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Media Releases - September 2016

Media Release, 22 September 2016

Adani should cut its losses, not the size of its mine

Adani's Carmichael coal mine presents such a grave danger to the Great Barrier Reef that the company should cut its losses rather than continuing to push its unpopular and unnecessary project.

Miriam Lyons, GetUp's Climate Justice campaign director, said the widespread public opposition to the mine won't go away just because Adani wants to make a change to the size of the mine.

"There's widespread opposition to Adani's dangerous proposal, which will wreck the Reef and cause massive amounts of climate pollution.

"Changing the size of the mine won't change the fact that the world wants and needs more renewable energy, not more coal. It's still opening up one of the largest untapped pollution bombs in the world. A safe climate future is in renewables, not in burning dirty fuel.

"Adani's monster mine will still face significant legal challenges, and despite the special treatment the company has received from its political backers, the community are resolute.

"Despite Adani's optimistic blatherings, the world is turning away from coal. It presents a significant threat to a future with a safe climate and a strong economy.

"Pushing ahead with Carmichael is completely at odds with Australia's Paris commitments and completely at odds with the reality that thermal coal is in structural decline.

"Who is going to burn all this coal? Solar is already cheaper than coal in India, and India's Energy Minister has been quite clear about their plans to cut all coal imports within three years.

"Queensland is in line for massive investment in large-scale solar, with costs already dropping by 40%. The majority of Australians support a transition to 100% renewable energy and it's just a matter of time before they get their hands on it.

"Our members and the majority of Australians who support clean air, clean water and clean energy will keep fighting Adani's monstrous mine.

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 21 September 2016

Nice theory IPART - shame the market is still failing most electricity consumers

The NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has missed the point on the failure of deregulated retail markets to deliver for most consumers, GetUp said today.

Research commissioned by GetUp from independent energy economist Bruce Mountain found that electricity retailers in the deregulated markets of Victoria, NSW, South Australia and Queensland, were charging their customers 2 to 3 times more than in the regulated ACT market.

It found that the Big Three retailers – AGL, Origin, and EnergyAustralia – were getting away with overcharging their customers because the market is failing to deliver genuine competition.

"IPART's response is to claim that the market is working because customers could theoretically pay less...even though they mostly don't", GetUp's Climate Justice Director Miriam Lyons said

"Consumers paying sky-high bills won't be helped by IPART's reassurance that the market works on paper. Retail price deregulation was supposed to deliver low prices to consumers - if it's not delivering that, then it's not delivering at all."

IPART's 'Review of the performance and competitiveness of the retail electricity market in NSW' draft report says the market is working even though "some customers do not participate in the market and miss out on price discounts and other benefits on offer."

It's been estimated that households that don't shop around could be up to $560 - $681 worse off per year depending on their network area.

"IPART notes that some customers get better prices by switching providers, but we know that AGL, EnergyAustralia and Origin supply about 90 per cent of households in NSW", Better Power Campaign Director Anthony Gough said.

"So in theory people can get a better deal, but in practice they don't. The Big Three know this and continue to rip their customers off with uncompetitive markups".

"Our Better Power campaign targets customers of the Big Three who are being ripped off because of their loyalty."

"These companies are charging unjustifiably high markups, while the generators they own are blowing our carbon pollution budget with their dirty coal-burning power stations.

"Our Better Power campaign helps customers to ditch the Big Three for greener, cheaper alternatives, and we'll keep campaigning until those companies stop screwing the planet - and their customers."

GetUp's Better Power campaign has switched 17,000 people to Powershop and raised over $1 million for the group's climate and environmental campaigns.

See the IPART review here

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 21 September 2016

Obama summit announcement does nothing to address suffering in offshore camps

Today's announcement by the Australian government at the Obama Leaders' Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis doesn't address the future of around 2000 people currently languishing in offshore camps on Manus Island and Nauru said the Human Rights Law Centre, Getup and the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce.

The Human Rights Law Centre's Director of Legal Advocacy, Daniel Webb said that while the Australian government's pledge to keep the planned 2018 increase in the refugee resettlement intake to 18,000 per year and offer $130 million in increased financial assistance is a step forward, "showing decency to one person seeking asylum doesn't justify or require cruelty to another."

