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Byron Shire
February 28, 2021

Sea walls and Bangalow Weir

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So it is recommended that the Bangalow Weir not be restored because of lack of funds.

In the early 1800s, the island of Guernsey was desperately in need of sea walls and in debt; it decided to issue its own currency and spend it into circulation, debt free, rather that attempt to borrow.

The Guernsey pounds were guaranteed convertible to British pounds by the local government, and more besides, and the Guernsey pounds stayed in local circulation boosting the Guernsey economy.

Is there an example here enabling Byron Shire to fund the Bangalow Weir?

I am not suggesting that our council print money, perish the thought for that is preserve of central banks, or that it creates legal tender out of thin air; that is the preserve of banks licensed by us to do so.

But suppose that Council issued pre-paid rates tokens, durable, non-forgeable and attractive, with, say, a $10 face value guaranteed redeemable against rate demands for five years; they could be sold into circulation but preferably spent, by part payments to contractors, into circulation.

If the notes were known as ‘Big Bucks’ and all supportive local businesses displayed signs, ‘We trade in Big Bucks’, these rates tokens would effectively become a debt-free local currency, and bring forward the day when the Bangalow Weir could be funded.

This ‘thought bubble’ may well have serious downsides, but it is floated with the conviction that within Byron Shire there surely must be persons of sufficient brain-power and influence, entrepreneurial, financial, political and legal, who could come together to apply the lessons of the Guernsey sea walls to the Bangalow Weir impasse.

A study committee met for a year before the Guernsey pound was launched.

There would be spin-offs from a successful outcome. If the Bangalow Weir situation were ‘sorted’, then Lismore Council could adopt a similar scheme to fund the refurbishment for the new art gallery.

And then jointly, the two councils could set about the Lismore to Mullumbimby walking/riding/ex-railway track.

All we need is a group of high-powered, community-focused talents, not wearing de Bono ‘black hats’. Any takers?

Colin Cook, Bangalow

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  1. Yes the case for local currencies is strong: look at Brixton Pounds for another example. http://www.brixtonpound.org/

    But there is another initiative which may be very useful for Byron Shire, a council that forgoes the profits from high rise development. We need a way to be recognized and valued for the protection from development we give our coastal systems. We need those assets to be valued and to help us address our storm water and flooding issues. We need to re-examine the state of our catchment waters, wetlands, coasts and near shore as a unified system. One way to understand this is to think “plant a tree and grow a fish”. To help achieve this, both practically and financially — perhaps Byron Shire can get proactive about Blue Carbon. Blue Carbon could become a revenue stream for Byron Shire.

    Maybe we need a synthesis of local currency and international blue carbon value


    from their website:
    ” Together we are working to have these wetland ecosystems recognised in voluntary carbon
    and compliance schemes and to ensure a holistic ecosystem approach is adopted by
    governments that will not only reduce and mitigate the effects of climate change, but
    increase Australia’s food security, benefit health and productivity and help protect
    fragile coastal areas – a win-win mitigation strategy!

    Repairing mangroves, wetlands and seagrass in community based schemes already brings cash into communities around the world


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