Jo Faith, Newtown
At the last council meeting community members raised concerns regarding the reclassification of Byron’s Railway Park’s status to ‘General Community Use’. This proposed status is important to Council as it allows possibility for development (in time) and ‘reduces noise’.
This proposed definition also reduces the ability of citizens to meet and voice opposition to neo-con economic agendas and proposed development (in the future). That is what ‘peaceful use’ seems to mean. A means to quell any inclusive democratic community opposition to Council and crony demands for ongoing development.
The Park has had Artisan Markets for some time and this commercialism has not created any great community concern and as a special event would seem allowable under the current Park status. At the meeting a speaker expressed deep concern about the seeming justification for more commercial development and laying of cement.
These markets and the potential for other future ‘commercial activities’ create a mechanism of ‘soft surveillance’. Supporting wedge politics an example was offered of a sleeping homeless man who seemed to carry the projected mythological demonology of the bogey man that lurks in Parks to terrify citizens and little children. Commercialism as an actor of ‘soft surveillance’ would get rid of the local problem of homelessness. No equity policy seems to exist in Council and all focus goes to developers.
There has been growing moral panic about the need to get rid of the ‘Hippies’ and now, very obviously the ‘Homeless’. Also certain critics object to the ‘Dirty-ness’ which also seems to be associated with the latter human categorisations. Does that justify all of the cement now being placed in the Park? No empirical evidence was offered of incidents that justified this moral panic just personal/political prejudice supported justification for the re-classification, and no doubt future development in the space.
A question was asked as to whether the Arakwal people have been involved in the process of reclassification. We were assured they were. When asked what their position was this question revealed confusion.
Submissions against reclassification were submitted and the voice of opposition from the Byron Environment Centre (BEC) has been an ongoing critic of the masterplan non-democratic process. Only recently have minutes of the masterplan team been placed on Facebook. The masterplan group have been operative for several years.