With former councillor and Byron Greens founding member Tom Tabart leaving the shire and moving to back to Victoria there will be a huge gap in the knowledge base of local issues, the functioning of council and local and state political history.
Tom was a Greens candidate for many state and federal elections and spent eight years as a Byron Shire councillor.
But many know of him through his prolific letter writing over the last quarter of a century.
When I asked him how many letters published, he guesstimated 300. A great achievement!
For the many who encountered Tom, they know he was a fierce advocate for community rights and a fierce opponent of the wrongdoings of power.
What is often misunderstood about Tom’s public musings is that were usually the last resort, not the first. Over the years, some people have been annoyed and or frustrated at his intense focus and his sometimes acerbic style but I know that this emerged after his attempts to deal with matters away from the public gaze.
Having known him since 1993 I’ve been amazed at his boundless energy and political skills. Tom read Rachel Carson’s ’Silent Spring’ in 1970 and was inspired to study science. As a scientist, an activist and a Green, he applied himself to every issue with an acute focus on achieving the best possible outcome with a precautionary principle approach.
His work as a councillor was detailed and determined, with many hours spent as a committee member focussing on sewerage, waste, transport, finances and governance issues, including code of conduct. He was responsible for many substantial outcomes. As a Brunswick resident he took a keen interest in the caravan parks and crown land, hence the recent disappointment with current circumstances.
As a Green candidate he focussed attention on the Pacific Highway upgrade and the unnecessary destruction of irreplaceable biodiversity, the trashing of our public forests and the madness of burning forest and sugar cane ’waste’ as green energy.
For me personally he was a loyal friend and confidant and I will miss him enormously. For shire residents, you will miss him too, even if you don’t realise, but he always had your back and Byron needs people like Tom, now more than ever.