Monday, June 15, 2009

WHAT HAPPENED ... re: sewer-on-a-bog


Greetings Community

BOTTOMS UP! What I mean by this is:

a) “Bottoms up” is the toast of the celebratory glass bottoms going up as we toast each other and the 6 Byron Shire Councilors who showed care and concern for our community in their vote last Thursday (more details below).
b) “Bottom up” is the people-propelled change – rather than top-down change from those in charge. Our councilors listened from the bottom-up last week, and we got change! We were inches away from loosing our campaign; luckily we have some savvy people on our team who spotted the noose.
c) Finally, I am thinking of the brown-eye greeting that was given to George W Bush when he came here last year.

WHAT HAPPENED? Last week my newsletters had to be very discrete and strategic. In the Agenda last week, two options were given to the councilors regarding the Woolworths s68 on-site sewage application:

1. To follow the Precautionary Principle and vote “no” (this is what BSC recommended). by BSC giving an alternative option, they implied that the Precautionary Principle is disposable.
2. To follow a “pragmatic risk-based approach” and vote “yes” to the s68 as long as Woolworths adopt the “draft consent conditions” annex 31(f).

Notice the language: “pragmatic” sounds so practical, and “risk-based” sounds exciting. In fact the option is very unpragmatic and very risky. The Consent Conditions are tough and Woolworths would have to jump through hoops as well as move the water mains from under the site, at their own expense. The only problem with having tough consent conditions is – who will be watching if Woolworths breaks their consent conditions?

If councilors had voted “no” then Woolworths would have gone to the Land and Environment Court. All they would have to do is show the judge the “Consent Conditions” which are a list of what Woolworths need to do, authorized by staff at Byron Shire Council, to get an approval for their on-site sewer-on-a-bog. Therefore both a “no” and a “yes” vote would have been a win for Wws.

However, our smart MCAN wastewater experts smelled the rat. Garry and Duncan, in conjunction with Tom Tabart formulated 12 questions for council staff and Woolworths which demand to know how the s68 sewer-on-a-bog meets the standards/policies/guidelines of the local/state/national government. Tom put forward a motion to have these questions answered before councillors commit themselves to approving (or otherwise) Woolworths sewage application. We are confident that these questions cannot be answered (we will get them up on our website soon) so it may well be that the Woolworths development will not go ahead until the new sewage treatment plant (STP) is built, and that could be some years away. However, they are a wily bunch and goodness knows what they’ll come up with in the meantime.

Besides Tom, Basil Cameron seconded the motion and the other supporting councillors were Mayor Jan Barham, Richard Staples, Simon Richardson and Patrick Morrisey. Tom gave a lovely metaphor for the Woolworths sewage proposal; for it to work they would need “goat entrails and a PhD in Astrology”. Jan spoke passionately about the influx of corporations into the Shire which we’ve worked hard to preserve, as well as expressing distress at the way local councils are being overridden by corporations and State Government; Basil said that asking the 12 questions was a “sensible solution which is the nuts and bolts of this proposal”; Simon described the options offered by staff as being like “being given a bucket with holes in it and being told to put out a fire. We will get burnt”. He also mentioned there are cultural, environmental and social implications of having a Wws in Mullumbimby. Richard referred to the “silver bullet” product Wws propose that will supposedly clean/sanitise and not upset the microbes needed for the septic system saying that it would most likely contain large amounts of sodium, also detrimental to soil.

‘WE ARE THE PEOPLE WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR”: quote from Harvard Students about changing the world. I head this quote on ABC Radio National, Background Briefing, today. This was the best synopsis I’ve heard about the world situation, and the way forward, by ex-Greenpeace Global Head Paul Gilding. He is funny and wise as well as very pragmatic (!) and inspiring. The programme will be repeated 7pm Tuesday or you can listen online to “The Great Disruption”

Another interesting snippet this week is SMH/Brisbane Times article

THANKS TO ALL THE PEOPLE who have supported our campaign, written to councillors and sent us words of encouragement and cheer (and cash – hey we still need some more for next round of stickers: Mullum: a Woolworths-free zone). Together we have made a difference. Special thanks to Garry and Duncan for being alert and knowledgeable and to Robert for keeping our website updated all the time. Had a look lately? The full Stateline clip (complete with the final minute which was cut) is up now (thanks to Susie Forster for making this) and the last minute is my best!

As Tom Tabart said, let’s hope this matter can be laid to rest.


