The Internet – weapon of mass distraction

I’m going to talk about the most unfulfilled promise in activism: the thought that the internet would streamline and thus mobilize political activity. After all, such participation used to entail finding addresses, licking envelopes, traipsing to the post office… when suddenly it could all be done with a click of a mouse.

More news and information has been put at our fingertips than was available to even the best connected scholar or activist prior to the internet. With so much knowledge and cheap ways of communicating it, we should be far less tolerant of our ignorance and inaction. But no. Time-saving digital technologies have drained the activist spirit; ‘clicktivism’ is as far most protests go.

Political disengagement is most notable among the 20-40 year olds. Is it due to the distractions of social media? After all, the average 18- to 34-year-old spends 30 hours per month on social networking services.  Or is disengagement a lack of faith in politics or something else entirely? Surely, this group have more to complain about than older generations, they don’t have free universities, plentiful work and affordable first homes.

Wikipedia proved that people willingly devote time to anonymously donating useful information, providing a continuously updated, working draft of history. Yet it’s not compiled by corporations, gov­ernments, or universities but from well informed and passionate volunteers.

As we heard from Tony Abbot with “death cults” and “stop the boats”, it is easy to state populist nonsense in one-liners. But more worrying is how fictions can perpetuate with slogans: “Global warming is a myth,” “Vaccinations cause autism.” Ideas so easily become ideologies, whilst it requires long essays to explain the complexities of real science and the meaning of real life.

When political debate no longer resonates, people become responsive to symbols and sensation. So to the admirers of Trump, facts and arguments appear irrelevant. And what is disturbing to this old timer raised on hard-copy informa­tion and in depth journalism is how fast the Internet is eroding what’s left of it – a pale shadow of its former self.

This democratic decay is fertile soil for populist politics. Hence we have inaction among a gulf of economic realities: persistent unemployment, stagnant growth and austerity for some – amid record corporate profits and growing concentrations of wealth for others. But no political response, just noisy promises from political extremes. Meanwhile the internet is great for surveillance and business models and hence government and the corporate world love it.

Like any new technology, the internet can relieve us of burdens and add comfort and convenience, but leave entrenched social problems untouched. It supercharges our needs and desires and enables cheaper, more potent tools with which to further our quest for more stuff, leading to waste of time and resources. It’s like fast food for the mind: too much of it is bad for our health. Nowhere is this better appreciated than Silicone Valley, where parents insist on sending their kids to schools where IT is banned.

Our machines are getting more like people, but are we thinking and behaving more like them? Human capability can be enlarged by technology, but what it enlarges and how is not down to rational thought; the science tells us that such choices are an unconscious expression of inherent human desires. Biological science Professor, David Sloan Wilson says, we are not party to the environmental cues, both social and material, that are good for us. “… the mechanisms of assessment often take place beneath conscious awareness.”

This fact was well understood by Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple. When asked how much Apple enquires into customer’s needs and desires, he chuckled: “None. It’s not the customers’ job to know what they want…” We’re allowing switched on technology entrepreneurs to declare open season on our future. Are we to be empowered by technology or becoming enslaved by it?

Gadgets and services are rarely developed in response to need but to novelty. Fulfilling wants we didn’t know we had and then finding we can’t do without them. Necessity is no longer the mother of invention while branding and profit become dysfunctional step-parents. We conform to everything the latest marketing ploy expects from us. Commerce has never had such a compliant clientele – while profiting from our inclinations and impulses. Hence four of the top ten corporates in the world are IT companies.

Neuroscientists are concerned that social media is the cause of increasing narcissism and even our sense of identity is suffering. Psychologists argue that technology is undermining human competence and aspiration, making us dependent and vulnerable to its constant demands. Victimized by weapons of mass distraction, we fall for the immediate, which is good at masquerading at what is relevant.

With our technological wizardry, we can go on tweaking the design of human experience as long as we like but the design of human nature will remain unchanged and it’s showing signs of being unable to cope.

“The intrinsic challenge”, says computer scientist and philosopher, Jaron Lanier, “..is finding a way not to be overly drawn into dazzlingly designed forms of cognitive waste. The naïve experience of simulation is the opposite of delayed gratification. Competence depends on delayed gratification”. 

Can social media be a powerful tool for the common good? Digital statesmanship has challenged state power, as in the Arab Spring. But while it was easy to motivate a coalition initially, in the long term it hasn’t been easy to sustain it. Myanmar achieved as much as the so called Twitter Revolution, at about the same time, but without the Internet. The Arab spring turned to a winter of discontent. What was missing was the institutions to endorse their democratic dreams.

In the developed world, the excess of information causes audience fragmentation. There is so much of it that it can be tailored to special interests and prejudices – supercharging ideological polarization. And the less informed you are, the more likely you are to use narrowly targeted sources.

On the day after the EU referendum, in a Facebook post, the British internet activist and mySociety founder, Tom Steinberg, provided a vivid illustration of the power of the filter bubble – and the serious civic consequences for a world where information flows largely through social networks:

I am actively searching through Facebook for people celebrating the Brexit leave victory, but the filter bubble is SO strong, and extends SO far into things like Facebook’s custom search that I can’t find anyone who is happy *despite the fact that over half the country is clearly jubilant today* and despite the fact that I’m *actively* looking to hear what they are saying.

This echo-chamber problem is now SO severe and SO chronic that I can only beg any friends I have who actually work for Facebook and other major social media and technology to urgently tell their leaders that to not act on this problem now is tantamount to actively supporting and funding the tearing apart of the fabric of our societies … We’re getting countries where one half just doesn’t know anything at all about the other.

The key factor in dispute resolution is getting to understand the other sides’ point of view. Yet folk gravitate to sites where preconceptions are reinforced – ignoring alternative views. It’s no coincidence that the U.S – which has advanced furthest down this road, has the most inept political discourse.

If this is the ‘information age,’ what exactly are we informed about? The answer is trivia, video-gaming, self-absorption, porn, gossip and celebrity. These short-term and shallow habits are making us skim over life’s essentials, alienating us from a meaningful and productive existence, desensitizing us from injustice and distracting us from recognizing opportunities for progress.

Problems like cyber bullying shows that the internet only brings out the worst in us. Where will we gain the wisdom to stem this torrent of distraction? Where are we heading if are unable to control our tools but instead be controlled by them?

The Internet is simultaneously the world’s greatest time saver and the greatest time waster in history. Yahoo! once boasted that, “We developed this thing so that you don’t have to waste time to start wasting time. Now you can start wasting time right away.”

A belief held by many is that all this is just part of something profoundly wrong with society today and it results from governments that have lost control and a public that have lost interest. You don’t need reminding that quality at every level of government is at an all-time low. But you do need to ask who is to blame. If we only ever do what is expected of us, and if we only ever do what authority and business wishes, we will only ever get the government we deserve.

The biggest danger of all is thinking that whatever we do will make no difference.

Graham Carter

www.balance.org.au – Mating ground for Ideas

 

Beyond Business as Usual

Redlands could enhance its tourism potential and reap wide ranging benefits.

I don’t mean 5 star hotels, luxury resorts or Club Med, the type of tourism I’m thinking of makes the place attractive for visitors and residents alike. Basics like good restaurants, farmer’s markets, cycle paths, walking trails and mangrove boardwalks, public transport, a capacity sports ground, parkland, arts, cultural and heritage precincts, festival and event venues etc.

