Tuesday 28 March 2023


North Coast Voices will not be posting from Tuesday 28 to

 Friday 31 March 2023.

Apologies to our readers.

Monday 27 March 2023

Will the incoming Minns Labor Government fix the unholy mess that the outgoing Perrottet Coalition Government made of NSW planning & environmental laws in NSW?


The former Baird, Berejiklian and Perrottet coalition governments deliberately put a wrecking ball through NSW planning and environmental law for almost nine years.

The burning question is; 'Will the new Labor state premier, his cabinet and, specifically those he chooses as his ministers for planning and environment, walk back the legislative and regulatory power grab which leaves much of regional New South Wales vulnerable to exploitation?'

This opinion piece by Lindy Smith, President of the Tweed District Residents and Ratepayers Association (TDRRA) in the Echo, 21 March 2023, reflects similar concerns expressed by residents & ratepayers across the seven local government areas of the Northern Rivers region:

 The NSW Planning Rezoning Pathways Program was released the day before caretaker period started for the NSW government on 3 March.

This will service the agendas of developers and land bankers which is very much alive in the Tweed Shire, particularly the Cudgen Plateau, State Significant Farmlands (SSF). Under the guise of the need for housing (which we all agree is needed) there continues to be a failure to acknowledge the herd of elephants in the room – that any new house can be built and purchased for Short Term Holiday Letting (STHL) under the Governments changes to the NSW Environmental Planning & Assessment (EP&A) Act.

Does not increase housing supply

This means that there is no guaranteed actual quantitative increase in the housing supply. While the government’s focus has been driving population growth it has seriously failed in its upkeep of social and affordable housing. In fact they have been selling off such sites.

The questions that the NSW government fails to address are:

What quantity of social housing is to be part of the Program?

What is affordable housing, and where are the plans and mechanisms to provide them? How they will be protected as affordable housing into perpetuity, rather than reentering the private market after ten years?

Undermining local councils

The Planning Rezoning Pathways Program enables the overriding of much statutory investment and work that has been undertaken by local councils and communities. Many local councils and community groups have spent significant time and energy developing locally appropriate planning tools and long-term strategic planning utilising local knowledge which is key to the sustainability and liveability of their communities.

The NSW coalition government swept into power 2011 on the back of the then-controversial Part3A assessment system, promising to give planning powers back to local communities. What we have instead been dealt with is the repeated undermining of the NSW EP&A Act and the NSW state taking over so much more of local communities planning controls.

No public consultation

Further, under the former Premier and former Deputy Premier of NSW development of RegionalEconomic Development Strategies was undertaken with zero public consultation, nor any transparency. These documents only recently came to light in the public arena.

Just two days before the caretaker period the NSW Government then released its program to rezone our Crown lands for development with zero public consultation, nor any process to turn over our Crown land to development.

The mismanagement of our Crown land is well documented with the damming evidence to the Crown lands inquiry and the damming findings of the Auditor-General Report into the Sale and Lease of Crown Lands.

Sunday 26 March 2023

Labor has won the state general election of 25 March 2923 and will form government for the term of the 58th NSW Parliament


The mainstream media hyped 'close' NSW state general election that wasn't.....

At approx. 7:55pm on Saturday 25 March 2023 just one hour and twenty-five minutes into the official NSW Electoral Commission count of est. 2,669,688 formal ballot papers on the night and with less than 13 per cent of all votes counted, elections analyst Antony Green called the general election for the Australian Labor Party (NSW Division) on the national public broadcaster, the ABC

Labor MLA for Kogarah, Christopher John "Chris" Minns is now 47th Premier-elect of New South Wales and is expected to lead a government of between 47 to 50 members sitting in the 93 member Legislative Assembly. 

At around 10:20pm on the night the Liberal MP for Epping and current Premier Dominic Francis "Dom" Perrottet conceded defeat on behalf of the Coalition, being the Liberal Party of Australia (NSW Division) and National Party of Australia (NSW Division). Mr. Perrottet had been the state premier for less than 18 months.

The official ballot paper count continues on Monday 27 March and details can be found at 


The initial formal first preference ballot count on the night of 25 March indicates that Labor's Janelle Saffin has retained the seat of Lismore.  Nationals' Geoff Provest is expected to retain Tweed and The Green's Tamara Smith is also expected to retain Ballina, with Nationals' Richie Williamson is expected to gain Clarence after retirement of the previous incumbent, the National's Chris Gulaptis.