Duncan Dey's synopsis:
On Thursday 6 Councillors (four Greens plus Basil and Patrick) supported MCAN's request to not support the staff recommendation or their report on Woolworths' Section 68 on-site sewage application. In reality, it is an off-site sewage proposal relying heavily on tankers with occasional watering of minor landscaped areas. The application continued to use poor technical advice form Woolworths' same consultant BRW of Toowoomba - who spends more energy denying faults in its proposal than fixing them. The Council Resolution should be on Council's website by now. It asks our Council staff to categorically state that the proposal complies and is quite sound. This of course cannot be said but will be a much healthier report to take to the L&E Court than one saying "... if Council wanted to approve the poor design, they could" and listing all the steps to do so. The report our Councillors have "thrown out" did just that and detailed how approval could be gained. Obviously, it argued the perfect case FOR Woolworths. Hopefully someone in Council now has the hiccups.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

newsletter 46: Vote on sewer-on-a-bog tomorrow

COUNCILLORS VOTE: Tomorrow Thurs 11 June on the Woolworths sewer-on-a-bog s68 application (does this make it a sewermarket?) Duncan Dey will be speaking on behalf of MCAN during public access between 9 and 10 am. The meeting starts at 10.30 am.

COMMUNITY is invited to this council meeting and MCAN will be there at 8.30 am with some signs which focus on the issue upon which we want to focus. This sounds mysterious and all will be explained when we meet outside council chambers at 8.30 am. This ain’t a protest although it is an opportunity to protest! Supporters are requested to be “orderly” so our cause gets the best hearing. The more people, the better! Please call me if you want more info: 66843723.

STATELINE: Thanks again to all who supported our demo last week – we got on national TV (ABC Stateline on World Environment Day 5.6.09) as well as two local TV news, local ABC radio news and the local papers. It is your support that creates The Tipping Point. Well done!! The full clip is on (the Stateline version lost the last bit.)

WHAT’S GOING ON?? Council’s Director of Planning and Environment Services, Ray Darney, has written a nice letter to all the people who expressed concern about the Wws s68, assuring them that Council officers have recommended refusal of Wws onsite sewer. What he doesn’t say in this letter, and which is written on p148 of the Agenda for 11.6.09, is that Council staff have written nine pages of “what you need to do to get your sewerage system passed” (Annexure 31(f) #857453 Draft Approval Conditions:

SUBSIDISING WOOLWORTHS? Council’s preparation of the “Draft Approval Conditions” is an extraordinarily unusual course of action which indicates the lengths they have gone to please Woolworths, apparently at ratepayers expense. As a Byron Shire ratepayer, I would very much like to know why I, apparently, am subsidising Woolworths on-site sewerage plans for a supermarket which I don’t want. Furthermore, Woolworths, according to their 2008 Annual Report, ranked no 25 in the world’s top global retailers, and their revenue for that year was $47 billion. They don’t need my money!!

More news on the situation after the meeting tomorrow.


WOOLWORTHS AND ECOLOGICAL SUSTAINABILITY? A local woman is running a campaign and has a petition to protect orangutans in Sumatra because Woolworths are still selling products from Asia Pulp and Paper. APP’s reputation is for the worst environmental standards, logging practices and habitat destruction in Sumatra. Woolworths could source local sustainably produced paper products and help keep Australians employed. Please contact the website if you want more information about the local orangutan campaign.

UNFAIR FOOD PRICING: Southern Sydney Retailers Association submission to ACCC Grocery Enquiry on Woolworths pricing of food in one shop being outrageously more expensive in others: Geographic Price Discrimination and price gouging – Craig Kelly

Our Maleny siblings are working on a new site to be called AWFUL (Anti-Woolworths Fighters United League) (Democratic, clean and lawful) to contain information as it comes to hand. The name springs from this poem by Michael Leunig, who will be asked to be a patron.

Every night and every day
The awfulisers work away
Awfulising public places,
Favourite things and little graces
Awfulising lovely treasures
Common joys and simple pleasures
Awfulising far and near
The parts of life we hold so dear
Democratic, clean and lawful
Awful, awful, awful, awful.

This one’s a laugh:

FLAT TO RENT: Short term rent, furnished granny flat close to Mullum market,
avail from July 19th-Sept15th at $140 per week, plus bills, and cat to feed
and cuddle. Contact: 66846623/0421650653

QUOTE: “The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to the point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1938 (Speech to Congress about the dangers of monopoly).