Editorial – Road funding announcement turns into a political dumpster fire

Local MP Tamara Smith was once again not invited to the state government funding announcement of over $2m for local roads. Maybe it’s misogyny? Photo Byron Shire Council.

Hans Lovejoy, editor

There was a terrific announcement of $2.28 million in road funding for some of Byron’s worst roads by two odd bedfellows last week – the non-elected local Nationals representative and the Greens mayor.

It was odd because the elected local NSW Greens MP, Tamara Smith, wasn’t invited to join the celebrations. Nor was she mentioned by either of them as they gushed over each other on location in Tyagarah. We’ll get to that later.

The Council press release reads, ‘Grays Lane will now be sealed to the boundary of the Tyagarah Nature Reserve and raised to reduce flooding. A 700m section of Seven Mile Beach Road at Broken Head will also be sealed from the Broken Head Reserve Road intersection to the Kings Beach carpark’.

Wahoo! Yet what wasn’t mentioned was that this funding appears tied exclusively to plans of management (PoMs) for these areas. They were quietly adopted by NSW Parks and Wildlife late last year. PoMs are handy documents because they provide the go ahead to increase tourism and development, for example.

A Council staff member took the rap for not inviting Ms Smith to the announcement, despite Ms Smith providing Council a PR comment and ‘supporting the government at the request of Council for the funding’.

There is yet to be reply from the mayor as to whether he apologised to his Greens counterpart for the lack of an invitation.

What is confusing, dear reader, is that the Greens mayor isn’t particularly aligned with the values of the NSW or federal Greens.

That’s created conflict within the local Greens Party. Instead, he appears right at home with the ideals of the National Party.

The Echo asked Mr Franklin if he had ever invited Tamara Smith to a funding announcement. He replied, ‘It is appropriate that significant government funding is announced by a member of the government. She has other funds over which she has discretion – like the Community Building Partnerships Program for example – which it is appropriate for her to announce’. 

Meanwhile Ms Smith told The Echo, ‘In the 16 years my Nationals predecessor [Don Page] was in opposition, he was invited by the then Labor government to attend state funding announcements. Maybe it’s misogyny?’

From Franklin’s reply, it appears his strategy at the next state election (he failed at the last one in 2019) will include bombarding the public with a narrative that the Greens were never elected.

While it seems to lack grace, it fits perfectly with the continual erosion of political discourse, which leads to nowhere good.

We want good, right?

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4 responses to “Editorial – Road funding announcement turns into a political dumpster fire”

  1. selene richards says:

    If the Mayor would like to win kudos for road upgrades he would do well to outline how compliance to the Shire’s existing environmental laws are now to be upheld in Tyagarah and Broken Head. He would be applauded for outlining how the Tyagarah Creek floodplain is to be protected from development, how wildlife is to be protected from increasing traffic and how sex tourists can be prevented from using and destroying the dune ecology in the Tyagarah Beach Nature Reserve.

  2. Emily Stewart says:

    There needs to be an explanation.
    What does this sentence actually mean:
    “Wahoo! Yet what wasn’t mentioned was that this funding appears tied exclusively to plans of management (PoMs) for these areas.”
    These roads are public roads, so just because the road is tarred it does not put the use of the road into the Plan of Management of any land beside the road. To attach the road to a PoM is that not like privatising the road and that parking meters could be put at the end of the road without consultation.

  3. Maia Macca says:

    Oh, please. Even if the Member for Ballina were invited, she never shows up for ANYTHING. She is an incredibly lazy representative for the seat of Ballina and most local orgs are sick of inviting her to things only to have her office cancel at the last minute.

  4. Dianne Ryan says:

    In my and many others’ experience, if you invite Tamara Smith MP to an event she simply doesn’t show up, or cancels at the last minute.

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