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Byron Shire
January 21, 2022

Women Who Lead team focus on housing and environment

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Letitia Kelly is heading the Women Who Lead ticket in the Tweed Shire Council elections.

Letitia Kelly is from the Yugambeh and Bundjalung nations and is heading the Independent Group F, Women Who Lead ticket in the upcoming Tweed Shire Council elections. Her running partners are Dolly Tuku-Tuku-Kwarri, Marian Van Gestel, and Lori Scinto and their key issues if they are elected onto Tweed Shire Council will be housing and the environment.

Candidate Questions

If you and your team members are not incumbent (were not on the previous council) what specifically would you propose to change?

  • Aboriginal knowledge systems to be a core part of environmental protection and land management.
  • There are opportunities to repurpose existing instruments or mechanisms, such as local and state government agreements around fees, taxes or rates, towards the building of a new relationship of Aboriginal sciences imbued into land management and land practices in the Tweed. ie. cultural fire burning as a preventative measure against damaging bush fires, and also a method for native species regeneration. Examples of this mechanism are already in many local councils
  • The effort to add Aboriginal land knowledge and Aboriginal science systems to these existing mechanisms is already available and requires a dedicated education and vision by local councils. Letitia would be seeking to expand environmental education and the application of Aboriginal sciences if elected. The paper that explores this relating to Victoria is here. They see this as a function of land justice under their agreement of State Treaty. Victoria is well ahead of this discussion than New South Wales.

What are the key opportunities you would pursue as a councillor?

As a First Nation’s woman if elected to council I would pursue expanding and making available land care education from an Aboriginal science and systems basis, to help parents/adults teach their children, to relearn what was absent in our education systems.

The Tweed Shire strategy recognised that a large majority of our community want to advance climate response from the local to the community, and it’s time to allow the First Nation people to lead in education as we all gain from the local area, local lands and local environmental systems.

Lori Scinto.

Short Term Holiday Letting

What is your view on the new Short-Term Holiday Letting (STHL) rental legislation allowing any residential building in the Shire to be let on a short-term basis ie holiday, Airbnb etc?

I am running for Council with the support of the three other women on my ticket because of two issues: Housing and Environment.

Housing is critical, urgent and desperately required to meet local workforce needs and business needs, and more importantly to create community.

The control of the STHL directly affects housing shortage and crisis in any location and can serve the community if done with ‘creation of community’ in mind.

It is easy to exploit market conditions, it is harder to create cohesion and respectful community. I would vote to reduce 365 days to 180 or less for STHL for non-hosted properties.

A local council is a direct voice from its citizens and should be able to meet the ebb and flow of housing needs, generated locally, while not moving to the ebb and flow of a ravaging housing market, that seeks to serve wealth creation and not community cohesion.

My commitment is to increase all housing options, including long term rentals, secure housing, community housing and social housing and ensure that mixed development has set aside long-term rentals and affordable housing as part of its key mix.

Do you think STHL should be allowed 320 days a year or limited to a fewer number of days? If yes, how many days do you think that should be?

No, it should be limited to 180 or less for non-hosted homes.

How do you intend to impact homelessness in the Tweed?

There are approximately 120 homeless people sleeping rough every night in a population of almost 100,000 and that does not include those couch surfing or in overcrowded homes.

Housing stress is real. Many people including those in small businesses are homeless, and facing homelessness because of the raging exploitative housing markets.

Dolly Tuku Tuku Kwarri is number two on the ticket and a foster mother to five children. Dolly is paying in excess of $800 per week in rent, that is not the community we want or need or can afford.

It’s time to stop and plan a community for a community that is currently exploited by market trends in Sydney and the cities.

The current rental of a home in Tweed is more expensive than in Sydney at ($750 per week) and that has to change. Average buying price is over $860k, with an average salary $650 a week – salaries have not kept up with housing, so council have to use their powers to make changes in improving housing options, as matter of urgency.

I have a dedicated housing policy at [link] to address homelessness, and community and social housing urgently, and a plan for increased affordable housing.

I am committed to this issue and if elected I will focus on housing as my number one issue.

