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Byron Shire
June 19, 2024

Election 2023 – Lismore: local and state issues Q&A

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There are just 19 days left for you to make your informed choice…

We asked all candidates for the seat of Lismore the same set of questions. Their responses are in the order they arrived in our inbox.

1 What is your feeling about the mining of fossil fuels
– i.e. coal and gas?


Vanessa Rosayro Animal Justice Party
We need to immediately ban the construction of new coal, oil, and gas
infrastructure and move towards a 100 per cent renewable energy target by 2030.

Adam Guise The Greens
The climate crisis is caused by mining and burning coal, oil, and gas. Fossil fuels are heating up the planet, and if we don’t phase them out, the world is going to be a more dangerous place to live. We need politicians to listen to the science and not the vested interests of the fossil fuel industries that are buying influence with their dirty donations.

We need to stop locking up protestors who expose the links between the fossil fuel industries and the donations they make to the Labor, Liberal, and National parties. These parties return the favour by handing out billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies every year and allowing new coal and gas mines to be built.
We need to stop new coal and gas and urgently transition to a renewable energy economy in order to avoid escalating climate chaos. The Greens have listened to the science and have developed a climate and energy plan consistent with the urgent action climate scientists have recommended. The Greens have a plan to grow jobs and repower the economy with net-zero emissions by 2035. This includes levying coal exports in order to fund community adaptation plans, including flood-free housing and doubling emergency services funding. And not opening new coal and gas mines!

Alex Rubin The National Party
Australia is already transitioning to a more sustainable balance between fossil fuels and renewable energy. We support a rational and practical approach to cleaner energy while maintaining the baseload power supply needs for our industry and homes.

There will be an ongoing need for minerals and fossil fuels, so it is about balance, not ideological opposition. We will always need lubricants, coking coal for steel, and fuel for farm machinery.

Australia’s economic foundation has always been driven through the resource sector. We need to balance our domestic needs and maintain our export industry. The Coalition Government has committed to a goal of net zero, but the transition must be orderly and planned.

Janelle Saffin (Incumbent) The Labor Party
The destiny of coal and gas is to be left in the ground and finally, that is where the policy settings are heading. All of our electricity needs will be generated through renewables. I advocate this and I owe this to our young people and our children to ensure their future.

It has been a long fight between the deniers and the perfectionists.

I was in Federal Parliament when the Liberal/Nationals MPs and Greens MPs three times voted down the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme that had all at the table in agreement. This set Australia’s transition to renewables back a decade. I say this not to cast blame but to remind us that this cannot ever happen again. Sometimes we just have to compromise and that is not a dirty word.

2 What is your solution for creating more jobs?


Vanessa Rosayro AJP
As we move towards more sustainable environmental solutions, we can assist workers to transition to new careers in renewables and other non-polluting industries. This goes for animal agriculture, which contributes 42 per cent of methane emissions from cows and other ruminant animals. With government support, we can assist business and people to re-train and transition to more sustainable and humane plant-based industries.

Adam Guise GRNS
There are more jobs in healing Country than harming it. We need renewable energy and green economy jobs as we transition away from a carbon economy. We must urgently end native forest logging. Logging native forests not only releases more carbon into the air, it also pushes our native animals closer toward extinction. First Nations people cared for Country for over 60,000 without digging up fossil fuels or logging old-growth forests. We have so much to learn from them in healing Country. We are lucky to have brilliant innovators, creatives, and skilled workers and if we back them, and invest in our manufacturing, creative and agricultural sectors, we will be in a better position to address the climate crisis. 

With health and government services being key employers in our region, we need to ensure we get more people into caring jobs, like health, teaching, and aged care. For too long, our health workers, teachers, and aged care workers have been undervalued and underpaid. It is a priority of the Greens to change this. We will abolish the public sector wage cap, implement safe nurse-to-patient staff ratios and ensure housing is available to key workers who are struggling with housing costs.

Waste is a huge problem for councils, but offers many job opportunities for our region. We offshore too much of our recycling, and don’t reuse our e-waste. We aren’t just wasting the materials we use, we are wasting an opportunity to create sustainable jobs and economic opportunities by exploring and investing in environmentally friendly initiatives to tackle the waste problem. Rather than the Nationals’ plan to burn waste in an incinerator at Casino, the state government should be returning the waste levy to our region to invest in regional waste solutions like recycling and plastics re-manufacturing and introducing cradle-to-grave legislation to make manufacturers responsible for their product from beginning to end.

