Last Monday I announced that I have resigned from the Greens and will be standing as an Independent for the seat of Ballina at the forthcoming state election.
This coming election is a crucial election for Ballina with a clear choice between the Nationals, who have a plan for coal seam gas (CSG) development in the northern rivers, despite widespread community opposition, and those candidates pushing for a Gasfield Free Northern Rivers.
Another key issue for me is the proposed highway deviation between Broadwater and Ballina that could see a 100-metre wide highway built through the middle of the Ballina Shire’s largest and most important wild life corridor.
Furthermore, this proposal will destroy several Aboriginal sacred sites, a number of significant scar trees, and severely compromise the ngunya-jargoon Aboriginal Protected Area by encircling it with concrete.
While is has been widely reported that a nationally significant koala colony would face certain extinction, there are also over 30 other threatened or endangered species that would be put at risk.
I have been engaged in both the ‘Gasfield free’ and ‘Save Ballina’s Koalas’ campaigns for a number of years and have been motivated to stand by this governments, and in particular our local National Party MPs’, total disregard for our environment, our indigenous culture, our farmers, our precious water aquifers and the thousands of local residents who have signed petitions, turned up to protests and meetings, signed declarations and written letters.
The Nationals are also ignoring the NSW Farmers Federation, which is also calling for a ban on CSG in agricultural areas.
I have been encouraged to run as an independent by friends and supporters from across the political spectrum that want an independent representative for Ballina who will put the interests of the community first.
It has been a pleasure to represent the community on Ballina Shire Council for the last six and a half years and I have learned a lot about how our political process works through my engagement across all three levels of government.
I believe that standing as an Independent will increase my effectiveness in getting the best outcomes for Ballina and the wider region.
As a long-term local with a young family I will continue to work to protect our precious natural environment while supporting sustainable growth and prosperity for residents and businesses alike no matter what the outcome of this election.
I am absolutely committed to protecting the region from coal-seam gas and will work for the declaration of a Gasfield-free Northern Rivers.
The Nationals ongoing support for CSG development in the northern rivers is unforgivable. They deserve to be put last on election day.
In November last year the new Nationals Leader Troy Grant flew up to Ballina to proudly announce that Dart Energy’s Petroleum Exploration License (PEL 445) was going to be renewed.
Mr Grant made this announcement with our retiring local MP, Don Page, his preferred replacement, Kris Beavis, and the member for Lismore, Thomas George.
This was despite widespread community opposition and the mounting evidence showing that Coal Seam Gas development pollutes and depressurises water aquifers, ruins agricultural production, causes a number of human health conditions and has an adverse impact on property values.
The Nationals support for CSG in the northern rivers prove that they no longer represents regional Australia and instead seem content enjoying the spoils of being the bedfellows of the Sydney Liberal Party, who only have eyes for Sydney.
The sale of the poles and wires is another example of how the electorate of Ballina will be worse off if the Liberal/National Government is re-elected.
The bulk of the money from the proposed sale will be spent in Sydney on motorways and the rest it appears is being splashed around marginal seats.
Already we see the premier Mike Baird holding back on IPART recommended reductions to service charges in our area amounting to approximately $386 per year in an attempt to prop up the sale price.
What other conditions will be incorporated into this agreement that will only be made public once the ink has dried?
I’ll be providing more detail on the policies that I will be taking to the election over the coming weeks including an update on the proposed ocean pool for Shelly Beach, a community poll on fluoride and the long awaited Ballina Indoor Sports Centre to name but a few.
I’ll be converting this newsletter into a regular blog so that I can provide information that is more timely, and also to engage with you more effectively.
In the meantime, if you are supportive of having an Independent representing Ballina and would like to support my campaign, please reply to this email.
The main tasks that I need help with are a letterbox drop, and assistance on Election Day. (Saturday 28 March) If you could volunteer for a couple of hours handing out the how-to-vote cards would be most appreciated.
I am also self-funding my campaign so if you would like to offer a small donation (that is tax-deductible) my campaign bank account details are: Greater Credit Union, account name Jeff Johnson, BSB 637000, account 720712695
If you do make a small donation, please let me know and I’ll send you out a receipt.
Most of all I would like your support in breaking the political party stranglehold over our democracy and give me the opportunity to represent the electorate of Ballina.
If you could share this news with your family and friends (Ballina and Byron area) that would also be appreciated.
Thank you for your support in the past and I look forward to working with you in the future.
Jeff Johnson, candidate for Ballina