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Newcastle V8 Supercars: Wrong Race, Wrong Place

  The NSW Government will fast-track plans for the Newcastle V8 Supercar race without adequate community consultation or due consideration of heritage, environment and community impacts, according to Greens MP Justin Field. The Government yesterday forced through legislation, supported by the Labor Party, which will give Destination NSW special powers to approve the race plans and will diminish environmental and heritage controls and community input into the plans. Mr Field said, "the track for this race will be as little as three metres from people’s homes and will have substantial impact on access to public space yet the Government refused to meaningfully consult with the impacted Newcastle community until after contracts are signed, legislation passed and the deal is done. “The Newcastle V8 Supercar race is the wrong race, in the wrong place,” he said. “Real consultation is talking with the community before an event is signed off so they can have a genuine say. “The Greens aren’t opposed to public investment in major events for NSW but we’ll only support them if there is meaningful consultation with local communities up front and clear benefits for all and that case hasn't been made in this instance and no cost benefit analysis has been released.” "Construction has started for a $12 million motor racing circuit track at Raymond Terrace, north of Newcastle, which is a viable alternative and more suitable venue for this event," Mr Field said. Greens Newcastle City Councillor Michael Osborne said, “the actions of council in supporting the race promoter and Destination NSW without adequately considering community impacts is unacceptable. "The race will generate significant noise impacts for residents – some living as little as three metres from the track boundary –  and create access challenges including for the many aged and disabled in and around the race precinct. "We've also heard that community groups are already being informed they face being denied access to public spaces during the construction and race bump in period. “There are also 150 small businesses within the footprint of the track, many of a nature that will not benefit from an increase in tourists over the weekend, but will suffer from restricted access and ongoing works in the months preceding and after the event. "The legislation passed at state parliament today will require Destination NSW to call for submissions on the race plans, I encourage to actively engage in that process and raise their voices to be heard,” Mr Osborne said.

Greens reveal $5.46 billion toll of poker machine losses on local communities

New data purchased by NSW Greens MP Justin Field has today revealed the NSW community lost $5.46 billion on poker machine gambling in clubs alone in the year ending August 2016. The data reveals some of the biggest profits to clubs – the losses to the individual – from poker machines come from the most financially disadvantaged areas across the state, with Fairfield topping the state. The analysis shows average income lost on poker machines in Fairfield in Sydney’s West was 10.4% of average income based on the regulated average 90% return to players. In stark contrast, average income lost on pokies in Waverley/Woollahra in the city’s East was just 0.65% of income. “This new poker machine data purchased by the Greens reveals a massive impact where families and communities across NSW are losing billions to addictive poker machines,” Mr Field said today. “The losses are not experienced equally across the state, with areas home to some of the most financially disadvantaged are propping up the largest profits for the gambling industry. The industry is targeting these communities with huge disparity in the number of machines across venues in those communities. “NSW Liquor and Gaming data on poker machine operations is not transparent or accessible, unlike in other states. The Government tries to hide the true impact by making people or groups pay hundreds of dollars to find out the cost to their community from poker machine gambling. “Even purchased data aggregates poker machine losses so people can’t identify which venues are having the greatest impact on local communities or businesses. “The Greens are calling on NSW Racing Minister Paul Toole to end the secrecy and publish venue by venue data online for free on a monthly basis so the community can readily understand the true impact of this industry. He should stand up for families and communities rather than with the vested interests of big gambling who want their damage kept secret. “If the Minister can’t or won’t do the right thing, The Greens will purchase this data, analyse it and make it available so the community can have a more informed discussion of the harm caused by poker machines across our state,” he said.   Gaming Machine Data by Local Government Area available here: http://bit.ly/1708Pok

New poll shows overwhelming majority of community oppose privatisation of NSW land titles

15 February 2017 A new poll has revealed an overwhelming majority of NSW homeowners (84%) oppose the Government’s plan sell off of the states’ land titles registry the LPI. The research from the Institution of Surveyors NSW found only six per cent of people supported the sell off. While more than 70 per cent of people were unaware of the NSW Government’s plans to privatise the world-class registry, most opposed it when they learnt what was being proposed The survey comes off the back of strong opposition to the sale by organisations as diverse as the NSW Police Association, ICAC, the journalist union - MEAA, the Law Society, the Real Estate Institute, and the Royal Australian Historical Society. Greens Treasury Spokesperson Justin Field said, “This poll is yet more evidence that the Coalition Government doesn’t have community support for the sale of this essential and monopoly public asset. “The NSW community knows a dud deal and the more they find out about this sale, 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. These are the same concerns professional bodies and the Greens have been expressing since this sale was first proposed. “The LPI is widely recognised as one of the best land title registries in the world. The service is secure and provides low cost property transfers while earning a profit for the taxpayer. “The Berejiklian government is putting at risk the security of people’s homes and is undermining its  own commitment to affordable housing by proceeding with this rushed privatisation. “The Government’s plan represents a one-off “sugar hit” but it threatens to undermine the true value of this asset to the people of NSW as a safe and secure property transfer service. “The change of leadership within the Government, including changes with the finance and treasury portfolios, offers an opportunity to reconsider this sale which is clearly not in the public interest,” he said.

