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Byron Shire
April 18, 2021

My resignation from Byron Greens

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I am not defending or refuting the virtues of West Byron: my character and integrity is in question and I wish to address that and my resignation from the Byron Greens.

By mutual agreement I have resigned from the Byron Greens. I will be working as an independent in council for the remainder of my term.

I have felt the pressure to toe the party line. I admire the work they have put in and know their passion for the shire but for me it is time to embrace new ideas, innovative ideas that I hope will move the whole community forward.

The Greens have their four pillars: peace and non-violence, environmental sustainability, social justice and grassroots democracy. Some Greens are radical lefties and others walk a middle line – I aspire to see all sides but know my bias lies in social justice. In my position in council, I have more opportunity to view other points of view. When you have the responsibility of making decisions that can affect 30,000 people I find it difficult to only take into consideration the ideals of some 20 or so active party members.

I appreciate that past green councils have done a sterling job of keeping our shire from turning into a Robina or Noosa by effectively restricting development but they have also created a class distinction by keeping the real estate values at unaffordable levels. A vibrant community needs diversity and providing affordable land and homes is a step that needs to be taken now. The person who makes your coffee, the person who serves you at your local grocer all have the right to be able to live in Byron too.

I am not in this to make money. Nothing could be further from the truth. I ran a comprehensive advertising campaign offering a return of any commission earned in the sale of the lots at Tallowood Ridge in Mullumbimby to first home buyers. Two families now have their little bit of paradise because I returned the $16,000 paid to me in commission back to them. Not only have I never taken a dollar in commission for sales in Tallowood but I paid out many thousands to advertise to young people my intentions to do this so that more of them would take that first shaky step over the line to ownership.

The Byron Greens approached me and asked if I would go on their team because they wanted to capture the business vote and I believe this was an excellent strategic move, with the hope that voters who would normally not vote green because of their perceived lack of business acumen would be pulled over the line.

Whilst I feel this business experience has been less than well respected in the Byron Greens, the Australian Greens recognise that this is a real problem that needs to be addressed. To quote Christine Milne – “they have a plan not only for what they need to do but also how it is to be paid for”. She said “they will collect the revenue for every single one of their policies” and “on addressing housing affordability, we want to improve and protect the rights of renters and trial new schemes to help more people own their own home”

It has been 20 years since any substantial subdivisions have been created in Byron Bay. West Byron has been zoned ‘urban investigation’ since 1988. The majority of the 105ha has been farming and cattle grazing land for 125 years. It supported box manufacturing and car wrecking yards and has been home to the Blues and Splendour events accommodating 20 to 30 thousand people from time to time for a number of years.

Providing housing close to the centre of townships reduces the cost of travel to work, schools and shops. It also reduces the need for the second car if a first car is needed at all.

I want to see these homes utilising solar energy, rainwater tanks, reuse of grey water and wind and solar powered street lights. I see this as an opportunity to lead the country in sustainable development and I know Simon and the other members of council do too.

This site is locally significant … significant in that it will create jobs for many hundreds of tradespeople. Industry and businesses will have a new breath of life with the arrival of new families, not to mention council’s new rate base bottom line being dramatically improved.

In times when many thousands are losing their jobs all over the country, it behoves us to look carefully at how we are going to provide jobs and housing for our children and their children into the future.

I want to assure the community that despite not being a member of the Greens I will continue to fight equally for social justice, environmental and financial sustainability that affects the health and wellbeing of the whole community whilst striving to create access for the average person to rent or own their own home here in Byron Bay

Byron Shire Cr Rose Wanchap

 

 


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6 COMMENTS

  1. You ran as a green and should resign and rerun as an independent. Only fair for those who voted for you as a Green’s member. I don’t belong to the Green’s or any other party but your reasoning is against what those voted you in for. Development for development’s sake is the downfall of society today. We need to decrease population and protect lowland areas. This development goes against both.

