Sue Abbott: Greens candidate for the Upper Hunter envisions an electrified future

Filed in Just In by April 21, 2021

“PASSENGER trains are far more important than coal trains,” said Sue Abbott, Greens candidate for the Upper Hunter by-election at Singleton Train station today as she advocated for a permanent increase to the number of passenger trains in Singleton and considered potential conflicting timetables between passenger trains and coal trains.

 Ms Abbott balked at suggestions of clashing timetable priorities between passenger trains and coal trains and said people must receive priority over coal trains. “We’re people and we really have to have priority over coal trains”, she said.

The Greens have long supported an increase in passenger trains for people of the Upper Hunter and Ms Abbot used to catch the train in the early morning from Scone to Newcastle when she was studying for her law degree.

“It’s great to have the ‘Two New Trains’ pilot here because it gives the people of Singleton more opportunity as well as people in Scone and the Upper Hunter in general but it needs to be permanent,” Ms Abbott said.

“Not everyone has access to a car and Singleton is less than 80km from Newcastle.  People will use a service when they know it is dependable. As more of us become aware of the importance of reducing our carbon footprint, it is critical that convenient public transport options are available to everyone,” she said.

She also commended the ‘Two New Trains for Singleton’ advocacy group for successfully negotiating a trial period of one year, now extended due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ms Abbott then turned her focus to electric trains as part of an electrified future.

“Climate change has been something I’ve been passionate about for a long time and whether you’d like to admit it or not, it’s here and we’re already facing the catastrophic changes that are happening to our lives and to modern society as know it. We need to address it and decarbonise industry,” she said.

“We have to start thinking about lowering our emissions because if we continue, it will be disastrous.”

To that end, Ms Abbott suggested actions individuals in the electorate could take to reduce emissions in their daily lives.

“First up, vote for me because the Greens are the only party who are actually facing climate change and what we need to do. We’re the only party that’s calling to decarbonise industry and once we build the renewable infrastructure, we can electrify things. So you can then look at the Greens Deal,  we can decarbonise transport. You’ve got electric trains, electric cars, electric fleets. That’s essential,” she said.

For Ms Abbott she acknowledges it was good for individuals to take small steps to reduce emissions in their daily lives however policy change is needed in order for electrification to be enshrined in legislation.

“Air quality is a big factor. Here in Singleton and Muswellbrook. People are basically dying from shocking air quality and nothing happens. If we have changes in legislation, we can hold the big polluters to account and they’re not being held to account,” she said.

“Internationally, we have weak standards of air pollution in Australia. We breach it all the time and nothing happens. We had a clean air act that came out in 1961 that was repealed in the 1990s at the behest of the fossil fuel companies and we’ve been left rudderless ever since.”

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is seeking feedback on the draft NSW Clean Air Strategy and welcomes community input. Ms Abbott is way ahead of the game and said she had already provided feedback and also wants to form a Clean Air Commission.

“We need a Clean Air Act.  The Environmental Pollution Agency is not good enough, it’s a toothless tiger.”

If you want to provide feedback on the draft NSW Clean Air Act to improve air quality and minimise the adverse effects on human health, you can have your say here.

Ms Abbott also called for a train station to be built close to the new Maitland Hospital in 2022. The nearest train station to the hospital is 2.7km away and The Greens want a new station built next to the hospital.


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