Tourism development requires a Council to set the right priorities and incentives, reduce red tape, provide the right infrastructure and facilities and listen to the community and the various stakeholders.

As an example of what tourism can do, take the case of Mackay. In 2013/14, the city recognized that the resources boom was coming to its end, so it took action to recoup lost prosperity through tourism promotion. Despite the region having no iconic tourist attractions, it increased its Queensland visitor numbers by 25%. And that’s just in the first year of its new tourism plan.

North Stradbroke Island

We’ll focus first on North Stradbroke Island because it’s losing its main industry. Mackay’s success can be emulated here. The Queensland Government has already developed a worthy Draft North Stradbroke Island Economic Transition Strategy supported by 16 actions, which aim to:

  • drive sustainable tourism
  • expand education and training opportunities
  • foster business development and growth

They have allocated $20 million to drive this strategy and facilitate stakeholder co-investment to deliver a sustainable economy. The strategy is further supported by an additional $3.87 million in-kind Queensland Government contribution for identified actions and $5 million to help mine workers pursue new employment opportunities. This is an opportunity for mine workers to acquire new skills over the next year or two and make the transition to tourism. And these sums are in addition to any expenditure required on items such as policing, national parks or roads.

The State Government involvement in these tourism opportunities can only take it so far, the initial direction, motivation and ideas have to be locally generated. In seeking to promote such innovation-led growth, it is fundamental to understand the important roles that both the public and private sector have to play. In the first instance the public sector can work from the top down via the aforementioned strategies and they can also incentivize private sector-led innovation through subsidies, tax reductions, grant monies and in building the necessary infrastructure. The rest has to come locally from the ground up.

The State Government set up a Committee to oversee the Amendment Bill but it was made up solely of State MPs. But transitioning to tourism is not like planning a change to an industry with a single focus like manufacturing or mining, it has to involve the local community, business and tourism operators in the first instance. This is because tourism development is complex as the industry relies on a wide array of small niche markets, so planning for growth in tourism must be similarly wide ranging and very carefully managed with input from all stakeholders.

The instigators and facilitators of all the necessary local input must be the Redland City Council itself and it’s in this respect where there are grave concerns with the priorities that the last council team, led by Karen Williams, set in the past four years with its one-eyed focus on residential development, its lack of proper community consultation and its failure to listen to the science and experts in the field.

A functional and properly led council team that understood the issues, would appreciate that the big prizes shouldn’t all go to those who develop and build in the Redlands, help can be given to those who can create something from its natural assets. Heritage, cultural and nature based tourism brings local employment opportunities and provides income that helps preserve our natural assets and provides amenities for us all.

Already there have been scandalous delays in getting Straddie tourism proposals even discussed, let alone planned. Redlands City Council have been missing in action when it comes to exploiting tourism opportunities in the Redlands generally but particularly in regard to Straddie and Peel Island.

At the Public Forum at Cleveland on the ‘North Stradbroke Island Government Bill’ held on 10th February 2016, it was stated that it would take 22 years for the tourism industry on the island to make up for the shortfall in sand mining revenue after 2019, but that was at tourism’s present growth rate. But the present growth rate is at a snail’s pace because of the constraints it’s working under.

For example, in the holiday season, there are over 3,000 campers on the island and the island’s camp sites get overcrowded and they are desperately short of infrastructure.  At the Main Beach camp site there are no facilities – not even composting toilets or drinking water. At Flinders beach there are just composting toilets but no other facilities. The island is also under extreme pressure from 4WDs and camping so there is need to open more of it up and establish more camp sites.

North Stradbroke Island is the second biggest sand island in the world and we should be taking more care of it. Straddie is popular as it has what both Fraser and Moreton Islands have got but is closer to the main population centres and easier to get to. Also, unique for a sand island, to access some of its campsites, a 4WD is not required.

Under Tourism Opportunities you will see visitation statistics that confirm what many tourist operators in the Redlands and surrounding areas generally, have been saying for decades: that Straddie is chronically under-marketed and lacks the necessary branding as a tourist destination. The peak tourism bodies of Brisbane, Queensland and the Commonwealth have also echoed these sentiments many times over the years. All these bodies will help in marketing the island both in the domestic and international markets.

Let’s summarize some key tourism indicators of Redlands and its islands:

Peel Island

There is untapped tourism potential on Peel Island which council should be fostering. Many thousands of years of Indigenous habitation was followed by the use of the island as a quarantine station in the 19th century, followed by a leper colony in the early 20th century. Many of the buildings from this latter era remain in fair condition and some have been restored by QNPWS. It thus has all the heritage, educational and field study potential of the very popular St Helena Island to its north (27,000+ visitors p.a) but with the added benefits of usable buildings, good camping site potential, plenty of shade and a safe sandy beach. To start with the island requires a jetty so that it can be properly accessed. The Leper colony closed in 1959 – what are we waiting for?

Indigenous cultural activities

Surveys of international visitors to Australia have shown that interest in Indigenous music, art and dance is consistently at the top of the ‘must see’ activities on visitors’ lists. In south-east Queensland there is a well acknowledged scarcity in the tourism sector of such Aboriginal culture. Yet Straddie has some of the earliest human habitation in South-East Queensland and is continuous.

Accordingly, many existing activities like the Quandamooka Festival, and Indigenous cultural activities and guided tours could be expanded, along with an Indigenous cultural centre where Indigenous culture and knowledge can be showcased and interpreted.

More could be made of the fact that the island was once home to Australia’s best known Indigenous poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal (1920 – 1993). Formerly known as Kath Walker, she was also a political activist, artist, educator and a campaigner for Aboriginal Rights. She was the first Aboriginal Australian to publish a book of verse.

Arts Council Grants

There are good prospects for partnering between the tourism industry and government and there are grant monies available from both state and federal governments.  How tourism businesses transform these government support mechanisms into viable enterprises is no easy task but two ongoing festivals on St Helena Island were seeded in the 1990s with Australian Arts Council grants, so it can be done.

Moreover, between them, Peel and North Stradbroke Island tick all the boxes in regard to what is favoured by these funding bodies: ‘Live’ Indigenous culture; early colonial history; vibrant art culture; tourism potential; National Park status and educational opportunities. Separately and in various combinations, these features all have good success rates for winning grant monies.

Another key indicator for seed money is competence and Straddie has the skill sets and a good track record of hosting successful festivals. We need a Council to set the right priorities and incentives that will further expand on existing events and exploit the untapped tourism resources that exist on both islands. Some of the infrastructure and organizational constraints are outside local government control, like a jetty for Peel Island and its proper gazetting as a functioning National Park. Hence we need a Council that will turn its attention away from residential development and lobby the State Government hard on these fundamentals.

Charterboat & Ferry Access

It’s not just Toondah Harbour that needs upgrading. On the island side, at both Dunwich and One Mile, the stepping off points onto the island require much needed renovations. The ferry terminals at Dunwich and One Mile are the scruffiest and most unwelcoming in south-east Queensland. Moreover, to optimise the enormous potential of the Brisbane visitor market, a fast passenger ferry from the CBD must be part of the plan. Similarly, bay cruises, Peel Island tours and whale watch cruises could be conducted from North Stradbroke Island itself.

