Sumanthiran will be discussing what actions Australia can take within the wider geopolitical context to bring about tangible changes that will lead to accountability, democratization, reconciliation and economic growth in Sri Lanka.

Greens Senator Rhiannon will share key findings on her fact finding mission to Sri Lanka. The forum will be hosted by Senator Lee Rhiannon, Michelle Rowland MP and Craig Laundy MP.