Dead marine animals increase by 300% under Baird Government mesh net program

17 January 2017 The NSW Shark Meshing program is a marine animal culling program and should be phased out according to NSW Greens Marine and Fisheries spokesperson, Justin Field. The call comes after the NSW Government released the Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program 2015-16 Annual Performance Report showing dramatic increases in animals caught and killed in the mesh nets. Shark mesh nets at 51 beaches between Wollongong and Newcastle caught 748 marine animals and killed 364 of them in the 2015/2016 year. There was a dramatic four-fold increase in the number of animals caught and 300% increase in marine animals found dead in the nets. Four shark 'interactions' were reported within the Shark Meshing Program area, including one at a beach where the net was in place. Justin Field said: "Laid out nose to tail the marine animals killed by this program including dolphins, rays, turtles and non-threatening shark would stretch half the length of Bondi Beach. “People would be shocked to know that some of the dolphins they have enjoyed watching playing in the waves have ended up dead in NSW shark nets. "It's time we phased out this culling program and replaced it with non-lethal solutions. "The shark mesh net program provides questionable protection to NSW swimmers and divers but costs a fortune in terms of destruction to our wildlife and dollars spent. "The majority of animals caught in the shark nets in NSW were harmless sharks, dolphins and turtles that pose no risk to swimmers and divers. "After a Christmas where we've seen a spike in drownings along the coast, what we should be investing in is more lifesavers and more resources for emergency responders, not spending millions on a discredited shark meshing program. The 2015/2016 shark-meshing program tripped trigger points for the number of Common Dolphins and Hawksbill Turtles killed by the nets which will force a review of the program. Mr. Field said: "At the same time the Government was planning to roll out new shark mesh nets on the North Coast where dolphins and turtle are prevalent, they were sitting on data that showed the existing nets with dolphin deterrent devices weren't working effectively. "There are non-lethal alternatives to shark mesh nets including community observer programs, better resources for lifeguards, smart drum lines and personal deterrent devices. "We should be phasing out these destructive nets and modernising swimmer protection at NSW beaches. The Greens non-lethal approach to shark management is here. NOTE: The 2015/16 shark meshing period was from 1 September 2015 to 30 April 2016. Figures for this period have been unavailable publicly until now.

Review fails to answer critical questions concerning liability

19th December 2016 Earlier today, Dominic Perrottet, NSW Minister for Finance, Services and Property released the findings of the investigation into the Land Title office (LPI) and the bungle that saw more than 200 families unknowingly buy homes in the path of a future freeway. The investigation by PwC found the error occurred because the process for uploading files from Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) into the CRR has, since its establishment in 2009, been informal, inconsistent and lacking in governance and review mechanisms Greens Finance and Services Spokesperson, Justin Field MLC said: “The investigation into the Central Register of Restrictions has revealed two issues. Firstly, it could have been a lot worse with the revelations that an audit of all historical Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) files found that one further file – relating to 377 properties in the vicinity of the New M5 – was not correctly uploaded in September 2014. “It is not clear how many home owners have been impacted by this error with Minister, Dominic Perrottet, only saying, ‘I am advised by RMS that, with the New M5 project now well underway, the vast majority of the involved properties now sit outside the designated route and are not directly affected by its construction.’ “With Christmas just around all those families deserve more clarity than that from the Minister and I am asking Minister Perrottet to ensure all the affected home owners are contacted and informed of the risk posed to their homes by this error.” Secondly, neither this report nor the Minister’s subsequent statement has done anything to address the question of who would be liable in a future, privatised LPI, should this kind of mistake occur.” “The answer to this question has very real implications for consolidated funds because at this stage there are no protections in place to prevent a private company making claims on the public purse in the case of future errors.” “The Minister’s statement, this investigation and the fact that the Law Council, Law Society, Real Estate industry, property developers and the PSA have all voiced deep concerns over this rushed privatisation makes it clear the community has real concerns.

