Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Hello Supporters of Mullumbimby Community Action Group (MCAG)


RE: TELSTRA SITE AUCTION – Station Street, Mullumbimby 2482


The old Telstra Depot ( up for auction this week: 22 February) is on land that belongs to community! It was originally on railway land (State Rail is a public utility) was sold to Telstra (another public utility) and may now become another community asset lost to privatization.

Please write to Sol Trujillo, Managing Director CEO of Telstra Corporation, - email his assistant at

Expressing your disapproval of his disposal of a public asset.

Request that he:
Donate the land to the community, or sell for $1 (as did Northpower sell their building to the Mullumbimby community for $1 when they became Country Energy).
Sell the site back to community for the price they bought it, or
Defer the auction for approx 8 months to allow Mullumbimby community the opportunity to raise funds to buy the site for a community purpose
Accept a pre-auction bid from Mullumbimby local philanthropist who wishes to secure the land to allow time for community fundraising

Telstra’s generosity in this instance can be openly acknowledged by community in their use of the site – suggestions for which have been: Mullumbimby Gateway and Information Centre, community and/or farmer’s market, ethical food co-op, housing or day care for the elderly, community gardens, playground, Neighbourhood Centre, youth facilities, etc etc. All these suggestions are desperately need facilities in our town.

Appeals can also be made to the Telstra Foundation Community Development Fund at who are prepared to make donations to DGRs (Deductible Gift Recipients) – we are currently negotiating with Friends of the Earth Real Food Campaign and may become affiliated with them thus receiving DGR status.

Thank you for your assistance.
Deborah Lilly
Mullumbimby Community Action Group

Friday, February 15, 2008


Today Deborah addressed the meeting of Byron Shire Council. She was granted “public access” by special dispensation by the Mayor, Jan Barham in view of the urgency of our request, and the “urgency motion” tabled by Cr Tom Tabart regarding the purchase of the Telstra site, Station Street, coming up for auction next week.

The main points Deborah made requested BSC to support us in having the Telstra site returned to community: it was State Rail land, then Telstra bought it and now it may be sold by auction into private ownership.
a) ask Telstra to donate the site back to community for a token amount; a precedent was set for this when Northpower sold their building to the community for $1 some years ago, and this is now used by ACE.
b) ask Telstra to sell BSC the land for the price they paid for it, or a nominal amount.
c) Ask Telstra to delay the auction to allow council time to consider the purchase of the land.

Deborah told Council that MCAG had had three public meetings in the last 3 weeks and these ideas had emerged for the site:
1) Mullumbimby gateway, information and community gathering space
2) Permanent farmer’s market site, or community market such as the one at Eumundy which operates twice a week, with about 50 stalls, and attracts
many people to the town.
3) community gardens
4) playground
5) emergency house
6) housing for the elderly
7) extra space for Neighbourhood Centre to provide lunches and soup kitchen: their facilities are inadequate for the growing demand
8) youth facilities eg basketball court
9) parking
10) daycare for the elderly

Council resolved as follows:

1. That an approach be made to Telstra requesting that the sale date for their depot land … be delayed until after the council’s meeting on 28 February to allow Council to consider the possible purchase.

2. That Council receive a late confidential report to the meeting of 21 February on the possibility of purchase and identification of funds.

That Council contact the owners advising them of the possibility of contamination of the site. (Director of Planning, Development and Environment Services, Ray Darney, informed the meeting of possible contamination of the site).

Councillors who were in favour of looking to purchase this site were: Crs Tabart, Lazarus, Staples and Mayor Jan Barham. Those against: Crs Tucker, Mangleson and Kestle. Crs not present were: Westheimer, Tardiff and (I think) Cr Woods.

I am happy with this outcome. The Councillors debated the motion for an hour, and I appreciate their attention to our proposal.

Woolworths & the Lane Cove Experience

Hi,This is a letter I sent to the Echo last week re Woolworths which didn't get get published. Thought you might be interested.Best wishes,Victor

Many people know about what Woolworths did in Maleny but not so many know about what happened in Lane Cove in Sydney. Woolworths bought a small privately owned supermarket called Clancy’s in the middle of Lane Cove shopping centre. It wasn’t big enough for them though and they put in a DA to use Council land and redevelop a Council carpark so they could get more space. For eight years (1998-2005) they fought for this, trying to change public opinion with glossy brochures on their proposal in letter boxes, with expensive displays, Woolworths public relations people at the displays for weeks on end to sway people, and with planning reports saying the area needed more shopping floor-space per resident. The DA was knocked back. They changed it and put in a redevelopment of a council building and it was knocked back again. They changed it a second time and got it through, with the help of a councillor who owned and edited the local paper and had property near the development.People didn’t object to a Woolworths in Lane Cove, they objected to the scale of the development in the middle of the village centre, the loss of the character of the place, the loss of community land. One of the councillors who opposed the development said that Woolworths won simply because they had more money to throw at it than the Council had to present an alternative view.The campaign to stop the development managed to get lots of conditions put on the DA but it was still a big loss. We hadn’t expected Woolworths would be so tenacious, particularly when it came to getting Council land.Victor von der HeydeMain Arm (and Lane Cove & Brisbane).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Interview Giovanni Ebono with Deborah Lilly

