High Court decision means marriage equality must be achieved by the Commonwealth parliament

“The High Court decision to disallow the ACT Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013, has put the focus squarely on the federal parliament to legislate for marriage equality as the majority of Australians want to see," Victorian Greens MP, Sue Pennicuik said today.

The Court held that the federal Parliament has power under the Australian Constitution to legislate with respect to same sex marriage, and that under the Constitution and federal law as it now stands, whether same sex marriage should be provided for by law is a matter for the federal Parliament and that "Marriage" in s 51(xxi) includes a marriage between persons of the same sex.

“Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has introduced a federal marriage equality bill today,” Ms Pennicuik said.

Asbestos related diseases


Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- On 29 November I attended a commemoration service hosted by Asbestoswise and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union for the lives of those touched by asbestos. Australia has the highest reported incidence of asbestos-related disease in the world, including the highest instance of mesothelioma.

Q: Prison capacity


Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- My question is to the Minister for Corrections, Mr O'Donohue. It pertains to the plan announced by the government to house minimum-security prisoners in shipping containers -- which I note he did not mention in his answer to the Dorothy Dixer from Mr Elsbury about prison overcrowding -- and plans by Corrections Victoria to operate work camps where rotating teams of minimum-security prisoners will work on conservation and general maintenance projects in regional areas while living in the community for seven days in temporary accommodation, such as vacant community halls. My question to the minister is: is it just a coincidence that these two plans were announced in the same week or are they related, and does it indicate that the majority of the 11 per cent jump in prisoner numbers is occurring in minimum-security prisons?

Education and Training Reform Amendment (Dual Sector Universities) Bill 2013


Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- I would like to start by quoting Nelson Mandela, who said:

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

This quote is on the wall of the foyer of the Australian Education Union's building in Clarendon Street, Southbank.

Owners Corporations Amendment Bill 2013


Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- The Owners Corporations Amendment Bill 2013 is a fairly simple bill. It seeks to confirm the intention of the principal act that the annual fees of an owners corporation should be set according to the liability of each member of an owners corporation.

Q: 10044 Corrections: prisoner numbers


MS PENNICUIK — To ask the Minister for Corrections: In relation to the increase in prisoner numbers in Victoria in the last twelve months:

Prison overcrowding of government's own making

“The state government’s latest proposal to house low security prisoners in shipping containers is a costly and unnecessary measure,” Green spokesperson on Corrections, Sue Pennicuik said today.

“Prison overcrowding is a problem of the government's own making,” Ms Pennicuik said. "Its flawed and populist changes to sentencing laws, which are not evidence-based, is leading to low risk, non-violent offenders being imprisoned where in the past they would not have been.”

Q Centre for Adult Education Collective Agreement


Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- My question is for the Minister for Higher Education and Skills, Mr Hall. Staff of the Centre for Adult Education (CAE) have been trying to get a new collective agreement since 2011. CAE staff are already underpaid compared to those doing the same work elsewhere, and they have not had a pay rise since 2010 as a result of the failure of the CAE board and the state government to come to an agreement with the staff, despite three years of negotiation. The staff have now been on strike since 18 November -- that is, for 11 days. Lately, negotiations between the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and CAE have been progressing to the extent that an in-principle agreement is expected soon, and that will need to be approved by the Department of Treasury and Finance. If that occurs, will the state government move quickly to approve the agreement between the state, CAE and its staff?

Crimes Amendment (Investigation Powers) Bill 2013


Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- The Crimes Amendment (Investigation Powers) Bill 2013 does a number of things, mainly by amending the Crimes Act 1958 to clarify destruction requirements relating to DNA samples, profiles and related information under clause 3. The clause focuses on DNA taken from relevant suspects and expands the range of offences for which forensic procedures may be conducted to collect DNA samples from suspects and offenders to include any indictable offence, rather than as currently for specified offences under schedule 8 of the Crimes Act.

Climate Change


Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) -- On Sunday, 17 November, along with tens of thousands of Australians in capital cities and many regional centres, I attended the National Day of Climate Action, calling on the Australian government to step up action to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. In September this year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its fifth assessment report, which states: