First event for 2015 – NSW Election Forum

In the lead-up to the NSW State Election, the Newcastle Institute, will again be conducting a public forum featuring candidates from the major parties contesting the election. These high-quality events have become a respected tradition in Newcastle in the last decade.

In a change from previous events by the Newcastle Institute, this time the focus will be on the Upper House – the Legislative Council.

The Upper House is elected by everyone in the State, and allows the big and small parties to compete for the 21 seats on offer, just like the Senate in Federal Elections. Less than 4% of the total vote is enough to get a seat. In the Upper House Every Vote Counts – even in ‘safe’ Lower House seats.

This event will emphasise to all the parties that the Hunter cannot be ignored. This is a region of influence, importance, and innovation in public politics.

The five active parties in the Legislative Council have agreed to participate. The Liberal/National; Labor; Greens; Christian Democrats; and Shooters & Fishers Parties will each choose their representative.

Each party representative will give a short policy speech, and then be questioned by a panel, and by each other. The panel will include journalists from the Newcastle Herald and ABC Newcastle, and a younger member of the community. As with previous events, Dr Bernie Curran shall be Master of Ceremonies.

Political meetings in Australia have become stage-managed and scripted – and boring. The Newcastle Institute’s events now unusual in Australian politics. This meeting will bring together politicians from across the spectrum in a genuine face-to-face contest. We see this as demonstrating yet again that Newcastle is a city of innovation in many facets of public life.

The Event is open to any member of the general public, subject only to requirements for appropriate behaviour during the meeting. As a totally voluntary group, we ask for a $5 donation to assist us to fund our events; venue hire etc.

We look forward to seeing you at Souths from 6pm on Wednesday 18th March, 2015

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4 Responses

  1. I would like to pose a question to the political reps.- when are going to get seats and shelters at bus stops? there are precious few in our area.It is unreasonable to expect people to stand waiting in the elements ( hot sun, wind and rain) to use public transport. For too long the responsibility for providing seats and shelters has been a football between Newcastle Buses and Newcastle City Council. the losers in the game have been the public.That is schoolchildren, the elderly, the disabled and people on their way to work who deserve better. if Government seriously want to relieve traffic congestion they have to try harder.

  2. Two things need to change to provide more democratic outcomes:
    1. The term needs to be reduced from 8 to 4 years.
    2. The state wide electorate needs to be replaced by multiple member regional electorates.

    Should we be giving legitimacy to this House which has been home to some of the most corrupt parliamentary members and whilst both major parties resist any changes to the best club in town?

  3. The Heart Foundation has put together five opportunities for government to make NSW #1 in heart health. One of them is to create healthy built environments that provide options for active travel. Given the multiple benefits of active transport, what do you propose to do to encourage active transport? More locally, does your model include funding the CycleSafe Network?

  4. A public meeting of more than 200 people at City Hall on Monday called on all political parties in the NSW parliament to declare – before the state election – which recommendations in the two reports of the NSW Upper House Inquiry into the Planning Process in Newcastle and the Hunter Region they support.


    The Committee’s Final Report (released on 3 March) recommended that:
    • the NSW Government immediately reinstate rail services that have ceased and infrastructure that has been removed from the Newcastle heavy rail line,
    • the NSW government lower height controls in Newcastle’s East End to 27 metres and refer any development application for the Newcastle East End site to the NSW Planning and Assessment Commission for determination,
    • the NSW Government clearly separate the Department of Planning and Environment (which is responsible for regulating the planning and development system) and UrbanGrowth NSW (which is the state government’s developer arm),
    • the NSW Government acknowledge Newcastle City Council as the principal planning authority for planning in Newcastle, and give the council planning authority over all land in Newcastle city, including land that is currently owned and/or managed by the Hunter Development Corporation (HDC), and
    • the HDC Board immediately ensure that none of its employees are materially involved in decision making where they have a conflict of interest, and that the Board immediately apply the NSW Planning and Infrastructure Conflicts of Interest Policy and Guidelines, and that the Minister for Planning and Environment advise what steps will be taken to ensure that the HDC has addressed conflicts of interest in its operations.

    The report also:

    • found that HDC General Manager Bob Hawes had “a significant and ongoing conflict of interest in being a landowner at Wickham and having a managerial role in the NSW Government’s decision to truncate the Newcastle rail line at Wickham, a decision from which Mr Hawes stands to financially benefit”,
    • found that the HDC had “failed to adequately address Mr Hawes’ conflict of interest, and this failure had damaged public confidence in the integrity of the Corporation and public decision making in Newcastle and the broader Hunter region”,
    • strongly reiterated the committee’s earlier conclusion that “the truncation of rail services to Newcastle should not have proceeded on Boxing Day 2014”, and
    • repeated the committee’s concern that the decision to cut the rail line was “based upon a flawed cost benefit analysis, without an adequate business case” and was implemented before the start of construction of the proposed light rail replacement, which has “no defined completion date”.
    The Committee’s findings, recommendations and full report can be downloaded from the committee’s website at:

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