Shooting death of environmental officer a tragedy

The shooting death of a State Government environment protection officer is a tragedy and a clear warning of the need to ensure public sector workers are respected and fully protected in their work.

Greens MP and Industrial Relations spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

"This is a terrible tragedy and shows the need for greater efforts to protect public sector workers, particularly when they are working alone to enforce the law.

Resumption of ICAC Probe into Newcastle Underlies Need for Parliamentary Inquiry into Cutting Newcastle Rail Line

Greens MP and NSW Spokesperson for Transport, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, has called on the parliament to support her motion to establish a parliamentary inquiry into the cutting of the Newcastle rail line, which appears to only benefit property developers. Operation Spicer, the ICAC investigation into alleged corruption, will resume in August with a focus on Newcastle.

Dr Faruqi said:

"From day one, the community has been demanding to know on what basis the Government is truncating the Newcastle rail line, given the detrimental impacts on public transport for commuters and that the only winners appear to be property developers.

"With news that Newcastle will be the epicentre of the Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation examining alleged prohibited political donations by property developers , there is an urgent need for parliament to investigate the reason why the Newcastle rail line is being cut, especially when so many in the community are against it.

Government Opal Card Selling Strategy Makes No Transport Sense

Greens MP and NSW Spokesperson for Transport, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, has criticised the Government's policy of not allowing Opal Cards to be sold at station windows as undermining integrated transport and ticketing and a move towards further privatisation of public transport.

Dr Faruqi said:

"We now have an absurd situation where Sydney Trains staff are unable to sell Opal Cards from ticket windows, which undermines the very essence of making ticketing easy.

"It is very clear that this is a move to undermine public sector workers and give a private company and contractors a monopoly on selling the Opal Cards; already we have seen more than seventy public sector ticketing staff go.

End competitive VET model to ensure TAFE survival

Responding to figures that government funding to non-TAFE education providers has more than doubled in four years the Australian Greens have called for the competitive VET model to be abolished to ensure the public TAFE system survives.

The Australian Education Union has calculated that payments to non-TAFE providers, as a proportion of Government recurrent funding, was 11 per cent in 2008 and 23.2 per cent in 2012 nationally.

A legitimate reason to whine: cellar door risk based license fees

Greens MP John Kaye said, "The risk-based licensing system was supposed to be proportionate to a venue's level of risk. It is ridiculous to think that a small independent cellar door in regional NSW should pay the same base risk price as that of a club or full hotel in George St Sydney.

"Cellar door operators have nowhere near the same risk factors as other premises. Their typical clientele, business model and operating hours are as distinct from the conditions that contribute to risk in a venue as it can get.

"The broad license category of Producer/Wholesaler has captured the small viticulturists who actually work to improve our relationship with alcohol.

"Rather than a commodity to be consumed quickly and in large quantities, cellar doors and local wine businesses encourage valuing and appreciating the drinks in a more considered way.

Stokes flexes muscles on clean energy

Greens NSW MP John Kaye welcomed NSW Environment Minister Rob Stokes' commitment to rooftop solar and energy efficiency projects for the government's own buildings and the promise of more rational noise regulation for wind farms.

('Renewable energy: NSW to be 'Australia's answer to California'', Sydney Morning Herald, 22 July 2014, http://j.mp/ren140722)

Dr Kaye said: "Clean energy investments will save the NSW government money in the long run and help sharpen the focus on the state's heavy dependence on coal and gas.

"However, the Liberals and Nationals are still sending mixed messages to businesses and households.

"On the one hand, the NSW Environment Minister is pushing government agencies to model responsible clean energy investment behaviour.

"At the same time, the Abbott government has dismantled the carbon price and is undermining the Renewable Energy Target.

"The signal is confused and ineffective.

Crushing police force was planned to end peaceful CSG blockade

Documents released to the NSW Greens under freedom of information laws have revealed that the NSW Police force was intending to deploy up to 800 police to crush the peaceful community blockade at a coal seam gas drilling site at Bentley in the State’s north.

Greens MP and Police Spokesperson David Shoebridge said,

“It is quite extraordinary that the NSW Government had advanced plans to deploy up to 800 police to crush the peaceful blockade at Bentley.

“The coal seam gas industry is so deeply unpopular that it requires overwhelming police force to be able to operate. Any accountable democratic government would take that as a sign the industry has no future.

“When a government plans to deliver this level of force against a law abiding regional community then it is only one step away from losing its legitimacy.

NSW Government must heed Federal warnings on ‘gambler’s addiction to roads’

Greens MP and NSW Spokesperson for Roads, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, has commented on reports of a leaked Infrastructure Australia report that describes “hideously inefficient” spending on national roads. The NSW Government is wasting billions of dollars building the NorthConnex and WestConnex tollways.

Dr Faruqi said:

“The Roads Minister would do well to listen to Infrastructure Australia, who have long had questions about the WestConnex business case, and who are now saying that Australia has a ‘gambler’s addiction to roads’.

“This view confirms what the Greens have long been warning about, that this Government’s obsession with roads is ill-conceived.

“For many transport experts and communities, the description of road spending as an addiction rings true, especially as the government has been so secretive about the business case for the 13 billion dollar WestConnex tollway.

ROZELLE VILLAGE: MAYOR MUST COME CLEAN ON ZONING

The planning minister, Pru Goward, has recommended Leichhardt Council redraw local planning controls for the former Balmain Tigers Club site in Rozelle.

Member for Balmain Jamie Parker and Leichhardt Councillor Rochelle Porteous welcomed the news.

“Since day one, the Greens Councillors have consistently urged and voted for a development which is no more than three-to-four storeys. I am concerned, however, that the current Mayor has not been unequivocal in his support for what the community wants,” says Cr Porteous.

Weeks before the 2008 local council elections, most Liberal and all Labor Leichhardt Councillors voted to change the planning controls, which allowed an increase on building height from three-to-four storeys to eight-to-12 storeys. The Greens vigorously opposed the changes, arguing that this would allow an unsustainable overdevelopment of the site.

Greens kick off TAFE tour in the Illawarra

As the clock ticks down to the introduction of the Baird government's devastating changes to the vocational education and training sector, time is running out for local communities in the Illawarra and South Coast to have their say about the future of TAFE, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

Dr Kaye will be meeting with teachers and their union representatives on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week to discuss the impacts of the Coalition's Smart and Skilled training market on local TAFE colleges and the ability of young people in the region to access affordable quality skills training.