Paul Gannon, Coopers Shoot
It is unfortunate that Jenny Coman published a biased, bigoted, and badly written view of the Bangalow LEP meeting. I was at the meeting also and did not have the same experience.
At the beginning of the meeting we were informed that its purpose was to begin to inform farmers how the draft LEP could affect them and their farms. The meeting was not intended to be definitive of the matter. It was meant to alert farmers and it was suggested by the meeting chair that after the meeting people seek out further information from the council and discuss the matter with their neighbours. He also mentioned that the matter would be open for public response on September 24.
A single case study of how the proposed LEP could affect one farm was then used as an illustration. It was not claimed to be an explanation of how every farm would be affected. In fact it was made clear that a range of different effects could ensue depending on each individual farm. There was never any mention of political motives behind the draft LEP. No mention of any political party was made by the presenters. The chair of the meeting made it clear that no questions would be entertained so as to avoid any ‘electioneering’ at the meeting. He did however at the end allow any candidate in the forthcoming election present to state YES or NO as to whether they would review the proposal if elected. He made them comply to a single YES – NO response. As far as I could tell a representative of all the groups in the forthcoming election were able to say YES or NO. They all said YES.
I went to the meeting with no preconceptions other than the information provided in the advertisement announcing the meeting. I am a farmer and the content of the meeting certainly applied to me. I am glad I went. I was informed of a bias against farmers and towards coastal landowners with respect to the Byron proposed LEP and its proposals for environmental caveats over private land (E2 and E3 zonings). Farmers were to have these restrictions proposed whereas coastal properties were excluded after evidently much lobbying from them. I was also alerted to the invalid basis for the proposal, ie a map developed from an aerial photo taken in 1991! Twenty years out of date! Since the meeting I have had this information confirmed as true.
Of course in the space of a very short time it was impossible for the meeting to cover all of the issues surrounding the proposed LEP. Its intention was to alert farmers of a threat to their livelihoods and their family farms. It did this for me and I am glad someone has rung the alarm. Evidently someone did it long ago for the people on coastal properties but we farmers were left out in the cold.
I was not privileged, as Jenny Coman was, to be able to attend a trial run of the coming LEP consultation events presented by the council planners. I have, however, now been exposed to their attempt to put a fair and reasonable LEP together and I do not believe, as she does, that the council planners have done a ‘great job’. Already the state government has put a question mark against their performance by announcing the deletion of all reference to E2 and E3 zones from the Byron proposed LEP. Minister Don Page says they have been created ‘without a valid evidence base’.
I do not see that a meeting held to deliver the facts is scaremongering. In a very complex proposal all the facts are not going to be aired in a short meeting. The council understands this; that is why there will be many, many opportunities over the next 60 days to fill in the picture for ourselves. Painting the full picture has to begin with a small part of the canvas. The meeting Jenny Coman refers to began the picture. It did not claim to do any more. To claim scaremongering and misinformation is wrong. Jenny Coman may have been ‘privileged’ to have had the picture filled in for her before the meeting, and before rest of us, but that does not mean she had to bring her ‘privileged’ perception of the proposed LEP and impose it on a meeting that was meant for the rest of us.