All across Australia, people are standing up for what matters and against Tony Abbott and his ultra-conservative agenda.
By Adam Bandt
The last 12 months in our federal politics saw Tony Abbott and his government plagued with misguided captain's calls and continued attacks on everyday Australians and our environment. But, just like all across Australia, here in Melbourne, people are standing up for what matters and against Tony Abbott and his ultra-conservative agenda.
The last year was huge for our office and the Greens. Along with councils and the community, we stopped the East West toll road! Because of the powerful community campaign, this destructive and polluting toll road will not divide our neighbourhoods and ruin what we love about Melbourne.
We fought to protect our clean energy laws won through our negotiations with the previous government whilst I shared balance of power in the lower house. With the unknown quantity of the new Senate starting in July last year, we had some unexpected wins. Despite the price on pollution being scrapped, the Climate Change Authority, Clean Energy Finance Corporation and ARENA – a body investing in renewable energy projects across the country – were all saved and continue their important work to this day.
We supported our Greens candidates and campaigners in the 2014 Victorian election campaign. Now, after Ellen Sandell's victory in the state seat of Melbourne, Melbourne is the only place in Australia where voters are represented by Greens at every level of government.
Here's an overview of what else we did this year:
Our constituent liaison team advocated on behalf of hundreds of Melbourne constituents on issues including housing, immigration, disability, Centrelink, often when they have nowhere else to turn. We hit over 2,000 cases since I was first elected in 2010, including 512 new constituent cases in the last year. Specifically, we:
- Maintained the pressure on the Victorian Government to invest more into public housing.
- Helped secure Centrelink support and housing for people in times of personal crisis.
- Advocated for greater transparency with NBN Co operations and services.
- Secured visas for partners and family members of new Melbourne constituents.
With the Melbourne community, we:
- Supported the work of the Melbourne Employment Forum to establish a 'one stop shop' for employment services for Melbourne's refugee and African-Australian communities.
- Hosted campaigns on respect and inclusion for all Melburnians, like the anti-terror law forum, fighting Abbott's attacks on multiculturalism and refugees, community forums on the impact of ice and an iftar dinner during Ramadan.
- Surveyed all the childcare centres in the electorate and continued our campaign for better access to childcare in Melbourne.
- Supported local community groups accessing government services and grants, including for the refurbishment of the Royal Exhibition Building, the Abbotsford Convent and for local ANZAC Centenary Commemorations
- Worked with community groups and our Green Councillors on issues important to local communities throughout the electorate, including planning, bike infrastructure, research, aircraft noise and innovation.
- Fought the Abbott government's budget cuts to vital community services in Melbourne, including the cohealth community pharmacy that provides pharmacy services to public housing residents and vulnerable Melburnians; Adventure playgrounds like Cubbies and the Venny, which are safe play and education spaces for kids in public housing; local refugee support services, Community Legal Centres; and Community TV.
- Welcomed new voters to Melbourne – we sent 20,217 introductory letters and surveys this year.
We grew our supporter base, campaigned against Tony Abbott's attack on Paid Parental Leave and worked with Victorian Senator Janet Rice to fight the Abbott government's plan to include burning wood from our native forests as 'renewable' energy under the Renewable Energy Target. We also:
- Launched and grew our campaign to replace Hazelwood, a coal-fired power station in Victoria's Latrobe Valley and Australia's dirtiest power station, with clean energy. Over 10,000 people have signed up to join the campaign and we hosted stalls, forums and a listening tour of the valley. Soon we will begin doorknocking and phone banking people in Melbourne for this campaign.
- Continued our Respect Research campaign to increase investment in science, research and innovation. With over 20,000 supporters of the campaign, we held a Respect Research forum in Melbourne and sent two Melbourne researchers to Canberra to advocate for investment in science and research in the lead up to the 2015 Budget.
In Parliament this year, I:
- Proudly joined as a co-sponsor on the cross-party bill for marriage equality;
- Worked with the Senate to establish inquiries into our working visa system and the impact of George Brandis' budget cuts and creation of his own National Programme for Excellence in the Arts to Australian arts and culture.
- Introduced a Bill to help equal up the balance between men and women's superannuation;
- Supported a motion to prevent offshore workers being paid much less than their onshore colleagues; and
- Had motions passed in the Senate calling on the Abbott government to direct the Productivity Commission to remove penalty rates and the minimum wage from its workplace relations review and pressuring the government to reverse their drastic cuts to science and research and commit to its sustainable, long-term funding.
In local and national media, we:
- Revealed that the Abbott government's cuts to Paid Parental Leave will affect Melbourne working women worst. Read the report here.
- Got an opinion piece published in the Age on Labour Day that explores how we can achieve a greater work/life balance for Australians. Read it here.
- Wrote pieces in local community papers on the real impact of Australia's increasing youth unemployment on Melbourne young people.
And much, much more. In the lead up to the next federal election, one thing is clear: the Greens are the only party who will stand up for what matters, even when opinion polls say it is not popular. For a clean economy and a caring society, we need more Greens MPs in our Parliament.