Tweed is a beautiful location, but we are more than an Instagram post, people, and families. Communities live here, and want to raise families here, value the environment here, and want to thrive here now and in the future.

Dolly Tuku Tuku Kwarri.


Do you support the commercial extraction of groundwater (eg for water bottling) in Tweed Shire?


Do you think that commercial extraction should allow existing water licences to remain as the status quo, allow an increase in water extraction, or pursue a reduction and elimination of commercial water extraction? Why?

No. I would pursue a reduction of commercial extraction, again water licensing has been exploited and I was disappointed to see an expansion of current licenses without any sensitive and full consultation with Aboriginal peoples, and the broader community.

Understanding water and underground oceans and use requires us to educate the community. Again applying Aboriginal knowledge systems to genuinely appreciate water resources, and its systems is essential so we can move away from water being used, exploited, abused and wasted.

Water and clean air and non-negotiable.


What is your position on the maximum building height limit of 13.6m that applies to the majority of the shire?

Letitia says no to high rise on coastal areas at all and will protect the maximum height limit of 13.6 meters at all costs.

Construction of the Tweed Valley Hospital required rezoning (by the State Government) of protected farmland. What is your position on the protection of the remaining State Significant Farmland. Why?

To oversee the implementation of these policies and facilitate mediation when conflict does occur a dispute resolution mechanism should be introduced.

Letitia is an independent and a local and wants local voices heard on all State Significant Land.

For example, the appointment of an independent agricultural Commissioner or Ombudsman, along with a board, can assist when conflict does occur. The employment of consistent strategy engagement activities by the relevant authorities and agencies can redress most impacts. This means Tweed Shire Council and State authorities must work harder in engaging with stakeholders.

For example having consistent state wide planning guidelines to clarify the development process. Attach a value to acceptable agricultural practice, transparent communication about acceptable farm practice could be fostered by an independent arbiter. Clear channels to resolve conflicts outside the regulatory or legal system are important.

Digital and personal education initiatives based on behavioural science combined with effective resourcing of compliance at all levels to engender trust in the process for all stakeholders.

Letitia has made two big commitments if elected

One – a clear plan and focus on housing which will positively impact homeless and affordability, height limits for coast areas, and manage Airbnb

Two – Environmental education applying Aboriginal science and systems which will benefit all land users.

A better clear dispute resolution function will also ensure Tweed voices will be heard on State Significant Land; what those voices say should support a sustainable cooperative community that has our coastal village values at heart.

Where do you stand on development in the Tweed, the need for growth and the balance with fabric and amenity, lifestyle, liveability and environment?

As above

Coastal communities across the country are being ‘loved to death’ – resulting in significant impacts on infrastructure (roads, traffic, services etc), housing availability and affordability. What are your strategies on mitigating the impacts in these areas?

The balance for infrastructure must also be anchored in serving those that live here first, those who call Tweed home. It must protect the right to raise our families here, without housing stress, without having to be multi-millionaires, and be able to preserve a community spirit and function of safety, ease and opportunity.

We are not the Gold Coast and do not want to be.

Gold Coast Airport has an impact on Tweed ‘flight-path’ communities, with curfews regularly being tested. This will likely be exacerbated as the airport meets its growth targets. How would you work to mitigate this impact for the community? 

Letitia Kelly is a Traditional Owner of an area that begins at Tallebudgera Creek Qld and runs into NSW, which means under Federal and State legislation her voice matters. As a women from an Aboriginal family from the Yugambeh (Qld) Bundjalung (NSW) nation it means her voice is not limited to Tweed Shire.

Letitia and her family live at Fingal Head, so she is affected the same way as Kingscliff residents when it comes to flight plans and flight paths.

Given the suggestion for further aircraft noise monitoring sites ‘Long Term’ is suggested at Tweed Heads, Tweed Heads South, Tweed Heads West (Draft Airport Noise Report 19 July 2021), Letitia intends to raise Noise Reduction in these communities in which she has a very strong relationship and ensure all residents are aware of issues and join these communities to others affected by Aircraft Noise.

2020/2021 with COVID was not a ‘normal’ year of noise impact for a draft Airport Noise Report to be undertaken, Letitia has noticed the positive impact of less aircrafts, and perhaps Tweed residents have noticed as well.

