Brunswick Bulletin: March
In this month’s newsletter,
- State Parliament
- When is a child too young to be charged with a crime?
- Good and bad climate news.
- EV Tax Introduced
- Spent Convictions Becomes Law
- Other News
- The end of rental protections - survey
- Local News
- Ride2SchoolDay, Bicycle Network and Brunswick East Primary
- Nicholson St - 8 crashes too many
- Local Events
When is a child too young to be charged with a crime?
On the last day of parliament before the break, I asked Acting Premier Merlino if his government would increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years? Children should be cared for and protected – not dragged through the courts, and certainly not locked up in prison cells.
An hour earlier my colleague Samantha Ratnam had introduced a bill to the upper house so that no child under 14 could be charged with a criminal offence.
I’m concerned by the high rates of reoffending by people who are detained as young children and how more often than not, this seems to be the beginning of a downward spiral. Sending them to court and potentially prison wastes what may be our last chance to prevent that.
James Merlino’s answer showed that the Government is genuinely concerned about this and while he wouldn’t commit to raising the age, there were clues that they may be considering it. I think they just want to know that this has widespread community support.
To help with this, the Greens MPs have launched an open letter to the State Government to demonstrate community support for raising the age. Please add your name if you agree with this reform.
Climate change: the good news or the bad?
First the good news: yesterday the Minister for Planning rejected AGL’s application to install a floating gas import terminal in a valuable mangrove wetland at Crib Point on Westernport Bay. This success can be credited to a long-running community campaign, supported by the Greens in state parliament
That wasn’t just a win for the mangroves, but also for the climate. As Bass Strait runs out of fossil gas, we will be importing more gas obtained by the more polluting fracking process. Instead of imports we need to be reducing gas consumption, which is entirely possible, but the Victorian government hasn’t yet got the memo. For example, new hospitals are still being hooked up to fossil gas for heating, something I’m urging them to change
I’m afraid it gets worse. This month, Energy Australia* announced it would close Australia’s most polluting power station, Yallourn in 2028, four years earlier than previously planned. Some analysts, however, were surprised that the ageing generator would last that long, but Energy Australia revealed it had struck a deal with the Victorian government that included some level of financial support.
We asked the Minister for Environment and Climate change how much, but she said it was “commercial in confidence” which is exactly the opposite of what you want to hear when public funds are going to fossil fuel giants.
*Energy Australia is the local name for CLP (China Light and Power), largely owned by the billionaire Kadoorie family.
Victoria's state government should be planning for an early transition away from coal that supports workers and communities in the Latrobe Valley, not propping up coal businesses owned by billionaires.
Electric Vehicles Tax Introduced
This month, the State Government introduced its tax on Electric Vehicles into parliament. This will make Victoria the only government in the world making electric vehicles even more expensive to run. Transport is Australia’s largest growing source of carbon emissions, so we need to do everything we can to electrify transport, so it can be powered by renewable energy.
Getting more people onto public transport, bikes and walking is even more important for reducing emissions, but cars and trucks are essential for some, and most other developed countries are switching to EVs faster than we are.
Labor may struggle to get this retrograde tax through the upper house, and you can help block it by emailing the cross-bench. We’ve prepared a letter, all you need to do is add your name and hit send.
Tonight, we're also holding a special briefing and Q+A, to discuss the next steps in our campaign to block Labor’s retrograde tax in parliament and push to make EV’s more affordable instead.
Spent Convictions and more.
The long-awaited spent convictions law passed the upper house meaning eligible minor convictions will become “spent”. They will no longer appear on a police check after 10 years, or five years for a juvenile conviction, provided the person does not reoffend. This allows people the opportunity to have a meaningful and productive life.
This month I also spoke in support of
- Adequate funding for the state’s mental health system in the wake of the Royal Commission.
- The many artists and creatives in Brunswick, articularly as jobkeeper finishes and jobseeker is reduced.
- The urgent need to subsidise methadone and other opioid substitution therapy to prevent heroin overdose deaths and reduce the crime and other social costs of drug addiction.
With the state budget coming up in May, I’ve written to the Treasurer and the Minister for Education pushing for more funding for Brunswick’s schools, particularly for maintenance of the old buildings and other projects.
And I’ve continued my calls for the worst bus service in my electorate, the 505 in Parkville Gardens, to get extra services in the morning and evening peak hours.
