In the seventh day of our 7 questions in 7 days, we asked our federal candidates: Climate changes, the carbon tax and coal seam gas activities are set to be key "green" issues for Illawarra residents. How will you tackle these?
Terry Barratt, Greens
Record-breaking weather events are due to increased atmospheric CO2. The carbon price, which has driven CO2 down by 8 per cent in the past 12 months, is needed to fund a clean energy program to deliver a sustainable economy, create jobs and drive down costs. If the carbon price is abolished, it will be an end to this clean energy future. CSG is a highly potent climate warming gas. As well as its impact on our land, waterways and our health, leakage of CSG, due to fracking, makes this a risky business. The Greens oppose CSG extraction from our biodiverse and agriculturally rich landscapes and water supply catchments. The exploration licence covering the South Coast must be cancelled.
Ann Sudmalis, Liberal Party
We will abolish the carbon tax - no ifs, no buts, the carbon tax will go. This will help take pressure off rising electricity and gas prices. We'll take direct action to reduce carbon emissions inside Australia, not overseas - and also establish a 15,000 strong "Green Army" to clean up the environment. The Coalition has already committed to four Green Army projects in Gilmore, employing 40 local young people. The Coalition supports the responsible development of CSG, when co-existence conditions have been met. Farmers should have the right to say "yes" or "no" on CSG exploration and extraction on their property. There should be no damage to the underground aquifers or other water resources.
Paul Matters, Independent
Global warming is an important problem and we will need to apply adaptation measures to inevitable short-term temperature rises. We must invest large amounts of government expenditure on research and development for longer-term environmental solutions. The carbon tax should be abolished as it operates as a "reverse" tariff against the steel industry and has failed to mitigate global warming. An emissions trading scheme is a real threat to the Australian steel industry by providing a potential subsidy for off-shoring of steel production as occurred in the UK with Redcar steelworks and Tata Steel. It will be ineffective in mitigating global warming. I support an immediate freeze on CSG development across Australia while we investigate the risks; a federal royal commission into all impacts of the industry and development approvals; an immediate ban on CSG development in drinking water catchments; and an immediate ban on hydraulic fracturing.
May King, Palmer United Party
Scrap the carbon tax. A bipartisan commission to study climate change and work on locations and an immediate ban on CSG until its true effects can be determined.
Stephen Jones, ALP
Labor's emissions trading scheme is the most efficient and cost-effective approach to cutting carbon pollution. The Coalition's Direct Action scheme is nothing but a fraud that would cost taxpayers billions. Clean technology projects are already modernising our local manufacturing sector with co-investment projects for new equipment and clean technology innovation, reducing carbon intensity of outputs and lowering energy use. Renewable energy use is up 25 per cent and over 1 million solar PV systems have been installed. More energy efficiency also means electricity use is falling. CSG development should not interfere with water catchment or agriculture.
Wayne Hartman, Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting)
We want the carbon tax scrapped because it puts a strain on the cost of living pressures on all of us and in businesses. All CSG activities should be stopped because there is not enough information about this process and it should be reviewed.
Larissa Mallinson, Liberal Party
We will abolish the carbon tax - no ifs, no buts. This will help take pressure off rising electricity and gas prices. We'll take direct action to reduce carbon emissions inside Australia, not overseas - and also establish a 15,000 strong "Green Army" to clean up the environment. The Coalition supports the responsible development of CSG, when co-existence conditions have been met. Farmers should have the right to say yes or no on CSG exploration and extraction on their own property. There should be no long-term damage to the underground water supply.
Gary "Angry" Anderson, Nationals
The environment is something close to my heart and I feel we should all play our part. If I get the job, the Coalition's Direct Action Plan will mobilise an environmental workforce of 15,000 people known as the "Green Army" to do environment work across the country and help meet our target of a 5 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020. It also provides on-the-job training and I want to ensure this benefits people in the Throsby electorate. This is opposed to the carbon tax, which we will abolish, which is making it harder for families to put food on the table by driving up the cost of living.
Peter Moran, Greens
A price on CO2 pollution has seen a significant reduction in Australia's emissions. The Greens have policies in place that would increase Australia's renewable energy target up to 60 per cent by 2030 as technologies evolve. Already, it is cheaper to build new solar power generation than coal power generation. Coal seam gas has the potential to destroy the aquifers on which our agricultural industries depend, and poison the water in our drinking catchments. This industry should be frozen until there is scientific certainty about its effects. It is pointless to destroy the environment in order to provide short-term profits to miners. The impacts of climate change will impact directly on local communities. Local councils, and ratepayers, will foot the bill if no real action is taken to reduce the impacts of climate change. All Greens policies are fully costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office so we know they are achievable and deliverable.
Philip Clifford, Liberal Party
The Coalition will provide direct incentives to reduce carbon emissions and implement "green army" projects to deliver positive environmental change in the Illawarra. We will also reduce cost of living pressures by abolishing Labor's carbon tax and ensuring the benefits are passed to consumers through lower prices. The carbon tax has increased electricity prices by 10 per cent, gas prices by 9 per cent and next year alone, an average family will be $550 better under our plan. With respect to coal seam gas, we support a two-kilometre buffer zone around residential areas and an independent federal panel to ensure scrutiny and safeguards for CSG exploration
Christopher Atlee, Palmer United Party
Scrap the carbon tax, bipartisan commission to study climate change and work on locations and immediate ban on CSG until its true effects can be determined.
John Flanagan, Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting)
Carbon tax is an additional unnecessary tax. However climate change and CSG activities are more complex issues. Climate change and CSG are issues that have proven to be divisive. This is because of the emotive nature of community concerns, competing interest groups and a lack of reliable factual information. The impact of agricultural and normal mining activities on our groundwater systems is much more significant than CSG mining in Australia. Both of those two activities still proceed. We would support CSG mining. However, this should only occur after there has been a satisfactory detailed risk assessment done.
Helen Wilson, Greens
The Gillard government's Clean Energy Act, designed in partnership with the Greens, set up an excellent framework for tackling climate change. The carbon price paid for an array of programs to reduce emissions and develop renewable energy. Many Illawarra manufacturers have increased their energy efficiency through the Clean Technology Fund. The Greens want to keep these programs in place and grow them. We need our coking coal for steelmaking, but coalmining should not be allowed where there are possible risks to our water catchment. CSG operations should never be permitted to compromise the quality of our water, farm lands and national parks.
Sharon Bird, ALP
Federal Labor is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing energy efficiency. Federal Labor's policy is to place a price on carbon. We introduced a carbon price after 2010 and we will now transition even sooner to an emission trading scheme in 2014. Households and industry have been compensated for the one-off price impact. Federal Labor has introduced a 20 per cent renewable energy efficiency target, which is seeing an investment in renewable energy. Energy efficiency in Australian households and businesses is improving and emissions are falling. I announced only last week that the University of Wollongong would receive a $2.2 million Clean Technology Innovation Grant. Federal Labor has established an Independent Expert Scientific Committee on coal seam gas to ensure assessment processes consider the impact of any proposals on water resources. It remains the case that CSG proposals are statutorily regulated by State and Territory Governments. NSW Labor has adopted a policy to ban CSG activities in "special areas" of the Sydney catchment.