Mayor’s message archive | Redland City Council

Mayor’s message archive

Congratulations Redlands Coast! The way you have continued to rally to keep our community safe since COVID-19 emerged six months ago is quite exceptional.

How we have cared for each other through practising social distancing and complying with health directives, as well as accepting and supporting measures to restrict the spread of coronavirus, really is a hallmark of the Redlands Coast way of life.

As recently seen, the pandemic is far from over and the effects will last for some time yet.

People have lost their jobs and businesses have suffered as a direct result of the coronavirus and your Council is now working to repair that and restart our local economy to provide new opportunities.

We are urging everyone in our community to “buy local” and wherever possible support local businesses to protect and create local jobs.

As one of Redland Coast’s largest employers, we are taking up the challenge by ensuring that we spend locally to create local jobs.

That’s why Restarting Redlands Coast is at the heart of Council’s record $327 million budget for 2020-21 which provides a $3 million safety net for those most impacted by the pandemic.

While Council’s finances have taken a multi-million-dollar hit, this year’s budget includes an expanded $80 million capital investment in the city aimed at generating and preserving local jobs and adding to and sustaining vital community infrastructure and services. A significant part of this record spend is thanks to the strong financial reserves that we built for a situation such as this.

Council’s $3 million COVID support packages have already benefited close to 100 businesses directly with grants topping $370,000 and many more indirectly via business advice and assistance in accessing state and federal support packages from Council’s dedicated business support officers, who have also been helping social enterprises, community groups and sporting clubs.

We are also working compassionately with residents, businesses and clubs seeking financial relief.

The full impacts of the COVID pandemic won’t be known until after support such as the Federal Government’s Job Keeper program have ended, which is why as part of this year’s budget, Council adopted a deliberate strategy of putting $1 million aside to provide relief when that need is better understood. This may be through rates relief, further business support or grants to the community; we will keep an eye on the impacts and have that money on hand to respond when and where it is needed most.

Along with our local chamber of commerce and business groups, we continue to work with the state and federal governments to bring forward shovel-ready projects for Redlands Coast. That effort is already proving fruitful and we want as much of this work as possible to go to local firms and local workers.

The likelihood is that domestic travel, particularly to Queensland, will be in vogue for some time yet and we are well placed to tap into that market with Council launching a major campaign, Reconnect on Redlands Coast, to attract visitors to our naturally wonderful city, especially from the greater Brisbane area.

Councillors are united in their deep commitment to steering us through these times and I have no doubt that, by working together, buying local together and continuing to care for each other the way we have, we will emerge stronger and even more resilient.

What a remarkable year this has been for Redlands Coast! As a community, so much has been done to make our city a better place for future generations. 

At this very moment, the first long-term Queensland trial of an automated driverless shuttle is happening on a Redlands Coast road as part of our search for future transport solutions; we have the first of what we hope will be many streets made from recycled hard plastics; and we are extracting gas from a former landfill site which is being used to power homes.

As residents prepare to enjoy the festive season and our naturally wonderful lifestyle, you can do so knowing that our community estate - the area owned and managed by Council for the benefit of the community - is now also much, much bigger thanks to the purchase of 70ha of strategic land for future generations.

Following last year's purchase of the 6.7ha Department of Agriculture and Fisheries property at Alexandra Hills, Council has added the equally strategically important blocks near the historic lighthouse at Cleveland Point and is in the final stages of acquiring the almost 62ha site off Old Cleveland Road East known as the Birkdale Commonwealth Lands.

All provide once-in-generation opportunities - from nature-based tourism to conservation - and Council will be discussing these with residents.

Our heritage assets have also received a boost. Following Council's acquisition of the pioneering Willard's Farm at Birkdale, a conservation management plan has been completed and heritage experts have prepared detailed records and engineering assessments for the property to ensure its future. The historic Station Master's Cottage, relocated by Council to the Cleveland historical precinct, also has started its new life as home to the Redlands Centre for Women.

Council's investment in community infrastructure can be measured by the joy in local neighbourhoods with almost $9.5 million invested in parks and sportsfields this year. Work has started on planning the sportsfields of the future at our new Heinemann Road sporting facility at Mt Cotton, while Stage 2 of Thornlands Community Park is underway.

I am also excited by the impact the massive investment in our popular IndigiScapes centre, which is due to fully reopen in February, will have on environmental education and tourism. Another major stride on that front has been the rolling out of the Redlands Coast - naturally wonderful brand for our city and the traction that it has gained in such a short time.

While all of the above are significant and tangible achievements, Council has not rested there. I am also excited by the opportunity a South-East Queensland bid for the 2032 Olympic Games could bring for Redlands Coast, especially through the fast-tracking of the major transport infrastructure projects that we desperately need and the prospect of an Olympic-standard whitewater precinct.

This facility would not only be a breeding ground for tomorrow's sports stars, it would be somewhere local families can play and enjoy all that our naturally wonderful Redlands Coast has to offer. Importantly, it could be the bait we need to hook the State Government infrastructure we have been trying to land for some time. That is why we have been part of the SEQ Olympics journey from the beginning. We believe it will be a catalyst for major transport projects such as the Eastern Busway and Cleveland rail duplication and it supports our efforts to provide for future generations of Redlanders.

