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Last chance to cast gaze toward the future


Last chance to cast gaze toward the future

In our final Meet the Candidates feature, we ask the mayoral hopefuls to reveal their vision for the region over their first term if elected.

This Saturday, March 16, the people of the Sunshine Coast will cast their vote on who they think is the best person to shape the future of our region.

The past few weeks have been gruelling for our mayoral hopefuls as they have run the race towards the Sunshine Coast Council’s top job.

Each of the six candidates has been doing the rounds, visiting community groups, attending panel presentations and delivering grassroots campaigns to connect with locals and listen to what issues matter most to their communities.

It’s no surprise some of the most-pressing issues the successful candidate will be facing as the new mayor include infrastructure growth, local transport and the dire housing situation in the region.

Hailing from many different backgrounds and bringing a wealth of experience to the table, the candidates present a vision for the future of the region, with their own innovative ideas and solutions.

In last week’s My Weekly Preview, the candidates told us what they considered the most-pressing issue on the Sunshine Coast and how they would address it as mayor.

This week we ask: What is your vision for our city in the next decade, and how do you plan to achieve it through long-term strategic planning and community engagement?

 We wish each of the candidates the very best of luck with their campaign.

All polling booths will be open from 8am to 6pm on Saturday.

Ashley Robinson

If there is one thing that I have learned this campaign, it is that people have had a gutful of having someone else’s ‘vision’ imposed on them. I won’t be doing any of that.

It is essential that the new Planning Scheme, which will guide development for the next decade, is a document authored by genuine consultation and engagement. It is also essential that once completed, it is then respected as a statement of intent for the region.

‘Not being like the Gold Coast’ means more, though, than the built form of urban design.

I aim to return the council to its primary function as the level of government closest to the people. That will take a change of culture that puts people and community first. I am up for that challenge.

We are stuck with the ivory tower City Hall in Maroochydore built at the expense of bringing community facilities, sporting fields and gathering places along with the pace of population growth.

That doesn’t mean we just barge on, indifferent to those failings. They need to be addressed as a priority.

A little less ‘place making’ and a lot more focus on the things that have bound the Sunshine Coast together for decades as a place people want to work and raise families would be a great place to start.

Wayne Parcell

As your only mayoral candidate with more than 40 years of experience spanning government, small business and global business, and my decades of work in the not-for-profit sector, my vision for the whole Sunshine Coast region embraces our diverse and unique communities, bringing together many voices as one super-region chorus, and is one that we can realise together.

Focused on preserving the region’s outstanding natural beauty, fostering economic growth and environmental values, we aim to create a vibrant ecosystem where businesses, residents and visitors alike can thrive; our region is unique because celebrating community diversity has always been our difference.

As custodians of our Sunshine Coast Biosphere, we will activate our communities’ shared values, working together to live, work, learn and play sustainably towards a future we are proud of. For the first time in many years, the unseen and the forgotten will be seen and heard through the election of a new mayor who is one of our own. Our mayoral vision goes beyond listening and offering laundry lists of promises that are more likely to be popular than be delivered.

With my past performance the best indicator of future success, we can transform the council from a sedentary culture to a service culture, that is transparent and accountable. Vote for Wayne Parcell, for change that matters
to you.

Jason OPray

My vision for the next decade is for the Sunshine Coast to be a world-class, high-tech city that delivers the better, higher-paying jobs of the future.

This means building upon the success of the Regional Economic Development Strategy and ensuring that we are not destroying the economic success of the past decade but rather building upon it.

We will do this by building our new Sister City deals, engaging with startups to ensure they know they have a council that has their back and ensuring we are delivering for our families.

In a cost-of-living crisis, we need to ensure we are lifting wages as best as possible while providing houses that people can afford.

That is why I plan to use the upcoming planning scheme to prioritise the building of homes that come with the incentives provided by the state and federal governments, so that our best and brightest do not have to leave the Coast to pursue their dreams economically.

The following Planning Scheme’s development and implementation will require a mayor with relationships with staff, councillors and the other levels of government to deliver.

I come to the mayoralty with those relationships ready to deliver for the Coast for the next decade.

The past 12 years of council have been a success and, as mayor, I would build on that success.

Rosanna Natoli

The Sunshine Coast of the future is a vibrant space and a collection of communities, each with its own unique character and style.

We will be connected via modern public transport, and we’ll be on the way to having much more infrastructure.

We need better roads, but we also need spaces for arts and sports facilities, and support for community groups, our seniors, young people, and multicultural communities.

Importantly, our stunning environment must be protected.

We only get one chance to maintain the places that make our region so special.

Development must not come at the cost of our environment.

We face massive pressure from population growth, but the needs of those to come must not be put ahead of those of us who live here now.

I have been listening to groups from across the region – from grassroots sporting clubs to disability service providers, from arts communities to First Nations groups, from environmental warriors to residents wanting fair dealings from council.

And they all say the same thing: they want to be heard.

They want a council that is a service-oriented organisation working with the community.

I plan to listen.

I will hold regular town hall-style meetings and I will be a mayor for the people.

Michael Burgess

The Sunshine Coast may well be a great sociological experiment, but not necessarily a controlled one. We may be the one of first large cities/towns created not based on economic opportunity but rather on a vague seeking of lifestyle, with a vaguer hope there will be something to support us being here.

I hope the next local government will be able to find the capacity and the will to begin the create the economic underpinning we need to go along with our inevitable population growth.

Without a refocus away from boom-bust construction towards local energy production, green manufacturing and niche agriculture we will continue to be a region dependent for 20 per cent or so of our domestic economic activity on family support payments from the Federal government.

The associated environmental impact as well as the future costs of remediating over-building too close to zones affected by future climate change or cyclic weather patterns will have devastating environmental and financial consequences.

We need to work towards becoming a resilient, self-sufficient economy that has good jobs and affordable housing to stop young people leaving the region because they take with them their energy, their spending power, their entrepreneurship and their capacity for innovation. So in 10 years, I would like to see the budding of a new sunny economy.

Min Swan

The Sunshine Coast is a large and diverse region with residents passionate about what makes their part of the region unique.

My commitments as mayor, which can all be found at, are centred around protecting what we hold dear, while planning for balanced growth.

My vision includes vibrant and unified communities, each co-designed with the community that lives there.

From quiet pockets to dynamic city centres, the Sunshine Coast has it all and I will lead a team that will provide a clear plan for the future, so people can have certainty and choose the lifestyle that best suits them.

I am a born communicator, collaborator and connector with a both a small business and corporate background.

Creating change while bringing people on the journey is my specialty.

I commit to being an accessible mayor who will work tirelessly to give our kids a future, our families a home, and encourage healthy ageing for a vibrant and contributing population.

The council has a strategic plan that focuses on service excellence for the fundamental functions of a council, while developing region-building projects.

It will be my role to bring this to life and make sure it is more than a glossy brochure and is a real-life living document that has residents feeling heard, connected and receiving real value for their rates.

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