We call on the Minister for Health to work with the NSW Chief Health Officer to develop COVID-safe guidelines to allow people to safely and legally exercise their democratic right to peacefully protest.
Our right to peaceful protest is a central part of our democracy.
Given that there are COVID-safe plans for sporting events, pubs, restaurants, schools, racecourses, sex work, major events and other types businesses, we also need COVID safe guidelines to allow safe, peaceful protest. We will be living under some form of health restrictions for some time, and need to find ways to live with the virus - not to suspend democracy indefinitely.
Being able to engage in peaceful protest, community rallies and non-violent direct action is a human right and a key part of our democracy.
Recent protests in NSW have been subject to an excessive police response – we need to have a safe way to be able to come together as a community and express our views.
Attn: Brad Hazzard, Minister for Health
We urge you to work with the NSW Chief Medical Officer to develop a COVID-safe plan for peaceful protest in NSW.
Please ensure we can exercise our right to peaceful protest without fear of an excessive police response.
These are very difficult times for many people, especially for those living in high-rise housing in our inner city. Our office is working hard to ensure that during this time, all public housing buildings across NSW are kept clean and safe for all residents, NSW Health leads any emergency response plans and procedures if there is a COVID-19 cluster in a public housing tower and most importantly, that the dignity and rights of public housing tenants are protected.
[UPDATE May 14, 2020]
Legislation Passed Supporting Renters
The NSW Parliament passed the Covid-19 Emergency Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020 No 2 yesterday which included amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 to be in force during the emergency period - a big step forward from where the government stood just a few weeks ago regarding protections for renters.
The amendments gave renters two important wins:
1) renters may be able to break their leases with reduced penalties by applying through the Tribunal under certain circumstances: if the landlord has refused to negotiate rent relief, or refused to negotiate in good faith or, if a tenant and a landlord are unable to come to an agreement on a fair and affordable rent reduction.
2) renters and households who are Covid-19 impacted (by losing more than 25% of their incomes or the household's income), will be able to receive reduced rents via a compensation fund that will support landlords who can show hardship and who pass on rent reductions to tenants.
The Greens put up a series of amendments which would have given renters more significant support at this time in key areas:
- giving the Tribunal the power to impose reduced rents and to prioritize renters' applications as urgent
- rent relief for renters and landlords in financial hardship
- restricting the ability of landlords to evict tenants on no grounds
- stopping retaliatory evictions
- break lease option without any financial penalty
- maintenance records available on request to renters
- allowance of pets to give tenants more flexibility when seeking a home
Jenny provided a wrap up of what happened on Facebook live after the legislation passed which you can watch here.
To find the details about these changes and other measures and how they can help in your specific circumstances, go to the Department of Fair Trading site or check out the information on the Tenants Union site.
We will continue to work for a better deal for renters especially during this pandemic when the right to an affordable, livable home is more crucial than ever.Read more
Here’s my opinion piece from Monday's Sydney Morning Herald.
Let’s be done with arbitrary distinctions about who is entitled to certain wages or conditions, healthcare, housing or access to services based on the colour of someone’s passport or the status of their visa.
All people are born free and equal in dignity and rights - and no laws or government policies should ever undermine this.
We have developed a directory of contact details for health advice, income support, government services and assistance available regarding COVID-19.Read more
Greens Leader Adam Bandt and Senator Mehreen Faruqi discuss the housing crisis, and the looming debt crisis if tenants are forced to repay 6 months rent after the shut down is over.Read more
We know that the measures announced by the state and federal governments to support individuals and businesses during the pandemic leave a lot of people behind. Tell us if you are one of the people who has fallen through the cracksRead more
We know that the measures announced by the state and federal governments to support individuals and businesses during the pandemic have and will help many people - but we also know they leave a lot of people behind.
The information regarding what support is available is confusing and sometimes contradictory. In some cases there are gaps that were not intended - or serious omissions that need fixing.
If you feel like you have been missed out or forgotten, we are inviting you to tell us your story. This will help set our priorities and also assist us in advocating for change so that no one is left behind during the pandemic.
For those of you who live in the electorate of Newtown, we may be able to assist with your individual situation - in which case someone from our office may be in touch directly via the contact details you provided here.