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Byron Shire
August 14, 2022

Editorial – Emergency wedges!

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The proposed pod village on rail land, Station Street, Mullumbimby.

Things are looking like they are about to get a bit messy, with Byron Council and the NSW government dipping metaphorical political wedges into big pots of sour cream and tomato sauce, paid for by us, the taxpayer. 

Political wedges are where, for example, really bad, unclear, ill-considered proposals with unanswered questions are pushed onto a small section of a community. 

‘It’s an emergency!’ the mayor bleats (page 3), ‘It’s taken too long already, and we need to act now!’.

Ignoring legitimate concerns and questions from neighbours who face around 60 pod homes being plonked in front of them, without due process, hasn’t got great optics. Where is the engineering report to ensure this won’t exacerbate a known flooding area? 

The optics also look bad when the mayor protects poor, secretive governance. 

But this is what we have come to expect.

So far, it looks like Mullum will become a shanty town at its entrance, something that was not included in its masterplan.

And yes, there are always other, and better options. 

It’s just that Council and the NSW government won’t tell anyone what they are, or why they chose these locations. And they have had months to do that. We do know that Bayside in Bruns and the old Bruns tip are also earmarked.

Emergencies are a perfect opportunity to bypass transparency and responsibility. The message from Council, and the NSW government, is that they have little to no regard for process, or care for those who already live here. 

Another example (page 1) is where councillors, supported by a questionable Council staff report, are trying to expedite an expansion of rural dwellings, while those residents are still picking up the pieces of their shattered lives, months after the flood.

Should residents expect better treatment than being dismissed and driven over roughshod? We have every right to know what is being plonked in front of us, with transparency and honesty. 

Such actions engender trust. 

And flood-affected residents, let down by bloated unaccountable bureaucracies and ineffective politicians, have every right to be angry they have been so far ignored.

Hans Lovejoy, editor

News tips are welcome: [email protected]

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  1. This is what I object to the most “bloated unaccountable bureaucracies” who seem to be behind many unpalatable decisions in our communities! As in the fight to retain the rail corridor for dual use, rail & trail. But no: at a community meeting we are told quite firmly by – not by an elected councillor supposed to representing the community – but by a council staff member “the rail line will certainly be ripped up for a rail trail”…without sufficient community consultation. With the population increasing , therefore more traffic on the roads, ( & look at the mess caused by Splendour in the Grass festival…how good would it have been to have a light rail/tram option for festival goers?) what are town planners doing by not planning for this? How short-sighted.


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