John Vaughan, Byron Bay
My nomination for this year’s Duncan award goes to ‘barrister at law’ Graham Bassett and partner of candidate Karin Kolbe. He would like to see Byron Shire Council join with other local councils to take action to prevent gas-exploration companies from undertaking seismic testing on public roads. What a wonderful self-serving strategy for the legal industry (why call it a profession anymore)! We know it’s only a technicality, but hey, that’s how we lawyers earn our living.
It seems the strategy is to just delay CSG by having mining companies bogged down in numerous applications with councils so they can then be drawn into the courts on appeal. A gaggle of lawyers waits to spend millions of ratepayer’s money arguing on a totally pointless endeavour. The strategy has all the hallmarks of another Mullum Woolies lawyer fest engineered by the current mayor Barham and Greens candidate Duncan Dey. That legacy is an estimated $500K of legal costs plus the purchase of the unusable contaminated Telstra block of land next door at another $500K. Yet, the new Woolies still went ahead and with a bottleshop as a bonus offer!
Getting back to reality. Almost all local-government powers are found in just two NSW Acts, the Local Government Act and the EPA Act, which can and would be changed by the relevant minister in response to such stunts. In a state that’s literally running out of gas, power bills going through the roof, Graham’s legal advice does seem futile. Even this weak state government would be sacking councils who pursue such rate-funded political campaigns.
The fact that Byron Shire is bereft of coal seams and there is no actual CSG activity by any mining company locally doesn’t seem to matter; the politically-minded Duncans among us would cheerfully use Byron ratepayer funds any time on legal stoushes over in Casino and Lismore.
Who needs to fill potholes when you can fill the legal trough instead. You can just see why some blessed legals just love a Byron Green with a handy shire chequebook.