Thursday, 18 February 2016

What's Happening with Coffs Harbour Greens

Hi all, we thought we'd update you on what's happening every so often to keep you in the loop.

EVENTS:

Saturday 20th February - Yes this Saturday!
We have our monthly group meeting and we are trying a new place (picnic table on the Jetty foreshore), time and day.  A few people find meetings in the week tough to attend so we are seeing if more can make weekend.  Please come along and share your views.

Sunday 21st February
We have a stall booked at the Foreshore Markets and should be set up by 8.30am.  Come and lend a hand or just stop by and say hello.  Our Cowper candidate. Carol Vernon, will be there from about 8.30am to 11am.  We have petitions to sign, free stickers and T-shirts you can buy.  Look forward to seeing you there.

State Delegates Council February 27th/28th
This is a special women's SDC.  If you'd like to go and represent our group please come along to the Saturday meeting this week, or be in touch so we can endorse your application to go.  It's a wonderful way to meet other Greens and to see how the organisation, in NSW runs and this is an SDC run by women with the men catering and cleaning up. This SDC is where women can put forward a female perspective on policy, discussion and behaviour.  We are also encouraging and hoping that groups will send female delegates to this SDC. Check out the Members website and get all the intel on campaign training for women as well as parallel workshops for delegates.  

Greens Women’s Group
At the February SDC join the Women’s group meeting  Sat 27 Feb where we will be electing our new convenor/convenors as well as discussing coming events and opportunities. On the Sun there is also a Women’s breakfast.  Check out the members website under the SDC for all the details.

Womens Breakfast
To celebrate International Women’s Day there’s a Women’s breakfast at Parliament house  - 8th March at 7.30am.  To book your seat go to

What's happening in Council?

We continue to campaign to save Pioneer Park.  This message from Sally Townley:

Last Thursday's Council meeting was a blunt exercise in lack of transparency and total disregard for procedure. In June 2013, Council staff received a DA from Gowings (Palm Centre) for a building extension. For fourteen months, staff worked on this DA, before putting it, together with a Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) out on public exhibition. Both documents clearly stated that a temporary road was to be built through Pioneer Park in order to alleviate traffic congestion resulting from the roundabout removal and traffic light installation a block away. The roundabout removal is proposed in order to mitigate the effect of flooding which is present and will be exacerbated by Gowings building extension.

In August 2014 the DA was approved, sparking a strong response from the community who cared about public green space and also the presence of Koalas which regularly enter the park from the adjacent forest. Another year then went by with no movement by either Gowings or Council. Note that the VPA, a document which specifies the details of a deal Councils make with developers who give money for public works, has still not yet been signed off by the Minister for Planning. In September 2015, I tried to get Council to agree to write to Gowings to ask if they would be prepared to drop the road from their plans. Instead, Councillor Arkan amended the motion to give the opposite effect, ie that Gowings be asked to bring a design forward for a permanent design. Sadly, that was carried, and resulted in a report stating Council had full agreement from the CBD Masterplan committee to commit to a permanent road.

Most people would know that any presence of threatened species requires some sort of assessment. Council's assessment was completed by their archaeologist and contained not one fact, piece of data, map, plan, reference to any technical information about any effect of a busy road on a known Koala use area or Koala population. It set a new low standard in quality of assessment however Council staff claimed that the decision was 'already made' and having Councillors receive the report was simply a formality.

I argued fairly strenuously that this was a travesty of process in a number of ways, however Councillors Knight, Arkan, Rhoades and Innes were happy to sign off on a major threat to a very limited Koala population, without any shred of technical input. With one Councillor away, and a tied vote, the Mayor used her casting vote to seal the deal with Gowings.

So what now? I believe the assessment is open to legal challenge and a local community group is investigating this further. While some might think this is possibly a small issue, small population, small breach of rules, I feel it is symbolic of a Council who is prepared to take zero account of biodiversity, including a threatened and iconic species such as Koalas, to implement a plan for the CBD which is largely driven by business and landowner interests.

That's why I'm asking you to stay tuned to this issue and get behind the legal action, in order to express a view that we should be considering much more than money and car travel time when we plan for our city's future. Consideration of open space, public parks, pedestrian walkways and obviously the very special occurrence of wild-living Koalas right in our CBD should be thought of as vital parts of the equation.

Ashley Love of the NPA gave a brilliant public presentation, drawing parallels between the Chinese contemporary approach to Panda conservation, with its tourism benefits, to Australia's poor record in species conservation and the ongoing decline in so many populations, including Koalas.

I am now hoping to revisit the request to Gowings. But I am also hoping that people who consider that stewardship of Koalas IS part of our role will make their views known to Council and even to the State Minister for the Environment who is responsible for implementing Koala Recovery Plan actions. Our Council should be understanding and implementing their responsibilities for Koala conservation, rather than blithely ignoring them as was apparent last Thursday.

Please contact me if you would like to know more and stay tuned to our page for the legal update.

Very best wishes,
Sally

Our Campaign in Cowper

Our campaign in Cowper is well under way with Carol and her husband, John, spending a considerable time covering what is now an electorate that covers both Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour.  If you can volunteer to support the campaign in any way we'd love to hear from you.

Also like Carol's campaign Facebook page and please like, comment and share her posts as this means they will reach many more people.

Recent posts include:
How Luke Hartsuyker votes in Parliament.  Something to know and share with those still thinking The Nationals are still the right choice for this electorate.

And details like this on the fossil fuel industry:


There is also the Mid North Coast Greens Blog  which will keep you up to date with press releases and we'll be sharing many of those on our facebook page too. Here's an item about Centrelink services that you may be interested in.

http://mncgreens.blogspot.com.au/2016/02/carol-vernon-re-centrelink-services-in.html


Carol will be at our stand at the Foreshores Markets this Sunday 8.30am to 11am.

Have you liked us on Facebook yet?  We're also on Instagram and Twitter.

Finally if you haven't already please consider joining us as a member, You can attend as much or as little as possible but your membership really supports our work financially as we don't take corporate or union donations as you probably already know.