Ashley Robinson OAM


ASHLEY Robinson, the Sunshine Coast businessman and sports leader who has spent much of his life contributing to the community, has the character, experience and capability to become the next mayor of the Sunshine Coast. Ashley would bring to the role four decades of business experience across the hospitality and community enterprise sectors and an impressive record of community service that saw him awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2016.

He has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds for community groups and those less fortunate, while also spending five years as chair of the Community Gaming Benefit Fund which distributes $15 million a quarter to community organisations across Queensland.

The Wurtulla father of two sons was born on a Eudlo pineapple farm and has built a powerful understanding of the region through his ongoing involvement in sport, community service, advocacy for men’s health and quiet generosity to those in need. Ashley is affectionately and widely known as ‘Tugboat’ in recognition of the dependable, steady strength he brought to his rugby league playing days and then to his roles as a business manager and community service.

Born in Nambour Hospital on December 10, 1957, Ashley is one of a rare group who can claim to be a born-and-bred Sunshine Coast local. His dad Len was a pineapple farmer who, with his wife Edna, raised two boys – Ashley and his older brother Lindsay.

Ashley says growing up on the farm at Eudlo was full of happy memories. He recalls his first day at Eudlo State School, and riding his bike the two kilometres to school all by himself.

Ashley’s grandmother lived in Anzac Avenue, Maroochydore, and at weekends the Robinson family would load up the truck and head to the coast. “I couldn’t have had a better childhood as far as farming and the beach went,” Ashley said. “We had a lot of fun.”

With neither Lindsay nor Ashley interested in taking over the family farm, dad Len sold the property and moved to Nambour. He died at the age of 66.

Ashley played Australian rules as a youngster, before taking up rugby league in high school. He became captain of the Nambour High team before playing for Souths and All Whites. After a season in Perth, during which he made the Western Australia team, he returned to the Coast and played with Souths again, before beginning a 10-year stint with Maroochydore, interspersed with a season in Longreach in 1981. He was in his mid-20s when he met his wife Sheila during a night out at Mooloolaba Surf Club in 1983. He realised he had found “the perfect woman” when she offered cold beer and fresh seafood for dinner after their first date.

She already had two boys – Brendan and Lucas – who Ashley quickly accepted as his own. It was, he says, the turning point in his life.

“Sheila’s made an enormous difference to my life,” he said. “She’s a very strong woman, though she pretends not to be,” he said. “We’ve been married 40 years and I’ve been blessed to have her.”

Ashley’s working life began in Perth, where he was employed as a bouncer at a nightclub while he played rugby league at the weekend. Back home on the Sunshine Coast, he got a job at the Maroochydore Hotel. Then followed part-time stints at Surfair and the Mooloolaba Hotel, eight years with SEQEB (now Energex), a short stint with Day and Grimes Real Estate in Nambour, and then the impressive-sounding role of manager of the newly opened Maroochy Airport. “That involved unlocking the building when the single East-West Airlines flight from Sydney was due, checking in passengers, making the necessary boarding announcements and then waiting until everyone had left before locking the place up again,” he said. Eventually he became shift manager at the Mooloolaba Hotel and began his long career in hospitality.

From 2001 to 2005, working for Reed Hospitality and Reed Charity, he oversaw a team of more than 200 running hospitality venues across Queensland, supervising all aspects of the business including operations, financial and marketing while also coordinating special charity projects, including the construction of an orphanage in India and a hydrotherapy pool at Currimundi Special School.

From 2005 to 2010 he was General Manager, Hospitality, for Oaks Hotels at multiple venues across the state including managing the design and construction of new venues.
Since 2010 as CEO of Alexandra Headland Surf Life Saving Club and Alex Supporters Association, Ashley has managed a team that has grown to 120 staff and serves more than 500,000 guests annually and 35,000 members.
“From 1990 onwards, I began thinking about other people instead of myself,” Ashley said. “I began thinking about what I could do to help other people. I realised how lucky I am and how it should be about helping other people.

“I’ve stuck by that thing they say that if you give 20% of your time to other people, you get it back 10-fold and that’s so true. It’s something I try to live by.”

As co-founder of the long-running Island Charity Swim Ashley is intimately aware of the struggle experienced in many households and the need for strong community support. Ashley, who says his great loves are his family and charity work, has been chairman of the Sunshine Coast Falcons since 2013.

He and wife Sheila are also strong advocates for animal welfare, an involvement that saw him made a Life Member of Sunshine Coast Animal Refuge Society.

Ashley is an inductee to the Sunshine Coast University Sports Hall of Fame, the Sunshine Coast Rugby League Hall of Fame and is a life member of the Sunshine Coast Rugby League.

In 2016, Ashley’s community work was recognised with an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) – something that doesn’t sit comfortably with him.

“I get a bit embarrassed about that sort of thing because it’s the network of people you’ve got around you that allows you to do stuff to help people. The people who are helping you are the ones who should be getting the credit.”


ASHLEY Robinson has entered the race to become mayor after careful consideration of what he can bring to the role and a desire to help guide the future to ensure a strong and diverse economy, a council that genuinely listens to and reflects the community it leads and one that best takes advantage of the opportunities presented by inevitable future growth. Controlling cost of living pressures, managing the inevitable growth to come in a way that protects the best of what the region has to offer and respecting the intent of the Planning Scheme are central to his decision to stand for the position.

“I’ve lived on the Sunshine Coast all my life and I love the place"

He said the Sunshine Coast was one of the fastest-growing regions in Australia, its population increasing at a rate higher than almost every other region.

“There’s nothing we can do about that,” he said. “But we can do something about how we manage that growth so that our future is sustainable.

“I want to be part of that planning.”

Ashley said he would be a ‘listener’, consulting regularly with people all over the region, to keep abreast of community concern and vision.

“I commit to a full financial review of the books to ensure ratepayers are getting the value for money they deserve and whatever relief is possible from the mounting cost of living pressures affecting Sunshine Coast families,” he said.

“I also commit to respect the Planning Scheme and the certainty it gives people about the areas in which they choose to love and raise their families.
“A review of the Planning Scheme is due and I commit to truly listening to the community of communities that make up our region while being absolutely clear about what is necessary to cater for inevitable growth.”

He is a candidate for mayor who not only knows how a successful business operates, but is also deeply aware of, and has a lifetime’s involvement in, the needs of community.


2004 – 2007

Deputy chair Events Centre Caloundra

2007 – 2009

Chair Events Centre Caloundra

2001 – 2008

Sunshine Coast Rugby League chairman

2013 – 2015

South East Queensland Gambling Benefit Fund Committee

2015 – 2020

Gambling Community Benefit Fund chair

2007 – 2020

Henzell’s Agency and Henzell’s Pelican Waters Foundation committee

2000 – current

Island Charity Swim Co-founder 2000 and current organising committee member

2013 – current

Alexandra Headland Surf Life Saving Club patrolling member

2021 – current

Sunshine Coast Council Olympic Legacy Committee

2017 – current

Lift the Lid for Mental Health Walk Ambassador

2022 – current

Shine a Light on Racism Ambassador

2013 – current

Sunshine Coast Falcons Rugby League Club chairman