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April 23, 2021

Real estate agents clamouring for Byron’s vote

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Byron Bay realtor and chamber of commerce president Gail Fuller
Gail Fuller is one of four Byron Bay real estate agents standing as council candidates.

Chris Dobney

Rose Wanchap is not the only real estate agent seeking election to Byron Shire Council next month. Four agents, or agency employees, are standing on three different tickets.

Gail Fuller, director of Byron Coastal Real estate, is heading up one ticket. Kirsty Harland, who works in her office, is in fourth position on the same ticket.

Brian Grant, a long-time agent with GNF Bangalow, is running in fourth position on National Party-aligned councillor Alan Hunter’s ticket.

GNF-Brian-Grant
GNF’s Brian Grant is standing for election to Byron Shire Council on Alan Hunter’s ticket.

All four have stated on their candidate information sheets that they are ‘not a property developer’ or ‘a close associate of a property developer’.

In the optional section under the heading ‘employment’, three of the four candidates failed to nominate an occupation.

Ms Wanchap alone completed that section, describing herself as ‘business owner/manager’.

Call for ban

The rush of real estate agents to the fore has prompted Labor candidate and Wilsons Creek Public School principal Wil Constable to call for a ban on all real estate agents and developers from being able to run for council.

Mr Constable said it had been ‘long standing Labor policy to place a ban on real estate agents and developers from running for local government and we are calling for this ban to be introduced into Byron Shire.’

Labor's Wil Constable is calling for a ban on real estate agents on Byron Shire Council.
Labor’s Wil Constable is calling for a ban on real estate agents on Byron Shire Council.

‘It is unrealistic to think that real estate agents and developers can totally remove their conflict of interest on the planning decisions of council,’ he said.

‘We saw the result of The Greens electing a real estate agent, Rose Wanchap, to council in 2012. This decision by The Greens meant that while the community voted for a progressive council, we got a conservative one. It has meant that council has made key decisions in favour of developers and the property industry, and against the best interests of our community.

‘There are a record number of real estate agents running for council this election, with at least four running across each of the conservative tickets. If they are elected, whose interest will they serve? It’s time to get these vested interests out of our council.’

‘We are asking all voters in Byron Shire to think about who they want representing them after this election. We are asking them to put the community first and to put the vested interests of the property industry last.’

The Labor team have started a change.org petition calling for real estate agents and property developers to be banned from running for Byron Shire council.

Naive

But Ms Fuller has described the ‘concern regarding real estate agents [sitting] on council for self gain’ as ‘a very naïve position to take.’

‘Each candidate and person running must be judged on their track record and community service regardless of their chosen industry,’ she told Echonetdaily.

‘Long-term real estate agents have development experience with planning and housing and can contribute positively in this sector,’ she added.

‘Many developers ask the advice of agents in their housing design and layout.

‘The other bonus is that we are on the ground and at the cold [sic] face of the community seeing the issues first hand, with housing shortage and community facilities required.

‘Experienced industry people are more likely to understand and negotiate possible conflicts between land uses and or neighbours.

‘The state government have planning rules and codes of conduct for councillors to cover this matter and, any conflict of interest must be declared,’ Ms Fuller said.

 


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5 COMMENTS

  1. Mmm…. I definitely wont be voting for any of these real estate agents.
    I think they are naïve to think that the residents of Byron will vote for them especially if they cant be honest and nominate their employment as a real estate agent. Where is your integrity?
    I also agree that developers and real estate agents should be banned from Council.

  2. ‘Long-term real estate agents have development experience with planning and housing and can contribute positively in this sector,’

    Yes… they know how to game the system to get their shoeboxes approved

  3. I listened to Gail Fuller’s response to the question on illegal holiday letting at last night’s Meet the Candidates forum at Byron Community Centre with much interest. She and fellow real estate agent Rose Wanchap were opposed to prosecution of illegal holiday lets in R2 residential zones and all in favour of regulation . The other 3 candidates who spoke on this question said that prosecution should be applied to illegal holiday lets.

    Gail Fuller failed to say that if elected she would not be able to participate in any debate or vote on holiday letting due to a major conflict of interest. She would also be required to leave the Council Chamber. She also failed to state that her business would greatly benefit with the introduction of Council regulation as part of her business is managing illegal holiday lets. With a management fee of 18% of takings her business will only get better.

    Paul Spooner in his spiel last night said that the Labor candidates have signed a Code of Conduct not to be developers or to be associated with developers. He failed to mention that they should also not be real estate agents.

    My own experience with real estate agents has been negative. Some have been dodgy and shonks.

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