You will find stories about many of these initiatives in this edition.

To all residents, please have a happy and safe Christmas and New Year.

Come on Canberra!

Now that the Federal election is over it is time for Canberra to hear what is important to Redlands Coast.

I will be heading to Canberra next month to speak with the newly sworn in Federal Cabinet about what we as a community need from our Federal pollies.

On top of the list will be internet connectivity, support for local businesses and working with the State Government to deliver upgrades to the Redlands Hospital and much needed transport infrastructure.

I am keen to hear what other projects and initiatives you would like me to take to Canberra, let me know by emailing

Community solidarity for DV.

Saturday 18 May was about so much more than a Federal election for the Redlands Coast… it was also the day that our community again showed its solidarity in combatting domestic and family violence through my annual fundraiser Diner en Rouge.

Now in its fifth year, this annual fundraiser has now raised more than $330,000 to support those in our community impacted by domestic and family violence, showing the depth of our generosity as a community.

This included yet another very generous donation of $50,000 from very generous philanthropist and long-term Redlander Dan Holzapfel, through the Redland Foundation.

On the night I was privileged to donate $250,000 of the funds to Maybanke Accommodation and Crisis Support Service, to help them continue doing the fantastic work they do in our community.

This year’s event was attended by about 250 people who heard from inspiration guest speaker Rebecca Poulson about her own tragic experience with domestic and family violence.

With May being Domestic and Family Violence Awareness month, what better way to show our support as a community then by standing together and raising much needed funds and awareness for the cause?

Thank you Redlands Coast.

The starter’s pistol hasn’t gone quite yet for this year’s Federal election, but the runners are certainly gathering at their blocks.

With Canberra about to swing into full election mode, Council recently adopted an advocacy plan that outlines the key infrastructure and initiatives we want our Federal candidates to commit to.

Earlier this month I took this advocacy plan to Canberra and presented it to both sides of politics in the hope of securing commitments during the upcoming election.

Key amongst the asks is the Birkdale Commonwealth land, which Council has being trying to secure for the community for a number of years. 

I recently wrote to the Prime Minster and Opposition Leader asking them to gift the land to Council so we can protect the environmental and heritage values of the land.

Another key project in our advocacy document is the Surf Life Saving Centre of Excellence.

Council and SLSQ remain committed to this project, which would be the first of its kind in the nation, but we need both the State and Federal Governments to commit funding for it to become a reality.

Our advocacy document also requested federal funding for key transport projects, including the duplication of the Cleveland Rail line, island ferry terminals and extension of the Eastern Busway to Capalaba.

Council will keep fighting hard for all projects in our advocacy document, but you can help. Council has adopted a #ComeonCanberra campaign, designed to lobby the Federal Government for the projects we need most.

You can use the hashtag and key asks in the document to lobby our local candidates. Together we can help fight for our fair share.

View the Redlands Coast Federal Election Priorities [PDF, 2.0MB]

I would like to take this opportunity to wish each of you all the best for Christmas and the New Year.

For most of us this is a wonderful time of year when we look forward to catching up with family and friends and enjoying our great lifestyle. Unfortunately, for some it also can be a time of domestic unrest. I believe every Redlander deserves to feel and be safe in their own home and workplace.

But I am also a realist and know that there will be incidents despite our best efforts to stop domestic and family violence. We desperately need more crisis accommodation in our area for those seeking to escape violence in the home and I have been working closely with the State Government and the Maybanke Accommodation Crisis Support Centre on a project which will go a long way to easing that dire shortage. I have fingers crossed that, by this time next year, the crisis accommodation we have proposed will be close to being realised.

Community support for this cause has been truly outstanding, showing just how much awareness there is of the effects of domestic and family violence and how much dedication there is to doing something about it. This support is epitomised by the generous action of a Redlands Coast high school student recently.

This humble young woman donated $50 of her birthday money to the cause because she wanted to make a difference. An incredibly heartwarming gesture, it added to the almost $250,000 that has already been raised by the Redlands Coast community through people’s generosity and our annual Dîner en Rouge fundraiser.

That fund is expected to swell further with a collection again planned at our big community carols event, Christmas by Starlight, on Saturday 15 December. Every contribution will help, no matter how small, so please take a few coins along with your picnic blankets and chairs. You will find more about Christmas by Starlight on the back of this newsletter.

A contribution by the State Government matching the amount that our community has already raised will mean the foundations can finally be laid for the increased support that is needed. The task, however, will not end there.

Domestic and family violence of any kind is unacceptable and I will continue to use my civic voice to advocate for change.

When our loved ones leave home in the morning we all want them to return safely and as quickly as possible.

It is this simple but important desire to spend more time where we are going and less time getting there, that is at the heart of our Redlands Coast Transport Strategy.

This strategy is the beginning of our transport journey, setting the planning, advocacy and behaviour to support our growing community.

While this strategy sets the high-level framework for our transport journey, it is only the beginning; the implementation plans that flow from it will be where the rubber hits the road through the identification of on the ground priorities and projects. These implementation plans will show residents what improvements, projects and initiatives they will see in their neighbourhoods and along their daily commute.

