Senate accepting submissions for inquiry on the application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Australia

After a successful motion put forward by Senator Lidia Thorpe, the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs is accepting submissions for an inquiry on the application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in Australia.

“The UNDRIP is a mechanism for First Nations people to enact our Sovereign rights, which have been denied since 1788”, said Senator Lidia Thorpe, a DjabWurrung, Gunnai and Gunditjmara woman and the Greens Senator for Victoria.

“This is about First Nations people self-determining our own destiny. It’s about legislating our right to free, prior and informed consent when it comes to our Country, our Culture and our People.”

“We need as many voices as possible in this inquiry, to ensure that this Country applies the UNDRIP into the domestic laws of this Country.” Said Thorpe.

To implement the UNDRIP in this country, the inquiry needs to consider:

  1. Australian federal and state government’s adherence to the principles of the UNDRIP and the potential to enact the UNDRIP in Australia;
  2. key Australian legislation affected by adherence to the principles of the UNDRIP;
  3. legal issues relevant to ensure compliance with the UNDRIP, with or without enacting it;

They can be written submissions, visual representations, audio or video recordings. Submissions can be uploaded through the Committee website until June 2, 2022, at this link: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Legal_an…

$10.7 million to advance Australian neurological research

Eight projects across six universities will share in $10.7 million in funding to advance new fields of neurological research, thanks to the Morrison Government.

Funded through the landmark Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said these projects had the potential to revolutionise how medical professionals tackle these conditions.

“The grants I am announcing today will give researchers the support and certainty to conduct their vital work,” Minister Hunt said.

“I am confident they will break new ground in diagnosing, treating and – ultimately – finding cures for these chronic neurological conditions.”

Professor Peter Anderson at Monash University will lead research focussing on preterm births, (two months early) and the developmental delays and impairments associated with the occurrence.

Right now, there is no system for monitoring the development of these children. In order to reduce the burden of developmental impairments in children born very preterm, research will help shape a follow-up program that is targeted to the individual needs of the child and family. Parents and health professionals with lived experience will have a significant role in designing the program.

A Griffith University team, led by Associate Professor Dawn Adams, will look at enhancing quality of life through early intervention co-developed with the autistic community. This project will focus less on skills and more on improving the child and family’s quality of life. Professor Adams’ team will partner with a number of organisations, including Reframing Autism, a health service, and others.

A University of Sydney team, led by Professor Clement Loy, will conduct a program entitled “We hear your voice!” This program, co-designed with consumers, will customise, evaluate and implement speech recognition technology, for people with chronic degenerative neurologic diseases. It will focus on older Australians with neurological disease.

The funding is provided under the MRFF 2021 Emerging Priorities and Consumer Driven Research Initiative. The Government has allocated a total of $613 million for the Initiative, which aims to support research that improves patient care and translation of new discoveries and encourage collaboration between consumers and researchers.

Funding from this Initiative will support the development of new diagnoses, treatments and cures, translate new discoveries into clinical practice, and continue to support research on addressing emerging priority health needs and areas of unmet need.

In addition, the Morrison Government has also announced $18 million for the 2022 Multiple Sclerosis Research Grant Opportunity across four streams of research with a focus on prevention, early intervention and/or treatment of Epstein-Barr virus and autoimmune conditions, including multiple sclerosis. This grant opportunity is currently open and further information can be found on Grant Connect.

The Government’s $20 billion MRFF is a long-term, sustainable investment in Australian health and medical research, helping to improve lives, build the economy and contribute to the sustainability of the health system.

