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Kyogle residents fight World Rally motor race

Contents: A Kyogle district resident states the case against the motor race, The Repco FIA World Championship Rally is More Than a Koala can Bear, How the Kyogle District Chamber of Commerce, Rally Australia and the Kyogle Council imposed the motor race on local residents.

Residents of the Kyogle district of NSW, just south of the Queensland border, are organising to protect their way of life and local wildlife from the threat of an FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) World Rally motor race scheduled to be held in September 2009.

A Kyogle district resident states the case against the motor race

The following letter sent, recently to the Tweed Echo by Kyogle district resident Kathryn Kermode, states the priciple objections to the holding of the Repco FIA World Championship Rally in the area.

Gary Connelly from Repco Rally Australia seems to be surprised that many residents along the proposed route of his event are not welcoming him warmly.  We await Dr Steven Phillips environmental report with great interest, to see how Rally Australia will demonstrate protection of our threatened species, but this report will not address all of our serious concerns.

Noise.  We are residents of a quiet country road.  We want to attract tourists to our road who appreciate the natural virtues and who have the time to stop and look at the view.  Noise is not a new problem for the WRC (World Rally Championship), reading the Irish press reports it appears that the residents in Drumkeerin have summoned the organizers of the WRC to court over the noise.  They say "the previous rally held in November 2007 was held with total disregard for residents, their property and safety, and that the noise leading up to it caused total sleep deprivation and the "terrible" noise of the rally itself left animals and a disabled person traumatised."

Lack of Consultation.  The public community meetings, that were stacked with outsiders by the organisers, have not answered the serious concerns raised by the residents.  Repco Rally Australia has however successfully and derisively, divided our community and marginalized the residents.  It is a great shame that Events NSW who have handed over our taxpayers dollars did not consider the region and undertake a feasibility study prior to the event being placed in Northern NSW.  It seems the process of decision-making has been rushed and the event is being pushed through without true consultation and consideration of the community living along the stages.

Dangerous Copy Cats. The WRC is a dangerous sporting event.  Drivers, co-drivers and spectators have been killed during the WRC; Repco Rally Australia will be working hard to try to ensure this will not happen in our region.  They cannot however promise that there will not be a fatal accident and will have helicopters on site ready to airlift the wounded to hospital if necessary.  Have Repco Rally Australia considered that the residents do not want anyone dying at our mailboxes?  In fact, many residents do not want a high speed, long-term activity on our roads.  Existing research indicates a link between motor racing and road accidents.  Accident rates can be higher in localities that have been associated with a motor racing event, casualty accident rates on the public roads around Melbourne's Albert Park significantly increased when the public roads were used as a Formula One race circuit.

The majority of people attending the WRC are young males, a category already over represented in our region as road statistics.  This is not a family fun event, we are asking the wider community to fully consider the repercussions to our young drivers if nothing else.

Pollution and Resources. Rally Australia's carbon offsetting will not reduce the level of pollution that the residents who live on the route will be forced to endure.  All the dust, fumes, noise and the potential for fire that is created by a high speed motor sporting event of this scale.

Liberty and Amenity. Repco Rally Australia is removing our civil liberty and amenity.  They are restricting and removing access to our properties and the public roads that we pay our council rates money to upkeep.

The Cost. NSW taxpayers are footing the bill for the event.  Would you as a taxpayer rather the millions be spent on hospitals and education, or do you see this event, which has a non-viable record of accomplishment as a good choice for the NSW Government.  The amount of money that Events NSW has provided Repco Rally Australia with, should be disclosed and accounted for.

Community Aspiration.  Our community wants to collectively lighten our footprint on the earth.  We aspires towards principles of the organic industry; home grown, hand made, slow food, bird watching, bush walking, recycling and rainforest restoration are activities that we want to embrace and encourage for our region.  We would like to see the local B & B's full every weekend, we would like to see the verandahs in the village eateries bustling with customers every weekend, not overflowing and unable to cope once every second year.

The WRC will benefit a few financially in the short term, but it will carry a huge burden of cost for the residents in the long term.

