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Byron Shire
December 4, 2021

Editorial: A primer on local power in Byron Shire

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BSC Councillor Michael Lyon

There are nine elected councillors (including the mayor), but since the departure of the mayor earlier in the year (just before COVID-19 lockdowns), Council have been operating with eight councillors. Hence, Cr Michael Lyon was appointed mayor by councillors, not the public.

The current councillors were elected in 2016, with four Greens, who, with the help of two Labor councillors and the lone conservative in the room, held the balance of power for five long years (Normally terms are four years, but you know, COVID…).

Byron Shire Councillor Cate Coorey plans to run for the position of Mayor at the upcoming COuncil election. Photo Tree Faerie.

Councillor Basil Cameron. Photo David-Hancock

There are two independent councillors, Crs Cate Coorey and Basil Cameron, who have consistently questioned unfettered development and poor policy more than the others, and thus have voted against larger ticket items more often than not.

Councillor Sarah Ndiaye. Photo David Hancock

While four Greens were elected by the voters in 2016, there’s now only one Green left in the chamber – Cr Sarah Ndiaye.

The others, Cr Michael Lyon and Cr Jeannette Martin, quit the Greens some time ago (owing to a lack of support within the party, presumably), and now plan to stand as Independents at the coming election.

Councillor Jan Hackett. Photo David Hancock

Councillor Paul Spooner. Photo David Hancock

Labor’s two councillors are Crs Paul Spooner and Jan Hackett. While Cr Hackett has showed more restraint in voting for large and inappropriate development, Cr Spooner’s views and voting pattern have become, over time, more aligned with the National Party. He no longer lives in the Shire (but attends meetings via Zoom) and is not contesting in December.

Councillor Alan Hunter. Photo David Hancock

The lone traditional conservative voice in the chamber, Cr Alan Hunter, has proven more reliable and less unpredictable than the others when it comes to planning matters.

He’s aligned to the National Party, and presumably believes the cost to the environment and public amenity is the price to pay for progress. It’s actually been the direction the majority of councillors have taken us down for the entire time they have been in control.

Finally,  the most powerful people in Council are actually the unelected executive staff. Serving bureaucracy, not the community, has been a hallmark of the councillor majority.

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