NSW Upper House calls on Government to pursue a 1.5 degree limit on global warming

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Greens MP Jan Barham has welcomed the Legislative Council’s support for a motion calling for legislation and action to ensure the state contributes to pursuing the aims of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“The Paris Agreement calls for international action to keep global warming well below 2 degrees and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. I congratulate the Government and all other parties for supporting the Greens’ motion, and it’s now essential that the state locks in action to lead the way to achieving the aims of the Paris Agreement,” Ms Barham said.

“The Greens have a Climate Change Bill before the Parliament right now which would commit all NSW Governments, now and into the future, to put us on a trajectory to net zero emissions by 2040, consider the climate impacts in decisions across the whole of government, and provide for judicial review of any actions that would undermine climate action.

“The past two years have each been the hottest on record. The momentum for climate action is building, from the international agreement reached by 195 nations in Paris and in the local households and organisations supporting fossil fuel divestment and the uptake of clean energy.

“It’s time for the NSW Government to support the community and businesses who are working to play their part in limiting global warming, and to lock in the policies that will put the whole of our society on track to address climate change.”

Ms Barham’s motion noted not only the international agreement that was reached in Paris but the many commitments and actions made by sub-national governments, cities and corporations to support the aims of the Paris Agreement.

“States and territories around the world are crucial to delivering the action on climate change that is required to keep warming well below 2 degrees Celsius,” Ms Barham said.

“Already in 2016, Wales has passed legislation that commits to long-term emissions targets and putting sustainability front and centre in all government decision-making, and Victoria’s independent review of its climate legislation has made strong recommendations for emissions reduction targets and a Climate Charter.

“New South Wales can deliver strong climate action and the passage of this motion puts the onus on the Government to ensure that we do,” Ms Barham concluded

For further comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

The Greens NSW Climate Change Bill

Motion by Jan Barham MLC as passed by the NSW Legislative Council, 25 February 2016

1. That this House notes that:
(a) on 12 December 2015, an agreement was adopted by consensus of the 195 nations, including Australia, who participated in the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Framework Convention on Climate Change,
(b) the Paris Agreement aims to strengthen the global response to climate change by:
(i) holding the increase in global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels,
(ii) increasing capacity for climate change adaptation and fostering climate resilience and low-emissions development, and
(iii) making finance flows consistent with the pathway toward low-emissions and climate-resilient development, and
(c) the Agreement will open for signature with a signing ceremony at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 22 April 2016 and will take effect when at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting for at least 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions have ratified the Agreement.

2. That this House notes that in addition to the agreement by nation states, the Paris Conference saw significant involvement from regional governments, cities and business organisations, including:
(a) the release of the first Disclosure Report of the Compact of States and Regions, which brings together 44 sub-national governments, including the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia, who have committed to set emissions reduction targets and report their annual performance,
(b) the addition of 43 new signatories to the Under 2 MOU, an agreement of sub-national governments to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, bringing the total number of signatories to 123 jurisdictions, and
(c) the announcement that 53 major global corporations, including BMW, Google and Coca-Cola, have joined the RE100 initiative and made commitments to source 100% of their electricity from renewable energy.

3. That this House notes that since the signing of the Paris Agreement there have been further commitments and actions from governments, businesses and individuals, including:
(a) the signing of the Paris Pledge for Action, a statement of support for the Paris Agreement and commitment to work to ensure the Agreement’s aims are met or exceeded, by more than 400 businesses, 120 investors, and 150 cities and regions representing 700 million people and $US11 trillion,
(b) the addition of four more signatories to the Under 2 MOU, including the US state of Massachusetts, the Colombian regional governments of Guainia and Guaviare, and Lower Austria, and
(c) the Welsh National Assembly’s passage on 2 February 2016 of the Environment (Wales) Bill, which sets long-term and interim targets for significant emissions reductions and provides that sustainable management of natural resources must be a core consideration in decision-making, and
(d) the completion of the Independent Review of the Climate Change Act 2010 in Victoria, which:
(i) took into consideration the Paris Agreement, the Victorian Government’s commitment to restore Victoria as a climate change leader and the increasing importance of sub-national governments and non-state actors in taking climate action, and
(ii) delivered 33 recommendations including setting a long-term emissions reduction target and enabling interim targets at five-yearly intervals, introducing a Charter of Climate Change Objectives and Principles that must be taken into account by the Government when preparing climate change strategies and in all plans, policies, programs and operational decisions across government, and providing broad standing for judicial review of administrative decisions that may have climate change impacts or risks.

