Fair go for Firefighters exposed to toxic chemicals and smoke

Victorian Greens spokesperson on emergency services Colleen Hartland has today called on the Premier to support The Greens Fair Protection for Firefighters Laws, or introduce their own as firefighters are exposed to toxic chemicals and smoke yet again.

"Firefighters go into fire zones while everyone else gets as far away as they can," said Colleen Hartland.

"We're very pleased to see all citizens safe today. However, the health of  firefighters battling today's fire  is far from safe."

"The Wells Road fire is a large and serious toxic fire. Though it's important to remember that every house and structure fire that firefighters face also contain toxic chemicals and smoke."

Latest data shows Solar booming in Victoria this year

Solar is still growing fast in Victoria despite cutbacks to government support, the Greens say. The latest data just released* shows solar installations are booming in the first two months of 2014.
Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber said: "Despite the federal and state government cutting back support for solar in December 2012, solar boomed in 2013 and has showed no sign of slowing in the first part of this year."
"Another 2,352 homes and businesses went solar in January and 2,476 in February. That's about 9 or 10 megawatts being added every month. People who install solar cut their own power bills, but they help keep everyone's bill lower by taking pressure off the power grid." 

Hoarded growth areas taxes should be spent on bus services

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber has pledged to spend taxes collected from growth area development on better bus services for outer suburbs.
"Money collected by the state government from growth areas development taxes is being hoarded rather than spent. There's a desperate need for buses that take people to the train station, because the car parks are full," said Greg Barber 

Jumps racing claims another victim, Viva Delspec: Greens say ban jumps racing

Viva Delspec, a 7yo bay gelding (male) was put down after suffering a knee injury at Warrnambool yesterday at only the second race of the 2014 Victorian Jumps Racing season which runs until 28 September.

Victorian Greens Animal Welfare spokesperson Sue Pennicuik MLC said she is dismayed that yet another horse has been killed in a jumps race and is calling again on the government to ban this cruel and barbaric ‘sport.’

Government continues to hide costings of Green's firefighter bill


Colleen Hartland has again called for documents that show details of costings of the Greens proposed legislation that automatically provides WorkCover compensation to firefighters that contract cancer on the job. This information is crucial for testing whether cost claims are inflated by the government. The government again refused to provide the documents or the details required to interrogate their costings. What have they got to hide?

Victoria spends least on public and community housing


Colleen Hartland calls on the government to restore and increase funding to public and community housing after exposing recent cuts and that Victoira now spends the least per capita on social housing of any state or territory.

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Housing. After examining the recently released Report on Government Services 2014, it is evident that under the Victorian coalition government social housing and the 34 000 people on public housing waiting lists have been left to languish.

Under the coalition government total real expenditure on social housing has dropped from $1.55 billion in 2010–11 to $673 million in 2012–13.

Mental Health Act a missed opportunity for children and women's health

The Greens have welcomed the Victorian Mental Health Act passed this week as a big step forward, but flawed practices which potentially impact children and women's health have been allowed continued. The Greens say it is a huge missed opportunity.

While The Greens were successful in getting up an important gender identity amendment, the government and Labor's rejection of other Greens initiatives means that children can continue to receive electroconvulsive treatment and there is no principle included that women should be housed separate to men where possible.

"The Greens identified gender identity as critical to be excluded from the definition of a mental illness. Our community members have a right to express their gender identity without fear of this being labelled a mental illness,” said Victorian Greens spokesperson on health, Colleen Hartland.

Duck Hunting


Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- On 15 March I attended the opening of the duck shooting season at Lake Elizabeth near Kerang in northern Victoria. While few ducks were shot at Lake Elizabeth, the Department of Environment and Primary Industries officers were very focused on enforcing new fines and banning orders on duck rescuers.

Sadly, over the course of the morning we received reports of another massacre of native water birds, including protected freckled ducks at Lake Lonsdale, near Stawell, where very few Department of Environment and Primary Industries officers appeared to be present.

