Make Sure You Can Vote in March

Don't forget to update your electoral enrolment if you become eligible to vote or have moved, so that you are correctly enrolled to vote on Saturday 26 March at the State election.You can check your enrolment details online at the Australian Electoral Commission and update details there. You can also get enrolment forms from Post Offices, Medicare, Centrelink or Australian Taxation Office offices, or call my Electorate Office for a copy.If you will be away or unable to vote on election day itself, you can request a postal vote or vote early via pre-poll from 14 March onwards. Contact the Electoral Commission NSW for details, or call my Electorate Office for a postal vote application form.Information Check enrolment at or phone 132 326 Enrolment update forms Early voting: or phone 1300 135 736

Ethics in Schools Not Parliament

Independent evaluation of ethics class trials in 10 schools during 2010, including in Crown Street and Darlinghurst public schools, showed a significant increase in students' ability to identify ethical principles and a deeper understanding of ethical standards.Ethics classes were only available to children whose parents did not want them to attend scripture classes. While religious education has long taught morality to school children from a faith-based perspective, religion does not have a monopoly on moral conduct and I supported the Education Amendment (Ethics) Bill to ensure that ethics classes can be offered in all public schools.Ethics classes could have proceeded without legislation, but the Government used the bill to play wedge politics with the Opposition, which chose to oppose teaching secular ethics to children - an ironic setting for debate on ethics!The extensive Parliament and media time consumed on this minor but progressive change shows why it is so difficult to get action on our major challenges like climate change, affordable housing and sustainable

Chinese New Year Parade

A contingent of 250 people from Hubei province in central China will be a highlight of the annual Chinese New Year Twilight Parade on Sunday 6 February.The Hubei contingent will present Wudang displays, a famous form of martial arts from the province; an intricate Tujia Waving Hand Dance, performed in brilliantly coloured costumes; and an illuminated Yellow Crane Tower, modelled on one of China's most ancient towers and a Hubei landmark.The Parade will also feature hip hop artists, flamboyant dragons, marching bands, and floats from community and school groups. To mark the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit, there will be images of the rabbit in popular culture and a pack of rabbit magicians producing surprises from their hats.The Parade begins at Sydney Town Hall at 7.45pm and continues to Darling Harbour. A fireworks display at Cockle Bay will herald the end of the Parade, welcoming the Year of the Rabbit.Information Chinese New Year Twilight Parade: Sunday 8 February, 7.45pm from Town Hall to Darling Harbour, Chinese New Year Festival: Until 13 February:

Subscribe to Live Green

The current issue of Live Green, the City's sustainability e-newsletter, provides valuable information on ethical shopping, recycling old mobile phones and workshops, seminars and events promoting sustainable living.There is also an update on City initiatives to implement Sustainable Sydney 2030, including a new sustainability program in Green Square, our plans for Australia's first city-wide water recycling network and the development of our Urban Ecology Strategic Action Plan.You can also use Live Green to access the full program of presentations at the Live Green House at the Chinese New Year Festival Markets in Belmore Park this weekend.The Live Green House is a transportable, interactive, urban home that provides practical information on sustainable living. It features a range of sustainable fittings and products, and demonstrates practical ways to reduce energy and water use and minimise waste. The house will be open between 11am and 8pm this Saturday and Sunday.Information Live Green January newsletter:* To subscribe to Live Green go to: Live Green house: Other Live Green information

Forced Adoption Inquiry

The Australian Senate is holding an Inquiry into the "Commonwealth contribution to former forced adoption policies and practices". The Senate Community Affairs Committee has called for public submissions by 28 February 2011 and will report by 30 April.Advocacy groups have been calling for a national inquiry into the past practice of forcing unmarried mothers to give up their babies, and the Western Australian Parliament issued a formal apology to affected women.The Inquiry will cover Commonwealth Government policies and practices contributing to forced adoptions and role in developing a national framework to help address the consequences for the mothers, their families and children who were subject to forced adoption policies.I encourage anyone was affected by these practices to make a submission so that the Government and the wider community can better understand the impacts, and ensure this does not occur

