Saturday, June 4, 2011

New Website -

Hi everyone,

Just to let you know that I will no longer by using this site to post, as all blogs will now be available online at my website

All previous entries posted here have been migrated across to this website.  I invite you all to take a look around the site to stay informed about what is happening in the Redlands, in the lead up to the March 2012 Local Government Elections.

New Website -

Hi everyone,

Just to let you know that I will no longer by using this site to post, as all blogs will now be available online at my website

All previous entries posted here have been migrated across to this website.  I invite you all to take a look around the site to stay informed about what is happening in the Redlands, in the lead up to the March 2012 Local Government Elections.

New Website -

Hi everyone,

Just to let you know that I will no longer by using this site to post, as all blogs will now be available online at my website

All previous entries posted here have been migrated across to this website.  I invite you all to take a look around the site to stay informed about what is happening in the Redlands, in the lead up to the March 2012 Local Government Elections.

New Website -

Hi everyone,

Just to let you know that I will no longer by using this site to post, as all blogs will now be available online at my website

All previous entries posted here have been migrated across to this website.  I invite you all to take a look around the site to stay informed about what is happening in the Redlands, in the lead up to the March 2012 Local Government Elections.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Job Losses On Straddie Add To Negative Job Growth in Redlands

On Wednesday evening I moved a motion asking Council to request a repeal of the recent Nth Stradbroke Protection and Sustainability Act 2011 for various reasons.  (See below)  Interestingly, rather than discussing the real issues , they decided to make it personal - as only some Councillors know how! Just because I don't support their position they haul out the personal attacks alleging political affiliations,  donations from mining companies etc.  Quite hilarious really – The Mayor insinuated I was an LNP member because I laid a wreath on ANZAC DAY on behalf of the Federal Member for Bowman?  For the record, I am not a member of any political party and have not received donations from any mining company but I did lay the wreath upon the request of the MC at the ANZAC Ceremony.
The motion was lost 9-1.  In response, the  Mayor put forward a Mayoral Minute which is included below. 

Some Councillors claimed not to know about SaveStraddie campaign was about, yet are members of the organisations that fund it. (WPSQ, CARP, FOSI, SIMO etc)

For the record, I refuse, regardless of party politics, to accept dodgy legislation done on the run that does not adequately consider and mitigate the impacts imposed.  Unfortunately, we are increasingly exposed to this from the State eg Water Reform, Pool Legislation, etc. The more we accept it – the more they dish out!

The debate clearly demonstrated that Council's position was not to request a repeal of this legislation therefore they must support it. In fact, you will read in the Mayoral Minute that the Mayor actually "welcomed the announcement"

Welcome sign at Dunwich before Easter Saturday Rally.

While Councillors sat on the fence watching these jobs evaporate in Redland City, they were quietly hoping that no-one would notice their silence and they could secretly support the very green groups that support them. 

I was hoping to give you a link to the Redland Times online article but it seems it has been withdrawn after a stern email from the Mayor!


On the 20 April 2011, Cr Williams gave notice that she intends to move as follows:

That Council resolve to put forward their complete rejection of the recent “North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability Act 2011” to the State Government requesting a repeal and outlining concerns with particular objections to:
a)    The loss of direct and indirect jobs in Redland City and in particular  North Stradbroke Island;
b)   The transitional economic planning being removed from Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation and transferred to Department of Environment & Resource Management;
c)    The lack of consideration for Native Title discussions by allocating 20% National Park without broad consultation prior to an ILUA being signed; and
d)   The mapping of National Park being placed over the Water Treatment Plant without any explanation of how that will impact on future water supply.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Job losses in Redland City seem to be the flavour of our future under Mayor Melva’s administration.  First we lose Fisher & Paykel and their associated employment. Then the State Government barged into North Stradbroke with legislation leaving up to 650 people (direct and indirect) without future employment. Mayor Melva has publicly stated she has “No position on this”. And now, it seems, Mayor Melva has not even been able to protect what she has the most control over – Council jobs.

I feel this latest move by Redland City Council to sack workers in an effort to balance the books is prematurely “callous”. Though Bligh is clearly responsible for our current water fiasco, you have to ask why and how Council allowed themselves to be placed in this situation.

