Browsing articles in "Grayndler Hansard"
Sep 4, 2017

Statements by Members – Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia

RDVSA made its decision to withdraw last week following considerable negotiations with Medibank Health Solutions. It was a decision not made lightly, especially given that up to 110 specialist sexual assault and domestic violence workers and other specialists employed at RDVSA will lose their jobs in October. Worse still, RDVSA may need to close its doors. Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia has been providing specialist sexual assault and domestic violence trauma counselling for almost 50 years. It’s regarded internationally, including by the UN. It plays a critical role in its community, supporting many women through very challenging times. The government must ensure that both the staff at RDVSA and RDVSA itself are not hung out to dry.

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Aug 15, 2017

Constituency Statements – Domestic and Family Violence

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:00): The statistics on violence against women in Australia are shocking. On average at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner. One in four Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner. Women are five times more likely than men to require medical attention or hospitalisation as a result of intimate partner violence and five times more likely to report fearing for their lives. Half of its victims have children in their care. There is evidence that women with disabilities experience high levels of violence and that Indigenous women experience higher rates of more severe forms of violence than the rest of the population. Domestic violence is the leading cause of death, disability and illness among women aged 15 to 44 years. It is higher than motor vehicle accidents, blood pressure or smoking. It destroys individuals, families and communities. It costs the Australian economy around one per cent of GDP in lost productivity.

The ABS estimates that around two-thirds of women who experience domestic violence are in the workforce. That means that more than 800,000 women, or around one in six women workers, are experiencing some form of violence in their home. Apart from the personal impact of violence, there are costs to employers. These include increased absenteeism and staff turnover, decreased performance and productivity, conflict among workers and safety issues for everyone if the perpetrator of violence goes to the workplace, which we know occurs at alarming rates.

In a report for the Australia Institute Dr Jim Stanford confirmed what domestic violence counsellors have been saying for decades. Economic insecurity is one of the most significant obstacles confronting women in their decision to leave a violent relationship. Introducing paid domestic violence leave into the National Employment Standards offers an important opportunity to reach people living with violence and to provide them with support. The current federal government does not support paid domestic violence leave and this government is actively removing access to this vital lifesaving workplace right from the agreements covering its own employees.

Ill-informed claims and actions by the government are dangerous and negligent. It’s time that they had a rethink on this issue, which should be above politics. Stanford’s report calculates that the cost of providing every worker access to 10 days paid domestic violence leave to be less than 100th of a per cent of last year’s increase in average weekly wages. The idea that this would even be noticed internationally, let alone undermine our competitiveness, is extraordinary. Some of Australia’s leading companies—Qantas, IKEA, NAB, Westpac, Woolworths and Telstra—have all done this. Make no mistake: not paying domestic violence leave is not free. The reality is that the cost of inaction is too high. Paid domestic violence leave will make it easier for women to leave violence. It will make it easier to keep children safe. It will make our workforce healthier and safer. It will save lives. In 2017 there are no more excuses. 

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Aug 9, 2017

Constituency Statements – WestConnex

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:03): Recently we have seen on display for my electorate and for all residents of New South Wales, and indeed Australia, some of the mentality the coalition has with regard to respect for people and, in particular, respect for young people. The impact of the WestConnex project has been substantial on students at schools like St Peters Public School, which is in close proximity to the major St Peters interchange project. It’s also had a big impact on Haberfield Public School, which is close to the end of the current work that is taking place—extending the M4 and then the continuation of that on to Rozelle. We have seen Rozelle Public School being, quite rightly, very concerned about the proximity of an exhaust stack on Victoria Road to the students and school community at the school.

All of those concerns have been dismissed by the state government. Yet when, for the Northern Beaches tunnel, it was suggested that there might be a stack anywhere near a school on the North Shore of Sydney, the minister, Rob Stokes, intervened to say that would be unacceptable; the state government intervened to say that would be unacceptable. My message to the state government and to those responsible for the WestConnex project is simply this: students’ capacities should not be limited by pollution near their schools, and students should be given the same consideration whether they live in a Labor electorate, an electorate held by the Greens Party, or an electorate held by the Liberal Party. It is on display for all to see.

