FEARS that the NSW Government is about to override council planning powers to approve the world championship car rally heightened yesterday as hundreds of protesters marched against the event.
At the same time concerns were raised that if the rally was approved, future protest actions could disrupt it as objectors took matters into their own hands.
Police escorted about 300 protesters, some in cardboard mock-ups of rally cars and some dressed as koalas, wallabies or other animals which they said would be put at risk by rally cars on rural roads, through Murwillumbah.
They chanted 'No rally in the Valley' as they passed shoppers, shopkeepers and hotel patrons who, mostly, simply smiled.
Murwillumbah District Business Chamber president Toni Zuschke, whose organisation backs the planned September rally, turned up with her husband Michael in a chequered shirt with chequered race flag and a placard stating 'Give rally a go'.
“I've been selected to wave the flag for the Chamber of Commerce - the chequered flag that is,” Mrs Zuschke said.
Outside the Tweed Shire Council chambers anti-rally speakers addressed the crowd on environmental and other concerns.
Byron-based NSW Greens Party Upper House member Ian Cohen said he was worried the government could override council planning powers to approve the event which it has promised the help fund.
He said the Government could use 'Part 3a' of the NSW planning legislation to call in and approve the development application.
He warned that could inflame objectors who could protest during the rally itself.
Some protestors were furious at reports earlier in the day that Rally Australia was about to announce the Government would approvel the rally.
A Rally Australia spokesperson said no such announcement was being prepared. A Tweed council spokesperson said the council was unaware of any such decision.
Rally organisers have still not lodged development applications for the September event.
Tweed councillor Dot Holdom will seek to extend the normal 14-day advertising period for public comment to 28 days.