Illawarra Greens. Social justice, environmental sustainability, peace and non-violence and grassroots democracy.

Renewable energy the 'quick and easy' solution to emissions control

Renewable energy sources like wind farms were "the quickest and easiest ways" to reduce emissions linked to electricity use, Wollongong councillor Mithra Cox said.

The Greens councillor was speaking on the decision to adopt a plan for Wollongong City Council to address the issue of climate change through to the end of the decade. The Climate Change Mitigation Plan 2023-30 followed on from the 2020-22 plan and sets a target of zero emissions for council operations by 2030 and net zero emissions for the city by 2050.

Cr Cox said those targets were dependent on the decarbonisation of the electricity grid. "It's the quickest and easiest way to make fast reductions but this is dependent on state and federal targets being met to reduce emissions from electricity."

"Then that is largely dependent on large-scale renewable being built for which there is a proposal for an offshore wind zone here in Wollongong. I'm really proud of the position and leadership council has shown in supporting that and I hope we're able to continue to advocate for that because without those sort of projects happening we've got no chance of meeting the big reductions in electricity decarbonisation."

Cr Cox also spoke of the problems around transportation emissions and, as the move to electric vehicles continued, that more charging options needed to be included in both residential spaces and council car parks.

"It's not going to be enough to have one or two in car parks, especially in multi-unit apartments where parking might be underground."

"It's really, really important that the electricity infrastructure is put in at the time those apartments are being built and that they are delivered to every single parking space, otherwise those car parks will be there for 100 years and won't have the infrastructure in place."

"Similarly our own parking stations, as we upgrade them, will need an electricity connection to every parking space."


Story by Glen Humphries in the Illawarra Mercury, 28 November 2023.

Port Kembla tree vandalism spree sparks urgent calls for stronger penalties

Wollongong Greens Councillor Cath Blakey agreed with Ms Whittaker it was a "selfish act", and suggested more "creative means" could be used in the area to deter vandals.

"Like we saw with the Belmore Basin billboard of community artworks and photos of the tea trees, the Brighton Le Sands containers decorated in murals of native plants and wildlife, or the Noosa's billboards which have an image of a beautiful Rainbow Bee-eater alongside the words 'who destroyed my home'," Cr Blakey told the Mercury.

"These billboards and containers are large and onsite while newly planted trees regrow. There is also an opportunity for community education and artistic celebration of our native plants and wildlife."


Story by Desiree Savage in the Illawarra Mercury, 14 November 2023.

Decriminalize bike riding on footpaths

Wollongong council to push for bikes to be allowed on footpaths and buses

Greens councillor Cath Blakey, said the changes would help get more people using bikes and were supported by the city's adopted cycling strategy.

Cr Blakey said she was in favour of all ages being able to ride on footpaths as it would especially allow more young people and women to feel safe while riding in busy areas without shared paths or cycling infrastructure. She said cyclists were allowed on footpaths in most states and territories, with NSW and Victoria the only two to outlaw riding on footpaths as a rule.

"I recognise some people are concerned about risks to pedestrians, and it is really important to give way to pedestrians, but this is mostly about formalising what already happens when people feel unsafe riding on the road anyway," she said.

"The problem with the rules now, is that police can apply them with discretion, which leads to some people being targeted and fined, while others are left alone."

She said allowing cyclists to ride of the footpath was just one of the improvements needed to encourage cycling, and needed to be combined with investment in dedicated cycling infrastructure.

"Personally, I don't actually like riding on the footpath - because you have to contend with driveways and other infrastructure - but there are some places you just don't feel safe riding on the road," she said. "This is not a perfect situation, and if we could retrofit cycleways on every single street I'd love to do that, but there's budget constraints and we can't change it overnight - so if we want people riding bikes now we need to change the rule."

Bike racks on buses makes public transport more viable: Cr Blakey said allowing bikes to be carried on buses would make public transport more viable for many people in Wollongong.

"I've ridden to work and then in the afternoon it's raining and you then have to leave your bike at work - so being able to have those mixed modes where you can put a bike on a train or on a bus would be really helpful," she said.

"In Wollongong, we've got lots of suburbs that are really hilly, so we can cycle down them but not necessarily back up - so having bike racks on buses would be great. "It would open up the catchment of people that are likely to catch the bus, because you can go so much further on a bike than you can walking, so there would be more people being able to get to the bus stop." She said bike racks could be installed as the bus fleet was upgraded, and would be able to be used on a first come, first served basis.


Story by Kate McIlwain at the Illawarra Mercury, 6 November 2023.

Wollongong council votes in favour of wind zone plans - with conditions

The Greens Mithra Cox said climate change was a mammoth task to solve and needed fast action, involving many forms of renewable energy if future generations were to have a livable planet.

"It's going to require a major economic and industrial transformation within our lifetimes and ideally within the next decade," she said.

"But the alternative does not bear thinking about. The sea level rise predictions for Wollongong, if we remain on the current emissions trajectory that we're currently on is three metres by 2100. My kids will still be alive."

