Southern Moreton Bay Islands Candidates Forum

Matt McEachen (LNP) and Deb Kellie (Labor)

Matt McEachen (LNP) and Deb Kellie (Labor)

Candidates for the State seat of Redlands were invited to discuss issues concerning the southern Moreton Bay Islands (SMBI) at a forum on the evening of 27 January.

Candidates attending the forum were were: Matt McEachan (LNP), Deb Kellie (ALP), Susan Bylett (PUP) and David Keogh (Greens).

Susan Bylett (PUP) and David Keogh (The Greens)

Susan Bylett (PUP) and David Keogh (The Greens)

Two candidates were unable to attend and sent their apologies: Sheena Hewlett (Independent) and Carolyn Ferrando (Family First).

Videos were made of discussion at the forum and they can be accessed via these links organised by issue:

Summary of discussions

A summary of the forum discussion was prepared by Jan Schut and authorised for publication by Clem Ebber, President of the Moreton Bay Combined Islands Association (MBCIA).

Each Candidate at the forum spoke for a few minutes regarding their careers to date and why they entered the political arena. This was followed by a series of set questions. Listed below are the questions and a brief summary of the replies.

1. Transport:

If you were elected, what would you do to help reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of transport for islanders? You may wish to include in your remarks your position on bridging for the islands, and on the facilities at Weinam Creek.

All Candidates agreed that the Levy on landowners was unfair. It was also acknowledged that placing the islands in Zone 12 needed to be investigated. Candidates each said that they would look into both matters with a view to rectifying the anomalies.

Each Candidate felt that there was a very real need for the transport problems, that islanders experience, should be seriously examined.

The Green’s Candidate, David Keogh, was rather reluctant on the bridging subject and thought there were other ways of looking at the problem. He said that our transport problems were no different than those on the mainland and talked about some of the bottle-necks in the Redlands area.

Labor’s Deb Kellie agreed there was a need to fully look into the matter of bridging and spoke of a study being carried out on all SMBI transport.

PUP’s Candidate, Susan Bylett commented “Just build a bridge” and said that in her opinion nothing would happen on the islands without a bridge being built.

LNP’s Matt McEachan said that he had been travelling to and from the islands for many years and could see the problems with transport. He said that he was not averse to a bridge but agreed with Ms Kellie that there was a need to look into the whole transport situation.

2. Economic Development

If you were elected, what would you do to encourage economic growth on the islands and especially their tourism potential?

Susan Bylett talked about fishing and boating around the islands and claimed that the Weinam Creek PDA would do absolutely nothing for the SMBI. She spoke about the lack of caravan park facilities and the limited scope of the camping for an average sized family.

Matt McEachan spoke about the future possibility of jetties with “fingers” to enable moorings etc. He said that refuelling sites on selected jetties would be advantageous for recreational, water-based tourists to fuel up rather than carry a jerry-can up to the service station. He said that water-based tourism is an obvious tourist attraction but also mentioned “eco” tourism was growing in favour.

David Keogh liked the idea of eco-tourism but didn’t want to see the islands spoiled but agreed that tourism, especially eco-tourism would be a good idea.

Deb Kellie said that there was a need for public transport on the islands otherwise tourists would have no means of getting around once they arrived. She agreed with the eco-tourism idea and talked of means of funding different ventures. She didn’t think there was a need for the islands to be changed to attract tourists and that SMBI shouldn’t be just another Gold Coast.

3. Infrastructure

If you were elected how would you address the infrastructure needs of the islands?

David Keogh felt that population growth on the SMBI should be controlled otherwise the islands would be ruined. He said that wouldn’t like to see a population of 22,000. He spoke of being careful about infrastructure on the islands and being mindful of the island ‘feel’.

Deb Kellie said that there is funding available via the Federal government grants (some of which are up to $10 million) for infrastructure. This would enable the sealing of roads to be rolled out much quicker than the current time frame. She also commented that Russell Island had the most ratepayers in all the Redlands.

Matt McEachan said that infrastructure needs to be carried out both on the islands and mainland. He saw car parking as a very real need on both sides. He also reiterated Deb Kellie’s comments regarding funding grants from the Federal government.

Susan Bylett agreed that infrastructure is needed. She said that a bridge is a necessity and once that is in place the rest of the infrastructure will follow.

4. Health and Ageing

If you were elected how would you contribute to the improvement of medical services and support for the islands’ population?

Deb Kellie spoke about the fact that Redland Bay also have minimal aged care services and that something should be instigated to rectify the aged care problems experienced in the Redlands as a whole.

Matt McEachan mentioned a need for some paramedics who would be fully trained to handle many emergencies on the islands. He is going to speak to a contact who was/is a senior paramedic on North Stradbroke Island to find out what could be achieved on the SMBI and how to go about it. He also said that PTS could be applied to the SMBI whereby aged residents would be able to go from the islands to the hospital etc via a taxi service similar to DVA Silver Service.

Susan Bylett mentioned the need for a small hospital facility i.e.10 beds to stop the necessity of senior citizens, especially those with ailing health and, in some cases memory, having to go to the mainland via public transport.

David Keogh disagreed with the idea of a small local hospital saying that he believed that it is better to attend a large hospital to get the best treatment.
Susan Bylett exited the meeting at this point due to ill health.

5. Looking to the future

If elected, what ideas would you bring to the table to ensure a positive dialogue, real planning and action for the future of the islands?

Matt McEachan spoke about the idea put forward of a SMBI Development Authority to facilitate better liaison between the three government areas and agreed in principle to the suggestion. He said that he would strive to do his very best for the islands.

Deb Kellie mentioned that the Forum that was held in February 2014 with other islands showed that Kangaroo Island in South Australia had a Development Authority. This may well service one island with a combined island view but SMBI consists of four islands with differing views. Therefore the SMBI need to focus on a four island solution.

David Keogh said that he would endeavour to work for the islands. He spoke of ideas he had heard of and said that there were many things that could help the islands.3

6. Opposition MP

If you are elected but your party does not win government, what could we expect from you as our local member?

David Keogh’s final comment for the night regarding what we could expect from him as our local member was that, if he was elected but there was a hung parliament, he would be a very powerful person.

Deb Kellie’s final comment for the night regarding what we could expect from her as our local member was that whether or not she was elected she would continue to support the people of Redlands.

Matt McEachan’s final comment for the night regarding what we could expect from him as our local member was that regardless of the outcome of the election he would continue to support the islands and the Redlands.

Other posts on Redlands2030

Other posts on Redlands2030 about the Southern Moreton Bay islands include:
Bridge project needs investigation
Russell Island needs a bridge
Russell Island Bridge past and present


Election matter is authorised by Steve MacDonald of 104 Channel St, Cleveland