Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Council meeting 30 September 2008

At the Council meeting on 30 September 2008 I moved a number of motions:

* To change the Order of Business, to comply with the Local Government Act 1993 and the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005

* To change the Delegations to the Lord Mayor, to clarify to whom the Lord Mayor delegates should he be unable to represent Council at civic, ceremonial and social functions

3. To determine who which Councillor should represent Council at Civic, Ceremonial and social functions, where the Lord Mayor or the Deputy Lord Mayor is unable to attend and Council has not determined its representative(s). The Lord Mayor will ensure all Councillors are extended an invitation to all Civic functions.

* To change the Delegations to the General Manager, to ensure Council decides which external boards the General Manager will represent Council on

A The authority to bring to Council a recommendation for the General Manager to represent The representation of Council on external boards for organisations that require Council membership for the facilitation of Council business.

I was also elected to the role of Deputy Lord Mayor to the end of May 2009 and to represent Council at the 2008 NSW Local Government Conference (along with Cr Jackson, Cr Connell and Cr Cook).

Welcome to Country

The beginning of this term of Council commenced with a 'Welcome to Country' ceremony conducted by Mr Ray Kelly and his daughters.

It was a moving ceremony and Mr Kelly wished to have more wonderful things happening to bring both communities together and congratulated the Lord Mayor and Councillors on their election to office.

I raised the matter in Council in February and the ceremony was arranged through Council's Guraki Committee.

The idea of the ceremony at the commencement of the Council term is in keeping with Council's Commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples of the City of Newcastle.

Extract from the February Council meeting:
Councillor Osborne advised that Parliament was opened on 12 February 2008 with a 'Welcome to Country' by the Indigenous people. He proposed that the motion include a Part B which required the next Council of Newcastle City Council to be opened with a 'Welcome to Country' and that such event occur after the Local Government elections.
Draft minutes of the Council meeting of 12 February 2008 with the minutes confirmed at the next Council meeting.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Your elected Council...

Newcastle City Council was formed in April 1938 with the merger of Adamstown, Carrington, Hamilton, Lambton. Merewether, Newcastle, New Lambton, Stockton, Wallsend, Waratah and Wickham Councils.

Newcastle is divided into 4 wards for Council elections, with each ward electing 3 Councillors. The Lord Mayor is elected on a separate ballot for the entire four-year term of Council. So your elected Council has 12 Councillors and the Lord Mayor. The next local government election is in September 2012. I was elected in March 2003.

The full list of Councillors are...

Councillor John Tate - Lord Mayor
190 Croudace Street
Phone: 4974 2233
Fax: 4974 2202
Mobile: 0407 017 154
Email: jtate@ncc.nsw.gov.au

Ward 1

Michael Osborne (Greens)
36 Margaret Street
Tighes Hill NSW 2297
Mobile: 0439 442 984
Email: ncc-mosborne@hunterlink.net.au

Aaron Buman (Independent)
54 Gipps Street
Mobile: 0411 248 934
Fax: 4940 0721
Email: aaronbuman@smartchat.net.au

Sharon Claydon (ALP)
PO Box 258
Newcastle NSW 2300
Mobile: 0427 622 067
Email: sharon.claydon@pacific.net.au

Ward Two

Tim Crakanthorp (ALP)
22 Jenner Parade
Hamilton South NSW 2303
Mobile: 0427 622 115
Fax: 02 4962 3118
Email: tim.crakanthorp@pacific.net.au

Brad Luke (Liberal Party)
3 Kempster Road
Merewether NSW 2291
Mobile: 0427 622 089
Email: brad.luke@pacific.net.au

Scott Sharpe (Independent)
4 Alice Street
Merewether NSW 2291
Mobile: 0427 622 149
Email: scott.sharpe@pacific.net.au

Ward Three

Dr Graham Boyd (Independent)
PO Box 541
The Junction NSW 2291
Mobile: 0427 622 046
Email: graham.boyd@pacific.net.au

Mike King (Independent)
69 Joslin Street
Kotara NSW 2289
Mobile: 0427 622 224
Email: mike.king@pacific.net.au

Nuatali Nelmes (ALP)
c/- NCC
PO Box 489
Newcastle 2300
Mobile: 0431 662 652
Email: nuatali.nelmes@pacific.net.au

Ward Four

Mike Jackson (ALP)
17 Bottlebrush Boulevard
Fletcher NSW 2287
Mobile: 0401 089 864
Email: mike.jackson@pacific.net.au

Shayne Connell (Independent)
15 Tallowwood Crescent
Fletcher NSW 2287
Mobile: 0427 622 139
Email: shayne.connell@pacific.net.au

Bob Cook (Independent)
136 Tyrrell Street
The Hill NSW 2300
Mobile: 0419 241 731
Email: bobcook@pacific.net.au

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

September 2008 Election results

The 2008 elections for the Newcastle City Council were declared on 23 September 2008.

