The Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Post Candidates Forum on Thursday 16 March, 2023 at the Greengate Hotel

Submitted by jrobens on Sat, 18 Mar 2023 - 08:40

3-minute (337/ 450 words) 

Acknowledgement of Country.  I wish to pay my respects to the traditional owners of the land where we meet tonight and pay my respects to the Darramarragal and Darug people.

My name is Janine Kitson and I am asking you to vote for me as your Independent Member for Davidson. 

I’ve grown up in this community.  I attended Gordon East Public School and Killara High School. I went on to become a teacher, teaching at Killara High School and Beaumont Road Public School, as well as schools across NSW. 

23 years ago I won an election to become a councillor on Ku-ring-gai Council.  There I fought overdevelopment. 

During that time I worked with the community to protect the heritage of Gordon Railway Station when lifts were placed there in 2004.  To this day they are one of the best looking lift upgrades on the North Shore line.

I also worked with the community to protect the largest and most intact Blue Gum High Forest in St Ives.   

Following my term on Ku-ring-gai Council I went on to volunteer and hold executive positions with nearly every significant environment group in NSW.

I have initiated, written, planned, researched and led hundreds of walks and talks highlighting the values of heritage and the environment - not only Davidson but for NSW.    

In recent times I worked to protect the beautiful and fragile landscape known as the Gardens of Stone near Lithgow.  An extraordinarily challenging campaign because we had to convince coal miners that it was a win-win for them.                                                                                                            

What passions drive me?  I am driven to protecting the environment and solving the crises of our times - climate change, biodiversity collapse and ever widening inequality. 

Why am I seeking election?  I want to build on my lifetime commitment to public service.

I stood as a 'standalone' Independent in the 2022 Bradfield Federal Election.

I cannot waste that experience.  Besides I never give up.

I seek your support.  Let’s make history.  Let’s get an Independent for Davidson.

Do you support the refurbishment of Marian Street Theatre? How would you assist in funding it?    

2 minute (293/300 word) answer 

As a teacher whose profession background is steeped in the educational benefits of drama and theatre education of course I support the refurbishment of Marian Street Theatre.

However the refurbishment of Marian Street Theatre is a local government issue.

However many local issues have connections to the NSW and Federal Government - particularly through funding policies.       

Ku-ring-gai Council is under enormous financial pressure.  The NSW Government is well known to push local governments to consider strategic asset sales, ie, flogging off community land to fund their projects.

The Marian Street Theatre refurbishment project is worthy of support from local, state and federal government.  They have an excellent case to receive grant money from the NSW Government. 

However I am not going to stand here and tell you how I would assist in the funding of this project. This should be done through a proper and transparent process by experts in funding for the Arts.

I am tired of the allegations of pork barrelling by the NSW Government and especially announcements on the eve of the election to win votes.

We do not want the rorting of sports grants, arts grants and bushfire relief funds.  We should not use them to wedge one community group against another.  Strong whole–of–government guidelines are needed to ensure grants do not breach public trust, entrench unethical behaviour and lead to corrupt conduct.

ICAC has made 21 recommendations to help prevent or better regulate pork barrelling and if elected I will work to ensure they are legislated.   

If you are tired of the same old, same old.  Too many politicians doing backroom deals and rorting the system, it’s time to change your vote and vote for an Independent. Vote 1.  Janine Kitson.

2. A key concern in the Davidson Electorate is the preservation of its bushland and greenery. How will you advocate for this?

2 minute (235/ 300 words) answer  

Davidson contains some of the best 20th Century domestic architecture in the nation. But what is so unique about this architecturally rich landscape is that it is set amongst trees, gardens, towering Blue Gums, bushland and greenery.   Yet more and more houses are being bulldozed and transformed into hard concrete surfaces.   

Davidson is surrounded by three national parks - Garigal, Ku-ring-gai and Lane Cove.  Yet 194 hectares of pristine bushland in Belrose adjoining Garigal has been earmarked for industrial rezoning that would devastate not only Garigal but the bushland that connects it to St Ives, East Killara and East Lindfield. 

If we want to protect Davidson’s environment then we need to reform NSW’s Planning Laws.  They put profit before environmental protection.  They allow developers to bypass democratically elected local governments to get what they want.

We also need to reform NSW’s Environment Laws.  The Liberal’s environment laws have been an unmitigated disaster that has accelerated land clearing, habitat loss and extinction.  They have failed to end logging of native forests the final last haven for koalas. 

Davidson’s environment is of national and global significance.  Nowhere else in a global city is there such pristine bushland, Aboriginal heritage and wildlife. 

The Liberal’s planning and environment laws have failed to protect the places and wildlife we love.                                                                       

It’s time to give an Independent a chance to allow Davidson’s Blue Gums and bushland to survive into the future.     

We understand some of you have been to St Ives High school to see the transport and infrastructure issues at St Ives High - having seen these issues firsthand, what will you do to address them?

2 minute (291/ 300 words) answer 

It is the NSW Government’s responsibility to provide families with the transport to get their children to and from school in a timely, efficient and safe manner. 

I have to say I am totally perplexed as to why this problem has not been resolved. 

Why hasn’t someone in government ordered more school buses for St Ives High School? That’s their job.

This school bus saga shines a light on other important issues - such as the need for better public transport for not just St Ives, but for the whole of Davidson.  And let’s not forget it is this Liberal Government who privatised our public buses.

This school bus debacle also shines a light on the inadequacy of funding for NSW schools and the failure of the Liberal government to address the teacher shortage crisis. Teachers are burnt out.  They can no longer sustain the excessive workloads that have been forced on them.  Over 3000 permanent teaching positions are now vacant in NSW public schools causing disruption to students’ learning. 

We have a government who can’t do their job.  They have literally thrown students, parents and teachers under the bus. 

I’d love to finish with singing one of my favourite children’s song “The wheels of the bus go round and round” - something that I sang to the delight of the many young children I was privileged to teach.  This time I am asking you to think of new words for that song.  Perhaps “The wheels of the government are falling off, falling off, falling off, all year round”?

It’s time to vote for a true independent.  Someone who is committed to representing the real people of NSW - its children, its parents and its teachers. Thank you.  Vote 1.  Janine Kitson.