Some recent studies indicates that the pandemic situation significantly ‘improves air quality in different cities across the world, reduces GHGs emission, lessens water pollution and noise, and reduces the pressure on the tourist destinations, which may assist with the restoration of the ecological system’.

If elected Letitia would explore more of this argument when considering aircraft impact and ensure that more local voices are heard than those that are expected to participate in long term studies.

Aircraft noise should be a rallying issue for all of Tweed and Letitia intends to connect this across from coastal communities of Kingscliff, and Tweed West and South so we support each other in protecting the Tweed and its people, and environments from the negative impact of flight noise.

If elected Letitia can have a voice in TSC, on parts of the Gold Coast and at a State and Federal level and that voice is aligned with the views of local and all those affected by and proposed to be affected by increase in aircraft noise.

Should developers be allowed variations on the Development Control Plan (DCP), Local Environment Plan (LEP) and other planning controls or should these policies be strictly enforced?

A Local Environmental Plan (LEP) is a statutory document which each Council in NSW is required by State legislation to have, and councils have a very serious obligation to enforce them.

A DCP is a document prepared and adopted by the Council, and this speaks to the specific location, creation of community ethos, priorities, and offers the ability to plan for a community of inclusiveness. This shall be adhered to and enforced because the process to create it is of consultation with the community who resides in the area.

A DCP is a document that provides a set of rules that serve everyone’s quality of life interest and sometimes the individual is not served by that. The core of this role is consultation, discussion cooperation and the best community interstate above the individual.

Would you prioritise community and environment or development?

I am from the Tweed and have a deep connection to country, my ambition is to ensure that Tweed is inclusive, affordable and everyone who wants to make it a home, raise a family and create a community has a safe place here.

I will also prioritize community and environment over exploitive development.

Marian van Gestel.


Do you support Council’s Climate Emergency Declaration and strong action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions?


Do you support stronger policies and increased funding to protect Tweed’s internationally significant environment?

Yes – and we address this in details in our environment policy (Online 19th Nov).

Do you support allowing forestry in private native forests?



Do you support the Rail Trail, mutli-modal line or a train line? Why?

Yes, I support rail.

I support and am preferencing only Independents including Bill Fenelon who is leading rails. I support rail, as our population grows and we need affordable transport that does not require cars and more cars, and this can be done well, and that is the future for Tweed, this also assists our Elders or people with disabilities who may find this more comfortable and easier to access.

Political party affiliation

Have you been, or are you, affiliated with any political parties? Please provide party name and membership period.

I was a member of the Greens and have resigned that membership

I am a complete independent and do not wish an affiliation at all with major parties,

If yes, how much will you be influenced by your party policies and agendas?


If the opportunity arose would you quit council to run for a state or federal seat?

I want to serve the Tweed, build my Aboriginal nation and give to my children and their children.

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  1. Yet another last minute recently Green Independent along with Bill Fenelon.

    Easy enough to spot them in their clique. Just look for the candidates who think wrecking the $14 million Rail Trail project that has been at least eight years in the making and ready to start construction, so they can retain a derelict steam age railway track, hoping it will bring back trains. Nobody is going to fund hundreds of millions of dollars to resurrect a track where trains negotiate tight curves at 60 kph.

    When a new railway is built, maybe in a couple of decades, it will come from Coolangatta, through a tunnel under Tweed Heads, then south close to the M1 where the same distance as Murwillumbah would reach just eight kilometres short of Yelgun where the M1, Tweed Valley Way and rail corridor converge for several kilometres. There it will be close to where the shire is growing and accessed by stations at the motorway interchanges. It will support trains running at 200 kph or more. That is the future of rail in Tweed. It is already in the planning documents. No designer will be even slightly interested in an old corridor winding its way through the Burringbar Range.

    A vote for the train obsessed candidates is a vote for Greens led stagnation and regression bringing fiscal disaster with millions of dollars in jeopardy, including a few million already spent on the project that would have to be paid back by Tweed ratepayers.