To recap: the Labor Party now governs at federal level and in every state & territory across Australia, with the exception of Tasmania where the Liberal Party still governs.

IMAGE: via @MColvinMcKenzie

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese gives update on Indigenous Voice and referendum wording




Saturday 25 March 2023

NORTHERN RIVERS VOTES 2023: NSW Electoral Commission Virtual Tally Room opens 6:30pm Saturday 25 March for counting of ballot papers in the NSW State Election of the 58th Parliament

There are a total of four NSW state electorates covering the Northern Rivers region - Tweed, Ballina, Lismore and Clarence

Across these electorates there were a combined est. 231,247 registered voters recorded by the NSW Electoral Commission on 7 March 2023. 

Based on Pre-Poll figures and Postal Vote applications as of Friday 24 March, up to 76,383 or 33% of those electors in the Northern Rivers had voted before polling booths opened on 25 March.

That leaves est. 154,864 people who will be lining up to between 8am and 6pm today.

All vote count results will be published on the Virtual Tally Room as soon as practicable after completion. Results will commence publishing from approximately 6:30pm on election day, Saturday, 25 March 2023. No vote counting will occur on the Sunday 26 March but will recommence on Monday 27 March. 

NSWEC Virtual Tally Room at  


ABC NSW Votes election night commentary from 6pm at https://iview.abc.net.au/video/NS1413V001S00. As per usual Antony Green will be giving his voting analysis throughout the evening.

New words and phrases entering the Northern Rivers lexicon


The first phrase in this occasional segment is:

disaster investor” [origin unknown, circa 2023]  a person who deliberately seeks out homeowners whose properties have been flood damaged and offers these homeowners as little as 10 cents on the dollar of the pre-flood value of a freestanding house.

Tweets of the Week




Friday 24 March 2023

Addressing flood trauma in Northern Rivers children thirteen months after a catastrophic unnatural disaster


The Sydney Morning Herald, “Northern Rivers in youth mental health crisis”, 20 March 2023, excerpt:

A soon-to-be-published resilience survey has found levels of depression and anxiety symptoms are now higher among Northern Rivers children and young people than the national average of earlier survey participants for some student groups.

Conducted almost six months after the February 2022 disaster, the survey was taken by 6611 school students, nearly 13 per cent of all young people aged between five and 19 in the region.

It found that almost one in three Northern Rivers primary students and more than one in three secondary students were at risk of depression and anxiety.

More than 40 per cent of primary students were at risk of trauma-related stress. For secondary students, it was almost 20 per cent.

Inundated, isolated, in despair: Floodwaters around Lismore’s St Carthage’s Cathedral and Trinity Catholic College.CREDIT:GETTY

Healthy North Coast, a not-for profit organisation delivering the Australian government's Primary Health Network program in the region, commissioned the research as the first step in its Resilient Kids initiative, funded by a $10 million grant from the National Emergency Management Agency.

Healthy North Coast chief executive Monika Wheeler said that the survey established a baseline which could help to measure the mental health and wellbeing of young people in the Northern Rivers over time.

She said young people reported generally feeling supported and connected within their schools and communities. However, the survey also highlighted areas to focus on in future.

"The Resilient Kids initiative will use local insights to design tailored mental health and wellbeing supports," she said.

"We know that successful recovery is based on understanding community context and is not a one-off event.

"It's multi-year, multi-layered, and our approach to supporting our young people might change over time as we see how they respond."

Tens of millions of federal and state dollars has been promised for mental health and wellbeing programs in the region's schools and wider community.

Safe haven hubs have opened across the region to provide free mental health support. Drop-ins are encouraged and there is no need for referrals or appointments. For young people, dedicated online and phone services also are available.

The difficulty is reaching those who won't, or can't, use these services.

Children's charities Unicef Australia and Royal Far West are rolling out a $4.5 million support program covering 30 state primary schools and preschools in the Northern Rivers and south-east Queensland.

Social workers, psychologists, speech pathologists and occupational therapists will enter school communities to help staff address learning delays in children.

Unicef Australia chief advocate for children Nicole Breeze said thousands of children will need intensive support, as the effects of the disaster can potentially remain hidden for years.

