What should Brisbane City Council be doing to address sea level rise and coastal flooding – renovate or relocate?
Certain parts of our city are vulnerable to flooding, erosion and coastal inundation.
In the near future, it will be costly to support people to remain living there, as sea levels and temperatures rise. In some areas, homes themselves could be raised, but maintaining roads, eroded riverbanks, sea walls and other infrastructure and services in the face of constant inundation becomes increasingly costly. How can we tackle this problem at the local government level? What is, and should be, the role of BCC in this space?
Join Councillor Jonathan Sriranganathan for a free community afternoon tea and discussion of future actions our local government can take to address sea level flooding.
What are your thoughts and ideas? Bring them to the discussion forum on Saturday 11th February!
This forum is part of Regenerate Brisbane, a series exploring how our communities can repurpose local governments to serve our needs better.
The venue is 550 m from Sandgate Train Station, with busses from Redcliffe, and BCC bus stops along Rainbow Street from the CBD. There is a wheelchair ramp, and an accessible bathroom.
If you require an Auslan interpreter to participate in this event, please contact us via [email protected] and we'll endeavour to arrange one.
Physical distancing and masks are encouraged to protect those most at risk of serious illness.
This event will be filmed and recorded online via facebook live. However, if you wish to participate and ask questions remotely, you can do so via zoom.
This event is taking place on the stolen country of the Jagera and Turrbal people.
We pay respects to elders past and present, and we recognise that conversations about development and gentrification must be grounded in the recognition that these phenomena are part of an ongoing process of colonisation and extractive exploitation.
153 Rainbow St
Sandgate, QLD 4017
Google map and directions
Sign up here if you have a spare bedroom(s) you would consider renting to a tenant to help prevent them from becoming unhoused.
We have included a series of checkboxes in this form. Please tick as many as are relevant to your situation, to help us identify who would be a good match for your household.
We are aware that the information collected by this form is limited, so we expect that most people offering rooms will wish to provide additional information about the suitability of your home. If you have any information that we need to know in trying to match you with someone seeking housing, please sign up and then send us an email at [email protected].
We will not contact you right away, and we might not contact you at all unless we find someone seeking accommodation who's a good match for you.
We're conscious that opening your home to someone in need is not a decision to be taken lightly, and we're available to chat through any questions or concerns you might have.
Thanks for doing what you can!
[Image description: Rosie the Riveter meme with the words "Got Spare Bedrooms? We Want You! Help Keep People Housed!"]
[Image description: pink zine page with text (included below) and artwork by Mama See]
Do homeowners have a responsibility to rent spare bedrooms in a housing crisis?
Short answer: Yes!
Spare bedrooms can be handy. In an ideal world everyone would be housed, with a couple spare rooms for hobbies and visitors. But our world is far from ideal.
We're in an escalating housing crisis. Many renters and new mortgage holders are struggling to make ends meet, and risk becoming unhoused. Shouldn't we be willing to lend a hand?
Renting your spare room won't solve the housing crisis, but it might keep somebody housed.
Isn't the housing crisis a structural issue? Why should I rent my spare room?
Our society treats housing as a speculative commodity, not a human right – which ultimately drives the housing crisis.
Just because it's a structural problem, doesn't mean ordinary people are entirely powerless.
When governments pursue policies resulting in mass housing insecurity and people becoming unhoused, we think ordinary people have an ethical responsibility to act.
Did you know?
42% of Australian households have more bedrooms than people [ABS Data].
Australia has over 1 million empty homes and 13 million empty spare bedrooms .
[Image description: pink zine page with text (included below) and artwork by Mama See]
Shared housing arrangements come in many different shapes and sizes?
- Home-sharing: elderly person offers a spare bedroom to a younger housemate at low cost in exchange for companionship and practical support. 
- Co-housing: a rented granny-flat, self-contained dwelling, or tiny home parked in your backyard. You live as two unrelated dwellings on shared land.
- Share housing: groups of friends, friends of friends, or compatible people without a previous existing relationship live together in a single dwelling.
- Homeowner renting a room: a homeowner and tenant live mostly separate lives under one roof to make their housing cheaper, and negotiate how spaces and chores are shared.
Shared housing can be as typical or out-there as you and your housemate would like. What everyone gets out of it depends on having important conversations with your potential housemate up front.
Social connection is important to make these arrangements enjoyable: we recommend starting off with friends or extended family if possible!
[Image description: Image of a cosy living room in pink and yellow with a couch, pot plants, and books on a shelf by Mama See. Text included below]
Did you know 42% of Australian households have more bedrooms than people?
Would you consider renting your spare room to a tertiary student or older woman?
Find out how to get involved!
Here's some more info regarding the citywide push to encourage more people to do their part in addressing the housing crisis. Make sure you check out our short zine and expression of interest page as well as the below FAQ...
Why are we specifically focusing on tertiary students and older women?
Everyone has a right to a home. However some long-term unhoused people need wraparound support services which the average homeowner probably isn't equipped to provide. Rather than trying to directly support people in crisis who have complex needs, owner-occupiers and long-term renters with spare bedrooms are perhaps best placed to help prevent people from becoming unhoused in the first place. Single older women and young adults who are studying at university or TAFE are key demographics at high risk of becoming unhoused due to rising rents.
Isn’t Australia in a housing crisis because there is an undersupply of housing?
Not exactly. On the night of the 2021 census, there were over 1 million empty homes and 13 million empty bedrooms. This is at a time when half the population was in lockdown (i.e., unlikely to be away traveling), there was minimal tourism, and much fewer backpackers and international students. There are more than enough houses to house everyone. The problem is not supply but distribution.
Does Australia have a 'spare bedroom' problem?
Yes. Even real estate companies recognise this. 42% of Australian households have more bedrooms than people [ABS data], and accounting for couples, over 70% of Australian households have spare bedrooms. Isn’t it bizarre world that we live in when there are bedrooms unused alongside people unhoused? And not just a few of them - millions of bedrooms are empty  while a few hundred thousand people don’t have housing.
Important conversations to have before renting out your spare bedroom
Some questions to ask yourself and your potential housemates when deciding if you are a good match:
- What do you want in a housemate?
- Have you ever lived with a housemate before? What did you like/dislike about the experience?
- How long do you plan to stay?
- What do you like to do on weekends?
- How often do you clean your current home?
- How often do you cook? Do you have any dietary preferences?
- Do you have any allergies or sensitivities?
- Do you like to have friends over or go out?
- What’s your daily routine? What time do you usually wake up and go to bed?
- What's your current romantic situation? How often does your partner(s) stay the night?
- Do you have any pets?
- How often do you spend weekends or time away?
If they're a good match, you'll want to have a follow-up conversation about boundaries and expectations around what being a good housemate means to you:
- When are the “quiet times” in your house when everyone should keep noise to a minimum? Does this change on weekends?
- Is it okay for people to borrow/share basic foods and other consumables (e.g. milk, tea bags, washing powder) when they run out? If borrowing, is the expectation to replace them? Within what timeframe?
- Are there any sentimental or fragile household items stored in common spaces which you would prefer your housemate doesn’t use?
- What are your expectations if your housemate wants to have friends over for a get-together? (How much notice should they give you for larger gatherings? And do you want them to let you know beforehand if they're just having one or two friends dropping in?)
- What are your expectations if your housemate wants to have someone stay the night with them in their room?
