IN THE MEDIA
Your guide to the Brisbane council election
By Lucy Stone, March 27, 2020
Brisbane's voters will turn out to the polls on Saturday in one of the most unusual elections in Australian history, amid a global pandemic and record numbers of early votes being cast. Statewide, 77 councils will be elected or re-elected by more than 3 million Queenslanders, including two councils that have been under the watchful eye of an administrator. Fifteen mayors will be re-elected or elected unopposed and nine mayors will retire at this election, while in other areas the race for mayor is an unknown quantity.
Why is the election going ahead?
Despite concerns about the impacts of coronavirus and messaging around staying home and being physically distant, the state government has urged voters to perform their democratic duty either by voting early or on Saturday. The state's Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, says it is "perfectly safe" to vote, with the Electoral Commission of Queensland changing the normal way elections are run in response.
Voters are urged to bring their own pencils, use hand sanitiser available at polling booths, maintain a minimum of 1.5 square metres between each other, and if there are long lines, to come back at a later time. The ECQ has put on additional staff to manage record numbers of telephone vote registrations - more than 30,000 - which is only available to people who are self-isolated, or ill and unable to attend a polling booth. More than a million voters have already cast their vote through early polling or postal votes.
Who is running in Brisbane?
In Brisbane, the primary contest is between incumbent LNP lord mayor Adrian Schrinner and Labor's lord mayoral candidate Pat Condren. The LNP administration has held the majority in council with a total of 19 wards and the lord mayor, while Labor has five councillors, the Greens one, and one independent. Labor is targeting the lord mayoralty and several LNP wards, and the ward held by Greens councillor Jonathan Sri (The Gabba).
The Greens particularly want to win a few more wards away from the LNP to bolster their representation on council, and are running early childhood educator and midwife Kath Angus as their lord mayoral candidate.
Cr Schrinner is formerly the deputy mayor, and was elected by the LNP party room to the top job when former lord mayor Graham Quirk announced he was stepping down in March last year. That gave the LNP a year to reset their council team, which they did by seeing several incumbent councillors out the door and replacing them with fresh faces. This was done without byelections as it was all performed within a year of the March 28 council elections. Those new councillors have now had several months to boost their chances of retaining their wards citywide, but some are in particularly marginal wards that may be lost to Labor or the Greens.
Meanwhile, in the west of Brisbane, an internal LNP stoush has erupted into controversy with former LNP councillor Kate Richards now running as an independent. And one ward is being avoided by both major parties, with Tennyson's independent councillor Nicole Johnston unlikely to see a serious challenge against her powerful personal preference vote.
What are their platforms?
Cr Schrinner has spent the last year building up a futuristic image of Brisbane - one with large city parks, more pedestrian and cycling bridges, and a turn-up-and-go Brisbane Metro. He has leant heavily on the work put in by former LNP mayors - Graham Quirk and Campbell Newman - as proof the LNP are the safe bet for Brisbane.
In the past weeks the LNP have pivoted their message from that green image to "experience matters" as the coronavirus pandemic grips Brisbane.
Former journalist Pat Condren's focus has been two-fold, starting off with claims the LNP is "rorting" council systems for their own benefit, and then pledging greater focus on suburban issues such as fixing footpaths and dangerous level crossings.
Kath Angus for the Greens has broadened her vision to a community that focuses on the overall health of connection, targeting homelessness and giving residents a greater voice in neighbourhood planning. She would also ensure developers pay more into Brisbane's community, and public transport would be free in off-peak-times.
Other candidates for lord mayor include Karagh-Mae Kelly for the Animal Justice Party, a small business owner and former investigator for the RSPCA, whose platform is one of the targeting climate emergency.
Where can I vote?
In Brisbane there will be more than 200 polling booths open citywide, including Brisbane City Hall.
A full list of each polling booth is available here on the ECQ website.
This will be an unusual voting day - there will be no democracy sausages, no cake stalls, and no fetes.
When you go to vote, you won't be harangued by volunteers eager to thrust their parties' how-to-vote cards at you - that's been banned by the ECQ due to hygiene concerns.
