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Byron Shire
April 18, 2021

Corporate bullies rule in Brunswick Heads

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It’s a sad day for Brunswick Heads.

We’ve been listening to assurances, promises, semantics and hearsay for years over our holiday parks. If this involved a court, one could cross-examine the lies and query the assertions that have been expressed and that continue to be expressed.

According to your article NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust CEO Steve Edmonds defended his development plans, saying that ‘41 amendments were made to the plans of management as a result of public input’ and repeating that, subject to ‘reasonable conditions’, public access through The Terrace Holiday Park and to Simpsons Creek will continue. He added that the public car park and kayak launching facilities ‘will be upgraded as part of this plan’.

Mr Humphries, this is all hearsay and cannot be proved. On parking, Mr Humphries, where are all the on site visitor car parks in The Terrace Park that we were assured we’d get by the trust board chairman, Mr Alan Revell? The answer is zero, it was not true, an assurance that was not so.

And where are the visitor cars catered for at Massey Greene? There are no new additional designated car parks here either. During holidays there are in excess of 100 cars and trailers parked all over the boat harbour parkland, driveways and in the Co-op precinct and mostly from the park’s visitors. There was no parking assessment done anywhere. Why? Because we know they are saddling their neighbours with their client’s vehicles. Will they pay Council for the lack of parking in this development?

Mr. Humphries also stated, ‘the Trust will progressively relocate existing structures away from foreshore sites to enable the re-establishment of a natural bank profile and the protection and restoration of the vegetation communities as part of its foreshore environmental restoration project.’

Well, more unsubstantiated claims here as the Terrace PoM consultant stated that, ‘A typical hierarchy of measures to minimise the likelihood of significant impact includes avoidance, minimisation and mitigation. Appropriate mitigation measures could include fencing to exclude (bank) access (which already exists along part of Simpsons Creek in the Holiday Park) or board-walks to regulate pedestrian access, or a compensatory increase in the area and/or quality of native habitat in the reserve.’

NCHP Management states, ‘The physical attributes of the foreshore together with the significance of the vegetation communities dictate that this proposal is not pursued within the time frame of this Plan of Management.’ NCHP have no plan to mitigate here. So, Mr Humphries, so much for your assurances!

So we find we are living under false pretences. There is no democracy in dealings with the state, with quotes like ‘in consultation with the community’ in these documents when there clearly never was any. It’s all a lie. And what chance has council to represent the public? Zero again. Heaven knows they got their submission right – awesome submission – however without power it appears we and council wasted years of work. It seems council can’t even object. You see the ‘guidelines’ are only that – and they don’t appear to have any weight in law.

If it is circumvented, the process can’t be – and doesn’t get – enforced or even questioned. The minister approves and that’s it. It’s a dictatorship dressed up as something else when it is clearly not democratic. Those in power go through an exercise of supposed consultation, but in the end do as they please.

NCHP has never called or chaired one public consultation meeting; not before, during or after the Plans of Management were put out for public submissions. They did sit in on workshops, but with eyes glazed over, or worse were aggressive in putting down any questions of entitlement over encroached lands they were claiming. In any case, even if they did call meetings, there is no law that says that they must abide by Trustees’ guidelines, community or Council input.

Council have shown that some land that is now approved for part of the parks, was never a holiday park in the first place but it seems that if you squat on Crown land, public land, the minister may, and here did, formalise the squat and give community land and its amenity away.

The community have been fighting over public amenity, encroachments and boundary issues for over 17 years. These same astute community-spirited individuals have pretty much been ignored. It seems that unless a cause is understood by the masses, and there is massive show of angst via demonstrations, civil disobedience and sit-ins/camps, Bentley being an example, the community may as well just suck it and forget about it.

Our community-minded folk have been railing all these years…and to what end? The ministers get lied to, our questions remain without answer and the corporate bullies do what they want while the public lose their amenity.

David Kolb, Brunswick Heads

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