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May 22, 2024

Byron Greens’ mea culpa over Rose Wanchap

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Cr Rose Wanchap during heated debate at last Thursday's Byron Shire Council meeting. Photo Eve Jeffery
‘Not for turning’ : Greens defector Cr Rose Wanchap. Photo Eve Jeffery

Chris Dobney

A prominent Byron Greens member has broken the party’s silence over the selection, election and subsequent defection of prominent real estate agent Rose Wanchap on Byron Shire Council.

Tom Tabart, a former Byron shire councillor and Byron Greens convenor, has written to Echonetdaily to finally apologise and hopefully put to bed the sorry saga that has plagued the party and the council for four years, resulting in a massive lurch to the right against voters’ intentions.

Mr Tabart has confirmed he will be nominating for the Greens 2016 council ticket but says he and all other nominees will face a tougher grilling than Ms Wanchap got in 2012.

According to the new process, any nominee for council will firstly have to get three other Greens members to approve their nomination, then front election committee to be questioned.

The committee than will have right to accept or refuse any nomination.

This will be followed by a ballot of the membership to determine positions on the ticket.

‘This will ensure anyone the least bit sus gets a good grilling,’ Mr Tabart told Echonetdaily.

‘Rose went through the whole meet the candidates and basically didn’t say a word on any of the things that she was going to vote against us on,’ he added.

In his letter to the editor, published today, Mr Tabart said, ‘In 2012 the Greens and I made a huge mistake in endorsing Rose, we were very wrong and sincerely regret our lack of foresight and the subsequent damage caused.

‘In leaving the Greens and joining the pro-development faction early in the current term of Council, Rose Wanchap destroyed the political model voted for in 2012 by the Byron electors and enabled decisions contrary to their clearly expressed values.

‘There’s been no shortage of people making it patently clear to Rose that through her actions she has betrayed her local community. She still appears to think she’s done nothing ethically wrong and we have found to our cost that “the lady’s not for turning”.’

Asked whether he thought it was appropriate for a real estate agent to be selected by the party, given its strong stance against developer donations, Mr Tabart said, ‘she seemed like a very alternative sort of real estate agent.’

Cr Wanchap, along with Greens Cr Duncan Dey and mayor Simon Richardson, were in council session at time of writing and could not be contacted for comment.

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  1. You mean Cr Rose Wanchap has not been thrown out of the Greens Party for defecting to an anti-green group.
    There is a great story that the Greens have brought all the troubles onto themselves.

  2. The Greens need to seriously tighten up their act in many ways, not just in selection of candidates for council elections.
    Being a real estate agent or developer of any kind should automatically disqualify anyone from running for council. Their will eventually be a conflict or interest

  3. This story shows that underneath the alternative veneer it is hand to hand combat in Byron Bay.

    Mr Tabart said, ‘she seemed like a very alternative sort of real estate agent.’

    How naïve can you be? She is a salesperson who has develop a slightly alternative persona in order to serve her clientele and make her money flogging the Byron Bay dream. That’s her job. Her role as a Green is positively Shakespearean and deserving of several curtain calls.

    But here’s the thing with Byron Bay. A lot of people go to yoga and wear linen shirts. These people also seem to be ‘very alternative’. But in point of fact; underneath the linen shirts they are very conservative. For example, they quietly go along with an inequitable and discriminatory paid parking regime which keeps all the yucky low income locals away. Thereby tactically endorsing a social cleansing program in the unspoken hope that in the long term paid parking will boost their real estate values. Others support the building of the Belongil sea wall which will destroy a beach and bird nesting areas

    So it’s a bit rich blaming a real estate agent for the towns woes. Some alternative types might even describe the current council as the residents of Byron Bay’s collective Karma.

  4. In a democratic country and Australia is a democratic country, it is against democracy to reject a promising candidate for membership of a party without showing cause why the promising candidate is rejected when those who reject that candidate promise that Australia will go forward politically and not go backward when the judges don’t recognise democracy as it was back in the days of Abraham. It is written.

  5. Why wait four years, until the next election cycle to apologise?

    Why hasn’t the Greens as a party spent this four years pressuring Cr Wanchap for her resignation, or at least attempting to win back the trust of the community? We have a Greens member in the Upper and Lower house of State parliament representing our region, a Greens Mayor, and Greens had the largest representation on this council out of all the major parties, and what good has it done?

    Tell us why we should vote Greens in again? Our State MP Tamara Smith folded over the Round House within a month of getting in and since then we haven’t heard a peep from her other than the usual meet and greet openings and anti-CSG rhetoric – and our Greens Mayor was saying how wonderful it was to have sold that property for peanuts in order to buy a bit of bitumen that our rates should cover. We have the West Byron development that has gained traction despite great resistance. We have a draft Rural Land Use Strategy that is far more concerning as it will pave the way for developers to drive a stake into the heart of our hinterlands and totally destroy the final bastion of what makes this Shire so special. And we have the ongoing rockwall saga, that Jan Barham is fighting a good fight against and kudos to her for being such a Byronian stalwart, but none of this should have been so.