Alex Rubin The Nats

The Northern River needs a vision and masterplan towards a Future Ready Lismore, along with a commitment to flood protection and reconstruction. This is the key to attracting new businesses by providing them with surety for the future.

Small business is the engine room of the Australian economy and this is where we need to focus our support. Growing our regional economy and with more agile industries and agribusiness, will create more sustainable jobs.

The business sector is calling for housing, energy efficiency, communications, and streamlines development application processes. We want to promote smart and agile business opportunities that can specialise in local value-added processing.

Other incentives we are fighting for are a State Venture Capital Fund to support start-up businesses and a reduction in payroll taxation burdens for small employers.

Janelle Saffin Labor
Small businesses are responsible for a large percentage of new jobs created, regional economic health, and export products. So, make the policy settings for them as friendly as possible and take on board recommendations from Business NSW and the Northern Rivers-specific ones. Build things here in Australia – Australia and local first. A Minns Labor Government has committed to this, along with local procurement policies. Continue support for apprentices and their employers as this is critical because of the dearth of available tradies.

The other arm is Vocational Education and Training (VET): TAFE must become again our leading VET organisation. TAFE has been gutted by the NSW Government. The Northern Rivers Joint Organisation of Councils (NRJO) has called for more TAFE courses to be in our region and the NSW Business Chamber has long called for a strong, upscaled TAFE. In NSW, a Minns Labor Government has committed to rebuilding TAFE and will also take advantage of the Federal Government’s package of 120,000 fee-free places – TAFE places for regional areas.

I would like to see a Jobs Authority in NSW, and importantly, with a presence in our regions, to tackle jobs and to play a lead role in our renewables energy transition.

3 What do you think can be done about the housing crisis?


Vanessa Rosayro AJP
I support the National Council of Social Service (NCOSS) policy platform for a fairer NSW and I will pursue a NSW strategy for prevention and sustained investment in social and affordable housing. I support changes to the current NSW tenancy laws to remove the ‘no grounds eviction laws’, that see tenants evicted for reasons other than breaches.
I support the introduction of a hardship framework to support renters to maintain their tenancy and will consider the feasibility of a mandatory landlord insurance scheme or rental bond scheme to cover the cost of hardship and rent reductions.
I believe that everyone has the right to safe, secure, and affordable housing.
Our state government has a responsibility to ensure equitable access to adequate housing.

Adam Guise GRNS
The housing market is being gamed by profit-driven investors and developers to privilege their interests. With access to safe housing being one of the most pressing issues our community faces along with the cost of living, we consider housing a human right. We want to reform the cooked housing system rather than treat housing as a commodity to profit from.

We have developed and costed policies to implement our housing strategy and will introduce legislation to regulate short-term rentals to ensure there are affordable rentals available to people wanting to live in the town they’re working in. We will strengthen renters’ rights, by capping rent rises, ending no-grounds evictions, and boosting funding to tenants’ advocacy services.

Our plan will see more social, public, and affordable housing built to ensure essential workers have safe homes. Since the devastating floods across our region have displaced hundreds of people, we need to prioritise land swaps and house relocations in order to preserve our hundred-year-old hardwood homes and keep our communities together and living in safe and affordable homes. We can’t leave it to the free market to deliver the housing we need for an aging and increasingly single-occupant household population.

The government needs to intervene and acquire land to enable affordable house relocations and new, well-designed housing for our community and they need to do it right now.

Alex Rubin The Nats
The solution to our housing crisis is increasing the housing stock (including social housing quotas). We need to build the right types of housing for families. Cheap housing that isn’t energy efficient or an investment in the future is just kicking the can down the road.

We need to be prepared to increase housing density in Lismore, council has a role to play in streamlining development application processes. We need to provide people with the surety that Lismore is a solid investment for their future.

New housing needs considered urban planning, supported with the right infrastructure (sewage, power grid and transport links), we have seen too many orphan developments, built in the wrong place lacking sound infrastructure, and overpriced.

The Nationals in government have committed $2.8 billion for more and better homes and are fast-tracking critical infrastructure, rezoning, and shared equity programs to ensure the Australian dream can become an Australian reality.

