Greens WA candidate rejects 'growth at all costs'

August 30, 2008

Toni Warden, the Greens WA candidate for Kalamunda in the September 6 Western Australian elections, is a founding member of the Stop the Eastern Terminal Substation Action Group (SETS) and a member of the Hills Climate Action Group. She told Green Left Weekly that the main issues in the election are the climate emergency and social inequities exacerbated by WA's resources boom.

"We need to bring WA's emissions down fast, as the overriding priority. First, through introducing a differential feed-in tariff and state-sponsored financial incentives for businesses and residents to buy grid-connected photovoltaic systems.

"Secondly, through assisting the fast-track development of renewable energy technology in WA to help transition coal workers into new jobs. Third, through a moratorium on the building of any new coal-fired power stations. Finally, through the protection of all existing crown land to the same level of protection as existing National Parks."

On the resources boom, Warden said, "Not enough wealth is being collected from the mining and related sectors and reinvested into improving social areas that are in decline. The other long-term problem is the lack of focus on structuring our cities, jobs and education for the inevitable downturn."

Public transport is another important issue, she said. "Lower income households on the margins of the metropolitan area are paying a greater proportion of their income to keep the family car running ... We need to improve the transit services throughout the Hills. I support the establishment of a light rail link to Forrestfield, Maida Vale and High Wycombe, with frequent buses feeding the rail link from surrounding suburbs."

Warden explained that the economic rationalism dominating the thinking of the major parties has caused deterioration in services in outlying suburbs. "We've seen the loss of Kalamunda district hospital and police services in Kalamunda. I would push for their restoration, and the return of Kalamunda district hospital to provide acute hospital, surgical and obstetric services."

About the Labor and Liberal parties, Warden said: "Neither major party sees climate change as an emergency. If [they did], they would place an immediate moratorium on the construction of new coal-fired power stations. However, the Greens and the Socialist Alliance are the only parties with such a policy.

"Both [major parties] support channelling vast sums of research and development money into carbon sequestration, despite the fact that the technology is not yet proven, is at the very least 15 years away and may be extremely costly to implement once it is ready.

"Both Labor and Liberal share a 'growth at all costs' attitude, backed by bodies such as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This attitude has led to an unprecedented imbalance in our society ... the whittling down of social services, policing, our education and health systems. I am supportive of business, but it must at all levels meet the triple bottom line: environmental, social and economic."

Warden explained that SETS formed when Western Power foreshadowed the construction of an electricity substation in the Hills area. "Apart from local environmental devastation, the project would contribute to global warming. The Collie to Eastern Terminal transmission line upgrade would see Perth's power needs predominantly supplied by coal, not renewables. It would also mean an unprecedented amount of land clearing in the remaining 7% of south-west bushland.

"Western Power recently admitted that it had mismanaged the public consultation process and announced it will start again from scratch. This is a win. Unfortunately, Western Power has also re-affirmed its desire for a terminal near Hacketts Gully, so SETS is going to have to continue."

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