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NSW State Election 2019
Questionnaire Response
Penrith Electorate
This webpage contains a tabulated response to the Society's Questionnaire to candidates for the electorate of Penrith.

You'll find responses to the electorate of Blue Mountains here.

Answers have been extracted from the candidates response. No editing of answers has been made except for some minor formatting to preserve how the answer appears in the pdf submitted.


Candidate's Response As Submitted

This section contains the completed questionnaire as received from the candidates. Subsequent adjustments have been provided by emails from the candidate.

Blue Mountains Candidate Response Rec'd Adjusted
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
pdf * 20 Feb -
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
pdf 19 Feb -
Nicholas Best  (Greens)
pdf 23 Jan -

* The Liberal response received is the NSW Government response from the Minister for the Environment (Gabrielle Upton, MP). It doesn't follow the layout of the questionnaire and is more of a statement to the various questionnaire headings. We have included it as best we can.


Tabulated yes/no Response

This section contains a tabulated response to the yes/no part of each question.

Note the link to the detailed response - for example  Q3.1

Q1. Protect Our World Heritage National Parks

Question Stuart
Ayres
Karen
McKeown
Nicholas
Best
Q1.1  Do you support increasing the National Parks and Wildlife Service budget by $150 Million by 2022?
- yes yes
Q1.2  In regard to threatened species in the GBMWHA, would you commit to the following goals?
a) Ensure that biodiversity within the GBMWHA is maintained
- yes yes
b) Ensure that no threatened species becomes extinct within the GBMWHA
- yes yes
c) Ensure that no non-threatened species becomes threatened within the GBMWHA
- yes yes
Q1.3  If elected will you work to ensure that inappropriate tourism development – such as large scale up-market accommodation – does not occur within our national parks?
- yes yes
Q1.4  Plans of Management for a number of national parks in the south of NSW are being amended to allow horse riding within declared wilderness areas.
a) If elected will you work to ensure these amendments are reversed?
- yes yes
b) Additionally will you work to ensure that horse riding is never allowed in any declared wilderness areas in NSW?
- yes yes
Q1.5  A project is currently underway to raise Warragamba Dam by 14 metres.
Do you support this project?
- no no
Q1.6  Do you oppose Western Sydney Airport?
- no yes
Q1.7  Do you support not allowing flights below 13,000 feet above the ground over declared Wilderness Areas?
- yes yes

Q2. Expand Our National Parks

Question Stuart
Ayres
Karen
McKeown
Nicholas
Best
Q2.1  Do you support the protection of the 39,000 hectare Gardens of Stone Stage 2 area as a state conservation area?
- - yes
Q2.2  Do you support the acquisition of this strategic addition to the Blue Mountains National Park?
- - TBA

Q3. Appropriate Local Development

Question Stuart
Ayres
Karen
McKeown
Nicholas
Best
Q3.1  Do you support the immediate inclusion of the R6 Residential character conservation zone in the Blue Mountains LEP 2015?
- yes yes
Q3.2  NSW needs stronger laws that stop the destruction of important native bushland and wildlife habitat.
a) Do you support a review of the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme specifically with a view of conserving native vegetation?
- yes yes
b) Do you support an end to deforestation and excessive land clearing?
- yes yes
Q3.3  Do you support tackling invasive species as described in the questionnaire?
- yes yes
Q3.4  Do you support a permanent exemption from the Medium Density Housing Code for the Blue Mountains?
- yes yes
Q3.5  Do you support as a matter of urgency the complete remediation and clean-up of the Lapstone Railway Tunnel and surrounding land, including implementation of ongoing weed control and bush regeneration, as well as urgent management works on the historic tunnel itself.
- yes yes

Q4. Climate Change And Coal Mining

Question Stuart
Ayres
Karen
McKeown
Nicholas
Best
Q4.1  Do you accept that anthropogenic* climate change is real and severe?
[* anthropogenic - caused by humans or their activities.]
- yes yes
Q4.2  Do you support no more issuing of new coal exploration licences and coal mining leases?
- yes yes
Q4.3  Do you support the phasing out of fossil fuels and supporting affected communities?
- yes yes
Q4.4  Do you support ensuring IPC panels include people with suitable environmental qualifications, in particular terrestrial or aquatic ecology, when assessing developments which impact on threatened species and communities?
- yes yes

Q5. Waste And Recycling

Question Stuart
Ayres
Karen
McKeown
Nicholas
Best
Q5.1  Single-Use Plastic Bags and Products Containing Microbeads.
a) Do you support a ban on single-use plastic bags?
- yes yes
b) Do you support a ban on products containing microbeads?
- yes yes



Tabulated Full Response

This section contains a tabulated response to the full part of each question. No editing of answers has been made except for some minor formatting to preserve how the answer appears in the submitted pdf.