Janelle Saffin Labor
The State Government must cause more houses to be built, adopt different models, secondary dwellings, small homes, and take responsibility. The Northern Rivers has a long waiting list for public and private housing, worsened by the 2022 floods. The NSW Government’s failure to address this need over years has now resulted in our region needing 18,600 homes. At this election, we need secure commitments from the major parties. The Labor Opposition has committed to regional housing plans with targets and a raft of other measures to make housing safer and more secure.

The Liberal and National parties have a Housing Strategy 2041 but have not set any targets. I have brought Landcom to our regional areas. They were in Byron Bay but I have them now in Lismore and they must work in regions and on smaller scales than they, of course, do in the city. My work and advocacy brought this policy and we now have underway 64 units on two flood-free blocks in Lismore, and my next cab off the rank is to explore Murwillumbah.

Where I grew up we could all get housing, courtesy of the State Government. We were secure to go out into the world. Our people must have the security of a roof over their heads for themselves and their children. The market alone cannot provide that security, but all are winners if the State Government steps up to its responsibilities.

That is my goal.

4 What measures do you think we can take to balance the need for development while caring for the environment?


Vanessa Rosayro AJP
Bio-sensitive urban design will ensure that urban sprawl is in harmony with wildlife
and nature. Housing reform or development does not need to come at a cost to our

Adam Guise GRNS
We need ecologically sustainable development which doesn’t compromise the health and wellbeing of future generations and the millions of other species we share this planet with. We need to reform the planning system in order that it prioritises people and the planet, rather than the profits of developers and other vested interests.

We need strategic planning which plans for 50-100 year timeframes and not just the next election cycle. We need to ensure that developments take into account carbon emissions and impacts on climate change, and ensure that scope three emissions are accounted for.

We need to reuse and recycle building materials and invest in alternate building materials which are sustainable and don’t further harm our planet.

Alex Rubin The Nats
There is too much legislation, policy and governance being applied to the development process. The maze of laws, by-laws, and requirements, are at times contradictory and vague in definition. We need a unified development code that aligned all levels of the relevant authorities and sets a rules base standard for the future. This will incorporate an environmental and sustainable development balance that is clear for all stakeholders. This will also prevent the practices of development shopping, across different regions to get applications waved through.

The second piece to this puzzle is auditing and enforcement of the process, which is currently inadequate and without the power to prosecute (including associated penalties). What is concerning is that it is sometimes cheaper for developers to absorb a fine than comply with development policy.

The State also has a role to play in ensuring local councils are given flexibility in cost recovery of services proportionate to development applications’ size and scope. The NSW Nationals in Government has committed to reducing emissions and achieving Net Zero by 2050, in a way that doesn’t include new taxes or a reduction in business operations.

Janelle Saffin Labor
It is important that we talk to each other and work towards agreement. The guiding principle must be sustainability – often mouthed but often not practiced. We can use an international blueprint and a local one. The local one is called “Guiding Principles for a Sustainable Future” and the global one is the 17 “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs). I shall have to do a search for the local one that was done 20 years back but still current. The global one is found on the website https://sdgs.un.org/goals. A shout out to the Nimbin Neighbourhood Centre who measure their action outcomes against the SDGs, which is what we can all do.

Climate Change has us on notice.

Local Drake woman, Knitting Nana and RFS volunteer Felicity Cahill says, “It’s time to take a good look and slow down the destruction.” (Drake Village Voice March issue, Editor Jonah Earley)

5 What do you think is the role of the government in disaster recovery?


Vanessa Rosayro AJP
I believe that the NSW government has a responsibility to ensure our common welfare. Governments are responsible to the people. The challenges of ‘recovery’ have highlighted inadequacies and failings that we can learn from and plan for in our future.
The NSW Government has the ability to direct resources and funds into disaster mitigation and prevention. As we experience a climate emergency, this is an issue the government can not afford to ignore.

Adam Guise GRNS
A government’s role during times of disaster needs to be responsive, caring and timely. Despite some assistance since the devastating floods, the government has been slow to act in providing safe housing for flood-impacted residents, and our health and welfare agencies remain in crisis trying to deal with the humanitarian impact. 

