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Greens councillor defects over West Byron

Crossed the floor: Byron Shire Greens Councillor Rose Wanchap

Crossed the floor: Byron Shire Greens Councillor Rose Wanchap

Hans Lovejoy

Byron  Cr Rose Wanchap has quit the Greens after crossing the floor on an urgency motion over the proposed West Byron development, siding with pro-development councillors against her own party to see the motion defeated.

Ms Wanchap has yet to return Echonetdaily‘s calls for comment.

During public access time at yesterday’s Byron Shire Council meeting, two community group members questioned whether she had a conflict of interest and should remove herself from the vote.

The renegade councillor and Byron Bay real estate agent was later tackled over the issue by a fellow Greens member outside the chamber.

Mayor Simon Richardson’s motion followed intense lobbying from the Byron Residents’ Group and was considered ‘urgent’ as the department of planning and environment is likely to make its decision within the next few weeks.

If approved, the planned estate of up to 1,100 dwellings in reclaimed wetlands would be the largest-ever development in Byron Shire.

Echonetdaily understands the motion will be re-presented at next month’s meeting but not as an urgency motion.

Tensions ran high during morning public access after the Byron Residents’ Group’s Cate Coorey and Philip Shine asked councillors whether, as a real estate agent,  it was a conflict of interest that Cr Wanchap was voting on the development’s future.

Cr Richardson called the question out of order owing to a recent change in policy, which sees questions not being accepted during public access.

Mr Shine, from the Byron Residents’ Group, later told Echonetdaily, ‘We are not casting aspersions on whether Cr Wanchap has any conflicts of interests, but we wanted to know what the parameters are’.

During a break following morning access, a squabble erupted after former Greens council candidate, Jim Beatson, accused Ms Wanchap of a conflict of interest – something she vehemently denied.

National Party councillor Chris Cubis intervened and an argument ensued outside the chambers.

During public access Byron Residents’ Group’s Cate Coorey made mention of 2,389 signatories to a petition asking local member Don Page to intervene and stop the rezoning.

‘Of those [signatories], more than half are from people in the 2481 or adjoining postcodes,’ she said.

But those concerns were not shared by councillors, with Crs Alan Hunter, Chris Cubis, Di Woods, Sol Ibrahim and Rose Wanchap winning the vote against mayor Simon Richardson, Crs Duncan Dey, Paul Spooner and Basil Cameron.

 

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43 responses to “Greens councillor defects over West Byron”

  1. Tim Shanasy says:

    Dear Rose Wanchap,
    If you don’t want to go down in history as the pivotal voter that catastrophically bottlenecks Byron Bay’s transport infrastructure for all time, then maybe it’s time, urgent time, for a re-think.
    Poor Byron is on its knees begging NOW.
    Please show some compassion for this beautiful little town that is already stressed to the hilt.
    Please reconsider.

  2. Rossco Phillips says:

    Another nail in the Byron coffin … After 40 years here I’m just about done … All the work we did in the nineties to get a council that truly represented the people, so Byron didn’t end up like the Gold Coast or Noosa … and look what this mob of ratbags is doing to one of the most beautiful places on Earth …!!! I’m disgusted ! Vale Byron Shire !

  3. Navhal Pols says:

    Wanchap and Hogan should join forces. OF COURSE she has a conflict of interests, come on.

  4. Paul Spooner says:

    For the public record I voted in support of the Mayor’s urgency motion.

  5. Anny Reed says:

    Dear Rose, why are you a councillor? Is it to sell real estate, or protect and promote the community’s interests? I’m not even asking why you’re a Greens councillor. I bet there are plenty of Greens asking that right now. But what possible reason can you have for crossing the floor to support a massive development that its clear will have huge negative impacts on the whole of Byron?

  6. Tim says:

    AUSTRALIA – Corrupt at all levels of government.

  7. Steven Frank says:

    Now maybe the waiters, baristas, and professional activists (unemployed) can find a place to rent for less than 3/4 of their paychecks.

  8. jacqueline Garland says:

    Many of us voted for Rose Wanchap as a Green. She is not a Green. She should resign, from the Greens and from council. False pretences..

    • Rod says:

      Dead right Jacqueline. She is not a Green. She should stand again, NOW, as a pro-development rep of the real estate lobby. How many votes would that get her?

