Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Paola addresses Neighbourhood Five meeting

Thanks for the invite to speak here, I'm Paola Harvey, the Socialist Alliance candidate for Keira.

One of our main themes in this election campaign is: for community need not corporate greed, it sums up well how we relate to the issues you've raised as a Neighbourhood forum.

We've campaigned for fresh elections to Wollongong City Council since councilors were sacked in March 2008. Deepening democracy and involving communities in decision making is the best way to combat corruption and bureaucracy. The opposite has happened here and in Shellharbour.

We are deeply committed to the continuation and expansion of the free shuttlebus service in Wollongong. Even before the shuttle was introduced we campaigning hard to public transport to be made frequent and free. This was the theme of our campaign launch on Monday. The service should be expanded; the take up by passengers shows its viability. A service between Wollongong and Warrawong that travels through Figtree is one route we've identified for example.

The undemocratic Part 3A should be scrapped. The State Government should not have the right to over-ride local plans and standards; we wouldn't cave under pressure from the developers.

We are strongly committed to affordable housing, it's a basic human right. But our approach would be very different to the status quo. Boarding houses are important, for example, and we support an expansion of these as part of a roll out of public housing stock. But local communities, not government bureaucrats, must direct where it goes and in what form. Community forums such as this are in the best position to know what's best in terms of density, size etc. We are opposed to 'backdoor upzoning'. It should be mandatory for landlords to submit DAs for boarding houses, and it's their responsibility to provide clean and safe accomodation.

Rezoning applications for development on the Illawarra Escarpment should be refused. Land slippage, flooding, deforestation are all important issues.

Finally, we advocate a massive expansion of rail infrastructure and operations, to facilitate a transition from 'trucks to trains'. NSW desperately beeds a better rail system, and that requires boosting investment in suburban and high speed intercity rail. Just one example: we campaign for the completion of the Maldon-Dombarton link.

Put people and the planet before profit, that's our approach summed up. Thanks again for inviting me to speak here tonight, good luck with your campaigns to empower people so the local community can stand up for its rights.

Paola Harvey's speech to Illawarra Community Care forum

A 2007 study showed that 56 per cent of carers who look after relatives with disability or mentally illness or look after relatives that are frail aged would be classified as moderately depressed compared with 6 per cent of the general population. Almost 40 per cent of the carers fell in the "severe" to "extremely severe" range of depression. At the time of the report, 2.6 million Australians were carers.

This is the effect our underfunded, under-resourced community care sector is having on people’s lives. The system is failing.

Life outcomes for people with disability and their families are worse than for any other population group of people in society. This is evidenced in numerous government reports across the board. It is worse for women, people who are culturally and linguistically diverse and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Access and eligibility to support, services, equipment and aids differs greatly depending on the circumstances of how disability was acquired.

My own experiences working in the care industry showed there is a high turnover of staff. Staffing levels just aren’t high enough for the workload and governments have devalued and underfunded care work. It’s traditionally seen as women’s work and has an over-representation of women in the workforce. Around 85% of workers in the community sector are women.

Over 60% of community workers have tertiary qualifications, yet earn less than average weekly earnings. If they did the same job in the public service the pay rates would be 30% to 50% higher. The cost of not addressing this pay inequity will be felt in services that cannot continue because community organisations cannot attract and retain the vital staff they need. This is the price if we don’t achieve pay equity in this sector.

The ASU’s equal pay case is trying to correct this inequity for community sector workers. The Socialist Alliance completely supports the ASU’s equal pay case. This year the International Women’s day rally is focusing on the equal pay case, Sat March 12 12.30pm Amphitheatre in the mall. I’m one of the people that’s been involved in helping to organise the event. Socialist Alliance doesn’t give lip-service support, we give support on the ground.

So what’s Socialist Alliance’s vision of an alternative to this failing system?

Socialist Alliance aims to achieve the full participation of people with disability and their families in society as valued members of the community, the political system including the socialist movement, the education system and the workforce. We believe that by improving the environmental, structural, service and support options to people with disability, the flow on effect will be of improvement to the family and carers. Structures that support empowerment, self-determination, access and inclusion encourage a healthy community with healthy values.

Working people regardless of whether they are with or without disability, have a human right to universal, free, quality disability support, aids and equipment that fosters independence and is responsive to people's changing needs.

We need a system that is focussed on best outcomes for the people accessing the services as well as their families and good pay and conditions for workers. It must put people first.

Social inclusion and the ability to reach the services that are available at the moment are a challenge for many people with disability or frail aged, and one of the prime reasons for that is access to transport. Socialist Alliance stands for making public transport free and accessible. All new public transport vehicles need to be fully and independently accessible to all types of motorised scooters and wheelchairs and signed including emergency systems for vision impairment and deafness. We need to retrofit or replace existing trains, trams and buses for accessibility, unless replacement is more cost effective. We also need community transport that is door to door, and door to public transport services to be implemented that is adequately resourced to meet demand of local areas.

