GREENS candidate Jonathan Cassell has this morning announced his campaign to contest the state seat of Coffs Harbour, pledging to donate part of his parliamentary wage, if elected, to local youth.

Mr Cassell, a 42-year-old local high school teacher and environmental activist, said as a newly elected local MP he would look to assist local school leavers, who face the state's highest youth unemployment rates of 22% in the Coffs Clarence.

"I am serious about empowering Coffs Harbour's youth and I have made a personal pledge that if elected I will donate half of my salary to finding positive outcomes for young people," Mr Cassell said.

"Local MPs earn around $165,000 a year.

"Over three years, that should be at least a $200,000 boost for our youth.

Greens candidate for seat of Coffs Harbour Jonathan Cassell.
Greens candidate for seat of Coffs Harbour Jonathan Cassell. TREVOR VEALE

"I'm a high school teacher, I see what's going on with our youth, they walk out in Year 10 believing they will simply walk into a job," he said. 

"With such high youth unemployment it's just not that easy.

"So I'd like to see part of the wage going to setting up youth leadership programs, as I get a lot of joy out of seeing our community thrive.

"We need strong young leaders coming through the ranks. We have big issues facing our population. I'm making good money as a teacher and I'm not looking to go into politics for short term personal gain.

Mr Cassell, as the Greens candidate for Coffs Harbour, said he would be campaigning strongly on the need to introduce the Great Koala National Park proposal on the Coffs Coast, which would effectively see State Forests locked up for koala conservation.

"Koalas and adventure-based tourism will be a big drawcard for visitors to Coffs Harbour," he said.

"It's not at Byron Bay, its not down at Port Macquarie, its right here at Coffs Harbour and we need to grab this opportunity at this election."

Justin Field, a NSW Greens MLC, is in Coffs Harbour this week to support Mr Cassell's candidacy.

"We stand at a fork in road. Action on climate challenge is urgent and is a priority for the Greens," Mr Field said.

"There are huge opportunities for this region is terms of new jobs in sustainable agriculture and tourism from acting to protect nature, restoring forests and creating a great Koala National Park, and moving to regenerative land management. Action on climate change is win, win, win for the Coffs Community."

"I know that Jonathan has the passion and the energy to take these ideas forward as a local representative and to be a genuine community voice in the NSW Parliament," he said.  

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