In early February the Southcoast Health and Sustainability Alliance (SHASA) sent a questionnaire to the 4 listed candidates seeking their policies for the next four years. They were provided with 13 questions on renewable energy, sustainable transport, housing for the future, land management into the future and adapting to climate variability, for example heat waves.
Responses were received from Leanne Atkinson – Labor, William Douglas – the Greens and Coral Anderson – Animal Justice Party. Andrew Constance – Liberal did not complete the questionnaire but did provide information on the Liberal Government’s achievements over the last four years and Liberal initiatives and policies in the area of clean energy and land management.
Two extra candidates were nominated after the questionnaire was circulated, but their parties policies do not focus on the environment.
Clean Energy for All
Currently 13% of NSW electricity comes from renewable energy and only 6% from wind and solar.
Candidates made the following election commitments:
- Leanne Atkinson – Labor. Set a target of at least 50% renewables by 2030. All state government agencies to draw electricity from renewables by 2025. Commission the production of 9 gigawatts (9 million kW) of clean energy generation, provide $1.1 billion to fund a rebate of $2,200 to 500,000 households to install roof top solar. Invest $9.5b in renewable energy infrastructure. Establish a State owned power company to drive prices down. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions in NSW by 15 million tonnes.
- William Douglas – Greens. 100% renewable energy by 2030. Establish PowerNSW. A new, publicly owned electricity company to generate, distribute and retail renewable energy for the people of NSW fairly and affordably. Commit $1 billion to support local community renewable projects, and a further $1.5 billion a year in large-scale, publicly-owned renewable energy projects. This program would install 1GW of renewables every year. Invest $500 million in new large-scale public energy storage projects, including large-scale battery storage and pumped hydro energy storage systems positioned within Renewable Energy Infrastructure Hubs. Provide a rebate of up to $2,000 to support the installation of up to one million battery storage systems in homes across NSW. Provide $2,000 rebates for households to buy into community energy projects, supporting the establishment of new projects, and break down the barriers to distributed renewable energy, especially for renters. Quit coal by 2030.
- Coral Anderson – Animal Justice. Set a renewable target of 100% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
- Andrew Constance – Liberals. Support the rollout of up to 300,000 solar-battery and battery systems across NSW over 10 years. $15m for Solar for Low Income Households trial program to provide up to 3,400 rooftop solar power systems to low-income households. Eligible low-income households on the South Coast can receive a 2.5 kW rooftop solar system if they forgo their Low Income Household Rebate. Accelerate the roll-out of solar panels on government buildings to reach 25,000 megawatt hours of solar energy a year by 2021 and 55,000 megawatt hours a year by 2024. Continue the $112.5m Energy Affordability Package to replace old fridges, televisions and energy guzzling lights to reduce people’s power bills and energy use.
The Labor, Greens and Animal Justice candidates supported changing the transport system to electric vehicles including buses and trucks and making townships active transport (pedestrian and cycle) friendly.
Land Management into the future
Up to 1 million tonnes of wood is currently being extracted annually from the south east forests.
Candidates made the following election commitments:
- Leanne Atkinson – Labor. The Liberal/National government has relaxed land clearing laws. Labor will protect our land, our wildlife, our trees and our soils – including remaking the biodiversity laws to bring land clearing under control. Labor will invest $50m in Labor’s war on weeds and pests and double funding to landcare to $32.5m. There has been an appalling cut to the number of staff in Local Land Services and for the National Parks and Wildlife Service over recent years. If elected to government Leanne will be pushing for the restoration of these services in our area. First ever inventory of environmental assets and ensure that planning laws take environmental assets into account when planning decisions are made. Send the Rural Lands Strategy/Planning Proposal back to Eurobodalla Council to ensure that concerns of six NSW government agencies are fully addressed before it can be gazetted.
- William Douglas – Greens. The Greens will strengthen legislation that protects biodiversity and take legal action against agencies, including State Forests, that contravene species protection legislation. The Greens will immediately end broad scale land clearing of native vegetation while assisting rural communities with targeted structural adjustment. The Greens are committed to transitioning out of native forest logging altogether (plantation industry only). Expand resourcing, personal and expertise of NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. Send the Rural Lands Strategy back to Council for amendment to address community and state agency concerns.
- Andrew Constance – Liberals. Committed $100m over 5 years to 2021 for the Saving our Species Program. $45m for the NSW Koala Strategy to provide natural habitat for koalas, tackle disease, improve research and address road kill hotspots.
Adapting to climate variability
Candidates were asked if they would require Councils to ensure their Climate Change Adaptation Plans include funding practical measures like shade trees in high pedestrian areas, awnings on all shop fronts. To reduce illness and deaths during heat waves, set up a community centre, with air conditioning, in each town, where people can go on very hot days to escape the heat. Climate adaptation be added to Council’s planning processes..
- Leanne Atkinson – Labor. If elected to government Leanne will work with Local Councils and the State Government to ensure these issues are addressed.
- William Douglas – Greens. Climate change implications of all activities that come before Council should be carefully considered and factored into all decisions. The Greens have a multi-faceted approach to avoiding the worst impacts of climate change and creating a prosperous low-carbon society.
SHASA encourages people to Vote 1 for the Environment and hopes the scorecard assists with increasing awareness of the environmental and climate change policies of the Bega candidates.