Candidate Canvass: Anne Martinelli – Greens Candidate for Northcote
What would be the single most pressing issue in your electorate?
There are many issues concerning Northcote voters, but they all come back to one thing. And that’s that our area, in Labor’s heartland of the northern suburbs, has been taken for granted for too long. As a result we have schools bursting at the seams as they struggle to cope with our population growth and the prospect of all of our high schools being full by 2016.
We have overcrowded and infrequent public transport because there’s been no real investment in expanding the system in decades. We have skyrocketing house prices that are driving people out of our community, but the new development taking place is inappropriate and out of touch with community needs. And we have a community that’s active on sustainability issues like water and climate change but is disillusioned with a government that’s building a desalination plant instead of investing in sustainable alternatives, and is planning to build a new coal-fired power station while at the same time making a token commitment to closing down ¼ of Hazelwood, Victoria’s dirtiest power station.
What would you hope to achieve for your electorate in the coming term?
I’d like to see other options apart from a new road (including public transport to the eastern suburbs), put on the table as solutions to the congestion problem on the Chandler Highway bridge. I’d like to see a commitment to a new high school in the northern suburbs. I’d like to see the establishment of a single, accountable Public Transport Authority to run our PT system for public benefit. And I’d like to see the Greens plan for returning democracy, clarity, sustainability and integrity to our planning system so that we can ensure future development meets community expectations.
What would you hope to contribute to Victoria as a parliamentarian?
I’ve lived in Northcote for 15 years and have strong local connections and understanding of local needs. As a Parliamentarian I would be in a position to represent the views of my constituents and voice an alternative opinion to the usual line on most issues trotted out by the old parties. I have a background in agricultural science and sustainable water policy and would be able to make a contribution to rethinking Victoria’s current approach to water security which is heavily dependent on massively expensive and environmentally destructive options such as the desalination plant and the north-south pipeline.
Do you believe in anthropogenic climate change and should we act on it?
There is no doubt that anthropogenic climate change is real, and that if we don’t act urgently to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide to below 350ppm we are facing massive environmental and social disruption in coming decades. We need to act now – to replace coal-fired electricity with renewable energy and create new jobs in coal-dependent communities, to rapidly upgrade the water and energy efficiency of our houses to reduce emissions and protect low-income households from rising prices, and to reduce energy demand across the whole economy to make the task of replacing coal-fired electricity with renewable energy more achievable. And we need to make sure that all government decisions face a ‘climate test’ so that we avoid the current situation where token effort on emissions reductions in one area (like closing ¼ of Hazelwood power station) are immediately cancelled out by decisions in another policy area (like supporting the construction of the new HRL coal-fired power station).
What are your thoughts on Victoria’s water security?
The Brumby Government’s emphasis on large-scale, expensive and energy-intensive infrastructure like the desalination plant is the wrong way to go. The desalination plant will produce such a vast oversupply of water (150 billion litres per year) that it will completely undermine the good work Victorians have done in the last decade to change our water use habits, and destroy local businesses and jobs in areas like the rainwater tank industry. And because the contract with the consortium building the desalination plant is secret, Victorians have no idea how much of the (very expensive) water we will be obliged to buy, or whether we have options for operating the plant more flexibly (so as to only produce water when/if we need it).
Two years ago I co-authored a plan for securing Melbourne’s water future by making much better use of the rain that falls on Melbourne itself (which is about what we take each year from other catchments), by improving the water efficiency of both new and existing homes (particularly low income households) and businesses, and by looking at practical options for using the 100 billion litres a year of recycled water that is currently discharged straight to sea. You can find this report at: http://www.environmentvictoria.org.au/library/water-security-healthy-rivers-our-vision-melbourne
What are the public transport needs in your electorate?
We have serious problems of infrequent and overcrowded trains on the Epping and Hurstbridge lines, which could be fixed by duplication of the remaining single line sections of the Hurstbridge line and smarter timetabling to unlock spare capacity in the City Loop. We have problems of lack of connectivity between trains, trams and buses so that services meet each other almost by accident. And we are seeing more and more traffic passing through Northcote each day from the eastern and northern suburbs that have no public transport. After decades of waiting, we need a rail line up the Doncaster Freeway and a rail extension to the growth area of Mernda in the City of Whittlesea. We need to establish a strong, accountable Public Transport Authority to bring together the currently fragmented parts of our franchised PT system to bring timetabling expertise and coordination back into the system to improve connectivity and unlock spare capacity, and to plan infrastructure investment into the future so that service delivery catches up to and continues to meet the needs of our growing population.
Do you support gay marriage?
Yes, along with the majority of Victorians I support the notion that all couples regardless of sexuality should have the same rights under the law.
What do you feel has been your greatest achievement in life (family not included)?
I’ve worked in the non-government and community sector (in the environment and international development fields) most of my career, and feel I have been able to make a contribution to the important work these often under-resourced organizations do to develop and advocate for sustainable and fair solutions to the challenges we face, particularly climate change.