Q1. Protect Our World Heritage National Parks

Q1.1 The National Parks and Wildlife Service Budget

Do you support increasing the National Parks and Wildlife Service budget by $150 Million by 2022?
If elected what steps will you take to achieve this?
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
Note: This is the response to Q1.1 - 1.4.

On 4 February 2019, the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government announced that if re-elected in March this year we will invest nearly $150 million to deliver world-class facilities for our national parks and make it easier for everyone to enjoy our natural environment.

This investment will improve accessibility on over 1,000 national park walking tracks, with more than 200 of the most popular trails being substantially upgraded, including in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA).

This builds on our 2018-19 Budget commitment to invest $1.9 billion to protect our environment and heritage, including $632.3 million ($2.5 billion over four years) for national parks, walking trails and public parklands.

There are more than 870 national parks and reserves in NSW and there are many reasons why there are different categories of protected areas. In addition to their role in conservation, national parks and reserves provide an important opportunity for nature appreciation, enjoyment and improving public awareness of our environment.

When assessing the merits of any proposed adaptive reuse, tourism or infrastructure activity, the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 includes checks and balances to ensure a possible proposal is appropriate for the environment and heritage values of the park, and for the community.

Further, a statutory Plan of Management sets out how a national park will be sustainably managed to protect and enhance its environmental, cultural and community values into the future. A plan requires consultation with the community, statutory committees, and approval by the Minister for the Environment.

A two-year trial of horse riding on trails in wilderness areas in four national parks was undertaken in 2014-16. It found there were minimal impacts from horse riding and that wilderness values were not adversely impacted. A report was published in July 2017 and is available on the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) Wilderness horse riding trial webpage.

The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is committed to conserving and protecting our unique biodiversity across NSW, and the biodiversity in the GBMWHA is no exception. In particular, the Government has invested $100 million over five years into the Saving our Species program, making it one of the largest conservation programs of its kind in Australia. Projects in the GBMWHA include nearly $200,000 being invested towards securing the Wollemi Pine – four strands of which are found within a few remote canyons in the Blue Mountains.
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
The Berejiklian Government has cut funding to the National Parks and Wildlife Service by over $120mil. There has been a 26% drop in staff. Labor is committed to rebuilding the NPWS. Labor will have more to say in the lead up to the election but there will be more money for the NPWS under Labor.
Nicholas Best  (Greens)
- Legislate for an historic increase in the operating budget of NPWS by a minimum $150m by 2022.
- Advocate for the increase in all areas including parliament, community and media.
- Stop the legislation that would raise the Warragamba Dam wall.
- Working with Environment groups such as the NCC develop a funded strategy to achieve protection for 17% of the state in line with AICHI targets
- Legislate against high impact activities in wilderness areas including horse riding, logging, and hunting.
- Finalise wilderness declarations under the Wilderness Act 1987

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) manages more than 870 protected areas in NSW, covering over 7 million hectares and representing approx. 9% of the land area of the state. The Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Blue Mountains National Parks plus the 18 National Parks on the Cumberland Plain have taken savage funding cuts under this government. Staff restructures have seen experienced staff leave the parks, some replaced by inexperienced new rangers with little experience. With the threats to biodiversity, the addition of new Parks across Greater Western Sydney and the staff shortages the NPWS an increase in operations funding should targe the staff shortages, replanting, pest and weed management.