The International Energy Agency, the IPCC, and global science experts have advised that to avoid the complete breakdown of the climate, we must not open new coal and gas mines. But this is exactly what the Liberals, Nationals, and Labor plan to do and it is the taxpayer who has to pay for the damage these industries are doing as a result of the extreme weather events that they are causing.

The Greens have a plan to levy coal exports in order for them to pay for the damage they’re causing. Nearly $7 billion of revenue annually could be used to rehome disaster-impacted communities, invest in essential public services, double our emergency services funding, and make our communities more resilient to extreme weather.

Prevention is better than a cure. Rather than spending billions of dollars cleaning up and rebuilding communities after disasters and giving billions of dollars more to fossil fuel industries so that they can continue to wreak havoc, we should be ending coal and gas and invest in renewables and climate adaptation.

Alex Rubin The Nats
All three levels of Government are critical in any disaster recovery. The State government is responsible for the immediate disaster response, with a combined Federal and State approach for enabling post-disaster recovery. Our current attitude toward disaster recovery is fundamentally flawed. We focus 97 per cent of recovery resources into reparations, and only 3 per cent into future mitigation. This must be rebalanced!

The role of government should be the provision of resources and support services to provide critical life support for victims, ensuring their safety and security during and post-disaster.

The second function of government is clarity in planning and funding packages for a partnered recovery process between the private and public sectors.

My experience from recovery operations around the world is that transparency and consultation are key elements to assisting a community to participate in the journey of recovery and this needs to begin with a vision of hope and balanced expectations for all stakeholders.

The ultimate goal of recovery is to attain a situation where the community becomes self-propelling in working towards a better future.

Janelle Saffin Labor
Support community-led recovery.

This means that Government must:

1. Listen to community needs, consider them very carefully, sit with community in conversation and discuss what can be done, and then back us in every step of the way.
2. Provide an independent Recovery Coordinator.
3. Better prepare the State bodies, as community is pretty good at preparing ourselves.
4. Work hand-in-glove with community in preparedness.
5. Resource organisations like our community resilience organisations

And, better still:

6. Escalate all actions towards lowering carbon emissions.
7. Get a move on with the State mitigation plan, and the local adaptation plans.
8. Recognise that we need transformational adaptation, not the incremental adaptation that has been the norm.

I tendered a 20,000-word submission to the Independent Flood Inquiry and the NSW Legislative Council Inquiry and have written and spoken probably five times that many words since, and now have extensive expertise in disaster preparedness, response, recovery, rebuild, and transformational adaptation.

I am bringing to the table a wraparound economic and environmental plan to support community-led disaster recovery to rebuild sustainable communities and transform how we live and work on and around the floodplains.

6 What do you think we can do to ‘close the gap’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people?


Vanessa Rosayro AJP
This land always was and always will be Aboriginal Land. Closing the Gap will require multiple efforts in a variety of settings from law enforcement, to health care, education and cultural awareness and consideration.

Our First Nations people across NSW experience multiple forms of oppression and disadvantage. First Nations people need self-determination and consultation in matters concerning their people. I won’t just listen to their voices, I will act because I support equality, equity, and fairness, and oppose all forms of oppression.

Adam Guise Greens
This country was invaded. The sovereignty of First Nations people has never been ceded. First Nations people were violently dispossessed, their children stolen, their families separated, and their lands, waters, and skies stolen and destroyed. 

The Greens will begin the process of truth-telling and treaty. We will raise the age of criminal responsibility and keep children with family and community. The Greens will introduce stand-alone cultural heritage laws controlled by Aboriginal People and expand rights to land. We will divert all First Nations people from the prison system into a place-based First Nations-led reinvestment system that addresses the underlying needs and risk factors related to multigenerational trauma.

The Greens will commence a state-wide process of truth-telling and healing, on the path to Treaty and self-determination for First Nations people of New South Wales.

Alex Rubin The Nats

There is national bi-partisan agreement that closing the gap for First Nations peoples is essential. We acknowledge that there is so much more that needs to be done.

We believe that the most successful programs for closing the gap have all been built on a foundation of grassroots culturally led initiatives. They have taught us that we need practical solutions that address the key areas of education, health, and safety.

We need to accept the mistakes of the past from top-down approaches to imposed on First Nations people for closing the gap. I believe that future programs need to be driven from the grassroots level with localised tailored projects, of the mob, by the mob, for the mob.