The contemptuous nature of the state government under Gladys Berejiklian and the way they handled community consultation and processes for the WestConnex project will be studied in future years as an example of how not to do infrastructure planning for a major project. This is a project where they are literally making it up as they go along. I stand with the school communities in my electorate, including Rozelle Public School, in saying that proper solutions need to be found which protect the interests of students and the community.

Aug 8, 2017

Statements by Members – Reclink Community Cup

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (13:48): On Sunday, it was my great honour to open the sixth Sydney Reclink Community Cup held at Henson Park in my electorate, along with John Bayliss who does a fantastic job with the Reclink organisation. This is an event that is now held nationally to raise funds for Reclink, an organisation that assists at-risk and marginalised young people and helps to connect them with the mainstream of society through engagement with sportspeople and artists.

It is a great event every year, and some 3,000 people gathered on Sunday at Henson Park to watch the Sydney Sailors play the Western Walers. The Sydney Sailors had been successful in the previous five matches, but this time around the Walers were successful with 72-39 in an upset result. The Sailors represent media organisations Triple J, 2SER, 2FBI and others involved in the media. They are ably coached by Stuart Coupe. The Walers are a bunch of musos and people from the local entertainment industry—and I’m sure they celebrated at the Vic on the Park late into that night. I want to also thank the government for supporting the granting of base funding for Reclink. Greg Hunt, as minister, deserves congratulations— (Time expired)

Jun 19, 2017

Private Members’ Business – Craft Brewing Industry

*UPDATE

On 4th December 2017, Anthony Albanese tabled to Parliament 1,477 signatures calling for an end to the current unfair tax treatment of small brewers in Australia.
For full speech click here.

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Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (18:26): I move:

That this House:

(1) notes the growth of the craft brewing sector in recent years as a generator of employment, tourism and exports in capital cities and regional communities;

(2) further notes:

(a) there is an inequity between how Commonwealth excise is calculated for small and large scale brewers which disadvantages the craft brewing sector;

(b) that excise currently accounts for a disproportionate amount of the costs of production for small brewers and the calculation of excise imposes a significant burden on them; and

(c) this small business sector provides local employment and is an emerging tourism attraction; and

(3) urges:

(a) the Australian Government to ensure policy settings which encourage the realisation of the potential of the craft brewing sector; and

(b) state and local governments to update their planning controls and development approval to facilitate the growth of the craft brewing sector.

I do so in support of those Australians who are currently employed by the more than 400 craft brewers around Australia. The craft brewing industry is a job creation powerhouse, but if we get the policy settings right it could generate even more jobs not just in our capital cities but also in our regional communities. Craft brewers employ locals and buy local produce for their operation, while craft brewing related tourism is booming.

Craft beer is a quality product; however, the industry has been restricted by outdated planning controls and development approval processes at the state and local levels, and this resolution calls for local and state governments to provide support to the craft brewing sector. But the fact is it is also disadvantaged at the federal level by poor legislation related to the excise rates faced by small brewers. Today the rate of the federal excise charged for a keg containing 50 litres of beer is less than the rate charged for a keg containing 30 litres. In addition to this, a maximum tax rebate a brewery can receive per calendar year is $30,000, which compares unfavourably to the wine industry’s producer rebate of some $500,000.

These anomalies put Australia’s craft beer brewers at a competitive disadvantage against mass produced beers. With excise making up approximately 40 per cent of operating costs for most craft breweries in Australia, this has to change. On Friday, five brewers from the inner west of Sydney in my electorate came together to form an industry association that aims to turn the precinct into the craft beer capital of Australia. This association was formed following a forum of microbrewers I hosted in March with the shadow minister for agriculture, Joel Fitzgibbon. Peter Philip is the founder of Wayward Brewing Company, located in Camperdown, and one of the five founding members of the association. Peter has noted the operating costs are not the only problems that have come out of unfair excise on smaller operators. He said: ‘If there was no tax discrimination for smaller kegs, then most pubs and breweries would prefer to use 30-litre kegs, which make for fresher beer, more variety and fewer injuries. Not only would changing the excise on craft brewers give the industry the economic shot in the arm it needs, it would also lead to safer working conditions and better beer.’

