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Byron Shire
March 6, 2021

Mayor breaks ranks with Greens over Last Drinks

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Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson. Photo Eve Jeffery
Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson. Photo Eve Jeffery

Chris Dobney

A rift has emerged within the Byron Greens, with the local convenor telling the Last Drinks at 12 public meeting on Wednesday night that mayor Simon Richardson was ‘trying to be all things to all people’ rather than stick to Greens policy on the issue.

‘I think that puts him in a difficult situation if he’s going to be a Greens member,’ said Tom Tabart, who is himself a former Byron Shire Greens councillor.

Mr Tabart has repeated his criticisms of Mayor Richardson’s performance to Echonetdaily but denied he was putting out an ultimatum.

In October, Mr Tabart wrote a strongly worded letter to the Echo, throwing the party’s weight behind the Last Drinks at 12 campaign.

Yesterday he told Echonetdaily, ‘Byron Greens group stands by its original letter of support for Last Drinks at 12’.

‘Simon sort of supports it but thinks it could be “Last Drinks Somewhat Later”.

‘He thinks the concerns of the liquor industry need to get some consideration.

‘My view and the view of the Greens is that it’s a violence issue and that’s what needs consideration – and not to give a leg up to an industry that is powerful enough, thank you.’

The mayor is not the only councillor appearing to back away from the demands of the Last Drinks group.

Cr Paul Spooner, who earlier this year authored a council motion supporting the group, told the meeting on Wednesday night that he was ‘disturbed’ by the direction the group was taking.

ABC radio reported him as saying the group’s ‘hardline approach’ would ‘divide the community’.

But the rift in the Greens appears to run deeper than the single issue, with Mr Tabart calling the mayor’s plan for New Years Eve a recipe for disaster.

‘[Former mayor] Jan [Barham] with help from me and a number of other people managed to get New Years Eve in Byron Bay to a situation of no threat and a family-friendly evening.

‘Simon has always been of the opinion that we needed to have more people and more commercial activity.

‘This New Years Eve, with Falls Festival – which I think is going to logistically be a nightmare – is going to be a repeat of last year, where the floodgates will remain open.’

Mr Tabart said the mayor, who rarely consults him, could do with re-examining the Greens position on a range of issues.

‘My general view of his activity as mayor is that he’s being a little too conciliatory as a member of the Greens in his actions across the shire. I think he should be sticking to Greens principles more closely.’

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  1. Yawn Ho Hum… There is no answer. Welcome to modern society. More people, more problems. Byron Bay in the 70’s was a great little, quiet town, where it was hard to find somebody to have a drink with on a week night. Then came the boom… and people wonder why I joined the Sustainable Population Party.

  2. ‘My general view of his activity as mayor is that he’s being a little too conciliatory as a member of the Greens in his actions across the shire’.

    Spot on Tom in your assessment.

    That’s why Cr.Simon Richardson is a more accessible, amiable, constructive, proactive and will ultimately be a more successful Mayor than Jan and certainly a better Councillor than you with your grafted on political prejudices and intransigence.

  3. Mr. Tabart,

    Obviously your years in Council as a Green taught you very little about politics.

    Being affiliated with a political party does not compel one to ‘vote the party line 24/7/365- with or without a conscience.

    You only need to look to the issues in the US to see ‘LOGJAM’ stamped on the foreheads of politicos who only ‘vote the party line.’

    Unfortunately you fail to see politics is a ‘give & take’ process…although it seems you portray the Greens as only wanting to ‘take’ and refuse to participate in the process.

    There are many who are not totally thrilled with a 100% Green-100% of the time party line.

    It leave VERY LITTLE room for lively discussion and examination of others point’s of view…but maybe that’s how you see being Green… like ‘BE GREEN OR BE GONE’ Bumper stickers mandatory for Byron Shire in 2014?

  4. I am delighted that Simon Richardson has his own opinions which may or may not be the same as the Greens. Rather than being one sided as past Mayors has shown it is refreshing to see someone who is taking a more balanced approached.

    Of course I am anti-violence as I have two sons and we live within walking distance to Byron CBD However, I like to go out occasionally and I think it would be nice to have a drink after 12am, maybe Last Drinks at 12 should look at compromising and making it Last Drink at 1am?

  5. Wow Tom you’re right!

    We have a Mayor that has the balls to listen to the people of the shire and to step outside the party line if that means representing the majority of the residents.

    Scary to think that in this day and age someone will actually stick their neck out and look further than the aggressive polarised opinions of the loudest few.

    I haven’t met one person yet who thinks it’s a good idea for all the town’s venues to close at 12am. Presumably they don’t want everyone to cram in a couple of drinks at 11:30 and then all meet up at the taxi rank – can’t think why – at least the police would know where to be for the nightly fight!

  6. This article highlights the inherent problem of political parties fielding candidates for council office.

    Do the aformentioned councilors represent the Green Party or the community?

  7. I am also delighted that Simon has his own opinion. Local Government should be beyond party politics no matter what color. The sooner LG party politics is shied away from and LG is governed for the general public and ratepayers the better we’ll all be !!!!!!!!!!!!. That way maybe some TRUST may be restored in being elected as a Councillor away from the political bullshit.

  8. Wow, a Mayor who thinks for themselves and doesn’t just follow the party ideology!
    How refreshing, and so needed in a Shire disillusioned with local Green governance.

    Well, he did appear to follow the party line over the Terrace Reserve Park issue, which has now
    turned into what the Echo recently, and rightly, called a fiasco. Bought to you by the same, behind
    the scenes, Green team (Jan and Tom) that brought you the Lighthouse road fiasco, the Sports
    Fields fiasco, the old Telstra site Mullumbimby fiasco, the potholes ate my car fiasco and the anti
    Byron United fiasco, to name a few.

    It seems obvious that we need a Mayor prepared to listen to, and work with, the community,
    not just basing all decisions on ideology.

  9. I agree with all the above, Tom.
    Politics is the art of the possible – the Greens at a federal level wouldn’t compromise on the emissions trading scheme with Labor, so we ended up with as good as nothing. If they had compromised, we could have had a reasonable scheme. Better to achieve something than nothing – and who knows, if the compromise works, then maybe we can bring the compromise closer to the green objectives next time? A good politician should listen to the whole electorate, not just their own party. Yes, Simon is green, and I’d expect him to be pushing a generally green agenda, but that doesn’t mean all or nothing in one fell swoop. Softly , softly, catchee monkey.

  10. I think Simon Richardson is doing a good job as Mayor.

    Its great that he his representing the wider community rather than a thin green line.

    Last drinks at 12 will cause so many problems, what does everyone do after 12? they may have only been out a couple of hours and just starting to have a good time.

    Obviously alcohol is the cause of much upheaval in society generally, not just Byron.

    Maybe its got something to do with Alcohol being “the drug of choice ” while theris a prohibition on all other drugs.


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