    • Helene Sheean says:

      I don’t understand Rose Wanchap why you have done this! Where do you think the wildlife in those reclaimed wetlands is going to go? Under the wheels of the bulldozers?
      This is not in the best interest of Byron Shire residents either. This Shire needs to sort out it’s traffic problems.
      Everything points to you having self interest Why are you a GREEN? .

  9. Dhiraking says:

    What is going on there ?
    How are we going to cope with extra traffic ?
    Rose suggestion to bypass traffic via main beach , horrifies, me
    Does she want to destroy our byron feel ?
    Why ?

    • Rod says:

      What a great idea, to have a busy traffic artery between the Beach Hotel and the beach. What a great idea to put heavy traffic between Byron and its Bay. You’d have to be mad. Or pro-development at any cost.

  10. Bill Mackay says:

    Really really disappointing. We voted for a council that at 5-4 or 6-3 represents the best interests of shire residents. We did not vote for a council that puts self-interest or commercial imperatives first

  11. Sue Chakos says:

    What a complete surprise! Some one who will profit from real-estate development on a council…. Resign now Rose! Not a green councillor at all.

  12. JamesInBB says:

    This is sloppy journalism Hans.

    Firstly, what is an “urgency motion”? The article implies that these “pro-development councillors” and Rose were voting to fully support the plans for the development. Was it though?

    You’ve pretty clearly suggested that Rose is pro this entire development, but I would be surprised.

    Secondly, does the motion mean anything? It seems the decision is with the NSW Govt, so Council can pass whatever motions it likes, and they’re just symbolic.

    I’m not saying any of this is good or bad, but please be a bit more descriptive and explanatory in your articles…

  13. CHRIS ANDERSON says:

    Rose Wanchap now needs to resign from Council. She ran as a Green and then betrayed them so many times- voting against Marriage Equality, for rock walls at Bilongil and against the Green’s coastal planned retreat policy amongst other things. And now this travesty. She has never acted as Green or as a team player so should resign for fooling the voting public and not fulfilling her electoral mandate.

    • Sol Ibrahim, Byron Shire Councillor says:

      Readers, here is a typical example of factual errors being passed off as fact. Rose did not vote against marriage equality. The resolution in question had several components, including a statement of support, a plan to issue ‘marriage certificates’ and the so called ‘love park’. This latter part was not wholeheartedly supported by the gay community. Rose tried to have it removed from the resolution, but the Mayor refused. What Rose voted against was the ‘love park’, which has turned out to be a white elephant. There still is no ‘love park’, and there have been no moves from the community to see one established.

      There has not been a ‘vote’ on planned retreat. The CZMP is still being written. Retreat may have to happen in a few decades time. That does not mean we have to destroy the Belongil community today. The rock protection works going in now are designed for a 10 year life, which is how long the Byron Greens have been wasting public money on sandbags that are damaged and repaired every time there is a storm.

  14. Tim Hochgrebe says:

    Rose – Conflict of interest ! – you do not represent the people that elected you

  15. Our political system, at all levels, corrupts everyone it touches. Overwhelmingly, the most powerful force is business as usual and the mighty dollar.

  16. Mike says:

    It is pretty obvious Rose has been a trojan horse for developers for some time now. Her interests are her main motive by the looks. I am sure she hopes to make a motza from selling off Byron bay. Someone should buy her a pair of white shoes. What a totally revolting person! The only green she knows is the colour of money.

  17. Alison Crook says:

    It is appalling that ANY councillor would not support the motion.
    The last thing Byron needs is a development of the proposed size in the proposed location! Development gone crazy. And why would any Green support this development?

  18. Renee Engl says:

    VERY disappointed, Rose. We voted for you because we thought you were the real deal. West Byron is going to destroy what is left of the Byron “feel”!

  19. Toby Henderson says:

    At least Rose has done the right thing and quit The Greens. Clearly she doesn’t represent the Greens principles.

  20. Berenice Lancaster says:

    You are a total turncoat Rose. I voted green but you do not represent me. You need to think very clearly on what you will be doing to the future of our beautiful town and the bay. This is GREED not Green.

  21. Mary says:

    At the last council elections when I saw Rose Wanchap down as a green I thought to myself …this does not compute….real estate agent…green…. The two do not go together!!!!

