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NSW increasingly a rogue state on plastic pollution as WA Bans the Bag

The NSW Greens have welcomed the WA Government’s phase out of single-use plastic shopping bags from mid-next year and called on NSW to follow its lead. Australians use up to an estimated 4 billion light-weight plastic bags a year. Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the ACT have already banned the bag. Greens Marine spokesperson Justin Field said NSW was lagging behind on taking urgent action to stop plastic pollution. “Every year in NSW thousands of marine animals are injured and killed by plastic pollution in our oceans. There is one way to fix it - it's time to put an end to single use plastics,” Mr Field said today. “People are shocked when they hear an estimated 50 million plastic bags end up as litter in the environment each year in Australia, mostly in our waterways and ocean, where they kill and injure dolphins, turtles and other marine life. “NSW is falling behind the rest of the country and the rest of the world when it comes to reducing litter and protecting our marine life. While states like WA and Queensland have banned single-use plastic bags, Premier Berejiklian has refused to act. The state has become a plastic pariah, trashing our natural environment and people’s health. “The community is ready for change, the big supermarkets have announced plastic bag bans, now we need action from the NSW Premier. “Every day we delay is a missed opportunity for reducing our pollution, protecting marine life and creating a healthier future for NSW. “The Greens will stand with the community and keep up pressure for the change needed,” he said.

Port Kembla Community Grants should be reserved for the community: Greens

The Greens have questioned the ethics of a NSW Government decision that has directed money from the Port Kembla Community Investment Fund to NSW Government projects run by the Department of Planning and Environmental Protection Agency. The allocation of more than $1 million in grants under the scheme was announced yesterday and included two grants totalling almost $144,000 to NSW Government departments for an Industrial Land Activation Project and contamination reports. Greens Spokesperson for the Illawarra Justin Field said the Illawarra community did not support the Government hand-picking its own projects ahead of genuine community projects. The purpose of the Port Kembla Community Investment Fund is to support community projects that: increase economic activity; enhance activation and connectivity of public infrastructure, precincts and community spaces; and improved environmental air, land and waterway quality. Other projects funded in this round include lighting for local ovals, a wetlands rehabilitation project and the Wonderwalls mural project. “The question the community should be asking is, what genuine community projects have missed out in order to give almost a quarter of the total fund granted in this round to Government departments,” Mr Field said. “The community doesn’t expect big departments and agencies with multi-million dollar budgets to dip into community funds, it sets an appalling precedent. “Those projects should be funded within the Government’s recurrent budget and the Community Investment Fund money redirected to local community projects. “The Government should look into the process of allocating and prioritising these grants so this situation doesn’t occur again,” he said.

Is NSW's drinking water contaminated with plastic fibre?

IS NSW’S DRINKING WATER CONTAMINATED WITH PLASTIC FIBRE?TESTS URGED AFTER INTERNATIONAL STUDY The NSW Government should urgently test the state’s tap water for plastic fibre contamination after <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/06/plastic-fibres-found-tap-water-around-world-study-reveals">media reports of a scientific study</a> finding more than 80% of the world’s drinking water is contaminated with plastic fibre. The test results of water in both developed and developing countries raises serious questions about whether plastic fibre has polluted local water supplies and the safety of NSW’s drinking water. Scientists have called for urgent research on the implications of plastic fibre contamination for health. During Budget Estimates yesterday, Greens MP and Urban Water spokesperson Justin Field called on Premier Gladys Berejiklian for an urgent test of NSW’s drinking supply for plastic fibre contamination. “Clean water is one of the essentials of life and the widespread plastic contamination of tap water worldwide raises serious questions for the safety of NSW’s drinking water,” Mr Field said. “There are few things in life more fundamental to our health and wellbeing than clean drinking water. Countries in the US, Europe and across the world had no idea they had plastic contamination in their tap water and we still don’t know the full potential impacts on human health and wellbeing. “We are learning more everyday about the extent of plastic pollution making its way into the environment because of a failure of regulation, this recent study adds even more concern. “What we do know is that we’re all turning on the tap every day for a drink, for cooking, for a shower and we should take action to ensure we know what's in the water and guarantee it is safe. “It’s vital that Premier Berejiklian can assure the NSW community that the water in our taps is clean and safe from plastic fibre pollution. We need an urgent test of NSW drinking supply for plastic fibre contamination and the public release of the results so the public can have confidence in the quality of our drinking water,” he said.

