Ashley Robinson OAM

Thursday February 1, 2024

Yesterday I spent time with Dolphins assistant coach Kristian Woolf during a visit to the Coast by officials of the NRL team. You’re probably aware that the Dolphins, who made such an impressive debut last year, will be playing a Pre-Season Challenge match against the Titans at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Sunday, February 18.

Kristian will be taking over from head coach Wayne Bennett when the master coach calls it quits at the end of this season. Big shoes to fill.

The Dolphins played an NRL match at Sunshine Coast Stadium to a sell-out crowd last season and it’s great to have them back in our region.

I was sorry that mayor Mark Jamieson was unable to attend yesterday because I wanted to congratulate him for the great support he’s given rugby league on the Sunshine Coast.

Back in 2014-15, when the Falcons were going through some tough times, Mayor Jamieson and a majority of his Council were there for us, providing in-kind support and assistance.  As chairman of the Falcons, I wanted him to know that his support and leadership helped us survive.

It’s a pity that Councillor Jason O’Pray, who voted against providing the Falcons the support we so obviously needed at that time, did not share Mayor Jamieson’s same vision for rugby league on the Coast.

Because look what has happened since. The Falcons are a force in the state league, large crowds attend our home games, and the Melbourne Storm has developed very close ties with the Falcons, which has become a feeder club for the Storm.

Subsequently, the Broncos have shown great interest in the Sunshine Coast, and so have South Sydney.

It was through the Storm’s association with the Falcons that the Lightning netball franchise was established on the Sunshine Coast, and what a difference that has made – not just for the game of netball but for the national focus it has brought to our region.

All of this came as a result of the support that the Jamieson Council gave to a struggling Falcons club all those years ago.

Later today I’m meeting with Kylie Jenkins, whose family run The Farmers’ Gate, a wholesale fruit and vegetable business with nearly 50 years buying and farming experience.

Kylie’s family do all their own buying, selecting the best fruit and vegetables from Sunshine Coast growers. They help support local farmers to keep our farming community alive and thriving.

Sometimes we think of the Sunshine Coast as just being about beaches, tourism and the coastal strip. It’s much more than that and primary production remains an important part of our community.

I was born and raised on a pineapple farm at Eudlo, and I know what it’s like to live the farming life.

Today’s visit to Kylie came out of a meeting I had with the Food and Agribusiness Network. FAN is a not-for-profit food industry cluster that was established in 2015. It now has 370 members in the Sunshine Coast, Noosa, Gympie and Moreton Bay areas and aims to grow the industry and drive trade locally and around the globe. More power to them.

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