Environmental activists agree The future is now!

MidCoast Council residents and ratepayers cannot wait for another consultation or survey when it comes to the environment, sustainable practices and social justice. 

Longtime activists and concerned citizens gathered at the Manning Valley Uniting Church on Saturday, March 13 to participate in a grassroots process to determine the most urgent regional issues facing our local townships, rural districts and iconic bush and coastal landmarks. 

More than 30 people came from the far reaches of the amalgamated council area to share their ideas and enjoy an indoor picnic at the church hall. Hosted by the Manning-Great Lakes Greens, the Environmental Revival Picnic was a chance to hear from speakers, connect with others and determine the top campaign issues they would like to see addressed by local council candidates ahead of the September 4 election. 

Aunty Pam Saunders of the Biripi people welcomed those gathered to her grandmother’s country. She congratulated them for looking after the environment.  Aunty Pam shared her memories of the annual, six-week camps at Saltwater National Park, where as a child she and others were given a small, baby possum to take care of during their stay. “They hung off our fingers by their little tails and they were beautiful.” she remembered. 

Other speakers on the day were Susie Russell from the North East Forest Alliance, Jessica Leck from MidCoast and Tops Landcare, Katrina Paterson, independent council candidate and MidCoast Community Matters social media administrator and Leonie McGuire, past manager of the now defunct Taree Women’s Refuge.  Former Taree City Councillor Helen Hannah and former Gloucester mayor and councillor Julie Lyford also attended the picnic, adding relevant comments and questions throughout the day. 

Compere Dheera Smith divided the attendees into picnic table buzz groups to discuss and report back on focus questions. As participants strove to identify their top priorities, cups of tea and supplies from their covid-safe, BYO picnic baskets kept them going. 

“The people who took the time to attend were the stars of the day,”Smith said. “When they got up and reported the results of their discussions, it was really gratifying to see so much agreement about what matters around the region.” 

While a full list of the top issues will be posted on the Manning Great Lakes Greens FB page and Greens for Local Council 2021, FB page, the overriding feeling on the day was one of urgency. 

Steve Ballantine of Greenpoint, summed this up in his group’s summary report. “No matter which issue we talked about today–It was clear the future is now,” Ballantine said. 

Manning-Great Lakes Greens hope to facilitate further discussions for the community before the September elections. 

The group is actively seeking Greens candidates for the MidCoast council elections. For more information contact the Convenor on greensmgl@gmail.com. 

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