    It may seem like I am cherry picking issues and I probably am, but these are the issues that we voted the Greens in to fight against. I’m not even going into things that council should be addressing like the lack of decent employment opportunities, drive-able roads, affordable housing, our overflowing tip etc.

    Admittedly we have experienced a substantial drop in non-domestic violence, which is to be applauded, as is this blocking of the Broken Head development. So is that what your going to run on, a 10-12% drop in non-domestic violence, and one development knocked back?

    What did the Greens do so well that they deserve another shot, what difference did they make? And I ask this seriously as a voter who intends to vote Green federally, but cannot see why to do it locally. What can they do, that an Independent candidate cannot.

    That a real-estate agent might have had pecuniary interests in development is not a surprise, what is a surprise is a lackadaisical apology for what have been four very destructive years to our communities social and ecological fabric. Four years that your party caused by not showing any foresight or duty of care. Nice to hear that you need references now, not so nice to hear that you were so irresponsible to begin with.

    With any luck there will be some promising independent nominations and we can do away with partisan politics altogether, because while Greens are the best of a bad lot, all too often we are voting for the party and not the person. This may work at a federal level, but at a local level government is supposed to be an avenue for the community to participate and have their needs heard, which has definitely not happened this term.

    (Note: I have zero political affiliations of any type)

  6. Well said Tom Tobart. Cllr Rose Wanchap relationship with the Greens has been discussed in the Echo at some length in the past. The Echo published my letter below a few months after Rose defected from the Greens in early 2013:

    “Confession, Explanation, Apology. I believe I was the first to urge Rose Wanchap to run for the Greens. She seemed a lovely person (I still think that). I met her at toxic chemicals protest actions. I believed the Greens needed to embrace progressive business people and unite all sections of our society to create a progressive community. Others agreed and also urged Rose to run.
    At meetings, Rose strongly supported the Greens and especially Simon Richardson. She was opposed to mega developers taking over our Shire. She even wrote a half page Echo election ad saying so: (http://issuu.com/echopublications/docs/byron_echo_27_13/17?e=2296014/4704880).
    Rose charmed the Greens at meetings. Over many Greens meetings prior to the election in 2012 she never deviated. So when she first began to abandon this position at Council, I wrote her a friendly letter trying to understand her actions. I wrote “I believe you are a person of moral integrity…You were elected as …the recipient of Greens votes. I cannot see how a person of moral integrity can resign from the Greens yet continue to remain a Councillor, vote with the pro-development Councillors and live with your conscience. I look forward to your reply.”
    Rose never replied. So I am the person who campaigned for Rose to run for the Greens. I apologise to our Shire. I’ve had many sleepless nights since, consumed with guilt. Jim Beatson, Byron Bay”

    As The Echo reported at the time, once Councillor Wanchap made her true political feelings known, which she had previously hidden, the Green successfully called on her to resign from the Greens.

    To get an understanding of how she misled both the electorate, and the Greens, you only need to read the Echo advertisement listed above or watch her YouTube election video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLNEjfA0r48

    In the September 2012 election Councillor Wanchap received 31 personal votes, while receiving 3,448 or 98.04% of her votes from those who voted for the Greens.

    Prior to the election she explained that although committed to the Greens, she was inexperienced on the machinery of government and would be looking for advice and help, which Tom Tobart, myself and quite a few others offered to provide.

    Following her resignation from the Greens party, I have on two occasions written her polite, friendly letters requesting that we meet up to try to get some understanding of her actions. I have received no replies.

    Her actions were a primary reason for why I resigned from the Greens party, and resume my career as a journalist, unencumbered by being a member of any political party.

  7. Since when are local Councillors supposed to be aligned to Political parties? When dealing with all the nitty details that Councillors must deal with – I don’t believe major political party ideologies have any place whatsoever. Councillors should use their own best judgement on each and every issue, doing what they think is right for their community – not be a slave to a master political plan of a party. Basically a conscience vote on every issue. It’s a little scary to think that the Greens are trying to treat local council like the federal government, including selection of candidates and party rules. Whatever happened to simply electing ‘Bob’ or ‘Jane’ or ‘Rose’ because they are good respected people in the community? If the Greens have defined Councillors, who do the other members belong to? I really doubt the Labor or Liberal party has anything whatsoever to do with other candidates. But I might be wrong?

    • David of no-last-name, you may have failed to notice that Councillor Paul Spooner is a member of the Labor Party and several of the ‘right’ pro-development, pro-rock wall councillors are Nationals. So there are a number of political parties represented on Byron Shire Council. If you delve into the rules of the AEC you will discover that while a party’s policies are binding on a member at a national and state level, they are not at local council level. So party membership does not behold anyone to vote a certain way on any issue in council. This means when a party puts forth any candidate there is a level of trust required that their values are indeed aligned with the party and their major stated policies.


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