Greens Announce $21 million to repair Stockton and End Seismic Testing

Greens candidate for the seat of Newcastle John Mackenzie has announced a commitment of $21.2 million for beach nourishment to repair erosion at Stockton Beach, and a permanent ban on oil and gas exploration off the Newcastle coastline, as part of the Newcastle Greens “Coastal Protection Platform”. The Coastal Protection Platform is one of the Greens flagship campaigns for the seat of Newcastle at the May 18 Federal election.

The Greens are calling on Newcastle candidates from both major parties to match these commitments to strong action to protect and invest in Newcastle’s pristine coastal environment and to build its resilience to the impacts of climate change.

The Platform outlines a number of key initiatives, including:

·  Support for Newcastle Council to expedite the Coastal Management Program, including ongoing funding for the Stockton Community Liaison Group (SCLG)
·   $21.2 million to repair Stockton Beach erosion through fully funding beach nourishment works and investigation into the construction of an artificial headland
·  Place a moratorium on seismic testing off the Newcastle coast
·  Halt all oil and gas exploration off the Newcastle coastline
·   Prevent new offshore oil and gas exploration permits
·   Remove toxic plastics from our oceans

In announcing the commitment, Greens Candidate for Newcastle Cr John Mackenzie said, “The community of Stockton have waited long enough for action to address the very well-known issues of beach erosion and shoreline recession. This funding commitment is to deliver sand replenishment and ongoing beach nourishment, which is the preferred community and technical option to address coastal hazards and improve beach amenity.”

Cr John Mackenzie said, “The Stockton community are rightfully angry about how long this has taken. We don’t need more studies – we had the Newcastle Coastal Zone Hazards Study by BMT WBM in 2014, which was updated just last year in the Council’s coastal management plan. But before this we had the Stockton Beach Coastline Hazard Study from the Department of Land and Water Conservation in 1995, Newcastle Coastline Hazard Definition Study in 1998, the Shifting sands at Stockton Beach report by Umwelt and SMEC Pty in 2002, and DHI Stockton Coastline Management Studies in 2006, 2009 and 2011.”

Cr John Mackenzie said, “Right now, the issue of coastal erosion in Stockton is severe and urgent. While the breakwaters are essential for a viable Newcastle Port, they prevent the natural flow of sand along the coast, trapping it on the Nobbys side of the breakwater. This results in a failure to replenish the sand on Stockton and the beach has been eroding several metres a year, and after years of inaction and delay, the situation is now at a critical point. The onset of climate change is only exacerbating the risks of beach loss at Stockton.”

“The Greens preferred option is for protection works is to support the initial sand nourishment program by constructing an artificial headland or groyne. This option has the benefit of stopping the northerly drift of sand, which means that the sand would become trapped between the northern breakwater and the artificial headland/groyne, and would protect the southern end of Stockton Beach.”

“However, I do respect the important progress made by the Council in the development of the Coastal Management Program in the consideration of solutions. So rather than propose the headland prior to their final assessment, we are committing to funding that will expedite the completion of that Program under the NSW Coastal Management Act 2016.”

 For interviews, please phone John Mackenzie 0408 533 010.
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Greens to Fund Wallsend Flood Works

Greens Candidate for Newcastle John Mackenzie has today committed $6 million for rebuilding Boscawen Street bridge in Wallsend, and a further $20 million for channel widening, as part of the public works component of climate adaptation for Newcastle.

“This is essential flood mitigation infrastructure to reduce flash flooding risks, and ensure we don’t see a repeat of the devastating damage to homes and businesses from the 2007 storm. Community awareness and preparedness is not enough. We need to reduce flood risk by improving flood flow through Wallsend Commercial Centre, which requires significant capital works investment.”

“The Wallsend catchment is exposed to flash flooding which allows very little time for mobilisation or emergency management.  The Commercial Centre sees thousands of community members passing through on any given day, and it is no exaggeration that those lives could be at risk in the event of an extreme flash flood. The risk of extreme flooding events is predicted to increase with climate change, which exacerbates the threat to lives and property in Wallsend.”

“In an extreme flood, the damage bill for commercial and industrial properties within the Commercial Centre is estimated to be between $35 million and $48 million, which is significantly less than the flood risk reduction works that The Greens are proposing to fund.”

“Right now, Newcastle Council is carrying the entire burden of the cost of these flood works, with limited financial support from either the state or federal government. At great cost, Newcastle Council has allocated funds for the Tyrell Street bridge, but the bridge
replacement at Nelson Street and Boscawen Streets, and the channel widening works are a step too far for already stretched Council resources.”

“The funding of the risk management plan is also beyond the constraints of typical state and federal floodplain management grants. However, The Greens recognise that these works form part of the City’s vital climate adaptation needs, and are committed to pursuing special allocation of funds from the climate funding pool to demolish and rebuild the Boscawen Street bridge.”

“It was shocking to me that ALP environmental heavyweight Tony Burke was in town yesterday talking about the importance of investing in urban waterways, but failed to even mention the Wallsend bridges. Instead of wandering around the mangroves, he could have easily matched the Greens commitment to funding this critical infrastructure works to protect our city in the unfortunate but likely event of future flooding.”