We need guaranteed free respite services to all families of people with disability or frail aged, ranging from caring within the home, to occasional care to residential care. For children in state care and for aged care, respite services and residential care needs be controlled by residents, families/caregivers and independent advocates. They must be adequately funded to ensure quality of life and individual choice for all residents so that they can live with dignity and independence.

Early intervention is critical for all children with developmental delay, diagnosed or undiagnosed and children with disability. Funding must be provided to eliminate all waiting lists for early intervention services. Special programs need to be developed for young children who need speech therapy in languages other than English so that their therapy is being conducted in a language the children are learning to speak, as well as introducing them to English. To do this we need to recruit child development and speech therapists from overseas that can help migrant families to access relevant early intervention programs.

No caps on equipment and aids, services and support.

Socialist Alliance puts people and the environment first. All our policies reflect that, but to win the change we’re talking about, voting isn’t enough. We need to build grassroots movements that are capable of winning these changes, and involve people in the struggle for true equality for all.

Paola's speech to Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining (IRRM)

Thanks for inviting me to speak. My name’s Paola Harvey, I’m the Socialist Alliance candidate for Keira. First, I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and pay my respects to elders past present and future.

Socialist Alliance strongly supports Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining’s demand that the NSW Dept of Planning not consider the development application for Stage 2 expansion of the Gujarat NRE No. 1 Colliery at Russell Vale until Gujarat NRE has developed an alternative to the transport of coal by road. We support a shift from roads to rail more generally. Greenhouse gas emissions from road freight haulage are projected to rise by at least 27% in the next 10 years. We need to increase the proportion of freight transport by rail to reduce environmental impacts and congestion. This means providing new rail freight infrastructure.

Socialist Alliance is against any new coal or gas mining on principle. Climate science has shown conclusively that to prevent runaway climate change; we need to drastically cut our carbon emissions. Most of the coal mined in the Illawarra is for coking, it’s used in steel production. But a large proportion of the coal for this proposed expansion will be thermal coal, used to produce electricity in coal-fired power stations. The Beyond Zero Emissions stationary energy plan has shown that we have the technology today to convert to 100% renewable energy, we shouldn’t be mining thermal coal. We also need to be mining less coking coal. BHP is currently researching using biochar instead of coking coal in steel production.

We strongly support the demand that trucks from existing operations be limited to 40 km an hour on Bellambi lane. We opposed lifting the curfew on track movements in the Illawarra and campaign for the right of communities to live in a safe, clean and healthy environment. Limiting trucks to 40kms an hour on Bellambi Lane would be a good start, and this should happen immediately during the transition to rail.

We strongly support the demand that a genuine representative community consultative committee be established to oversee all aspects of the operations at the Gujarat NRE No. 1 Colliery at Russell Vale. Socialist Alliance stands for community need, not corporate greed. We must over turn Part 3A. The community should be in charge of development decisions like this.

We strongly support that a 1 kilometre lateral buffer zone be established between all mining operations by Gujarat NRE and all river and dam systems and waterways, to protect them from damage through the effects of mining under, or too close to, the rivers, aquifers and wetlands that feed them.

Socialist Alliance also strongly supports that effective and independent 24 hour air quality, noise and vibration monitoring of Gujarat Russell Vale Mine and Colliery operations be established within 3 months. This monitoring must be implemented in consultation with IRRM.

Socialist Alliance isn’t just about elections; we fight for change all year round. We guarantee to vote for all of these demands if elected, but we believe change happens when people on the ground fight for it. We will continue to support IRRM, publicise its meetings and events, encourage our membership to attend and build community support so together we can build movement that can win these demands.

Paola Harvey's speech to Cancer Council meeting

The Cancer Council’s 'saving life' agenda is completely in line with Socialist Alliance’s overall health policy. First, I’d like to congratulate the Council for identifying social justice and equality as important, in this document. Everyone has a right to health, and people’s income, where they live and ethnic and cultural background should not affect their life outcomes and treatment options.

The Socialist Alliance bases its policy on health promotion, disease prevention and timely treatment of illnesses and includes promoting good health. It aims to encourage a healthy community in a healthy environment and reduce health risks. Health includes the physical, mental and social well being of the community. It is a resource used by individuals on a daily basis.

A healthy life depends on a healthy environment, safe working conditions and enabling people to increase control over this improvement process. It will be based on the concept of hope and community control.

