Monday, 28 September 2020

While the Northern NSW Nationals posture in the media about Queensland border restrictions and moves to protect the the state's koalas, NSW Labor Member for Lismore is doing the hard yards



While Northern NSW Nationals Chris Gulaptis, Geoff Provest and Ben Franklin run to mainstream media outlets to huff and puff about Queensland's border restrictions and, Gulaptis in particular cries that the sky will fall if New South Wales koalas receive the protection they deserve, the NSW Labor Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin just gets on with the job of representing her electorate.

Office of the Member for Lismore, media release, 25 September 2020:

Saffin pushes for immediate and strategic support of regional economy

LISMORE MP Janelle Saffin is calling on the Berejeklian-Barilaro Government to deliver urgent financial support to businesses on the Northern Rivers and Northern Tablelands and to strategically establish a Special Activation Precinct to turbo charge the regional economy.

It will help our region climb out of COVID. We have projects ready, the collaboration and the will, but we need our share of New South Wales’ available resources, including the $1.75 billion owed to regional and rural NSW from Restart NSW, Ms Saffin said.

Ms Saffin has used a series of Notices of Motion to NSW Parliament to focus the Government’s attention on the Electorate of Lismore, still recovering from 2017’s major flood, drought, last year’s bushfires, this year’s COVID-19 lockdown and the Queensland-NSW border closure.

Ms Saffin said that while she had successfully lobbied for the Border Bubble to include the Lismore City, Byron Shire, Ballina Shire, Richmond Valley and Glen Innes Local Government Areas, many businesses were still hurting economically.

“NSW Business Northern Rivers estimates that businesses have been losing an average of $10,500 a week in revenue so there is still an urgent need for the Government to come good with a rescue package like the $45-million one it offered to NSW businesses near the Victorian border,” Ms Saffin said.

“I thought it was important for me to advocate for our region through a combination of Notices of Motion, Questions on Notice to Ministers and direct reps to Ministers, and at next week’s meeting with Regional Development Australia-Northern Rivers, we can flesh this out in more detail.

“Having a Special Activation Precinct here on the Northern Rivers, and all of the extra government support that comes with these precincts, would give real teeth to my earlier calls for a Regional Jobs Plan.

“Another major issue is that the NSW Government has introduced a Whole of Government Procurement Policy for collecting waste from Health, TAFE and caravan parks on Crown reserves, squeezing out our local regional companies in favour of the big multinationals, and killing off local jobs.”

Ms Saffin has moved Notices of Motion on the need to develop and fund a Regional Jobs Plan; expanding Special Activation Precincts to the region; supporting small businesses impacted by the Queensland-NSW border closure; unlocking Restart NSW funding; and fairer Procurement Policies.

On a Regional Jobs (Employment Development) Plan, Ms Saffin moved that the Lower House:

1. Notes the Regional Development Australia’s Remplan Report estimates 15,471 jobs have vanished from the Northern Rivers regional economy between February and May 2020, with accommodation/hospitality and retail sectors hardest hit.

2. Notes job losses are similar in the New England North West Region.

3. Notes the Government needs to develop and fund a Regional Jobs Plan, coordinated by the NSW Department of Regional Development and enlisting the expertise of Regional Development Australia, Business NSW, local chambers of commerce, local government councils through joint organisations, business leaders, trade unions and all local Members.

On Special Activation Precincts, Ms Saffin moved that the Lower House:

1. Notes the Government established Special Activation Precincts in Parkes, Wagga Wagga, Snowy Mountains, Moree and Williamtown to turbo charge these regional locations to become thriving business hubs through infrastructure investment, Government-led studies, Government-led development and business concierge services.

2. Recognises the need to expand the network of Special to the Northern Rivers region, home to many cutting-edge entrepreneurs in its stated range of industries, including freight and logistics, defence, advanced manufacturing, renewable energy and tourism.