Event & Activity Tourism

This is an important growth area and Straddie is a great place for surfing championships, camping, mountain bike trails, trekking and kayaking holidays. Due to its elevation, Straddie is one of the best land-based vantage points for whale watching in Australia. Also extended tours of its abundant wildlife on land and surrounding waters would be popular. These need facilitating by proper planning and infrastructure by Council.

Festivals

One of the fastest growing sectors of the events and leisure activity industry is festivals. Adelaide is a good example of what can be done. It lost almost 30% of its workforce in the industrial sector in the past 30 years so, in response, the city has been incentivizing its cultural sector to make up for the economic shortfall. There’s a cluster of festivals in Adelaide during February and March – the Adelaide festival, the Adelaide fringeWomadelaidethe Biennial and Adelaide writers’ week – which have a transformative effect on the city and its economy. In a report released in January 2016 by Festivals Adelaide, the festivals delivered $210m to the state’s economy in 2014/15 – an increase of 16% on the previous year.

More than a million tickets were sold to the various activities and then there’s the hotel rooms, restaurants and taxis, plus the couple of days many visitors tack on at the end to explore the area. Last year 52,000 interstate and international visitors came to Adelaide in March and in the whole year, 800,000 people came through the Garden of Unearthly Delights.

Rob Brookman, the artistic director of the Adelaide festival and founder of the WOMADelaide festival, says the festival season in Adelaide “acts as a great calling card for the city”. In Australia, what Rob calls the “awesome small city” vibe, has also worked for Hobart, whose arts and tourism sector have been revitalised in a short space of time through festivals and the promotion of cultural arts.

Vibrant cities like Austin or Portland in the United States have carved out their own niche in various festivals they hold that were initiated by supporting local creatives. Some great festival cities, like Avignon in France and Edinburgh in Scotland, use their festival space to create a carnival atmosphere outside the festival season. They allow for some elements of the festival season – including pedestrian zones, central cultural hubs and pop-up entertainment venues – to run all year. Such creative sizzle could also be initiated by Redland City Council through grants and by cutting the hoops participants have to jump through. Festivals drive tourism and create jobs: festivals in Adelaide generated 790 full-time or 7800 casual equivalent jobs in 2015.

The Redlands is well placed to emulate these examples and to expand on existing festivals. It has an active and varied arts community and the Cleveland town centre would lend itself to becoming a pedestrian only zone to provide venue space. This would also help revitalize the dying business centre. Then there are plenty of add on activities for visitors including the Sirromet winery, boutique brewery, farm stays, scenic drives and visits to the Bay islands and Straddie.

Straddie is very busy in school holidays but has low occupancy rates at other times. The development of new events-based products and scheduling of festivals can help even out seasonality across the year.

Tourist Information

The Redlands Visitors Information Centre is situated at IndigiScapes at Capalaba. Their staff do a good job, but its out-of-the-way location means that it’s missed by most visitors to the Redlands area. A council with the proper balance of priorities would act as facilitator and properly promote Redlands’ tourism potential in areas where visitors are most likely to be. At minimal cost, small tourist information kiosks could be located adjacent to some of the transport hubs and staffed by volunteers.

I hope I have made it clear why I think that tourism is one of the industries that we in the Redlands should be encouraging. Please engage with these ideas and provide feedback.

Graham Carter

No More Business as Usual

 

Do we want to encourage business development in the Redlands, and if so, what sort?

What we don’t want is for Redlands to become a dormitory town where more and more folk have to commute outside the area for work. This is inconvenient for commuters, adds to our traffic problems and takes business and prosperity out of the Redlands. Unfortunately over 60% of our residents leave the City each day to work elsewhere. We can instead encourage businesses to set up shop within our boundary. Making it a pleasant place to work is not incompatible with making it a pleasant place to live.

One of the industries that readily achieves that dual aim is tourism. The more attractive a place is for tourists the more liveable it becomes for its residents. Enhanced amenities, well-preserved natural features and a vibrant arts and cultural scene that are popular with tourists, also enhance the liveability of the area for the community as a whole. And I want to show that tourism is an industry that has largely been ignored by Council in last four years, yet it has more potential than any other.

We need to focus our attention first on North Stradbroke Island because the State Government is balanced on a knife edge and the decision to stop sandmining on North Stradbroke Island by 2019 could be overturned if the Katter Bill is successful or if the LNP win government. Plus there is a new and inexperienced Councillor, Peter Mitchell, in charge of Division Two.

It’s important that the response to the cessation of sandmining through tourism promotion, infrastructure planning and rejuvenation necessary following mining and Council neglect, is fully and urgently optimised. Also there are State government funds available, along with State and Federal grant monies that can be exploited to ensure a good transition from mining to tourism. With the closure of sand mining on North Stradbroke Island and declaration of 80 per cent national park by 2026, we can make good the shortfall in tourism infrastructure, repair the damage from overuse and get our beautiful island back.

These visitation statistics –  Tourism Opportunities  – confirm what many tourist operators in the Redlands and surrounding areas generally – along with the peak tourism bodies of Queensland – have been saying for decades: that Straddie is chronically under-marketed and lacks the necessary branding as a tourist destination, both in the domestic and international markets.

Minister for the Environment, Dr Steven Miles, says:

“Straddie has the potential to be a world class tourism destination just like Fraser Island. It is inconceivable now that we would allow sand mining on Fraser. Sand mining came to an end there in the 1970s and now it is one of our greatest tourism assets.”

Straddie is in close proximity to two of the biggest tourist draw cards in Australia: The Gold Coast (902,000 visitors annually) and Brisbane (1.126 million visitors annually) These are big numbers for us to tap into. The visitation figures for Brisbane alone easily outstrips Cairns, Port Douglas, the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays and Townsville combined. Moreover Brisbane’s numbers increased 13% in 2015. Not to forget of course, the 3.4 million potential visitors that live in south-east Queensland.

How many visitors to the Gold Coast realize how close they are to the second largest sand island in the world, or that they have the chance of seeing koalas, kangaroos, rays and turtle in their natural setting? How many Brisbane visitors know that Straddie has the closest surfing beaches to the CBD? Properly managed and marketed, the tourism industry on Straddie has the potential to tap into these two international tourist drawcards and easily make up the shortfall from the cessation of mining to make a massive contribution to the island’s and Redland’s future.

We’ll continue this discussion next week with some examples of how other areas have successfully promoted tourism. We’ll also look at some of the key features of the Redlands and its islands that have tourism potential and how it can be exploited.

 

Let’s ensure we adopt the right attitude to tourism and its entrepreneurs and investors

After four years of Mayor Williams’ tyranny, it’s understandable that many of us are wary of any project she has a hand in and be similarly suspicious of those folk she has any dealings with. After seeing how the well-accepted need for a rejuvenated departure point for Straddie, grew to a proposal for a new town of 10,000 people reclaimed from the bay, such caution is well justified.

However, we must be careful as such an attitude can carry some unwarranted assumptions that can inhibit progress. What I’m saying is that we shouldn’t think that because this or that proposal is backed by Williams, that it is automatically bad or because this person or organisation had dealings with the Mayor, that they can’t be trusted.

After spending four years watching the Mayor’s every move, it’s all too easy to slip into the habit of looking at any proposal of hers over-critically. As though ‘there be dragons’ everywhere we look. So instead of carefully weighing up the pros and cons of new initiatives, considering what’s right about it as well seeing what’s wrong with it, we condemn it out of hand, just “because we see the grubby fingerprints of Williams all over it”.

