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Byron Shire
November 27, 2022

Conservative Byron Shire cr announces election team

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Alan Hunter with The Byron Alliance 2021 team.

The Byron Shire Council’s only conservative member has announced his running team for September’s local government elections.

Independent Cr Alan Hunter has served twice on the council and says he’s assembled a group of locals to join his campaign with a healthy mix of experience, passion and most of all common sense.

Serving on the council for the past nine years had allowed him to ‘get a lot done,’ Mr Hunter said via a media release, but added that as the only conservative, it was a ‘constant battle against misguided ideology’.

“I would like to get a lot more done this term if elected, but we now need to refocus on community priorities in these very uncertain times and not on outside politics,” Mr Hunter said.

Mr Hunter said Sue Stirton had joined his campaign, alongside Coopers Shoot resident Bruno Filippello and Byron Bay local Rhett Holt.

Ms Stirton reportedly has a family and business in Park Street, Brunswick Heads; while Mr Hunter said Mr Filippello brought ‘invaluable experience through his many years in the corporate world and the management of teams with a focus on strategy, innovation and people’.

Mr Holt, meanwhile, runs a bed and breakfast business with his partner and works in sustainability technology.

Conservative cr calls return of trains to region ‘whimsical passion’

Mr Hunter said financial management was a key issue for the council, a need made ‘all the more immediate with the current uncertainty and COVID restrictions’.

‘We simply can’t ignore our finances as we have in the past,’ Mr Hunter said, referring to ‘whimsical passions’ such as a train.

‘Council have spent almost $400,000, to find now we are now no closer to reinstating a train, much less getting a rail trail with a walking/cycle track that would provide a perfect opportunity for tourism and add to local amenities,’ Mr Hunter said.

‘Against my strong objection, Council also took on a number of court challenges, despite the advice from three legal sources against them, and lost, incurring not only our own costs, but those of the court and the defendant,’ he said.

‘If elected, my team will concentrate on improving council services and community satisfaction, housing shortages, traffic management through making our roads work better, improving drainage and flood management strategies and building a pedestrian/cycleway along the rail corridor.’

Mr Hunter also said there was a ‘real need’ for change and removing ‘block voting on key issues’.

‘We need the support of people who want a sensible approach to our shire, not one that sees us continually sliding backwards,’ he said.

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  1. Fortunately most of Byron Council supports the return of rail. How on earth will they ever deal with their traffic problem without the rail services? Traffic problems are growing all across the Northern Rivers and the Gold Coast Light Rail is going to come down to the Tweed. How can we lose the potential of connecting up to Qld by rail?

    • ElizaBeth Shelley demonstrates exactly the “whimsical passion for trains” that Cr Hunter is talking about. How on earth are slow, expensive miniature trams running on single lines a few kilometres out of Byron going to make any difference to the numbers of cars on the road?

      Gold Coast Light Rail might come to Tweed Heads but it certainly won’t be continuing all the way to Byron until the whole Tweed Coast is developed on the scale of the Gold Coast. Light rail is used in high density populations. It isn’t applicable as an intercity railway. The established plan for a future railway coming south from Coolangatta is a multi-billion dollar heavy rail project involving a tunnel under Tweed Heads and a 200 kph route close to the M1. The old steam age corridor will be largely irrelevant.

      • Why are we obsessed with rail? Busses are better, cheaper and more efficient. Stop this wasteful nonsense!

        Concrete the rail lines and put train look electric busses on them. Period.

  2. Yeah, that’s exactly what this area needs. Conservatives do not fix social problems, they exacerbate them then try and use them for political gain. Is Mr Filippello going to actually be in the shire or in Sydney? I’m sure he has a great insight into the housing affordability problems from his mansion on Coopers Shoot. Or I’m sure Mr Holt will be keen to do something about the AirBnB problem when he has a ‘bed and breakfast’ in Byron. Give me a break. You should have to live in the shire permanently for 5 years to be able to run for council. Not like these opportunist blow-ins.

  3. Cr Alan Hunter is what I would call a ‘developer’s councillor’ with very little interest in protecting Byron Shire from exploitation and little or no interest in community consultation. The court cases he refers to are often brought by developer’s challenging Council’s refusal of inappropriate DAs. Unfortunately Cr Hunter’s ideology serves the few often to the detriment of the many. He does not reflect a diverse progressive electorate, nor does he offer any real solutions to the challenges we face.

  4. The Holy Rail Grail should finally be put to bed at this September election, and allow for the smooth passage of the achievable and fund-able Rail Trail.

    Tweed, Richmond Valley and Lismore Shires are getting well up to speed on the enormous benefits of the Rail Trail.