On Queensland-NSW Border Closure – Small Business Support, Ms Saffin  moved that the Lower House:

1. Notes the Government moved quickly to provide a $45-million rescue package for New South Wales small businesses adversely impacted by its decision to close the NSW-Victorian border to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

2. Notes there is an urgent need for the Government to extend a similarly generous grant program to all local small businesses in Northern NSW, which, having endured drought and bushfires, are now really struggling to cope with the Queensland-NSW border closure.

On Restart NSW Funding, Ms Saffin moved that the Lower House:

1. Notes the Government has failed to deliver the legislated commitment to allocate 30 per cent of Restart NSW funds to regional and rural New South Wales in any year since its inception, delivering only 18.9 per cent of $3 billion instead of $4.75 billion from 2012 to 2019.

2. Calls upon the Premier and the Deputy Premier to deliver the promises Restart NSW funding of 30 per cent each year and to pay the debt of $1.75 billion owing to the people of regional and rural New South Wales.

On Procurement Policies, Ms Saffin moved that the Lower House:

1. Notes the Government’s Expression of Interest (EOI) for NSW Whole of Government Waste Management for Health, TAFE and caravan parks on Crown Reserves favours large operators and squeezes out small and medium size Australian-owned regional companies because the EOI effectively makes redundant the Government’s Small and Medium Enterprise and Regional Procurement Policy.

2. Recognises the need for an urgent review of these procurement policies and consultation with small and medium size regional companies to ensure that they still have a seat at the tendering table and are not disenfranchised to the point that their revenue streams can be reduced by a third, leading to job losses in Northern NSW during an economic recession.

Ms. Saffin gave notice of the aforementioned motions in the NSW Legislative Assembly on the following dates:

17/10/2019 RESTART NSW FUNDING 
15/09/2020 QUEENSLAND-NEW SOUTH WALES BORDER CLOSURE - SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT 
17/09/2020 REGIONAL EMPLOYMENT DEVELOPMENT 
24/09/2020 SPECIAL ACTIVATION PRECINCTS 
24/09/2020 PROCUREMENT POLICIES 

I note that there appears to have been no motions or speeches specifically on these matters in the same timespan by either Chris Gulaptis, Geoff Provest or Ben Franklin.

The dramatic increase in COVID-19 deaths in Australia’s aged care homes begs the ethics around our treatment of people in aged care, says a UNSW expert


MediaNet Release, 24 September 2020:

Treating our elderly people ethically and with transparency

UNSW’s Richard Hugman says it is time to stop treating elderly people as objects, as the Royal Commission into Aged Care and Safety continues.

The dramatic increase in COVID-19 deaths in Australia’s aged care homes begs the ethics around our treatment of people in aged care, says a UNSW expert. In less than four months, deaths from COVID-19 in aged care have increased from 28 to 580, at the time of writing.

UNSW Emeritus Professor Richard Hugman, a social worker who specialises in the aged care professions, says Australia’s service provision needs to treat older people as human beings rather than objects.

"To use a similar ethos in caring for human beings that you would use in producing physical things for sale, I think is an unfortunate way to think about the world,” the former professor of social work at UNSW Arts & Social Sciences, says.

"The way policies are framed around running these [places], it is as if they are running a factory. I understand good management techniques are transferable across settings, but you also need to understand the content of what you're managing.”

Causes of the COVID outbreaks in aged care

A range of factors have been blamed for the outbreak of COVID-19 in care facilities, including a lack of training in the use of Personal Protective Equipment and supplies available for care staff.

Melbourne’s aged care homes have been the worst hit, with all but five of the 115 aged care homes affected by the virus in Victoria. St Basil’s recording 44 deaths, Epping Gardens 36 deceased and Twin Parks Aged Care in Reservoir with 21.

In Sydney, Newmarch House recorded the state’s highest death toll in aged care with 19 cases, including two residents who had COVID-19 when they died from other causes. And the numbers are growing.

Newmarch and St Basil’s had alarming numbers because they decided not to transfer patients to hospital, Prof. Hugman says.

"I haven't seen the detail, but the question I would be asking is, ‘were those homes actually using established infectious disease control methods?’” he says.