Another danger for those of us that wish to promote a healthier set of priorities and objectives for the Redlands than that generally promoted by Williams, is that we can appear to be anti-business and I don’t think we should allow ourselves to be seen that way. As a political objective it’s not fruitful but it’s also unworthy because business brings other benefits like employment and prosperity. Instead of being seen as anti-business, what we want to be promoting is the right kind of business. Let’s look at an example:

The Royal Qld Yacht Squadron (RQYS) at Manly is Queensland’s biggest yacht club and is host to many national and international sailing regattas. The club has a Sailing Academy that teaches sailing to students from schools around Brisbane and plays host to many youth training camps for teams from Junior and Youth through to Olympic level from Australia and overseas.

There are existing sheds, buildings and land, currently leased by the sandmining company, Sibelco at Deanbilla Bay, just south of Dunwich which includes accommodation and large storage sheds.

RQYS has made an application to turn this area into a sailing facility and live-in camp with the idea of using part of the bay south of Peel Island as staging ground for sailing in all its forms, including introductory sailing programs, sail racing and as a regatta destination.

See: http://karenwilliams.com.au/images/uploads/RQYS_DeanbillaBay.pdf

This is an opportunity to grow participation in the environmentally friendly sport of sailing across a wide demographic of competitors and spectators alike. It will provide ongoing employment opportunities to people on the island where around 107 jobs are threatened by the cessation of sandmining and will boost the local economy through increased visitation. It will help provide national and worldwide promotion of North Stradbroke Island for tourism and as a world class sailing venue with first class courses and facilities.

It nevertheless has received a barrage of criticism just because the developer’s mayor is involved. Of course, as its many critics have said, it must pass muster in regard to real estate values and rental agreements; it must be approved by the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation who manage the native title interests of the original owners in the area along with other stakeholders on the island. Environmental Impact issues to be addressed for this proposal include assessing the effects of increased boating activity and moorings on oyster leases and adjacent marine habitat. Then there are issues concerning public access to the bay and foreshores.

Mayor Williams is wrong in announcing this project without first involving the local community and this is solely where any criticism should have been directed. We want no more secret meetings and deals with developers on the quiet and we must insist that workshops and working groups involve all Councillors and stakeholders and that they be given enough time to make proper consideration and provide feedback.

After approvals from the relevant stakeholders and properly assessed plans and controls in place, I contend this will be an ideal sports tourism oriented activity for the island and I urge everyone to support it. Frankly I was horrified to see this – the first major post-mining proposal put forward for the island – to be castigated by so many. Especially by those on the island itself.

It’s not as though its critics came up with any good reasons why it should not go ahead. What does it matter what occupation the Commodore of RQYS follows? What does it matter that RQYS is a very wealthy club? And frankly, talking about this proposal as if it’s another Toondah Harbour in the making is ludicrous.

RQYS, despite its wealth, is a not for profit sailing club. And if we care to look, it already has a good track record in environmental management in the Redlands. In the late 1980s they acquired ‘Browns’, a run-down 1.1 hectare property on the north-east tip of Russell Island. Take a look at the following to see what has become of it now:   http://www.rqys.com.au/about/our-locations/canaipa/

When tourism or leisure activity entrepreneurs study where to set up shop, it’s vital that they see that their investment and hard work will be accepted by the local community in order to gain the necessary support. I was in the tourism industry for most of my working life and I can tell you that tourism and leisure oriented activities can only thrive in a positive environment or investors will simply take their initiatives and money elsewhere.

The island is losing its major employer with all the usual heartache and displacement for the workers and their families that this will entail. For goodness sake let us view any replacement activity objectively, irrespective of who used it first for political purposes. As areas of the island that have been closed off for 70 years, once again become available, this is the sort of activity that we should welcome.

When we complain we should consider what the philosopher, Julian Baggini wrote: Complaint is a directed expression of refusal to accept that things are not as they ought to be … it can be negative, trivial and pointless or a positive, constructive force.

Sandmining is due to finish within the next three years. Please let’s ensure we have lots of those positive, constructive forces to help make up the economic and employment shortfalls.

 

So, why tourism?

I believe tourism is one of the key industries we should be promoting. Not just for Straddie and Peel but for the Redlands generally. Unlike many businesses, tourism and leisure oriented businesses are ‘multiple benefit generators’, in that they produce across the board advantage:

  • Through user-fees from National Parks, entrance fees, taxes and levies, they provides funds for conserving the environment
  • They provide improved facilities not just for the benefit of visitors but for everyone’s use. Eg Good camping facilities, parkland, capacity sports ground, proper bikeways, bayside walking trails and boardwalks
  • They generate economic growth generally as proceeds flow directly back into the local community, not to big business outside the area
  • They provide local employment
  • More visitors makes for a more comprehensive and viable public transport system

 

 

Graham Carter

Note: All commentary and views, political and otherwise, are mine and not those of RQYS or any other person or organisation.

Redland Council Election 2016 – The Aftermath. What happened, why it happened and what we can do about it

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it every­where, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.
— Groucho Marx

To all of you who think that the election result was a good one because we got rid of Mayor Williams’ voting bloc, I’m going to try and persuade you – that compared with what it could have been – it was a disaster.

I’m going to conduct a post-mortem.

To start I have to answer a question I’ve been asked a few times in the last 3 months:

 

Why did I get involved in campaigning?

In two words the answer to is: déjà vu and irritation. I’ll do the déjà vu bit first.

When my family first arrived from the UK in 1978, we bought an old Queenslander on Cleveland Point. At the time there was talk of a section of about 20% of Raby Bay being turned into a canal development. This entailed the destruction of about 30 hectares of mangroves. Despite protest from scientists and the community, the development was approved in 1979 and was completed in 1983. With 3 different councils over the next 18 years this was extended bit by bit to include the entire area of mangroves, totalling almost 200 hectares. At each of those 4 stages it was stated that “this is the final extent of the canal development at Raby Bay” or words to that effect. This development remains the largest destruction of mangroves in Queensland. The only area that comes close is the mangroves that were destroyed to make way for the extension to the Fisherman Islands port development in the 1980s.

Take a look at these record-breaking fish catches from Moreton Bay in the 1970’s/80’s and ask yourself why they have never been repeated.

Now, nearly 40 years later, there is another marine habitat being threatened with the proposal to reclaim 60 hectares of land from the bay at Toondah and, just as with those four “final and last stages” of the Raby Bay development, there is a developer’s mayor and a bunch of developer’s councillors promoting it, whilst there’s a whole body of scientific and professional opinion – not to mention large sections of the Redlands’ community – saying it’s crazy.

That’s déjà vu. The irritation part will take a bit longer to explain.

 

www.Balance.org.au – the first 3 months

When I first started thinking of the forthcoming election in November last year, I naively thought most folk knew there was a developer’s mayor, Karen Williams, along with five developer’s councillors: Alan Beard; Mark Edwards; Julie Talty and Paul Gleeson. (Plus the retiring Kim Maree Hardman).