While there is definitely a need to tighten the financial belt, some very serious questions should be asked as to why now? Why such a serious long term decision to cut staff, when the proposed State Government’s short term CPI cap on water is only for 2 years and we have no detail beyond that?  

Ironically, Councillors proudly hang their hats on the fact that we were   ‘Queensland’s Most Sustainable City’ award winner.  Clearly, recent moves demonstrate that we are facing the fact that Council is financially unsustainable thanks to becoming so dependent on the income from our water dividends and not taking the advice to prepare for these political “bumps”. 

The chickens have now come home to roost for Redland families, and Mayor Melva and her team have a lot to answer for.  On the eve of school holidays and Easter, Redland City has the dubious honour of being the first, perhaps the only Council in Queensland, to announce job cuts in the wake of the Bligh back flip on water and CPI reform price cap.

This terrible outcome has been predictable at two levels.

The promises by Bligh at the start of the water disaster had clearly blinded Mayor Melva and her support base.  It had been stressed that Council needed to proceed with extreme caution and keep cash balances high through this politically uncertain water reform. We didn’t! 

As demonstrated in Council’s 2007/08 budget, a five-year forecast proposed cash reserves of $85m for 2010/11.  This would have allowed us to absorb the impact of Bligh’s political stunt for at least two years, whereas the most recent Budget indicates only a cash reserve of $45m. 

Where did the other $40m go; was it the Increased operational expenditure incurred in employing more management, consultants and contractors?  With Council increasing staff growth at a time when economic growth in the Redlands was going backwards, it had to end badly somewhere, and now it has.

The proposed staff job losses raise many questions about Council’s management style and approach.  Ironically, the redundancies appear to be targeting higher management positions where most of the recent growth has occurred and which will no doubt cost ratepayers the most to remove.

Mayor Melva’s Council has relied too heavily on just environmental sustainability.  Sustainability also means economic viability.  Some Councillors don’t seem to understand this fact and now families across the Redlands may pay the price.

The financial strategy adopted by other councillors last year was heavily reliant on the ‘dividends’ of the Bligh-based water business windfall, which I raised concerns about in one of my first blogs, Click here to view blog.  These dividends had not, and could not, be confirmed. Residents, ratepayers and staff have the right to demand answers.

I am now concerned at what seems to be a knee jerk reaction to "wield the axe" when we have next to no long term detail on the State Government’s plan to cap the retail price of water for two years at CPI.   

Unlike the State Government, we need a responsible approach, which demonstrates prudent long-term financial management.

It is no secret that I have been urging stronger efficiencies over the past couple of years yet have been howled down by some councillors – particularly Cr Ogilvie.  The 4.75% Council efficiency over 5 years that was offered and accepted by other Councillors was never going to be realised, because it was absorbed by the growth factor that was already built into rate increases. 

Businesses in Redlands will probably be saying “what growth?” You only need to walk around Cleveland CBD to know that opportunities are receding not growing. 

Had we adopted a more serious efficiency target when I first raised the issues, we would not now be threatening the livelihood of our staff.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Redland Water 'Rip Off' - Wrap Up

All government decisions come at a cost to the community.  The water reform we have experienced over the past 5 years has cost billions of dollars and it will have to be paid for.  
If we encourage amendments to the current water legislation now, we will save further expenses being wasted by continuing down this path of commercialisation . 

More importantly, we need to protect our future generations from potential privatisation of water. The comparatively small cost to do this now will protect our children 
and grandchildren in the future

Though 9 out of 11 Councillors did not view this issue as urgent at last Wednesday's 
meeting (See Bayside Bulletin link), I believe the political climate (with leadership of this State 
being discussed on a daily basis and the imminent increase in water bills for Redland City) makes this issue urgent and requires our community leaders to put this on the agenda now.  

Below is the copy of a letter that has been sent by me to the Premier, Anna Bligh and the Leader/s of the Opposition.

Click here (Give Redlands Its Water Back Facebook Page) to view the page that I set up last year in
an attempt to create debate about this issue.     

Click here for Previous blog posted on this Issue - The Redland Water "Rip-Off"

31st March 2011

Dear Premier,

As a mayoral candidate for Redland City in 2012 and a current Councillor of Redland City, I am seeking the agreement of your Government to consider a strategy that I believe will protect the long-term security of water for our community.

