Climate emergency declared following heated debate

Central Coast Council became the 31st Australian Council to declare a climate emergency at its meeting on August 26, but the motion from Councillor Kyle MacGregor attracted quite a bit of debate before finally getting the nod from nine of the region’s 15 councillors.
Councillors Jilly Pilon, Rebecca Gale Collins and Bruce McLachlan left the room before the debate, declaring pecuniary interest conflicts, after Clr McLachlan said he believed the declaration could create a substantial increase to his home insurance charges.
Councillors Greg Best, Chris Burke and Troy Marquart voted against the motion, which also called for the CEO to prepare a report on the costs involved in a series of measures including immediately implementing Council’s climate change policy and setting Council’s emissions reduction target below 2017/18 levels.
Clr MacGregor said 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 climate change.
He also asked for the report to identify opportunities and support for local industries which reduce emissions, or increase community resilience to climate impacts and employment opportunities to encourage a just transition away from fossil fuels.
These would include advocating for local workers in the power and mining industries to transition into new employment 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.
“This motion puts us in line with other major metropolitan councils such as Wollongong, Newcastle, Sydney City and North Sydney,” Clr MacGregor said.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
After the meeting, Clr MacGregor said it was now 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”.
But not everyone thought the motion was a good idea.
Liberal Clr Troy Marquart referred to supporters of climate change action as the “great unwashed”.
“The author of this particular motion spoke for three minutes and some seconds but we didn’t hear once what the emergency is,” Clr Marquart said.
“What is the emergency?
“This council has done more than enough, we should not be chasing other councillors to say we’ve done the same, socialist comrade.
“This is not what the people on the Central Coast need, this is not what is going to benefit the people on the Central Coast.”
The motion was passed 9-3 to applause from the public gallery.

Agenda item 8.2
Central Coast Council Meeting, August 26
Reporters: Merilyn Vale and Terry Collins

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