Kathryn Kermode
Sargents Road

See also: "Tweed Shire Council General Manager, Director of World Rally Australia?" of 8 Apr 09, "World Rally is too noisy say residents" in the Sligo Champion of 19 Nov 08, "Damaged bridge 'won't impact on rally'" in the Leitrim Observer of 16 Jan 09, "Failure in bid to divert rally" in the Irish Independent of 11 Dec 08, "Noise pollution case against Rally Ireland dismissed" of 19 Dec 08,
"World Youth Day wash up" of 5 Feb 09 about how the supposedly cash-strapped NSW government, which is subsidising the rally in Northern NSW, squandered AU$120 million on World Youth Day last year.

The Repco FIA World Championship Rally is More Than a Koala can Bear

The following letter was published in the community newspaper Northern Rivers Talking Turkey on 25 Feb 09.

If the dumb animals could speak I wonder what they would say, would they ask for justice or compensation? The day after Rally Australia walking into Kyogle and divided the community with its fun map, I filmed Sargent the koala, about three meters from the ground in a grey gum, right beside Sargents Road.

Sargents Road has a known koala population, it is quite possibly a koala corridor as it is lined with schedule 2, koala feed tree species, it could even be core koala habitat. Why then would Kyogle Council and Rally Australia even consider it as a good option for their race map?

I ask Kyogle Council and Rally Australia, if Sargent the koala happens to be up in his tree, or any other tree, during the reconnaissance exercises or the race what will Gary Connelly and his troupe of volunteers do? Will they

a) Ignore the fact that there are koalas in the trees and race their cars up
to 200 kph

b) Poke it with a stick, throw things at it or try other methods to scare it
away.

c) Knock it out of the tree, catch it and take it away.

There is already a plan in place, it has been created by the Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) to ensure the survival of the koala in the wild and it is called the Recovery Plan for the Koala, published November 2008. It would be wise for Kyogle Council to recognize this and the value that koalas have for our Community, both in terms of their presence in our landscape but also their unfulfilled potential to attract the tourist dollar.

It would be foolish of Rally Australia to ignore our plea to protect our koala. We must as a Community realize that we need to protect our wild populations of koalas NOW. This iconic species is declining in nature, and is fast headed toward the Endangered List. We ask Rally Australia to think of the future. We cannot buy back the species once we have pushed it to the brink; it is not like offsetting carbon emissions.

One intelligent choice remains for all those involved: The World Rally Championship should immediately be re-routed away from koala habitat.

Kathryn Kermode

Sargents Road
Cawongla

How the Kyogle District Chamber of Commerce, Rally Australia and the Kyogle Council imposed the motor race on local residents

This was orignally published in a Kyogle District local newspaper wiht the title "Kyogle Rallying ..."

In a very embarrassing slip up, Gary Upson from Rally Australia accidentally sent an email intended for Arthur Piggott, Kyogle Council's General Manager, to one of the rally's opponents. In it, Gary Upson asked Arthur if he could get as many of his pro-rally supporters to the meeting and suggested that he would do the same from within the rally fraternity. Well, sure enough, that meeting had people from the Rally Fraternity coming all the way from Brisbane.

Rally Australia sponsor a website where they post Public Relations Statements (e.g. "Community Support, Economic Benefit And Green Policy Refute Rally Australia Critics"). These statements are sent out to the Media as Media Releases for Journalists who are obliged to rehash them into news items. One of their most recent stories is about Kyogle's District Chamber of Commerce giving their support, in principle, to the Rally. Rally Organisers asked pro-rally supporters to make their voices heard in the community, in the media, everywhere in order to drown out the voice of those against the rally but it is not the role of big business to attempt to divide our community through blatant lobbying. The most memorable demonstration of this divisive behavior was Rally Australia's stacking of February's Community Consultation meeting. In a very embarrassing slip up, Gary Upson from Rally Australia accidentally sent an email intended for Arthur Piggott, Kyogle Council's General Manager, to one of the rally's opponents. In it, Gary Upson asked Arthur if he could get as many of his pro-rally supporters to the meeting and suggested that he would do the same from within the rally fraternity. Well, sure enough, that meeting had people from the Rally Fraternity coming all the way from Brisbane. This debacle also reveals a possible politicisation of Kyogle Council's administrative staff, risky business given Council's previous track record. And by the way, who exactly requested a Police presence at the meeting? Is NSW Police also to be co-opted to the pro-rally agenda?

