It was a surprise to learn the West Byron Project developers have yet to address Council staff concerns from 2011 over traffic, housing density and flooding.
One has to wonder what type of development this will become.
A positive so far, however, is the developer’s offer to pay $7,000 per residential lot which would go a long way towards an estimated $8.2 million bypass. But offering the community infrastructure such as roads to get your way – even in good faith – typifies what is wrong with ignoring due process. Why bother with councils at all? When you leapfrog Council to get to the state for large-scale approvals – like Splendour’s Yelgun site or Mullum Woolies – it means developers are instead wearing the boots that popularly elected representatives should be wearing.
It means the community’s voice comes second to the state government and the developer is doing what they want on their own terms.
Ultimately it’s a risk–reward ratio exercise. Almost all developments are for financial gain, so social capital (the public’s goodwill) is weighed up against perceived financial outcomes.
Losing a little social capital here or there is okay if the final outcome means a good cash return. It’s similar to political gains.
But it doesn’t work that way here: many who have ignored the wishes of this engaged and savvy community have failed before. It’s a community with a proven history of repelling inappropriate development.
And that’s where local NSW Nationals MP Don Page comes in.
As with the Brunswick Heads residents currently dealing with an 800-page ‘grand design’ document for their town, the West Byron decision rests with Don, we are told. Still, there is an opportunity for the West Byron Project landowners to make that suburb the envy of all.
One example is just up the road: the Currumbin Eco Village. It’s a community that is based around sustainable housing principles.
Retaining Byron’s unique character should be at the forefront of this development. Let’s hope the developers work with all of us so we can avoid the dull visionless consumeristic urban sprawls that are unfortunately part of the mainstream Australian urban landscape.
Public submissions close this Friday at http://bit.ly/westbyronplans.
If I were tasked with reviewing local government (councils) throughout the state, it would be in my best interests to write something that maintained centralised state power. It’s called keeping your job.
As Leonard Cohen sang, ‘Everybody knows that the dice are loaded.’’
Yes, my report would hose down accusations by councils of state cost-shifting and promote amalgamation of local governments.
And that’s exactly what we have in the local government review, which was released last week. Presumably it provides the region’s state representative (Nationals) and local government MP Don Page with the mandate to promote those recommendations.
Amalgamating shires has never been popular and is of questionable benefit. The Queensland shires of Noosa, Douglas, Mareeba and Livingstone reversed their decision to amalgamate with surrounding shires last year.
As for cost shifting, the state government refuses to explain to The Echo why it won’t return the Brunswick Heads caravan parks and reserves it stole from Byron Council, despite proof it resulted in our local government being financially worse off.
Of course the state wants to maintain power and will take more power from local government/community at every opportunity.
It’s something that is achieved with an uninformed public and complicit media.
But if the state’s 152 councils were to commission a review instead into the NSW government, would that result in better cost savings and efficiency outcomes for the public?
The rorting in NSW Rail, the belligerent NSW Forestry Corporation and the toxic North Coast Holiday Parks would be a great start.
If you look closely, there’s a sentence that remarkably made it into this local government report: ‘People appear satisfied with the performance of local government – more so than with state and federal governments.’
The state’s constant power grabs only help to reinforce that view.
This week, The Echo is proud to introduce Liberal premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett, as the first troglodyte in our new occasional column: Political dinosaur of the week.
Prerequisites to be included in this column are an inclination to wreck pristine environments and act against conventional science, open transparency, human rights, basic decency and ethical behaviour.
So, who is Colin? This 63-year-old former economics lecturer and barbarian was elected to public office in 1990. He represents the WA Perth electorate of Cottesloe and retained his seat in 2013 with an impressive 64.7 per cent. But ever since taking office, he has racked up a formidable list of accomplishments that hark back to the dark ages.
In 2010, his new drug laws made cannabis cultivation a crime in that state, among other draconian measures.
His contention that marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to harder drugs is incorrect, it’s more of a drive-through drug that leads to cheeseburgers and fries.
Barnett the barbarian also doesn’t like education, having refused Gonski reforms.
But his pièce de résistance was last week annoying almost the entire country, including Byron residents, with his stone-age plan to cull sharks. Every prehistoric predator over three metres will be shot and disposed of at sea if they come within one kilometre of his coastline. Bravo!
Klling off an endangered species at the top of the food chain fits perfectly with the state of current politics.
The likely result will draw a shiver of more sharks into a uncontrollable bloodied feeding frenzy. And just like politics, it will be a wholesale butchery on their brethren. Which would it be more interesting?