For interviews, please phone John Mackenzie 0408 533 010

Posted in 2018/19 Federal, 2019 Federal Campaign, Local Community, Uncategorized, Water | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Rise Against Racism Forum 9th May

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Greens Senator to Visit Newcastle Thursday 11/4 to Launch Fee Free Uni and TAFE Initiative for the Hunter

Australian Greens Senator for NSW and Spokesperson for Education, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, will join Greens Councillor and Candidate for Newcastle at the upcoming Federal election, Dr John Mackenzie, outside Newcastle University this Thursday to launch the Greens Fee Free Uni and TAFE Initiative for the Hunter,

When: Thursday 11 April, 10:45am

Where: NeW Space Campus Courtyard off Hunter St, cnr Hunter & Auckland St, Newcastle

The Greens plan for free higher education, including university and TAFE, will revolutionise education for everyone, but especially communities that are currently reliant on coal mining, allowing them to retrain and reskill without incurring crushing debts. The plan would also boost university funding by 10% per student, link additional funding for universities with an increase in security of work for university staff, tie the HELP repayment threshold to the median wage and raise student support payments like Youth Allowance, Austudy and Abstudy by $75 a week.

The Greens have also released their ‘Renew Australia’ plan to transition to 100% renewable energy, build a clean energy economy and provide a just transition for workers. A $1 billion Clean Energy Transition Fund will work to reskill, relocate or transition to retirement, depending on their personal circumstances. The fund will also target support to the local communities affected by the transition, prioritising infrastructure investment in those areas and offering economic incentives for investment throughout the local economy.

Senator Faruqi said:

“Burning coal is the world’s biggest cause of climate change and Australia is the world’s biggest exporter of coal. No matter what the Liberal and Labor parties say, the world is transitioning away from coal and the Greens will not stand by and leave coal mining communities high and dry with no plan for their future. Fee free university and TAFE is an essential part of our plan to assist communities and workers transition away from coal.

“We have universal primary and secondary education. Free public higher education is the missing piece of the puzzle. No one should graduate with a decade of debt ahead of them. Australians have seen the benefits of free education, and we can have them again.

“Removing TAFE fees is a crucial part of this plan. TAFE is being decimated by state and federal governments. Fee free TAFE and the removal of the Gillard-era contestable funding requirements will rebuild TAFE as the public vocational training provider of choice for students.

“The Greens Plan to make universities and TAFE fee free, increase funding to universities & TAFES and expand income support payments for students is transformational. It will change forever how we think about education. Whether you are starting out, have student debt already or are thinking of going back to study, the Greens plan will help you.

“For too long universities have been asked to do more with less. It’s been decades since the last real increase in funding to universities. Our plan delivers an extra sixteen billion over the next decade for universities to improve learning and teaching conditions, reduce class sizes and and give researchers the resources they need. Importantly, we will work with universities to reduce casualisation in the sector to reduce job insecurity and improve staff working conditions” she concluded.

John Mackenzie, Greens Councillor and Greens Candidate for Newcastle said:

“This Plan will provide free retraining and reskilling for all of Newcastle and the Hunter’s 13,000 coal workers. By providing free access to the full range of university and TAFE courses, we will ensure that they are given a new lease on life, supported to retrain and study for jobs after coal, without being saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Coal workers and their families shouldn’t be crippled with debt for changing careers as we all adapt to changes in the economy”.

“Because the bulk of the retraining will be delivered locally in Newcastle and the Hunter, it will mean more funding for the University of Newcastle and for Hunter TAFE, and a shot in the arm for our regional economy. This is vital and timely funding that will support the University of Newcastle as it continues to expand with development of the Honeysuckle City Campus. Investing in the University’s growth, including the Innovation Hub, will cement its role as a leading educational facility nationally and a key driver of an investment and diversification for life after coal.”

“It’s no secret that our Hunter TAFE campuses have been struggling due to underinvestment and cost-cutting. Our plan will fix this by substantially increasing the Commonwealth contribution to TAFE, re-investing in the TAFE teaching workforce and in the delivery of training that prepares our workforce for the jobs of the future.”

Media Contact: Matt Hilton matthew.hilton@aph.gov.au
0474-437-111

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Female resilience, intersectionality and survival.

Sinead Francis-Coan

This International Women’s Day, I’m celebrating female resilience, intersectionality and survival.

I am not a person who condones or believes in violence as an appropriate response. As a Green, one of our four pillars is peace and non-violence. And yet, there is an aspect of female resilience that is firm and assertive but not violent. A friend of mine has been training in martial arts and self-defence alongside his daughter. Recently this friend described to me how his daughter had been harassed and bullied by some boys at her school, and how she had been called into the principal’s office for using her self-defence skills to silence her bullies. My friend beamed with pride at his daughter’s response and reassured her that she had every right to stand up for herself. She said no, enough.

This got me thinking, how have I responded? Like most women, I have been harassed, dismissed, underestimated, the story goes on. As it turns out, metaphorically speaking, I have looked down at my two feet, and I have stood on them as solidly as humanly possible. I am now sick of looking down. I look at the inspirational and resilient women and girls all around me and see so much to celebrate.

