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Byron Shire
July 23, 2024

Remember the $25m election promise for roads?

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Local Nationals MLC Ben Franklin is staying tight lipped on when Byron Shire can expect $25m in roads funding, as pledged prior to the March 2019 NSW election.

It was just one of Franklin’s many promises that were announced in the election lead up. He lost against incumbent Greens MP Tamara Smith.   

He told The Echo, ‘I convinced the state government that extra resources were needed for the Byron Shire owing to the significant economic injection its more than 2 million visitors a year make into state coffers’. 


‘Therefore I was very proud to make a commitment of $25 million to support roads and other infrastructure in the Byron Shire in March this year. 

‘I can confirm that the funding will be delivered and that I have been working closely with both Council and the Government to determine all logistics. Further details will be announced in due course’.

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  1. Umm, that’s a bit naive guys. We overwhelmingly voted again Ben Franklin and he lost that election. He is not the member for Ballina, and if we want progress in our electorate we must look to the person we elected. That’s how it works. You can’t test drive a Holden, buy a Ford, but then expect Holden to do the warranty work for you! BTW, in case you didn’t know, Franklin is in the Legislative Council which “has 42 members, elected by proportional representation in which the whole state is a single electorate”. In other words, Ben Franklin has no more connection to our region than he does to Wollongong or Broken Hill. And when he made those comments, he wasn’t even in the LC – he was just a candidate who lost. You get what you vote for, Byron. Don’t go whinging about the state of your roads if you don’t vote for the guy who promised to fix them.

    • Incorrect, Jim. Franklin had been in the NSW Upper House for four years prior to running for the seat of Ballina at the last State election.
      Further, he publicly committed to fulfilling his election promises AFTER he lost the election and returned to his comfy seat in the Legislative Council as a member of Berejiklian’s government.

  2. Politicians’ promises? Only fools and the desperate would believe them. A pox upon their houses (upper and lower)!

  3. The State Government commitment of $25m for tourism impact is an overdue recognition of the financial burden and subsidisation of infrastructure management that the Byron Shire Council and the community have carried for the tourism industry. The allocation of these funds should be an open and transparent process that documents the ‘logistics’ of allocation and provides community input. I don’t recall any council analysis of tourism related infrastructure impacts and costs or any prioritising, but it needs to be done. The community deserve to know how this money will be spent and how the decisions are made. It’s no surprise that this money was made available during an election campaign where the government was hoping to convince the community that they could offer greater benefit to the electorate. The community chose to elect Tamara and perhaps noticed that governments tend to only listen and respond during elections. Report Card for Government, thanks for noticing the impact now keep noticing. Byron is a special place that represents a significant economic drawcard for both State and Federal Governments and they should acknowledge that it deserves protection and management and financial investment is essential. If not, stop promoting it and stop foisting your unsustainable ‘growth’ on a place that requires care and caution, it’s our home.

    • The tourists who visit the Bay are a small proportion of the traffic, and the light vehicles they drive have little impact on properly maintained roads. Road wear is largely caused heavy vehicles which are mainly local. Like renters, visitors pay rates indirectly through the accommodation providers and other businesses they use.

      The funding referred to is to repair damage that resulted from neglect by Byron Shire councils, a neglect justified by blaming the visitors who underpin its economy . The people of NSW should not have to sort out what is a local responsibility, but not doing so will incurr higher future costs. Those who were part of causing this problem should step aside and let others get on with fixing it.

      • Some truth here Peter, but all a bit simplified. How many of the 2million plus visitors stay with commercial accommodation providers – thereby paying de facto rates – and how many use illegal holiday lets paying residential rates to squash in several times the average number of household occupants? And the state government hasn’t given a lot of assistance with this little problem!

        Since the Pacific Freeway upgrade the numbers of day visitors to Byron Shire has burgeoned. No rate return there.

        Then there’s the rather large windfall to the State Government from stamp duty and land tax that the popularity of the property market delivers. A lucrativeness fuelled by tourism that both state and federal government keep promoting like crazy. It’s a nice little GST earner as well.

        I think there’s plenty to justify the extra assistance Byron might receive to cover the costs that 15,000 thousand ratepayers can’t possibly cover.

        Can you quote the traffic study that suggests the main wear and tear is from local traffic – including heavy traffic. Do you count the truck loads of supermarket, hotel and bottle shop supplies, the fuel tankers etc as all covering local demand or is there some tourism influence there as well? Which reminds me – the fuel excise goes back to the feds as well.

        Sure tourism underpins our economy but we’re not the sole beneficiaries we’re just asked to fund it as if it’s just a quiet little inland town.

        • If some businesses are not paying commercial rates that’s Byron Shire’s problem to identify and fine the offenders. The people of NSW should not be picking up the tab for councils that are not collecting their full rates. You do not need a local traffic survey to show that heavy vehicles are responsible for the bulk of road damage – data on road funding by bodies like the National Transport Commission are based on the premise that trucks do most damage to roads. Some of their freight services the tourist industry, and in doing so they use local roads funded by the rates of individuals and business that acommodatr the needs of locals and tourists. Dramatic annualised numbers are always quoted but visitors on average are a small part of the community at any one time.
          Byron Shire has an excellent rates base within high value properties, a low proportion of concessional ratepayers and fewer kms of roads than other rural shires. It needs to get on top of its maintenance and stop diverting NSW funding that might otherwise been available to improve the safety of roads for kids, the elderly and other vulnerable road users.

          • Peter, I do agree that BSC has been way too reluctant to tackle the issue of the now Hydra like online holiday let industry. Reluctance spans many years – I’m still waiting for an answer to a letter I wrote to them in 1997 about a noisy holiday let in the neighbourhood. It’s now much harder to rein in.

            Unlike the more progressive moves by some jurisdictions internationally to tackle the social impacts of this scourge, Australian state governments, particularly NSW have allowed a multi billion dollar, multi national industry to hold much more sway with them than local small enterprises paying their way. There has long been no direction or legislation to support Councils to try to deal with this issue.

            Yes the mega businesses in town also likely make heaps from all those supplies trucked in but if you increase their commercial rates in proportion only that style of business can survive here. Small local businesses are already an endangered species. If you like moves that squeeze out all competition to the big corporates who also squeeze their supply chains and staff, I don’t.

            As for the tourists making up only a small proportion at any one time, how recently have you driven along Bangalow Road, Johnson, Lawson and Fletcher Streets or Ewingsdale Road – just to name the real hot spots. I don’t think they’re all locals. Two point three million divided by 365 gives around 6,300 – and that’s if everyone is here for only a day. Double that to over 12,000 and it’s not a bad increase on the permanent population. It is estimated that the average stay of international visitors is just over seven nights. The upkeep of roads is not the only expenditure impact.

            As I said, some truth, but your unmoderated rhetoric ignores findings like the similar tourism impact to places like Coffs Harbour with its population above 75,000.

  4. Ben Franklin was promising lots of money last election- promising money left right and centre to all different groups. These seem to be his only policy when he ran. No problems organise a grant. Surely we were lucky to miss out on such a shallow policy platform. Anyway he was looked after, back into the upper house after a convenient retirement and a “hard preselection” for that position.

  5. Local drivers will say “Ta” to Ben Franklin when the Byron Shire road funding of $25 million comes in next year. The money was promised before the March 2019 election.

  6. It looks like Ben Franklin is going to deliver despite not winning the seat. Where is the article asking about the 70 million Tamara Smith promised for roads? It’s great she got in but I’m still waiting to see any information about that.


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