SUFFOLK PARK: The sign says it all.
SUFFOLK PARK: The sign says it all. Contributed

LETTER- In Defense of Byron Shire Community Associations

“A bunch of old retired, misfits, loose fits and unfits, with political motivations who know ‘diddly squat’ about economic development and are totally opposed to everything, spreading fear and distrust.”

These are the words used by Byron Shire Councillor's Hunter, Cubis, Woods and Ibrahim to describe this shire’s many community associations at various times during a recent Council meeting debating community participation in the shire consultation process.

During this derogative and vicious attack/rant they also said community associations were regressive with no structure, no charter and questionable membership.

These four councillors then went on to recommend that council not allow community associations any representation in any debate regarding the future of the shire.

But these same councillors acknowledged that while the various Chambers of Commerce were political in nature and express political views they should be allowed to advise on the shire’s future.

I am involved in several community associations and most are incorporated bodies with a charter and hold formal monthly meetings.

To my knowledge no one in any of the committees are members of a political party.

Following accusations by councillor Cubis last year that, “Suffolk Park Progress Association were a bunch of communists”, I surveyed the committee and all gave me assurances that none of them were or ever had been members of the Communist party or members of the the Greens Party for that matter.

Community associations are made up of residents giving their time freely and volunteering to work in and for the community. I would say the age range of the associations is similar to that of the current council so by Cr Ibrahim ageist definition most of them are unfit for office.

Some of us are retired others not and the life skills and credentials we bring to the table are considerable. Many of us have professional backgrounds at executive level, educational and medical expertise, are holders of tertiary qualifications, have worked in or owned their own small business or currently run small businesses.

Others are home keepers raising younger members of our community while supporting their neighbours, friends, the elderly and homeless.

So I am not sure what ‘diddly squat’ Cr Cubis thinks we don’t know but obviously judging by his outbursts he must know a lot about ‘diddly squat’.

I would suggest to these four Councillors that the successful functioning of the shire owes a great deal to our selfless community association volunteers and to exclude us from the consulting process is ignorant, arrogant, ill-informed and disrespectful to the views of our community.

The Suffolk Park association has been operating since 1950’s holding monthly committee and regular public meetings.

At our last Association public meeting we had over 160 community members attending.

We have 218 followers on Facebook and as at last week our page reached 726 posts with 260 subscribers on Mail Chimp.

Is this representative enough for you Councillors Hunter, Cubis, Woods and Ibrahim?

Donald Maughan

The Suffolk Park Community Progress Association

Byron Historical Society

North Coast Regional Association of History Societies

Byron Shire Heritage Committee

Byron Residents Group

Community Association for the Byron Shire

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