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Byron Shire
May 12, 2021

Farewell TOOT

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Even though council elections are not till September the campaign has effectively kicked off with Karin Kolbe’s mix of unfulfillable promises, waffle and intellectual dishonesty.

Firstly I refer to TOOT, which is a kind of nursery fantasy like The Midnight Garden. In this fantasy trains return to our tracks regardless of cost-benefit considerations, regardless of the fact that every hack politician within 100 kilometres who has come out in favour of those trains returning has been unable to deliver the goods.

It’s quite simple: people or goods going by train consists of one journey to the station (at a fixed time), one journey on the train, plus another journey from the other station to the ultimate destination. One + one + one, Karin, equals three journeys, as opposed to one by car – at a time of your choosing. The train option is neither convenient nor efficient unless your departure point and your destination are close to a station.

I’ve read somewhere that even in Sydney the fares paid cover only a fraction of the costs of running the service. As there are apparently over 150 bridges on the north coast line, many of them wooden and in need of replacement, re-opening it would require either a massive subsidy or a fare from Byron to Lismore of $100 one way. I agree that trains are the most elegant way of travelling, and I too regret their passing in rural areas, but I’m certainly not going to join Karin and Basil Cameron on their bandwagon. TOOT? ‘T ain’t gonna happen.

Of course the real reason I’m picking on Karin is another remark attributed to her in The Echo two weeks ago: ‘Alas, Council is often used as a punching bag for some with (narrow) agendas’. Deary me; whoever could she mean? Statements like that offend a lot of people who are, or have been, critical of elected councillors or of council staff (please differentiate, Karin). It implies that critics have no real issues other than their own aggressiveness, which is a bit of a putdown. Indeed it reminds me of Max Eastcott’s favourite ploy when confronted with uncomfortable realities: ‘You’re only saying that because of xyz motives’. Don’t psychologise the issues away, Karin; demonstrate that you understand what they are – and have the courage to name names.

Waffle such as ‘Council decisions should be made by merging an awareness of state, national and global issues with a strong sense of what supports a thriving local community’ won’t cut it in Byron Shire, I hope, especially if Byron Council is indeed a ‘gritty and robust place’, as Karen suggests. (She also says it’s ‘exciting’, which doesn’t exactly attest to any firm grip on reality, does it.)

PS: Basil Cameron, the minister for ghost trains, at the last Council meeting actually joined in the criticism of Council staff over Broken Head tree-chopping. After 3.75 years he finally gets the point… or is there an election coming up?

Fast Buck$, Coorabell


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  1. As much as I enjoy some of fa$st bucks comments and his logic I wonder if he is not being a bit too short sighted when he derides the return of trains on our tracks. oil will run out soon Mr Andersen and then as the bridges crumble into dust what will you tell my kids when they ask, “how are we going to get our produce to market or go for a day at the beach or visit my friends who live inland?” Apart from your obvious joy in ripping into other people do you actually have any ideas for this shire or are you just in the business of putting shit on those of others?

  2. which benefits and which costs are you measuring fast bucks?

    sounding very economic rationalist there.

    will you be advocating increased consumption next as the solution to the world’s problems, like wayne swan has reportedly done?

    if one measures all the benefits of the train line, they may outweigh the costs. especially for getting carless people to work opportunities, for example.

  3. Wow, what a shame I didn’t read this a year ago, Fast Buck$ you are brilliant and funny and your observations about Karin and Basil are so insightful. TOOT (read Karin, Basil, Andy, Sue) will be remembered in history as a cynical front for political media tarts that made us wait nearly 10 years for the rail trail while they flogged a dead horse for their own personal agendas. Funny how their on-line petition doesn’t seem to back up their contention that they speak for “the community”. Funny how now that the train looks doomed, they have abandoned ship, not a peep! Funny how letters like the two above are so out of touch; the victims of TOOT misinformation.


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