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Byron Shire
April 17, 2021

Stop using Wilsons Ck as a political football

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I am not in possession of the full facts in regard to the Belongil rock wall saga so would not presume to comment until I am. In the meantime I would request that those not in full possession of the facts in regards the geography and history of the Byron Shire’s landslips do not use the Wilsons Creek community as a political football via the media.

Firstly, there were landslips all over the shire, not just in the Wilsons Creek region, for example Upper Coopers Creek (cut off completely for months), Federal and Possum Shoot.

Secondly, in the Wilsons Creek, Upper Wilsons Creek, Huonbrook and Wanganui region we have suffered nine significant landslips in the three years 2012-15. We estimate that some 600-800 people live in our valleys, fed by one main bitumen road. Two of these landslips have been repaired, three currently under construction, and four under assessment, design or monitoring.

Thirdly, and most importantly in the political footballing arena, the funds to repair the landslips are from state disaster recovery funds via the RMS, not ‘millions of council dollars for a handful of people’ as stated by John Vaughan in a recent Echonetdaily discussion.

This community worked respectfully and co-operatively with council via a Project Reference Group. The process has been slow, frustrating and tedious due to bureaucratic policy and procedure but unfortunately that is just the way it is.

If anyone was to drive west of the Wilsons Creek Primary School to the end of the bitumen road at Huonbrook, they would see that we haven’t been given any special funds from council to repair that actual road at all. I would argue that it still remains one of the worst in the shire. Having said that, we are aware of the current Byron Shire Council infrastructure backlog in funding, and will therefore continue to lobby respectfully for an increase in funding to reseal and maintain hinterland roads.

Ms A Maclean, Huonbrook

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  1. I for one appreciate your patience and your needs. The Belongil saga goes back to the 1970s. But a few weeks ago, I heard the rock wall debate at council. Five councillors voted against rescission, which means they voted for rock walls, partly paid from infrastructure funds. Why?

    Cr Hunter says nothing. Cr Woods believes climate change doesn’t
    exist, sand always returns and any protest is disgraceful ‘class
    warfare’. Cr. Cubis is adamant the protest against the rock walls is a Green conspiracy.
    He thinks the State gave council $300K, as have the landowners.
    Cr. Wanchap displays a costing exceeding $9 million for planned
    retreat. Cr. Ibrahim advocates council paying for a rock wall and then ‘liquidating the asset’.

    But any ‘class warfare’ is actually against us in the wider community.
    Previously, Cr Ibrahim won motions to reclassify this council land behind the wall from
    community land to operational and relabel temporary coastal protection
    works as ‘interim stabilisation’ works. Temporary works can only be
    sandbags. ‘Interim stabilisation’ is a category including bridges,
    tunnels and road works. Rocks would be allowed.

    The coastal retreat plan was set by the 1988 council. It forbids rockwalls. Byron’s first Green council member was only elected in 1995. Although since 2004 the mayor has been a Green, there was never a Green majority on council.

    The State withdrew their $300,000 contribution and argues that costings for planned retreat are incorrect. They offered to do their own study at their own cost. This council refused the offer.

    Mayor Richardson said the people of this community are not stupid.
    They can see what is going on. That’s why they are protesting. Cr
    Spooner and Cameron agreed, pleading that this matter wait for the
    Coastal Zone Management Plan which is nearing completion. Cr. Dey
    asked about the legitimacy of the contracting process and its award to
    Hardings, a company sued by council in 2011 for illegal dumping in Tyagarah.

  2. Thanks Andy for demolishing yet another myth about Belongil. The rock proponents often claim cooincidence with the hill folk affected by ‘natural disaster’ road slips. The difference is that when the hill folk moved in, the public had an ongoing undertaking to keep the public access working. Hence the State pays for road rebuilds, but not for upgrades. All but a couple of the Belongil properties are owned by folk who were told, when the either bought or built, that they were on their own in relation to coastal hazard. Hence the State does not fund their loss when the inevitable happens. This they appear to now not accept.


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