Where can Rally opponents turn when their own Council no longer represents their best interests ... ?

Where can Rally opponents turn when their own Council no longer represents their best interests but represents primarily the interests of a Client who will soon have a Development Application pending? I would argue that Rally Australia has a Public Relations strategy with malicious intent. I would also argue that Kyogle Council doesn't have the planning policies to even consider the World Rally Championship's Development Application. What have we got to lose if this project proposal is gone over with a fine toothed comb by a panel with expertise in all the issues it raises?

On Rally Australia's website, Kyogle Chamber of Commerce President, Councillor and Businesswoman, Ms Lynette Zito, claimed quite ingenuously, that the Chamber "did not ask the proposed rally to come here, but now that they are looking to hold this international event in our location we are looking at what we want to make of it." The reason the Chamber didn't invite the Rally may have something to do with the idea that it wasn't the kind of Sustainable business opportunity they were looking for. After fourteen separate workshops with community members in the preparation of Kyogle Council's Sense of Place Economic Statement, it was concluded that throughout "the consultation process the community has echoed a range of common desires. Whilst most recognize the need for economic development and growth, they fear the loss of their way of life and core cultural elements that build a sense of ownership and pride in their community." Too right they do!

At the Ordinary Council Meeting of April 21, an urgent motion to approve the Rally in principle was passed without further discussion. At the next Ordinary Council Meeting after that, in May, likewise, there was no further discussion. There have been no Feasibility Studies or Council Environmental Studies so I ask: How do we know the Rally will be good for our Town?

The people of Kyogle collectively identified the "environment, its protection and enhancement [as] a priority to the community as it is the reason why people chose this place to live." The statement revealed that the residents who attended the Council's workshops felt the Environment was critical to the growth of tourism in the area and was in fact its greatest attraction. So yes, why would these people invite a Motor Sporting event into the community? The truth is that it seemed nobody invited it except a few people who had discussed the issue with Kyogle Ex- Mayor Ernie Bennett. He met with the World Rally Championship organizers in mid April 2008. At the Ordinary Council Meeting of April 21, an urgent motion to approve the Rally in principle was passed without further discussion. At the next Ordinary Council Meeting after that, in May, likewise, there was no further discussion. There have been no Feasibility Studies or Council Environmental Studies so I ask: How do we know the Rally will be good for our Town? Did Mr Bennett know something more and did he pass the Arcane knowledge of such onto the new Mayor Mr Brown? That rushed and undebated urgent Motion was all that was needed for this Rally's Organisers to come speeding into our lives telling us what we should and should not be doing for the Rally and what is and isn't good for our Economy and our future. I hope the lesson of this is that more of us become involved in Local Council.

That rushed and undebated urgent Motion was all that was needed for this Rally's Organisers to come speeding into our lives telling us what we should and should not be doing for the Rally and what is and isn't good for our Economy and our future. I hope the lesson of this is that more of us become involved in Local Council.

Kyogle Council's Sense of Place Economic Statement placed great importance on the values and guiding principles that emerged from the Consultative Meetings it initiated saying that they articulated "those fundamental and common rules that should be applied in the planning and implementation of all future projects." That statement seems like a hollow one now. I believe the common thought about the Rally among Pro-rally supporters is that, like Lynette implies, it just fell into our lap and we should all make the most of it. We can't build an envisioned Sustainable Tourism Industry in such an undisciplined manner. We are sending mixed messages to those we previously encouraged, investors with Eco Tourism, Green and Organic Agriculture and Farm Gate to Plate projects, to name a few. Kyogle must be pro-active in determining its way forward without losing the unique identity of being Gateway to the World Heritage Gondwana Rainforests as well as a Gateway for its children into a reinvented 21st Century Rural Heartland.

Our young men don't need any more encouragement to find out the hard way that speed kills. Even being a spectator at a Motor Sports event is a dangerous activity and one which the World Rally Championship Organisers refuse to underwrite with any moral responsibility.

