Labor candidate Jeffrey Quinn says Labor has a focused policy platform for Pittwater.

Standing for Pittwater at the NSW Election, Jeffrey Quinn is keen to grab attention back from the Teal candidates and remind people that Labor is the only real alternative party of government.

Jeffrey Quinn, Labor candidate for Pittwater

The 64-year-old lifelong Pittwater resident and Labor supporter says that his political outlook was formed from an early age.

“I grew up in North Narrabeen, and when I was a grommet I was really worried about conscription for Vietnam. A lot of older guys I looked up to would disappear, they were being conscripted. That freaked me out, and I’ve been a Labor voter since I was 18.

“The Whitlam era changed my life because I was the second person in my family to ever go to university thanks to free education. I was a barman, a bouncer, an interstate truck driver, a piano removalist, a storeman and packer, a painter, a farm labourer.

“I did everything. I travelled around and lived on a kibbutz in Israel and worked in a power station in England. When I came back to Australia just before I was 22, I thought I wanted to be a teacher.

“I was working with this older guy, and we carried a piano into the back of the truck. He grabbed me and said, ‘You’re smart. You’ve got a brain. What are you doing this for?'” recalled Mr Quinn.

Jeffrey Quinn, Labor candidate for Pittwater

“I would still be driving trucks without Gough Whitlam making tertiary education free. I could not have even considered paying for tertiary education, it was outside my frame of reference.

“I applied to be a teacher and got accepted into a primary education course at Lismore. I went from a world of truck drivers to university,” said Mr Quinn.

A mentor at university suggested he balance his course work with work experience, and he found employment with Biala, a disability support service on the North Coast of NSW.

“I’d gone from this macho world where it was all tough blokes, to a learning environment with an entirely different culture. I didn’t know if I fit in. Someone suggested I get work as a teacher aide.

“I got several months work at Biala Special School in Ballina. I had to change nappies, I had to work with kids who were on the edge of dying, kids with spina bifida, kids with mental health and development issues.

“I started to see how important what I was doing was, I knew that I could teach and be part of that society that inculcates those attitudes and values and actively work to help people get through the system, learn and love learning like I did,” explained Mr Quinn.

Jeffrey Quinn, Labor candidate for Pittwater

Returning to Pittwater, Mr Quinn found work as a primary school teacher at Bilgola Plateau Public School, where he remained for a decade, and subsequently started a tutoring business that has now helped over 8,000 students over 20 years.

He says he became more involved in politics a decade ago, joining the Labor Party. Mr Quinn says Labor is the only party with a genuine alternative policy platform to address the real life issues faced by the community in Pittwater, including transport, health and education.

Jeffrey Quinn, Labor candidate for Pittwater

Mr Quinn says that transport infrastructure is a major issue for Pittwater, and he now has a firm commitment from Shadow Minister for Roads John Graham, to address the Wakehurst Parkway.

“Although the road itself is in Wakehurst, the road is critical to people in Pittwater. We are the people out here who use it. Labor understands now much better than they did how important it is, because Sue Wright (Labor candidate for Wakehurst) and I have been talking to them about it.

“The residents of Pittwater really need the Wakehurst Parkway. If I get elected, I’m going to be pushing for a land bridge across the flood areas. A permanent fix, not just something where we build the road up, but something that’ll fix it for 100 years, that will allow wildlife to go underneath that when it’s not flooding, but when it’s flooding, we’ll still be able to get out,” said Mr Quinn.

He also wants to see free public transport for bus drivers reinstated, saying the costs of getting to work for drivers is a huge disincentive to work on the Northern Beaches, especially when the wages do not cover the cost of living here.

Jeffrey Quinn, Labor candidate for Pittwater

A career educator, Mr Quinn says he wants to see Northern Beaches schools receive a much-needed boost to funding for maintenance.

“There’s a maintenance difficulty that’s been there for years, and have deteriorated over a great period of time, because we’re not funding public education.

“I had the same problem when I was the head of the Sydney Japanese [International] School at Terrey Hills. We have to maintain public assets. If we let them deteriorate, we lose value that could be here for centuries ahead.

“On the teaching side of it, we’ve got to look at the curriculum and start to think about what we’re teaching. We need to balance a liberal education and a utilitarian education. We can’t have an overflow of liberal work, and we can’t just educate for a job.

“We don’t want to teach the sabertooth tiger curriculum, where the village used to have a problem with sabertooth tigers, so they taught the kids how to kill sabertooth tigers. 100 years later, the kids ask, ‘Why do we have to learn about sabertooth tigers?’

“We have got to think about what we’re teaching in schools, and it has to be relevant to the kids of today and prepare them for a future that we don’t know about,” said Mr Quinn.

Jeffrey Quinn, Labor candidate for Pittwater

A member of the Save Mona Vale Hospital Committee, Mr Quinn says his views on retaining a Level 4 hospital at Mona Vale are based on his multi-generational history in the area, plus having an eye to the future.

“I remember seeing the guys like Arthur Duckworth, who were on the Board back in the 60s and 70s, and what a remarkable job they all did to make Mona Vale Hospital a shining light in those years. Then as time went on, it was underfunded, and it just started to deteriorate.

“If we have a disaster on this coast, we’re really not prepared and that’s across the board. I want to see more ambulance services based here. We need to have the ability to look after people if they get hurt.

“We need a Level 4 hospital with flexibility to cater for the needs of the society that’s here. We’ve got some palliative care, but I’d love to have an oncology unit and things that really relate to an ageing population,” said Mr Quinn.

Jeffrey Quinn, Labor candidate for Pittwater

Electrification is also a passion for Jeffrey Quinn, who wants to see the energy and planning systems transformed to make Pittwater a world leader in renewable energy and sustainability.

“I’d love to see batteries, I’d love to see every house with a solar panel. I’d love to investigate generating electricity through our sewer and tidal systems. I want to investigate hydrogen as an alternative fuel for when the wind’s not blowing and it’s raining. I want to make Pittwater a world leader in electrified suburbs.

“I want to build that into a system that looks at our planning, so that we’re not turning this place into a concrete jungle. I want to create a planning system that allows for affordable housing and allows for people to do what they really want on their property, but in a sustainable and regenerative way.

“I want to be able to live in an area, and have my grandkids live in an area, where there are koalas in the trees, where there are bandicoots running around and making holes in the ground, where you hear cicadas because there’s enough trees for them to live in.

“I want to see Pittwater full of bream like it used to be when I was a kid, I want to catch slimy mackerel off Church Point. I want the kids of the future to have what I had. I want to see a planned world where we could live like the First Nations did, in sync and feeling like they belonged in an environment that is sustained by the people who live in it,” shared Mr Quinn.

The NSW Election will be held on Saturday, 25 March 2023.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate

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