Why the Greens Don’t Deserve to be Re-elected

November 28th, 2021

Occasionally, a sports team or political party need to take time out, regroup and rejuvenate. The old chestnut that those who cannot govern themselves are unworthy to govern an electorate is usually true. The discord and lack of cohesion the current Greens team have exhibited will only spill over into the council chamber. Best for them to take time out, have a cold shower, sit on the bench and have a Gatorade.

This is not partisan. I have voted green in the past and will probably do it again soon. I intend to support and vote for Mandy Nolan as the Greens candidate for Richmond in the next federal election. She is not infected with the disfunction of the NSW Greens who have been ridden with discord and factionalism for decades.

It would be tedious to go through all the history. Let’s just stick to a synopsis of each of the Green candidates here who are running and why they would be a poor choice this time around:

#1. Duncan Dey

Duncan is #1 on the Greens ticket and is therefore running for Mayor as well as Councillor. He has had terms as a Councillor in the past. This is probably his best qualification. There is no doubt he is passionate and principled about the shire. Unfortunately, he has not been able to articulate a vision or pragmatic strategy to make the radical changes necessary to solve major issues like housing, tourism or business support. He has not been able to articulate his successes or achievements from these terms.

Many also feel he does not have the necessary personality to chair and lead council meetings. It is doubtful he has the ability to communicate on behalf of the community to higher levels of government. Negotiating on Council’s behalf with the state government is one of the Council’s most important roles,  no matter who is in power.

Current Green’s policy proposal is to rewrite the DCP (Development Control Plan) and the LEP (Local Environment Policy). They want to do this because their habitual opposition to every DA and residential strategy is nearly always overruled in the Land and Environment Court, wasting ratepayer funds in lost court battles. Rewriting the LEP and DCP to take it backwards not forwards is both scary and ridiculous.

#2. Sarah Ndiaye

Sarah is doing her best to keep it together while all this swirls around her. She is the only carryover from the last Greens council. The deep green faction led a coup and a branch stack and have never ceased putting the knives in the back of both ex-mayor Simon Richardson and current mayor, Michael Lyon. After eight years as a popular and capable mayor, the new henchmen did not even send a letter of appreciation to Simon for his service – petty and vindictive!

The Green’s affirmative action policy that #2 should always go to a woman bumped Sarah to the highly winnable second position – probably to the chagrin of the new/old regime. She is holding firm to her spot, even though she and the rest of the politburo, know she will not follow the hard-line dictates they expect.

#3. Mathew O’Reilly (AKA Cleva)

Where to begin? I suppose it’s best to start with the positives. He is obviously enthusiastic and would be a dedicated hardworking councillor. He is across many policy details, has an opinion on everything, regularly attending council and presenting at public access. Commendable behaviour for someone wanting to be on Council.

Unfortunately, Mr Cleva comes with so much baggage he should never make it past check-in. Mathew, and his father Ken, have been developing a large parcel of rural land on Saddle Road, Brunswick Heads. The DA includes two dwellings, two studios, six cabins, a central building, roadside stall, stables, agricultural produce industry shed and agricultural buildings. Nothing wrong with that in principle, even for an avowed greenie. However, at the same time he was pushing this (aggressively) through council he was instrumental in attacking and demolishing the Brunswick Eco Village proposal just down the road. This alternative housing village, very much in keeping with the Byron ethos that offered an opportunity to provide many people with secure and affordable housing. But it was hounded out of town by him and a few other oppositional residents. What happened to live and let live? This smacked of hypocrisy, which is a major sin in my books.

Mathew’s father, Ken O’Reilly, has worked as a geologist for many of the fossil fuel majors like BHP. Again, nothing wrong with that, in principle, and Mathew has never denied that his dad is a black gold advocate. But again, hypocrisy rears its head when knowing that Ken O’Reilly is a visible and vocal member of the Saltbush Club. This is Australia’s biggest club of Climate Change deniers that includes luminaries like Gina Rhinehart and Hugh Morgan. I don’t understand how this meshes with a son running as a deep green candidate in Byron Shire. That seems weird!

The kicker is that during the pushing through of the above DA, Mathew O’Reilly’s communication with council staff was not exactly collaborative or harmonious. This is not surprising as many of his public statements have been more than critical and contemptuous of council staff. It would be difficult to develop a collegiate working relationship with this history. No wonder there are rumours of council staff intending to leave or retire if this deep green cadre is elected as a majority.

#4. Kate Coxall

Kate is no longer on the Greens ticket. Apparently, the reason she quit was she became a victim of the housing crisis and could no longer find secure accommodation in the Shire. Talk on the street also is that she could no longer tolerate being in the same room as one of her running mates. It is telling that her Facebook resignation makes no mention of support for her ex-campaign team.

#5. (now #4) Ian Cohen

It should be apparent to any long-term observers of local politics that Ian Cohen and ex-mayor Jan Barham are the circus ring leaders of these political shenanigans. They are the leaders of the faction known as the Broken Head Greens. Both have extensive political experience and think that Byron Shire has gone to hell in a handbasket because they are not running things anymore and want control back. Thus they will be using undue influence from the sidelines if this coup comes off.