4. That this House calls on the New South Wales Government to take action to support the aims of the Paris Agreement, including by implementing legislation and policies that will place New South Wales on a pathway to leadership in pursuing the aims of the Paris Agreement.

Submission on the Management of NSW Public Housing Maintenance Contracts

Photograph of houses

As the spokesperson on Housing and Homelessness, Jan has lodged The Greens NSW Submission to the NSW Legislative Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee Inquiry into the Management of NSW Public Housing Maintenance Contracts. The submission was produced in consultation with our Housing Working Group and elected Greens representatives who have worked to support public housing tenants in their community when faced with maintenance issues and related concerns.

You can view or download the full submission as a PDF document.

The submission highlights the following key points:

  1. Housing is an important contributor to the wellbeing of people, households and society
  2. Poor maintenance of public housing is harming tenants’ wellbeing
  3. Maintenance funding shortfalls and the absence of strategies for managing the public housing portfolio have undermined the capacity, quality and sustainability of NSW public housing
  4. Maintenance policies and processes are a common source of tenant frustration, dissatisfaction and complaints

It makes the following recommendations:

  1. That the NSW Government acknowledge that the extent of the housing crisis and its impact on the wellbeing of individuals, households and society requires urgent action across all levels of government to deliver solutions across the full continuum of the housing system.
  2. That the Government acknowledges the importance of housing quality and state of repair to the wellbeing of tenants and ensure Housing NSW and Land and Housing Corporation policies about their obligations as landlord and property manager incorporate supporting and promoting tenants’ wellbeing as a key obligation.
  3. That the Government sets strong, clear targets for improvement in the proportion of public and Aboriginal housing dwellings that are of acceptable standard and directs sufficient investment and action to maintenance and upgrades for all dwellings that are not of acceptable standard.
  4. That the Government outlines a timeline and a detailed plan to ensure that in future they will fully comply with all of their statutory obligations and standing as a model litigant with respect to maintenance and repairs of public housing.
  5. That the Government finalises and releases its Asset Portfolio Strategy, which was originally due to be completed by the end of 2013, as a matter of urgency.
  6. That the Government, in recognition of the ongoing maintenance shortfall in the LAHC budget, prioritises the allocation of sufficient funding to clear the backlog and ensure public housing stock is of an appropriate standard to ensure the wellbeing of tenants and prevent further delays in maintenance or sales of social housing properties to pay for maintenance.
  7. That the Government ensure that any new maintenance policies, processes and contractual arrangements are carefully designed and receive continual evaluation to ensure that they:
    • are responsive to tenants’ needs and prioritise issues that affect the health and wellbeing of tenants, and
    • maximise value for money and efficiency while ensuring the quality and timeliness of work.

Heritage listing for Sirius an opportunity for a social housing win-win

Sirius Apartment Building image by Marek Lambert (Allshots Imaging)

Sirius Apartments 3/4 View by Marek Walter (Allshots Imaging)

Greens MP and Housing spokesperson Jan Barham MLC has welcomed the Heritage Council’s recommendation that the Sirius Apartment Building in The Rocks be listed on the State Heritage Register and is calling on the Government to act urgently to deliver certainty about its future.

“As soon as Parliament resumes, I will introduce a motion calling on the Government to act on the Heritage Council’s recommendation and list Sirius on the State Heritage Register,” Ms Barham said.

“I will also call on the Government to provide for people’s wellbeing by allowing Millers Point residents to relocate into this purpose-built social housing.

“The Government has the opportunity to deliver a win-win for social housing: older and vulnerable Millers Point tenants will have the opportunity to remain connected to their community, and quality inner-city public housing is maintained.”

