Ashley Robinson OAM

Mayoral hopeful to seek advice from expert panel

MAYORAL candidate Ashley Robinson plans to call on the help of some of the Sunshine Coast’s sharpest minds to help him deliver the sort of informed governance the region deserves.

Declaring that winning an election campaign does not make you smarter or more intelligent, Mr Robinson said he would establish an advisory panel to provide advice on their areas of expertise.

The group would be independent, external to the Council administration, and meet perhaps four times a year to share their views with the new mayor.

“Winning an election just means the ratepayers have trusted you to lead,” Mr Robinson said. “I know I haven’t got all the answers, but collectively, we have great wisdom and knowledge within our community, and I want to tap into it.”

Mr Robinson said he had floated the idea with a number of current and former leaders in the fields of crime fighting, community engagement, climate and the environment, sport, tourism and small business – all of whom agreed to join the panel.

“I can’t name them just now,” he said. “It might sound like they were endorsing me. I don’t want their approval – I want them to challenge me.

“These are men and women of the highest calibre and it is encouraging that they were so positive about the plan.”

The advisory panel would give the new mayor a perspective outside that of senior bureaucrats, drawn from the community and based on real life knowledge and experience.

“We need to seek advice outside the walls of City Hall,” Mr Robinson said. “Everywhere we go we keep hearing that the Council is a closed shop that dictates decisions, despite claims of consultation.”

He said the panel would also need representation from sectors like planning and infrastructure, construction, aviation, education and agriculture.

Emphasizing that he would be a mayor who listened, Mr Robinson said he would also hold a mayoral forum in every division of the Sunshine Coast within his first 12 months in office.

“I know the council already spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on stakeholder engagement, surveys and consultation sessions and that each division elects a councillor,” he said. “But time and time again I’m hearing from people whose perception is that the council does not genuinely listen to the community.
“The perception from the outside is of ratepayers being shut out. That’s not a good look for what is meant to be the level of government that’s closest to the people.”

Mr Robinson said experience had shown him that successful outcomes were achieved through communicating with people.