There were a total of 104,023 Residential and Non-residential Electors enrolled on 4 August 2008.

Ward 1 had 25,787 voters, Ward 2 had 25,708 voters, Ward 3 had 25,328 voters and Ward 4 had 27,200 voters.

According to the Electoral Commission voter turnout was 82.89%.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Voters to Labor: drop power privatisation

Newcastle Greens
17 September 2008

Voters in Saturday’s council elections have sent a strong message to Labor to drop their plans to privatise NSW electricity retailers, Newcastle Greens Lord Mayoral and Ward 1 candidate Michael Osborne said today.

“So far, Labor’s response to the slump in its primary vote around NSW has been to apologise for its general performance, but they will be missing the point if they don’t realise that much of the voter discontent was specifically directed at Labor’s power privatisation plan.

“Well before the election, The Greens said that we saw the council poll as a referendum on privatisation. The verdict on this referendum is now in, and the message from voters should be clear to Labor to abandon the Iemma / Costa privatisation plan.

“If Mr Rees really wants to cleanse Labor, he will need to show some leadership on this matter.

“He’s made a good start by getting rid of the most divisive figures in the Iemma / Costa era (Michael Costa, and Frank Sartor), but he also needs to make substantial policy changes, in areas such as power privatisation and climate change policy.

“If Mr Rees dropped the Iemma / Costa privatisation plan, he would have the backing of his own party conference (which voted overwhelmingly against power privatisation), and would demonstrate to the people of NSW that he was prepared to move away from the Iemma / Costa era and its failed and unpopular policies.”

“If he doesn’t, Labor can expect another drubbing when NSW voters go to the ballot box in the next federal and state elections.”

For further information or comment, contact Michael Osborne on 0439 442 984.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Green voters

In Ward 1, almost 25% of voters voted Green.

Of the 17 polling booth areas for the election, the Green vote was the highest of any of the groups in 8 of them.

And in these 8 areas, the Green vote was higher than the next group by up to 55%!

Well done to all the volunteers who helped on the day.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Can do... whatever he likes

As we all know it is illegal for someone to:
  • use public property for his own private profit (the public footpath outside his restaurant), without a licence
  • cut down or lop public trees, not allowed.
  • carry out development that needs consent, without consent
It is also illegal to plaster election material all over telegraph poles and other public property well before election day.

This kind of vandalism hasn't been part of the tradition of our local election campaigns, as it is in Sydney.

Councillor Buman doesn't care about the law or following the rules that we all have to follow.

His election posters were also plastered all over telegraph poles and other public property well before election day. (This photo is from Minmi.) This kind of vandalism hasn't been part of the tradition of local election campaigns, as it is in Sydney.

It's certainly not the kind of leadership required of an elected representative and it's a pretty poor example to set for a councillor.

The Buman "can do" slogan seems to mean that Cr Buman "can do" whatever he likes while he's a councillor.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Newcastle Council goes conservative - vested interests may control city for next four years

Newcastle Greens
14 September 2008

Newcastle Council will be dominated by conservative councillors for the next four years, and has been left dangerously vulnerable to the influence of vested interests as a result of yesterday’s council election, The Greens said today.

The Greens’ analysis of Saturday’s Newcastle Council election is that the new council will comprise 4 Labor councillors), 2 or 3 Buman Independents, 2 Tate Independents, Scott Sharpe (Ward 2 Independent), 1 Liberal, and 1 or 2 Greens, plus the Lord Mayor, John Tate (see table below).

Likely Newcastle Council Composition (2008)



Tate Independents


Buman Independents

2 or 3

Independent (Sharpe, Ward 2)



1 or 2



“The result is very disappointing from a Greens perspective, because the Green vote was up across the city, and despite posting our best ever vote in most wards, the number of Greens councillors on Newcastle Council will drop from four (elected in 2004) to one or two,” Cr Osborne said.

