November 2017 Branch Meeting – Resolutions Report

170508 Branch meeting resolutions report


Motion – World Heritage Listing of Bellinger River National Park

This branch:

  1. Calls on Federal and NSW Labor in Government to expedite the inclusion of the Bellinger River National Park into the World Heritage Listed Gondwana Rainforests, fixing the ‘missing link’ between the New England and Dorrigo National Parks (which are included in the Gondwana Rainforests).
  2. Invites the Federal Shadow Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Tony Burke MHR, and the NSW Shadow Minister for the Environment, the Hon Penny Sharpe MLC, to visit Bellingen and inspect the National Park.
  3. Invites Mr Burke and Ms Sharpe to meet with local stakeholders to discuss further refinements to Labor’s policy to establish the Great Koala National Park.

Statement by Andrew Woodward, Branch President

“It makes sense to get Bellinger River National Park off the tentative list and into the listing. It doesn’t make sense to leave it out. On one side of our park, you have the New England National Park and on the other side you have the Dorrigo National Park and both are in the Gondwana Rainforests World Heritage Listing.

“Including Bellinger River National Park in the listing sends a powerful signal that that we live in one of the most precious environmental places on earth. The rainforests have the same ecological significance as the Galapagos Islands. We need to do what we can to give it the best protection we can.

“A listing is not only good for conservation, it will be great for tourism and other businesses as visitors come to experience the unique nature of the area , using places in the shire as the base.

“Labor put the park on the tentative list but is hasn’t budged with the changes of government in Sydney and Canberra earlier this decade. Labor is committed to getting things off the sticky notes and into the listing.

Statement by Dr Oisín Sweeney, Senior Ecologist, NSW National Parks Association

“It’s great to see someone take the initiative in progressing World Heritage listing. The biodiversity values of northern NSW are enormous, and World Heritage is the ultimate recognition of this value”.

“Australia is incredibly lucky to have many natural areas of global significance that qualify for World Heritage. We’d urge the federal Government not to stop at Bellinger River, but to progress all of the areas that have been proposed but not finalised”.

“NSW Labor leader Luke Foley took a very ambitious World Heritage proposal to the last election which NPA fully supported. We’d love to see the federal Government once again get serious about progressing World Heritage – it’s a badge of honour, and a huge tourist attraction to boot”.

Statement by Luke Foley, Leader of the Opposition (17 March 2015)

“Labor will also pursue World Heritage Listing for the Northern rainforests as well as direct the Office of Environment and Heritage to assess the proposal of a Eucalypt World Heritage listing.”


Motion – National Environmental Laws

This branch calls on the Australian Labor Party to safeguard our unique natural heritage and environment on behalf of future Australians by creating new environment laws, and founding an independent, fully resourced, public agency for the environment, within the first term of Government.

This reform builds on Labor’s rich history of environmental protection.

Our current laws are failing to protect our natural assets, and create complexity and uncertainty. We need to update and enhance our environmental management to create opportunity and deal with today’s and future threats such as climate change.

The ALP must commit to working with First Nations people and the wider Australian community on the development and implementation of the Australian Environment Act, which will define matters of national environmental significance and enshrine federal leadership in proactive and systemic protection of our environment.

New independent and well-resourced a institutions will embed principles of democratic accountability and intergenerational justice. These institutions will develop and implement a National Environment Plan and will enforce the law.


Updated: 21 November 2017







News Release: Marriage equality – Just do it

BRL News Release.pngStatement

By Andrew Woodward, Bellinger River Branch, President

15 November 2017

Marriage equality – Just do it

Now that the majority of Australians have said ‘yes’ to marriage equality, it is incumbent on all parliamentarians to expedite the vote in parliament on approving changes to the marriage act allowing same sex couples to legally marry in Australia.

It has cost taxpayers $120 million to be told what we already knew and that was that the majority of Australians support marriage equality. That money could have been better spent on, for example, programs combatting domestic violence; helping people deal with depression and anxiety or, addressing disadvantage in rural and regional areas. Instead, we spent $120 million answering a question the Liberal and National parties couldn’t answer for themselves. All the survey did was reinforce just how out-of-touch the Liberal and National parties really are.

It is time to move on from the farce of the survey. Now that we have an unambiguous result and a draft bill, there should be no blocking, no delaying and no further detailed debate about making a very simple change to the marriage act.  There are no excuses. Spurious arguments should be ignored. Delaying tactics should be condemned. Malcolm Turnbull must stand up to his recalcitrants within. Parliamentarians must be held accountable.

The Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, has previously said he is opposed to marriage equality – denying all Australians the same human rights as each other. Mr Hartsuyker now has a chance to put his personal biases aside, listen to the people and deliver human rights for all Australians by supporting change to the marriage act. He can earn a place in history as someone who changed Australia for the better and set an example for other nations around the world to follow. Or history can record him as someone who denied a basic human right to his fellow Australians and against their wishes. That would be shameful.

