olume 25 #29
December 21, 2010
Big business in a little town
In early February, the Land and Environment Court Commiss- sioner Robert Hussey gave approval for Woolworths to construct a supermarket in Mullumbimby. The result continues to divide the town, and was strongly opposed by Council. With Woolies’ construction hampered by continuous bad weather, it finds itself almost a year later in a protracted PR spin campaign. Those most affected are the neighbours – barricades have hindered Mul- lumbimby businesses and homes for months. Despite a promise for it to be taken down for Christmas, the company has not an- nounced a date. It’s not all bad for locals wanting locally sourced food, however; in late January the Mullum Farmers Market plans are announced. Also this year, fifty thousand dollars was awarded to the Mullumbimby Community Garden Inc (MCG) by The Northern Rivers Food Links Grant, which helps provide communi- ties the opportunity to leave a lighter ecological footprint and be more self sufficient.
Festival growing pains
The Shire’s biggest festivals also claimed a lot of the spotlight, with Bluesfest and Spendour both taking different routes to secure the longevity of their large scale operations.
The 11 year tenure granted by Council for Bluesfest to operate its once a year Easter event in Ewingsdale was hard fought, and included the input of many community groups and Council’s new Events Policy. Equally hard fought was Spendour’s application
for a permanent home in Yelgun. Council and many community groups were unsatisfied with the size and frequency of the pro- posed events, and as a result the decision was taken to the NSW Government for approval. Interestingly enough, Splendour claim to have a swag of signed petitions that outweighs its opponents’, however its supporters are predominantly from outside the Shire while the objections were local.
Community funded infrastructure
The Helen Street bridge in South Golden Beach finally gets approval in February and opens the same year. Unfortunately not the same can be said for the Lighthouse Road, where the five year saga is at last now up for tender. It’s also been six years since the trains last ran on the North Coast. Despite Federal govern- ment promises for its return, nothing has been done, nor are there any proposals by them for public transport. There appears no shortage of funding for highways, however.
Brunswick Heads gets a skatepark in April, and works for a new Regional Sport and Cultural Centre in Ewingsdale begin in March. The Byron library is also awarded $200K in March, and then again the same amount just last week.
Privately funded infrastructure
Developer Eric Freeman’s Tallowood subdivision in Mullum- bimby goes before Council and the courts, as does the Belongil beach erosion issue, and the 100 hectare West Byron Project, which is located 2.5 kilometres west of Byron Bay, is announced,
SPAR supermarket opens a Byron Bay store in February and then closes it in June, and this week SAE institute sells for $289 million.
Byron businesses claim they are feeling the pinch of fewer tourists and launch the ‘My Byron Day’ campaign.
Shearwater School in Mullumbimby announces earlier in the year it needs two million to keep afloat, and despite the commu- nity’s financial support, the year ends with seven administrators facing court for unpaid works.
Worth a mention
Labor’s Justine Elliot holds onto the Federal seat of Richmond – despite a swing against. The Greens’ Joe Ebono polled well in the Shire, especially in the hinterland. Later Elliot steps down as Min- ister for Ageing, and takes on Parliamentary Secretary for Trade.
In April, Rous Water fluoridates the water supplies of Richmond River, Lismore and Ballina Councils, but leaves Byron Shire unfluor- idated for the time being. A highly unusual twister trashes Lennox Head in June and two Wategos houses are destroyed by fire.
Among the many who passed in the Shire this year, we sadly said goodbye to Kevin Kirk, musician Hector Santiago, Ben Donohoe, Jack Garda, Barry James, Todd Hepner, Jarrah Blackett, Byron Nicholson and Merv ‘The Black Prince’ Watriama.
It’s whale huntin’ time again. The Sea Shepherd crew, like previous years, has embarked on ‘Operation No Compromise’ to stop Japanese whalers in the southern oceans.
Captain Paul Watson says he’s taking three vessels: the Steve Ir- win, Bob Barker and the newly acquired interceptor vessel Gojira, which is Japanese for Godzilla. They also have a new helicopter, thanks to a $5 million donation last year. With that cash injec- tion it’s no surprise the Sea Shepherd is undertaking its biggest operation yet.
Armed coast guards will be aboard Japanese whaling vessels for the first time in three years to prevent sabotage, say Japanese authorities.
More importantly, public perception which dictates economic forces appears to be changing in Japan – there’s no interest in whale meat in the country.
The Japan Times says the stockpile of frozen whale meat increased to 5,670 tonnes, ‘the most since at least 1999, across Japan in September, up from last year’s average stockpile of 4,246 tonnes.’
With the Australian government still in proceedings with an International Court of Justice (ICJ) case against Japan, it would seem an inopportune time to invest in Japanese whale meat.
Local activist Howie Cooke is one of the crew with the Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign that is now heading south, and we wish him and crew of all vessels a safe return.