The decision not to transfer patients is exacerbated by the fact that today there are very few qualified nurses in nursing homes, Prof. Hugman says.

"Some nursing homes don't even actually have a nurse on duty at all times. If they’re looking after 100 people and they’ve got one nurse on duty to supervise other people, then they might have somebody who has a certificate from TAFE administering drugs and medications.

"Whereas in a hospital, someone would actually have to be a qualified nurse to be doing that.”

Care staff working across multiple sites during the pandemic have also reportedly been a likely source of COVID-19 transmission. Prof. Hugman says staff have to work between homes just to earn enough to survive on.

"It's not just in Victoria, despite what the government says. These are all reflections of the broader ethics of the social value that is placed on [ageing] people, so that they seem to be less well cared for than they could be otherwise.”

Early findings from the Royal Commission’s interim report

The Australian Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety (RCACQS) is looking at better financing models, including regulation of aged care providers, in its latest hearings expected to run until September 22.

It comes after a survey by the University of Queensland for RCACQS estimated it would cost $621 million per year to improve the quality of all aged care homes to better standards. In its October 2019interim report, the RCACQS’ scathing review stated that aged care is a “shocking tale of neglect” in Australia that fails to meet the needs of our elderly people.

Australia’s aged care sector is “unkind and uncaring” towards older people, it does not deliver uniformly safe and quality care and often neglects them, according to the interim report.
Prof. Hugman says while the Royal Commission creates an opportunity for people to speak up, the real challenge lies in the government’s response and how it then permeates into the wider society.

A lack of transparency

Prof. Hugman says there is a lack of transparency in how government funding is spent by management in aged care facilities in comparison to community-based social services where monitoring is stringent.

He says claims by some aged care homes, particularly those from the for-profit sector, that they have to spend less on staff relative to residents in order to cover their costs just doesn’t stack up.

"And those claims about non-profitability do not explain how or why the [aged care] for-profit sector remains [in operation],” he says.

For-profit aged care homes have reported more cases of COVID-19 than facilities operating on a not-for-profit framework, heightening concerns about staff numbers, training and supplies.

Raising the social value of elderly people

The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre has since been set-up to coordinate efforts to stabilise any further COVID-19 outbreaks across the private and public aged care sectors, with an infection control officer now stationed in each facility.

And the Royal Commission is set to release its final report by 26 February 2021.

Prof. Hugman recommends the government respond to the Royal Commission by not only providing sufficient funding but by also ensuring older people are treated with dignity and care.

"[The government needs to] focus on improvements to the aged care sector that are not reflective of a sense that older people needing care are a burden on society,” Prof. Hugman says.

[Instead, they need to focus on the fact] that older people are part of society and that a good society is one that values all its members.”

Prof. Hugman also says there needs to be an emphasis placed on the expression of positive values about how to treat and view elderly people as human beings.

"Frankly, there are some places I've visited in the last few years, either because I've had friends or relatives who are living in them or I've gone to visit for professional reasons,” Prof. Hugman says.

And they’re places, “I wouldn't go anywhere near”.


Sunday, 27 September 2020

New South Wales 2020: the problem of water greed & outright theft


The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 September 2020:

The rapid growth of blueberry and other intensive farming in northern NSW has prompted a crackdown on illegal water use and sparked concerns about pollution in rivers and in the state's first marine conservation area.

The Natural Resources Access Regulator found 28 of 31 farms it inspected around the Coffs Harbour region in the first two stages of the clampdown were allegedly non-compliant with water laws.

The regulator said in the five years prior to the start of the campaign, agencies received more than 130 reports of alleged breaches in the region. "This potentially indicated a high level of non-compliance," a spokeswoman for the regulator said.

For the first two phases, the regulator ordered 13 farms to reduce the capacity of dams among 25 directions. Other actions include 20 penalty notices, with more likely after a third stage of investigations last month.

