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Byron Shire
July 21, 2024

Attack on Byron councillors unjustified

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Thank you, Hans, for the opportunity to respond to your opinion piece, Courageously avoiding responsibility, which left many of us gobsmacked by its ironic inequity and basic journalistic ineptitude. More time and effort was spent Photoshopping the mayor’s head on to that tacky image than researching the many merits of citizens’ juries, which have been shown both here and abroad.

There were many charges laid, including several blatant untruths, which need addressing. Firstly, that we are ignoring equity and not focusing on forward planning. The truth is, the gang of five on the last council fast tracked both the rural land use strategy (RLUS) and coastal zone plans due to vested interests. We have since taken these back from the relevant State Dept and in the case of the RLUS, done the work on it, exhibited it, sent it off for final approval and are now advancing projects via the strategy, such as in agribusiness.

Similarly, the residential strategy HAS been focused on, that’s why it is nearing completion, most likely by spring. The link is here and can show the work done to date.

It is in the interests of equity that we seek to address the housing affordability crisis, which is why we held a housing summit and created an affordable housing action plan, to inform this residential strategy and look at models that will truly address the crisis. The important point here is that we are setting the agenda and being proactive, not letting developers set the agenda, as happened in the previous term of council. We have also made it clear where we stand on unauthorised holiday letting, and continue to lobby hard for a bed tax, again in the interests of equity and for the benefit of the community as a whole.

Another charge is that the Greens’ majority (there’s actually only four of us out of nine) are lobbyists for the holiday parks trust and not backing the community. Another perspective is that after 20 years of stalemate, and no end in sight, we felt it better to achieve outcomes for the community, which we have. It wasn’t under this council’s watch that the limbs of the pine trees were cut to make way for campervans, but it has been under our watch that we discovered they are 400 years old and are now to be protected.

This is not to say that council and councillors haven’t made mistakes, of course we have. As a group we are determined to improve and do better. For newer councillors the learning curve is steep and it continues. There are a myriad of policy changes at state level to contend with as well, in planning particularly, as well as in environment and coastal management. What I see, however, is a group of councillors committed to equity and outcomes for a community they love and an environment they want to protect, even if Labor’s Paul Spooner descends into opportunism from time to time.

The danger of articles like Hans’, which is tantamount to bullying and driven by fear, is that you end up after the next election with the exact thing you are afraid of: self-serving, vested interests setting the agenda and developing the shire into the next Gold Coast.


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  1. Tantamount to bullying……… harden up councillor, you put yourself for public scrutiny so deal with it. The key problem in society at present is the default position taken by the weak hearted and incompetent every time they are put under some pressure. You cry I’m being bullied or I’m offended.

    As for affordable housing crisis, that’s easy fixed. If you can’t afford to live in the shire move out to where you can afford it and watch your quality of life improve at the same.

    • Part of ‘dealing’ with public scrutiny Bernard is setting the record straight when there is an imbalance in the way the media reports things.

      Incompetence should be called out, undoubtedly, but as for the key problem in society, I would disagree with you and say that it is actually greed combined with a lack of compassion.


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