By Senator Christine Milne, Leader of the Australian Greens
How do we build an economic system that serves the needs of people and nature, both for today and for tomorrow?
The economy is a tool; a tool we humans invented – like democracy and politics – to help govern our relationships between each other, and between ourselves and the world we live in. If our economic tools are not getting the outcomes we want, making us happy, safe, healthy, better educated and fulfilled and protecting and preparing our country for an increasingly uncertain future in a world on track to be 4 degrees warmer, then it is time our economic tools changed.
More than 25 councils across NSW have now passed motions against coal seam gas (CSG) mining in their local government area. Some motions declare a moratorium on coal seam gas, others are focussed on security of water issues, others request NSW government for consultation and transparency on plans before mining is approved.
By Colin Hesse, The Greens NSW Local Government Adviser
Like the temperature of the world, the heat generated by the discussion around pricing carbon emissions has increased the political temperature, while doing little to shed any light on how a carbon price will impact our community.
Each level of government will be affected by carbon pricing, and in the case of local government those effects will be in three main areas; the cost of electricity (in particular the cost of electricity for street lighting), CO2 emissions from waste, and other pass-on costs, primarily through building materials.
According to research carried out by the Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council (EMRC) in Perth, the cost of the carbon price for local government will be “around one third of the economic impact of the introduction of the Goods and Services tax”.
Daniel Kogoy, Greens councillor on Leichhardt Council
In inner west and southern Sydney, seven local councils are working together to develop their own renewable energy master plan. This master plan includes Leichhardt, Marrickville, Ashfield, Canterbury, Rockdale, Bankstown and Canada Bay councils and will identify the best ways to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources in these LGAs. It will also cover financing, ownership and operational details, including community/council ownership and joint ventures.
Community owned renewable energy is already common in parts of Europe and North America. In Australia we’re in the early stages of the move away from large, centralised fossil fuel power stations towards clean, decentralised, community scale renewable energy autonomy.
Decentralised renewable energy reduces network costs as power stations can be built quickly and closer to where they are needed. It enables local ownership, which empowers communities and delivers economic benefits locally. It also represents a great opportunity - after the recent shameful electricity sell-offs – to increase the percentage of public and community owned renewable energy.
Greens NSW MP David Shoebridge has rejected calls by the Sydney Business Chamber for a business-driven plebiscite at this year's local government elections on forced local council amalgamations across Sydney.
"It is up to local councils and communities to decide whether and how they want their councils to amalgamate, not business lobby groups," Mr Shoebridge said.
Senator Lee Rhiannon and NSW MP David Shoebridge joined forces today to thank former Wagga Wagga City Deputy Mayor Ray Goodlass for his ground breaking work as a councillor and as a community activist and to wish him all the best in his retirement.
Following today's Daily Telegraph report about local council rate pressures Senator Lee Rhiannon has renewed the Australian Greens' call for a federal referendum on constitutional recognition of local government to help provide funding security for councils ("Cashed up councils to sting families", p 1 Daily Telegraph http://tinyurl.com/72n3xhg).
Green Councillors attending the NSW Local Government Association have welcomed the vote of support for a price on carbon.
Following a robust debate at the LGA Conference in Nowra, the vote to support a price on carbon was 132 delegates in favour and 122 against.
NSW Greens Convener and LGA Executive Member Councillor James Ryan said:
"Today's vote gives local communities around NSW confidence that their councils will provide strong leadership to address climate change.
"Speakers at the conference were told how all members of the community earning less than $80,000 would be better off under the carbon price than they were previously.
"Councillors also spoke about the coming cost to Councils of dealing with sea level rise and the urgent need for a strategy to deal with climate change.
Twenty years ago today the first Greens were elected in NSW, at the local council elections in Marrickville and Newcastle. The Greens have had unbroken representation on these councils since that time and currently have five Mayors across the state.
Greens NSW MP and Local Government spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is risking the prospects of the referendum on local government referendum being a success by putting a last-minute question mark over the Coalition's support, said Greens local government spokesperson Lee Rhiannon (SMH, Abbott not ready to back local councils referendum