But I have not yet faced question time in the Australian senate. Last year Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young was slut shamed by a male colleague in front of our entire nation. A male colleague who will now contest this very state election that I contest here in Newcastle. But this was not all. Women left, and continue to leave the Liberal party in droves meanwhile the Nationals were focused elsewhere on impregnating their staff and ‘Sugar Babies’. If only they’d stuck to riding horses. Minister for women herself Kelly O’Dwyer fended off attempts on her job barely 2 weeks into her maternity leave. Turns out resilience is necessary. What woman would enter politics at a time like this?

But there were positives. Greens Senator Larissa Waters became the first woman to breastfeed in the senate, the GST on women’s sanitary products was removed, women won all sorts of awards for the first time and Greens Mehreen Faruqi was the first Muslim woman to become an Australian senator. Why is this important? Because not all Australian women are white or Christian. This was a sign of our parliament shifting ever so slightly to reflect the people it governs for.

If you ask me who my feminist icons are (outside of politics), names like Michelle Law, Nakkiah Lui, Nayuka Gorrie and Ruby Hamad come to mind. These women have two things in common, a razor sharp sense of humour and they are all women of colour. If you don’t know who they are, it would be in your favour to start paying attention. Michelle Law is currently showing the first season of her hit show Single Asian female in Brisbane while Nakkiah Lui’s latest work, How to Rule the World is showing at the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Theatre Company.

These women are skilled and unapologetically scathing, and rightly so. Voices like theirs have been locked-out of the mainstream media and even discussions of feminism. Feminism is ultimately a quest for gender equality, a quest which is not done until equality has come to all women. These women know the eyes of the next generation are on them.

I have also been inspired to see younger women leading the way forward. Greta Thunberg sparked a global uprising that saw millions of children around the world making their demands for climate action heard. Before, her, 12 year old Severn Cullis-Suzuki commanded the attention of the United Nations in 2008 for a whole 6 minutes, demanding action on climate change and Malala Yousafzai became a household name demanding equal access to education, putting her life and body on the line.

As a woman in my community and in politics, I stand on the shoulders of giants, and it has been refreshing and utterly invigorating to realise that the giant shoulders of tomorrow are already barging through the walls and glass ceilings of the patriarchy.

Sinead Francis-Coan is the Greens candidate for Wallsend for the 2019 NSW state election. 

Posted in 2019 State, Women | Leave a comment

Celebrating female resilience, intersectionality and survival

This International Women’s Day, I’m celebrating female resilience, intersectionality and survival.

I am not a person who condones or believes in violence as an appropriate response. As a Green, one of our four pillars is peace and non-violence. And yet, there is an aspect of female resilience that is firm and assertive but not violent. A friend of mine has been training in martial arts and self-defence alongside his daughter. Recently this friend described to me how his daughter had been harassed and bullied by some boys at her school, and how she had been called into the principal’s office for using her self-defence skills to silence her bullies. My friend beamed with pride at his daughter’s response and reassured her that she had every right to stand up for herself. She said no, enough.

This got me thinking, how have I responded? Like most women, I have been harassed, dismissed, underestimated, the story goes on. As it turns out, metaphorically speaking, I have looked down at my two feet, and I have stood on them as solidly as humanly possible. I am now sick of looking down. I look at the inspirational and resilient women and girls all around me and see so much to celebrate.

But I have not yet faced question time in the Australian senate. Last year Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young was slut shamed by a male colleague in front of our entire nation. A male colleague who will now contest this very state election that I contest here in Newcastle. But this was not all. Women left, and continue to leave the Liberal party in droves meanwhile the Nationals were focused elsewhere on impregnating their staff and ‘Sugar Babies’. If only they’d stuck to riding horses. Minister for women herself Kelly O’Dwyer fended off attempts on her job barely 2 weeks into her maternity leave. Turns out resilience is necessary. What woman would enter politics at a time like this?

But there were positives. Greens Senator Larissa Waters became the first woman to breastfeed in the senate, the GST on women’s sanitary products was removed, women won all sorts of awards for the first time and Greens Mehreen Faruqi was the first Muslim woman to become an Australian senator. Why is this important? Because not all Australian women are white or Christian. This was a sign of our parliament shifting ever so slightly to reflect the people it governs for.

If you ask me who my feminist icons are (outside of politics), names like Michelle Law, Nakkiah Lui, Nayuka Gorrie and Ruby Hamad come to mind. These women have two things in common, a razor sharp sense of humour and they are all women of colour. If you don’t know who they are, it would be in your favour to start paying attention. Michelle Law is currently showing the first season of her hit show Single Asian female in Brisbane while Nakkiah Lui’s latest work, How to Rule the World is showing at the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Theatre Company.

These women are skilled and unapologetically scathing, and rightly so. Voices like theirs have been locked-out of the mainstream media and even discussions of feminism. Feminism is ultimately a quest for gender equality, a quest which is not done until equality has come to all women. These women know the eyes of the next generation are on them.

I have also been inspired to see younger women leading the way forward. Greta Thunberg sparked a global uprising that saw millions of children around the world making their demands for climate action heard. Before, her, 12 year old Severn Cullis-Suzuki commanded the attention of the United Nations in 2008 for a whole 6 minutes, demanding action on climate change and Malala Yousafzai became a household name demanding equal access to education, putting her life and body on the line.

As a woman in my community and in politics, I stand on the shoulders of giants, and it has been refreshing and utterly invigorating to realise that the giant shoulders of tomorrow are already barging through the walls and glass ceilings of the patriarchy.