NSW resting on its laurels with approach to state finances

13 December 2016 NSW Greens MP and Treasury spokesperson Justin Field has accused to the NSW Government of resting on its laurels when it comes to the state’s finances leaving many to wonder whose NSW is it. The statement follow the release of the mid-year budget update which included headlines focused on record growth, low unemployment and a successful asset recycling scheme. Mr Field said, “I don’t want to ruin the Christmas cheer but economic growth and unemployment figures are masking the impacts of growing inequality and a two speed economy in NSW that sees many regional communities being left behind. “Asset recycling is political spin for privatising the state’s assets and the sale of essential services like the electricity networks, land titles service and potential future privatisations of hospitals. These sell-offs are masking the fact that the Government doesn’t have a plan for the state after they have finished selling off the crown jewels. “I’m asking whose state is it when some of the big changes in the mid-year update are $40 million for a Rugby League Centre for Excellence and $11 million to turn the historic end of Newcastle into a V8 Super Car race track. “At the same time the Coalition government continues to “explore” the possibility of selling off our great Sport & Recreation centres – the places that are there for all of us. They add insult to injury when they justify selling the world best land titles service to fund new sports stadiums. “This ‘bread and circuses’ approach only works while there is something to sell but when the cupboard is bare it is the broader community who will face increased costs and reduced services. We need a different approach to address inequality and to build a fairer society, not just a better facilities for professional football players and sports car drivers. “Last month’s Labor Force statistics showed unemployment of young people was growing with as many as 20% of young people on the South Coast not in work or school. The 4.9% unemployment figure quoted by the Treasurer means little to the 2,500 young people without employment or training options in the Shoalhaven. Nor does it mean a great deal to the over 500,00  people in our community who are underemployed or under-employed who want to know what the Coalition is doing for them and their families. The Treasurer certainly has nothing to say to them in this mid-year review. “Nor are housing approvals a good indicator of housing affordability and the state has almost stopped building public housing to support those most vulnerable in our state. “We know that wages growth has all but stopped so anything other than reduction in house prices cannot hope to improve “housing affordability”. This is simply spin from the Treasurer and the NSW Government should get behind the Planning Minister’s calls for changes to negative gearing at the federal level which will do more to support younger people into their first homes.” “It’s long past time we looked at other measures of success and ensured that equality and delivery of services became a critical measure in budget assessments. “Investing in growth is not a bad thing if it is the right growth and that includes long-term job creating investment in educating and training, and supporting new industries like renewable energy and advanced manufacturing, and ensuring essential services are available to all who need them,” Mr Field said.

Premier Baird heading the wrong way on shark management

December 2016 NSW Greens Marine and Fisheries spokesman, Justin Field, MLC will join a large, informal coalition of community groups and environmental organisations for a rally today in Premier Baird’s own electorate of Manly to say no to shark nets and yes to science-based solutions. With the passing of the Fisheries Management Amendment (Shark Management Trials) Bill 2016 in the NSW upper house, mesh shark nets have been installed in 5 north coast beaches already.  The Greens have called for a science based approach to managing the risk of shark bites in NSW. NSW Greens Marine and Fisheries spokesperson, Justin Field, said today, ““The Greens are committed to a science based approach to keep people as safe as possible whilst respecting our wild oceans and the creatures that live in it, including sharks.” “We understand communities on the north coast of NSW are concerned for their safety.  That’s why the Government’s push for shark nets is the wrong way to go. “Shark nets won’t guarantee public safety and bites continue to occur on the already netted beaches in NSW. But the new nets will have significant impacts on marine species including turtle, dolphins, rays and non-threatening sharks. “The Premier has described himself as an ocean lover and he represents an ocean loving community in Manly. Hopefully this show of support will convince the Premier to rethink his plan and take a non-lethal approach to keeping people safe while protecting the marine environment people love. “The Greens plan includes non-lethal shark mitigation programs that support communities to put in place local solutions. It recognises the need to put science at the center of any solutions and enables the community to develop our understanding of sharks and to find new deterrent technologies. "This week the federal Senate announced it would hold an inquiry into shark mitigation. This shows the level of public concern and follows a NSW parliamentary inquiry earlier this year that recommended moving away from shark mesh nets “Communities up and down the NSW coastline want to know they are part of the solution and they need resources to take up that role. Efficient shark management must include government doing the heavy lifting on research, infrastructure and surveillance and the community getting supported to run proven programs like Shark Watch,” concluded Mr. Field. The Greens Non-Lethal Response to Shark Management in NSW plan can be found here

Greens MPs say NSW must follow Queensland’s Lead and ‘Ban the Bag’