Greens work to secure human rights in the new Mental Health Act


Colleen Hartland - Speech in parliament regading the Mental Health Bill 2014

Forty-five per cent of Australians will experience mental ill health at some stage in their lives, and we need a mental health system that can support people with mental illness to live full and healthy lives. The Greens strongly welcome the introduction of a new act to govern the treatment of people with mental illness. The current act was developed in 1986 and is well out of date with respect to modern thinking on mental health. We are pleased to see the shift towards a human rights approach where mental health services are obliged to provide the least restrictive assessment and treatment and where patients receiving mental health services are involved in all decisions about their care. We see this bill as a step forward.

Commercial roo cull is bad competitor to honest farming

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber is pledging to fight to reverse the decision to introduce commercial kangaroo culling to Victoria.
"The Napthine government is giving in to pressure from the National Party," said Greg Barber MLC
"This will undermine Victoria's legitimate livestock industry.  Livestock farmers go to great lengths to comply with animal welfare, meat quality and safety, but this gives them a new competitor who doesn't have to meet the same standards."  

More protected species massacred on opening weekend of the duck shooting season

Victorian Greens Animal Welfare spokesperson Sue Pennicuik MLC, attended the opening of the duck shooting season, at Lake Elizabeth, near Kerang in northern Victoria.

“While few ducks were shot at Lake Elizabeth, I was glad to see DEPI officers present to ensure the safety of the large number of swans that were there. Every year, we see swans illegally shot and left on the water to die,” Ms Pennicuik said. “The officers, however, seemed more focussed on enforcing new fines and banning orders on duck rescuers.”

“Sadly, over the course of the morning, we received reports of another massacre of native water birds, including protected freckled ducks at Lake Lonsdale, near Stawell, where very few DEPI officers appeared to be present.

Greens MP to attend the opening of the duck shooting season

Who: Sue Pennicuik MLC, Victorian Greens Animal Welfare spokesperson 
When: Saturday 15 March, sunrise 
Where: Northern Victoria 
Victorian Greens Animal Welfare spokesperson Sue Pennicuik MLC will attend the opening of the duck shooting season, in northern Victoria.
“It is disappointing that Victorians have to endure another three months of state sanctioned slaughter of native water birds, that for the rest of the year are protected," Ms Pennicuik said. "Duck shooting should be banned in Victoria as it is in NSW, Qld and WA and it’s never been permitted in the ACT."

Every year there's more reasons to cut the Grand Prix loose

“Every year the Grand Prix comes around reminding us of all the reasons to cut it loose,” Sue Pennicuik, Greens MP for the Southern Metropolitan Region, said today.

"The first is the mounting costs to Victorian taxpayers. Since the event was first staged in 1996, the 'government contribution' or operating loss of the event, i.e., the cost to Victorian taxpayers adds up to around half a billion dollars and that doesn't include the millions in hidden costs," Ms Pennicuik said. "With the government making cuts to other budgets, this is unacceptable - it has to stop."

Greens call on Premier to consult residents on Hazelwood inquiry

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber today called on the Premier to ensure that Morwell residents are consulted over the terms of reference of the Board of Inquiry into the Hazelwood coal mine fire.

"The government is on the back foot again, belatedly announcing an inquiry without any terms of reference. The people of Morwell should be consulted over the terms of reference for this inquiry, because they suffered the health and pollution impact of the fire," said Greg Barber MLC. 

Protect freckled duck wetlands from shooters

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber says the state government needs to close wetlands to hunters where endangered water birds have been sighted, ahead of duck shooting season commencing on 15 March.

"Last year, we saw a massacre of more than one hundred Freckled Ducks and other protected species at Box Flat on the opening morning. Despite hundreds of hunters being there, no one has been charged or convicted of anything.

"Clearly the shooters can't police themselves, the government isn't willing or able to, so the solution is to close all wetlands where rare or threatened species are present."

