Rooftop solar industry about to take another blow

The NSW independent pricing regulator has today suggested to electricity retailers that they slash the amount paid for rooftop solar energy by up to 25 percent because of the imminent repeal of the carbon price, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.
Dr Kaye said: "The solar industry is about to become a victim of both IPART's methodology that undervalues electricity from rooftop panels and the Abbott government's repeal of the carbon price.
"Despite the environmental and economic benefits of clean energy generated close to the load, solar installers have struggled with hostile policies from both levels of government for more than three years.
"Now they face yet another hurdle as potential customers see the already meagre benchmark tariffs cut by between 17 and 25.8 percent.
"IPART has refused to price solar power at anything like the retail tariff.

Baird misleads on power bills to justify power sell-off

Supporters of electricity privatisation are misleading voters by peddling the myth that transport costs for Ausgrid's control room staff are responsible for rising power bills, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye
('Power bills surge thanks to Ausgrid workers spend $240,000 on taxis a year', Daily Telegraphy, 14 June 2014,
Dr Kaye said: "Ausgrid's transport costs for control-room workers are $240,000 a year, while its total revenues are more than $3.3 billion a year.
"Less than 0.008 percent of household bills go to ensuring that there are highly qualified controllers at the wires and poles utility's nerve centre keeping the lights.
"At 15 cents a year it's a small price for consumers to pay to ensure that reliability-critical staff can get to work.
"It is absurd to claim that it has anything to do with the $1,000 increase in average annual household bills over the past six years.

Whitehaven Backing Off From Coal Clearing at Leard Forest Vindicates Community Concerns

Greens NSW MP and Environment Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, has welcomed news that Whitehaven Coal will stop winter clearing of the Leard State Forest for the Maules Creek coal mine. Dr Faruqi has today returned from visiting the protest camp at Maules Creek and was stopped and had her car searched twice on public roads.
Dr Faruqi said:
"This decision by Whitehaven Coal to suspend clearing of the Leard State Forest for the Maules Creek coal mine proves community concerns were justified. It is clear that Whitehaven saw the writing on the wall and went for an undertaking before it was ordered to by the court.
"Unfortunately, much clearing has already taken place.
"I have seen with my own eyes just yesterday the section of the forest bulldozed by Whitehaven Coal, presumably in anticipation of a suspension.
"It is outrageous that Whitehaven Coal was allowed to undertake winter clearing in the first place. This was completely unnecessary.
"There needs to be an investigation into how these approvals were granted by the NSW Government in the first place, as large tracts of endangered ecological communities have been cleared and cannot be replaced or offset.

Greens call for an urgent review of parks legislation to safeguard residents

Greens MP and Housing spokesperson Jan Barham has called on communities to lobby the NSW Government to suspend the implementation of new laws affecting the affordability  of residential parks and manufactured home estates, and to make public details about the process involved in developing the controversial laws that passed Parliament in late 2013.
"Recent evidence presented at the ICAC and our Parliamentary inquiry into housing gives cause for serious concern that affordable residential park living is under threat, while park operators who contributed funds to the Liberal Party are given the opportunity for windfall earnings," Ms Barham said.

Transport Planning on the Run Just Castles in the Air to Justify Privatisation

Greens NSW MP and Transport Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, has called the latest spate of  un-connected transport announcements predicated on the privatisation of the electricity network 'castles in the air', and thought bubbles that have been put together as policy on the run to justify the privatisation of our public assets.
Dr Faruqi said:
"These transport and rail announcements are thought bubbles designed to justify the privatisation of our electricity network.
"A second harbour crossing that will be isolated from the Sydney Trains network, an expanded metro system that will cannibalise the existing railway system and now a 'maybe, maybe not' station at Barangaroo. Every day brings a new thought bubble.

Free-range egg labelling legislation: step forward or industrial producers' coup?