Sinead Francis-Coan is the Greens candidate for Wallsend for the 2019 NSW state election. 

Posted in 2019 State, 2019 State Campaign, Domestic Violence, Women | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Honeysuckle Plan Fails to Connect With City

Last month the Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation (HCCDC) released the ‘Honeysuckle Foreshore Public Domain Plan’. It presents ‘design concepts’ and ‘artist impressions’ for public areas in Honeysuckle West, along the last remaining area of undeveloped foreshore.

The Plan is more or less consistent with the original Honeysuckle Public Domain Strategy (2000). But since then the rail line has been cut, the Wickham Interchange has been built and the light rail installed. This changes everything, of course, but in the Plan these changes are barely acknowledged.

This precinct is now central to the rapidly expanding commercial and residential areas of Newcastle West and Wickham. For residents, workers and visitors to the city, it is the point of connection to the waterfront and the entry to the commercial, University and entertainment precincts, the historic City centre and East End, and our world-renowned beaches. For many, it will be their first, and typically enduring, impression of the city.

The Plan should respond to the transport and other needs of people using the Interchange. Yet it provides no detail or design solutions for transport connections between the station and the foreshore, despite the inevitable increase in users as apartment developments bring thousands of new residents into the inner suburbs. Under the HCCDC proposal, arrivals by bus or train will be met at the exit by busy Hannell Street, the rear wall of the tram sheds and two large new buildings.

Despite promises of the rail closure ‘opening up the foreshore’, travellers will not be able to see the harbour and will have to navigate across Hannell Street and Honeysuckle Drive before they are even in reach of the ‘public domain’.

The Plan identifies this precinct as the ‘gateway to Honeysuckle’. The original Public Domain Strategy showed a new ‘Wickham village’, with smaller buildings set in green public space, providing at least some possibility of corridors from the Interchange to the harbour.  This has clearly been abandoned. Whatever HCCDC’s intentions for development on this precinct, they must include connecting public open space across Hannell Street from the Interchange and direct sight lines and landscape connections to the harbour, providing a proper Newcastle welcome – a ‘gateway’ that actually welcomes and invites you to enter.

There are no dedicated cycleways shown in the Plan, and connections with existing or future cycleways, if any, are not clear. The shared path along the waterfront, supposedly ‘safe for fast and slow movement’, is neither, and is not the preferred option of cyclists or pedestrians. Sometimes shared paths are the only option, but when designing from scratch there is no excuse not to embrace best practice in safety and design – separated pathways for cyclists and pedestrians.

The first Honeysuckle Masterplan in 1993 showed a ferry wharf at Wickham. This proposal continues to enjoy widespread community support. A new ferry stop would connect residents from Stockton and further north to the rail services in particular. But there is no mention or allowance for this in the Plan and, if the necessary land and connections aren’t identified and protected now, this opportunity will be lost permanently.

The space allocated to the ‘public domain’ in the Plan is meagre. The Worth Place park is precinct is less than 30 metres wide, yet mooted to provide ‘flexible event spaces’, ‘interactive play elements’, ‘bespoke shade structures’ and the 10m metre wide promenade. The Cottage Creek park precinct is actually four small parks separated by the creek and further disconnected by Honeysuckle Drive, which reduces pedestrian or active transport safety. It is fancifully identified as a ‘key north-south crossing’.

HCCDC promises to place more detailed designs and documentation on public exhibition before obtaining statutory approvals. The current Plan lacks the information, analysis and imagination required to meet the complex contribution made by public space in a modern working city. It fails to address the demands and possibilities created by the Newcastle Interchange. It does not meet the basic standards of integration and connectivity necessary in the design of public spaces. Surely we have moved on from the notion that landscape architects design strictly to property boundaries, isolated conceptually and materially from the broader urban context, especially in precincts that matter so much.

Dr John Mackenzie is a Councillor for the City of Newcastle, and the Greens federal candidate for the seat of Newcastle.

Posted in 2018/19 Federal, 2019 Federal Campaign, Development, Newcastle Port, Planning, Public Transport, Urban Renewal | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Massive community opposition to Asset Energy’s offshore oil and gas project

Media Release

Charlotte McCabe, Greens candidate for Newcastle

Write this in your diaries: Thursday the 7th of February, 5.30- 7.00pm, Newcastle City Hall. There will be a demonstration to coincide with the Federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s community drop-in session about the regulation of offshore petroleum activities, including seismic surveys.

It is important that our community turns up to demonstrate the massive community opposition to Asset Energy’s offshore oil and gas project off our coast. If you’re someone who cares about marine life and our beautiful beaches, you need to be there with your friends.

There is nothing more iconic for Newcastle than our magnificent coastline.The idea of oil rigs on the horizon and the very real danger of industrial accidents like an oil spill or gas pipeline explosions is enough to shock us to our senses. How can this be happening?

The sudden interest in offshore gas is partly motivated by the gas crisis that’s been in the headlines lately. The only problem is that the crisis doesn’t exist. We are the largest gas exporters in the world. If we don’t have enough gas for our own population it is only due to the failure of our fossil fuel favouring energy policy. Not only do we allow mostly international companies to dig up our coal and suck up our gas without putting aside any national savings for the future in the way that Norway and Qatar does, we have also let gas companies lock in long term contracts with two thirds of our gas for prices that they have since realised were much too low. Now we pay more for our own gas than the people we sell it to. Despite this the parent company for Asset, MEC resources claims the project will “ improve energy security” in their recent ASX announcement about the promising signs for progressing the project. You can almost hear the investors licking their lips.