    Byron Shire Council has been a very expensive laughing stock for way too long.

  5. Thanks to Alan Hunters common sense approach on the rail trail. Let’s hope we get a good mix of counsellors next time around who will stop throwing good money after bad.

  6. Cr Hunter will NEVER get my vote, come Hell or high water. As another comment presented above stated, Mr Hunter is a’ developers councillor’…. well said I fear. I notice Mr Hunter is big on “progressing the Shire” which is code for developing it, into something vile like the Gold Coast. Byron especially has had enough development to see us into the next century. He won’t be here (most of us won’t be either) but the next generation will be. I especially noticed that Cr Hunter made NO reference to our ailing ecology /our Koala ‘crisis’ or our climate crisis ? I wonder why these issues weren’t important enough for him to mention ? I already know the answer to that question sadly.

    • you might not be here as you aren’t the “next generation” but we;;, I am the next generation and we want progress in the Shire. Less nimbyism please. I note your concerned that he hasn’t mention the “climate crisis” but like most normal people who aren’t as ideologically possessed as you, I think the solutions to climate change are well without of reach for a single shire on the North Coast of NSW in a corner of the world’s population that is extremely small. As the next generation in Byron I couldn’t care less if the shire get developed further, need more schools, hospitals and housing anyways. Development is good, most ate sick of the nimby hippies in the Shire.

  7. Mr Hunter also said there was a ‘real need’ for change and removing ‘block voting on key issues’.

    Yet Mr hunter is running an election team of 4 ?

    Words , words and more waffle .

    This lot sounds worse that the rabble Greens !

    • Voters are lazy so candidates need a team to have a chance with the “above the line” vote. Otherwise they languish in the Others column. Any candidate who knows how it works has a team where they realise only the top of the column has much chance.

      Wreck the stupid system by numbering below the line.

      • So Block voting is OK , because that is what a ‘team’ does ?

        Voters are actually very intelligent people and they will vote accordingly .

        This fact has escaped the Conservatives … naturally !

          • You just keep voting above the line if that’s what makes you happy .

            Intelligent Voters think about how they vote , and , Byron is known for it’s Intelligent Voters .

  8. It’s pretty obvious that in this Shire with over 2.2M annual tourists, any well-priced and well-timetabled rail service would go gangbusters with locals and tourists alike. Lighter-weight trains, such as the Byron Solar Train, could run throughout the Shire with the existing track only needing modest repair to get this happening. That’d mean genuine improvements to connectivity throughout the Shire without needing to use the roads. Sounds like a winner, and is the only environmentally sensible option. Sure, it may cost a bit to get started, but so does everything. But given the very substantial economic benefits and huge improvements to transport options plus the potential to drive down road maintenance costs, I’d say it’d earn it’s keep. Cycleways alongside where possible would be the ‘icing on the cake’.
    Yet, Alan Hunter & Co. would rather the entire railway ripped up for a bike trail, which would generate no direct revenue and appeal to a far smaller demographic. So he’d rather perpetual traffic jams and endless highly-intrusive road construction projects, which always cost several million dollars per kilometre…
    Good to know where he stands.
    Not in 2021, and not with the needs of Byron Shire, that’s for sure.

    • A “well-priced and well-timetabled rail service” is a pipe dream. Fares on the Byron Solar Train cost nearly $1.70 per kilometre and it still loses money. That puts it at about $50 return to Mullumbimby.

      The old track would need more than “modest repair” to run the “light rail” 100 tonne Byron Solar Train. The Dual Use Study only suggested “Very Light Rail” (yet to be developed miniature trams that are somehow half the weight of any existing technology or converted mini-buses). It cost almost $2 million to repair the three kilometres of nearly straight track and one bridge to a condition where the train is allowed to do a maximum of 25 kph.

      Who is going to pay for this whimsical passion? Byron ratepayers? That is what they do in Gympie where the council has already poured in over $10 million on the 23 km Mary Valley Rattler tourist railway. With no sign of it ever paying its way, the ratepayers are still contributing $40 to every fare on top of the $62 paid by each passenger while the council has made an unconditional commitment to continue covering loses for at least another year. Meanwhile the project is seeking another $10 million to cover expenses that need to be met in the next couple of years. Railways are financial black holes.

      Byron voters need a strong dose of reality or they will find themselves at the next local government election in 2024 with no train, no trail, and no money for anything else.

    • It is not obvious. It is insane. Why are we obsessed with rail? Busses are better, cheaper and more efficient. Stop this wasteful nonsense!

      Concrete the rail lines and put train look electric busses (or better yet gas) on them. Period.

      Clearly this is a support boost for jobs for your mates over any real green option.


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