“Voters who wanted a more functional and stable council will also be very disappointed. On the previous council, The Greens provided the only stable, unified, coherent group, and were a steadying force amid the turbulence of friction between other groups and councillors, especially from the Tate / Buman factions.

“Ironically, many voters who were concerned about the council being dysfunctional may have been misled by Cr Buman’s expensive advertising campaign to vote for a group led by one of the key destabilising forces.

“Unfortunately, local coverage of the campaign effectively shielded Cr Buman from the kind of scrutiny the public needed, and he’s consequently managed to slip in under the radar.

“The destablising factors on the previous council – especially the lack of leadership from the Lord Mayor, John Tate, and the irresponsible and puerile behaviour of Cr Buman – are still there, and with so many different groupings, the new council could be very unstable and dysfunctional.

“Certainly, the potential is there for developers to have much greater sway, and the risk of a change of direction for a progressive policy approach to challenges such as climate change and public transport are very significant.

“The outcome of the final seat in Ward 3 (which will be fought out between sitting Greens councillor, Keith Parsons and Mike King, No.1 on the Ward 3 Buman group ticket) will determine whether I will be the sole remaining Green on the council or not. [This result will depend on preferences, and will not be known for some time]

“But whether we have one or two councillors, The Greens will continue to represent the community and the public interest on the new council, and to advocate progressive policies that offer solutions to the big challenges confronting Newcastle,” Cr Osborne said.

Newcastle Council likely outcome

Likely result


Lord Mayor

John Tate

Ward 1

Sharon Claydon


Michael Osborne


Aaron Buman

Buman Independent

Ward 2

Tim Crakanthorp


Scott Sharpe


Brad Luke


Ward 3

Graham Boyd

Tate Independent

Nuatali Nelmes



Either Keith Parsons (Greens) or Mike King (Buman Independent)

Ward 4

Mike Jackson


Shayne Connell

Buman Independent

Bob Cook

Tate Independent

For further information or comment, contact Michael Osborne on 0439 442 984.

Friday, 12 September 2008

What Michael Duffy says...

Vote Green for a Clean NSW

I'm not a great supporter of many environmental policies, but I'll be voting Green on Saturday because the party's got it right on the biggest issue in town. This state's government has been turned rotten by political donations, to the point where much that gets done seems to be driven by no more than politicians' desire to attract cash. The Coalition is just as bad as Labor. So, even though this is only a local council election, let's send the bums at state level a message by voting Green.

Max Phillips, the Greens NSW election campaign coordinator, said this week: "In the past five years NSW Labor has taken $9.9 million in donations from property developers, while the Liberals took $5.8 million. The Greens refuse donations from developers and corporations on principle.''

Lots of people agree with this principle: a Galaxy poll commissioned by the Greens found 82 per cent of respondents support a ban on donations from property developers. The Greens deserve to be rewarded for the stand they've taken on this matter over many years.

Unfortunately the rot continues...

(read more)

It's possible elsewhere, why not Newcastle?

Newcastle can be the Number One Cycle City of NSW

Newcastle Greens
12 September 2008

Newcastle could become the number one Cycle City in the State with an increased level of funding for safe, segregated cycleways throughout the City, according to The Greens Newcastle Lord Mayoral candidate,
Michael Osborne.

“Most of the topography of Newcastle is well-suited for cycling, and there's lots of opportunities for cycleways alongside stormwater channels and rail corridors that still exist throughout the city,” The Greens Newcastle Lord Mayoral and Ward 1 candidate, Cr Michael Osborne said.

“The popularity of cycleways such as the Fernleigh Track and the Throsby to Nobbys cycleway indicate the potential for cycling.

“If cycleways are connected and made safe more people would use them.

“Newcastle has to get beyond doing cycleways on the cheap by painting cycle symbols on the road between the traffic and the parked cars – these are not safe, and many people in the community describe these as 'car door death lanes' for cyclists.

“Council must make a commitment to making cycling safer and easier, so it is not just seen as transport for a small number of people, but an everyday part of getting to shops, schools and work for average families, as it is in many European cities.

“Council needs to work with the local Members of Parliament to secure joint funding, similar to that achieved for the Fernleigh Track cycleway.

“Cycling has a role to play as a response to climate change but also as a way of promoting a healthy lifestyle, combatting problems such as obesity,” said Cr Michael Osborne.

