After the traumatic and unforgettable weather events of the last two years, this seems a good time to question whether, at all levels of government, we are doing enough to combat climate change. And with local government elections throughout NSW approaching on December 4, what better time to consider what can be done here in the Hills Shire?
Kenthurst resident and voter in the North Ward, Hugh Vaughan, thinks it’s exactly the right time. “It is my belief that, in this election, climate transcends all other issues. It is incumbent on us, the voters, to prioritise climate leadership and decisive action from our council here in the Hills. But how can we best do that?”
Hugh cites this as the motivation for setting up a new Facebook page. The page aims to explain the issues, show why local government action is so important and highlight some of the exemplary actions that our neighbouring and peer councils are taking. Unfortunately, council elections do not get the coverage or attention that other elections do and many voters go to the polling booths with scant information about the candidates and their positions. Hugh hopes that the Facebook page can help to fill this gap for the council elections on December 4.
“As the election nears, we intend to ask every candidate about their position on climate via a questionnaire. And we will make the results available, without comment, to anybody following our page.” Hugh urges all candidates in the election to get in touch via the Facebook page or at [email protected].
Dr Kim Loo, the resident in Baulkham Hills (West Ward), applauds the initiative. Dr Loo is a GP practising in Riverstone. She is also NSW chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia. “I have been working for 32 years and see the health effects of longer hotter summers. My patients were exposed to 80 days of toxic smoke during Black Summer. The heat has impacted all of my patients. Not only the most vulnerable.“
“There is so much can be done at the council level for adaptation and mitigation of global heating,” Dr Loo says. “The council could provide the leadership for a less polluted and safer future for its residents. Renewable energy is now very cost-competitive. Electrification of the council fleet would save money. Having more trees planted will provide safe outdoor spaces for children and their families.”
According to Hugh, he and the page are not affiliated with any party or candidate standing in the elections. “We have next-to-nothing in the way of budget and we do not accept any donations. Our only interest is in a safe climate for current and future residents of the Hills Shire” Hugh said.
“This year is the first year of a decade in which we must drastically cut our emissions. If we do not, our comfortable and amenable Hills Shire environment will be increasingly subject to the fury of a more and more hostile climate.”