Another untruth is that gas is cleaner than coal. In fact gas is is 86 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period.  It is our gas emissions that bumped our pollution figures upwards at the end of last year, despite other sectors like agriculture putting in the hard yards and reducing their pollution. (SMH 28.9.18 ‘’Terrible’: Rising gas output lifts Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions)

Then there’s the myth that gas will create cheaper energy prices. According to the Climate Council’s report in 2017, investing in gas will increase power prices whereas investing in renewables will bring prices down. Why aren’t renewables the ‘fair dinkum’ power plan we are all working towards? Don’t we all want to transition to a clean energy future where we can continue to swim in clean beaches while we watch the whales swim back down south with their babies? Don’t we want to look future generations in the eye and tell them we did what was needed to reduce pollution?

To get to these underwater oil and gas deposits, the first step is seismic testing. This involves ear piercing blasts of air 24/7 for days on end which is known to kill, injure and disrupt marine life. Last year there were numerous protests in Newcastle about the April round of seismic testing and the project in general. Although the NSW resources minister Don Harwin opposed the project and wrote a letter to the Federal resources minister telling him so, and yet the project proceeds. This is not good governance.

If we are to reach our commitment to 1.5 degrees of warming which will mean a world more or less maintained as we know it, we can not afford to open up any new fossil fuel deposits. As we come into election fever with a state and federal election to be held in the first half of the year- it is critical that we elect the people who will take real action for our climate and our coasts. Winning this one will require a new state and federal government and a very active community demanding this project is stopped now.

Contact Charlotte McCabe 0421 728 780

Posted in 2019 State Campaign, Coal Seam Gas, Offshore Drilling | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Newcastle Greens call for climate leadership and clean politics.

MEDIA RELEASE

Tuesday 29th January

The Newcastle Greens have today slammed the ‘manifesto’ released by the Minerals Council which calls on the major parties to use tax payer’s money to prop up the coal industry.

“Mr Galilee and his lobby group are standing in the way of progress. We want to support workers and communities to transition into new jobs and a clean energy future.” said Charlotte McCabe, Greens candidate for the state seat of Newcastle.

“The impacts of climate change are already upon us. Rivers of dead fish, drought, bushfires and heatwaves, this could have all been avoided with real political leadership” she said.

“The people in Newcastle and the Hunter want to see real action for our climate. Late last year we saw thousands of children striking from school and doctors speaking out with concerns for our health as our climate warms.” said Ms McCabe

Greens candidate for Wallsend, Sinead Francis-Coan pointed to the importance of a clear and transparent democracy at a time of low voter confidence. “It’s no surprise to us that the Minerals Council is looking to the Labor and Liberal Parties for support, both have taken large donations from fossil fuel companies and been part of the revolving door that secures cushy jobs upon retirement from politics.” she said.

Both candidates will be continuing to speak up about climate change and the importance of planning for a transition during the state election.

Contact Charlotte McCabe 0421 728 780 or Sinead Francis-Coan: 0478 188 908

Posted in 2019 State, 2019 State Campaign, Climate Change, Coal Expansion, Election Funding | Leave a comment

Tourism potential goes begging in Wallsend and the west

Sinead Francis-Coan. Greens’ Candidate for Wallsend

As the world transitions from fossil fuels to the energy of the future, local jobs and economic gain from this sector dwindle.  As a region home to the world’s largest coal exports, the Hunter needs to plan for this.

At an Upper Hunter business breakfast, I had the privilege of addressing a room full of passionate local leaders who were all excited about the role tourism can play in guiding our region into the future as we move away from unsustainable industries.

Tourism is key to a just transition for the Hunter, where workers and local community are supported through this economic and energy transition to a more sustainable future for all of us.

The west of Newcastle is ideally placed to step into its role as a geographical gateway to the Hunter and be a feature highlight of this process.

I fondly remember growing up in Jesmond where school holiday movie specials for $5 at the Regal Cinema and vacation care activities at the Jesmond Neighbourhood centre were integral parts of the local recreational framework that many enjoyed.

Many of us remember as school students the excitement of ‘dip-netting’ to see what life forms emerged from the waters of the Hunter Wetland Centre then examining them under a microscope.

With the Hunter Expressway now active, a coming cruise terminal and other planned developments, it is an opportune time for this framework to expand to appeal to domestic and international visitors.

I envisage a well-coordinated tourism plan for the west centred around the celebrated RAMSAR listed Hunter Wetlands Centre, the Blue Gum Hills Regional Park and Tree Top Adventure, the Richmond Vale Rail Trail from Hexham to Kurri, Yamuloong, Blackbutt Reserve and rehabilitation areas such as the Brickworks park and Kooragang Island.

These areas celebrate the region’s biodiversity, boast world-class bird-watching and educational opportunities and promote health and the preservation of especially natural history.

This plan includes more special film events at the Regal Cinema and greater celebration of cultural diversity in the west.

With this expansion can come pride of place, increased employment and the other benefits of improved infrastructure which go hand in hand with well-planned tourism.

