My dear, cherished grandchildren I want you to know I tried… for years and years, for as long as I had strength and there were many others who tried too.
We were a tribe of believers, who thought we could make a difference, thought we could step up, explain what was wrong and convince our thinking, capable leaders to stop doing all the things that were causing great harm.
Not so long ago
Not so very long ago we lived in happy, vibrant communities nestled among rich farmlands and vast bushlands, surrounded by koalas and other wildlife. We and our children – your Mum and Dad – had a wonderful quality of life, swimming in the creeks and playing along the shores of Moreton Bay. When they asked, we told our leaders how much we valued the bush, the bay, the red soil farms and our individual villages.
And when they asked us, we came together and wrote the first Community Plan in Australia, which told our leaders how much we wanted to safeguard the Redlands.
But something happened, somewhere along the line. The people who could make a lot of money out of building houses convinced our leaders that only population growth could bring the jobs and prosperity we needed. So our communities grew and grew… until most everything that had made the Redlands wonderful, was changing or nearly gone.
We tried saying stop
We kept telling our leaders that it had to stop. We told them the red soil farms were disappearing under houses and the creeks weren’t clean anymore.
They didn’t listen and instead, insisted that more houses be built.
We told them our beloved koalas were being killed by cars as they tried to move across to their home ranges and we told them our koalas were dying because when they got there, their trees were gone or a dog was waiting. And again they refused to listen, saying only that population growth was the way to jobs and prosperity.
And so the population grew. Our separate villages began to merge. More trees were torn down to make way for houses… and these houses became smaller and smaller as more and more people were wedged into our communities and our backyards.
We pounded on their doors and told our leaders that there were now so many people and cars our roads were clogged with traffic. We told them we despised the small, wedged-in housing because it was changing the face of the Redlands. We told them our koala numbers were dropping and were now so low we feared they were heading to extinction.
A plan for the Redlands
So our leaders told us they would make a plan for the future. They asked us to update our first Community Plan and to tell them again what kind of a Redlands we wanted to have. We came together in great numbers, participating and talking and thinking and when it was done we had written a new Community Plan, which said first and foremost, we wanted to lead Australia by acknowledging there are limits to population growth and that we wanted our plans to reflect this.
So our leaders made a plan… to build more houses.
My dear children, it breaks my heart to tell you… we failed. We who believed, could not do or say anything to sway our leaders from this course. We knew that deep down, they understood and knew what we were saying was right, for they too, had grandchildren. But the people who built houses helped them stay in power, their hearts were masked and together, they all looked away….
And so, my treasures, please know how hard I tried, we all tried… through those long years and years, for as long as we had strength.
My heart aches to know that the bush is gone, the red soil farms are gone and that you live in a sprawling city that long ago swallowed up our villages. And… we lost the koalas, all of them, gone.
But come now, little ones. Come sit alongside me, and let me tell you a story, while I can still remember.
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful place called the Redlands….
Name and address withheld
IF THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU WANT TO BE TELLING YOUR GRANDCHILDREN,
Please make a submission to the State Government’s South East Queensland Regional Plan
asking that population growth be stopped until everything we need now is in place… and the koala population is back to healthy numbers.
BECAUSE SUBMISSIONS CLOSE MIDNIGHT – FRIDAY 03 MARCH 2017