I acknowledge the Water Grid provides broader security for South East Queensland and that recent infrastructure, built as a result of Water Reform, must be funded.  I am hoping you will consider my proposal to ensure that water remains affordable and accessible for future generations.

1)          The four state owned levels of bureaucracy (Qld Water Commission, Linkwater, SEQWater, SEQ Water Grid Manager) are combined into one,

2)      State debt for the water grid’s new operational assets is paid for over this period of time,
3)      Water Distribution/Retail entities such as Allconnex are ultimately disbanded and responsibility returned to individual councils.
 The streamlining of these businesses is in line with the recommendations of the Weller Report and would deliver operational savings, which ultimately influences the cost of bulk water.

The rationale behind disbanding the distribution/retail businesses is supported by statements from members of your Cabinet who are insisting that Councils should now give rebates through their rates for water.  Clearly this strategy allows Councils to consider the cost of water and its impacts on its community through its rating process.  
More importantly, the final decision on water pricing remains with elected representatives who are directly accountable to their community and not just legislation.

In my view this strategy allows the Water Grid to exist, protecting SEQ from future droughts yet lessens the treatment of water as a commodity as opposed to being a necessity of life.

I trust you will consider this strategy seriously as the residents of Redland City have clearly voiced concerns over Water Reform since 2007.  This was demonstrated by a number of petitions with over 3000 signatures that I presented to Parliament through the Member for Capalaba, Michael Choi MP in 2007. 

Please be advised that this request is made on behalf of representations made to me directly by residents of Redland City and is not necessarily the view of Redland City Council.

I look forward to your reply.

Cr Karen Williams
Division 9 – Capalaba
Redland City 

Cc.   Mr Jeff Seeney Leader of the Opposition
            Mr Campbell Newman
            Mr Michael Choi MP State Member for Capalaba
            Mr Mark Robinson MP State Member for Cleveland
            Mr Peter Dowling MP State Member for Redlands

Sunday, March 20, 2011

An Environmental Watershed

The inspiration that we can take from our young Redlands citizens is unlimited.

By request from a teacher at Saint Anthonys Primary School in 2005, I found myself engaged in deep discussion with Grade Two students over the state of the drought in South East Qld, in particular what we should be doing to conserve water.  These young people were like mini sponges repeating back with passion on how important it was to turn the tap off while brushing their teeth. 

Weeks later, I bumped into an old school mate, who could not wait to pull me aside and give me an ear full of what a right pain I had created for her.  Puzzled, I racked my brain as to what I could have possibly done as I had not seen her for years.  As the conversation progressed, it seemed her daughter was part of that Grade Two class and had become what she termed as the household “water nazi”. 

This was the birth of the realization for me that to make a real difference to our future here in Redlands and beyond, we needed to engage young people with whatever tools were available to us in issues of their future, the environment and our community. 

This was my Watershed.  The outcome was young people living and breathing the solutions to our issues, the process was designed to take them on a journey that meant something to them and for them to communicate it to the rest of the population.  Using the tools and networks I had gathered, with assistance of support of the festival I had been part of, the creative friends (eg Alison Rogers - Vocal Manoeuvres) I had the good fortune of knowing, the staff at Indigiscapes and their great educational record, our committed local schools, my connections to various government funding and business sponsorship, I set about utilizing Redland’s most valuable assets – our children, to build a stronger connection with our natural assets – our environment.

Young people connect with issues through different mediums and so we created school projects that allowed students to adopt a local creek and take an interest in their catchment, we created partnerships with amazing musicians and artists who would connect other young people to the environment through mediums such as literature, music, dance, film and theatre.  This would then become the basis of a performance that would share that message with the rest of our City.

With the project in place, I organized visits to local school, dragging professional artists to the more remote parts of the City such as Russell Island, and Dunwich – to ensure as many young people as possible could be involved.

Students gave up school holidays to workshop and perform with amazing artists with the intention of giving Redlands something they had never seen before.

As the first weekend of Spring approached, still suffering the SEQ drought, the Redland Spring Festival kicked into gear and as is often the case, the skies opened up and it began to rain and rain and rain.  Sweet irony really from where the journey began.  As people arrived, all dressed up, fighting the mud in their high heeled shoes and looking for dry ground, the performance proceeded and was spectacular in content and in impact.

