Menu

Premier visits Byron, dodging protesters and questions

West Byron protesters outside Enova’s headquarters where NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian appeared at a press conference on Tuesday (August 21). Photo Chris Dobney

Chris Dobney

A limousine delivering NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian to a media conference in Byron Bay on Tuesday (August 21) had to pass through a barrage of West Byron protesters.

This reporter was not so lucky, being blocked by police until eventually escorted into the conference by organisers.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian with Nationals Northern NSW parliamentary secretary Ben Franklin, who has announced his candidacy for the seat of Ballina. Photo Chris Dobney

The brouhaha was ostensibly to launch Enova Energy’s microgrid in the Byron Arts & Industry Estate but it also coincided with the bid by Northern NSW parliamentary secretary Ben Franklin (Nationals) to contest the state seat of Ballina at the next election.

As soon as the launch was over, the premier was peppered with a range of questions, from West Byron, koala habitat and rental affordability to her position on the challenge to PM Malcolm Turnbull.

Most she managed to carefully sidestep but there was one point on which she was clear: she believed sitting Ballina MP Tamara Smith (Greens) has been ‘ineffectual’ in the role, meanwhile lavishing praise on Mr Franklin who was standing beside her.

West Byron

The premier also revealed she did not believe the West Byron development would go ahead as currently planned, attempting to sheet home the blame for its approval to the former Keneally government.

‘I appreciate the concerns about the West Byron Bay development, that’s unfortunately been an ongoing issue for many years. I understand the independent planning process will now seek resolution of that matter,’ she said.

‘I completely support the community’s concerns, as does my parliamentary colleague [Ben Franklin] about over-development. There’s no doubt the scale of that development is beyond what the community’s expectations are and I’m always very active in speaking up against things that I see are too big to impose on the community – and think that is one of them.

‘I’m very pleased to say that when these concerns have been raised in other parts of the state, the independent planning process has actually put a stop to these major overdevelopments.’

Bed tax ruled out

Responding to a question from BayFM presenter Jim Beatson on bed taxes, premier Berejiklian said she had had ‘a fantastic discussion with your mayor about those issues of… short-term accommodation and rental accommodation’.

‘Obviously the locals need to be supported, especially during those times of the year when many tourists come to Byron but you need that right balance.

‘We discussed some really positive opportunities today, which both Ben and myself will be taking forward.

‘There are lots of other opportunities instead of putting a tax on people,’ she said.

Election mode

Asked about how she felt going into the state election in the shadow of a federal leadership spill, the premier said, ‘what we need to do as a government is always focus on our citizens’.

‘I think the office of prime minister generally speaking is one that has diminished over the last decade. Nobody wants to see a constant change of leadership. It does concern me and disappoint me – and I think that’s a community sentiment.’

But the premier stopped short of stating her support for Malcolm Turnbull, saying only, ‘I always defer those matters to our federal colleagues. It’s not for me to add to the commentary.’

Seat of Ballina

When asked what she thought the chances were of wresting the seat of Ballina back from Greens incumbent Tamara Smith, she said, ‘I think what communities want is strong and stable leadership, and I know that local members who are active… who advocate on behalf of their communities, actually receive things for their communities.’

Ms Smith, she said, had been ‘ineffectual’ in the role adding she thought Mr Franklin would be a far better representative.

‘When you talk about Ballina and Byron, and when you talk about potholes and other infrastructure issues that need to be addressed, none of that can be achieved unless you have a strong government,’ the premier said.

 


2 responses to “Premier visits Byron, dodging protesters and questions”

  1. Philippe says:

    What a shame that she was not asked about the draconian crown land laws or her open slater policy on our depleted forest. The Lismore Environment Centre and NEFA are sending her aboutfifty post cards signed by members of the public to get her to reverse these laws.
    I say all power to Tamara for standing for green and sustainable policies

  2. Tracey Anderssen says:

    Thanks West Byron protesters!!! NO to the overdevelopment of Byron Bay.

Leave a Reply to Philippe Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Become a supporter of The Echo

A note from the editorial team

Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.”

Echonetdaily is made possible by the support of all of our advertisers and is brought to you by this week's sponsor Vast Ballina and Falls Festival