Further information about the MRFF is available at www.health.gov.au/mrff

2021 Chronic Neurological Conditions Grant Opportunity recipients

ProjectRecipientFunding
Using technological innovations to provide equitable access to early identification of child developmental needs and integrated health and social care using a blended service delivery frameworkUniversity of New South Wales$1,964,142.00
Earlier intervention for infants with auditory neuropathy for lifelong benefitThe Bionics Institute of Australia$392,940.00
Early, novel and accessible intervention for children with developmental regressionMonash University$1,995,974.54
Targeted surveillance of developmental delay and impairments for young children born very pretermMonash University$1,829,994.60
Enhancing Quality of Life through an earlyInTervention co-developed with the autisticcommunitY (E-QoL-ITY)Griffith University$579,747.48
Developmental Delay: Enabling early and accurate detection of speech impairment through a web-based assessment applicationCurtin University$312,583.90
Early Sleep Interventions to Improve Outcomes in Children with NeurodisabilityThe University ofQueensland$1,614,882.40
We hear your voice! A consumer-codesigned program to customise, evaluate and implement speech recognition technology, for people with chronic degenerative neurologic diseases.University of Sydney$1,990,688.40
Total$10,680,953.32

Further Russia and Belarus Sanctions

The Australian Government has imposed new sanctions on Russian purveyors of propaganda and disinformation who have sought to legitimise Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, as well as political and security figures and entities who have supported the invasion.

The Russian Government is driving a widespread disinformation campaign both within Russia and internationally. President Putin has attacked freedom of speech and dissent in Russia to supress factual reporting on its war against Ukraine and its egregious war crimes, and to damage perceptions of Ukraine and its international supporters.

We have listed for sanctions 11 individuals and 12 entities for promoting Russian propaganda and disinformation, building on the measures already taken against 32 propagandists in March 2022. They include individuals in the Russian media industry who promote the Russian Government’s false narratives.

Australia is also imposing targeted financial sanctions against entities including “troll farms” that generate and spread disinformation online, many of which are linked to Russian intelligence services.

Among the three entities and four individuals being sanctioned for their roles in Russia’s invasion is the private military company “Wagner”, described as a defacto private army of Russian President Putin. Wagner’s mercenaries are supporting Russian-backed separatists in the so-called People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in clear violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The other two entities are the Belarusian defence enterprises Industrial-Commercial Private Unitary Enterprise Minotor-Service and OJSC KB Radar-Managing Company of Radar Systems Holding. Both companies produce sophisticated equipment used by the Armed Forces of Belarus, who have in turn provided significant strategic support to Russian forces.

The four individuals being sanctioned for supporting the invasion are Aleksandr Chupriyan, acting Minister of Emergencies for the Russian Federation; Sergei Korolyov, First Deputy Director of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB); Nikolay Bogdanovsky, First Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia; and Illia Kyva, a pro-Russian former member of the Ukrainian Parliament.

The Australian Government continues to inflict costs on Russia, in co-ordination with our partners, by targeting those who share responsibility for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or hold levers of influence. With these additional listings announced today, Australia has now sanctioned 827 individuals and 62 entities in response to Russia’s invasion.

Separately, we have listed for sanctions the Russian Imperial Movement, a Russian ultra-nationalist group that conducts paramilitary-style training through a course called Partizan. It is also known for its anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTIQ, and anti-Ukrainian views and has sent foreign fighters to join Russian separatists in Ukraine.

Suspicious unit fire – Muswellbrook 

Police are investigating a suspicious fire in the state’s Upper Hunter overnight.

About 7.45pm (Tuesday 17 May 2022), emergency services were called to a unit on Tindale Street, Muswellbrook, following reports the unit was well alight.

Crews from Fire and Rescue NSW extinguished the blaze a short time later.

A 41-year-old woman was assessed at the scene for smoke inhalation, however declined hospital treatment.

The unit was significantly damaged, however no other units were affected and no one was injured during the fire.

Officers attached to Hunter Valley Police District established a crime scene, which was held overnight.

An investigation is underway into the circumstances surrounding the blaze, which is being treated as suspicious.

Greens Support Queenslanders with Disability Network Calls For Better Disaster Response For The Disability Community

Today Greens Spokesperson for Disability Jordon Steele-John and Greens Senator for Queensland Larissa Waters have given their support for a range of policy commitments set out by the Queensland Disability Network.

These commitments aim to ensure the safety of the disability community during the increasingly common effects of the climate emergency such as the recent flooding in Queensland and New South Wales. It will also see the centering of disabled voices in how the government prepares and enacts its disaster response plans. 