Janelle Saffin Labor
This question is too important for a few lines but we must:

1. Ask First Nations people what they need rather than tell them what we are going to do to them.
2. Support the Voice.

3. Implement the Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody.
4. End poverty, and ensure all have access to health care, education, and economic opportunity.
5. NSW Labor has a pathway to Treaty process. Can we bring the NSW Parliament together about these matters? I will listen to the local Elders on this.

7 Do you think the use of pokies and online gambling should be regulated? 


Vanessa Rosayro AJP
The gambling industry pervades many areas of our lives, profits from addiction, distress, and violence, and has powerful economic influence. It is a multi-billion dollar industry that also perpetrates harm against a variety of animals such as horses, greyhounds and rabbits.

This industry needs more than regulation, it needs reform.

This issue of pokies and online gambling is part of a wider issue around gambling reform in this country. Seven greyhounds have died this year already on NSW tracks. We need transparency around political donations, act to minimise harm to animals and people, and cease funding and subsidies to gambling industries.

Adam Guise GRNS
Online gambling is pervasive online as well as television advertising, exposing children to harmful gambling messages. Regulation is required to ensure that children aren’t exposed to these influences. The Greens have a detailed plan to rid pubs and clubs of poker machines, tackle the corrosive influence of the gambling lobby, and address the serious harm inflicted on individuals, families, and communities. We would introduce:

• a pokies ‘super tax’ that pulls in an additional $3.4 billion in revenue over 5 years
•  establish a Poker Machine Reparations fund to invest in communities most impacted by gambling and expand harm reduction services
• introduce a mandatory state-run cashless gambling card, with harm reduction measures including pre-commitment of time and spending and a statewide exclusion register
• phase pokies out of pubs over 5 years and clubs over 10, providing financial support to small pubs and clubs to help establish alternative revenue streams.
• prohibit political donations from all organisations that profit from gambling.

Alex Rubin The Nats
Absolutely! We believe in a pathway to cashless gaming (pokies) as a social contract to address the damage caused by problem gambling. The Nationals in government have committed that pokies will become cashless by 31 Dec 28. The biggest problem is not in the pubs and clubs, as they take problem gambling seriously and have measures in place to support gambling addictions.

The greater problem is the parasite online gambling platforms. Online gambling is sparsely regulated and deliberately targets the most vulnerable people in our society. Future State legislation needs to focus on addressing this loophole.

Janelle Saffin Labor
Yes I do.

Pokies elicit a very emotive debate that online gambling does not, yet is regulated and the latter is toxic, unregulated, and accessible to all in the comfort of one’s home or on the phone wherever one is.

The cashless gaming card is a recommendation about money laundering. It seems to me that money laundering is largely in casinos and metropolitan cities. Clubs NSW are moving to a cashless gaming trial and that is the policy if there is a Minns Labor Government.

Many hotel owners in our area have gone pokie-free and that is a growing trend.

The $7 billion that is gambled online is being scrutinised by a Federal Parliamentary Committee.

I look forward to its work leading to change.

8 What steps would you suggest we take to become more sustainable?


Vanessa Rosayro AJP
1. Phase out fossil fuels and transition to clean energy infrastructure.
2. Remove subsidies from the fossil fuel and animal agriculture industries and redirect funding into clean energy solutions and sustainable plant-based agriculture.
3. Shift away from road transport toward more environmentally-friendly modes, including rail, walking, and cycling.
4. Reimagine urban design to be climate-friendly and climate-resilient and incentivise research and development into net zero carbon building materials and practices.
5. Ensure that banking, superannuation, and other investment products offer options that promote environmental sustainability and animal protection.
6. Offer support to people and businesses that want to transition away from exploiting animals and the environment.
7. Critically assess development and infrastructure projects for their impact on local waterways and ecosystems
8. Promote and support water-efficient appliances and practices, the use of recycled water, constructed wetlands, and the treatment of wastewater with plants.

The Animal Justice Party has a clear plan and I will work hard to realise a sustainable future for all animals and people.

Adam Guise GRNS
Critically we must uphold ecologically sustainable development that does not compromise the life support systems of our planet and future generations. This means acting on climate change, stopping burning fossil fuels, ending native forest logging, avoiding biodiversity loss and species extinction, and living within the ecological constraints of our planet. 

