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Email newsletter Thursday, 7 July 2022

Current as of 7 July, 2022 - please note that some of the info in these newsletters (especially event listings) can go out of date quite quickly


Dear residents,

What a chilly winter! I hope everyone’s being extra careful about your use of heaters, electric blankets etc. and not creating undue fire risks.


Local Survey: Shape Our Neighbourhood's Future

We will be compiling results of our local survey soon, but it’s not too late to fill it out.

The survey has been set up so as to guard against duplicate responses, using the same account that residents already use for community voting. All up, it should take about 6 or 7 minutes to complete (including account creation if you don’t already have a voting account).

With over 50 000 residents in the Gabba Ward, I don’t have time to hear from everyone one-on-one about what’s important to them, so surveys like this are a really important tool in helping me understand how I should be representing my electorate.

If you ever feel frustrated that politicians don’t pay much attention to what you think, or don’t listen to the community, remember that this is an opportunity to have your say and directly influence the decisions I make as your local councillor.

Please take a few minutes to complete the survey at this link.


Census Results

We finally have access to the results of the 2021 Census, which paint a really fascinating picture of how our community is changing.

You can view the summary data for each suburb of the Gabba Ward via these links:

As of August 2021, the Gabba Ward had a population of approximately 50 800 residents. Almost 30 000 of those residents live in the suburbs of West End and South Brisbane alone, and almost all of this growth was in areas that have experienced lots of new apartment construction.

In stark contrast, in parts of the Gabba Ward which are predominantly older freestanding houses (with relatively little new construction), the local resident population has flatlined or even fallen slightly.

One contributing factor to this flatlining population is the number of houses and units which are being left empty by investors (more on that below).

But what we’re also seeing on the ground and reflected in the census data, is that dozens of larger sharehouses and boarding houses across the inner-south side are gradually being converted into single-family households, often with multiple spare bedrooms. The Census data suggests these homes are increasingly occupied by wealthier couples in their late forties, fifties and sixties who either don’t have kids, or whose children have grown up and no longer live with them.

This trend is most starkly visible in the suburb of Highgate Hill, where 92 new dwellings were constructed between 2016 and 2021, but the suburb’s total population increased by only 35 people (in the same timeframe, West End saw a population increase of 5250 residents, and the suburb of South Brisbane experienced a population increase of around 7100 residents).

Detached houses are getting bigger, with deck extensions, second bathrooms and new entertainment spaces, but the number of residents per household is dropping, as is the proportion of adults in their 20s.

This raises really important questions for residents who live in character housing precincts (where new apartment developments are heavily restricted)... If residents object to the construction of bulky, poorly designed highrise apartments, but are also choosing to retain multiple spare bedrooms in their free-standing homes (and thus making less efficient use of old housing stock than our community did in the past), where are younger people going to live?

These are complex questions shaped by multiple factors, including covid, which contributed to people wanting more private space at home. And obviously the census data is never going to be 100% accurate.

But we do need to recognise that the displacement of share-households and the rising number of empty bedrooms across the Gabba Ward is contributing to the housing affordability crisis in the inner-city, and is becoming a major barrier for younger renters seeking affordable homes close to their workplaces, universities and TAFE colleges.

Another interesting trend emerging in the census data is the rising rates of car ownership within many (but not all) parts of the Gabba Ward. When comparing different precincts within the inner-south side, there seems to be a strong correlation between multi-vehicle households and rising income levels, and no obvious direct correlation between car ownership and close access to public transport.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, as the wealth and income levels of a neighbourhood increase, the number of households with two or more cars has also risen, while the number of households without a car has fallen.

This is concerning from a transport planning perspective. Ideally in the inner-city, we want more people to get around using public and active transport rather than driving.

The census confirms data from other studies that the more carparking is available in an area, the more likely people are to own vehicles and drive regularly. This is really obvious when comparing neighbouring Statistical Areas in the Census. For example, the West Village precinct has lots of off-street parking available for residents, and most households own one or two cars, with only 14.5% of households that don’t have a car at all. In contrast, in the neighbouring precinct bounded by Browning St, Vulture St and Boundary St, where there’s less off-street parking, car ownership rates are much lower, with a much higher 35% of households that don’t have a car.