She also took aim at the behaviour of people at the Thirroul forum saying she would not engage with people who "heckle an Aboriginal elder... shouts over the top of anyone with a different opinion, or sends fake information mocked up in Microsoft paint and claim it as evidence".

"If you don't care about the impacts of climate change on my generation and the generations to come, then don't expect me to engage on a deep level," she said.


Story by Kate McIlwain in the Illawarra Mercury, 9 October 2023.

Illawarra environmental groups back offshore wind plans

Councillors and others standing on Flagstaff Hill Wollongong with the proposed offshore wind farm zone in the background.

Greens Councillors Mithra Cox and Cath Blakey joined local environmental groups to support the designation of an Illawarra offshore wind power area.

Story by Connor Pearce in the Illawarra Mercury, September 24 2023.

Industry must play a part in Wollongong council's climate change plans

The council had an important role to play in reducing community emissions, Cr Mithra Cox said, through empowering people rather than telling them what to do.

"There is a really big role for council in ensuring that we can have all-electric homes, making sure that the electricity connections that they have in the kitchens are good enough that they have induction stoves," Cr Cox said.

"It's also ensuring that new buildings, particularly apartments, have electricity in the car parks in basements should people want to switch to electric vehicles.
"When you build an apartment, it's going to be there for the next 50, 70 or 80 years. The decisions we're going to be making are going to be with us for a long time."

Cr Cox also noted that the Whyte's Gully tip was the biggest source of the council emissions and that she didn't feel they could capture 100 per cent of them by 2030.


Story by Glen Humphries in the Illawarra Mercury, 18 September 2023.

South32 sponsors Ride Wollongong

The decision to appoint miner South32 as the naming rights sponsor of September’s Ride Wollongong festival has shocked the climate-conscious cycling community.

“The event’s a great idea. But I don’t want to go to it now, unless it’s part of an action to oppose the sponsorship,” says local cycling advocate Jess Whittaker.

“We’re in a climate emergency. I can’t look my kids in the eye and say, ‘We’re going to this cycling event – it’s paid for by a coal mine. And by the way, they’re burning your future and stuffing the water catchment.”

Ms Whittaker, a Port Kembla health care worker who ran as the Greens lead candidate in Ward 3 at the last Wollongong City Council election in December 2021, said: “You don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars to put on a community event. The council should just be funding that.”

Despite being a keen cyclist, Ms Whittaker won’t be attending this month’s South32 Ride Wollongong festival.

“I just can’t do it. It was the same feeling I got at UCI when they were handing out all those yellow hats with South32 logos and I just felt so embarrassed. All these people come over from Europe and we’re in a climate emergency and here’s good old Wollongong handing out the hats for the coal mine.

“I actually took a hat home and embroidered ‘end coal’ on it and then wore it back the next day.”

Story by Genevieve Swart in The Illawarra Flame, 1 September 2023. (pdf download, archive)

Sharks nets kill other species and don't stop sharks - but they're back this summer

Giving all swimmers a free shark repellent wetsuit would be more effective against shark attacks than the nets about to be installed again off Wollongong beaches, Councillor Cath Blakey said.

Wollongong Greens councillor Cath Blakey said there were several alternatives to help protect swimmers that had been proven to be more effective and less deadly. These include tagged shark listening stations and drone surveillance.

"It would be far more effective for the NSW government gave any resident that wanted one a Shark Stop wetsuit, than deploy the shark nets which kill dolphins, turtles and rays and give a false sense of security," she said.

"There has also been shark smart training and accreditation of the regional drone fleet at Coledale and Stanwell Park (Surf Life Saving Clubs)."

"Plus there have also been other suggestions like the WA rebate for personal shark deterrent devices - electrical, magnetic and audio devices showing some benefit, but no guarantee."


Story by Ben Langford in the Illawarra Mercury, 22 August 2023.

Lake Illawarra, Bass Point nuclear power plant vision ridiculed

Wollongong Greens councillor Mithra Cox said it was "one of the silliest ideas I have ever heard".

"Why on earth would we want a toxic, expensive and risky nuclear reactor on Lake Illawarra or at Fitzroy Falls when we have the most abundant, cheap and safe renewable energy resources of anywhere in the world?" Cr Cox said.

"Look at Chernobyl, at Fukushima, as Zaporizhzia - when nuclear reactors have accidents, they are catastrophic."

"Solar power is the cheapest form of electricity in human history, and wind power is fast catching up."

"And they come without the huge environmental and safety risks of uranium mining and storage or radioactive waste - something which has not been solved anywhere in the world."

Story by Ben Langford in the Illawarra Mercury, 17 August 2023.

Primbee copper slag dump has its 'zombie licence' revoked by EPA

The company which sparked a furore at the old copper slag dump at Primbee is having its licence revoked, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) said.

The Environment Protection Authority has moved to revoke Mimosa's pollution licence, saying it is not longer needed for the activities covered.

"The EPA wrote to the licensee to prepare and submit a scoping report to describe the activities to be undertaken at the premises and the proposed future use of the site," its notice states.

