LAST year's controversial Repco Rally Australia through the Tweed and Kyogle shires caused the deaths of about 14 animals, but the ecologist monitoring the event says he was more shocked by the
actions of local people.
“We now appear to be a community divided by ideologies,” long-term Tweed resident Dr Stephen Phillips told Tweed Shire councillors at a special briefing session on the impact of the rally yesterday afternoon.
Dr Phillips said the animals killed were mainly reptiles and small birds but did include one red-necked wallaby which was in a mob of wallabies probably chased by a dog into the path of rally cars.
He said no threatened species was killed.
Dr Phillips said the world rally event held in the Tweed and Kyogle shires last September brought out the worst in people who had posted “lies” on the internet and emailed him abuse.
“We copped abuse all through the process from both sides of the argument ... you just couldn't win,” he said.
“I was let down by people I had respected.”
Dr Phillips gave a detailed explanation to councillors of the studies he undertook of wildlife along rally stages, recommendations rally organisers followed in changing routes and the monitoring of impacts his Murwillumbah-based company Biolink and volunteers conducted.
All councillors, apart from strident rally oppon- ent and Greens Party councillor Katie Milne, attended the session.
Cr Milne was at an environmental sustainability conference in Victoria, having failed to convince other councillors to change the date of the briefing session.
Dr Phillips expressed his disappointment that Landcare groups and even his local Rotary club – Murwillumbah Rotary – failed to take up Repco Rally Australia offers to provide funds for tree-planting as part of a carbon-offset .
“I've tried for months to get a local carbon offsetting program. The doors were closed every time,” he said.
He also told of a dissected dead duck which had the head of a domesti- cated mallard and the body of a different species thrown onto a rally route.
No Rally Group spokeswoman Andrea Vickers said while the group was happy more animals were not killed, the “body count” was not the point.
She said no wildlife lover would mess around with a dissected duck, but whoever was responsible “got one thing right: the whole event is a dead duck”.