Saturday 29 June 2019

Helium balloons on Clarence Valley Council land and facilities are "busted"

Yes, that's right! This week Clarence Valley Council voted to develop a policy on prohibiting the use and sale of helium balloons on Council managed land and facilities.

The Daily Examiner's Tim Howard wrote this piece for Friday's edition of the paper.

Helium filled balloons might be on the way out on council land in the Clarence Valley, but they’ll still have a place in the region’s tourism literature.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Clarence Valley councillors voted to develop a policy to allow council to ban the sale and release of helium filled balloons from its land. But when it came to the next item of business, a motion calling for the removal of the flying balloons-inspired Clarence Valley tourism logo, they baulked.

Faced with a report inspired by the council’s Climate Change Advisory Committee calling for a complete ban on all balloons on council’s land and facilities, Greens Cr Greg Clancy put up a compromise motion.

His motion called for council to develop a policy to ban helium-filled balloons, investigate the implication of the ban on other council policies and come up with a draft awareness campaign about the environmental impacts of balloons.

His motion also called for the erection of signs at council cemeteries to indicate balloons were banned.

A group of councillors: Mayor Jim Simmons and Crs Andrew Baker, Richie Williamson and Arthur Lysaught argued hard against the proposal.

But they met a passionate response from an equally determined group in Crs Clancy, Karen Toms and Peter Ellem.

After almost an hour of debate, their arguments about the dangers to the environment swayed two extra votes from Crs Debrah Novak and Jason Kingsley.

The next item up for discussion was a report reviewing council logos.

Cr Toms took exception to the Valley’s tourism logo, a bunch of coloured circles she said represented a cluster of flying balloons.

To the frustration of several councillors, the ensuing 25 minutes of debate resulted in a re-run of arguments in the previous item.

Cr Toms argued because the previous motion looked for a policy to ban balloons, it was a good time to follow through by removing the logo.

But Cr Kingsley could not be swayed this time and his vote against the proposal to remove the logo decided the matter in the negative.

 Below is a copy of CVC's resolution on Tuesday, June 25, 2019. It can also be seen at page 82 of Council's minutes here.

1. The Daily Examiner for the image "Green light for balloon policy" and the text penned by its senior reporter Tim Howard
2. Clarence Valley Council for the Image of "Council Resolution".

Friday 28 June 2019

NAIDOC Week, 7-14 July 2019

This year's theme: Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let's work together.

The Indigenous voice of this country is over 65,000 plus years old.

They are the first words spoken on this continent. Languages that passed down lore, culture and knowledge for over millennia. They are precious to our nation.

It’s that Indigenous voice that include know-how, practices, skills and innovations - found in a wide variety of contexts, such as agricultural, scientific, technical, ecological and medicinal fields, as well as biodiversity-related knowledge.  They are words connecting us to country, an understanding of country and of a people who are the oldest continuing culture on the planet.

And with 2019 being celebrated as the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, it’s time for our knowledge to be heard through our voice.

For generations, we have sought recognition of our unique place in Australian history and society today. We need to be the architects of our lives and futures.

For generations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have looked for significant and lasting change.

Voice. Treaty. Truth. were three key elements to the reforms set out in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. These reforms represent the unified position of First Nations Australians.

However, the Uluru Statement built on generations of consultation and discussions among Indigenous people on a range of issues and grievances. Consultations about the further reforms necessary to secure and underpin our rights and to ensure they can be exercised and enjoyed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

It specifically sequenced a set of reforms: first, a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution and second, a Makarrata Commission to supervise treaty processes and truth-telling.  

(Makarrata is a word from the language of the Yolngu people in Arnhem Land. The Yolngu concept of Makarrata captures the idea of two parties coming together after a struggle, healing the divisions of the past. It is about acknowledging that something has been done wrong, and it seeks to make things right.)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want their voice to be heard. First Nations were excluded from the Constitutional convention debates of the 1800’s when the Australian Constitution came into force.  Indigenous people were excluded from the bargaining table.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have always wanted an enhanced role in decision-making in Australia’s democracy.

In the European settlement of Australia, there were no treaties, no formal settlements, no compacts. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people therefore did not cede sovereignty to our land. It was taken away from us. That will remain a continuing source of dispute.

