The Nature Conservation Council urges all candidates in the Upper Hunter by-election to put climate change, air quality, the protection of wildlife habitat, and river health at the top of their agendas.
"Climate change is the number-one economic and environmental challenge facing communities of the Upper Hunter and Liverpool Plains, so all candidates need to make clear what they will do for the region on climate," Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.
"Any candidate who does not have climate change at the top of their platform is not really representing the true interests of the community.
"All candidates need a plan for meaningful action to cut emissions, and ensure that Hunter communities have a realistic pathway to new economic opportunities in a low carbon economy.
"Change is coming to the Upper Hunter, one way or another. These changes could be very positive, or they could be very negative - it all depends on how our politicians and governments handle it.
"So far, the major parties are putting the Upper Hunter on the road to ruin by refusing to deal frankly with climate change and the decline of the coal industry.
"The coal and electricity generation industries in the Upper Hunter contribute more than any other electorate to climate change in NSW, so it must play a leading role in slashing our state's emissions.
"It is not fair to expect people in this region to carry the burden of that alone, which is why we are calling on the NSW Government to establish a Community and Industry Transition Fund and Transition Authority."
Mr Gambian said candidates must also advocate strongly to improve very poor air quality in some parts of the electorate, and support measures to reverse the decline in native bushland and species under threat from logging and land clearing for mines, farming and urban development.
The Nature Conservation Council calls on all candidates to support the following measures:
End the expansion of coal and gas
Improve local air quality
Protect, restore and reconnect wildlife habitat
Restore rivers and wetlands
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