Echonetdaily bids a final farewell to 2012 with a backward look at the last half of the year.
Compiled by Chris Dobney
As with the beginning of the year, the start of the second half was dominated by a murder manhunt. The killer of Broadwater man Edward Kelly, Jonathon Stenberg, was arrested just south of Darwin on July 1, ending a three-state manhunt.
As later editions revealed, he had auditioned for a role as an extra in a film while on the run in Qld.
On July 6 we reported that a Ballina police officer lied under oath during a magistrate’s hearing into the police’s case against a young Aboriginal man, Corey Barker, who the officers alleged had attacked them. In fact, retrieved and repaired CCTV footage showed officers attacking the defendant. The matter is now the subject of an ICAC investigation.
The state government canned Byron Shire Council’s contentious event policy, limiting major events to two per year. The decision finally put to rest a long-running argument between the two sides, which simply couldn’t be reconciled.
Also in July
CSG free communities continue to roll out across the region, with Tyalgum declared at the start of the month.
Plans to extend a Rosebank meditation retreat are rejected on grounds including that it will disrupt neighbours’ quiet enjoyment.
Former NRL star Craig Field charged with murder over the death of a man outside the Kingscliff Beach Hotel.
Local health district chief Chris Crawford agrees to front a public meeting over hugely unpopular plans to can the Mullumbimby Hospital overnight doctor service.
A bid by conservative councillors to overturn a ban on Tweed’s controversial Byrrill Creek Dam project fails.
The month opened with a packed public meeting on an issue Echonetdaily has been championing, retaining the overnight doctor service at Mullumbimby Hospital. The meeting heard from a 12-year-old epileptic boy worried a doctor might not be there for him next time he had a seizure.
Telstra announced that it would close its Lismore call centre, with the loss of around 100 jobs. Despite pleas from a deputation of councillors and local members, the telecom presses ahead with its plans.
A $100 million new Tweed beach resort plan was approved by the state government against local opposition. In 2004 the state government had taken control of the site after the then council planned to gift it to the developer of Salt for a resort hotel, leading to the eventual sacking of the council.
Also in August
Tweed council plans to close the café of the sister of a Greens councillor provoke allegations of a witch-hunt.
Tweed Shire Council ‘options paper’ that looks at taking over most of Byron Shire is killed off.
Dan Murphy’s plan to move into Byron suffered a setback after a five-hour public meeting of the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing hears of Byron’s enormous existing alcohol problem and its potential to explode further. The office subsequently decided to reject the application.
Lennox Head hero Jacqueline Freney wins world acclaim and amasses a treasure trove of medals at the Paralympics.
Council elections were hotly contested, and better reported, after Echonetdaily’s comprehensive election guide. The strongest result was Jenny Dowell’s in Lismore, who was returned as mayor with 53.7 per cent of the vote. At the same poll Lismore LGA residents made an incredible 86.89 per cent vote ‘no’ vote to CSG in the area.
Also in September
Lismore’s Champions Quarry wins approval to extend its mining operations over a contested Aboriginal sacred site.
The North Coast Accommodation Trust unilaterally closes access to a Brunswick Heads street, claiming ownership and provoking a massive backlash from locals.
The opposition calls on the state government to step in and ban dogs in the proposed Kings Forest development after a Four Corners program highlights the plight of the threatened species in the region.
An Aboriginal Family Centre is approved by Ballina Shire Council amid much community debate about its proposed siting.
Coal-seam gas again dominated the headlines throughout October.
It all started when shock jock Alan Jones was barred from addressing the upcoming Rock the Gate rally at Murwillumbah after his offensive comments about prime minister Julia Gillard’s late father.
Rock the Gate went ahead with gusto and received saturation media coverage (in Echonetdaily, anyway).
Ballina, Tweed and Byron councils, despite not having LGA polls, join Lismore in opposing CSC companies’ access to council land, including use of their roads.
Meanwhile Byronians celebrated another David-and-Goliath win, this time against the Dan Murphy’s liquor chain, whose application was refused by the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption announced that Byron and Ballina staff corruptly accepted gifts from companies seeking council business.
Also in October
Despite their domination of council, Lismore progressives scored an own-goal when a voting stuff-up cut them out of some cushy (and financially rewarding) committees.
Local filmmaker David Bradbury is detained in India after attempting to video protests against the development of a nuclear reactor in Kundakalum, an area devastated by the Boxing Day tsunami
Palace Cinemas announce they will move in to take the place of Byron’s much-lamented Dendy after it closed.
Casino protesters were praised by police for their non-violent action against CSG miner Metgasco’s conduct of seismic testing near Casino Airport on the first weekend of the month.
Another month, another ICAC probe. This time it was more serious that a few council staff accepting gift vouchers. North Byron developer Brian Flannery was named by the commission in connection with a coal deal with the Obeid family. The hearing is continuing.
At the end of the month, after a long campaign by locals and Echonetdaily, local health district chief Chris Crawford announced the controversial plan to remove night doctor services at Mullumbimby Hospital and replace them with a video link to Tweed Hospital had been abandoned.
Also in November
People wearing welding masks mob Byron lighthouse in an attempt to get a glimpse at the partial eclipse of the sun (it didn’t happen this far south).
Local councils and Aboriginal groups oppose plans by the NSW Aboriginal Land Council to start prospecting for coal seam gas in Tweed and Byron shires.
The month opened in dramatic fashion as a meeting called by Lismore MP Thomas George brought planning minister Brad ‘Double Z’ Hazzard and his panel of so-called coal-seam gas experts face-to-face with the community trying to defend their land. During an often-fiery meeting it quickly became apparent where the expertise in the room lay, and it was not on the stage.
In a bizarre attack of council employees upon appointed councillors, Tweed GM David Keenan accused progressive councillors Gary Bagnall and Katie Milne of trespass after they lifted a strand of barbed wire and entered a council quarry that a neighbour claimed was polluting a local creek. The brouhaha has been whipped up into a ludicrous code-of-conduct complaint against the councillors, which is continuing.
Just days after state health minister Jillian Skinner engaged in a flying PR mission across the regions hospitals to announce a number of projects (most of which were re-announcements), it was revealed on the myhospitals website that Lismore Base Hospital is among the worst five per cent of hospitals in Australia when it comes to waiting times.
Mass protests at Glenugie managed to turn around a CSG drilling truck and several others. ‘Extremist’ protest actions included erecting a Christmas tree at the gate of the site and singing carols, knitting and offering truck drivers cups of tea.
Also in December
Despite the vicious bashing of a well-loved Byron chef on Jonson Street early one morning, councillors, police and the liquor accord all continue to bury their heads in the sand over the issue.
Queensland-based developer Leda attempts to wriggle out of nearly $9million in fees to Tweed Shire Council claiming locals will benefit from road works they had paid for on the Gold Coast.
As two seriously loopy presenters at Byron’s inaugural Uplift Festival attempt to ‘open a portal’ to the future by chanting across the solstice, the only thing that opens are the heavens, drowning the chanting and anyone unfortunate enough to be outside.