Michael Lyon For Mayor?

June 27th, 2024

Why do you believe you deserve a 2nd term as mayor?

I have delivered on promises and have a clear and positive vision for the future of our Shire. I consult widely in my role and exercise balanced decision-making, and my record of achievement on Council speaks for itself. The two Councils I have been involved in have been collaborative ones, and I believe this is the best way to govern. I mean to continue in this vein.

I believe I am honest, open, and transparent. I am focused on the core issues of the Council and relevant to our community, but I am also looking to bring innovative approaches to solving some of the more wicked problems before us, like the housing crisis.

Can you list what you believe to be your major achievements in this present term?

Major infrastructure improvements have been made despite the devastating natural disasters of 2022 and a particularly wet couple of years. We have seen many road projects completed that have been sorely needed for a long time. Too numerous to list here.

We have made great strides in the housing space, with critical long-term planning now complete. We have landed the 60-day cap on unhosted holiday letting, against the odds and a vitriolic campaign by the industry. We have completed the residential strategy, a fit-for-the-future document that provides the housing supply required for the next 20 years and beyond. We have gone to tender for the construction of a 34-unit affordable housing project in Mullumbimby, by working with the State Government agency Landcom. We have also remediated the former hospital site in Mullumbimby and submitted a planning proposal for its rezoning. Following the floods, we showed up for those in need and facilitated the building of 3 pod villages in our Shire.

Regarding the environment, we have continued to invest in our bush regeneration and tree-planting efforts and have also mapped wildlife corridors across the shire to guide future development decisions.

We delivered the award-winning Byron Skate Park, a fantastic achievement incorporating native landscaping and Arakwal artworks.

What do you think about a new village, perhaps along the lines of Wytchcliffe, being masterplanned somewhere along the rail corridor in anticipation of the rail trail?

I am fully in favour of investigating this on an appropriate site. We hosted a housing forum early in the term, which concluded that an eco-village in our Shire would be a great initiative. Combining this with the rail trail to enable a transport link to one of our urban centres makes a lot of sense.

What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the Byron Shire?

Housing remains the key challenge for the Shire, our State and our country. We must also continue to upgrade and maintain our infrastructure to a decent standard, specifically roads and drainage. We need also to remain fiscally responsible and we have managed to balance the books this term, despite the worst floods in recorded history and abnormal increases in things like construction.

Let’s talk about your team. Cr Mark Swivel being your number 3 was unexpected. What was the thinking behind that?

Mark approached me earlier this year, asking me to consider him running on my ticket. I took some time to consider this, consulted with my already confirmed team members for the elections and we came to the conclusion that it was a good fit. Mark and I have generally agreed on issues in this term and our approach to problems. I know how taxing running a campaign can be, and there was a danger that he may not run his own ticket if that was what he was faced with, so I thought it was a good option to have him slot in at 3 rather than lose him from the Council. We still need to do well to get all of our team, or even 3 of our team elected!

Why will Meredith Wray make a good councillor?

Meredith is a great person, a long-time local and someone with a lot of experience in business and in life. She has researched and practiced extensively in sustainable tourism management and this is of particular relevance to the Byron Shire. She is on the board of NORPA, as well as Destination North Coast and her skills and experience are well suited to the role of Councillor.

For many people in the Shire, staff are the graveyard where good ideas go to die. Do you think there needs to be a performance review of staff across the organisation or in any specific area?

Not as a whole, no, but there are always areas with room for improvement. My preferred approach is to work with staff and the General Manager, identify areas, highlight these in the performance agreement, and make changes this way in the first instance. This has been working well so far, in my opinion, so I will continue in this vein if elected and would only resort to an independent analysis like you are suggesting as a last resort. It is always an option if necessary.

If there was one thing that you would like to communicate to all Shire residents, what would it be?

Don’t take good governance for granted! We have been fiscally responsible in my time on Council, but that has not always been the case in our Shire. Past Councils have wasted money unnecessarily on things that are not core business or on legal fees fighting development, not because it wasn’t compliant, but because we didn’t like it. This is not a good strategy, and I have resisted it in my time, though some have attempted to lead us astray. We need to preserve our resources, fight the battles we can win, and accept that things aren’t always going to be precisely as we would like them.

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