The journey to a more effective and efficient transport network is not one that will be completed overnight; nor is it one that Council will take alone.  Indeed many of the major transport opportunities across the Redlands Coast sit with the State Government, including the majority of roads in and out of the city, public transport and rail. 

This is why a key part of this strategy will be to advocate to other levels of government and encourage them to prioritise the projects, road upgrades and public transport services our community needs.   

Another important partner on our transport journey will be the community and a key part of this strategy will be engaging with residents, businesses, schools and transport partners to hear what transport issues and opportunities you believe are important. 

I am excited to be taking the first steps on our transport journey and look forward to working with you to ultimately help our residents get where they need to go safer, easier and faster.

Redland City Council’s #PledgeNot2Sledge campaign is gathering momentum, with you – our community champions – getting behind the push to raise the level of respect on social media.

Council believes that through community action we can start a movement to rid social media of harassment, bullying, abuse and other inappropriate behaviour.

We can start with ourselves – parents, community workers, politicians, adults in general. Let’s get back to leading and teaching our kids by example. How can we encourage children to stop online abuse if they continually see adults disrespecting each other?

Our #PledgeNot2Sledge campaign is asking people to stop and think about how they use social media and to ensure they engage with others the way they would like to be treated themselves.

It starts with you – everyone reading this can be a community champion for the cause, joining the likes of Totally Wild presenter Ranger Stacey.

Please spread the message and be part of positive social change. 

Innovation and smart technology are terms that have become part of common vernacular in today’s society, but some residents may be asking what do they actually mean?

Recently I have seen a number of examples of how innovative thinking can support the community.

In September 2017, Redland City was named along with Logan as the recipient of a $1 million grant from the State Government to drive a local innovation sector.

This program aims to support local innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly the creation of local jobs of the future – something which is becoming increasingly important as traditional jobs disappear.

Redland-specific programs to emerge from this partnership will include a series of innovation summits that will highlight best practice in innovation and investment opportunities to targeted sectors of the Redlands economy.

A series of free monthly entrepreneurial events is also being planned which will be open to all through Griffith Business School.

Council will also be partnering with Redlands Chamber of Commerce to match innovation businesses with mentors and “angel investors” – individuals prepared to inject capital for start-ups.

Council also continues to explore innovation and smart technology through our partnership with the SEQ Council of Mayors, as well as the Local Government Association of Queensland. Through these partnerships we are exploring technology to make it easier for you to communicate with Council and each other, expanding business and education opportunities.

Recently I returned from a business delegation in Asia where innovation and smart technology is rapidly evolving.  Everything from autonomous vehicles to smart precincts are becoming common place in Asia and we are keen to bring a taste of this technology to the Redlands in some form. 

We have also started looking at innovative transport solutions.  With little help coming from the State Government in this space Council is taking it upon itself to look for solutions and I hope to be able to say more about this in the near future. 

So what does all this mean for our residents?  Ideally the end game is to create an environment where locals can interact with people and businesses on a global setting. When the time is right we will need local innovators to take up the mantle so stay tuned to be part of tomorrow’s innovation movement.

We Redlanders are fiercely proud of our city, so who better to help shape a new city brand than the residents who love to live, work and play in this special part of the world?

Council’s Our Redlands campaign is harnessing community spirit to create a new city brand.  This new brand will help boost its economic future and build on our already fierce community pride.

We want you to become 'Redland brand champions', using your networks to tell the world why the Redlands is such a great place to live and visit and why you are so proud to be a Redlander.

There are many thousands of voices within our city and we want to make sure as many of you as possible are heard.

Creating a brand for our city – a message defined and promoted by those who live here – was identified as one of six key priorities by Councillors after the last election.

We know the Redlands already is a great place to live, so we want to capture the essence of our identity, not change it.

We want to distill everything that is outstanding about the Redlands into a message that will celebrate the Redlands’ spirit and capture our united pride in this incredible city we call home.  

The city brand will also communicate to those unfortunate enough to have to live outside our city about why they should visit here, spend here, invest here and create businesses here to employ Redlanders.

The city brand is much more than a logo. And as the people of the Redlands, you are the heart and soul of the Redlands brand.

By becoming a 'Redland brand champion', you will be generating local prosperity, fostering city pride and defining the values and emotions that sum up the Redlands.

I encourage you to get involved over the next few months through online surveys,  community brainstorming, competitions, workshops and pop-up displays around the city. There are also great prizes!

As part of building the brand, Council is seeking your stories about living or growing up in the Redlands and what the city means to you. For me, it was swimming in Tingalpa Creek and going to local Polish clubs every week as a child with my parents.

Please send your stories to or get involved in the project by visiting Council's dedicated consultation hub, Your Say Redland City.

The $1.4 billion Toondah Harbour project took a significant step when Commonwealth Minister for Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg gave the greenlight to progress the environment referral application. To be clear, this decision is not an approval, and means the Walker Group proposal can now be assessed through an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

There has been a great deal of public commentary on the alleged environmental impacts of the Toondah Harbour project, including claims it will impact shore bird habitats and seagrass due to the dredging required as part of the upgrade. I would suggest, however, that these comments are premature given the project has not yet been assessed through an Environmental Impact Statement, which is when the environmental impacts and benefits will be measured.

