People Before Profit: City of Newcastle Council elections 2021

Newcastle City Council elections 2021 socialist candidates
Darcy Lemmich, Steve O'Brien, Samantha Ashby

Steve O’Brien, Samantha Ashby and Darcy Lemmich are standing as Ward 1 councillors on December 4.

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Socialist Alliance
BSB: 062-815
Account: 1060 7279

Authorised by N. Leka, 472 Hunter Street, Newcastle NSW 2300

What we stand for

We will fight for an open council and more democracy

We will fight for an open council and more democracy

Newcastle Council increasingly behaves like a corporation and is losing its connection with residents. We will work with residents’ groups to empower residents to play a more active role in council decision making.

To that end, we will fight to:

  • Reduce the salaries of the CEO and the Lord Mayor
  • Ensure council publications profile the community not the egos of some councillors
  • End confidential briefings of councillors by developers.
  • Allow resident-initiated motions to council.
  • Hold regular ward and precinct meetings.
  • Designate a portion of public works funds for projects to be decided upon by community consultation and vote.
  • Insist that councillors respond to residents’ phone calls and emails
  • Restore community input over development.
  • Apply building quality standards
  • Undertake an audit and take action to ensure full disability access to all public facilities.
Fair rates, no subsidies to Supercars

Fair rates, no subsidies to Supercars

Council has wasted at least $10 million on the Supercars race. We oppose any more council subsidies to this event.

We will fight for greater state and federal government funding for local services.

We will fight for no more increases in rates. With just and equitable rates council could be aiming for:

  • Increase rate concessions for pensioners, the unemployed, single parents, people with disability and others while dependent on welfare payments.
  • A base rate for businesses that is higher than that of residents.
Rental pressures
Affordable housing

Affordable housing

The right to a secure and safe roof over one’s head is a basic human right. However, affordable housing is increasingly out of reach for many. We need housing that is affordable, secure, good quality and appropriately located. As councillors we will fight to:

  • Introduce a levy on vacant apartments and houses to establish a rollover fund for public eco-friendly, sustainable housing.
  • Initiate emergency programs to house homeless people in suitable vacant dwellings.
  • Push for a minimum of 30% low-income rentals in all major housing developments.
  • Enhance lodgers’ rights in boarding houses.
  • Support the push to cap rent at 30% or less of a person’s wage.
  • Support renters’ rights; there should be no forced evictions.
  • Pe-purpose the unused Stockton Centre for affordable public and emergency housing.
Socialist Alliance at the Newtown SS4C rally
Climate emergency

Climate emergency

The City of Newcastle plans to reach zero net emissions for its operations by 2030. However, more needs to be done to avoid climate catastrophe. Council needs to drive a further reduction in city-wide emissions (operational, business and community) of at least 75% by 2030. Council should include natural gas in its emissions calculations and acknowledge the emissions from coal exports.

To that end, council should:

  • Establish a community advisory group to involve the community in regular monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of council’s climate action plan.
  • End the ratepayer subsidy of the fossil fuel-driven Supercars race.
  • Ensure low-lying areas are subject to flood mitigation.
  • Encourage renewable energy use by all economic players.
  • Convert council’s fleet to 100% electric vehicles.
  • Mandate that new developments meet the highest ratings of ecological sustainability.
  • Support establishing energy cooperatives to provide cheap electricity though solar panels and batteries, solar hot water systems and by retrofitting homes.
A healthier safer city

A healthier safer city

The City of Newcastle area includes many heritage buildings, parks and trees. It must ensure people and the environment are put before profit.

We pledge to:

  • Initiate tree-planting programs; support efforts to grow verges; preserve local greenspaces and waterways; and rehabilitate degraded environments to help cooling in hot weather
  • Prevent destruction of heritage trees. Lobby Shortland Electricity to treat trees gently when lopping/pruning
  • Convert community centres into “heat relief centres” during heatwaves
  • Repurpose unused council land for urban food farming and gardens
  • Mandate an environmentally sustainable and ethical procurement policy
  • Improve recycling and reuse programs, and mandate recycling for local commercial and industrial tenants.
  • Support energy and water audits.
  • Oppose unconventional gas in New South Wales and continue to promote a Nuclear Free Newcastle.
  • Encourage council to be more proactive in progressing economic diversification and structural economic change as the region becomes less reliant on coal mining and power stations. This includes opposing the Kurri Kurri Gas plant and phasing out the dangerous Kooragang Island ammonium nitrate plant.
  • Plan for the eventual conversion of the Tighes Hill and Kooragang coal loaders to more sustainable uses.
  • Support Beyond Zero Emissions’ proposal for a Hunter Renewal Energy Precinct and Hunter Jobs Alliance initiatives and leverage the state government’s Rejuvenation Fund for clean green industries.
  • Redevelop the old BHP site into a sustainability precinct with housing, parkland, cycle ways and clean technology jobs.
  • More park and ride services to the city.
  • Real time monitoring of air quality and waterways around Stockton, Mayfield and Throsby Creek.
  • Real action on the Stockton beach erosion.
  • Restore community input on development.
  • Apply stricter standards in building quality.
  • Undertake an audit and take action to ensure full disability access to all public facilities.
Cost of living
Jobs and cost of living

Jobs and cost of living

Council is facing budgetary pressures, but it cannot succumb to a user-pays approach. To that end, it should:

  • Push for full funding of council services by state and federal governments.
  • Expand rate relief for pensioners.
  • End the privatisation and outsourcing of council services, We support Council Workers jobs.
  • Create internships for vulnerable youth, such as those leaving out of home/foster care.
  • Promote the establishment of food cooperatives to distribute local produce at a low cost, particularly to those in need.
  • No rate rises.
Active and free public transport
Active and integrated transport

Active and integrated transport

We will support campaigns to:

  • Reverse the privatisation of buses and trams
  • Introduce a Carrington, Wickham to the Foreshore ferry
  • Build more safe, permanent cycle paths. Complete Newcastle’s Cycle Safe Plan
  • Limit speed to 30 kilometres an hour in local streets.
Childcare and children's services
Childcare and children’s services

Childcare and children’s services

With many young families in Newcastle, council’s support for childcare and out-of-school services remains important.

To that end, council should:

  • Audit for such needs and repurpose unused council facilities to meet them
  • Establish new childcare centres near green spaces
  • Expand specific programs for children.
COVID-19 emergency lockdown measures
COVID-19 emergency lock-down measures

COVID-19 emergency lock-down measures

Like everything in our lives, this election campaign has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As councils are the level of government closest to the community, they have an important role to play, especially in helping the most vulnerable.

To that end, council should:

  • Provide support for essential services, such as supplying chemist prescriptions and food drop-offs
  • Ensure public toilets and other amenities remain open and clean
  • Support local distribution of facemasks
  • Support food relief centres such as Food not Bombs.