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Byron Shire
May 26, 2024

Who are Byron council staff working for?

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Tom Tabart, Bangalow.

The Byron council agenda for April 20 contains several motions from councillors which are intended to change or amend recommendations of previous or current staff reports.

The staff involved are required to comment on the councillors’ motions and have invariably sought to oppose the councillor and reassert their original report.

This would be understandable if the staff reports were complete, coherent and logical; unfortunately this is not the case and it could be thought that either incompetence or bureaucratic solidarity with other government entities may play part in their presentation.

The long running saga of the Brunswick Heads caravan parks is one example where the council planning director has sided with the NSW Holiday Parks NGO which has been seeking to annex our public land over many years.

The same council bureaucrat has reasserted a garbled defence of the latest plan to redevelop the Tyagarah airstrip complex. This plan, which lacks any financial projections (among other deficiencies), revolves around someone’s desire to develop a heliport (fully serviced air terminal) which was a mysterious upgrade from a helipad (marked landing place) in the original version that went to council.

These are only two space-incomplete examples which raise questions about the council executive.

How the councillors vote on these motions will be very instructive as to their closeness to, and confidence in, the GM’s staff.

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  1. The new $88 million Byron Hospital did not get a Helipad. What is more important than the Hospital for locals when lives are at risk. The Byron area needs infrastructure.
    All this weekend the roads are blocked around the Bluesfest Festival as reported on ABC radio. Where is the money for the Byron infrastructure from all these paying tourists.

  2. The term bureaucrat as used and popularised by Weber was not a pejorative, as Tabard uses it here. Weber contrasted the fair rule based bureaucratic decision making with the arbitrary nature of rule by many princes, charecterised by favouritism and nepotism, and personal whim and fiat. So too with the advice bureaucrats give – it should be bureaucratically derived, not shaped to suit the prince’s wish. And unless there are factual or methodological errors in the advice it should always stand. If princes – or councilors – choose to ignore the advice then so be it – they need to record the reason for doing so. Trying to have the advice changed to suit there intended path of action simply undermines the bureaucratic approach and diffuses accountability if the outcome of the chosen path is unsatisfactory. Bureaucrats always serve their prince but they serve best when the prince allows them to give frank and fearless advice, not the advice the prince wants to hear.

  3. Excuse me Petrus but somewhere when I went to school and somewhere
    when you obviously finished UNI, I lost the PLOT. Princes, methodological.
    Please help me as I am lost as to inderstand your response…………
    Number 1 answer easy, number 2 answer WTF…………

  4. Well said Petrus. Council staff, including the planning director, are bound to act, and make decisions, in accordance with relevant Government legislation, as are the staff of the NSWCHPT . The Councillors, on the other hand, don’t seem to want to take into account any of these matters, seeming to prefer to operate out of their emotional response to issues, to pressure groups and to public opinion wiped up by the Echo. As no doubt they will this time as regards the Parks issues. Thus undermining months of negotiations between council staff and the NSWCHPT, and at the same time voting in resolutions that can never be realised because they contravene NSW Government legislation.

    • Perhaps Geoffrey should explain terms he uses: NSWCHPT means NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust. The use of acronyms just adds to confusion.

  5. JIm,the motion and proposed resolution before Council that Tom refers to contains many references to just that: the NSWCHPT. I thought if the Councillors can figure out what it means, the erudite readers of this paper probably could too. Maybe not!!

  6. And Tom, is there any way you and the other members and supporters of the Foreshore Protection Group (nearly used the acronym there!), and the writers for this paper, can carry out your campaign without resorting to continual use of character assassinations, which is just what your attack on the Council Planing Director is? It’s a really low form of presenting an argument.


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