With the dust barely settled on the Queensland state election, council elections are looming on 28 April. The last time I was involved in a Brisbane election, it was a by-election for the Walter Taylor ward, vacated by a sitting councillor who was elected as a federal member. The Greens candidate Tim Dangerfield made history by beating the once-mighty Labor party into third place.
Can this happen again?
After Labor's massive rout in the state election, I would rate Tim's chances highly for doing at least as well. And why shouldn't he? If the Greens run the sort of thoughtful campaign they ran in his by-election (I'm not on the team this time, but I know the people there), he deserves wider support.
What are the local issues?
Excessive and inappropriate development is a big problem. With the LNP riding high on their massive state win, unless they lose a few votes to candidates with strong local concerns, this trend is likely to continue. Public transport in the area remains a problem, with traffic on Coronation Drive and Moggill Road, and to schools and the University of Queensland, a testament to poor planning. Not only does public transport not serve the area well, but other options like bike paths are inadequate. There are some excellent bikeways around Brisbane, but they only solve the problem for longer-distance travel, and do nothing for the problem of riding safely through areas like St Lucia, where narrow roads with parked cars make cyclists vulnerable.
The area covered by the ward, the suburbs (or parts of them in some cases) Indooroopilly, St Lucia, Chapel Hill, Fig Tree Pocket, Kenmore and Toowong, is extremely diverse in density and local character, and includes some of the best areas of Brisbane in which to live. Messing up any of these by poor planning and favouring developer interests over community interests would be criminal. Even if Tim stands little chance of winning, a strong vote for a committed and informed candidate will give the incumbent, who has shown little interest in community concerns, a wake up call.
I'll be watching Tim's campaign to see how he handles these and other issues. Anyone else who can vote in the area with concerns about planning and community development should do so too.