Hans Lovejoy, Editor
Hands up who wants to be a political actor?
Acting mayor Michael Lyon is having a tough time of late, with the re-elected Greens MP Tamara Smith calling for a review of Byron’s traffic woes.
In other words, the local state MP (Greens) is at polar opposites with the acting mayor (Greens) over how to approach Byron town and traffic planning.
So far, Cr Lyon has doubled down with his support of the bypass, which is expected. After all, public trust is created through repetition. And this is a long-running problem where a solution is on the way, which could make some difference. That’s a big tick.
Yet public trust is also built when the process is clear and transparent. The last Council majority (2012–16) was booted out in part because they lacked that.
Perhaps the worst aspect of this plan has been the treatment of the ‘minority’ of Butler Street residents.
If in power, it’s conceivable that a National Party-led Council would be more than happy to steamroll a few residents and wetlands for a 20 per cent traffic gain. It’s just so confusing that this is being led by the Greens in Council.
What do the public think? The argument that the ‘silent majority’ want the bypass at all cost is not reflective of the recent re-election of Smith.
She increased her majority on March 23 and was the only candidate to run on a platform for a pause on Byron development.
Arguably her platform reflects some of whatever it is the Greens stand for – it’s unclear where Cr Lyon’s allegiances and ambitions will take him.
Activism won briefly on Monday
Activism thankfully still has a strong presence in the region, and the latest win was the rejection of the second West Byron DA.
It was the result of tireless work by unpaid volunteers and thousands of residents who made submissions that highlighted how bad it would be for the town. It was also encouraging to see sense prevail again from the entire planning panel who determined it.
For any newcomers – West Byron is a massive housing/commercial proposal that is slated opposite the Arts & Industry Estate on Ewingsdale Road.
Against the grain of public opinion are the proponents of West Byron – extremely wealthy ‘Byron’ individuals for one DA and QLD-based corporation Villa World for the other DA.
They had endless time and money to prepare a proposal that could work for all, but… they want to make heaps of money!
Still – the chance to do something truly ecologically sustainable and world leading should always be offered to these developers.
Unfortunately a likely outcome will be a court battle, like the one the ‘West Byron locals’ are now undertaking.
Better still would be a government buy-back, like what happened in Bentley with Metgasco’s CSG licence.
However, it’s unlikely that Villa World will employ the son of a sitting parliamentarian like Metgasco did.