'Blow-in Owen' hits back after jab from fellow councillor
TWEED Shire Councillor James Owen has hit back after his exclusive event with shock jock Alan Jones was dubbed "elitist” by colleague Reece Byrnes.
Cr Owen will be hosting the event next month with the famous broadcaster as part of his campaign to "Take Back Tweed” ahead of the 2020 council elections.
Following the announcement, Labor-affiliated Byrnes labelled the event as "elitist” due to its $120 cost per head and said Cr Owen was a "blow-in” who doesn't "understand us here in Tweed”.
"Hosting an expensive, exclusive dinner with a climate change sceptic shows that James Owen and his Liberal mates don't understand us here in Tweed,” Cr Byrnes said.
"Locals know that James Owen isn't one of us, and this pompous event proves it. This is why he's commonly known as 'Blow-in Owen'.”
But Cr Owen hit back, claiming the term "blow-in” was elitist and "alienating” due to the number of new residents settling in the Tweed.
"I find it elitist to call me a blow-in when so many people in Tweed have 'blown in' from other parts of Australia,” he said.
"In recent years we've seen a massive population increase of people from NSW, Queensland, Victoria. I think suggesting I'm an elitist because I've blown in from another part of the country is alienating a significant amount of the electorate.
"It comes down to class warfare to suggest I'm elitist, and how did that work out for Bill Shorten?”
Cr Owen said he believed paying $120 to see "Australia's number-one broadcaster and entertainer” was a fair price.
"Yes he's outspoken, yes he's controversial, but he picked the federal election result as he is so well informed and in touch with the people,” Cr Owen said.
"That's one thing I'm big on, being in touch with the electorate. With the amount of people saying they want to see change in Tweed, that's why I think the Take Back Tweed campaign is so important.”
Cr Owen said despite his differences with Cr Byrnes, the two were still "having a laugh about it” during the last council meeting.