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Email newsletter Wednesday, 27 March 2023

Dear neighbours,

I emailed you a general local update last week (doublecheck your inbox if you haven’t read it yet), but I’m writing to you today to confirm some big news…

Yesterday I announced that I’ll soon be moving on from my role as Councillor for the Gabba Ward of Brisbane City Council, and handing over to Trina Massey. My last speech in the council chamber will be tomorrow evening (Tuesday, 28 March) and I will continue serving until the end of April 2023.

You can read more about it on my Facebook page via this link, or check out some of the news coverage via these links:
ABC article
Brisbanetimes article
Westender article

There’s also video footage of our press conference at this link, and a shorter interview with Trina at this link

With the next council election coming up in March 2024, I had to decide whether I wanted to serve as councillor for another four-year term (which would’ve taken my time in office to almost 12 years in total) or step down now and ensure a smooth transition to a new councillor, with minimum disruption for the ward office and the community I represent.

In accordance with Queensland Government rules (via the City of Brisbane Act), the local Greens branch has chosen my replacement, Trina Massey, and she’ll most likely be sworn into office in early May, before facing the public via general election in March 2024 (by-elections aren’t required when a councillor steps down within 12 months of the next scheduled election).

You’ll be able to watch my final speech in the council chamber via the video livestream tomorrow evening (this was another initiative that I successfully introduced, which ensures greater transparency and public accessibility to what goes on in city hall). It’s hard to say for sure, but I expect my final speech will be between 5pm and 6pm, or after the dinner recess between 7pm and 8pm.

Like a lot of people who step down from busy, high-scrutiny leadership roles, I’m leaving this position so I can spend more time with friends and family, devote more time to creative pursuits, and have a decent holiday (to be honest, I might have lasted a little longer in the role if I wasn’t the target of so much harassment from certain local police officers, and if city councillors were able to access options like long service leave and job-sharing, but the nature of the role doesn’t allow it).

However, I’m also stepping down because I don’t think it’s healthy for democracy when elected representatives hold onto the same safe seat for decades, and I believe periodic renewal is important in all leadership positions. Being a politician changes the way you relate to others, and narrows your ability to imagine deeper, more radical transformations of society. So I thought I’d take a break before the system gets its claws into me too deeply.

I’ll be sending out one last email newsletter full of thank-yous in a couple of weeks just before I finish up, but right now I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone in the Gabba Ward (and connected community networks) for giving me the honour and privilege of representing you for the past seven years. It’s been a big journey for me personally, and I’m grateful to have benefited from the wisdom and skill-sharing of so many brilliant community members.

I know I’ve put a few noses out of joint from time to time, but I also know that my messages and methods have worked demonstrably to broaden the parameters of political debate, elevate marginalised issues and voices, hold the political establishment of Brisbane City Council (and higher governments) to account, and deliver practical, tangible outcomes for our community.

Listing everything we’ve all collectively achieved over the past seven years would make for a very long email, but I remain very proud in particular that we managed to secure free off-peak bus travel for seniors right across Brisbane, and I will continue to advocate for universal free public transport even after I leave this role.

There’s obviously a lot of unfinished business in the ward and the wider city to attend to, and I’ll be sharing as much knowledge as possible with our new councillor, Trina Massey, so she can hit the ground running. My amazing staff will all be staying on in their roles, and the Gabba Ward office will continue to support the various local community projects and campaigns we’ve been connected to over the past few years.

Trina won’t be sworn in until early May, so if you’re itching to meet with her about local issues or citywide policy advocacy, please hold off sending your meeting requests for a month or so. I’m confident she’ll make an excellent local councillor. If you’d like to volunteer to support the work she’ll be doing, you can sign up here. She's already planning a series of pop-up office and meet-and-greet events for May, which you can find at this link (more to be added soon).

You’ll also be able to see both of us at a big party we’re organising for the afternoon and evening of Saturday, 29 April. It’s a free event, and everyone’s warmly invited, but we do ask that you please register your intended attendance via this link.

Where: Echo & Bounce, 596 Stanley St, Woolloongabba
When: Saturday, 29 April, 3:30pm until late (speeches from around 5:30 or 6pm)

The night will feature plenty of live music and dancing, and we’ll also throw on a free vego BBQ. If you feel like bringing along other snacks or baked goods to share, you’re very welcome to (flick us an email to let us know). Drinks will be available for purchase from the bar. Entry is free, and we’ll also be collecting donations to support Trina’s election campaign (you can also donate online here if you like).

We’re hoping this event will double as an opportunity for community networking and announcements, so we’re inviting local community organisations to have a few minutes at the microphone to talk about the work you do or promote an upcoming event you’re involved in. If your group would like 2 minutes at the mic, please let us know via email.

There’s always more to say at moments like these, but for now I’ll leave you with this thought:

Our entire political and economic system is fundamentally flawed, and is not only incapable of addressing major crises like global warming, mass incarceration and housing precarity - it is directly complicit in causing them. Electing grassroots politicians who can stand up against the political establishment is an important part of pushing for change, but we also need to be organising collectively to take direct action that challenges the status quo from the bottom up. It's time to get active!

Warm regards,
Jonathan Sriranganathan

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