Rather than having billionaires and corporations profiting from the climate crisis and widening the gap between rich and poor, we can share our resources fairly so that our public services are properly funded and our most vulnerable are cared for. 

To survive the climate crisis, we need to be building sustainable, resilient, compact and connected communities which are energy and water efficient and connected to their landscape. For our region, this means an equitable and fair relocation from our floodplain to safer housing, and the regeneration of our water catchments in order to improve water quality, sequester carbon, protect topsoil, and reduce flooding impacts.

Alex Rubin The Nats
Everyone has a role to play in building a more sustainable future. We believe that a key element to this is increasing our water security (Dunoon Dam) with a pumped hydropower generation capability.

The State government has a role to play in rebalancing our supply chain dynamics. We believe that the Northern Rivers is potentially poised to lead NSW with a ‘Grow Local & Eat Local’ initiative. Our local industry base has been decimated, not so long ago we had a full meat processing centre, dairy industry, and vibrant grocery cooperatives.

We now have local produce shipped to mega-production facilities, and then freighted back to us to fill our major supermarkets. We want to promote a more sustainable and efficient model for local processing and distribution that returns profits to primary producers, creates local employment opportunities, and reduces grocery costs for local residents.

9 What can be done to solve the aged care crisis?


Vanessa Rosayro AJP
We have had a Royal Commission into Aged Care, which made a number of recommendations to the federal government and exposed physical and sexual abuse, substandard care in food, medication management, skincare, and complex care, that reaches into the realms of ‘criminal behaviour’.

The Royal Commission also found an array of system and access problems that pervade the sector. I will continue to pressure the government to adopt these recommendations, and support measures that implement recommendations to address the criminal behaviour
towards our aging population. I support equality and justice for all.

Adam Guise GRNS
The Royal Commission into aged care highlighted the dire situation older people face in terms of care and services. This is unacceptable and older members of our community deserve to be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect. To this end, the state government must play an active role in the provision, regulation, and support of aged care accommodation and services and ensure that all services are free from abuse and exploitation of older people.

We also need to ensure that people can remain in their homes for longer, by supporting healthy aging through well-designed communities, access to quality healthcare, and accessible transport. To this end, maintaining in-home and community care programs is important to allow people to age comfortably in their homes.

Access to high-quality, appropriate health and aged care services should be on the basis of need, and not on the ability to pay or on geographical location, and should be delivered after extensive consultation with older people and their representative organisations. To attract and retain aged care workers and community nurses, we need to abolish the public sector wage cap, increase pay for aged care workers, and raise minimum standards for aged care facilities.

Alex Rubin The Nats

Aged Care is part of our social contract with the previous generations. These people have worked hard their whole lives, for the abundance our society now enjoys. I think we owe our elderly a debt of gratitude for all that they have given to us. The focus of aged care must be ensuring that dignity is maintained and quality of life is preserved.

We all need to remember that one day, we too will require care in our sunset years.

We need more qualified aged care staff, especially in our smaller towns and villages. The key to this is growing and retaining skilled staff, but there are no quick fixes, qualifications take time to train and develop. The Nationals get this – having committed to increasing both our healthcare staff numbers in NSW by over 10,000 positions.

I believe the solution is to incentivise “Growing Our Own” aged care professionals in regional areas through programs in schools, TAFE and adjunct tertiary education that motivate people to work and stay regional. These programs include removing HECS debts, free TAFE training options, and family support packages. We need to subsidise career development for aged care professionals and support staff that enable regional growth.

We must move away from a reliance on importing or paying massive costs for fly-in fly-out workers. Better recognition for professionals with regional experience, increasing ‘On Job’ training time for aged care workers because not everything needs to be learned in a lecture theatre or classroom.

We need to break the barriers to acknowledging TAFE courses as satisfying equivalent university learning outcomes. Retaining skilled workers with better options for career progression and support packages that enable families to transition to a new home and regional life.

Janelle Saffin Labor
1. Pay the workers a proper wage.

2. Implement the Royal Commission findings into Aged Care.
3. Cease privatising services that are best done by public service, at least in terms of direct policy, practice, and oversight.

