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Byron Shire
May 7, 2021

Tamara Smith, Greens candidate for Ballina

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Greens candidate for the seat of Ballina, Tamara Smith.
Greens candidate for the seat of Ballina, Tamara Smith.

My family have lived in the Northern Rivers for four generations. I’m a solicitor with a background in energy law, social justice and human rights issues. I’m also a high school teacher in Ballina with professional experience working in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission and was a regional delegate in the campaign against Howard’s ‘Work Choices’ legislation. I’ve has worked in Ballina for 11 years and was nominated as the 2007 Ballina Quota community woman of the year for community service.

I’ve been active in a number of iconic national environmental campaigns including Roxby Downs, Chaelundi Forests and the campaign to stop sand mining on Fraser Island. I was active in local campaigns to stop sewage outfall into Byron Bay, protect the region’s koalas and was part of the ‘No Club Med in Byron Bay’ campaign. I’m a passionate ocean swimmer who swims across Byron Bay most days. Because of my love of our marine environment, I organised the recent rally to Save Cape Byron Marine Sanctuary from being opened to recreational fishing. I’m is a member of Lock the Gate Alliance and was part of the legal team supporting the protectors working to stop invasive gas mining at Bentley.

Top 3 issues

1.   Coal Gas Mining:

The Greens are the only party who will unconditionally ban coal seam gas and other forms of unconventional gas mining right across NSW because we know the devastating impact this dirty industry will have on our fertile farmlands, water supply and economy.

The Greens believe that Australia must rapidly transition to clean, renewable energy now. Reviving the fossil fuel industry threatens our land and water security and is entirely the wrong direction to take.

The Nationals betrayed our community on CSG and have a plan to roll-out unconventional gas mining after the election; Labor can’t be trusted given that they gave out the mining licenses in the first place.

2.    TAFE:

The future of TAFE hangs by a thread. Rising fees, job losses, privatisation and fewer course options are the legacy of the National Party, with devastating impacts on locals right across the North Coast.

The North Coast relies on a high-quality, affordable TAFE system to help address youth unemployment and fill jobs in our strong services sector. Like the previous Labor Government before them, the Nationals’ cuts to TAFE are draining our region’s skill base and forcing young people to either leave our area or travel long distances to access vocational training.

I had a second-chance to finish my HSC through TAFE after I had to leave high school early to care for my mother. I’m proud that the Greens will legislate to restore TAFE funding cuts and ensure that it remains an outstanding and affordable public education institution; not just for the people who can afford to pay high prices.

3.    Ballina Sports Centre:

There is a desperate need for a multi-use indoor sports facility in Ballina that meets the recreational needs of our growing population. At present, sporting groups are forced to use a temporary facility that is inadequate to meet their needs and growing membership.

Many NSW towns with smaller populations, including Byron Bay, Yamba and Maclean have an indoor sports facility, but investment in basic infrastructure in Ballina seems to have been neglected by the National Party because it’s been seen as a ‘safe seat’ for so long.

If elected, one of my priorities will be to secure funding and a suitable site for a new Ballina Indoor Sports Centre, such as the former Ballina Council Depot site. This new facility will provide recreational opportunities for the whole community and encourage additional visitors to Ballina Shire.

The first local issue I will campaign on

Coal seam gas is unnecessary, unwanted and unsafe. It should be prohibited not only in the Northern Rivers region, but across all of NSW. The Nationals are a dinosaur party who have failed to protect the Northern Rivers from this dirty industry.

The Greens were the only party to initiate a parliamentary inquiry into coal seam gas and we support the right of landowners to say no to exploration licenses and mining on their land. We have worked with communities fighting coal seam gas right around the state.

If elected on March 28, the first bill I will introduce to parliament will be to cancel the existing gas exploration licences over the Northern Rivers and permanently ban unconventional gas mining across the Northern Rivers and the rest of NSW.


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