Upon returning from lunch to Council’s gruelling Thursday marathon meeting, I discover a fan placed next to the chair in the media booth.
It’s hot in the room so I welcome sitting in the cool breeze. But then I realise that I can’t hear anything the councillors and staff are saying.
Instantly a different perspective emerges – body language now replaces largely meaningless words. Cr Cameron mumbles in the same tone as Staples and Tabart, so there is no discernible difference of opinion. It’s great to have an altered state of perception in the Council chambers for once.
But it doesn’t suit them, and soon frustrations rise over the lack of microphone and audio quality in the chamber. Councillors ask staff to speak up, and those in the gallery ask the councillors to speak up. It’s a cacophony and the fan is still going, so I turn it off.
Cr Tony Heeson, who I have never heard say anything before, stops the yabber yabber in an instant.
He leans into the microphone and clearly says, ‘If the microphones were extended we wouldn’t have to do anything.’
Proving his point, Cr Woods leans forward – almost climbing onto the desk – to reach the mic as she speaks next.
Perhaps Cr Heeson’s suggestion could be acted upon. All it needs is an electrician/handyman to reposition 16 microphones closer to the edge of the desks. No reports, no notice of motions, no discussions. Just please do it.
And while on the topic, to all councillor hopefuls out there planning to run for the upcoming elections: please start turning up to meetings. There is no other way of learning how the factory operates other than seeing the spectacle for yourself.
President of Mullumbimby and Ocean Shores Community Gardens, Greg Dutton, has a few more credentials to establish before his ambitious plan to establish a Mullum community IGA supermarket gets legs.
After the announcement two weeks ago, he has impressed many with his idealism and leadership aspirations. He wants to establish a co-op hybrid model that gives the community a chance to own its own supermarket. Mayor Jan Barham speaks highly, saying that she is ‘impressed’ by what Mr Dutton and partner Sarah-jane have done with the Ocean Shores gardens and with the permaculture youth challenge.
Internet searches yield very little of Mr Dutton’s previous life before the Shire; however, he told The Echo he purposely deleted his online profiles in 2007 after a family separation. He says he was a venture capitalist and a principal stakeholder/investor in Netfire (now Netfira: www.netfira.com.au) from 2001 until 2007. Since then, he says he has been working with 11 Aboriginal communities in NSW.
Perhaps what is most interesting is his capacity for leverage and wedge. Fronting yourself on behalf of the community wedges you against any other private interests and, well, anyone who might disagree.
Quotes by the mayor and others have been leveraged on the project’s website which boosts his personal association cred.
But let’s not forget this is also a business proposition for Mr Dutton and his team. They hope to be re-imbursed for the work they are trying to achieve. Concerns have been expressed to The Echo over the high-acquisition budget, but to be fair, it all appears to be evolving and a cautious approach is understandable.
He has also told The Echo he stands to lose personally a substantial amount if it fails. While he brims with confidence, what the community is now waiting for is the concrete business plan. That is supposed to include a co-operative or public unlisted company structure and then a shareholder agreement. But pledges have come in, with now $600k in virtual dollars by 392 supporters being registered on www.ourmullumbimby.org.
And let’s not forget a well-run community asset is a highly desirable asset. A means of empowering our localised economy suits any progressive community such as ours. We’ll wait until it all checks out
US Author Derrick Jensen’s philosophy is the catalyst for a film – END : CIV – being shown this week at the Byron Bay Uniting Church.
It’s heartening to know this church wants to expose elite power structures and is a hot-bed for radicalism. Isn’t that what Jesus would want?
The film examines our cultural addiction to violence and environmental exploitation through the construct of civilisation. The word civilisation comes from the Latin ‘civilis’, meaning civil, related to the Latin ‘civis’, meaning citizen, and ‘civitas’, meaning city or city-state.
The rise of cities is where civilisations start, Jensen says, and as it is a ‘collection of people living in numbers so large that they need to import resources’ that construct is not, or can never be, sustainable.
Our way of life is based on violence and slavery, according to Jensen. Our clothes are made largely by slaves from other countries, the meat we consume is farmed without consideration for the animal and diamonds generally have blood on them...
And of course there’s our collective unevolved thirst for oil and other non-renewables. He says we don’t see the violence because ‘we’ve been metabolised’ into the system.
Additionally, ‘We have bought into a strange notion that it’s ok to have to pay to exist on the planet.’ If you don’t pay rent for example, someone with a gun – or more power than you – will come and enforce compliance.
A less emotive and more anthropological analysis of civilisations is by Scott Nearing, author of Civilization And Beyond.
To paraphrase his dense and excellent tome in less than 100 words: civilisation is a means of communication, trade and record keeping. It includes an economy based on a division of labour and specialisation. It has a self-selected and perpetuating oligarchy, utilising a unified political and bureaucratic apparatus.
It requires an adequate labour force to farm, transport and mine, while it supports a large middle-class element of professionals, technicians and semi-parasitic fringe dwellers.
A well trained and financed military for both offence and defence is essential, along with institutions and social practices. And lastly, agreed-upon religions that maintain social conformity.
Perhaps the biggest story not covered by the media is the sale of Australian property and farms to overseas corporations.
A recent report by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) claims there is no registration of a sale unless it exceeds $244m. This includes both property and business/farm sales. ABARES notes, ‘Some 44 million hectares, or 11.3 per cent of Australian agricultural land, was wholly or partly owned by foreigners, of which around half had majority Australian ownership.’ Another interesting claim from the report is that it’s the US, not China, that is buying up our land. Crikey’s Bernard Keane also wrote an article on this report, and pointed out that, ‘US investors get special treatment under Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) courtesy of the Howard government’s Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA), followed by Malaysia, then the British.
Chinese firms had no investment applications at all that year.’ Lynne Wilkinson of Ausbuy weighed into the debate with a recent comparison to New Zealand. ‘They give priority to their own wealth creators and long-term national interests,’ she writes. ‘New Zealand dairy farmers recently won a case in their supreme court to stop the sale of eight dairy farms to China. The case was won on the basis that the long-term economic value of these farms would be lost to the New Zealand economy if foreign interests bought them. In the meantime our governments give subsidies to foreign companies to set up business in competition with local manufacturers (OLAM Singapore almond processing), or sell our assets and intellectual property to foreign interests (Victorian Dairy Research Centre to China) leaving local bidders out.’
The issue of sovereignty can sometimes be confused with being patriotic. The ‘patriot’ concept, however, causes much misery, bigotry and stupidity. Author of How To Make Friends And Influence People, Dale Carnegie, even said of it: ‘Each nation feels superior to other nations. That breeds patriotism – and wars.’
No, what I am talking about is an understanding by a nation that the land it occupies should be in the stewardship and autonomy of its entire population. Just ask Venezuela, who nationalised their resource sector despite the best efforts of the US. Both our major parties continue to ignore this important issue; the Independents and Greens are the only who have courage to speak up.