Meanwhile chemical free groups lobby to abolish the program
Chemical free landcare advocates are pushing to stop the spraying of what they claim is a potentially dangerous herbicide, metsulfuron methyl.
Plans to aerial spray bitou bush in Tyagarah sparked a recent meeting between the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Byron Shire Chemical Free Landcare and the ‘Save Tyagarah Nature Reserve From Aerial Spraying’ Facebook group.
The push follows the announcement by NPWS that the scheduled spraying for Cape Byron Headland (Tuesday July 16) has been postponed because of the predicted unfavourable weather conditions.
Nadia de Souza Pietramale from Byron Shire Chemical Free Landcare told The Echo that at the meeting, ‘The group put it to NPWS that Tyagarah Nature Reserve instead be managed using a non-chemical, ecological restoration approach which is safe for the environment and community and also proven to be effective.’
‘[NPWS area manager] Sue Walker agreed to consult with Bundjalung of Byron Bay (Arakwal) about Tyagarah Nature Reserve and report back to the group.’
When asked by The Echo about evidence NPWS uses that spraying is best practice, Ms Walker replied that the ‘Threat Abatement Plan for Bitou Bush’ document (available at www.environment.nsw.gov.au/bitouTAP/bestpractice.htm) ‘proposes actions to reduce the impacts of Bitou Bush on biodiversity, particularly threatened species, populations and ecological communities.’
Ms Walker also added that ‘ongoing monitoring of the control program has shown that Bitou Bush has been reduced by over 95 per cent, while the number and abundance of native species has increased. Also Plectranthus cremnus, a local rare herb ranked the number one plant species at risk from Bitou Bush invasion, has significantly increased distribution and abundance in controlled areas.’
But Ms de Souza Pietramale says, ‘The spraying operation would see parts of the Tyagarah nature reserve aerially sprayed from 870 metres south of the northern boundary of the reserve, heading all the away along until Belongil Creek. It’s unclear for how many years this spraying would occur and what the expected results would be.’
‘Questions were raised with Ms Walker about the residual impacts of the herbicide metsulfuron methyl and the risks it poses to littoral rainforest species, including the threatened Pink Nodding Orchid, as well as marine life along the shoreline.’
She also says that the ‘group took issue with the inadequate community consultation and notification for this intensive spraying operation.’
A petition is available at www.ipetitions.com/petition/place-an-instant-moratorium-on-the-spraying-of/
From the high seas to the high courts: Australia’s court challenge against Japan over whaling at the Hague has seen unusual legal tactics, according to the director of NGO (non-government organisation) Whales Alive, Mick McIntyre.
McIntyre is an observer in the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Netherlands, and told The Echo that the Japanese have launched a counter-attack on Australia.
‘Japan’s legal counsel opened its case by stating that they did not think this court action brought on by Australia was about the merits of the Japanese so-called “scientific whaling program” but an anti-whaling crusade brought on by the Australian government to supports its own domestic agenda.’
He says Japan instead accused Australia of supporting the collapse of the IWC (International Whaling Commission) and also accused anti-whaling nations of securing new member nations by paying their membership dues in return for voting for the moratorium in 1982.
‘This is very shaky ground for the Japanese,’ McIntyre says. ‘If they want to talk about vote buying in the IWC, bring it on we say; we all know who is doing the vote buying at IWC.’
Ethics versus money
And in an interesting twist of ethics versus money, Japan has hired highly respected Iranian-born human rights lawyer, Payam Akhavan, to demolish the rights of whales.
‘It is incredible that these respected lawyers are being paid the big Yen to sell their soul,’ says McIntyre, but, ‘Australia’s legal team have been outstanding.’
The case continues.
The former Byron Council staffer and now manager of the state government-owned private enterprise, North Coast Holiday Parks (NCHP), has hit back at claims his parks do not contribute back to the community since he took over administration from Byron Shire Council in 2006.
But questions still remain as to why Council’s financial returns are extraordinarly lower than before the takeover.
NCHP general manager Jim Bolger told The Echo that a major amount is paid directly back into the Shire via Council.
‘Other amounts paid for reserve maintenance and or improvement by NCHP vary from year to year determined by the work needed to be performed. Plans for the upgrades of the day use reserves in Brunswick Heads will be exhibited toward the end of this year. These plans will identify extensive improvement works to be funded from caravan park revenue.’
The questions come after a recent press release by a public relations company on behalf of NCHP that claimed, ‘guests can be confident that the profits from the dollars they invest are returned to the people of NSW and their coastal recreation zones.’
Council’s media officer confirmed that in 2011/12 the amount paid by NCHP for three Brunswick Heads caravan parks was $196,818, and is listed under the ‘Open Space And Recreation Program’ in the budget.
As a comparison to when Council managed the parks over ten years ago, Council’s 2001/2002 annual report says that The Terrace Park generated $380,000, Massey Greene $270,000 and the Ferry Reserve $121,200, equalling a profit of $771,200. Another snapshot a few years later in 2003/2004 reveal a higher figure of $860,653.
Council’s community infrastructure executive manager, Phil Holloway, said the income was spent across all Council reserves as per a 2007 agreement with the then-called North Coast Crown Lands Division. ‘Council also receives income for Crown reserve works from the paid parking on Main Beach, Byron Bay, and fees from market licences.’ He says the funds can only be expended on works in the area to which the income was generated.
Realtor and Byron Shire councillor Rose Wanchap has proposed to increase security deposits to a maximum of $5,000 for holiday let homes in an attempt to address what she says is a ‘solution to the issue of unacceptable behaviour,’ by unruly visitors.
It comes as Council last week agreed to initiate a holiday let forum, which will include members from HLO (Holiday Letting Organisation), ARAMANR (Australian Residential Accommodation Management Association, northern rivers), Victims of Holiday Letting (VOHL), the real estate sector and the broader community.
Cr Wanchap told The Echo that while there is ‘an excellent set of rules drawn up by the HLO called a code of conduct’, it is ‘clear that regulation of the Holiday Let industry in the Byron Shire is failing.’
‘All the rules in the world mean nothing once alcohol comes into the picture, and it is obvious that it is not working if the number of complaints are any indication.
‘I propose that all managing agents impose a security deposit… of $800 per person, or a maximum of $5,000 per home. If the owners of these homes are concerned that this would lose them business, they can put up the bond themselves. This way the risk that they will behave is on their shoulders, not the community. I believe this will discourage the wrong type of holiday maker, while families will be happy to pay the deposit because they know they have very little risk of losing it. The code of conduct produced by HLO has all the rules and regulations required to impose the loss of deposit if complaints are received. This would need to be agreed by all holiday letting agents so that no-one is disadvantaged. I would propose a 12-month trial to see if the industry can indeed self-regulate.’
No comment: HLO
HLO spokesperson John Gudgeon told The Echo that his organisation and letting agents ‘welcomed the opportunity to engage with Byron Shire councillors and staff at a meeting to discuss the issues raised relating to holiday letting on Thursday June 20.’
‘It was recognised and accepted by all that a working group representing those present will be convened with the objective of examining the detail of all issues and options raised before any informed policy can be created. While this in process, HLO believes that it is not appropriate to comment or to react publicly to anecdotes quoted. All perspectives are well known and all will be on the table.’