October Update 2020
In this months newsletter,
COVID-19 Infections and Healthcare Workers
That candidate flyer that made Brunswick smile
What’s happening with outdoor dining on Sydney Road?
Parliamentary Inquiry into contact tracing
Reducing the public housing waiting list
Djab Wurrung People and the Western Highway
Supporting a Green New Deal in Victoria
COVID-19 AND HEALTHCARE WORKERS
Around 3,600 healthcare workers caught COVID-19 in Melbourne this year. Hospitals in some countries have managed hundreds of COVID patients with zero healthcare worker infections.
Why not here?
I sat down with infectious diseases physician, Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah, to discuss this and recorded it in this video
COUNCIL ELECTIONS AND A LOCAL CHARACTER
You may have seen this flyer doing the rounds from local government non-candidate and local character, Maddy Tucker.
I couldn’t help but smile when I saw it. I caught up with Maddy over Zoom to discuss her ideas for Brunswick, including turning the Woolworths carpark into a beach, creating BIG tourist attractions, her plan for more (miniature) trains on the Upfield Line and a very special policy for the 19 tram. Video is hilarious and here.
WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH OUTDOOR DINING ON SYDNEY ROAD?
Sydney Road, the longest shopping strip in the southern hemisphere, is controlled by the state government. The parking and the clearway make it hard for traders to use this public space for outdoor dining, despite the government fanfare promising traders would have outdoor space.
Traders in Brunswick are doing all they can to operate in a COVID safe way, and we should be giving them all the space they need to help.
So this week I asked the Minister for Roads and Transport if there are any plans to allow traders to use the car parks for outdoor dining on Sydney Road. Video here.
I’m supposed to receive a response in 30 days.
PARLIAMENTARY INQUIRY INTO CONTACT TRACING
The upper house passed a motion to establish a parliamentary inquiry to investigate Victoria's COVID-19 contact tracing system and how it performed during the deadly second wave.
It's likely there were deficiencies in contact tracing in June/July, I’ve heard from parents who despite their school closing, we’re not contacted by contact tracers for 14 days, if at all. It’s important we identify and learn from any mistakes so we don’t make them again.
That's why we supported the establishment of this inquiry. I want this inquiry to spend less time on apportioning blame and more on identifying any need for improvement. Contact tracing is more important to us now that numbers are low, so that outbreaks can be stopped before they spread too far. To illustrate this, a couple of weeks ago Toronto stopped contact tracing because they had so many cases there was no point.
REDUCING THE PUBLIC HOUSING WAITING LIST
The 3,000 public housing homes promised, and mostly still unbuilt, by the state government over the past few years just aren’t enough when there are 100,000 people on the public housing waiting list. We’re leading community pressure on this issue, and on Tuesday we held a press conference and introduced a bill to set targets for public housing construction and to stop selling off public housing land.
In my work in the Health and Justice portfolios, I keep coming across reports and studies showing how providing secure housing dramatically reduces the rate of reoffending after release from prison, and reduces the rate of relapse in severe mental illness. Victoria is building some big expensive prisons right now, but we would do well to divert some of that spending to public housing. We can’t afford not to.
DJAB WURRUNG PEOPLE AND THE WESTERN HIGHWAY
Last weekend one of the culturally significant trees on Djab Wurrung land was chopped down to make way for changes to the Western Highway. While protesters got arrested at the site near Ararat, the Greens took the issue to parliament.
We introduced a motion on Tuesday calling for an immediate halt to the works. We asked questions, with the premier telling Sam Hibbins both that the tree wasn’t culturally significant and that traditional owners were OK with its removal, ignoring the Djab Wurrung people leading the campaign on this.
Meanwhile Greens senator and Djab Wurrung woman Lidia Thorpe has been at the front of the campaign to protect the remaining Djab Wurrung trees, both on the ground in Djab Wurrung country and across the media. Work on the project has now been halted for three weeks by Victoria’s Supreme Court.
WE CALLED ON THE GOVERNMENT TO SUPPORT A GREEN NEW DEAL
The state budget just announced for November 24th will be the most important in a generation. The government is set to make record investments to lift us out of recession. I want this spending to both create jobs and tackle some of our biggest challenges. I hope to see a big investment in renewable energy for climate change, and public housing for homelessness. We can use this opportunity to establish a Green New Deal in Victoria. And that’s exactly what we called for in parliament.
Last week I spoke on two bills, one on organ donation and the other a justice bill allowing sexual assault victim survivors to speak out. Other Greens MPs asked the Resources Minister about logging, and the Health Minister about COVID testing in the public housing towers.
In the next two weeks, you should receive a postcard in the letterbox from me, about natural gas (methane), a major cause of climate change, and how we’re about to start pulling a lot more of it out of the ground in Victoria. A few months ago, I was one of just two MPs who voted against opening our state for new gas drilling. If you want to help stop gas drilling in Victoria, or you’re not sure what this is all about, complete the post card and I’ll send you some great resources.
That’s it from me.
Have a great long weekend. I’ll be saying a Nup To The Cup (should that be a Neigh to the Cup?) on Tuesday because horses should be celebrated, not punished.
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