  2. Ah yes Greg Clitheroe, part of the Lycra crowd who trolls the local Facebook pages and relentlessly plugs his vocal minority rail trail agenda at the expense of literally everyone else in the Tweed Valley. Why should our older, isolated residents want a means of public transport? Why should our youth want to be able to travel independently instead of having to depend on their parents to take them places? Why should people with disabilities want to take trains, which is far easier for them than buses? Why should anyone dare to ask why we can’t have a rail trail alongside our tracks instead of ripping up valuable infrastructure that belongs to ratepayers. His corrupt project was plowed through without any community consultation. It is the pet project of a few on counsel and this elite group of cyclists who have never explained who is going to pay for the maintenance of this boondoggle? Gee, might it be the ratepayers, none of whom have ever been afforded any say in this special interest project? Go ahead Greg. Stomp your feet and tantrum some more like the lot of your crowd has done for years.

    • Such an infantile response. Very short on facts and spouting the usual nonsense platitudes.

      The corridor doesn’t go anywhere near the vast majority of residents in this region, especially the parts of the region with the highest proportion of elderly people and those without cars. Buses costing a tiny fraction of trains already service far more areas than a train on that corridor ever could and hardly anyone uses them. Unlike a train, buses can pick up people from near their homes and drop them near their destinations. A comprehensive report by independent consultants in 2013 indicated that trains on the corridor could not make a significant contribution to the transport needs of the region and would be hideously expensive. That report was accepted by both sides of government and the railway was formally abandoned. Last year, both sides of parliament agreed to close the rail corridor and dedicate it as a trail. There were no other proposals put to parliament for its use.

      The vast majority of the Murwillumbah population travel to the north. There is hardly any traffic on the road to the south on Tweed Valley Way. Stand on the side of the road at the Stokers turnoff for a couple of hours and count the cars if you don’ believe me. There wouldn’t be enough people to justify a train if they all used it.

      The railway is derelict. The section north of Billinudgel was already listed by the rail authority for “major repair or complete replacement” when the last train ran in 2004. It has since been buried under thick vegetation for well over a decade. with the wooden sleepers and bridges in advanced state of decay.

      Tweed Council engineers determined that due to the terrain, it was completely impractical to build a trail off the formation for about eighty percent of the route. This was reaffirmed when contractors put in their bids which were invited for both on formation and off formation designs. Only one submitted an off formation bid (in addition to their on formation bid which was accepted). It excluded the “uncosted earthworks” involved in building a second formation and was “subject to soil tests” to determine if the mud beside the formation could support a trail. Any attempt to build an off formation trail would be many millions of dollars beyond the available budget.

      Why waste a fortune that we don’t have when there is already unused formation? Why destroy thousands of trees, move mountains of earth and deal with erosion problems and weeds when it is completely unnecessary?

      There are no serious proposals for trains. Nobody public or private is going to fund the vast millions of dollars to resurrect the tracks and bridges just so they can operate at a near total loss to carry a handful of passengers who would not be willing to pay the real costs. The rail trail is not standing in the way of the railway and the support given to the rail advocates has been in response to a false claims that it is possible to reinstate the railway.

      The rail trail has been in planning for at least eight years, steadily meeting the requirements to be funded. Far from being “the pet project of a few councillors” it has had continuous majority support throughout that time. The “pet project” has been the railway dreams of just two councillors against the majority of five who have supported the project through two full terms of council.

      The cost of maintenance is projected to be around $200,000 per year for an on formation trail. The annual council budget exceeds $250 million, so the trail maintenance would amount to less than 0.1 percent of the budget. Compare this to the net cost of the three swimming pools at about $3 million, sporting fields nearly $3 million, parks and gardens at about $9 million, the Art Gallery at over $2 million, libraries almost $3 million and museums over $1 million. The trail would be a bargain.

      Trail maintenance would amount to four cents per week for each Tweed Shire resident. The funding for the first three years’ maintenance has already been secured from the government, proving an opportunity to put other funding models in place. Criticising the trail on the basis of maintenance cost is surely a joke coming from people who want a railway.

      Construction of the trail will begin in January. It is the rail advocates who are throwing tantrums and stomping their feet because they see their pipe dream about to evaporate.


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