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Byron Shire
March 22, 2023

Editorial – Champagne governance!

Latest News

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Break out the bubbly!

Break out the bubbly – Mayor Michael Lyon was effusive on social media after his ‘win’ over getting an agreement with the state government to finally do something with the disused rail corridor in Mullum (See: Mullumbimby rail corridor deals behind closed doors).

Should we rejoice mindlessly, or stop and ask: ‘So you held a secret meeting and made an agreement without asking anyone first?’

‘How do these actions gain our trust?’

Presumably, the mayor expects this no-longer-secret agreement between Council and the NSW government to be supported by councillors this Thursday.

And it’s likely to be, as the majority councillor block are compliant and unquestioning.

They froth at anything with the words ‘affordable housing’ in it.

The only thing is, affordable housing isn’t a thing, because the laws that surround it are exploited by developers. Affordable housing doesn’t deliver its intended purpose under NSW State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs).

Those who are interested in affordable housing know all this.

Most people don’t.

This appears an example where a politician is saying things you, the good looking and extremely time poor public, want to hear.

Yes, there is a lack of affordable housing (across the nation), as well as social housing, but processes should matter, and so should the right location.

‘Look at me – affordable housing!’

Isn’t this cheap populism, as the mayor accused fellow Cr Mark Swivel of recently, when Cr Swivel was found manoeuvring in the background and betting on both sides of the holiday letting debate?

It’s actually dishonest to claim that affordable housing will meet the needs of those seeking affordability.

That’s why the mayor didn’t answer that question from The Echo.

And going about making that happen – in secret – which will impact a fragile, small community that is still dealing with flood trauma, is reprehensible.

In the context of needing to seem like he’s achieved something in office – anything – it’s worth pointing out that not much is really working for the mayor.

For example, Lot 22, near the Mullum community gardens, was pegged for affordable housing.

After years of staff investigation (and money), that was dropped last year, mainly because of flooding risks.

Other Council projects that have incurred vast amounts of staff time without bearing fruition include the Byron bioenergy facility, the Dingo Lane solar farm and the natural burial ground.

When elected to govern, you can just keep making mistakes until you get booted out of office. There is no such latitude in the private sector.

As MP Tamara Smith pointed out, rezoning rail land will transfer public ownership to private wealth.

And if that is to happen, there needs to be a lot more good faith than has been evident thus far.

The mayor told his social media followers late last year that he acknowledged his communication with the public had not been great, and he will try harder this year.

While we are not off to a great start for 2023, it can only get better, right?

Hans Lovejoy, editor

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  1. This would have to be one of the most rambling, directionless, and irrational pieces of political writing that I have had the misfortune to read in a long time. Where can one start? There are choices wherever one looks, unfortunately, so I will restrict myself.

    Your quote ….”Should we rejoice mindlessly, or stop and ask: ‘So you held a secret meeting and made an agreement without asking anyone first?’”

    I guess that is what Council Elections are all about, especially for Mayor.

    You know, Elections like the last one, where the Party that The Echo backed was badly beaten.

    So now you appear to have taken over the role of Council Opposition in place of the useless Greens, but with this diatribe, you have failed badly in doing so.

    You prattle on about wasted time and effort ‘over years” by the Council. Exactly how long has this Council, led by Mayor Michael Lyon been in existence? Hmm?

    How about problems inherited from previous Councils and resolved by this Council?

    Also, it’s interesting that both the Greens and, especially, The Echo, do not have an alternative solution for the Housing crisis.

    One could go on pulling this Article to bits, but it is obvious, over some years that you simply don’t like Michael Lyon, so I won’t waste my time further.

  2. Thanks Hans, sad but true. The issue is of considerable concern. Developers are slavering to get their hands on any land they can profit from, there needs to be a statewide not for profit system like Common Equity Housing, which has been operating to equitably and affordably provide housing in Victoria for decades.
    It now appears there’s a similar organisation operating in NSW, I’ve no knowledge of how they operate in NSW, but as a former Board member of the Victorian entity, I can say it is very effective way to provide truly affordable housing using a system that is self supporting.

  3. It is possible to develop Social Housing. There just has to be “Democratic political Will”…lets face it ..Corporates have captured the Political Narratives and uninformed/Wilfully blind Representatives bow before Capital ….to the extent they are DELIBERATELY mute when it comes to the tragic social consequences…LIKE CONTINUING TO DEVELOP ON FLOOD PLAINS…such as the current West Byron Development…which is a FLOODPLAIN…and now Mullum Train space and FLOOD PRONE surrounds. Nothing to gloat about.
    The trauma is loaded onto those whose housing goes under water….and of course compounding this Trauma are the INSURANCE COMPANIES THAT DO NOT COVER STRUCTURES EXISTING ON FLOOD PLAINS. TIME TO DEMOCRATICALLY SPEAK AND RESOLVE THE REALITIES THAT EXIST SINCE THE CLIMATE DEBATES DEMAND REASONING and acknowledgement.. Cut the politics and consider integrity and social care.

  4. Great to see some action with tangible results from our leaders instead of continued inane and unintelligent talkfests. Well done Mayor.


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