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.
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: https://greens.org.au/nsw/education2023
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.
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: https://greens.org.au/nsw/loweringthecostofliving
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.
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.
Greens defend the cost of their regional healthcare package
"This is an absolutely critical issue because your health shouldn't depend on your postcode."
"I think the bigger question is what does it cost to not do this. We know that if people can't afford to see a GP they'll end up in the hospital emergency departments when they're sicker and they need hospital admission. It's actually more cost effective to fund that primary care up front and get people the care they need early. If you budget that out over the long term it's going to save the health system money."
Dr Amanda Cohn, Greens candidate for the NSW Upper House.
"In the first instance getting [a primary health care centre] into the southern part of the South Coast seat is absolutely essential, because what we have in the south is a very small hospital that's not fit for purpose. There's not even an MRI available to residents in the Milton-Ulladulla area."
Amanda Findley, Shoalhaven Mayor and Greens candidate for the seat of South Coast.
Story by Glenn Ellard at the South Coast Register, 10 February 2023.