David Morris, Byron Bay
The sun today shines brightly. But the bypass construction on Butler Street has begun. It casts a dark shadow on a fine day. As do the chain-link fences corralling residents and forcing them to walk on the road.
When I was a young student in the sixties, my tutor told us: ‘Don’t kid yourselves we live in a democracy; we live in a democratic-fascist state.’
Decades later the late Tony Wedgewood-Benn commented in England that the most we ever get is ‘a chance to change the management team.’ I’m no longer convinced that even that is a genuine process.
Business interests are allowed unreasonable influence over political events and decisions. So while it is not unknown for people to be asked for their input on proposed changes and developments that will impact on them, it seems evident that is simply to be seen to be paying lip service to some kind of democratic process. In most cases it will make no difference: the agenda has been set and agreed long before and will proceed regardless.
Despite the apparent enthusiasm of some letter writers to The Echo, I see the town now as a dog’s breakfast of messy reconstructions and over-development.
In the years I have spent here I have seen no true civic improvements. It is over-used and this has been encouraged. It is one more example of rampant unregulated capital eager to exploit a likely opportunity.
If there were ever any ‘checks and balances’, they have crumbled or been rendered ineffective.
When I see published the obscene amount of money to be spent on destroying Butler Street and environs for a traffic funnel, a rat run, I wonder how the funding was secured at all.
In The Enigma of Capital David Harvey points out that ‘Capitalists open up spaces for urban redevelopment, for example, by dispossessing low-income populations from high-value spaces at the lowest cost possible’.
My sincere hope is that this blows out in cost and they have to foot the bill. They understand the cash nexus. Or that it is abandoned, like one of those Florida speculative developers’ roads in the 1920s.