25th November 2016 The NSW Greens have called on Premier Mike Baird and NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman to follow Queensland and ban single use plastic bags in NSW. The call follows an <a href="">announcement</a> that Queensland will ban the bag by 2018 after a meeting of commonwealth environment ministers failed to get agreement on a national scheme. The Greens have a bill sitting in the NSW Parliament that would ban lightweight shopping bags being given out or sold by retailers to customers to carry away goods. The ban will focus on plastic bags of less than 35 microns, which includes single-use, lightweight bags such as grocery bags with handles, and other bags used to carry away products such as take away food, or alcohol. Greens NSW Environment Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC said: “Queensland has shown real leadership in committing to phasing out single use plastic bags and now it is time for NSW to step up and ban the bag. “NSW risks being one of the last hold outs, with South Australia, the ACT, Tasmania and the Northern Territory already banning the bag. “The Greens have a plastic bag ban bill in Parliament, ready to go. For the sake of our environment, we need decisive action from the NSW Government” she concluded. Greens NSW Marine Environment Spokesperson, Justin Field, MLC said:  “An estimated 50 million plastic bags end up in the environment each year in Australia, mostly in our waterways and ocean, where they kill and injure dolphins, turtles and other marine life. “Local communities around Australia are already pushing local businesses to go plastic free and some national retailers have shown they can operate effectively without plastic bags. “There is no reason similar practices cannot be adopted by supermarkets and shops throughout NSW, there are plenty of alternatives to single use plastic bags.

Unemployed young people on the South Coast at record highs under Baird Government

25th November 2016 The number of unemployed young people on the South Coast is at the highest level since the Baird Government came to power, topping 20% for the first time since July 2013. The results were published this week by the NSW Parliamentary Library in their October Labor Force Trends report incorporating data from the ABS Labour Force Survey. Greens MLC and spokesperson for the South Coast Justin Field said, “Today more than 1 in 5 young people aged 15-24 in the Southern Highlands and South Coast are unemployed and face challenging futures.” “Youth employment is rising across the South Coast and Illawarra but is highest on the South Coast at 20.2% with the Illawarra at 16.6%.” “While the Baird Government is busy in Sydney privatising the state’s assets, regional young people are being let down.” “The figure of twenty per cent represents nearly 2,500 young people in our region who are not in school or work and not having the experiences and developing the skills they’ll need for a secure future. These are crisis levels and need urgent attention from Governments. “The report comes at the same time new Nationals Deputy Premier John Barilaro is telling Fairfax Media that his government will manage the loss of 600 electricity network jobs in regional NSW by working, “with employees and industry to ensure impacts on the workforce are managed in a sensitive and orderly way." “There is nothing sensitive about unemployment. Creating and sustaining regional jobs need Government investment and support, not an approach that smooths the way to unemployment.” “All levels and sides of politics need to work together on an employment strategy for the South Coast and Illawarra, especially for young people. That must include reinvigorating the TAFE sector and local manufacturing to support the transition to 100% renewable energy. “This is a community with a lot to offer in terms of its natural beauty and tourism, skills and infrastructure to support manufacturing and agriculture as well as service provision in health, ageing and government services. “We need a coordinated strategy to give regional young people the opportunity to find rewarding jobs and a secure future", Mr Field said.

Ballina shark net media event shows politics, not science, behind Mike Baird’s plan

Greens Marine and Fisheries spokesperson Justin Field has called on Mike Baird to stop playing politics with shark nets and get behind the community based Shark Watch program to help improve public safety while protecting the beautiful North Coast marine environment. The call follows an announcement that the Premier will travel to Ballina today (Friday) for a media event for the installation of the first of five shark nets planned in a trial for the North Coast. The netting trial was authorised under legislation rushed through the Parliament this week and exempted from federal environment laws under special emergency powers used by the federal Environment Minister, Josh Frydenberg. Mr Field said, “Mike Baird’s whirlwind media focussed trip to the North Coast shows his nets trial is more about politics than about science.” “The speed of legislation and the failure to consult meaningfully on the design and management of the trial shows it for the PR exercise it is.” “That’s a real shame when a community based non-lethal solution is ready to go in Shark Watch and with a very small Government investment could be rolled out across the region.” “Communities up and down the NSW coastline want to know they are part of the solution and they need resources to take up that role. Efficient shark management must include government doing the heavy lifting on research, infrastructure and surveillance and the community getting supported to run proven programs like Shark Watch.” “Shark nets are an out-dated technology and we can do better. There have been many shark bites at netted beaches in the past. Shark nets can’t guarantee public safety and we need to be honest about that instead of painting them as the solution. Rushing through legislation for more old-style shark mesh nets shows the Baird Government is moving away from a science based approach. “What we do know is that shark nets kill hundreds of marine animals including dolphins and turtles and non-target and endangered sharks – communities don’t want that collateral damage.“Governments can’t fully remove the risk of shark bites but people want a science based approach and support for local solutions not a political fix for the government”, concluded Mr. Field.