"Right now there are 2000 innocent people in our care who are suffering. I've sat face to face with women who have been sexually assaulted on Nauru. I've seen a man in our care collapse unconscious after being beaten on Manus. I've spoken with families desperate to begin rebuilding their lives in safety but who still languish on a painful road to nowhere after three years. Last night's announcement doesn't end their suffering."

Matthew Phillips, GetUp Human Rights Director, said the Australian government has been humiliated at an international summit to help people fleeing conflict by it's cruel policy of indefinite detention.

"Today's announcement is a bad attempt at a cover-up. No other country in the world has deliberately and illegally held children, women and men for years on tiny remote island camps. It's shameful that the PM can't seem to resolve that situation and is instead making promises about 2018." said Mr Phillips.

Mr Webb added, "Deliberate cruelty to innocent people is fundamentally wrong. Upping our intake and signing a cheque doesn't make it right."

Misha Coleman, Executive Officer, Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, said there are safe, viable and humane alternatives.

"We should be working with the UN and countries in our region to develop safe and orderly pathways to protection for people who need to seek it," said Ms Coleman.

HRLC, Getup and ACRT said that after three years of fear, violence and limbo, it's time to bring the men, women and children languishing on Nauru and Manus back to Australia to begin rebuilding their lives, just like the other people we will now be welcoming.

Mr Webb said,"Ultimately, whatever the policy challenge, deliberate cruelty to innocent people is never the solution."

For further comments or queries please contact:

Daniel Webb, Director of Legal Advocacy, Human Rights Law Centre, 0437 278 961

Michelle Bennett, Director of Communication, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519

Media Release, 20 September 2016

Hobart City council pledges it won't do business in abuse

GetUp's No Business in Abuse campaign has warmly welcomed the decision of Hobart City Council to pass the pledge to end involvement with any company profiting from abusive practices towards people seeking asylum.

Hobart City Council joins eight other Australian councils in the growing movement refusing to be involved with companies profiting from abuse.

The pledge states that the Council will no longer do business with companies such as Wilson Security and Ferrovial's Broadspectrum that take up contracts in Australia's immigration detention camps.

Australia's offshore detention camps are widely condemned as sites of abuse. Over half of the incident reports from Nauru involve abuses of children.

Matthew Phillips, the Human Rights Director at GetUp said all three major entities running the camps have announced their intention to exit, ending their association with the Australian government's abusive and unviable offshore detention regime.

"The eight council decisions demonstrate that the legal, financial and reputational risks are too great to continue operating in Nauru and Manus Island.

"The pledge shows that local councils like Hobart are increasingly rejecting involvement with companies who profit from abuse.

"This pledge says to the community we will not accept complicity in the Australian government's widespread human rights abuse.

"Hobart City Council decision sends a powerful messages to companies that the business you do matters.

"No Business in Abuse has released reports demonstrating that companies who profit from abuse are complicit in abuse.

"This week Southern Cross University committed to ending their involvement with Wilson Security after a community campaign called on the University to ditch the company due to its involvement in Australia's abusive detention regime.

"It's incredibly important that local governments stand up and say how you treat people matters."

Councils that have signed the pledge:

  1. Hobart City Council
  2. Fremantle Council
  3. City of Sydney
  4. Bass Coast Shire Council
  5. Augusta Margaret River Council
  6. Byron Bay Council
  7. Marrickville Council
  8. Yarra Council

  9. For more information call Kirsti Gorringe 0431 047 358

Media Release, 19 September 2016

Connect Settlement Services abandon offshore detention

Connect Settlement Services have today confirmed that they will end their association with the Australian government's abusive and unviable offshore detention regime.

Shen Narayanasamy Human Rights Director at GetUp and Director of No Business in Abuse, said "One year after No Business in Abuse publicly launched, citing the risks of doing business in abuse - all major entities have now announced their exit from the offshore camps.

"The Australian Government now has no major entity publicly willing to operate its offshore detention camps, or the bogus resettlement program in PNG and Nauru."

The global business world has spoken, the reputational, financial and legal risks facing any entity involved in the abusive offshore regime are simply too great. Despite the estimate of $5.6billion in Australian taxpayers funds* to be spent propping up this regime, no company wants a bar of it.

"The Australian government's offshore detention policy has failed, and all these people must now be brought to Australia to be properly processed.

"The camps are officially in chaos. The government is throwing billions of dollars at this problem, but it doesn't make it go away.

"Peter Dutton has failed in his responsibility, he is willing to waste billions of dollars and abuse the rights of vulnerable people.

