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NSW Govt should be an employer of choice not spending more than $1 billion on insecure work

The NSW Government should be an employer of choice, setting the gold standard for pay and conditions, not relying on temporary and outsourced workers, according to the NSW Greens. A report released today by the NSW Auditor-General has found the State government’s spending on contingent labour has increased from $503 million in 2011-2012 to $1.1 billion in 2015-16. The Auditor-General’s report also revealed the Department of Industry, Transport for NSW and the Department of Education were not able to demonstrate that the use of contingent labour is the best resourcing strategy to meet their business needs or deliver value for money, Greens MP and Treasury spokesperson Justin Field said “this new report shows the NSW Government’s rapid move to insecure work arrangements is not only the wrong thing to do for workers, but it has not delivered better services or more value for money for the community. “At a time when the Treasurer is boasting about this government has forced a large group of employees into insecure work and locked them out of sharing the benefits. “We know casual and temporary workers have less rights than other workers, fewer entitlements and face the constant threat of being the first to go when budgets are tightened or privatisation takes place. People with insecure work find it harder to build a secure financial future for themselves and their families, despite rising costs of essentials such as housing, education and health care. “We expect more from the NSW Government as an employer, it should be setting the example by providing quality jobs with fair pay and conditions. This role becomes increasingly important in the face of global economic changes, new casualised work models and growth in insecure work. “The NSW Government should immediately put the brakes on its excessive use of temporary and outsourced workers and prioritise the creation of secure, permanent employment,” he said. A full copy of the report is available here: http://www.audit.nsw.gov.au/news/contingent-workforce

Plans to raise Warragamba Dam threaten one of NSW’s wildest rivers in Blue Mountains National Park

The NSW Government’s plans to raise the Warragamba Dam wall by 14 metres will flood thousands of hectares of World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park and threaten the wild Kowmung River. Justin Field, NSW Greens MLC and spokesperson for Urban Water, recently visited and documented sections of the Kowmung at risk of ruin if the dam wall raising goes ahead. “It was a privilege to recently walk the banks of the Kowmung River and see first-hand its pristine beauty and significance as part of Sydney’s drinking water catchment,” he said. “The wild Kowmung has remained little changed for centuries, but government bureaucrats ticking a box can wipe it out overnight. “The precious, clear water of the Kowmung River flows straight into Sydney’s drinking water supply and sustains the life of local native plants and animals. If the Warragamba dam wall is raised, the river banks will slump, beautiful and endangered trees will die and the soil and silt will run straight down into the dam. “We’ll lose or damage the wild Kowmung and the animals and plants that call it home forever. “The tragedy is this scarring and destruction of the Kowmung and other world heritage and protected areas is unnecessary and avoidable. “The Greens want to see the $700 million expected cost for the dam wall raising redirected to water efficiency and stormwater management and the wild Kowmung protected for the future,” Mr Field said.

Rising cost of dud deal: Fast-track of land titles sale could cost NSW $200 million

The cost of the NSW Government’s fast-track sale of the land titles registry, the LPI, are rising with a Sydney Morning Herald report today that Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has insisted potential buyers must cut fees by 10 per cent to offset new requirements to charge GST. There is no current need for the land titles services to charge GST as they are a government agency. The mounting cost of the controversial and unpopular land titles sell off includes $170 million in lost annual profit to the NSW taxpayer, a likely $200 million reduction on the sale price to the private bidders and a $20 million a year ‘gift’ to the Federal Government in GST revenue. Greens MP and Treasury spokesperson Justin Field said the Treasurer could no longer ignore the rising cost of this dud deal. “At a time when the NSW Treasurer and Government are talking up fiscal responsibility and housing affordability, their push for land titles privatisation has proved costly for the community,” he said today. “We have a world-class land titles system that is proven to work, generates $170 million in annual profit and has been used as a model overseas. If it ain’t broke, why tamper with it? “Yesterday we saw a diverse network of professional organisations, community groups and concerned homeowners take to the streets opposing the sell off of NSW land titles. They represented the 84 per cent of NSW homeowners who oppose the planned privatisation. “The more we find out about the sale of this monopoly and essential service, the more opposition grows. The community is right to be concerned about increasing risk of fraud, misuse of personal data and increasing costs of property purchases as a result of the privatisation. “The NSW Treasurer and Government should listen to the experts, LPI staff and the overwhelming majority of the community and stop the sell-off of land titles,” Mr Field said.