- What's the best mechanism to raise issues or conflicts that arise while living together? (A shared messenger chat group? Ad hoc face-to-face conversations? Regular house meetings?)
- Will you each manage your own food and cooking? Do you want to have any shared meals?
Once they have moved in, you will want to have a conversation around how housework and cleaning is to be shared:
- What are the expectations around washing dishes? Should they be done immediately or is it okay to wait for a small pile to build up?
- Do you want to create a cleaning roster?
- What state should the kitchen be left in after cooking?
- What are the specific expectations you have around cleaning of shared spaces like lounge rooms and bathrooms? This makes sure everyone is on the same page.
- Are there certain noisy activities (such as vacuuming or using the washing machine) that shouldn't be done to early in the morning or too late at night?
- Are there any chores that one housemate really dislikes but another housemate doesn't mind doing?
Links last updated and verified on 1 December, 2022
South-East Queensland has always been prone to floods and severe storms, and the risk of severe weather events is predicted to increase substantially as a result of global warming.
There’s a lot of useful info about how the council responds to disasters and how to prepare your property for severe weather on this BCC web page (during floods and other severe weather emergencies, Brisbane City Council will usually also post more up-to-date info directly on their home page at this link).
I also strongly encourage all residents to sign up for the council’s Severe Weather Alert Service via this page, so that you receive notifications about predicted flooding, severe storms, and other public safety emergencies. Once you create your account, you can choose whether you want to be alerted via text message, email or automated phone call.
The council’s Flood Awareness Maps are the best way to understand which properties and roads might be at risk of creek flooding and river flooding during heavy rain events.
You can find Bureau of Meteorology live reporting of rainfall totals at this link and live reporting of creek and river heights via the tables at this link. The best links to look at for inner-city Brisbane River levels are the St Lucia gauge and the City gauge.
During and immediately after severe weather events, my main focus as a local councillor is to compile and relay information between residents and other organisations and support services. I will do my best to send out regular email updates to everyone who has subscribed for my regular newsletters via this page.
The best phone number to reach the council on during an emergency is generally the main hotline – 3403 8888.
The number for my ward office in Woolloongabba is 3403 2165, but my office just has two full-time staff, so during a severe weather event, we can’t guarantee that our line will be staffed at all times. If you use social media, you should also consider following me on Facebook.
I had a couple weeks of annual leave recently, so this is our first email newsletter in over a month, and there’s lots to cover. Here’s a list of topics covered in this email - scroll down to the headings that interest you.
- Great turnout to defend East Brisbane State School
- Bike lanes for West End and Kangaroo Point Riverwalk
- Bus network review and the 192
- St Vincent’s redevelopment at Kangaroo Point lacks green space
- West Village development causes traffic safety concerns
- Kangaroo Point ferry terminals
- Land Forces protest and arrest
- Community-owned solar projects to offset rising power bills
- Barrambin/Victoria Park Master Plan
But first on a lighter note, artist Martina Clarke painted a portrait of me recently that won the People’s Choice award for the Brisbane Portrait Prize. I’m honoured to be the subject of such a beautiful painting, and have been enjoying the ensuing discomfort of the Courier Mail editors (the Courier Mail sponsors the prize, but it’s obvious they would have preferred some other portrait to win the popular vote). I feel privileged to be able to represent an electorate full of so many amazing artists. Congratulations Martina!
The fight to save East Brisbane State School
It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the State Government has no plan for the future of East Brisbane State School. Education Minister Grace Grace has now confirmed that this school would be displaced if the Gabba Stadium is demolished and replaced with an athletics stadium, but has no answer to the question of where the school is supposed to go.
So I’m very grateful to all the residents who turned up last Thursday morning to support the school community’s protest against the Gabba being used as an Olympics venue. I thought our state and federal representatives did a good job of highlighting the key issues and attracting significant media coverage of the campaign (full press conference at this link and livestream from the event at this link).
I feel like more people are waking up to the reality of how ridiculous this Olympics Stadium proposal is, and I’m optimistic that if we can keep up the pressure, we can secure more funding for improvements to East Brisbane State School so it can handle growing enrolments, while sending the Olympics somewhere else.
West End and Kangaroo Point Active Travel Studies
At short notice, Brisbane City Council has launched online consultations about how it can improve active transport safety and convenience along Vulture St, Boundary St and Melbourne St in West End, and at the northern end of Kangaroo Point.
These consultations are due to close on 21 November, and will shape the allocation of State Government funding which has been publicly committed to South Brisbane bikeways and the Kangaroo Point riverwalk.
While we're concerned about the limited scope and timeframe of these consultations, we're hopeful that they represent an opportunity to secure new separated bike lanes along Vulture St linking West End and Woolloongabba, to reimagine Boundary and Melbourne Streets as pedestrian-friendly environments, and to complete the missing links of the riverwalk between Kangaroo Point’s Dockside precinct and Mowbray Park.
We encourage residents to participate in this consultation process and remind BCC of the importance of safely separating bikes and scooters from other modes of transport along busy roads, and completing the Kangaroo Pont riverwalk as soon as possible.
We thought residents might have some questions about this very rushed process, so Amy MacMahon and I have quickly organised a few info sessions to share everything we’ve been told by the council.
We will be hosting three info sessions at the following times/locations:
Session 1: West End/South Brisbane Bike Lanes
Where: AHEPA Hall, 128 Boundary Street, West End
When: Sunday, 30 October from 5:15pm to 6pm
(We're tacking this info session onto the end of federal MP Max Chandler-Mather's town hall forum, which is scheduled to run in the same venue from 3pm to 5pm. You can find more info about Max's event at this link: www.maxchandlermather.com/west-end )
Session 2: Kangaroo Point Riverwalk
Where: Mowbray Park, East Brisbane (near the playground and toilet block)
When: Sunday, 13 November, 10am to 10:45am
Session 3: West End/South Brisbane Bike Lanes
Where: Musgrave Park, South Brisbane as part of the Meanjin Reggae Festival (look for the small ‘spoken word’ stage space)
When: Saturday 19 November, 2pm to 3pm
Bus Network Review and the 192 Service
As part of introducing new Metro vehicles onto the busway, BCC is restructuring a bunch of bus routes, mostly around the city’s south side (there are very few changes around the northern and eastern suburbs).
This ‘New Bus Network’ is not the holistic overhaul that the city’s bus network ultimately needs, but generally speaking, I think it’s a step in the right direction. The new services and network arrangements won’t take effect until the Brisbane Metro construction project is finished (currently scheduled for late 2024).
As part of this network review, the council is proposing to extend the 192 bus service south through Yeronga and Yeerongpilly (see image at this link).
The 192 service is a crucial link, particularly for Dutton Park and Highgate Hill.
But the council isn't proposing any improvements to operating hours (this is largely because Mark Bailey MP and the State Government are refusing to increase funding for public transport), so the 192 would still only operate on weekdays from around 6am to 7pm.
It's pretty ridiculous that an inner-city bus route servicing high-density neighbourhoods doesn't run on weeknights or weekends.
Even if this service is extended south, there still won't be any way for residents of Highgate Hill, Yeronga etc to catch a bus to the university or into West End on weekends or weeknights.
So I’m hoping you can support me by giving feedback through the council's online survey to highlight that you will be much more likely to use the 192 bus service if it runs on weekends and weeknights. You might also like to directly email the Transport Minister, Mark Bailey, at [email protected] to ask him what he can do to get the 192 running on weekends and weeknights.