A conversation in Cleveland library in December with two gents brought a new reality home to me. These two guys – in their 60’s – 70’s, like myself – were neighbours of each other at Cleveland’s waterfront address of Oyster Point. I was surprised to find they were both largely oblivious to the 10 story apartment blocks that were planned for Toondah Harbour. Although I could tell they were both well informed about political matters generally, neither of them read the local paper and thus had little knowledge of what was about to be built right on their doorstep.

After subsequent conversations I recognized that there was a lot of apathy among the Redland voters and not just through the normal reasons for apathy – of being disengaged – but of being uninformed, they just didn’t know what was going on. A lot of people had not made the vital connection between a developer’s mayor and developer’s candidates and the terrible development decisions made by Council in the last four years. I roughly estimate that a third of the electorate went to the polls oblivious to the extent of campaign funding by developers and all the adverse outcomes this has had.

 

Shush – Don’t mention the war! – Basil Fawlty

Why so much ignorance on such an important topic? Well the media barely touches the subject and the candidate councillors who don’t accept funding, all failed to make anything of it. Not even to ask a question that would raise a query in people’s minds, such as: “Developer campaign funding – it’s not illegal, but is it right?”

The fact is that Karen Williams had to exit herself from the chamber on over 30 occasions over the last four years when development applications were being discussed. This proves that her election campaign was funded by the developers whose applications were, at that time, being decided upon. Now try and find that information or any of its ramifications on any of the promotional material used by councillors who didn’t accept developer’s funds. Or even tell me when they used it in any of their speeches.

Why were our preferred candidates so squeamish on such a vital vote winner? Was it fear of litigation? If so it is completely groundless. Were they not aware that you can never be taken to court for stating facts, and the facts here were incontrovertible.

 

Political Strategy

But this was not the only way that I think our side was very good at shooting itself in the foot when it comes to political strategizing. There was far too much talk about things that didn’t matter. For instance, I really don’t think that $$$ spent on promotional material makes much difference to election outcomes. Do you really think that the average voter decides on who to vote for by the size of or quantity of the posters? If you do, I think you’re underestimating the intelligence of your fellow residents.

In spite of the fact that local government affects the liveability of an area more than what happens at the state or federal level, most citizens want to be involved in local politics on their terms and on a piecemeal and sporadic basis, and then not as specialists, but as casual observers. So what they need is short, informative messages that have real meaning. Whinging about the size and placement of the opposition’s posters is not going to give them what they need. It’s going to result in a shrug and a confirmation in their mind how banal and uninteresting it all is. It’s certainly not going to contribute to political engagement or any vote changing behaviour in our favour.

The next concern I have is coordination. Take a look at council elections in other parts of Australia or even in the UK, where the local government electoral system is very similar to here, and you’ll see that for a team of independents to be successful they have to be that: a team. They have to stand independently on issues of specific concern to their constituents, but when it comes to the big issues that affect the whole city or shire, then they have to stand united and make something of these key concerns. And Redlands in 2016 is awash with such issues that they could and should have collectively made a lot of noise about: Secret meetings; rapidly increasing urbanisation; developer-funded candidates; Toondah; Shoreline and sewage trucks .. etc

This was how it came about that a powerful political tool – highlighting the ethical malpractice of the opposition – was left unused and rusting in the bottom of the political toolbox. So the key vote-winning concern of how to advance from a council that provides endless favours to developers to one that furthers the interests of everyone was never addressed.

Moreover there was hardly any talk at all by our preferred candidates about tactics or promoting any issues that they all agreed on, even positive ones like public transport, parkland or sports grounds. There was a total lack of a coordinated political strategy among them. It appears that because they stood as independents they thought they shouldn’t agree with each other about anything, which is absurd. They didn’t realize that getting their constituents to recognize how much is shared amongst the team of preferred candidates strengthens their overall standing. It’s a case of the collective being greater than the sum of its parts; the message becomes amplified and hence more persuasive. Our preferred candidates – who we were pinning so much hope on – never once even met up to discuss these vital issues. Electoral disaster was designed-in from the start.

 

Loyalty

Allied to this lack of collaboration amongst the preferred mayoral and council candidates is the question of loyalty. Each of them acted like independents but failed to realize that collectively they were each also interdependent. They needed to support each other, because if an undecided, uninformed or wavering voter detects any lack of solidarity, it can be fatal; in his or her mind, if one candidate falters they all fall. “Hang together or we’ll all be hung separately” is another way of saying it and it applies across all areas of group disagreement, be it political, legal or military.

So for example, when the Sunday Mail beat up occurred against Craig Ogilvie, other candidates should have rallied and given support. So when Greg Underwood was given the golden opportunity on ABC radio to reiterate the nonsense in this malicious piece of tabloid journalism, he should have grabbed it with two hands. He could have rubbished the Sunday Mail, explained what a beat-up it was and at the same time supported Ogilvie by explaining that Ogilvie had done very little wrong but a whole lot right. He should have highlighted the deviousness of the lady Mayor he was sitting next to who held on to the story until it inflicted the most damage. He then should have explained how Craig Ogilvie was the one councillor who took the fight to Williams about conflict of interest issues and that’s why he was targeted.

If Greg thinks that washing his hands of Ogilvie was a good tactic politically, he has now found out he was very much mistaken. His lack of support for Ogilvie was disgraceful and as demonstrated, politically, it was fatal for himself and Ogilvie. Such an action handed the most troubled Division 2 to Mitchell on a plate.

All political capital was on our side, yet we blew it.

 

The Business Lobby

For the last reason for our loss, we have to examine the reasons for Williams’ diminished but nevertheless unshakeable popularity. If we look at Williams’ voters, I think we’ll see that they are made up of not just those tradespeople, builders and developers that have vested interest in bricks and mortar development, but those that are in any local business. And let’s face it, it’s only natural for someone in business to vote for someone who is pro-development because they see that growing the population is the easiest way of growing their business. Many people find it difficult to think beyond their own experiences and therefore tend to make political decisions according to their own inter­ests and circumstances.

This latter group of business owners have seen Williams as pro-growth and pro-development and thus good for their business, but when it came to local issues, traffic, mega-developments, impacts from higher densities etc., the local candidate often took the can instead of her.

Next week we’ll take this discussion about business to the next stage and ask what sort of business development do we want to see in the Redlands and why.

 

Summary

There appears to be little understanding that there is something substantially wrong with the way we do politics here in the Redlands. We are up against a well-resourced and popular opposition who will stop at nothing to keep control. If we keep getting it wrong we’re going to see Moreton Bay trashed and the Redlands turn incrementally into a cross between Inala and Surfers Paradise.

But that’s not the only reason why I think we must get this right. It is joined by a deeper and more worrying sense – that among so much apathy which I encountered over the last three months – somehow many have given up on, or forgotten, about all the benefits of what local government is even capable of doing for us. Such fatalism is dangerous as it can engender a despairing pessimism that demotivates any effort to get it right.

Now you know why I’m irritated.

 

Yes! …  www.balance.org.au made mistakes too.

We prematurely forecast the demise of Mayor Williams, which was not only wrong but probably counterproductive.

And although that conversation in the library prompted my activism, it subsequently skewed my diagnosis as to who my target audience were. By early February I began to see that although there was apathy across every age group, these two guys were an anomaly and that this age demographic were in fact better informed about issues than anyone. It was younger folk, particularly the 20 – 40 year olds that were largely oblivious to council related matters. In the first half of campaign I had been reluctant to use social media at all as I was not familiar with it and I thought that much of my target audience (50yrs and over) didn’t use it much either.