"The scoping report [submitted] proposed a number of activities for the premises including, but not limited to, the use of virgin excavated natural material to cover areas of exposed copper slag, and the proposed emplacement of alternative wastes not permitted to be received at the premises."

In January Wollongong Greens councillor Cath Blakey said the pollution licence shouldn't be able to hang around "like a zombie".

Story by Ben Langford in the Illawarra Mercury, 17 August 2023.


(Previously: Wollongong toxic waste site cleared prompting pollution fears for nearby homes, public wetland)

Wollongong Greens Councillor pushes for secure bike sheds at train stations

Wollongong City councillor Cath Blakey has a motion at Monday night's council meeting to write to Transport for NSW requesting secure bike sheds at Illawarra stations. The priority stations would be North Wollongong, Wollongong, Thirroul and Dapto.

Cr Blakey said a lack of secure places to leave a bike discourages people from using them.

"I've done it myself - I avoid riding to the station unless I take my bike on the train with me," Cr Blakey said.

"But I know people complain about that sometimes because our trains aren't really designed to have lots of bikes on them. You can block access to the stairs and the exit. I've seen people abuse cyclists for it but when there's no safe place to leave your bike that is the problem. It's a real barrier for people to ride to the station. A secure bike shed would be quite a cheap and really effective way to improve integrated transport."

Story by Glen Humphries in the Illawarra Mercury, 28 July 2023.

'Systemic failure' in Dendrobium mine's illegal use of drinking water catchment over five years

Greens MP Cate Faehrmann said the fine showed why mining has no place in Sydney's drinking water catchment:

"The scale of this undertaking speaks to the impact that this mining is having on water resources in Sydney's drinking catchment."

"Investigations like these just go to show how vigilant we have to be in ensuring mining companies are acting in accordance with the law and responsibilities under their approvals."

"Illawarra Coal's application for a surface water licence must be rejected, especially considering that we're entering into a period of El Nino and likely associated drought conditions."


Story by Kate McIlwain in the Illawarra Mercury, 12 July 2023.

What does the federal government's new Defence Strategic Review mean for Australia and the Illawarra? Win News

Romy Gilbert from WIN News covered the briefing at Wollongong Council, and the WAWAN - Wollongong Against War and Nukes community meeting ahead of the May 6 - Port Kembla: March Against the Nuclear Base.


Councillor Cath Blakey said:

"I think it's incredibly alarming. It's like it's implied that this is what Wollongong is in for, that the Federal Government is working towards nuclear submarines here in Port Kembla."

"They've talked about consultation and this feels like it's the kicking off of that consultation."

"I want to see Port Kembla ruled out as the site for nuclear submarines, but I also want to see talk of diplomacy."

Wollongong creek turned bright green by mystery pollution

A resident reported it on Thursday afternoon and within an hour Wollongong City Council staff were on the scene to try and clean up.

At the scene on Friday morning Councillor Cath Blakey urged anyone with information to report it, so the culprit could be found.
"It's disgusting to see one of our local waterways being used to dump chemical waste," Cr Blakey told the Mercury.

"I'm really heartened though that someone reported it quickly and that council took quick action putting in a bund, trying to contain the pollutant, getting samples, and pumping some of it out.

"It's really important that if anyone knows anything they contact council or the EPA, so we can find out who's responsible, and not only take compliance action but also to get them actually to fund the recovery work."

Cr Blakey pointed out lizards and fish that were in and around the waterway, which was sustaining life despite running through an industrial area into Fairy Creek.

"I was contacted by a resident who's actually done some birding here and talked about seeing different birdlife ... we can see now there's fish and there's water dragons.

"So it's really terrible that someone has dumped this pollution into the creek.

Story by Ben Langford in the Illawarra Mercury, 28 April 2023.

Politicians split on possible Port Kembla nuclear subs base

Port Kembla is going to house a nuclear submarine base but the federal government isn't in any hurry to admit it. That's the theory of Greens Senator David Shoebridge in the wake of Monday's release of the Defence Strategic Review.

Sen Shoebridge believed that location was Port Kembla and the government was delaying any announcement until funding for the AUKUS subs project reached a level that made it too big to cancel.

"The review confirms the east coast for a nuclear-powered submarine facility but the government's refusal to confirm its exact location treats the people of the Illawarra like mugs," Sen Shoebridge said.

"Defence and the government have already indicated that Port Kembla is the preferred location for this facility. Putting off the confirmation of the exact location is essentially dishonest.

"The government needs to be honest with Australians, those living on the east coast and especially the Illawarra community and inform them of where this facility will be located before they lock in spending billions of dollars on these subs."


Story by Glen Humphries in the Illawarra Mercury, 25 April 2023.

In a sea of red, which Illawarra suburbs lean Green, Liberal or independent?


With Sydney tree-changers attracted to the area thanks to the pandemic and working from home its demographics are shifting, while its coastal climate exposure and things like Electrify 2515 movement mean there is a strong Greens vote in parts of the seat. This was especially evident in Austinmer, where more than 34 per cent of voters picked Greens candidate Cooper Riach as their first preference. Greens also did well in Bundeena, where candidate Cooper Riach is from, and the northern Illawarra's Coledale, Scarborough-Wombarra and Thirroul. In many of the Illawarra booths, the Greens did better than or on par with the Liberals, a trend not repeated in the Shire.

