Central Coast Council has declared a climate emergency after a motion was put forward by ALP Councillor, Kyle MacGregor, making it the 31st Australian local government to do so.
Three councillors left the room before the debate, declaring pecuniary interest conflicts did not allow them to stay.
Three other councillors voted against the motion.
They were Councillors Greg Best, Chris Burke and Troy Marquart.
The declaration directs the CEO to prepare a report on the costs to implement a series of measures including immediately implementing council’s climate change policy and setting council’s emissions reduction target below 2017/18 levels.
Cr MacGregor also asked the report to identify opportunities and support for local industry that reduces emissions or increases community resilience to climate impacts, and employment opportunities that would encourage a just transition away from fossil fuels.
It included advocating for local workers in the power and mining industries to transition into new employment that reflect their skills and pay levels and developing the Warnervale Employment Zone and other land on the coast as job hubs for industries such as renewable energy, smart manufacturing, robotics, and other sustainable industries.
At the start of the meeting, when councillors declare their conflicts of interests, Cr Bruce McLachlan asked for clarification on whether he needed to leave the meeting as he believed the declaration could create a substantial increase to his home insurance charges.
After the Director of Governance, Evan Hutchings, said that each councillor had to make up their own mind on the issue, Crs McLachlan, Jilly Pilon and Rebecca Gale Collins left the chamber during the debate.
Cr MacGregor said that declaring a climate emergency was an important step for council to take to stand shoulder to shoulder with the millions of Australians who demanded that all levels of government take immediate and effective action on the climate change emergency.
Afterwards he said he was pleased that the Central Coast had joined 30 other councils in Australia.
“This motion puts us in line with other major metropolitan councils such as Wollongong, Newcastle, Sydney City Council and North Sydney Council.
“However, our motion goes even further with practicable action to not only respond to this threat to our people, but to provide high quality modern jobs for our people with the establishment of a just transition authority here on the Central Coast, and the development of our employment lands in line with this.
“This will provide high quality, high paying local jobs for highly profitable businesses engaged in smart manufacturing, renewable energies and other modern technologies.
“Council must provide strong action and advocacy for our community and region on a range of issues and there is no greater threat to our local community’s amenity and infrastructure than climate change.
“Our region is also home to coal fired power stations and we must respond proactively to look after our workers in these industries as we transition our economy for the future.”
Cr MacGregor said that real action on climate change should not be seen as an economic threat, but rather, an opportunity to diversify local economies, develop productive and profitable businesses and provide opportunities for economic development.
“I am pleased that a majority of councillors decided to listen to our community and local businesses in supporting this motion and now it is time to stop the debates and navel gazing on the issue of climate change, tackle the issue head on and make the most of the opportunities afforded to our region and our people in doing so,’’ he said.
“This motion had overwhelming support from our community and I am always pleased to exercise my powers in the chamber to represent their views and deliver what tangible and positive action I can for our Central Coast residents and businesses during my time on council.”
Meeting, Aug 26
Central Coast Council
Journalist, Merilyn Vale