MardiGrass plan is smoking

ORGANISERS of Nimbin's MardiGrass are breathing a little easier about their event going ahead this year after a meeting with Lismore City Council this week .

"Council is very impressed with our DA, and that is thanks to the legal help we got from Southern Cross University students," said Michael Balderstone, spokesperson for the MardiGrass organisers.

MardiGrass organisers tried to do things differently this year, hoping to eliminate the need for a DA, Balderstone said, but it turned out they needed a DA for "everything".

"A few weeks ago [the council] sent us a very heavy lawyer's letter threat- ening an injunction and litigation if anything went ahead without proper permit, so we were put in a corner."

Fortunately for organisers, the secretary of the Hemp Embassy, Jim Moylan, also happens to be an honours law student at Southern Cross University, and was happy to help.

"I wrote the DA in three days; it would normally take at least a couple of weeks," Moylan said. "It was remarkably straightforward.

"The difficulty is that the hippies are just trying to run a protest, but after 20 years it has become a whole village event."

It's also an event that's worth a lot of money to the region, he said.

"A couple of years ago a pair of tourism and business students did a study on the effect of MardiGrass on the Northern Rivers economy and found that it was worth more than $2.3 million."

Council's manager, development and compliance, Peter Jeuken, said: "Council is pleased to have received a Development Application from the MardiGrass organisers and it will go on public exhibition shortly."

Pending approval, the MardiGrass is scheduled to go ahead on May 5-6.



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