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HomeNewsPoliticsSylvie Ellsmore (The Greens) - Sydney electorate candidates 2016

Sylvie Ellsmore (The Greens) – Sydney electorate candidates 2016

Infrastructure

Successive state and federal governments have failed to plan and build the infrastructure we need to ensure our cities are liveable and equitable as it grows. This includes childcare centres, schools and public transport.

Our city is being shaped by developers’ interests at the expense of the community. The massive “urban growth” plans proposed for Central to Eveleigh are a key example. Local residents must have a genuine say in planning decisions, and important public lands in the inner city need to be kept in public hands. This is what the community fought for through the Green Bans, and sadly we must continue to do so.

Climate Change

As a society we need the courage to tackle catastrophic global warming and transition Australia away from coal towards a clean energy economy. We are already seeing the impacts of climate change with more regular extreme weather events such as storms and bushfires, and rising sea temperatures, leading to coral bleaching that has affected more than 90 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Greens have a comprehensive plan to transition from dirty energy to renewable energy, redirecting billions in mining industry subsidies. This will reduce power bills, create 15,000 jobs in the renewables sector and help transition us to a genuinely carbon neutral future. We need 100 per cent renewable energy, and not a per cent less (more details: http://greens.org.au/renew).

The Greens do not take political donations from the fossil fuel industry, which has donated $3.7 million to the two old parties over the last three years alone.  I was proud to sign the pledge to clean up politics by refusing dirty energy industry donations and I call on the other candidates to do the same.

Transport

Modern cities should be cheap and convenient to get around. Growing public and active transport – not private tollways – is the only real way to fix traffic congestion, reduce pollution and make our cities healthy and liveable. Priority transport projects for the Greens include light rail for Central to Green Square, light rail along Parramatta Road, integrated bike paths and expanded heavy rail. The Greens have a detailed, costed transport strategy (http://greens.org.au/public-transport).

The Greens have opposed the destructive, unnecessary WestConnex toll road from the very beginning. Stopping WestConnex is possible, just like the community stopped the East West Link toll road in Melbourne. The project relies on federal funding. The Greens would stop the project immediately, tear up any contracts, and redirect the money into public transport and other essential services.

As a former Marrickville Councillor I was proud that we stood with the community campaign, commissioned independent studies to assess the true impact of the project, refused WestConnex access to Council land and defended the right of residents to peacefully protest against the project.

Affordable Housing

Successive government policies have made home ownership an impossible dream for many of us, especially young people and those on low incomes. Housing should be about creating homes for people, not tax havens for wealthy investors. The Greens will reform negative gearing and removing capital gains tax discounts, and redirect the $6.8 billion estimated annual cost to increasing public housing and homeless services.

With an average of 16 years and 60,000 on the waiting list, public housing in NSW is in crisis, a crisis created by years of underinvestment by state and federal governments. One off investments in boom times is not enough – we need ongoing investment to create expanded, high quality public housing, and then properly maintain it for future generations.

Renting across the city is barely affordable. The Greens are the only major party calling for national minimum standards to protect security of tenure for renters, and to stop excessive rent increases.

Constitutional Recognition of Australia’s First Peoples

The Greens strongly support amending the Australian Constitution to recognise not only the sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their right to land, water and resources, but also to protect against racial discrimination. We continue to support the campaign for changes to the constitution that will deliver real rights. We fight for this alongside our support for treaties with Indigenous Australians.

The lack of protections in the Australian Constitution has historically meant Indigenous people could be discriminated against – not just decades ago but more recently, for example when the Liberal and Labor parties voted in the Federal Parliament to “switch off” the Racial Discrimination Act to allow the NT Intervention. The Greens support protections in the Constitution to prevent legal discrimination in the future.

Aged Care

The Greens agree that the federal government must play a central role in the provision, regulation and support of aged care services. Greens policies announced in this election would see over $20b invested in improving the lives of patients, carers and families, as well as supporting GPs and Primary Health Networks so that everyone can access health care when they need it, to ensure that there is genuine aged care support for everyone who needs it.

The Greens do not support the move to privatising public health services and the billions in subsidies to the private health insurance sector that is undermining funding to our public health system.  We also have significant concerns about policies based on “consumer choice”, where it appears that the real agenda is to push more people towards private providers – which are usually less well-regulated – at the expense of a properly funded, universal public health and aged care system. Health care is more cost effective and high quality when it is genuinely accessible, affordable and universal, from birth to death. This is key to a healthy society.

The Greens absolutely oppose the forced removal of any residents from the Waterloo public housing estates, just as we do at Millers Point and Glebe.

Keeping people out of hospital and other facilities should be one of the key aims of the health system, particularly as people age. The Greens believe in the principle of “ageing in place” and supporting people to stay in their own homes for as long as they wish to. Where people require nursing home support, the Greens strongly support the requirement for registered nurses 24/7, and ratios to ensure nurses are not overstretched, and residents and patients are being genuinely cared for.

Public housing tenants should not be discriminated against. Public housing tenants have a right to age in their homes if they wish, and be genuinely supported to do this, just as they would if they lived in private rental or owned their own home.

Asylum Seekers

Australia’s treatment of people seeking asylum is inhumane and an international disgrace. Both the Labor and Liberal parties have effectively ripped up the Refugee Convention and have played the politics of fear.

Seeking asylum is not a crime, yet Australia subjects people fleeing war and persecution to cruel treatment and “punishment” usually reserved for the worst criminals. There is a better way. We must immediately close the Manus Island and Nauru detention camps, bring the asylum seekers and refugees here to assess their claims quickly and enable them to be integrated into Australian society and become valued members of local communities. Australia’s refugee intake should be significantly expanded to 50,000.

At a time when there are more refugees internationally than there were during the height of World War II, boat arrivals are something many countries are facing.   We must comply with our international obligations, treat those seeking asylum with humanity, and process them on shore.

Off-shore processing means indefinite detention. And let’s call that a euphemism for what it actually is – indefinite imprisonment.

Indefinite detention violates human rights and is in breach of international law. Indeed, the UN found Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers violates the Convention Against Torture. The Greens oppose mandatory detention. Close the camps and bring them here.

Multiculturalism

The diversity of cultures in Australia greatly enriches our society and it should be protected and celebrated. The Greens want to take a whole-of-government approach to multiculturalism and will do this in a number of ways including: working towards the establishment of a National Multiculturalism Act, introducing programs to promote diversity in the workplace, protecting the integrity of the Racial Discrimination Act, increasing Australia’s humanitarian intake, promoting diversity in early childhood education, standing up for fair funding for SBS and championing the establishment of an Australian Centre for Social Cohesion.

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