Greens Welcome Government Getting on Board with Light Rail Plan for Western Sydney

Greens NSW Spokesperson for Transport and Western Sydney, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, has welcomed reports that the Minister for Transport, Gladys Berejeklian, will move to include the Parramatta Light Rail concept in future transport plans, but warned that concrete plans needs to be made. The Greens have been advocating for money that has been committed for the wasteful and unnecessary WestConnex tollway to be used for the light rail.

"It is refreshing to see that there is some interest in this government for real public transport solutions for Western Sydney, even while they are wasting billions on the WestConnex Tollway and the North West shuttle service to Chatswood.

"However, the sincerity of these reports remains to be seen - the Roads Minister, Duncan Gay, has previously ridiculed the Parramatta Light Rail proposal in parliament.

"The Greens have been consistently pushing for the Parramatta Light Rail plan that will deliver real intra-Western Sydney transport solutions.

Greens will call for papers on Santos MOU and aquifer contamination incident

Jeremy Buckingham Greens mining agriculture spokesperson will introduce a call for papers into parliament under Standing Order 52 seeking all information regarding the recent Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Government and Santos and the EPA's handling of the revelations that Santos contaminated an aquifer in the Pilliga with uranium and other heavy metals.
 
"The Greens want to know why it took a year for this information about the aquifer contamination to become public.  Why the fine was so paltry?  Why the media were not properly alerted by the EPA?," asked Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

Ground water contaminated with uranium 20x limit & other poisonous elements - game over for coal seam gas

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham today called on the NSW government to halt all coal seam gas projects after the NSW Environmental Protection Authority found that gas company Santos had seriously contaminated ground water with toxic elements such uranium, arsenic, lead, and boron at its coal seam gas Bibblewindi water treatment plant near Narrabri.  Uranium has been detected in the aquifer at 335 micrograms per litre, which is 20 times safe drinking water levels.

"This is game over for coal seam gas.  Here is definitive proof that unconventional gas, such as coal seam gas pollutes aquifers with extremely toxic elements," said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

"It is totally unacceptable for ground water to be contaminated with radioactive uranium 20 times the safe drinking water limit.   Poisonous elements such as arsenic, lead and boron have also been mobilised and concentrated by coal seam gas extraction and then leaked into the aquifers.

"The gas industry often states there are no 'proven' cases of gas extraction leading to aquifer contamination.  Well here is the proof.

"The Greens call for the Santos Narrabri project and other coal seam gas projects in NSW to be halted immediately.  Other aquifers cannot be put at risk of serious pollution.  This type of contamination represents a serious health risk to humans and animals.

TAFE at risk from O'Farrell cuts and privatisation

Almost four hundred positions have been lost from TAFE in NSW as managers cope with budget cuts and prepare for the devastating impacts of a training market that will strip TAFE of all of its core funding for its bread and butter courses, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

('TAFE funding cuts raise fears over training skills', Sun Herald, 9 March, p. 12, http://j.mp/SH140309)

Figures obtained by the Greens through a question on notice to the Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, show that 395 jobs were lost from TAFE last year, including 260 in the three institutes in Sydney, and 40 in the Hunter and Illawarra. The full data is available at http://j.mp/qon1403TAFE.

Dr Kaye said: "The cuts so far have devastated TAFE colleges, students and teachers across NSW but there is far worse to come.

Planning Minister intervenes to protect controversial developments from scrutiny

In a case of direct political interference in the planning process, Planning Minister Brad Hazzard has routinely used his Ministerial powers to remove community appeal rights from some of the most controversial planning decisions in NSW.

My School damage could stop immediately if Piccoli serious

The Greens are calling on NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli to back up his words with actions and bring legislation into state parliament to stop
My School publishing NSW school test results on the My School website.

('My School should be scrapped, says Piccoli', Sydney Morning Herald, 7 March, p. 1, http://j.mp/1cdHD3V)

Greens NSW MP John Kaye said: "The Minister is right. Publishing school-wide NAPLAN results adds unnecessary and age-inappropriate stress to students. It has undermined educational outcomes and wasted federal and state money.

"My School misleads parents about the quality of schooling and stigmatises schools that serve disadvantaged communities.

Yet more wasted on power sell-off

The O'Farrell government has admitted spending $33 million on financial, banking and legal advice for its power sell-off but Treasurer Mike baird is
refusing to admit how much was squandered on the failed Macquarie Generation privatisation, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

("Asset sales cost state $33m" Newcastle Herald, 7 March p. 26, http://j.mp/NH070414)

Dr Kaye said: "The Mac Gen sale was always doomed.

"Treasurer Mike Baird should have known from the outset that selling the Upper Hunter generators to AGL would run foul of the competition regulator.

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.