Campaign Launch speech

29 July 2018

Thank you all so much for your support in being here today and in the many ways that you help me and help Hobart. I would like to acknowledge that the Tasmanian aboriginal people are the traditional owners of this land which was taken from them forcibly during the Black Wars.

I’ll take a guess that all of the people in this room are proud Hobartians – we care for the city, we know it’s a special place and we also have ideas on ways that it can be an even better place…particularly in these times of change.

The next few years will be some of the most crucial in Hobart’s history. Under the wrong leadership and with a few silly decisions, we could lose what we love about our city.

But on the other hand if we have a new city leader and a Council with the courage to make bold decisions and who people can trust to champion the community’s interests, then this could be a really inspiring few years for Hobart – where we are confident in who we are and what we do well.

I want to keep Hobart as a liveable and affordable city, not one where development is only for tourists and the rich. I would like to see Hobart become a beacon of hope for the world, and in particular the Asia Pacific – known as a great small city that is a leader in being sustainable, socially just and creative.

When I ran for local government in 2014 I was driven by the old phrase “Think Global, Act Local”. I had been working for many years on international issues, but as a practical person, I always found the lack of connection to action and implementation frustrating.

For me, working in local government and working in cities is the perfect way to act and make a difference. Cities around the world are leading the way on the big issues of our time, like climate change, affordable housing, public transport, and respect for diversity. And importantly, local government is the level of government most able to work with the community it serves – to harness your ideas, to give you a say, to restore your faith in democracy.

Working closely with the community – with many of you – has been the highlight of my last 4 years and it will be my modus operandi as your Mayor.

Together we initiated the program that’s making our shopping strips more people-friendly hubs, we have pushed for new pedestrian crossings and we have got Council’s investment funds taken out of fossil fuel companies. Together we have put the issue of high rise on the agenda and seen new CBD height rules amended to better protect our heritage city.

Many of the best solutions for Hobart can be found within our communities. I believe in making space for community action, and in getting Council to respond more positively to local campaigns and initiatives.

More than ever our city needs someone who can work with the local community to protect what is special about Hobart and ensure it grows in a way that we can all be proud of.

The office of Mayor is a position of influence and leadership, not direct power. As Hobart’s full-time Lord Mayor I would work every day to use this influence and leadership wisely – I will champion solutions for the city and advocate for the community.

As I have always done I would use the position to bring people together and to build partnerships to help make Hobart an even better city for the future.

I am not making million dollar spending promises, but I can commit to:

· On housing affordability – I will lobby the state and our Council to use planning rules to require that a percentage of affordable housing is included in all new developments. I will push for renewal of the ‘mid-town’ area (between the city and North Hobart) to become, over the next decade, an area full of medium density housing.

· On traffic – I will be the walking / cycling / busing Mayor. I will ask for the Mayor’s chauffer driven car to be sold and reinvest the savings into walk to school programs. I will champion improved public transport, better pedestrian crossings, bike paths and walk to school programs. Every person that walks, cycles or catches public transport to work or school is one less person on our roads creating congestion.

· On climate change – I will advocate for a Solar Saver program to help Hobart residents install solar panels. Council will pay the upfront cost for the system, and you (or your landlord) pay it off over ten years, interest free via your rates bill.

· On kunanyi and other bushland areas – I do not support development on the mountain that doesn’t comply with our planning rules , and I think the Organ Pipes should be listed on the National Heritage List as a place of significance. I will advocate to double our bushland fund and improve our tree protection policies.

During the campaign I will be talking about these and many other issues – I have lots of ideas for Hobart and I know you do to. While I have my vision for the city any decision that needs to go to Council will be voted on by all 12 Aldermen and the Mayor has just one vote, not special executive powers.

I have found working as an elected representative both stimulating and frustrating – important change can be slow – but it’s even slower if reform of old ways is resisted. It’s slower when incumbents in Council, no matter what their political leanings get too comfortable, defensive and institutionalised.

We need new ideas and people willing to call out the need for change, when that is what is needed AND we need much bolder strategic planning. Hobart is changing – and in many ways, these changes are positive and exciting. But change also brings challenges, and many of us worry about Hobart losing its unique character due to poor planning and an unmanaged tourism boom.

Your vote matters! At the last election in 2014, only 50 percent of people who were eligible to vote for Hobart’s Mayor and Council did so. It seems that many people have lost interest in local government.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. The best cities for residents are the ones with a robust democracy – where lots of people vote and the community is active in driving what they want for their city.
So please spread the word to your friends that this Hobart Council election is an important one, one of the most important elections they will vote on for the future.

I’d love your ongoing support over the next 9 weeks – I need your help to get there. Running a successful campaign for Mayor is a big job. Together with your passion for our city and your support in my campaign, we can really make a positive impact on Hobart’s future.