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Kobi Shetty, the Greens Member for Balmain

Now that Kobi Shetty MP has had a few months to settle into the swing of things in State politics Neighbourhood Media took some time to chat with Kobi, so that we could all get to know her a little better.

Kobi Shetty Greens Balmain

Australian politics has undergone a raft of changes over the past year. From a new Prime Minister at the Federal level to a new Premier at the State level, and a plethora of new Parliamentary Members across NSW. One such new representative at the State level is Balmain’s own Kobi Shetty, who was elected as the Green representative in the place of the departing Jamie Parker.

Who is Kobi Shetty?

We started off our conversation with Kobi by trying to understand who she is away from the crazy world of politics. It was here that we learned Kobi’s guiding force for almost all of her decisions is her family & young children.

“I'm not spending too much time away from politics at the moment, to be honest, but I've got three little kids who are in primary school,” explained Kobi. “Outside of politics, I’m just trying to spend time with my family. We enjoy going to places like the Orange Grove markets or having some walks around the Balmain Peninsula and Glebe.”

Family has always been an important part of Kobi’s life, so much so that her Father was in fact one of her biggest inspirations to get involved in politics.

“I always knew that I wanted to do some sort of community service,” Kobi told Neighbourhood Media. “My dad was a firefighter for over 30 years and I thought he was amazing. He really loved his job and I think the thing he loved the most about it was just that sort of community service element. So I always felt like I wanted to do something to give back to my community.”

Ultimately it was the arrival of her children that influenced Kobi to give up a successful career in fraud protection & embark on a political campaign.

“When I had my kids I just got really concerned about the urgency of the climate crisis and felt like there wasn't enough happening. So I wanted to try and get involved and make a difference.”

Kobi Shetty Gets Into Sydney Politics

Kobi’s entry point into politics was initially at the local level as a member of the Inner West Council, a position she still holds today. And, while Kobi loves that role in the local community when the opportunity to enter the NSW Legislative Council presented itself with Jamie Parker’s retirement Kobi jumped at it.

“This was a really unexpected opportunity when Jamie Parker decided to retire from politics. And I just thought what a great chance to get in there and try and make a difference. In particular in the Inner West, as soon as I moved there, I really felt like that community and I had the same values. I just feel so grateful that I get to do this work and represent my community in parliament.”

Now that Kobi is entrenched in the day-to-day of politics she’s obviously a very busy woman. However, she maintains a clear focus on some key areas that her constituency considers to be of high priority.

  • Public Transport

  • Housing Affordability & Development

  • Westconnex Exhaust Stack Filtration

Kobi Shetty MP for Greens at podium

Kobi Shetty on Public Transport

On the topic of public transport Kobi explained to Neighbourhood Media that this is an issue that needs to be tackled on multiple fronts. First & foremost Kobi says our vision for city planning needs to evolve.

“I'd really like to see governments create different cities… to try and get people out of their cars and just move away from that really car-centric design of cities. I find Sydney to be so bad when it comes to car-centric design,” explained Kobi. “In my community in particular, we've had WestConnex, which has really torn the community apart and there's been so much destruction & it's really undermined the safety for pedestrians as well. I think there's so much work that we can do as a government to make our cities safer for people who want to ride or walk or improve the public transport connections so that we can have that city of the future instead of just continuing to build these toll roads.”

Improving the public transport options in the Inner West is in itself a two-fold conundrum. Buses in the Inner West continue to be a major concern, as does the new Glebe Ferry according to Kobi.

“With the buses, there's clearly a lot of work that needs to be done,” said Kobi. “Right now my focus is really on pushing the government to bring the buses back into public ownership in 2026 when the contracts expire for this region. But in the interim, I’m working with them to try and fix some of those service issues, such as restoring routes that had been cut or trying to get bus stops put back in where they've been removed and trying to make sure that the services are actually good.”

In regards to the Glebe Ferry Kobi is also very ambitious in her plans.

“The Glebe ferry is fantastic and it's been really popular, but we really need to get it onto the Opal network… If you've got clunky services that make people pay twice or people don't understand how they work, then it's just going to undermine it and make fewer people likely to use it.

“I'm also working with the government to get additional stops in Annandale and Pyrmont. While it would be really good to increase that we want to make sure that adding those stops doesn't blow the time out. So they really need to look to getting a second vessel to make sure that the services can run on a reliable timetable that's still going to be useful for people.”

Kobi Shetty on Housing

In order to tackle the housing affordability crisis sweeping the nation Kobi envisions a two-pronged approach as a solution.

In the shorter term, Kobi believes NSW needs to introduce a system of rent control to prevent exorbitant rent increases.

“We need to see rent control so that rent increases can be capped at a reasonable level. I don't think it's unreasonable for people to have their rent increased a little bit, but we're seeing people in this electorate who are emailing me saying that their rent's jumping up $200 a week. Those people are then either stuck paying it or they're thrown back into the rental market trying to compete with just an unbelievable amount of people to get a new property that's probably too expensive anyway for what it is. So it's just out of control and something needs to be done.”

Then in the longer term, Kobi would like to see a greater focus from the Government on building affordable housing, while also adding a requirement for all private developments to include a proportion of long-term affordable housing.

“We're really pushing the government to invest in public housing,” said Kobi enthusiastically. “I think too, there's a really big piece to try and make sure the government are making developers have a proportion of housing that's actually affordable. This means that the affordable housing portion of these developments needs to be in perpetuity & also not be pegged to an inflated rental market rate, otherwise it’s not actually affordable for anybody.”

Greens member Kobi Shetty MP talks to constituents

Kobi Shetty on Westconnect Exhaust Stack Filtration

Lastly, Westconnex remains a major talking point & point of contention for Inner West residents. The last sticking point being the decision to not include any filtration in the exhaust stacks attached to the tunnel.

As Kobi told Neighbourhood Media, while she has received some new commitments from the Government on this front it’s still a work in progress.

“What we have managed to secure from the government is a commitment that they'll undertake a review by the chief scientist… Frustratingly though, the government has been really dragging their feet on actually coming through with it. So I've been really pushing them to try and get a commitment about the scope of that review, the timelines and how the community can feed into that process.”

When we enquired what led to the decision to build the stacks without filtration Kobi answered by saying, “We've never been given costings, but I do understand it was a cost-based decision… unfortunately, like so many other things that decision isn't taking into account the cost of public health implications… Governments aren't very good at calculating externalities and understanding that what it doesn't cost the WestConnex team to put into a filtration system in an exhaust sack then ends up costing New South Wales Health millions of dollars down the track. So I think it's a pretty narrow-minded approach.”

Kobi Shetty Email and Contact

If you'd like to contact Kobi Shetty, go to her email and contact page here.

By Jamie Apps


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