Q1.2 Threatened Species in the GBMWHA

In regard to threatened species in the GBMWHA, would you commit to the following goals? If elected, what actions would you take?
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
See the response to Q1.1
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
Labor will ensure that there is a clear plan to support the retention and recovery of threatened species within GBMWHA, including dealing with invasive weeds and pests and species specific action. We will ensure that impact on threatended species are taken into account when managing activity within the park.
Nicholas Best  (Greens)
- Legislate to end logging in public native forests and expand the National Parks estate
- End deforestation and excessive land clearing
- Legislate to establish a land and biodiversity fund
- Increase funding to the Save our Species programme to ensure that all threatened species are funded on a landscape level
- Maintain and increase urban tree cover
- Put limits on biodiversity offsetting
- Improve funding for invasive species management

Q1.3 Inappropriate Development in our National Parks

If elected will you work to ensure that inappropriate tourism development – such as large scale up-market accommodation – does not occur within our national parks?
Explain how you will do this.
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
See the response to Q1.1
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
Tourism in National Parks is important but it must not be done if it detracts from the values of the Park or simply is commercialisation as a grab for cash. Any tourism development within the park will be done in consultation with the community and will put the environmental values of the park first.
Nicholas Best  (Greens)
- Ensure transparency in all applications through parliament and media
- Ensure all proposals have extensive community engagement (no backdoor deals)
- Ensure areas of wilderness are protected from inappropriate tourism development

Q1.4 Horse Riding within Wilderness Areas

Plans of Management for a number of national parks in the south of NSW are being amended to allow horse riding within declared wilderness areas.
If elected will you work to ensure these amendments are reversed?
Additionally will you work to ensure that horse riding is never allowed in any declared wilderness areas in NSW?
Explain how you will do this.
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
See the response to Q1.1
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
Labor does not support horseriding in designated wilderness areas.
Nicholas Best  (Greens)
- Call and campaign for a complete ban on horseriding in all national parks and wilderness areas
- Campaign and ensure that the impacts on biodiversity of both flora and fauna

Q1.5 Raising Warragamba Dam

A project is currently underway to raise Warragamba Dam by 14 metres.
If you don’t support this project, and if elected, what steps will you take to prevent this from happening?
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
The Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley has the highest single flood exposure in Australia. The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government supports the dam proposal in order to reduce the significant risk that exists now for downstream communities.

For example, if a flood similar to the valley's worst since European settlement happened again, hundreds of lives would be in danger. Around 90,000 people would need to be evacuated and around 12,000 homes would be affected.

In preparing Resilient Valley, Resilient Communities, the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley Flood Risk Management Strategy, all options to mitigate flood risk were carefully assessed, including regional road upgrades, new dams, river diversions, dredging the river and raising Warragamba Dam. Options to operate the existing Warragamba Dam differently were considered as well as changes to the operation of the overall water supply system.

Raising Warragamba Dam by around 14 metres was found to be the most effective infrastructure option for reducing regional flood risk. It balances the safety of thousands of people living and working downstream with the impacts of temporary inundation on the upstream environment.

Raising the Dam for flood mitigation purposes will not allow one additional dwelling to be developed above what is already permissible. There will be a rigorous EIS process conducted in mid-2019. It’s important that we find a balance between environmental concerns and the lives and property of people who already live downstream.
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
Labor’s position on raising the Warragamba Dam wall has not changed since 1995 when the Carr Government rejected the proposal.

Labor will have more to say on the Warragamba Dam wall closer to the election.
Nicholas Best  (Greens)
- Work with Justin Field MLC, The Colong Foundation and their Give A Dam campaign, the BMCS, The Gundungurra peoples, and other community groups to block the project and voise objection to the project on environmental and cultural heritage grounds.
- Support and promote, through media and Parliament, any direct actions, campaigning and submission writing in the lead up to the Environmental Impact Statement and project approval phases.
- Use parliament and the media to pressure state and federal government and opposition parties, highlighting the impacts on world heritage, local ecology and cultural heritage.
- Work with local networks including on the Cumberland Plain and Hawkesbury area and assist with events to raise awaremess of the project and grow local opposition.

Q1.6 Western Sydney Airport – Not Needed or Wanted

Do you oppose Western Sydney Airport?
If elected, what would you do to influence the abandonment of this project?
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
Note: This is the response to Q1.6 - 1.7.

The NSW Government supports the Commonwealth Government’s investment in a new airport for Western Sydney. The flight paths for Western Sydney Airport will be finalised much closer to operations commencing in 2026. This will include public exhibition and community consultation on the preferred design.

Construction of the Western Sydney Airport provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to catalyse new investment and attract great new jobs for people in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains.

