Greens candidate calls on McKay to take a stand on off-shore gas drilling

The Greens candidate for Newcastle, John Sutton, today called on the member for Newcastle, Jodi McKay, to follow the lead of central coast Labor parliamentarians and oppose gas drilling off the coast of Newcastle.

“This is a good time for Ms McKay to prove that she isn’t always the puppet of the Sydney-based Labor powerbrokers who recently succeeded in protecting her from a preselection ballot of local Labor Party members,” Mr Sutton said.

“Unlike Central Coast Labor federal parliamentarians, who spoke out against off-shore drilling during the recent federal election, Ms McKay hasn’t yet expressed any view about the recent approval of Advent Energy’s gas exploration venture, just 55 km off Newcastle, despite the serious risks it presents to precious coastal resources and fishing.

“Ms McKay has made much of her plan to commercialise Newcastle’s public coastal resources, but has said nothing about a proposal that has been secretly approved by the state Labor government, and that will operate with very little regulatory oversight,” Mr Sutton said.

“Yesterday’s damning Montara Commission report into Australia’s largest oil spill in the Northern Territory criticised a similar lack of adequate regulation by the Northern Territory Department of Resources.

““Aside from being the local member, Ms McKay has Ministerial responsibility for Tourism and for the Hunter, so it’s crucial that she stands up for the tourism industry and for the regional community on this issue.

“Does Ms McKay and the state Labor government believe that drilling rigs off Newcastle will add to our tourism potential, or revitalise the region’s coastal environment?”

Mr Sutton said he would be attending tomorrow’s community protest against the gas exploration project at 10am on the steps of Newcastle City Hall, and called on Jodi McKay to come along and state her position on the issue.

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