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Alex is committed to government transparency and accountability; protecting the natural and urban environments, open space and Sydney’s unique heritage; retaining inner city social and affordable housing; the humane treatment of animals; improving transport options; and fairness and equality for the LGBTI communities.
 

Alex's Update Issue 206

20 February 2017

Schools Report, Amalgamations Proceed, Greyhound Industry, Westconnex Risks, Sydney’s Gay History and ‘Freedom to Marry’ Film

Schools Report

While only dissenting committee members on the inner city schools parliamentary inquiry called on the government to reconsider building a new Ultimo school on the Fig and Wattle streets site, the final report recommended that the department use EPA soil remediation standards – not its own, which inflated cost estimates and gave the department a reason to withdraw from the site.

Other shortcomings in inner city public schools planning were identified with recommendations on how government should communicate and coordinate with councils, planning and Urban Growth to plan for demographic changes. The report is HERE.

Amalgamations Proceed

I am disappointed the Berejiklian government has ignored city communities’ concerns about mega-councils; people want local councils that understand their area and needs, with easy access to decision makers. Woollahra Council is financially sustainable and residents overwhelmingly support existing boundaries: it should not be forced to merge with other local government areas.

Local government must cease to be the plaything of state governments: subject to sackings, mergers and de-amalgamations for political advantage; it should once and for all be recognised in the constitution with democracy protected.

Westconnex Risks

The Commonwealth Auditor General’s Westconnex review found that the massive $3.5 billion provided was not properly managed against risks, with unnecessary advance payments made even when milestones were not met. Yet again our concerns that this project is being rushed, has no real business case and is clouded in secrecy. The report is HERE.

Sign the Westconnex Action Group’s online letter calling on the Premier to halt the project: www.westconnexactiongroup.org.au.

Greyhound Industry

Despite numerous exposés of serious and systemic cruelty in greyhound racing that a special commission of inquiry concluded could not be prevented through reforms, the government overturned its ban and established a panel to recommend improvements. The NSW Greyhound Industry Reform Panel has recommended a number of changes including an independent regulator with stronger investigative powers, an enforceable welfare code of practice and higher penalties for animal welfare offences.

While these mark an improvement on the status quo, cruelty is profitable and I will continue to monitor problems if the industry continues to operate. The report is HERE

Sydney's Gay History

Renowned historian author of ‘Gay Sydney: A History’ Garry Wotherspoon presents a trip through the long and proud history of LGBTI social life and activism on Thursday 23 February 6-8pm at Paddington Library 247 Oxford Street. Free but bookings essential, information HERE.

'Freedom To Marry' Film

Join me this Wednesday at the Queer Screen Film Festival Launch of the inspiring film ‘The Freedom to Marry’. The film tracks the USA journey to achieving marriage equality, in a very similar way to how we are approaching the campaign in Australia – grass roots campaigning coupled with building multi-partisan support for a reform that is all about fairness and equality. I will be introducing the film and you can buy tickets HERE.