The Greens' 'Sniff Off' campaign launches in Wollongong

The Greens have attacked the police’s drug dog program, as the party launched its ‘Sniff Off’ campaign in Wollongong on Friday. Greens MP David Shoebridge, the ‘Sniff Off’ team and Wollongong Greens councillor Cath Blakey launched the initiative. 

Mr Shoebridge cited figures that in 2017, 70.73 per cent of searches in the Wollongong Police District were false positives, and that over the past five years out of 620 recorded searches no drugs were found in 447 cases. Cr Blakey said there was great concern within the Wollongong community about sniffer dogs, and local music festivals  had been targeted. 

Read the article by Brendan Crabb in The Illawarra Mercury, 27 July 2018

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Jailbreak: Councillors vote unanimously to oppose Dapto jail proposal

Greens councillor, Cath Blakey, was one of 6 councillors tp put forward a motion recording that the city stands against  the NSW Government’s idea to build a new correctional centre at Kembla Grange. The public gallery was packed, and there were cheers when Wollongong's councillorsunanimously voted to oppose the jail.

See the article by Kate McIlwain in The Illawarra Mercury, 23 July 2018

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A victory for fun and common sense

Earlier this year, the Illawarra Mercury reported a council policy ruling out “no non-competitive swimming”  at school swimming carnivals at public pools. Greens councillor Mithra Cox took up the baton in regards to Wollongong council’s “pool fun ban” and has come out swimmingly. On 25 June  night, council staff present a report recommending changes to the council policy removing the restriction on “no non-competitive swimming”.

All the councillors supported bringing back novelty races.

A stroke of common sense. Get your noodles ready kids, the races are back on. And, at least for now, the fun police are back in their box.


Read the report by Kate McIlwain, in the Illawarra Mercury, 22 June 2018

Read the editorial in the Illawarra Mercury, 23 June 2018

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Appeal to save Wollongong cremator 'dead, buried and cremated'

The director of Port Kembla’s community-based Tender Funerals pleaded with Wollongong councillors to find a way to keep the city’s crematorium in public hands. The organisation’s general manager Jenny Briscoe-Hough said she feared shutting-down the Berkeley cremator and leaving two privately-run operations to service Wollongong would lead to rising costs for funerals and cremations.

However, at Monday night’s council meeting, a majority of councillors rejected this appeal, voting against a motion from the Greens’ Mithra Cox to call for expressions of interest from organisations wishing to operate the public facility. Cr Cox said she, as well as Labor MP Paul Scully, had been contacted by “a huge number” of residents concerned over the closure of the crematorium.

Read the article by Kate McIlwain in  The Illawarra Mercury, 31 May 2018

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Community groups clash over UOW's Kooloobong Ovals plan

Wollongong councillors will be forced to weigh up competing views of Botanic Garden volunteers and hundreds of junior footballers as they deliberate over a University of Wollongong plan to install a synthetic pitch at Kooloobong Ovals. Greens councillors Mithra Cox and Cath Blakey voted against the second round of consultation, arguing that the university’s plan was not designed to benefit the wider community.

Other councillors supported the new consultation, but raised concerns that UOW’s proposed upgrades should not be approved before a new master plan for the Botanic Garden was complete. After a long debate, councillors voted 10-2 to place the university’s deal back out on public exhibition.

Read the article by Kate McIlwain in The Illawarra Mercury, 30 May 2019

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Push coming for more late night eats in Wollongong CBD

For Wollongong’s “Souva King” Frank Kaadan, getting some late-night revellers a bite to eat when they’ve had too much to drink is common sense. But while he wants to extend his Kembla St eatery’s hours beyond 2am on Friday and Saturday nights, he said police and the city council had told him it couldn’t happen.

Mr Kaadan, who previously operated on Brunswick St in Melbourne’s Fitzroy, said food outlets made the streets safer by counteracting drunkenness. A council spokesman said all applications are assessed “on merit”. But Mr Kaadan said all independent food businesses had to close at 2am – while McDonald’s down Corrimal St could trade all night.

Greens Councillor Mithra Cox said rules over opening times should be relaxed. “Shutting down the city to stop alcohol fuelled violence is like shutting down the roads to cut the road toll,” she said. “We need to find a way that our city can be safe - and open. A safe city is one that has people on the street, musicians in the bars, shops that are open late and restaurants that are full.”

Read the article by Ben Langford in The Illawarra Mercury, 25 May 2018

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Call for council to act over city's growing 'homelessness crisis'

Wollongong councillors unanimously supported a motion by Greens councillor Mithra Cox to investigate what they can do to address the growing problem of housing affordability in Wollongong. Councillor Cox asked other councillors if they were “okay with people sleeping in the sand dunes at City Beach because there are literally no other options for them”.

Among the measures they will consider is lobbying for Wollongong to be included on a state planning policy that allows councils to mandate a certain number of affordable homes within large developments.They will also look at whether developers could be encouraged to build affordable homes in exchange for the council waiving development fees or certain restrictions, and see if it would be possible for the council to build its own social housing on surplus council-owned land.

Read the article by Kate McIlwain in The Illawarra Mercury, 6 April 2018

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Wollongong councillors back flip over Aboriginal park name 'too hard to pronounce'

Wollongong councillors have voted to withdraw support for an Aboriginal name at a new West Dapto park and to reconsider the name picked out by developers. Three councillors voted in favour of keeping the Aboriginal name -- Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery and the two Greens councillors, Mithra Cox and Cath Blakey.

“Personally, I think where there is an opportunity to use an Aboriginal name or an opportunity to reflect on our wonderful Aboriginal heritage, that to me is the better way to go,” said the Lord Mayor.“There’s plenty of Aboriginal names around NSW that when you see them seem challenging, but it’s like Towradgi and Unanderra – locally people just get used to them and it becomes a reference point.”

Read the article by Kate McIlwain in The Illawarra Mercury, 6 April 2018

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Wollongong scene leads the way to save live music in Newcastle

Changes in Wollongong’s live music scene over the past five years have been held up as a shining example of how to revitalise an ailing inner-city nightlife. This high praise came from the Illawarra’s northern rival, Newcastle, which last week adopted a slew of measures based on policies put in place in Wollongong five years ago. Greens councillor Mithra Cox, who plays in a band, agreed the live music measures had made a difference, but believed more could be done to bring people out into Wollongong and its suburbs after dark.

Read the article by Kate McIlwain in The Illawarra Mercury

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Bisalloy Steels' $900,000 defence contract with Israeli company under attack

A recent deal between Bisalloy Steels and Israel-based Rafael Defense Systems sparked a protest outside the Bisalloy office in Unanderra on Friday. Wollongong Greens Councillor Mithra Cox gave a brief speech before breaking into a Bob Dylan song in front of the crowd.

 “We want a steel industry that we can be proud of. We want our steel to be used for building homes, trains, bridges and schools - not for killing people,” she said.

“A generation ago, Wollongong workers refused to let our steel be sent to Japan for their war effort. Let’s uphold this fine tradition and stand against the military oppression of the Palestinian people.”

Statement of support from Greens Federal Senator Lee Rhiannon

Read the article by Meg Powell in The Illawarra Mercury

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