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June 26, 2024

IQ Inc board challenged – again

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A recent gathering was held on land bordering IQ. The IQ Trust have rejected a land swap proposal by neighbour Adam Bennett Smith. Photo supplied.

With the influx of surfers and like-minded people in the 1970s, Byron Bay became a bastion of ‘free thinking’, the creative arts, alternative living and community minds.

Long-time locals may recall the Epicentre in Belongil, a former slaughterhouse, which became a drawcard for artists and musicians. 

Island Quarry (IQ) was another attraction for those seeking Byron’s alternative life – it’s a former quarry site located on high land, opposite the Cavanbah Centre on Ewingsdale Road. 

The eight-acre regenerated quarry features a spring reservoir, surrounded by 20-metre high rock walls. 

A group of like-minded people

According to iq.org.au, ‘The Island Quarry Restoration Project was formed by a small group of like-minded people in early 1995, with the vision to create a social and artistic enterprise in a wider cultural and tourist initiative’.

In 2017, The Echo reported that ‘A public tussle has erupted over its management’, and five years on, pressure is again being applied to the IQ board members, who manage the land on behalf of Crown Lands. 

A Change.org campaign is calling on NSW Crown Lands Minister, Stephen Kamper, to ‘allow new members and directors of the Island Quarry Reserve Trust’.

So far, it has attracted 202 signatures.

And with a large fence cutting across the prime level area overlooking the quarry owing to a boundary dispute, IQ neighbour, Adam Bennett Smith, has proposed a land swap ‘to unify this key community land and initiate an renewed era of energy, ideas and enthusiasm for this unique place’. 

Bennett Smith said in an open letter to Council and Crown Lands that the ‘The IQ website states that a boundary adjustment with my property is a goal’.

In return for the land swap, Bennett Smith asks the IQ board to change its rules, ‘to limit board membership to three years, to allow new energy and skills from community members who wish to join and be involved, while still recognising the work done to date by current board members.’ 

The best interests of the Island Quarry

‘I believe it is in the best interests of the Island Quarry and the community to allow the Island Quarry Plan of Management to be realised’, he wrote. 

NSW Fair Trading records show that since 2003, Shane Rennie has been IQ’s public officer, taking over from Rhett Hutchence, who started in 1996.

Rennie, who is also tour manager for short film festival, Flickerfest, strongly denies that there has been ‘25 years of inaction’ under his leadership. 

He supplied The Echo with extensive replies to questions around what has been achieved, and provided detailed information around IQ governance, as requested.

Rennie’s full reply is here.

Land swap rejected

On behalf of the IQ board, Rennie rejected Bennett Smith’s land swap offer. 

Rennie replied, ‘The Island Quarry Committee does not currently see any reason to engage with the licence and land swap proposal… nor are they feasible, as our approved grey water system is located on the area you are indicating’.

As for what has been occurring at IQ, Rennie told The Echo in ‘the last year or two alone’, a Community Building Partnership grant was attained for construction of a site shed (for storage/meetings/workshops); approval given and construction undertaken for driveway roadworks; 100 bush-tucker trees were planted with Delta Kay; numerous regen days; off-site fundraisers held for iQ Inc, and an annual fundraiser held for the Arakwal Corp in NAIDOC week’. 

‘We are open to any formal proposals’.

Given the only ‘news’ published on iq.org.au relates to Flickerfest activities, The Echo asked Rennie, ‘How is using a not-for-profit (NFP) to promote a private enterprise (Flickerfest) in the spirit of IQ? Surely, those who started IQ have no vested interest in Flickerfest, and would rather see the site utilised as it was originally envisaged?’

He replied that the Flickerfest relationship with IQ ‘is purely benevolent’ and that funds raised for IQ ‘contribute to public liability insurance, additional road work costs, tools and garden maintenance, etc’. 

‘IQ does not currently have an income stream. So there is no financial benefit to Flickerfest from IQ-hosted events’. 

He also denies that he, or Flickerfest director, Bronwyn Kidd (who is also on the IQ board) have a pecuniary interest.

While Rennie believes much has been achieved at IQ, there is still no consent for the DA, which was approved in 2010. 

Membership drop

In the last five years since The Echo ran the story, IQ membership has dropped from 35 to 12. 

The committee membership is the same, Rennie says, however, there is a Treasurer position available after Helen Stickley-Thompson relocated to Moombah. 

‘I am standing in as the Treasurer atm’, he says. 

He added, ‘Arakwal custodian, Delta Kay, who has had a long association with IQ, had previously expressed interest in being on our board, we will be formalising her appointment to the board at our next meeting in August’.

And while Rennie told The Echo, ‘no membership has been rejected’, an original IQ member, Darren Hiller Smith, says he and others have been stonewalled with their attempts to join. 

Rennie explained further in an exchange with Bennett Smith: ‘We have not rejected any membership, but we can, as is within our rights of association, if our committee believes a person’s behaviour is not supportive of the association and not in the Island Quarry association’s best interest’. 

Hiller Smith told The Echo, ‘No one has been contacted by the management when enquiring about volunteering, or membership over the years. We have sent at least ten people to attempt membership status, to no avail’. 

‘Many have given up even visiting the place, because it’s such a mess and devoid of activity. All I want is everyone to have access and celebrate this amazing place, in a time of great social need in the Shire. I love that place, and I owe hundreds of people thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars for helping us make it happen in good faith. 

‘It’s not meant for private ownership’.

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  1. Shane and Bronwyn, as much as I love Flickerfest I and many feel its time to hand the IQ back to the community it was meant to serve. I was at the handing over ceremony with you in the mid 90 s and enjoyed its peak times with performances and community events. None of this has happened over the last 20 years with you and other “members” at the helm. Time to let go and hand on the pattern bro and see what other can do for the sake of the community. Its a great venue, let the community use it.

  2. Adam Bennett Smith is KOHO property developers, who have done a number of criticised developments in Byron, and his adjacent block to IQ presently has no legal road access from Ewingsdale Road. Is his criticism of IQ and a call for a new board, from this developer who hasn’t appeared to engage in any community issues apart from pushing his own developments, just a red herring to get access to his IQ adjacent block so that he can develop it? I am aware that IQ has generously repeatedly extended its Public Liabillity Insurance to residents and community groups doing events, to comply with the onerous obligation to have a $20,000, 000 Insurance cover, including for Insurance cover for all of the School Strike events.


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