Former Greens Byron councillor Rose Wanchap’s advertisement in the The Echo last week has prompted the Byron Greens’ returning officer to respond over her claim that she was asked to stand for the party.
While the ad explains her logic for voting to erect a Belongil rock wall, it also sought to clarify why she resigned from the Greens.
Cr Wanchap caused left-wing outrage after abandoning core Green party principles early in Council’s term.
And since resigning, she maintains that she votes independently. However, more often than not, she votes with pro-development councillors Ibrahim, Woods, Hunter and Cubis on controversial projects, many of which are against expert advice and staff recommendations.
In the ad, Cr Wanchap said she was, ‘perhaps naive’ on many contentious issues before being elected to Council.
But after being brought ‘up to speed by staff, endless workshops’ and her own investigations, she says ‘it became painfully apparent that many of these issues had been framed around the welfare of an ideology first and a wider community interest second.’
But it was her claim that she didn’t seek to run second on the Greens ticket which stirred the Byron Greens’ returning officer, Peter Brosnan, into a response.
Mr Brosnan told The Echo, ‘Rose Wanchap’s advertisement in last week’s Echo presents a self-centred account of how she became a Greens candidate in the 2012 council election.’
‘She claims she was approached by the Greens and asked to stand. The facts are different. [Candidate] Jim Beatson decided to join the Greens and asked Rose to join too.
‘They were welcomed as members. Both subsequently nominated as candidates for the Greens’ council ticket.’
‘Rose prepared a polished flyer supporting her candidacy, and along with other nominees, presented her case to the members.
‘A ballot was held and Rose was elected to the second position on the ticket.
‘Her claim that “I didn’t seek this out” is a little wide of the mark.’
Mr Brosnan says one of the reasons many people supported Rose was that she ‘appeared to be an ethical businesswoman who cared about the environment.’
‘She claimed to donate a part of her real estate income to charities in Africa, and she worked hard in the 2008 election countering [chamber of commerce] Byron United’s anti-Green campaign.
‘In other words, she had some cred. On the other hand, she did appear naive.
‘For example, her plan to have solar on every business roof in Byron was worthy but unrealistic. Others were worried about her being a real estate agent. I have to admit that while the latter was a concern to me, I thought on balance her past record suggested she was trustworthy.
‘When she presented her credentials as a council candidate to a meeting, she was passionate and appeared strongly to support Greens principles.
‘There was not even a hint of rock walls, high-rises, West Byron etc.
‘Similarly on the night of the council elections, when it was clear she was going to be a councillor, she spoke enthusiastically about working with [mayor] Simon Richardson, Cr Duncan Dey and Jim Beatson (who at that stage looked like being elected).
‘Later, as we all know, she reverted to type – more concerned about real estate and the opportunities therein than the issues she spruiked at the meeting.’
Mr Brosnan also rejected Cr Wanchap’s assertion that the Greens wanted to move to the centre as ‘rubbish’.
‘If there was any nervousness, it was with the four Greens councillors.
‘They might be seen as “the establishment” and that anyone who had a gripe against Council – which is never a small number – would blame the Greens councillors and that would produce a backlash.’