There is a great scene in the movie Fight Club, where the main character talks to a fellow airline passenger about his job.
He explains that his company weighs up the cost of recalling badly designed vehicles against its profit margin. Applying the Fight Club formula, Optus is erecting a phone tower in the middle of a cluster of houses in Lennox Head.
The most revealing part of Simeon Michaels’s page one story is the ‘balance’ that Optus applies when deciding to proceed or not with building a tower in a residential area.
Optus has carefully weighed up the negative media coverage this will generate against improved phone reception and profits. And profits are up: last year the Singapore-owned telco posted a 16 per cent increase in annual net profit to $676 million, according to ABC’s Lateline. Sadly the residents of Basalt Court just weren’t vocal enough with 135 letters against and a 300+ petition.
Optus claims it has ten letters of support, but that figure is meaningless – not because they refused to disclose who the letter writers are to The Echo, but because Ballina Shire Council allowed this to happen.
If Council chose to bravely deny Optus its wishes, both entities would again weigh up the cost of litigation and outcome, à la Fight Club.
But these residents aren’t alone – it’s happening all over the country and others are winning. The Hobart Mercury reported last month that ‘People power topples tower,’ while in the Sellicks Beach area of South Australia, a inventive man demonstrated to his community what a tower proposal would look like. According to www.mathaba.net, he spent around $600 on renting a 35 metre crane for a couple of hours.
This decision should clearly be reversed. Hopefully next time Ballina Shire Council will represent the wishes of its ratepayers instead of a