"I'm calling on bird watchers report any sighting of Freckled Ducks, which we will put on our website. But really, it's the government who should be doing this job." 

Selling the Port is a bad idea

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber says selling off the Port of Melbourne is a bad idea.
"The Port of Melbourne returned $175 million in dividends to Victorians over the last five years. That's on net assets of around $1.5 billion. Selling the Port isn't 'free money'; we'd lose the stream of income we've been getting," said Greg Barber MLC
"The Productivity Commission says financial returns of Australian ports are 'not indicative of excessive profit taking'. So how is a new operator going to squeeze more juice out of the orange? New and higher fees? Property development? If I was an exporter, I'd be worried. 

TAFE key to Western Suburbs employment: Report

Send a message to Premier Napthine - reverse TAFE funding cuts and support a quality public TAFE system.

Greens MP for the Western Suburbs, Colleen Hartland, launched the ‘Rescue TAFE in the West’ Report today. The Greens used the report to call on the Napthine Government to reinstate the funding cuts to TAFE Institutes in Melbourne's western suburbs to provide re-skilling opportunities to the thousands of Western Suburbs manufacturing workers set to lose their jobs.

"With the loss of many manufacturing jobs in the Western Suburbs, we need our public TAFEs to provide re-skilling opportunities more than ever," said Colleen Hartland.

"It is heartless and wrong-headed to cut $40 million per annum from Victoria University when there is such great need for quality re-skilling opportunities in the West. This is the equal highest cut to any TAFE in Victoria."

85% of Victorians want it, the Premier wants it, let's do it

Greens MP Colleen HartlandYesterday 92,000 Victorians cleaned up more than 3,000 tonne of rubbish from our creeks, streets, parks and beaches on Clean Up Australia Day. The Greens say we can prevent most of this litter hitting the ground with a Cash for Containers scheme.

"Drink containers are now the largest proportion of littler collected on Clean Up Australia day. We could stop this litter before it hits the ground with a 10 cent refund on bottle and cans," said Victorian Greens spokesperson on waste and recycling, Colleen Hartland.

"A Cash for Containers scheme is supported by 85 per cent of Victorians* as well as the Premier."

Judicial Inquiry needed for Hazelwood

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber today called for the establishment of a judicial inquiry into the Hazelwood mine fire.
"The Premier should demonstrate some leadership by establishing a judicial inquiry to get to the bottom of this entire debacle," said Greg Barber MLC
"This is a distressing and dangerous situation for Morwell residents. I first called for a partial, medically-prioritised evacuation of Morwell on 17 February. Since then, people have been breathing ash and coughing up muck. The Chief Health Officer has just confirmed this course of action. 

Premier should lead evacuation of vulnerable from Morwell coal fire

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber today called on Premier Denis Napthine to start evacuating the most vulnerable people affected by the Hazelwood coal mine fire.

Mr Barber said, ‘Premier Denis Napthine needs to step up, show leadership and do everything required to protect the health of the people of Morwell.

‘Premier Napthine has to step in and take direct responsibility for the Hazelwood coal fire health crisis.

‘This morning we had a nice gesture with the Premier offering his house in Port Fairy as a safe respite for one family from Morwell, but his job as Victoria’s leader is to fix the problem for all 13,000 people of Morwell. 

Morwell ash 'has to be experienced to be believed'

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber, in Morwell today, says the community wants urgent answers on the health risks of the ash raining on the town from the Hazelwood coal mine fire.
"The ash from the Hazelwood fire is raining down on Morwell and it has to be experienced to be believed. People are walking the streets in surgical masks, it's in your eyes, it's working its way inside every building. I can feel it as grit between my teeth," said Greg Barber MLC 

Report shows rental homes need strong new laws

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber says the Footscray Community Legal Centre's report into housing standards, released today, shows vulnerable people will continue to live in unsafe and unhealthy conditions unless the government lends support to a minimum standard for rental accommodation.
"The report shows that the system isn't working.  A mother washing herself and children in a bucket because she's been waiting five months for the shower to be repaired.  Long VCAT fights or no action at all to get cracks and mould repaired.  More than half the tenants surveyed needed repairs to their properties, but we put the onus on the tenant to request the repair and fight for it in VCAT." 