Overall though, the Green vote was not as strong as in the federal election, with Mr Riach only gaining 11.33 per cent of first preferences.



In the five places where Labor did worst (although it's worth noting that 'worst' here would, in any other area, be a very good result), it was mainly the Greens which took these votes. The Greens best booth in Keira was Smiths Hill High School, with more than 30 per cent of votes there going to Kit Docker - perhaps a sign of the priorities of some of the high-achieving 18-year-olds (and their parents) who attend the selective school? Other areas where a more young people live also had some of the seat's highest Greens votes - Wollongong West Public School, Wollongong Salvos in the CBD and Keiraville Public School.



... As for the Greens, recognisable candidate Cath Blakey attracted the region's strongest overall vote for the environmental party, with around 15 per cent of first preferences.
Her strongest support came from Keiraville and Wollongong Public Schools and Smith Hill High School - all in suburbs where a lot of university students and young people live.



With an independent and three minor party candidates running in Shellharbour, the Greens vote was much lower than the previous election. Jamie Dixon did best at the Hayes Park Public School booth, in Kanahooka, where he received just under 10 per cent of first preferences.



... the Greens did best at Berry and Kangaroo Valley.


Story by Kate McIlwain at the Illawarra Mercury, 30 March 2023.

Greens fell short of NSW election target in Illawarra

Wollongong Greens candidate Cath Blakey felt her profile as a sitting local councillor contributed to her increase in votes. "I'd like to think it was my track record and I think there's definitely some name recognition as well," Ms Blakey said.
"I was only pre-selected quite late so was a really short campaign. And there were federal issues that really came to the fore during the state election campaign with the leaked information about Port Kembla being a supposedly site for a potential nuclear submarine base."


Mr Dixon felt the fact there were seven candidates running in the seat, including Shellharbour Mayor Chris Homer, had an effect on the Greens' low numbers.
He also suggested the performance of the Legalise Cannabis candidate Mia Willmott with 4.04 per cent may have taken votes away from the Greens. "I think the amount of support for the Legalise Cannabis party is something that worth noting because there were probably people who were on board with that aspect of Greens policy but certainly chose to vote that way as their preference," Mr Dixon said.


Both Ms Blakey and Mr Dixon felt the support for the Labor party was also a factor in reducing the Greens' vote. "There was such an appetite for a change of government that not quite as many votes was swung away from the major parties as we had hoped," Mr Dixon said.


Ms Blakey felt it was "hard" for the Greens to do well when there was a swing towards Labor. "That won't be the case at the next state election - they will be an incumbent at the next state election," she said. The secret to increasing the Greens' vote was more door-knocking, Ms Blakey said. "Where the Greens have done really well, what they've done is build great field campaigns of people out door-knocking," she said. "We did a bit of that but if we want to increase our vote we have to keep doing that."


Story by Glen Humphries in the Illawarra Mercury, 30 March 2023.

NSW Greens call on Labor to close Peabody-owned Metropolitan Mine at Helensburgh

The NSW Greens will push the new Labor government to start a transition plan to close a major coal mine in the northern Illawarra that has been operating since 1887.

Greens environment spokeswoman Sue Higginson said the Peabody-owned Metropolitan Mine at Helensburgh could not manage its pollution in line with community expectations in terms of environmental controls.

"What we know is this mine is old, it's dirty, it's in the wrong place," she said.

The spill also delayed plans to re-introduce platypuses into the Royal National Park and resulted in the EPA upgrading the mine's licence with a "variation".

The variation requires Peabody to "conduct a detailed analysis of potential pollutants and contaminants that could discharge into the waterways".

"Testing will need to be conducted for a range of potential pollutants including metals, nutrients, pH, turbidity, and electrical conductivity," an EPA statement said.

A headshot of a woman smiling
Sue Higginson has called for Labor to work on a plan to close the Metropolitan coal mine in Helensburgh.(Supplied: Greens NSW)

But Ms Higginson said the measures were not good enough and Labor needed to formulate a plan to close the mine.

"We will absolutely be working with the community to push this Labor government to face the music that we are hearing right now and to get a plan on the table and start to work on the shutdown of this mine," she said.

Story by Nick McLaren at ABC Illawarra, 27 March 2023.

Greens push Labor for details on Port Kembla submarine radioactivity

During Question Time in the senate on Friday, Greens senator David Shoebridge asked Labor senator Don Farrell how the submarines will be safely accommodated in major population centres such as Port Kembla.

Mr Shoebridge cited Griffith University emeritus Professor Ian Lowe's calculation that each US-built Virginia-class submarine carries 200 kilograms of highly enriched uranium.

"What guarantees are you providing on how that material can be safely accommodated in major population centres like Port Kembla?"

Mr Shoebridge called on the government to make clear to the Illawarra how the weapons-grade uranium powering each submarine would be safely stored when in harbour.

