Catcalls and corflutes at Council protest industrial-style blueberry farming in the Nambucca Valley

Some of the Nambucca Environment Network members who attended the Nambucca Valley Council meeting last week in protest of large-scale blueberry farming in the Valley.

IN what has become a regular occurrence, a large group of community members attended the Nambucca Valley Council meeting to remind councillors and staff of their opposition to elements of industrial-style blueberry farming in the region.

The Nambucca Environment Network (NEN) group prepared placards which were on display in the public gallery of the Council meeting last Thursday night.

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Mayor Rhonda Hoban was forced to call for order more than once and threatened to temporarily adjourn the meeting until audience members responded to her request.

Protesters also came forward and placed their signage around the room in front of the seated councillors and council staff.

Proceedings were interrupted when a large group of protesters began to chant “Let us speak”, just fifteen minutes into the meeting.

The group were angry that one of their members had been denied the opportunity to address the public gallery despite requesting to speak in the public forum section of the meeting prior to the deadline for applications.

“The person at council, to whom we have been sending our speeches for approval prior to the meetings, no longer works there and we are unaware if there was any notification of this but certainly not to NEN specifically.

“Council had not organised an automatic email response saying the person no longer works there nor had they done a forwarding email address.

“It wasn’t until a phone call to council was made that our hopeful speaker learned of this.

“By that time, despite explanations, she was refused from presenting,” a NEN spokesperson told NOTA.

According to Bede Spannagle, General Manager at Nambucca Valley Council, “There was an unfortunate oversight by both parties.”

By the time Mr Spannagle learnt of this just over two hours before the meeting, he said it was simply too late to include the speaker.

“They have been invited to present at the next meeting,” he reassured NOTA.

“All people are welcome. “

“We are not trying to restrict people from presenting.

“It was just too short a time frame,” he said.

According to the group, this is the second time a NEN speaker’s request to address the council’s Public Forum has been refused.

The speaker in question told NOTA she had not heard from Council with a refusal or an invitation to speak at the next council meeting.

Results from earlier motions by council to receive legal advice on obtaining DAs for netting and other structures on blueberry farms, investigate buffer zones and other strategies to limit conflicts over land-use are expected to be discussed at an upcoming council meeting.


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