Community protest represents majority of community against sale of NSW land titles registry

A strong and vocal group marched to parliament this afternoon representing the 84 per cent of NSW homeowners who oppose the NSW Government's plan sell off of the states' land titles registry, the LPI [1]. A broad network of organisations supported the rally including the Law Society of NSW, Institute of Surveyors NSW, the Concerned Titles Group, LPI Staff Union, the Public Service Association of NSW and the Real Estate Institute of NSW. Greens MP Justin Field said the Greens stand with the diverse network of professional organisations, community groups and concerned homeowners supporting today’s event and opposing the sell off of the LPI. “The speed with which the NSW government has moved to sell off our world-class land titling service has raised objections and the Greens are calling on the NSW Government to abandon the sale,” Mr Field said today. “The more we find out about the sale of this monopoly and essential service, the more opposition grows. The community is right to be concerned about increasing risk of fraud, misuse of personal data and increasing costs of property purchases as a result of the privatisation. “People have expressed fears that costs will rise under a private operator, with higher costs reducing access to public information, and the integrity of the records may be compromised. “I’ve also heard of uneasiness around the privacy of household data once it is in private hands – will data be kept in Australia or on overseas servers? Will personal data be safe and exempt from sale? “The NSW Governments should listen to the experts, LPI staff and the community and stop the sell-off of land titles,” Mr Field said.   Greens MP Justin Field has launched a community petition to stop the privatisation here https://abetternsw.good.do/dontsell-offthelpi/stampyourtitle/ [1] http://www.surveyors.org.au/files/isnsw_consumer_poll_release_13_feb_2017_f.pdf

Youth unemployment hits crisis point in Southern Highlands and South Coast

The number of unemployed young people on the Southern Highlands and South Coast has reached 22.5%, the highest rate recorded over the past five years. The results were published yesterday by the NSW Parliamentary Library in their February Labor Force Trends report incorporating data from the ABS Labour Force Survey. The staggering 22.5% rate of youth unemployed in the Southern Highlands and South Coast is nearly double the NSW average of 11.8%. Greens MLC and spokesperson for the South Coast Justin Field said the cluster of high youth unemployment in the region created the risk of a ‘lost generation’ locked out of employment and opportunity. “The Labor Force figures show a growing youth unemployment crisis in the Southern Highlands and South Coast,” Mr Field said. “Young people are struggling to get a foot in the door and find work as the local region becomes entrenched as an unemployment hotspot for people aged 15 to 24. This represents close to one in four young people who are not gaining the experiences or training needed to develop the skills they need for secure future employment,” he said. Wingecarribee Shire councillor Gordon Markwart said while employment opportunities have grown modestly elsewhere across NSW, the situation worsens here in the Southern Highlands. “Too many young people in our region are faced with the reality of unemployment and underemployment,” Cr Markwart. “It’s especially galling that simultaneously working conditions like penalty rates are being whittled away from those who need them the most. Often the most common solution to travel long distances daily or leave the area completely to become employed. “The health, rural and retail industries form a large component of traditional employment in the Southern Highlands and it is pleasing to see such wonderful growth in the tourist sector. Yet we’re experiencing a push for mining expansion that puts at the risk this very growth in tourism and high value sustainable agricultural opportunities,” he said. Both Mr Field and Cr Markwart are calling for all levels and sides of politics need to work together on an urgent and comprehensive employment strategy for the South Coast, especially for young people.

V8 Supercars ignore community and local council concerns about Newcastle 500 track

The NSW Government’s desperation to deliver the Newcastle V8 Supercar race in November this year has emboldened race organisers to ignore serious community and local council concerns about the track route and suitability of the event, according to Greens MP Justin Field. Recent media reports reveal race organisers have rejected a Newcastle Council proposal to redraw the Supercar track route to avoid the East End section of the track, citing ‘safety’ issues with the proposed alternate route along Shortland Esplanade. Mr Field said the race organiser’s instant dismissal of the council proposal shows they and the NSW Government have no intention of consultation over the race plans and will simply ram through the project regardless of impacts. “Race organisers, supported by the NSW Government, are riding rough shod over the interests of the community and local council in their haste to fast-track the Newcastle V8 Super Car race,” he said. “If the organisers were genuinely serious about addressing community and safety concerns with the race, they would move it to purpose-built facilities in Raymond Terrace rather than on the doorstop of local homes and businesses. “Labor councillors were slow off the mark in responding to community concern but seem to have shifted in response to the growing opposition and recognition that this is the wrong race in the wrong place. “This rejection of the council’s alternative proposal comes as the heritage impact statement is still open for consultation and the government has yet to begin a formal community consultation process on the detailed race and its impacts. “The rush to fast-track this race is placing the local community, businesses, heritage and the environment at risk. This rejection by the race organiser shows there is little good will to genuinely consult and the NSW Government’s blind support is failing the Newcastle community," Mr Field said.

Nth Coast shark nets should be removed: No target sharks caught

The third monthly report of the NSW North Coast Shark Mesh Net Trial has shown the five nets across the NSW North Coast are a failure with no target sharks species caught but large numbers of precious marine life caught and killed, according to NSW Greens MP Justin Field. The report released yesterday found: Not one target white shark out of a total 34 marine creatures were caught in the net. Threatened species such the Great Hammerhead and endangered animals including a Loggerhead Turtle were killed in the nets. Three months into the trial, nearly half (47%) of marine species caught in nets are still dying. NSW Greens MP and Marine Environment spokesperson Justin Field said, “the North Coast trial report data has exposed the shark nets trial fails to catch sharks and the nets should be raised and removed immediately. “The data exposes the North Coast Shark Net Trial for what it is, a sham stunt that has failed to catch one single target shark this past month,” Mr Field said. “These nets are catching and killing precious marine animals like dolphins, turtles and rays, including threatened species such as the Loggerhead Turtle and Hammerhead. “We’ve had three months’ worth of data and nothing suggests shark nets are an effective response to community concerns about their safety in the water.  “The only reasonable response given the trial results to date is to haul up the nets and put in place non-lethal technologies such as community observer programs, better resourcing lifeguards and personal deterrent devices. “NSW can do better than a shark net mesh program that provides a false sense of security for swimmers but has a huge impact on our wildlife and budget. “The Greens have a non-lethal plan for modern, effective shark management that includes education, community observation programs and an evidence-based approach to new smart technologies including personal protection,” he said. Full copy of The Greens’ non-lethal approach to shark management here: http://bit.ly/NSWGreensSharkPlan