While welcoming moves towards a nationally consistent legislated definition of free-range, the Greens NSW warned that the standards have to respect community expectations of animal welfare.
NSW will ask a meeting of the state and territory fair trading ministers in Cairns today, to begin developing legislation to end the self-regulation of labelling that ahs resulted in substantial rirting.
Greens NSW MP John Kaye said: "If the NSW Fair Trading Minister Matthew Mason-Cox and his interstate colleagues have the courage to stand up to the egg industry and demand free-range standards that respect consumer expectations, this could be a big step forward for truth in labelling.
"The worst outcome would be to enshrine in legislation the industrial producers' push for intensive stocking densities of 10,000 hens per hectare or more.
"Cramming hens into a shed with little or no access to an outdoor area is not what consumers expect to be paying for when the purchase free-range eggs.

North Coast Nationals should unite to block poles and wires sell off

The North Coast Nationals should resist Premier Mike Baird's privatisation push and commit to crossing the floor when legislation to sell the wires and poles is introduced after the March 2015 election, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.
Dr Kaye said: "Nationals MPs are deluding themselves and their constituents if they think that the deal to keep Essential Energy in public ownership has any real future.
"The country power distributor will rapidly become a sitting duck in an otherwise fully privatised industry.
"Premier Mike Baird has pulled one over the Nationals and it's time they stood up for their rural and regional communities by opposing the whole deal.
"National party members voted against the sale of the poles and wires at their state conference last year.
"If their MPs remain committed to that position then they need to launch a full scale campaign against the Premiers' plans.

Student debt in Australia could be worse off than in the United States

Greens higher education spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said the Coalition's moves to Americanise higher education will see the Australian university system mimic the worse aspects of the US system.
In the United States total student debt is over $1 trillion dollars (1). Students in the US will graduate with an average debt of $29,000 USD  or $31,000 AUD (2).
Analysis by the Grattan Institute's Andrew Norton, a higher education policy advisor to the Coalition government has estimated student fees and as a result student debt in Australia will be significantly higher under the Coalition's reforms.
According to Mr Norton a teaching degree could cost $49,000, a nursing degree $38,000 and an engineering degree $61,000. Analysis by the National Tertiary Education Union supports this view.
"It is very likely students in Australia with graduate with more debt than students in the US. But it gets worse as the interest rate on student debt could also be higher in Australia than in the US," said Senator Rhiannon
"Students who receive government loans in the US in 2013 will pay off their loans at a fixed interest rate of 3.86% (3). This interest rate will not change regardless of how long it takes a graduate to pay back their debt.
"Under the Coalition's changes, current and future students as well as anyone with an existing student debt will pay off their loans with a variable interest rate - tied to the 10 year government bond rate, up to a cap of 6%.

Greens MPs join protest against reckless winter clearing of Leard forest

Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon and Greens NSW Environment Spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC today joined protesters trying to stop the controversial winter clearing for the Maules Creek coalmine.
Senator Rhiannon said: "Whitehaven are desperately trying to run roughshod over the local community, who have consistently made a strong case against this destructive mine.
"Today I am joining farmers, community members and environmentalists who are standing up for our land and water by trying to prevent this destruction.
"The reckless tactic of clearing the forest during winter and hiring of spies to pose as activists are blatant signs that the coal companies in this region are running scared of community scrutiny.
"The clearing of the forest at this time of the year is particularly concerning. Many of the animals will be in hibernation and have little chance to escape.
"Now is a crucial time for the forest. The Maules Creek Community Council has recently announced it will seek to have the winter clearing prevented, but until this can go through the proper process, the only thing in the way of the bulldozers and the forest are the protesters.

Baird misleads on power price claims

National party MPs  and the community should not be misled by Premier Mike Baird misleading claims that power privatisation in Victoria did not result in higher prices, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

Dr Kaye said: "By selectively using data, consultants can produce any headline their clients want to hear.

"In this case, the cyclical differences between Victoria and NSW were conveniently ignored.

"NSW power bill increases were driven by massive investments in new wires and poles infrastructure, not public ownership or employee costs.

"An ill-advised change to reliability standards in 2005 resulted in the NSW wires and poles companies investing $18 billion in new infrastructure, still being paid for by high household bills.