As our brewers do better, so do the industries that they rely on for their operation. Microbreweries are large consumers of agricultural produce, going through tonnes of grain and hops a week—mostly Australian grown. Hopsgrowers have gone from selling low-value, bittering hops to the big breweries to selling high-value innovative hops to craft breweries. The unique beers produced by these unique ingredients are fuelling the premium beer sector in China, estimated to be worth some $35 billion by 2020. There are also great opportunities for craft beer tourism, whereby operators set up walking tours for enthusiasts to visit several breweries to sample different types of beer.

If the government is serious about supporting small business in Australia then it needs to get serious about changing the legislation to help our brewers. Despite the obstacles faced by the industry it continues to expand, and the type of kick-on employment that the sector supports, such as boutique hops growers, is vital to a healthy and diverse national economy.

With proper support from the federal government, the potential for growth is enormous. Already, major regional centres, like Ballarat, Wagga Wagga, the Hunter, the Illawarra and in Tasmania—including Scottsdale, where I visited the brewery there—have seen growth in local jobs, with people being employed and local communities being able to gather. I certainly have respect for the resilience and success of the craft beer-brewing industry. I have respect for the sector’s contribution to the national economy. And I have respect for the fact that local breweries employ local people.

I will end with a quote from Russell Crowe, as his character John Nash in the film A Beautiful Mind:

I have respect for beer.

I commend the motion to the House.

Jun 19, 2017

Statements by Members – WestConnex

Federation Chamber 

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:27): I want to take the opportunity to raise the impacts of the WestConnex project on St Peters, a community in my electorate. The fact is that St Peters has suffered substantially not just from the compulsory acquisition of tens of homes but also where the state government literally withheld a report that they had about the financial compensation that should be due to those homeowners. They have suffered from the demolition of those homes and factories in their area, much of which has had an impact on local schools, particularly St Peters Public School. But since March they have suffered from a noxious smell that has impacted the local community from the fact that much of the major works is in an old tip. Indeed, the Environment Protection Authority produced a prevention notice to contractors in March which said that they should ‘undertake all reasonable and feasible measures to prevent leachate from pooling’ and to cover or remove pooled leachate as soon as practicable. That has not happened. Children are being kept inside St Peters Public School, unable to play or go out at lunch. This needs to be fixed by the state government. and it needs to be fixed now.

May 30, 2017

Grievance Debate – WestConnex

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (18:14): Back in 2012, the experts at Infrastructure New South Wales sat down to take a look at the major challenges facing Sydney’s transport network. They later produced a report about their deliberations. Under the headline ‘First things first’, the experts, chaired by Nick Greiner, a former Premier of New South Wales, said the greatest transport challenge facing Sydney was rapid growth around Port Botany and the Sydney Airport. The Infrastructure New South Wales report said:

With growth forecast to continue, investment is urgently needed in landside infrastructure to allow access to these gateways.

It was identified access to the Port of Botany as the No. 1 priority. The advice could not have been clearer. The other imperative was access to the central business district of Sydney. It was these two requirements—access for freight to the port in particular and for cars to the CBD—that led to the beginning of what was termed the WestConnex project.

What we have today with the WestConnex project, five years later, is a very different project. It is one which will not go to the port. It will not meet the very challenges that were identified as the reason for its existence. This is the worst example of planning that I have seen for a major infrastructure project. What you need to do with infrastructure is to get the plans right first, go through the community consultation process and the environmental approvals and then have funding provided. What we have with this project is literally a government which is making it up as they go along. This is a project where they literally started digging tunnels before they knew where the tunnels were coming up—an extraordinary proposition. It is a project which began with a cost of some $10 billion which has now blown out to $17 billion, which is now leading to calls for further extensions of the road network.

In the 2014 budget of the Abbott government, the one where they cut funding for every public transport project that was not under construction, there was money handed out. It was handed out as advance payments for projects that had not been through planning proposals and had not been through the Infrastructure Australia process. That included the WestConnex project, where the $1.5 billion in grant funding has already all been paid—every single dollar of it—even though the project will not be concluded until into the 2020s.