"Communities like the Illawarra who are being threatened with a nuclear submarine base deserve the truth about this reckless nuclear submarine deal and the Greens will keep demanding answers in Parliament until we get it," Mr Shoebridge said.


Story by Conor Browne in the Illawarra Mercury, 24 March 2023.

NSW Election: Candidates claim safe seats lead to ‘complacency’ and electorates ‘missing out’

Wollongong Labor MP Paul Scully said being in a safe seat has not made him complacent after Greens rival and city councillor Cath Blakey argued she could not think of a benefit of the elecorate remaining rusted-on red.

Story by Dylan Arvela in the Daily Telegraph, 23 March 2023.

Greens predicting a 'record result' for the party on Saturday

The Greens upper house MP Kate Faehrmann is tipping a "record result" for the party in this Saturday's election.

"We are continuing to grow our vote in this area - every election we have a growing number of members and supporters," Ms Faehrmann said.

"We are looking at a two and three election strategy in the Illawarra, like we are doing in the Hunter, like we're doing in other areas. We continue to grow our vote, because at some stage we will turn the Illawarra Green."

She pointed to the 2002 election of the Greens' Michael Organ to the federal seat of Cunningham as evidence of what is possible.

"We will do better in this election than we have at any other state election in NSW."

Ms Faehrmann said the possibility of a close election was a good sign for the Greens.

"We do know that in this election we have a very good chance of being able to be in the balance of power and get some outcome on some key issues for us."

"Polls are predicted to be very tight. We have said we will never support a Liberal-National government, but we have also said to Labor, don't take our support for granted."

Two weeks ago the party released a list of seven issues Labor would have to take action on to win the support of the Greens. These included scrapping the public sector wage cap, introducing a mandatory cashless gambling card and a commitment that no new coal or gas projects are created.

"It's predicted that Labor won't get the seats that they need to govern in their own right and they will need to look at a handful of Greens and independents to be able to govern."

"We have said what this is about is guaranteeing them confidence in their government so if there's someone moving no-confidence motion we would not support it so that would be able to govern confidently without instability. What that doesn't mean is that we are supporting everything they do by any means."


Story by Glen Humphries in the Illawarra Mercury, 23 March 2023.

NSW Election 2023 ABC Illawarra Election Forum Discussion with Cooper Riach, Nick Rheinberger and others

How the Illawarra's state candidates would change the education system

We asked all the candidates across all the electorates in the Illawarra the same question about education:
How will you relieve the pressures on our local teachers in order to help them concentrate on learning? What steps will you take to help our children thrive and grow in public schools?


Cath Blakey (The Greens): As the daughter of a literacy teacher I know how hard teachers work and the damagecaused by years of under-resourcing our educators. I did all my schooling in the public education system, and my daughter is due to start kindergarten next year. I want school to be a place where children can thrive, learn critical thinking, develop creative skills and build social connections. But at the moment the Liberals and Nationals have stopped listening to teachers, are short-changing students, and have no plan to attract and retain teachers in the public system. As your Greens MP for Wollongong I will push the next NSW government to deliver: The Department of Education must be resourced to reinvest in our teachers, and ensure they have professional salaries, more time to plan, and more reasonable workloads. No one should leave TAFE or uni with a debt that takes a lifetime to pay off. HECS was introduced by Labor, and made worse by Liberals. Contestable vocational training funding was introduced by federal Labor, and made worse with the implementation by the NSW Liberals. But during the pandemic - in what I take as a recognition that course fees are a barrier to learning - the NSW Liberal government made a COVID stimulus investment in free short courses. In less than 6 months it saw enrolments rise over 100,000 students. Let's invest in vocational education, and workforce planning so there are qualified and resourced TAFE teachers to deliver it. With energy, digital and environmental transitions underway, we need a skilled and education-empowered workforce. Instead of Minister announcements that leave TAFE faculties scrabbling for teachers and facilities, we need long-term stable career pathways for educators. As a parent of a four-year-old I recognise that access to quality early education is foundational to children's lifelong health and wellbeing. Early childhood educators need the pay and conditions needed to retain and attract quality educators to the profession. For the Greens full policy platform:


Kit Docker (The Greens): From speaking to teachers and parents across the Illawarra, it's clear that children across our region's schools are being left behind in a big way. It is not uncommon for children to turn up to school only for there to be no teachers available to teach their class. We also have many skilled and experienced teachers who are forced to teach outside the Illawarra due to rampant casualisation of the teaching profession in the region. Our party's policies on education are written by teachers who believe in the universal value and benefit to society of well-resourced public education. To achieve positive change the Greens will be pushing the next NSW government to: Supporting our public schools is one of the best investments we can make. Together we can return our schools to a world-class level.


Jamie Dixon (The Greens): There isn't an issue in this election, from climate change to cost of living, that the next generation won't be able to solve, given free and equitable access to quality public education. In order for us to get there though, the educators currently in our classrooms, whether its in a prior to school setting, primary, secondary, or in our TAFEs, need better resourcing, and conditions that reflect the essential role they fill.

