Sitting in the Cottesloe Council Chamber on 26 April 2016 listening to the allocated three minute public statements about the hazards of balloons took me back to Kununurra and the day this city mother, nurse and lawyer gutted a crocodile. Back to that later…
When word got out on social media that I had a motion up to ban balloons in Cottesloe, many people emailed me to ask how they could help. “Informed, factual but not too passionate public statements will do it”, I said. And you came!
When I attended a Tangaroa Blue Source Reduction Plan workshop in February, I had little knowledge about balloons being such a polluting hazard. However, my understanding for marine debris grew as I listened. When we made commitments at the end of the workshop, mine was to try to ban balloons in Cottesloe. As Suzuki said, think global, act local.
(Photos: Gunther Jank at Swanbourne Beach)
First I did some more research on the topic and gained more experience in the way Council works. This helped me to be comfortable with the situation that otherwise I would have found nerve-wracking.
Finally, I put up the Notice of Motion (this is how a Councillor gets something onto the agenda, which is otherwise prepared by the administration).
I was still nervous given my limited success to date on Council on issues that are important to me and the people who elected me.
But you all came!
Our Councillors and staff were shown graphic pictures of shearwater birds’ stomach contents stuffed with balloon detritus and a bird drowned from its legs being entrapped in balloon strings.
And this is what reminded me of my time in Kununurra… Back then I was cane toad busting as a volunteer with the Kimberley Toad Busters. We found dead freshwater crocodiles up and down the banks of the Victoria River and had to cut them open and look in their stomachs to work out how many cane toads it takes to kill a crocodile. How many you ask? Not many, we found …. The same gruesome story can be told about balloons and wildlife.
Thanks to all the extraordinary presenters, my Notices of Motion were adopted unanimously as follows:
- Use of balloons and balloons inflated with a gas that causes them to rise in the air is prohibited for use by the Town of Cottesloe for its own events.
- All events approved by the Town of Cottesloe will be conditioned to prohibit the use of balloons and balloons inflated with a gas that causes them to rise in the air.
- The Town of Cottesloe administration will produce a report to Council about making a by-law to prohibit balloons and the intentional release of balloons inflated with a gas that causes them to rise in the air in the Town of Cottesloe, having regard to NSW Schedule 1 Amendment of Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (Section 3) and Local Law No. 3 (Community Health and Environment Management) 2011, by October 2016 Council meeting.
Thank you to everyone involved for the inspiration and support!
Town of Cottesloe Councillor Sandra Boulter