Ms Barham noted that the NSW Legislative Council had supported a motion in June 2015 acknowledging the significance of the Sirius Building and calling for its protection, along with the expansion of the Sirius model for social housing.

“The Heritage Council’s acknowledgement that Sirius is of state significance and should be protected is something the Minister for Heritage should act on immediately, given that the Government has already supported a resolution recognising the need for protection.

“The Government should never have included Sirius in the planned sell-off of public housing. Unlike the Millers Point housing with its maintenance and access issues, Sirius is less than 35 years old and was designed and built for use as public housing.

“The Social Housing Minister should take this opportunity to ensure this significant part of Sydney’s heritage continues to be used to provide housing for those who need it,” Ms Barham concluded.

For further comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891


Postcard featuring photo of Sirius

Postcard produced for ‘Getting Serious About Sirius’ November 2014 forum hosted by Jan Barham MLC and Sophie Cotsis MLC – 1979 photo supplied with the permission of FACS NSW.

71,000 affordable homes needed in regional NSW

Greens spokesperson on Affordable Housing Jan Barham has called on the NSW Government to address the shortfall of 71,000 affordable homes in regional NSW.

“Unaffordable housing is not just a Sydney issue. Right now, there are thousands of households across regional NSW that are struggling to pay the rent”, said Ms Barham.

“Latest data shows that 71,000 low-income renter households in regional NSW are in housing stress. They are paying more than 30 per cent of their income on household costs, which, for many, means foregoing other essential goods and services to keep a roof over their head.”

“NSW is experiencing gentrification of not only city-based suburbs but also in some coastal regional areas, which are suffering from affordable housing crisis due to the popularity of locations.”

“As at December 2014, only 23,964 dwellings were considered affordable for a low-income household in regional NSW. In Coffs Harbour, 10.6% of rentals were affordable for a very-low income household and in Byron that figure was 3.7%[1].”

“This data is consistent with Anglicare Australia’s mapping of rental affordability in regional areas. Its latest report showed that while there is greater availability of affordable rentals for people earning the minimum wage, most households on income support payments cannot afford rent in the regions[i].”

Ms Barham said that the lack of affordable housing in the regions means that people are resorting to living in overcrowded housing, caravans and their cars because they cannot find an affordable home.

“It’s unacceptable that in NSW we have people living in caravans and cars because of the huge shortage of social and affordable housing. These circumstances impact on people’s wellbeing as housing stress equates to emotional stress. More must be done with planning rules to support those who are vulnerable in this current housing crisis.”

“The data shows that while the NSW Government’s announcement of 6,500 additional social and affordable dwellings is a good first step, it barely scratches the surface of what’s needed to address the affordable housing crisis across the state.”

For further comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891


  1. Number of NSW renting households in housing stress outside of Sydney

Table 1 

This graph shows that in the 2011 Census, 45,217 very-low income households (those earning less than 50% of the median income for the area) pay more than 30% of their income in rent and associated household costs. Very-low income households generally receive a pension or other income support payment. The graph also shows there were 26,456 low-income households in housing stress. Low income households earn more than 50% but less than 80% of the median income for the area. These totals exclude the Sydney area.

  1. Percentage of housing stress in selected NSW regions

Table 2 

Almost all very-low income households in NSW areas outside of Sydney are in housing stress, with 87% paying more than 30% of their income on household costs. Low-income households fare better, but the majority (54%) are considered to be in housing stress.

  1. Percentage of affordable rental stock for people on very low and low incomes, selected NSW regions

Table 3

There is some variation in the selected NSW regions in affordability of rental stock, with North Coast regions showing limited availability, particularly for very-low income households. The selected inland areas showed higher rates for both very-low and low income households, but affordable stock still fell short of demand.

  1. Numbers of very-low and low-income households in housing stress and the number of affordable rental housing stock, selected regions, December 2014


This graph illustrates the shortfall of affordable rental housing in the selected regions to meet demand. The number of very-low and low-income households exceeds the number of affordable rental stock as at June 2011. While this data is slightly outdated, the number of affordable rental housing stock for low-income households as at December 2014 has declined in all the selected regions except for Orange, Dubbo and Albury, which saw slight increases.