Through the Western Sydney City Deal, the NSW Government has partnered with the Commonwealth Government and the eight local councils of the Western City, including Blue Mountains City Council, to invest in a range of city-building initiatives that will improve the prosperity, sustainability and liveability of Western Sydney.

This includes more than $18 million for Blue Mountains projects as part of the City Deal Liveability Fund.
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
I do not believe the Western Sydney Airport should operate 24 hours a day.
Nicholas Best  (Greens)
- The WSA is unnecessary and increased Public Transport is needed – increase investment in public transport in Western Sydney
- Focus on longer term transport policies especially High Speed Rail development from Sydney to Melbourne, which would completely obviate the need for an airport in Western Sydney
- Force public commitments from both Major parties on emissions, flight paths, noise protection and waste water runoff from the WSA.

Q1.7 Western Sydney Airport – Flights Over Wilderness Areas

Do you support not allowing flights below 13,000 feet above the ground over declared Wilderness Areas?
If elected, what would you do to influence this?
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
See the response to Q1.6
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
Labor with work the federal government to minimise this impact of aircraft noise on the wilderness area.
Nicholas Best  (Greens)
- Ensure that noise monitoring within the BMWHA is extensive under propsed flightpaths
- Monitor closely and ensure transparency of legislation associated with the flight paths
- Ensure community is aware of all impacts, including noise impacts over Wilderness areas through local community meetings

Q2. Expand Our National Parks

Q2.1 Gardens of Stone

Do you support the protection of the 39,000 hectare Gardens of Stone Stage 2 area as a state conservation area?
If yes, and if elected, what steps will you take to achieve this?
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
Note: This is the response to Q2.1 - 2.2.

The NSW Government acquires land for national parks to reflect and protect the wide variety of landscapes and environments in NSW. New parks and additions to parks are created through land acquired by purchase, donation or transfer. All land suggested for new or additional park land is assessed and approved before it is acquired.

On 4 February 2019, the NSW Government announced its newest national park which covers 3,680 hectares and contains some of the Southern Highlands’ best koala habitat. This new national park will ensure that a vital koala wilderness area south of Sydney is preserved.
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
Labor will have more to say before the election.
Nicholas Best  (Greens)
- As part of the Greens plan to expand the National Estate, The Gardens of Stone will become part of the NPWS and be preserved in perpetuity.
- Fight against coal mining in the region including in Newnes Plateau

Q2.2 Strategic Additions to the Blue Mountains National Park

The Society has identified the following strategic addition:

See Society’s Proposed Strategic Additions webpage

Do you support the acquisition of this strategic addition to the Blue Mountains National Park?
If so, and if elected, what steps will you take to further this?
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
See the response to Q2.1
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
Labor supports strategic additions to the National Park. If elected we will look at opportunities as they arise and endeavour to make strategic additions.
Nicholas Best  (Greens)
- We understand that negotiations are currently underway with the Deerubbin Aboriginal Land Council for ownership and protection of this land. We fully support the protection of this important piece of bushland and understand its strategic value in terms of the National Park. We support the ownership and protection of its cultural and environment values by the Aboriginal Community.

Q3. Appropriate Local Development

Q3.1 Residential Character Conservation Zone (R6)

Do you support the immediate inclusion of the R6 Residential character conservation zone in the Blue Mountains LEP 2015?
If elected what steps will you take to achieve this?
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
The NSW Government recognises the importance of character to local areas and neighbourhoods and as such has developed guidance for local councils and other relevant planning authorities, state agencies and communities about the tools available to them to incorporate local character into strategic planning and detailed planning for places.

The Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) is working with Blue Mountains City Council on identifying areas where an overlay may be possible.
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
Labor has committed to a comprehensive package of planning reforms.
Nicholas Best  (Greens)
- Work with the Member for Blue Mountains and the BMCC to ensure we are all speaking from the same songsheet
- Represent the community with the Minister for Planning and the DPE to advocate for the retention of this Conservation Zone and ensure transparency and community engagement

Q3.2 Deforestation and Excessive Land Clearing

Do you support a review of the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme specifically with a view of conserving native vegetation?
Do you support an end to deforestation and excessive land clearing?
If elected what steps will you take to achieve this?
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
The NSW Government has modernised the state's land management and conservation laws. The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, the Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016 and supporting regulations commenced in August last year. The laws have a clear purpose – to maintain a healthy, productive and resilient environment.