The Greens are committed to significantly increasing Newcastle Council's budget commitment to safe, separated cycleways throughout Newcastle, from less than 0.1% of the budget to at least 1%.

For further information or comment, contact Michael Osborne on 0439 442 984.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Climate change survey rings alarm for policy makers

Newcastle Greens
11 September 2008

Yesterday’s Hunter survey showing a drop in the number of residents who think that they will be affected by climate change should set alarm bells ringing among the nation’s policy makers, according to The Greens Newcastle Lord Mayoral candidate, Michael Osborne.

The Hunter Valley Research Foundation ’s survey released yesterday indicated a 14% fall (between 2006 and 2007) in respondents who believed that climate change would affect them in the next 20 years.

Cr Osborne said he would expect that a similar survey of the Lower Hunter community (covering areas such as Newcastle and Lake Macquarie) would demonstrate the same pattern, and agreed with the Foundation’s conclusion that people may be becoming disengaged with the issue of climate change.

“No doubt this shift will please the vested interests behind the huge propaganda campaigns waged by the mining lobby and their political supporters in the NSW and federal governments, but it should set alarm bells ringing among those who genuinely want a sustainable society,” Cr Osborne said.

“It’s not as though good information isn’t out there - but people may be switching off. When the gap between reality and perception increases like this, it’s often a sign that people are feeling powerless.

“When people see governments sending such mixed messages about climate change, and doing so little of substance to tackle the challenge, it’s natural for them to disengage.

“For example, when they see the NSW government saying it’s okay to expand coal mining and exporting, or the Federal government about to adopt Prof Garnaut’s inadequate carbon-reduction targets and effectively give up on the fight to save such iconic environmental assets such as the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu, of course they feel confused and powerless.

“But it’s important that people don’t feel there is no hope, because it’s only through the hope and action of ordinary people acting in local communities that our governments will change.

“When central governments aren’t doing their job to protect the public interest, local government can often play a key role, in the decisions they make, in how they allocate community resources, and in advocating to other spheres of government on behalf of local communities.

“This is why it’s important that we have councils and councillors who are prepared to play this role - to think globally and act locally. It’s important that we don’t retreat into the kind of insular, small-minded, disempowering role that some candidates are advocating.

“Greens policies are full of actions that we can take to tackle climate change, and surveys such as this demonstrate why, more than ever, we need Greens in local government,” Cr Osborne said.

For further information or comment, contact Michael Osborne on 0439 442 984.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Where's the money coming from?

Newcastle Greens
10 September 2008

"Hunter audiences are now being bombarded with expensive media advertising by candidates and groups running in Saturday's council elections, but have no way of knowing who is funding this advertising," the Greens Newcastle Lord Mayoral and Ward 1 candidate, Cr Michael Osborne, said.

"Mass media advertising - especially on television - is very expensive. Declarations lodged after the 2004 council elections demonstrated how dependent many so-called 'Independent' campaigns were on donations from developers and other vested interests (see earlier post here).

"In the 2004 election, the local media were able to reveal that developers were bankrolling the Hunter Citizens group, which stood candidates throughout Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, but failed to win a single seat once voters realised - through the media - who they were really representing.

"Whilst the issue of political donations has been running hot in the Sydney media, there has been little local coverage of this issue, despite Newcastle coming in seventh on Democracy4Sale's newly released league table of political donations for the 2004 NSW council elections.

"The Greens have already called on other groups running in the Newcastle council elections to publicly disclose the sources of their election funding well before election day. I have already done this for The Greens' Newcastle and Lake Macquarie campaigns (see my earlier post). No other candidate or group running in the Newcastle council election has done this, and time is now running out.

"What little information has come out about local campaign funding sources has been disturbing. In one reported case, Newcastle Independent Lord Mayoral candidate Cr Buman couldn't correctly answer a journalist's question about whether a local developer had donated to his campaign. Cr Buman is now running expensive television ads - where is the money to pay for these coming from?

"In the case of the current Lord Mayor, John Tate, election funding disclosures lodged after the 2004 council elections revealed donations to his campaign from a whole range of vested interests (featuring names such as Hardie Holdings, McCloy, Stronach and Grugeon). Are such interests still funding Cr Tate's 2008 campaign?

"Local Labor candidates claim that they are not taking developer donations, but - in the light of the record of their NSW state counterparts and their willingness to swap preferences with candidates who do receive developer donations - why should voters believe this if they aren't prepared to declare their funding sources up front?

