Macquarie’s Labor and Greens candidates have declared their support for landholders right to refuse access to mining companies and will fight for drinking water catchments to be no-go zones for coal seam gas companies.
Responding to a survey prepared by three prominent Blue Mountains environmental groups, Labor’s Susan Templeman and Greens’ Danielle Wheeler both said they would support parliamentary motions giving effect to these provisions.
Stop Coal Seam Gas Blue Mountains, Climate Action Blue Mountains and Permaculture Blue Mountains presented the joint questionnaire to all candidates standing in the seat of Macquarie.
Liberal candidate and sitting member Louise Markus did not respond to the survey. But Mrs Markus told the Gazette she had not responded because she had “already gone on record to state my views on coal seam gas and I met with the Stop CSG group in my office earlier this year”.
Jan O’Leary of Stop Coal Seam Gas Blue Mountains said the groups were “very pleased that both our Labor and Greens candidates share our concerns about CSG and are willing to act ... they also promised to support a motion to protect land primarily used for food production.”
Climate action and the transition from fossil fuels received the most ambitious and detailed responses from the Greens candidate, she said.
Ms Wheeler said “the Greens Renewable Energy Policy requires 90 per cent renewable by 2030. The Greens believe strongly the remaining fossil fuels must remain in the ground”.
Ms Wheeler added that the Greens were pledging $100 million over five years for locally owned and operated clean energy projects.
Ms Templeman referred to the signing of the Kyoto Protocol as the “first step” in climate action and “putting a price on carbon was the next” to tackle climate change.
She added that they now “need to ensure that the clean energy fund is directed to develop renewables and reduce energy consumption”.
Sue Morrison of Climate Action Blue Mountains said Danielle Wheeler had “provided a clear target and timeline for renewables based on Greens’ policy and economic plans”.
“We would like to have seen similar clarity and detail from the Labor candidate. We have been left completely in the dark by the Liberal candidate.”
Permaculture Blue Mountains spokesperson Kat Szuminska said she was pleased that there was some agreement by Labor and Greens on food security, particularly the preservation of prime agricultural land on the urban fringe.
“It is critical that the public, not just corporate interests, are allowed meaningful input on a national food policy.”
Ms O’Leary said all candidates for Macquarie were approached to complete the survey. Of the minor parties, only the Sex Party’s candidate, Mark Littlejohn responded.
Mr Littlejohn was sympathetic to the aims of the survey but said the party did not yet have specific policies on these issues.
The Blue Mountains Conservation Society also organised a questionnaire for the Macquarie candidates.
“The Blue Mountains Conservation Society asked the eight federal candidates four environment-related questions, including whether they supported the Commonwealth having a role in developing the new Blue Mountains LEP,” said society president Peter Ridgeway.
“Three candidates — Susan Templeman (Labor); Danielle Wheeler (Greens) and Matt Hodgson (Australia First party) — fully supported the Commonwealth being involved in the development of the new Blue Mountains LEP.
“This would be achieved by requiring a ‘strategic assessment’ under Commonwealth legislation. This would review the impacts the new LEP would have on the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, as well as nationally listed endangered native flora, fauna and ecological communities.”
Only five candidates out of eight responded to the society’s questionnaire, including Danielle Wheeler, Susan Templeman, Matt Hodgson, Tony Piper (Christian Democratic Party) and Mark Littlejohn (Sex Party).
Sitting Liberal MP Louise Markus did not respond to the survey.
“It would have been good for the local community to understand Louise Markus’ position on the questions asked, but unfortunately despite the society contacting her office on a number of occasions, including via email and phone, no reply was received,” said Mr Ridgeway.
The questionnaire, including all of the candidates responses, can be found at the society’s website at www.bluemountains.org.au.