Social distancing means you might wait in a queue longer than normal, with more space between yourself and your fellow electors.
Remember to take your own pencil, wash your hands or use hand sanitiser available at each booth, and don't stay around the area after voting.
When will we have a result?
We don't know.
The ECQ doesn't expect to have a result on Saturday night, partially because more than 570,000 people have registered for postal votes statewide - an unprecedented number. Counting the votes will begin at 6pm as normal on Saturday, but there will be new restrictions for party scrutineers who normally watch the counting closely. They will not be able to observe the count under way, due to social distancing rules.
We may have a result by Sunday, or it may be later in the week.
Metro, homelessness, roads: how Brisbane mayoral candidates would spend $200m
By Lucy Stone, Brisbane Times, March 16, 2020
If Josh Frydenberg called and offered you $200 million for new infrastructure in Brisbane, what would you spend it on?
That was one question three of Brisbane's lord mayoral candidates had to answer at the second local government debate before the March 28 election.
At the debate held by Engineers Queensland on Monday afternoon, Jon Davies from the Major Contractors Association asked lord mayor Adrian Schrinner, Labor candidate Pat Condren and Greens candidate Kath Angus what infrastructure they would spend such a bonus on.
Cr Schrinner said the council was already working on a list of infrastructure projects that could be kick-started to help stimulate the economy at the request of the federal government.
"Really, it just comes down to making sure we can invest that money to create jobs as quickly as possible," he said. "That could be anything from major projects, bringing them forward, to basic things like road resurfacing."
Mr Condren said while he would be surprised if the LNP federal treasurer called him, he would spend $200 million on bringing down costs on Brisbane Metro, the LNP's own project. "We could use that to mitigate the costs to the ratepayers and residents of Brisbane for that particular project," he said. "Alternatively, we could put it towards the five level crossings which I've indicated previously are important to get fixed for safety and practical congestion-busting to get people home safer and quicker."
Greens lord mayoral candidate Kath Angus said "we could buy eight kilometres of bikeway" for $200 million but she would spend the funds on addressing homelessness.
"With $200 million, if Josh were to ring me up tomorrow, I would absolutely without question invest in social housing," she said.
"We can get the 6000 people who are sleeping rough in Brisbane tonight ... we actually could, let's just obliterate homelessness.
"I would spend $200 million on building social housing, absolutely in partnership with industry."
All three candidates were asked to make their final pitch to voters, with Cr Schrinner emphasising "experience matters" and saying in "uncertain times" a large corporation would not be sacking its chief executive and replacing him.
Mr Condren said he was "unashamedly" about the suburbs and he would focus on forgotten aspects of Brisbane.
Ms Angus said she wanted Brisbane to "consider its priorities" and emphasise healthy, connected communities where people came first, with strong public and active transport links and a "sustainable city".
Mayoral candidate notes 'fundamental sexism' while out on hustings
By Lucy Stone, Brisbane Times, March 13, 2020
One of Brisbane's two female candidates for lord mayor, the Greens' Kath Angus, says "fundamental sexism" has been on show while out doorknocking across the city. Ms Angus since her campaign began she had encountered high rates of online trolling, verbal abuse, and criticism of female candidates for prioritising family life.
"... We do have this fundamental sexism in society where we are more likely to vote for men, and nothing highlights that sexism more than when we go out doorknocking," she said. "We start engaging with women and we have to hear, 'Oh, I have to talk to my husband before I vote'. "Or the husband will appear and say, 'We don't want to talk about politics' and override the woman we were speaking to."
Ms Angus, an early childhood educator and midwife, said the Greens put forward 15 female candidates out of a total 25 out of a "desire to address balance", nominating women in key contested wards such as Paddington, Central, and Enoggera. The Animal Justice Party is the only other party to nominate a female candidate for lord mayor, with Karagh-Mae Kelly landing the number one position on the ballot paper.
Greens bank on free off-peak buses and power to the people in election push
February 28, 2020
Greens lord mayoral candidate Kath Angus is ready to "shake things up" in City Hall, vowing to push for Brisbane residents to have more power. Her party's election campaign launch on Friday focused on improving public transport and giving residents more say over development and local planning decisions.
