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Byron Shire
October 4, 2022

Autocracy or democracy for Byron Shire?

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The New Yorker Magazine recently wrote a quote from Mr Rupert Murdoch ‘The truth is authoritarian governments do work!’ Hold that thought.

It has been stated in the literature that democracy is defined by the ‘separation of powers’ between the Judiciary and the Executive. Democracy is inclusive of freedom of speech and public rights to legally enforce the will of the people. However, for decades we have seen the rise of autocratic power. Power to override all democratic rights even the dictates upholding basic humanitarian/ecological rights, as articulated by the judiciary. The power of the authoritarian market upholds dismissing sentient rights in order to pave the way for an unfettered market $$$$. Thus power and profit are locked in a never-ending carnal relationship. A law unto itself accessed only by ruling elites. This can be seen in the NSW State Liberal government which currently embraces all the features of autocratic government.

This can be viewed in the dominant market power relationships that eventually supported the fiasco that was Splendour. This proposed event drew huge resistance from locals who won a Land and Environment Court case ruled by Justice Preston. This ruling protected endangered species, upheld ecological /Indigenous integrity and was totally supportive of public rights.  But this legal judgement was NOT good enough for the developers who then turned to the NSW Liberal government pleading that Splendour is a ‘State significant event’. Ever true to the dictates of market forces the NSW State government ignored the judicial dictates of the Land and Environment Court. Ignored the separation of powers between the Judiciary and the Executive that define and uphold legal democratic rights.   The NSW  government implemented its own ‘legal statutes’ that supported the developers including an American consortium! This is naked abusive power that must not be tolerated by any civil society, anywhere.

Furthermore, it begs the question ‘If evidence can be manipulated to a new status where does the judiciary sit in this process?’

We also witness the never-ending re-traumatising of flood victims in Mullumbimby by the insertion of housing pods for victims of the flood. This is such a delicate situation and all victims do not deserve to be ‘played with’ by the NSW government. The pods are on flood-prone land. Mullum residents who are camping in their driveways as a result of floods, fear that with the build-up of fill they will be totally eclipsed in the next flood. They have sympathy for all the homeless victims. Despite their supposed democratic rights for information from Council and the State government and Resilience NSW, no information has been forthcoming! This stance screams loudly…. we are governed by an authoritarian NSW State government.  No community is deserving of such exploitation and cruelty.  This tragedy is also about democratic survival and civil society has a right to make power uncomfortable.

Jo Faith, Newtown

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