Cost of living in NSW; Balmain Leagues Club; Voluntary Assisted Dying


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CHRIS MINNS, NSW LABOR LEADER: Chris Minns, NSW Labor Leader, I’m with with Daniel Mookhery, the Shadow Treasurer to speak about a few issues, mainly to speak about the rising cost of living for the tens of thousands of families that live in NSW. The latest data indicates that wages have gone up 0.6 per cent while prices have gone up 1.7 per cent at least, in Sydney for the quarter. So, no matter where you live, no matter what you earn, no matter what you do for a living, you are going backwards when it comes to your real wages. For families on two incomes living in Sydney, it equates to a $6,000 real wage cut to the family budget. Now, that’s on top of taxes, tolls, fees, fines and charges, all radically increasing under the NSW Liberal government, and we know as of two weeks ago that NSW is now the highest taxing state of any jurisdiction in any part of the country. The burning cost of living in the back pockets of families in this state has been brought to you by the Premier of NSW, Dominic Perrottet. He is the previous Treasurer of this state, he’s in effect extorting billions of dollars out of the pockets, the pay packets of families in this state, many of whom are telling me and my parliamentary colleagues and anyone that will listen to them, that it’s just too expensive to live and work in Sydney. We now have a situation where taxes in the last 12 months have gone up about 10 per cent, you’ve got tolls going up at least 4 per cent, sometimes more than that if inflation is greater than 4 per cent, but contracts have been signed with these tolling operators for a 4 per cent annual increase in tolls for the 20 year duration of that contract. You’ve got fees and charges going up at 3.4 per cent, everything’s going up except the ability to pay for it. And in many cases, families are being pushed to the breadline, as they have to deal with the extreme pressure of that cost of living crunch. It’s burning a hole in their back pocket and when you add speeding fines and tolls and charges and taxes and everything else they have to pay, the government is squeezing them until the pipsqueaks.

On the second issue in relation to Balmain Leagues Club. Look, we would like to hear from NSW Government what the liability will be to the private owners of that site. How much the NSW taxpayers will in effect have to pay for not using a site as part of our transport infrastructure. We don’t have enough money in the kitty in NSW after a decade’s worth of Liberal and National Government for waste and mismanagement on this scale. If the project and the site is not to be used, how much will the NSW taxpayer have to pay for what clearly has been a mistake on the part of the Transport Department. Now is this as a result of the rapidly changing cast of characters in the transport portfolio, from the minister on down or is there some other explanation? At the end of the day, this is not the Liberal Party’s personal money, it’s the taxpayer money of NSW, the people of this state have every right to know what the liability will mean for them as a result of this project not going ahead, or at least this site not being used.

DANIEL MOOKHEY, SHADOW TREASURER: Thank you, Chris. Danny Mookhey, NSW Shadow Treasurer. I too want to talk about the wage figures today and I also want to talk about the Balmain Leagues Club issue as well. Can I just say in respect to the wages figures, today’s statistics are just more proof that working families across NSW are under the most amount of financial pressure, at least in a decades time. The typical family in Sydney will see their wages fall by $6,000 in real terms, on existing trends by the end of the year. Lets be clear here, that’s before the typical mortgage holder faces month after month and interest rate rises, that is before we find the relief that’s been offered in respect to fuel excise expiring come October. That’s equally before we start to see more increases in tolls, taxes, fees, fines and fares as well. It is clear that this cost of living crunch is going to require a government solution. I can’t help but note that the budget is just less than a month away now, we do want to talk to and see from the NSW Government their fresh ideas about what it means to compensate for this cost of living crunch, which is hitting families across NSW very, very hard.

