Monday, 16 August 2010

Newcastle candidates grilled at forum

From The Herald...


IT was a case of Sharon versus the rest yesterday when all seven candidates for the safe Labor seat of Newcastle went under the microscope.

About 40 of Newcastle's 88,000 or so voters attended a public forum at Tighes Hill Public School to hear what the candidates had to say on issues such as climate change and Newcastle's future.

Most of the candidates said a strong challenge to Labor would result in Newcastle having a bigger voice in Canberra.

Liberal candidate Brad Luke said Newcastle was "celebrating" the 35th anniversary since a member for Newcastle was appointed to a government ministry, while Christian Democrats candidate Milton Caine said he had lived in a marginal seat and seen what benefits it could bring.

Ms Grierson defended her and her party's record, but it was obvious from the cheers and applause that most of the residents wanted action on issues such as climate change and the expansion of Newcastle's port.

One resident was outraged that the port would continue to expand, bringing with it increased rail and truck movements.

Ms Grierson said she understood the community's concerns about truck movements and the impact of coal trains travelling through the city, but said that expansion would continue, and that the Labor Party supported the increased use of rail.

Earlier at the forum when candidates were asked about rail movements and the port, Ms Grierson said it was not in the Commonwealth's jurisdiction to which Greens candidate Michael Osborne responded by saying that such a comment was a "cop out".

He said coal train carriages should be covered, there should be increased air-quality testing and there needed to be greater investment in renewable energy sources.

Socialist Alliance candidate Zane Alcorn said the Hunter's coal industry needed to be "phased out".

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