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Byron Shire
April 21, 2021

What will Ballina candidates do for your vote?

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Cartoon of the week – 21 April, 2021

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Cathy Blasonato, Animal Justice Party; Ben Franklin, The National Party; Asren Pugh, Country Labor; MP Tamara Smith, The Greens; James Wright, Keep Sydney Open. Photo Jeff ‘Party Animal’ Dawson.

Aslan Shand

While the party animals (I mean the Animal Justice Party) candidate Cathy Blasonato admitted that she didn’t really want to get elected and James Wright from Keep Sydney Open was philosophical about his chances it was the constant ‘personal opinion’ of Nationals candidate Ben Franklin – that were in apparent direct opposition to his own party’s policy positions – that really stood out at last night’s Ballina candidates meeting in Byron Bay.

From supporting the Student Strike 4 Climate action, to recognising that we need to do more to support our environment and take action on climate change Mr Franklin repeatedly expressed that he could ‘work from within’ his party effectively for change on both these more global issues as well as gaining better outcomes for the electorate of Ballina. Though one has to admit this has not been effective in relation to the regional forest agreements (RFA) recently delivered by the Liberal National government that have delivered appalling environmental outcomes in relation to land clearing and habitat destruction.

Further, as we all know from the past experience of being a ‘safe National’ seat – as soon as the risk of losing this seat is off the table all the money that we’ve seen rolling in will be off the table too.

From short-term holiday letting to medium density housing Country Labor, The Greens and The Nationals were all trying to ‘make exceptions’ for Byron (Nationals) or remove damaging legislation brought in by previous governments to win your vote.

Country Labor’s Asren Pugh as a first time political candidate made some good arguments as to the advantage of Labor winning and gaining government and there wasn’t much disagreement in the audience that the Liberal/National government had handed down some pretty awful legislation over the last eight years. Issues particularly in relation to land clearing, ‘that has increased by 300 per cent’ according to Mr Pugh –  though there are estimates that it has actually increased by more like 800 per cent.

Ms Blasonato from the Animal Justice Party, who are promoting the rights of animals and the need to look after the environment, said that the elections gave parties like hers and Mr Wrights the opportunity to raise issues that were important to the community in the hope that the major parties might drive them forward when they were elected.

Development control

On the issues of ‘handing back control to councils on development decisions’ neither Country Labor or The Nationals came clean. There was no commitment from either party to assess the impact and effectiveness of the NRPP (Northern Regional Planning Panel) or the state taking control of ‘state significant development’.

Decisions by these two bodies have taken considerable power out of the local community hands forcing endless battles with bureaucrats and Sydney based decisions that appear to have little local support. These include the Byron bypass and the current state imposed Transport Hub in Byron that will fundamentally change the look, feel and amenity of the town. The NRPP while having rejected West Byron is known to rubber stamp 98 per cent of the development applications that come to them.

The Greens candidate Tamara Smith and Country Labor’s Mr Pugh both spoken in favour of impairment based roadside drug and alcohol testing while Mr Franklin from the Nationals failed to comment on the topic.

Clearly The Greens are not going to win government but sitting MP Tamara Smith urged voters consider the power of ‘sitting on Labor’s shoulder’ to keep them on the right path. If Labor needs The Greens to create a minority government (ie Labor can only form a government if they make a deal with The Greens) then The Greens will have the ‘balance of power’ giving them some clout to negotiate the outcomes of a Labor led policy framework.

While Nationals member Ben Franklin only recommended voting one for him the rest of the candidates acknowledged the importance of preferencing your vote – putting a 2, 3, 4 or more next to the candidates in order that you prefer them ending with your least favourite party. This way your vote doesn’t get thrown away and the party you really don’t want to get elected has a better chance of being beaten.

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  1. Has anyone done any scenario modelling in what should be a 3-cornered contest ?

