Are you now or have you ever been a member of a political party? Which party?
I am an independent candidate, not affiliated or funded by any party, nor have I ever been.
To serve communities best, local councillors, and particularly the mayor, should be independent of political party affiliations and expectations to vote in blocs. The emergence of party politics in local government is a regrettable trend. I hope to change that.
What organisations are you a member of?
I am only formally a member and President of the Gold Coast Active and Healthy Lifestyle Alliance which is made up of over 700 community service providers, and I regularly participate in activities of many Gold Coast community organisations.
What is your track record in advocating in the public interest?
My working life has all been about advocacy and the ability to make beneficial change for others.
- For community wellbeing, my private clinic work specialises in family health and inspiring parents to raise happy, healthy children through nutrition and preventative healthcare. My current consulting role in the pharmaceutical industry entails delivery of training on the integration of supplements and medication.
- Over many years I have been a regular guest speaker and presenter in the health and wellbeing sector, and in schools.
- For the last five years I have been an Australia Day Ambassador for the Queensland Government.
- In recent years, I have become dedicated to advocacy for the public interest on issues affecting local communities across the Gold Coast. Over the last two council terms, I have felt a compelling need to step in to support and speak-up for local residents and neighbourhood groups on many contested matters – mostly about town planning and major projects.
How is your campaign being funded and staffed?
My campaign is supported by a dedicated team of volunteers with a diverse range of skills and expertise. Between us we research, monitor, discuss and determine considered positions on ways to manage our city better, and to respond on matters arising.
Being an experienced presenter in public forums and on social media is a great advantage that enables me to keep promotional expenses to a minimum.
To run a mayoral campaign across a city as large as the Gold Coast, necessarily requires some funding to rent an office, for website and design services, signs, flyers, how-to-vote cards and other miscellaneous expenses. As well as avoiding the use of plastic, I have chosen to minimise the volume of promotional material. I do not have funds to do a mailout to every voter. My campaign volunteers are getting active and healthy and dropping my cards in many neighbourhoods across the city. For more information I am accessible on www.monahecke2020.com.au or Facebook and Instagram @monahecke2020
At this stage it looks like the total campaign costs will be under $50K. This amount has been raised from generous contributions through my online Donation page from community members wanting positive change.
I planned my campaign budget to be scaleable so I would be delighted if a surprise major donor appears before election day to enable me to pay for advertising to spread my campaign messages further.
I cannot put a dollar value on the thousands of hours and expertise donated by friends, colleagues and volunteers who have signed-up to participate.
How do you envision fostering two-way communication with your constituents?
I will start by removing the glass barrier at the council chambers between councillors and the public gallery.
I will set up branch offices in Southport, Robina and Coomera and be a mobile Mayor who works at each location at least 1 day/week
As soon as administratively manageable, I will divide the planning committee into two (Divisions 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11 to meet at Coomera) and (Divisions 4, 6, 10, 12, 13, 14 to meet at Robina) so that they are more easily accessible for community members to attend. I will appoint Divisional Councillors to chair on an annual rotating basis, and I will chair a coordination committee of the two, prior to ratification at full council meetings.
I will host at least 2 of the full-council meetings/year in different locations across the Gold Coast
I will host 14 ‘Community Matters’ town-hall style meetings each year, one in every division
I will host an annual Community Think Tank with advocacy group representatives, to listen to
local residents and better understand what communities really need.
I will host an annual Youth Forum to listen to 18-25 year old Gold Coasters and better
understand what they need and what they want for the future.
local business forums to foster synergies between our council and local commercial
I will establish five independent, expert taskforces to tackle and communicate our greatest challenges: Urban Design, Transport, Sustainable Industries, Housing, City Greening.
Where do you stand on:
The Spit cruise ship terminal proposal?
I will not support further investigation for a Cruise Ship Terminal at Philip Park or anywhere else. I would rather work on ways to attract cruise ship passengers from Brisbane to spend a day or extend their holidays at the Gold Coast.
I want council to collaborate with the Gold Coast Waterways Authority and get on with implementation of The Spit Masterplan to enhance, protect and take better advantage of this significant part of the Gold Coast’s natural beauty.
I want to boost the Friends of Federation Walk planting program and establish the Seaway Promenade, Broadwater Boardwalk, nature trails and wayfinding system.
We also need better access – the ferry terminal and extension of the #705 bus route to the seaway could make immediate improvements.
I am excited for the centres for Aboriginal Culture and Coastal Ecology, and the Super Yacht facility.
Do you support spending ratepayers’ money on an environmental impact assessment for the CST proposal?
Do you support spending over $1 million of ratepayers’ money on a cableway environmental impact assessment?
No. Feasibility planning and preliminary assessment costs for commercial ventures should be funded by proponents.
What are your top priorities for improvements to the City Plan?
Presently, our city planning is falling short of community expectations in various respects.
A key problem with the Gold Coast City Plan is not its content but the way the council ignores it to grant excessive relaxation of design provisions. This practice should not be normalised. There will always be justifiable exceptions for good planning and design – which is what Performance Planning enables.
Routine disregard of City Plan provisions signals a need to either apply more discipline to assessment, or to amend the City Plan to match desired outcomes. Planning schemes are not static documents, set in concrete. The council must always be reviewing and updating the City Plan to optimise its effectiveness, to ensure it is balanced and facilitative.
The pressure points are high-rise buildings and new residential estate subdivisions so these would be my initial priorities.
