Charging interest on people that owe a Centrelink debt will disproportionately affect Australians on low incomes and who weren’t intentionally committing fraud, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.
“The Government has pointed to very rare circumstances of extreme fraud to justify the measure.
“The fact is debts may be owed for a variety of reasons and this is a sledge hammer approach. This is yet another example of the Government using extreme examples to justify pressuring people who may not be able to pay, who disagree they owe money, made innocent mistakes, or the Department made mistakes.
“I agree those that have committed fraud should face the consequences and pay back debts owed but this measure will disproportionately hurt Australians who have made a mistake or don’t owe a debt at all.
“It truly is astounding how much work the Government puts in to vilifying Australians who have accessed the social safety net so they can claw back money. When will the Government do the right thing and implement revenue raising measures that target the big end of town?
“With tactics like this we increase inequality. I urge the Government to reconsider and take a reasonable targeted approach to those who have committed deliberate fraud”.
Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has welcomed Government moves to ensure safe, quality aged care, but says more work needs to be done.
“All sides of politics were shocked by abuses revealed in the Oakden and other scandals, it became clearer than ever that there needed to be a dramatic shake-up to ensure that older Australians were safe in aged care across the country.
“The reforms announced today are a step in the right direction, particularly plans to establish a national independent Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
“I will note though that the Government has not responded to all the recommendations in the various recent reviews, they must commit to further reform so that aged care facilities are as safe as can be for older Australians.
“I welcome that there will be a public rating against quality standards, which will increase transparency, but more work needs to be done to ensure that the standards meet community expectations of the best possible care.
“There is urgent action needed to address mental health of older Australians in aged care facilities which is disproportionately high. It is essential that people in residential aged care get access to mental health services".
The Australian Greens have renewed their calls for an increase in Newstart and Youth Allowance following more evidence of the inadequacy of the payments. The latest study released today which shows family costs are significantly higher than previously thought should trigger an increase to Newstart and Youth Allowance.
“It has been clear for a long time that Newstart and Youth Allowance were woefully low and urgently needed increasing, this study’s findings that family costs are significantly higher than previously thought reinforces again the urgent need for an increase”, Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.
“Newstart in particular has become a politicised payment that both Liberal and Labor Governments have refused to increase in real terms for over two decades.
“This latest study findings means that families living on or below the poverty line are struggling even more than previously thought, making it harder to put food on the table or keep a roof over their head. It’s harder to find a job when you’re living in poverty, we shouldn’t be forcing people to live in poverty just because of a lack of political will.
“I urge the Government to increase Newstart and Youth allowance payments by $75 a week so that families can have some breathing space, that money will go straight back into the economy because families and students will pay for the goods and services they need to get by”.
Thursday, 12th April 2018
A short-lived reprieve for cane toads in the Kimberley appears to have ended with the Minister for Environment confirming that community groups such as Kimberley Toad Busters would continue to be able to operate to stop cane toads spreading into Northern WA.
Earlier this year the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions indicated that cane toads would no longer be considered a pest in the Kimberley, a move slammed by Greens MLC Robin Chapple.
“The idea that the government would all of a sudden give up ground to the cane toads was never a well-considered one, so I am relieved that the government has cleared the moment of uncertainty and re-established their support for communities on the front lines,” Mr Chapple said.
“There were serious concerns that volunteers would need to get a license to bust toads, placing ridiculous bureaucracy onto locals who have done incredible work to slow the march of toads in the Kimberley.
“Thankfully the Minister has agreed with The Greens that continuing to support the good work of community groups is crucial to the fight against cane toads.
“This is a real victory for the environment, for WA’s North and for everyone who continues to put themselves out there to protect WA from further infestation.”
Media contact: Liam Carter – 0449 151 490
The Greens (WA) have reiterated their longstanding call to end live exports after a 60 Minutes-Animals Australia expose showed shocking conditions on board a sheep ship due to leave Fremantle today.
“The footage from the Awassi Express’s voyage last August is horrifying and proves again that Australia can’t guarantee its laws and standards are upheld once ships leave our shores,” Ports Spokesperson Robin Chapple MLC said.
“There were clearly multiple breaches – the reported deaths of 2,400 sheep cannot be excused as being due to unusually warm weather.
“We know with increasing temperatures around the world associated with climate change that live exports are going to be more and more fraught with risk of cruelty to animals.
“Ultimately, there is only one solution to these recurring issues, which is to end live exports.
“Processing animals in Australia not only protects them from inhumane treatment and high temperatures, it will also support local industry and jobs.
“We now have an efficient operating abattoir on Yeeda Station in the Kimberley – this is the way of the future.”
Greens Agriculture Spokesperson Diane Evers MLC added that ending live exports could occur while retaining export markets, for example by ensuring cold storage facilities at foreign ports for receiving the meat.
Tuesday, 27 March 2018
The Greens (WA) introduced legislation this week that seeks to prohibit the use and release of party balloons outdoors, in an effort to amplify growing public momentum against indiscriminate plastic waste.
Environment spokesperson Robin Chapple MLC said the bill will provide clearer restrictions around already-discouraged littering.
“I recently wrote to every single West Australian local government, asking if they had considered banning or restricting the mass release of helium balloons,” Mr Chapple said.
“To my surprise, 28 councils—representing a constituency of over 1.5 million people, more than half the population of Western Australia—responded and indicated that they had (or were willing to) debate the use of balloons in council parks and buildings.
“If the local governments representing over half of WA’s population believe the mass release of helium balloons is significant enough to consider restrictions, I believe the state government should follow suit.
“The release of balloons is no longer an appropriate method of celebration, given its widely-accepted harmful effects in the environment.
“Every single synthetic latex balloon that has ever been released has come back down to earth. These balloons remain at least somewhat intact for up to 5 years, posing a threat to a variety of sea creatures who can see it as food.
“As it stands, anyone can inflate and release a helium balloon without any fear of consequence. This is because the current litter act only considers a balloon litter at the moment it touches the ground.
“If passed, The Litter Amendment (Balloons) Bill 2018 will consider the inflation and release of party balloons a littering offence. Officers will be able to issue a fine on the spot.
Media contact: Liam Carter – 0449 151 490
The Senate Community Affairs References committee has tabled its report on the risks and impacts of transvaginal mesh implants, which have been carried out since the late 1990’s to treat stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse in women.
“Many women who have had transvaginal mesh implants have had devastating complications resulting in ongoing emotional trauma, embarrassment, shame, depression, debilitating pain, recurring infection and a poor quality of life.
“The inquiry heard from many women who are living with the consequences of having had these implants. It is heartbreaking that for so long the experiences of these women have been ignored. These women have been let down, the system has failed them.
“The committee has made 13 recommendations that aim to address the needs of women living with mesh related complications, and also to improve the regulation process so that this sort of failure of the system doesn’t occur again.
“The committee recommends that transvaginal mesh implantation should only be undertaken with fully informed consent and as a last resort when other treatment options have been properly considered and determined unsuitable.
“We need to review the system for reporting adverse events including mandatory reporting of such events, we also need to see proper information provided to women about the risks of implantable devices, and a more comprehensive post marketing monitoring scheme with a progress report to the Senate by the end of November.
“Further we need a register of all high-risk implantable devises, and also need improved standards of care and better credentialing so that women get the best possible treatment.
“I urge the Government to take up these recommendations as a matter of urgency, women have suffered for too long.
“I thank the women who gave evidence to the inquiry. The committee has tried its upmost to highlight the pain and suffering experienced and to offer a way forward, I urge the Government to act on the recommendations”.
It is a sad day for the WA Goldfields region, with the start today of the rollout of the cashless welfare card, said Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert.
“Thanks to the Government and the Nick Xenophon Team, today letters are being sent in the Goldfields region informing residents that they will be put onto the paternalistic cashless welfare card.
“We Greens fought hard to stop the cashless welfare card trials being expanded, and although we managed to stave off a site in Queensland, my home state of WA has become the home of another trial site.
“Controlling someone’s income does not help them address their addiction but will more likely force them further into poverty.
"Exposing vulnerable people to an awful social experiment with the argument ‘well at least we’re trying something’ is nonsense. More people will struggle as a result of this rollout.
“I’m deeply concerned that we will see the same adverse outcomes in the Goldfield region that we have seen in other communities”.
The Australian Greens welcome the tabling of the report into the Protection of Aboriginal rock art of the Burrup Peninsula which was referred to inquiry over one year ago.
The Australian Greens welcome cross-party support for a motion acknowledging the fifth anniversary of the National Apology for Forced Adoptions.
“It was a great privilege to stand with survivors of forced adoption five years ago when the government apologised for its past practices of Forced Adoption, Australian Greens spokesperson on Family and Community Services Senator Rachel Siewert said today.