St Vincent’s Private Hospital redevelopment lacks green space
The public submission period is closing soon regarding the development application by St Vincent’s Hospital at Kangaroo Point to build private luxury highrises on the hospital site.
This DA proposes highrise residential towers of up to 19 storeys on a site which is zoned for ‘Community Purposes’ (which means under the City Plan that it wasn’t intended to be used for residential development at all).
Rather than a car-free development with lots of public transport, the applicants are also proposing to significantly increase the amount of off-street carparking on the site. I’m concerned that the hospital’s location on the Main Street approach to the Storey Bridge means that introducing hundreds of additional car movements associated with this large development will worsen traffic congestion around the northern end of Kangaroo Point.
I’m also troubled that there’s no proposal to include any public parkland or significant space for more trees as part of this development. You’d think that considering St Vincent’s were originally gifted this site (for free) to use as a hospital, now that they are developing residential towers on the land they would be good enough to set aside a large part of the block to create some more badly needed green space. But they are in fact only setting aside about 700m2 as ‘connected open space’ (which will mostly be concrete) out of a total site area of 20 000m2.
I strongly encourage residents to put in a submission objecting to this development application. You can just submit dot points of your concerns, calling for a plan with more public green space, more trees, fewer cars, and for any housing that’s built on the hospital site to be public housing.
You can find the plans and application documents via this link and you can make a submission via this link.
Another West Village tower but no pedestrian safety improvements
As predicted, the West Village development has been a major generator of additional car traffic around West End, particularly on Mollison Street, where hundreds of cars are using the driveways to get in and out of the basement carparking for the shops and apartments. I’ve repeatedly told Brisbane City Council that the driveway design is unsafe, and that pedestrians walking along Mollison Street to reach key destinations like the Blue Cityglider bus stop are being endangered and inconvenienced by the large number of cars coming in and out of the West Village site.
The DA includes a childcare centre, but doesn’t clearly indicate how many children will be accommodated or where exactly they are all supposed to play. In addition to the usual concerns such as inadequate green space and unsustainable building design, I’m disappointed that West Village isn’t proposing any pedestrian safety improvements to the Mollison Street driveway crossover. It would help my advocacy if a few residents can submit comments adding your voice to these concerns, but I’m worried that the cosy relationship between the LNP and the developers means they might not actually do anything.
On Tuesday, Brisbane City Council updated its projections for when ferry terminals that were damaged by the February floods will be back in operation.
- Sydney Street – late November
- Holman Street – late November
- QUT Gardens Point – late November
- Milton – December
- Maritime Museum – December
- UQ St Lucia – December
- North Quay – early 2023
- Regatta – early 2023
The council said that Fitzgerald, a ‘specialist marine contractor’ is undertaking repairs to the damaged gangways off-site at the Port of Brisbane (this perhaps explains why we haven’t seen much work underway at the terminals themselves).
We still don’t have any dates or clarity regarding the timelines for the new Dockside ferry terminal. It seems like the council is primarily focussed on getting the other damaged terminals repaired and operational before turning to the Dockside and Mowbray Park projects, so it could be a while yet.
Land Forces Protest and Arrest
As you might have seen in the media, a few weeks ago, I was arrested outside the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre while taking part in an authorised peaceful assembly against the Land Forces arms dealer expo.
I certainly didn’t plan on getting arrested, and I think the Queensland Police were completely unreasonable and excessively rough in terms of how they handled the situation. I believe that they didn’t have lawful grounds to arrest me, and that they will end up having to drop the case. But more broadly, I’m disgusted that our political leaders are continuing to support and advocate military weapons manufacturing as a growth industry for South-East Queensland, and that the Queensland Police are being used to suppress peaceful protests against this outrageous misuse of public funds. My next court date is 14 December. I guess we’ll see how it all goes.
Community solar as the answer to higher power bills?
With all this talk of rising power bills, I think it’s timely to be sharing information about community solar gardens and other communally-owned renewable energy projects.
Lots of people in our community - including renters and most highrise apartment residents - are prevented from installing rooftop solar.
This is a major social justice issue, in that poorer members of our society will be stuck with rising power bills while wealthier homeowners benefit from rooftop solar. But it’s also a key problem to address if we are to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and minimise the negative impacts of global warming.
So on Thursday, 17 November at 6pm, I’m co-hosting an online forum with the Haystacks Solar Garden project where we can hear about how this cooperative structure works and how people can get involved if they want.
If you’re interested, I encourage you to register for the free online forum via this link.
Give your feedback on Barrambin/Victoria Park draft master plan
Consultation is closing this Sunday on the draft plan for the future of Barrambin/Victoria Park.
I’m very proud that I’ve been able to play my part in getting this huge site converted from a golf course into genuine public parkland, but I’m concerned that the council’s draft masterplan is full of greenwashing and nowhere near as sustainable as it pretends to be.
While there are lots of good elements to the plan, I’m concerned that:
- There’s far too much carparking (close to 900 carparks altogether), which means a loss of green space and more people being attracted to drive to the park rather than using public or active transport - public green space shouldn’t be used for carparking
- Not enough of the site has been set aside for urban farming - this is a great location for food forests and community gardens but only a small chunk of the site is identified for these purposes
- While there are lots of trees and manicured garden beds, there are not enough densely vegetated natural habitat areas
- Too much concrete, bitumen and hard infrastructure in general
Alright, well that was a massive email! As usual, we’ve listed a few more community events below. Please take special note of the forum this Monday night that we’re co-organising with Amy and Max about preparing high-density communities for future floods.
See you around!
Please note that some of the info in these newsletters (especially event listings) can go out of date quite quickly.
St Vincent’s Private Hospital at Kangaroo Point is applying for council approval to develop large residential high rise towers on their hospital site.
Even if you don’t live around this part of Kangaroo Point, this might still be interesting to you, as it has traffic ramifications for Main St and the Story Bridge.
Generally speaking, there can be some good arguments for co-locating housing and hospital land uses, but it’s still important to look closely at the detail of what’s proposed with this particular site and think through how that does or does not meet the planning goals and needs of the surrounding precinct.
The hospital is claiming that their proposal is “in keeping with Council’s planning regulations” which isn’t strictly correct. This site has long been identified and zoned as being for ‘community facilities.’ In fact, I understand that’s the basis on which this valuable inner-city riverfront land was originally donated to St Vincent’s (for free) in the 1940s. High-density private housing is not ordinarily permitted on ‘Community Facilities’ land.
Most other sites to the north and east of St Vincent’s are already zoned for high-density residential, and if expert urban planners though it was desirable to include more residential housing on the hospital site itself, either the council or the state government could have zoned for that accordingly.
Personally, I would like to see part of this site returned to public ownership as public parkland. If St Vincent’s doesn’t need the whole site for actual hospital buildings, that’s probably the best outcome in terms of the broader public interest. Kangaroo Point is undergoing a lot of high-density development, and St Vincent’s is one of the last remaining larger sites where it would be possible to deliver a new public park. If some housing IS to be developed on this site, it should be public housing that’s affordable for people on low incomes, not luxury riverfront apartments targeted at wealthier residents.
The current development application is ‘Preliminary Approval’ which locks in building heights and footprints without any detail of how the buildings will be used or designed. This means the developers could get approval to build up to 19 storeys without providing concrete information on how the buildings will actually look or how they’ll integrate with the surrounding neighbourhood. My big concern about high-end apartments (as opposed to aged care hospital patient accommodation, or affordable housing for low-income pensioners) is that the developers will almost certainly want to build a lot of extra carparking to sell with the new apartments. But this is not a good site to be introducing hundreds of additional cars on.