"Our first engagement in this space was after the Black Summer bushfires," she said. "With children the impact can stay hidden, it can take a year or two, sometimes three. The good news is that with the right support, at the right time, they can bounce back."

The plight of Northern Rivers children garnered international attention Last April when Prince William spoke online with Jeanette Wilkins, the principal of St Joseph's Primary School Woodburn, who told him the community had lost its school and "everything in it" and the mental health of the community had taken a major blow.

The school was underwater for eight days.

"We're two months down the track and nothing has changed, those 34 families are still displaced, so there's no certainty for those children," she told the prince.

"For us, the most important thing was to make contact with our families and our children, and as fast as possible to set up a school somewhere just to get the children back to some form of normality and start dealing with their trauma."

At Christmas, 29 families of students and staff at St Joseph's (more than half the students) were still living in some form of temporary housing such as a caravan, shed, shipping container or the shell of their flood-stripped home.

Ten Catholic schools in the Lismore diocese were directly affected by the floods, including St Joseph's. Three schools are inaccessible, and 1250 students are being taught in temporary facilities.

Morning tea and lunch are provided in some schools, as are new school uniforms and shoes, to help address absenteeism. A team of 30 counsellors is working in 23 schools, and community services provider Social Futures is operating in seven of the flood-hit schools to assist families in gaining to access additional mental health social and financial support.

Thirty-seven state facilities suffered significant damage, and five schools still operate away from their original site.

Thursday 23 March 2023

Clarence Catchment Alliance thanks its supporters in the fight to stop mineral mining on land within the Clarence River catchment area


Some of those supporting the Clarence Catchment Alliance on 17 March 2023. IMAGE: supplied

The Clarence Catchment Alliance was thrilled with the support received during their ‘ban on mining in the Clarence Catchment pledge signing’ event in Yamba last Friday. At the same time, they and the community were disappointed by the absence of two key candidates’ signatures.

The event provided a public platform for candidates from all over the Clarence catchment, state and federal MPs, Elders, and community leaders, to sign the pledge presented by the CCA, committing them to the common goal of banning mineral mining in the Clarence catchment.

The event was a wonderfully positive morning of solidarity, with the public witnessing those individuals and parties that are fully dedicated to saving our rivers, protecting our water, and caring for our catchment. Neighbouring candidates from Coffs, Lismore, and the Northern Tablelands, as well as Traditional Owners from Yaegl and Sue Higginson, Greens member in the Legislative Council, joined 6 Clarence candidates and signed the pledge.

The following individuals publicly signed the commitment:

  • Sue Higginson - NSW Greens Member of Legislative Council

  • Greg Clancy - Greens Party

  • Brett Duroux - Indigenous Australia Party

  • Nicki Levi - Independent

  • Debra Novak - Independent

  • Mark Rayner - Legalize Cannabis Party

  • William Walker - CEO Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation

  • Dianne Chapman - Manager Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation

  • Tihema Elliston - Coffs Harbour - Legalise Cannabis Party

  • Tim Nott - Coffs Harbour - Greens Party

  • Vanessa Rosayro – Lismore - Animal Justice Party

  • Alison Waters - Lismore - Animal Justice Party

Leon Ankersmit, Labor candidate for Clarence was in attendance but did not sign the pledge. He is on record verbally, as supportive of the CCA’s call to ban mining here, but party politics stopped him from committing in writing which was disappointing.

Richie Williamson, Nationals, did not attend the event and did not take up the CCA’s offer to sign the pledge digitally. Although on record verbally as ‘anti-mining in the Clarence,’ Richie’s decision to not sign may be due to his party's support of, and promotion of investment in, mineral mining in regional NSW.

In written correspondence received by the CCA on 16.3.23, the NSW Government, on behalf of the

Hon. Anthony Roberts Nationals MP and Minister for Planning, and the Hon. James Griffin Liberal

MP and Minister for Environment and Heritage stated:

The NSW Government is aligned with the NSW Minerals Strategy and is therefore not proposing a prohibition of mining activities in the Clarence Valley at this time.”

