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Byron Shire
May 18, 2021

Wrong plot

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I refer to the letter ‘Federal karma’, Echonetdaily April 11 by Chai Hicks.

As a resident of Federal who attended the meeting referred to in the letter I wish to respond by presenting some facts. I speak only for myself.

Nowhere has it been claimed by Federal residents that they ‘have been doing it tough’ because the store was temporarily closed or they are struggling to ‘donate’ cash out of their pockets, to purchase a church for the sole purpose of preserving the village history for the benefit of the whole community for the next one hundred years.

You state that ‘the group’ convened a public meeting to invite residents to contribute ideas and opinions and to meet the group. In response, a local resident with extensive planning knowledge and experience outlined the environmental and planning constraints governing the site of the proposed development. It was suggested that a smaller development might succeed. Residents embraced the idea of the development and suggested an alternative block of land in the existing residential area of the village. It was explained that the tiny ‘centre’ of the village has always been preserved as a space for the benefit of the whole community and those who follow.

There was some concern amongst residents that the Mayor, who would ultimately be involved in determining an application, sat with the group and spoke in support of the proposal without adequate briefing. I have no recollection of any barrage of negativity referred to in the letter. People were invited to provide an opinion. I recall people speaking passionately about the countryside and the ambience of the tiny historical village ‘centre’ that attracted them to relocate from far and wide to Federal.

You describe your group as ‘a not for profit group of low income earners.’ I recall you too speaking passionately about wanting to live in Federal. No objections were raised to that. I came from poor beginnings as many of my friends in Federal did. From necessity, as a single person I have always had to work to support myself. We would all like to live where we like but that is seldom possible. Only recently, and nearing retirement, have I been able to afford to live here. Fortunately that is changing. You mention community title. I live next door to a community title and I have several friends on other community title developments discretely settled in the landscape like most of the dwellings in and around Federal.

I personally take deep exception to your remarks, ‘how something a bit different and creative might have been fun and an exciting thing in an otherwise vacuous life seemingly governed by fear and exclusiveness’. I can only attribute this to your possible lack of life experience and wisdom. I invite you to look into the lives of many of my friends in Federal. You will see people who have endured deep suffering and deprivation in their lives. You will see people who have devoted much of their lives to alleviate the suffering of others at great personal cost and many are continuing to do so. You will see people committed to preserving the legacy of the early pioneers of the village. I am sure that you are welcome in Federal and so are thousands of other people like you who desire to live here. It seems you might have just picked the wrong plot.

Hilary Bone, Federal


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