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Byron Shire
April 22, 2024

Byron Mayoral hopefuls form group to wedge other candidates

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Some Council candidates for the 2021 elections. Photo Jeff Dawson

The announcement by three mayoral candidates, for the position of Byron’s mayor, that they have ‘joined forces to bring better government to Council’ with the interim mayor has been received as perplexing by other candidates.

A press release says interim Mayor, Michael Lyon (independent, former Greens), Labor’s Asren Pugh, Bruce Clarke (independent) and Mark Swivel (independent) have joined together as the ‘United Front’.

Local government elections will be held December 4.

Mark Swivel

Mr Swivel told The Echo he drafted the press release, but insists it was a ‘genuine group effort’. 

Election issues raised by the cohort include the housing emergency, infrastructure (ie reactivating the disused rail corridor), completing a Coastal Zone Management Plan, green infrastructure (bioenergy plant, solar projects) and an Arakwal/Bunjalung Cultural Centre.

All the election platforms come without any detail of how they will be achieved.

Councillor Alan Hunter. Photo David Hancock

Cr Alan Hunter told The Echo ‘the announcement for better government beggars belief’.

Cr Hunter said, ‘Three of them have yet to sit through a full Council meeting, and the other is our acting Mayor who, by releasing this statement, is saying Council has failed under his leadership’.

‘One of the planks fundamental to the success of a governing community body like Council is there are no backroom deals, and that every decision is open and transparent.

‘This coalition, while not illegal, breaks all these principles and sets up a caucus to set “behind closed door” deals prior to each Council meeting’.

‘The community needs to be aware that it’s most likely with a coalition like this they will fall short in their election promises.

‘Nothing replaces experienced and common-sense individuals working in an open and transparent environment, unlike what is clearly happening here’.

More of the same

Duncan Dey

Mayoral candidate Duncan Dey (Greens) told The Echo that, by tightly preferencing each other, it will just ‘offer voters more of the same’.

‘The Greens do not believe that more of the same is good enough’.

‘Let’s look at the actions of Labor and the Independents supporting them, rather than their words.

‘The Swivel, Lyon and Clarke groups have chosen to join up with the ALP, with its strong voting record on Council in favour of development over environmental and social concerns. The self-badged “United Front” is certainly not Green, or even green.

‘The Shire now has a clear choice between these “pragmatic candidates” offering more of the same and The Greens, who have remained Green in name and green in values. We are the only group that guarantees to care more about the environment than overdevelopment and that will always stand up for the best interests of community’.

Independent Byron Shire Councillor Cate Coorey . Photo David Hancock

Mayoral candidate Cate Coorey told The Echo, ‘No- one could disagree with any of the aims of this group; they’re mostly things that I, and my fellow councillors, have already been working towards, and achieving, and which are the aims of progressive candidates across the Shire. I’m not sure why they would need to band together as a separate group to achieve them’.

The ‘United Front’ press release ends with ‘The next term of Council will only be two and a half years long, and we need a mayor and councillors able to work together to deliver for results from day one’.


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