Ms Angus, who is an early childhood educator, midwife and community volunteer, will go up against LNP lord mayor Adrian Schrinner and Labor's Pat Condren in the March 2020 election.
"People don't seem to be happy with the major parties," she said, adding that support for the Greens was growing. "People don't seem to be happy with developers having control of this city rather than the people."
The Greens are hoping to build on their success in the previous Brisbane City Council election, in which Jonathan Sri became the party's first Brisbane councillor. The Gabba Ward councillor said the party was on track for a primary vote exceeding 30 per cent in multiple wards across the city.
“We’ve seen big swings to the Greens over recent years, particularly in The Gabba, Paddington, Central and Coorparoo ward, and we’re aiming to win multiple wards on 28 March, with a chance of holding balance of power post-election," he said.
Ms Angus said summer, in which Queensland and Australia as a whole was buffeted by heatwaves and bushfires, had shown residents evidence of climate change in their state.
"People want real action and this is the first election we've seen since that and I think we've seen an enormous amount of support and that’s got something to do with it," she said.
The Greens candidate vowed to introduce free off-peak buses and ferries for all residents, binding height limits and community voting on neighbourhood plans, describing current community input opportunities as "tokenistic at best". She hopes to create a vacancy levy to support small businesses, 1000 new safe pedestrian crossings and double infrastructure charges for property developers.
Ms Angus said council decisions were leaving communities behind, especially those who were homeless, new migrants, jobseekers or people with disabilities.
"Buses need to be accessible, because not all of them are. Our double-decker CityCats are really hard to get a wheelchair on to, and I don’t know how we missed that in the design. It should be the easiest way for wheelchair users.
"We've seen neighbourhood plans written with very little consultation with the people they affect, and people are mad.
"[I want to make sure] developers pay their fair share so we have services and facilities that suit the needs of everybody so infrastructure is growing at the same rate the city is."
Ms Angus said she was pleased to be among a diverse team, mainly comprising female candidates, this year.
"The Greens are going to win multiple seats this election, so this is our chance to build a Brisbane that’s safer, fairer, more vibrant and more accessible for everyone," she said.
'Busy mum' wants to win hearts, wards ... and mayoralty of BrisbaneBy Lucy Stone September 10, 2019
Brisbane Times Sept 10, 2019
A “busy mum” has been preselected by the Greens to run as the candidate for lord mayor of Brisbane, the first woman in the race ahead of the March 2020 election. Kath Angus, a breastfeeding advocate, educator and parent, will face down incumbent LNP lord mayor Adrian Schrinner and Labor hopeful Rod Harding.
She will be joined in her bid by her friend and freelance communicator and parent Sally Dillon, who will seek to oust new LNP councillor Fiona Cunningham from Coorparoo Ward. Good friends who were motivated to put their hands up for politics by frustrations around suburban development and a lack of community input, Ms Angus and Ms Dillon will be joined by several other women preselected by the Greens.
Arts industry development worker Trina Massey was announced last week to be running in Central Ward against LNP councillor and committee chairwoman Vicki Howard.
Meanwhile, change-management consultant Donna Burns will face down LNP councillor and committee chairman Peter Matic.
The Greens hope that, spearheaded by current The Gabba councillor Jonathan Sri, such a diverse group will break into council and win seats from the LNP administration.
Ms Angus said both she and Ms Dillon were “regular people”, busy parents who believed the community had been left behind in daily decisions made by the council.
“... I would like to see a lot more power in the hands of residents,” Ms Angus said.
“I want to see a beautiful and connected Brisbane that everyone can access.”
Ms Dillon became interested in town planning laws when she joined a community campaign against a high-rise apartment development next to Buranda school approved by the council. Her frustrations about that situation triggered her decision to run.
“I realised the only way to do something about it was actually to run for council and get more people to run for council,” she said.
Ms Angus, meanwhile, had no plans to run for council despite encouragement from friends to do so.
She said Ms Dillon’s encouragement and confidence gave her the motivation to put her hand up.
“It’s really empowering - last council there were no women as mayoral candidates so I feel that makes it a really exciting time, and a challenging time,” she said.