Ideally, inner-city residential development projects should be largely car-free. We want inner-city residents to walk, ride and catch public transport (and we want developers to contribute their fair share towards the cost of public transport infrastructure and services, which are sadly lacking in Kangaroo Point). We certainly don’t want hundreds of extra cars driving in and out of this particular site, because it would choke up the Main Street northbound approach to the Story Bridge. I think what we actually need along this stretch of Main Street is some separated bike lanes so that fast-moving e-scooters aren't sharing the path with pedestrians, and a dedicated bus lane so buses don't get caught in general traffic.
You can view the plans and documents for the development and make a submission to oppose via this link.
I hope people will take the opportunity to make their voices heard, and ask for public parkland rather than more cars.
Current as of 10 June, 2022 - please note that some of the info in these newsletters (especially event listings) can go out of date quite quickly
I hope you’re coping better than I am in this cool weather. My little houseboat feels very cosy at this time of year, which makes it extra hard to get up and ride off to work each morning. But there’s a lot happening in our area at the moment that you might be interested in…
Pushing back against gentrification
Unfortunately, the LNP-dominated Brisbane City Council is continuing to approve developments which aren’t supported by sufficient investment in public infrastructure, or which put upward pressure on property prices.
Recently, the council approved a development application for 5 Dudley Street, Highgate Hill, which is proposing to demolish an existing 3-storey building of fourteen smaller apartments, and replace them with a 5-storey building that has just seven luxury apartments. Low-income tenants will be pushed out to make room for a taller, bulkier building that actually houses fewer people (and doesn’t comply with the neighbourhood plan).
I’m worried that this approval could set a precedent for other sites around the inner-city, as there are many other blocks which are zoned for 2 and 3 storeys where the council might start approving 4 or 5-storey luxury apartment developments, displacing even more low-income residents.
Meanwhile, beside Davies Park, the council is currently considering an amended application for the proposal of two towers at 281-297 Montague Rd, looming over the soccer field. The developer has reduced their proposal to a height of 20 storeys, but Amy MacMahon and I feel that this is still too tall for the site and will cause significant traffic issues along Montague Road. The current height limit is 6 to 12 storeys, but we would ideally like to see these blocks acquired by Brisbane City Council and amalgamated into Davies Park.
Amy and I previously wrote to the local cement company Hanson, expressing our concerns about the negative impacts of these two projects, and asking Hanson to refuse to supply concrete to them. Hanson still hasn’t replied to our letter, so we are organising another protest against these development proposals, specifically targeting the cement factory.
Please join us on the morning of Saturday, 18 June when we will gather in Davies Park from 9am and march down Montague Road to Hockings Street, to temporarily block access to the Hanson Cement factory. You can RSVP for the protest at this link and invite friends to the Facebook event via this link.
Protest against eviction of disability pensioner
Unfortunately the State Government has recently reached a new low, as they are trying to evict a disability pensioner named David from public housing in Taringa, apparently on the basis that he didn’t keep the place clean enough.
I’m partnering with Greens MP Michael Berkman and the Brisbane Renters Alliance to protest this eviction and put some pressure on the State Government not to make this man homeless. If you can make it over to Taringa from 9am on Friday, 17 June, we could really use your support.
Please invite friends to the Facebook event and spread the word through whatever channels you can!
Metro Construction changes in South Bank and Dutton Park
Construction work on the Brisbane Metro is stepping up in intensity, with some significant impacts for roads and parks within the Gabba Ward.
The council has advised me that from 24 June, the following permanent traffic changes will be made around South Brisbane to facilitate construction work around the Cultural Centre Bus Station…
- Grey Street will be reduced to two traffic lanes (one lane in each direction) between Russell Street and Peel Street
- Melbourne Street will be closed to general traffic between Hope Street and Grey Street - general traffic will not be able to access Melbourne Street inbound between Hope St and Grey St or outbound between Grey St and Merivale St
- The left turn from Hope Street onto Melbourne St will be closed
- The left turn from Grey Street onto Melbourne St will be closed
The following temporary changes are also taking effect during the construction period:
- Melbourne Street will be reduced to two traffic lanes (one lane in each direction, not inclusive of turning lanes), between Manning Street and Merivale Street. All traffic travelling inbound on Melbourne Street will be forced to either turn right onto Merivale Street or left onto Hope Street
- Some of the loading zones, street parking and motorbike parking along Grey Street around Fish Lane will be removed
- The separated bike lanes that run alongside the Cultural Centre (connecting from the Grey Street intersection to the Victoria Bridge) will be closed and cyclists will have to travel on the shared footpath.
More details on these construction impacts can be found via the council website at this link.
Over at Dutton Park, most of the lower field beside the UQ Green Bridge is being fenced off, and work will soon begin on installation of Metro vehicle charging infrastructure for the UQ Lakes bus station on the other side of the river. I’m not very happy about this aspect of the project, as it involves removing several established trees, but the council has at least agreed to make some significant green space improvements elsewhere in Dutton Park - including converting some bitumen beside the river back into green space - in order to offset the negative impacts.
Xylophones on Boundary Street?
We’re still in negotiations with the council and other stakeholders about the future of the small public space at the corner of Russell Street and Boundary Street, behind the lizard statue. My long-term goal is to close off the western end of Russell Street to cars in order to create a much larger public space, but the LNP are still quite resistant to that.
For the time being, I’m proposing to ask council workers to install an outdoor musical instrument around the edge of the existing public space, as well as some more seating. These outdoor instruments won’t take up much room, and can be relocated later if necessary. They are supposed to be weatherproof and vandalism-resistant.
We are also proposing to install a small glockenspiel at the corner of Vulture St and Thomas St near the entrance to Bunyapa Park.
If you have any questions or concerns about these proposed installations, please send us an email. Personally I think they’ll be a positive addition to these public spaces, and I’ll be interested to see how they go.
‘Official’ opening of Inner South State Secondary College
On Tuesday I attended the official opening of the new public high school at Dutton Park. The students who performed in the band and sang in the choir did a great job.
It’s a bit odd that a school which began accepting students from the start of 2021 was still under construction until November 2021, and wasn’t officially opened until June 2022 (by which point students had been studying there for almost 18 months), but I guess that’s a sign of the times.
My two biggest frustrations with the new school are:
- It doesn’t have enough green space for the kids, which means students regularly have to cross Gladstone Road and walk across the UQ Green bridge to access sports fields at UQ, and
- The catchment boundaries of the school have been drawn in such a way that they don’t actually take much pressure off Brisbane State High.
The new facilities really are very impressive though, and it was nice to see the new school formally celebrated after so many residents spent years campaigning for a new high school.
When I joined the push for a new high school for the inner-south side in 2014 (well before I was elected as a city councillor), a lot of people said it would never happen. By that point, some residents had been highlighting the need for a new school for years, and had given up hope that the political system would ever respond to community pressure. So while I still believe the State Government made a poor decision in terms of the specific location and catchment boundaries of this school, I think it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate the many years of activism from local residents and community groups that contributed to this facility being delivered.