Motor Sports is an incompatible Eco activity, it is largely irrelevant to the Agricultural Industry and it can only undermine the very World Heritage Environmental values Kyogle's residents so obviously value. Our young men don't need any more encouragement to find out the hard way that speed kills. Even being a spectator at a Motor Sports event is a dangerous activity and one which the World Rally Championship Organisers refuse to underwrite with any moral responsibility. Before you even think about where you're going to find a park to watch the race from, I invite you to peruse this Confederation of Motor Sports' Indemnity clause for potential spectators to September's World Rally Championship. Would you sign it?

Jenny Bluefields

Form to indemnify rally orgnisers from legal liability arising from injury

Repco Rally Australia Tour: September 2-7, 2009.
Disclaimer
Exclusion of liability, release and assumption of risk motor sport is dangerous

In exchange for being able to attend or participate in the event, you agree:

to release Confederation of Australian Motor Sport Ltd ("CAMS") and Australian Motor Sport Commission Ltd, promoters, sponsor organisations, land owners and lessees, organizers of the event, their respective servants, officials, representatives and agents including Rally Sport Magazine and Rally Australia Pty Ltd (collectively, the "Associated Entities") from all liability for your death, personal injury (including burns), psychological trauma, loss or damage (including property damage) ("harm") howsoever arising from your participation in or attendance at the event, except to the extent prohibited by law;

that CAMS and the Associated Entities do not make any warranty, implied or express, that the event services will be provided with due care and skill or that any materials provided in connection with the services will be fit for the purpose for which they are supplied; and

to attend or participate in the event at your own risk.

You acknowledge that:

the risks associated with attending or participating in the event include the risk that you may suffer harm as a result of:

motor vehicles (or parts of them) colliding with other motor vehicles, persons or property;

acts of violence and other harmful acts (whether intentional or inadvertent) committed by persons attending or participating in the event; and

the failure or unsuitability of facilities (including grand-stands, fences and guard rails) to ensure the safety of persons or property at the event. motor sport is dangerous and that accidents causing harm can and do happen and may happen to you.

You accept the conditions of, and acknowledge the risks arising from, attending or participating in the event and being provided with the event services by CAMS and the Associated Entities.

Signed……………………………………………………………. Date ……………..

Comments

"motor sport is dangerous and that accidents causing harm can and do happen and may happen to you."

This is what Repco Rally Australia ask their guests to sign before they pay to join up for the show. What of the residents who have no choice?

Accidents causing harm can and do happen and may happen to you

Thanks Repco Rally Australia, but NO thanks.

(Subject was undescriptively "Please expand your knowledge" - JS)

Have you ever read an indemnity form for any sporting event, e.g, Horse Trail Riding, White Water Rafting, Rock Climbing etc? They are all the same and they don't all damage your environment.

Imagine thinking it is a good idea to run a high speed motor sort event such as the World Rally Championship along a koala corridor and through the habitat of a various threatened species.

These are a few of the Sargents Road koalas that will be subjected to the dust, noise and danger of the WRC. We wait to see if Repco Rally Australia will be so bold as to draw their finish line for this stage amonst the trees of Major Tom and Stevie the blind koala. Stevie will not even see the cars coming and could well become seriously disorientated by all the noise, I think that might be the same for all of us too.

contribute.abc.net.au/service/searchEverything.kickAction?as=32422&u=5141385&mediaType=photo&sortType=recent&tab=yes&includePhoto=on

As a past competitor and official of Australian Ralling I have no doubt about the ability and quality of the competitors who intend to compete in this event but I do have serious doubts about the so called benefits to the community, as they are almost zero, the hotels on the Gold Coast where the competitors are staying will do OK but forget the rest of the rubish you are hearing of thousands of spectators. If it was such a beneficial event why did WA get rid of it, why did QLD or VIC that has better roads not want it, simply financially it doesn't stack up. The sport rightly is comming under environmental scrutinisation for noise, emmissions, native animal and habitat destuction and social disruption not to mention what it does to the lower echilons of ralling itself as all the funds of advertisers and sponsors etc are utilised in this major event for predominatley the promotion of world teams with little or no significance to Australian competitors or the sport. Basicly NSW is spending its money to promote forign teams and sponsors whilst destroying our environment for the potential financial benefit of one or two directors. Wow hats a certain winner to northern NSW no wonder no one else want it.