These commitments are:

  • A commitment to refunding QDN $2 million over 2 years to continue to operate the Targeted Outreach project. QDN also supports the funding of the Queensland Government’s Assessment and Referral team to continue working alongside the project.
  • Commitment to the development of a national plan and roadmap to deliver on disability-inclusive disaster preparedness, resilience, and recovery, and investment for multi-sector targeted responses underpinned by collaborative and inclusive research.

Senator Jordon Steele-John, Greens Spokesperson for Disability Rights and Services said:
“Too often we have to hear stories from disabled folks who were unable to access the support and services they needed during times of crisis. Stories of inaccessible emergency centres, lack of planning for those unable to evacuate and communication systems inaccessible to the deaf or vision impaired are far too common”

“Severe flooding and bushfires are becoming more and more common and it’s time the government stopped treating the disability community as an afterthought. We need services designed by and enacted by disabled folks that properly take into account lived experience during times of crisis.”

“The commitments outlined by QDN and supported by our party today are a valuable first step for a framework to disaster response that puts lived experience and Co-design at its core so we don’t continue to leave disabled people behind every time there is an emergency” 

“The Greens in the balance of power will prioritise the needs of disabled people, work with the community invaluable co-design and ensure everyone has what they need to live a happy and healthy life”

Queensland Senator Larissa Waters said:

“I recently met with members of the Queensland Disability Network and was shocked to hear some of the things Queenslanders with disabilities experienced during the floods. It simply isn’t good enough that so many people were left without support at a critical time.” 

“Targeted outreach is essential so Queenslanders with disabilities are not ignored, and aren’t put at greater risk during future disasters.”

“As climate events become more frequent, we need to fund organisations like QDN to be a voice for people with disabilities in disaster management planning.” 

As major parties address oil & gas giants summit, Greens call for Australia to sign global methane pledge

Greens Leader Adam Bandt says Australia must sign the Global Methane Pledge to phase out toxic methane gas, which is one of the fastest growing sources of Australia’s emissions due to oil and gas production.

Addressing the Greens national campaign launch on Monday night, Mr Bandt said he would push for a Labor government to sign the pledge before the next global climate conference in Cairo at the end of the year.

Mr Bandt will join a climate protest at the APPEA Oil and Gas conference in Brisbane on Tuesday. Liberal Resources Minister Keith Pitt and Labor Shadow Resources Minister Madeleine King will both give plenary addresses to the oil and gas giants at the conference this week.

The Global Methane Pledge was launched by President Biden at last year’s Glasgow climate summit and already has 112 participant countries, including the United States, Canada, UK and the European Union. The pledge commits countries to reduce methane emissions by at least 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030, similar to the Montreal Protocol’s CFC pledge that saved the ozone layer.

Methane is a major cause of global warming. It is 86 times worse for the climate than CO2, and methane gas projects are Australia’s fastest growing source of emissions. 

Australia emits 4.5 million tonnes of methane each year, which given its higher warming potential makes up approximately a quarter of all of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Government’s own emissions projections, methane pollution is expected to decline by less than 1% between 2019 and 2030 under current policies.

Labor has walked back from outright opposition to signing the pledge if elected and will consult with ‘international counterparts and local stakeholders’ before making a decision.

The annual APPEA conference and expo is sponsored by the oil and gas giants Woodside and ExxonMobil and is the largest Australian gathering of oil and gas corporations from around the world.

The Liberals and Nationals have accepted at least $6.8 million in donations from the fossil fuel sector since 2012. Labor has accepted $4.9 million in the same period.

The Greens warn that if the Liberals and Nationals capitulate to their coal and gas donors, it will put a handbrake on global ambition. 

Adam Bandt MP, Leader of the Australian Greens said:

“Gas is as dirty as coal and toxic methane is a climate bomb exploding in our backyard.”

“The United Kingdom, EU and the US are asking countries around the world to sign the Global Methane Pledge, but Liberal and Labor are giving them the middle finger.”

“Agricultural emissions are flatlining, but climate pollution from the gas industry is rising. Instead of sucking up to the oil and gas giants, Liberal and Labor should sign the Global Methane Pledge.”

“The Greens will push the next government to sign the methane pledge before the global climate summit in Cairo at the end of the year.”

