The last sitting week of the decade
Since parliament won’t be sitting for a couple of months, here’s a summary of my first year in parliament.
If you’re more a visual person, you can watch “Inside Spring St”, filmed live at the end of the sitting week with my fellow Green MPs. It covers much of what is written below.
Here is some of what we Greens achieved this year:
- Established a Waste Inquiry. The report just came out. Find it here. More details below.
- Established an upper house inquiry into Extinction, which will focus parliament’s attention on the threats to hundreds of endangered native species (think feral pests, native forest logging, global heating, surburban sprawl).
- Campaigned for more public housing and against the effective sale of public housing estates to developers, in return for a new apartments with a mix of roughly 45% public and 55% private ownership. At Gronn St in West Brunswick, we achieved an increase in public ownership to 56% – but we need to keep fighting.
- Pushed, unsuccessfully, in both houses to declare a climate emergency, and we asked the Premier and the Minister for Climate and Energy repeated questions about their plans to expand gas and coal industries in this state.
- Lobbied for increased public school maintenance funding in Brunswick and beyond. Brunswick schools got some money in the recently announced “school maintenance blitz”, but more will be needed soon.
- Repeatedly reminded the government that building the North-East Link, the world’s most expensive road, is squandering precious funds needed to get our public transport up to standard.
Our influence on State Government policy
This year, the State Government has announced or implemented:
- A ban on thin single-use plastic bags
- Funding for removal of flammable cladding
- The end of logging in native forests, which at 2030 may be too late for a lot of precious habitat
- Better governance of the transport system
- Presumptive compensation rights for firefighters with work-related cancers
- The start of voluntary euthanasia
There’s a pattern to announcements of progressive policy by this State Government. It often follows campaigning by community groups and us. It’s often delayed (native forest logging will continue unabated until 2025 and then taper off). And it’s often diluted, missing key ingredients (the renewable energy target of 50% by 2030 should be 100% or close to it, many plastic bags are not banned, nor are single-use plastic plates and cutlery.) But we keep putting issues on the agenda, and the Government continues to respond.
We also took action outside of Parliament
- Supported Student Strike for Climate
- Rallying on the steps for action on waste
- Supporting the Djab Wurrung and amplifying their voices
- Fighting to close the Yallourn, Australia’s most polluting coal-fired power station.
My most memorable moment in my first year as an MP?
I realised that there are some topics that no MP other than the Greens will raise. So it’s our job to ask questions about political donations or why Crown Casino hasn’t lost its licence.
Details on this week in Spring Street
WASTE INQUIRY REPORT TABLED: LABOR ADOPTS GREENS POLICY AGAIN
The Greens-initiated waste inquiry tabled its report this week. It included recommendations on a separate recycling bin for glass (we did media on this recently), statewide collection of kitchen scraps for composting (this was one of our 2018 election commitments), standardised recycling bins across the state (this was too), requiring supermarkets to reduce their use of single-use plastics (we did a bill on this two years ago) and considering a refund on bottles and cans (we’ve repeatedly introduced bills on this over the last 10 years). The report also called for more waste-to-energy plants, which is likely to mean incinerators, so our battle on that one continues as burning your problems has never solved them for anyone who tried. The government now needs to accept or reject each of the report’s recommendations. It’s safe to say that our inquiry will force them to make some real change.
WE PUT THE PRESSURE ON ON DODGY DONATIONS
With the IBAC inquiry into developer donations in the City of Casey making daily headlines, we’ve been calling for a Royal Commission into planning, both in the parliament and the media. Despite all this, this week the lower house passed a local government bill which doesn’t include the caps on donations promised earlier in the year. On Wednesday we got Andrews to publicly state that they are working on donation caps. This means we can put the pressure on over the next two months, to get these caps included in the bill before it goes to the upper house next year.
WE CALLED FOR THE TRANSPORT PLAN WE’RE MEANT TO HAVE
This week the auditor-general criticised the proposal process which got us the West Gate Tunnel. We did media on this, and an amendment calling on the government to publish the transport plan it is legally required to create, instead of waiting for unplanned proposals. Sadly this was defeated by the Andrews Government, with cross-bench support.
We presented a petition to the parliament on 1080 poison, got the resources minister to clarify that she’ll be getting advice early next year on the moratorium on onshore conventional gas, spoke in parliament and posted social media with Daniel Bleakley, who is on a hunger strike over the climate crisis, asked the minister about duck shooting and asked the parliament to declare a climate emergency. And I argued with Neil Mitchell on 3AW that everyone, regardless of age, should have access to resuscitation from heroin overdoses.
That’s it for parliament this year.
I look forward to representing Brunswick, inside Spring St next year.