Ms Dillon agreed, noting the priorities of parents were sometimes at odds with those of local government.
“Often mums are at the coalface for understanding how various council decisions affect our families,” she said.
The challenges of unseating a years-long administration, and a weaker Labor opposition, are many. But both Ms Angus and Ms Dillon believe they have a fighting chance, with results from the state and federal elections giving the Greens plenty of momentum.
“For both of us, we’re regular people, we’re busy mums, our biggest challenge is just going to be juggling time,” Ms Angus said.
“One of our greatest resources is the people who support what we’re doing.”
The Greens’ platform for the 2020 election will be one of fighting to bring community voices back to the table, particularly in issues such as neighbourhood plans.
Ms Angus said residents were frequently disconnected from local politics simply because they felt they didn’t have a say - something she is determined to fix.
A “binding referendum” on the final drafts of neighbourhood plans would be one way the Greens would change town planning if elected, she said.
But first, they have to win hearts, votes and wards.
Greens to scrap unpopular neighbourhood plans
Courier Mail/Quest Oct October 16, 2019
The Greens have promised to go back to the drawing board on unpopular neighbourhood plans and give Brisbane residents the final vote before they are adopted.
UNPOPULAR neighbourhood plans would be scrapped under The Greens in Brisbane City Council and a new system adopted giving residents the final vote on how their suburbs grow.
A bloc of southside Greens candidates announced the promised reforms this week, saying overdevelopment was the biggest issue raised by residents on the southside where The Greens vote has surged in the past state and federal elections.
Greens council candidates Jenny Gamble (Holland Park), lord mayoral candidate, East Brisbane resident Kath Angus, Cr Jonathan Sri (Woolloongabba) and Sally Dillon (Coorparoo). Picture: Brian Bennion
Woolloongabba Councillor Jonathan Sri, Greens lord mayoral candidate, East Brisbane resident Kath Angus, Coorparoo candidate Sally Dillon and newly announced Holland Park candidate Jenny Gamble met outside a 22 storey Buranda apartment towers complex built in an area zoned for eight storeys to announce the policy.
Cr Sri said infrastructure was not keeping pace with population growth and higher density was planned in the wrong areas without adhering to council plans.
“We are concerned that council ignores the community when it is drafting neighbourhood plans and we are angry that council doesn’t even follow its own plans,” he said.
“We are saying residents should be given a democratic vote before each neighbourhood plan is adopted.
“If council wants to introduce a new neighbourhood plan that changes the zoning, they have to get at least 51 per cent of residents to vote in favour of it. That forces council to consult with the community and give residents a meaningful say and it forces council to do a proper job of providing the infrastructure.
“Alongside that we need to ensure that the rules on height limits and setbacks are binding rather than negotiable.”
Ms Dillon, running for Coorparoo, said it was about listening to what people want and making the process transparent and binding.
Cr Sri said where a community petitioned to have their neighbourhood plan reviewed they would survey the area and if supported, they would scrap the plan and draft a new one.
“Send those neighbourhood plans back to the drawing board,” Cr Sri said.
“We will have a democratic process to deliver neighbourhood plans where infrastructure meets population growth because right now our neighbourhood plans are not worth the paper they are written on and they don’t plan for the long-term.”
Greens confident for southside Council wards after recent swings
Courier Mail Oct 17, 2019
The Greens say the Brisbane council ward of Coorparoo is winnable and expect swings to the party to continue at the March elections.
Brian Bennion, South-East .October 17, 2019 5:30am
Greens council candidates Jenny Gamble (Holland Park), lord mayoral candidate, East Brisbane resident Kath Angus, Cr Jonathan Sri (Woolloongabba) and Sally Dillon (Coorparoo) campaigning at Buranda. Picture: Brian Bennion
THE Greens are campaigning early in southside Brisbane council wards anticipating swings to the party seen in the last state and federal elections and are confident of winning Coorparoo ward.
Their vote surged in Greenslopes and Stones Corner at the recent Federal election and with Coorparoo picking up East Brisbane and Buranda under boundary changes, the ward is one of their strongest chances for a new seat in council.
