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Byron Shire
February 5, 2023

Editorial – 2022 in the Echo rearview mirror

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Herewith is a brief summary of 2022, as seen through the Echo lens. Given the constrained space, only a few topics can make it in.

In January 2022, the nation and globe were still wrapped in a covid dystopian world, and vaccinating children became a hot topic.

As it stands in 2023, covid is still an issue, and Australian cases and related deaths have, as predicted, risen considerably.

During the early part of 2022, The Echo ran many stories on supporting frontline health workers and asking authorities to explain how prepared they are, and whether there is enough funding and assistance. 

It didn’t look like there was.

It was also highlighted that supply chains that we rely on are weak. 

Late-stage capitalism has resulted in a reliance on fossil fuels running on an inefficient road network. Localisation picks up the slack when required, and more of it is needed. 

The Echo reported a Clean Up Australia Day was planned for Mullum on March 6, and then the weather turned bad. Really, really bad. On February 28, everything that was covid normal went pear-shaped, as cyclones converged above us – from Gypie in Qld, down to Grafton in NSW. And it was a high tide. As previously reported, the community helped each other, for up to six days and without comms, before the government agencies took over (in a ham-fisted and tone-deaf way). 

And only two weeks after that, the March 16 The Echo reported that the Environment Court (L&EC) approved  the ‘Locals’ West Byron DA (Site R&D), despite strong grounds for refusal from the Northern Regional Planning Panel, who was the consent authority. 

With everything negotiated behind closed doors by external lawyers – and with a planning system that favours developers – the community was again let down. 

A large suburb is to be built over sensitive flood-prone wetlands on the busy Ewingsdale Road into Byron. 

The paradox of course is that this shire, like most of Australia, is under enormous pressure with a lack of affordable housing. West Byron never aimed to alleviate that.

There’s also a shortage of tradies, meaning that any housing boom is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

And while Council was promised it could create precincts earlier in the year, the NSW government swooped in, late in December and told the community that they will again have to jump hoops and make submissions on the well-worn topic, STRA. This guvmint appears to want to wear us down with endless engagement and doesn’t care about whether they keep promises. 

How will that pan out?

Hans Lovejoy, editor

News tips are welcome: [email protected]

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