  22. SHAME says:

    People of Byron we have been sold out for quite some time. Big developers have moved into town with their own agenda and lobbying councilors hard, an if they dont get their way then onto state government, they go. It seems that this council is going the way of the federal government that the bigger you are the more you get. Plus If the developers DA goes to the state government pay no section 94s, and yet with a rate base of 14,200 we the residents are expected to pay for increased use of infrastructure like traffic on third world roads, limited tip facilities, hospitals, schools, and water etc. West Byron is a travesty like many other major DA’s but this council has been set up by those big players to work for the haves, and not the have reason. Sad to say that the communities who elected councilors to represent said communities are not. Some are representing big players, self interests, money makers, and stuff the community. This council is not looking at the the requirements nor the law for these massive developments, it is sad to watch. I personally am ashamed of most of this council for being so unrepresentative of the people that voted them in

  23. louise doran says:

    I concur completely with the sentiments of Rossco-so many have worked so hard for so long to maintain some of the beautiful environment we’re fortunate to live in and feel completely betrayed by the Greens who allowed a real estate agent on to the Greens ticket knowing full well she would be elected. It’s not just the individual who should shoulder responsibility. What we’ve been lumbered with is not what people thought they were voting for. Shades of Phoney Tony.

    Other council candidates at the time, who have shown over many years they have the ethics, commitment and integrity to represent this community and our values, were treated shamefully by the same people who supported this fiasco.

  24. Peter says:

    Dear Rose, This a clear case of conflict of interest and you should have excluded yourself from voting. If this dreadful development goes ahead you will be in a position to profit from it. You did the right thing quitting the Greens now you should resign from Council as you were elected on false pretences. Now we all know your true colour, red.
    If this development sounds the death knell for an already stuffed Byron. It is in a wetlands for gods sake.

  25. Ben Ormonde says:

    Rose, clearly has a conflict of interest and definitely is not acting in the spirit of The Greens or in the best interests of Byron as a quiet, peaceful place that has been protected from greedy, speculative development. This is the thin end of the wedge for Byron land to be raped and exploited like the Gold Coast and Noosa. RIP BYRON.
    Rose has demonstrated a disgraceful betrayal the of passionate lovers of Byron and of Greens voters who trusted her to represent their heartfelt love of Byron in council.
    Rose needs to resign from council, resign her Greens membership or be expelled from the party.

  26. Sol Ibrahim, Byron Shire Councillor says:

    Does anyone who might in the future buy or sell a property at West Byron have a conflict of interest? What about the business owners who might sell their wares to the new residents? Are the unemployed or underemployed who want to work in the building industry subject to claims of self interest? What about the Koala Ecologist/Consultant who will get private work doing management plans, does she have a conflict of interest? And the landscape architect and horticulturalists who want to see West Byron covered in native trees and shrubs, do they have a self interest? Who’s left without any possible self interest? The retired, the happily unemployed? Finally, please look up Section 448 of the NSW Local Government Act. A Councillor will only have an interest in land being rezoned if that interest is proprietary (ie ownership). Making false accusations of conflict of interest are hurtful, unfair, and wrong. Is this the ethics of the Greens?

    • Kris Budden says:

      Sol,
      A good place to start is to disclose our own interests first – so, I am a member of Byron Greens and work for an IT company that has no business in the shire. I have no significant financial investments in the shire outside my family home. In addition, l do not get a vote on council – but I may get these few lines published none-the-less.

      In response to your disingenuous assertion about “self interest”, I would point out to the reader that you are trying to align non-Councillor perspectives (lets call them ‘general electorate interests’) with the interests of elected reps who have special voting privileges on Council. And we are talking about pecuniary interests here – remember these are the ones that ICAC likes to check on. By definition other interests are irrelevant.

      So yes, any Councillor who is expecting to directly or indirectly benefit or perceived to benefit financially from a decision of Council should declare that interest and, where regulation demands, abstain from voting on it. It is a little bit of a worry that a CEO of a childcare business would need this spelled out.

      While I have no doubt that you have chosen a local government political career on less than $18k pa (per 2014 determination) for honourable reasons, I suggest your consistent and close alignment with the pro-developer ‘independents’ would benefit from your own disclosure.

