Greens warn of power privatisation risk

The election of Premier Mike Baird will put public ownership of the state's electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure at risk, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

('I am in the game to make a difference, says new Premier', Sydney Morning Herald, 18 April, p. 7, http://j.mp/ssmh140418B)

Dr Kaye said: "Selling public assets is part of Mike Baird's DNA.

"He will inevitably plunge NSW into another divisive power privatisation debate which is likely to end with high electricity bills, more greenhouse gas emissions and a weaker state financial position.

"Despite the $1.8 billion annual returns to the state government from electricity distribution and transmission corporations, it was impossible to have a budget conversation with the then Treasurer that did not end up with an impassioned but futile plea for support for a sell-off.

"Mike Baird is first and foremost a merchant banker who sees critical infrastructure through the prism of next year's budget bottom line.

"He has never demonstrated any understanding of the long-term social or environmental consequences of private ownership of the wires and poles," Dr Kaye said.

Climate report challenges O'Farrell government's hostility to wind power

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's demand for action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions should put yet more pressure on the NSW Coalition government to drop its irrational antagonism to wind energy generation, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

Listen to John on ABC 702 this morning here.

Commenting on today's release of the IPCC's Working Group III report, Dr Kaye said: "Wind power, along with energy efficiency, is the most cost-effective emissions abatement measure available in the NSW electricity industry.

"Despite the opportunity to build a new industry that creates jobs and economic growth in rural and regional NSW, the O'Farrell government has done everything it can to stymie the development of wind farms.

"The threat of the draft wind planning guidelines has created huge uncertainty for potential investors who are running away from NSW.

"Dumping existing development proposals into a much more hostile planning regime has convinced international wind companies that, under the O'Farrell government, NSW is open to every business except renewable energy.

"There are 27 wind farms proposed for NSW and almost all of them are stalled.

"The technology could create 4,000 new jobs, bring $7.2 billion of investment and cut 28 percent off the carbon footprint of the state's electricity industry.

WestConnex papers, revealed by Greens, beginning to bear fruit

Greens NSW Roads and Ports spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC has welcomed the documents regarding the creation of the WestConnex Business Case that have been released by her successful 'call for papers' motion. There are 38 boxes of information, 16 of which are privileged and 22 can be viewed by any member of the public.

"The thousands of documents accessible to the public have revealed growing concerns within the government agencies that WestConnex is not the right solution for Sydney.

"Revelations about excessive contractor fees, misrepresentations of traffic forecasting, and internal dissent, as reported over the weekend, are a huge cause for concern."

Sea level rise legal consequences must be resolved by Supreme Court

Substantial doubt has been cast over the legal ability of NSW water front property owners to build sea walls to protect their land as sea levels rise and storms eat into their land, according the Greens NSW MP John Kaye.

('Legal wrangle over beachfront land', Sydney Morning Herald, 2 April, page 10, http://j.mp/BFP140402)

Dr Kaye said: "The  combination of case law and legislation has created a legal minefield for local councils, the state government and beachfront property owners.

"Clarity is urgently needed as sea levels are set to rise even more rapidly and property owners will inevitably seek to build rock walls to stop their land being eaten away.

Wind industry given the Cinderella treatment - again.

Just days after the AMA blamed community anxiety about wind farms on unsubstantiated health claims, the O'Farrell government has created a new set of challenges for the industry. By making it easier for the opponents of wind farms to frustrate development applications in the court process, the renewable energy industry will be locked into expensive battles that will delay and destroy many excellent projects, according to Greens MP John Kaye.
 
("Wind farms in NSW to face more red tape", Sydney Morning Herald, 20 March 2014, http://j.mp/smh140321)
 
Dr Kaye said, "The O'Farrell government has worked out yet another way to stymie the development of the most cost effective form of renewable energy in NSW.
 
"This time it consists of transferring existing development applications into a different assessment regime where they will be even more vulnerable to the small but well-funded and well-organised wind hysteria groups.

Greens Support Professional Engineers in Public Sector

Greens NSW Transport Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, has supported a campaign to protect engineering expertise in the public service. Professionals Australia is running a campaign 'On Solid Ground' to stop government deskilling of engineers in the Roads and Maritime Services.

"There is no lack of surveys and reports to tell us that there is still a massive skills shortage in the engineering and technology sector.

"I have worked in local councils where there have been only a handful of qualified engineers and technologists in the technical services divisions of these organisations. This is high-risk for the employees, the organization and our community, but most of all for our future.

"If we want to grow and progress to be an innovative nation, we need engineers and technologists -who are trained in the technical know-how but also as problem solvers and creative thinkers to develop the infrastructure required to move us towards sustainability in the 21st century.

"To transition to a sustainable and greener society and economy we also need investment in renewable energy, integrated water management - reusing, recycling stormwater, rainwater, greywater and innovative waste management systems - and we need engineers to do all this.

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.

Greens Senator at massive Leard protest – backs action to stop Whitehaven coalmine

Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon is currently at a massive protest at Leard State Forest in North West NSW where 15 machines have been immobilised and work on the controversial Maules Creek mine has been prevented.

150 people, including traditional owners, local farmers and environmentalists, have gathered to call on Environment Minister Greg Hunt to stop the development of the mine.

“Today's action demonstrates people power and resilience. The number of people willing to give up their time to prevent the Maules Creek Mine from going ahead is inspiring.” Senator Rhiannon said.

New figures show logging native forests costs taxpayers and the environment dearly

The first figures released by the newly corporatized Forestry Corporation show the native forestry industry in crisis with thousands of extra hectares of forest being logged, for dwindling returns and the inevitable chronic losses being made up by NSW taxpayers. Destroying public native forests for woodchips and timber has a net negative cost to taxpayers of $480 per hectare.

See report in the SMH here: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/logging-increases-but-revenue-drops-20140125-31fex.html

The amount of native forest that was logged by Forestry NSW increased by 36% between 2011/12 and 2012/13. Despite this additional 8,300 hectares of native forest being lost, the amount of commercial timber recovered fell, showing ever diminishing returns from a stressed public forest reserve.

The more aggressive harvesting regime also impacted on threatened species with the number of threatened fauna species sighted in logging operations increasing from 3,018 in 2012/13 to 4,277 in 2012/13. The greater impact on threatened species is inevitable as more and more of our forests are targeted for logging.

Coalition’s water trading plan for Murray Darling Basin is not a solution

The Abbott government plan to support the sale of millions of litres of Murray Darling Basin water puts the future of river communities, their economic viability and the environmental health of the region at risk, Senator Lee Rhiannon the Greens water spokesperson said today.

“The Coalition plan to move into water trading is not the solution to environmental restoration of the Murray-Darling.

“This is a massive blow to rural Australia as a few irrigators will benefit to the detriment of river communities, the majority of farmers and the environment,” Senator Rhiannon said.