Wednesday 22 June 2016
Climate the hot topic at Election forum in Coffs Harbour
It was standing room only at last night’s climate election forum hosted by Coffs Coast Climate Action Group. Close to 150 community members packed the C.ex Club’s Rainbow Room to quiz candidates on climate policies.
It was an energetic discussion with candidates agreeing that action on climate change was essential. However, organiser Sarah Wood noted that “there are significant differences in the scale, speed and depth of policies they are advocating – that will make a difference to how well we weather the climate crisis. For example, it is just too late to be opening any new coal mines.”
Participating candidates were Kudra Falla-Rickets, Greens candidate for Page, Damian Wood, Labor candidate for Cowper, the two Cowper independents, Rob Oakeshott and John Arkan, and Senate candidate for the Health Australia Party, Andrew Patterson. John Vernon stood in for the Greens Cowper candidate Carol Vernon.
The notable absence was Cowper incumbent Nationals’ Luke Hartsuyker. His chair was filled with a life-size Luke-doll, who refused to answer questions, but did pose for selfies with amused community members. Jude Turner said this was the closest she had ever been to her elected representative, "It says a lot that he didn't even bother to come tonight. Hartsuyker has skipped other community forums and is missing in action on so many important issues. "
“It was refreshing to hear Kudra’s passion. She’s so well-informed on all aspects of climate policy. Rob Oakeshott also impressed me with intelligent answers to some difficult questions. I really hope we can get people in government who understand the need for urgent climate action,” added Ms Turner.
Topics covered included the transition to renewable energy, protection for forests, phasing out coal and gas developments, political donations from the fossil fuel industry and climate science jobs at CSIRO.
The event also launched a new regional campaign Voices for a Safe Climate. The joint campaign between Coffs Coast Climate Action Group and Port Macquarie’s Climate Change Australia, aims to showcase a range of local people having their say on climate change. It features the voices of mid-north coast doctors, teachers, veterinarians and young people. One of these voices, Darcy Turner, school captain at Coffs Harbour High School, attended last night, with his message for candidates: “Climate change is the most important issue in contemporary society due to the potential for catastrophic effects on a global level and the failure of a meaningful government response.” For more local voices for a safe climate see www.votesafeclimate.org.au.
Coffs Coast Climate Action Group, a non-partisan community group, will also shortly be publishing a comparison table on candidates’ climate and energy policies. Sarah Wood invited anybody with unanswered questions to come to the climate action stall at this Sunday’s Harbourside markets or to check www.coffsclimateaction.weebly.com.
Media contact: Sarah Wood, 0431 299 707