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Byron Shire
June 24, 2024

Rate rise needed to restore Richmond River: councillor

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The Richmond River estuary at Ballina was rated F in a 2015 Ecohealth report. Photo environment.nsw.gov.au
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Ballina Shire Cr Keith Williams is calling for restoration works on the Richmond River to be the top priority for the council’s next budget – and he’s asking for a rate rise to help fund it.

At last week’s Ballina council finance committee meeting, Cr Williams put up a motion for a 1.5 per cent rate rise to help fund a healthy waterways program.

The motion was defeated on the casting vote of Mayor David Wright.

Ballina Councillor Keith Williams. Photo supplied
Ballina Councillor Keith Williams. Photo supplied

But Cr Williams is hopeful a compromise can be reached at this Thursday’s council meeting, which will reconsider the issue.

Cr Williams said the river is ‘in serious trouble.’

‘The situation has gotten worse in the four years I have been a councillor. The death of the majority of oysters in the estuary over the last couple of years is a sign we can’t allow this to continue,’ he said,

‘We have talked the river to death. It’s time for action and action will cost money.’

Cr Williams estimated that the total cost of implementing the Coastal Zone Management Plan for the Richmond River is ‘around $16 million.’

‘A 1.5 per cent rate rise raises $300,000 per year.

‘This is nowhere near enough to do the job but it provides a starting point to apply for state and federal funding to implement a wide range of strategies to improve the health of the river.

‘We can turn our river around. It has been done elsewhere and it can be done here. Thursday’s Council meeting will be the test of whether there is a will to begin,’ Cr Williams said.


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  1. We’ve already had a rates rise to pay for Ballina and Alstonville swimming pools upgrade. Is there no end to all the levies these characters seek to impose on us to fund their pet projects?

    • I agree Jon. Any government Commonwealth State or Council needs to put together and get broad endorsement a comprehensive budget strategy for its elected term, That should cover all the large items and ongoing commitments, and be balanced against enough revenue. Annually too the budget should cover all items, not rate rises tied to specific spends like this. But at least Cr Williams is proposing it be paid from rates paid by Ballina residents and homeowners, rather than trying to get visitors to pay for spending as some people in the Byron Shire are trying to do.

  2. I agree with Cr Williams. The repair of the Richmond River is urgent and should be top of the priority list.
    For years the River has been badly neglected and state governments have done bugger all to fix it. I have a letter from the Healthy Rivers Commission more than a decade old now which speaks to the parlours state of the River and states clearly that there is little money to fix the problem and that a triage method needs to be used to determine which bits should be sacrificed and which should be saved. The very fact that there was a preparedness to sacrifice parts of the river system tells us a great deal about the value placed on our economically and environmentally critical natural infrastructure and the services provided often for nothing. But it also tell us about how badly-informed or corrupt our decision-makers are when they vote to continue with the status quo. And it tells us about our own failures to hold them to account or even take an interest in our own future. You can’t continue to shit in your own nest without consequences and we are seeing those consequences now. Perhaps the state treasurer should spend some of her giant surplus on fixing the Richmond. She could start by cleaning up the sewerage treatment plants which dump partially treated effluent into the River

  3. Yes, we have just had a rate rise (more than a year ago) for Ballina and Alstonville swimming pools upgrades but not a sod or a screw has been turned, what has happened to all that money raised?


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