Here are my latest updates from Parliament and around our community.
Win for renters: vacant land tax
During a housing crisis, homes should not be sitting empty.
After pushing Labor for stronger action on the housing crisis, the Greens successfully secured some relief for renters and those trying to find a home.
Last week we passed new laws in Parliament so that Victorians who own homes but keep them unoccupied will have to pay a higher tax, unless they make them available for people to actually live in.
The changes that the Greens negotiated will make as many as 5,000 additional Victorian homes available to renters.
We need to do a lot more on housing in this state. But we have sent a clear message to the government that we will not support their policies unless they work to increase the availability of rental properties and reduce rents.
Greens win inquiry into food prices, supermarkets
Last week in parliament, my upper house Greens colleagues also secured a parliamentary inquiry into food affordability.
This inquiry will look into why food is so expensive in Victoria, and identify solutions to make food more affordable for everyone.
Importantly, it will help us expose the supermarkets’ exploitative pricing and pressure the government to take action.
Thank you to everyone who signed our petition!
l’ll have more news about how you can contribute to the inquiry, and continue to take action against the supermarket duopoly, next year. In the meantime, you can add your name to our campaign here.
Life-saving drug naloxone now more available
Naloxone is a life-saving drug that rapidly reverses opioid overdose. It’s safe, not addictive, and can be injected or sprayed into the nose.
But right now, there simply isn’t enough naloxone getting into the hands of people likely to treat overdose, like drug and alcohol workers. Meanwhile, the number of overdose fatalities has been increasing across Melbourne.
To address this growing problem, I recently met with a number of health and social workers and advocated in Parliament for the state government to provide easier access to naloxone. It was especially important to get this done quickly, as we expect that Australia will soon see the arrival of synthetic drugs like fentanyl (which is faster-acting than heroin and around 50 times stronger).
I’m pleased to announce that the Department of Health has now responded by releasing a $6.2m naloxone ‘take home’ supply and distribution program to get this life-saving drug into the hands of people who are likely to treat overdose. It’s an important step to reduce drug harm here in Victoria.
Ministerial meetings will now be public knowledge
Over the past couple of years I have pushed the government to make Ministerial diaries publicly available, as they are in Queensland and NSW.
And it looks like the government have finally listened. Last week they announced that summaries of ministerial meetings will be released quarterly from next year.
It’s a simple integrity measure that allows voters to find out who the government is listening to when making policies. And our anti-corruption commission (IBAC) has called for this in several of their reports.
It’s great to see this will now be happening. But Victoria still lags behind other states on integrity.
So I’ll continue to advocate for legislated rules for political lobbyists, and for strengthening IBAC’s powers to fight political corruption.
Taking to the streets
Housing is a human right. I was proud to take to the streets with renters and public housing residents from across Melbourne to demand a rent freeze!
Rents have risen by an average of 18% this year and vacancy rates are at a record low. Renters are no longer going to sit back and be ignored by the Victorian Labor Government.
School Strike for Climate
School Strike for Climate activists had a clear message for Labor as they marched through Melbourne’s CBD: we need a just transition away from fossil fuels.
It was incredible to march alongside activists of all ages and see that young people have the fire and determination needed to fight for climate justice.
Merri-bek Council will be flying the Palestinian flag, at least while Israel continues to bomb Gaza.
I spoke at the rally outside the Coburg Town Hall last month, in support of flying the flag. In my speech, I referred to a large blind spot in Australian media and politics when it comes to Palestinian suffering.
The Palestinian death toll is much higher now than it was then. I reminded those present that the same values that led us to condemn the brutal attacks by Hamas should lead us to condemn the bombing and killing of so many civilians in Gaza.
I have been horrified by the many reports of the complete breakdown of the health system there, rendering it unable to cope with the enormous number of casualties.
I’ve received more emails in support of a ceasefire than on any other topic. It’s clear that all levels of government (including the Victorian Labor government) should be calling for a lasting ceasefire and progress on ending the occupation which has led to this catastrophe.
Local news & events
Safe streets for everyone
In November, we ran a forum on safe streets and active transport in the Inner North and were blown away by the community response.
There is a huge push in the inner north for more bike and pedestrian infrastructure to keep everyone safe, no matter how they choose to travel.
Huge thanks to everyone who came out to the forum – especially our speakers Cr Adam Pulford, Cr Sophie Wade, Dr Crystal Legacy, and Andrea Bunting from Walk On Merri-bek. And thanks to the wonderful Holden Street Neighbourhood House for hosting us.
There will be plenty more opportunities to get involved in the campaign for safer streets. Sign up here to stay up to date and hear about future opportunities.
I’ve been having a great time getting along to school fetes and twilight markets lately. Well done to all the organisers, supporters, and of course to everyone supplying the goods for sale – over the last few weeks I’ve eaten my body weight in cakes, chilli oil, paella and lemonade from Brunswick East Primary School and Princes Hill Primary School alone!
Stay tuned next year for my new policy to use these fetes to fund AUKUS and divert the sub money for government schools instead. Sounds fair to me…
What’s on in & around Brunswick
If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may have noticed that I regularly post events and opportunities like film screenings, council programs, school events and more. It’s a great way to stay up to date with what’s happening in our community. And you can always email me on [email protected] to suggest other events and opportunities you’d like me to share!
Until next year!
It’s been a big year! Thanks for your support and engagement in 2023 – I couldn’t do any of this without you.
My office will be closed for a short period over the holidays, but you can always send me an email or leave a voicemail and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
I hope you all get to take some time for yourself and with your loved ones. Rest well so we can get back to it next year!