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Byron Shire Action Group

Meet Bruce Clarke

Bruce Clarke

Bruce’s decades of expertise in local government law, planning, policy and administration make him uniquely qualified to undertake the Byron Shire Mayoral responsibilities.

Mayoral Candidate

For 16 years Bruce acted extensively in local government, planning and environment matters for the Coffs Harbour City Council as well as other local councils including leading environmental cases litigated to the Full sitting of the High Court.

During this period, Bruce was involved in the process for the Coffs Harbour LEP. Bruce advised the council on planning implications and requirements for a range of complicated and controversial matters  including the major tourist developments on the Coffs Coast.

Bruce was appointed by several NSW Councils as a Conduct Reviewer for sensitive issues involving matters such as conflicts of interest by Councillors and senior management.

Since moving to Byron Bay nearly two decades ago, Bruce has played an integral part in:

  • Providing strategic advice and evidence in opposition to the Byron West development,
  • Spearheading the donation strategy for the Byron Community Centre’s COVID-19 welfare Initiatives which includes the Byron Emergency Pantry and providing social workers for referrals and assessments of the increased number of residents presenting with mental health issues exacerbated by COVID-19, and other vital programs to vulnerable community members including the Women’s Shower Service, the Severe Wet Weather Shelter and the Homeless Breakfast.
  • Engaging as a Committee Member of Byron Community Association, the Ewingsdale Community Association and member of Bangalow Koalas.
  • Supporting  a number of environmental protection initiatives including the Bentley blockade and reforestation to reinstate koala wildlife corridors.

Bruce has a long and active history of Environmental and Community engagement including:

  • Founding member, Sydney University Ecology Action Group
  • Successful campaigning against sand mining at Seal Rocks/Myall Lakes
  • Founding member, Coffs Harbour groups including Coffs Environmental Centre, Toxic Action Group and Koala Protection Group
  • NSW State Parliamentary candidate focused on opposition to the Proposed Sewage outfall at Emerald Beach
  • For several years, a Patron of the Warrina Womens Refuge, Coffs Harbour and the Respite Care Group.
  • Since 2003, Director and now Chairman of the Masterman Indigenous Trust, managing Considerable property assets  in Cairns, providing  teacher training and day care support for indigenous children throughout Cape York and the Torres Strait.

Local Government and Planning Experience

  • As a partner and managing partner at a major regional law firm for 16 years acted extensively in local government, planning and environment matters as solicitor for the Coffs Harbour City Council as well as other local councils and private clients. Matters included advising on the initial Coffs Harbour LEP, numerous contested DA’s and undertaking leading environmental cases litigated to the Full Court of the High Court.
  • As a State-appointed member of the NSW Joint Regional Planning Panel for 8 years helped determine scores of complicated development applications (DA) throughout the entire Sydney Metropolitan area and most of regional NSW.
  • As an Independent Member of the NSW Land and Property Management Authority Audit & Risk Committee oversaw Crown Land issues throughout the State.
  • Appointed for a four-year term as a Conduct Reviewer under the Local Government Code of Conduct Review Panels to Ballina, Clarence Valley, Lismore City, Port Stephens and Richmond Valley Councils.

Public Administration, Government and Financial Expertise

  • In addition to legal qualifications, Bruce’s economic qualifications led to roles including:-
  • Economics advice at the Australian Department of Industry & Manufacturing
  • Senior adviser to the NSW Government covering portfolios of Regional Development, Waterways, Public Works and Roads.
  • Director, Project and Structured Finance, and then Executive Director, Federal and State Government Liaison, for PricewaterhouseCoopers and subsequently Executive Director for Ernst & Young, he regularly liaised with senior Federal Ministers and Premiers and Treasurers of all mainland States to provide advice on major public private partnership infrastructure developments covering roads, rail, hospitals and schools.
  • As co-founder and Chairman of Allygroup has advised the NSW, Queensland and Federal Government on legal project management and cost control of external legal services.
  • As co-founder and Managing Partner of ACA Lawyers established a significant Sydney based class action law firm.


  • BA (Econ), University of Sydney 1973
  • LlB, Australian National University 1976
  • LEADR Mediator
  • Member, Australian Institute of Company Directors 2002