Democracy and the Redland City Council


Toondah Harbour terminal for the Stradbroke Flyer water taxi service

This week we publish readers’ letters about Redland City Council’s cuts to funding for the Donald Simpson Community Centre, some questions about democracy for the new CEO and caring for our coastal areas.

But first, we publish the original version of our own letter to the Bulletin, about Toondah Harbour.

Toondah problems

Minister Frydenberg’s decision about Walker Group’s proposed development at Toondah Harbour acknowledges significant environmental issues of national significance and requires rigorous investigation.

But people in the local area have many additional concerns about a project which has been poorly planned without genuine community consultation.  Since initial planning by Redland City Council the project has grown like topsy   from 800 to 3,600 apartments – a 450% increase.

Clearly the Walker Group found the original planning was not to their liking – so they fixed it without bothering with the messy process of public consultation.

When the Federal government objected to the project’s impact on migratory shorebirds, Walker Group removed the public parkland component which may have offered a benefit to some in the community. But they kept the profitable 3,600 apartments component.

Locals will wear the costs resulting from traffic congestion, loss of open space, capped infrastructure charges, loss of amenity and of course the overloading of already inadequate  facilities like hospitals, schools and community services.

Many of the Toondah questions should have been resolved in the planning stage.  These include fundamental planning and policy questions like revoking parts of the Moreton Bay Marine Park, ignoring the Urban Footprint of the SEQ Regional Plan, revoking parts of GJ Walter Park, breaching the Ramsar convention, rescinding international wader bird treaties and political commitments to protect koalas.

The staging of the development is likely to result in more community disappointment.  It seems likely that much touted public facilities such as new barge and ferry terminal will only be delivered after the first 900 apartments are sold. That might be 10 years after the first cubic metre of Toondah wetlands is dredged.

Some politicians have been suggesting that the public will have further opportunities to have a say about the proposed development. But what is the point of having a say when politicians only listen to developers, especially those developers who make generous political donations.

The community is increasingly concerned and uneasy about the scale and impacts of the proposed Toondah mini city.

It’s time for our council to come clean with the community and make all the details about its various agreements with the Walker Group publicly available. No more hiding behind the implausible excuse of ‘commercial in confidence’.

Steve MacDonald

This is the original version of a letter published by the Redland City Bulletin on 28 June.

Treat coastal areas with respect

Very recently Dr Steven Miles reminded us that our coastal wetlands are the lungs of Queensland. How vital that we residents of Queensland value such a heritage and treat our coastal areas with respect and support in future planning. Will the Redland City Councillors in studying our coastal situations, leave developer economics out of this equation? Wise leaders would do so and place a huge value on what we have inherited from the peoples of the past.

One of the coastal koalas living near Toondah Harbour

Dr David Suzuki advised us all that “we have failed to address the fundamental truth that endless growth is impossible in a finite world”. We hope our Redlands coastal gems are valued far more than the dollars and cents that seem to pervade the thinking of our Council members currently. The healthy colony of koalas on Cleveland’s coastal strip is far more precious than any infrastructure built purely for someone’s gain and everything else’s huge loss.

Catering to rich overseas customers who purely wish to live grandly with water views is no compensation for valuing and retaining our much loved coastlines, historic trees, uniquely fascinating koalas and birdlife and exercise areas for our population. Dr Charlie Veron, an international authority on corals stated that Moreton Bay’s unique corals are at risk of being wiped out due to the huge scale of proposed dredging. Is anyone in leadership listening?

Our Redlands youth deserve to learn many more skills than just building and dredging. How many invitations has the Council given to Universities in SE Qld whereby many more skills can be accessed so much closer than the travel they face in 2017? Surely investing in building higher education facilities makes much more sense.

A 19th century Cree Indian wisely observed “Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize that we cannot eat money”.

Wellington Point

New CEO a “staunch supporter of democracy”

CEO Andrew Chesterman – Photo: Redland City Council

I saw the statement by the new RCC CEO Andrew Chesterman that “he would be a staunch supporter of Democracy”. This statement quite obviously requires considerable clarification as Democracy remains undefined. While many extoll the virtues of a Great Democracy,  Democracy  is used and abused by governments around the world because it remains undefined.

Is the Democracy of the CEO the Democracy of the then Premier Campbell Newman who passed legislation, firstly to cut funding to legal aid to stop community groups from challenging the government on contentious planning matters, or secondly when Campbell Newman passed legislation to limit the rights of the community to make submissions on matters & issues that were not in their immediate area of residence.

Or is the Democracy of the new CEO that of the Council that took legal action against community members who, under their Democratic Rights, criticised the Council for failing to take effective action to stop the decline in the koala population, which had been in steady decline for the past twenty years and had passed the point of sustainability.

While private enterprise has encouraged the practice of constructive criticism leading to quality outcomes, governments demonstrate their vulnerability by denigration of those who dare to criticise. The community requires clarification.

Alexandra Hills

Funding cuts for Donald Simpson Centre

The Donald Simpson Community Centre

The community concerns about the cuts in funding for the Donald Simpson Community Centre continues.

But after having been repeatedly told by Division 2 Cr Peter Mitchell ​ and Division 9 Cr Paul Gleeson​ that no other organisation received as much funding as the Donald Simpson Centre I was surprised to find out that the Redland Museum in fact received $212,607. That is more than  the allocation previously given to the DSC.

I now wonder what will pop up next?

Is it worth asking local Councillors ( Elliot, Talty, Gleeson, Mitchell and Mayor Williams) to (again) “please explain?”  We all need to take some time to send them an email and ask for the explanation!