“Australian voters want climate action, but instead Liberal and Labor are lighting the fuse on a giant climate bomb by fracking the Beetaloo basin in the Northern Territory and opening the giant Scarborough gas project, both against the wishes of First Nations people.

“The only way to get climate action is to kick the Liberals out and put the Greens in the balance of power, where we’ll push the next government to stop new coal and gas projects and sign the Global Methane Pledge.”

Fisheries buyout from climate change indictment on federal government

In an unprecedented intervention by the federal government fisheries permits will be bought-out for the first time in Australia’s history because of climate change and environmental factors. 

In what was described as a  necessary but “shocking” development by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, the federal government will spend $20m to buy out vessel permits in the south-east trawl fishery because the climate crisis is affecting population numbers of some species, making current fishing levels unsustainable.

The south-east trawl fishery is the largest commonwealth-managed fin fish fishery in Australia and includes waters right around lutruwita/Tasmania.

Greens spokesperson for healthy oceans, Peter Whish-Wilson said:

“This is the first time in Australian history that we’ve seen a fishery buyout due to the impacts of warming oceans, primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels. 

“This is a troubling precedent for Australia’s commercial fisheries and a warning to the thousands of livelihoods that depend on healthy oceans right around the country. 

“For too long our oceans have been taken for granted. Scientists have determined that the ocean absorbs more than 90 percent of the world’s excess heat, so we can expect to see more fisheries go into decline or collapse unless we act on strong 2030 emissions targets. 

“There is significant work to be done in restoring marine ecosystems that have lost habitat due to climate impacts, and the Greens urge Labor and Liberal to match pledges requested by TSIC and TARfish this election for much needed funding to do this.” 

A New Bentley Hospital Surgicentre for Perth

An Albanese Labor Government will partner with the McGowan Government to deliver a new Bentley Hospital Surgicentre, benefiting patients in the Eastern metro area of Perth.

The new Surgicentre will separate non-complex elective surgery from emergency surgery. This means less interruptions and fewer delays for elective surgery, and a safer and more efficient service.

This innovative model will ensure the right care is given to patients at the right time. As well as providing better care for patients in the most modern surgical facilities, it will cut waiting times for elective surgeries.

The investment will deliver:

  • Six new surgical theatres;
  • Two new procedure rooms;
  • A 24-bed surgical ward; and
  • A new central sterilisation services department.

This $150 million project will be a joint effort between the McGowan Government and a Federal Labor Government, with costs shared on a 50/50 basis.

This is yet another demonstration of a Federal Labor Government’s ability to work cooperatively with the States to get things done – compared to Scott Morrison’s approach of division. 

The new Surgicentre is another plank in Labor’s plan to strengthen Medicare, which includes 50 Urgent Care Clinics nationwide to take pressure off emergency departments, reducing the cost of medications listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme by $12.50, and establishing a $750 million Strengthening Medicare Fund.

Anthony Albanese said:
“Only Labor can be trusted to protect Medicare, and strengthen it for future generations. I’m proud to announce a new Surgicentre for Perth, which will reduce elective surgery waiting times. Labor’s plan will ensure Australians get the care they need, when they need it.”

Mark McGowan said:
“Labor’s new Bentley Hospital Surgicentre will be a significant boost for communities in our eastern suburbs. 

“The innovative model will also provide relief to our health system which, like other States, is under pressure due to ongoing challenges from the pandemic.

“My Government is proud to join forces with an Albanese Government, if elected, to fund this $150 million dollar project, which will further improve the rollout of elective surgery in Western Australia.”

Mark Butler said:
“Labor has a comprehensive plan to strengthen Medicare and take pressure off emergency departments. The new Bentley Surgicentre will do just that for the east metro area of Perth, and ensure elective surgery happens on time. This is just another example of how an Albanese Labor government would work with State Governments to get things done.”

Amber-Jade Sanderson said:
“The surgicentre model has proved successful in other jurisdictions and would be a welcome addition to Western Australia’s world-class public health system.

“Understandably, elective surgeries sometimes have to be rescheduled, but this new facility would create two streams of elective surgery in our eastern suburbs, greatly reducing the need to postpone non-complex surgeries when emergencies occur.”