Data collated using the Housing Kit Data Base, http://www.housing.nsw.gov.au/centre-for-affordable-housing/nsw-local-government-housing-kit/local-government-housing-kit-database/2011-census-database

[1]Households described as being ‘very low income’ are those earning less than 50 percent of the NSW or Sydney median income, depending on where they live.

Households earning more than 50 percent but less than 80 percent of the NSW or Sydney median income are described as earning a ‘low income’ (http://www.housing.nsw.gov.au/centre-for-affordable-housing/about-affordable-housing/who-are-very-low-to-moderate-income-earners)

[i] Anglicare Australia (2015) ‘Rental Affordability Snapshot’ http://www.anglicare.asn.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/rental-affordability-snapshot-2015.pdf p.5

Greens call for NSW Close the Gap Targets

Aboriginal Land Rights rally in Hyde Park

“I’m calling on the Premier to establish clear NSW targets and report across all key areas of inequality so that his Government and future governments can be held accountable,” said Jan Barham, NSW Greens spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs.

“Working with Aboriginal communities to ensure they have the services and opportunities required to address inequality in health and wellbeing is a responsibility of every Government, particularly in light of historical wrongdoings.

“Today’s release of the Prime Minister’s Closing the Gap report shows the lack of national progress on addressing the disparity in life expectancy and employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Ms Barham noted that there are significant areas of inequality and disadvantage that aren’t addressed by the national targets.

The Close the Gap Steering Committee’s report on Progress and Priorities 2016 recommends targets to address imprisonment rates and community safety, as well as the exacerbated disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal people with disability, education and employment.

“New South Wales should establish targets to address the full range of causes and indicators of Aboriginal disadvantage and inequality, including incarceration rates, rates of child abuse, neglect and removal, disability, mental health and suicide.

Ms Barham noted that the NSW Government had introduced some welcome initiatives in Aboriginal Affairs but that greater engagement with Aboriginal communities and self-determination in addressing needs was required.

“I’ve worked with this Government to support a range of initiatives that aim to provide opportunity and self-determination to Aboriginal communities, including through the new OCHRE strategy and ensuring Aboriginal land rights are respected and delivered.

“All politicians and parties must support giving priority to working with Aboriginal communities to address the ongoing inequality and lack of opportunity they experience, and I call on the Premier to make it a priority to close all of the gaps in New South Wales,” Ms Barham concluded.

For further comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891


Commonwealth must follow NSW’s lead on registered nurse staffing in nursing homes

NSW Greens spokesperson on Ageing Jan Barham has called on the public to support a Commonwealth Senate inquiry into the aged care workforce.

“Last year I chaired a NSW Upper House Inquiry into registered nurses in nursing homes, which received unanimous support for regulation requiring nursing homes to have at least one registered nurse on duty at all times” said Ms Barham.

“Now the Commonwealth Senate is inquiring into the aged care workforce, led by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert.[i] I encourage the Senate Committee to review staffing standards in nursing homes, which our inquiry found were inadequate to ensure elderly, frail nursing home residents had access to registered nurse care around the clock.”[ii]

“The NSW Inquiry received overwhelming evidence from experts in the field including the Australian and New Zealand Society for Geriatric Medicine, the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association, Alzheimer’s Australia NSW, Council on the Ageing and Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association that nursing homes need a registered nurse on duty at all times to ensure that residents receive high quality care.”

Ms Barham expressed concern about the lack of robust Commonwealth regulation governing staffing in an industry that is making record profits.

“Reports of some nursing homes recording a 40% surge in profits while face-to-face care hours dropped by 7% are cause for alarm. In 2014, research showed that residents received an average of just 5.2 hours of care from a registered nurse per fortnight.”[iii]

“We know that many nursing homes have replaced registered nurses with lower-skilled Assistants in Nursing and care workers even though resident care need is the highest it has ever been. This is placing residents at risk in cases where an emergency arises or the particular needs of high care residents are reliant on registered nurse care and supervision.”