As late as this week, Mr Hartsuyker was one of a handful of Australia’s 200 plus federal parliamentarians who didn’t bother responding to a survey by the ABC on how they would vote in the event a majority of Australians supported marriage equality. The fact that the ABC recorded Mr Hartsuyker as “Did not respond” is an embarrassment to the electorate and contemptible personal behaviour. We deserve better. Of those that replied, 72 per cent of lower house members and 69 per cent of upper house members said they would support a change to the marriage act delivering equality. Wouldn’t it be great if it was 100 per cent. What a unifying message that would send to Australia and around the world.

The people of Australia have spoken. The people of Cowper have spoken. The majority of Australians have said yes. Our parliamentarians should say yes too. That’s the honourable thing to do and bring marriage equality to all Australians.


RESULT_ Yes to marriage equality.png

Updated: 15 November 2017



News Release: @Luke_Hartsuyker out of touch on marriage equality #yes #cowper

BRL News Release.png


Andrew Woodward, Branch President, Bellinger River Labor, 14 November 2017


On Wednesday at 10 am we learn of the fate of the wasteful marriage equality postal survey. Like many, I hope and expect the result will show majority support for the Yes preference.

This survey cost taxpayers $120 million and is expected to simply confirm what we already knew and that is the majority of Australians support marriage equality. And yet at this late stage Luke Hartsuyker is being evasive on how he will vote in the parliament.

While he has been on the record not supporting marriage equality, and I understand that, if the majority of Australians support marriage equality he, like many of his Liberal and National Coalition colleagues, should respect the will of the people and support it when it comes to a vote.

Yet, when asked by the national broadcaster how he would vote assuming a Yes majority, he couldn’t even be bothered responding.

He is embarrassing us on the national stage. Most members of parliament responded. He didn’t. What sort of representative does that?

Luke Hartsuyker couldn’t be bothered to tell us his intentions. He has shown contempt for the electorate. That’s shameful.

We deserve better.


ABC Story:

Yes means yes.png

.@luke_hartsuyker should be referred to the High Court to confirm his eligibility to be in Parliament #cowper #auspol

Going going gone.png

BRL News Release.png

Statement by Andrew Woodward, President.

6 November 2017

Luke Hartsuyker still has questions to answer over dual citizenship and his eligibility to sit in Parliament

The eligibility of the Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, to sit in Parliament continues to be in question following a series of inconsistent statements and unanswered questions concerning his potential dual Dutch – Australian Citizenship.

Since concerns were first raised by Labor in his electorate of Cowper in August, Mr Hartsuyker has failed to formally answer a written request for information, nor has he made a statement in Parliament, amplifying concerns about his eligibility.

Further, in recent weeks Mr Hartsuyker has made some untruthful and misleading comments about the Coffs Harbour Pacific Highway Bypass and the bungled completion of the Pacific Highway between Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie, heightening concerns about the integrity of his statements on the public record. This led to a re-examination of his comments on the citizenship matter and glaring inconsistencies were discovered.

Family matters must be handled with the utmost sensitivity and respect. However, this is a question of law and Mr Hartsuyker has spoken often of his Dutch heritage. Thus, he and his party have put this issue in the public domain. In losing the Deputy Prime Minister and leaders in both houses, the National Party’s sloppy administration has made Australia an international embarrassment.

Given the recent ruling by the High Court, the findings against sitting parliamentarians (Barnaby Joyce, Fiona Nash and Malcolm Roberts) and Mr Hartsuyker’s avoidance of formally responding, the issue won’t be resolved until confirmed by a third party. The third party in this case is the High Court and Mr Hartsuyker should ask the Speaker of the Parliament to refer his case to the High Court. If the court rules he is eligible, so be it – case closed. While Labor Leader Bill Shorten has put forward a positive proposal to deal with the government’s citizenship crisis, this should not preclude Mr Hartsuyker from acting immediately.

A question can’t continue to remain over his eligibility. Should Mr Hartsuyker not contest the next Federal Election, as is being speculated, Mr Hartsuyker in normal circumstances would be entitled to the ‘generous’ parliamentary superannuations benefit. His entitlement to this benefit is in question until his eligibility is confirmed. If eligible, Mr Hartsuyker stands to benefit from the previous scheme as he entered Parliament in 2001. The scheme was changed in 2004 to align with wider community superannuation scheme standards.

In August 2017, Bellinger River Labor asked numerous questions of Mr Hartsuyker:

  1. What is the basis for your assertion on NBN News on 27 July 2017 concerning your eligibility? Can you provide any documentation to support your assertion? If yes, please provide all details and all related documentation.
  2. As you obtained Dutch citizenship at birth, when did you renounce it or under which circumstances did you lose it and when? Please provide all details and all related documentation.
  3. Have you had any formal correspondence with the Netherlands Government prior to or since entering parliament in 2001 concerning your citizenship of the Netherlands through birth? If yes, please provide all details and all related documentation between you, your representatives and the Dutch Government and or their representatives.

Mr Hartsuyker was sent a letter on 13 August 2017 and has not responded to it in nearly three months. Nor has he made any statement in Parliament on the matter.

