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Byron Shire
June 7, 2023

Aboriginal festival wouldn’t be blocked: Barham

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Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham says suggestions in yesterday’s Echonetdaily that an Aboriginal festival proposed by Bunjalung artistic director Rhoda Roberts would not receive council approval were ‘disappointing’, ‘distressing’ and ‘unfounded’.

Cr Barham told Echonetdaily that, as she understood it, the festival would be classified as a cultural event and therefore would not be caught up in the draft LEP’s limitation on major music events in the shire.

The mayor said she met with Ms Roberts last year and they had discussed the possibility of moving a version of the Dreaming Festival, previously held at Woodford, in Byron.

She said, ‘if there was a genuine attempt to hold a Dreaming-like cultural event in Byron Shire, Council would be very supportive’.

‘I met with Rhoda and said I can’t give authority, it would need to get clarification of council, but it would be seen as a cultural festival rather than a specific music festival and would not be affected by the policy. ‘

Cr Barham added that there had been no further communication about the proposed Boomerang Festival, as it was to be rebranded, nor had Council received any application.

‘I was expecting to get a proposal that council could endorse or support. We’ve had no application – nothing in writing.

‘I think if there was a cultural festival being organised, and Mr Noble’s property was proposed, from what has been suggested it would not seem to me to fall into the restricted category, even though music would form a part of it.

‘The festival would be far more than an amplified music festival – it would have a broad cultural context.

She said that she was disappointed that the comments had come to light in the context of the exhibition of the shire’s LEP amendment to limit major music events in the shire (with audiences of more than 6,000 people) to two per year.

‘I’ve spoken to Peter [Noble] and said the same thing to him. Mr Noble is not the determining authority of whether an event will meet the criteria. I find this extremely disappointing given that I have had that discussion previously.

She added, ‘Byron Council has a really proud record of dealing with Aboriginal people, including supporting the Arakwal through their indigenous land rights agreements.’

‘To have a statement like this – without any framework or decision being made – is really distressing.’

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  1. Bravo on Mayor Jan for stepping up to the plate on the Aboriginal Festival.

    Shame on Mr. Noble preparing to play the ‘Race Card’ in an attempt to circumvent Councils imposed moratorium on two music festivals per year.

    It is very ‘impressive’ that Mr. Noble took it upon himself to ‘Predare the DA ” for the Boomerang Festival on his own accord. But then, it is quite self serving and profitable for him as surely he will control everything from parking to food concession space rental.

    I wonder if Rhonda Roberts really knows with whom she is getting in bed.
    If Mr. Noble Really does it for the love of the music as he’s stated several times in public, let’s see him offer the space for zero cost and let Boomerang Festival control the entire financial lot. But he’s ‘A man with a plan’ and it’s doubtful this would ever happen.

    This seems to mimmick the endemic problem that exists in America where the indigenous tribes have been given the right to operate casino gambling in otherwise ‘non-gambling’ states. The Indians have the right, but the casinos, for the most part are run by ‘white’ contractors and make off with the majority of financial gains.

    Perhaps Council needs to amend their useage policy to ‘two music events and one cultural event per year’ before we become the ‘alternative culture capital for non-residents of Australia’s Eastern Coast’

  2. Just to make it clear, the exhibited LEP amendment says nothing about exempting Cultural events. Councils stated policy is very clear. It says Events are defined as organised activities open to attendance by members of the general
    public (whether by payment or not) on private or public land (or a combination of the two).
    Events include cultural celebration, public rally, street parade, street march, fun run, cycling race, community festival, music festival, sporting event, open air theatre, concert, charitableball, dance party, carnival, circus, or memorial service

  3. Well said Jan. This all makes it evident that there has to be a clear distinction between a fully amplified mega music festival and a cultural festival that has music included – for the latter there would have to be more restrictions on permisable hours when music could be played and a determining percentage of amplified music content.


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