The Schrinner Council has a great story to tell when it comes to the environment and sustainability. Read my speech to Transition Kenmore tonight.


I was happy to accept this invitation when Charles made it some months ago and I appreciate you being flexible in changing your meeting date to a Thursday night because of my commitments with Council sitting on Tuesdays.

I know the subject of my address tonight relates to sustainability and environmental issues in our community and I’m happy to include those in my presentation or via questions afterwards.

But I think its also important that we look at the bigger picture and at what is being achieved across the city and in particular, our administration’s record and commitment when it comes to sustainability and the environment.

As we all know, good news doesn’t always make the media so it’s a story we don’t often get the chance to tell, but I’m happy to share it with you tonight.

Let me start by saying that Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner is very proud of his green credentials, in fact I can’t recall a Lord Mayor of any political persuasion in the time I’ve lived in Brisbane who has championed the environment, the city’s green spaces, sustainability, recycling and waste management as much as he has since assuming the role four years ago.

And he has taken our team on the journey, and speaking personally, its one that I’ve enjoyed immensely since being elected in 2020.

I’m proud to be part of a team that:

  • Has a vision to protect and restore 40% of Brisbane natural habitat by 2030 and is well on track to not only achieving but bettering that
  • Has planted over 2 million trees in the past decade and has Australia’s longest running free native tree programme for local residents
  • Established the Brisbane Sustainability Agency to accelerate Council’s long-term plan for positive environmental outcomes across biodiversity, water, waste, energy and climate change
  • Created a world-class landfill site that produces 46,000 megawatt hours of energy using methane from decomposing waste
  • Introduced green waste recycling which has seen a 40% reduction in green waste going to landfill
  • Reduced the volume of food waste going into Brisbane landfill each year
  • Spent more than $350 million since 1990 on bushland acquisition to preserve ecosystems and create ecological corridors, including 11 properties totalling more than 1,400 hectares locally
  • Introduced electric buses to our fleet and is overseeing an all-electric Metro project that will take public transport in Brisbane to another level and save 50,000 tonnes of emissions over 20 years
  • Established a Water Smart Strategy to ensure the protection of more than 4,000 kilometres our waterways (many of which are in our local area) meaning they are healthy for future generations
  • Supports a wide range of community environmental groups such as Habitat Brisbane and Creek Catchment programmes, and
  • Established the Lord Mayor’s Young Environmental Leadership Network which empowers young leaders to create change in their school community.

More importantly, we are Australia’s only carbon-neutral Council. And when we host the 2032 Olympic Games, we will be the first city in history to deliver a carbon neutral Olympics.

That is being achieved in part through the installation of more than 2,200Kw of solar panels on Council buildings since 2016, upgrading 25,000 lights have been upgraded to LEDs and encouraging emissions free travel by building more than 1,100 kilometres of shared pathways and bikeways.

You might recall late last year that the Lord Mayor was invited to address the COP27 conference in Egypt and detail how Brisbane has become a global leader on how cities can reduce carbon emissions.

To be afforded this opportunity was a big deal. It was recognition of what Brisbane is achieving on the world stage in this space.

And while in Egypt, Brisbane was officially inducted into the UN Sustainable Development Goals Cities Programme.

We were given Silver certification and are only one of six cities in the world to be part of this programme and to receive certification.

This was not about the UN telling us what to do but rather us telling them what we’re doing. And I’m told by those in attendance that they were very impressed.

So not only are we the largest government organisation in Australia to be certified Carbon Neutral, we’re the only city to be a certified member of this international programme.

When Adrian Schrinner became Lord Mayor in April 2019, one of his first decisions was the cancel the proposed zipline at Mount Coot-tha, a decision I supported then as a private local resident.

Yes, people power spoke loudly against that proposal and yes, he listened and responded accordingly. But the underlying reason was that he shared the concerns being raised about the potential impacts to local environment.

That said to me at the time that we had a Lord Mayor who was prepared to listen and had a genuine commitment to our city’s green spaces.

And since then, there has been no better example of his plan to convert a public golf course in the heart of the city into the largest public green space this city will have seen.

I refer of course to Victoria Park which will feature 64 hectares of greenspace and more than 18 kilometres of paths and trails. Compare that to our other greenspaces – it will be four times bigger than Southbank Parklands and 20% bigger than our Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens.

As you’d know, the Pullenvale Ward is easily the largest of all 26 in Brisbane with the most bushland and as a result, significant areas of unique and valuable areas under protection.

I don’t mind admitting that upon my election, I was on a steep learning curve to get my head around our green initiatives and priorities, particularly at a local level.

I’m mindful that we have many large parcels of land which have been secured and protected for their natural and ecological values. Areas such as Mount Coot-tha and Anstead Reserve are two jewels in this city’s crown.

I mentioned earlier the Bushland Acquisition Programme. 11 of the 20 properties acquired since 1990 are in the Pullenvale Ward.

I have spent a lot of time travelling with Council officers to many of them to understand their environmental value and importance. I wanted to see first-hand the significance of the Anstead, Shelleys Road and Kholo reserves.

I hope my actions in the past three years have demonstrated how seriously I take my responsibilities in this space.

To reiterate to those who aren’t aware, I have:

  • Have worked closely with our many bushcare volunteers and catchment creek groups
  • Attended tree plantings and creek weed cleaning
  • Attended local environment and catchment group meetings
  • Worked with them to secure Council funding for their many projects and initiatives
  • Sponsored a number of local environmental activities, such as the Moggill Creek Catchment Group’s photo competition and kids day at the hut
  • Nominated local achievements for Lord Mayor’s WasteSmart Awards with a pretty good success rate
  • Participated in Clean Up Australia Day activities which have given me an interesting insight into the habits of some of our local residents, and
  • Promoted sustainability achievements and recognised individual contributions  

 But for all of those, one of my favourite achievements since being elected was working with the Karana Downs Garden Club to establish a community garden and composting hub.

I can recall the meeting in 2020 with a group of women who shared a common goal but had neither the location nor the funding to bring their dream of a community garden to fruition. 

Together, we made it happen. I have watched it grow and am proud to see the number of local residents who are now involved in the many activities that occur on their Burran Park site each week.

Before summing up, I’d like to touch on Council’s off-road strategy for our reserves.

You’ll be aware that a strategy was released for public comment about what activities are proposed for certain activities in a number of reserves in the Pullenvale Ward.

I appreciate this has become a contentious issue, particularly around the most popular of our local reserves at Mount Coot-tha.

Some groups would like our spaces retained only for walking and natural recreation while others advocate for more areas to be opened up for off-road cycling.

Our challenge is to the get the balance right. Yes, we want as many people as possible to be able to enjoy these spaces for a variety of reasons while at the same we need to ensure our natural environment is not being damaged or “loved to death”. I believe Council has got it right with this strategy.

I’ve walked the tracks where volunteers have been working on areas damaged by heavy rains and was impressed with how the repairs were being done so as to work in with and not ride roughshod over the environment.

But if you have thoughts on how this can be better managed, then I’m keen to hear them and happy to pass that onto the relevant authorities within Council.

In conclusion. Like you, at the end of the day, we all want the same thing for Brisbane – a clean, green and sustainable city for future generations to live in and enjoy.

Thank you.