It is also important to remember what Toondah Harbour is currently used for - namely a commercial ferry terminal that is the main departure point for Straddie.  This area has been regularly dredged for years to allow these ferries access in and out of Toondah Harbour, so we know the harbour can be dredged responsibly - we know this because it already happens.

I am as committed as anyone to ensuring the environmental credentials of this important project stack up and the only way that can be determined is through an EIS. The decision on Friday will finally enable this occur.

It is also an exciting step for our city’s economic future with the potential for this project to generate more than 1000 jobs per annum during the construction phase, 500 jobs per annum post construction. A revitalised harbour will encourage more than 45,000 additional visitors to the region every year, equating to a potential $21 million per annum in tourism revenue and $78 million per annum in additional retail expenditure for the region.

Of course none of these benefits outweigh our region’s environmental character, and the EIS will ensure these benefits are balanced with the environmental protection of our city.  Most importantly, the EIS will also provide residents with a chance to have their say on the project.

Public notification will form part of the EIS Terms of Reference and the EIS process itself. The EIS is not controlled by Council nor do we have any say in its outcome.

We recognise its importance to residents and will do our best to keep you informed about how you can get  involved. Public notifications will also be advertised in the paper so keep an eye out to have your say.

Last Friday the $1.4 billion Toondah Harbour project took a significant step when Commonwealth Minister for Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg gave the greenlight to progress the environment referral application. To be clear, this decision is not an approval, and means the Walker Group proposal can now be assessed through an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

There has been a great deal of public commentary on the alleged environmental impacts of the Toondah Harbour project, including claims it will impact shore bird habitats and seagrass due to the dredging required as part of the upgrade.  I would suggest, however, that these comments are premature given the project has not yet been assessed through an Environmental Impact Statement, which is when the environmental impacts and benefits will be measured.  It is also important to remember what Toondah Harbour is currently used for - namely a commercial ferry terminal that is the main departure point for Straddie.  This area has been regularly dredged for years to allow these ferries access in and out of Toondah Harbour, so we know the harbour can be dredged responsibly - we know this because it already happens.  I am as committed as anyone to ensuring the environmental credentials of this important project stack up and the only way that can be determined is through an EIS. The decision on Friday will finally enable this occur.  It is also an exciting step for our city’s economic future with the potential for this project to generate more than 1000 jobs per annum during the construction phase, 500 jobs per annum post construction. A revitalised harbour will encourage more than 45,000 additional visitors to the region every year, equating to a potential $21 million per annum in tourism revenue and $78 million per annum in additional retail expenditure for the region. Of course none of these benefits outweigh our region’s environmental character, and the EIS will ensure these benefits are balanced with the environmental protection of our city.  Most importantly, the EIS will also provide residents with a chance to have their say on the project.  Public notification will form part of the EIS Terms of Reference and the EIS process itself.  The EIS is not controlled by Council nor do we have any say in its outcome.

We recognise its importance to residents and will do our best to keep you informed about how you can get  involved.  Public notifications will also be advertised in the paper so keep an eye out to have your say.

For Redland City to keep pace with change, we have to plan now for our future.

Council took a first step in this direction with the ground-breaking RedGen Youth Forum held on Friday, 7 April, at Redlands Performing Arts Centre. The idea for the event came from our Economic Development Advisory Board.

RedGen was the first in a series of forums Council has planned around the influence of innovation in the economic future of the Redlands.

Our youth of today will be our innovators and leaders of tomorrow so it made good sense for us to ask them how they saw the future.

The forum was also to identify attractors and impediments to young people working, living and playing in the Redland City Council area; to share their ‘big ideas’ to make Redlands a better place to pursue their professional or entrepreneurial goals; explore how these ideas could become reality; harness the expertise of participants; and create an enduring network.

Our young people are at the forefront of the next creative generation in art, music, literature, design and adaptive technology. They have the ideas, and need the space and opportunity to express them.

It is this spirit of innovation and creative thinking we want to embrace for our economic future.

It is no secret that our youth is one of the City’s biggest exports.

As our students, graduates and young workers leave the Redlands, they take valuable knowledge, skills and experience with them.

Many young people are leaving the Redlands in search for opportunities elsewhere, and this is a significant challenge for the City’s economic growth.

It is essential we act now to determine what we need to do to ensure the City’s long-term future as a sustainable community where young people want to be.

A recent survey of young people in the Redlands revealed lifestyle was the top response in answer to the question of what would influence you to stay in the Redlands?

We must be careful to ensure our planning strikes the right balance.

While we are working towards delivering the development and infrastructure required to provide jobs, affordable housing and efficient transport – which the survey results very clearly showed were also important to young Redlanders – we need to ensure this is not at the expense of our beautiful natural environment and laid-back lifestyle.

And while we want to slow the exodus of youth and talent from our City, we also want to attract new energy by making the Redlands a destination of choice for young people.

So what more can we do?

A very good place to start is by asking the community leaders and pacemakers of the future: What you think would make the Redlands a great place to live, work and play?

Our youth deserve the chance to have a real voice and genuine input into charting their own future.

We anticipate the next steps will include partnerships with many different stakeholders – industry, local businesses, educational institutions and, of course, government.

Redland City can confidently boast some of the best schools in the State.  We are fortunate to have quality education providers in both State and non-state sectors.

