Show your support for public libraries

Increase State Funding for Public Libraries

Did you know that for decades now, NSW Governments have failed to keep up their fair share of funding for public libraries?

The subsidy to local libraries has stayed at $1.85 per capita while costs have continued to rise and libraries have delivered new, 21st century services.

The result has been cost-shifting to local government. In 1979/80, councils paid around three-quarters of the funding for public libraries, but by 2010/11 their share of the costs had risen to more than 90%.

The recent Contribution of Australian Public Libraries research report commissioned by the Australian Library and Information Association estimates that every dollar spent by NSW public libraries brings $3.20 in benefits to communities.

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Contact Jan’s office and we’ll send out stickers – email or call (02) 9230 2603 and let us know how many you would like and where to send them.

Jan Barham’s motion on public library funding (notice given 26 March 2013):

1. That this House notes that:

(a) libraries are a fundamental part of the educational and cultural vibrancy of community, providing life learning and opportunities for social interaction,

(b) under the terms of the Library Act 1939, the State Library of New South Wales administers the Government’s Public Library Grants and Subsidies program, which provides funding on an annual basis to local authorities to assist in the provision of public library services throughout New South Wales,

(c) Arts NSW, via the New South Wales state cultural institutions, manage significant cultural heritage collections and provide services and programs throughout the state, and together, these institutions provide a unique and irreplaceable archive of the state’s history and contemporary culture, and

(d) the Library Act 1939 and the Library Regulation state that:

(i) “State and Local Government authorities work collaboratively together to enable public libraries in New South Wales to meet the evolving needs and demands of the community”,

(ii) the age of a collection is a key consideration when determining the adequacy of a public

(iii) the Library Council of NSW “Age of Collections” standards states that at least 49 per cent of the collection has been purchased in the last five years and 90 per cent of the collection has been purchased in the last 10 years,

(iv) the size of a public library’s collection should respond to the changing and growing size of a community.

2. That this House notes that:

(a) in 1979/80, $8,478,905 was spent by the State Government on public library services while total local government expenditure in 1980 was $ 27,517,031,

(b) in 2010/11, expenditure by local government on public library services was $314,284,780, whereas expenditure by the State Government was $25, 538,000, which includes $2 million for the Country Library fund, and

(c) from 1979/80 to 2010/11, the percentage of funding provided by local government to public libraries has increased from 74.6 per cent of the total funding on an annual basis to 92.5 per cent, while State Government funding has decreased from 23.6 per cent to 7.5per cent on an annual basis.

3. That this House calls on the Government to increase the State Government funding for public libraries to reinstate the previous 1980 level of contribution of 23.6 per cent.

Feeling groovy: Parliament celebrates 40th anniversary of Aquarius Festival

North Coast Greens MP, Jan Barham, has welcomed NSW Upper House support for her motion recognising the 40th anniversary of the Aquarius Festival in Nimbin.

“The Aquarius Festival was not only an historic event; it was transformative for the Far North of New South Wales,” Ms Barham said.

“The Aquarius Festival brought new people and innovative thinking to the region and contributed to defining the area known to many as the Rainbow Region. Over the last 40 years, the North Coast has been at the forefront of many important issues such Aboriginal respect and reconciliation, biodiversity protection and sustainable architecture.”

“In a moment of harmony and youthful joy that we don’t often see on Macquarie Street, my colleagues in the Legislative Council congratulated the Aquarians and recognised the unique and vibrant culture of the North Coast,” Ms Barham said.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0407 065 061

Motion on Aquarius Festival, passed by NSW Legislative Council 22nd May 2013:

1. That this House notes that:
 (a) May 12 – 23 marks the 40th anniversary of the Aquarius Festival in Nimbin NSW,
 (b) the festival’s organisers planned more than just the fourth Australian Union of Students music festival – they planned a festival of alternative thinking and sustainable living, in a valley where festival goers could stay on and live out their ideals and aspirations,
 (c) the Bundjalung Elders gave their permission and support to holding the festival on their lands, building a respectful connection with traditional owners that has continued to this day,
 (d) the Nimbin Valley and surrounding areas welcomed the boost that the festival offered the region, with traditional industries in a state of decline,
 (e) soon after the Aquarius Festival, Nimbin became identified as a centre for counter-culture and the environmental and sustainable lifestyle movement in Australia,
 (f) the new settlers in the Nimbin community experienced adversities and learned about living on the land with support from local farmers and existing residents,
 (g) from Nimbin the counter-culture revolution reached out locally so that the Far Northern regions of NSW have become known for their innovative and sustainable technologies, ideas and models of community living, and
 (h) the Aquarians and those who were inspired to the area have made diverse contributions including:
  (i) initiating ecological protection of old growth forests and North Coast biodiversity,
  (ii) developing alternative energy systems,
  (iii) establishing sustainable food production practices and promoting healthy lifestyles,
  (iv) promoting innovative architecture in intentional communities,
  (v) encouraging cultural diversity including music, craft and arts,
  (vi) engaging in political activism, and the production of community media including newspapers and radio,
  (vii) supporting alternative economic models, including Local Economic Trading Systems (LETS) and community markets.

2. That this House congratulates the Aquarians and those who have contributed to and maintained a unique and vibrant cultural community in northern NSW for the past 40 years.