Save Live Australia's Music


Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- This Sunday, 23 February, will be the fourth anniversary of the Save Live Australia's Music (SLAM) rally, when 20 000 people march from the State Library of Victoria to Parliament House in support of live music and to protest against the blanket security conditions that have been imposed on live music venues.

Health Minister fails locals in Hazelwood coal fire crisis

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber says the Health Minister is failing in his duty to protect the health of the people of the Latrobe Valley during the Hazelwood mine fire crisis.
"In question time today, I asked the Minister what practical assistance he's offering. The answer was, not much, apart from a few advertisements and announcements." 

Freeze gas drilling on Gippsland farms

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber is calling on the state government to put a freeze on gas drilling planned for Gippsland.

"The government's moratorium is on fracking only. Companies like Lakes Oil are moving ahead with an application to do more drilling. The Minister for Resources should tell them 'no way'."

"The Premier and Deputy Premier need to intervene and ensure that Energy Minister does the right thing by regional communities and refuses the current drilling application from Lakes Oil." 

Dereliction of duty to Victorian fire services - Greens

The Greens condemn the Napthine Government over its dereliction of duty to fire services and community after the United Firefighters Union released a shocking list of equipment and staff shortfalls during recent fires.

“This is a damming account of the impacts of budget cuts to the MFB and CFA and failure to invest in desperately needed firefighters,” said Greens emergency services spokesperson Colleen Hartland.

“This is a dereliction of duty by the Napthine Government to our firefighters and community.”

Victorian government has two anti-democracy laws in state parliament

Debate on the Sustainable Timber and Wildlife Amendment bill commenced in the state upper house this week.

"This bill is the first of two draconian pieces of legislation before the state parliament that are designed to shut down community scrutiny of government activity," Greens MP, Sue Pennicuik said. "The other is the Summary Offences and Sentencing Amendment bill, which is still in the lower house.

"This bill is one of the most Orwellian named pieces of legislation I have seen in this parliament," Ms Pennicuik said. "Far from ensuring that logging is sustainable or that wildlife is protected, the bill shuts out the public and provides a free for all for loggers and duck shooters, with draconian penalties for people who enter forests or wetlands to protest or simply to observe what is happening on public land," she said.

Labor, Liberal put pokies before people

The Greens have slammed both Labor and Liberal for putting pokies before people in passing legislation today to implement a voluntary pre-commitment system; a scheme proven to fail.

“Evidence from five trials across Australia shows that voluntary pre-commitment does not work, it does not limit the harm of problem gambling,” said Victorian Greens spokesperson on Gambling Colleen Hartland.

“Voluntary pre-commitment has failed to limit problem gambling elsewhere in Australia and it will fail here in Victoria. The scheme is absolute rubbish and contrary to evidence on effective measure to reduce problem gambling."

No place for 'Feelpinions' and 'anecdata' in energy policy



Mr BARBER (Northern Metropolitan) -- I am very saddened to hear that the members of the Labor and Liberal parties think that the kind of minor level tinkering contained in this bill is up to the job of addressing the crisis in energy affordability that has been ongoing for a number of years now.

Victorian government set to legislate to shut down community right to protest

The Summary Offences and Sentencing Amendment Bill will be debated in state parliament this week. The bill expands the circumstances in which police and PSOs may direct a person to ‘move on’ from a public place.

"This bill fundamentally changes the rights of citizens to protest, demonstrate or picket a particular place," Victorian Greens Justice spokesperson, Sue Pennicuik MLC said. "Whether people are protesting about environmental, social or industrial issues, they will now be subject extended ‘move on’ and arrest powers."

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