Give Heffron residents a say in decision-making

Mehreen Faruqi.

Fifteen years of Labor in NSW set in motion changes that severely and negatively affected the well-being of our community. Unfortunately these regressive policies are being pursued even more aggressively by the Barry O’Farrell Coalition government.

Labor gave the Coalition the framework for changing planning laws to take away community say in planning decisions, commenced the privatisation of electricity assets and sale of public housing, and approved hundreds of coal seam gas mining licenses including at St Peters in the heart of Heffron.

Successive bad decisions on these issues by Premiers Carr, Iemma, Rees and Keneally have made it easy for the Coalition to continue on the same path. Amidst this baton passing, the Greens have been the only political voice standing up for the rights of the people of NSW.

The Greens and I have been campaigning with our communities against coal seam gas mining to stop an industry that is not sustainable and has massive negative impacts on our scarce water resources and productive land.

We also stand strong on keeping public assets and services in public hands. Public ownership of services and infrastructure protects the interests of current and future generations. Greens NSW MPs have been advocating strongly for workers rights, improving planning laws, funding for public education and a moratorium on coal seam gas.

While doorknocking and talking with the community, it is clear that the major issues facing Heffron are also issues the Greens have been campaigning on strongly — public services, public transport and sustainable development.

Our community is sick and tired of being taken for granted. The voters in Heffron are telling us they want open, transparent and participatory democracy and a representative who values community say in decision-making. This is what the Greens and I stand for. We work hard to improve the well-being of our community, not for personal power, political advantage or for the benefit of vested interests.

Our priorities in Heffron are:

• Fix the broken NSW planning system and return decision-making to local communities.

• Building new light rail connecting the CBD and innerwest with key centres of works and services like the University of New South Wales, the Prince of Wales Hospital and Green Square.

• Keeping public services in public hands.

• Invest in infrastructure upgrades and quality public schools, hospitals and transport to keep pace with recent and proposed population growth.

• Increase the amount of community owned public and affordable housing.

The Liberals are not running in this by-election and rather than taking the opportunity for renewal, Labor has backed an old party stalwart who lacks a modern vision for Heffron — a reminder of all that was wrong with the last Labor government. While we are the underdog in this by-election, it’s only the Greens who are offering voters a progressive, electable alternative and a positive policy vision for a diverse, vibrant and well-serviced community.

[Mehreen Faruqi is the Greens candidate for the August 25 by-election for the NSW seat of Heffron.]