Confronting the Government’s lack of climate accountability, child protection and disability shortcomings, animal welfare issues, and much more
By Hon. Alison Xamon, MLC, Member for North Metropolitan Region
The last two months has seen the usual end of term rush with extended sitting hours in Parliament in the lead up to the summer recess, as well as annual Budget Estimates and Annual Report hearings which had been delayed during COVID. We debated the Greens Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Bill 2020 which seeks to legislate emissions and renewable targets, and ensure that climate change is at the centre of all government decision-making. I told Parliament it had failed to urgently act to address climate change and challenged their ongoing and unquestioning support for the LNG industry at the expense of renewables. It was disappointing but unsurprising that the Government did not take the opportunity to pass this bill, particularly as debate came just weeks after the passing of the Government’s inadequate Environmental Protection Bill Amendment 2020 where there was not one inclusion of climate change as an environmental concern. Passing the Climate Change Bill would have presented the perfect opportunity to make concrete steps towards meeting WA’s worldwide obligations to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. If that Bill were to be passed in conjunction with my Access to Ministers Bill which prohibits accessing Ministers in exchange for party donations, then we may very well have seen a significant change in the political landscape as it pertains to this Government’s response to climate change.
I hosted a roundtable with eminent Noongar women to discuss child protection matters who painted a grim picture as to the current state of child protection within WA. An alarming 56% of children in out-of-home care in Western Australia are Aboriginal. First Nations communities know the solutions to addressing the over-representation of their children in care, but the Government is not listening to them. In conjunction with Senator Rachel Siewert, we had a positive and wide-ranging discussion. Among many other things, it was agreed that WA needs a Commission for Aboriginal Children and Young People, to provide better support for the child protection system and support Aboriginal self-determination in this sector. The need for increased funding to identify and manage Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) was also identified. I look forward to continuing to work closely with this group and amplifying their voices calling for desperately needed change.
I was delighted to facilitate an event at Parliament House with the leaders of the Halls Creek Olabud Doogethu project (which means ‘All of us together’ in Kriol), along with Social Reinvestment WA. The project is WA’s first justice reinvestment site and, since its establishment in 2019, is already seeing stunning results in local empowerment, youth engagement, employment and crime reduction. I hope to see the project continue its success and the idea replicated across WA.
I have been contacted by a number of parents who have children with disability and mental health issues who are being failed by our education system. In keeping with the findings of the Disability Royal Commission, the cases of Western Australian families highlight the lasting impact of the use of restraint and seclusion on children, and the importance of positive behavioural support in schools. It is crucial that schools improve complaints handling processes and acknowledge when things go wrong. I spoke in Parliament about these issues and have followed up complaints from parents regarding complaints processes and misconduct.
Animal welfare has again been a high priority, with widespread campaigns against the Melbourne Cup and work in Parliament to advocate for improved greyhound welfare. The issue of retired racehorses being slaughtered in knackeries was again raised around the time of the Cup. WA is getting started on its own tracking system for former racehorses and I asked the Government to table the newly completed MOU between Racing and Wagering WA and registered WA abattoirs and knackeries which, worryingly, paid little heed to animal welfare concerns. Working with stakeholders, I asked a series of questions in Parliament which arose from the Racing and Wagering WA annual report. These covered a broad range of issues including how often greyhound kennels are inspected, track design, the increase in injuries to dogs on the track, and whether blood test results indicated detected substances. I will continue to advocate for an end to greyhound racing.
My Committee work finally wrapped up and in the final week of Parliament the Select Committee into Palliative Care tabled our report on the current status of palliative care services in WA (short answer - we don’t have enough). The Joint Standing Committee oversighting the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) also tabled it’s 17th and final report for the term outlining just some of the critical reform that needs to occur to the hopelessly outdated CCC Act.
I continued to work to advocate for improved integrity of Government through mechanisms that will increase transparency around decision-making like publishing ministerial diaries, attended rallies for climate action, forest conservation and mental health, and was invited to place a rose at the 30th Annual Silent Domestic Violence Memorial March. November was Pride month and I again co-hosted Pride at Parliament and attended a number of functions within my Electorate. I finished off in the final couple of weeks doing the rounds of numerous stakeholder Christmas functions.
Parliament is now prorogued and will not sit again until after the Election in March. I wish you all a very happy festive season, an enjoyable summer and a fantastic campaign ahead of and including polling day on 13 March.
Header photo: Celebrating 30 years of Greens WA in Parliament with current and former WA State MPs and Senators. Photo: Arran Morton