The elected Greens, whether in balance of power or not, will continue to push for a removal of the public sector wage cap, and an immediate 15 per cent wage increase. We will provide at least 2 hours per week Relief from Face to Face teaching, and ensure that all schools receive 100% for School Resourcing Standard funding. The Greens will budget a $1 billion fund for school maintenance to clear the backlog, and get our children out of demountables. We will rise the award for early childhood educators to bring them in line with later stage teachers, as is the case in Victoria.

In the medium term we will fund the recruitment of an additional 12,000 teachers to fill the gaps in teaching positions, and provide additional counselling support staff across NSW to take the burden off classroom teachers, and ease the relief teaching budget for our public schools.

While the primary focus of our policy is to respect, recruit, resource, and retain our current educational workforce, the Greens will also commit to providing bipartisan support for essential local infrastructure such as a new primary school for West Dapto, and a new High School for Flinders.


Tonia Gray (The Greens): The education sector across the lifespan (early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary) is well and truly broken and has been for the last decade. Teachers are burnout, dispirited and undervalued which is attributed to a myriad of factors, but the top four are:

1: Teacher workload: Unsustainable workloads and the minutiae of administration. We need to reduce the constant change in curriculum and/or programs, the duplication of data entry across school-based and department record systems. SLSOs should be able to supervise play breaks like they do in many other countries around the world.

2: Unacceptable exposure to parent aggression and media's negative portrayal of the profession. The Minister Sarah Mitchell has no respect for the profession as witnessed in her condemnation of the profession for striking last year! (Personally, I believe she should have been marching in the streets for you, especially after your herculean efforts during COVID, flipping to online learning in two weeks). Parental expectations that they will access the teacher via phone during teaching hours or that afternoon, escalating incidents of disrespect, threat and aggression - particularly towards principals.

3: Salary: It starts out at an acceptable level and then plateaus quickly. Highly accomplished teacher accreditation designed to enable expert teachers to remain on class at executive level salary... YET the accreditation process is overly cumbersome, arduous and time consuming. This dissuades you from applying and very few teachers bother with the complicated, year-long process for minimal financial gain. The distinction between classroom teacher and assistant principal/head teacher salary is ridiculous .. about $10,000 difference after tax.

4: Burn out and teacher shortage: the department has no idea of the reality. A friend just resigned from a substantive executive position and had no exit survey. How can the department possible say they know what is going on for teachers or why they are leaving the profession when no-one asks? Secretary and Minister say there is no shortage, have they seen split class/minimal supervision data from schools? Change will take bold ideas and bold action. The Greens are the only party to address a holistic approach to education for a better NSW.


Story in the Illawarra Mercury, 22 March 2023.

How the Illawarra's state election candidates would deal with the healthcare crisis

We asked all the candidates across all the electorates in the Illawarra the same question about health services.
How will you address healthcare pressures for Illawarra residents?


Cath Blakey (The Greens): As a Greens MP for Wollongong I will push the NSW parliament to introduce enforceable nurse to patient ratios so that shift by shift there are sufficient nurses and midwives available to care for patients. After 12 days in the Wollongong Hospital maternity unit in 2018 I know how vital nurse to patient ratios are to see that patients have adequate care. Now there are reports of only 1 midwife for 15 patients, and that's not even including the babies! Patient care is suffering and nurses are burning out. I have pledged my support to the Nurses and Midwives Association Award Claim that includes 1 nurse for 3 patients in ED and 1 to 4 on a ward and 1 to 3 in maternity. In the Regional, Rural and Remote Health Inquiryin May 2022, Liberal and Labor MPs voted together against the inclusion of a recommendation calling for the implementation of nurse to patient ratios. On 25th March we need to see parliamentary seats change so that legislated nurse to patient ratios can be passed - the Greens will be pushing whomever forms government to legislate ratios. I'm also pushing for the next NSW government to lift the public sector wage cap that was introduced by the Liberals in 2011. NSW has the most poorly-paid paramedics in Australia, and it's not uncommon for highly skilled health workers to work part-time in retail because they get paid more there. We are pushing for a 15% payrise for nurses, midwives and paramedics. A payrise will help boost staff retention and entice qualified staff back to the sector. Paid placements for nursing, midwifery and paramedical students is also part of our Greens plan to attract new public health workers, by reducing a significant cost of living pressure.

As your Greens MP I'll be pushing for the establishment of public community health centres where medical staff are directly employed by the Illawarra Shoalhaven Health District to provide fee-free access to GPs, allied health professionals, dentists or mental health professionals.

By improving hospital care, GP access and preventative health initiatives the Greens will help end bed block so paramedics can be where they are needed instead of waiting in queues. The Greens health care plan includes increasing the number of paramedics employed in regional NSW, expanding the Intensive Care and Extended Care Paramedics programs and introducing a 24/7 patient transport service which would decrease delays to patient care and free up ambulances for emergencies. Ambulance and patient transport services should be provided at no out-of-pocket cost to patients, but under the Liberals the ambulance fee has grown to a minimum cost of $327 up to a maximum of $6,668.
Read The Greens plan to rescue our public health system:


Kit Docker (The Greens): Speaking to many healthcare professionals across the Illawarra, it's clear that many are having to face dangerous and unsustainable working conditions. What is most disappointing is that these pressures are completely avoidable.