If Dominic Perrottet wants to represent my generation, he’s got his priorities wrong

If the new NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet wants to be the voice for my generation – he’ll have to do better than continue the sell it off, rip it up short-term opportunism of the NSW Coalition Governmen In a Sydney Morning Herald profile piece,  the new Treasurer outlined his ‘vision’ of intergenerational equity. He states, “I don't think it's fair that my generation is going to foot the bill for modern day governments that don't live within their means”. It’s a good sound bite but the devil is in the detail. Mr Perrottet’s prescription for living within our means is for continuing ‘asset recycling’ – more commonly known as privatisation  –  and reigning in expenses, which is code for cutting public service jobs and reducing services for the community including in health and education. When it comes to his priority of housing affordability – Mr Perrottet seems to have succumb to the property developers line of “more supply”, despite years of new housing development having failed to reign in prices and put homeownership in reach for individuals or families earning an average wage in our state. The harder and more effective option we know is pushing for important tax reform that will change the focus of housing policy from supporting speculative investment to meeting an essential social need. I can’t imagine too many Gen-Xers would think the Treasurer’s vision is a prescription for future prosperity given it’s the same one that has got us to where we are today. I don’t think you’d find too many people who wouldn’t agree that an average wage earner should be able to afford an average home in an average suburb – it’s as simple, and as complex, as that. What’s clear to many people my age and the generation coming after us is that the economic program of the past two decades has been full of promise but the outcomes don’t stack up. The cost of education has exploded, housing is out of reach, employment opportunities are dwindling as manufacturing declines and offshoring takes hold, and baby boomers delay the path forward in many professions. The failure to deal with climate change looms larger every day and we all instinctively know it will consume many of our future hopes and dreams if we don’t change course. The good life promised by continuing economic growth seems further out of reach and time for family, friends, enjoying the great outdoors and creative pursuits seems ever more constrained. A progressive way forward The new Treasurer and I may both be in our 30’s, but as the NSW Greens Treasury spokesperson I couldn’t have a more different view when it comes to the role of Governments in delivering for our generation and those into the future. Starting out, we need to expect more from our political leaders with their hands pulling the levers of the economy. Our economy is there to serve us, not the other way around. Governments can’t allow the public purse to be the play thing of big business and vested interests with sweetheart deals for miners, casinos and clubs, toll road operators and property developers and nothing but rising prices, more congestion and reduced services for the rest of us. The obsession with a balanced budget means nothing if the other indicators of a happy and prosperous life and healthy and sustainable natural environment continue to decline. My generation has a broader perspective and richer expectation when it comes to measuring our success and setting a program for the work of Government. It looks much more like the UN’s sustainable development goals, which sets benchmarks far broader than GDP, that include reducing inequality, full employment and decent work, affordable and clean energy, justice and strong civic institutions, and climate action. Economists have a saying that what you don’t measure, doesn’t matter. It’s time we stopped judging our economy based on gross state product and number of public assets sold off and started looking at the bigger picture. Act on climate change for a healthier economy If you care about intergenerational equity and a sustainable budget into the future, first things first, we need to act on climate change. There is no greater threat to the wellbeing of people in this state and around the world and no greater threat to the state budget than failing to mitigate the risk of global warming. After a weekend where NSW was the hottest place on the planet, following the hottest summer on record, following the hottest year on record, it has never been more clear that climate change is not some problem off in the future – it is now. As a coal producing and exporting state, with an over reliance on coal fired power and billions of dollars of infrastructure lining increasingly at risk coastlines, mitigating climate risks must be a priority for Government at all levels. The privatisation agenda of the past two decades has failed. Just last year Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims  acknowledged that privatisation has severely damaged the economy, often done to boost proceeds rather than to enhance economic efficiency. The recent power outages across Australia have shown the potential market failure of the privatisation of electricity assets across the country means now is the time to pause and reassess this discredited market approach. Yet we know the new treasurer will continue to push the sale of the land titles office in NSW, a monopoly service that has a proud record of keeping land transfer costs low while being a secure titling system. If housing affordability is a goal, selling the LPI is the wrong way to go and will potentially expose home-owners to the potential need to take out expensive mortgage insurance. It will also sell-off a profit-making public service and contributes to the state budget while providing an essential service. I don’t think it’s fair that my and future generations will have to pick up the bill for recent governments decisions, but failing to live within our means isn’t the problem. It’s failing to mitigate the risk of climate change, overseeing the hollowing out of public services and gifting the wealth of this state to private corporate interests that we need to deal with.