The problems stem in part from the conversion of banana farms to blueberries, raspberries and cucumbers, among other products, in the past two decades. Farms with set water licences have been subdivided, with new owners apparently adding bores, pumps and even dams on the smaller plots.

Water quality, too, has been compromised as the more intensive crops increase the use of fertilisers, pesticides and other chemicals. That's prompted the Coffs Harbour City Council to commission multiple studies by researchers from the Southern Cross University, among others.

One report found levels of nitrogen soared after rains as fertiliser from farms washed into rivers, reaching 695 times that of drier conditions.

"These [nitrogen oxide] loads were amongst the highest reported for catchments on the east coast of Australia, and similar to loads in rivers throughout China, Europe and India with strong agricultural or urban influences," the 2018 study found.

Shane White, one of the Southern Cross University researchers, said the Coffs region is prone to short, heavy rain bursts. Soils in the hilly area are typically shallow and sit on a clay base that limits the absorption of water, leading to significant run-off….

Breaches of NSW water laws have also been found in the Northern Rivers area in 2020 to date - 1 direction notice and 2 penalty notices have been issued to Clarence Valley LGA landowners, 2 direction notices to Ballina LGA landowners, 3 penalty notices to Byron Bay LGA landowners, 3 penalty notices to Lismore LGA landowners and 1 direction notice and 3 penalty notices for Tweed LGA landowners.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Cartoons of the Week


David Rowe

Cathy Wilcox

Tweets of the Week




TURN ON SOUND

Friday, 25 September 2020

Deaf community celebrating Auslan in 2020 with a Leaders Challenge


MediaNet, 22 September 2020:

Australian Leaders Participate in the Auslan Community Leaders Challenge

Australian Community Leaders sign a message of support for the Deaf Community for International Day of Sign Languages.

On Wednesday 23rd September, the United Nations sanctioned International Day of Sign Languages, the Auslan Community Leaders Challenge hits social media.

Leonie Jackson, Executive Manager, Advocacy and Strategic Partnerships at Deaf Services and the Deaf Society says “the second Auslan Community Leaders Challenge invites Australian Community Leaders to demonstrate their support for 30,000 Australians who use Auslan; Australian Sign Language, as their primary language.

"This year 52 Community Leaders accepted the challenge to try their hand at signing their name and their support for the Deaf community,” Mrs Jackson says.

We are pleased to see so many Community Leaders recognise the importance of access for Deaf people through the Auslan Challenge.”
In line with this year’s theme, these messages acknowledge the importance of improving access to emergency information, accredited interpreter services and information for families of Deaf children that outlines the full spectrum of opportunities available to their child.

"New in 2020, Deaf Community members have also developed their stories demonstrating the significant impact improved access to information and interpreters has had on their lives.”

Who’s involved?

The Hon. Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister of Australia,
The Hon. Anthony Albanese MP, Leader of the Opposition, Leader of the Labor Party
His Excellency General the Hon. David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) and Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley
Her Excellency the Hon. Margaret Beazley AC QC Governor of New South Wales • Her Honour the Hon. Vicki O'Halloran AO, Administrator of Northern Territory
His Excellency the Hon. Paul de Jersey AC Governor of Queensland
Her Excellency Professor the Hon. Kate Warner AC Governor of Tasmania
The Hon. Linda Dessau AC Governor of Victoria
His Excellency the Hon. Hieu Van Le, AC Governor of South Australia
The Hon. Kim Beazley AC Governor of Western Australia

To celebrate International Day of Sign Languages these videos will be posted on social media using the hashtags: #AuslanCommunityLeadersChallenge2020 #Auslan #InternationalDayofSignLanguages #IWODP #IDSL2020 #IWDeaf2020.

The Auslan Community Leaders Challenge is a collaboration between Deaf Services and the Deaf Society, alongside Ms Julie Owens MP, Member for Parramatta. Deaf Services and the Deaf Society would like to thank Access Plus WA Deaf in Western Australia and Deaf Can:Do in South Australia, who worked alongside their Vice Regals and Patrons this year.