Supporting the essential workers in our public hospitals will be an absolute priority for me if elected. I will work with my fellow Greens crossbenchers to push whichever party forms government to back the NSW Nurse and Midwives Association 2022 award claim in full.

In addition to backing mandated nurse to patient ratios, we will be looking to scrap the public sector wage cap and provide nurses, midwives and paramedics with an immediate 15% pay rise. This pay rise will be vital in retaining and attracting the workforce needed to support our healthcare system.

Too many people across the Illawarra cannot afford to pay for a visit to a GP and the recent reduction of bulk billing practices is already having serious impacts on many families. We know that prevention is more effective and less costly than intervention, which is why I will fight to establish public primary care clinics in our region. This will provide the community with access to GP's and other allied health professionals at no costs.

Finally, we need to think big and bold when it comes to mental health. Mental health services have costs that are too high and waiting lists that are too long. I will fight to establish free, publicly-owned and community-managed mental health services across the Illawarra.


Jamie Dixon (The Greens): The Greens see the solution to our local healthcare woes in rebuilding the fractured work environment of our front line workers. We need to respect, recruit, resource and retain the highly skilled people currently in, or close to the sector. Becoming a nurse, midwife or paramedic takes years of study, and the years of experience on wards is impossible to replace.

The Greens will abolish the public sector wage cap, and give all nurses, midwives and paramedics an immediate 15 per cent wage increase, and appropriate indexing into the future. We will see the Health Services Amendment introduced to parliament last November seen through, to mandate nurse to patient ratios in line with the levels advised by the NSWNMA.

Our state needs to show the same levels of respect and remuneration as other states, not only because it reflects the hard work and dedication shown by our health sector, but to prevent the growing drain of experienced staff to other states and other sectors. We also need to invest significantly in preventative healthcare that is accessible to everyone. This includes establishing community health centres so that people can see a GP or other health professional for free, when they need advice and support, to prevent the current level of presentations to Emergency Departments. Amongst our other allied health initiatives is the legalisation of medicinal cannabis, to reduce the current over-medication of many ailments, and to transition patients away from opioids.


Story in the Illawarra Mercury, 22 March 2023.

How the Illawarra's state election candidates would handle the rising cost of living

Cath Blakey (The Greens): As your Greens MP for Wollongong I will push the NSW government to invest in public services that relieve cost of living pressure. Successive Liberal and Labor governments have sold public assets, run down and privatised services and cut public sector jobs leaving the people of NSW exposed to increased costs when private shareholders take a cut. Taxes on excessive corporate profits would certainly help ease inflation and be used to fund essential services. It's clear that inequality is undermining our prosperity - it means the barista can't find a secure and affordable rental, and the nurse moves interstate where the pay and conditions are better. Instead of giving $78 million to a gas power company, I want the NSW government to establish a publicly-owned electricity authority that aims to break even and enhance renewable energy generation and storage in the grid. Instead of leaving families on social housing waiting list for 10 years, I will ban the sale of public housing and ensure that more public housing is built. Instead of giving developers special treatment and tax concessions, I am committed to planning rules that require new large developments to have at least 30 percent long-term affordable housing. Instead of granting mining licenses in our drinking water catchment I will push the government to preserve our drinking water catchment and ensure we have affordable and robust publicly owned water supply in-perpetuity. Instead of contracting out bus services, I will push the NSW government to invest in making public transport free, frequent, reliable and publicly owned and operated. Did you know that contract for Opal Plus is $500 million dollars!? Instead of a fancy ticketing system and persecuting the poor for fair evasion the Greens are pushing to make public transport free. The state government already subsidises 80% of public transport costs. Malta, Luxembourg and many cities in Europe have introduced extensive free public transport networks because it keeps people moving, reduces transport emissions and dissolves traffic congestion. As an MP for Wollongong I will push the state government to give local councils financial security through equitable state government funding and an end to cost shifting. Libraries, child care centres, parks, streets and footpaths - Council maintains all kinds of services, facilities and infrastructure in Wollongong that are well used and much loved. The state government imposes costs like the landfill levy and emergency services levy without reinvesting it in council services or infrastructure. Of course, fee-free and well resourced public health care are also essential to relieving the cost of living pressure for Illawarra residents. As your Greens MP for Wollongong I will push the NSW government to make the big banks, fossil fuel companies, property developers and the gambling industry pay their fair share of tax so we can invest in renewable energy, affordable housing and public services for all. Housing, water, electricity and transport are all sectors where serious public investment is needed.

For more on the Greens plan to lower of living pressures visit our website:


Kit Docker (The Greens): Governments need to pursue structural and lasting change to provide permanent cost of living relief for Illawarra families. Too often governments resort to band-aid solutions and short-term thinking when it comes to alleviating cost of living pressures.

Vouchers and rebates are great but at the end of the day these are short sighted and don't go to the root cause of the problems we are facing.As a lifelong renter, I know the stress that is caused by not knowing how long I'll be living in my home.

