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Byron Shire
May 13, 2021

Why Byron’s Cr Wanchap must resign

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Byron Shire Greens Councillor Rose Wanchap
Defected Byron Shire Greens councillor Rose Wanchap.

David Lovejoy

The position of Byron Shire councillor Rose Wanchap has become increasingly controversial since she publicly split from the council’s Greens faction in May.

No doubt her voting decisions arise from the highest motives, but they have been uncannily similar to those of the councillors whose allegiances, informally if not officially, belong to the National Party and big developers.

She claims that by endorsing a right-wing program in council she is merely exercising her judgment, which has matured since she accepted nomination for the Greens in 2012. The 31 people who voted directly for her might tolerate her change of direction, but thousands of others supported her specifically as a Green and have been disenfranchised by her actions.

‘Ratting’ on political colleagues is not unusual, and it would be unreasonable to expect elected representatives always to act the way they promised voters they would.

Circumstances change, issues develop, policies evolve. Everyone has the right of dissent, and in large governing bodies occasionally crossing party lines should not be seen as necessarily dishonourable.

But voters do not expect the candidates they support to make permanent political u-turns.

Cr Wanchap has done this, and the consequences in a small local council chamber are significant.

How significant can be seen from yesterday’s lead story. With Wanchap now voting with the right wing there is a majority available in Byron Shire Council for projects which will degrade the natural environment for financial gain.

Until the next election the two remaining Greens councillors, Simon Richardson and Duncan Dey, along with Labor’s Paul Spooner and independent Basil Cameron, will be in a permanent minority.

The extent of the damage caused by Cr Wanchap’s defection is hard to overestimate.

Despite the widespread impression that Byron Shire has a Green council, there were only three Greens elected in 2012. To carry a contentious motion they needed the support of the independent (now Labor) Spooner and Cameron from the Sustainable Future group.

Nevertheless, this political balance favoured progressive policies and was a fair outcome from the election, where progressive outnumbered reactive forces by 57 to 43 per cent.

With her voting pattern Cr Wanchap is altering the result of that election and handing the balance of power to those who did not win our collective vote in 2012.

She may not have realised that this would be the consequence of her switch of allegiance, so her most ethical course now would be to resign.

Councillors who resist doing the right thing sometimes point to the cost. This is not a good argument here, however, as elections are not due until 2016 and two years of the right-wing faction waving through inappropriate development will cost the community far more than a by-election.


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24 COMMENTS

  1. Wanchap should get the chop and all recent decisions carried by a majority of one. Ie. Supporting rail trail motion, should be re-visited.1

  2. Looks very anti democratic to me, did she have any environmental creds? it’s the same everywhere people cashing in on environmental jobs when they haven’t got a clue and haven’t done anything to protect the environment.The national party is known in Council elections to be darstadly, feigning friendsjip to get the drop on people for money. Example, the Tweed Inquiry the whole council got sacked, now they have a majority green council with a whiteanted lib/nat administration, apparently top jobs go to development cronies. All the years of efforts, generations of families going without, working together to protect the shire only to be betrayed by someone willing to open the door to the wolves. What hope is there for genuine representative democracy at the local level if she doesn’t resign?

  3. Sadly I must agree that Rose must resign. I did a lot to support a progressive council being elected and was counting on Rose to follow through on her undertakings if not as a Green member at least as a progressive independent.

    I also agree that all recent voting decisions need to be revisited. Sorry Rose – its time to go and let our community decide who will replace you. Its a shame you also leave us with the cost of a by-election?

  4. Betrayal is a hard thing to swallow even from one’s nearest and dearest, but from a Councillor specifically elected to pursue her stated position as a Green, it is unsupportable and unforgivable.
    For gods sake Rose, just resign and maintain some dignity!

  5. Yes! A very well written article. We voted green and now our votes are supporting West Byron being developed.

    Cr Wanchap your resignation would be greatly appreciated by many who voted green. Try getting elected on your own platform next time!

  6. She’s a real estate agent for crying out loud – complete conflict of interest – how can she be making planning decisions? Of course she’s going to want mega development. Her misrepresentation to the community of having green values and caring for our environment and community is disgusting, how can anyone take this woman seriously again? Would love to hear from Rose and how she justifies her actions, she is ruining her reputation, I don’t get it. Can she really be so ruthless?

    • Couldn’t agree more. We should ask Rose to front a community forum of the people who voted Green and ask her to justify her position on every single pro-development vote she had cast that has opposed the Greens’ position.

  7. ….couldn’t agree more .Issue by issue Cr Wanchap abuses the environment and betrays voters.Resign please Cr Wanchap before you do any more damage.

  8. Wow. I am seeing more and more of party politics in local government. Am I just waking up or has this always been the case in Byron. What are the residents in Byron Shire doing. Have they been talking with their local Councillors to let them know what they want? Calling on all Residents to start a Residents Roundtable that can discuss issues in advance without getting into party politics. Happy to help out anyone willing to start a Residents Roundtable up in Byron so that the voters decide what they want any level of government to do.