Rather than blaming rising traffic congestion and parking access issues specifically on new development itself, it seems some of the key factors might actually be the rising number of off-street carparks, and the increasing average incomes of local residents.


Thousands of Empty Homes

The big scandal revealed in the census is that 1 million homes across Australia were sitting empty on census night. In Brisbane’s inner-south side, roughly 4500 dwellings - 14% of the total number of homes - were empty.

When the census was taken in August last year, Brisbane was just coming out of a lockdown, and travel was still heavily restricted. So it’s likely that many of those homes are sitting empty long-term.

This is an appalling state of affairs at a time when so many people are experiencing homelessness and housing stress, and reinforces our calls for vacancy taxes to discourage investors from leaving homes empty long-term. A strong vacancy tax could theoretically be introduced by any level of government (at the council level, this would look like higher rates being charged for properties identified as vacant).

My preference is that such an initiative would be introduced at the local government level, so that it’s more targeted and actively enforced, and so the revenue can immediately be spent on improvements to our local area.


Rising Project Costs

Council projects have not been immune to the recent increases in the costs of pretty much everything. For the first time in my six years as city councillor, we’re seeing local projects that were allocated funding via our community voting process running way over budget.

Usually a significant contingency (a buffer of extra funding) is included in these project allocations to allow for unexpected cost overruns e.g. we might allocate $5000 to the cost of installing a new water tap in a park even though the final cost might only be $2000 or $3000.

But now we’re seeing such massive cost blowouts that council officers are coming back to me to ask for even more money to be allocated to projects above and beyond the initial funding (which included a healthy buffer).

This affects and complicates the community voting process we’ve been using for the past few years to allocate my local discretionary budget for public space upgrades. We’re waiting on a few answers from the council, and we might have to make some changes to how we decide to allocate funds to local projects for this new financial year. I’ll keep you posted on this front.


Talking strategy with our new federal MP

This Saturday, our State MP, Amy MacMahon, is organising a community fete in Woolloongabba Rotary Park featuring dance and circus workshops and various other activities. As part of this event, I’m co-organising a forum at 2pm with our new federal MP for Griffith, Max Chandler-Mather, where we’ll have focussed discussion about how we make decisions as elected representatives and how we prioritise our time and resources. The title of the discussion is “How does a federal MP ensure they’re listening to the community?” but it’ll be a pretty wide-ranging conversation that includes time for audience feedback and Q&A.

Come along from 2pm to 3pm in Woolloongabba Rotary Park to get a sense of how your new federal MP is going to approach his role. Or better yet, set aside a bit more time and enjoy the rest of the fete, which runs from 10am to 4pm.

You can invite friends to the Facebook event for Woolloongabba Fete at this link. And here’s the link to the Facebook event specifically for the 2pm chat with Max in case you want to spread the word.

Please note that this event might be cancelled if we have really wet weather on Saturday, but so far the forecast is looking pretty good!


Minor project updates

Our email newsletters have been so crowded lately that I haven’t included details of all the smaller projects we’re working on, but things are still ticking along in the background. The new murals in Musgrave Park are all done, and we’ve recently completed footpath upgrades along part of Hardgrave Rd, West End and at the southern end of Deakin St in Kangaroo Point.

There’s also been a lot of work underway to repair various pieces of infrastructure since the floods. The council has had to prioritise some of the most urgent stuff - like damaged retaining walls - ahead of riverside recreational facilities like gym equipment and basketball courts, but we’re slowly getting there. The one obvious exception is the dog off-leash area along Riverside Drive.


Permanent closure of Dog Off-Leash Area highlights parkland shortage

Brisbane City Council has said it is not going to reopen the flood-damaged dog off-leash area (DOLA) along Riverside Drive.

This is partly because the DOLA is technically on State Government-controlled riverside land (not within official BCC Parkland) and the State Government wants it removed. The deeper reason is that the DOLA is located on contaminated land (former industrial uses) which needs to be excavated and cleaned up at some point anyway.

Even though BCC is closing down this DOLA, it has not identified any alternative locations for a replacement. This is a decision made by the LNP Chair of the Natural Environment, Water and Sustainability Committee, and I strongly disagree with it.