But to resonate with a younger age group meant that we had to engage with social media. Doing so, for me, meant learning a whole new way to write. Informed messages have to be reduced to a soundbite; complex issues summed up in a slogan. I had to write in a tabloid fashion, something I spend my life railing against.

It was a steep learning curve and it was a case of too little too late. Only in the last few days of the campaign did our Facebook ads, videos and posts reach anything close to the critical mass required. I can see now that any future campaign effort has to start with social media, not just finish with it. Also it has to include all platforms: twitter, youtube, instagram etc.

I don’t want my website to only foretell a dire future, I want it to be a platform upon which to build a new and better one. Political science is like weather forecasting, it’s easy to give an opinion and easier still to get it wrong. I’m not certain about any of the forgoing but they are the only explanations I can think of for the poor election result. I would welcome any input and different ideas, particularly from those I’ve criticised and others in the know. It’s important that, together, we come up with a set of objectives, that, for a future occasion, we should follow and not keeping making the same mistakes. It’s a sign of insanity to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result each time.

 

A Success Story

Let me finish by telling you about the town of Frome in Somerset in the English countryside. Independents for Frome (ifF) were a group formed in early 2011 of Frome residents who felt passionately about this market town of 25,000 people and were frustrated by the incumbent Town Council.

IfF resolved to address the apathetic disengagement, which plagued local ballots by empowering ordinary people to reclaim responsibility. For the election in May 2011, after encouragingly boisterous early debates in pubs and community halls, the movement selected and fielded seventeen candidates that were independent, but united under a common set of values, to contest every ward seat in the town

Whereas in the Redlands, generous funds for campaigning are contributed by developers, at Frome such funds were contributed by the major political parties. But it was essentially the same problem where if one party has the numbers, it can freely impose its will on everybody else. In the years preceding IfF, residents had endured a string of bungled projects and failures of consultation by an out of touch, politicised town council.

Each of the independents were frustrated about much the same things and stood collectively on a platform to introduce as much transparency and openness into the system as possible; limiting private meetings, providing easy access to minutes and decision making, and improving public involvement and consultation. They also promised a “Can Do” approach, where “…the council can, and should, be the positive hub that helps to ensure the joint success of the private, public and voluntary sectors of Frome”. And they promised “…a renewed focus on empowering people within local communities as the best way to achieve social change and civic renewal.”

In a measure clearly intended to wipe out any possibility of cronyism, all its candidates – including serving councillors – were selected by an independent panel. At this election of May 2011, IfF candidates won 10 of the 17 seats on the town council.

Immediately after their election victory, the new cohort wasted no time in dismantling the counterproductive, overly-bureaucratic council structure; replacing that moribund system with a new model based on cooperation, goodwill, common sense, and most importantly, putting the community of Frome’s best interests ahead of anything.

All ten councilors agreed that they required genuine initiatives and debate. Their new emphasis on empowerment favoured consulting with community members who have relevant expertise and then actually entrusting them with responsibilities.

The reaction of the townspeople themselves was positive: many agreed that there had been a noticeably cheerful shift in local mood. The 2011 election had seen an incredible 75% increase in voter turnout; demonstrating an optimism that was maintained throughout the first term.

Their success can be judged by the fact that in the 2015 election this group of collaborating independents took all 17 seats.

 

All this accomplished in just four years through a group of determined independents  adopting a unified strategy.

And this is not an isolated example. In other towns throughout Britain, highly motivated groups of independents have followed Frome’s success and achieved similar feats, suggesting that what has happened in Frome and elsewhere might be achievable anywhere. An example is Alderley Edge, a sleepy village in Cheshire, where dissent was brewing and a new group of independents, called Alderley Edge First, contested every seat. On election day 2015, the sitting Conservatives lost all nine of the councils seats to this new coordinated group. All this on their first attempt.

Can Redlands repeat these success stories? Please let me know why not.

Graham Carter

Redland Council Candidates – who don’t accept developer funding

These candidates are not against development, they’re against taking donations from developers. They are also not against business – in fact they’ve got ideas that will enhance business and employment.

They’re simply committed to act in the community interest when considering development applications.

 

The Candidate List:

For those divisions marked** see bottom of page

**Division One – Wellington Pt/Ormiston – Wendy Boglary

**Division Two – Cleveland/Nth Stradbroke – Craig Ogilvie

**Division Three – Cleveland Sth/Thornlands – Paul Golle, Troy Robbins

Division Four – Vic Pt/Coochie/Thornlands/ Red Bay – Lance Hewlett

Division Five – Red Bay & Bay Islands – Junita Grosvenor

Division Six – Mt Cotton/Sheldon/Thornlands/Vic Pt/Red Bay – Melanie Lavelle-Maloney

Division Seven – Alex Hills Sth/Capalaba – Murray Elliott, Janine Healey

**Division Eight– Alex Hills Nth/Birkdale Sth – Tracey Huges

Division Nine – Capalaba – Jesse McNamara

Division Ten – Birkdale Nth/Thorneside – Paul Bishop,

and of course the Mayoral candidate, Greg Underwood, who will lead them

 

* Due to the way their challengers have arranged their allegiances, we have been advised that for both Wendy Boglary and Paul Golle you should Vote 1 only for these candidates.

* In Division 8, Vote Tracey Huges 1, Kathy Reimers 2, Alan Beard 3

* For Craig Ogilvie it is best that you vote preferentially

* Tom Taranto is running in Division Two also and we understand that he has not accepted developer funds, but our suggestion is that you vote 1 for three term Candidate, Craig Ogilvie and vote 2 for Tom Taranto

 

The reason for our recommendation for Councillor Ogilvie is as follows:

Whilst everyone agrees that the biggest challenge Redlands Council faces – as a whole – in forthcoming election is developer influenced decision-making by a certain clique.

However,if we look at the principle challenges that each Division in the Council separately faces over the next term, we see that most of them are in Division Two:

  • Threats to the cessation of sandmining on Straddie by 2019, if the Katter Bill is successful
  • Optimizing the response to the cessation of sandmining through tourism promotion, infrastructure planning and repairs necessary from mining and neglect
  • Threat of a bridge to Straddie
  • Toondah Harbour development
  • Threat to Moreton Bay from above development (Div 2 is responsible for the largest part of the Bay)
  • Cleveland’s dying town centre

We’d contend that the only issues of equal magnitude faced by any other Division, would be from the Shoreline development

Hence we think it vital that the Candidate who represents Division Two, the 3 x term Councillor Craig Ogilvie, should be re-elected.

Councillor Ogilvie is far more familiar with the above issues, and those affected by these issues, than any other person.

Councillor Ogilvie also has represented Division Two admirably and this is no time to be changing our allegiance to him.

Authorized by Graham Carter, 67 Valley Rd Wellington Pt 4160

Famous brands found to be wanting

The Redlands Q&A session continues:

Like Campbell Newman, Tony Abbot and Volkswagen – has Mayor, Karen Williams become a tarnished brand?

Let’s examine the evidence:

Q: Why has Williams had to absent herself from the Council Chambers on over 30 occasions in the past 4 years when Council have been reviewing development proposals?