"The treatment people receive in these camps is so appalling that companies are unwilling to take the money from the government to service them.

"Australians should be deeply concerned that the government is willing to spend billions of dollars to commit widespread human rights abuses, but they should be even more concerned when companies vote with their feet to walk away from these camps, so as not to be complicit in this abuse."

For more information, please call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

*Pg 41, At What Cost? UNICEF and Save the Children, September 2016

Media Release, 15 September 2016

Senator Nick Xenophon joins calls to stop sell off of ASIC corporate database

Senator Nick Xenophon will today throw his support behind efforts to stop the government's sale of the ASIC corporate registry.

This comes as GetUp delivers a 71,000-strong petition to the office of the Finance Minister, calling on the government to keep the database in public hands.

Senator Nick Xenophon says:

"We oppose the privatisation of Australia's corporate database and will be reaching out to the Prime Minister to ask him to suspend the sell off.

"We are listening to the community, including journalists, small business owners and open data advocates. From all camps there are massive concerns about the risks associated with the sale. This is privatisation gone mad.

"The government should be doing everything it can to facilitate greater private sector scrutiny, not creating additional barriers.

"A private monopoly over public information is bad news for our democracy", he said.

GetUp Campaigns Director Natalie O'Brien says:

"Senator Xenophon is the latest in a long line of tax experts, investigative journalists and everyday Australians speaking out against the sale of the nation's corporate database.

"Time is running out to stop the sell off, so it's great to see momentum building quickly against this harebrained plot.

"Australians will not stand by and let the government pawn off corporate transparency data to the highest bidder", she said.

Earlier this week, 84 journalists released an open letter opposing the sale, warning that it would threaten their ability to investigate corporate wrongdoing. Their open letter is running as a full page ad in today's Canberra Times.

The winner of the ASIC registry tender process is due to be announced in October. According to statements from Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, the government is yet to made a final decision on whether to go ahead with the sale.

Over 71,000 people have signed the petition to keep the ASIC registry in public hands:

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 13 September 2016

The Coalition's plebiscite is unacceptable – parliament must block it

Details of the Coalition's plebiscite have been confirmed and are unacceptable.

In response, GetUp members are calling on Labor to oppose the enabling legislation in the Senate, stopping the plebiscite from happening.

Within an hour of launching the campaign, over 100 members have emailed their MPs.

Marriage Equality Campaign Director at GetUp Sally Rugg said "For months, GetUp members have called on the Coalition to avoid an unnecessary plebiscite and allow a free vote on marriage equality.

"Now that the details of the Coalition's plebiscite are confirmed, there is no doubt that this vote must not go ahead.

"Our members are urgently calling on Labor to stand with the LGBTQIA+ community and 75% of the general public to oppose plebiscite legislation, so that this unnecessary, unethical delay tactic will finally be put to bed.

"The Turnbull Government has confirmed an outrageous $15 million of public funding to be allocated to the 'yes' and 'no' campaigns.

"That's millions of taxpayer dollars that will fund the type of prejudiced, anti-equality ads run by the Australian Christian Lobby – it's an extraordinary misuse of public money.

"Marriage equality advocates have unequivocally opposed publicly funding for both sides of the campaign for months.

"This plebiscite only has 25% support from the general public once they're aware of the $160 million price tag.

"Labor must demonstrate strong leadership and stand with the LGBTQIA+ community, to block this unnecessary and divisive plebiscite", said Rugg.

GetUp members are taking snap-action to email and phone their Labor Senators and MPs and have taken the call to social media.

For media enquiries call Kirsti Gorringe, 0431 047 358

Media Release, 13 September 2016

ARENA lives to fight another day thanks to GetUp members

The $500 million cut to ARENA announced today will undermine Australia's potential to become a global renewable energy powerhouse.

Environmental Justice Campaign Director Miriam Lyons said "This move, pushed through on the back of the Turnbull government's threat to cut $1.3 billion, will make it much more difficult for ARENA to put Australia back on the map as a leader in renewables.

"These cuts are bittersweet. Just two weeks ago, ARENA stood to be wiped out altogether.

"But thousands of GetUp members rallied behind the call to stop the shortsighted slashing of renewable energy. They wrote to their MPs, paid them a visit, and chipped in to fund billboards targeting marginal MPs.