Ms Barham said that while the NSW Inquiry found that nursing homes caring for high needs residents must have a registered nurse on duty at all times, exemptions could apply to small remote and rural nursing homes where it’s difficult to attract registered nurses.

“Some nursing home operators in remote and rural areas told our inquiry that it would be difficult to comply with a 24/7 registered nurse requirement. That’s why we recommended there be an exemption clause, which recognises the unique challenges facing such facilities.”

“But our inquiry was clear: Government must ensure nursing homes caring for high-needs residents have a registered nurse on duty 24/7 in the interests of resident safety.”

Submissions to the Commonwealth Senate inquiry close 4 March 2016.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

Jan-Barham. RN 247 CAMPAIGN


[i] Senate Community Affairs References Committee inquiry into the Future of Australia’s Aged Care Sector Workforce http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Aged_Care_Workforce

[ii] Nursing homes are largely regulated by the Commonwealth under the Aged Care Act 1997. The Act does not require nursing homes to have a registered nurse on duty at all times. NSW mandates under the Public Health Act 2010 that nursing homes formerly known as ‘high care’ facilities be staffed by a registered nurse 24/7. This State requirement came under review after changes to the Aged Care Act removed the distinction between ‘high’ and ‘low’ care facilities, thus rendering the NSW requirement inoperable. The NSW Government is still reviewing its registered nurse requirement under the Public Health Act.

[iii] Paddy Manning ‘Profits rise, quality called into question in aged-care industry’ Crikey 15 January 2015, http://www.crikey.com.au/2015/01/15/profits-rise-quality-called-into-question-in-aged-care-industry/ & Tom Allard ‘Nursing home profits soar as patient care declines’ Sydney Morning Herald 1 January 2016 http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/nursing-home-profits-soar-as-patient-care-declines-20151224-glupug.html

NSW Legislative Council inquiry into registered nurses in New South Wales nursing homes: http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/committee.nsf/0/D7A6228FCC493975CA257E6F0024A87D

Getaboutable: A great boost for accessible tourism

Jan Barham, NSW Greens spokesperson for Disability and Tourism has applauded Getaboutable, a website developed in Australia that provides information about accessible tourism for people with a disability.

Getaboutable lists accommodation, transport and entertainment options that are accessible for people with mobility impairments, vision impairments or hearing loss.

“This is a fantastic example of a tool that promotes accessible tourism and I encourage businesses that are accessible to list their information on the site so that it can grow”, said Ms Barham.

“If tourism destinations aren’t accessible or haven’t looked at this sector, then now is the time to act. This is particularly important for regional areas, where accessibility can give them that all important point of difference.”

Ms Barham said that the tourism industry must recognise that accessible tourism is not only good for the community; it’s also good for business.

“Almost one if five people in Australia have a disability. The National Disability Insurance Scheme will see a lot more people with disability securing their independence and the ability to travel. The tourism industry must get on board with accessible tourism or risk losing a substantial customer base.”

“Getaboutable gives businesses an excellent opportunity to reach out to people with a disability both in Australia and internationally, while providing much needed information about accessibility. I look forward to its success and congratulate the instigator, Yasmine Gray from Canberra for this innovation.”

For further comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891


  • Getaboutable: http://getaboutable.com/
  • Research suggests that accessible tourism contributes $4.8 billion to the Australian economy, but this could be $8.7 billion if latent demand was met.[1]
  • In NSW, 30% of the population is aged 65 and over or has a disability.[2]

[1] Darcy, S. (2010) ‘Economic Contribution of Accessible Tourism’ Accessible Tourism Research http://accessibletourismresearch.blogspot.com.au/2010/01/economic-contribution-of-accessible.html

[2] ABS (2013) Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of findings, 2012 http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4430.02012?OpenDocument

Greens MPs call for protection of North Coast wetlands under threat on World Wetlands Day

Cobaki wetlands

Greens NSW MP and Environment Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC and North Coast Greens MP, Jan Barham, have today called on the Baird Government to focus on protecting wetlands in New South Wales, including calling for Ramsar protection for the Cobaki Catchment on the North Coast.