A: Companies with interests in fostering development in the Redlands backed Williams in her 2012 and 2016 election campaign to further their aims. If Williams had stayed in the Chamber and was involved in the discussion on the occasions when Council were reviewing her sponsor’s projects, she would have attracted the attention of the Crime and Corruption Commission.

Q: In regard to planning for the Redlands, has its character, lifestyle and environment been maintained over the past 4 years?

A: The only thing that has been maintained is the ‘anything goes’ approach by Council to local development over the past four years which has resulted in some very poor development outcomes. The community needs to have a much greater say in the draft City Plan. This important 25-year blueprint, which will be approved by the next Council, must go back to the drawing board if we are to maintain the Redlands’ features we treasure. Mayoral candidate, Greg Underwood has said this will happen if he’s elected. There is no indication of this happening if Williams is returned.

Q: Have we had open and accountable decision-making in Council?

A: Normal Council processes have often been ignored. There have been many secret, closed door meetings. Like the one a day before last Christmas which resulted in a $116 million infrastructure deal between council and the Walker Group. Also the much condemned and premature infrastructure cost-sharing of the $1.39 billion Toondah Harbour redevelopment.

Q: Why is it that some Councillors are excluded from some workshops and working groups by Williams?

A: To maintain her power, Williams needs people to remain in ignorance. By obstructing possible opponents from accessing vital information, informed decision-making cannot take place. It’s an effective ploy to get your own way on issues.

Q: Has Mayor Williams shown due consideration for the Moreton Bay Marine Park?

A: The Toondah Harbour proposal includes 10 story buildings, 3,600 units and a 400 berth marina. This huge land reclamation will destroy over 60 hectares of marine habitat. Top marine scientist says the dredging spoil will damage Moreton Bay’s unique coral species and impact on the bay’s fisheries, its turtle, dugong and endangered shorebirds.

Q: Has Mayor Williams consulted with experts in the field, listened to the community and taken heed of the science.

A: No, no and no. Williams has ignored the recommendations of a 2 day workshop in 2014 when a team of planning and marine specialists demonstrated that the Straddie departure point should be relocated to the western side of Cleveland Point. This workshop also comprised of many community members who endorsed this proposal.

Also, just last month, the State Government Planning Information and Forecasting Unit, revised their population projections for SE Qld. Redlands figures have been reduced by 18,000. Yet Toondah and Shoreline totals alone are estimated at 20,000 residents and these developments were not included in these original State forecasts. There has been no talk by Williams that she will change course on either issue.

Q: What comments have we had from planning professionals about Williams’ Toondah Harbour Priority Development Area (PDA) proposal?

A: Brit Anderson, Emeritus Professor of Architecture and Planning, at the University of Queensland, said:

“The Toondah Harbour PDA represents a grossly oversized and inappropriate project on a sensitive site. The implications are seriously problematic on many levels including the environmental, technical, social and architectural, with unknown future costs for the Redland City Council.”

*Shane Thompson, President of the Australian Institute of Architects. (He did the RNA development plan and Athletes Village at the London Olympics).

“This is a very poor quality piece of work and unworthy of the professionalism that should be expected and available in this part of the world.”

John Mainwaring – architect and marina consultant – said,

“This PDA proposal makes Queensland and Australia a laughing stock internationally.” 

Q: Why is all this dysfunction and dishonesty happening?

A: Once you have accepted funds from developers to finance your campaign, it is not easy to go against the developer’s wishes when their development assessments comes up for approval. Especially when an election is getting close. Also it’s not uncommon for leadership that lacks integrity to be also lacking in clear priorities and good ideas. A development monoculture deprives the intellectual ecosystem of innovation.

As Mayoral candidate, Greg Underwood has said: “I believe independent, freethinking, elected representatives with no perceived or real vested interests, make better decisions.”

Greg’s right; it all comes down to a question of transparency, priorities and ideas.

Q: What can be done about it?

A: Click on following link to see Council Candidates and Mayoral candidate who haven’t been captured by big business interests …

Authorized by Graham Carter, 67 Valley Rd Wellington Pt 4160

Q&A comes to the Redlands

We still have a situation in the Redlands where builders who haven’t made contributions to unprincipled councillors’ campaigns, can lose out to those who have

And those who have get spectacular returns on their investment

Making such contributions may not be illegal … but is it right?

We made some videos and wrote a website because we felt strongly about it here: www.balance.org.au

We have to look back over the last four years and ask 10 questions about the decisions that have been made by Council to find out where our concerns lay

1. Let’s first ask about the cumulative impacts of various changes embedded in the Draft City Plan 2015. These include increased density, reduced minimum lot sizes, reduce minimum lot frontages and increased site coverage.

Answer: These changes have been made to optimize lot-size profit and are purely the initiative of Council; they are not directives of the State. Nor are they in the communities interest.

2. The Toondah ferry terminal needed upgrading – but the community has asked why the recommendations of a 2 day workshop in March 2014 were ignored. This team of highly qualified planning and marine experts suggested that the harbor should be relocated to the western side of Cleveland Point, a plan that would overcome all environmental issues and preserve bay vistas and beautiful waterside parkland.

Answer: This 60 hectare land reclamation from the bay was scaled up to provide 3,600 units and thus had real estate development as its prime purpose.

3. What about the wisdom of the other project of similar scale – Shoreline – that is proposed near the southern boundary of the Redlands?

Answer: This development is so far from the main urban area, that at least the first 200 lots being developed will have their sewage tanked out by truck to treatment plants elsewhere. The site for a sewerage treatment plant and its design has still to be determined for it and for the reticulation of waste water. A council decision that approves a housing estate for up to 10,000 people without these vital facilities boarders on the insane.

4. Questions are being asked about the large increase in traffic from these two developments, and how this will impact on the already congested roads of the Redlands. Also how the planned Toondah harbour-side shops and restaurants will drag business away from a dying Cleveland Town Centre.

Answer: It appears that Redland Council’s default position with all development proposals has been to uncritically fast-track commercial outcomes above community and environmental imperatives. A case of speed and greed over common sense and proper enquiry.

5. What does the science say about the need for these developments?

Answer: In February 2016, the State Government Planning Information and Forecasting Unit, revised their population projections for SE Qld. Redlands figures have been reduced by 18,000. Yet Toondah and Shoreline totals alone are estimated at 20,000 residents and these developments were not included in these State forecasts.

6. What effect will this gross over-development have on the Redlands?

Answer: Traffic and liveability are a major concern. Also local builders are understandably worried that it will suck the lifeblood out of the locally based building industry. Particularly that the developer for Toondah harbour is Walkers, a NSW based company.

7. What is the essence of sound Council development and planning approvals?

Answer: It should strike a balance between development, community needs and environmental issues.

8. Which decisions of the 3 levels of government –  Council, State or Federal level – have the greatest affect on the liveability of the Redlands?

Answer: It’s choices made at the council level that affect our way of life more than any other. And there are many issues crying out for attention. Moreover, the most divisive issues are planning decisions, which use up precious time and money: the Toondah proposal alone has cost almost $1 million to date. This diversion of resources starves the Redlands of funds for social infrastructure.

9. What are the other determinants of a good council?

Answer: A good council is one with ideas; it listens to the community and looks around and optimizes opportunities from the areas natural assets. Proposals that enhance its amenities, conserves its cultural, historical and natural features, create business opportunities and provide employment. Throughout the last 4 years, we’ve seen a council bereft of civic enhancing ideas.