In other words, the benefits are not restricted to visitors. Locals can likely make most use of the associated improved accessibility and transport options, a sore point for all Novocastrians.

Tourism often forms in clusters, where like-minded locals band together to boost the destination appeal, share resources and coordinate tourism experiences to break through in a competitive sector.

This organic form of collaboration has indeed been attributed the success of tourism in the Hunter Valley vineyards and surrounding areas. In that case, the success has been a combination of grass-roots organising and government support.

But is the state government on board with this potential in Wallsend and the west?

A government that supported tourism in the area would not have so spectacularly squandered the Newcastle light rail project for a start.

The light rail when it opens will not reach John Hunter Hospital, the University of Newcastle Callaghan campus, or centres like Jesmond, Minmi and Wallsend, let alone any place tourism-related.

If you look at the Destination NSW website, you will see a range of strategies designed to promote regional tourism in NSW, even a specific strategy to promote food and wine tourism, a sector dear to the Hunter. With that in mind, one could be forgiven for being confused at talk of closing the Newcastle Visitor Information Centre that begun as early as 2010.

For a long time it seemed that anywhere outside of Newcastle or Pokolbin had no central, independent tourism contact at all.

Where is the disconnect?

The locals deserve some cohesive explanation.

Lately it seems a restructure has been underway. Local councils in NSW are now seeming to be delegated the responsibility for running Visitor Information Centres, and probably the load of funding them.

It’s time for the NSW government to advocate effectively for our regions and facilitate the realisation of their potential.  Those who look to the future and embrace this opportunity have much to gain.

Sinead Francis-Coan holds a Bachelor of Social Science-Recreation and Tourism and a Master of Philosophy in Leisure and Tourism from the University of Newcastle

Posted in 2019 State, Climate Change, Employment | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Greens call on Wallsend candidates to make NSW A Safe State!

MEDIA RELEASE

24 January 2019

Greens candidate for Wallsend Sinead Francis-Coan calls on all State election candidates standing in the seat of Wallsend to take the Safe State pledge.

“There were 624 domestic violence incidents in our area last year and Hunter postcodes were high in comparison to the state average – we must do better in 2019,” said Ms Francis-Coan.

The Safe State pledge with 49 recommendations has been developed by the NSW Women’s Alliance, which brings together a range of organisations working with women and children experiencing sexual, domestic and family violence.

Candidate who take the Safe State pledge commit to:

  1. Create cultural change to prevent violence and promote gender equality.
  2. Provide immediate and ongoing support for people experiencing violence.
  3. Ensure people experiencing violence have a safe home.
  4. Ensure people experiencing violence can access justice safely.
  5. Enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to lead change to end violence.
  6. Be accountable to specialist workers and the wider community.

Thousands of women marched in Sydney last Sunday raising awareness about women’s rights and the 63 Australian women who died in domestic violence-related events in 2018.

“We have now already lost 7 women this year. We know this because of the work of non-government organisations in our community; the State government doesn’t even keep records of these domestic violence deaths. How can they manage this problem if they don’t keep records?” said Ms Francis-Coan.

“The State Government needs to improve how they respond to domestic violence,” said Ms Francis-Coan.

“The State Government can’t just increase police resources and think the job is done. They should be increasing their focus on prevention and early intervention measures, increasing funding for front line social services and significantly increase funding for crisis housing, particularly in the Wallsend area,” said Ms Francis-Coan.

The State Election is on Saturday 23rd March 2019.

Contact Sinead Francis-Coan: 0478 188 908

Posted in 2019 State, 2019 State Campaign, Domestic Violence, Homelessness, Local Community | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Greens announce two strong young activists as their candidates for Newcastle and Wallsend

Today, the Newcastle Greens announced Sinead Francis-Coan as their candidate for the seat of Wallsend and Charlotte McCabe as their candidate for the seat of Newcastle.

Sinead Francis-Coan grew up in Jesmond, went to the Hunter School of the Performing Arts and the University of Newcastle and is an active supporter of better domestic violence facilities in Wallend. Sinead recently spear-headed the community campaign to keep the Towers Cinema open, launching  petition that received over 5200 signatures.

Charlotte McCabe lives in Tighes Hill, works as a community organiser and is active across a range of issues in the community. Charlotte was the community spokesperson for the Cover the Wagons campaign to reduce coal dust pollution in Newcastle suburbs along the train lines. Charlotte is passionate about reducing pollution, protecting our precious environment and addressing climate change.

“Newcastle does not need oil and gas platforms off our coast line. I will work hard with the Newcastle community to oppose the offshore oil and gas project off our coast. We love our beaches and we love our marine life, we will not allow their safety to be put at risk. Climate change is already here. Opening any new gas facility, let alone off our coast is madness. We need to elect people who will act to reduce pollution, build renewable energy infrastructure and look after the workers and the communities that will be affected by this transition,” Ms McCabe said.

“The Labor and Liberal parties have both been corrupted by their desire for power above all else, and their policies are heavily influenced by the special interests of political donors. By contrast, The Greens is a grassroots party that involves ordinary people in decision-making and represents those without money or power,” Ms McCabe said.

“The State Government is letting down the people of Wallsend. They are allowing our environment to be degraded, they’re not creating jobs in our local area and they’re not investing in the facilities the community wants,” Ms Francis-Coen said.

