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Byron Shire
January 23, 2022

Lismore Council elections

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I read with interest Neil Mark’s farewell letter and would personally like to thank Neil for the huge commitment he made to the Council and Lismore over a lot of years. Although, only really observing from the sidelines, I was disappointed to see him not standing as I thought he always took an informed and thoughtful position on Council issues and certainly listened to the community. His voice will, I’m sure, be missed.

Like Neil, I was concerned at reading the incoming Mayor’s statements in regard to not favouring community consultation, and also returning the City to a ‘roads, rates and rubbish’ focus. This would truly be looking in the rear-vision mirror and would not address the varied responsibilities that all councils in NSW now have. Of course, saying that prior to an election may well not translate into his actions and approaches on Council once he – and his whole team – become informed and receive training in their roles as elected representatives vis-à-vis that of the General Manager and staff.

As Neil alluded to, given Lismore’s parlous finances, it’s more than likely that very soon the Council will have to introduce a Special Rate Variation, and as some of the incoming Councillors have always railed against it, it will be interesting to see what this new Council does. The continuing comparisons with rates in other areas have, in the past, compared apples and oranges. Any comparison should be between Lismore and other regional cities and be seen in the context of the many thousands of people who live outside Lismore and access health, legal and education resources located in Lismore and impacting on its resources, for which Council receives no rates.

If the Council were to again reject a Special Rate rise it may well be that it is placed into administration, which has already happened to four other councils in NSW. I’m sure the new Mayor wouldn’t want to see that happening on his watch.

Two other concerns I have about the new ‘team’ and its supporters; The first is the truly shocking targeting of women and indeed the harassment of one younger woman to the extent that she withdrew from standing. Also, the really hostile approach to Crs Bird, Cook and Ekins who have done the hard yards on Council and should be respected and thanked for that. Such attacks are representative of those with narrow – and misogynistic – attitudes which are, unfortunately, still fairly prevalent in our community. I sincerely hope that the incoming Mayor makes sure that disrespectful behaviour and comments are not allowed in his Council. If he doesn’t, then I’m sure the General Manager will.

Finally, as someone who served as a Community Independent Councillor for 18 years, it was extremely disappointing to see a group maintaining that it’s not a National Party group and describing themselves as Independent. Apart from knowing that several of the group’s members have, at the least, been members of the National Party until very recently, the sight of our federal member handing out for the ‘Independent’ group and wearing their T-shirt, for me, says it all. What has become very clear is that the Nationals are fighting desperately to maintain their position and, knowing that so many people are over party politics, it seems they have been deliberately deceptive about their involvement in local politics. In doing so they have trashed the label of Independent and made it harder for true Independents to counter what I see as at least misrepresentation, if not lies. Unfortunately, looking at our State and federal governments, lack of transparency and even outright lies seem to be the favoured position of the Coalition parties. Their reliance on using our money for their own narrow political purposes (pork barrelling) is truly shocking and undermines what the role of an elected representative should be in a democratic society. And it’s happening again here in Page.

I thought there was a need for change on Lismore Council, and I wish the incoming Council nothing but the best – provided they demonstrate that they can learn and become more informed about the facts rather than responding from their own personal biases. Lismore deserves better than that.

Dr Roslyn Irwin, Caniba


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2 COMMENTS

  1. A Bed Tax would fix it. Tax the tourists coming into Lismore by the number of nights they stay. Tax the people who actually cost council its expenditure, and not the locals. If people outside the area pay no rates but utilise the facilities then they deserve to pay a tax.
    “Any comparison should be between Lismore and other regional cities and be seen in the context of the many thousands of people who live outside Lismore and access health, legal and education resources located in Lismore and impacting on its resources, for which Council receives no rates.”

  2. Kevin Hogan, Rod Bruem and the rest of the National Party perpetrators who plotted, financed and organized this deceitful campaign to gain control of both Ballina and Lismore Councils are probably celebrating their success, but that success may come back to bite them. It really proves just how much the National Party brand is on the nose with voters, otherwise they wouldn’t have gone to such great lengths to hide it. They won’t be able to hide behind the Independent brand in the coming Federal election.

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