This communication strategy for the environment required little more than hard work in creating partnerships with community groups, our indigenous elders, schools, artists, government bodies, such as Festivals Australia, Queensland Events, Council’s Indigiscapes,  private enterprise and an amazing group of our young Redlanders.  It came at no extra cost to Council except some gravel to soak up the soggy showground fields.
The lesson was not just the message that was sent out under that muddy, soggy drenched marquee.  It was the strength of a strategy that demonstrated how critical our young people were in sending that message and their undervalued role in being able to communicate and educate us all on really important issues.  It also proved the importance of partnerships with all sectors to work with our youth to create solutions that become part of their future.

I demonstrated a different way of communicating our environmental issues but with a focus always on the final performance, the final outcome.  The process was one that the young people designed and implemented so that the outcome was relevant to them.  If we want 21st century solutions then these are the people we need to value and keep engaged as part of our Redlands community.

This event was one of my proudest community moments, not because we survived the incredibly bad weather or that we achieved the impact of selling an important message, or the fact it was an amazing musical production of a quality that had never been experienced in Redlands before that time.  I was most proud of the fact that our own Redlands young people, when given the opportunity, are our best assets and are capable of achieving incredible outcomes.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


In recent weeks, I have experienced an amazing amount of positive support and affirmation for the mayoralty challenge in 2012. However, as expected in public office, it is difficult to satisfy everyone’s agenda, particularly when it is personal and not really focused on the issues at hand. As the Tertulian quote states,  "The first reaction to truth is hatred."

In response to one of the misguided accusations that I have “done nothing” here is a sample of my major achievements since 2004:

Community Projects

  • Mentor One - Introduced the program to Capalaba and Redland City (with Boystown).  Over 200 volunteers have been trained and placed in local Redland City schools to assist with young people at risk of disengaging.  The success of the program resulted in expansion outside of Redland City. 
  • Clarehaven – A 26 unit project for young people with disabilities in Alexandra Hills.   I engaged partnerships with local professionals to deliver pro bono services valued at over $100k to progress the project to Council lodgement stage.  13 units about to be constructed.
  • RedFest – I was part of the team that saved this annual event (Redland Strawberry Festival) from financial extinction.  I have presided as Chairman, Treasurer and marketing coordinator (writing media releases every week in the lead up and organizing advertising) and assisted with Entertainment coordination.
  • Capalaba Business Improvement District Inc  -  I assisted with the creation of the business group for all Capalaba businesses, whose focus advocates better environmental practices, ultimately driving financial savings and placing Capalaba as a competitive business community in SEQ..
  • Redland Foundation – I am a Director of the recently formed Community Charitable Trust that is committed to the enhancement of Redlands and its people through bequests and donations.

Council Projects

  • Completion of Capalaba Regional Park including the All Abilities Playground  - with Federal, State and community partnerships and investment with organisations such as Boystown, delivered the playground and infrastructure to  $3mill+ Park .
  • Redland Youth Plaza  - Delivered to John Fredericks Park with a new amenities block at a cost of $1.5m +.
  • Completed landscaping entries to Capalaba (Redland City).
  • Supported Capalaba Football Club to establish an international size field and delivered fencing between Greyhound Racing Track and Jnr Rugby League Club.
  • Capalaba Wastewater Treatment Plant - Addressed and solved continuing odour issues for residents residing nearby .
  • Saved the ‘Faces’ fence at the gateway to the Redlands along Moreton Bay Road from being demolished when Aldi was constructed.
  • Assisted Rotary Bushcare Group to enhance the banks of Tingalpa creek at Capalaba, relocating the flagpole and time capsule and preserving the historic cobble stone road in John Fredericks Park that linked the old timber bridge to the City.
  • Capalaba Stakeholders Group – created the group to address ongoing safety issues and perceptions in Capalaba CBD and brought together all agencies (Police, Dept of Communities, shopping centre owners, Youth justice representative) and delivered Shopping Centre protocols that can be used across the entire City.
  • Graff-Art Project – I initiated partnership that delivered the painting of a large mural on the side of the ANZ building next to the Capalaba Busway, resulting in the elimination of continual graffiti on the building.
  • Capalaba CBD Masterplan Completion including Continual lobbying to improve State Government road infrastructure in an attempt to alleviate traffic congestion in Capalaba CBD.  Masterplan recently adopted will assist in driving this outcome.

