April news: climate action, saving live music, e-bikes and more

19 Apr 2024

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Community, News, Parliament

Hi, here are my latest updates from around the Brunswick electorate (Brunswick, Brunswick East, Brunswick West, Fitzroy North, Princes Hill & Carlton North).

Missed last month’s newsletter? Read about the likely stalling of Brunswick’s Skyrail, the new truckzillas, and more here.

Want to get these updates delivered straight to your inbox? Enter your email at the bottom of this page.

In this newsletter:

  • How you can help Victoria’s future climate resilience
  • We need homes, not hotels
  • Tell the government: let’s create a Great Forest National Park
  • Help us save live music
  • What I’ve been up to in and around Brunswick

But first:

I’m excited to see my longtime colleague Samantha Ratnam is standing for the federal seat of Wills. Wills has been trying to go Green for some time and Samantha will be keen to hear your ideas and questions. Get in touch if you’re interested.

Protecting our climate

Torquay paddle out

I recently ventured outside of Brunswick to join environmental groups, Traditional Owners, hundreds of community members, Victorian Greens MP Sarah Mansfield, and federal Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson for a paddle out in the waves of Torquay.

It was a beautiful, special day out in the water, connecting with community and Country and calling on Victorian Labor to protect Victoria’s coasts from the impacts of seismic blasting and fossil fuel drilling.

Join us in the call to end oil and gas drilling in Victoria’s oceans – sign up to our campaign here

Climate resilience inquiry

My Greens colleagues and I have successfully secured an inquiry into climate resilience in Victoria – and now we need your help.

The inquiry will be led by the Victorian Parliament’s Environment and Planning Committee, so will focus mainly on Victoria’s ‘built environment and infrastructure’ – things like new and existing buildings, insurance, the planning system, housing, transport, local government, energy grids, green spaces and waterways, and more. 

The inquiry is accepting public submissions until 28 June 2024, followed by hearings in June.

Making a submission to the inquiry is a powerful way for you to tell the Victorian Labor Government they need to stop all new oil and gas projects, and protect our community against the impacts of climate change. 

Please consider making a submission – it doesn’t have to be long! We’ve put together some more information here. Get in touch with me if you have any questions about this.

Homes, not hotels

In the middle of a housing crisis, there are 48,000 entire Victorian homes on short-stay platforms like AirBnB and Stayz. Property investors are hoarding homes to use as quasi-hotels while renters struggle to find a place to live.

The Greens want to free up homes for people who will actually live in them, by capping the number of days a property can be listed as a short stay. Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam and London have already introduced these limits.

At the upcoming budget in May, the state government is likely to need our vote to pass a 7.5% levy on short stays. But this alone will do little to turn investment properties into long-term homes – and we won’t support a token gesture that will see the housing crisis get worse.

So we’ll be challenging the government to make sure AirBnB investors aren’t taking homes away from renters. The sharing economy should not become the taking economy.

You can learn more, and email the minister to ask her to take action, on my website here. And please email me if you have questions or comments about our policy and our approach to this issue.

To find out more about this campaign, join the Greens in Carlton for a campaign pub night on Wednesday 24 April.

Great Forest National Park

Now that the Victorian Labor government has been forced to end native forest logging, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to turn some of Victoria’s most precious native forests into a national park, and protect them for the long term.

A Great Forest National Park – managed by Traditional Owners – would protect Victoria’s rich rainforests, beautiful Mountain Ash forests, and unique wildlife for future generations.

But loggers and hunters are mobilising to try and stop this from happening. So let’s make our voices heard.The government has launched a 5-minute survey to gauge public interest in protecting the forests of Victoria’s Central Highlands. Please take the survey and tell the government you want a Great Forest National Park.

Save live music

Here in the inner north, we take pride in our vibrant, colourful arts scene. We love that we can take our pick of live music, comedy or theatre in a fantastic venue any night of the week. But right now, live music venues in Victoria are under threat. 

On top of rising rents and the cost of living, insurance for live music venues has been hiked up astronomically, putting the local music scene at risk. Too many venues have already had to shut their doors. 

Our local live music venues are crucial to nurturing multiple and evolving cultures, and we want to make sure that our venues and local music thrive into the future.

So, together with local venues, the Greens and I are calling on the State Government to step in and save live music by providing affordable insurance through the government’s Victorian Managed Insurance Authority, which exists to “cover the people, places and projects that help Victorians thrive.”

Join us – add your name to the campaign here.

Tell Victorian Labor: Stop arming Israel

Over 100,000 Palestinians have been killed or wounded by the Israeli military during the last six months of Israel’s assault on Gaza.