Sharks nets legislation risks a false sense of security for NSW ocean users

11 November 2016 Greens Marine and Fisheries spokesperson, Justin Field, has cautioned the NSW Government that shark nets are not a silver bullet and risk giving the community a false sense of security while destroying the marine environment so many people in NSW love. The call comes after the rushed passage of legislation through the NSW Upper House this week that will allow the installation of shark nets at beaches along the NSW Coast. The legislation is expected to pass the Lower House next week. “In the rush and media frenzy what has been lost in this debate is the fact that shark nets won’t guarantee public safety,” said Mr. Field. “Some within the Government and some interest groups talk about shark nets as if they will solve the problem of shark bite on North Coast beaches. That risks giving the community a false sense of security and undermining the non-lethal approaches that have been recommended by the Government’s own experts. “Nets are not a barrier and bites do occur at netted beaches. They also have unintended consequence like catching and killing other marine life. “People will also be alarmed to learn that the legislation isn’t specific to the North Coast. The Minister will have tremendous power to put nets or other devices to catch and kill sharks across the entire NSW coastline. “While I don’t believe it is the intention of the Government to deliberately kill or harm sharks or other marine animals that is the likely consequence of this legislation and it is being done despite the fact that it won’t guarantee public safety. “The Greens are committed to a science based approach to keep people as safe as possible whilst respecting our wild oceans and the creatures that live in it, including sharks.” Last month the Greens released their non-lethal response to shark management in NSW  that called for investment in shark spotter programs which engage the local community in the solution and have been shown to reduce shark bites on other locations. The plan also supports redirecting resources to more shark towers, coordinating Life Saving resources and supporting the development of personal protective equipment. “No one can guarantee complete safety but we can do more by supporting community led programs and helping bring to market technology that enables individual users to take their own precautions. Shark nets are not the answer,” said Mr. Field.

Gareth Ward should oppose privatization of Berry Sport and Recreation Centre

NSW Greens spokesperson for Sport and the South Coast, Justin Field MLC, has called on the member for Kiama, Gareth Ward, to oppose Government plans to sell or lease the Berry Sport and Recreation Centre to private operators. The call comes after Government members opposed a motion in the NSW Legislative Council calling on the Government to abandon privatisation plans. Mr. Field said, “I’m calling on the Member for Kiama to oppose any privatisation of our sport and recreation centres and to come clean with the South Coast community about the Government’s plans for the Berry Centre? “The Government acknowledged they have engaged in “market testing” to consider opportunities for non-profit and other operators to run eleven sport and recreation centres across NSW including the Berry Centre. “Privatisation will inevitably drive up the cost of sending your child to camp. “The idea that kids might lose the opportunity to go to school camp because their parents can’t afford it is not something the Greens can support and the local member should reject it. “The Government should be investing in these centres and maximizing the number of schools and groups using them so as many kids as possible can enjoy the health, social and educational benefits they offer. They shouldn’t be seen as a cash cow for Government, but an essential public service. “Almost 200,000 students used these centres across NSW and any effort to raise revenue by leasing the centres to private providers will lead to increasing fees. These centres have a really important place in the lives of our communities and kids; they are more than just cash cows to the South Coast community. The transcript of Justin’s speech on the motion can be found here. The text of the motion defeated in the Legislative Council is below: EDITOR’S NOTE: SPORT AND RECREATION CAMPS Ms Voltz moved, according to notice: 1279 That this House expresses its concern that the Minister for Sport, the Honourable Stuart Ayres MP, has confirmed that he has undertaken market testing of all eleven sport and recreation camps run by the Office of Sport. That this House notes that: these sport and recreation camps are located at: Berry in the seat of Shoalhaven, Borambola in the seat of Wagga Wagga, Broken Bay in the seat of Gosford, Jindabyne in the seat of Monaro, Lake Ainsworth in the seat of Ballina, Lake Burrendong in the seat of Dubbo, Lake Keepit in the seat of Tamworth, Milson Island in the seat of Hornsby, Myuna Bay in the seat Lake Macquarie, Point Wolstoncroft in the seat of Swansea, Sydney Academy Narrabeen in the seat of Wakehurst, last year 191,000 participants attended sport and recreation camps at a net cost to the Baird Government of $2.6 million, these participants largely consisted of school camps but also included people with disabilities, according to the Baird Government’s own documents, the camps located at Myuna Bay, Point Wolstoncroft, Broken Bay, Lake Ainsworth, Milson Island, and the Sydney Academy all make a surplus, while regional camps such as Berry, Borambola, Lake Burrendong, Lake Keepit and Jindabyne all rely on cross profits from other camps due to their location and access to population densities, any privatisation of sport and recreation camps poses a significant risk, particularly for regional centres, and sport and recreation camps form an important part of the education curriculum and should be delivered through the control and operation of the Office of Sport and their specialist staff. This House calls on the Baird Government to immediately cease its plans to privatise any Sport and Recreation Camp and guarantee that their operation and control remains in public hands.    

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