Based on the future projected population growth for West End and South Brisbane, it’s possible we may still need another new high school for the Kurilpa Peninsula at some point in the future, even if BSHS does drastically reduce its ‘out-of-catchment’ intake. This will be an important issue to keep an eye on.
Highgate Hill Concert
As noted in the events list below, there’s another free community concert coming up in Highgate Hill Park this Saturday afternoon (11 June). My office has ordered additional portaloos to accommodate the event, and the organisers have committed to being proactive about cleaning up any litter left behind by residents afterwards. It looks like the concert will be quite well attended, and parking around the park is extremely limited, so I encourage residents to travel to the park by public or active transport rather than driving if possible.
Council arborists have advised that they are removing a couple of trees around the ward that are either dead or are seriously injured/sick and at risk of falling over.
- 125 Gray Rd, West End
- 7 Vulture St, West End
- 21 Appel St, Highgate Hill
- Mater Hospital Emergency Entrance on Vulture St, South Brisbane
If you have more questions about any of these tree removals, please flick us an email. The arborists will be planting replacement trees in the same locations or nearby.
That’ll probably do it for this week. Please do come along to the protests next Friday and Saturday morning if you can!
Free Mental Health Carer Support & Services, Arafmi
Arafmi provides free counselling services, whether in-person or online (phone or Zoom). As a NFP organisation that provides supports and services for unpaid mental health carers, Arafmi appreciates that sometimes you need to talk to somebody outside of the home or your caring situation. To make an apt or to learn more, please visit their website: www.arafmi.com.au or call them on 3254 1881. Arafmi's website ▸
My Little Sunshine, an exploration on grief.
23/05/2022 to 11/06/2022, 12:00am
My Little Sunshine is a multi-media interactive exhibition posed as a thought-provoking exploration of grief as a companion of love. It is both a poignant tribute to the strength and resilience of families who have experienced the death of a child, and an impassioned call to challenge long held perceptions of grief and bereavement in contemporary, western society. The exhibition will be supported by two unique events, including a ‘Tending to Grief’ panel discussion and an ‘In Conversation with the Artists’ Q&A Get more info and free tickets to the talks here ▸ | Facebook event ▸
Moonrise at Highgate HIll Park
Sat, 11 Jun, 12:00pm
‘Moonrise’ is the sequel to Be The Cascade’s debut community music event ‘Sunfall’. On the 11th of June we will be putting on 5 local bands with a focus on celebrating female talent. Moonrise is Free Entry to all! We will be selling some wholesome drinks and tickets to our official afterparty which will be a full lineup of female Dj’s at a local venue. Facebook event ▸
Red Light Distancing
10/06/2022 and 11/06/2022, 07:00pm
We all like to watch. Some of us love to be watched. Some of us only exist when someone is looking. What happens when the watcher isn’t there? Red Light Distancing is a new inverted performance where the viewer can select from audio playing simultaneously in different rooms, as characters live and move inside each room. Tickets 16.90 ▸ | Facebook event ▸
Free workshop for Multicultural organisations
Sat, 11 Jun, 09:00am4.30pm
In this full day workshop, you will learn the basic elements of project design and planning and building on this foundation, you will have the opportunity to undertake hands-on exercises focused on preparing a grant application. Register here ▸
WEAAD 2022 - it's all about the Respect
Wed, 15 Jun, 09:00am–03:00pm
Join advocates and allies to Elders in an interactive all-day event.WEAAD provides an opportunity to connect and learn about Elder Abuse, its impact and older people’s right to protection. When respect and honour are positioned in our interactions with Elders, we are all better positioned to combat and mitigate Elder Abuse from occurring. See the program here ▸
Navigating the Digital World
Wed, 15 Jun, 10:00am–11:00am
In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), COTA Queensland, U3A Network Queensland and nbn are pleased to bring you this great webinar to assist you to navigate the digital world. Register for free ▸
Save David’s Home: Protest against eviction into homelessness
Fri, 17 Jun, 09:00am–12:00pm
Everyone deserves a place to call home. David is a renter living in public housing in Taringa and an active member of his community. He has a disability and receives a pension. The Department of Housing is unfairly trying to evict him with no plan for long-term accommodation. I know that there is a lot of support in our local community for David, so please join us at 9am, Friday 17 June, to protest this unfair eviction and save David’s home. Everyone is welcome, even if you’ve never attended a protest before. There will be no need to get arrested, but some protestors may form a peaceful “human chain” to prevent police evicting David. Facebook event ▸
Snap Action: West End and Highgate Hill Deserve Better
Sat, 18 Jun, 09:00am
Developers have updated their proposal to build two highrise towers looming over Davies Park that are still way above neighbourhood height limits. Brisbane City Council has also just approved a development application at 5 Dudley St, Highgate Hill, which will demolish 14 existing affordable units to replace them with just 7 luxury apartments. This demands a strong response from the community. So join us for a snap action on Saturday 18 June. We’ll start in Davies Park, Corner of Jane Street and Montague and march down Montague Road to Hanson Concrete on Hockings Street. We’ll peacefully block their driveway to send a clear message to any local companies thinking about working on these projects that if these developments go ahead, the community will make it very hard for all involved. Facebook event ▸
Winter Solstice Festival
Sat, 18 Jun, 01:00pm–10:00pm
Northey Street City Farm have been celebrating the Winter Solstice for over 25 years with an annual festival of live music, dancing, talks and workshops for all ages, incredible food, a lantern parade and of course our beautiful bonfire. Our festival invites the Brisbane community to celebrate our relationship with Nature, to listen to First Nations knowledge, attend permaculture and sustainable living talks, appreciate local music and multicultural performances, and be a part of a ceremony that models setting intentions for the new year. Buy tickets here $0 - $40 ▸ | Facebook event ▸
Guided Historical Walking Tours of South Brisbane
Sun, 19 Jun, 09:30am–10:00am
Includes an in depth guided tour supported by unique and historical photos at the various stops. Plus morning tea on arrival and discounted entry to Queensland Maritime Museum and discounted lunch at the Ship Inn. Book early as numbers are limited and close, two days before the nominated day. All other enquiries see the QMM Website or Phone: QMM (07) 3844 5361 Monday to Friday 9.30 am to 4.30 pm Email: [email protected]memuseum.com.au Tickets for $25 here ▸
Queensland’s gaol and imprisonment crisis"". Speaker: Keith Hamburger
Wed, 29 Jun, 07:00pm
Keith is no arcadian dreamer - he has spent a life time working and changing the incarceration system in Qld. Unfortunately, since his retirement, Qld has regressed: more people - notably First Nation People - are incarcerated; there is a higher rate of recidivism; and communities are less safe; and billions is being wasted - unnecessarily! Keith will speak through several approaches that can reduce incarceration, recidivism, diverting offenders from prison and making genuine progress towards Closing the Gap aspirations. RSVP here ▸
Thinking you'd like to run for Brisbane City Council as a candidate? Casual chat and Q&A
Fri, 01 Jul, 04:30pm–06:30pm
I'm an organising a Q&A session for potential future city council candidates... Big swings to the Greens at the recent federal election mean quite a few council wards around Brisbane will also be up for grabs in the 2024 local government elections. If you’re thinking you might like to run for the Greens and become a city councillor, but still want to learn more about what’s involved, this is a chance to have a cuppa with Brisbane’s first Greens councillor and ask whatever questions you’ve been wondering about. Facebook event ▸
In the space of a couple days, a lot of journalists and political commentators (including some Greens members from down south) have apparently become experts on the growing electoral success of the Greens in Queensland, despite the fact that very few of them seemed to have paid close attention to what’s been happening here over the past 7 or 8 years.
