President of Community Alliance for Byron Shire Association (CABS), Matthew ‘Cleva’ O’Reilly, has announced his intention to run in the next Council election, to be held September 12, 2020.
Currently there are four Greens councillors, two Labor, one Nationals Party-aligned and two left-leaning independents.
And while he is a member of the Greens, he says ‘at this stage, I am still unclear whether it will be as a Green or as an Independent.’
The Greens pre-selection is expected in April, when members will vote for the candidates who will run for Council. Crs Michael Lyon and Sarah Ndiaye have confirmed they will contest. Greens mayor Simon Richardson told The Echo he ‘hasn’t decided.’
Cleva has also ruled out running as a Greens mayor.
‘I can rule out seeking pre-selection for mayor from the Byron Greens. If I do nominate for the Greens, it will only be for a councillor position on the ballot.
‘If I nominate, whether I become a Greens councillor or not will rest with the Byron Greens membership and whether or not they approve of the direction of the current Greens councillors.
‘I am not critical of all that the current Greens councillors have achieved. They have done some great things, and had some excellent achievements.
‘But my major concern is over-development, inappropriate DAs that are not in the community interest and an excessive focus on a jobs and growth agenda.
‘I do not believe that the current and previous Council, under the current mayor, have got the balance right.
‘However, I estimate that I am in agreement with the mayor and Green councillors on about 90 per cent to 95 per cent of the issues facing Byron Shire.
‘It is those five-to-ten per cent of issues where we disagree that will be the areas I will be focusing on at this year’s election.
‘I will be making those differences clear to the Byron Greens membership, along with the areas where I do agree with current councillors.
‘If the Byron Greens members choose to support my application for Greens candidacy then they will be sending a message that the current Green councillors have become overly moderate, and moved too far to the right of what a Green base expects of them.
‘I do not know if I will have enough Greens member votes to achieve a winnable position on the Byron Greens ticket, and if the Greens membership supports the current status quo then that is their right’.
Cleva says he opposes the Business and Industrial Lands Strategy (BILS), which is again before councillors this Thursday.
‘All Greens councillors were in support of the plans last time it was voted upon late last year’.
Cleva says if the BILS is approved this Thursday, he will lobby NSW MPs to have it amended and re-exhibited.
‘Whatever happens, I will not be letting up on the inappropriateness of the current BILS and it will be a legacy I will continue to raise, time and time again, as the Shire continues to be inundated by a tsunami of over-development’.
Disillusioned with some decisions
‘Since I turned 18 and started voting back in 1995, I have only ever voted Green, so it has come as quite a shock to become so disillusioned with some of the current Green councillors’ decisions. Be that as it may, I get on well with Crs Michael, Sarah and Jeanette [Martin] and know that I can work effectively with all three of them if they are re-elected to Council’.