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Byron Shire
October 2, 2023

Koala shut down for not having a voice

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All Burribi wanted to do was have their say – and eat some leaves – for their allocated 4 minutes. Photo supplied.

During Public Access at last night’s Lismore Council meeting, item 9.1, Notice of Rescission – Development Application 5.2021.262.1 – Proposed Subdivision at 226 Invercauld Road, Goonellabah (Eastwood Estate extension), attracted a very special visitor.

Burribi the koala came to sit at the Public Access desk.

As readers may or may not know, koalas don’t speak any human language, so in the instance of development endangering their territory, they are in effect: voiceless.

Koala welcomed by the mayor

Burribi was led to the chair by a human friend and sat smiling at councillors – Burribi was welcomed by the mayor and invited to speak.

After one minute and 17 seconds of the marsupial’s allocated four minutes, the mayor thanked Burribi. After asking for questions from councillors, Cr Krieg asked Burribi to vacate the Public Access chair.

With rowdy noises of disapproval from the gallery, Cr Krieg said that in the Code of Meeting Practice, speakers are required to speak.

Cr Guise raised a Point of Order. ‘Mr Mayor, can you please point to the provision in the Code of Meeting Practice where a creature that has no voice is required to speak?’

The application is to speak

With some coaching from GM John Walker at his elbow, the mayor said that to speak in public access, a person must first make an application. ‘Applications to speak in public access must be received. So the application is to “speak”. Thanks for your clarification councillor.’

So the question is left hanging: who speaks for the voiceless?

The Echo will publish more about the Notice of Rescission in tomorrow’s edition.

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  1. The obvious point is that a koala cannot speak. The silence was deafening, but the boys at the supposed top could not have a silent koala threaten their power.

  2. Can I just say, I was in the gallery and thought it was an extremely powerful statement. I was on the verge of tears when the Mayor cut Burubi’s message short.


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