Respect childcare workers and pay them a fair wage: Greens

The NSW Greens are standing in support of the nation’s early childhood workers as they take strike action for fair pay from 3.20pm today [7 September]. Early childhood educators and child care workers in NSW and across the country are paid significantly less than primary and secondary teachers, and as much as $30k less than the average annual wage. At the same time as workers walk off the job, NSW Greens Early Childhood Education spokesperson Justin Field will grill NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on what actions the NSW Government will take to support fair pay for educators in the sector. “The Greens stand with early childhood workers in asking for recognition of the valuable work they do educating children and supporting families, and shaping our future society,” he said. “Early learning is the foundation for happy and productive adult lives and a good society. “For too long, our skilled early childhood workers have not received the respect or financial recognition they deserve for their valuable and essential work. Women make up more than 97% of the workforce, which has contributed to the ongoing gender pay gap in Australia. “As a parent with a child currently in care, I can speak of my personal gratitude for the tireless work of the carers and educator working  in this sector who are helping to give our children the best start in life and enabling parents to continue to pursue careers and support their families. “But gratitude alone won’t pay the bills. “It’s not acceptable that in 2017 a skilled, tertiary educated early childhood worker is forced to get by on $21 an hour. “This is significantly less than what we pay secondary and tertiary education teachers, and it falls far short of what’s needed for workers to provide a comfortable life for their own families. “The Greens support the fair pay claim of the union but reform of the sector is needed to support fair pay and universal access to quality early childhood education,” Mr Field said.

NSW should follow Queensland's lead and Ban the Bag

The NSW Greens have welcomed the Queensland Government passing legislation overnight for a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags from mid-next year and called on NSW Premier to introduce a similar ban across NSW. Australians use up to an estimated 4 billion light-weight plastic bags a year. South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the ACT have already banned the bag, with Queensland joining them. Greens Marine spokesperson Justin Field said NSW was playing catch up on taking the action needed to stop plastic pollution. “Every year in NSW thousands of marine animals are injured and killed by plastic pollution in our oceans. There is one way to fix it - it's time to put an end to single use plastics,” Mr Field said. “NSW is falling behind the rest of the country and the rest of the world when it comes to reducing litter and protecting our marine life. While states like Queensland have banned or are on their way to banning single-use plastic bags, Premier Berejikilan has refused to act. The state has become a plastic pariah, trashing our natural environment and people’s health. “The community is ready for change, the big supermarkets have announced plastic bag bans, now we need action from the NSW Premier. “Every day we delay is a missed opportunity for reducing our pollution, protecting marine life and creating a healthier future for NSW,” he said. “The Greens will stand with the community and keep up pressure for the change needed.”

Evidence is in: No new shark net trial off North Coast

The Greens have condemned confirmation from NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair at a Senate Estimates hearing today of a new shark net trial on the north coast of NSW. The NSW Government is pushing ahead with the outdated technology despite results from a six-month trial in the same region showing: the shark nets caught and/or killed 244 marine creatures during the course of the trial, including rays and endangered turtles. SMART drumlines deployed in the same area have caught more target sharks, with far fewer sharks deaths and almost no by catch; and Senate Estimates testimony of a decrease in community support for the shark net trial. The Greens have called on the NSW Government to heed the evidence and abandon plans for another shark net ‘trial’ – on the North Coast and beyond. Member for Ballina Tamara Smith said, “The shark net trial on the North Coast was a demonstrated failure and should not be repeated. “There is no scientific evidence and decreasing community support for putting shark nets back in the water this Summer. “We all want to ensure people are as safe as possible when enjoying the beach and ocean while minimising the toll on marine life. Shark nets don’t help achieve that balance. The Greens would prefer to see money wasted on the nets used instead on drone and human shark spotting patrols in order to offer better warning and protection to swimmers and surfers. “The NSW Government has continued to say they’ll take an evidence-based approach to shark management so why push ahead with more nets when they have failed to work?” Ms Smith said. Marine Environment spokesperson Justin Field said “Shark nets may make ocean goers feel better but the evidence shows they are not effective against target sharks and don’t make swimmers or surfers significantly safer. “The Minister can already act confidently from the results of the previous trial which made a compelling case for the Government to remove shark nets permanently from North Coast beaches. “We have already had an expansion of the SMART drumlines off the North Coast and there are other non-lethal technologies available, including expanding community shark observer programs. “Minister Niall Blair can now have the confidence to move beyond the ‘panic’ and keep shark nets out of the water,” he said.   Full copy of The Green non-lethal approach to shark management here: http://bit.ly/NSWGreensSharkPlan

Remove shark nets from beaches across NSW this Summer

The Greens are calling on the NSW Government to phase out the destructive shark net program and increase non-lethal shark management strategies on NSW beaches this Summer.More than 51 shark nets due to be installed at beaches from Newcastle to Wollongong from today (1 September). However, the recently released Annual Performance Report of the Shark Meshing Program and the government’s trial of SMART drumlines and other non-lethal strategies on North Coast beaches have shown that shark nets are the worst of all options for marine life and the health of the ocean.The annual report of the netting program in 2016/17 found: 373 animals were caught in sharks nets with 211 (57%) killed. most of the animals killed in nets were non-dangerous animals including dolphins, turtles and rays. 74 target sharks were killed in the year. Greens MLC and Marine Spokesperson Justin Field said shark nets are an outdated technology that is failing people and taking a toll on marine life and should be removed for good.“Shark nets may make ocean goers feel better but the evidence shows they are not effective against target sharks and don’t make swimmers or surfers significantly safer.“The Government’s trial of SMART drumlines and other non-lethal strategies on the North Coast caught more sharks than the net trial over the same period. There were almost no non-target marine creatures caught on drumlines and almost all sharks were tagged and released alive. “The trial makes a compelling case for the Government to remove shark nets permanently from NSW’s beaches.Minister Niall Blair can now have the confidence to move beyond the ‘panic’ and begin phasing out shark nets across NSW. “He should halt the process of rolling out nets due to go into the water off Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong on 1 September and replace them with effective, non-lethal technologies including SMART drumlines and community monitoring programs.| The Greens are calling on the Government to phase outr destructive shark nets and replace them with modern technologies that reduce the risk of shark bites but don’t kill our much loved marine animals,” he said.Shark meshing (Bather Protection) program 2016/17 Annual Performance Report:http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/728817/Shark-Meshing-2016-2017-annual-report.pdf Full copy of The Green non-lethal approach to shark management here: http://bit.ly/NSWGreensSharkPlan