Land and Property Information service sale financially reckless

1 February 2015 Greens Treasury Spokesperson Justin Field has blasted the NSW Government’s plan to privatise the state’s land titles office, the LPI, saying the sale would short change NSW taxpayers and is financially reckless. The claim follows confirmation the NSW Government is failing to ensure potential windfall profits of a likely buyer could be clawed back by NSW taxpayers. In response to a Question on Notice from the Greens concerning possible profit sharing, the Government admitted that the state would be seek only an upfront, one-off, payment for the right to run the service. Reports today in Fairfax Media on a leaked Government Expression of Interest (EOI) paper, co-authored by investment bank JP Morgan, reveals the massive profit expectations the Government is signalling to potential buyers. The document described the LPI as the "largest and most active land registry in Australia" and the "single source of truth" that provides "essential, monopoly services." Claw-back or profit sharing arrangements would ensure the taxpayer has a share in the future profits made by a private operator, to ensure long-term value for money on the sale of a public asset. A similar proposal  to privatise the UK Land Registry, which was subsequently abandoned by the UK Government last year due to public opposition, recommended ‘gain sharing’ arrangements be considered. Mr. Field said, “The Greens don’t support selling this world class asset, but the public would be even more furious to know it is being so shortchanged in the sale. “The Government’s plan represents a one-off “sugar hit” but that would undermine the true value of this asset to the people of NSW as a safe and secure property transfer service. “It’s impossible to calculate today what sort of new and adapted services will be possible through the digital transformation of the LPI and the sorts of profits a private operator could make using the public’s data. While the LPI should be kept in public hands, if the Government insists on a sale, a profit-sharing arrangement should be included to ensure the public gets a fair price. “This failure highlights the problem of legislation being fast-tracked through the Parliament without proper scrutiny and consultation as we have seen with the LPI sale legislation. “The idea that the Government would sell an “essential, monopoly service” and not guarantee taxpayer value for money would not be supported by the NSW public and raises real concerns about the coalition financial management. “The EOI document also revealed for the first time a 2015-16 profit of $130 million which is expected to grow markedly with significant population growth over the 35 years of the transaction. The current market speculation of $2billion for the sale equates to $57million a year of the 35 years, a substantial discount on profit projections and a slap in the face to NSW taxpayers. “Right now this sale is opposed by organisations as diverse as the NSW Police Association, ICAC, the journalist union, MEAA, the Law Council and Law Society, the Real Estate Institute, the Royal Australian Historical Society, and surveyors. Given the extent of opposition to the sale and serious concerns raised by other stakeholders, this question about value for money adds weight to the argument for the sale to be halted. “The change of leadership within the Government, including changes with the finance and treasury portfolios, offers an opportunity to reconsider this sale which is clearly not in the public interest.

Climate change biggest risk to enjoyment of the NSW coastline and marine environment

January 2017 NSW Greens Marine and Fisheries spokesman, Justin Field,  has called on the NSW Government to strengthen the network of marine parks in the state, including creating a new marine park for Sydney, following the release of a draft New South Wales Marine EstateThreat and Risk Assessment Report. The report lists climate change and reductions in abundance of marine species as the top threats to the social and economic values of our coastal and marine environments. Mr Field said: “It is encouraging to see a NSW Government commissioned report recognise climate change as the biggest single threat to coastal economies and the ongoing enjoyment of the NSW coastal environment. Now it’s time to do something about it. “We know that marine parks and especially fully protected marine sanctuaries offer the best chance to build resilience in the marine environment to be able to best adapt to the growing risk of climate change and other threats like overfishing. “Climate change is not a threat off in the never never, the impacts are being felt now and the report recognises a growing threat over the next 20 years. “Previous Government reports have recognised a critical gap in the Sydney region when it comes to marine protections, a marine park for Sydney would be one appropriate response to the growing body of evidence that threats to the marine environment are increasing. “Currently less than 7% of NSW coastal waters are fully protected in no-take marine sanctuaries. The report identified threats across three NSW regions, North, Central and South, where climate change, pollution, habitat impacts from coastal modification and fishing activities including recreational and certain commercial fishing were identified as priority threats. “All users of the marine environment, whether swimmers, fishers, divers have an interest in improving the health and sustainability of the marine environment and ensuring we can continue to enjoy the wonderful coastal lifestyle and have fish for the future. “The vision of the marine estate management program in NSW is for “a healthy coast and sea, managed for the greatest well-being of the community, now and into the future”. This report gives urgency to the challenge to address the growing threats to these values and in particular to strengthen the marine park network in NSW.

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.

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