10 What is your position on the possibility of a Dunoon dam?


Vanessa Rosayro AJP
I oppose the Dunoon Dam because it will destroy 52 hectares of koala habitat, the
big scrub rainforest and scared sites of cultural and spiritual significance to our First
Nations Communities.

The site for the proposed Dunoon Dam will endanger a precarious ecological community, with its loss potentially impacting other native wildlife like the platypus who call this place home. Development does not have to come at a cost to our environment. We know that the prosed dam would only service half the catchment size of Rocky Creek Damn, and do little to assist us in a time of drought. What we also know, is that there are other models available to us to ensure water security.

We have experts in the field, whereas damns are rainfall dependant.
Our experts have advocated for diversification in water catchments, water efficiency
programs, purified recycled water, renewable-powered desalination, water harvesting
, and improving efficiency by addressing leaks. We have the answers, we just need to
listen to the experts.

Adam Guise GRNS
The Dunoon Dam would destroy Widjabul Wia-bal cultural heritage, endangered ecological communities, and flood hectares of rainforest and farmland.

The Dunoon dam would cost at least half a billion dollars to build, take years if not decades to construct, and would be money better spent on more diverse and less impactful water solutions.

Rather than building a mega-dam below the existing Rocky Creek dam, we need smart water solutions like water recycling, rainwater tanks, addressing water leaks, and water efficiency. These provide a diversity of solutions and redundancy during times of drought which aren’t dependent on rainfall in a small catchment.

Dams are no defense against a prolonged drought, especially not when built below the catchment of the existing water supply dam!

The dam is not effective mitigation against flooding in Lismore and other downstream communities.

Alex Rubin The Nats

I am the only candidate fighting for better water security in our region.

We have a water emergency in Northern NSW, the irony of this region is that we are not just the most flood affected, we are also the most drought-prone region. We have not invested in water security for nearly 40 years, and our water supply is oversubscribed by 300 per cent.

What this all means is that, when the next drought hits us, we run out of water in less than eight months.

Building Dunoon Dam is a key step to addressing this problem, but we also need to raise the capacity of Clarrie Hall Dam and Toonumbar Dam to support our growing population and maintain ecological flows in our river systems. This will also reinvest into the water table as well as assist with flood mitigation.

Dunoon Dam offers secondary opportunities for our region to generate local clean power, through a pumped hydro-electric system (essentially creating a natural mega battery). With investment into our regional power grid, we could efficiently harvest the surplus solar energy feed-in across our local grids.

The tertiary benefit for our region is the potential eco-tourism boost from a recreational water park that offers sailing, kayaking, and camping opportunities.

Janelle Saffin Labor
In my submission to the Rous County Council, I said they had not provided evidence to support a dam. At the time it was resurrected after being buried, there was plenty of hype from the National Party about being prevented from building dams. I reminded the Deputy Premier at the time (John Barilaro) that they had been in Government for some 11 years then and could have built dams if they had wished.

I am not sure who he was blaming but it was another one of those mindless debates.

It has become a “rally round the flag” call by one of the candidates. Beware of this sort of promise to deliver. It will be judged by Parliament and later the Courts and may be a waste of your money. I do not see it as a possibility.

There are also cultural considerations regarding Indigenous land custodianship. I am in a conversation with Steve Roberts, the brother of the late John Roberts, who was the leading Elder on this matter.

11 What could done better in supporting rural communities and farmers?


Vanessa Rosayro AJP
Our current farming practices are not environmentally sustainable. Working with the Animal Justice Party I will move to phase out cruel animal practices such as live export, slaughter without reason, animal mutilations such as branding, castration, earmarking, mulesing and teeth clipping as well phasing out cages, pens, and stalls that do not allow farmed animals complete freedom of movement.

I recognise that in bringing about change, our farmers will need support. And our farmers need support now, as they navigate their livelihoods within a climate emergency that has impacted animal and plant farmers alike.

The stress on farmers has been immense. Providing financial support and education
opportunities to encourage farmers to transition to plant-based farming is one step
in many that we can do better to support our farming community.

Adam Guise GRNS
Farmers, rural landholders, and our regional communities are doing it tough. Drought, bushfires, COVID, and devastating floods have impacted our region, disrupting lives and businesses. Rather than investing in our future, regional communities such as ours have suffered under neglect from the National party for decades.