The education offering has been significantly enhanced with the opening this year of The Sycamore School at the Alexandra Hills TAFE campus and the nearby Ruby & Ollie’s All Abilities childcare centre on Windemere Road.

The Sycamore School is a first for the Redlands. It is a P-6 school for students with autism spectrum disorder. The new school provides an inclusive environment with educational programs supported by allied health, aimed at achieving student academic, social, emotional and behavioural goals.

The curriculum model has the child at the centre, with an extensive support network. Programming is focused on everything about the child and what makes them unique.

Ruby & Ollies is another first – established by two mothers of young children who found a void for children with additional needs and decided to do something about it. 

The centre helps support parents and caregivers by offering holistic childcare in a home away from home environment. The founders’ vision is to see inclusive childcare become normal practice. They say there are countless physical, cognitive, emotional and social benefits for children who are able to play and be educated in a holistic care environment.

Ruby & Ollies complements the other quality childcare services on offer throughout Redland City.

While the youth of Redlands have been well served with quality schools and colleges, there was a distinct shortage of training opportunities.

Enter the Australian Industry Trade College at the start of the 2016 school year. AITC has been a huge success and is now celebrating its first anniversary and entering its second year of schooling and training of students.

A number of students have already signed up for apprenticeships as they finish their final years of secondary schooling.

AITC has been well supported by local businesses who have seen the potential and have unhesitatingly signed up by offering apprenticeship and job opportunities for students.

Redland City Council is proud to have played a role in either enticing or assisting the three new players in establishing themselves in Redland City.

One of the many strengths of Redland City is the quality of its residents and their commitment to their community. We are fortunate indeed that we have so any people who are willing to give something back to the place they love.

People like our newest Order of Australia recipients, Elizabeth Parkinson (Birkdale), Glynn Topfer (Thornlands), Edward “Tony” Brown (Dunwich) and Deirdre Hargreaves (Ormiston) are all long-time servants of our community who deserve this accolade.

It gave me great pleasure recently to officiate at the annual Redland City Citizen of the Year Awards, held for the first time at the impressive new Alexandra Hills Convention Centre.

My announcement of Denis Ryan as Citizen of the year was roundly applauded, and is fitting reward for Denis’s many years of hard work within our local community.

Young Citizen of the Year is teenage soprano on the rise Leah Lever, Senior Citizen is Col Cunningham, Ian and Judy Wintle took the Local hero Award, the Community Organisation Award was shared by the Redlands Centre for Women and Bayside Vehicle Restorers Club, the Environment and Sustainability Award went to Michael Wilson and the Sports Award to Paralympian Daniel Fox.

A special cheer was reserved for our own Town Crier, Max Bissett, who won the Cultural Award and showed those in attendance his special talent that has him hailed as one of the town crying greats.

Redland City also punches well above its weight in the sporting arena with a multitude of representative achievements in a range of sports.

In recent times we have seen surfer of the future Ethan Ewing, of North Stradbroke Island, living up to his “next big thing” tag with a popular victory in the World Junior Surfing Championships. Ethan is the youngest rookie on the world professional circuit and is tipped to make big waves this year and into the future.

On the cricket field young Redlander Sam Heazlett continued his meteoric rise by being selected in the Australian one-day squad who recently completed a short tour of New Zealand. He made his international debut in the first one-dayer at Eden Park, Auckland.

Sam was earmarked for bigger things with a sensational start to his first class career with a century and eight half centuries from his first 13 games. He has also made a name for himself in the shorter version Big Bash, where he has been batting at No 3 for semi-finalists the Brisbane Heat.

On behalf of Redland City I would like to congratulate all Australia Day honours and award winners and our sporting stars for their achievements and to wish them all the very best for the future.

As the year comes to an end I want to take this opportunity to thank all Redlanders for their support during 2016.

This has been an exceptionally busy year, with the new Council hitting the ground running after the March local government elections.

I was privileged to be returned as Mayor and, together with the new Council, got down to work, setting the foundations for the next four years and ensuring we work as a united team to deliver for the city.

The Budget was our first major task and, in a unanimous decision, we were able to again balance the books and deliver a $77 million capital works program while keeping rates at a minimum for a fifth successive year.

As we all look towards the festive season, I also would like to look back over some of our major highlights as a community.

In January, we awarded our annual Australia Day awards with serial volunteer Adrian Addicott winning this year’s top gong.  Almost a year on, Adrian continues his enormous volunteering commitments with community groups and is often seen at local events. I understand there is a very strong field of nominations for the 2017 award.

This year we also welcomed the Australian Industry Trade College – a facility that will no doubt continue to provide educational and training opportunities for locals for years to come. 

We are awaiting news from the Federal Government on the Walker Corporation’s multi-billion-dollar plans for Toondah Harbour following its environmental assessment. I hope to bring you an update on this very soon. 

This year the State Government passed legislation to end sandmining on North Stradbroke Island by 2019, which presents a huge challenge for the Redlands community.  The State Government launched its transition strategy to support Straddie through this transition and I look forward to seeing this strategy expanded and will continue to lobby the State Government for additional funding to support it.

