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Byron Shire
August 5, 2021

Ben’s poking in the pork barrel

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Michele Grant, Convenor Foreshore Protection Group

Looks like Ben Franklin has got his hands in the pork barrel again, spreading his largesse around the parklands of Brunswick Heads.

Perhaps Mr Franklin has an approved Plan of Management (POM) for the works proposed that he could share with the community (Echo 7 July). There’s been no consultation or information provided about the proposed new works, despite the rock wall repairs being well underway. The toilet block renovations have also been completed.

The last time Reflections Holiday Parks exhibited a POM for our Crown Reserve Parklands was in 2014. Many of the proposed works were highly contentious, including:

The construction of ‘pathways’: a raised timber deck was suggested along the riverfront in Banner Park and a concrete strip along The Terrace and another around the rim of Torakina. Replacing quiet, cool, reflective walking and picnic spots with designated hard surfaced transport corridors may still be on the table.

Reinstating the public footpath along Fingal Street to the pedestrian bridge in front of Terrace Park office has been requested repeatedly, instead Reflections seeks to relocate the children’s playground to construct a walkway beneath the shady fig trees, while the kids bake in full sunlight.

The new playground in Banner Park required the removal of the old giant gum tree nearby and a fence along the car park. Around 20 trees have to be removed in Torakina for the expanded car park.

All these ‘improvements’ were totally rejected by the community, and Council, in an avalanche of submissions.

Ripping the walls off the Housie Shed and flogging the irreplaceable hardwood timbers was never included in any Plan of Management. This work was undertaken without any consultation by Reflections area manager, Jennifer Scott, who has announced she is now running the show. In the face of widespread opposition, Ms Scott hired security guards to protect the lone demolition worker from outraged residents.

Mr Franklin suggests new unspecified funds were ‘earmarked in the recent NSW budget’, yet the (commercial-in-confidence) profits from our Crown Reserve Holiday Parks are specifically ‘earmarked’ to fund works on Crown Lands – and much of the big jobs are already complete.

It’s good to see money is finally being spent on maintaining and rejuvenating the parks, however ‘the ongoing degradation of the reserves’ is a direct outcome of Crown Lands takeover in 2007, and the appalling management by NSW Crown Holiday Park Trust and Reflections Holiday Parks. It’s taken a court order to get campers away from the protected Coastal Cypress pines in Terrace Park.

Few are impressed with Reflections’ management team, or with Mr Franklin’s porkies, regurgitating an old press release for Crown Lands’ very unpopular 2014 plans is certainly not going to win any votes around here.

Our small irreplaceable green spaces need to be protected from the erosive concrete sprawl, the self-aggrandising pollies, and proclaimed experts hired by Reflections. Where is the Plan?


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2 COMMENTS

  1. I am always struck by how thinly veiled is Ben’s role as our de facto member. You can argue as does Michelle about the merit of Ben’s particular actions on particular issues but the interest he takes in issues is most welcome, in the absence of any by the elected Member for Ballina.

  2. Peter you may not have noticed that Ben is a member of the government and has access to pork barrel cash. The local member Tamara Smith is constantly excluded from public events by the government and a complicit council. Remember the opening of the Byron Bypass, only Ben and (Oh yes) ‘Greens’ mayor Richardson in attendance.

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