Basically the LNP are saying that the one remaining dog off-leash area down at Orleigh Park beside Hill End Terrace is sufficient to cater for the entire suburbs of West End and South Brisbane. The administration is saying that after the State Government redevelops the Visy Glass Factory site for the Olympics, there’ll be an opportunity to find space for a new DOLA then. But the Glass Factory site is intended to be used as a media centre during the Olympics, so really that means we’re looking at 2033 at the earliest.

The suggestion that the community should have to wait another decade for a dog off-leash area seems utterly ridiculous to me. But this highlights the broader shortage of public parkland in the inner-city. Lack of local park facilities to cater for our rapidly growing population means more people drive to suburban facilities further out, which is bad for the environment and for efficient transport planning.

There simply aren’t many good existing park locations around the 4101 postcode where you can fit a dog off-leash area. The largest remaining open spaces in Davies Park and Musgrave Park are 500m2 or 600m2, but a DOLA really needs to be at least 800m2, and preferably over 1000m2, otherwise it just ends up as a dust bowl.

So if we want more park facilities, the council really needs to be creating new public parkland for residents now. There are many industrial sites on the western side of West End which should not be developed as high-density housing because they are prone to flooding, and should instead be set aside as public green space.

If you’re disappointed that BCC is reducing access to dog off-leash areas in West End/South Brisbane, please email [email protected] and ask him to acquire land (beyond the glass factory site) for new public parks in 4101, and to create a new dog off-leash area. Please tell him we can't wait until the glass factory site is redeveloped in order to address this issue.


Celebrating activism at Kurilpa Derby

Kurilpa Derby is coming up again on Sunday, 4 September. This is a massive community event and a great way to connect and reconnect with different parts of the Kurilpa community. We’re setting aside part of the closed-off road space on Russell Street for local non-profit activist groups to host stalls and connect with residents. If your group is interested in hosting a 3m x 3m stall for a couple of hours on the Sunday afternoon (from around 2pm to 5pm), please send our office an email and we can hook you up!

Ok, that’s a wrap for this week. I’m taking one week of leave from Monday, 18 July, so it might be a few weeks before I send another email update, but we’ll still be staffing the office to help you with any urgent issues. Remember, calling the main BCC hotline on 3403 8888 is usually the best way to report concerns or ask questions, but you can always contact our office directly if you’re not happy with the response from the council administration.

Warm regards,



Upcoming Events


Art and Activism in the Nuclear Age Exhibition

Wed, 06 Jul, 10:00am–04:00pm
POP Gallery, cnr Brunswick St and Ivory St, Fortitude Valley

An exhibition showcasing selected key artistic responses to the era of nuclear weapons including the acclaimed 7.2 metre by 1.8 metre Hiroshima Panel, ‘Fire,’ on loan from Japan and a selection of works from the collection ‘Life Lifted into the Sky’ by Yalata painters in response to the British Maralinga nuclear tests. Opening night is Friday 8 July from 6-8pm. Exhibition open until 16 July. Email ▸


Floods, Insurance, Tenancy and Legal Help

Thu, 07 Jul, 06:00pm–08:00pm
Yeronga Community Centre - 26 Devon st, Yeronga, 4104

Join us for free community legal information on insurance and tenancy problems that can emerge following the rain and floods, hosted by Community Plus Yeronga. More sessions will be held on Saturday 9th July 2-4pm in Oxley Bowls Club and Sunday 10th July 2-4pm in Rocklea Elmes road, opposite Rocklea State School. For more information you can call Melinda 0488 084 533 or Jo 0488 084 633. Facebook event ▸


Woolloongabba Family Fete Day

Sat, 09 Jul, 10:00am–04:00pm
Woolloongabba Rotary Park

Come down to Rotary Park, Woolloongabba on the final weekend of the mid-year school holidays to enjoy the glorious Brisbane winter sun. An inclusive, family day, designed to bring the Woolloongabba community together. We’ll have face painting, craft and dance workshops, food and drink! Facebook event ▸


Q&A with Max Chandler-Mather - How does a federal MP ensure they're listening to the community?

