A community group that rallied for transparent, responsible and inclusive local governance in the 1990s has re-emerged for the upcoming council elections, owing to what they say are ‘scary’ similarities to that era.
Longtime local Rossco Phillips again heads Community Action Network (CAN) and is again calling on the community to get involved and embrace participation to be ‘part of the solution’ to the issues facing Byron Shire.
Phillips says owing to a period of ‘relative sanity’ of Byron Shire politics, the group did not have to rally like they did after the 90s. ‘But now we find ourselves again with a council that is leaving many residents cold.
‘In the 1990s, the concept of “unique and natural Byron” was going out the window fast’, Phillips says.
‘So a group of motivated and concerned residents came together in 1994 and formed Save Our Shire (SOS), which then became Community Action Network.
‘CAN ran a very successful campaign in 1995, which saw a landslide win to the community with a seven-to-three councillor result, and included Ian Kingston defeating the pro-development candidate, Ross Tucker, for mayor.
‘Ironically, the new council had to then place a moratorium on nearly all development in urban areas until the sewerage systems could be updated and/or expanded to cope with the load.’
Phillips says leading up to elections, CAN ‘will identify and support candidates who share our principles, and welcomes local residents’ support to help us get them elected.’
‘CAN will assess councillors who want to be re-elected by reviewing their voting histories on the important issues, and we also want to meet new candidates to hear what issues they care about and why they believe they would make good councillors.’
‘We strongly believe the future of this Shire cannot be left to chance – or to the whims of the state government.’