Fine threat for Repco protest
MAL SANDERSON believes all Australians have the right to express their opinions, so there was no way he was going to take down banners opposing the Repco Rally outside his home, despite threats from Kyogle Council to fine him $2000.
Mr Sanderson said on Tuesday a ranger from the council told him he would be fined because the signs were erected without an approved development application.
Yesterday Mr Sanderson won the right to sign-post his anger, after Kyogle Council 'clarified' their policy for signs on private land.
Kyogle Council's head of planning, John Hession, said council respected landowners' rights to put up signs for or against the rally.
“The erection of these signs without formal approval may place them at risk of litigation, should these signs be the cause of damage or injury,” Mr Hession said.
He said landowners needed to be sure the signs were secured and would not blow into the path of cars or reflect glare.
Mr Sanderson and his neighbours have put up 12 signs along 500m of Ghinni Ghi Road - the only section of the rally route to be broadcast by fixed roadside cameras to an estimated TV audience of 50 million.
The signs hang from trees, are posted on fences and are even painted on the side of grain bins.
“These aren't just signs, they are a democratic protest,” Mr Sanderson said.
But Mr Sanderson is unhappy about Kyogle Council's first reaction to his protest.
He said a Kyogle Council ranger arrived in his normally quiet street on Tuesday and threatened to fine him more than $200 because his two dogs were on the road.
“He had sat out there in his car and waited for my dogs to come off the veranda to him,” he said.
Mr Sanderson said after the ranger warned him he could be fined over the banners, he rang council to find out his rights.
“The ability to express our discontent with public authority, through means like signs, is absolutely bedrock to our democracy,” he said.
Mr Hession denied that council employees were motivated by pro-rally sentiments and said their prime consideration was public safety.
He said council would also be vigilant about keeping pets and livestock off the rally route.
“We are predominantly concerned with the safety of rally participants and the general public,” he said.