$25 million boost for rural health workforce in Northern Queensland

A re-elected Morrison Joyce Government will invest an additional $25 million into rural health in Queensland to boost the rural health and medical workforce.

As part of this funding an additional 20 Commonwealth Supported Medical Training Places will be made available at James Cook University in Cairns.

The Morrison Government is committed to delivering quality healthcare for Australians in our regions and rural and remote communities.

That’s what our 10-Year Stronger Rural Health Strategy is all about.

This new funding commitment will support the costs of the additional training places in Cairns and necessary funding to support education, training and placement of doctors in local hospitals in Northern Queensland.

This will give more Australians the opportunity to study and become a doctor in far North Queensland from 2023.

Studying and training in rural and regional areas has proven to lead to doctors living in and practicing in rural areas.

As part of our 10-Year Stronger Rural Health Strategy the Coalition Government is delivering $1 billion to boost rural health with $296.5 million in the 2022–23 Budget and $146 million in additional funding announced recently, building on the original $550 million investment in the 2018–19 Budget.

The Coalition Government provided significant funding in the recent budget to boost medical training and education opportunities in rural and regions, including 80 additional Commonwealth Supported Places so more students can study medicine at rural campuses.

Home-grown technology lowering emissions in cement industry

Australia’s largest construction materials and building products supplier Boral is being supported by the Morrison Government to explore the feasibility of developing a carbon capture plant in the NSW Southern Highlands to lower emissions across the cement industry.

In collaboration with environmental technology company Calix, Boral has been awarded $30 million to develop a commercial scale plant that captures and compresses up to 100 kilo-tonnes per annum of unavoidable CO2 emissions resulting from the decomposition of limestone in cement manufacturing.

Through the Technologies Stream of the Carbon Capture Use and Storage (CCUS) Hubs and Technologies Program, the Morrison Government is backing businesses which are developing projects to help achieve long-term emissions reductions.

Boral’s proposed FutureCem plant will use Calix’s world-leading Low Emissions Intensity Lime and Cement (LEILAC) technology to re-engineer the existing process flows of a traditional calciner, indirectly heating the limestone via a special steel vessel. The unique process enables CO2 to be captured as it is released from the limestone, as the furnace exhaust gases are kept separate.

Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Tayor said cement manufacturing accounts for around seven per cent of all global emissions and projects such as FutureCem will help lead the way in bringing them down.

“This is game-changing, home-grown technology being tried and tested right here in regional NSW,” Minister Taylor said.

“Not only will this investment help to deliver long-term emissions reductions in a hard-to-abate sector, it’ll also generate new jobs across the Southern Highlands region with 140 new roles expected to be created during construction.”

The Morrison Government is also backing manufacturers in New South Wales with four innovative New South Wales business sharing in almost $23 million of funding under Round 2 of the Integration and Translation Streams of the Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI).

Successful recipients include Sydney-based medical device company EmVision which has been awarded $5 million to help develop a portable brain scanner to help transform stroke care for patients.

This significant investment will allow EmVision to manufacturer this Australian innovation at commercial scale and export it across the globe and here at home helping the company to grow and be recognised as a global leader in medical imaging.

Minister Taylor said the Morrison Government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy will accelerate job creation and support a strong, modern and resilient economy which is better able to respond to a rapidly evolving geopolitical landscape.

“Backing businesses to grow our manufacturing sector and securing our sovereign capability is critical to our plan for a strong economy and a stronger future for Australia,” Minister Taylor said.

Other projects funded under the latest round of MMI in New South Wales include:

  • $13.9 million for Wetherill Park-based packaging company Pro-Pac Group to create Australia’s first fully circular supply chain to divert plastic from landfill into high-value packaging products.
  • $1.7 million for radiopharmaceutical manufacturer Cyclotek which will use the funding to support a streamlined supply chain of next generation nuclear therapeutics at Lucas Heights. The medical technology will help diagnose and treat cancer.
  • $2.1 million for Thomas Global Systems in Newington to create onshore capability to develop and manufacture military avionics equipment for export into the global defence market.