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t r o p S ns

Volume 31 #31

S i g n -1O7

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Phone 02 6684 1777 23,200 copies every week

Pages 34-35



Jethro Tull Denying public education Post-electile interview funding – it’s what you dysfunction: – p39 do over breakfast – p5 Phillip Frazer – p13

Staff reporters

Nick Jeanes, pictured centre, and dozens of other health and spiritual practitioners guided and inspired hundreds over four days at Bangalow’s Starlight Festival. Held at the A&I Hall, there was all-day yoga, shamanic journeys, children’s workshops, gourmet vego food, psychic readings and live music. Photo Jeff Dawson

Solar train explained ficient for a number of return trips between charges. Our calculations show that the combined solar panels and regenerative braking will generate the equivalent amount of power, required daily to run the train service.

Regenerative braking Tim Elderton, managing director of Lithgow State Mine Railway explains, ‘In regards to the amount of solar panels and batteries required, critics fail to take into any consideration the effect of “regenerative braking” (known as regen for short). Any electric vehicle would be most inefficient without regen, as it recap-


Regional residents suffering from poor broadband

Byron GM replies to critics over rate rise

Where tipis are starlit

Following community interest regarding the technical aspect of how Byron Bay’s new train service will operate with a solar conversion, development director Jeremy Holmes has provided that information. The service is planned to commence in the coming months from near the Elements of Byron resort in Sunrise Beach into Byron’s CBD. Holmes says that solar power will be collected from the roof of the train and from the roof of the train storage shed to charge sizeable batteries on the train. ‘Energy from these batteries will drive dual electric motors and be suf-

Online in

tures up to half of the energy used during acceleration. ‘The electric traction motor wiring circuit is reversed, which turns the electric traction motor into a generator. The generation of electricity retards the train and the electricity generated goes back into the batteries for reuse. Regen has been used on electric trains for more than sixty years, and every modern electric truck and bus has it fitted. Electric solar traction systems are available off the shelf for retrofitting into buses and trucks, and because the railcar is basically a big bus, running continued on page 3

Like former Labor PM Keating’s famous quip about his recession – this is the rate rise debate we need to have. Owing to the predictably strong opposition to the plan, Byron Shire general manager Ken Gainger has sought to address the complaints and perceptions surrounding the controversial plan to raise rates above the state cap. At its December 2016 meeting, Council resolved to ‘lodge a notice of intent to apply for a Special Rate Variation (SRV) from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART)’, although it is yet to determine how much of an increase it will apply for. That decision will be taken in February. Mr Gainger has denied staff are leading councillors ‘by the nose’ to adopt the plan and that they have been ‘lazy’ in not considering ways of making visitors pay their fair share, such as an ‘Airbnb’ tax or extending paid parking to other towns. He also refutes the claim that Byron’s rates are ‘among the highest in the state’ and says that in fact they are ‘among the lowest in the region’. Mr Gainger also said that changes in the valuer-general’s land valuations, which have led to rate increases in some parts of the Shire, have had the opposite effect in others. He has also reiterated that unless Council increases its rates base significantly, it will likely fail the state government’s ‘fit for the future’ test and be slated for amalgamation. Mr Gainger’s points appear in

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full as follows. Why are ratepayers being asked to foot the bill and not visitors? While Council has now informed the IPART that it intends applying for a Special Rate Variation it has also asked staff to explore how additional funds can be raised from tourist levies, local businesses that profit from tourists, and holiday let establishments. Staff will report back to council in February before the council determines the level of rate increase that it applies for. Why wasn’t a ‘no rate rise’ option considered? It was clear to the council that such an option was not feasible given the extent of Council’s infrastructure backlog and the requirement to meet the seven performance benchmarks set by the state government/IPART. Has Council been lazy in not exploring alternatives to a rate rise? Over the past four years council has slashed the number of senior staff and reduced staff salaries, significantly improved operating efficiencies, raised new revenue through paid parking and property sales, saved $300,000 per year in smarter procurement, refinanced loans and paid down debt, slashed council’s legal costs, and established a new infrastructure fund. Don’t we already pay some of the highest rates in the state? Council’s general rates are among the lowest in the region and other councils of similar size in NSW. As a result of the valuer-general’s re-valuations, rates have increased continued on page 3

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Byron Shire Echo – Issue 31.31 – 11/01/2017  

Free, independent weekly newspaper from the Byron Shire in northern NSW, Australia.