Lazarus walks to save the Greens
By Alex Easton
CONTROVERSIAL Byron councillor John Lazarus has quit The Greens party after a dramatic meeting in which Byron mayor Jan Barham threatened to resign if he were not suspended.
The decision means The Greens now have only three members on Byron Shire Council. Cr Lazarus will serve out the rest of his term, and may contest next year's election as an independent.
Cr Lazarus had been appealing against a suspension by the party's complaints committee, laid down in October, over 11 incidents, such as one last year when he was accused of verbally abusing two women handing out flyers for developer Becton.
Cr Lazarus yesterday said he quit in the interests of the party at last Thursday's appeal meeting, when Cr Barham dramatically announced either he go or she would.
"I took the only option, which was to resign rather than allow the mayor to resign, which would have created a great deal of instability for the party," he said.
Cr Lazarus said Cr Barham delivered her ultimatum late in the meeting when it became clear the members would not suspend him. And he accused Cr Barham of trying to get him out of The Greens to appease business groups, such as Byron United.
Byron-Ballina Greens convenor John Bailey said Cr Barham and fellow Greens councillors Tom Tabart and Richard Staples all lodged complaints with the party about Cr Lazarus's behaviour, which had led to his original suspension.
And he rejected Cr Lazarus's version of how the meeting played out, saying it was clear he didn't have the numbers to avoid suspension.
Cr Barham said she delivered her ultimatum after more than three hours of debate over 'the parameters of a suspension' for Cr Lazarus.
She rejected Cr Lazarus's suggestion he was being made a scapegoat, saying that she had held repeated meetings with him asking him to curb his behaviour.
And the pressure may not ease up for Cr Lazarus, with Cr Barham saying the council could also act take action.