A bit of history repeating

MAYBE it was because I inadvertently repeated the stars from the week before in last week's paper (my apologies to all the stargazers), but I'm having a real sense of Groundhog Day this week.

For anyone who hasn't seen the movie, Bill Murray plays a TV weatherman trapped in a 24 hour time-loop. Every morning he wakes up to the same inane chatter on the radio, sees the same people in the same places and he can't do a damn thing about it.

It seems like only yesterday that I was editorialising about State Government interference in local government matters. In fact it was three weeks ago when the Department of Planning issued an approval for the expansion of Champions Quarry.

At the time I ruminated on the theme of how it was a slap in the face for the council and the local community who had undertaken an extensive process, made a decision that was later validated in the Land and Environment Court, and yet the State Government came in and effectively overturned the whole thing.

This week we find Planning Minister Brad Hazzard has decreed that environmental protections on rural land (the E2 and E3 zones) will be struck off the LEPs of Lismore, Kyogle, Tweed, Byron and Ballina councils.

Lismore Council had done extensive 'ground-truthing' (planning department jargon for actually getting out on the ground and surveying areas) and the feedback they had received was that the mapping was in accordance with planning department guidelines. Yet the minister has decided to override the whole process with a blanket statement that the E2 and E3 zones will be removed, without saying what they will be replaced with.

Like Bill Murray's character I feel angry and frustrated.

I understand farmers' concerns about unnecessary 'green tape' and that they have a vested interest in looking after their land, but this is another example of Macquarie Street getting involved in something that should be sorted out by local government.

But seeing history repeating has not been all bad.

This week also saw the communities of Eltham, Bexhill, Clunes, Numulgi and surrounding areas join the ever expanding CSG-free roads movement (see story page 6). This simple act of neighbours getting together has brought people closer and strengthened community ties.

Like Phil the weatherman from Groundhog Day, I have found my own sense of peace in the fact that nothing much ever changes.

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