I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which our Council meets, the Turrbal and Jagera people, their elders past and present.
Indulge me if you will as I pause for just one moment for this special time, as I look around. The awe and wonder of this historical Brisbane City Council Chamber where those who have come before us have all contributed to shape and influence my home city from behind these same benches for the past 89 years.
For more than a decade, my community, my neighbourhood, has been served by my friend, Ian McKenzie. Ian has been a loyal Councillor, a kind gentleman. I could not mention Ian without also recognising the outstanding contribution from his wife, Josie McKenzie. Josie is the force behind Ian and her dedication to our community continues through her work as an ambassador for the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust.
I am humbled to have been given this opportunity. It is an absolute privilege to help, to listen and to serve my community. Over 15 years ago, my career started as a journalist. Community concerns were at the centre of my work then as they are today. I am a community advocate by trade. Like many other young families, I love my area. The balance between old and new, public transport and accessibility, bikeways and busways, the diversity and choices add to the appeal. Coorparoo and its surrounding suburbs, like Greenslopes, Annerley, Stones Corner, Camp Hill and Carina Heights have a rich history, a proud heritage, one that is reflected in the many character homes and public buildings that form our unique streetscape. My community has been home to war heroes and widows, entrepreneurs and entertainers, risk takers, rule breakers, philanthropists and politicians.
Back then, as it is today, the newer generations live in restored or modern homes and walk our historic streets. Some we praise, others we pursue. There are those heartened by our support and those who we must help. Over the years, community facilities like Langlands Park pool, the fields at Easts, Whites Hill and Greenslopes, have been the training ground for sports stars and Olympic medallists. But on any given morning from the crack of dawn, the young, the old, the would-be’s, the could-be’s share the same green space and community
I believe it is our job as Councillors to serve the whole community, ensuring our living standards continue to exceed the pace of a modern city. While the Coorparoo Ward has a rich history, it is also a place of opportunity and optimism for thousands of new Australians who now call it home. Around one in four residents of my ward were born overseas. These people have brought with them their experiences and traditions and by sharing them, have contributed to a more inclusive, harmonious and better Brisbane.
People like Surendra Prasad who through the multicultural hub at Arnwood Place at Annerley recently brought together local people from many different faiths in my ward to commemorate those who died in the Sri Lankan attack. People who form the Rotary Club of Stones Corner and I acknowledge our president, Bruce Wallace, and my sponsor, Frank Whiteman. This is a club which has served my community for more than 59 years, taking on projects big and small. The breadth of their kindness and generosity to our community
knows no bounds.
While I have paid tribute to Ian McKenzie, I would also like to acknowledge another former Councillor, Richard Jefferies OAM. The list of Rick’s accomplishments in this place and in my community is ongoing and extensive. He served as alderman in the Ward of Camp Hill from 1985 to 1991. Rick remains an honorary ambassador for the City of Brisbane. A man of foresight, Rick’s contribution to the local environment and heritage must form part of his proudest achievements.
From introducing the first trial of recycling bins, or bags, as they were then, to greening our city with park and street tree plantings. He also played an instrumental role with Whites Hill Reserve at Camp Hill, the green lungs of my ward where so many children and their parents enjoy hours of outdoor playtime. He formed the Camp Hill Ward Heritage Committee, which went on to become the Coorparoo and Districts Heritage Group, still active today under the leadership and through commitment from another local achiever, Ron Baker. Rick has been a source of guidance and support to me and I thank him for his generosity and friendship.
Another former great who represented my community is the late Catherine Bermingham. The Bowie’s Flat Wetlands at Coorparoo is one of her legacies. While former Councillor Bermingham and I come from different corners of the ring, I had the honour of working alongside her for a short period. I always found her to have a warm and generous heart. I remember her fondlywith respect and admiration.
I am in this Chamber today following in the footsteps of these individuals who have succeeded but I didn’t come here just to succeed. I came to give back. In these modern times where it’s easy to be cynical and ever fearful, let us not forget that together we can make change happen. As I look to the future, our LORD MAYOR has a vision to make sure the Brisbane of tomorrow is even better than the Brisbane of today.
His focus as LORD MAYOR is to build the critical infrastructure our city needs, like public transport and road networks, to ensure we can all get home easier and safer to our families. I am proud to be part of a team of people who want to achieve this while at the same time working to protect our unique lifestyle and expand our city’s green space. Residents can expect me, as their Councillor, to work hard just as they do to make a better life for their families. Together with the LORD MAYOR we are building a better Brisbane and protecting our unique lifestyle. Building the infrastructure like roads and bridges needed to ease traffic congestion while ensuring we preserve the green space and embarking on the biggest investment in parks our city has ever seen. Locally, I will be held accountable by the dozens of environment groups that spend their time cleaning up our creeks and waterways, removing weeds and restoring natural habitat and I look forward to getting my hands dirty alongside them.
I’m also excited about the Hanlon Park upgrade, a green space that my family and I know so well. The upgraded Langlands Park pool where my family and I go to swimming lessons, fixing the Samuel Street intersection at Camp Hill where we as a family go shopping. Fighting for an upgrade to the Stones Corner Library and improvements to local public transport, including the much anticipated and fully funded Brisbane Metro.
Brisbane is a city of precincts and we see that in Coorparoo Ward where local residents enjoy entertainment and dining hubs, like at Martha Street at Camp Hill, Coorparoo Square and Logan Road, Stones Corner. I am determined to work to foster an environment where business and our local economy flourishes. Residents of my ward work hard for their own money by their own hand. They are proud to invest in a future for their family where they can live safely and securely in the knowledge their efforts will be rewarded, that their Council will not take away but only add value to their lifestyle.
As their local Councillor, I’m here to support those efforts, to celebrate alongside them and to add to their quality of life each and every day. Chair, my neighbourhood is very special to me. It is an honour to represent my community here in this place. Thank you.