  9. Sadly, the residents are getting a schooling in the game called “Politics.” Wanchap was elected by the voice of the people. if she misrepresented herself to get elected, this is nothing new. Compare the Council to the US Supreme court and the vetting process that goes on. Look at Justice Kennedy… he has turned out to be the ‘swing’ voter for EITHER the liberal or conservative side about 50% of the time. and those with an Abortion agenda kept it pretty well hidden when the President wanted an anti-abortion judge nominated.

    How deeply can you look into the heart of a man and know their true motives? People need to realise just because a candidate calls themselves a Green, what is the real agenda?

    If Rose Wanchap purposely misled the voters is she guilty of perjury? Perhaps all these guys need to be ‘Sworn under Oath’ when they declare and should be required to sign an affidavit of “Mission Statement” if elected…

    Politics is inherently dirty and today, most politicos place themselves and their personal gain before public service for the good of the community.

    Our previous mayor pulled some shenanigans (backing Peter Noble’s Horse) that resulted in her getting elected to Parliament… So, if you sell out, be sure the money’s big enough to leave town…

  10. Yes, I absolutely agree with the editor’s comments.
    Rose should resign, show some integrity and understand that her position on Council only came about because she stood on Greens’ ticket and is clearly, NOT.
    Instead we inadvertently ended up with another pro- ( often inappropriate) development councillor.
    Shame…………….dishonest representation and of course it was quite silly to expect a real estate agent to put the delicate environmental balance in the Shire ahead of business interests.

  11. in regard to Val’s comment”hasn’t done anything to protect the environment”….i worked with Rose directly for a few month last year to stop the fluoridation of our shire,she was not only well educated about the agenda but a great force to work with,even spending a lot of money out of her own pocket on it,as i did.Where were you , Val ??!…..the rest might be history now,but credit where credit is due !

  12. Can I suggest you contact Byron Residents’ Group if you want to take action? We have been working on most of the issues that were on the Council agenda last week. We are non party political. Email: [email protected]

  13. I have always had respect for Rose Wanchap as I believed Rose acted based on her principals I also thought that Rose was a community minded person with integrity (Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and morals). I can not understand that if Rose stood with integrity on the Greens ticket how she can now justify her voting patterns. If Rose does indeed have integrity she should resign as many of the people who voted for her feel cheated.

  14. Councilor Wanchap should have resigned or been sacked by the greens party.. an election held for her replacement …if she so wished she could have run again on an independent ticket or a Lib / Nats ticket as thats where she seems to be heading after watching her in council last week….. I was not impressed by her way of waiting to see who voted before adding her hand, her understanding of the issue was at best disillusioning and of sometimes no relevance ….. and her understanding of process disgusting …seriously if we have to have this sort of councilor god help us all ….and for those who wish to come back at me… dont shot the messenger……go to council and watch …..

  15. So who knows how to put this into process? Surely what she has done cannot be allowed? There must be some path or proper procedure to take that will enforce her resignation. Any legals out there that know how to go about this?It’s true if she stays in that position much longer the damage done will be irreparable. Thanks David for such a well written account of whats happening. Can someone come up with the solution? It seems now she is voting out of spite to go against a party whose ticket she got into council on. Rose it is best you resign now!!

  16. This info below is from the Office of State/Local Government Relations office-
    “The role of a councillor as an individual elected member is to represent the interests of residenst and ratepayers .This role requires a councillor to provide community leadership and guidance,and to facilitate communications between the community and council”
    I voted for Rose and I also would like the rail trail ,I have sent emails to councillors asking for them to support the rail trail.The following is just something to ponder- If 100 people sent emails to our councillors asking to support rail trails and only 50 people sent emails saying no to rail trails what should the councillors do? Should they follow “party lines” and vote against the wishes of these people ?
    The word “individual elected member ” seems to be getting eroded by the political power and persuasions of the party.I am not a member of say the Greens but I like some of their policies but don’t agree with some.
    So if I send emails to the Green councillors (that I voted in ) and it is against the “party line” policy ,does my email get dismissed?
    I hope not ,as it means the councillors are not running the show but their “puppet masters ” .
    Food for thought .

  17. credibility and integrity and trust are essential characteristics where a leadership role is taken. if these are lost then effective leadership soon goes. it would seem that it is only a matter of time. the real issue becomes, how much damage will be done before the inevitable happens and she loses the position of power she no longer has a right to hold. with luck? there may be some remnant of honour left in her and the councillor will do the right thing and resign….

  18. It is certainly good to know that many people are agreeing that she should resign! I hope it will happen very soon and should be of no delay. Quite obvious that a lot of people are seeing her wearing disguise as someone representing people in Byron who are clearly in support of The Green! Please spread the word if anyone knows a petition to insist on her resignation as I’d like to sign the petition. If people voted her through The Green then she should know that people have the right to express that they no longer needs her voice and actions.

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