Labor candidate for Page, Janelle Saffin, and shadow minister for environment, climate change and water Mark Butler, have held six community forums across the Northern Rivers during April and May. Last week, Ms Saffin and Mr Butler met with Clarence Valley people at Iluka and Grafton, where residents were invited to ask questions about Labor’s “positive” plans for the environment, and its strategy for tackling issues such as CSG, climate change and renewable energy. Iluka residents raised local issues such as koala protection and the proposed port development for Yamba. The proponent of this project, Des Euen (A.I.A. – Australia), is due to hold a public meeting at the Casino RSM on Thursday May 2, from 10.30am to 4pm, to discuss the Yamba port proposal, among a raft of infrastructure proposals for NSW. Mr Butler and Ms Saffin discussed how Labor’s plans to ensure 50 per cent of Australia’s energy would be sourced from renewables by 2030. “The thing we know is that, almost without exception, renewable energy investment and [associated] jobs flow to regional Australia,” Mr Butler said. “You don’t build big renewable projects in the cities, they are all out in the regions and they create economic activity.” Mr Butler and Ms Saffin also announced that a Labor government would extend the current water trigger legislation to “provide greater protection for local water resources”. “When in government, Labor added a water trigger to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to cover CSG and large coal mining developments,” Ms Saffin said. “Labor will expand this trigger to make sure that shale and other unconventional gas mining projects are subject to the same level of rigorous assessment.” Mr Butler praised Ms Saffin and fellow MP Justine Elliot for “their unrelenting persistence that delivered the federal water trigger legislation”. Mr Butler pointed out that NSW Labor was committed to repealing the NSW Government’s protest laws, “which threaten to gaol peaceful protesters for periods of up to seven years for nothing more than protesting CSG and other unwanted mining activity in NSW”.