Individuals that were unable to attend, but signed the pledge digitally are as follows:

  • David Shoebridge - Senator for NSW Greens

  • Kevin Hogan - Federal Member for Page Nationals

  • Cate Faehrmann - NSW Greens member

  • Janelle Saffin - Member for Lismore Labor

  • Tamara Smith - Member for Ballina Greens

  • Troy Cassar Daley - Country Music legend

  • Aunty Lenore Parker - Yaegl Matriarch

  • Uncle Ron Herron - Yaegl Elder

  • Frances Belle Parker - Artist

  • Surfers for Climate

  • Surfrider Australia

  • Revive the Northern Rivers

  • Clarence Valley - Koala Working Group

  • Elizabeth O'Hara - Northern Tablelands Candidate Greens

  • Susie Herder - Tweed Candidate Animal Justice Party

The CCA wishes to thank each of the signatories, and those members of the public that attended last Friday and hope that constituents of this beautiful region use their vote to protect local water and the rivers the community so heavily relies on.

The alliance will be following up again with the NSW government once the election is over and ministerial roles are settled and launching their second petition in the coming months.

If you would like to volunteer with the Clarence Catchment Alliance please email


Signing the CCA Pledge on 17 March 2023
IMAGE: supplied

Wednesday 22 March 2023

On Saturday 25 March 2023 are you voting for the Clarence River system and the towns, villages and businesses which depend on its waters? Here are some of the community groups & candidates who think you should


Nymboida River, one of the twenty-four tributaries of the Clarence River and the principal source of drinking water for most residents in Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour City local government areas. IMAGE: Arden E, YouTube 2015

The Clarence Valley’s rich biodiverse landscapes have nurtured and supported generations beyond count and down the years communities as well as the grass roots organisations they support across the Clarence River Catchment have worked hard to protect that which gives them life and livelihoods.

Because in places such as the Clarence Valley with its variable river systems; the aesthetic, environmental, social, cultural and economic values of its communities are intertwined. Healthy rivers, clear running creeks, intact temperate & subtropical close & open forests along with ancient remnants of the Gondwanaland forests, arable soils found in smaller valleys and the larger floodplain, as well as a long coastal zone providing tourism opportunities, all combine to provide a population of est. 54,180 men, women and children living in the catchment area with a solid local economy which keeps the local government area vibrant and its over 4,000 businesses productive. Businesses whose products and services make up est. 17 per cent of the wider Northern Rivers regional economy. [Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021, idcommunity 2021]

Make no mistake. The Clarence Valley relies on the fact that its air is fresh, free-flowing waters clean, main primary industries sustainable and its landscapes pleasing to the eye of tourists. For without those four things the Clarence Valley regional economy would not be worth anything like the over $2 billion it is consistently valued at despite the ongoing pressures of war in Ukraine and global pandemic [National Institute of Economic and Industry Research 2021].

It is also not just Clarence Valley residents that rely on good stewardship being applied to land and waters within the Clarence catchment area. An est. 78,738 people and 6,174 businesses in Coffs Harbour City local government area rely on the urban water infrastructure within Clarence Valley local government area to supply them with town water.

However, constantly growing population pressure and the commercial interests of often large-scale and/or state-sponsored industries (particularly construction, mining & forestry) has seen Clarence catchment landscapes being altered in ways that are becoming destructive.

Forestry now covers 20 per cent of Clarence River Catchment land and by 2022 there were a total of 18 existing mineral and gold mining leases, along with more than 41 mining exploration leases, in the catchment area. [NSW Government, Industry NSW, 2022] It should be noted that mining leases are on the traditional lands of three First Nations peoples.

Under threat are the streams, creeks and rivers which feed the longest coastal river on the Australian east coast, the Clarence River. Also under threat are the remaining tracts of native forest, as well as the tree cover on the Clarence Catchment’s steep hills which help anchor rock and soil to the hillsides and prevent it sliding down and choking the waterways that weave their way among them.

Since the 1990s there have been a number of government contracted reports concerning the Clarence Basin and its waterways. All have highlighted concerns still held today and largely unaddressed – the risks that mining activity, large scale forestry, soil erosion and water turbidity pose to the environment and waterways of the Clarence Basin.

Right now in March 2023 Clarence electorate residents have the opportunity to make their voices heard when they cast their votes this coming Saturday at the NSW State Election.

On Friday morning 17 March 2023 the Clarence Catchment Alliance (CCA) a non-partisan, not-for-profit, community volunteer group established in 2018 as a response to increased mining exploration activity held a press conference close to Whiting Beach, Yamba.

Clarence Catchment Alliance had invited members of the media, sitting MPs, candidates standing at next week’s state election, representatives from other community & business groups, as well as members of the public as observers, to this event.