Many of these explanations (particularly from major party supporters) are hilariously simplistic, maybe because some people are trying to convince themselves that there’s an easy, straightforward way to counteract what’s happened. They sound more like wishful thinking than robust analysis… “Oh the Liberals lost because we didn’t put forward enough strong female candidates!” (Yeah sure mate… That might be part of it, but the collapse in both the major parties’ primary votes is far more fundamental, long-term and chronic.)
Greens victories in the senate and multiple lower house seats around Brisbane might seem like they’ve come out of nowhere, or that they’re purely attributable to concerns about climate change. But there’s way more going on here.
At all levels of government, the Queensland Greens vote has been rising steadily – particularly in Brisbane – in consecutive elections since 2016, but it hadn’t resulted in us actually winning many seats. We came close to snagging four more Brisbane wards in the March 2020 local government elections, but the Greens vote was dampened by the arrival of covid and associated disruptions (voter turnout was under 80% - and was especially low in electorates with higher proportions of young adults). Similarly, the overall Greens vote wasn’t great in the November 2020 Queensland state election, apparently because a lot of progressive voters wanted to signal support for Palaszczuk’s handling of the pandemic. The muted results in these two most recent elections partially hides the longer-term general trend of growing Greens support in Brisbane, which is perhaps why some people didn’t predict this result in 2022.
Our federal election victories didn’t come out of nowhere. They’re the product of years of patient, dogged organising and capacity-building.
General swings vs bigger surges
Nationwide, the Greens vote seems to have increased by about 1.4%. I suspect much of that general swing is connected to climate change, corruption, women’s justice, maybe refugee rights etc.
That positive swing is also partially attributable to the broader trend of more young Greens-leaning people turning 18 and enrolling to vote, while older, conservative voters pass away. A lot of those school kids who marched in the street as part of climate strikes a couple of years ago are now adults, and are moving to the inner-city… I don’t think many of them are voting for parties who support digging new coal mines or endlessly propping up house prices.
But the additional swings of 5% to 10% that we’ve seen in multiple electorates are well ahead of the national trend, and contrast markedly with progressive inner-Melbourne seats like Wills and Higgins, where the Greens vote barely moved (despite the absence of strong independent campaigns).
The other important piece of the puzzle – which might be a hard pill for some Queensland Greens members to swallow – is that the headline-grabbing growth in Greens support seems to have been much more concentrated in Greater Brisbane and a few other pockets of South-East Queensland than in the rest of the state.
The Greens (myself included) really want to believe our messages and vision are appealing to voters across Queensland and that we aren’t just a party of the inner-city. And we did see healthy swings in Brisbane’s middle and outer suburbs, which are demographically quite different from the inner-city. Electorates like Ryan stretch all the way out to Ferny Grove and Upper Brookfield on the city’s outer fringe. They are not purely inner-city electorates.
Encouragingly, we’ve also seen a Greens primary vote increase of 1% to 2% across most of the rest of the state. But this isn’t markedly different to average swings across Australia. Unfortunately, contrary to some commentary and wishful thinking, there was not a ‘massive’ swing to the Greens in regional Queensland. Choosing a ‘regional’ lead senate candidate, Penny Allman-Payne (currently based in Gladstone), might have bumped up our vote outside of SEQ slightly, but it doesn’t appear to have had a major effect.
And while we gained respectable swings in outer-suburban Brisbane, the Greens vote only increased modestly in most seats on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts. Our policy platform might have wide appeal to voters across the state, but for various reasons, it’s not yet getting through to them or winning them over.
So on closer inspection, the ‘Greens surge’ in Queensland actually looks like a small general nationwide increase in the Greens vote, coupled with much bigger swings in Brisbane itself that bump up the state average.
It would take too long to offer a full analytical explanation of this growing Brisbane vote, and I won’t pretend to understand all the variables and voter motivations on the ground in our key seats. But let’s start by ruling out the explanations that are not particularly credible…
“Lots of Greens voters moved up from down south”
Not quite. Thousands of people have certainly moved up to Queensland from the southern states lately. You might expect that demographically, these people would be younger and more inclined to vote progressive. But we don’t really know for sure.
In my electorate, I’ve certainly met young, progressive, Greens-leaning southerners who’ve moved north, but I’ve also encountered older, wealthier, more conservative people who’ve made the move.
As mentioned above, most seats on the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast had comparatively small swings to the Greens, even though these regions have reportedly also had quite a large influx of interstate migrants.
In the context of a population of millions, the total number of people who’ve moved north simply is not significant enough to explain such big swings in Brisbane. The Greens vote has increased by tens of thousands. Mathematically speaking, it would be silly to attribute that to interstate migration alone.
There were no ‘teal’ independents competing in Queensland
True. But why didn’t strong independent campaigns emerge in Liberal-held seats like Ryan or Brisbane?
Down south, a lot of people who weren’t particularly impressed with either major party decided to run as independents (or to actively campaign for them) because there was no existing alternative party or grouping that seemed to have a credible chance of success. Meanwhile here in Brisbane, the Greens had been picking up momentum with big swings on council plus a couple of high-profile state election victories.
The steady growth of the Greens in Brisbane meant that for anyone who was unhappy with major party inaction on climate change, there was already a clear alternative political force to get behind.
Rather than saying “The Greens did better in Queensland because there were no centrist independents” we should recognise that there were no strong campaigns by centrist independents in Brisbane precisely because the Greens were doing better.
No-one cares about an ICAC
Ok maybe ‘no-one’ is an exaggeration. But based on all the conversations I’ve been having over the past few months at community events, in private meetings with residents, and at the polling booths, I’m not at all convinced that demands for a federal ICAC were a major vote-swinger in Brisbane.
Obviously there are lots of politically engaged people who’d like to see a federal anti-corruption commission. But such demands can feel somewhat abstract and technocratic for disengaged swing voters who are worried about affording childcare and paying the rent.
We definitely still need an Independent Commission Against Corruption at the federal level, but the reality is that this isn't the main issue changing most people's voting intentions.
It was the floods!
Maybe a tiny little bit. But not necessarily in the way you think.
As big Greens swings started coming in on election night, a couple of commentators started pointing out that they were all in flood-affected areas along the Brisbane River. This is only partially true. Some parts of Ryan, Griffith, Brisbane, Moreton and Bonner, were indeed smashed by flooding. But most suburbs in these electorates were only marginally impacted, and a booth-by-booth analysis doesn’t show a correlation between flood impacts and positive Green swings within those electorates. With the arguable exception of Ipswich (Blair), other parts of the state that were flooded much worse than Brisbane didn’t see similar big Green swings.
While we may wish it were otherwise, major climate change-related disasters don’t automatically lead to a rising Greens vote.
But apart from reinforcing the realities of global warming, I think the floods did help by highlighting the broader, deeper failures of the existing social order, and prime more people for conversations about structural and political change. For some of the people I spoke to at the polling booths, it wasn’t so much climate change that had them worried, but the nation-state’s demonstrated inability and unwillingness to offer meaningful support during crisis.
This is a subtle but important distinction. Flooding impacts are very uneven, and the number of people directly and severely affected might only be a small proportion of an electorate. But such disasters can be a launching point for broader political discussions, and an excuse to connect with the community.