Rather than sports rorts, pork-barrelling in safe seats, and jobs for mates, regional communities need real investment in infrastructure and services that keep our communities together. Rural landholders need to be supported in regenerating their landscape, innovating with farm production and value adding, and ensuring succession planning provides for a new generation of rural land managers.

Maintaining regional services like health, education, social services, and housing is essential to retaining people in rural areas and ensuring people in regional communities have the quality of care that our city counterparts have.

Alex Rubin The Nats
We have spent the last six months engaging all of the small towns and villages across the electorate.

There are so many concerning issues within our rural communities, that have been raised with us –

• Access to local health / medical services to regions (cross-border access)
• Mental health services
• Flood mitigation
• Illegal cannabis cropping in national parks
• Employment opportunities (regional/remote)
• Decentralised Govt. services
• Hobby farm compliance enforcement
• Carbon sequestration rebates
• Regional cooperative funding
• Bushfire prevention investment
• Better national parks management
• Stovepipe education systems
• Bank closures – Regional ATMs
• Regional circulars/information sharing
• Professional farmer incentives
• Communications (4G coverage)
• Internet access for farmers
• Solar batteries rebates
• Council rates hikes
• Water reserves/weirs/dams
• Pest population management
• Incentives for youth in regions
• Pathways for regional youth crime
• Daylight saving concerns
• Power security – critical infrastructure
• Community emergency management planning
• Tourism opportunities for local villages
• Investment in national eco-pathways (trails and camping sites)
• Better regional bus services
• Monuments society & historical society support
• Better rural insurance options
• Upgrading of local bridges
• Rebuilding rail networks
• Refugee placement incentives
• Village traffic bypass investments

Janelle Saffin Labor
Respect the critical role farmers and people living and working in rural communities play in our lives.

They, directly and indirectly, feed us, care for our land, are on the frontline with the vagaries of the weather, climate change, and adaptation. The respect for farmers can be made real by providing better resources with finance, skills, knowledge and ensuring they have a seat at any government table.

I encouraged local farmers in the Murwillumbah-villages-Tweed Valley areas, where farmers are grappling with wild dogs, deer, other invasive species, water issues, etc. They now have one.

Respect for rural communities is best expressed by providing better frontline services, health care, educational opportunities, better roads, cleaner rivers, connectivity, police presence, and listening to them.

12 Is there another issue you would like to highlight?


Vanessa Rosayro AJP
Equality and kindness for all is non-negotiable.

Adam Guise GRNS
A never-ending torrent of scandals, rorts, pork barrelling, dirty donations, and dodgy deals have corrupted our democracy, taken away our voice and pushed trust in politics to an all-time low.

The Nationals and Labor are only looking after themselves and their donors, rather than the rest of us. The Greens don’t accept dirty donations from fossil fuel companies, corporations or gambling industries, which means we’re accountable to the voters – not vested interests. 

As long as there is big money in politics, politicians will represent the interests of big business and big polluters – not the people who elect them. Strengthening our democracy benefits everyone. We will stamp out corruption and cap the influence of big corporations and billionaires to ensure politics works for everyone, not just the rich and powerful.

Alex Rubin The Nats
I firmly believe that illicit drugs are a threat to our society!

As a parent, the rise in drugs and crime across our region is horrifying. I https://www.echo.net.au/2023/03/election-2023-lismore-part-ii-local-and-state-issues-qa/worry about our children’s safety when they leave home. Drugs are destroying lives and fuelling the crime waves in our community.

This needs to be stopped!


To see the other candidates’ answers to these questions click here.

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  1. Considering the Lismore electorate has about 50,000 voters and considering some 15,000-17,500 of these are members of the 40,000 strong membership Far North Coast RDT Locations Facebook page which campaigns solely for changing the draconian Cannabis drug driving test it is surprising that The Echo didn’t ask each candidate their policy on Cannabis. Adam Guise Greens is the only candidate supporting reform to allow measurement of impairment only.
    Labor will not reform this law which Labor introduced in the first place. Lismore voters should vote for Adam Guise Greens and get the policy patrols reduced to applying fair and just laws only. The Greens have a real chance of holding the balance of power in a hung Labor minority government in NSW and Greens only need 321 Labor voters in Lismore to switch to Greens and there will be a 4th Green seat in the Lower House


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