This legislation also establishes strong offences and tougher penalties for illegal clearing and harming threatened species. In addition, the Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code contains a range of protections and safeguards for the environment. For example, clearing is not permitted on sensitive lands including core koala habitat.

NSW Government policies that regulate the clearing of vegetation in urban areas provide a robust framework for councils to protect urban bushland and trees while supporting landholders to manage their properties.

The 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme allows land-owners in nominated areas to clear certain vegetation on their property without council permission, but it does not give them permission to harm threatened or protected species, such as koalas.

The NSW Government has also put in place initiatives such as Five Million Trees which aims to increase Greater Sydney's tree canopy to 40 per cent by 2030 by planting more trees in streets, parks, bushland areas and yards.

As outlined in the NSW Forestry Industry Roadmap, the NSW Government is committed to the long term and ecologically sustainable management of NSW’s forests. The Forestry Legislation Amendment Act 2018 provides increased penalties for breaking the rules from $1,100 to $15,000 and introduces other enforcement tools, such as remediation orders and temporary stop work orders.

In addition, the new Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (IFOA) commenced on 16 November. The Coastal IFOA replaces outdated rules that had been in place for nearly 20-years and sets more efficient, effective and enforceable rules to better protect threatened plants, animals, habitat, soils and waterways.
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
Labor will have more to say about this before the election.
Nicholas Best  (Greens)
- Legislate to repeal the Liberals’ landclearing laws and protect existing tree cover across the state.
- Ensure the protection of existing canopies and expand tree planting at street level and in parks and reserves
- Increase funding for compliance activities

Q3.3 Control Invasive Species

Do you support tackling invasive species as described in the questionnaire?
If elected what steps will you take to achieve this?
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
The NSW Government is committed to addressing the negative impacts of invasive species on the environment, economy and community. A clear goal under the NSW Invasive Species Plan is eradication of invasive species where possible.

The Plan supports the NSW Biosecurity Strategy 2013–2021 and identifies key actions to help prevent new incursions, eliminate or contain existing populations and effectively manage already widespread invasive species.
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
Labor will invest in national parks to deal with invasive species. We will have more to say about this before the election.
Nicholas Best  (Greens)

- The establishment of a $5 million High Risk Incursion Response Fund
- The introduction of 3 yearly State of Biosecurity reporting
- The adoption of a ‘permitted list’ approach to the sale of plants
- The establishment of an Independent, statutory State Biosecurity Committee
- Joint responsibility for biosecurity to be given to both the Agriculture and Environment Ministers
- Set up a community and schools education campaign to raise awareness and response to new and aggressive pest incursions such as fire ant, African Love Grass etc
- Work to increase funding from OEH to both Landcare and Local Land Services to tackle pest control measures

Q3.4 Medium Density Housing Code

Do you support a permanent exemption from the Medium Density Housing Code for the Blue Mountains?
If elected what steps will you take to achieve this?
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
The Government in principle supports Blue Mountains Council’s intention to provide for the special character of its local areas through appropriate means.

Discussions have been held with council officers and it was agreed that consideration would be given to Council mapping special character areas and introducing clauses into Council’s local environmental plan that will guide development in these special areas.
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
A NSW Labor Government will scrap the Medium Density Housing Code.

A Labor Government would scrap the Berejiklian Government’s “Planned Precincts” policy which has allowed local communities and councils to be overridden. The Greater Sydney Commission will be directed to work to fix the problems caused by the mismanagement of the planning system.
Nicholas Best  (Greens)
- This code undermines WHA status as well as local democracy; removes local planning knowledge and expertise. This is particularly egregious in an LGA that is surrounded by National Parks and a World Heritage Area
- Work with the Blue Mountains MP and the BMCC to ensure that the risks of Medium Density Housing in the Blue Mountains are well understood – especially the fire and environmental impacts on fragile ecosystems.