Our sovereignty has never been ceded – not in 1788, not in 1967, not with the Native Title Act, not with the Uluru Statement from the Heart. It coexists with the sovereignty of the Crown and should never be extinguished.

Australia is one of the few liberal democracies around the world which still does not have a treaty or treaties or some other kind of formal acknowledgement or arrangement with its Indigenous minorities.

A substantive treaty has always been the primary aspiration of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander movement.

Critically, treaties are inseparable from Truth.

Lasting and effective agreement cannot be achieved unless we have a shared, truthful understanding of the nature of the dispute, of the history, of how we got to where we stand.

The true story of colonisation must be told, must be heard, must be acknowledged.

But hearing this history is necessary before we can come to some true reconciliation, some genuine healing for both sides.

And of course, this is not just the history of our First Peoples – it is the history of all of us, of all of Australia, and we need to own it.

Then we can move forward together.

Credits: Image and text from  NAIDOC.ORG.AU

Thursday 27 June 2019

Premier Gladys looks after her mates

Well, the cat's well and truly out of the bag. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian didn't want to offend any of her mates sitting on her side of the parliament so she decided to give every Coalition MP a salary increase.

That's enough to suggest a young Gladys always invited every student in her class at school to her birthday parties. That way no one was left off the invitation list so no one could possibly get offended. And, it also just happened to mean more birthday presents for young Gladys.

Fast forward to 2019. Every Coalition MP will have Gladys on their Christmas card list and she can expect to be on the receiving end of heaps and heaps of Chrissie presents.

Wednesday's Sydney Morning Herald's front page said it all.

"NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is rewarding every Coalition MP with promotions that deliver salary increases of between $10,000 and $110,000 a year on top of their base wage.

Seven fewer Coalition MPs in Parliament after the last election means the Premier has appointed all 65 Coalition MPs as ministers, parliamentary secretaries, committee chairs or to other parliamentary roles. They will all receive position payments and expense allowances for these roles on top of their $165,000 base salary.

Fifteen backbenchers, including eight new MPs, will each lead a parliamentary committee given the task of reviewing proposed laws and scrutinising public sector performance, earning them up to an extra $20,600 a year.

The Nationals MP for Coffs Harbour , Gurmesh Singh, is one of the new MPs and has been appointed chair of the healthcare complaints commission committee.

Mr Singh said there was a “steep learning curve” in Parliament but promised to give his all to the committee , which has in the past reviewed complaints against medical practitioners, the cosmetic health service and unregistered doctors.

“Health hasn’t been an area of specialty of mine, but obviously I’ll throw 100 per cent of my effort behind it,” he said.


Interim opposition leader Penny Sharpe said the government’s move to hand additional pay to every MP while making cuts to the public service was paradoxical. “While workers in NSW are suffering from record low wage growth, insecure work and the loss of jobs, the arrogance of the Premier to doll [sic] out sneaky pay rises to her MPs is shameful,” she said. 

After her March election victory, Ms Berejiklian increased the number of ministers and parliamentary secretaries . She appointed 18 MPs parliamentary secretaries , who each receive at least an additional $21,000 each year. At the same time, she expanded her ministry by one to 24 members.

Ministers earn an extra $94,000 to $110,000 in salary and can claim up to $42,000 in expenses . The most a senior minister can earn including expenses is $318,000 per year.

Another eight Coalition MPs earn above their base salaries for parliamentary roles, which occur in every government, including the speaker ($94,000 extra), whips ($21,000) and their deputies.


During the election campaign, Ms Berejiklian attacked a proposal by Labor to scrap the public sector wage cap – which freezes pay rises for over 390,000 public servants at 2.5 per cent – calling it a ‘‘ pay rise for middle managers’ ’ and ‘‘ economic vandalism’’ . Following the election, the Department of Premier and Cabinet forked out $2.3 million on redundancy payouts for 69 political staffers who did not continue on in the new government, according to figures obtained under freedom of information laws. A government spokesman said that every Coalition MP was “working hard for their community and for the entire state” and called the Labor Party “lazy” . “While the Liberals and Nationals government is working hard to deliver unprecedented investment in schools and hospitals, Labor has been leaderless for 93 days – all because they put the interests of Bill Shorten ahead of NSW,” the spokesman said."

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday, June 26, 2019, pages 1 and 10