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.


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!


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.


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

Posted in 2019 State | Leave a comment