      Therefore, are you able to make clear to the reader any investments/interests of significance you yourself have in property or other business opportunities within the shire? Are you able to make clear that you will not financially benefit yourself from any EXISTING agreements/investments as a result of the West Byron development?

      No one cares if you buy/sell property down the track – they care that you are not seeking unfair advantage in the process!

      Australians are sick of being taken for a ride.

  27. Sarah Robin says:

    It is difficult as a community member to gain an accurate picture of the complex debates taking place in Council. It is also impossible to understand the nuances of an individual’s position without speaking with them first or ever meeting them. Therefore I am dismayed by this community’s readiness to vilify and denounce Councillor Rose Wanchap. I am certain that the majority of community members can credit gossip and The Echo as their only sources of information and can therefore hardly claim to be well informed.

    The systematic bullying and vilification of Councillor Wanchap is a disgrace. She has been insulted and attacked on this website, in the Echo, by the local chapter of the Greens Party, by telephone, email and in person. She has been threatened and abused by her own party and by people who should know better. The campaign against her is personal, vicious and poorly informed.

    Councillor Wanchap is a person of integrity. She has been a member of the Greens for many years and is a passionate advocate for our community. She is a local small business owner – something supported by the Greens – and an environmental activist. However, this is largely irrelevant. Whatever her credentials she would not deserve to be bullied and abused. She is also a grandmother, a mother and a human being.

    At a national level, the Greens believe in balancing the needs of people and the environment for the promotion of healthy, progressive communities. The Greens nationally believe in tolerance, respect and social justice. Hardly the values represented by the vile behaviour of the local Greens towards Rose Wanchap. I am certain that the national Greens party would be disgusted at the bullying of Rose by the local Byron Bay chapter.

    Byron Bay community members should think before they blindly attack. And Byron Bay Greens members should be ashamed of themselves. If I were Rose, rather than resigning, I would be contacting the federal Greens, reporting the disgusting bullying I had been subjected and and seeking formal recourse.

    • Brett says:

      Thank you Sarah, Well said…

      Before judging a fellow human being, best to get the full story. Also worth while asking the question if judging another is helpful… Personally I think not!

  28. andy mcglone says:

    IMO there isnt a politician at any level that doesnt have a conflict of interest including the greens..you vote for real estate agents and expect them to hug trees in the swamplands..come on guys grow up this town has been chockers with yuppies ever since there were yuppies..if they fix the infrastructure more people will come.thats why it remains unfixed…there are more green house gasses and carbon jackboot prints per cubic cm on the way into byron than there are on the way into las vegas…a halfwit could fix the traffic with 2 crossings over the railways and a mini bypass, redirect the busses to the market grounds and put the markets somewhere pretty…nobody wants that.small business loses money…. a boutique green when it suits them council….catch 22…love park ?.duh.but unfortunately there is growth… dont we greens want the refugees?.yes sure but not here in byron….I digress ( about a millimetre)…the question is who controls the growth.?.now no one in their right mind agrees with West Byron development for obvious infrastructural failings.. but the real elephant in the room is the more obvious devaluation of the surrounding properties ie Ewingsdale and Belongil.. any halfwit can see that..it is a yuppy dilemma…personally i think we should let the rednecks take over just for one term to get a bit of infra structure going because we are being let down by vested interests within every council we have ever had green or otherwise..

  29. Luke says:

    The first issue here should be why the West Byron Development is really needed, and how it will actually be able to have no impact on the ecology the area. I have yet to read by anyone how this is going to be achieved. Political activities regarding this subject should come as no suprise to anyone. Vilification serves no one, least of all the environment.

    Only Section 448, Sol??? More to it than that I am afraid. I mean, really…….

    Rose and her personal history/actions as a person should be left alone and treated with respect. Her public history/actions however are subject to a totally different analysis, and therefore can, and will be scrutinized. And have been. Before this latest announcement.

    If one is going to truly make a difference for the environment, and be an activist for such, if you like, then aligning yourself with politics as the ‘tool of choice’ is interesting to say the least.