World Wetlands Day commemorates the signing of the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation of wetlands.

Dr Faruqi said:

“Wetlands play a vital role in a healthy environment, including for all the waterways that criss-cross the state. Unfortunately, we are losing wetlands across the state and with it their rich biodiversity.

“This World Wetlands Day, I am calling on the NSW Premier to get serious about protecting our vital wetlands and give them the protection they deserve, including from the threats of fossil fuel mining, inappropriate development and pollution” she stated.

North Coast Greens MP, Jan Barham, said:

“The Cobaki catchment is a world class ecological and cultural treasure that is deserving of protection. As the popularity and pressures on this beautiful and important area grow, there is a greater need to protect and preserve this significant landscape.

“I will be presenting a motion to the Parliament when it resumes for the nomination by the NSW Government of the Cobaki Broadwater Catchment for Ramsar Convention protection.

“The NSW Government has an important role in the nomination of sites that meet the criteria and on World Wetlands Day I am pleased that the Greens are recognising and celebrating the natural and cultural environment and seeking protection of this national treasure” Ms Barham concluded.

Media Contact:

Matt Hilton for Mehreen Faruqi: 0423 106 247 / (02) 9230 2625.
Jan Barham: 0447 853 891

Call for Inquiry – NSW public land being used for airport runway expansion

Lindy Smith, Dawn Walker, Jan Barham MLC, Cr Gary Bagnall and Mayor Katie Milne visit the Crown Reserve affected by Gold Coast airport expansion

The Greens have expressed shock and called for a transparent and public inquiry regarding the approval of an Instrument Landing System (ILS) at the Gold Coast Airport.

Greens candidate for Richmond, Dawn Walker, said: “I am concerned to see that a runway extension has been written into the lease granted to the airport for the NSW Crown Reserve at West Tweed.

“This lease was signed between the Government and the airport without public consultation and I stand with the community in asking for the protection of public land for recreation and environmental conservation, not given away on our behalf to private interests.”

Greens MP and Crown Lands spokesperson, Jan Barham MLC, said: “The approval of the Instrument Landing System (ILS ) by the federal government is a sleight of hand that will impact dramatically on protection of NSW crown land and the wellbeing of many people in the Tweed and the Gold Coast. This process is one of deception.

“The installation of an ILS is an act of subterfuge that is all about the twice defeated plans for a runway extension. The airport wants to extend the runway to allow larger and louder aircraft such as the Airbus A340 to fly over the Tweed.

“The increased aircraft traffic will come at the cost of precious public lands, including the significant Cobaki wetlands with salt marsh and fish breeding habitat destroyed. The Crown Land is reserved for ‘public recreation’ not private interest.

“I have asked questions in Parliament about how the privately owned Gold Coast Airport gained access to the lease rights over NSW Crown Land.

“The extension proposal had twice been rejected because of the impact on the Crown Land which will include wholesale clearing of public land and protected vegetation and habitat. But with the approval for the ILS by the federal government, no state laws apply and no further approval is needed by the state Minister for Crown Lands, Niall Blair.

“The NSW Government has not revealed the date of the transfer of the land to enable the airport to make the application to the Commonwealth. Concerns have been raised as to whether the lease was valid at the time of its approval. The NSW Government passed laws that allowed inconsistent land uses to be validated but it appears the lease was given one month before the legislation was introduced to Parliament.

“Local residents including the Tweed Heads Residents and Ratepayers Association are demanding an inquiry into how this public land could be transferred to a private entity to be destroyed.

“I will take concerns of the community and the Richmond Greens candidate to the Parliament and will ask further questions and present a proposal for an inquiry. It may also be that this is not an isolated issue and that needs to be investigated. The public has a right to know that public land is being managed in the public interest, not to enrich private interests,” concluded Ms Barham.

For comment:
Jan Barham MLC 0447853891
Dawn Walker, Greens federal candidate for Richmond 0411 404 588

See attachment for background information.