19.6 C
Byron Shire
May 14, 2021

Vote early, vote often

Latest News

Power outage in Byron Shire

Power supply company Essential Energy says that approximately 1,780 homes and businesses were without supply this morning.

Other News

Humans suck

Hannah Grace, Ocean Shores I heard on the local news late this afternoon (April 20) that a 370kg tuna ...

Echo turns 35 and You are invited!

This year The Echo turns 35, and to celebrate this momentous anniversary they are putting on The Echo Community Awards – and everyone is invited!

Developers push swamp boundaries – will council push back?

It has once again been left to residents to raise serious issues in relation to a development application (DA) that is pushing to overdevelop at 6 Keats Street, Byron Bay at the expense of the environment, in particular the Cumbebin Swamp.

A confusion of letters in Ocean Shores

Apparently, there is another Ocean Shores in another part of the world, and they have deer…

How full is that glass?

Cr Alan Hunter, Byron Shire Council Council Staff recommend opposing the proposed changes in the Exempt Development provisions to be considered...

‘Endless land releases’ not the solution for Byron’s housing crisis, says Labor mayor hopeful

Northern Rivers-based trade unionist and MBA student Asren Pugh has announced his candidature for Byron Shire Mayor in September’s local government elections on behalf of Country Labor. 

David Lowe

There’s a lot of cynicism about elections in the world’s democracies, including Australia, which is a wonderful thing for the rulers of entirely undemocratic places like China, Saudi Arabia and Russia. The more we lose faith in our own processes, the more likely we are to become dictatorships, like them.

Under the onslaught of big money and new media, old democracies like the UK and USA have been teetering on the brink recently, and Rupert Murdoch is also continuing to exert a pernicious influence wherever he’s allowed to – not New Zealand!

We’re in a weird moment in history; just as technology has made it possible for knowledge and goods to be freely shared, making borders meaningless, we’ve also somehow become more divided then ever, both between and within countries.

Even in a country like Australia with a functional, independent electoral commission, the corrosive effect of lies and corruption at the highest level is damaging our democracy, which was always pretty fragile anyway.

Democracy sausage. Photo Wikipedia.

The response of many people is to walk away from the whole mess in disgust, but I would argue that now is the time to do the complete opposite, and become more engaged.

Get up, stand up

It’s important to remember there are lots of ways to be a political actor apart from going to a voting booth, or standing as a candidate in an election.

We each vote every time we buy something, every time we read or look at something, and every time we share a piece of information.

These apparently small choices add up to economies, and societies, which the political process seeks to manage, but does not ultimately control.

The key thing is to recognise your own power as an individual, and claim it. Each time you buy something or give it your attention, like it or not, that’s a political act.

Where is your super going? What are you investing your time and money in? Is there a farmers’ market you could support instead of a supermarket? Do you need to buy that thing at all? Are you going to give your mind and attention to that media product or this one? Who are you going to tell about what you’ve learned? Where is your energy coming from?

Consume, be silent and die?

The destructive system which we’re living within loves nothing more than apathy. Take your agency back. What’s stopping you?

Remember that elected politicians almost always follow, not lead. It’s up to us to force them to be their best.

Politicians who have no ideas of their own are a two edged sword. If they’re unethical they are vulnerable to highly paid lobbyists, such as those of the fossil fuel interests who surround the current prime minister, but they can also be swayed by mass movements, and will ultimately go wherever the tides of history take them.

While these people are not leaders in any meaningful sense, they will follow if their survival is on the line.


The pivoting of the LNP government on stimulus spending in the face of the pandemic, and now on climate change as they face a Biden White House, shows that like the Berlin Wall in 1990, they are much less solid and monolithic than they appear.

Cathy and Helen show the way

Another exciting democratic development is the from-below campaigns of outsiders like non-politician Cathy McGowan and her successor Helen Haines in Indi, Victoria.

They ousted Tony Abbott’s lieutenant Sophie Mirabella using techniques which bore many resemblances to the community gasfield-free campaign pioneered here in the Northern Rivers.

In Indi’s case it came down to thousands of small meetings about what mattered to people in the region, house by house, conversation by conversation.

There’s no reason why similar things can’t be done in every electorate of Australia, if people are prepared to do the hard work of democracy.

At its heart, politics isn’t about parties, it’s about ideas, and how resources are shared. That’s something everyone should have a hand in, all the time, not just once every few years.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Filming of Byron Baes begins with no indigenous consultation

Filming of the Netflix series Byron Baes has reportedly commenced without any effort made by the show's production company – Eureka Productions – to consult with local indigenous groups or the local Council.

Byron Comedy Festival launched with a laugh

At a hilarious sold-out launch of the Byron Comedy Festival, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki had the entire Byron Bay Surf Club giggling last night

School Strike for Climate next Friday

Next Friday from 10am Byron Shire students will be demanding political action on the climate emergency in what they and their supporters say is our present, future and reality. 

Diverse and resilient

Andrya Hart, The Channon After statements and actions by some Rous councillors, I am left wondering how many refusals to accept the democratic vote at their...