"Billboards and targeted online ads went up in places that stood to see local ARENA projects axed, calling on the government to save solar jobs.

"GetUp members and our allies managed to drag the Government to the negotiating table, saving $800 million in funding for Australia's renewable future.

"Industry allies, and our allies in the the environment and union movements made it crystal clear that cutting ARENA is an environmentally and economically irresponsible move.

"The fact that the Government proposed this cut in the first place demonstrates that the hard-right of the Coalition is still getting its way. They're intent on holding back the renewable transition, even if they kill off renewable jobs and growth in marginal seats in the process.

"With $7.7 billion a year in fossil fuel subsidies, there's no shortage of alternative budget savings available. The Turnbull government has pushed through this cut because they chose to, not because they have to.

"Every single year that ARENA keeps its funding speeds up the transition to 100% renewable energy, a goal that a majority of Australians support.

"ARENA is on a roll right now - just last week they tripled Australia's large-scale solar capacity, cut costs by 40% and attracted $1 billion in co-investment with its latest $100 million in competitive grants.

"ARENA's work will be particularly important over the next few years, so it's crucial that any cuts are phased in very gradually, and don't interrupt the momentum that ARENA is building up in renewable energy research, development and commercialisation."

"We call on both the Coalition and the ALP to cut fossil fuel subsidies and reinstate ARENA's full budget as soon as possible." said Lyons

For media enquiries please call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 13 September 2016

More taxpayer dollars sunk into wasteful plebiscite campaign

GetUp has responded to government plans for a marriage equality plebiscite in February next year and allocation of $7.5 million each in funding to the 'yes' and 'no' campaigns in strong opposition of allocating more taxpayer funds to the plebiscite.

Sally Rugg Marriage Equality Director GetUp said "At $160 million dollars, taxpayers are already paying too much for a plebiscite.

"$15 million more to fund the Yes and No campaigns is unacceptable – this is millions of dollars to fund the type of homophobic advertising campaigns we've seen opponents run in the past.

"And how will that $15 million dollars be distributed? Who makes that decision? What transparency measures and reporting mechanisms will be in place to make sure that money goes where the government intends for it to go?

"We strongly oppose public funding being given to either side of the campaign.

"The phrase "same-sex" couples explicitly excludes some intersex people and some people with non-binary gender. If it's not equality for all, it's not equality at all.

"A plebiscite for marriage equality only has 25% support from the general public once they're aware of the $160 million price tag.

"The extra $15 million in funding and poorly worded question are about to make it even more unpopular.

"Right now, parliament could be rigorously discussing the merits of a bill for marriage equality. Instead, the Coalition are arguing over particulars in a deeply unpopular bill for a plebiscite set for February next year.

"This unnecessary delay will keep couples in love from marrying each other even longer than they've already been forced to wait." said Rugg

Yesterday, GetUp and Australian Marriage Equality delivered a petition in parliament signed by more than 59,000 people calling for an urgent free vote on marriage equality, instead of an unnecessary plebiscite.

For more information, call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 12 September 2016

57,000 Australians demand free vote on marriage equality instead of an unnecessary plebiscite

A petition calling for a free vote on marriage equality supported by 57,000 Australians will be delivered in Parliament House on Monday 12th September.

The petition, co-convened by GetUp! and Australian Marriage Equality, comes as legislation to confirm a plebiscite on marriage equality is expected to be tabled this week.

Sally Rugg, GetUp Marriage Equality Director said "While marriage equality has strong public support, a plebiscite to decide its future does not.

"People understand that a plebiscite is procedurally unnecessary, ethically fraught and potentially divisive, which is why more than 50,000 Australians are urgently calling on the Turnbull government to allow a free vote on marriage equality.

"The future of the plebiscite is hanging in the balance. GetUp and Australian Marriage Equality hope the weight of a 50,000 signature strong petition will tip the scales from the unnecessary delay tactic, and towards a free vote."

Alex Greenwich, Chair of Australian Marriage Equality said "This petition highlights the urgency with which Australians want this parliament to deliver a free vote on marriage equality

"Marriage Equality is a straight-forward reform about making people happy, the longer our politicians delay action, the more frustrated people are becoming. Two-thirds of Australians support marriage equality has been reflected by the large number of signatories to this petition"

For more information, call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 12 September 2016

Top journalists warn of threat to press freedom if ASIC registry is privatised

Eighty-four journalists have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urging him not to privatise the ASIC registry, and to make access to the database free.

