Cas Coleman's (ALP Candidate Bathurst) Response to BCCAN questions

Q 1 Do you consider climate change to be a serious threat? What State government policies would you advocate to combat climate change?

Yes it is a serious threat. I advocate policies that will increase the use of renewable sources of electricity, improve renewable energy technology and drive NSW towards a renewable energy economy.

A NSW Labor government will:

Deliver 20% of the state’s electricity use from renewable sources by 2020, and legislate this target.

Deploy energy efficient lighting to all public hospitals, with savings going to local health services.

Through COAG, initiate a national framework for the decommissioning of obsolete coal fired electricity plants.

Establish an Office of Renewables within Department of Premier and Cabinet, led by a Minister for Energy and Climate Change, to drive clean energy projects.

Provide $10 million to research into electricity storage technology.

Facilitate the establishment of an Australian-first market for electricity customers to trade energy savings into the wholesale electricity market, creating downward pressure on peak demand.

Purchase electricity for NSW government departments from renewable sources where possible.

Q 2 How would you encourage the uptake of solar energy by households, communities and small businesses in NSW and the local area?

A NSW Labor government will require electricity companies to pay a fair price, set by IPART, for householder excess solar electricity. (Under the current government, electricity companies are not obliged to pay anything for the energy returned to the grid by solar households which the companies sell to other customers.)

Labor will also make compliance with the Clean Energy Council’s Code of Conduct for solar retailers mandatory for all those who which to receive NSW government contracts, thereby providing greater consumer protection for solar households.

The new Office of Renewables will reinvigorate the renewable Energy Precincts to foster locally driven plans to increase renewables and decentralise power generation. Barriers to the growth of decentralised power will be actively removed. Grants to community renewable energy projects of up to $500K will be available.

Q 3 What steps would you support to phase out the mining, use and export of coal in NSW and to facilitate a just transition to employment opportunities in renewable energy?

Coal has a vital role in energy provision in the immediate future.

It is crucial to the economic survival of many regional communities

The economic and social upheaval of a premature exit from coal can't be justified.

We need to work together for an orderly transition to a change from fossil to the next generation of energy source.

Government’s role includes ensuring there are workers with the construction, maintenance and service skills to support the needs of a growing renewable energy sector, and that workers in declining industries have every opportunity to reskill. As part of that, NSW Labor government will make TAFE affordable again and allocate $2 million specifically to train workers in industries of the future. Labor will also support apprentices through clothing and equipment allowances, and discounted registration of work vehicles.

Q 4 Do you support coal seam gas exploration in NSW?

No I do not support it. A NSW Labor government will impose a state-wide moratorium on CSG activity, including suspending all CSG exploration licences, refusing expansion of current operations, and not issuing any new exploration or extraction licences. Labor would only consider lifting the moratorium in the future if all 13 areas of concern about CSG mining identified by the Chief Scientist were fully resolved, and a world class regulatory system was in place to ensure the environment and people are fully protected.

Q5 Would you support State government legislation requiring local government to ensure minimum levels of tree cover and shading in regional cities and towns?

I agree with the principle of tree cover and shading in cities and towns. Tree cover contributes to the amenity and attractiveness of towns, supports wildlife and reduces heat reflection in built environments. Before considering a legislative solution, I would want to develop an approach in partnership with the peak body Local Government NSW to achieve the same ends, and offer strong incentives to poorly resourced councils to participate. Many regional towns struggle with declining revenue bases and increasing responsibilities put upon them over many years by State governments, and a legislated minimum level might simply set up some councils to fail.

Q 6 What would you do to restore wind energy investment in rural NSW?

A NSW Labor government will remove the Coalition’s restrictions on approvals for wind farm developments which have put the industry in limbo and stalled tens of millions of dollars of renewable energy projects. Wind farms will be subject to the usual planning laws, and wind farms will be required to properly consult with communities.

Q 7 Do you support the proposal for the establishment of a National Park in NSW dedicated to koala conservation?

Yes. NSW Labor’s proposed 315,000ha park inland from Coffs Harbour will protect two large and significant meta-populations of koalas. Labor will also provide $1 million to ensure the Campbelltown koala population is protected, and fully explore alternatives to the Pacific Highway upgrade at Wardell that will endanger a regionally significant koala population. The NSW recovery plan for the koala will be updated, and paths for koala conservation between local and state governments will be established.

Q 8 Travelling stock routes form a network across the entire country and help protect plants and animal biodiversity. Will you vote to keep them in public hands?

Yes. Under the Liberal/National Government’s proposed Crown lands reforms, Travelling Stock Routes could be sold to private land holders or be put to new uses which could destroy valuable remnant communities of fauna and flora. Labor is committed to building a network of corridors across the landscape and across tenures that will improve the ecological resilience of our state.

Q 9 What would you do to support the expansion of dedicated cycle ways in rural cities and towns?

I would work with Local Government to include dedicated cycle ways in the planning and budgetary process, and facilitate funding opportunities to expand dedicated local cycle ways.

Q10 Do you support container deposit legislation

Yes. Container deposit legislation has been proven to be beneficial in South Australia by reducing pollution and making consumers more aware of the value of recycling in general.