  2. It is ludicrous to think that these nice developers are going to make housing affordable or eco-friendly. There is nothing in anything they have put out to the public that says they are planning to do that and we certainly can’t make them sell the houses cheaper or insist they be eco-friendly.
    Rose you should be outraged that the West Byron Landholders did not accept that our democratically-elected Council 3 times assessed this land and said it was not suitable for intensive development so they took it to the notoriously pro-developer Dept of Planning, that same dept that is now under ICAC scrutiny- to have it designated State Site Significant – although it in no way meets the criteria .They have deliberately misled the public by omitting acid sulphate soil studies from public exhibition, their traffic study is a joke by any standards and they didn’t like the consultant’s report that said there were koalas so they got another consultant to tell them what they wanted to hear and buried the first report. They ignored the Community Reference Group’s objections. They sent out misleading PR brochures to the residents of Byron. If Rose truly thinks this Byron housing “crisis” is real (about as real as the Federal budget crisis) then by her own assertion she, as a real estate agent, does serve to benefit from the decision on West Byron as it will net a huge increase in housing stock. If she really believes that an eco-friendly development can be made then why are the developers not putting that forward now in their zoning application? Just because Rose thinks that is what we should have, that is not what we are going to get. Why would the developers seek zoning for 1100 homes and just build a sprinkling of fancy eco-villas! Because we asked them nicely? Puh-lease! There are 10s of millions of dollars in profits to be made here — let’s get real about the motivations of the developers. It ain’t community mindedness because everyone I have spoken to thinks it is a total lump of faecal material that will ruin Byron irretrievably.

  3. Rose Wanchap’s response to the call for her to resign from council and her rationale for voting for the West Byron development (and incidentally the one in Bangalow) are completely nonsensical.

    Firstly Rose was not elected by the “active” members of the Greens. She was elected by the hundreds of voters that voted for her. In common with many others I vote based on the values of the candidate and the views of that s/he represent – not for them as an individual. In this case those were the values espoused by the Greens; hence I, in common with many, expected her to uphold those values on coastal development, sub-divisions and related issues.

    Her position on the Belongil Beach coastal defences and in voting for both the Bangalow and West Byron developments are a complete betrayal of many people that voted for her. To justify this betrayal on the basis that it provides “affordable housing” is simply rank hypocrisy. Unless a substantial proportion of these developments are public housing there is no way that they are going to be affordable for anyone on low incomes (which is the whole point of affordable housing). So either Rose doesn’t understand the concept of affordable housing or she knows something none of the rest of us do.

    Finally, on the issue of conflict of interest. One of the reasons property developers are not allowed to donate to political parties is because of the potential corruption to which that leads. On the same basis people who buy and sell land and houses, no matter how ethical they may be, should not be allowed to vote on real estate developments. Rose may well waive her commissions, on occasion, but that does not remove the potential conflict.

  4. Rose, you are living in wonderland I’m afraid. Ocean Shores was built as a ‘state of the art development’ with winding roads, underground power and grass road verges instead of footpaths. Now people are wondering how council could have got so ripped off. Now there are many calls for footpaths and more pedestrian lighting. Same with Fern Beach -‘state of the art’ – protected vegetation areas have been virtually destroyed and the development took up a big chunk of the floodplain – meaning more flooding for other residents of the floodplain.

    Personally I don’t care if you resign from council because the ‘Greens’ were/ are not really green at all – they’re mostly aspiring politicians who would sell their souls for their ambitions.

    PS most of the trade jobs you talk of will be delivered to tradies from up the coast as usual.

  5. we at Tallowood Ridge Mullumbimby really appreciate that Rose gave her full sales commissions to two very deserving young families. She has a passions for accessible housing and practises what she preaches.

    • It’s actually the other way around, Rose. The Byron Greens are not really Green or Red, but more Rose-coloured. Sustainable development should be quite away from the coast, but also along the railway line[s], so that we can all access the coast effectively – not just the wealthy who want to ‘buy a piece of the coast’ as the billboard used to say near Casuarina- barely 2 meters above high tide level.

      I have medical problems where the salt water is extremely beneficial for me, but now I can’t drive to the coast, or attend a support group there. Even if I do mange to drive there, it is difficult to find a shady place free to park anymore, after 35 years of parking near the Brunswick Heads Community Centre. Now they want parking meters there too. No, they are not lefty socialists, few Greens in the Northern Rivers have concern for the many disadvantaged people there are in the region.

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