Same Sex Marriage

Latest polls say that 62 per cent of Australians support same-sex marriage. I support the community campaign for full equality, including in marriage.Following a meeting with Australian Marriage Equality representatives, I have committed to investigating NSW legislation to provide for same-sex marriage. This will require expert legal advice on constitutional provisions and the legal basis for State legislation.The Prime Minister did not agree to my request for a conscience vote on same-sex marriage, and says that the Government will vote as a bloc on this matter. The Federal Opposition Leader claimed to support the removal of discrimination, but continues with discriminatory marriage provisions. Federal Parliament agreed on a motion calling on MPs to gauge their constituents' views on allowing same-sex couples to marry.In NSW Parliament, I asked the NSW Attorney General about legal advice on options to recognise overseas same-sex marriages in NSW, and possible NSW legislation to provide for same sex marriage, given the lack of progress at Federal level.According to the Attorney General, Tasmanian legislation only recognises overseas same sex marriages as a "registered relationship". He says that marriage in Australia can only be recognised under the Commonwealth Marriage Act. Both the previous federal Government and then Opposition supported amendments to define marriage as only being between a man and a woman.I understand that bills to provide state marriage equality are listed for both Tasmania and South Australia, and I will monitor these developments.Same-sex marriage is allowed in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and some states in the United States of America.I encourage you to contact your federal MP to express your views.Information My Questions Australian Marriage Equality:

Art & About Wins Art and Culture Award

This weekend is the last chance to see the 2010 Art & About Laneways art projects that contributed to the City being recognised in the Sydney Music, Art and Culture Awards.Organised by the independent, community-based radio station, FBi 94.5FM. FBi's listeners vote for the awards through the radio station's website. The City won the Award in the "Remix the City" category for three key features of Art & About 2010—the Laneways temporary public art project, Reflections of Alfred, and Sydney Statues."Remix the City" awards an event, person or team who have used, created or recreated a physical space, location or landmark in Sydney, making it a creative destination. Other nominees were Breakfast on the Bridge, Sydney Open and Safari, an unofficial Biennale of Sydney fringe project.Reflections of Alfred was a public art project that converted the construction fence around the Prince Alfred Park Pool into a community gallery and art space. For the extremely popular Sydney Statues, established and emerging textile artists and designers transformed eight Sydney statues by dressing them in colourful costumes.While Reflections of Alfred and Sydney Statues have ended, the Laneways project, Are you looking at me? remains in place until Monday 31 January. The artworks are in eight laneways off George Street between Martin Place and Circular Quay.The City's commitment to public art continues during the 2011 Chinese New Year Festival, with outdoor gallery display boxes in Albion Place used as part of the walking tour, China Heart. Curated by d/Lux MediaArts, one of Australia's leading screen and media arts organisations, the walking tour uses mobile phone and GPS technology, art and performance to explore Chinatown.The Albion Place gallery boxes, initially installed for Art & About 2007, will exhibit The Dragon Balls @ The Trocadero. The exhibition of photographs, posters, artworks, memorabilia and other items recalls the role of the Trocadero Dance Palace in Chinese Australian cultural life.Previously located next to Albion Place on the site now occupied by Event Cinemas, the Trocadero hosted the Dragon Balls, the Sydney Chinese community's annual fundraiser.Information Sydney Music, Art and Culture Awards:* Art & About: Laneways Art project: Laneways off George Street between Martin Place and Circular Quay until Monday 31 January. Laneways Art project website and walking guide: China Heart:

New Plans for Social and Affordable Housing in Redfern-Waterloo

The Redfern-Waterloo Authority (RWA) is seeking public comment on its new Draft Built Environment Plan - Stage 2 (Draft BEP2). The draft BEP2 is on exhibition from 27 January to 28 February 2011.Developed by the RWA with Housing NSW, the draft outlines plans to transform Housing NSW sites in the RWA area (including Redfern, Waterloo and South Eveleigh) over the next 20-25 years.The proposal outlines planning controls that enable the redevelopment of Redfern, Waterloo and South Eveleigh to provide housing for around 7,000 households in a mix of social, affordable and private dwellings. This doubles the number of dwellings in the current public housing estates.It proposes the replacement of 700 existing public housing dwellings with 700 affordable housing units. The RWA has told the City that any reductions in public housing in the immediate area will be offset by the acquisition of replacement social housing within the local government area.A summary of the plan will be provided to every household and business in the RWA area through a special edition of the RWA's quarterly newsletter. Housing NSW residents are also being provided with a Resident Information booklet prepared by Housing NSW.RWA and Housing NSW staff will host a series of information sessions throughout February to discuss the proposals with interested residents.InformationDraft Built Environment Plan Stage 2: details on information sessions and how to make a submission can be found

City Helps in Brisbane Clean Up

Thirty-one City staff and a convoy of vehicles left for Brisbane on Monday morning to help with the massive flood cleanup. Council will also next Monday consider my proposal to donate $200,000 to the Queensland Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal.Our staff from Cleansing and Waste, Civil Maintenance, Parks Services, Fleet and Health Services will use council equipment, including garbage trucks, excavators, backhoes, tipper trucks and utes.They will remain in Brisbane for a week and will be relieved by a second team of 29 staff from Tuesday 1 February 2011. All staff will receive their full salary for the time they are away, and the City will also meet reasonable out of pocket expenses.I farewelled the staff before they left, thanking them on behalf of the City for their generosity. Media reports suggest it will not be easy, with scenes of great devastation and loss. I am proud that so many of our staff volunteered for this challenge.Three-quarters of Queensland has been declared a disaster zone, with more than 86 towns and cities and well over 28,000 properties affected by the flooding. A number of people have been confirmed dead, and others are still missing.In recent years, the City has given readily to support communities devastated by bushfires in Victoria, earthquakes in China and Haiti, floods in Pakistan and the tsunami across the Pacific.I urge you to consider contributing to the Queensland Premier's Flood Relief Appeal.Information Queensland Premier's Flood Relief Appeal: To make a donation phone 1800 219 028

