Wednesday, 25 March 2015

NSW State Election 2015: What the candidates said at the Yamba Meet the Candidates event on 23 March

The Yamba Chamber of Commerce held its Meet The Candidates on Monday night 23 March, at Yamba Bowling & Recreation Club which kindly hosts this event most election years.

Only five of the eight candidates came to this event which drew a reasonable crowd of interested voters. 

Carol Ordish (Christian Democrats) sent her apologies and it was stated that the remaining two candidates were unable to come.

          Debrah Novak (Independent)                                 Trent Nathan (Country Labor)

          Janet Cavanaugh (Greens) &
            Bryan Robins (Independent)                                     Chris Gulaptis (Nationals)

There did not appear to be any mainstream media there to report on what the candidates were saying in response to the questions.

All the candidates spoke to every question put to them and the 'meet' lasted for over two hours.

The five candidates present were invited to submit two short quotes on their policy positions to North Coast Voices. Those that did have these quotes included below in highlights.

Here is a summary of the majority of the candidate answers without comment.

Janet Cavanaugh (The Greens)

Coal Seam Gas: The Greens are the only party totally opposed to coal seam gas, tight gas and other unconventional mining. We have been opposed for years. The Greens want an enforceable legal right for communities to reject unconventional gas mining. The Nationals support coal seam gas and the state government has spent years renewing PELs (petroleum exploration licences).

Privatisation: The state can be rebuilt without cannibalising assets. What the Baird Government wants to do is rob the state of an ongoing revenue stream for a one-off payment which will soon be spent on its election promises.

Police: I agree that the Lower Clarence needs more police. You are distant from Grafton and often isolated by flood. Sawtell which is only minutes from Coffs Harbour has a fully manned police station, but Yamba doesn’t. The Greens stood by the police when they were trying for better working conditions and compensation. We will stand with them to get police numbers up.

Renewable Energy: The Greens’ vision is a state powered by 100% renewables. We are concerned that the Abbott Government has cut renewable energy funding. The first few years of the O’Farrell government scared away private renewable energy investment in this state.

Mental Health Services: Access to mental health services in the Clarence electorate should not be based on “ability to pay or ability to travel”. This needs to change.

New High School in Lower Clarence: Yes, I support a new high school. Maclean High School needs to close. Flying foxes aren’t the only problem - it’s old, tired and deteriorating. These issues were talked about five years ago but nothing has been done. It should relocate to a new site, but this may not be in Yamba.

Forestry: State forests don’t have the same level of weed and fire control as national parks. The Forestry Corporation has lost $43 million over the last four years.

Subsidies for solar power installations in social housing: I wasn’t aware that public and social housing tenants were not allowed to apply for installation subsidies that were available to their neighbours and yes, I think it is a good idea to look into whether social housing companies could be funded to install roof top panels on their houses and use the money from this electricity generation to help fund their services.

Quotes submitted to North Coast Voices:

"The Greens' vision for NSW is one powered by clean energy. It is now technically possible, and it is also economically and environmentally essential. The dispersed nature of renewable energy promotes job creation in regional NSW. It’s a win-win for everyone, except coal and gas miners."

"The Greens are opposed to the sale of state-owned assets. We were opposed to it under Labor and we’re opposed to it under the Liberals-Nationals. ... We don’t need to do it. The Greens have a fully costed program for a $20 billion investment in infrastructure without privatising any existing assets."

Chris Gulaptis (Nationals)

Coal Seam Gas: Short sharp answer is No to coal seam gas. However, it is not that simple as the miners have a valuable product and the state government would have to buy them all out from finite resources. So that is not going to happen. The mining companies cannot be stopped if they meet the conditions of their PELs. That is why we have developed a Gas Plan.

Privatisation: Nothing is being sold it is being leased. Nothing in the Clarence Valley is being leased. The $6 billion that regional NSW will get from the sale is better than waiting for a share of over $1 billion annual [electricity network] revenue

Police: There has been a “significant increase in the number of coppers”. There are two 24hr police stations in the Coffs Area Command – at Coffs and Grafton. The Nationals worked really hard with NSW Police to get extra numbers.

Renewable Energy: New South Wales is leading the country in renewables.

Mental Health Services: Bringing mental health services to Yamba is a complex issue. I don’t have the answer – I don’t know.

New High School in Lower Clarence: I suspect you will receive “a yes from everyone because we are all in campaign mode”. We do not have the student numbers in the education catchment to get a new public high school in either Maclean or Yamba. Relocating the bats from around Maclean High School is one option instead of rebuilding.

Forestry: The Koala National Park was a Labor thought bubble. Turning state forest into national park “will make koalas extinct”. In a national park they will get burned out. Koalas are very sexually active. We need to look after the chlamydia infections first. National parks encourage weeds.

Subsidies for solar power installations in social housing: No, I didn’t know that some people were locked out of solar power subsidy offers. It would cost a lot of money to install rooftop solar power in public and social housing and I can’t see where the funding would come from. The government only has so much money – the capital cost option would need squeezing into the budget.

