Aslan Shand, acting editor
The council elections will be taking place on September 4 this year. As a community we have a choice on how we head into those debates around policy and local government issues and how we choose to conduct ourselves.
The current situation that has exploded between Fast Buck$ (aka John Anderson) and Byron Shire Councillor Sarah Ndiaye should not set the scene for how the debate proceeds.
Few on the most recent Council have a clean slate when it comes to personal and dismissive behaviour and grandstanding in Council meetings, but neither do the likes of Mr Anderson. The real points that need to be made are not around the personal issues that people may have with one another, but around the issues that affect this community now and into the future.
Examining the voting history of current and former councillors, where they have made a decision to drive an issue, or where they have failed to hold ground, are all areas of legitimate comment. Highlighting how someone has handled an issue is fair comment; but personal attack is not.
The fact that we have a housing crisis, the dwindling affordability of the region, the impact of planning on the region’s biodiversity, the abuse of process by developers, the impact of climate change – and how they can be balanced – all need to be addressed by current and potential candidates. But this needs to be done with respect and the acknowledgement that while people may disagree that doesn’t have to become a personal attack.
The key here is to be able to unpack issues, look at them from a range of positions and actually, Goddess forbid, listen honestly to other positions before making up your mind. This doesn’t mean you can’t hold strong positions on issues, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fight for what you believe is right. Whether it is the debate on vaccines, or the value of our biodiversity, we are the ones who need to lead the debate forward.
Perhaps as the adults we need to look more carefully at the way the young people of today are seeking to make governments around the world take heed. They are using facts, science, logical arguments and going out onto the streets to make their not-so-respected elders hear that this world and its people need to work together to take drastic action on climate change.
While they cannot vote in this upcoming election you can support them in raising their voice this Friday in Byron Bay from 10am at the student School Strike 4 Action on climate change as they march from Byron Rec Ground to Main Beach.