Authorised by K Carra for The Greens, Brisbane - AN 2020/0139

Brisbane City Council Paddington Greens candidate Donna Burns says seat is ‘winnable’

Ellen-Maree Elliot, Quest Newspapers, August 19, 2019 

A FORMER emergency nurse is the Greens’ great hope to win an inner-west Brisbane City Council ward from the LNP at next year’s council election. Donna Burns is the Greens’ pick to wrest Paddington ward from LNP community, arts and lifestyle committee chairman Peter Matic.

She would become the second Greens councillor at City Hall, joining maverick Gabba representative Jonathan Sri. In her first interview as candidate the former emergency nurse turned change management small business owner described next year’s election contest in one word: “winnable”. “Paddington is turning Green,” she said. “The numbers tell us that. The messages I’m getting tell me that.” Paddington is one of four Brisbane City Council wards the Greens are targeting as genuine prospects for the minor party, along with Central, Walter Taylor and Coorparoo, which are all in LNP hands.

Ms Burns said her party could have won Paddington in 2016 if one in 20 voters had voted for them, and since then the Greens’ Michael Berkman had won the state seat of Maiwar. While they did not win any seats in lower house, there were swings to the Greens in the inner-Brisbane electorates at the Federal Election and they retained Larissa Waters as senator. Paddington was also one of the biggest shake-ups in the recently announced boundary realignments for Brisbane City Council and the Greens have welcomed the changes.

“We believe Paddington is now stronger than ever,” she said. The Auchenflower resident lives with her partner Phil and has two adult children, Madison and Kyle, and a granddaughter. Ms Burns said she wanted to run for local government to create better community wellbeing through more green space, accessible active and public transport and affordable housing.

She wants to champion community driven change and a more democratic and transparent council, which she said could have created a different outcome of the Mt Coot-tha zipline. Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner scrapped the controversial adventure tourism project but only after the council had approved it and residents’ took legal action against it. The council’s settlement with Zipline Australia plus the $900,000 it spent preparing the application could have cost ratepayers up to $1.9 million, although the true settlement figure is confidential. There was a huge community backlash against the plan for the Mt Coot-tha zipline, which was 

“That’s where we had community response and we could have mitigated a significant ratepayer spend by listening to the community in the first instance,” Ms Burns said. She was only in the early days of her candidacy, finalised a week ago, but residents’ were already airing their concerns to her on neighbourhood planning and development. “The things I’ve heard already, they want a say in development, they want a say in neighbourhood planning, and they really value green space and public transport,” she said.

She said a survey on future uses for the old ABC site conducted by Mr Berkman and Cr Sri found 90 per cent wanted it to be a park.

“I want access to green space on the river,” she said. “I use the foreshore all the time for running and cycling but if I wanted to sit and have some crackers and a nice glass of wine, I would have to go to the southside,” she said.

The Brisbane City Council election is in March 2020.