Pork barrel politics and planning in Redlands

Mayor Karen Williams talking 'pork barrel politics' at the Council meeting on 29 January 2020
Mayor Karen Williams talking about ‘pork barrel politics’

The poor quality of decision making by Redland City Council was on display at the first general meeting of 2020 with two issues raised in motions by councillors highlighting the need for better governance.

Here is a link to the video recording of the Council meeting.

Pork barrel decision making

A motion by Divison 5 Councillor Mark Edwards, to reallocate $800,000 in the 2019/20 capital works budget to seal dirt roads on the southern Moreton Bay Islands by 30th June, raised questions about how ethically and sensibly Redland City’s spending priorities are determined.

Cr Murray Elliott opposed the reallocation of funds saying that the road sealing project ranked well below the cut off line in the project assessment process carried out by council officers.

Cr Elliott described the proposal to divert funds to road sealing as “reverting to old fashioned politicking, pork barreling at its best.”

Mayor Karen Williams responded by saying: “Pork barreling is when money is channeled to one particular area through a ministerial or cabinet, not through a decision of Council.”

But dictionary definitions of pork barrelling don’t preclude local council decision making. The on-line Cambridge Dictionary says “pork barrel” involves “spending large amounts of money in an area in order to make local people more likely to vote for a particular person or party”.

The Collins Dictionary’s definition shown below is very similar.

Definition of pork barrel

Council’s Deputy CEO John Oberhardt explained that councillors could vote to reallocate spending priorities but there would be consequences. He said:

“Councillors are within their rights to pass a resolution to allocate funds.

It will require adjustments – there is no $800,000 or any amount of money that is un-allocated. So something will have to change.

This resolution would simply invoke another process that we are going to have to go through to get to the end of it.”

No councillors asked for clarification as to which projects, elsewhere in Redlands, would now not happen in 2019/20 due to this re-allocation of capital works funds.

The motion to divert capital works funding to sealing dusty roads on the islands was approved 7/4

Councillors Peter Mitchell, Paule Golle, Mark Edwards, Tracey Huges, Julie Talty, Paul Gleeson and Karen Williams voted for the motion.

Councillors Wendy Boglary, Lance Hewlett, Murray Elliott and Paul Bishop voted against the motion.

It will be fascinating to see what other capital works priority shifting decisions may be about to happen when the budget review is discussed at the next council meeting on 12th February.

Will this be a case of every child wins a prize?

How much pork is left in the barrel?

Spending decision made before costs and benefits report submitted

On 9th October 2019, Cr Mark Edwards got Council support for his motion that officers analyse the costs and benefits of sealing all unsealed roads on the southern Moreton Bay Islands, to be discussed at a councillors’ workshop within 60 days followed by submission of a report to Council.

At the meeting on 29th January, CEO Andrew Chesterman confirmed that the workshop had been held and that a report would be presented to the next Council meeting on 12th February.

So why was there a need to push through a decision to reallocate $800,000 to road sealing on the islands if a full report will be presented to the Council in a fortnight?

Councillors vote to review the City Plan’s medium density code

The poor quality of the Redland City Plan, which councillors adopted in July 2018, has only recently become evident to councillors with their refusal of a particularly offensive proposal to develop 10 single bedroom apartments on an 810 m2 block at Chermside Street in Wellington Point.

On Wednesday, councillors supported a motion by Cr Wendy Boglary that the City Plan’s medium density code be reviewed, with a view to initiating major amendments to the planning scheme by 30 June 2020.

This decision, if properly followed through, should result in improved controls on medium density development with less site coverage, larger set backs and perhaps some guidelines on what residential density is acceptable in particular areas.

What was not discussed on Wednesday was why so many of the current councillors voted for a planning scheme which was so obviously flawed.

Even if the Council officers act promptly on this matter, the normal process for changing a town plan involves extensive deliberation with opportunities for fiddling by the state government and then a period of community consultation followed by more state government decision making.

It will be more than a year before this aspect of the City Plan is fixed. During this time people are at risk of having their quality of life and property values impacted adversely by inappropriate developments nearby.

Redlands2030 – 1 February 2020

0 thoughts on “Pork barrel politics and planning in Redlands”

  1. Calling Cr Mark Edward’s action in trying to achieve a degree of equality throughout the Redlands “Pork Barrelling” is offensive and should be deleted.
    How many mainland Redlanders live on dirt roads?
    It’s time Redlands 2030 put forward something positive.

