Welcome to edition #111 of Red Leather. It comes to you after a week of extreme bushfires have kept communities up and down NSW under threat and with many people losing their homes. We have all been watching and hoping that the families affected have come through it as best they can.
While the fires have dominated the headlines there has been plenty of action occurring in NSW:
- After a stellar campaign by Barry Collier and the Labor team in Miranda, Labor won with a swing of 26% towards Labor. Further proof that there is no such thing as a safe seat. The big issues? Cuts to hospitals, TAFE, train services. Increases to TAFE fees, public transport fares and the closure of the Cronulla Fisheries and fire stations.
- After two and half years of promises, the Minister for Transport delivered the new train, bus and ferry timetables. My office has been inundated with complaints from people for whom the timetable has made their life far more difficult. For people in regional areas, the changes to CountryLink services have left regional NSW virtually ignored again when it comes to transport.
- I raised issues with the Transport budget this week in the parliament - including the ridiculous and short sighted decision to build tunnels for the North West Rail Link too small for double deck trains.
- New bus contracts have started in western Sydney. There have been considerable concerns about these. Next week I will receive a call for papers that will provide details of the way that the new bus contracts have been let. This is in addition to the work Labor has been doing to shine a light on the way the Minister for Transport has been dealing with contracts in her department.
- The impact of the cuts to preschool funding are also beginning to be felt across NSW. From 2014, NSW will no longer support 3 year olds attending community based preschools at the same time they have hiked the fees for all pre-schoolers across the state.
Next week, I will be introducing the NSW Same Sex Marriage Bill on behalf of the NSW Cross Party Working Group. This is the next step on the long march to equality for same sex couples in NSW. As a member of Rainbow Labor I am very proud to be able to do this. If you are around next Thursday from 9.30am – I invite you to come along and witness this important reform.
Speech of the week: Luke Foley gave a cracker of a speech about Planning for the Future of Sydney. Well worth a read.
Andrew Barr gave this wonderful speech in the ACT Marriage Equality debate this week. Love your work Andrew!
Website of the week: NSW Marriage Equality – stay up to date with what is happening by subscribing to the website – or find us on facebook.
What’s happening in Transport?
The Government’s long awaited new timetable began on Monday. By the afternoon, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian was out gloating about its success, but commuters certainly weren’t feeling the same way.
Commuters have been telling me about long waits for services, overcrowding and extended commute times. And the changes are also mean some commuters are forced to pay higher fares for longer trips.
Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian was forced to apologise to western Sydney bus commuters, and some HSC students, who were caught in delays after a new bus operator took charge of a large section of western Sydney and chaos ensued. I heard reports of HSC students running late, people left stranded and bus drivers asking passengers for directions.
Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian has also been caught out giving jobs to her mates; and her chief of staff is facing new conflict of interest claims over moonlighting with a scenic rail business.
What’s happening in NSW?
The O’Farrell Government declared it is “proud” of its decision to cut needs-based funding to 212 schools – many of which educate children in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the State.
Schools losing funding in my duty electorates include:
- Bega Valley Public School $ 6,545.00
- Cobargo Public School $ 8,354.00
- Moruya Public School $ 4,251.00
- Wolumla Public School $ 6,473.00
- Nowra East Public School $ 45,564.00
- Sanctuary Point Public School $ 42,677.00
- Shoalhaven High School $ 1,560.00
- Glebe Public School $ 12,321.00
Click here for a full list of schools losing funding across NSW.
A new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has confirmed that patients in NSW are waiting much longer for elective surgery like hip replacements, knee reconstructions and cataract removal since the O’Farrell Government came to power.
Shadow Minister for Education Carmel Tebbutt said that the recent report from the Auditor General into the management of casual teachers across NSW showed that the O’Farrell Government was simply not addressing casual teacher issues in rural and regional NSW.
Liberal Party powerbroker Joseph Tannous was found to have breached the Lobbyist Code of Conduct – but no action will be taken against him despite Premier Barry O’Farrell stating he would potentially refer such a matter to ICAC.
The O’Farrell Government’s budget cuts to the State’s justice system are continuing to place the community at risk – with further revelations that there are fewer people carrying out the supervision of serious offenders in NSW.
Senior bureaucrats contradicted Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward at a Parliamentary inquiry – and confirmed caseworker numbers have been declining on her watch because of budget pressures.
New figures have revealed the number of apprentices and trainees in NSW fell by 2,410 last year.
At the same time the O’Farrell Government revealed its true intentions for the vocational education sector by refusing to support a Labor amendment to the Skills Board Bill to maintain TAFE as the major provider of vocational education and training in NSW. (In the Upper House, Labor was able to convince the cross-bench to support this amendment so it was passed).
Opposition Leader John Robertson has committed to investigate banning coal seam gas activity in core drinking water catchments right across NSW – including the Hunter, the Central Coast, the mid North Coast and far North Coast – following the introduction of legislation into the NSW Parliament establishing a blanket protection over the core areas of the Sydney water catchment.
NSW Same-Sex Marriage Bill 2013
Next week I will introduce the NSW Same-Sex Marriage Bill 2013 into the Legislative Council.
The Bill will be jointly sponsored by members of the NSW Cross-Party Group on Marriage Equality – Trevor Khan MLC, Penny Sharpe MLC, Mehreen Faruqi MLC, Bruce Notley-Smith MP and Alex Greenwich MP.
The Cross-Party Group consulted extensively with community groups and legal experts on the drafting of our Bill and we are confident that it is robust and would withstand any High Court challenge.
You can see a copy of our Bill here and read our FAQs here.
Now that we know when the debate starts, we will need your help. Can you:
- Join us on 31 October from 9.30am at the NSW Parliament to watch history unfold? Register here.
- Make a phone call to Members of the NSW Legislative Council about why you personally support same-sex marriage?
- Ask your mum, dad, sister, brother, grandparents and friends to get involved?
- Spread the word via Facebook and twitter (#marriageequality)?
Take part in generating the next big ideas for the Progressive movement.
The second Progressive Australia conference is happening this November.
Panels and discussions will vary from policy ideas to campaigning techniques and everything in between.
Speakers include ALP President Jenny McAllister, Senator Penny Wong, Patrick Diamond (Policy Network - UK), Maxine McKew, Nareen Young (Diversity Council Australia), David Ritter (Greenpeace Australia), Michelle Rowland MP, Nadine Flood (CPSU), Jim Chalmers MP, Sally McManus (NSW ASU) and many more.
When: 2nd & 3rd of November, 2013
Where: Australian Technology Park, Sydney
Register: Tickets $30 for ALP members, $80 for general admission,
The Ankali Project is urgently seeking volunteers
Feminism Today and the Future: Sites of Activism – A role for women’s services?
When: 27 November, 4pm – 5:30pm
Where: The Forest Room, Novotel, Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush
Speakers: Sally McManus Secretary ASU; Leah Weber, Winner 2012 Edna Ryan Award; Tracy Howe, CEO Domestic Violence NSW; Karen Willis, EO Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia.
"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.
"Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."
ACT Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr, quoting Martin Luther King during his speech in support of the ACT’s Same-Sex Marriage Bill on Tuesday.
He also quotes Macklemore and Ryan Lewis:
"A certificate on paper isn't gonna solve it all … But it's a damn good place to start."