10. Who is more likely to provide an informed and impartial decision regarding a development approval? Someone who refuses to accept donations to support their campaign or a person who takes a huge coffer of donated developer’s money?

Answer: You don’t need to be a psychologist to know that gifts create obligations …and donations distort electors’ choice

Let’s ensure that our Councillors act in the community interest when considering development applications and that they listen to the community and follow up on ideas that will enhance the Redlands.

Graham Carter

Jobs & Sobs

– the “wicked problem” of Toondah, Straddie & Moreton Bay

Australia’s Mining Boom is over, most of the profits went overseas and little tax was paid. There’s lots of talk about unemployment and perking up other industries.

What’s this got to do with Redlands and Moreton Bay?

Well, just over there is another mine. A Sand Mine. On Stradbroke Island. Pros and cons about its future have been fiercely debated for years.

Once again Queensland has a hung parliament. And hence, once again Moreton Bay and the future of Straddie hangs in the balance.

Toondah PDA Aerial June 2014

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has said that the Toondah Harbour development precinct is part of the transition plan

and sand mining company, Sibelco said that it will take 40 years for the transition from sand mining to tourism on the island.

Both these statements are so far from the reality of the situation that they’re not even wrong!

The people of Redlands can influence what happens next with this ‘wicked problem‘.

How?

By looking at the BIGGER PICTURE

The fact is that we have great economic opportunities in the Redlands without impacting on Moreton Bay.

In the following please consider:

How the 60 hectare Toondah Harbour reclamation will severely impact the bay.

How the Tourism industry could revitalize Straddie, employ the miners, give us our island back and provide much needed amenities.

How a bridge to Straddie – or any of the Bay islands – will ruin the islands and the bay.

How there’s a better ferry departure point for Straddie.

How tourism can also help revitalize Cleveland and the Redlands.

And you’ll also see some ideas that will make Redlands a better place to live.

All this requires is for the people of Redlands to wake up to the potential of the unique place they live in and to keep a close eye on a Council that is bereft of ideas because of its one-eyed focus on residential development.

Graham Carter

Oh what a beat-up!

 

There are very good reasons to maintain our support for Councillor Ogilvie.

Take a look at the seven biggest challenges that Redland City Council face over the next term, and you’ll see that six of them are in Ogilvie’s Division Two:

  • Toondah Harbour over-development
  • Threat to Moreton Bay from above development (Div 2 is responsible for the largest part of the Bay)
  • Threat to the cessation of sandmining on Straddie by 2019 if the Katter Bill is successful
  • Optimizing the response to the cessation of sandmining through tourism promotion, infrastructure planning now necessary after mining and Council neglect
  • Threat of a bridge to Straddie and intervening islands
  • Cleveland’s dying town centre

I contend that the only issue of equal magnitude faced by any other Division, would be that from the Shoreline over-development.

Hence I think it vital that Councillor Craig Ogilvie, should be re-elected. He is far more familiar with the above issues, and those affected by these issues, than any other person. Councillor Ogilvie also has represented Division Two admirably for three terms.

Craig Ogilvie with dog

Moreover, everyone agrees that the biggest challenge Redland City Council faces – as a whole – in forthcoming election is developer influenced decision-making by a certain clique. Craig Ogilvie has been the Councillor that has taken this fight to the Williams team more than any other Councillor on this issue. And that’s why Mayor Williams and her cohorts want Councillor Ogilvie out of the way.

There is absolutely no reason why voters in Division two should be changing their allegiance to Councillor Ogilvie. I urge you to vote 1 Craig Ogilvie and vote 2 Tom Taranto.

 

Oh what a beat-up!  Front page of the Sunday Mail?  They must have been short of news!

Or is it just that sex sells newspapers?

How many guys visit porn online? Or would it be easier to ask how many guys don’t visit porn online?

We don’t have to go far to find statistics on how many men visit porn online. The pull out section of the same paper – Body & Soul – was subtitled “The Sex Issue” [and placed right next to the children’s section of the paper].

In this feature on page 8, we see statistics about the prevalence of men watching online porn. We see from a survey conducted by the Sunday Mail in early 2015 that 70% of men watch porn occasionally or regularly.

Councillor Ogilvie appeared on the front page and two other pages of the paper, and is condemned for watching online porn and readers are told to withhold their vote. Yet on a fourth page they’re telling folk that watching online porn is perfectly normal – 70% of men do it.

Craig Ogilvie Cicada Awards 4 December 2015

Other stats back this up:

From a survey of UK Christians: 75% of Christian men view porn at least monthly. 41% of Christian men admit to being addicted to pornography.
The Way, UK, January 20, 2015

From a survey of 1002 internet users in Ireland: 83% of men and 56% of women have viewed porn. 36% who are not in a relationship view porn weekly.
Irish News, January 17, 2015

These “revelations” about Craig Ogilvie are similar to that time Kevin Rudd was found visiting a strip club, when the response was: “Oh that’s good – he is a normal guy after all!”

Having such material on a device that is used only by Councillor Ogilvie himself is neither improper or illegal, irrespective of who owns the device. And it’s expected that people with work-supplied devices will use them for private reasons. What do we expect them to do – cart round two mobile phones and two laptops everywhere they go? Nor should they feel constantly threatened that their work supplied devices could be seized and their private life scrutinized and made public.

A survey of 2,000 workers showed 21% had accessed porn on a personal device that was used for work, SC Magazine, December 10, 2014

Suggestions that these devices “contained material inappropriate for a workplace” is nonsense as the material could only be accessed by Ogilvie himself. Suggestions that he covertly took photos of women at the beach had been dismissed by police well ahead of publication.

Craig Ogilvie is a single guy and people have sex lives, for heaven’s sake – what’s new about that? And, above all, Sunday Mail – what’s newsworthy about that?

The only expository spotlight that needs to be shone here is on the Sunday Mail’s ethical and journalistic standards.

Devoid of ideas, all Williams and her team can do is leak scuttlebutt and smear to the media about the opposition. Which goes to confirm that:

Those with ideas innovate, those without denigrate.

If people want stories about sex, on our website they can find out how the sex lives of thousands of marine creatures and endangered shorebirds will be impacted by the 60 hectare land reclamation proposed in order to build 3,600 units in the Toondah Harbour redevelopment.

For more information on the challenges facing the Redlands, the costs and consequences of developer-backed Councillors along with the opportunities being missed, visit our website which is committed to restore a decision-making ethic to the Redland City Council.

Authorized by Graham Carter

 

Poem: I’m Moreton Bay – Please Help Me

 

A poem that links the threat to Moreton Bay and our way of life in the Redlands 

The bay’s health has declined significantly since the above poem was written 20 years ago – yet Redlands City Council is about to put the bay under its greatest threat ever with a huge residential development on 60 hectares of land to be reclaimed from the Bay and destruction of its marine habitats.

There are a great many folk who regularly work, play and research in Moreton Bay. They range from bird-watchers to ferry and charter boat captains, National Park rangers, skippers of yachts and trawlers, oystermen, canoeists and private anglers.

They’re a diverse bunch from all walks of life, but speak to them and they all have one thing in common: They’re all concerned with the dramatic decline in wildlife numbers they’re observing.

See website for more details:  Threats to Moreton Bay

 

Graham Carter