Q3.5 Lapstone Railway Tunnel

Do you support as a matter of urgency the complete remediation and clean-up of the Lapstone Railway Tunnel and surrounding land, including implementation of ongoing weed control and bush regeneration, as well as urgent management works on the historic tunnel itself.
If elected what steps will you take to achieve this?
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
I would like to acknowledge Labor’s Trish Doyle MP and the walkers and cyclists who revealed the state of this site. I will advocate for the clean-up to be completed and the area properly maintained.
Nicholas Best  (Greens)
- The tunnel and access routes are dominated by invasive weed species which spill over into the Nepean River and the lowlands. It is used by locals as a walking track and has great recreational value. I personally walk it regularly.
- Work with BMCC to set up a bushcare group and establish a 10 year plan of management for urgent remediation and replanting.
- Increase signage at the entrance to the tunnel and improve track maintenance.

Q4. Climate Change And Coal Mining

Q4.1 Climate Change

Do you accept that anthropogenic* climate change is real and severe?
[* anthropogenic - caused by humans or their activities.]
What steps will your party take towards addressing climate change?
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
Note: This is the response to Q4.1 - 4.3.

All exploration and mining activity in New South Wales (NSW) must be conducted in accordance with an authority issued under the Mining Act 1992. Certain exploration and mining activities also trigger the requirement for additional approvals and other NSW legislation may also apply.

All mining proposals are assessed under an independent, rigorous and merit based planning system. Approved mines must also comply with stringent performance measures and monitoring by NSW Government agencies.

The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is committed to action on climate change. The NSW Climate Change Policy Framework includes objectives to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and for NSW to be more resilient to climate change.

The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is also taking a broad range of actions to produce the right conditions for favourable energy outcomes. One action is creating the NSW Transmission Infrastructure Strategy. The strategy is the NSW Government’s plan to facilitate priority transmission infrastructure which can deliver least-cost energy to customers to 2040 and beyond.

In December 2018, we completed the actions announced as part of the Renewable Energy Action Plan (REAP), which was released in 2013. The plan contained 24 actions to increase renewable energy generation in NSW, at least cost to energy customers and with maximum benefits to our state. All 24 actions have been completed, creating a strong and durable basis for the continued growth of the renewable energy sector in NSW.

As at January 2019, 90 projects totalling almost 18,500 megawatts of large-scale renewable energy projects have either been approved or are progressing through the NSW planning system. This represents close to $26 billion in investment.

The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is also investing a total of $1.4 billion from 2017 to 2022 to improve our energy security, place downward pressure on bills and reduce emissions.

In 2018 the NSW Liberals & Nationals government announced a major clean energy package to support an orderly transition to a modern energy system and deliver better energy outcomes for households and businesses. The package included the: The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has also recently committed to take the pressure off household energy costs and lower emissions by supporting the rollout of up to 300,000 new solar energy and battery storage systems with no upfront costs through interest-free loans.

The Empowering Homes program will be open to owner-occupiers of a house with an annual household income of up to $180,000. Loans of up to $14,000 per solar-battery system and $9,000 per battery systems will be available.

This new initiative will help to unlock up to $3.2 billion in clean energy investment over 10 years, helping to boost NSW’s renewable energy and reduce emissions. The batteries will add up to 3,000MWh of storage when the program is fully rolled out.
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
A Labor Government will take action on climate change by:

- delivering a massive expansion in investment in new, renewable energy generation in NSW that will deliver 7 gigawatts of renewable energy (enough to power more than 3 million homes). This will cut carbon emission by 12 per cent;

- support 500,000 more houses install rooftop solar generation, this will cut carbon emissions by 2 per cent;

- create a state-owned corporation to build, invest, own and operate 1 gigawatt large-scale renewable energy and storage technolgoies; and

- Labor opposed the cuts to the feed-in tariff and will give IPART a strong mandate to make sure households are paid a fair price for power generated by rooftop solar.

We will have durther to say on climate chamge
Nicholas Best  (Greens)
- Greens NSW and the Australian Greens have an active and ongoing campaign to stop climate change
- Policies to enact this cover banning of coal mining, government support for renewable energy, reduction of carbon emissions this decade is now critical, rapid phase out of fossil fuel emissions from vehicles, end subsidies to all mining and all actions to be based on the precautionary principle.

Q4.2 Coal Mining Exploration Licences and Mining Leases

Do you support no more issuing of new coal exploration licences and coal mining leases?
If elected what steps will you take to achieve this?
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
See the response to Q4.1
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
We support a responsible and sustainable mining industry for NSW which has made a siginficant contribution to regional, local and NSW economy.

