Posted by admin on March 15, 2010
Greens are to move a motion calling on the Government to establish an independent National Inquiry into Australia’s Population to 2050.
“Australia’s population should be determined by the capacity of our environment and our infrastructure,” said Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown.
“Australia cannot support an increase in population to 35 million by 2050.
“Immigration should not be stopped.
“In fact Australia should increase its humanitarian immigration program, but we need to reduce our skilled migration program and balance that reduction by investing in skills training for Australians.
“National population policy is the responsibility of government; it should be responsive to national and global factors.
“Global population is expected to grow from 6.8 billion people now to 9.2 billion by 2050 and Australia should be taking a lead in finding global solutions.
“That should include increasing Australia’s overseas aid budget to 0.7% GDP now with more funding for literacy and reproduction health programs for women and girls.”
Posted by admin on March 10, 2010
Australian Building Industry in trouble after home warranty insurance reform defeated in the Senate
A Greens motion to address the looming crisis in the Australian building industry has been rejected in the Senate.
Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne said that the government and the opposition are on notice that their failure to address the mess in the building industry created by mandatory home builders warranty insurance will result in builders either going broke or building illegally by the middle of the year.
“Come June 30th 2010 the building industry, particularly in NSW and Victoria, will be in chaos. I cannot understand why the Rudd government and the Abbott opposition are so determined to adopt a position of studied ignorance on this issue.”
“It seems that the Housing Industry Association is still calling the shots in Canberra. Tasmania abolished the mandatory requirement and the sky has not fallen in.”
“Why won’t the Federal government intervene with the states to ensure that we have uniform and consistent consumer protection and support for builders?”
“Every state, with the exception of Tasmania and Queensland, still has laws requiring builders to be covered by this “junk” insurance. With insurers withdrawing from the market, builders will be forced to work illegally, or not at all due to the demand for mandatory policies being unmet by the remaining insurers. ”
“If the Greens motion that the Federal government intervene with the states as an interim measure to remove any mandatory requirement for the home builder’s warrantee insurance product had been passed the immediate crisis would have been averted.”
“It’s disappointing that my call for immediate action has been rejected in the Senate. More so it is a missed opportunity to develop a national body charged with offering genuine protection to consumers and the building industry. The Queensland model works well. There is no need to reinvent the wheel”
“The current home builder’s warranty insurance scheme has been dogged by persistent problems as well as being the subject of 56 inquiries and numerous failed interventions. And now builders everywhere except Tasmania and Queensland must face the possibility of unemployment or risk prosecution should they choose to work illegally.”
Posted by admin on
Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, has congratulated Agriculture Minister, Tony Burke, for listening to the concerns of the community, the Greens and Opposition parties by reversing his decision to lift the ban on importing beef from countries affected by mad cow disease, or BSE.
Senator Milne had referred the issue to a Senate inquiry last October, immediately after learning that the ban would be lifted. The scrutiny of the decision from the Senate Inquiry has now led to a moratorium on lifting the ban pending a two year import risk analysis.
“Public health and food security are vital and must be protected at all costs. It was disgraceful that the community had been kept in the dark about the fact that they could be eating beef from a country affected by mad cow disease.
“Consumers have the right to know if meat on supermarket shelves comes from countries which have been affected by BSE.
“As someone who grew up on a dairy farm in North West Tasmania, I am always vigilant about standing up for a healthy environment and the excellent reputation Australia’s food has around the world for being clean and uncontaminated.
“This reputation is critical for both consumers and producers, and I am very pleased that the Senate inquiry I established has helped deliver this sensible decision.
“Minister Burke was clearly concerned there would be a public outcry against this decision when the beef industry was sworn to secrecy over the decision to lift the ban. He wanted to push a pure trade agenda based on pleasing overseas trading partners like the USA and Canada before the livelihoods of Australian beef farmers and the health of Australian families.
“Our local beef producers have the right to reassurance, through a full and proper import risk analysis, that their reputation for clean produce will not be undermined.
“The next critical step is for Australia to move rapidly to improve our food labelling laws to make sure consumers know what is in the food they buy and how it was produced.”
Posted by admin on March 9, 2010
Greens Senator Scott Ludlam is calling on the Australian Government to work with other governments to establish a UN commission of inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity and war crimes being committed in Burma.
His motion to the Senate tomorrow will also seek to ensure that Australian companies with links to Burma’s oil and gas industry are not contributing to the financial stability of the military regime.
“We know that since mid January of this year more than 2,000 civilians have been forced to flee new attacks in eastern Burma with villagers being shot on sight. There’s every sign the violence will get worse in the run up to this years sham election.
“Only last week in New York an International Tribunal on Crimes against Women in Burma recommended that the UN Security Council refers Burma to the International Criminal Court and that countries in the Asia-Pacific not invest in Burma’s oil and gas industry.
“Australia has to add our full support to these initiatives.”
“The Greens fully support today’s international day of action by Karen Organisations to raise awareness and urge governments to act decisively,” he concluded.
Posted by admin on March 7, 2010
Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown believes at least five federal police officers boarded the Sea Shepherd’s anti-whaling ship the Steve Irwin when it docked at Hobart at 8.30am Saturday.