    1) Labor wins the seat but not Government
    2) Labor wins the seat and wins Government
    3) Labor loses the seat and wins Government
    4) Labor loses the seat and lose Government

    5) Greens win the seat with Lib/Nat Government (status quo)
    6) Greens win the seat with a Labor Government

    7) Nats win the seat but not Government
    8) Nats win the seat and wins Government
    9) Nats lose the seat and wins Government
    10) Nats lose the seat and lose Government

    With all the largess that flows, and attention to community needs, that follows from being a marginal seat – I would like to see any of these outcomes: 3, 5, 6, 9, 10.

    I know that could be considered selfish and not giving due consideration to the larger things at play in the world.
    But if every voter in every seat were more flexible (read: less ideologically fixated) and less prone to voting the same way all the time, then every seat would be marginal.

    So if you chose to not shift your vote you are choosing more of the same – or perhaps you want more of the same.
    Have a look at this list of outcomes and make sure you know what you are pursuing.

    Me, I like living in a marginal seat, so that’s what I’ll vote for.

  2. The first one to promise to stand up to Large entertainment corporations and defend local’s and tourist’s consumer law rights will get a good jump on the rest, but not holding our breaths, “if we all ignore it, it might just go away…ssshhhhhhh!”?

  3. If you want safe nursing and midwifery staffing levels in NSW public hospitals vote Labor as it has guaranteed to mandate staffing ratios into law. Promising increased staff is not enough without ratios of 1 nurse to 4 patients in ward areas and 1 nurse to 3 patients in EDs so that nurses and midwives can go to work and give you the best care possible. Our communities deserve this

  4. The main thing is for voters to ignore how-to-vote recommendations and decide their own preferences.
    Please number all the boxes in your own order.

  5. The only decent, moral decision this government made in its last term was to ban greyhound racing, and they soon back-flipped on that, largely due to the cynical exploitation of the issue by Labor. The ALP still supports this vile industry that sees dogs slaughtered gratuitously for being too old, injured or just not fast enough. I will vote for the Animal Justice Party – I cannot support NSW Labor or the Nationals. A pox on both their houses.

  6. Only Tamara Smith has committed to supporting the real plan to preserve the rail corridor for trains AND the rail trail.
    Perfectly possible, affordable and of huge benefit to the community that lacks public transport options AND our important tourist trade AND of course the environmental benefits of both are immeasurable.
    It is affordable ( the estimates for repair and restitution have been found to be inflated and misleading and took no account of the social benefits to residents of towns and villages between Lismore and Murwillumbah).
    A recent survey of most of the businesses in Mullumbimby has shown that 99% surveyed say that returning the train services would benefit their employees and their businesses.

    • Tamara Smith has committed to preserve the corridor for future public transprot use but she has not made any commitment to put trains along it. The Greens have committed to an independent review of transport which the more sensible of its candidates know will conclude, as did all previous reviews and properly done surveys, that trains will not serve our transport needs.

      There has been no published critique of the estimates of restoring the line done by Arup that has found its estimates to be inflated – there is nothing more than the unpublished opinion of a retired engineer and the Greens’ then transport spokesperson’s oft quoted but quite inaccurate declaration that the cost estimate included a 50% contingency (the Arup report did not undertake the very expensive examination of the many bridges along the line and allowed that 50% might need replacement). Even without an estimate of many hundreds of millions to restore the line, Railcorp found the 2004 proposal for a commuter rail was neither viable nor safe. The Arup report certainly did consider the social – and also the environmental – benifts of better transport and found they were better met by improving the bus services, a finding supported by the Northern Rivers Social Development Council (NRSDC) submission to the Government’s 2015 inquiry into access to transport for seniors and disadvantaged people in regional NSW.
      In an age of EV buses that run all day on 100% renewable power it is absurd to tout any environmental benefits of a train that could run more than a short distance along a flat the line without dirty diesel fuel.

      It is easy to say it is possible to have both a train and a rail trail but that is not the experience of other rail trials, nor is it the professional advice of the study into the rail trail, the design engineers of stage one through the Tweed or the Tweed council engineers who have put forward on-formation design documents for the tender process.

      Good public transport and decisions about the corrdior need to based on properly and professionally done investigations and needs assessments that are worth the trouble of publishing, not opinion and “surveys” put forward only to confirm long held beliefs and biases.


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