As part of this approach to health, Socialist Alliance would support the Cancer Council’s recommendations regarding banning smoking in areas where food and drink are provided as part of a business. These are:

Smoke-free dining and drinking

• legislating requirements for specific public areas and workplaces to be smoke-free, including those that are partially or entirely outdoors, with priority given to banning smoking in areas where food or drink is provided as part of a business • developing legislation in a way that enables the Government to easily declare new public places to be smoke free, in line with rapidly changing community standards and expectations and emerging evidence

The Cancer Council’s recommendations regarding creating a licensing scheme for tobacco sellers are common sense. This kind of regulation, one that puts the social cost of tobacco on those that profit from its sale, is preferable to increasing the cost of cigarettes. The reality is that for many people who are addicted to smoking, a price rise on cigarettes would mean less money to pay bills and less food on the table. The Cancer Council’s recommendation puts the cost where it should be, on those that are profiteering from addiction. The recommendations are:

Stronger safeguards on selling tobacco
• requiring that all retailers selling tobacco hold a licence to do so
• designing a licensing scheme that requires prior approval to sell tobacco, imposes conditions on holding a licence, and provides for the withdrawal of the licence if conditions are breached
• instituting a fee for a tobacco retail licence that, at minimum, covers the cost of administering and enforcing the scheme, and reflects the social cost and harm of the product

Further to the Cancer Council’s policy, Socialist Alliance would increase funding for advice and education related to smoking and health in general, including cancer. We also support a complete ban on all forms of tobacco and alcohol advertising. Simply legislating about tobacco isn’t enough, we need to address the social reasons that people smoke to address smoking: social exclusion, alienation, poverty and culture all play a role in this.

Prevention of ill health will be primary in our policies. The promotion of healthy living should be promoted by special campaigns. Schools should be funded to promote healthy eating and to provide healthy food for children by establishing a free lunch time meal program in all schools. Strategies for reduction of stress levels and accidents at work places should be formulated. Free, quality health education and screening programs should be fully funded.

Prevention of ill health would reduce the cost of treatment in the long run. The inclusion of the community in the decision-making processes would also assist in this process. The fact that the community and individuals take responsibility for their health will boost the type of healthy community we envisage.

Access to healthcare is progressively being removed for the poor, and many so-called "high-paid" workers. The public health system is failing, and many in rural and outer metropolitan areas have limited access to even basic general practice medicine. Hospital waiting lists are overcrowded, with too many nights where emergency wards are on ambulance bypass. Meanwhile the private health system benefits from billions of dollars in direct and indirect government subsidies, on top of the semi-compulsory private health insurance rip-off, where working people who can "afford" it pay huge premiums for little return. Where the public system, even in its damaged state, is relatively efficient, the private sector is a black hole for money, with little useful health outcome. Public funding for new radiotherapy centres and machines is absolutely necessary. We recognise that purchasing services from private radiotherapy centres so that patients are not required to pay a ‘gap fee’ may be a necessary “stop gap” measure for the short-term, but we believe that a well-funded, fully public health system is best. Private health puts profits before people, public can put people first. We support:

More radiotherapy services across NSW
• funding new radiotherapy centres and machines
• purchasing services from private radiotherapy centres so that patients are not required to pay a ‘gap fee’ (stop gap measure for short-term, fully public health system is best. Private health puts profits before people, public can put people first)

The Socialist Alliance endorses the principle of universal health insurance which underlies Medicare, and emphasises that Medicare is not just a "safety net". If Australia is to have comprehensive universal health insurance, paid for by progressive taxation and ensuring equitable access to health care for all, there is no need to have private health insurance. Currently, private health insurance is massively subsidised by the Australian government, and it contributes little to total health expenditure. By abolishing the tax rebate for private health insurance, $2.5 billion could be freed to provide more resources for public hospitals.

We need a health system that puts people first and that does not disadvantage anyone who falls ill. No one should be disadvantaged. We support the Cancer Council’s policies on burden-free transport and accommodation for patients on this basis. They are:

Burden-free transport and accommodation for patients
• improving access to and reimbursement rates provided under the Isolated Patients Travel Accommodation and Assistance Scheme
• increasing funding for community transport services
• requiring all Area Health Services to implement policies to provide parking spaces for cancer patients, close to treatment

We also support making public transport free and accessible, as well as massively expanding services. This would help people’s families and friends to be able to visit their loved ones receiving treatment. It would also increase the amount of exercise people would get in society as a whole when people make the switch. A healthy lifestyle, including exercise, has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer. Improving the integration of services for cancer patients is simply common sense, and establishing centres for quality improvement in cancer care is simply common sense and Socialist Alliance would support this.

Optimal cancer care for all
• re-issuing the NSW Clinical Services Framework for Optimising Cancer Care, including processes for monitoring and reporting
• establishing two centres for quality improvement in cancer care, in a rural and a metropolitan area

The costs of our health policies will be achieved by, amongst other things, abolishing government subsidies for private health insurance, and by a major reduction in the defence budget.