Unfortunately not all of your information and concerns are correct. Today is Monday after the big event in the Kyogle region. Yes I will agreee that actual cash may not have been spent in all businesses in Kyogle on this weekend, but I can guarentee that our accomodation and food outlts did very well, and I thank all our visitors for that.

Yes we may all have some concerns about the environment and whether or not the businesses made money or not, BUT what about the excessive amounts of money that were made for charity. Fundraising on Webbs road, at the Moore Property, for a new Dialysis Machine for the Hospital was hugely successful and spectators from all around the world were more that willing to give the community a helping hand. Also the O'Reilly family at Ghinni Ghi road where there was another viewing area raised a large amount of money for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter. Without our outside visitors none of this would be possible. Let us also remember that both the hospital and the rescue helicopter do not discriminate between who they help in the community, they help all of us, and without this fundraising, ALL OF US DO NOT HAVE THESE FACILITIES.

One thing though, everyone has the right to protest peacefully, but when violence is involved, and the throwing of stones at passing cars, I am sorry I draw the line, this becomes terrorism.

You wrote, "Yes we may all have some concerns about the environment..." so my suggestion is that we concentrate on those concerns until we're sure that they are allayed and that the environment not be relegated to second or even third place in our minds behind the financial benefits for a few and a week's Entertainment. In relation to your points about the fundraising efforts for the Hospital and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, I ask: Why is the Government financing a car rally but the procuring of hospital dialysis machines rely on charity and why doesn't Westpac completely finance the operations of the Helicopter that bears its name and carries its most benevolent advertising message? Good on those tireless workers who always have these important and even essential services in the forefront of their minds. Without them we would be worse off but I'd like you to also spare a thought for those who work to protect the Environment for the benefit of all. At the moment, they feel they have been betrayed in their efforts by the State and Federal Governments. The Opponents of the Rally are all members of your Community and I doubt any one of them would deny helping a neighbour in trouble. Think about who they might be and how important they are in your main street as customers, friends, colour, education, artists, activists, protectors, volunteers, shop owners, workers ..... And please reserve your judgement about any Byrrill Creek stories until a review confirms that all of these things did actually happen, the reports are conflicting and alarmist and so are your allegations of Terrorism.

Dear Wait and See
I am glad you raised money for a much needed dialysis machine and the Westpac helicopter, but my question is why should you have to?? It is yours and my hard earned tax dollars that paid for the rally, and I for one would much rather see it go into causes like your hospital and the westpac chopper. I would much rather see it go into supporting the understaffed doctors who, according to recent news reports, admit killing people through being exhausted.
I also would like to let you know that there was no rock throwing. Despite blatantly untrue media stories, you know how they love a good beat up. They did not bother to show the hundreds of peaceful protestors simply holding signs by the road for hours "Mildly annoying protestors" just doesn't make a good headline. Mikko Hirvonen one of the drivers in the lead is on record saying he didn't see any rocks thrown, the police liason officer with the protestors all weekend was there and said "there was a report a missile, possibly a rock, hit one car" . Drivers who were there, protestors WHO WERE THERE, and rally staff who were there, all say NO ROCKS THROWN. We have tried and tried to get the media to be more honest in their reporting to no avail. They are also wrong in labelling us dole bludgers. We are teachers, doctors, nurses, business owners, farmers, retirees, parents, grandparents, ordinary people who care, just like you. We just happen to realise that changing the law to allow an otherwise illegal car rally to go ahead is undemocratic, that the environment of the region has been recognised as having biodiversity values equal to Kakadu and needs to be protected, and that we do not condone inappropriate use of public funds. The terrorism has been perpetrated by the government and the media, not by us. I wish you the best.

Peak oil has happened 2005 - 2008, having triggered the financial crisis. Australian oil production is in terminal decline. Very soon we are going to have physical oil shortages. No one will be interested in rallies any more. I recommend to read www.theoildrum.com

The IEA warns of shortages - "The next oil crisis is coming"
“The IEA in Paris is warning of a new, much more severe global economic crisis around 2013. The reason is that investments in oil from new projects are being canceled by large oil companies. If demand starts increasing in 2010, the oil price could explode, fire up inflation and put global growth at risk.” www.energybulletin.net/node/48582

Latest crude oil graphs
www.theoildrum.com/node/5416/504026