Russell Island resident Alby Sutton made a short speech at the Redland City Cyouncil Meeting on 25 January 2017. Here is what he had to say.
Speech to Council by Alby Sutton
My name is Alby Sutton and I have been a land-owning resident of Russell Island for more than 10 years, and am a member of The Moreton Bay Combined Islands Association.
After retiring from a 35 year Federal Public Service career, embracing administrative appointments at senior levels in 13 different Departments, two overseas postings, and a 2 year period as a Private Secretary on then PM Bob Hawke’s personal staff, I made a rational decision to move to the Island, because I loved the beauty of the place and thought I could see tremendous potential for development.
Sadly my forethoughts have proven to be misplaced, and I am now a very concerned resident.
The Island, located only about 50 km from the Brisbane CBD, is a beautiful place to live in, but in order to enjoy its natural beauty we residents are forced to live quite a deprived existence.
We residents have to suffer:
- Unsealed dusty roads which need regular repair at great cumulative cost; and repairs that are carried out are piecemeal and at best temporary. The recent move towards polymer sealing, while appreciated, lacks considered planning and is no more than another stop gap measure.
- Poor street drainage, and privately built sewerage systems that leach human waste effluent into the waters of our beautiful bay. a situation that will have disastrous long term environmental impact.
- Bad street signage and inadequate street lighting.
- Abysmal parking provision at ferry terminals on both the Island and at Redland Bay.
- High cost of purchasing items unavailable for sale on the Island. This high cost factor extends to larger building materials and associated infrastructure needs.
- High transport costs which isolate families from their close relatives. This isolation often leads to loneliness, depression, and even suicide.
- And last but not least, Council neglect of unoccupied properties throughout the Island.
And for these and other deprivations not listed here, we pay rates totally disproportionate to their return in material benefits.
There seems to be reluctance, either contrived or perhaps conspired for reasons only known to the apparent conspirators, to suppress development in this place.
And this reluctance seems to be shared by the three arms of governance under which we live.
Whenever we residents complain, we are either treated with disdain or told that we chose to live here and therefore must accept the deficiencies that exist.
This is an unacceptable argument, and rings of governing bodies’ attitudes of ignorance, self interest, or incapability to cope with the requirements of their elected governance.
In choosing to live somewhere, you don’t surrender your right to protect your entitlements as a resident or landowner!
Each resident is a shareholder in Southern Moreton Bay Islands’ development.
Governing body support staff and elected representatives must better recognize that they are in the employ of we, their electors, and must act with more considered integrity in making decisions that affect our welfare and lifestyles.
We are not puppets to be manipulated, ignored by exclusion from participation in decision making debate, and then used as vehicles for the self benefit of our elected representatives.
We land owners have had our island holdings devalued by often more than $30,000 in recent years, and we have had enough of being cheated and maligned and treated as virtual third world citizens. And another 30 or forty years of suppression is not acceptable.
The recent fires on both Macleay and Russell Island graphically demonstrated the cost of these governance failings, and the cost could have been much higher in both personal and economic terms.
Had the Russell island fire started three days later on the Sunday when the South easterly wind was raging at near gale force levels, there could well have been a disaster of monumental National proportions; contributed to in no small way by the overgrown state of vacant land on the Island.
Surely the impact of the fires and the deficiencies of infrastructure and prescribed emergency action they exposed, must penetrate the minds of all the governing bodies and hopefully it will result in a greatly increased and immediate interest in quickly beginning to correct the years of neglect and perceived disinterest that have occurred.
Against this background I would like to ask each of you here in Council to reflect on your own capacities to make appropriate judgments on future decisions you make; and when making such judgments, ensure that you have a complete understanding of all considerations and effects of such judgments, before putting them in to practice.
The practices of this Redland City Council, in adhering to a culture of secrecy, the lack of adequate scrutiny enabled by comprehensive community and stakeholder consultation, has
now put property, and peoples very LIVES AT RISK!
In my professional opinion, based on 35 years experience, culminating in Senior levels in the Departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and as Private Secretary to Bob Hawke, then
Prime Minister of Australia, I submit to EVERY COUNCILLOR HERE, that this council, and the previous Redland City Council, by its negligence, has committed, and continues to commit, a SIGNIFICANT DUTY-OF-CARE BREACH.
Note that I do not merely allege a DUTY-OF-CARE BREACH, I challenge, on the basis of my 35 years of senior and extensive, and international Parliamentary experience, that this
negligence suggests that A DUTY-OF CARE BREACH EXISTS, ON BOTH PUBLIC SAFETY AND ADMINISTRATIVE GROUNDS.
I advise that this statement has been copied to relevant authorities, for appropriate action with the endorsement of SMBI Forum Stakeholders and other SMBI Community Leaders, and Authority reference as relevant, and a written more informative submission will follow
The text of this presentation is published by Redlands2030 with the permission of Alby Sutton.
You can watch a video recording of the Alby Sutton presentation: