Coal mining, transport, health and development were on the forefront of people’s minds at the Greens party launch in Berrima.
With a state election looming and a federal election in the pipelines, residents across the Wingecarribee Shire, Wollondilly Shire, Goulbourn and as far as Burrinjuck gathered at the Holy Trinity church hall in Berrima on February 8 to hear what the candidates had to say.
Dr Saan Ecker, candidate for Hume, issued the first rallying cry of the night asking residents to stand for the Greens saying “this is the time to stand up and speak. We can’t be humble we actually have to stand up and speak and take the opportunity to lead our society out of the problems we’ve created.”
“The greens will always stand against coal mining here in Berrima or anywhere in Australia. We will always stand firm against poorly conceived developments in our area that destroy the very values that attract people in to the region,” she said.
Candidate for Whitlam, Jamie Dixon was also on hand to address the issues affecting the Wingecarribee Shire and the greater electorate of Whitlam, stating the Hume coal mine and the proposed Sutton Forest sand quarry was “breaching environmental laws and community wishes”.
Acknowledging that Whitlam is a “safe Labor seat”, Dixon asked for voters to “stand up and make their issues known, and make the standing members respond to issues and community concerns”.
Coming in with a strong environmental message for the Wollondilly electorate was Clive West, saying the environmental issues in the are were “absolutely depressing” and that the highway and proposed developments were destroying natural habitats.
“We have a very unique and important group of koalas and they are now being threatened by housing estates,” he said.
“Frankly, I think that the habitat should be fenced off and left alone… it’s not compatible with human interaction and it’s not just humans, it’s the cats, dogs and everything that goes with it.
“I think it’s a priority to protect those beings that can’t speak for themselves”.
The Hume coal mining proposal also dominated talks, with Clive acknowledging the implications it could have across both the Wollondilly and the Wingecarribee shires.
“We have a strange division between Southern Highlands, which are so anti – coal and the large part of the workforce in Wollondilly which is very pro – coal,” he said.
“Coal is the second highest employer in the Wollondilly area. We as greens need to reassure the worker that there is a future without coal and we need to start transitioning now and renewable [energy] provides a lot of employment.”
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