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Byron Shire
July 15, 2024

Byron Council candidates jostle for position

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Cr Sarah Ndiaye moved that Council note the findings of a year-old report on food security, write to six different state government ministers asking them to take action, and explore what might be done to address the issue locally. Photo Tree Faerie.

It was the type of motion that comes up at Byron Council quite regularly – a broad, uncontroversial political statement that is unlikely to make a difference in the grand scheme of things. 

But when there’s a local election coming up, the typical can very quickly become political.

And so it was with a motion put by Deputy Mayor and Greens mayoral candidate, Sarah Ndiaye, at last week’s Council meeting.

Cr Ndiaye moved that Council note the findings of a year-old report on food security, write to six different state government ministers asking them to take action, and explore what might be done to address the issue locally.

A jostling match

Seems pretty benign, right? Yet, five minutes after moving it, Cr Ndiaye’s motion had become the forum for a jostling match among the key candidates in the upcoming local council election.

‘This is a real indication of where we’re at,’ Cr Ndiaye said after an amendment to her motion made by mayoral opponent Michael Lyon was passed instead of her own.

‘We get to a point here where you’re close to an election… this is quite shameful,’ Cr Ndiaye said.

‘Shame on you.’

The discussion began in fairly uncontroversial fashion with Cr Ndiaye speaking in support of her motion. 

The challenge of food security

‘I think we’re all aware, other than Cr Hunter, that there is some degree of challenge in terms of food security,’ Cr Ndiaye said.

‘This motion before us is an opportunity not just to advocate, but participate in a more sustainable food future in the Northern Rivers region.

‘We can join Clarence Valley, Ballina, Lismore and Kyogle in working toward better food security.’

But not everyone agreed.

Cr Alan Hunter, who will not contest the upcoming election, said he did not support the motion, and that the motion was akin to ‘dancing before the crowd because there’s an election coming up’.

This kicked off a spiteful 15 minutes of debate which was less than edifying.

Mayor Michael Lyon, who is battling Cr Ndiaye to retain his current leadership position at the September 14 election, agreed with Cr Hunter and described the motion as ‘virtue signalling’.

Virtue signals 

‘I’m not here to virtue signal, I’m here to get things done,’ Cr Lyon said.

Crs Lyon and Hunter moved an amendment which effectively amounted to a substantially cut-down version of Cr Ndiaye’s motion, proposing that Council note the findings of two recent food security reports and write to the NSW agriculture minister requesting a response.

They had the numbers, with Cr Lyon’s running mate Cr Mark Swivel (independent) joining Labor Cr Asren Pugh and independent Cr Peter Westheimer in voting for the amendment. 

On the other side was Cr Ndiaye, outgoing Greens councillor Duncan Dey, Independent Cr Cate Coorey and Cr Sama Balson, also an independent. 

Less than impressed

Cr Ndiaye was less than impressed about her original motion being amended.

‘This is what you’ve got to look forward to,’ Cr Ndiaye said in relation to her political opponents.

‘These people who are all willing to butter each other’s bread and wipe the crumbs off each other’s faces and make each other look good. Shame on you. 

‘It’s really good to see whether you want to have a collaborative Council that’s willing to work on values and principles, or whether they’re all just willing to back each other for each other’s advantage.   

‘Shame on you.’

The other councillors did not respond to Cr Ndiaye’s comments.

The amended motion was passed by five votes to four. 

Food security motion watered down

A watered-down motion by the mayor was adopted after the following items from Cr Sarah Ndiaye’s motion were removed.

It asked Council to:

Include questions regarding food and water security in the Community Strategic Plan engagement process to understand community lived experience in the Byron LGA.

Advocate to the NSW Reconstruction Authority for future possible use of buyback properties for urban and small-scale agriculture in the Byron LGA.

Provide a briefing to Council by August 2024 outlining current constraints and the mechanisms that could be considered to enable small-scale urban agriculture in the Byron LGA. (Ndiaye/Dey)

The mayor’s adopted motion notes the findings and recommendations of various food security studies and plans, and asks Council to write  to the minister for agriculture requesting the government’s response to the inquiry.

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  1. Hard to believe that the Council blokes are so lacking in imagination! Good on you Sarah. The community is watching and this type of behaviour will not be tolerated. SHAME ON YOU FELLOWS…GET REAL OR DROP OUT OF THE IMPERATIVE DIALOGUES THAT NEED REAL REAL REAL ACTION.

  2. These antics from Cr Ndiaye merely demonstrate how unsuited ,she is, for the Mayoral position.

    After all these years , surely she has understands the basics of a Councillors job, let alone , the far more responsible job as Mayor.

    Attacking another Councillor ,Cr .Alan Hunter for disagreeing with her was petty. Cr Hunter has accurately described her grasping political use of the Council meeting.

    The Mayor, Cr Michael Lyon accurately described her politicking as ” ‘virtue signalling’” The fact that she used such emotive language after loosing a vote should rule her out of ever being Mayor.

    This whole waste of Council time , expences and resources smacks of acute desperation for the September Election by Byron’s dark Greens.

    The Greens will be soundly and deservedly beaten by the Michael Lyon led Byron Independents in September!

  3. There appears to be a gender issue underlying this issue. Sarah had presented the original submission, prior to the Mayor’s claiming and re-writing of her original worthy submission …. and finally presenting it as his own proposed policy! Go figure? Lets examine the facts. Politics is nasty, destructive and famously known for twisting reason and emotion for political gain. For some reason ‘male bonding’ always surfaces, and as current Australian political history reveals, brutal sexism is a weapon employed by blokes who suffer from relevance deprivation.

    It is time to lead by integrity, inclusion, originality, egalitarianism and respect for all sentient life. The community is watching and a groundswell of value systems within the community is seeking leaders /representatives who have looked in the mirror, deconstructed the ego and are seriously intent on creating a better world…. elevating respect …and eliminating weaponising.

    • My head is still spinning from your left field comments.

      Gender issue?

      The Greens must really be grasping at straws when , after one ploy for publicity doesn’t work , then they have to come up with another.

      However, full marks to The Greens for solving their gender problem on their council ticket..

      NO “blokes” at all.

  4. No politician councilors are going to represent their community well as they are beholden to their masters or mistresses in Macquarie Street who tell them their agenda like thousands more houses on flood plains etc etc and the independents are not independent they have vested interests themselves be it money power or ego playing both sides of the political divide.

    • Thank you for explain why neither the Greens or the ALP should gain power in Byron.

      The Independents Group are answerable to themselves and the electors of Byron alone!

  5. no one worth voting for in the coming council elections , GREENS are useless in Byron council , THEY only represent big business and developers .,
    Once you stop representing your local community , it is time TO GO !


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