“There’s an urgent need for better facilities and more funding  to support survivors of domestic violence. The number of domestic violence survivors shows no signs of dropping. The State Government’s current approach is not working,” Ms Francis-Coan said.

Both Greens candidates said they will provide a clear alternative to the major party candidates because they are motivated by the local community’s needs, not careerism or party politics.

Contact

Charlotte McCabe 0421 728 780 and Sinead Francis-Coan: 0478 188 908

Posted in 2019 State, 2019 State Campaign, Media Releases | Leave a comment

John Mackenzie Announced as Greens Candidate for Newcastle

The Greens have announced Councillor John Mackenzie as their candidate for the seat of Newcastle in the upcoming Federal election.

On his selection John said:

“Firstly, to all Greens members, thank you for the trust and confidence you have shown in me in allowing me to once again represent you at this election.

As a Councillor for the City of Newcastle, I’ve had the opportunity to stand up and represent our vision for this city. I’ve championed renewable and clean energy initiatives from the solar farm to electric vehicle infrastructure to microgrids. I’ve worked to make Newcastle a state leader in affordable housing and refugee justice. I’ve been a staunch advocate for new urbanism and appropriate development, and I’ve taken at times unpopular positions on cycleways and transport corridors to future proof our city.

As a federal member for Newcastle, my values will remain the same.

I’m standing to represent the Greens commitment to 100% renewable energy and a public transport system that will create jobs and tackle climate change.

I’m standing so that we all can access a doctor when we need one, and a dentist before we need one.

I’m standing to change the rules to give all working people the basic rights they need to improve their living standards.

I’m standing to permanently protect our precious coast from the greed of mining companies who would see it become a gas field.

I’m looking forward to campaigning for a better future for our great city, and a better future for all of us.

And I look forward to catching up with you soon.”

Posted in 2018/19 Federal, 2019 Federal Campaign | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Inaugural Margaret Henry Lecture

Margaret Henry was an indefatigable campaigner for a Newcastle planned for the needs of its community. Margaret was a Greens Councillor on Newcastle City from 1995 until 2004. She was also a founder of Save Our Rail and campaigned until she could no longer appear in public to save the intercity rail line into Newcastle.
Marcus Westbury, founder of Renew Newcastle and significant figure in the “This Is Not Art” Festival, will be the featured speaker. Marcus was one of the many people Margaret encouraged and supported in their endeavours to improve the social engagement of Novocastrians.
Please come along to this memorial lecture in her honour.
This coming Wednesday in the Concert Hall, City Hall.

Book tickets here

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NSW State Election March 2019 Preselection

Newcastle Greens members Sinead Francis-Coan and Charlotte McCabe have nominated to stand for preselection for the seats of Wallsend and Newcastle (respectively) in the upcoming NSW State Election scheduled for March 2019.

The preselection ballot opens on Tuesday 21st August and closes on Friday September 7. Statements from the two candidates are attached. Ballots will be sent out on Monday 20th August.

Candidate Profiles:

  1. Sinead Francis-Coan – Click here
  2. Charlotte McCabe – Click here

For more information, please contact secretary@newcastle.nsw.greens.org.au

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Newcastle City Councillor, Dr John Mackenzie nominates to stand as the Newcastle Greens candidate for the next Federal election

I am a father, a social scientist, a community campaigner, a Councillor for the city of Newcastle and a lifelong advocate of progressive politics, social justice and environmental sustainability. I was privileged to represent the Newcastle Greens as your candidate in the 2016 Federal election, and I would welcome the opportunity to represent you again at the next election. Last year I was successfully elected as a Newcastle City Councillor. I have since served the city and the Newcastle Greens in representing the progressive movement in our region, providing a coherent voice for transformative social change, and securing positive social and environmental outcomes for our city.

Download Dr John Mackenzie´s preselection pitch here

 

Posted in 2018/19 Federal, Elections, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Greens Back Council’s Commitment to Ambitious Affordable Housing Program

The aggressive commitment to affordable housing by Newcastle Council has been heralded by Greens Councillor John Mackenzie as the defining achievement of this Council term to date.

“Everyone needs a home where they can feel secure, live comfortably and be part of the community,” said Councillor Mackenzie. “With so many now locked out of home ownership, we need better protections for renters, to make homes more affordable and to ensure affordable housing is available in areas with access to employment, health-care, public transport, schools and other social facilities.” Continue reading

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Removal of Pedestrian Mall in Hunter Street No Solution to Choked City

Greens Councillor John Mackenzie says a move to turn the Hunter Street pedestrian mall into a road with a higher speed limit is the consequence of planning decisions “choking the city”.

Newcastle City Council approved an “East End streetscape” plan on Tuesday night which will increase the speed limit in the mall from 10km/h to 40km/h and reinstate kerb and guttering.

Continue reading

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STOP SEISMIC TESTING OFF NEWCASTLE – Community Meeting

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Save the Store, Urges Greens Councillor

The facade of Newcastle’s iconic Store building should be incorporated into the state government’s proposed bus interchange, Greens councillor John Mackenzie says.

Cr Mackenzie will urge Newcastle councillors to back him at a city council meeting on Tuesday.

Cr Mackenzie wants the Store’s front to be part of a “hybrid design”, with Transport for NSW’s planned bus interchange.

