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Byron Shire
February 28, 2021

Fantasy fulfilment

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A few weeks ago I reported that the elected councillors had listened to something I told them. I was dreaming. I’m wondering if I didn’t briefly lapse into the very disease that has afflicted this council since Simon Richardson took the helm: fantasy fulfilment. That is, the creation of parallel realities (policies, strategies, reports, etc) that are purely aspirational and leave the real world unchanged.

I’d complained that the staff report re compliance was inadequate. Complaints about illegal development filed during the previous year had resulted in one fine of $1,500. There was no breakdown of types of development, action taken by Council, or outcomes. Is this an area where staff want complete control and discretion without interference from councillors?

Your elected councillors willingly complied with the staff wishes; they asked no questions and made no motions to throw any light on the situation. All that happened was that Cr Coorey moved a minor amendment and mumbled something about wanting ‘more information’.

So at the next so-called strategic planning workshop, guess what: the staff didn’t list illegal development at all as a topic for discussion. Members of the public are not allowed to be present but I’m completely sure no councillors asked any questions on the subject.

I suspect we have a situation where staff are actively pursuing minor cases of non-compliance while richer neighbours build illegal mansions.

In the three cases I know of by word of mouth, the rich complainants have received actual assistance from the staff. This situation, where elected councillors simply don’t give a fuck, is highly conducive to corruption, but I’d feel a lot more assured if Council staff provided the information I’ve sought and honestly put an end to my black speculations.

Meanwhile could councillors please delete any notion of ‘transparency’ from their aspirational documents.

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