We need to tell them that we the voters request they make the wise and right​ decision to reinstate funding to the Donald Simpson Community Centre, Cleveland.

The audited statements of the museum can be found here.


Letters published by Redlands2030 – 3 July 2017

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

4 thoughts on “Democracy and the Redland City Council

  1. The Donald Simpson funding saga…sadly… keeps on giving i.e. more questions than answers. Councillors would be well placed if they developed such policy “from the whole” rather than seemingly on an ad hoc basis.

  2. That the Minister for Planning has launched the New Planning System with an eight point Key Features Media release which has been unfortunately supported in part by Redland Shire Council in the Redland Times 3/7/2017 deserves comparison to Democratic process.

    That “Councils and State Government will publish reasons for decisions on development applications ” is greenwash when State Government(SARA) will not refer developments to EHP, DNR or DSITI and Councils will not publish reasons for Planning Scheme Changes which ; were made, were not advertised or were objected to. They are hardly going to give solicitor checked reasons that will enable the public to take them to court.

    The “Improved public access to information” has many topical and perhaps unbelievable categories which are temporal , reports in camera, reports of a scientific nature which need independent consultants, expensive GIS and Software ,internal reports etc. The fact that RTI takes 65 days and potentially thousands of dollars and requires help to the public of the Information Commissioner,could see developments fast tracked to approval with koala trees chipped, old houses gone and mangroves gone in a month before one gets notification or the information.

    The “better community engagement opportunities” are mystifying. It may be in the final Ministers Guidelines after the Qld Planning Provisions for Planning Schemes(some compulsory) were steam rolled and the 30 Priority Species(2 lists) disappeared. Some of the 30 Back on track species EHP handed out to consultants to do are still below the horizon. The big noise in community engagement is the DILGP afterthought of the draft Community Engagement Toolkit . However this is not compulsory(engagement outcomes not valid in law and cannot change Council Planning Scheme or Policy), has no statutory links to 7 Planning Instruments gazetted this week and the missing SEQRegional Plan 2017, to fix them up . The draft Toolkit misses nearly all 48 years of Qld , interstate and overseas literature on community engagement including the Harbinger Report 2011 for Greater Brisbane, journals and academics papers.

    “Costs orders in Court Appeals” Little should be said here until someone audits the successful
    environmental court cases and cases settled out of court.

    “A streamlined development assessment process” looks like more CODE Development, more fast tracking and more delegations of approvals , advocated by UDIA ,COM and others, while dealing with more contentious environmental sites and more marginal land and unserviced land .
    Lack of acknowledgement of:
    infrastructure capping(you are subsidising developers),gluts in 4 types of land, landbanking of peri urban land and developed estates stages and the pariah of Priority Development Areas, further dissolves public trust in Planning.

    Stronger protection of Heritage Buildings would be great to see. What has happened to the Heritage Council and its legislation ? The Vegetation Management Act, Coastal Management Act , Nature Conservation Act and Water Act have been sold for resources body parts.

    On going analysis is needed of the Act ,7 bits of Legislation across many disciplines and the SEQRegional Plan . The other Key features need linking in to SEQ Regional Plan.

    These people are attempting to wipe out; the history of previous battles won, environmental and planning staff, your holding actions, your lifestyles, koala habitat ,the worlds 35th biodiversity hotspot and indigenous sites.

  3. As Steve MacDonald points out, the Toondah Harbour Proposal has been poorly planned, involves substantial environmental damage and does not involve genuine community consultation. I am very surprised that it is still being considered. It does not even address the initial issues of inadequate parking and improved ferry facilities. The existing koala habitat in that area, which do have wild koalas, would be lost and for what? How can the State Government Minister for the Environment talk about $100,000 for koala research at the same time as such a proposal is being considered? Its like the Council talking about $30,000 for a Chlamydia Clinic while they allow developers to remove huge swathes of gums in a known koala habitat.

  4. Re: WALKER CORP TOONDAH HARBOUR PROJECT, CLEVELAND. Exercising our democratic rights in Redlands has not worked, no matter how hard community members have tried, so can we look forward, with new CEO, claiming to be a ‘staunch supporter of Democracy’, to being heard by powers-that-be in Qld local, State & Fed govt’s, on issues of vital importance to the Redlands community at large?
    For those who missed article in CM 06-30-2017, following are excerpts from article by Glen Norris headed:
    State lags in bldg. sector rush. Qld’s construction industry will largely miss out on a national turnaround in the battered sector as the lion’s share of bldg. activity remains in southern states.
    Survey found major construction companies nationally are forecasting a recovery in engineering and non-residential bldg. activity for rest of this year and in 2018… but that AiG chief economist Julie Toth said construction activity in Qld remained focused on apts, with work expected to peak later this year.
    In one sign of confidence in the Sunshine State, Sydney-based Walker Corp this week announced plans for a $400 million office tower in Fortitude Valley. The 26-storey A grade tower in Ann St will deliver 5000 workers into the Valley economy and expands Walker’s presence in Queensland.
    Waker Corp is developer of iconic Collins Square project in Melbourne and has 11 office towers around Australia. Lang Walker said while there was an oversupply of high-rise residential property in Bne, the outlook for commercial property was brighter and that you will see a slowdown in the apt market because of oversupply but it is cyclical and will work itself out.”..
    In view of what Lang Walker says here, where does Walker Corporation stand on the high-rise apartment building complex of 3,600 units on the Toondah Harbour site…and can the community now expect to see democracy at work by including the Redlands community in bringing about a satisfactory conclusion on how this massive project should proceed that benefits all parties…at every level?

Comments are closed.