The scandal engulfing the federal government reminds us that there is still so much to be done before we can say women are safe. Every woman has their own stories of assault, harassment and discrimination. I marched in solidarity with all those who have experienced male violence. And I marched in hope; hope for a safer future for women, trans and non-binary people the world over. Huong Truong, former Greens MP for Western Metro gave a fantastic speech and you can view the highlights of the march in this video.
Renting? Struggling financially? Complete the survey.
While the worst of our COVID-19 restrictions are over, I know that many renters are still struggling with the impacts, including lost jobs and reduced work hours. The State Government’s protections for renters ended at the beginning of the week.
Are you a renter? Did you accumulate rental debt during lockdown? Please take our short survey and let us know how the end of rental protections will impact you?
The State Government cannot abandon its duty to protect renters. As we've done throughout the pandemic, the Greens will continue to call for protections for renters to ensure nobody becomes homeless as a result of COVID-19.
Your response will help us advocate for you.
Ride2School Day at Brunswick East
I really enjoyed visiting Brunswick East Primary for #Ride2School day.
The usually busy thoroughfare for school drop off was transformed into an art space, obstacle course, bike jump, bike juicing tent, roller skating rink and a plenty of room for kids to show off their mad skid skills. I saw lots of skids. The kids told me they were really 'big' skids.
This was a great exercise in imagining what can be done with public space to benefit health and the community. Find out more about community efforts to improve safety walking and riding to school by signing up here.
Nicholson St - 8 Crashes too many
The chicane bend on the corner of Nicholson and Albion Street, Brunswick East, has been a crash zone for too long. Just 48 hours after I visited to inspect damage from a collision a week earlier, an 8th car smashed through the front fence of the same house.
The family lives in fear that one night a car will come through their walls, resulting in serious injury. I'm not sure how they get any sleep at night.
If 8 cars had ploughed into Parliament House I bet the response would be swift. This should be no different. This is the most frightening example of the unsafe intersections I’m hearing about around the electorate and I’ve arranged meetings with the Department of Transport, and with Moreland Council, to discuss them.
Toolangi Forest Tour
The Great Forests of the Central Highlands are Melbourne’s lungs, full of beauty, and the home of critically endangered species including Leadbeater’s Possum, gliding possums and Barred Galaxia fish.
The Healesville and Upper Yarra Greens branch is offering a tour of our majestic forests where you can see the fragile ecosystems threatened by logging. I did this tour a couple of years ago and can recommend the experts who run it.
You’ll drive to key locations and see the forest at its best ⎯ and after VicForests has done its worst. There will also be an opportunity to hear the latest on the Possums’ Federal Court Case.
Facebook Event. Or purchase tickets here.
Incognito - Fri 9 April at Brunswick Neighbourhood House
La Mama Mobile and Brunswick Neighbourhood House present Incognito by Mystery Radio Theatre
In this dazzling new comedy murder mystery farce, six strangers attend a health spa in the Swiss Alps. Soon they become involved in murder, betrayal, hypnotism and disguise.
The Space We Live, the Air We Breathe - Counihan Gallery
This exhibition brings together twelve Moreland artists who have forged extensive careers, with both national and international recognition. It’s a “poetic rendering of the creative life of Moreland”. I’ve not seen it yet, but anything at the Counihan Gallery (in Brunswick Town Hall) is worth a look! Starts 17 April.
Looby - Screening on Tues 20 April, Brunswick Library
To celebrate 100 years of the Archibald Prize, Moreland Council will be screening Looby, about Keith Looby, winner of the 1984 Archibald with his portrait of Max Gillies as Bob Hawke. “Always controversial for his insistence on painting controversial figures, Looby uncovers the life and work of an artist we need to remember.” This film screening will be accompanied by a Q&A with the producer of Looby and a showing of local Moreland portraits from the Counihan Gallery In Brunswick.
Saving the Greater Glider and its forest home
On Saturday I went spotlighting in the Snobs Creek Valley and actually saw real live Greater Gliders! These extraordinary creatures live just a couple of hours from here. Hear naturalist and anthropologist Dr Lea Jellinek talk about them and their home which is about to be clear-felled, mostly for paper, by VicForests.
Lea is speaking at the Kathleen Syme Library Community Centre, April 14th, 7-9:30pm. Entry is free, but donations welcome. RSVP to [email protected]