Re: Telstra site, Station Street Mullumbimby up for auction February 22.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bay FM - The Generator

The interview between Deborah Lilly and Giovanni Ebono for The Generator, Monday Feb 11 is at

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Mullumbimby Community Action Group challenges Globalisation

'The destructive global economy can only exist as long as we are prepared to accept and subsidise it. We can reject it. We can start today by joining the local food movement and reap the wealth of benefits from re-linking farmers and consumers. Fresh, local food for all may be one of the most rewarding - and certainly the most delicious results of localisation.' Helena Norberg-Hodge.

On Saturday 2nd of February the Mullumbimby Community Action Group held a public meeting at the Pioneer Hall, to discuss the effects of Woolworths opening up a supermarket in the town. Over 100 people attended,filling the hall to overflowing.

The meeting was opened by Athol Compton a local Midjungbal/Bundjalung elder.

Deborah Lilly posed the question "What happens when a multinational juggernaut comes to a small country town like Mullumbimby?. This meeting is to find out the answer."

The meeting was chaired by Anthea Amore, who opened the meeting by saying,

"Many of us see this as a great opportunity to bring the community together and to talk about the future and the direction of our town, Mullumbimby and its surrounds. We and the community have the right and the power to determine our town's future. This is also a great opportunity to share information about where our food comes from, and the hidden true costs of food production in the world today. Then we can strengthen our community and its spirit by affirming our right to determine the outcome of planning decisions that will shape and affect our community for generations to come."

Katrina Shields recently from Maleny, spoke about the effect of Woolworths moving into Maleny , a small country town similar to Mullumbimby in Queensland. Due to community process and action, Woolworths is often quite empty, while the main street is bustling with activity and the IGA does a roaring trade.

Strong Local Economy

"We seriously need to strengthen our local food economy. This development(Mullum) is a step in the wrong direction and will weaken it. Some of the reasons are, Woolworth's are locked into central buying systems and it is very hard for them to stock many local products. They truck their produce a long distance which means food-miles, greenhouse gases, more highways, more trucks, and they lock their suppliers into restrictive contracts. This continues into demanding perfect looking produce, and a very uniform kind of produce, which often pushes growers into using more and more chemicals. This usually means food is less healthy. Their main purpose is to dominate the market and maximize profit for their shareholders, and that is done by sucking money out of the local economy into their own corporate system. They give very little returns to local communities. Compare this to local small businesses, which re-circulate money back in to the local economy. This has a multiplier effect, the more they buy from local suppliers, the more money goes around in the town. Local small businesses also put substantial amounts of money into local clubs and cultural activities which rely heavily on business donations.

The Bigger Picture

Helena Norberg-Hodge said, "I have been working on these issues for the last 30 years. I first became aware of what is happening with food and farming when I ended up in a remote part of the world (Tibet actually) which had been closed off from the global economy, the corporate influences, and I saw what happened to that area when it was opened up to the so-called free market. The government was subsidizing roads, transport, petroleum, and the production of large monocultures. Then, suddenly, food came in literally from the other side of the world, and it was sold for a lower price than local producers needed to survive. I saw how this so called free market destroys local economies, local producers and local businesses. Food is the only thing that human beings produce that we need every single day."

"What we have in place is called a free market, but it is in fact mega-merging monopolies. However they don't look like monopolies, because they are so global, so mobile, and they influence government policy. If you look at it from the big picture you might think it is hopeless because it is so big. However, I have found that now there is a rethinking. There is a growing localization movement. Presently, this movement is still relatively invisible, but it is quite large. You would be amazed at the number of farmers markets, and other initiatives that have started all round the world, in the US, UK, France, India, and Africa. People have realized that it is in all our interests to support our local economy.

Transition Town

We can promote Mullumbimby as a TRANSITION TOWN. This is a new concept gaining ground in the UK, where there are 50 such towns. It means we are in transition from a high carbon footprint economy to a low carbon footprint economy.

The first the residents of Mullumbimby knew about Woolworth's was an article on the Echo front page Tues 1st january 2008. The announcement came after the period to make an appeal against the approval had expired.

Apologies were received from Byron Shire Mayor Jan Barham, and Ray Downey of the Byron Council planning department.

by Robert Hart

NBN NEWS ITEM 6pm tonight (6 Feb)

Hi Folks!


This morning I did an interview with NBN News asking for community to lobby Byron Shire Council to buy back the Telstra site, for community. It is up for grabs by auction on 22 Feb. this site was once railway land (ie community owned) then Telstra acquired it (they are or were community owned) and now its up for grabs and its right NEXT DOOR to where Woolworths want to build a massive supermarket in our small country town.