For more, visit: http://wfdeaf.org/iwdeaf2020.
To see last year’s Auslan Leaders Challenge: https://deafsociety.org.au/auslan-leaders-challenge

Morrison Government continues to drag its feet on national greenhouse gas emissions reduction


Renew Economy, 21 September 2020:

Morrison said, of net zero emissions:

"Well, as you know, our policy is to achieve that in the second half of this century, and I certainly will achieve that, and that’s why this week’s announcements were so important because it was about the technology we need to invest in now, which will make it a reality, particularly on the other side of 2030. The target that you’ve talked about becomes absolutely achievable. I’m interested in doing the things that make that happen. I think that is very achievable"…..

Morrison was, in fact, effectively stating that Australia would reach net zero emissions by 2100. Heck, what’s a half-century between friends?

In fact, Australia’s Paris climate agreement targets are neatly aligned with reaching net zero by 2100, whereas Labor’s old 45% by 2030 targets were aligned with net zero by 2050 (the far safer option). Unfortunately, the latest projections from the government are wildly off course, not only for net zero by 2050, but also for net zero by 2100….

If the rate of yearly emissions drops between 2020 and 2030 in Australia’s government projections continue, by my own reckoning, Australia will reach net zero emissions in the year 2300….

The Guardian, 22 September 2020:

The Morrison government’s rejection of a net zero emissions target for 2050 is at odds with the Paris agreement and more than 100 countries that have backed the goal, according to some of Australia’s most experienced climate experts..... 

countries in Paris including Australia had specifically asked the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to examine what 1.5C of heating would mean, and what needed to be done to avoid it. 

The resulting report, released in 2018, found global emissions needed to effectively be cut in half by 2030 – to be 45% below 2010 levels – and to reach net zero by 2050. It found staying within 2C heating would require net zero by 2070, but the impact of that was likely to be far worse

Australia chose to stick with its existing 2030 target of a 26% to 28% cut below 2005 levels and is yet to set a date to reach net zero.....

By contrast, [Erwin] Jackson said, Australia was “confusing the market”. “On the one hand, it has signed up to an international agreement that is supposed to put it on a path to net zero emissions by no later than 2050,” he said. “On the other, it keeps talking about ‘low emissions’. We’ve moved on from a conversation about low emissions. Globally, we have recognised we need to get to zero emissions.”

BACKGROUND

Australia is almost standing still when it comes to reducing its national annual greenhouse gas emissions. At the end of 19 calendar years in 2019 federal government policy has only resulted in our annual greenhouse gas emissions falling by a trifling 18.5 metric tonnes in comparison with the annual emissions at the end of the year 2000.

Estimated National Greenhouse Gas Emissions in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent or MTCO2e over last 20 years - includes Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry:

2000 - 551 Mt CO2-e
2001 - 570 Mt CO2-e
2002 - 568 Mt CO2-e
2003 - 561 Mt CO2-e
2004 - 574 Mt CO2-e
2005 - 597 Mt CO2-e 
2006 - 610 Mt CO2-e
2007 - 606 Mt CO2-e
2008 - 590 Mt CO2-e 
2009 - 584 Mt CO2-e 
2010 - 543 Mt CO2-e
2011 - 546.3 Mt CO2-e
2012 - 551.9 Mt CO2-e (total excludes Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry)
2013 - 538.4Mt CO2-e
2014 - 535.9 Mt CO2-e 
2015 - 535.7 Mt CO2-e
2016 – 543.3 Mt CO2-e
2017 – 533.7 Mt CO2-e
2018 – 532.5 Mt CO2-e 
2019 – 532.5 Mt CO2-e (this annual total marks a difference of only -18.5 Mt CO2-e compared with the year 2000 annual total)
2020 – 528.7 Mt CO2-e (total up to 30 March)

Note:
Unadjusted figures found in Australian Government National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: Quarterly updates.and at Australian Dept. of Environment and Energy.
The estimated totals from 2000 to 2009 are from Dept. of Energy and Environment.