    Sarah Robin, shall we really get into the national integrity of a political party that have yet to actually display consistency towards, issues that they have conveniently steered away from? And I am not saying the other parties are any better in this regard here, either! The integrity of politics. Please explain to me how this is achieved, and how it has been demonstrated throughout this nation. Right now of all times please. The greens whilst on the hand better than the other major parties, still have had some significant failings in the past.

    Accountability of the political process requires full disclosure and consistency with adhering first and foremost with community values.

  30. Dave West says:

    I agree Rose needs to present her side of the story. And declare any conflict of interests.

    Let’s not forget the Greens supported the building of a major community building and sports fields on a swamp, adjacent to the sea. (With initially poorly designed and implemented drainage on the fields resulting in flooding) Care to comment on the sandbagging and retreat plan there Sol?

    If I’ve got Sol right, are you suggesting that punters have the same responsibilities to appear stainless and declare interests as publicly elected leaders? That would seem a naive statement given NSWs Rum Corp history, recycled into NSWs current situation. Not to mention their blinged up hillbilly cousins in Queensland who build highrises on beaches and like the brown paper bag too, with an aversion to corruption inquiries.

    The above commenter is correct it is a storm in a teacup symbolic act with Sydney deciding. Koalas will go extinct or be relegated to zoo’s, and the Greens and others will continue to rely on the heavy carbon footprint of mega-tourism with no transitional ideas from here nor a comprehensive here-to-retreat plan.

    I don’t doubt the good intentions of the bigger brains in the room and in the Greens, but essentially Byron is a temporary cash-mining camp, a carbon bigfoot and B-grade Noosa knockoff wannabe. And a preferred destination for plastic franchises. Everyone needs to go hug a tree and calm down.

  31. Sol Ibrahim, Byron Shire Councillor says:

    I also work outside of the shire as a CEO of a non profit child care & community service organisation. I own my family home in this shire. I am not, nor have I ever been in the business of ‘development’. I have no other property or business interests whatsoever that have any relevance to West Byron or any other subdivision or Development Application before Council. I have no personal friendship with any land owner that I am aware of that has any interest in West Byron. I trust this satisfactorily answers questions about any possible financial gain I might receive from West Byron, zero. Of course, all Councillors were required to make a disclosure of property and financial interests from the outset.

    Your definition of pecuniary interest is inaccurate. The requirement under S442 is ‘reasonable likelihood or expectation of appreciable financial gain or loss to the person’. S448 specifically excludes matters relating rezoning of land if the Councillor has no proprietary interest, which I do not. As you rightly state, it is all about EXISTING interest. The point I was making is that just because Councillor Wanchap is a real estate agent, in the absence of an existing or promissory contract to sell land, there is no pecuniary interest. Unfortunately, the allegations being levelled at her seem to ignore this critical fact.

    Who are these so called ‘pro-developer’ independents, and how exactly am I aligned to anyone? I urge you to look at the record, and you will find that my voting pattern reveals a great deal of independence. One reason I decided to sacrifice so much time for $14K before tax, (resulting in a significant loss of paid working hours for me), is to bring some balance to the dreadful polarization that has gripped this Council and the shire. Claiming that any Councillor in favour of new housing, business premises and employment must be in the employ of developers, or is out for personal gain, is ridiculous. Everyone that lives and works here has benefited from some form of ‘development’. Since first moving to Byron in 1981, I have watched fights over every single development, with most of them proving not to be the ‘disasters’ that objectors claimed they would be. Its OK to have a different social, economic or political perspective. It is important to raise concerns and aim for high standards. But there is no justification for the automatic accusation that those who don’t fully agree with you might be corrupt. It is ironic that in a shire which holds positive human and spiritual ideals as central to its culture, I find spite and fear so often colours public discourse.

