Monday, 11 October 2010

Nobbys protest over gas drills

From The Herald...


A COALITION of environment and community groups protested on Nobbys Beach yesterday against plans to drill off Newcastle for natural gas.

Members of the coalition, called Hands Off Our Coast, gave speeches on the beach before about 80 people.

The protest was part of a global day of action on climate change under the campaign, which involved 7300 demonstrations in 190 countries.

Lake Macquarie councillor Phillipa Parsons, who leads the anti-gas coalition, said governments must begin the transition towards a "clean, renewable energy economy and away from the fossil-fuel economy".

"They need to stop subsidising fossil-fuel exploration such as proposed offshore gas drilling in Newcastle and invest more in clean renewables," Cr Parsons said.

Advent Energy, which is planning the drilling, said gas was a "transition fuel"as the economy converts to renewable energy.

Advent executive director David Breeze said gas-fired power stations produced up to 70 per cent less carbon emissions than coal-fired plants to produce the same amount of energy.

"We support renewables, but it's abundantly clear that renewable energy in the form of wind or solar power is not capable of meeting power demand," Mr Breeze said.

Cr Parsons described the comments as "absolute rubbish".

"It's propaganda from mining corporations, who stand to profit from continuing the fossil-fuel industry," Cr Parsons said.

"Moving to a clean, renewable economy is doable and the barriers aren't technological, they are political."

Newcastle councillor Michael Osborne said a transition plan had been prepared for Australia to move to 100 per cent renewables in 10 years.

"It's not pie in the sky, we can do it today if there is political will," Cr Osborne said.

The plan was in a report called Beyond Zero Emissions , which the University of Melbourne helped compile.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Vote in favour of show holiday

From The Herald...


Novocastrians will have a day off on Friday, March 18, 2011, during the Newcastle Show.

Newcastle City councillors voted 8-4 last night in favour of the holiday.

Patriotism spurred Cr Shayne Connell’s decision.

‘‘It’s un-Australian to vote against an application for show holiday,’’ he said.

Colleague Tim Crakanthorp put an economic argument.

‘‘Many millions of dollars will be lost if this does not go ahead for local people and local businesses that get involved with the show,’’ Cr Crakanthorp said.

Cr Brad Luke was among civic leaders who argued the holiday should not go ahead.

‘‘Councillors, we talk about this each year, about being out of date and archaic,’’ he said.

‘‘One of the best attended shows in the Hunter is the Maitland Show. They don’t have a holiday for it.’’

Show organisers said the holiday provided a significant boost to attendance and economic benefits for the city.

Cr Scott Sharpe said a report to the council indicated that the day off was a problem for the business community.

The business sector said the day off was confusing for employers unsure about whether they were affected, and costly for those who granted it to employees.

Cr Michael Osborne suggested last night the council have a plebiscite at the next local government election, given annual argument in the council chamber.

The council will make an application to Industrial Relations Minister Paul Lynch to proclaim show day.

The Newcastle Show is scheduled from March 18 to 20, 2011.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Council to vote on sister act

From The Herald...


Newcastle will forge links with its Japanese sister city Ube in November with a $38,000 three-day civic reception.

The Australian city is hosting the visit as part of 30th anniversary celebrations.

It comes after Novocastrians travelled to Ube in April.

A Newcastle City Council report said the sister city relationship was established in 1980.

Its purpose was to increase international understanding and foster world peace through communication and personal exchanges.

Councillors are being asked to authorise $38,000 spending on the Ube delegates' visit to Newcastle from November 21 to 23.

The itinerary includes civic functions, tourist activities and visiting the Kooragang Island coal-loader.

Meetings at the University of Newcastle, Hunter Business Chamber and Hunter Medical Research Institute are scheduled.

Cr Michael Osborne said $38,000 was a lot of money at a time when budgets were tight.

The council should consider partnering with other organisations to reduce cost.

"Certainly council should put some money in but the ratepayers shouldn't be carrying the full cost of these celebrations," he said.

Cr Bob Cook, who was a delegate to Ube in April, said the idea was feasible, but the council had to ensure the amount was covered.

"The cost isn't unreasonable in the scheme of things," he said. "There's a big benefit.

"These people spend quite a lot of money while they're here."

Cr Cook said cultural, education and business links between the cities would also be forged.