Sat, 09 Jul, 02:00pm–03:00pm
Woolloongabba Rotary Park

Unlike the major parties, the Greens place a high value on grassroots participatory democracy. That means decisions about party policy and how elected representatives advocate for their communities should be driven by people on the ground, rather than by corporate donors or political party power-brokers. So how does a federal parliamentarian decide what issues to focus on? How can residents be more involved in collaborative decision-making processes with their MP? And how do we ensure Greens elected representatives aren’t co-opted or corrupted by the mainstream political system? Join newly-elected federal MP Max Chandler-Mather and local Councillor for the Gabba Ward, Jonathan Sri, as they unpack those questions. Facebook event ▸


Mangrove Citizen Science

Sun, 10 Jul, 03:00pm–05:00pm
Online (Zoom)

Brisbane Northside Australian Conservation Foundation is hosting a free zoom event, which will be presented by mangrove expert, Jock Mackenzie, from earthwatch. Jock will expand your knowledge about why Moreton Bay is an internationally listed Ramsar Wetland area of global significance. RSVP ▸


Celebrating a Year of Tenant Unionism!

Sat, 16 Jul, 01:00pm
Roma Street Parklands, Brisbane

Join the South East Queensland Union of Renters (SEQUR) for a casual get together of unionists, comrades and community to eat and drink to one successful year and for many more to come. Vegan and meat options will be provided on the day. Any snacks brought to share are greatly appreciated. Facebook event ▸


Free yoga in the park

Sat, 16 Jul, 09:00am–10:00am
Davies Park, Jane Street, West End

Bring your own yoga mat. Bookings not required. Every Saturday from 16 July to 10 September. Email ▸


International Non-Binary Day 2022

Sun, 17 Jul, 02:00pm
BackDock Arts, 103 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley

Calling non-binary folk of all ages to experience a non-binary-centered space. Let us bask in each other’s presence, celebrate, and uplift fellow non-binary pals in a pressure free environment for all folk whose gender(s) (or lack thereof) fall outside of the socially entrenched concepts of the binary. Supportive binary folk are welcome to join us. Facebook event ▸


Raising Some Roofs Festival Presents

Fri, 22 Jul, 07:30pm–03:00am
The Zoo

Returning on the 22nd of July to The Zoo, Raising some Roofs Festival is back with a night featuring some of Meanjin/Brisbane’s best live music! Join us for a special evening of genre diverse music featuring Ozi Jarel, Bean Magazine, Lippy Kids, a special speakers set by Dancing Water and an after party takeover with 8Ball audio, (additional headline to be announced soon!). RSR Presents is in support or Romero Centre & Szephyr Guitars “Building Guitars Sustainably High School Program.” Tickets 35.20 ▸ | Facebook event ▸


First Nations Art Workshop

Sat, 23 Jul, 12:30pm
Green Close Square, Fortitute Valley

Saturdays from 23 July to 10 September. Event for First Nations people only. Uncle Gerard Bargo, a Goreng Kiba man, brings you a First Nations Art Workshop. He will guide you through First Nations art and cultural traditions to create two new artworks to exhibit at the Heartlands of Brisbane Exhibition and Art Market 25/26 November during Social Inclusion Week 2022. Register for free here ▸


Trivia night - Rainbow World

Sat, 30 Jul, 07:00pm–09:30pm
Wellers Hill Bowls Club, Tarragindi

Trivia, Raffles, Prizes, bar, food truck and games: this event is focusing on raising m oney to take the Brisbane Choir to Sydney in 2023 for world pride. Book here ▸


West End Film Festival

Fri, 29 Jul, 12:00am
Various venues and public space in West End

WEFF22 is bringing the best of Australian film shorts to West End. Check out our public events including a mash up of live music with their video clips at Bunyapa Park, a journey into multiculturalism through Cinema, Story and Song at Parched Brewery, an evening of family friendly films with food and a bar for the little and big kids at Arafmi and multi arts sessions at SAE Institute Brisbane. Join in on industry jams, panels and workshops on tech, networking, upskilling, the creative process, First Nations lenses and more. To top it off, we'll be running 4 nights of the best films at Metro Arts including the WEFFY awards and industry networking events. More info ▸ | Facebook event ▸


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