However, we also believe in having highest standards of environmental protection.

A Labor Government will reinstate a neutral or beneficial effects test. To maintain public confidence, we believe that there should be no further regulatory approvals given for mining in water catchments until the Chief Scientists investigations are complete.
Nicholas Best  (Greens)
The Greens NSW policy actually goes further and is for a 10 year planned phase out of existing coal mines, as well as a ban on all new coal and gas licenses.

Q4.3 Phasing Out Fossil Fuels And Supporting Affected Communities

The next NSW government needs to - What would you do to ensure your party take these actions, if elected?
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
See the response to Q4.1
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
NSW Labor supports Federal Labor’s cuts to carbon emissions by 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 and the 50 per cent target for energy generation and consumption from renewables. We will have more to say on a policy for NSW in the near future.

Where communities are dependent on a single industry we believe in the need to invest in economic diversification and resilience aqnd we will have more to new industries.
Nicholas Best  (Greens)
Greens NSW and the Australian Greens have long standing and active campaigns underway to phase our Fossil Fuel use and support affected communities such as re-skilling of workers in the coal industry. Jobs in renewable energy and the construction of renewable energy generation and storage are all part of the plan.

Q4.4 Independent Planning Commission Members

Do you support ensuring IPC panels include people with suitable environmental qualifications, in particular terrestrial or aquatic ecology, when assessing developments which impact on threatened species and communities?
If elected what steps will you take to achieve this?
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is committed to ensuring that the IPC panel includes qualified individuals that ensures environmental issues are able to be properly considered.

Members of the Commission are appointed by the Minister for Planning based on their qualifications and considerable expertise in a diverse range of planning-related fields.
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
Labor has committed to a review of the planning system.
Nicholas Best  (Greens)
- Put forward legislation to ensure that all IPCs include an expert in environmental management and for the expert to have an environment qualification relevant to the Development that they are reviewing – marine, biodiversity, terrestrial, forests
- To ensure that Climate Change impacts form part of every IPC decision
- Increase transparency of the IPC’s and their decisions
- Implement a planning inquirey with Terms of Referenece to review IPC assessment processes on species, communities, climate change and biodiversity.

Q5. Waste And Recycling

Q5.1 Single-Use Plastic Bags and Products Containing Microbeads

Do you support a ban on single-use plastic bags?
Do you support a ban on products containing microbeads.?
If elected, what would you do to influence this?
Stuart Ayres  (Liberal)
The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government recognises that single–use plastics can negatively impact the environment. It is great to see the concerted efforts of the community and major retailers in NSW who have acted to reduce the use of plastic bags.

As you may already be aware, major retailers including Coles, Woolworths, Harris Farm Markets and IGA volunteered to phase out lightweight plastic shopping bags from their shops from the middle of 2018. Major supermarket chains have been the largest providers of single–use plastic shopping bags in NSW and the NSW Government commends their proactive steps to address this important issue, without the need for a ban.

In 2016, Australian environment ministers announced a voluntary phase-out of plastic microbeads. This commitment is on track with 94 per cent of cosmetic and personal care products now microbead–free. The NSW Government remains committed to the national process to eliminate the final six per cent.

The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is taking action on litter – a major source of plastic pollution. Plastic bags make up a very small percentage of our litter volume. Before the introduction of the NSW container deposit scheme, Return and Earn, drink containers made up nearly 50 per cent of the litter volume in NSW.

We introduced Return and Earn as part of our priority action to reduce the volume of litter in NSW by 40 per cent by 2020. The overwhelming response from the community means we have already exceeded our target. Over 1.3 billion eligible drink containers have already been returned across NSW. Eligible drink container litter volume has dropped by 44 per cent and NSW’s overall litter volume has dropped by 48 per cent.
Karen McKeown  (Labor)
Labor will ban single use plastic bags in our first 100 days. We will have more to say on plastic polluction reduction before the election,
Nicholas Best  (Greens)
- Support a ban on all single use plastics, not just plastic bags
- Overhall the waste management system in NSW and invest in recycling at the state level
- Support the refuse, reduce, recycle campaigns across the region
- Set up a local educational campaign for schools and community on identifying and removing microplastics from the environment, their impact on waterways and marine species.