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Family Payment Legislation

Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia—Australian Greens Whip) (16:28):  I say from the outset that the Greens do not support two aspects of this bill, as we articulated in our dissenting report to the inquiry by the Community Affairs Legislation Committee. There are many reasons why we have some concerns with particular aspects of the bill. Not only does it cut costs at the expense of low-income families and people with disabilities but it has been rushed through this place without adequate time for proper consultation or consideration of the detail.

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EPBC Act

Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia—Australian Greens Whip) (15:47):  The Greens will not be supporting this motion. For a start, regarding this issue about private members' time, we did debate a bill this morning and we got a whole bill through. The Independents were always due to have a slot during this sitting. In fact, as I recollect, it was the previous week that they were due to have a slot on a program—the whole slot. Senator Xenophon was very generous in giving up some of the time for this morning's debate to start the debate on this particular bill.

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Workplace Relations

Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia—Australian Greens Whip) (14:17):  My question is to Senator Evans, the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations. I refer to the fact that Fair Work Australia has recently accepted that community sector workers are underpaid on the basis of gender. The tribunal called for submissions from the parties before making a final decision and has encouraged parties to negotiate. I would like to ask: what is the government doing now to engage in a genuine, meaningful way with this process?

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Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Bioregional Plans) Bill 2011

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Bioregional Plans) Bill 2011
Second Reading

Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia—Australian Greens Whip) (11:39):  So the Greens are the extreme ones in this debate, apparently, and yet Senator Boswell has just accused the minister for the environment of being a dictator.

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Food Standards Amendment (Truth in Labelling—Palm Oil) Bill 2010

Rachel Siewert 23 Jun 2011

Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia—Australian Greens Whip) (09:32):  It is with great pleasure that I stand here today to talk about this bill. The title of the dissenting report by Senator Xenophon and the Australian Greens into this bill—'Oils ain't oils'—says it all, and I must give Senator Xenophon credit for it. And it is true, because palm oil is not just a vegetable oil. If you read food packaging today you would believe it is just a vegetable oil. Well, we do not believe it is just a vegetable oil, nor do a large number of Australians.

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Child health checks and mental health

Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia—Australian Greens Whip) (11:50):  The Greens have concerns with schedule 2 of this bill. This is the schedule that makes a payment for a child turning four contingent on that child having a health check, but the measure applies only to families where either parent has received income support for any part of that year. I have concerns about this part of the bill. 

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Aged Care Amendment Bill 2011

Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia—Australian Greens Whip) (10:43):  I wish to outline our support for the measures proposed in the Aged Care Amendment Bill 2011 and then talk about some of the situations facing the provision of aged care in this country, and particularly in my home state of Western Australia. As Senator Fierravanti-Wells pointed out, Western Australia is ahead of the curve of the problems that are facing the provision of aged care and I agree with Senator Fierravanti-Wells: it does need urgent action.

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NT Emergency Response

Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia—Australian Greens Whip) (15:48):  by leave—I move:
That the Senate—
 (a) notes:
  (i) that it has been 4 years since the Northern Territory Emergency Response began,
  (ii) that investment in the program now exceeds $1.5 billion,
  (iii) that the Closing the Gap report indicated that incarceration rates have risen, and that school attendance and
child nutrition have not improved, and
  (iv) the growing crisis in Alice Springs as many people move from community into Alice Springs;

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