$7 million dollars for schools in the region

Schools in the Illawarra region have received more than $7 million dollars in funding as part of the second round of the National School Pride Program. Melissa Jaros spoke to Minister for the Illawarra David Campbell and Woonona High School Principal Martin Arrowsmith about the funding for schools in the region.

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Budget response

After the budget was announced it seemed that the Illawarra had been short changed but the University was successful yet again. Locals were left wondering why high profile public concerns such as the Picton Rd, Princes Hwy and Maldon-Dombarton rail link were largely ignored. Federal member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, spent this week in defending the decisions. Here’s what she had to say about some of the decisions in the Illawarra.

Judy Raper, Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Wollongong, spoke on why the University is so successful in attracting funds over other projects. She said the application process has been largely misrepresented, and that not enough has been done to make the community aware of the monumental work planned for the centre and the benefits it can bring to the region.

There were budget decisions other then infrastructure plans that will affect the Illawarra community. Federal member for Gilmore, Jo Gash, is concerned not only about the lack of infrastructure funding, but also some of the announcements that were generally received well. Listen in to what she had to say on the promise of broadband and how much of her electorate will miss out.

Ms Gash also spoke of concerns voiced by older residents who are worried they will be worse off with the pension increase.

Jo Gash is primarily concerned about the lack of funding for the Princes Hwy. She lays the blame on our state MP’s saying that she was of the impression that Matt Brown, the State Member for Kiama, would apply for federal funding to upgrade the Berri by-pass. This past week, it has become apparent that an application was not even drafted.

There has been a lot of anger directed at the state government about a shortfall of funding in NSW.

David Campbell, the Minister for the Illawarra and Transport,  spoke to Crossfire about the criticism.

For more information on the budget visit the federal governments 2009-10 Commonwealth budget website.

Feedback for the council

The Council has today extended the time frame for submissions on the draft Local Environment Plan, or LEP.

This draft has been on exhibition since the 24th of November last year; regulations require drafts to be open for public submission for a minimum of 28 days.

The LEP guides land use and development. It addresses land zonings and determines what land can be used for. It also controls the scale and density of development and lists heritage items.

This LEP excludes the West Dapto release area and the Dapto Town centre which have their own separate draft LEP.

The LEP draft can be found online at the council website or you can contact the council.

The council is also asking for feedback on the Plan of Management (PoM) for the Stanwell Park Beach Reserve and Bald Hill area.

Possibilities of extensions and refurbishments are proposed in the Plan of Management draft for the Stanwell Park Kiosk and the Surf Life Saving Club.

This draft will be on display until the 29th of May and open for feedback. There will also be a public hearing to discuss the draft Plan of Management at Stanwell Park Surf Lifesaving Club on the 14th and 16th of May.

All details can be found on the council website.

Meeting called to discuss transportation of nuclear waste

A public meeting was held last Tuesday to discuss the possibility of transporting nuclear waste through the Illawarra region. Representatives from The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO), members of the South Coast Labour Council and local MPs attended the event. I spoke to the Secretary of the South Coast Labour Council, Arthur Rorris about the items raised at the meeting and whether Port Kembla is the definite destination for the nuclear waste.

Ban on stem cell funding lifted in the U.S.

Barack Obama has signed an executive order reversing predecessor George W Bush’s ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Obama stated that lifting the ban will “restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost.”

Former president George. W Bush argued that using human embryos for scientific research, which often involves their destruction, crossed a moral barrier and during his time in office urged scientists to consider alternatives. However many scientist believe that stem cell research would help find treatments for grave diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and diabetes.

President Obama warned that because of the ban scientists were deserting the U.S. for other nations. The president also made it clear that, unlike his predecessor, he believes that science and morality can mix. “When government fails to make these investments, opportunities are missed. Promising avenues go unexplored,” he said at a White House ceremony attended by legislators, religious leaders and scientists.

The President helped to ease the mind of opponents who argue that stem cell research is a slippery slope that leads to non-reproductive cloning and devalues the worth of a human being, by vowing that he would not permit stem cell research to stray into the wilder bounds of science such as human cloning, which he said “has no place in our society, or any society”.

Despite this assurance there was expected opposition by Republicans and religious leaders. House of Representatives Republican leader John Boehner said Mr Obama had undermined “protections for innocent life, further dividing our nation at a time when we need greater unity to tackle the challenges before us”.

US Catholic Cardinal Justin Rigali also opposed Mr Obama’s announcement, calling it “a sad victory of politics over science and ethics.”

50 years since Dalai Lama exiled

Tibetan exiles have gathered all around the world to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Tibetan uprising that forced the Dalai Lama into exile.

Rallies are expected to be held all around the world, including the northern Indian town of Dharamshala, where the Dalai Lama now lives in exile.

There have been calls around the world for China to end its repression of Tibet, and today a US lawmaker has introduced a non-binding resolution before Congress that would urge China to end its “repression” of the Himalayan region.

The US Congress was to vote Tuesday on the resolution. The bill, authored by Democratic Representative Rush Holt, also urged China to respond to initiatives of the Dalai Lama to find a lasting solution on Tibet.

China has initiated dialogue with the Dalai Lama but brands him a separatist. The 74-year-old monk, who preaches non-violence, says he is only seeking greater rights for Tibet within China.

Not everyone seems to be concerned with the anniversary however. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Beijing that concerns about Tibet and other human rights issues would take a back seat to working together in areas such as fighting the global economic crisis- a position the Tibetan demonstrators demanded she renounce.

Plans to Truck Nuclear Waste through the Illawarra

There are plans to truck nuclear waste to Port Kembla from the Lucas Heights site in Sydney. Originally the spent nuclear rods where transported to Port Botany however meetings between The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and spokespersons from the region’s port late last year suggest that Port Kemlba will be the new detsination. Greens MP Lee Rhiannon is concerned about the safety of residents in the region as the time and date of the transportation will be kept secret until the nuclear waste arrives at Port Kembla. Ms Rhiannon identifies that various black spots on our roads pose great threat to local residents. I spoke to the MP yesterday about these plans and why Port Kembla will be the new shipping site for the nuclear waste.

INTERVIEW WITH GREENS MP LEE RHIANNON