Tom Tabart, Former greens councillor
After greens councillors voted to go ahead with the Byron ‘bypass’ disregarding Greens policy on the developer-initiated scam of bio-banking, some may be wondering what has happened.
As a former greens candidate who withdrew (from a winnable position) during the last election campaign I can offer some perspective.
My reason for standing down was that my family was considering moving south but more importantly, I was affronted by the quality of my fellow candidates who had minimal background in the green movement – two had only recently joined the party and were essentially mayoral ‘captains picks’. One was touted by said mayor as the future mayor (no not Michael) and was heavily supported by influential members in the selection process while they attempted to sideline me.
Cr Richardson, mentored by Jan Barham and myself in his first term as a councillor, was then perversely aided in his first mayoral stint by the defection of Rose Wanchup. This allowed him to exercise his considerable verbal skills in opposition to the then pro-development majority without having to make any decisions that may have brought him into conflict with the real power of the GM and staff.
Four greens and four moderates were then elected in a backlash to the deeply regressive outgoing council. Simon as mayor immediately formed a close relationship with the GM ceasing any consultation with experienced greens members, especially former councillors. The three newbies immediately fell into line exhibiting an unparalleled degree of hubris, which they have maintained to this latest decision.
Despite many warnings that the council staff follow their own agenda and can only be controlled if councillors combine to examine and question their work, the green councillors (and others) have opted to repeatedly buckle and defend what has proved to be lazy and questionable staff work. The ‘bypass’ is just the latest example.
Being an effective councillor takes time and hard work to fully understand each issue and the relevant laws and regulations. Being lazy and relying on rhetoric is not an acceptable substitute.
The last time councillors were prepared to hold staff and authorities to account was under Jan Barham’s leadership, I now realise this was a rare exception.