Greens Hunter Launch and Hunter Platform

Monday, 14 March 2011

The Greens NSW MP and spokesperson for the Hunter, Cate Faehrmann, today launched the party’s Hunter state election campaign.

Ms Faehrmann was joined at the launch by Greens candidates from around the Hunter, releasing a four-pronged regional platform focussing on:

  • moving away from coal to renewable energy,
  • reforming regional planning,
  • improving public transport, and
  • preserving and boosting public assets and services.

“The Hunter is a key region for the NSW economy and for the issues that The Greens are focussing on in this election campaign,” Ms Faehrmann said.

“Hunter people who suffer directly from the impact of coal on their local environments and communities know only too well that neither of the big parties has any plan for a transition away from coal.

“The Greens are the only party offering real change, advocating no new coal, an end to coal seam gas mining and exploration, and a transition package to establish a thriving renewable energy industry in the Hunter, building on the region’s manufacturing base and technical and research expertise.

“The Greens are also the only party not beholden to the vested interests that have driven so much of the poor planning that we’ve seen the Hunter, the only party that has stood solidly and consistently in favour of improving the region’s public transport system, and the only party that has opposed the rush to privatise our public assets and services.

“As today’s launch shows, The Greens candidates who are standing in Hunter electorates know what their communities want because they are actively involved in and committed to those communities, and bring a wide variety of talents, skills and life experience that offer Hunter voters a real choice and an opportunity for real change on 26 March,” Ms Faehrmann said.

For further comment, please contact Cate Faehrmann (Greens NSW MLC and Spokesperson for the Hunter) on 0412 207 043.

HUNTER GREENS 2011 ELECTION PLATFORM

14 March 2011

1) COAL AND COAL SEAM GAS

It’s clear that the Hunter must move beyond coal, because of its contribution to global climate change, its impact on the regional environment and local communities, and its stifling impact on the Hunter’s economic diversity.

The Hunter could prosper from a planned transition to a thriving renewable energy and low emissions economy.

The Hunter Valley urgently needs a transition plan to become a major centre for renewable energy manufacture and installation, building on the region’s manufacturing base and drawing on the expertise of the University and the CSIRO renewable energy research centre.

The Greens platform calls for no new coal mines, no further expansion of coal-specific infrastructure, an end to coal seam gas exploration and mining (both on and off-shore), and a job creating renewable energy industry stimulus package.

2) URBAN SETTLEMENT (URBAN SPRAWL)

The Lower Hunter Regional Strategy is really a developer’s blueprint with much of the development proposed in the worst locations where developers happen to own land. The Strategy features large scale development at Catherine Hill Bay, Gwandalan and Huntlee (NSW’s largest residential development), despite these location being identified as the least appropriate for such development by the Department of Planning. The Land and Environment Court has overturned developments at each of these locations on the basis of apprehended bias on the part of the NSW Planning Minister.

The Strategy has an unacceptable (60/40) ratio of greenfield to infill housing (the reverse of Sydney), and places new populations in dispersed locations which lead to car dependency, increased greenhouse gas emissions and intrinsically unhealthy lifestyles.

The Hunter Greens believe that the process that gave the Sydney Metropolitan Basin its traffic chaos and appalling public transport is being repeated in the Hunter.

We need a commitment from the NSW government for a complete review of the Lower Hunter Regional Strategy, which must be done in conjunction with developing an Integrated Transport Plan for the region. The primary goal must be to achieve appropriate development in the locations that maximise ecological sustainability.

3) PUBLIC TRANSPORT

The Hunter does not have an integrated transport strategy. Transport planning and development is focussed on roads, while public transport is deteriorating. The Hunter Express Way is receiving $1.7bn in federal money, and will create satellite suburbs 50km away from Newcastle, and further traffic congestion in Newcastle suburbs. Politics, rather than sensible planning, has determined too many transport funding decisions in our region.

The state government has failed to meet its own modest public transport planning targets, and has aided and abetted the campaign to remove the rail into Newcastle whilst presiding over declining bus services and patronage. Appropriate planning and funding of public transport initiatives like the Glendale interchange and extended rail services would not only improve regional public transport services and cut greenhouse gas emissions, but could render the $1.7billion expenditure on the Freeway unnecessary.

The Greens support an integrated Hunter Transport Strategy, an independent regional transport authority, the Glendale rail-bus interchange, the Western freight by-pass, the retention of intercity trains to Newcastle station, the extension of fare-free bus services, and increased passenger rail services to Cessnock, Singleton, Muswellbrook, Scone and Dungog.

The Hunter Greens support feasibility studies on a number of community transport proposals, including the Hunter Environment Lobby’s Hunter Link Rail proposal and Save Our Rail’s Westrans proposals.

4) PUBLIC OWNERSHIP AND PUBLIC SERVICES

During its most recent term, the NSW Labor Government attempted to privatise Cessnock Gaol (they did privatise Parklea Prison) and Wallsend Aged Care ( specialising in care for extreme needs), and there is a constant battle to retain funding for Kurri and Cessnock Hospitals.

In its dying days, the NSW Labor Government sold off Energy Australia (previously Shortland Electricity) and the rights to power generation. They had already sold the NSW Lottery and almost sold the Sydney Ferry Service.

Concerns exist about Hunter Water (which has a very positive cashflow) as well as the activities of the Hunter Development Corporation.

The previous Greiner Coalition Government sold the GIO, the State Bank, The NSW Grain Corporation, the NSW Investment Corporation, and commissioned the private Junee Prison.

The Hunter Greens platform is no privatisation of essential public utilities or services, and full funding for our regional hospitals.

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