In government, we instituted a process whereby you would have milestone payments. That is the concept that you have to actually build something and achieve the milestones that have been set in order for state governments to then be rewarded with payments from the federal government. But what we saw with this project was $750 million forwarded as an advance payment. We also then saw $2 billion made available as a loan to the New South Wales government, even though the New South Wales government has got substantial revenue from the sale of essential public assets in New South Wales. This is what the Auditor-General had to say about the project. I will quote from the report released last year as a result of representations that I had made asking for an audit into the financing processes of this project. He wrote:

The WestConnex project had not proceeded fully through the established processes to assess the merits of nationally significant infrastructure investments prior to Australian Government funding being committed. This situation was identified in departmental advice to decision makers prior to decisions being taken.

So there we have the Audit Office saying that ministers ignored the advice. With regard to the milestone payments, the Audit Office found that they changed what the milestones were in order to justify the payments being made.

We also saw the ongoing complete failure of community consultation. The residents of Haberfield, St Peters, Ashfield, Leichhardt and Rozelle all tell the same story. Take just one example—that of Vince Crow, a long-time resident of Haberfield. In June 2014 Mr Crow received two letters from a representative of the WestConnex Delivery Authority. Both were delivered on the same day. The first letter said, ‘We’re going to need to buy your property,’ and the second letter, signed by the same gentleman, said, ‘We don’t need to buy your property.’ There was absolute uncertainty for this resident. The pattern of inaccuracy, unprofessionalism and miscommunication has been repeated across my community ever since. About 180 properties have already been acquired out of a total of more than 400. Indeed, there is the extraordinary circumstance whereby the New South Wales government kept secret from the community for more than two years the report they received in 2014 about compensation that people who were having their homes acquired were due.

Across my community, residents have had to fight to protect public parks and sporting fields. Ashfield Park, Easton Park in Rozelle and Blackmore Oval in Leichhardt were all defended by the local community. I made representation about all of those public parks because open space is at a premium. Worst was to come with the idea that you would create a dive site next to the Leichhardt campus of the Sydney Secondary College. This was right next to the one oval that that overcrowded campus has. It was proposed to have a convoy of trucks rolling in and out of the worksite past school classroom windows. Fortunately, the New South Wales minister, Stuart Ayres, who I approached about this, intervened and it has been ruled out as a proposal. At the same time students in schools like St Peters Public School have had to put up with the demolition of homes right near the school. This had a real impact on them. Haberfield Public School students and teachers are very worried about the impact of the project on Haberfield.

You would think, given the extent of disruption, that senior people in the New South Wales bureaucracy would be concerned about this. The Greater Sydney Commission has responsibility for planning in greater Sydney. In August 2016 the chair of the commission, Lucy Turnbull, was interviewed on ABC radio and was asked to comment on the fact that houses were being demolished in Haberfield to make way for WestConnex. The chair of the commission said, ‘I’m not aware that there are houses going to be demolished at Haberfield.’ At that very time dozens of houses, which were heritage listed in a heritage listed suburb, had already been demolished. There is complete contempt for these local residents.

Delivering major infrastructure projects is never easy. I support good infrastructure, public transport as well as good road infrastructure, but you have to get the planning right. You also have to acknowledge that, in our growing global cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, the key to dealing with urban congestion is public transport, not more and more road infrastructure. You must get the planning right, you must consult properly with the community and you must bring the community with you. In the words of the 18th century American statesman Benjamin Franklin, ‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.’ The WestConnex project has now been set up under a separate authority so freedom of information laws and the normal accountability of a government agency do not apply in New South Wales. This is an example of avoiding bringing the community with an infrastructure project rather than having proper consultation.

May 29, 2017

Statements by Members – Broadband

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:37): I rise to speak about the diabolical farce that is the rollout of the National Broadband Network in my electorate of Grayndler. My office is currently inundated with requests from constituents trying to navigate the atrocious half-measure that is this coalition government’s ‘fraudband’ network. The problems are a direct result of policy failure.

