Redland City Council’s neglect of Russell Island

Alby Sutton speaking at the Redland City Council meeting on 25 January

Alby Sutton speaking at the Redland City Council meeting on 25 January

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

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

Alby Sutton
Russell Island

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:

Redlands2030 – 30 January 2017

Please note: Offensive or off-topic comments will be deleted. If offended by any published comment please email

11 thoughts on “Redland City Council’s neglect of Russell Island

  1. Over two years ago a teenage male was run down and killed by driver of a vehicle on Russell Island due to poor lighting & road conditions. My letter published by Bayside Bulletin at the time asked if previous & present day councillors of the island had been asleep at the wheel when basic infrastructure was missing and seems nothing has changed.
    Councillors are well paid to look after the needs of their constituents but on reading Toni’s letter, seems councillors like Julie Talty, who has a road named after her, is too busy feathering her own family’s nest, to care about rest of the island community’s needs.
    Cr Talty’s father, ex-Cr John Burns, working together with deal makers ex-Cr Alan Beard, not Cr for Capalaba, along with ex-town planner of Redland Shire, changed zoning from Special Protection to Commercial overnight paving the way for Alex Hills developer Peter Endacott, to fill our specially protected wetland site under koala coast policy, on Coolnwynpin Creek, with tonnes of imported soil, today a dangerous place with warnings not to enter from 20 Crotona Rd through to CBD, all done without Mayor Eddie’s knowledge at the time but too late, to save this once precious oasis for the people that led to town planner being asked to leave. Degradation, pollution and an ugly filled in Coolnwynpin Creek system along with a recently built tall residential style timber, no gaps, fencing erected by Cr Gleeson to replace original metal one built when Leda bulldozed tonnes of earth into the creek to build tavern and liquor outlet is what we see today. AWU Labor heavyweights approved turning a lovely running creek with shorebirds, platypus, koalas into a polluted no-go zone for locals due to Capalaba AWU representatives turning a blind eye to wellbeing of local residents where I live. No AWU Labor politician ever attended meetings when locals were ‘allowed’ to have a say on how Capalaba Central should be built. Had we, the people, been heard, original plans would have created a lovely, safe environment for families and visitors alike…but we weren’t given the chance and never will be in my view.
    After Federal ministers Bronwyn Bishop and now Sussan Ley escapades looking after themselves at tax/ratepayers expense, one has to believe friends and strangers alike, that politicians are all in it for themselves and all tarred with the same brush.
    Watched in council as Cr Burns swivelled around in his chair to announce to wildlife officer, who knew value of the wetland, that developer was giving $$$$$$s to parks/conservation dept…which proves what my late husband Paul always said.. ‘we can all be bought!’

  2. The Moreton Bay Combined Islands Association will keep fighting for better rates, fairer equity in infrastructure for all residents and landowners on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands.
    While we acknowledge that bridging is a long-term possibility, we shall, in the meantime, concentrate on short-haul barges and more rational routes (such as “the Island Way”) to bring these islands into the 21st century instead of stubbornly clinging to obsolete, outdated transport and access options that fail to consider population and building permit increases.
    The MBCIA will never exclude any transport option (including prospective bridging inter-island or the mainland) as viable in the future – nor will try to pressure any level of government to legislate so.

  3. It seems an on going problem. I’m also a land owner since 1992 and purchased the block at a higher price than what land is selling for now.. I have paid council rates higher than what my $600k house and land was 5km from Perth CBD.. The total rates paid would be well in excess of the purchase price or current valuation… Russell island has been and is forgotten about.. There needs to be a bridge finally approved and agreed by all 3 govts to be constructed to allow it to be a part of QLD and Australia

  4. I had been a landowner on Russel Island since 1988. I purchased several properties in view of settling there on my retirement, with the probability of a bridge being built from the mainland to the Island, and reasonable infrastructure implemented, unfortunately this was not realized and indeed, very little, if any improvement had been made on most of the Island. I have inspected my properties on many occasions, in the past twenty eight years, and am disgusted with the exorbitant rates etc. that I am required to pay for so little work done, to an obviously ” corrupt council,” with Councillors having their snouts in the ratepayers trough, once these bandits have been purged and outed, and replaced with honest people, Russell Isle. will go ahead. My dream of living on a “civilized” Island has been shattered, and am now retired elsewhere. Keep up the good work Mr.Sutton, Russell Isle. needs honest and trustworthy people like yourself. P,S my son and daughter are now not so proud owners of the land, and hopefully in their time, there will be improvement. I truly hope so.

  5. The above mentioned councillor had to be forced, embarrassed and reviewed by an Ombudsman to have safety infrastructure set in place at the local school that was in breach of State and Federal legislation . And yet no problems spending rates proceeds on a sealing a road to their residence???

  6. Did you know, that there are 57775 rateable properties in the City of Redlands? 11177 of these properties are on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands of Russell Island, Macleay Island, Karragarra Island and Lamb Island. That is a percentage of 19.35 %. This means , that we islanders are paying around 20% of the City’s annual budget, and what do we get in return? Peanuts, and we are still lacking most of the infrastructure, mainlanders enjoy already for a long time. We still have dirt roads, no sewerage etc. And to top it all off, we have to pay an additional Translink Levy of approx $1 million dollars per year for a service, mainlanders are using for free already for a long time. We are suffering already since the then Redland Shire took over the islands in 1973. It is about time, that we are not treated anymore like a third world country. Enough is enough. We are not copping it anymore. Congratulations to Alby Sutton for his courage to speak out.

    • Surely if Russell is rates payers contribute 20% of revenue we should have 20% of councillors on the council and have 20 % of funding go to the island upkeep

      • Councillors are elected by residents not ratepayers. A numbers game. If you don’t live in the electorate you don’t get to elect a councillor.

  7. Alby would be disgusted to learn that Cr Talty has had Talty Road sealed by Council to allow her family and her in laws a nice tarred road, they are the only residents in that street, properties on 25 acres that were never a priority for Council Engineering road seal planning. This same Councillor then lobbied to have a few roads in Redland Bay which have been gravel now all sealed, these properties are all over 25 acres and most of the homes are set back a long way from the road unlike the Bay islands where blocks are about 650sq and homes are just 6 metres from the dusty road . Even Orchard Road got sealed which is part of the Shoreline development and would have been a responsibility of the developer to seal, but ratepayers paid that job too. Double standards I agree.

  8. I don’t live on Russell, but as a land owner, I have a keen interest in it.
    Russell could be so much more…..
    Russell needs more people such Alby Sutton to move Redland Council to action.
    Well said Mr Sutton, a wonderful speech.
    Lisa Jones

Comments are closed.