In the letter, journalists warn that selling off Australia's corporate database to a private monopoly operator "threatens our ability to investigate illicit and unethical behaviour" by corporations and "stands in opposition to the principle of freedom of access to public information."

Investigative business journalist Michael West, one of the signatories of the open letter, says the sell off will assist multinational companies in hiding from their creditors and concealing their tax affairs.

"I've broken many stories on corporate misconduct, including tax evasion from Google, Ebay and Glencore. I couldn't have done this work without access to the ASIC database", said West.

"If the government sells the register, it's going to become harder to conduct investigations into corporate financial affairs. It would create a monopoly over public information.

"The charges levied by ASIC for access to this public information are believed to be the highest of any country in the world. Public information is more accessible in Yemen, Oman and Paraguay, to name a few.

"How could anyone believe that, by delivering this information into the hands of a private monopoly, the public interest could possibly be served?

"As far as public policy goes, this is a poor joke", said West.

Natalie O'Brien, Economics Campaigns Director at GetUp, said the campaign to stop the sell off of the ASIC database is gaining momentum.

"This open letter comes as over 50,000 Australians have signed a petition calling on the Government to keep the corporate ownership database in public hands."

"The general public is not about to stand by and let the government pawn off this important piece of corporate transparency infrastructure to some multinational corporation", she said.

The winner of the ASIC registry tender process is due to be announced in October. According to statements from Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, the government is yet to made a final decision on whether it will go ahead with the sale.

Read the Open Letter:

For more information, please call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 6 September 2016

Save ARENA: GetUp joins up with local heroes to fight for renewable energy jobs and investment

GetUp have teamed up with former Livington Shire Council Citizen of the year (2015) and passionate local renewable energy advocate Arthur Hunt to launch a billboard today to save ARENA, a funding body for new renewable energy investment.

Miriam Lyons said that ARENA's investments were critical to creating the jobs of the future, but they were under threat from the government who were seeking to cut over a billion in funding.

"Liberal National MP Michelle Landry's electorate of Capricornia in Queensland is experiencing rising unemployment as the mining boom winds down.

"Local projects like the Collinsville Solar Power Station can provide new opportunities, but only if Ms Landry steps in and stops the cuts. If not, Capricornia stands to miss out on up to 600 new jobs.

"Every single job counts — and ARENA-funded projects could create 600 of them in Capricornia alone. What's more, they're making clean, safe, local power more affordable for all Australians.

"With the support of people like Mr Hunt, we're calling her out. Ms Landry has an opportunity to stand up for her community.

"With the slim majority held by the government, she has the power to save people's future.

Arthur Hunt is an advocate for renewable energy in the Capricornia region and a former Queensland Public Servant, having served in the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, the Department of State Development and the Department of Communities.

He's one of hundreds of local people who expressed concerns that the future of renewable energy for the region is under threat.

"Two significant solar energy projects at Collinsville in the electorate of Capricornia are at risk if the funding is cut as proposed: the 52.8MW Whitsunday Solar Farm, adjacent to Powerlink's Strathmore Substation and the 42MW Solar Power Station," said Mr Hunt.

"Together they will require a co-investment of $200 million, a significant injection into the local economy. If they go ahead, these projects would bring significant employment to the region and generate pollution-free renewable energy at the same time

"Our message is simple. Our region needs ARENA to ensure the future of our energy is safe, affordable and secure."

For more information, please call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 1 September 2016

Offshore detention policy in turmoil as Wilson securities pulls out

Wilson Security have today announced that they see no future in offshore detention.

The security firm has announced they will not tender for another contract to provide security services in the offshore detention centres.

This announcement follows on from that of the lead contractor, Spanish company Ferrovial, which announced earlier this year that it wanted to exit the offshore camps.

Shen Narayanasamy, Human Rights Director at GetUp said "The Government has been left stranded, ignoring the reality that all camp operators have publicly withdrawn support.

"The offshore detention policy has failed. 2000 people have been unlawfully imprisoned on these islands for nearly 3 years.

"The PNG Government wants the camps closed, declaring the camps illegal.

"And now today the government has been left without any company willing to operate the centres past the expiration of the current contracts.

"Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has failed at his portfolio. The Prime Minister must stop ignoring the reality that these people must be brought here to safety.

For more information please call Adrian Dodd 0401 726 476