Recycled Water Network One Step Close

Building on water recycling projects already underway, the City has selected a consortium to develop a Decentralised Water Master Plan to dramatically reduce demand for mains water.Sustainable Sydney 2030 sets a target of sourcing 10 percent of the City's water supply from within our own boundaries, and to help us get there the Decentralised Water Master Plan will examine the costs and benefits of a city-wide recycled water network, outline water efficiency measures to reduce consumption; identify ways to collect more water locally; and explore different business models to implement the Plan.Currently, the City imports 32 gigalitres of drinking water into the local government area each year, most of which is used in apartments, commercial and institutional buildings. It is estimated that 80 per cent of this water could be replaced by recycled water including for toilet flushing, laundry uses, air conditioning cooling towers and irrigation.The City's proposed recycled water network, the first of its kind Australia, would allow building owners to both take recycled water from, and supply recycled water to, the network with possible sources of recycled water already identified including treated stormwater, treated grey water (from kitchens and laundries), and cleaned, disinfected black water from sewers.As well as reducing drinking water consumption across the City, the Plan will guide our work to better control stormwater and stormwater run-off during heavy rain events, limiting localised flooding.The consortium, comprising engineering consultants GDH, the University of Technology's Institute for Sustainable Futures, and public private partnership consultants P3iC, will also look at regulatory barriers that may prevent or limit the implementation of a city-wide water recycling network, and will identify additional projects and programs that will ultimately help us achieve our target of reducing pollutants entering our waterways by 50 percent.Related information: | Environment | eNews |

Community Sidelined on Barangaroo - Again

The State Government has taken control parts Hickson Rd, Sussex Street and Napoleon Street in Millers Point - removing community oversight of the clean-up of contamination, putting quality urban design at risk and jeopardising vital pedestrian links to Barangaroo. This unnecessary move to control City-owned land ignores the City's strong track record of high quality urban design and development approvals. The decision further limits community involvement in planning for Barangaroo, taking a major City responsibility out of our hands without a justifiable reason. I remain concerned about the serious risk of contaminants leaking into the harbour during excavation, and about protecting the local community from airborne vapours and dust during the remediation works, and am concerned the Government has ignored the City's concerns about their trial of an on-site decontamination procedure. Pedestrian links are vitally important for the success of the Barangaroo development, and it is important that the bridge and pedestrian footways proposed meet the high standards set by the City for urban design and pedestrian amenity. The continuing sidelining of the City and community demonstrates the Government's determination to fast-track the project. This latest action further excludes Council, ignores the expert advice of City staff and reduces the requirements for meaningful community consultation.Related information: | East Darling Harbour | Environment | Planning & Development | eNews

Have a Say on Smoking

I encourage concerned residents to comment on NSW Health's "Strategic Directions for Tobacco Control in NSW 2011-2016 Discussion Paper". The Paper identifies that smoking rates continue to decline - only 17.2 per cent of adults in Australia smoke daily now, compared to 24 per cent in 1997.The Discussion Paper lists these priorities: 1. Continue social marketing campaigns to help smokers quit; 2. Continue evidence based services to help smokers quit; 3. Work with Aboriginal communities and peak bodies to reduce smoking and exposure to smoke; 4. More effort to reduce smoking among people with high smoking rates such as low socio-economic groups and some culturally and linguistically diverse groups; 5. Eliminate advertising and promotion of tobacco products and restrict the availability and supply of tobacco, especially to children; 6. Reduce exposure to tobacco smoke in workplaces, public places and other settings; 7. More action to prevent young people starting to smoke; and 8. Better research, monitoring, evaluation and reporting on tobacco control.The Discussion Paper suggests amending the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 to ban smoking in commercial outdoor eating areas; public playgrounds and within 10m of children's play equipment; in and around public swimming pools and public recreation centres; in sporting stadia; at public sports grounds; at enclosed or covered bus stops and taxi ranks; and within 4m of the entrance to a public building.Submissions are due 5 pm Friday 28 January 2011.Information Discussion Paper Tobacco Information Line: phone 1800 357 412 Related information: | Community Services | Open Space & Recreation | eNews

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