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Byron Shire
December 6, 2021

Vote early, vote often

Latest News

Cadwallader, Lyon and Krieg most likely new Far North Coast mayors

With most of the votes cast, and counting over until tomorrow, the New South Wales Electoral Commission stats would suggest that there are three clear winners of the mayoral contests in Ballina, Byron and Lismore Shires.

Other News

The high cost of endometriosis

One in six women with endometriosis have lost their jobs due to the condition.

Gladys just doesn’t get it? Bullshit.

The rules are lost to the dark art of time, but when I was younger, we used to play a card game called ‘Bullshit’...

Govt delays action on holiday letting

The desperately-needed 90-day cap on un-hosted holiday letting promised to Byron locals by the State Government has become ensnared in a web of departmental obstructions and delays.

Responsible dog owner

I read with interest Alison Drover’s article on dog management and the follow up letters last week, and I...

COVID update – Aquarius, Lismore sewage fragments and the South African variant

The Northern NSW Local Health District says there have been no new cases of COVID-19 reported in the 24 hours to 8pm 28 November, but, they are urging residents in the Lismore area to be alert for COVID-19 symptoms.

World record-breaking sailor takes out SCU’s Alumnus of the Year Award

If you’re seeking a bit of inspiration in your life, look no further than Southern Cross University’s Alumnus of the Year, Lisa Blair.

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.

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Growing number of dogs

Thanks to Alison Drover for her informative article in last week’s Echo regarding the growing number of dogs in the Shire to be managed...

Responsible dog owner

I read with interest Alison Drover’s article on dog management and the follow up letters last week, and I couldn’t agree more. I am indifferent...

Dogs need control

I agree with Alison Drover’s recent article and her final line ‘wildlife needs more love, and our dog owners need a tighter lead’. But the...

COVID update December 3: One new case and advice for international travellers

One new case of COVID-19 was reported for Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) in the 24 hours to 8pm 2 December. Northern NSW Local...