The greater significance of the February flood was that it created an opportunity for the Greens to demonstrate a practical commitment to helping our local communities. Much of the flood clean-up in suburbs like West End and East Brisbane was undertaken by volunteers organised through Greens networks, and particularly by the Griffith election campaign team. And because we weren’t beholden to government talking points, elected Greens reps (me, Michael and Amy) were also providing more detailed and useful public information about flood risks and recovery logistics, highlighting the advantage of having a hard-working Greens MP or councillor.
This brings me to one of the key overlooked factors that definitely did contribute to the Greens’ success in Brissie…
We are closely linked to grassroots community organising and activism
Pretty much wherever you go in Australia, Greens members and supporters are active in social justice and environmental activism campaigns, from bushcare groups to refugee rights street marches. But I think in Brisbane we may have evolved a slightly better (but still imperfect) model of solidarity and co-organising that uses party and elected rep resources to more meaningfully and actively support projects and struggles without co-opting them.
I still worry that our big electoral campaigns are drawing away too much volunteer energy from other grassroots community struggles, but at least we’re maintaining a more solid connection to them.
In many cases, the very same people who are starting community gardens, putting on street festivals, fundraising for refugee housing or organising climate justice protests are also coming along to Greens branch meetings and handing out flyers on election day. There’s very little distance between many of Brisbane’s activist communities and the Greens as an electoral party, because so many of us have a foot in both spaces. At election time, this support for grassroots struggle translates to more volunteers than Labor and the Liberals combined (within inner-Brisbane at least), and a deeper, more nuanced understanding of what the community cares about.
A separate but related factor may be that when it comes to activism, Brisbane has been a pretty radical city over the last few years.
It’s hard for me to draw accurate comparisons to Australia’s other capitals, so I don’t want to overstate this point. But I suspect that Brissie-based activist movements are generally more radical, and more willing to directly challenge state power front-on. They are less influenced by the kinds of liberal reformism and weak-willed de-escalatory thinking that’s normalised and disseminated by big NGOs based in Sydney and Melbourne. While our overall numbers might sometimes be smaller, we get shit done and we don’t shy from conflict.
There’s been a lot of really staunch resistance and struggle here on the streets of Brisbane that has successfully drawn wider public attention to injustices and oppression perpetrated by the colonial nation-state, including by the Queensland Labor Party. This has benefited the Greens electorally, and mustn’t be overlooked.
A lot of Queensland Greens analysis and commentary will likely focus on doorknocking and our effectiveness at one-on-one political conversations. But we can’t ignore the significant value of all the other kinds of movement-building, community organising and civil disobedience that’s been happening parallel to our election campaigns, which creates more political space for the Greens as an electoral force (essentially a ‘radical flank’ effect) while also serving as a strong social base that can (hopefully) hold elected reps accountable.
Political education = effective campaigners
Another key element (which I suspect is more prominent among the Brisbane Greens branches than in other parts of the country) is the stronger emphasis on political education and collective strategising. Amy, Michael and I look for opportunities to involve our wider support base in public discussions about policy and political strategy, organising forums and info sessions about big stuff like colonialism and imperialism, the party’s position on controversial topics like covid lockdowns, and the philosophical framework that informs our stance on issues like housing and urban development.
Before elections, key campaigns also put heaps of time into making sure more of our supporters understand our political vision and policy platform, with multiple campaign intro sessions for new volunteers, public lectures, and post-doorknock debriefs functioning as mini political education forums in their own right. In contrast, I’ve heard that many Labor campaigns offered no meaningful training to new doorknock volunteers at all. Our volunteers know what they’re talking about. Theirs don’t.
All of this combines to create a growing layer of highly engaged volunteers who can discourse much more deeply with people about why they should vote Greens. Meanwhile, a lot of major party campaigners seem unable to do much more than parrot slogans. This distinction was starkly visible at the prepoll booths and on election day. Greens volunteers who’d had far more training and experience at one-on-one political conversations were able to engage meaningfully with undecided voters, listen to their concerns and convince them to put the Greens first.
On election day this year, I spent most of my time at the Kangaroo Point polling booth. I met a lot of residents who weren’t loyal to any particular party, and still felt really uncertain about the choice they were about to make.
For almost 10 hours, I spoke to dozens and dozens of people, many of whom were either completely undecided, or who were leaning towards one of the major parties but open to being persuaded otherwise. Without exaggeration, I would conservatively estimate that I was swinging about 5 votes per hour purely through one-on-one conversations (plus locking in many more).
At the Brisbane City Hall prepoll booth on the Friday evening before the election, there was an even higher proportion of swing voters from across Brisbane, and I’d estimate that I was swinging closer to 7 or 8 votes per hour.
Those numbers might not sound like much in the context of federal electorates with 120 000+ voters, until you remember that throughout the 10-hour election day voting period, at almost every single booth in our key Brisbane seats, there would have been two or three equally-effective volunteers on shift at all times (backed up by many more volunteers who weren’t quite as experienced but could still smile and hand out flyers).
An electorate like Griffith has around 20 larger polling booths (and another 10 to 15 smaller ones). So with two or three experienced campaigners at each of those major booths swinging 4 or 5 votes per hour (votes that would otherwise have gone to one of the major parties), that potentially amounts to a swing of 2000 to 4000 votes right there on election day, plus a couple thousand more at the prepoll booths. This maths is obviously rough, but the general conclusion is worth paying attention to.
Thanks to a robust and multi-faceted emphasis on political education, Greens campaigners in key Brisbane seats have become devastatingly effective at changing voters’ minds if we get the chance to talk to them one-on-one.
A radical orientation
Ultimately, the main reason we can swing so many voters and motivate more volunteers to campaign for us is that people genuinely like what we’re offering.
In the past few years, the Australian Greens have shifted to campaigning on a broader social democracy platform. We’ve been talking more explicitly about how our calls for climate justice and social justice connect directly to higher taxes on the mega-rich and increased spending on public housing, healthcare, education etc. rather than allowing ourselves to be pigeonholed as caring exclusively about koalas and trees.
I would argue that this shift has been led by the Queensland Greens, and flows directly from our initial experiments with bolder policy platforms in the 2016 Gabba Ward council campaign and the 2017 Queensland state campaign.
For years, too many people in the Greens (and in progressive circles more generally) have uncritically swallowed the myth that we can’t be too radical or we will put off ‘centrist’ voters. But that conclusion doesn’t stack up to the experience from successive campaigns in Brissie.
In electorates like Griffith and Ryan, we were talking openly and confidently about capping rents and scrapping negative gearing. This certainly put off a few property investors from voting for us, but it also helped us win over heaps of people who were on the fence between Greens and Labor, or indeed between Greens and the Liberals. Bold platforms based on taxing the mega-wealthy, discouraging property investment and redistributing wealth towards social services and public facilities are extremely popular with the majority of voters.
But the swings in Queensland aren’t just down to this broader policy platform. We have an underlying vision and ethos that seems to resonate particularly strongly with voters who are disillusioned with the major parties. Rather than settling for narrow parameters of debate and contenting ourselves with liberal reformism, we continually push for deeper change and demand more of the political establishment. When the major parties reject the ideas we’re advocating, we support protests and other forms of activism to ramp up the pressure.