Can I just talk about the Balmain Leagues issue. The Balmain Leagues issues was one of the reasons why I moved in the Upper House to establish an inquiry into land acquisitions by the Transport Department and other government agencies, which commenced hearings last year. We had the opportunity to hear directly from the private owner as well as from Transport for NSW when it comes to this particular site. It is clear that this is a debacle. It is clear that this debacle could have been avoided if the government spent more time listening to the local community and less time litigating against the Tigers and the site’s owners. It is clear now that the compensation bill will run into the millions of dollars. I just have come from Question Time when we did ask the Metropolitan Roads Minister what the public will be up for, when it comes to compensation for the bungled buying of this particular site. It’s disappointing that the Minister wasn’t in a position to tell us precisely how much money the public will fork out not to acquire the site. It’s equally as disappointing that the Minister could not tell us when those negotiations are going to wrap up. It is clear here that this debacle could have been avoided if the government knew precisely what it wanted to buy, rather than willy nilly using its compulsory acquisition powers to crush a project which is dear to the hearts of Tigers fans, but equally, was supported by the Inner West Council as well.

JOURNALIST: Just on the Balmain Leagues Club – it all seems very strange sort of the chain of events, there’s even been a fire there. Do you think there’s a lot of questions here about what happened?

MOOKHEY:  The government has so many questions to answer about their backflip when it came to the acquisition around the Tigerss site. We do deserve a clear and precise explanation from the Transport Minister and the Metropolitan Minister for Roads, about why they reversed their position. And to be very clear here that the government has defended their decision to acquire this site in hearing after hearing, in estimates after estimates, in court after court. They are years into litigation against the site’s owner. This debacle could have been avoided if the government sat down and talked to the site owner rather than suing them in the courts.

JOURNALIST: Chris can I ask you about Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill. Greg Donnelly has put forward 33 amendments, you said yesterday you hadn’t had a chance to talk to him about those ammendments. I wonder if you have had a chance to talk to him about those amendments and what you think of them and if you support them, and how you feel about them.

MINNS: No, I haven’t had a chance to speak to him and I haven’t had a chance to interrogate all of the amendments to be moved in the Upper House. I do know that there are a big number of amendments to this complicated piece of legislation. I haven’t had the opportunity to interrogate it for one particular reason, I’m not a member of the Upper House, it’s a conscience vote, so there’s no party leaders position in relation to coordinating votes on the various amendments. And so I’m not in a position to, I guess cast judgment or make a determination about what the effect of the amendment would be on the overall legislation. Now, I made a decision when amendments were moved in the Legislative Assembly, not to support amendments because I didn’t support VAD going through and it was not clear to me what the unintended consequences of a particular amendment would mean for the overall legislation, or how it would be in effect, implemented once it was brought into legislation.

JOURNALIST: Do you want the bill to pass, like do you want it to pass and Greg Donnelly just said that he doesn’t want people with depression or bipolar disorder to be able to access VAD. He said that would be a red flag and they should be passed out of it (inaudible). Do you agree with that?

MINNS: Self evidently I do because I don’t support voluntary assisted dying. I didn’t support the Bill when it was put to the Legislative Assembly, I haven’t changed my position on that. As far as the vote taking place, I would like it to be dealt with, I think all people who have a view on voluntary assisted dying, whether they’re for the legislation or against it would prefer that we get a decisive decision in the next 24 hours. I think it’s important that we settle on this debate. It’s been fully ventilated in both the LA and the LC and nearly every other jurisdiction in the country. We need a determination on it. We’ve made it clear as far as our parliamentary leadership is concerned that we will make space available to ensure that there’s an up or down vote on the bill and the amendments and my hope is that that takes place in the next 24 hours.

JOURNALIST: If it did pass, just given how you how you voted, will you be personally disappointed?

MINNS: No, I mean, it’s a very complicated issue. It’s a complicated issue for proponents of the legislation and those who are against it as well. It wasn’t an easy decision for me to make, I accept the will of the parliament. I would not quibble at all as to the full and extensive parliamentary process that has been undertaken in NSW Parliament. The proponents of the legislation in particular Alex Greenwich, and Andrew Denton and those associated with voluntary assisted dying have made themselves available to every single parliamentarian to ask any question, as well as providing expert third parties including physician evidence, and information. So if the legislation passes, I would completely accept the will of the parliament. I think it’s been undertaken in a respectful manner, but I’d like to see an outcome because I think we’ve been debating it long enough.

Thanks, everybody.

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