Clubs NSW urges locking out community and health expert advice from liquor licence consultation

Clubs NSW is pushing the NSW Government for a restriction of community objection rights as part of consultation during liquor licence applications, recommending the removal of mandatory consultation with NSW Health, the Department of Family and Community Services and recognised leaders of local Aboriginal communities Clubs NSW’s submission to the government’s Community Impact Statement (CIS) review calls for a “honing down” of people, local groups and experts permitted in community consultation to those “directly impacted” by the granting licence. Greens NSW MLC and Gambling Spokesperson Justin Field said any reduction of community rights to have a say and challenge liquor licence applications in their neighbourhood was a step in the wrong direction. “The Clubs NSW push for a watering down of consultation on the impacts of alcohol is completely out of touch with the increasing community unease over the harm irresponsible alcohol cause people, families and our communities,” he said. “Health professionals and other experts are already concerned their detailed, fact-based advice is being glossed over under the CIS process with a close to 100% approval rate by Liquor and Gaming NSW. “The Greens want to see the community consultation processes around liquor licence applications strengthened. The advice of health professionals and police should be given more weight, not less, especially when it comes to applications from key alcohol retailers such as the big bottle shop chains. “The Government must side with the community and not with vested interests when it comes to these important public health and community wellbeing questions. “We can’t be too cautious when it comes to protecting people and our communities from alcohol-related assaults, alcohol-related hospitalisations, domestic assaults and malicious damage. “I’ve continued to raise serious questions about the extent to which the big alcohol and gaming interests in NSW seem to get their way and the community gets locked out of decision making. “The outcome of this CIS Review should be safer and better informed communities. The NSW Government should reject this recommendation from Clubs NSW and any other submissions that disempower communities,” Mr Field said. CIS stakeholder submissions available on the Liquor &amp; Gaming NSW website here: http://www.liquorandgaming.nsw.gov.au/Pages/public-consultation/community-consultation/community-impact-statement-evaluation.aspx

Top 25 pokies hotels in NSW taking more than $253 million profits from vulnerable communities

New data from Liquor and Gaming reveals the top 25 hotels making the most profit from poker machines in NSW take a staggering $253 million in pre-tax profit per year from vulnerable communities. The figures show: the top 25 hotels for pokies profits took $486,538 per week from communities in the 2016/17 financial year alone. El Cortez Hotel in Fairfield tops the list, taking the most in pokies profits in NSW in the past financial year. 13 out of 25 hotels in the top 25 for pokies profits are in the Fairfield and Canterbury/Bankstown local government areas. Woolworths owns three of the top 25 hotels, Pritchard Hotel, Cambridge Tavern and Smithfield Tavern, all located in Fairfield. all of the top 25 hotels are in the Greater Sydney metropolitan area. NSW Greens MLC Justin Field said behind the mega profits from poker machines revealed by the data today is the immeasurable harm caused to people, families and communities. “The $253 million lost to addictive pokies in the top 25 hotels is no accident, these machines are designed for addiction and making profits from people and communities,” he said. “The vested interests in the hotel industry continue to push to wind back regulations on gambling. It’s long past time Government reined them in and put people before pokies profits. “Pokies are the new tobacco. They are both highly addictive products with powerful lobby groups pushing in their favour and covering up their true impacts. The changes in social acceptance of smoking and in favour of regulation of tobacco over recent years offers a way forward to reduce the harm from poker machines as well. “NSW must counter the tactics used by the hotels and clubs to protect their mega-profits from the pokies. That requires an acceleration in the overall reduction in poker machines across the state while putting limits on the capacity of existing machines to strip money out of communities such as $1 bet limits. “The balance has swung too far in NSW in favour of the gambling industry and pokies venues, now the NSW Government must stand with communities and protect them from these addictive machines,” Mr Field said. The Greens and Alliance for Gambling Reform will present a free screening of the documentary Ka-Ching! Pokie Nation at Fairfield Youth and Community Centre on August 30, followed by a discussion on gambling harm. More details: facebook.com/JustinFieldGreens Full list of State Rankings by Gaming Machine Profit for Hotels (June 2017 Quarter end): http://bit.ly/2wrIZay

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