Brisbane council Labor retirements slash 59 years from its corporate memory

Labor lord mayoral hopeful Rod Harding has lost 46 years of corporate memory with the departures of four Labor councilors. Photo: Michelle Smith Campbell Newman, pictured during his first council campaign in 2004. Photo: Robert Rough

If Labor’s lord mayoral candidate Rod Harding is successful at next year’s election, his council team will be the most inexperienced this century.

But Mr Harding sees that as more of a help than a hindrance.

With the departures of Labor councillors Kim Flesser (Northgate), Victoria Newton (Deagon), Milton Dick (Richlands) and Helen Abrahams (The Gabba), Labor will lose 59 years of council corporate memory.

Labor’s remaining three councillors – Shayne Sutton (Morningside), Steve Griffiths (Moorooka) and Peter Cumming (Wynnum Manly) – would have a combined 46 years of service at the time of March 19 election.

By contrast, the last person to successfully run for lord mayor from outside of council, the then-Liberal Party’s Campbell Newman, had 71 years of corporate memory around him in the party room when he came to power in 2004.

But rather than an impediment, Mr Harding said the relative lack of council experience would be an advantage to his Labor administration, should he be elected.

“The bigger the number, the better case it makes for Labor and for me,” he said.

“That’s exactly what you get with 71 years – you get a tired team that’s been there way too long and what you really need is a fresh approach.

“You need an unblinkered approach, you need new ideas and that’s what excites me about the team of candidates we’ve announced.”

The Labor Party announced 13 of its candidates on Monday, including the three sitting councillors seeking re-election and incoming Deagon councillor Jared Cassidy.

“We’ve got three very experienced councillors who have been around the traps for a long time and that’s more than enough corporate knowledge to bring to the table,” Mr Harding said.

“More importantly, though, is that fresh new approach, which is what Brisbane really needs.

“I think the ideas have run out and we need people who can bring new ideas to the table.”

Deputy Mayor Adrian Schrinner said Mr Newman had been surrounded by an “experienced and capable team” of Liberal councillors when he was preselected in 2002 to run in the 2004 election.

Cr Schrinner, who was not among those in the council during the first Newman campaign, said the combined 71 years’ experience in that team enabled the incoming Newman administration to develop and enact its major policies, such as the TransApex network of toll roads.

“Campbell Newman ran a solid two-year campaign developing and releasing policy with the Moving Brisbane transport policy being released 18 months out from the election,” he said in a written statement.

“Members of the Newman council team included future lord mayor Graham Quirk, future state treasurer Tim Nicholls, federal MP Jane Prentice as well as former council opposition leaders Margaret de Wit and Carol Cashman, who knew how council worked and were able to develop detailed policies.

“By contrast, none of the three Labor councillors seeking re-election have served in civic cabinet and we are yet to see any detailed Labor Party policies to tackle traffic congestion and manage the city’s growth as a new world city.”

The BCC corporate memory that was available to Lord Mayor Campbell Newman when he was elected in 2004:Carol Cashman (Bracken Ridge) 12 yearsMichael Caltabiano (Chandler) eight yearsTim Nicholls (Hamilton) four yearsNorm Wyndham (McDowall) zero years (new councillor)Margaret de Wit (Pullenvale) seven yearsGeraldine Knapp (The Gap) seven yearsJudy Magub (Toowong) 10 yearsJane Prentice (Walter Taylor) four yearsGraham Quirk (Wishart) 19 years

TOTAL: 71 years

The maximum BCC corporate memory that would be available to Lord Mayor Rod Harding on day one of his first term:Jared Cassidy (Deagon) seven monthsSteve Griffiths (Moorooka) 12 yearsShayne Sutton (Morningside) 12 yearsPeter Cumming (Wynnum-Manly) 22 years

TOTAL: 46 years, seven months

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