    1. Odd that Cr Edwards is NOW showing such concern a few weeks from the council elections… timing?? Of course we “mainlanders” believe that the sealing of the dirt roads should be done on the Bay Islands. Attacking us and Redlands2030 does nothing to help your cause!

      1. Christopher,
        Fair point, my bad . Sorry.
        I’m glad your eye sight is good . I wish I could be that confident about mine.

    2. Christopher,
      There are none so blind that WILL not see!
      Just a few facts that your SELF interest doesn’t want to acknowledge.
      1. Each electorate at the time of the council spending budget is written /formed put their bid in and money is allocated for them, THEN.
      2. As the article explained this reallocation of funds means someone else who has been promised something is now denied. Until we find out what has foregone and understand the NEEDS that prompted the original allocation. You have no real idea if what the money was for something far more serious than dusty roads and your self interested interpretation of equality.
      3. One is entitled to ask if the unspent money was either the wrong priority in the fist place or that council workers simply were too busy with other projects ( not enough resources/ labour and opportunity).
      a. Either it was bad planning by the Councillors or
      b. Why didn’t the Mayor and Cr Edwards make the case at the Time?
      4. MOST IMPORTANTLY AND OBJECTIVELY What it shows me is that those leading the council are inept or to put it more politely … out of their depth and focus on elections rather than what they were actually hired for.
      As I’ve said many times one shouldn’t ask a trained country singer/ kindergarten and ( also see her team’s lack of appropriate training ) and the like to display a skill set they have absolutely no training for.
      Think of it this way a general nurse may have great training and even know more day to day caring stuff than a doctor but would you want them to perform brain surgery on you or yours?
      One final point Christopher equality only exists in theory. There is NO way that any council can deliver equality to all residents. Hence reality should deliver where the need is GREATEST NEED. Eg fire / fuel mitigation should come well before dusty roads… one is a life or death the other is a want.
      Apart from that YOU CHOSE to live on the islands presumably knowing what was there. Forget about promises made because they are easier than doing stuff. That sir is why I didn’t buy on the islands back in the 70’s.
      A fish in hand if you’re hungry is worth more than all the fish in the bay if you can’t guarantee the ability to fish.

      Sorry Christopher but you argument fails both the reality check and objectivity.

      1. Examinator
        “There are none so blind that WILL not see!” for your information I can see well. This motion was put to Council at the first general meeting of 2020. Council’s Deputy CEO John Oberhardt explained there is no $800,000 or any amount of money that is un-allocated so to grant this someone/something would have to miss out. I was commenting on the timing of the request by Cr Edwards, so close to the Council elections. My 2nd point was to qualify that I, in general, fully support the sealing of the roads as soon as it is possible and Guy not to “attack” mainlanders and Redlands 2030 in the presumption that we do not care.

    3. Guy,
      I wrote with the hope of being involved in a sensible, fact based, objective logical discussion. Sadly your comments say more about YOUR failings than my response or the article/ site.
      Clearly you are more attitude than any of the above attributes ( Chip on your shoulder… perhaps?).
      You may have missed this…… but 3 ministers from both sides have lost their jobs for this sort of pork barrelling .
      What you are telling us is that you agree with pork barrelling (corrupt behaviour ) so long as YOU benefit and hang everyone else! ( sounds like feral cat morality to me)
      It’s one thing to be ignorant ( not know something) but another thing entirely to be wantonly ignorant and then prove it with a 1950’s ” DADDY HAS SPOKEN!” two word dismissal.

  2. Re City Plan Review of Medium Density Code. Can we hope to see amendments that includes larger site set backs we haven’t seen for it seems, decades, in the new Plan? Or will it stay the same where developers can fill every available space on a site being developed…to get, as the saying goes in Redlands, the most ‘bang for the buck?

  3. Let’s get real folks, with an election coming up now is the time to face a few realities and deal with them so as to not make the same mistakes again. As Einstein said doing the same thing over and over exactly the same way and expecting a different result is a definition of insanity.
    Contrary, to common belief Cr’s aren’t there just to hand out money and projects. Nor is it just to schmooze developers, business and turn up for Photo ops. They are there among other issues to determine and facilitate priorities for the benefit of the whole of the city’s residents needs. Note the word needs not wants/likes or even equality.
    One can now assume that ‘the current Mayoral team” are feeling the pressure. They haven’t performed up to the electorate’s expectations and are now trying to buy the votes of the unwary, fearful and those who have (unreasonable) chips on their shoulders.

  4. I believe no council should be making $ 800000 changes to budget allocations 2 months from elections maybe this should be referred to the CCC AS it appears to LOOK a bit dodgy

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