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Byron Shire
April 15, 2021

No more trust in Cr Hunter who should get out of council

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Ratepayers say Byron Shire Councillor Alan Hunter should 'get out of council and co focus on his commercial activities'.
Ratepayers say Byron Shire Councillor Alan Hunter should ‘get out of council and focus on his commercial activities’.

I note with interest Byron shire councillor Alan Hunter’s reappearance in your pages last week.

While the residents of Pinegroves Road are understandably and justifiably angry, concerned and frustrated at their abandonment by council staff and councillors alike and the potential  loss of amenity and the physical risks associated with the traffic up and down their country lane, there is a broader concern here for the community at large.

As I pointed out in my previous letter, penned at the time the Hunters’ DA for their ‘road transport terminal’ was being considered, Alan Hunter was stalking the corridors of the council chambers and the streets of the shire insisting to all who would listen that the proposed facility was necessary for the profitable, viable conduct of his farming business, i.e. for the inwards and outwards movement of supplies, machinery, and farm produce, generally.

Despite his previous form and the informed protests of the neighbours who had already endured a bout of his previous, non-approved, mini-storaging, council staff appeared to swallow this and the change of usage of his sheds was approved.

The Pinegroves Road residents, of course, had an advantage in this – they had already been exposed to several years of Mr Hunter’s relentless manipulation of the planning process, his obfuscation and his refusal to come clean with these neighbours as to his real objectives – still on red alert they continued to monitor the traffic movements up and down the lane with predictable results – the issue has wound up on the front page of the Byron Shire Echo (and Echonetdaily) again.

My concern, and I believe it should concern all residents of the shire is that Cr Hunter, who previously stood as a National Party candidate for the Federal seat of Richmond and who was elected as a member of the Byron Shire Council in September 2013, doesn’t appear to understand the enormous cost to the ratepayers in the time and energy of the council staff, consultants and councillors in considering his various DAs and in monitoring his subsequent behaviour in these matters.

As last week’s editorial correctly points out, a dispute over one of his development applications ended with a Land and Environment Court hearing on site, followed by a Settlement by Consent – importantly with each party paying its own costs.

Council’s staff costs and legal fees in that matter have never been disclosed but could safely be estimated as being many tens of thousands of ratepayer dollars.

My  view, and it is the view of many with whom I have discussed this issue, is that, as an elected representative of other ratepayers, the councillor should consider that he is in a position of trust, ensure that his legitimate business activities are conducted within the  terms of the approvals granted and that he is transparent in the way that he carries on those activities.

Failing that, he should withdraw from his position on the council and concentrate on his commercial life from outside the council chambers.

Graham Mathews, Byron Bay


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4 COMMENTS

  1. Alan Hunter has the characteristics of a person who believes that they are the ‘master and lord of their land” and the “king of the castle”. Therefore, he feels that he has the right to do what he likes with his property irrespective of planning laws and the effect that his business operation has on his neighbours. His current DA does not give him permission to operate a self storage business in a rural zone. He has interpreted the law incorrectly.

    He shares characteristics in common with other charlatans such as those who illegally holiday let and others who undertake illegal developments. They see that compliance is weak and see others getting away with the illegality. All the “hail fellow, well met” is a front. Throw the book at him, Council. I doubt that it will happen.

    • Cr Hunter has a major conflict of interest. The conflict is between his business activities (that are currently being investigated to see whether they are illegal again, after being found previously to not be abiding by the terms of his DA) and his legal obligation to uphold the planning laws in undertaking his duty as a Byron Shire councillor. His contempt for these planning laws can be seen in the illogical and dubious decisions that he has passed with fellow councillors Wanchap, Ibrahim, Woods and Cubis.

  2. In my opinion you can’t blame him for getting in some practice: “.. just because the Land and Environment Court said I can’t and then the Council gave me a list of conditions on my DA doesn’t mean I should listen to them..”, “..but no one told me allowing a mega development in Ewingsdale Road would mean that more people would move to Byron and now the place is completely overrun..”, “..that dumping more rocks onto Belongil would destroy the beach..”, “… that raising the height limit for the shopping centre in town would set a precedent that every other developer would want to follow..” He may as well start giving pointers to the rest of the famous five on how to coat yourself in Teflon too as they’re going to need all the help they can get.

  3. What has Cr Hunter done since being on Council apart from those things that have been for himself? Any sign of a vision? Moved any motions? Generated anything new or beneficial to the community? He does seem to have voted with the other 4 to turn Byron into an extension of the Gold Coast. This doesn’t give one the impression he is working too hard for the community but just going through the motions. Once he’s got his business up and running then it will be interesting to see if he sticks around. Let’s hope not – we can’t afford him.

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