Cr Osborne reiterated his call for these candidates and groups to come clean on where their money was coming from before Saturday's election, and appealed to the local media to help protect the public interest by giving more attention to this important issue.

For further information or comment, contact Michael Osborne on 0439 442 984.

Rees' new cabinet line up rewards big fundraisers

Greens analysis of the donations disclosed by Premier Nathan Rees' new Cabinet Ministers today shows that they have taken nearly $2 million in campaign donations, and the biggest fundraisers have been rewarded most highly in the reshuffle.

"Donations scandals will continue to dog this government until they end their donations culture and introduce a total ban on corporate donations," said Greens MP Lee Rhiannon.

New Cabinet Ministers $ Donations disclosed for 2003 and 2007 election campaigns
Minister for Police and Minister for the Illawarra - Matt Brown 348,823
Minister for Fair Trading, Minister for Citizenship and Minister Assisting the Premier for Arts - Virginia Judge. 348,049
Minister for Gaming and Racing, Sport and Recreation - Kevin Greene. 209,964
Minister for Planning and Redfern-Waterloo - Kristina Keneally. 169,766
Minister for Transport - David Campbell. 147,220
Minister for Finance, Infrastructure, Regulatory Reform and Ports and Waterways - Joe Tripodi. 132,916
Deputy Premier, Minister for Climate Change and the Environment and Minister for Commerce - Carmel Tebbutt. 100,468
Minister for Local Government and Minister Assisting the Minister for Health (mental health) - Barbara Perry. 87,845
Minister for Roads - Michael Daley. 71,575
Minister for Tourism and Minister for the Hunter - Jodi McKay. 70,462
Premier, Minister for the Arts - Nathan Rees. 70,148
Minister for Community Services - Linda Burney. 43,312
Minister for Housing and Minister for Western Sydney - David Borger. 40,225
Minister for Small Business, Minister for Science and Medical Research and Minister Assisting the Minister for Health (cancer) - Tony Stewart. 37,738
Minister for Education and Training and Minister for Women - Verity Firth 31,435
Minister for Juvenile Justice, Volunteering and Youth - Graham West. 20,573
Minister for Water, Minister for Rural Affairs and Minister for Regional Development - Phil Costa. 15,139
Minister for Ageing, Minister for Disability Services and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs - Paul Lynch. 8,061
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice - John Hatzistergos. 0
Minister for Health, Minister for the Central Coast and Vice President of the Executive Council - John Della Bosca. 0
Minister for Industrial Relations, Emergency Services, Lands - Tony Kelly. 0
Minister for Primary Industries, Energy, Mineral Resources and State Development - Ian Macdonald. 0
Treasurer - Eric Roozendaal. 0

Greens call on Rees to 'dump the dam'

Newcastle Greens
10 September 2008

The Newcastle Greens today responded to the new Premier's apparent $1 billion hole in the state's finances with a call to dump the proposed $350 million Tillegra Dam.

The Greens Newcastle Lord Mayoral and Ward 1 candidate, Cr Michael Osborne, said "the proposed Tillegra Dam is not needed, will devastate the Williams River catchment and will cause a large increase in the bills of Newcastle residents."

"If the new Premier is looking to cut wasteful spending then he need look no further than the proposed Tillegra Dam.

"The proposed Dam was announced by the former Premier Iemma in the lead up to the 2007 State election, amid the Orkopolous scandal.

"The proposed Dam was not mentioned in the State Government's much-heralded State Plan, was not in Hunter Water's submission to the independent pricing regulator (the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal) before the announcement and was described in Hunter Water's own 2004 integrated water resource plan as being 'far less cost effective than many demand management and water conservation initiatives'.

"Total costs for the proposed dam could easily blow out from the currently projected cost to $600 million or $1 billion, which would pass through to households in the lower Hunter as increases of up to $416 a year in household bills.

"The new Premier can show leadership by saving the Williams River and its vibrant farming community, its platypus population and its ability to produce food.

"It is not too late to abandon the proposed Tillegra Dam, to improve the state finances and protect lower Hunter households from massive increases in their water bills," Councillor Osborne said.

Newcastle City Council resolved on 26 August 2008 to call for Hunter Water to outline to the community the full cost to Newcastle residents from the proposed Tillegra Dam, including the impost on new housing development and for Hunter Water to place together on public exhibition the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal pricing determination and the Environmental Assessment Report so that the community can comment on, not only the environmental impacts from the proposed dam, but the social and economic impacts for Newcastle residents.

