Rally bill 'erodes rights'
SPECIAL legislation which gave Repco Rally Australia the go ahead last week has been described by opponents to the event as an affront to democracy.
A briefing on the legislation at Uki on Saturday afternoon, hosted by the Environmental Defender's Office (EDO), attracted more than 80 people who heard the legislation had left the community with no local input into the event.
Solicitor Sue Higginson, of the EDO, said people were alarmed about the erosion of their rights.
“There were a lot of questions about legalities and what their rights are to protest the event and what they can do,” Ms Higginson said.
“People were shocked as to the extent which the legislation circumvents the proper laws of New South Wales.
“The Government, by approving this legislation for this type of event is an affront to democracy.”
The Motor Sports Bill was passed despite opposition from the Greens and some independents; however the Opposition managed to secure an amendment for a review to be undertaken following the first event.
According to Ms Higginson the legislation not only took away power from local councils to approve the event, it also left no path of recourse through the courts.
She said the biggest issue now was the conditions that State Development Minister Ian MacDonald would impose on the rally.
“There are still ways for the community to put forward views to the Minister; there is power under the act for the Minister to put provisions on the event,” she said. “Members of the community will continue to lobby the Minister and people are looking at their options and what type of pro- test options they could take.”
No Rally Group president Michael McNamara said the meeting reinforced views the legislation was anti-demo- cratic.
“This is an outrageous and appalling attack on hard-fought laws that protect the environment and the local community,” Mr McNamara said.
“The rally breaches seven or more significant state laws, and it would be called a crime, but this government has put through special legislation to endorse it at the behest of a Paris-based organisation running an event purely for profit.
“I don't know what it is about politicians and petrol fumes, but it seems to be an unnatural attraction.
“It happened with Homebush and the V8 Supercars and now it has happened here.
“The Government is prepared to override its own legislation and disenfranchise local communities for private, sectional interests.”
Along with fears for the safety of wildlife, one of the central concerns aired at the meeting was the approval for a helicopter to take up to 50 flights a day from its Kingscliff pad during the “rally period”, but Mr McNamara said no one yet knew how long that period would be.