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Byron Shire
June 16, 2024

Tweed councilllors attempt to overturn marriage equality support

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Chris Dobney

Tweed Shire Council will hold a special general meeting this evening following an attempt by the shire’s three conservative councillors to derail its support for the YES vote in the marriage equality debate.

The mayoral motion was carried at a full meeting of council just a week ago, giving the conservatives little likelihood of changing the council’s position and leading deputy mayor Reece Byrnes (ALP) to describe the move as ‘grandstanding’.

Under the policy, council agreed erect a rainbow flag or banners outside the Tweed and Murwillumbah council chambers for the duration of the controversial postal survey in a move similar to that pioneered by Lismore City Council.

Cr Milne’s motion also proposed that council promotes its position on the issue through the media and social networking and holds at least one councillor-led public function to promote the YES vote.

Waste of time

Instead councillors will be dragged back to council’s Murwillumbah chambers from 4.30pm tonight to hear just two speakers from either side of the debate and then vote again on the motion it has already carried.

The rescission motion was signed by minority conservative councillors Pryce Allsop, James Owen and Warren Polglase.

Cr Byrnes told Echonetdaily there was little-to-no chance of the rescission motion succeeding.

‘It is, I think, a bit of a waste of time. Those councillors should get on board with the YES campaign. It’s so important for young people in particular, who may be confused or in a very bad situation in terms of understanding their sexuality – and I think the community needs to be behind them,’ he said.

‘It’s sad that we even have to have this debate in the first place when it could have been decided in parliament.

‘And it’s unfortunate we have to be dragged back to a meeting when, as an organisation we should be supporting this campaign wholeheartedly,’ he said.

Delaying tactic

Mayor Katie Milne (Greens) told Echonetdaily that proponent Warren Polglase had broken with his own often-expressed view that ‘a rescission motion shouldn’t be put unless there is new information’.

‘We haven’t had any new information on this so I don’t believe there is really any valid reason for this rescission motion,’ she said.

‘I haven’t heard that there is going to be change in councilllors’ voting patterns so I don’t believe it will get up,’ she added.

Cr Milne said she believed the motion was a delaying tactic.

‘It prevents us getting those activities for supporting the community happening until further down the track.’

She said once today’s meeting was out of the way, the council would proceed to organise a community event in support of the YES campaign.

‘We haven’t exactly nutted out what that’s going to be yet, something low key – maybe a film screening or a picnic in the park,’ she said.

Social justice

Cr Milne has also taken exception to the conservatives’ argument that council shouldn’t be advocating on such an issue.

‘We advocate on a whole lot of social justice issues in council. We advocated against domestic violence, and in fact it was a conservative councillor who put up the motion that council support domestic violence causes. There was no consultation, there was no query or question about whether we should be advocating on that aspect – it’s just a bit of red herring, really, to say that it’s not in our role. It’s clearly in our role as leaders in the community,’ she said.

Cr Byrnes added, ‘I thought it was important that the council take a stance as an organisation, just as other organisations such as Qantas, has taken a stance in support of the marriage equality campaign.’


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  1. Your job is to deliver services to ratepayers.It is none of your business to suggest that your ratepayers vote yor way.We pay rates & I am being told to pay for a flag to promote your agenda.
    Well guess what? I am voting NO

  2. It’s OK to have public displays and discussions for one side or the other in this survey.
    What has got me annoyed – and my partner – is the text messages for the “Yes” campaign to our mobile phones. Mine arrived at 1am one morning, for goodness sake! What an invasion of privacy! And who is funding this?
    Surely people can make their own mind up.

  3. I suppose I could understand our old fossil having this viewpoint but really – Pryce Allsop and James Owen – how far will you stoop to support your buddy?
    This meeting is definitely a waste of the Councillors and staff time and our money !!!!!!!!!!

  4. The whole yes or no campaign has been a waste of both money and time., The question being asked is should same sex people be allowed to get married. No is the obvious answer. Same sex people have been living together for many years. This is a legal question, so should have been phrased…do you think the union between same sex partners should be referred to “a civil union” or as marriage? But making it look like we are monsters to oppose the term of marriage for their union is disgraceful, and really highlights the general stupidity , incompetence, and the ridiculous waste of tax payers money that has been wasted on the issue by our Federal Government. As for TSC`s stand,what more could you expect from them anyway? It is a very strange world we live in now, where if you do not wave the flag for same sex unions, there is something very wrong with you!

  5. You’re entitled to vote ‘no’Ken despite your alleged alternative credentials but ‘sexual deviants’ is offensive and unnecessary. It detracts from your comment – and the debate.

  6. As Tweed resident and rate payer i applaud the councillors who are working to make our shire an inclusive and respectful one. Thanks for being on the right side of history. SSM is about one thing – EQUALITY.

  7. A more sensible approach, and one likely to be accepted as a legitimate role for Council, would be for them to encourage residents to participate in the postal survey , regardless of their thoughts about the subject or the process. That would be much less confrontational for conservative members of Council and for people in the community who are undecided. The success of the “yes” vote depends on getting its supporters, particularly younger ones to tick the box and post their view back. The Tweed has an unusually large number of older residents – 18% are over seventy. Many are now accepting of gays in the community, but it is a sensitive topic for people who brought up in a time when homosexuality was not tea-time topic, and some of those potential “yes” respondents are likely to be scared off by overly assertive displays of support.

    • Language changes according to how people use it. The meaning of “marriage” in modern Western countries like Canada, Ireland, the UK, NZ and now Germany has been extended to include same sex couples. I am not sure why you would, but if you want a term for a marriages that are exclusively man and woman, you can make up a suitable term – hetrogamy perhaps.

  8. Allsop and Owen do not have the ability to vote for themselves, whatever Polglase says the other right wing dinosaurs have to comply. It is the way of the Nationals and Libs. Bravo to the progressives in Council including the new Deputy Mayor. YES is the only way anyone should vote….


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