For further information or comment, contact Michael Osborne on 0439 442 984.

How healthy is this?

Checking on The Greens Democracy4Sale website recently alerted me to a bombshell hidden amongst the items on John Tate's funding declaration for the previous (2004) council elections [see this blog]

The declaration lists a $3,000 donation from K. McGrath, at Locked Mailbag 1, New Lambton.

The Democracy4Sale website picked up what I'd previously missed: Locked mailbag 1, New Lambton, is the address of Hunter New England Health (then Hunter Health), the NSW government's area health service, that runs the Hunter's public hospital system.

In 2004, Katherine McGrath was the Chief Executive Officer of Hunter Health, before leaving to become the Deputy Director General of Health System Performance at New South Wales Health (NSW Health).

The fact that Ms McGrath has used the organisation's official postal address for the donation means that she was making the donation in her official capacity, representing Hunter Health.

If this is so, it raises some serious questions:
Why was a publicly funded government agency donating to an election campaign?

How many other government agencies do this?

What is the NSW Government's policy on government agencies using their funds for political donations?

We'll keep you posted.

The politics of giving

BIG promises about controlling political donations in NSW are yet to bear fruit.

But that doesn't mean the state's major parties have been idle. The most recent publication by the Electoral Funding Authority of donations to political candidates suggests the parties have moved decisively to shield many of their candidates from embarrassing scrutiny.

In many cases, it seems, donations are now being paid directly to the parties' head offices instead of to individual candidates. This does little to address the negative perceptions surrounding these donations, leaving intact the suspicion that large donors hope or expect that their generosity will result in favourable consideration for their commercial interests. Removing the donations from direct association with individual candidates minimises the risk of criticism for the individuals concerned while retaining the monetary advantages for the party.

And while new laws demand that candidates report donations at regular intervals, it is notable that those contesting this month's local government elections won't be required to disclose any details until early next year. [my emphasis]

The Premier, Mr Iemma, has supported a major overhaul of the laws governing political donations, signalling that he may follow the recommendations of an Upper House inquiry that suggested capping donations at $1000 and banning gifts from developers and corporations.

Such a course of action has been loudly backed by developer lobby group, the Urban Task Force, which advocates banning all donations in favour of publicly funding election campaigns. This call inevitably draws attention to the hefty financial support the Labor Party receives from trade unions, challenging lawmakers to outlaw this form of subsidy along with the more controversial developer donations.

The big political parties may hope that channelling most donations through their head office accounts will, by reducing public attention to the issue, enable them to preserve the profitable status quo. It will be a matter for lasting regret if this proves to be the case.

From the Newcastle Herald Editorial 5 September 2008.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

C'mon there's more than 300 cars to choose from

Last week, Newcastle Council resolved the following on the initiative of the Greens Councillors:

1. In the interests of a consistent approach to reporting Council expenses, the cost of running the Lord Mayor's official vehicle be included in the future monthly Councillors' expenses reports in the Council business papers.

2. When Council vehicles are replaced (including the Lord Mayor's official vehicle and the staff pool vehicles), 4 cylinder models are chosen in the interests of fuel economy and reduction of green house emissions. More sustainable options such as hybrid vehicles also be investigated and the vehicles be at least seven star Greenhouse rating in accordance with the Federal Government’s Green Vehicle Guide. (my emphasis)

The important thing here is that the Council resolution refers to the Greenhouse rating. The Green Vehicle Guide has an air pollution rating out of 10, a Greenhouse rating out of 10 and an Overall Rating, based on the sum of the air pollution and greenhouse ratings, translated to be out of 5.

Cr John Tate was reported on page 18 of today's Newcastle Herald saying that there are no cars on the market that match Council's resolution and that he would call for a report.

Is this an example of more sitting on the fence and time-wasting from Councillor Tate?

If he was serious about Climate Change he would show leadership.

Check out the Federal Government's Green Vehicle Guide referred to in the Council resolution.

There are more than 300 cars to choose from, including the Toyota Prius and other models, Mitsibishi, Ford, Holden and many others. The full list is reproduced below.

Perhaps Councillor Tate just doesn't want to give up his gas-guzzling Mayoral car.

