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Byron Shire
March 1, 2024

Byron council candidates declare their preferences

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Hans Lovejoy

With a bigger candidate line-up than last election, preferences will undoubtedly play a large part in who gets elected to Byron Shire Council on September 10.

What will make the difference is how you vote – above or below the line.

When we vote above the line (as is the case mostly), it results in the most popular groups getting a few candidates in their group across the line.

If voters instead number the boxes below the line and number individual names, the council line-up result will likely be considerably different than if voting above the line.

At the last election, there were three Greens elected, three conservatives elected on Cr Di Woods’s ticket and two independents elected – Basil Cameron (progressive) and Sol Ibrahim (conservative).

Cr Paul Spooner was elected as a progressive independent but joined the Labor party during the council term.

Who preferences whom?

The Echo asked each leader of the candidate groups whom they were preferencing and the replies are as follows.

Current councillor and mayoral candidate Basil Cameron from Our Sustainable Future.
Current councillor and mayoral candidate Basil Cameron from Our Sustainable Future.

Group A is Our Sustainable Future and is led by mayoral candidate and current progressive councillor Basil Cameron. His second preference is Cate Coorey’s Community Byron (Group H), third is James Wright’s Group E, fourth is the Greens (Group B) and fifth is Country Labor (Group C). If voting below the line, they recommend voting for Matt Hartley, ‘as shown on our how-to-vote flyer.’ Mayoral candidates preferences after Cr Cameron are Simon Richardson (Greens) and then Paul Spooner from Country Labor.

Greens' mayoral candidate (and current mayor) Simon Richardson.
Greens’ mayoral candidate (and current mayor) Simon Richardson.

Group B is The Greens, and led by mayor Simon Richardson. He is seeking re-election as mayor. Their second preference is Community Byron, third is Our Sustainable Future, fourth is James Wright and fifth is Country Labor.

Of the mayoral candidates, The Greens have preferenced Basil Cameron second and Paul Spooner third. Asked if Byron Greens choose their own preferences or whether it was a state/fed decision, Greens convenor Lucy Ashley replied ‘It was absolutely, positively 100 per cent decided locally.’

ALP candidate for Ballina, Paul Spooner.
Current councillor and Country Labor candidate for mayor, Paul Spooner.

Group C is Country Labor, led by current councillor and Byron Bay Community Centre manager Paul Spooner, who is also mayoral candidate. Like the Greens, Cr Spooner says his campaign is locally run.

For councillors, they preferenced Community Byron, third is Our Sustainable Future and fourth is The Greens. James Wright is preferenced last. For mayor, Basil Cameron is positioned second and Simon Richardson third.

Greens defector Rose Wanchap has formed her own group, called The Middle Ground, and is running for mayor.

Group D is The Middle Ground, which is led by current councillor and former realtor Rose Wanchap. She was elected on a Greens ticket but quit the party shortly after being elected. Cr Wanchap is also contesting to be mayor, and held the balance of power in the last term. She says she will be preferencing Group G, which is Byron Shire In Balance, councillor Alan Hunter’s group.

James Wright heads the Power to the People group.
James Wright heads the Power to the People group.

Group E is led by James Wright, a young recent newcomer to the region. His team are called Power to the People on their promotional material and advocate participatory democracy. Our Sustainable Future is preferenced second, Greens third, Community Byron fourth and Country Labor fifth. They are encouraging voting below the line to support local independent candidate Matthew Hartley.

Real estate agent Gail Fuller leads group F candidates.

Group F is led by Gail Fuller, who is a Byron Bay realtor and chamber of commerce president. She told The Echo ‘I don’t have any preferences’, which means that all her votes will not flow to other groups.

Group G is Byron Shire In Balance, which is led by current councillor Alan Hunter.

Current councillor Alan Hunter is also putting his hand for mayor.
Current councillor Alan Hunter (Nationals) is also putting his hand for mayor.

Cr Hunter is a National Party member and held the balance of power in the last term. He is also a mayoral candidate. Their second preference is for Group D, The Middle Ground and Gail Fuller’s Group F third. As for mayor, they are preferencing Rose Wanchap from The Middle Ground second.

Cate Coorey believes that council process needs to be more transparent when making decisions that have a long term effect on Byron Shire Beaches. Photo Eve Jeffery.
Cate Coorey leads the Community Byron group. Photo Eve Jeffery.

Group H is Community Byron, which is led by Catherine Coorey, president of the Byron Residents’ Group. The group was active throughout Council’s term, placing pressure on the council majority over their planning decisions and governance. Her group is preferencing Our Sustainable Future second, the Greens third, Country Labor fourth and James Wright fifth. For mayor, they suggest Simon Richardson first, Paul Spooner second and Basil Cameron third.

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  1. Seems pretty clear then, if we want a shire we’ll recognise and still love in 4 years, vote Groups A,B,C,H, … & maybe E
    BUT If we want housing development sprawl, apartment blocks, and more traffic, either move to the Gold Coast …or vote groups D & G… ‘the development at all cost’ groups.
    Got it.


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