Ashley Robinson OAM


Expert panel to provide independent advice

KNOWING that he doesn’t have all the answers, Ashley Robinson plans to establish an advisory panel to challenge and advise him, and ensure that Sunshine Council delivers the sort of informed governance the region deserves.

The group, made up of experts in their field, would provide independent advice on their areas of expertise.

Winning an election doesn’t make you smarter or more intelligent, Ashley says, it just means the ratepayers have trusted you to lead.

“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.”

Ashley has already 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. 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.”

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

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

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

Public Transport Policy

We are an important tourism destination and an increasingly dynamic economic centre and we need a Heavy Rail link from Beerwah to Maroochydore as an urgent priority. Not only will Heavy Rail enable tourists to easily access our region, it will link communities, service new growth areas, and reduce the number of cars on our roads. All levels of government – federal, state and local – should be working out ways to fund this project and, as mayor, I will be pushing for that at every opportunity.

In the meantime, though, we need an improved internal public transport system which will inevitably involve buses. We must reduce traffic congestion on our roads and get people onto buses. It’s not a matter of reducing the cost of bus travel – what we need is a faster, more reliable, more convenient, safer bus service. 

Translink, which is owned by the State Government, operates buses on the Sunshine Coast and, as a council, we have no direct control over buses. But we can lobby for a better service, and we support the decision of Transport and Main Roads to explore a ‘bus rapid transport’ option, with designated bus lanes, as a first step. But there needs to be convenient, low-cost feeder links to the main bus stations. 

When a developer comes to us with an application for a new building, we insist on adequate car parking provisions. A council that I lead will go further and provide incentives to businesses to deliver their employees to and from the main bus stations in mini-buses, just like the ones used by surf clubs, RSLs, sporting clubs and retirement villages. We will provide incentives to those sorts of clubs to make their minibuses available for the needs of the wider community and we will support private operators seeking to establish feeder networks linking the coastal strip with inland suburbs and the hinterland.

Small Business

SMALL Business is a crucial component of future economic growth on the Sunshine Coast.There are currently 35,000 small businesses in our owned by local families.

The Coast’s population is expected to increase from 360,000 to 500,000 by 2041, while our Gross Regional Product sits at $20.96 billion – up from $13 billion in 2013 – and is expected to hit $33 billion by 2033.

Small Business is an integral component of that growth which is expected to realise 100,000 new jobs by 2033.

I have operated small businesses, and I’m comfortable managing people.

My life has always been based upon the principles of honesty, integrity, open frankcommunication and good old, no-frills hard work.

If elected I will be accessible to all sectors of the community and adopt a hands-on approach to working with small business operators, mums, dads and families ensuring that existing small businesses survive, prosper and grow. 

I am very much aware of the suffering experienced by small business during recent roadworks and public infrastructure upgrades.

I intend to work closely with our Economic Development team to ensure the continued attraction of new business to our region.

It is essential that we always engage local contractors where possible when outsourcing Council work.

Public Finances

A COUNCIL that I lead will work diligently to ensure that not a dollar of expenditure is wasted. In every business that I’ve managed I’ve treated the company’s funds as if they were my own, making sure that nothing was spent unnecessarily, and that I always got value for money.

Council spending is no different. At Budget time my Council will deliver effective spending of rates for every Sunshine Coast resident. My major goal is to ensure that rates are kept as low as possible – hopefully with no increase at all, but if that’s not possible, then certainly no increase above CPI.

One of the first things I do after being elected mayor will be to call for a full review of Council’s financial position. Until that is known it’s irresponsible to go on about spending large sums on new initiatives.

But I will focus on the Council’s legacy projects, nominating any anti-competitive behaviour and with a view to achieving economic utility on the Coast.

My Council will only borrow to fund lasting public assets, and we’ll borrow to fund other projects only if they are able to generate sufficient income to pay for themselves. Competition policy will continue to be applied when Council competes in the private market.

Councillors and candidates have come up with some novel approaches to Council finances. Under my leadership, no idea will be off the table if it leads to cost of living relief for Sunshine Coast residents.

Planning & Development

BY 2041, there will be 500,000 people living on the Sunshine Coast. Our region is no longer a quiet, holiday retreat – it’s a thriving, dynamic city which is clearly attractive to many, many Australians.

While growth is inevitable, it is important that we manage it, for the sake of the region, and for our children and grand-children.

My goal, as mayor of the Sunshine Coast, is to ensure future development is sustainable. In other words, to ensure that projects, policies and investments provide immediate benefits without sacrificing environmental, social and personal health in the future.

My Council will implement policies to ensure that future development on the Sunshine Coast is sustainable, protects our wonderful environment and ensures the lifestyle we love remains for future generations to enjoy.

I do not support high rise development beyond current limits. But I do believe that limited areas of increased density, as long as they are properly planned and built with setbacks sufficient to enhance the built environment, not clutter it.

I will support the new Planning Scheme now being developed, and I will listen carefully to expert advice from community groups and sector interests during its design and implementation.

Mooloolaba Foreshore Revitalisation Project

I AM a strong supporter of the Council’s plans to revitalise Mooloolaba’s foreshore, improve facilities for beachgoers, and increase access to the beach for everyone. And I acknowledge that a great deal of research and consultation has already gone into the project.

I also understand, and acknowledge, everyone’s desire that the project be carried out in a timely enough manner to prevent disruption over more than one summer holiday period.

But we get only one chance to deliver a project of this nature, and I believe we should take the time to get it absolutely right.

I’m not convinced that the welfare of retailers, beachgoers or tourists during the construction phase has been adequately considered, I’m aware of public concern about the seawall, and I’m not happy that proposed construction seems to be encroaching onto the beach.

If I’m elected mayor, I will call an urgent summit to consider these issues. And I’ll put a strict deadline on the discussion and decision-making process. I’m not about delaying this project – just getting it right.

Creative Arts On The Sunshine Coast

I’M FRUSTRATED at the number of talented, creative Sunshine Coast residents forced to leave our region to further their careers in the creative arts industries. I want them to be able to follow their dreams right here.

My vision is to invigorate the region’s creative landscape. I want to encourage filmmakers, artists and television producers by implementing a simple, standardised permit application process, a local liaison for effective communication, and subsidies to encourage local talent.

I will expand the Regional Arts Development Fund, with specific funding categories for film, visual arts, music and dance, thereby ensuring diverse participation.

My Council will establish a creative hub in Caloundra, promote awareness of existing facilities, and support the Sunshine Coast Screen Collective in developing a studio.

I will develop a robust communication strategy for Council-supported initiatives, facilities, and industry opportunities that exist in the local community so everyone is aware of what is available and happening. 

And I will consider employing somebody with creative arts expertise, ensuring my Council is equipped to make informed decisions.

Finally, I will prioritise collaboration, foster local talent, and insist on clear communication. I want to make the Sunshine Coast an inclusive and vibrant arts community, and transform our region into a thriving hub for creativity.