This Saturday I'll be travelling around polling booths in my Prius and if I am elected Lord Mayor it will become the Mayoral vehicle.

Labor’s local deck-chair shuffle is “business as usual”, say Greens

Newcastle Greens
9 September 2008

Newcastle Greens today warned that NSW Labor’s new Minister for the Hunter, Jodi McKay, represents “business as usual” for Labor’s push for electricity privatisation and climate-damaging energy policy.

The Greens Newcastle Lord Mayoral and Ward 1 candidate, Cr Michael Osborne, said that while local Greens welcomed the departure of the former Minister for the Hunter, Michael Costa, his replacement by Jodi McKay was more a matter of style than substance.

“We’d certainly expect Ms McKay to be less overtly belligerent than her predecessor, but the fact is that she and Mr Costa are both creatures of Macquarie St, and share the same attitudes to many crucial issues, such as electricity privatisation and climate change (including the expansion of coal mining and exporting).

“Like Mr Costa, Ms McKay is much closer to the business community than to traditional Labor constituencies, and she is on the public record as a strong supporter of electricity privatisation, and as a strong opponent of a phased and just transition away from coal dependence,” Mr Osborne said.

“Among local environmentalists, Ms McKay is best known for saying that she would ‘never turn her back on coal’. Perhaps a closer relationship with the region’s tourism industry might change her mind about the impact of coal,” he said.

Cr Osborne said that Ms McKay’s elevation to the Ministry was clearly a reward for compliance with Macquarie St dictates.

“Once the dust cloud raised by Labor’s shuffling of the cabinet deck-chairs has settled, local voters and the media will ask what has really changed,” Cr Osborne said.

“The Greens welcome a change from Mr Costa’s abusive and abrasive style, but can Ms McKay name even one significant policy on which she has a different view from Mr Costa?” Cr Osborne asked.

Cr Osborne said that many people in the local community (including some local Labor candidates in the Newcastle Council election) seemed to be under the mistaken impression that power privatisation was now off the agenda under the Rees government.

One Newcastle Labor candidate (their No.1 Ward 2 candidate, Tim Crakanthorp) stated on ABC 1233 yesterday that the local Labor team were glad that the push to privatise electricity was now over, because this would have cost Labor votes in Saturday’s council elections.

“Even Labor candidates don’t seem to be aware that the Rees Labor government is pushing ahead with the Iemma privatisation plan,” Cr Osborne said. “Yet Mr Rees clearly stated to Quentin Dempster on Stateline on Friday that ‘the retail sale will proceed.’”

Cr Osborne said that Greens councillors had taken a strong and consistent stand against electricity privatisation during the current council, and would continue voicing the view of the local community on this issue in the new council.

“For us, Saturday’s election is still a referendum on power privatisation. Given Ms McKay’s failure to represent the community on this issue, and local Labor’s vulnerability on it (reflected in their preference deal with Cr Buman, who has voted against council opposing electricity privatisation), The Greens are still the only reliable conduit for voters on Saturday to send Mr Rees’s new government a strong message to drop the Iemma/Costa power privatisation plan.”

For further information or comment, contact Michael Osborne on 0439 442 984.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Greens release local election funding sources

Newcastle Greens
8 September 2008

Newcastle Greens Lord Mayoral and Ward 1 candidate Cr Michael Osborne today publicly released a breakdown of the Greens’ sources of funding for their council election campaigns in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.

The figures are available from Cr Osborne’s blog.

“I’ve now fulfilled the commitment I made earlier in the campaign to do this, and I’m now reiterating my challenge to other local candidates to follow suit, and tell voters where their money is coming from before election day,” Cr Osborne said.

“We don’t accept donations from developers, corporations or any other organisations. Voters can see that no one is buying us, and we have nothing to hide about where our money comes from,” Cr Osborne said.

“As my blog shows, our budget for our Newcastle and Lake Macquarie council campaigns comes to $35,000 ($20,000 for Newcastle and $15,000 for Lake Macquarie), comprising money from federal election funding returns, and from local grassroots fundraising events (such as quiz nights, raffles, barbecues, a whale-watch cruise, etc), and donations by local individuals (mostly members).