Poker machines take more than $20 million from local community

Prime time for Braidwood screening of Ka-ching Pokies Nation documentary New data purchased by NSW Greens MLC Justin Field has revealed poker machines in clubs have taken more than $20 million from the local government area of Goulburn/Palerang  in 2015-16 alone. The NSW community lost $5.46 billion to poker machines in clubs in 2015-16. The harm these machines inflict isn’t just financial – they cause real pain for people, families and the broader community. Following these startling revelations, the Braidwood Greens will host a special screening of the powerful Ka-ching Pokies Nation in Braidwood on 23 March. The documentary was first broadcast on the ABC and uncovers how poker machines and their operation are built for addiction. Mr Field said today, “I invite anyone concerned with the impact of poker machines and gambling to come along to the screening of Ka-ching and find out more on how these machines operate and the harm they cause people, families and communities. “Poker machines are in our pubs and clubs across NSW and the community deserves to know how addictive these machines are and how they’re ripping us off,” he said. The Ka-ching screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Mr Field, a social worker and psychologist. Refreshments will be served after the film. Event details What: Screening of Ka-Ching Pokie Nation documentary hosted by Braidwood Greens and Gambling Impact Society (GIS) When: 7pm. Thursday, 23 March 2017 Where: The National Theatre, Braidwood Panel discussion following film screening: Justin Field, NSW Greens MP Kate Roberts, Social Worker and Executive Officer of GIS Barbara Bicego, Psychologist and Project Officer of GIS RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/185536851936694/ Interview and images from the documentary available on request.  

'Harm minimisation' strategy failing with prediction of additional $600 million in pokies profits by 2020

The NSW Government’s own budget forecasts show its ‘harm minimisation’ strategies for poker machines will fail, predicting a massive $600 million  in additional profit  from poker machines in clubs and hotels over the next four years and an almost $200 million increase in gambling taxes. The 2016-17 budget forecasts obtained by The Greens show: a projected $277,070,971 increase in profits from poker machines in  hotels from 2016-2020. a projected $334,117,440 increase in profits from poker machines in clubs from 2016-2020. an additional $189,095,496 in pokies taxes from clubs and hotels combined from 2016-2020 At the same time, poker machine numbers reduced by 348 in the 12 months to June 2016 from 98,002 to 97,654[i]. NSW Greens MP Justin Field said the budget forecasts make a mockery of the Government’s ‘gradual reduction strategy’ and rhetoric of ‘harm minimisation’ when it comes to poker machines in NSW. “The Government and industry make noises about harm minimisation and responsible gambling but the budget forecasts show they are anticipating a significant increase in the harm these machines do in the NSW community. Clubs, hotels and the Government’s will profit from this harm to the tune of $600 million over the next four years taking total expected annual profits to $6.62 Billion by 2020,” Mr Field said today. “The Government’s own budget forecasts show it expects the current harm minimisation approach will fail, and despite a reduction in the number of machines over the period, profits to the gambling clubs and hotels will increase and losses to the community will grow. NSW is home to almost half the poker machines in Australia and 10% of machines globally. “These machines are designed to make people play to extinction. We know they trigger the same reward pathways in the brain as cocaine or ice and can lead to addiction. The harm caused in the community is significant including through relationship breakdowns, domestic violence, homelessness and suicide. “The NSW Government’s messages promoting ‘harm minimisation’ and ‘responsible gambling’ are not credible when we see at the same time they are projecting huge profit increases for the industry. “I’m calling on NSW Racing Minister Paul Toole to put people before pokies and implement genuine harm minimisation approaches such as $1 maximum bets, rapidly reducing the number of machines in NSW and empowering communities with venue-by-venue data on poker machine losses in their local area,” he said. Spreadsheet with copy of Treasury documents available here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B9GFQCz85cceRG5wemJzdHlwdTA?usp=sharing Question asked by Justin Field in the Legislative Council today: My Question without notice is to the honourable Niall Blair representing the Minister for Racing, Minister, Last year the NSW community lost approximately $8 billion on the pokies. Your Government’s most recent budget forecasts predict an increase in club profits – which also represents losses to the community - of more than $600 million over the next 4 years. How can your Government claim to support harm minimisation strategies to reduce the social [i] Budget estimates transcript, 1 September 2016, Questions to Racing Minister Troy Grant by Mr Justin Field, p30

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