Community power

Graham Mathews, Byron Bay

I read with some interest your remarks in the recent edition of The Echo (08/08/18) about the Worthy Councillor and his motion to have ‘CSG Free’ signs removed and replaced with ‘Native Animal Awareness’ notices.

It is worth pointing out that many of the existing signs appear to be on private property adjacent to homeowners’ gates and access roads and, as such, would be entirely at the owners’ discretion (our right to do as we will with our own property being at the heart of Councillor Hunter’s many and prolonged skirmishes with the council over his mega-mini-storage facility).

Interestingly, though, I had it on good authority that, at the time of the ‘doorknock’ by volunteers, canvassing householders’ views about coal seam gas (CSG)exploration in Byron Shire, Councillor Hunter, rather surprisingly, signed the petition against the activity !

This apparent volte face by the now-proponent of the removal of the signs is illustrative of the Nationals’ bipolarity when it comes to coal mining, coal-fired power stations and CSG, in particular, and climate-change issues in general.

As a group they appear to be perennially torn between their political orthodoxy, their obsession that only coal can deliver baseload power, and the certainty that being stranded on the wrong side of history on these issues they will become increasingly irrelevant and find it harder and harder to convince the electorate to re-endorse them.

Finally, I am interested in the idea that the signs are no longer necessary in the Shire because the threat has been extinguished here with the resolution of the Metgasco debacle.

It seems to me that they are an important reminder of the constant risks that communities face from the sort of economic aggression witnessed at that time and the power of community action once alerted to such a danger. They act as a reminder to ourselves and a message to visitors, potential migrants to our community and to politicians at all levels of government as to the beliefs we hold dear about the environment and the way in which we believe these issues should be managed.

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