The election of the Liberal/National government has seen Australia shift further to the right on nearly every domestic and foreign issue.
Senator Lee Rhiannon
The election of the Liberal/National government has seen Australia shift further to the right on nearly every domestic and foreign issue. Our community campaigns are stepping up to meet this challenge.
In the Senate I have won support on a number of issues — we set up a Senate inquiry into TAFE, our motion to retain the National Water Commission was passed along with motions calling on the NSW Liberal/National government to retain public housing at Millers Point; higher education funding; more money for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria; and for National TAFE Day.
The most important investment a government can make in a country's future is in public education. The $5 billion cut the Coalitions has planned for higher education will limit opportunities for young people by reducing funding to universities and shifting more debt onto students. Women, people from low income families and regional communities will be hit hardest.
I have been working to expose the impact the cuts will have.
My office built a very popular online calculator to expose the increased costs students will face.
We are working closely with the National Tertiary Education Union and the National Union of Students, and I have spoken at numerous forums and rallies.
The Greens vision for higher education is about opportunity, empowerment and accessibility through a publically funded higher education system. We will continue to work hard to build up higher education in Australia.
The horrific cruelty of live exports continues with neither Labor nor the Coalition willing to end this trade and assist industry to expand export markets in chilled box meat. I have a bill before Parliament to end the live export trade and a transition plan for the industry. I also have a bill before the Senate to ban the import of cosmetics and their ingredients that have been tested on animals. The Greens' bill follows the European Union's successful ban.
We are working for a national ICAC and are drafting a Clean Up Australian Politics Bill that addresses electoral funding and lobbying. With the federal Liberals increasingly caught in the NSW ICAC spotlight, the government should back federal oversight. Nearly 7000 people have signed the Greens' petition calling for a National ICAC. We are also campaigning to reform Senate voting by removing group voting tickets. The major parties are now supporting the Greens position and the recent Senate report on this had a consensus position that if implemented would ensure voters determine their preferences not backroom party deals.
A very ugly budget measure was the $7.6 billion cut to Australia's foreign aid budget, resulting in many lifesaving programs in low income countries being wound back. Of particular concern is the Coalition's demand that all aid must prioritise Australia's “national interest”. I have won some support in the Senate for more aid spending,
I have spoken in the Senate on the massive damage to aid projects in Gaza as a result of the attack by Israel and have worked with Labor MPs on the Canberra Declaration on Gaza which was signed by more than 70 former and current MPs including former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser.
Water and the Murray Darling Basin
The failure of the Nationals to represent the needs of rural communities has been laid bare with the government's plan to wind up the National Water Commission and remove the Water Trigger. I have been working with industry groups, including the National Water Association, the Australia Water Services Association and the National Farmers Federation, to maintain these important achievements.
A successful motion calling on the government to save the National Water Commission was put up by myself and Senator Nick Xenophon.
With the NSW population making up a third of the country I spend much time meeting with local communities. A highlight was my visit to Leard Forest where more than 200 people have been arrested in the past year for taking direct action to prevent the construction of a massive coal mine. Unemployment, particularly in regional and rural areas and western Sydney, is on the rise and hitting young people particularly hard.
We are about to launch the Greens Jobs Plan for the Hunter and Western Sydney.