The purpose of the press conference was to draw attention to the growing alarm about mineral extraction projects within the Clarence River catchment and any expansion of this activity across its 24 sub-catchments.

The event began with a Welcome to Country by Yaegl emerging elder Diane Randall, the press conference taking place on traditional Yaegl lands.

It was followed by an introduction from Shae Fleming one of the CCA organisers and then went onto comments by various speakers from other groups including the Clarence Environment Centre and the Yamba District Chamber of Commerce. Brief presentations were made by candidates standing in the Clarence electorate as well as candidates standing in Coffs Harbour and Lismore electorates. There was a general consensus that the waters of the Clarence River catchment area needed to be protected.

Unfortunately the Nationals candidate for Clarence, Richie Williamson, did not attend. However, given the strong pro-mining, pro-barely regulated land clearing, pro-native timber harvesting and pro-state and private forestry policies and practices of the Nationals as partner in successive NSW Coalition governments, that is hardly surprising.

What was surprising was the rider added by the Labor candidate for Clarence to his general support of protecting the Clarence catchment area. Leon Ankersmit stated that the Labor Party would not allow him to sign the CCA pledge of support as the party was in favour of mining in Northern New South Wales.

The following is a brief summary of concerns articulated by some of those that spoke at the press conference, in no particular order.

JOHN EDWARDS (Clarence Environment Centre): It’s not coal or iron that worries me – it’s heavy metal mining. Ore get trucked from mine sites but processing minerals begins at the mine. The evaporation ponds produce a toxic sludge which permanently contaminates the soil and remediation is merely covering that soil with more soil. Leaving a time bomb behind when the mining company leaves. (Signed the CCA pledge)

SUE HIGGINSON (Greens MLA): The community here worked hard to shut down the Timbarra Gold Mine after it leaked cyanide into the Clarence River. However mining leases are still being granted in river catchments. Local seafood, dairy, sugar cane, livestock, crops, and tourism, and the industries that serve them, need clean water. (Signed the CCA pledge)

SHAE FLEMING (Clarence Coastal Alliance): We already have healthy water based industries here. They need protecting. (Signed the CCA pledge)

JAMES ALLAN (current President, Yamba Chamber of Commerce): Degradation of our waterways leads to degradation of our businesses. I support No Mines in the Clarence catchment. There are few jobs in mining. Re-opening the Drake mine would only create fifty jobs. (Signed the CCA pledge)

BRETT DUROUX (Indigenous Australia Party candidate for Clarence): I grew up in Cangai, raised in the old ways. The bush is a place of beauty and healing for so many people. Miners needs are not as important as our needs. My response to proposals to mine in the Clarence Valley is “NEVER!” (Signed the CCA pledge)

NICKI LEVI (Independent candidate for Clarence): Water is sacred, water is precious, water is life. Our priorities should be to protect the air in the Richmond Valley and water in the Clarence Valley. (Signed the CCA pledge)

DEBRA NOVAK (Independent candidate for Clarence & current Clarence Valley councillor): If elected I pledge to lobby hard for a moratorium on mineral mining just as we successfully did with coal seam gas mining. Nothing is more important than protecting the water. (Signed the CCA pledge)

GREG CLANCY (Greens candidate for Clarence & current Clarence Valley Council Deputy-Mayor): I have been protesting against threats to the rivers for a long time. Mining in this wonderful environment is “not on”. Parts of the Mann River are already dead zones because of previous mining ventures. (Signed the CCA pledge)

LEON ANKERSMIT (Labor candidate for Clarence): I’m proud of the sustainable industries that rely on a healthy river like prawning and fishing. Our land is precious and its such an important job to protect our river. (Refused to sign CCA pledge)

MARK RAYNOR (Legalise Cannabis Party candidate for Clarence): We need to find new industries and new crops not start new mines. (Signed the CCA pledge)

TIM NOTT (Greens candidate for Coffs Harbour): Mining is being done the wrong way - mining near waterways produces industrial level pollution. (Signed the CCA pledge)

ALISON WATERS (Animal Justice Party candidate for NSW Upper House representing Northern NSW): They are our waterways and our catchments. We need to protect them. (Signed the CCA pledge)

VANESSA ROSAYRO (Animal Justice Party candidate for Lismore): Mining just doesn’t affect our lives. It affects marine and plant life and the lives of local animals. (Signed the CCA pledge)