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Byron Shire
January 23, 2022

Master Mariner Bill Fenelon looks to the future of Tweed Shire

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Master Mariner Bill Fenelon is running for the 2021 Tweed Shire elections. Photo supplied

Bill Fenelon, who has called the Tweed Valley home since 2009, is heading up Group A and is running as an Independent with Carolyn Rifello from Terragon, Rainer Glasker from Mt Burrell, and Susan Greer from Banora Point.

Mr Fenelon says that he is ‘an activist dedicated to serving and enriching the local communities of the Tweed’. He places the ‘natural environment’ as we as the ‘a strong, healthy economy in conjunction with sustainable growth’ as central to his campaign for council.

As a Master Mariner, Mr Fenelon has sailed the globe, and while he has ‘seen some amazing places, unique attractions, and stunning natural landscapes’, he says ‘nothing beats the Tweed: the pristine beaches, crystal clear rivers, rugged mountains, national parks, and the friendly people in the vibrant towns and villages.”’

As a councillor, he told The Echo that he ‘will support jobs and tourism at the same time   strive to protect prime agricultural land and preserve the village atmosphere of Kingscliff and the Tweed Coast.’

Education and housing

Mr Fenelon and his ticket also stand for a strong public education system and affordable housing. He will fight for both.

Mr Fenelon has pointed out the lack of consultation by the State government in their pursuit of a ‘super campus’ at Murwillumbah.

‘There was effectively no community consultation and a lot of anger about this decision which can only be justified in terms of saving a few dollars of tax. There is plenty of waste in the State budget, but don’t take it out on school children. Approximately 27 jobs will be lost if the existing schools close.’

Mr Fenelon says he wants to ‘retain public property for public use, improve our schools, build a new one at Pottsville where it is needed and forget about destroying the Murwillumbah schools.’

Rail and cycleways

As part of his activism on local and environmental issues, Mr Fenealon has been a leading campaigner to save the Tweed’s railways, advocating for retaining the rail lines for a local rail transport system in conjunction with creating rail-trail cycleways. In addition to the enhancement of local rail transportation, he says he is a strong advocate for a rail connection between the Gold Coast and Casino to connect the Tweed Shire with Brisbane and Sydney.


As a Master Mariner Mr Fenelon promotes sailing as a sport on the Tweed River and started the Tweed Valley Sailing Club to mentor youth and enable those with disabilities to get involved in sailing activities. He has also been captain of a sail training vessel along our coast for many years.

Running as an independent, Mr Fenealon declares that he is motivated purely by local interests and issues, not careerism or party politics.

‘I am committed to engaging with the community to identify and meet their wishes and concerns. I oppose greed, profiteering, and the destruction of our unique natural environment. The Tweed is the best place in the world, and I’m dedicated to ensuring it stays that way.’

Mr Fenelon also recommends support and preferencing Tweed Shire candidates Chris Cherry, Meredith Dennis, Letitia Kelly and Nola Firth.

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  1. Interesting that this piece about Bill Fenelon is not the Q&A with direct questions that most of the other candidates submitted to the Echo. Was that his choice or the Echo’s?

    Bill certainly does not want electors to know that he was a member of The Greens until very recently. In fact he ran as the endorsed Greens candidate for Tweed in the last State election. In July he was announced as part of the Greens ticket for Tweed in the local government election but has since decided to push his own barrow.

    That barrow is the one he built as long time President of local rail advocacy group Trains on our Tracks (Toot). His aspiration is the retention of the derelict closed railway in the far south of the shire that runs parallel to the least trafficked main road in Tweed. He pretends that this railway can be reopened at minimal cost and form the basis of a public transport system, despite the fact that it doesn’t run anywhere near the vast majority of shire residents and absolutely nowhere near where anyone needs to travel.

    Retaining these tracks would require that the fully funded and ready to be constructed $14 million Tweed Valley Rail Trail would have be built off the formation, after at least eight years of planning with the vast majority of councilllors over two terms fully supporting the project on the formation, as was advised by the council engineers to be the only practical option. The government has already informed the council that an off formation “bike track”, as the rail advocates call it, is not the “rail trail” they funded and the variation would not be allowed.

    To meet the definition of a “rail trail” as a level, easily accessible path with the gentle gradients of a railway would require the construction of an extensive second formation at expense far greater than the available budget could support. This fact was made clear by the successful contractor, Hazell Bros who also submitted an incomplete tender for off formation design saying that it excluded “uncosted earthworks” for the second formation and was “subject to soil tests” to determine if the soil (often mud) beside the formation could support the trail.

    Any intelligent person can easily recognise that the cost of removing thousands of trees, widening cuttings and moving mountains of earth to build a second formation, would cost far more than simply removing the rails and building a trail on a formation that is already capable of supporting trains. The design work alone for the second formation would be immense, as would the resumption of land needed because the formation does not stay neatly on one side of the corridor but swings from one side to the other to ease curves.

    Despite this, Fenelon is publicly claiming that Hazell Bros said that the off formation construction would cost no more than the on formation construction. There is absolutely no record of anyone ever being told this. Why would they when they had not investigated the costs of the second formation and didn’t know the nature of the soil? Rail advocates say it was told to them when Hazells had a “quiet word” with one of their engineers. Really?

    Fenelon can no more bring trains back to the old railway than he can have the rail trail built beside the formation. The reality is that his promise if elected to overturn the design of the trail and retain the tracks would result in millions of dollars already spent on the project having to be paid back to the government by ratepayers along with millions of dollars in compensation to Hazells .

    The plans by Fenelon and his accomplices spells financial ruin for the shire along with the loss of the most important piece of infrastructure to be built in the shire in a very long time.

  2. Does anyone call mount saint Patrick’s primary and college a SUPER school?
    As they have the approx the same student population as the proposed Murwillumbah school will have, when it opens.
    There is nothing super about it, other that it is sooo much bigger in area than mount st pats and it has room for growth, if needed. That will mean more teachers will be required.
    Mount St Patrick’s parents are comfortable with a Kindy to 12 student schools on one site and they do share facilities. Oh and also the new school will have new facilities and cost parents nothing.
    As for the rail trail, keep in mind that this a project that is going ahead and if the need arises in the future a rail way will be reinstated with additional funding.
    Though, I will say it’s good to see bill mentors the youth.


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