Since the matter was first raised three months ago, Mr Hartsuyker himself or through a spokesperson has made a number of inconsistent statements:

  1. NBN (27 July 2017) simply said, in essence, as he has one Australian parent and one Dutch parent, there is no issue.
  2. Coffs Harbour Advocate (14 August 2017) said he lost the right to dual citizenship when he was 28 (twenty-eight). Inconsistent with point one and four.
  3. Coffs Harbour Advocate (14 August 2017) said the Dutch Embassy in Canberra advised him “weeks ago”. Verbally or in writing? Is there a letter or file note?
  4. ABC (15 August 2017) said he lost the right to dual citizenship when he was 25 (twenty-five). Inconsistent with points one and two.
  5. Sky News (15 August 2017) admitted he visited the Netherlands when he was 30, raising the question does entering the country immediately re-install dual citizenship or rights as occurs with some other nations?
  6. Daily Telegraph (23 August 2017) said there were no documents to prove he didn’t have dual citizenship. Possibly inconsistent with point three.

In summary:

  • Mr Hartsuyker has refused to answer questions, make a statement in parliament or release documents.
  • Mr Hartsuyker has two different explanations of his status – one angle is because he has one Australian parent it was never an issue and the second explanation said he had it but lost it in his twenties.
  • Mr Hartsuyker has two different ages he said he lost it at – 25 and 28.
  • Was Mr Hartsuyker’s dual citizenship re-installed when he visited the Netherlands when he was 30?
  • Mr Hartsuyker said he received advice from the Dutch Embassy in Canberra and a week later a spokesperson says there are no documents to say he isn’t a dual citizen.

In FarmOnline on 15 August 2017, Mr Hartsuyker said of the Barnaby Joyce matter: “We’re certainly confident the High Court will find in favour of the Deputy Prime Minister“. We know how that ended – in a by-election costing $2 million – all because Barnaby Joyce broke the law.

There’s too much inconsistency in Mr Hartsuyker’s statements to allow this to pass unquestioned. Further, the advice the government was working to was proven incorrect and we now have the benefit of the High Court’s ruling of the ‘Citizenship Seven” – soon to become eight with former Senator Parry and possibly more.

Mr Hartsuyker should ask the Speaker of the House to refer this matter to the High Court for ruling and settle the matter once and for all.


2. Sources

NBN News, 27 July 2017

Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 8.51.50 am.png

Coffs Harbour Advocate, 14 August 2017

Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 8.50.24 am.png

ABC Mid North Coast, 15 August 2017

Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 8.53.23 am.png


Sky News, 15 August 2017

In fact, I never visited the Netherlands until I was 30,” Luke Hartsuyker, Sky News, 15 August 2017

Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 9.34.20 am.png

Farmonline, 15 August 2017

Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 11.39.04 am.png

Daily Telegraph, 23 August 2017


3. Background – Statement and research released 12 August 2017 and email of 13 August 2017

Hartsuyker Dutch

Post: Is @luke_hartsuyker eligible to sit in parliament due to citizenship issues? Questions need answering. #cowper #auspol 

Screenshot of unanswered letter delivered by email to Mr Hartsuyker of 13 August 2017


Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 10.00.00 am.png

Search of Hansard of “Hartsuyker AND Dutch” conducted 4 November 2017

Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 10.14.46 am.png

4. Background – Labor’s position (3 November 2017)

Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 9.52.10 am.png

Updated: 4 November 2017








News Release: @luke_hartsuyker confirms #Pacific Highway bungle and blames government cash flow problem #cowper

BRL News Release.png

Statement by President, Andrew Woodward, 3 November 2017


The Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, has dropped an embarrassing clanger in trying to explain the bungle that won’t see the Pacific Highway upgrade between Port and Coffs opened before Christmas.

The $830 million Warrell Creek to Nambucca Heads upgrade of the Pacific Highway was due to open before Christmas, bypassing Macksville and Nambucca Heads thus preventing lengthy traffic jams of holiday motorists.

In a response to yesterday’s news in the Coffs Harbour Advocate,  Mr Hartsuyker:

  1. Confirmed the project won’t open on schedule, as promised and as promoted saying: “Macksville should be opened for Christmas, the Warrell Creek end won’t be“.
  2. Confirmed there was an administrative bungle between the federal and state governments that had slowed the project down: ‘stages of highway construction depended on government cash-flow‘.
  3. Cited the availability of contractors, which defies belief, and non-existent weather issues as potential sources of delay.

It is outrageous, embarrassing and alarming for Mr Hartsuyker to confess that the Turnbull and Berejiklian Governments couldn’t deliver the cash to have this critical infrastructure project delivered on time and as repeatedly promised.

Luke Hartsuyker is making things up as he goes along. He’s clearly got no idea when it comes to delivering major projects on the Pacific Highway.


Screen Shot 2017-11-03 at 12.13.15 pm.png


Coffs Harbour Advocate

Updated: 3 November 2017