During Max’s campaign in Griffith, a lot of Bulimba residents articulated concerns about a major development proposal on flood-prone land. While other progressive campaigns would have contented themselves with encouraging people to make written submissions to the council that are inevitably ignored, Max’s campaign didn’t settle for that. They drew on community networks and worked with residents to establish a community garden right in the path of the proposed road that was to lead into the new subdivision (without asking permission from the authorities). Later, the campaign distributed produce from the garden as part of covid lockdown care packages.
This feels like a fundamental difference between Greens in Brisbane and Greens parties in other states. We continually make it clear that we don’t accept the narrow limits of what’s purportedly possible within our current system, and we push back assertively whenever we’re accused of being unrealistic or ‘too utopian.’
A lot of southerners don’t seem to understand this dynamic. They’re already theorising that Elizabeth Watson-Brown won Ryan because she was palatable to middleclass centrists who were concerned about climate change. But that’s not the full story.
Queensland is not a conservative state. It is an anti-establishment state where voters have a healthy scepticism of authority and of whoever they perceive as being ‘in charge.’
Whereas down in NSW, Victoria and perhaps Tasmania, the Greens are increasingly seen as part of the political establishment, the Queensland Greens have been able to more clearly position ourselves as anti-establishment. (I should note that a few individual Greens candidates who achieved strong results in other parts of the country have also presented more strongly as ‘system outsiders’ – Celeste Liddle in Cooper springs to mind)
There’s an important distinction between being part of the establishment and being a serious, well-organised political force that’s a credible alternative to the establishment.
To simplistically characterise the massive swings we’re seeing as being purely about ‘climate change’ or ‘sexism’ or narrowly-defined ‘political corruption’ is to overlook the long-term structural collapse in support for both the major parties.
Old political allegiances and loyalties are weakening. Many more voters are up for grabs by anyone who isn’t seen as ‘part of the system,’ and a new contest is emerging between different political orientations – including hardcore fascists, liberal technocrats, and anti-capitalists seeking deeper change – as to who can reach them first.
More and more people are looking for alternatives, and more specifically, for a departure from the status quo.
Here in Queensland, the Greens were clearly offering that. That’s why we won.
While all this sounds very triumphant and self-congratulatory, I should probably note that there are also still some big weaknesses within the Queensland Greens that can’t be ignored…
The ridiculously long working hours that some campaigners adopted in our key campaigns (not just for weeks, but for months) are not necessarily sustainable or scalable. And we are still failing to preselect and elevate enough people of colour and First Nations people as candidates in winnable seats. If anything, our recent successes mean our party will be perceived as even whiter than before. I’ll have more to say on that in the coming weeks.
For now though, I’m feeling pretty damn pleased and excited about what we’ve achieved here in Queensland, and looking forward to what comes next…
I'm very proud of and excited for our newly elected federal representatives here in Queensland. But honestly: have you ever seen a whiter bunch of people?
I've allocated a bit of my discretionary local budget to fund Aboriginal artists to paint murals on the two toilet blocks in Musgrave Park.
Work should start in the next few weeks on the toilet at the Russell Street end of the park. A First Nations artist named Dylan Bolger will be working with young Aboriginal kids from the Murri School to paint a mural centering on the theme of the Macaranga tree. Dylan writes: "The Macaranga is of old world genesis and is considered a re-coloniser or pioneer plant; meaning after devastation it will be one of the first plants to grow back and breathe new life into the space. The leaf is representing my people and culture being of ‘old world genesis’ as we grow back through the devastation of colonialism."
You can see an image of Dylan's concept design for the mural below. I'll post more details about the other toilet block mural once they're locked in.
BCC has initiated a reasonably broad-scope investigation into the 2022 floods, to be led by Mr Paul de Jersey. The following text is copied from the Terms of Reference circulated to councillors by Mr de Jersey on Friday, 18 March.
You can read my submission here.
Review into the February 2022 Brisbane Floods ‐ Terms of reference
18 March 2022
1. The City of Brisbane has throughout its history been the subject of intense seasonal weather events. It is not uncommon for Brisbane to receive several weather warnings from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) throughout summer months. Of relevance, was the flooding event of 2011 which resulted in the findings of the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry being released in March 2012 (QFCI Report).
2. As a result of the 2011 flooding event Brisbane City Council (Council) established a board in late January 2011 and requested a report be produced by the middle of May 2011 (Brisbane Flood Report).
3. In response to the recent weather event described below, Council seeks to have an independent review undertaken to ensure that Council continues to improve its ability to protect lives and property from similar natural disasters in Brisbane in the future.
The Weather Event
4. Between 24 and 28 February 2022, South‐East Queensland and northern New South Wales experienced an unprecedented weather event (Weather Event).
5. The Weather Event was the largest rainfall event (for that period) to have occurred over the Brisbane catchment with 792.8mm falling 24 February 2022 to 9.00am 28 February 2022. To put this in perspective, this exceeded the 1974 rainfall record of 655.8 and represents about 80 per cent of Brisbane’s yearly average rainfall falling in this five‐day period.
6. The Brisbane River peaked Monday, 28 February at 3.85m (AHD city gauge) at 9.00am. whilst this is less than the 4.46m AHD recorded in 2011, the widespread intense rainfall also caused significant creek and overland flow flooding.
Appointment and Scope
7. On 1 March 2022 the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Councillor Adrian Schrinner announced that former Governor and former Chief Justice of Queensland the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC CVO QC would undertake an independent and comprehensive review with respect of the following matters:
(a) the extent to which Council has implemented the relevant recommendations from the
QFCI Report and the Brisbane Flood Report, as they related to the City of Brisbane, prior
to the Weather Event;
(b) the effectiveness of measures recommended by the QFCI Report, and the Brisbane Flood
Report taken by Council to improve the protection for flood prone properties from
inundation with a particular focus on backflow devices and the Flood Resilient Homes
(c) the effectiveness of Council’s disaster management framework in responding to the
Weather Event having regard to the combined means of other relevant entities, with a
i. Council’s disaster management organisational structures and policies;
ii. the establishment of Council’s evacuation centres;
iii. the adequacy of public information provided by Council on flood risk for individual
iv. the coordination with other government agencies, communications and utility providers; and
v. community response, including the organisation and management of community volunteers.
(d) the adequacy of the Council’s public warnings and advice, having regard to:
i. the requirements and responsibilities of the other relevant entities, such as the State Government, Commonwealth Government and BOM;
ii. the reliability and timeliness of the information provided to Council by other relevant entities;
iii. the capability of external systems relied upon by Council;
(e) the effectiveness of changes made to the Planning Regulations 2017 in mitigating loss and damage in respect of flood prone areas post 2011;
(f) the resilience of riverine and waterways infrastructure which has been upgraded or constructed following the 2011 flood event (a list of relevant infrastructure is provided in Attachment ‘A’).
8. Mr de Jersey will be calling for submissions from all Councillors, Council, and all others at Mr de Jersey's discretion, in respect of the matters subject of the review, with submissions to be provided to Mr de Jersey by close of business 8 April 2022
9. Mr de Jersey is required to produce a report addressing the above matters including any recommendations arising from the terms of reference which he considers as reasonable to improve the City's preparation and planning for any such future weather event.
10. The report is to be provided to the Lord Mayor on or before 1 July 2022. However, should Mr de Jersey require any further information on a particular matter that cannot be addressed in the above timeframe, this request should be made through the report and be addressed after the provision of the material. This timing will enable any recommendations to be addressed prior to the next summer’s wet season.
11. The report will be made public following its delivery to the Lord Mayor.