Greens accuse government of being unduly influenced on smoking reform


Today, on World No Tobacco Day, Greens MP Colleen Hartland has accused the Victorian government being unduly influenced by one of their major donors on smokefree policy.
“The Australian Hotels Association are outspoken lobbyists against banning smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas, and are also major donors to the Victorian Liberal and National parties. No other state party branch receives money from the AHA and all have banned smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas. I don't think this is coincidence,” said Victorian Greens spokesperson on health Colleen Hartland.

Greens say government should stop funding special religious education

The announcement today that the state government is going to 'overhaul' the way religion is taught in Victorian primary schools after it was found that volunteers breached its guidelines doesn't go far enough, Greens Education spokesperson, Sue Pennicuik said.

"There have been complaints about the way special religious education (SRI) is conducted in government schools for years," Ms Pennicuik said. “Not least of the concerns raised by parents, teachers and by me is that SRI is conducted in government schools, using volunteers who are not teachers and using materials that are not accredited by the department.”

Councils forced to compensate for state failure on smoking

Colleen Hartland - Speech in parliament. My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health. The minister will be aware that in the absence of a statewide ban on smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas, local councils have been forced to go it alone on this important health reform.
Baw Baw Shire Council was the first to act. Recently the Melbourne City Council has taken steps to introduce a smoking ban in alfresco dining lanes. Causeway Lane was made smoke free from 1 October 2013 as a trial. That trial concluded on 31March and on 13 May the evaluation report was presented to council. As part of the evaluation, restaurants, their patrons and residents were surveyed.
The report found that the ban was successful in stopping smoking at cafes, although some passers-by still did smoke, perhaps not realising it was a smoke-free area.

Greens say no container port at Hastings

The Greens do not support the establishment of a container port at Hastings on Westernport Bay.

Greens MLC Sue Pennicuik says the state government is trying to avoid environmental protection laws in pushing through its Hastings Port proposal.

"The Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act, which was introduced by the Labor government, is a way for governments to avoid proper scrutiny of the environmental and social impacts of their favourite transport projects," Ms Pennicuik said.

"The Facilitation Act is a way for the state government to avoid complying with Victoria's environmental laws.*

We must not punish the victim - Greens

Colleen Hartland - Speech in Parliament. I rise to speak on behalf of the Greens on the Crimes Amendment (Protection of Children) Bill 2014. This bill seeks to amend the Crimes Act 1058 to insert two new offences in relation to sexual abuse of children. The first offence is failure by a person in authority to protect a child from sexual abuse, and the Greens wholeheartedly support this aspect. The second is the failure to disclose a sexual offence committed against a child aged under 16 years. The Greens have significant concerns about this aspect, and in a moment I will outline those reasons.

Renewable Energy Target, securing Victoria's future

Mr BARBER (Northern Metropolitan)—I was pleased but surprised to read, almost as I walked in here this morning, that the New South Wales government, in its submission to the federal government, is backing the full 41 000 gigawatt hour renewable energy target.

Public health - another victim of the harsh Federal budget cuts


Colleen Hartland - Questions the Minister on the future of National Partnership public health projects. My question is to the Minister for Health. The federal coalition government has announced that it will terminate the national partnership agreement on preventive health effective from July this year. This agreement was to provide $236 million in 2014–15 for initiatives such as community-based healthy lifestyle programs, promoting physical activity and healthy eating for children, health promotion in workplaces and much more. These programs, as the minister would know, are critical for reducing the prevalence of  chronic diseases.

Can the minister clarify how much the Victorian government stands to lose from the termination and whether the government will be digging into its surplus to fund the ongoing delivery of these critical programs?

Inquiry into the Impact of Carbon Tax on Health Services

Mr BARBER (Northern Metropolitan)—I greatly enjoyed my service on this committee, not least of all because I got to work again with Mrs Coote, who will be leaving Parliament soon, so it was my last opportunity to do so. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
We already knew when this committee started the impact of the carbon tax on hospitals—0.1 per cent added to their cost base.

Greens plan for 40 secure bike parking cages

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber has announced a plan to install secure bicycle parking at 40 train stations across Melbourne, which will encourage cycling and public transport use while reducing dependence on cars.

Greg Barber said “many train stations across Melbourne have little or no secure bicycle parking, forcing commuters to risk damage or theft to their bike while it is chained to racks, railings or nearby fences.”

“The Greens will invest in 40 secure bicycle parking cages, making it safer and more convenient for more than 1000 cyclists to ride to the train each day. 

Napthine should back NSW Libs in support of Renewable Energy Target

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber has called on Premier Denis Napthine to back the Renewable Energy Target, which is currently under threat of being watered down by the Federal Government.

"The NSW Premier understands that the Renewable Energy Target is good for the environment and good for jobs. Denis Napthine has too many MPs in his own party room who don't understand the RET, and he won't take them on," Mr Barber said. 

"The Premier has no vision and no plan for Victoria's solar and wind industry. Renewables are cheaper, cleaner and smarter, but Dr Napthine is sleepwalking while future industry is under threat.