Personal Projects
  • Collected petition against lack of compensation from the State Government for our water assets.  (Total 3300 signatures approx =1229 epetition + 2100 hardcopy) – E Petition View Closed Petition and hard copy available upon request.
  • Collected petition to bring Eastern Busway forward in timeframe to Capalaba.View Closed Petition
  • Collected Petition against potential amalgamation of Redland Shire View Closed Petition
  • Collected petition to Council against fluoridation without due consultation in Queensland.
I encourage everyone, regardless of agendas, to take the time to talk to me if they have concerns, questions, and suggestions.

For those few who often hide behind pseudonyms on blogs or are just keen to elevate their status by insidious unfounded nastiness – you now have a sample of my major achievements.  Feel free to compare these achievements with any other government representative before taking aim and if you require further proof, simply give me a call or send me an email.

I am always happy to justify my previous record when questioned, but what we really need is a focus on 21st solutions for our future and that of our children and grandchildren. That is what I intend to offer over the next 12 months. In the meantime, I will take solace in the wise words of Malcolm Forbes "If you have no critics you likely have no successes." 

Sunday, February 27, 2011


It is time for the factions within Council to stop trying to shoot the messenger.

The behavior of Deputy Mayor Cr Elliott and his faction at last weeks' Council meeting is a clear demonstration of a Council that has lost its way and still doesn’t understand that the Chamber is for debating relevant decisions in the interest of the community not an opportunity for a pack mentality ambush. The motion that was presented is not even enforceable – as stated by the CEO, yet regardless councillors insisted on voting for it.  Allowing this item to be accepted as “urgent business without notice” was farcical. Comparatively, a few months ago, my attempt to review Koala Strategy operational expenses was refused as a business item on a Council agenda.  

What was witnessed was a shameful attempt to shut down any meaningful dialogue that points to three years of shortcomings on their behalf.
This is not the first time that debate and dialogue has been shut down.  The last three budgets have been manipulated by Councillors through procedural motions to ensure there is no “speaking against” individual budget items – forcing me to vote against the entire budget without any opportunity to highlight what I am now presenting.

Not only am I happy to answer and address my claims to the people of Redland City, but I'd be happy to take these Chamber dwellers out into the real Redlands, to meet with real residents, and to show them first hand what their neglect and incompetence has caused.

One questions their interpretation of democracy, when anyone daring to have another opinion comes under attack from this group for statements based on resident feedback.

One of the reasons I have decided to stand as Mayor is to end this sort of nonsense and to encourage a focused Council, with every Councillor getting off their chair in the chamber, and actually doing some real, measurable and cost effective work for the rate payers and residents. Hiding in the Council Chamber and acting like the schoolyard bully is rather childish and like most Redland City residents I have had enough.

This attempt at politics looks more like a kindy class that is allowed to get out of control.

It would be funny except for the fact that we pay them for this. It is laughable to think that these elected representatives refuse to hear criticism, refuse to deal with factual realities and demand that I “represent the administration” rather than the residents.

I welcome the Mayors comments during the outburst, that she "would write to the Bayside Bulletin to set the records straight" in reference to the spending on the Koala Communications Strategy.  It will make for interesting reading.  

It is time for the Hobson/Elliott team to stop playing and start governing in the interest of all the people of Redland City.
It is Redland City’s future and the future of its residents that we're talking about here, not Cr Elliott’s career or his feelings.

Last weeks display is a clear sign of the need for a fresh start with a fresh approach and fresh leadership.

I am looking to leading a strong Council that has a clear focus on its people and one that is prepared to push to have our City, the jewel in the South East's Crown, recognised and supported for all that it brings to Queensland. Not a Council with Councillors who treat criticism as a personal insult and make ill-informed decisions based on extreme partisan ideologies.

Redlands needs to be a city of the future with a firm focus on family, affordability, beneficial growth and balanced and responsive representation.

A lock us up and leave us alone attitude has created a city that is failing environmentally, failing in affordability and failing to establish jobs growth or opportunities for its most valuable asset - our young people.

All I can say to these Councillors is remember...It is your job to listen, you were elected to place first the broader community’s genuine best interests.  Not your own personal ambitions and agendas.