From the Desk of Jeff Johnson, Independent Candidate for Ballina:
The policies that I’ll be campaigning on for the Seat of Ballina at the 2015 NSW election are listed below. My political philosophy is one of community engagement and direct democracy.
It is important the 2015 NSW Election, and we all know it. However, have you taken a close look at the ‘Party’ policies being promoted / pushed at us for the main parties? It is time that someone stood as an independent candidate for Ballina and presented policies that reflected the true priorities for our region.
There are a number of policies that need to be raised for the people who call this region home. These policies include;
- Gasfield Free Northern Rivers – The National Party want to industrialise our rural landscape and set up Coal Seam Gas fields in the Northern Rivers. They renewed Dart Energy’s exploration license (PEL445) in November 2014. I am totally against CSG in the Northern Rivers due to its impact on our aquifers, farmland, rural communities and property values. It would be in conflict with our two main industries Tourism and Agriculture.
- An ocean pool for Shelly Beach – An Ocean Pool at Shelly beach would provide a safe ocean swimming experience free of charge. There would be minimal if any ongoing maintenance and be inexpensive to build. This is a project that is being driven by the community and I will do everything I can to make it a reality.
- Stop the costly highway deviation through Ballina’s most important wildlife corridor. Use the existing highway corridor and save millions of dollars and deliver the upgrade sooner – Using the existing highway with a bypass of Wardell would be 2.5 kms shorter than the RMS proposed highway deviation. The Government could save up to $300 million by using the existing highway corridor and at the same time protect a nationally significant Koala colony. The money saved could fund important local infrastructure projects such as an Indoor Sports Centre, Airport Terminal Upgrade, Maritime Museum, Coast Guard Tower and Marina Facilities.
- Ballina Indoor Sports Centre – Ballina is the only town of its size not to have an Indoor Sports Centre. Currently there aren’t enough sports courts for current needs let alone the predicted population increase. This is a priority project for the community.
- Fix up the coast road from Suffolk Park to Broken Head once and for all. – The Coast road is a regional road and is the responsibility of the NSW Government. The section between Suffolk Park and Broken Head is dangerous and has high traffic volumes. A one-off State Government grant is needed to bring this section of road up to standard.
- 50% funding for the Coast Guard Tower – The Coast Guard Tower in Ballina is slowly falling into the River. It’s known as the ‘leaning tower of Ballina’. The building is unsafe for the wonderful volunteers who keep our boaties and river craft safe. The designs for a new tower are complete. This project should be funded as a priority.
- Return Planning Powers to Local Government – Despite the rhetoric, the State Government has been rezoning land in the Ballina and Byron Shires against the wishes of the local Council’s. These planning decisions should be made locally to ensure that future development is in line with the community’s expectations and that current ratepayers don’t have to fund infrastructure associated with new sub-divisions.
- Stop the privatization of the TAFE system and restore funding – The NSW Government has transferred funding from Tafe to private colleges resulting in a reduction in courses and the quality of training. The North Coast Tafe institute has lost 27 teachers over the last 2 years alone. We need to restore funding to Tafe and ensure that the courses meet the demands of our future workforce.
- Strengthen the BASIXs code to ensure all new buildings within 10 years are carbon neutral – With the rising costs of electricity, the NSW Government needs to strengthen the BASIX’s building code to ensure future buildings are sustainable in the long term.
- New airport terminal for Ballina Airport. – Ballina Airport now has more than 400,000 passengers per year and is the second largest regional airport in NSW behind Newcastle. There is $50 million in funding available for regional airports and I will ensure that Ballina Airport receives its share of this funding initiative. For all local infrastructure
- I support Council’s grant application for a 6 million terminal upgrade development with a preference to locally based contractors.
- Use the savings from the highway deviation to fund a local Infrastructure program – experts have estimated that using the existing highway corridor could save up to $300 million. This could be used to drive economic development and jobs growth in Ballina. Projects include an Indoor Sports Centre, Terminal Upgrade at Ballina Airport, Maritime Museum, Marina, a new operating theatre for Ballina Hospital, etc.
- Transfer the ownership of the RMS land at West Ballina trawler harbor, to expand marina facilities and associated industry – Ballina needs additional marina berths to support our local industries and to drive growth in our fishing and maritime industries.
- Reallocated proposed $40 million knockdown of Ballina High – Why demolish and rebuild a perfectly good building? Retain Ballina and Southern Cross K-12 and spend the money providing a worldclass Tafe or University campus for Ballina. Ensure that local courses provide meaningful jobs that support economic development in our region.
- A new operating theatre for Ballina. The Federal Government has promised $4.5 million for an upgrade of the Ballina Hospital. Local doctors are calling for a modern operating theatre at Ballina Hospital. The State Government should provide the $1.7 million in extra funding to make this a reality for our community.
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