Trent Nathan (Country Labor)

Coal Seam Gas: Labor is for a Gas Ban not a Gas Plan. We will ban the gas industry from the Northern Rivers forever. People on the ground do not want the gas industry in this region. Labor has recently added the Pilliga region to its total ban policy.

Privatisation: The fact that Essential Energy has been quarantined from the sale [of electricity assets] does nothing to assist people in the Northern Rivers. Transgrid which sends electricity to Essential Energy is to be sold off completely. An independent assessment of this asset sale is that the state government will only receive $13 billion not the $20 billion it is hoping for.

Police: It’s pleasing to hear more police are coming. Let’s hope they come to the Lower Clarence. One of the issues is that when Grafton police come to the Lower Clarence it leaves the Grafton area short. We’ve had to wait until the 2015 election to get the Baird Government to increase police numbers.

Renewable Energy: I support renewable energy. We lost home grown talent overseas because renewable energy is more respected there.

Mental Health Services: Mental health services are underfunded and funding is often ill-directed. It’s disappointing that some funding for younger mental health suffers has been cut.

New High School in Lower Clarence: Yes I support a new high school in the Lower Clarence but I won’t devalue my support by saying it is because I am in campaign mode. I agree with Chris about the demographics. However, I see a need for more investigation. If Yamba wants a high school let’s keep the conversation going.

Forestry: I understand the timber industry concerns about jobs. However Notaras has been successful negotiating all parties in government and I will help you continue to negotiate.

Subsidies for solar power installations in social housing: It’s a good idea. It needs planning, costing and a business model.

Deb Novak (Independent)

Coal Seam Gas: My job is “to keep the bastards honest” - to keep Labor and the Greens honest. These parties haven’t listened to the voice of the people. The Baird Government have brought back some PELs but renewed some as well.

Privatisation: I stand against privatisation of state assets. I support everything Trent has said.

Police: Sixteen new police have been promised for the region and are expected in May 2015.  Grafton has already received 14 extra police and the Lower Clarence 4. I’ve “got to say thank you, Chris” for that, but Casino spending years waiting for adequate police numbers is not good enough.

Renewable Energy: Australia lost its world leadership in renewable energy. We need to reverse this.

Mental Health Services: It is astonishing that the entire Clarence Valley doesn’t have even one mental health unit. “I will advocate for mental health suffer groups even if I’m not elected”.

New High School in Lower Clarence: I support a new high school, but let’s make it a specialist one such as a sports excellence or performing arts focussed high school. This will attract quality teachers. I would be happy to work with your group if I am elected. Chris hasn’t had a conversation with Maclean High School, I have. Student numbers are increasing. Evidence is there that a new high school could be built in the Lower Clarence. The Catholic diocese doesn’t have a new high school on their radar for the next 10 years.

Forestry: I understand how [Mr.] Notaras feels. There was a “lack of consultation” before Labor announced its Koala Park. Even if I don’t get elected please get back to me.

Subsidies for solar power installations in social housing: First we need to build extra housing before addressing solar power for public housing.

Quotes submitted to North Coast Voices:

On Saturday if you vote for me you will give the Clarence Electorate their own strong voice, one which will be fully available and present for the four year term.

I bring a life time of skills and knowledge to the position of MP and will work hard for small business, agriculture, youth, aged care, education and health services.

Bryan Robins (Independent)

Coal Seam Gas: From Day One I have called for opposition to unconventional gas mining. “Yamba is heaven on a stick” and the community doesn’t want this toxic gas industry. It’s also a bit rich that the Baird Government blames Labor for coal seam gas exploration when they have been renewing licences themselves.

Privatisation: I am opposed to the sale or lease of state assets. “The Baird Government stands for Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong. Let’s get our feet on the ground and put this region first. The McKell [Institute] report said that privatising electricity is not in the interests of New South Wales.

Police: We need more country cops. I will push for the reopening of closed one-man police stations for the smaller distant villages in the electorate.

Renewable Energy: The Nationals got it wrong. Now NSW is going one way and the rest of the world another. The Northern Rivers per capita solar power installation shows that solar power can lead the way.

Mental Health Services: People in rural and regional areas feel they have been short changed over mental health services.  Adequate services are especially important because in smaller communities  because mental health suffers are more visible and may experience discrimination.

New High School in Lower Clarence: I support a new high school.

Forestry: I have no response on this issue in my notes for this candidate. For this I apologise.

Subsidies for solar power installations in social housing: It’s a good idea. It’s disappointing to hear that social & public housing is not eligible for subsidies to put in solar power.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well done, ClarenceGirl. And thank you.
You have done an excellent job and in doing so put the mainstream media to shame. Where was the local daily rag The Daily Examiner? It bagged candidates for not attending a so-called meet-the-candidates event in Grafton recently but then it came to light that most of the candidates didn't get specific invitations to the event.
Perhaps DEX will use your piece as the basis for a report in a future edition its paper ....... with an appropriate $um of ca$h $ent your way for a$$i$ting them.