Greens candidate for Coorparoo Sally Dillon has been doorknocking since she was endorsed in August and said they had a “good, fighting chance of winning”.
“We are getting good reception to The Greens ideas on including people in decision making,” she said.
“People are getting frustrated about the impact of poorly planned development in their neighbourhood. The lack of parking, super-busy streets, overcrowded public transport or lack of green space that are coming out as big issues.”
Greens lord mayoral candidate Kath Angus said people were disillusioned with the major parties and were looking for someone to listen and represent them.
Battle for Brisbane: Who is fighting to be lord mayor next year
By Lucy Stone, Brisbane Times, September 30, 2019
Brisbane City Council has a $3 billion budget. That's more than the city councils of Sydney or Melbourne. The difference is, Sydney and Melbourne's central city councils, which serve 200,000 and 169,961 people respectively, are surrounded by smaller ones, breaking the cities into multiple local government areas.
But Brisbane's local government area – the largest in Australia – covers more than 1.2 million people, meaning the city's lord mayor and councillors are overseeing the future of a far greater area.
The city is also governed by its own legislation, the City of Brisbane Act 2010, enacted by then-premier Anna Bligh and effectively creating a city-state with its own council administration, opposition and minor-party councillors.
In six months, Brisbane's residents will decide who will oversee that $3 billion budget for another four years. And with political parties preparing their election campaigns, here are the people who, after March 2020, could be spending your rates.
Lord mayor Under Queensland's legislation, anyone can run for lord mayor of Brisbane, but they can't be a sitting councillor, and can not run for councillor and lord mayor in the same election.
That means the lord mayor can be elected from outside the council chamber, as happened with Campbell Newman in 2004.
The future premier of Queensland had no council experience and had never run for office, but he took on the lord mayoral role for the LNP.
When current lord mayor Adrian Schrinner inherited the job from Graham Quirk, he stepped aside from his ward of Chandler in Brisbane's eastern suburbs. He now holds only the lord mayoralty.
The three major parties have now nominated their lord mayoral candidates, with one bait-and-switch from Labor after 2016 election candidate Rod Harding was unceremoniously dumped for veteran TV journalist Patrick Condren.
Adrian Schrinner stepped aside from his ward of Chandler to become lord mayor.
The incumbent LNP lord mayor first joined Brisbane City Council in a by-election in September 2005. Since then he has worked his way up, sitting on several committees, including the public and active transport committee, which oversees the $944 million Brisbane Metro project – the LNP's election promise in 2016.
Under Graham Quirk, Cr Schrinner was deputy mayor before being elected by his LNP colleagues to replace the retiring Cr Quirk in April 2019.
His pledge was to create a greener city for the future, arguing that the infrastructure-heavy vision of his predecessors had been realised and it was now time to ensure Brisbane was green, clean and sustainable.
After Labor's luckless 2016 lord mayoral candidate, Rod Harding, did the hard yards for months keeping the mayoral candidacy fight alive, Patrick Condren's endorsement by the party on the weekend was a surprise for many. But it had been rumoured for months that he was a favoured option to take on the council's long-standing LNP administration.
After 30 years working as a reporter, including state political reporter for Channel Seven, Mr Condren admitted he was no smooth-talking politician, but said he hoped he would "cut through" with plain speaking and an honest admission of mistakes.
His first election pledge was to freeze the lord mayoral salary and put more funds into footpaths.
The Greens chose a candidate they also hope will cut through, selecting a southside early childhood educator and midwife to run alongside similarly grassroots candidates in wards they hope will tumble from LNP hands.
Ms Angus was encouraged to run by friends on a platform arguing that communities deserve more say in what happens in their neighbourhoods.
The council's current neighbourhood plans are keeping residents helpless in their own homes and she wants to see more power in residents' hands, she said.
Ms Angus pledged that a binding referendum on the final draft of neighbourhood plans would be required if she were elected as lord mayoress.
Brisbane City Council has 26 wards, of which the majority are held by the LNP. Labor holds five, the Greens one, and independent Nicole Johnston holds one.
Here are all the preselected candidates for each party so far. The Greens and Labor are likely to announce more in the coming weeks and months.