Candidates in the by-election were invited to attend the gathering to meet to give an overview of themselves and their policies that will be of interest to businesses within the Richmond Valley.
Here is Janet’s speech:
Good evening everyone.
My name is Janet Cavanaugh. I’d like to acknowledge that this meeting is being held on traditional Aboriginal land, and I pay my respects to the Elders past and present.
I’m the Greens candidate for Clarence in this month’s by-election. By voting for me, you won’t change the government but you CAN send a very strong message to the O’Farrell Government.
I’ve been living and working in this area for 20 years. By training, I hold qualifications in engineering, and in natural resource and environmental management.
I live at Whiporie. That’s halfway between Grafton and Casino in the Richmond Valley Council area.
I am passionate about our local environment, our local economy and local jobs.
For jobs, we need strong local businesses and government services. I love the “Buy local” campaigns. This builds the viability of local businesses and this, in turn, builds the resilience of our community.
Local jobs need to be supported by TAFE colleges providing good quality vocational training, so workers can keep up to date with their qualifications, and your business keeps up with your competitors.
I love this area: my connections to it go back five generations. I want to see it develop and grow.
So why should you vote for the Greens?
Well, in many ways we have been the true opposition. We opposed electricity privatisation under Labor and we’re opposing it now, again, under the Liberal party.
And The Greens voted against dairy deregulation.
In parliament, The Greens MPs have worked hard to improve essential public and community services in regional areas.
The Nationals are not the only party interested in regional NSW. I firmly believe there is an alternative and that is The Greens.
As a resident of the Richmond Valley, I am acutely aware of the problems facing this local government area. While some of them are not State issues, there are some which are and, if elected I would give my attention to them.
One of these issues is crime, both within Casino and also in outlying areas. I agree that this town needs a 24 hour police station.
But that is only part of the solution. The Greens support a humane justice system that focuses on genuinely addressing the causes of crime.
In the pursuit of short-term electoral gain, Labor and the Coalition have participated in “law and order auctions” over the years to exploit community fears. This approach has failed to reduce crime but has increased the prison population. It is expensive and damaging to our society.
Remember: it costs as much to hold a person in prison as it does to employ a teacher. Sending out a social worker with a basketball in a well-resourced diversionary program – to give something fun and constructive for our kids to do in the evenings or on the weekend – is a much cheaper option than sending out the police, a prosecutor and providing Legal Aid when they’ve caused trouble because they’re bored.
The Greens support PCYC 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.
We also support better resourcing of rehab programs and social support services to assist prisoners in cleaning up their lives on release. At the moment 80% of first-time prisoners in NSW re-offend. The rate is much lower in other states.
I’m talking about Justice Reinvestment – this approach seeks to address the causes of crime rather than always just paying more and more for the consequences of crime.
Quite simply, greater use of detention in NSW is not making this state a safer place.
I’m sorry, this probably isn’t what you want to hear. It won’t fix your immediate problems but it will stop the problem growing, and it will make for a better community in the future.
To fix your current problem, you need a good police force, plus you need some law reform.
The Coalition Government may promise to give Police more powers and more work.
But it seems they won’t support the police when it comes to ensuring they have adequate support to take on this work. They expect police to place themselves in harm's way on an almost daily basis but won’t ensure the Police are fully protected when they are injured.
Police need ongoing support from the Government in terms of wages and conditions to make the job attractive. It just doesn't make sense to undermine these conditions and the morale of the police service, while the community is calling out for more police.
In the by-election, you can vote: to protect our land and water from mining; for honesty and integrity in politics; for local jobs; and for improved services.
You won’t change the government but you can Vote 1 for me BEFORE another candidate, and send a strong message to Macquarie Street.