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Politics

Analysis: The Dept of Urban affairs and Planning (DUAP) The total economy of the North Coast of NSW (Grafton to Qld east of the Range) in the period 1991 to 1996:- (a) Employment growth 11.5% compared with 6.7% for NSW  (b) Employers from largest: Retail Trade, Health and Community Services, Forestry and Fishing, Education (c) Employment in Tourism grew less than NSW as a whole (d) Economic growth double average. Trends support trade, health, education, community services commensurate with population growth. Bangalow in the Census was profiled as having more children per capita of any other urban areas of Byron Shire. The average Bangalow resident is 36 years old with 2 children .

  • Politics - a background

Bangalow (2479 postcode) takes up the southern portion of Byron Shire, the only local government area north of Newcastle in NSW to vote Labour in each of the past two State and Federal elections. The quadrennial council elections have been a life-and-death struggle that the local film-maker David Bradbury calls, in an ongoing cinematic epic, the Battle for Byron. It is one of the few times the region seriously divides against itself; normally the lifestyle demands that all but the most outrageous views have their place, even if they do sometimes frighten the horses. Nothing is compulsory and very little is forbidden. But the fight over just which of the shire's many eccentrics should occupy the local council chambers pits friend against friend and neighbour against neighbour. The conflict dates back 12 years,when the southern dropouts who had been drifting into the district since the hippy invasions of the late 60's decided to test their voting strength against the old-timers - survivors of the days when whaling, dairy-farming and timber-getting had made the district prosperous. Tourists folowed in the wake of the new arrivals, and whith them the demand for development, a demand which most of the older residents embraced but which the greenies rejected as worse than satanism. The differences came to a head in the council elections of 1987, when a green group calling itself rather misleadingly "United Shire" launched, and won, a takeover bid. For four acrimonious years Byron Council became a battleground between the green majority and the remnants of the conservatives, who spent much of their time plotting revenge. They achieved it in 1991 when, under the formidable leadership of Colonel Ross Tucker, late of the army catering corps, they put to rout the greenies, who had become complacent and divided. The tucker forces took no prisoners, marginalising their opponents with military ruthlessness. They even tried to deny an aging and sight-impaired green councillor the aid of a reader to help her decipher documents. In the face of public outrage they backed down, but this was a period when Canadian mink farms were flat out filling the orders of developer's wives. Denied effective voice in council, the greenies took to the streets. These were the times of marches against Club Med, a skirmish won through legal action and people power. The Federal election of 1990 had shown how powerful the left could be. Through a formidable campaign by the anti-nuclear activist helen Caldicott, citizens caused a sensation by removing National Party leader Charles Blunt from the seat of Richmond. In the council elections of 1995, they got their act together again and swept back with a convincing majority. But they had their problems. After the sacking of a recalcitrant general manager, who never made any secret of his support of the conservatives, it was discovered the previous mob had left a financial black hole. This was due to the misallocation of funds and huge borrowings to cover a building program that included gigantic new council chambers, to be known forever as the Tuckerbox. Tucker and his remaining allies refused to accept the blame, or indeed the fact that they were no longer in charge, which led to inconclusive wrangling and the virtual paralysis of the green's ambitious program. Grimly, they concentrated on digging themselves out of the mess, while the Tucker forces sniped in the background. (Thanks to Mungo MacCallum and the SMH)