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