This year I was privileged to visit the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for the beginning of a ground-breaking chlamydia trial part-funded by Council.  With support from the University of the Sunshine Coast this study is aimed at finding a cure for chlamydia in koalas, a disease that claims so many of our furry friends.

Council also set the scene for our city’s future through starting a community conversation on our transport and connectivity needs which will be at the heart of comprehensive transport strategy next year. I believe this strategy will be one of the most important we have ever undertaken.

While we are on the topic of community conversations we also had a major engagement project this year to draft the new City Plan. Due to the importance of this plan we consulted with the community for almost twice as long as required under legislation; officers continue to go through submissions and we expect to move to the next phase early next year.

To all Redlanders, I wish you a relaxing, safe and blessed festive season. There is much to be thankful for in our city – and I believe there is cause for great optimism for 2017.

One of the greatest challenges we face as a community is to adapt to the fact the nature of jobs are ever-changing.

According to the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) around 5 million jobs that currently exist will vanish in the next 10-20 years because of automation.

This means most children entering primary school today are destined for occupations that don’t yet exist.

Technical change is increasingly taking over entire occupations.

The recent census is expected to reflect that many of us are already working in new jobs that didn't exist five years ago due to an increasingly digital world. It is expected to also show a particularly large spike in the number of entrepreneurs and people who have created their own jobs.

It is suggested that over the next 25 years, the key employment growth sectors will be in areas such as "computational thinking" and other high-tech fields, particularly those associated with health care. Interestingly, "business acumen" has also been identified as a core skill of the future.

Whether we like it or not, industries are transforming and the skills we require are changing. We are not immune to it here in the Redlands and the occupations many locals now rely on both within the city and outside our boundaries will disappear, while others will emerge.

We must start preparing now to capitalise on this change.

The Redlands is exceptionally well placed to adapt to the work environment of the not-too-distant future. Recent research suggests the employment landscape will be based more around work-life balance, with greater reliance on virtual offices rather than traditional spaces tied to long-established and sometime distant commercial precincts.

We can be a significant player in this space.

We offer significant lifestyle advantages, as well as being geographically well placed to access established and emerging markets. We also have the capacity to be at the forefront, such as through the development of “innovation hubs”, where workers can network, socialise, access latest technology and be part of emerging trends.

Our ability to anticipate and prepare for future skills requirements is critical for council and local businesses – and indeed the majority of working Redlanders who must leave this city for their job and their families.

My hope is that rather than being a dormitory suburb which exports workers to other areas, the Redlands can become a centre for innovation connected to development of our health and education sectors in particular.

I can see this city as a desired destination for workers who increasingly favour flexibility and work-life balance over old-school environments; one in which long daily commutes are the exception and where there is access to highly evolved hubs where people can collaborate and innovation thrives.

This is all something which is most compatible with the Redlands.

Redland City business owners can help improve our city’s internet connectivity by taking part in a Council online survey.

For more than three years, Council has lobbied successive Federal governments and Communications Ministers for improved internet connectivity and we are now calling on local businesses to get our message across.

We know poor connectivity is costing our business sector dearly. We know businesses have been forced to leave the city because of this. And we know we need to do what we can to fast-track vital improvements.  

The survey, which is available through Your Say Redlands, is part of a review of current and planned broadband infrastructure for the city aimed at identifying gaps in coverage and capacity.  It will take only 10 minutes of your time and will be available until 21 October 

The survey is one of the first actions recommended by the Redland City Economic Development Advisory Board, who have argued strongly that fast and reliable internet infrastructure is a key economic development enabler for the city.

The Board’s recommendation follows independent research in 2015 by University of Queensland that confirmed 2013 survey findings that internet connectivity continues to be an economic impediment across the city.

Designed to better understand business usage and service impediments, the survey is the first step of Council’s two-part business internet review process. The second component being undertaken by Council is an examination of the current and proposed broadband infrastructure and an attempt to identify gaps in the Redlands that would benefit from additional infrastructure.

Council’s Information Management Office and its CIO are engaging directly with leading network providers to better understand their network capacity and future solutions. These conversations may help provide us with clear opportunities for future partnerships that address our city’s infrastructure needs and fill any gaps.

If we are to be a city at the leading edge of business and technology innovation we need consistent and expandable internet capacity, not the current slow speed and patchy network.

North Stradbroke Island certainly is in the news at the moment on two important but related fronts. The Palaszczuk Government has released its long-awaited NSI Economic transition Strategy at the same time as Redland City Council is leading the charge to have an ex-RAN warship scuttled off Straddie to boost the tourism industry.

While the transition strategy announcement was a much-anticipated positive, we are waiting to see the final detail to be able to gauge its likely effectiveness in transitioning the island away from sand mining. In particular I am pleased to see there will be a local State Government coordinator based at Dunwich, as having someone on the ground to see first hand what is needed and to listen to concerns of the community will be critical to the strategy’s success.

I am also pleased with the priority given to public transport on the island, the emphasis on cultural heritage with the proposed first stage of the Minjerribah Cultural Centre, a commitment to a Dunwich master plan and other island planning initiatives. Council stands ready to work with the State Government, the Quandamooka people and other stakeholders but the Government needs to take responsibility for properly funding the strategy.