NSW Upper House supports reversing cuts to single parent payments

The Greens have welcomed the NSW Legislative Council’s support today for a call to reverse the Commonwealth’s cuts to single parent payments.

“The NSW Upper House’s passage of this motion recognises the harmful effects of moving single parents from Parenting Payment to Newstart when their youngest child turns eight. I’m heartened that state Labor and Coalition MPs gave support to such an important community issue,” said Jan Barham, NSW Greens spokesperson on family and community services.

“The change to parenting payments has provoked widespread concern, with the Commonwealth’s own human rights committee, the UN Special Rapporteur and many social service organisations questioning its impacts. I welcome the parliamentary backing to support parents and families.

“Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has led the effort to undo these damaging changes. I hope the Federal Government takes on board this message from the NSW Parliament and takes urgent action to correct these wrongs,” Ms Barham said.

“I am pleased the NSW Legislative Council has supported this important motion,” Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on families and community services said today.

“The message from around the country and internationally is that the Government’s treatment of single parents, is neither acceptable nor appropriate. That is becoming clearer and clearer, and the Government should start listening.

“The Federal Government should take action in next week’s budget to help single parents, rather than just making things harder for them. The Greens have costed measures on the table to do this.

“We have Bills in the Parliament to increase Newstart by $50 per week and provide an additional supplement payment of $40 per week for single parents on the payment.

“By fixing the mining tax, the Government can make sure our economy supports single parents so they can raise their kids in a secure environment,” Senator Siewert concluded.

Media Enquiries:
Jan Barham – directly on 0407 065 061, or David Mallard on 0432 881 448
Senator Rachel Siewert – Chris Redman on 0418 401 180

Motion on parenting payments, passed by NSW Legislative Council 9th May 2013:

1. That this House notes that:

(a) from 1 January 2013 Commonwealth legislation altered parenting payments, affecting more than 80,000 single parent families who will be transferred from Parenting Payment to Newstart when their youngest child turns eight,

(b) this change places many single parent families at greater risk of poverty and threatens the welfare and wellbeing of affected children, and

(c) concern about this change has been expressed by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights and numerous social service organisations.

2. That this House calls on the Commonwealth Government to reverse the cuts made to single parent payments, and ensure single parents receive adequate support to care for their children.

Greens welcome Tourism Inquiry

A parliamentary inquiry into the value and impacts of tourism for local across NSW is welcome and long overdue, says Jan Barham, Greens MP and spokesperson on Tourism.

“I have long believed that a thorough tourism inquiry is necessary to develop a clear understanding about the benefits and impacts of tourism across the state. This Parliamentary inquiry will provide communities, councils and businesses with the opportunity to present their views and ideas about how to ensure a sustainable and successful future for tourism in NSW,” Ms Barham said.

“Many regional communities look to tourism as an economic and employment opportunity, but sometimes aren’t aware of the investment in infrastructure and the potential impact on residents, such as holiday letting and van camping in residential areas.”

The inquiry, to be conducted by a standing committee of the NSW Upper House, was approved on Thursday and its terms of reference include investigating and reporting on:

  1. the value of tourism to New South Wales communities and the return on investment of
    government grants and funds,
  2. the value of tourism to regional, rural and coastal communities,
  3. the impacts of tourism on Local Government Areas, including:
    • infrastructure services provision and asset management,
    • social impacts,
    • unregulated tourism, and
    • employment opportunities,
  4. the marketing and regulation of tourism, and
  5. the utilisation of special rate variations to support local tourism initiatives.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0407 065 061

Holiday let decision good for housing availability and local communities

Greens MP and spokesperson for Tourism and Housing, Jan Barham, has welcomed the Land and Environment Court decision on holiday letting of a residential-zoned dwelling in Terrigal.

“The Court’s clarification that homes in residential zones that were intended for long-term occupancy are inappropriate for tourism purposes is an important outcome for local communities. In coastal areas especially, the use of homes for short-term tourism rentals has seen many potential homes lost to permanent residents, causing a shortage in housing supply. The last two Census reports have shown that Byron Bay, where many homes have been given over to holiday lets, has lost permanent residents, and this has seen an erosion of community spirit,” Ms Barham said.

“In terms of tourism use, holiday letting has not served the community well. It has operated as an unapproved use that hasn’t contributed financially to council to offset the pressures of tourism. In an area already under housing stress such as Byron Bay, it has diminished the available rental stock for locals and has meant that essential workers such as teachers, nurses and tradespeople have not been able to find affordable housing.”

“The use of residential-zoned dwellings for tourism purposes has also had a major impact on housing prices, as buyers were lured into higher purchase prices on the expectation of high rental returns. During the peak tourism and event periods such as Schoolies, rents of $5,000 per week have not been uncommon. But often the homes sit vacant for long periods and the loss of neighbours and a sense of community has been devastating. During times of peak short-term
rental, the impacts can be unbearable as noise and antisocial behaviour have often forced people to move when amenity is lost.”

“For over a decade this issue has been a problem in Byron Bay and it has escalated across other coastal communities. As well as the unplanned impacts on locals, there have been risks for tourists due to the lack of appropriate planning conditions, such as for fire and structural safety.”

“Local government faces a difficult task in addressing housing availability and affordability. This decision clarifies the use of approved residential dwellings for permanent residents, which should free up dwellings to ease the housing stress and ensure that tourism occurs in appropriate areas,” Ms Barham said.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0407 065 061