Fibre to the premises—every home and every business—was Labor’s plan, a universal system that recognised that fibre in the 21st century was as important as water or electricity, an acknowledgement that high-speed broadband is essential for education and health. Under this government though, particularly under Malcolm Turnbull as the minister, he unravelled that. We have a mix of fibre to the premises, fibre to the node, fibre to the basement and hybrid fibre coaxial cable, where there was just one plan before. We have even had the purchase of some 15 million metres of copper wire to complete the NBN—a farce in the 21st century. Two weeks ago, The New York Times reported that Morgan Jaffit, a Brisbane based video games developer, had used registered post rather than uploading files, because that was quicker. The fact is that we need 21st century technology, and that means fibre to the premises.

May 22, 2017

Statements by Member – Public Transport

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:14): The New South Wales government’s planned privatisation of inner-west bus services will result in worse, not better, transport for commuters across the region.

As the member for Grayndler and the shadow minister for transport, I will fight alongside the public to prevent this privatisation—which Luke Foley’s Labor Party is of course opposed to—from proceeding. The sell-off of services will lead to jobs being lost, routes being cut, fares increasing and service levels dropping. Hundreds of thousands of people in the inner west, including workers, students and pensioners, depend heavily on public bus services. Any cuts to these services will have a real impact on their lives. The government claims that after their sell-off the routes and prices will not change, but we know that private bus services only operate anywhere in Sydney with massive public subsidies.

Transport Minister Constance seems to think that he can justify this privatisation by crudely denigrating the bus drivers, but the commuters of the inner west know that these drivers do an excellent job in difficult conditions. I pay tribute to the drivers on the 412 and 423, my local bus drivers. Mr Constance has launched this attack on the inner west for purely partisan purposes. The Premier needs to intervene and step in before the minister does any more damage.

May 11, 2017

Adjournment – St Mary and St Mina Coptic Orthodox Church

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (12:26): I rise to call for the Inner West Council, unelected as it is, to withdraw its proposed demolition of the St Mary and St Mina Coptic Orthodox Church in Sydenham in my electorate. This is the oldest Coptic Orthodox church in the Southern Hemisphere, and was the first Coptic Orthodox church established anywhere outside of Egypt.

This church was built in 1884. It was, for many, many years, a Methodist church on Railway Road in Sydenham. It was there before the airport, which, of course, had a significant impact on the practice of faith in the church, because it was directly under the newly built third runway. The church was bought by Egyptian Coptic migrants in 1968. Those migrants, of course, fled after political turmoil and persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt. They put their hard-earned dollars into that church to buy it. The church holds war memorials from before that time dedicated to our brave diggers who fought for freedom in this country. The buildings around the church were demolished when the third runway was built, and a new church funded by the federal government was established in the St George area across the river. But the community had wanted the church to be maintained as a museum to the local history of, particularly, the Coptic Orthodox community, who number around about 100,000 in Sydney alone.

Recently, on 2 May, an arsonist targeted the building, causing more damage, which is the subject of a New South Wales police investigation. It is true that the building needs an upgrade, but the Coptic community have themselves raised funds and organised builders who are prepared to participate in the refurbishment of the church. The Inner West Council, of course, does not actually exist as a democratic body. The New South Wales government abolished the former Marrickville Council, and had a forced amalgamation between the Marrickville, Leichhardt and Ashfield councils into the Inner West Council, and they have had an unelected administrator since that occurred. Given that, there is no democratic process for the community to participate in stopping the abolition of this church.

The council says it will take $5 million to rebuild the church, but the Coptic Orthodox community have raised in cash and kind some $2 million to carry out the work. The Inner West Council plans tomorrow to raze the building and create a memorial area using parts of the church. The state government’s Office of Environment and Heritage has not opposed the demolition. I say to the New South Wales government of Gladys Berejiklian, if this is not heritage—a church built in 1884, the first Coptic Orthodox church outside of Egypt—then what is? The New South Wales government particularly have a responsibility because there is no elected council in place. Effectively, the administrator is a representative of the New South Wales coalition government, appointed by them as a sole administrator, and they should intervene. At a time when the Islamic State is claiming responsibility for bombings of Coptic churches in Egypt as recently as Palm Sunday, when 50 people were killed, this is a community that feels they are under siege, and I stand with the community in support of their heritage, in support of their right not only to practise their religion at the church in Bexley but also to recognise their history as an important community here in Australia.

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