  32. Mrs D. Lebowski says:

    I agree that villification and bullying should not be part of a political debate. If the Greens have been “bullying” Ms Wanchap that is truly terrible but if they have simply been expressing the same anger that we all feel at being betrayed then she is merely reaping what she has sown. We are sick of being lied to by politicians who say one thing before an election and do the exact opposite when in office. Tony Abbott has proven himself a spectacular liar; the NSW govt said they were going to return planning decisions to local communities and then contrived to make the planning laws even more outrageously developer-centric, and at a local level a person presented themselves as a Green and is acting as no friend to the environment, her party colleagues, the Shire or the town of Byron. I do think it is reasonable for people to be extremely angry and feel they were duped by Rose Wanchap into voting for someone who espoused Greens ideals until she got elected and has not voted with the Greens on many issues that would be natural Greens territory. Sol Ibrahim’s rave about conflict of interest is utterly nonsensical and I wonder if he has a rigourous enough intellect to be in the role of councillor if the notion of conflict of interest is beyond his capacity to understand.For the record Sol, Byron SHire Council’s Code of Conduct Policy says:
    “4.1 A conflict of interests exists where a reasonable and informed person would perceive that you could be influenced by a private interest when carrying out your public duty. ”
    You don’t have to have a conflict of interest, one need only be perceived. Easy.

    The urgency motion was about deferring a decision on the rezoning of West Byron until due process is carried out. The community are not happy about this development; they are even less happy that someone in the Planning department in Sydney gets to influence the decision when the Department’s own procedures and recommendations have not been followed. Why are the councillors who voted against this urgency not concerned that a decision concerning a massive development — that will affect the future of Byron irrevocablis not being made by Council? And why are they is such a hurry to get it through even if is plain that the ‘i’s aren’t dotted, the ‘t’s aren’t crossed and the whole thing smells like a fish kill in a poisoned creek? If those Councillors have nothing to fear about this proposal having some further scrutiny and being wholly transparent then why could they not support the motion? The community clearly does not want this development – why are those councillors all gagging for it?

  33. Sarah says:

    Thank you Sarah R (27) for reminding us that no matter what your opinion, everyone deserves to be treated respectfully.

    With the rate of population growth happening now and predicted for all coastal NSW, the reality is we need more houses. And in Byron in particular we need affordable ones. If we do not provide a significant amount of affordable housing in the near future anyone on a low income will be forced to move away. This includes young people, old people, people with low incomes (cleaners, shop workers, taxi drivers, restaurant staff etc etc), single families and so on. Personally I don’t want to live in a community without these people.

    It seems to me that those fortunate enough to already have their home are denying others the same opportunity.

  34. Mrs D. Lebowski says:

    How exactly will West Byron be affordable to people paying rent any more than anywhere else in Byron? Will the owners take pity on them and charge them below-market rents? Sure. More likely they will let them pay the same inflated rents that people pay all over Byron and then kick them out for the summer holiday season.

    • silke keil says:

      I was going to write a long and in depth response to this sad development in our Bay but I have read Mrs. D. Lebowski’s comments and in my opinion it says all i feel about this issue. I can’t belief this is happening and I can’t belief Ms. Wanchap feels the right to remain her seat as a councillor, clearly defying almost everything the community of the Bay gave her their vote of confidence for. I really don’t understand this at all.

  35. Dave West says:

    Thanks for clarifying the finer points there Sol. Unfortunately we are now a cynical lot and we haven’t been blessed with many good leaders or political machines. I have seen no data to back my claims but it seems that real estate people and people with development interests seem to over represented in the councils I have witnessed in NSW. (But then so are lawyers in federal politics I suppose)

    You still have not replied as to how the multi-million dollar community centre and fields are to be protected in the long run Sol?

    In a way I agree some fundamentalism has been brought to the table here, indeed even by well intentioned green carbon bigfoots that might have a healthy disregard of science, and likely scenarios as some of our anti-science friends. And an addiction to fossil fueled tourism and Mcjobs that will not be able to afford West Byron,

    Looking at the almost complete inundation of the area in the 1950s megafloods (check the aerial photots) it seems foolhardy to build more stuff on a swamp with few escape routes. (Now Rose is reported as suggesting that the West Byron site is at the same level as the Industrial Estate and Sunrise….? They were planned how many decades ago exactly?)

    If West Byron slows tourism and the influx of bogans then it maybe it’s ok.

  36. Martin Williams says:

    What a ridiculous statement Sol. At issue is that Rose is in a position to vote on an issue she benefits from – these others you mention aren’t voting as representatives of the community. Being in a leadership role demands integrity and wisdom, a seemingly scarce commodity these days. Have you really considered this beyond the money in your pocket? Where are the jobs for these people? Waste treatment, roads, schools? The developers fees and rates aren’t going to cover what’s needed and you pocket the money and leave the citizens of this town holding the bag. What a sham.

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