Current as of 12 August, 2022 - please note that some of the info in these newsletters (especially event listings) can go out of date quite quickly
It’s been a while since my last email update thanks to a combination of me getting covid and other staff also taking sick leave. I hope everyone is still exercising reasonable precautions to minimise the spread of covid, which has been shown to cause long-term disability among some sufferers.
I should note that as our population grows and the number of major public and private construction projects in our area increases, it’s getting harder and harder for me and my staff to inform local residents of everything that’s happening in the area, and to advocate effectively for both immediate improvements and deeper policy changes (for those who don’t know, I have an allocation of two full-time staff working alongside me, which I’ve broken up into four part-time roles to maximise office capacity and flexibility when people take leave). Please do encourage your friends and neighbours to sign up to this email newsletter so they don’t miss local updates.
In the last few weeks, we’ve seen a lot more coverage and attention given to the State Government’s ridiculous proposal to demolish the Gabba and build a new athletics stadium in its place. You might be interested in listening to this ABC radio interview I gave last week about the issue. After questions from our State MP Amy MacMahon in parliamentary budget estimates sessions, the public learned that the government still has no clear plans or detailed cost estimates for this tremendously wasteful project.
Based on what I know about the difficulties of constructing major projects in tight inner-city environments, and the specific drainage infrastructure challenges of this particular part of Woolloongabba, I think the true cost of the stadium demolition and construction would be much closer to $2 or $3 billion, even without factoring in the costs and disruption associated with potentially relocating East Brisbane State School.
In addition to the huge cost, and the impacts to Raymond Park and East Brisbane State School, I’m concerned that this project represents a phenomenal waste of non-renewable resources in terms of construction materials and fossil fuels.
If you share my concerns, now would be a good time to email the Deputy Premier and Minister for Sport, Steven Miles, at [email protected] to explain why you don’t want the Gabba Stadium demolished.
Attacks on peaceful assembly
As you might have seen in the media, I had a partial win in court two weeks ago. The council was trying to fine me over $5000 for holding a small peaceful protest (with just four participants) in the Queen Street Mall back in September 2020. I was found not guilty of the offence of “displaying advertising material without permission,” but guilty of “holding an assembly not authorised under the Peaceful Assembly Act.”
Fortunately, the judge decided not to impose any fines or record a conviction, but it struck me as a terrible waste of council resources to pursue me through the courts over such a small thing. You can view footage of the protest for yourself at this link, and decide whether you think it was reasonable for the council to try to fine me.
In light of the ongoing attacks on our rights to use public space, I’m organising a community discussion on the evening of Monday, 22 August in King George Square (up the back of the square on the covered deck) to talk through why excessive government control of public spaces is a problem, and how we should be responding to it. In addition to the discussion, we’re organising a free vegetarian BBQ and some live music from local musicians. Please join us if you can from 6pm to 8pm.
Please object to this ridiculous development on floodprone land in West End
Public submissions close soon regarding the development application to build a highrise at 10 Kurilpa Street, West End (corner of Bailey Street) on a site that is extremely vulnerable to flooding.
I’ve posted about this development previously, but in light of the February floods, I think this project is particularly ill-advised and merits a strong pushback from the local community.
In addition to the usual concerns about lack of public housing, poor building design, traffic impacts, non-compliant building height, lack of trees and inadequate green space, this site is especially floodprone, with council’s own mapping software showing that some parts of the block are barely 40 centimetres above sea level.
Despite this site being badly flooded in February, the developer is not even undertaking a Flood Risk Assessment for this project, and the LNP-dominated city council does not seem to be insisting on one.
My view is that residential developments simply should not be approved on such low-lying sites, and that this block should instead be acquired and converted into public parkland.
Kurilpa Derby coming up soon (includes local road closures)
One of my favourite community events of the year is coming up in West End on the first Sunday afternoon in September. If you haven’t been to Kurilpa Derby before, I strongly encourage you to make time for this wonderful local institution, which hasn’t been operating for the past few years due to covid.
Please note that on Sunday, 4 September there will be temporary closures along the southern part of Boundary Street for the derby parade, as well as a longer closure of Boundary Street between Vulture Street and Jane Street for most of the afternoon. Bus routes that ordinarily use Boundary St will also be diverted.
Residential parking permit policy change
Do you live in a household where you currently use council parking permits to park on the street in a regulated parking area? And do you still use the old-style paper permits for visitors, where you can leave the generic visitor permit on the visitor's dashboard and they have to remember to give it back to you before they drive off?
BCC is on the verge of phasing out the paper permits altogether and going fully digital, where the rego number of the car is registered on the council system (either by web, phone app or by calling the council).
I understand the general logic of going digital (it'll certainly be more convenient for the council to administer), and if you can still call up on the phone or go into a council service centre to register for parking permits, not too much is going to change for some people.
But I know many residents strongly prefer paper permits for various reasons, and I’m keen to collect feedback on this for the council.
Do you still use paper visitor permits? And will things change much for you if you have to register your visitor's rego number online when they come to visit, rather than just handing them a paper permit to put on their dashboard?
As far as I can gather, the council administration isn't running a formal consultation process on this change - they're just gonna write to people saying paper permits are getting phased out - so if you have feedback on this, please email [email protected] (we'll send a brief acknowledgement and forward your feedback internally).
Council arborists have advised that they are removing a couple of trees around the ward that are either dead, seriously injured, or sick and at risk of falling over.
- Colchester St, South Brisbane, scheduled to be replaced with a Brachychiton aerifolius.
- 35 Boundary St, South Brisbane, scheduled to be replaced with a Flindersia australis.
- 99 Melbourne St, South Brisbane, scheduled to be replaced with a Elaeocarpus eumundi.
- Kurilpa Point Park BBQ area, South Brisbane
We asked for clarification on the safety issues related to the tree at 99 Melbourne Street, and council arborists explained that due to a previous cut, the regrowth stem has poor attachment and will eventually peel and fail off. They said the current regrowth is already growing into the bus lane.
If you have more questions about any of these tree removals, please flick us an email.
Finally, you might have heard that I’m changing my last name to ‘Sriranganathan.’ This is my father’s full last name (although in the Tamil naming tradition, it’s actually his given name). The name is pronounced ‘Sree - rung - gah - nah - than’. There’s a video with the pronunciation and a longer explanation of why I’m changing my name at this link. I still just prefer ‘Jonathan’ or ‘Jonno’ though, so don’t stress if you have trouble with the pronunciation at first.
I think that’ll do for updates for this week. Don’t forget to check out the various upcoming community events listed below.
Jonathan Sriranganathan - The Gabba Ward