This site is clearly visible on entering the town. Its one of Mullum's Crown Jewels. Please help us to keep it in the community - maybe for local farmers market, community gardens or permanent market site fixture selling local produce: fruit/veg, tea, coffee, macadamias, meat, dips and maybe even local arts and crafts.

Byron shire Councillors are:

Jan Barham, Jan Mangleson, John Lazarus, Ray Kestle, Richard Staples, Ross Tucker, Tom Tabart, Peter Westheimer, Dianne Wood


Support your local economy! Demand low carbon footprint in our community! We live in a food bowl here, why should we have food from thousands of ks away monopolising our country town retail sector? Do we support monoculture, as does Woolworths? What about the local butcher, baker and candlestick maker - what will happen to their business if Woolworth's comes? The Billinudgel butcher closed down when Bi-Lo went to Ocean Shores.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Public Meeting - Sat 2 Feb - Pioneer Hall, Mullumbimby

Introduction by Deborah Lilly,
Wecome to Country by Athol Compton, Minjungbal Elder, Bundjalung Nation
Chairperson: Anthea Amore
Speakers: Chris Abraham – update on DA and planning status
Katrina Shields – the Maleny experience & local issues
Helena Norberg-Hodge – the big picture: global & local

Some of the comments from the audience were as follows:

- What can be done legally to stop Woolworths coming to Mullumbimby?
- Have we been hoodwinked?
- In UK and Italy there is a “Transition Towns” movement – maybe we could do that here?
- With globalization and peak oil, we need to apply pressure asking for what we want, or don’t want: write letters to Frank Sartor, NSW Minister for Planning and Maurice Iemma, Premier of NSW (send copy to co-ordinator of Mullumbimby Community Action Group: email Deb Lilly) - ask why our council's decision to reject this DA was ignored - ask Sartor whether a SOCIAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT was made
- Demand review of the situation
- We want input into the design of Woolworths building (if it gets built)
- There is land to the south of the Woolworth’s proposed site which is for auction on 22 February (the Telstra site): we need to save that land for cultural ownership and establish viable alternative to Woolworths – perhaps community gardens, farmers market or retail outlet for local products
- The Farmers Market in New Brighton is functioning and needs support
- Frank Sartor has a soft spot for Mullumbimby – the spirit of Byron resides here ... complain noisily to him
– do not cause division in this community, we need open dialogue and understanding on all sides
- education in sustainability and building local economy is important
- Office of Environmental Defenders in Lismore may help our campaign
- Crisis can be catalyst for change - what changes do you want in this community? what is stopping you from social action? This gathering of community-carers is your vehicle to make your voice heard. We want to hear from YOU!

The meeting then formed Sub-groups as follows:

Education/Media – contact John Dolman 66843773 email John Dolman
Legal Issues – contact: Chris Abraham 66844996 email Chris Abraham
(Meet Monday 11 Feburay at 10 am at Poinciana Café)
Boycott – contact: Garry Scott 66843468 email Garry Scott
Letterwriting – contact: Deborah Lilly 66843723 email Deb Lilly
(meet on Thursday 14 Feb, Left Bank Road)
Purchase of Telstra Site: Contact: Duncan Dey 66845440 email Duncan Dey
(Meet at Middle Pub Wed 6 Feb 7 pm)

Please contact the above if you are interested in joining a group.

Friday, February 1, 2008


Hi Folks

The Byron Shire Echo ( 29 Jan p3) stated this week in an article headed “Woolworths on the agenda” that “Local company the Mallam Group has sold its business to Woolworths. The sale is depended on approval by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission”.

On checking the ACCC website at we can see that the ACCC have already approved this “merger”, and that no submissions were received objecting to this.

I rang ACCC spoke to Caspar (no surname given) 1300 302 502 and asked him why we, as a community, were not informed that ACCC had asked for submissions re: the Mallams/Woolworths merger.

He told me that they had not sent out a media release regarding this merger (usually they do send them thru their news centre on their website) because they considered this merger to be a minor acquisition. The Project Officer in charge of this merger was Mark Rakers. As the closest Woolworths is 20 ks away, they consider Woolworths are not increasing their market share in the area (the criteria is 3 - 5 kilometres).

In their 'SLC TEST" (substantially lessening of competition) they decided, in their review, that it won't substantially lessen the competition. I asked what was their criteria for SLC and that appears to be the proximity of the nearest Woolworths. He said the ACC has no grounds to oppose the acquision because Woolworths are not increasing their market share in the area. This decision is based on market factors and they do not consult the community (as I wrote this down repeating his words, he added the word "actively consult the community").

I pointed out that on their website it stated that "no submissions were received" and I asked him how could they receive submissions from a concerned community if that community didn't even know about the process nor the dates 8 to 22 January wherein we would have to make the submissions. I said that that was not fair and could we please have an extension of the dates so that we could make submissions. He said that the decision is made and that's not possible. I said can we appeal the decision? He said we could write to: Mr Tim GrimwadeDirector of Mergers BranchGPO Box 3131Canberra ACT 2601. Caspar then took my name and number.

1 Feb 08

View ACC report: