Greens candidate Janet Cavanaugh.
1). What is your policy on a second bridge over the Clarence River at Grafton. Where would you prefer it to be located and when will it be built?
The second bridge over the Clarence River at Grafton needs to be located so that it serves the needs of the whole community for the next 80 to 100 years. We have to get it right this time.
I recognise that traffic congestion on the bridge is a major problem for Grafton and the productivity of local businesses. However, the RTA's decision to focus solely on this in its current planning exercise ignores the future traffic volumes on the Summerland Way, particularly once the rail hub at Casino is constructed.
I was pleased that the RTA appears to have taken a backward step in planning the second crossing. I hope they are open to suggestions, such as mine, that the new crossing should allow heavy traffic using the Summerland Way or accessing the industrial estates at Koolkhan / Trenayr to bypass the town. We need to get B-doubles out of the residential parts of town.
My preferred location is the northern edge of town.
In terms of timing, I would like it to be built sooner rather than later but am enough of a realist to recognise that Grafton is probably too far from Sydney for our bridge to be considered a priority for the current government.
While waiting for bridge promises to be kept, Grafton commuters and businesses need to take measures to improve traffic flow by switching to active transport (park and walk or cycling), car pooling and being more flexible in terms of working.
2. What will you do to ensure the Pacific Highway is upgraded to dual Carriageway. When do you expect the upgrade to be completed?
I have consistently called for a safer highway and firmly believe that this could have been achieved by now and at a much lower cost by making the current highway a dual carriageway.
It distresses me that our community is being asked to wait for the RTA's preferred option of the super-motorways before the highway is made safer for the people who use it every day. And we are paying for this delay - in terms of the cost to tax payers, in terms of the environment and in terms of our lives.
I will demand that the RTA install safety barriers down the centre of the existing highway in all sites where head-on accidents have occurred in the past 20 years.
3. How many new police do you hope to deliver to the Clarence Valley and Casino? Where will they be stationed and when will that happen?
While I agree that there is a need for more police in our region, particularly so that Casino and Yamba can have 24 hour police stations, I do not want to give an actual figure at this stage. Instead, I would be influenced by the views of the Local Area Commands and ensure that the additional police provides adequate coverage to backfill those police officers who are on leave.
Extra police and 24 hour policing are only part of the solution.
The Greens are calling for justice reinvestment, which focuses on addressing the underlying causes of crime, rather than just another 'law and order auction' which exploits community fears.
The Greens support youth clubs and other early intervention measures such as smaller classes, better educational opportunities and annual hearing tests for all Aboriginal kids. These have been shown to reduce crime and are cost effective. It costs as much to hold a person in prison as it does to employ a teacher.
The O'Farrell Government is promising 550 new police for the state but at the same time is undermining the morale and conditions of serving police officers, making the job far less attractive.
Police officers in NSW have a tough job. We expect police to place themselves in harm's way on an almost daily basis when at work, in return the government must ensure they are fully protected when they are injured. They deserve better support than the O'Farrell Government's watered down Death and Disability scheme.
The Greens are calling on the Police Minister to take a step back and return to the negotiating table with the Police Association to come up with a remodelled scheme that better protects injured police.
4) The current increase and interest in the mining of Coal Seam Gas seems to be paramount in the electorate of Clarence as the large mining companies are coming into our area and carrying out their operations by stealth all in the sake of greed.
Are you for it or against it? And are you prepared to accept the blame if their actions contribute to the pollution of the Mighty Clarence and Richmond Rivers through "Run Off," because of the chemicals that have to be used in "Fracturing?"
I've used my efforts in this campaign to make the by-election a referendum on mining regulation, and was pleased to receive the endorsement of the Lock the Gate alliance's Drew Hutton earlier this week (see Clarence Greens blogspot).
The NSW Greens started demanding better regulation of coal seam gas mining last year. Since the NSW State Election in March, The Greens have successfully moved to get a parliamentary inquiry established and have introduced a bill for a moratorium on CSG activities.
I have spoken to a lot of locals about this issue. Most people agree with me that, as a basic precaution, there should be a moratorium on the industry until the current NSW parliamentary inquiry submits its report and its recommendations are implemented. I believe we need a moratorium on CSG until it is proven safe. The rapid growth of this industry has out-stripped our current regulations. We can learn from the experiences in Queensland and do not need to repeat their mistakes.
In Federal parliament, the Greens have tabled a bill which would give land owners greater rights when it comes to dealing with mining companies, and allow the federal Environment Minister to consider the impacts of CSG on water.
Hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking' is one of the more riskier activities associated with the extraction of coal seam gas and other forms of unconventional natural gas such as shale gas. It involves injecting sand, water and chemicals into the coal seam under pressure to create fissures for gas to flow. This can crack aquifers and contaminate underground water.
I am also concerned about the amount of saline and chemical laden water that is produced when extracting gas from the coal seams. The use of evaporative ponds to dispose of this water has been banned for new exploration licences but continues on existing licensed areas.
I have welcomed the NSW Government's current moratorium on the practice and hope this will be extended indefinitely.
5). Could the candidates for the Clarence By-election please give their preferred location for a second bridge crossing for Grafton and provide an explanation as to why they reached their conclusion?
My preferred location is the northern edge of town so that the new crossing will allow heavy traffic using the Summerland Way or accessing the industrial estates at Koolkhan / Trenayr to bypass the residential parts of town.
In making this decision I am considering future traffic volumes on the Summerland Way, particularly once the rail hub at Casino is constructed.
6).Would you go against your political party's policy to protect your electorate from any threat to, say, pure clean drinking water?
There is no conflict between my views and Greens policy regarding the need to protect the Clarence electorate from any threats to our drinking water supply.
Greens councillor Mark Graham (from Coffs Harbour City Council) first alerted the media about the potential impacts of the proposed antimony mine at Wild Cattle Creek on the Nymboida and Clarence Rivers, and our communities that rely on these rivers for their water.
Antimony is a highly toxic substance. Any leak at the mine would have a devastating impact on the Coffs-Clarence water supply, and downstream industries such as fishing, agriculture and tourism.
The NSW Government has to give a guarantee that antimony mining will not be permitted in this area. Proposing a 'balance' between mining and farming is not good enough. The fate of the Clarence catchment population rests in this 'balance'.
7). I would like to know about your interest in the manner in which "Cooperate greed" is increasing at such a rapid rate and wether you consider it is now time to act to stop its increase. Or do you favour it as most of our retired politicians seem to be getting involved in it through becoming members of mining company boards?
Unlike other parties, The Greens are not about money or power. We share your concerns about corporate greed and big business destroying the world in the name of short-term profit.
As far as I know, there are no ex Greens MPs working for mining companies (unlike the Nationals). I believe this give The Greens a unique strength when we're dealing with mining companies.
8). When you make a promise, will you actually keep it?
The Greens stand for honesty and integrity in politics. If I make a promise, I do intend to keep it. However I am enough of a realist to recognise that, as new information comes to light, some decisions need to be changed to ensure the best possible outcomes.
9). Sports and tuition tourism is the fast growing tourism areas for rural Australia. What do the candidates feel need to happen to improve this for the electorate?
The State Government needs to provide funding for improved facilities and also event organisation.
10). With support for some of our long running festivals beginning to dwindle due to a change in demographics, should we also be putting more money into tuition events such as the heavily underfunded Artsfest?
I was disappointed that this year's Artsfest will be the last. After 18 years as Australia's premier creativity workshop event, its loss from Grafton will affect not just the economy but also the cultural environment of our community.
The Greens NSW believe that the arts are an integral part of people's lives, and we recognise the importance to all Australians of a rich and lively artistic life, both as audience and as participants. In particular, we believe everyone should have a right to education that develops individual creativity, irrespective of their age, financial circumstances, or their physical or cultural differences.
If elected, I will work to increase substantially the total funding of arts organisations in NSW, and the proportion of arts funding set aside for small to medium organisations. I will also work to increase the proportion of the NSW Arts Budget devoted to community and local projects in the regions.
Events need to be coordinated and funded, and it annoys me that Events NSW has not supported any events this year in the Clarence electorate, apart from the Coffs Harbour World Rally Championship (which only marginally benefited the electorate). This contrasts markedly with Port Macquarie which has benefited from several flagship events this year.
The role of tuition events needs to be recognised by Events NSW and I would lobby for both State and local government support for future cultural and tuition events in this electorate.