“These are dangerous days
To say what you feel is to dig your own grave” – Sinead O’Connor
Paradigm Shift (4zzz fm 102.1 Fridays at noon) on Friday 7 Feb covering Queensland local government elections which is part of a series in the lead up to voting on 28 March 2020.
Brisbane (Meanjin) is a city of the homeless, especially in summer when it is warm; its a place of summer storms, of weatherboard homes, high-rise on a floodplain, a dirty river slicing urban sprawl into a north / south divide. A port city to export coal and wheat. An aerodrome without curfew with two parallel runways. Meanjin, a city of deaths in custody where street marchers were arrested in their thousands crying out for democratic rights in the 1970s. This river city is hot and humid. The climate has changed. Creeks are flooding through developments with banks falling down. It is not safe for strangers, especially if they are young women, who have been attacked and killed only metres from police stations. Once it had central markets in Roma Street, trams and trolley buses, now it has freeways and traffic jams.
Each September, this city is on fire.
Once dominated by Labor the Brisbane City Council is the largest local government in the southern hemisphere with a $3.15 billion a year budget.
Curiously it has a library network without parallel where you can borrow books, film and magazines from and about anywhere in the world.
Yet developers run city hall.
To quote from Maaate – Bribe Proofing the Public Purse against Good Blokes by Bernie Dowling:
“Something is broken at councils in south-east Queensland. By 2017, it could not be ignored. The Crime and Corruption Commission, an independent investigator created by State Parliament, called an inquiry to investigate the conduct of the 2016 elections for the councils of Moreton Bay Region, Ipswich and the Gold Coast.”
This inquiry was later broadened out to include Logan City Council. As a result many corruption charges were laid against councillors and the entire Ipswich City and Logan City Councils were sacked by the Minister Stirling Hinchcliffe.
So, with 2020 local government elections imminent, I attended the postponed Reimagine Brisbane: Ideas Fiesta and Policy Conference held on Saturday 31 January 2020. The conference was delayed out of respect for the deceased Sam Watson, an aboriginal leader who grew up in Mt Gravatt in Brisbane and who had such an impact on this city.
At the end of the plenary session, councillor Jonathan Sri made a call for feedback and further discussion. This is Paradigm Shift’s attempt to do so. This is part of a series where I wish to tell a wider audience what important work is being done behind the scenes by activists to improve representation at local government levels here in the capital and in regional Queensland. There are local government reform alliance groups around the state particularly about amalgamation of shires but little is known about candidates who are part of this reform. I hope to remedy that.
Michael Berkman (Member for Maiwar) proposes to stop corporations influencing councils and government from giving political donations.
Ian discusses local government with Rob Pyne from North Qeensland.
Topics covered are – Is it a Climate change Election? – where power lies – what are councillors paid – corruption in Ipswich and Logan City – Operation Belcarra into how elections are funded – calls for ICAC style inquiry – ad hoc changes – higher accountability than state government elections – amalgamation from 156 councils down to 77 councils – cairns amalgamation of Port Douglas with Cairns – should have combined Cairns with Kuranda and not Kuranda with Mareeba – distribution of funds – money raised by commonwealth – state and federal should do more – a lot of money spent on Douglas shire – bridges needed to be replaced – councils often the biggest employer – infrastructure – the public interest – transparency – councils should operate water infrastructure – local repesentation versus party representation – influence of News Corp on elections – bad media coverage – Queensland Government Reform Alliance
Andy talks with Jim Dodrill from Ipswich Ratepayers & Residents Association about how his campaign against corruption ended in both he and his father being bashed.
David Rovics – Margot Black Campaign Song
Ruth Mundy – Love in the time of coral reefs
Jumping Fences – View from a Wooden Chair