I hope you all had a restful holiday break! My staff and I have been working hard over the past few weeks to get my office up and running, at 1/90 Vulture St, West End. If you have any questions, or any issues that you’d like support with, please get in touch in person, on the phone at (07) 3724 9100, or via email at [email protected]
It’s clear that while we’re starting a new year, COVID-19 is still with us. Masks are still required indoors until 1am on Friday 22 January (we have free masks available at my office if you need one), and if you’re feeling unwell please go and get tested. You can find a list of local testing centres here. You can also find an update from Queensland Health about restrictions easing in Greater Brisbane tomorrow here.
New social housing data released
We’re also seeing the long-term social and economic impacts of the COVID crisis. Two days before Christmas, after months of prompting, the Queensland Government finally released the 2019/20 Social Housing Register. With the existing social housing shortage and the COVID-19 crisis, Queensland is in a pretty dire situation.
47,036 people are waiting for social housing in Queensland – a whopping 24% increase from last year. That includes 16,100 children. Of these, at least 25,872 people are in the 'very high need' category. Meanwhile Queensland has the highest unemployment rate in the country, and people relying on JobSeeker and JobKeeper have had their payments cut.
Queenslanders urgently need jobs and homes. That’s why a big priority for me this year is to continue fighting for a mass build of social housing. The Victorian Government has a plan to do this that will create tens of thousands of good, secure jobs and provide safe homes for thousands of people. There’s no reason why we can’t do the same here in Queensland. I hope you’ll join me this year in fighting for this.
As well as broader advocacy around urgent investment in public housing, if you’re in a position to do so, I’d encourage you to support some of the frontline services supporting people in our community:
- West End Community House provides support to people in West End and beyond. You can contribute non-perishable food to their community pantry on Norfolk St, West End.
- Romero Centre provides support to refugees and asylum seekers. You can contribute goods to their community pantry on Dutton St, Dutton Park.
- Hope Street Cafe offers meals and other goods at their cafe on Boundary St, West End. You can drop off goods to their community pantry:
- Community Friends provide food hampers every Wednesday in Bunyapa Park.
Montague Road Transport Study delayed until 2024
There’s $1 million allocated for the Montague Road study in the Queensland Budget – but there’s a big catch, it won’t be coming online until 2023/24. Montague Road has been notoriously dangerous and congested for years now, a result of poor planning along the West End peninsula. The last thing we need is a long drawn out study – where the State Government keeps kicking the can down the road and justifies it by saying ‘we’re waiting for the study’.
I asked about this during estimates, and frankly, all I got back was the usual excuses (you can read the full response here, on p.26). I’ll be pushing the government more on this, but in the meantime, I’d encourage you to contact Minister Bailey at [email protected] to express your own support for urgent investment in public and active transport to make Montague Rd safer and easier to use.
Next week on January 26 is Invasion Day – a day of mourning and acknowledging the horrific impacts of colonisation for First Nations people. Senator Lidia Thorpe – who is a Djabwurrung Gunnai Gunditjmara woman and an Australian Greens Senator – has written a great article outlining why January 26 marks a day of mourning for Aboriginal people.
“Since James Cook first set foot at Kamay (Botany Bay), there have been at least 270 massacres of First Nations peoples in this country. We will never know the true number of casualties - only that many thousands of First Nations people across this nation were massacred in numerous frontier wars, over many decades, often in cold blood. Today, black deaths in custody only serve to remind us that this period of violence and injustice has not yet finished.” - Senator Lidia Thorpe
You can read the whole article here. I’ll be out on the day supporting frontline organisations who are organising a rally and a community BBQ in Musgrave Park. I’d really encourage you to join me at the rally, or sign up here volunteer at the rally or BBQ.
Closure of Victoria St Bridge
From Sunday, 24 January 2021, Victoria St Bridge will be closed to car traffic. This is part of the council’s Metro project. The bridge will be dedicated for buses in the bus lanes, and footpaths for pedestrians, cyclists and other footpath users. Please keep this in mind if you’re planning to travel into the CBD. You can read more on this here.
Cross River Rail Stations
There’s a lot of activity going on at both the Woolloongabba and Boggo Road Cross River Rail sites, as work on the tunnels starts. Thank you to everyone who has got in touch with me over the last few months with your ideas for the kinds of community facilities and spaces we could have at these sites. We have a once-in-a-generation chance to secure these sections of public land for public use, for decades to come, with parkland, community facilities, public housing, and spaces for art, music and markets. If you’d like to be part of our ongoing campaign for a community vision for the Woolloongabba and Boggo Road stations, please sign up here.
We’ve also had lots of residents get in touch about proposed project changes around the Boggo Road station – which will change the way tracks access the construction site. You can read more about this here and you can also read the submission that I lodged late last year here.
Proposal for a 10-Story Private Hospital on Annerley Rd
Residents around Gabba Hill have got in touch with me about an application from Pikos Property Group to build a 10-storey private hospital, using a Ministerial Infrastructure Designation (MID), on the corner of Annerley Rd and Lockhart St.
If you haven’t heard of these before, a Ministerial Infrastructure Designation is a planning tool approved by the state government that offers “streamlined, considered whole-of-government response on a request for community-supporting infrastructure”. Applications don’t have to comply with all the local planning codes and requirements, have shorter time frames, and no rights of appeal. In the past, Ministerial Infrastructure Designations were only for government bodies to build things like schools, fire stations and arts and sports facilities. Now, private entities can also apply, to build things like aged care centres, or in this case, a private hospital.
I think there are some serious questions about whether private, for-profit entities should be able to access this kind of fast-tracked development approval. If there is a big gap in accessible healthcare facilities in South Brisbane, that’s a gap the government should be filling by investing in public health services, rather than opening a planning loophole for private companies.
For this development, there is already approval for a 10-storey development on this site, for a mix of healthcare services, food and drink and a childcare centre. This new MID application deviates from this, in that a private hospital allows for overnight stays, and 24/7 hours of operation.
I’ll be putting in an objection, outlining some of these concerns, as well as the impact a development like this would have on traffic, access and parking in the neighbouring residential streets. Submissions are due by 22 January. You can make a submission here.
Webinar to Celebrate a Nuclear Weapons-Free Future.
Fri, 22 Jan, 09:00am–10:00am
Join WILPF and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and others for a national, live, one-hour webinar featuring some of Australia's leading anti-nuclear voices. RSVP via link. Facebook event ▸
Free the Refugees: Weekly footpath protest at Kangaroo Point
Fri, 22 Jan, 05:00pm
Refugee Action Collective will be gathering every Friday evening outside the KP Central Hotel at peak hour to speak out for refugee rights and show the men inside the centre that we have not given up the fight! Join us to hold placards, chant, make some noise and show your support for those who continue to be locked up. Facebook event ▸
Invasion Day Rally and March Rally
Tue, 26 Jan, 10:00am
March starting at Queens Gardens and finishing in Musgrave Park, organised by the Brisbane Blacks community. Facebook event ▸
Acquiring private homes for public infrastructure?
Sat, 30 Jan, 10:00am–11:30am
Join us for a community forum facilitated by Councillor Jonathan Sri to unpack some complex questions around land resumption and propose principles that decision-makers should follow when evaluating public infrastructure projects. Facebook event ▸
Meet & Greet
Sat, 06 Feb, 04:00pm–05:30pm
As the new year unfolds, we're keen get to know local residents, and hear about your ideas for the local area. Facebook event ▸
As always, if you have any questions, or any issues that you’d like support with, please free to get in touch in person at 1/90 Vulture St, on the phone on (07) 3724 9100, or at [email protected] You can also keep up-to-date on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.