Coffs Coast Business, Local, Politics

Climate a burning issue at Cowper candidates debate.

In a packed house at C.ex Coffs on Tuesday, six of the Cowper candidates answered a range of questions about climate change, coal, gas, renewable energy and forestry.

Nationals candidate Patrick Conaghan and Ruth Meads from the Christian Democrats did not attend the forum, which was hosted by the Coffs Coast Climate Action Group.

Picture: The Bellingen Courier-Sun

The National Party candidate, Pat Conaghan, was represented by a chair with a lump of coal (pictured above).

“The majority of the people of Cowper want climate leadership. It’s disappointing that the Nationals candidate did not even bother to come and face voters,” organiser Lissa Rusanen said.

“The lump of coal in his place represents his views, as he’s already on the record backing Adani and even denying the science of climate change.

“But it’s excellent to see most other candidates ready to act on climate change and support the transition to renewable energy. We’re particularly excited that independent Rob Oakeshott announced a major new climate statement at our forum.”

The Climate Leadership Agreement, signed by seven high profile independents, has been making national news. See: https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/the-price-of-power-key-independents-list-their-conditions-for-support-in-next-parliament-20190430-p51iqe.html

Among other climate action commitments, the group of independents say they will oppose Adani and all coal in the Galilee Basin.

Five of the candidates signed a commitment for a Climate Emergency Declaration – Andrew Woodward, Rob Oakeshott, Lauren Edwards, Allan Green and Kellie Pearce.

Labor candidate Andrew Woodward stated his opposition to Adani and said Labor would review Adani’s environmental approvals.

“It’s great to hear opposition to Adani from Woodward, but we’re yet to hear such a clear commitment from Labor leader Bill Shorten,” Ms Rusanen said. “Stopping Adani has become the litmus test for whether candidates are serious about preserving a liveable climate.”

Regarding his party’s announcement of funding to open up gas fields, Woodward explained this was part of the transition from coal to renewables.

However, according to Ms Rusanen it is “incompatible with climate action”.

Local climate groups have knocked on more than 1300 door across Cowper already and will be hitting the streets across the electorate again this Saturday.

“We know most people are concerned about climate and support clean energy over coal, so we’re getting out in our communities to talk to our neighbours about the making that message clear this election,” Ms Rusanen said.

First published at the Bellingen Courier-Sun Thursday 2 May 2019.

See: https://www.bellingencourier.com.au/story/6101745/lump-of-coal-represents-nationals-at-cowper-climate-change-forum

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