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'Young guns' demand a Climate Action Council in Newcastle

Socialist Alliance is running three candidates in Newcastle Council – Ward 3

Here's their answer to one simple question:

What do you think are the main issues that affect your ward?

Laura Ealing: We need a council that's committed to supporting a shift towards sustainability. We need to break our reliance on fossil fuels - they're driving climate change and they're fast running out. If Newcastle's economy is going to survive we need a plan for alternative transport systems and affordable food production through community gardens. We could have a massive expansion of free and frequent public transport by extending the fare free zone to the rest of Newcastle. Council could more actively support the installation of cheap water tanks and solar heating in homes. This is the sort of climate action council we need.

Zane Alcorn: I support recycling - but not for most of the current councilors – in fact overall- the council shows a lack of understanding of the depth of the crisis we’re in. The entire Arctic icecap is probably going to melt by 2013 so we need to get real about reducing emissions. I’ve got viable and realistic ideas to implement systems for renewable energy, sustainable architecture, public transport, and urban agriculture - things that need to happen to save the planet. Its not middle aged business people and developers who are going to inherit the burden of climate change, its people my age.

Thomas Cameron: Within the Newcastle community the youth are facing difficulties finding affordable rental accommodation, high unemployment and a city that isn't exactly vibrant in terms of youth-orientated venues and entertainment. We need a council that's going to address these problems instead of just attacking things like the skate park and The Loft. We think council should be converting vacant buildings into low-rent housing, rather than leaving them idle or allowing developments that most people can't afford to live in. Everyone, including young people, should have a say over what the council does: people power, not corporate power.

Policy and candidate biographies:

For a climate action council in Newcastle

Zane Alcorn for Mayor

Socialist Alliance Team for Zane, Laura and Tom for Ward 3

The latest research shows that Arctic sea ice could disappear by 2013. Within the term of the incoming council, responding to climate change will require an 'emergency' conversion to clean energy and transport. The Socialist Alliance believes that the shift to a low emissions future needs to start right now and we have a clear plan for how to do it - one that will guarantee jobs and protect communities.

Renewable energy and water saving

Using a combination of wind and solar power and improved energy efficiency, Newcastle can dramatically reduce its reliance on coal-fired power and say No to Iemma's electricity sell-off! Council should:

  • Facilitate interest-free loans to households that can't afford the up-front cost of installing solar panels under the federal government's solar rebate system.
  • Support the construction of a solar panel factory in the Hunter, providing alternative and green employment opportunities to the coal industry.
  • Find a way to tax each tonne of coal exported to create a fund to support renewable energy sources and community services.
  • Make cheap water tanks, water recycling systems and solar hot water systems available and inexpensive to install.
  • Free and frequent public transport

    Council should support an extension of the Fare Free Bus Zone to the rest of Newcastle, make it all day and better integrate public transport with cycleways. This would have an immediate effect on reducing carbon emissions.

    Greenwaste and community gardens

    Council should further encourage community gardens springing up in Newcastle and help develop neighbourhood-based green waste processing. Community gardens can help reduce the price and environmental cost of food.

    Defend the skate park and The Loft

    Newcastle has a high proportion of people in the 20-24 age group who face high unemployment and difficulties finding affordable rental accommodation.

    Some in the current council seem fixated with scapegoating young people, attacking The Loft and the skate park and imposing curfews. We want to focus on the real issues such as by promoting youth orientated venues, improving the skate parks and converting vacant buildings into low rental accommodation.

    People and planet before profits

    The Socialist Alliance says that the planet and future generations are more important than profits. What we have outlined will need to be fought for by an informed and active community that can challenge the interests of polluting industries and big developers. We need a council that takes climate change seriously and supports community campaigns for real action.

    Ward 3 includes Waratah, Jesmond, Lambton, New Lambton and Kotara.

    Candidates:

    Zane Alcorn is a 24 year old climate change activist and hip-hop artist in the group Dhopec. He is a member of Resistance and was instrumental in drafting Socialist Alliance's Climate Change Charter. He helped organise the recent Camp for Climate Action and the student architecture competition looking at transitions towards renewable energy production in coal mining communities. He has a Bachelor of Science in Architecture. Zane currently works in hospitality and is a member of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union.

    Thomas Cameron is a 19-year-old student at Newcastle University and has studied environmental management at TAFE. Tom grew up in Muswellbrook, where he saw the devastating impact of the coal industry and strongly supports a just transition to clean energy for the region. He is also a member of Resistance and participated in the Camp for Climate Action.

    Laura Ealing is a 21-year-old economics graduate. She has been active in environmental and social justice campaigns since she was a high school student, when she began protesting the mandatory detention of refugees. She was a participant in the Camp for Climate Action. Laura currently works tutoring high school students.

  • Help out by joining the local campaign meetings
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