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Byron Shire
July 30, 2021

Tweed council spat ‘stretches thin blue line’

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In a lighter moment, Cr Carolyn Byrne enjoying a little fancy dress. Photo supplied.
In a lighter moment, Cr Carolyn Byrne enjoying a little fancy dress. Photo supplied.

Luis Feliu

The laying of a police complaint by a Tweed shire councillor against a political opponent after last Thursday’s mayoral-election meeting has been described as the ‘Tweed’s biggest ever dummy spit’.


The complaint, according to former councillor and community watchdog group leader Ron Cooper, was out of proportion and wasted police resources.

Conservative Cr Carolyn Byrne told media she had made an official complaint to police during an interview at her home against newly-elected deputy mayor Gary Bagnall, but remained tight-lipped about what had upset her.

Former mayor, and now new deputy Cr Bagnall, did not mince his words, saying the issue was a case of ‘sour grapes’ over the loss by the National-Party-aligned faction of both the mayoralty and deputy mayoralty positions in two ‘lucky-dip’ draws after candidates during each vote for the two roles were tied at 3-3.

He rejected any suggestion he had been ‘aggressive’ toward her, but said he would apologise to her over an allegation he called her a ‘cow’ during a heated moment when she had ‘bad mouthed’ him over signing some council documents.

It’s no secret the two councillors don’t get on well and often clash in council. During Cr Bagnall’s term as mayor in the past year, the interaction between the two became more combative and the relationship is frosty at best.

A council watcher recently publicly highlighted the nature of the angst, by noting that Cr Byrne was the only one who voted, at each council meeting, against accepting the mayoral minute, as per convention, from mayor Bagnall.

The progressive and conservative factions on the seven-seat council have fought a pitched battle over the big development issues over the past three years, with only a vote usually splitting them.

But the recent resignation of Labor’s Cr Michael Armstrong has meant the margin is even slimmer and new Greens mayor Katie Milne will be forced to use her casting vote a lot more often, as was the case at Thursday’s meeting.

Mr Cooper, a longtime Kingscliff local and member of the Tweed Monitor community watchdog group who served on council from 1990 to 2000, said Cr Byrne’s faction should ‘get on with representing their constituents and not waste their time with the disruptive behaviour that has been prevalent in council, when councillors they don’t like are voted in as mayor’.

In a letter to media, Mr Cooper said ‘So Cr Byrne has demanded a police investigation because, it seems, she may have been called a cow. Is she serious?’

‘Is she so self-centred that she would drag an already stretched police force off its legitimate work of protecting our community just to massage her bruised ego? She’s been watching too much Judge Judy.

Tweed mayor Gary Bagnall will move to defer acceptance of a tender to build a Men's Shed on an environmentally sensitive site at Black Rocks. Photo Jeff Dawson
Tweed deputy mayor Gary Bagnall. Photo Jeff Dawson

‘I’d have more credibility demanding an investigation of the hygiene of the Council chamber. After all the frothing at the mouth and the Tweed’s biggest ever dummy spit would have left the chamber needing a good scrub,’ the former councillor said.

Mr Cooper went on to say that ‘Those people objecting to the mayoral election result should remember that the progressive team gained the majority of votes at the last council election.

‘Normally they would retain the mayoralty for the current council’s term. One of the progressives had to resign because of a family illness. The people who voted for him should not be treated as if they now don’t exist. Justice prevailed when the conservatives tried to cynically exploit this sad event.’

But the conservative faction isn’t letting it rest, with Cr Warren Polglase calling for Cr Bagnall’s scalp for his alleged misbehaviour, telling media that new mayor Cr Milne should sack him.


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  1. Some would call it overreacting. Others would call it ending workplace bullying and ending violence against women.

    I hear that White Ribbon are looking for a new ambassador.

  2. If you harass and bully someone as Cr Byrne has Cr Bagnall over a long period of time, a reaction is to be expected. I commend Cr Bagnall on his restraint and excellent efforts to represent his electorate fairly and equitably.

  3. Unbelievable. If you could hear the rude comments from the pro-development faction during any council meeting it’s amazing that no mayor has ever called a Code of Conduct complaint on them.


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