#Preferenced: Cate Correy

Cate is also running for Mayor and has Green’s preferences which mean she’s in with a chance. I quite like Cate and she is smart and experienced. However, she is also captured by the same inability to see the forest for the trees – stuck fighting over details instead of seeing the horizon. The priority should be obvious to candidates that fighting rearguard actions over planning details should now take second place to big picture issues.

The Back of The Pack

What makes our shire so fascinating and intriguing is the diversity of opinion and options. This is certainly apparent in the spread of mayoral candidates available to Byron voters. Also running for Mayor are some wild cards:

John Anderson- AKA Fast Bucks2

Mr Anderson is well known to many. I don’t wish to waste time on him here. His latest narcissistic and publicity-seeking stunt was a court challenge to his ban from attending council meetings. He lost and it cost him at least $40,000 in court costs. The ban came about because of perceived threatening behaviour towards a female councillor and a history of interjections and misconduct over the years. Let’s hope that after a miserable showing in this election he will slink back to his Coorabell CT subdivision and shut up. I somehow doubt it.

Tom Barnett

The Empower Byron ticket is wanting to “Sack the Status Quo”. They managed to sack themselves by not being admin-savvy enough to actually get registered with the NSW Electoral Commission. Their marketing materials do not specify it but this group was out to capture the anti-vax, anti-mask and anti-lock down vote. Although Mullumbimby and its environs are known as the anti-vax capital of Australia, there would not be the numbers to cause an upset even if they were running.

Chris McIlrath

The McIlrath brothers have run a camping ground up in the Main Arm hills for decades. It has sometimes been a (necessary) haven and refuge for the housing stressed and fringe groups. This is possibly the source of the many and varied conspiracy theories this candidate espouses.

The United Front

The Echo inferred that the four progressive centre-left candidates preference deal was a right-wing, men’s club power grab. Preferencing is standard practice and essential in a tight race. The Echo has consistently made it clear they promote the Green’s in their reporting. Most ethical and responsible editors, even the right-wing Murdoch press, will publicly endorse a candidate in an editorial then try for balance in the news pages. This is not happening here.

There is an old saying, don’t pick a fight with anyone who buys ink by the barrel. But I don’t care and this should be called out. Echo editor, Hans Lovejoy, has been vindictive and personal against former Greens Simon Richardson and Michael Lyon without adequately prosecuting a case against their probity or policies. It has also been inferred by the Echo that I am somehow tainted because I work in real estate. The irony is that if my aim was to promote my business model I would be voting for the deep Greens. It is their policies that keep property scarce and prices higher. That kind of market only enhances the need for a buyers agent.

The United Front was the derogatory term used against the four strong independent candidates who have a chance of unseating the Greens as favourites. They are Mark Swivel, Bruce Clarke, Asren Pugh and Michael Lyon. Any one of them would make an excellent mayor and leader, but my preference is Mark Swivel.  My reasons for supporting MST and the so-called United Front was included in last month’s newsletter and you can read that here.

Election Issue
Council Elections – What You Need To Know
The Vision Thing, by Cr Mark Swivel
Mandy for Richmond
Federal Election Richmond

7 Replies to “Why the Greens Don’t Deserve to be Re-elected”

  1. Hi Everyone,
    Thanks for your comments. Please keep commenting – especially if I am wrong or inaccurate in any way.
    It is now Monday morning after the council election and it would seem that the majority of residents concur with this synopsis. Michael Lyon is leading the mayoral race with Mark Swivel second. The greens primary vote has more than halved.
    It looks like we will have a majority independent, centre left, progressive majority in council which will serve us well.

  2. Thanks, everyone for your supportive comments. Shame we don’t get anyone who disagrees with this argument so we can have a wider debate.
    There was a fault with the website back end so these comments did not appear at the same time as writing them.
    Let’s see what happens in the election – it will be more than interesting.

  3. Fascinating- and a very accurate assessment of the parties and candidates.
    I hope you are right, as we are definitely in need of a change. Rick

  4. Well said in every detail Michael. Astute observations that I agree with fully. Yes we are all Green. Any sentient being has to be. But this Dark green spectre of self obsessed negativity rising today is like a double feature horror story. And yes the Lovejoy/Echo vilification of Simon Richardson and inability to recognise a single achievement in 8 years of excellent progress to a more harmonious and functioning Shire is damning for the responsibilities of our local press…sad to say the Echo has lost a lot of relevance except for anything Mandy has to do with it and the occasional opinion piece. And yes the team you endorse are by far the best option to bring good governance and common sense forward… and we are lucky to have several good choices all of whom will add value to our shire. Go Swiv, Lyon, Clarke and Pugh( as long as he is not overly locked into his Dad’s over blinkered visions.) we are lucky to have such passionate people many with the right skills and attitudes.

  5. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for that precis very useful for those of us absentee voters who haven’t been across all the details in recent months. Cheers.


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