Continue reading

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Newcastle Council Bans the Bag to End Plastic Pollution

Newcastle Council has joined the national Ban the Bag campaign, joining forces with other Councils around NSW calling on the state government to implement a ban on single use plastic shopping bags.

Greens Councillor John Mackenzie argued that it was necessary Council to demonstrate leadership on the issue of plastic pollution, given that New South Wales is now the only state in Australia that has not committed to a ban on plastic bags. Continue reading

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Greens commit to improving rental security for Newcastle

MEDIA RELEASE – 5 April, 2017

NSW Greens Housing spokesperson, Jenny Leong MP says that ending ‘no grounds’ evictions in NSW is a simple reform that will provide much needed security for renters in Newcastle, Port Stephens, the Hunter and across the state.

The Greens are kicking off a campaign to end ‘no grounds’ evictions with the launch of the rentersrights.org.au website.

“Many renters live in fear of being thrown out of their home, even when they pay rent on time and look after the property.  These laws are unfair and out of date,” Ms Leong said.

“The review of NSW rental laws that is currently underway offers an opportunity to give renters more security and stability. Ending no grounds evictions is an immediate step that can be taken to help renters throughout this state.

“The Newcastle electorate has a very high proportion of renters, with 38% of dwellings occupied by tenants according to the most recent census data.  This is one of the densest areas for renters outside inner Sydney, ranking 10th in NSW.

“In the neighbouring electorate of Port Stephens, 27% of households rent, and in the Upper Hunter it’s 28%.

“No grounds evictions allow landlords to evict good tenants with just 90 days notice on a rolling lease and just 30 days notice at the end of a lease – without giving any reason at all.

“Renters in most other OECD countries can live secure lives, knowing that they can put their kids through the local school while living in a rented family home, or retire without the threat of eviction hanging over their head.

“But in NSW, dodgy landlords can use ‘no grounds’ evictions as a loophole to kick out tenants if they ask for repairs, if they want to unreasonably increase the rent, or for no reason whatsoever.

“Low- and middle-income people increasingly can’t afford to buy homes.  Long-term renting is a reality for many but our laws in NSW do not make it a secure option for people.

“In the Hunter, the boom and bust of the mining cycle has affected whole communities.  When work is plentiful, homes are in short supply, and rents skyrocket.  Long term tenants can be evicted by greedy landlords who want to double or triple the rent.

“Newcastle, like most Australian cities has seen house prices increase sharply.  For anyone on the minimum wage, the median house price in Newcastle of $975,000 is firmly out of reach.

“Even more affordable suburbs like Stockton are now out of reach for low paid working families, where the average house price has reached $620,000.

“Because ordinary working people can no longer afford to buy a home, more and more people are becoming lifelong renters.  There are more families with children living in rental homes than ever before. We need to ensure that renters can put down roots and contribute to their communities without the threat of eviction hanging over their heads,” she said.

BACKGROUND:

A review of the NSW Residential Tenancies Act 2010 is underway, with proposed reforms from the Government expected soon. Through the review process, The Greens have proposed a number of reforms <http://www.jennyleong.org/greens_rental_law_reform_campaign> to provide increased stability, security and choice for renters, and to improve standards for rental properties.

In February 2017, a study co-authored by CHOICE, the National Association of Tenants’ Organisations and National Shelter, titled Unsettled: Life in Australia’s private rental market<https://www.choice.com.au/money/property/renting/articles/choice-rental-market-report>, found that 83% of renters in Australia have no fixed-term lease or are on a lease less than 12 months long, and 62% feel they’re not in a position to ask for longer term rental security.

The Greens have launched rentersrights.org.au<http://www.rentersrights.org.au/no_grounds_evictions>, a campaign hub and online resource for renters.

Rental statistics for each NSW electorate are available at the NSW Parliamentary Research Service paper NSW Electorate Profiles: 2013 Redistribution<https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/researchpapers/Documents/nsw-electorate-profiles-2013-redistribution/NSW%20Electorate%20Profiles%20-%202013%20Redistribution.pdf>.

Jenny Leong MP

Member for Newtown

383 King Street, Newtown NSW 2042

Phone: 02 9517 2800 | Fax: 02 9517  2200

Website <http://www.jennyleong.org/> | Facebook <https://facebook.com/greens.jennyleong> | Twitter <https://twitter.com/jennyleong>

Our office is on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We acknowledge their ownership of this land and pay our respects to past, present and emerging elders.

Posted in Homelessness, Housing, Media Releases | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

#cantstandby – Ending Migrant Detention in Australia

cant-stand-by

For more information https://www.facebook.com/events/137535673409718/

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End Domestic Violence Against Women

John Mackenzie DV

Posted in 2016 Federal, Domestic Violence | Leave a comment

Newcastle To Get Lion’s Share of Transition Funding under Greens Plan

Newcastle and the Hunter Valley will be eligible for a major share of $250 million in upfront investment to support and assist coal workers and coal communities to manage the transition to a low carbon future under a plan announced by the Greens today.

According to Newcastle Greens candidate John Mackenzie, the Greens’ Renew Australia policy to provide 90% of our nation’s energy needs from clean, renewable sources by 2030 includes establishing a Clean Energy Transition Fund to limit the risk and exposure of workers and communities dependent on carbon-intensive industries like coal mining. Continue reading

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