Council’s campaign to have the former HMAS Tobruk sunk off Straddie in a bid to boost dive tourism on the island is rapidly gaining momentum. We have received support from a broad group, including Brisbane City Council, Brisbane Marketing, the Queensland Tourism Industry Council, dive groups, QYAC and local politicians.

Please help us by signing our petition, liking the Sink Tobruk for Straddie Facebook page and by spreading the word to your family, friends and colleagues.

Redland City Council has taken immediate action after an independent survey showed that internet access continues to be a major barrier for local business.

The survey reflected the findings of a University of Queensland School of Business report commissioned by Council that revealed poor connectivity had forced businesses to leave Redland City. A review of internet infrastructure in the Redlands will be conducted in response to the survey results.

The University of Queensland survey was part of an update for the Redland City Economic Development Advisory Board (REDAB) which identified that internet connectivity continued to be an economic impediment across the city. The review was recommended by the Board and endorsed by Council.

Connectivity is critical to business success and anyone who has tried to do business in the Redlands knows that access to fast and reliable internet continues to be an issue.

As such Council will commission, as a matter of priority, a review of the existing and proposed high speed broadband infrastructure in the Redlands, including the Commonwealth Government’s proposed National Broadband Network. The review will identify gaps where additional internet infrastructure is needed.

The review in itself will not improve internet connectivity in the short term, but it will show where extra internet infrastructure is needed to ensure as a community we are connected from an economic and social perspective.

The recommendation from the Board shows how proactive they are. Board members were selected because they have the experience needed to provide strategic advice to local business and deliver on our economic development framework. Chair Samantha Kennedy has extensive experience in internet connectivity.

REDAB will also undertake development of industry sector action plans, prioritising the health care and social assistance and education and training sectors – identified by the Board as economic and employment generators. These action plans will help us take advantage of the opportunities as they present.

Council will also continue to lobby the Federal Government to improve the NBN rollout within the Redlands.

Redland City Council’s Economic Development Advisory Board has taken the first steps to formulate action plans to grow our key industry sectors.

After formally meeting for the first time late last month, the Board, under Chair Samantha Kennedy, will now get down to the serious business of charting the way for our business future and working with business to implement our action plans.

An action all Board members supported is to work on a vision project for the Redlands to clearly articulate the region’s economic strengths and unique identity.

Another idea is to start work on helping to improve internet reliability for local businesses immediately.  Poor connectivity is one of the biggest challenges we face.  We know it has cost us business, and businesses.

It is absolutely essential for businesses to have good internet access. The Board will help facilitate this by undertaking an analysis of internet capability in each of the Redlands’ city centres and overlay these findings with what the National Broadband Network (NBN) is proposing to deliver to ensure there will be no gaps.

The group will ensure strategic advice is being presented to Councillors so we can play our part in supporting the local economy and creating jobs.

The Economic Development Advisory Board is responsible for leading the implementation of the Redland City Economic Development Framework 2014-2041.

It will also formulate action plans for the health care and social assistance; education, innovation and training; and manufacturing sectors – the top three industries with the potential to be wealth and employment generators for the local economy.

It will be charting a course to achieve the Framework’s ultimate objectives of 30,000 new jobs and increasing the city’s gross regional product to $6.8 billion by 2041.

This is the start of the journey to understand the challenges and opportunities for businesses in the Redlands in order to create action plans to present to Council to spur on growth and prosperity.

Council looks forward to working with the Board, local businesses and other stakeholders to deliver positive outcomes for our city.

The decision to end sand mining on North Stradbroke Island by 2019 reinforces the importance of the Toondah Harbour development.

The $1.4 billion Toondah Priority Development Area project, provided it meets strict Federal Government environmental criteria, will be a catalyst for Straddie to stake its position as a leading tourism destination.

While the decision of the Parliament to re-commit to end mining by 2019 finally puts an end to previous uncertainty about the cessation date, it brings with it enormous challenges.

The State Government must acknowledge the end of mining is their decision, and that they are responsible for providing the necessary funding for a successful transition.

Council will stand side-by-side with the State Government, the Traditional Owners and the island community to ensure transition is a success, but the Government now has a clear obligation to back its words with dollars.

Everyone accepts that sand mining was to end and the decision has finally provided certainty for the island’s residents, Traditional Owners, business and wider Redlands community.

We have to acknowledge the huge, and continuing, impacts this decision will have on the island and the wider Redlands economy.

We have lost three years and the end to mining is just three years away. We cannot wait until 2019 to put the building blocks in place for the new economy – we need to do that right now.

With a State Budget fast approaching, there is no better time for the Government to provide that financial security.

Water transport terminals on the mainland and island, and island transport, are key elements. We need to build new tourism product and capacity. We must nurture existing niche industries on the island, or identify and attract new industries to provide on-island jobs. We also need to address the infrastructure needs of One Mile, and we must settle land use issues so we have clear direction for the future.

Redland City is entering a new era of challenge – and opportunity.

By creating a new economy we can transform those challenges into opportunities.

Our biggest challenge is lack of internet connectivity. The Redlands has been poorly served for years in this regard and poor internet is dramatically reducing our ability to expand our economy and attract new business.

There is light at the end of the tunnel with the rollout of NBN to parts of Redland Bay, we cannot rest on our laurels and must consider other options.