Senator Brown said he had been informed by the Australian Federal Police that they executed a search warrant at the request of Japanese authorities in Tokyo.
“This is outrageous that Australian police are at the disposal of the Japanese whale killers,” Senator Brown said.
The Sea Shepherd’s other anti-whaling ship the Bob Barker docked in Hobart late Saturday.
Read more here…
Posted by admin on March 4, 2010
The Australian Greens will move to amend trade practice laws to ban Australian banks from charging $2 fees for non-customers to use Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs).
Announcing the policy in Devonport, Tasmania, Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown noted that Braddon is one of Australia’s most economically disadvantaged electorates.
“Major banks should be banned from charging non-customers $2 every time they want to access their own money,” said Senator Bob Brown
“It’s a regressive private tax – that is, it hits the poorest people hardest.
“Australia’s major banks all posted multi-billion dollar profits last year and they do not need to charge the approximately $680 million they made from ATM fees.
“We will take legislative action in federal parliament to ban banks from charging ATM fees.
“The average Australian spends around $1000 on bank fees, 20% more than in the UK where ATM fees do not exist.
“The $2 ATM fee is not a fee-for-service and the charge does not reflect the real cost of processing an ATM transaction, which the RBA estimated was about 50 cents in 2000 and which is likely to be even lower now.
“We are not advocating the fee ban for credit unions and building societies, which are generally member owned and not-for-profit, or for independent ATM operators, such as corner shops and clubs.”
Posted by admin on February 25, 2010
Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz today voted with the Government to block debate on his own bill to stop Australian companies aiding or abetting the slaughter of whales by the Japanese whaling fleet.
The Prohibition of Support for Whaling Bill was devised by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert after Japanese whalers chartered planes out of Hobart and Albany to spy on Sea Shepherd ships going to obstruct whaling. Senator Abetz then asked Senator Siewert if he could co-host the bill.
Opposition spokesperson Greg Hunt called on the Government to support the bill this week.
But today Senator Abetz did a back-flip to join the Government in blocking the debate.
“Senator Abetz first reacted to back the huge feeling against whalers in Australia but has back-flipped on direction from the Abbot leadership,” Senator Brown said.
A recent poll showed 94% of Australians oppose Japanese whaling.
“When push comes to shove, the Abbott opposition is every bit as weak as the Rudd Government on whaling,” Senator Brown said.
Senator Nick Xenophon supported debate on the bill.
Posted by admin on February 24, 2010
The ban on importing beef from BSE-affected countries into Australia should not be lifted as planned next week, the Australian Greens said today.
The ban, in place since 2001, is important to protect Australian public health. Australia has a no risk approach which is now to be replaced with a calculated risk.
“The Rudd government has tried to keep this quiet because they know full well that the Australian community does not want to eat beef from BSE affected countries.
“Australians are being asked to take a risk to further a trade agenda that is disconnected from reality,” Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne said.
“Australians deserve to know what they are eating, where it has come from and how it was produced – currently labelling laws fudge the issues.
“Just like the WTO-driven pushes to import Canadian salmon, bananas from the Philippines and New Zealand apples, Australia’s clean reputation is being jeopardised because of Australia’s obsession with free trade rules.
Senator Milne moved for a Senate Inquiry into the lifting of the ban in October 2009.
“Consumers will be particularly concerned that, thanks to our utterly inadequate food labelling laws, they will have no way of telling whether or not the meat they buy is from BSE-free countries.
“The Greens have long believed that we should promote and protect clean, green Australian produce, and protect public health.
“The free trade agenda must not be allowed to put public health and clean markets at risk.
“The ban on beef imports from BSE affected countries should not be lifted.”
Posted by admin on February 19, 2010
The Australian Greens will continue to support midwives and a mothers’ right to choose a homebirth.
“We are alarmed that Federal Government legislation undermines the ability of midwives to be able to provide support for mothers who decide to have a homebirth,” said Greens health spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert.
“The Greens will be moving amendments once the legislation is introduced next week, to ensure that colaborative arrangements don’t give doctors a power of veto over a midwives ability to practice.
“We share the concerns of midwives that the Government amendments to their own Midwives legislation are unnecessary and impose a too restrictive regime over midwives.
“We believe the proposed changes don’t address the needs of many Australian women who make the choice to give birth outside the hospital system, and we will continue to fight for greater choice and less interventionist maternity care,” Senator Siewert concluded.
Posted by admin on February 15, 2010
Financial relief needed for disability carers
Carers of disabled people need immediate financial relief while system-wide funding reform occurs, said Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert today.
“The Federal Government is currently conducting a feasibility study into a national disability insurance scheme, but this does not address the immediate and urgent needs of carers now,” said Senator Siewert.
“Funding problems for the disability sector won’t be addressed over night and long-term systemic change is required.
“But in the meantime the Government should implement the top three recommendations of the ‘Who Cares?’ Report by the House Standing Committee on Family, Community, Housing and Youth.
“These include increasing the base rate of income support for carers and reviewing means-testing thresholds.
“Increasing respite and in-home assistance for carers and providing more options for carers to manage their own services were also identified as urgent priorities.
“We know that wholesale system change is not something that can be rushed if we want to get it right.
“But it is not good enough to leave people in the lurch for the years and years this will take.”