I want to see greater security and certainty given to renters by limiting the size and frequency of rent increases, banning no-grounds evictions, and giving renters the option of longer leases. To ensure that everyone can afford a place to call home, the Greens will introduce legislation that requires property developers to include a minimum of 30 percent affordable housing in new large developments.

We will re-establishing a public bank for NSW and join other countries in providing mortgage holders with real choice when it comes to borrowing for the family home. Mortgage holders shouldn't be forced to pay shareholder profits as part of their fortnightly repayments.

When it comes to our electricity bills, it's abundantly clear that privatisation has failed. The people of NSW are being taken advantage of by greedy energy companies, who are making mega-profits by capitalising on the war in Ukraine. The Greens solution is simple: give customers a new option by introducing a publicly-owned electricity authority that aims to break even rather than profit from their customers.Finally, NSW needs to follow cities all over the world by providing free and accessible public transport and lift the public sector wage cap to prevent thousands of households from real wage cuts.


Jamie Dixon (The Greens): We have built the issue of cost-of-living into all our policies for this election. The Greens are unencumbered by lobbyists or corporate donations, and will make the necessary choices to spend the state's $120 billion a year budget where it is needed most by the public. This includes doing away with the $500 million Opal network ticketing system, and making all public transport free to immediately reduce travel costs, increase accessibility to employment, and reduce reliance on private vehicles and fossil fuels. The Greens will ensure that everyone across the state has access to fee free healthcare by forming appropriately placed, and properly staffed community healthcare clinics. The Greens will reverse the disastrous sell-off of our energy sector, by establishing a public owned renewable energy provider which both builds the infrastructure, and provides at-cost access to the public without the 20 per cent privatisation markup. We will ensure that all our public schools are paid 100 per cent of the Schools Resourcing Standard, build the capacity for free preschooling, and return TAFE to its previous status as a fee free public vocational education provider, so that public education at all stages will not cost the public a cent. In conjunction with these measures, the Greens will abolish the public sector wage cap, and give healthcare workers, teachers, and firefighters an immediate 15 per cent wage increase, so that the people we need to deliver these essential public services, can afford to live where the services are needed.


Tonia Gray (The Greens): I have lived in the Illawarra for over six decades and come from working class background in multicultural Port Kembla during the first 10 years of my life. I am mindful that reliable and safe housing is a basic human right, everyone needs a sanctuary and refuge.

The Greens will stop unfair evictions, build affordable homes and end the special treatment for property investors. We know renting laws need to be fairer and secure, making rental increases are in line with wage growth and optional long-term rental arrangements. The Greens will insist that 30 per cent of all new private residential developments are set aside for long-term affordable housing - so that everyone has access to a secure, affordable home.

A vote for The Greens puts people before profits.


Story in the Illawarra Mercury, 21 March 2023.

With polls live and less than a week until the state election, hundreds are heading out in droves to have their say on who will lead the state.

Story by Romy Gilbert at WIN News, 20 March 2023.


Jamie Dixon, Greens candidate for Shelharbour: "Chances for the Greens in Shellharbour are building. Whether we get there this election, I'm not sure. The really important thing we're trying to promote is voting in the Upper House."


Cath Blakey, Greens candidate for Wollongong: "I know I'm the underdog, definitely. I've been really heartened by the level of support. I think in a democracy it's in the hands of the people."

NSW State Election: Cooper Riach, Greens for Heathcote

Greens candidate for Heathcote Cooper Riach joins Jo Ryan on Enterprise as part of 2SSR's NSW State Election Interview Series.


Interview with Jo Ryan on Enterprise at 2SSR, 20 March 2023.

Tonia Gray ABC Radio 20 March 2023


Dr Tonia Gray, Greens candidate for Kiama in the 2023 NSW State Election.

With Lindsay McDougall on ABC Illawarra Drive, 20 March 2023.

Feral animals and weeds a priority for key regional independents ahead of NSW election

Greens MP Sue Higginson said the party supported the council's policy document.

"A permanent increase of 300 frontline staff is the absolute minimum requirement to get us on track with invasive species management," she said.

"An Indigenous Commissioner for Country would give First Nations people a leadership role in invasive species management and ensure that we are respecting the knowledge and understanding that Indigenous communities have."

Story by Kelly Fuller and Mike Condon at ABC Illawarra, 19 March 2023.

Busy first day of early voting in Illawarra ahead of 2023 NSW election

At Dapto Ribbonwood Centre, Greens candidate for Shellharbour Jamie Dixon said there was a queue of 100 to 150 people waiting when the doors opened at 9am, although many thought voting started from 8am. Dapto Ribbonwood Centre also served as an early voting centre for three electorates, and Mr Dixon said a lot of people were choosing to go there instead of elsewhere for the accessibility and easy parking.

Mr Dixon said he was glad to see people getting in early to vote.
"People are quite engaged, quite aware of who they're voting for and what they're voting for."

Story by Natalie Croxon in the Illawarra Mercury 18 March 2023.