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Greens select Fiona Byrne as their candidate for Marrickville

Trevor Davies writes in the South Sydney Herald November 2006 that the SSH continue to provide profiles on candidates for the forthcoming State Election in March. In previous editions, we introduced the Member for Marrickville, Carmel Tebbutt, and Edward Mandla the Liberal part candidate for Sydney. Now we introduce Greens candidate Marrickville Councillor Fiona Byrne, chosen as their candidate after the withdrawal from the campaign of Marrickville councillor, Collin Hesse.

Fiona, born in Newtown to Irish migrants has lived in the inner west for much of her life. She works in book publishing, although she is currently at home raising her two daughters, Hannah and Eloise. During a four-year stint overseas, Fiona became active as a volunteer and, on her return to the Marrickville area with husband Ben, she has taken part in local charity fundraising, particularly youth-oriented projects. She revealed that it was the notorious Tampa election that persuaded her to join the Greens, adding that they stood for something.

The Greens have a good chance as there has been long term neglect of the state Seat of Marrickville. One of the things that Fiona feels passionate about, as a mother having to push prams around, is the lack of disabled access. “It came home to me when I was complaining to my mum about having to struggle up and down Erskineville Station with a pram because there is no disabled access. Mum said to me, ‘It was the same 30 years ago. Nothing has changed’.”

How did she respond to the Transport Minister’s announcement about Newtown? Fiona was cynical. She pointed out that it’s only a scoping study - a design study and there is no time-table for when we might see some movement.

Fiona pointed out there are about 10 or 11 stations in the State Electorate of Marrickville and not one has a lift. She went on to say, “I know of a guy who has a wheel chair and goes from Marrickville to the city. The station at Marrickville has no lifts but the station on the side going west is flat. Going early, he goes west to Lidcome, which has lifts and then comes east into the city. It takes him three times as long and now, with the new time table, it takes much longer. People want action, not just scope studies.”

The other issue concerning Fiona is the Port Botany expansion. She argues that this has major consequences for the Marrickville electorate: “There has been no comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment. While the assessment of the Port itself actually only included 15% of actual external impact (the rest was over water or the current site), there was no assessment of the freight rail or road corridors. So there has been no consultation with people living along these lines. If they hit their target of 40% of the freight on rail they will need to run trains every 10 minutes 24 hours a day. These trains will have diesel locomotives which have no regulations on them with regard to emissions. This still leaves 60% of the freight to be moved by road to the distribution centres in West and South-West Sydney. The only way to get from Botany to the west is to come through Marrickville. Estimates show an increase in trucks through our area of up to 200 a day. This leaves the burden of increased noise and air pollution, and increased traffic conditions in the lap of the Marrickville community. This is an unfair burden to put on one of the most intensely populated areas of Sydney. When the ports at Newcastle and Port Kimble are eagerly looking for more work why has there been no comparative assessment of all NSW ports? This is a major State development which should not be allowed to go ahead and the Greens will continue to oppose it in every way we can.”

On Redfern issues

In her response she was quick to point out that Darlington and Redfern has just come into Marrickville. Her comment was that, “I’ve got a really good understanding of Marrickville because of my work on Council. I am learning about Redfern. The power of the Minister for Redfern-Waterloo is a concern. We support the Aboriginal Housing Company in their struggle for the Pemulwuy Project”.

Drugs policy

Fiona’s view is that, “Instead of throwing people into jail, we need to give them support services - to help them see what will happen to them if they proceed down that path. We support the expansion of the self-injection room into other areas. I don’t think we should be writing policy according to the Daily Telegraph.”

[South Sydney Herald November 2006]