Here in Victoria, we’re more connected to Gaza than some might think. In 2021, the Victorian Labor government formed a partnership with Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest weapons manufacturer, as part of a $6 million defence spend. 

When I asked the Premier if she would cut ties with Elbit, she cited Victorian ‘industry’ and ‘jobs’ as reasons not to do so. As my colleague Gabrielle de Vietri later pointed out to the Premier, maintaining this partnership with Elbit could risk implicating Victoria in genocide, according to the findings of the International Court of Justice.

So I am supporting a community petition calling on Victorian Labor to stop arming Israel. If we reach 2000 handwritten signatures, it will force Labor to debate this petition in Parliament.

You can print off the petition here, gather signatures, and return them to my office at 1/31 Nicholson St, Brunswick East, by the end of May. I will also have a printed copy in my office if you’d like to drop by and add your signature.

Local news & events

Greens iftar

I was honoured to share a meal with our Muslim community and friends at the Greens iftar earlier this month, alongside my fellow Greens MPs Adam Bandt, Mehreen Faruqi, Samantha Ratnam and Gabrielle de Vietri.

Particular thanks to Chef Aheda, who prepared a beautiful meal for over 400 of us. And to all the volunteers who helped cook, clean, and serve, and quickly found additional chairs to make sure everyone had a place at the table.

And thanks to the Muslim Women’s Council of Victoria for inviting me to your iftar held in the Brunswick Uniting Church and to Thorne Harbour for inviting me to your Queer Ramadan iftar which featured amazing dancing from around the world. Notably all three iftars had Palestinian food, which was particularly poignant.

At a time of such heartache in the community, it is especially powerful to come together to celebrate Ramadan and share in each other’s traditions.

A belated Eid Mubarak to all!

Defending our democratic right to protest

Last week, I spoke at Extinction Rebellion’s ‘Protect Protest, Defend Dissent’ protest in the CBD. 

Protest is a crucial component of our democracy. Without it, we wouldn’t have the 8-hour workday, women’s right to vote, or an end to native forest logging in Victoria. 

Five states have introduced heavy-handed anti-protest legislation in the past two years. Last year in Victoria, Labor and the Liberals joined forces to pass legislation to slap native forest protectors with a fine of up to $21,000 and up to 12 months in prison for protesting in logging coupes or farms, citing spurious claims of ‘safety’ without any evidence. Of course, the government finally caved to pressure and ended native forest logging in Victoria – but this anti-protest legislation remains.

The reality is that ‘safety’ is the new dogwhistle to justify authoritarian crackdowns, with ever more heavily armed police deployed to intimidate and disperse peaceful protesters. We are likely to see more of this from an increasingly authoritarian Labor state government, especially to deter climate protesters as our planet continues to warm while culpable governments and corporations carry out business as usual with impunity. 

I will always fight in parliament and in our community to protect our democratic right to protest.

E-bike expo

Did you see last week’s article in the Guardian about e-bikes? Australians bought almost 200,000 e-bikes last year (twice as many as EVs)!

Cycling is only continuing to grow in popularity, especially in Brunswick and the inner north where more people commute on bikes than just about anywhere else in the country.

But the state government is continuing to drag its feet when it comes to developing safe bike routes.

Bikes cut transport emissions, are much cheaper to run, and are great for our health.

We need to be building better infrastructure and providing financial incentives for e-bikes so more people can make the switch.In the meantime, demand just keeps growing. I had a great time at the Bicycle Network’s E-bike Expo earlier this month at the Brunswick Velodrome. I support Bicycle Network’s campaign asking the federal government to subsidise e-bikes as a way to help reduce transport emissions and ease the cost of living.

Ride 2 School Day and Harmony Day at Fitzroy North Primary School

It was a fun morning at Fitzroy North Primary School last month, when I joined the students and staff for Ride 2 School Day and Harmony Day. 

I had a fabulous time handing out stickers to the kids who had biked or scooted to school, and I nearly ran out of the stickers – there were just so many kids (and their adults) on bikes! Such a great way to start the day.

Then I settled in to cheer on the kids’ Harmony Day parade, complete with a variety of traditional outfits representing their different cultures. There was even a dragon!

Finally, I met with the principal to discuss the ongoing building works at the school, and then it was time for me to hop on my bike back to the office! (Nobody gave me a sticker, though…)

Thanks for getting this far! Remember, if there’s anything you want to raise with me, you can always get in touch with my office on [email protected] or (03) 9384 1241.

Until next time,


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