The building blocks for our new economy are already being laid:

  • We will be driving local employment through PDAs and other major projects;
  • Our new Economic Development Board will identify and explore new economic opportunities;
  • We are developing an events strategy to attract more major events to the City to benefit local businesses; and
  • We will continue our CBD/tourism incentives to attract more business and, ultimately, more visitors.

The next step is to harness our excellence in innovation to create a national innovation hub. If ever a city was made for innovation, it is Redland City!

I have written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and invited him to be part of this vision through his government’s national innovation and science agenda.

Local entrepreneurs already have the runs on the board and I believe we have plenty more to offer; we just need the incubator to hatch those ideas.

Our schools are excited about the potential.

The challenge now is to turn the challenge into opportunity. 

Redland City is on the cusp of an exciting new era and the rapidly expanding innovation sector provides great opportunity for us.

I recently wrote to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull inviting him to consider partnering with Redland City to establish a pilot innovation cluster here.

There is a wealth of talent in the Redlands just waiting to be tapped and Mr Turnbull’s National Innovation and Science Agenda provides the ideal opportunity for us to do so.

I invited Mr Turnbull to be part of a collaboration that I believe will deliver real economic opportunities, not just to our city but also nationally.

Creation of an innovation cluster here in the Redlands would allow people to turn their ideas into reality. I told Mr Turnbull Redland City would be a perfect site for the Government to pilot such a cluster, in partnership with Council.

An area of innovation often overlooked is collaborations and partnerships that help to generate opportunities. It is this level of relationship and collaboration I hope to initiate through the pilot cluster.

There are several possible locations for this cluster, including the Thornlands Integrated Employment Area that I have nominated as an employment hub. Council is also looking to purchase other properties that may also be suitable for a cluster.

When it comes to innovation Redland City has the runs on the board. We have some very talented locals and schools creating some amazing products, businesses and services.

Local company Buckham and Duffy is the perfect example: two young men who are creating innovative digital solutions on emerging platforms. Then there are local schools where our future leaders are learning about robotics. Our world-class Sheldon College is taking a team of students to Missouri this month to take part in an international robotics competition. Alexandra Hills State High School recently launched their Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy Centre of Excellence in Automation and Robotics, in partnership with QUT and Queensland Resources Council.

These are just a few examples of the amazingly talented people we have doing incredible things and the Federal Government’s renewed focus on innovation has the potential to give these talented Redlanders the chance to take their ideas further than ever before.

As 2015 nears an end it is timely that we look back over what has been a year of great progress and great achievement.

From a Council perspective we have been able to keep rate rises to a minimum for the fourth straight year and we have delivered our second successive budget surplus after 15 years of deficits and much higher rates rises. This, importantly, has been achieved while we have continued on our journey of self-improvement and our drive to identify further efficiencies and savings.

I am proud that our 10-year financial strategy proves our strong position by predicting ongoing surpluses over the next decade.

All these achievements have flowed from our back to basics commitments that have allowed us to not just absorb millions of dollars in external costs rather than pass them on to ratepayers but to also improve our service delivery to our priority clients – the people of Redland City.

The exciting Toondah Harbour Priority Development Area project moved a step closer when developer the Walker Corporation lodged applications with the Federal Government for approval. While the development will have to meet strict environmental conditions, the lodgement was a significant step in the process. We hope to hear more news from Walkers soon about the Weinam Creek PDA.

Next year we will see the Australian Industry Trade College open its doors in Cleveland as our latest education/trade offering, and we will continue to lobby for Surf Life Saving Queensland to bring its state headquarters and National centre of Excellence to the Redlands.

All these initiatives will, importantly, bring jobs to the Redlands – jobs for Redlanders.

Next year we will have our Economic Development Board in full swing to drive growth of our important industry sectors. There will be a renewed focus on tourism.

Council will be working closely with the State Government to ensure the transition from sand mining to an alternative economy on North Stradbroke Island is as smooth and effective as possible.

2015 has been a year of progress in so many ways. 2016 will be a year of further opportunity that we cannot afford to let pass, if we are to continue to strengthen our local economy and help generate much-needed jobs.

I hope we can end a successful 2015 with a relaxing, safe and blessed festive season during which we have the opportunity to spend time with our loved ones and that we enter the new year refreshed and ready to seize our opportunities.

Redland City residents have seized the opportunity to be informed about our draft planning scheme and have been flocking to information sessions organised over recent weeks.

To date, Council planners and officers have had more than 1500 face-to-face sessions with residents and written submissions are flowing in for Draft City Plan 2015.

The 11-week consultation period – almost double the legislative requirement - concludes on 27 November.

Consultation allows residents to have their say on this important blueprint for our city. We want you to tell us what you agree with in the draft plan and what proposals you may not support.

This is not a new planning scheme; rather it is a comprehensive review of the current scheme, with much of the content of the current scheme being migrated to the draft City Plan.

Once public consultation finishes, council planners will consider all submissions and other feedback received before and during consultation in making their final recommendations on City Plan to Council. This is expected to take several months so the final City Plan will not come back to Council for adjustment or adoption until possibly mid-2016.

I urge any resident who wants to have their say to do so before 27 November.  There is a wealth of information available on our Your Say website.

This is your opportunity to help us shape the future of our city.