Action is only option
On Australia Day, I was pleased to accept the inaugural award of Port Stephens Environmental Citizen of the Year.
I see it as recognition of the important work of the community organisations with which I am involved - EcoNetwork Port Stephens, Tomaree Ratepayers and Residents Association, Climate Action Port Stephens, Port Stephens Greens and Nelson Bay Civic Pride, among others.
These all-volunteer organisations share a common purpose - protection and enhancement of our precious environment.
The award, and those to Plastic Free Port Stephens founder Alicia Cameron and the Mambo Wanda Wetlands Reserve and Landcare Committee, also hopefully foreshadow a long overdue shift in priorities by Port Stephens Council.
Many of us believe that all levels of government need to show leadership in adopting a new model of sustainable development.
The evermore apparent consequences of human induced climate change are only the latest warning of how 'business as usual' is no longer an option. If we are serious about maintaining the biodiversity on which our long-term future depends, we urgently need to find a new relationship between humankind and the natural environment.
Science tells us that we must move quickly to reduce carbon emissions if we are to avoid catastrophic social disruption and economic costs. A just transition of our economies - local, regional, national and international - can and must provide an equitable future for all sections of society and age groups.
Port Stephens Council can play its part, by re-assessing its approach to the balance between development and the environment.
For too long, the council's leadership and culture have favoured traditional economic development over genuine environmental sustainability. Working together, our community can strike a better balance, striving for quality over quantity and a softer, greener future.
Many of us ask why, where development does take place, it so often involves clear felling and paving, with only token planting and dubious 'offsets'.
Increased stormwater runoff damages our roads and paths and pollutes our waterways. Habitat for endangered flora and fauna species is lost.
We know how to design and build better and more sustainably, and it need not cost much more than the current developments we see springing up all around us.
But it takes vision and leadership for the council to not only set and enforce higher standards, but also to push back against State government policies which are taking us into a bleak dystopian future where private profit too often trumps the public interest.
I call on more citizens of Port Stephens to become activists, to help achieve an alternative vision for our communities, which future generations will be able to thank, not blame, us for.
Nigel Waters, Nelson Bay
Also read: Letters to the Editor, January 23
Give mayor a chance
Not everyone is going to be happy with Councillors or the decisions they make.
This current council was elected by Port Stephens residents and should be allowed to carry out their duties for the betterment of all Port residents.
I have lived in the Bay for 39 years and in that time have seen many changes. I have not agreed at times with council decisions.
During those years I can assure you Bruce MacKenzie and now Ryan Palmer have been the most progressive mayors, at times maybe not the most popular, for Port Stephens.
So let's give the mayor and his elected council a fair go. Forget party politics and serve the people of Port Stephens.
If they don't perform there is always another election that's what the call democracy.
Gerry Mohan,Shoal Bay
IN OTHER NEWS