“Previous council election funding returns show that the campaigns of some so-called local Independents were actually funded by vested interests, including donations from corporations such as Hardie Holdings, and by local developer Hilton Grugeon to Newcastle Lord Mayor John Tate’s 2004 campaign. [Information about this funding can be obtained from The Greens democracy4sale website]

“Worryingly, Cr Aaron Buman, who was on Cr Tate’s 2004 team but who is running his own ticket in this election, has already been caught out denying that he had received any money from Mr Grugeon for this campaign, despite Mr Grugeon himself later confirming that he has made a donation.

“What else is Cr Buman not telling voters about who is bankrolling his campaign?

“Labor’s Newcastle council team – who are swapping preferences with Cr Buman – claim that they are not receiving any developer donations, but have not yet specified where their money is coming from.

“And Cr Tate has not denied that he will again be receiving donations from corporations and developers.

“None of these groups or candidates have yet answered my challenge (issued 27 August – see media release titled ‘Who is funding the campaigns?’ on my blog) to make this information publicly available to voters before election day.

“If they don’t, voters won’t get this information until too late, and are entitled to ask what these candidates have to hide,” Cr Osborne said.

For further information or comment, contact Michael Osborne on 0439 442 984.

Candidates should come clean.

At the last Council elections back in 2004, Newcastle came an embarrassing 7th and Lake Macquarie 5th in the amount of money spent on the election campaign. See the table of shame here.

Most of this expenditure was from donations from developers, corporations and other organisations.

Why would they donate to these election campaigns?

Access is power, and money gives individuals and companies access to politicians. This access means that those who donate may influence Council decisions with resulting benefits to the donors.

I've made the challenge to all the candidates in the Newcastle Council election and to publish the names of all donors to their election campaigns on the internet before the election is held. I've even made the offer that I would upload it here for them.

What's keeping them?

Greens vow to continue exposing donations rorts

Newcastle Greens
8 September 2008

Launching the Greens revamped donations website today, www.democracy4sale.org, Greens MP Lee Rhiannon has vowed to continue the Greens donations research project to expose the rorts that are plaguing NSW politics.

The Greens donations website www.democracy4sale.org now includes local government donations and Council donations case studies.

"One week out from the Council election we are still in the dark about who is funding the campaigns of Council election candidates," said Ms Rhiannon.

"The first round of donations disclosures since former Premier Iemma's new donations laws were passed in June 2008 has made it even harder to scrutinise Labors donations.

"Labor MPs have started funnelling donations through the party head office to erase the paper trail that leads to their electorate fundraisers.

"Labor took that idea from the NSW Liberal party who have funnelled their donations through the party head office for the past two state elections.

"Labor reduced the disclosure period to every six months, but nothing else changed.

"In the five day window from the new donations laws being passed on 25 June 2008 to the 30 June 2008 disclosure period cut off, Labor racked in $80,000 in donations alone.

"The solution does not lie tinkering with the system. Premier Rees needs to bite the bullet and ban corporate donations altogether.

"Until that time the Greens will continue to shine a light on the big corporate donors buying influence with this Labor Government," said Ms Rhiannon.

Visit the Greens revamped donations website: www.democracy4sale.org

  • Search for donations to the major parties
  • 2004 Local Government election donations material
  • Council donations case studies
  • Check out the Developers Map
  • Donations news, articles, research papers and campaigns

Sunday, 7 September 2008

How the Newcastle Greens Local Government campaigns are funded


Donor or Event



Newcastle Campaign

Lake Mac Campaign


Pool Party





Film Night “A Crude Awakening”





Games Night





Dinner with K Nettle





Cocktail Party





Organic dips-music





Trivia Night





Dinner with K Nettle





Organic raffle





G Huxtable





Howard’s End Party





Christmas raffle





Sister’s Cafe





Garage Sale





Trivia Night





WhaleWatch Cruise

Port Stephens




Games Night















C Arnold

Marmong Point




M Bailey





H Cross

Carey Bay




V Deacon





T Doyle

The Hill




G Giles





C Jacobi

Tighes Hill




H Jut





P Maher





B Phillips





A Rooke





J Smith





G Wrightson

Carey Bay




Donations less than $200




Total donations and fundraising

Transfer from reserves, incl Fed Election 2007 returns

Total available for campaign










Note: The Newcastle Greens do not accept donations from developers, or from any corporations or organisations. We only accept donations from individuals who are citizens or permanent residents of Australia. The "Donations less than $200" total is made up from individual donations where the cumulative amount is not $200 or more. The total includes the contents of the donations tin at the Newcastle Greens office at 419 Hunter St, Newcastle (which is never very full!).