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Government stopgaps on banking don't replace need for Royal Commission

31 Aug 2016

Greens Treasury and Consumer Affairs spokesperson, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, provides the following comments on the Government’s latest efforts to stave off a Banking Royal Commission by establishing another internal inquiry, this time via the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman.

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Sea Shepherd left doing Australian government’s work on whaling

30 Aug 2016

Greens spokesperson for Healthy Oceans, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, welcomes the decision by Sea Shepherd to again take up the fight against illegal Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean.

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Greens propose powerful parliamentary alternative if Turnbull baulks on banking Royal Commission

25 Aug 2016

The Greens spokesperson for Finance, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, said, “If the Turnbull Government refuses to act on establishing a Royal Commission into the misconduct in the financial services sector, then I want Parliamentarians to know there is another powerful option for us to pursue.

“We have received advice that a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry, with similar powers to a Royal Commission, can be established by an Act of Parliament. This could be put forward by a cross-party group, pass through the Senate and then (with Labor and cross-bench support) would only require one Liberal or National Party back-bencher to cross the floor in the House of Representatives for it to become law.

“If the Executive won’t act on an issue important to the Australian people then the Parliament must consider all its options.

“Whilst this power has been rarely pursued in the past, it is well within the Parliament’s prerogative as outlined by the Constitution, and reflects the nation’s mood in electing a diverse and balanced Parliament.

“A Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry would have former judges appointed as Commissioners; it would have the powers to compel witnesses and evidence; and it would have the power to conduct searches. 

“Australians overwhelmingly support a Royal Commission into the financial services sector and are tired of the excuses and inaction from the Turnbull Government. 

“The Greens have led the call for a Royal Commission into financial scandals such as the $4bn collapse of Australia’s Forestry Managed Investment Schemes, and we propose this option for all Parliamentarians to consider.

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Federal Government needs to pitch in for Tasmania's water infrastructure needs

24 Aug 2016

Greens spokesperson for Finance, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, today called on Tasmanian Liberal Senators to provide federal assistance for TasWater’s infrastructure upgrade program.

Senator Whish-Wilson said, “At a time when critical local infrastructure upgrades are needed, like those identified by TasWater, the federal government is proposing to cut payments to the states. The budget shows payments to the states are set to fall from $9 billion to $4 billion over the next four years.

“The current model of infrastructure financing and project selection is broken. Where are Eric Abetz and his senate team on this issue?

The Greens have proposed a model to reform the financing of infrastructure, backed up by the unanimous findings of a Senate select committee that I chaired. This model includes issuing Commonwealth backed infrastructure bonds to raise funds for upgrades of local infrastructure.

“Giving smaller state and local government access to a federal loan facility would allow them to borrow at the lower rates available to the Commonwealth. This would save the Tasmanian community in the order of $4.5 million per annum on the $900 million that TasWater is proposing to borrow.

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Federal Environment Minister is undermining Aboriginal Heritage Protections

23 Aug 2016

Greens Senator for Tasmania, Peter Whish-Wilson, says that new Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg, by joining with the Hodgman Government in the Federal Court appeal to re-open the four-wheel drive tracks in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area, is setting a precedent that may undermine all Aboriginal cultural protection across the nation.

Senator Whish-Wilson said, “The Federal Government has joined with the Tasmanian Government in arguing that cultural heritage protections only refer to specific sites and artefacts and not the landscape that they reside in.

“Josh Frydenberg, as Minister responsible for Aboriginal heritage, is actually using the resources of his agency to set a precedent that will weaken existing protections. Landscapes are intrinsically inseparable from artefacts and a Federal Minister should not be trying to break this connection to country.

“The only court case that should be going on regarding this issue should be based upon prosecuting the vandals that have damaged Tasmania’s ancient Aboriginal heritage.

"Respect for our First Peoples starts with our leaders. What examples are politicians setting by openly challenging the spirit and wishes of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation?

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Government needs to act to stop more veterans’ suicides

23 Aug 2016

Greens spokesperson for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, today called on the government to act on the recommendations of the recent Senate inquiry initiated by the Greens into veterans’ mental health in light of reports that another veteran who was administered mefloquine has committed suicide after a long history of mental illness.

Senator Whish-Wilson extended his condolences to the friends and family of Chris Stiles, a veteran of East Timor.

Senator Whish-Wilson said, “The government must immediately make contact with all ADF members and veterans who have been administered mefloquine to warn them of the potential dangers and to ascertain if they too are experiencing any mental health problems.

“Defence has recently admitted that it shouldn’t have administered mefloquine to another veteran of East Timor, Christopher Salter, because of a pre-existing condition. The government has a duty of care to understand just how many veterans who were administered mefloquine are also struggling with mental illness.

“The Senate committee report released in March clearly outlines the problems associated with the administration of mefloquine, particularly to veterans of East Timor.

“Defence has been negligently slow in acting on this issue. Veterans have not been given adequate help and recognition of the problems they are facing. This is incredibly serious. The government must do all it can now to prevent further loss of life.

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