- Tall buildings can be beautiful – the City Plan provisions for high-rise development are enabling buildings that have really negative, sometimes devastating impacts on neighbours and streetscapes, particularly at ground zero. The all-too-close buildings are compromising not only the amenity, but also the development potential of next-door sites. The buildings being constructed now will stand for many decades so we need to ensure they do the right thing and add to their neighbourhoods. The design code needs to be adjusted and applied to ensure that developments provide adequate setbacks, landscaping and car parking. Height as the only trigger for Impact Assessment is not enough. It needs to be coupled with at least one other control measure like density or plot ratio, or a sliding scale on height and site cover.
- New suburbs can create community from Day 1 – Some of the new estates in the northern growth corridor, both sides of the M1, appear like barren, alien landscapes. Having watched the evolution of suburbs like Robina over 25 years, I know that over time, vegetation grows to soften the landscapes, and community services and facilities eventually come to these places, but the subdivision design and construction of many of these newest estates lack even the potential for that to occur. City Plan provisions for new residential estate subdivision should create neighbourhoods that are safe and attractive. In the very least I want to see streets with shade trees, footpaths and cycle ways that give convenient access to local parks and schools.
I will also call for incorporation of Local Area Design Guides:
- The 2016 City Plan dispensed with Local Area Plans (LAPs). The former LAPs needed to be updated, but they should not have been thrown out.
- I want to reintroduce a finer grain of planning to guide development in some areas such as: Burleigh Heads, Mudgeeraba Village and Springbrook which have unique local character; and others like Palm Beach and Nerang which have experienced massive change but still retain essential qualities that we love.
- We need Local Area Design Guides to show how public and private building and landscaping works in these areas can contribute to conserving and enhancing the texture and flavour of these places.
Sustainable Communities: Gold Coast Council doesn’t have a comprehensive strategy for sustainable development but it’s pretty clear we need one to optimise sustainability and resilience. I will begin by reintroducing ‘State of the Environment’ reporting to keep up to date on trends, benchmark our progress and guide us to fine-tune our City Plan and council operations.
We need better planning, policy and action to:
- plant more shade trees in our urban areas to reduce the heat island effect that makes our streetscapes unbearable
- improve energy efficiency and speed up a just transition to renewable energies
- design our transport policy and infrastructure to ensure that we will always be able to move
efficiently around the city
- diversify our economy, innovate and generate new employment opportunities in sustainable
- safeguard our city against severe climate impacts
- improve our water and waste management
- protect biodiversity through nature conservation
Coomera Connector/M2 impact on northern suburbs?
Residents in the fast-growing northern suburbs deserve more strategic and better coordinated traffic and transport solutions. They need a plan that integrates State Government and council deliverables. Council needs to:
- upgrade and reconfigure the local feeder roads to ensure better flow and integration with the Main Roads
- advocate and provide bus stop shelters for increased number, extent and frequency of east- west bus services
- speed up construction of safe, convenient and connective bikeways and walkways
- minimise the health and amenity impacts of people and wildlife living near or in between the two highways
With greater effort on these fronts, I hope the road can be reduced to 4 lanes.
The extension of light rail south to Coolangatta?
- We know that public transport services for the Southern Gold Coast are lacking. Ten years ago, the prospect of light rail to Coolangatta was embraced by most people. However, when the detrimental impact to the streets of Southport and Surfers Paradise became apparent, many people took a different view. There is a valid fear that this impact will be replicated farther along the route. Furthermore, people don’t like the design and increased density of residential developments that have been approved by council in proximity to the future light rail route.
- With Stage 3a of light rail construction from Broadbeach to Burleigh about to commence, now is the time to take stock. I’m not convinced that the Gold Coast Highway (Burleigh Heads to Tugun) Multi-modal Corridor Study recently released for community consultation has adequately investigated the feasibility of alternatives like trackless trams and electric bus services which have emerged in recent years. Everything I have seen and read indicates that these would be much cheaper to install and operate, in which case, we could drive our dollars further and extend services to more parts of the city. We could even coordinate with the Tweed Coast for seamless cross-border services in the future. We have to ask ourselves if it’s worth imposing expensive infrastructure on the highway to Coolangatta when light rail is not on any transport planning agenda south of the border.
What are your priorities for public transport on the Gold Coast?
- Top of the list is the urgent need to fix the M1. Imagine a safe, smooth flowing M1. It is possible if you focus on this problem that impacts the lives of tens of thousands of us every day. The Varsity Lakes-Tugun upgrade recently announced by the State Government will be welcomed by drivers, though it will mean years of disruption. Part of it will have 11 lanes of traffic. This is a disturbing indicator that, heavy rail to the airport and better east-west links are also urgent.
- To move away from our reliance on cars, we need efficient and convenient public transport, and it needs to be affordable – even free.
- I aim to strike a deal with the State Government to trial free bus travel for Under 21s – anywhere, anytime.
- I will significantly increase investment in pathways for pedestrians, cyclists and scooters – particularly within the catchment of schools to alleviate congestion around school pick-up and drop-off times.
- The success of the newest Tugun to Bilinga section of the Oceanway is proof that this is a wonderful asset that brings positive change for locals and visitors. The pathway is cost- effective, and the State Government will fund half of the construction. I will be proposing that council gets on with the critical missing links so we can walk, wheel, cycle or scoot all the way from Coolangatta to the Seaway.
What is your opinion of plans to establish beach bars on five public beaches, to sell food and alcoholic drinks?
I firmly believe our beaches should remain commercial-free. Our beautiful, clean and accessible beaches are our most valuable asset. I am concerned that our council has supported the Destination Gold Coast report from February 2019 which identified five beach clubs as the top priority tourism project. They misunderstand the image and culture of the Gold Coast. I will support cafe, restaurant and equipment hire associated with SLSC buildings. I will support staging and equipment on the beach for occasional planned events. I will not support fixtures for commercial bars or restaurants on any Gold Coast beach.
Do you think it is necessary for Council to continue to purchase more land for either conservation or recreational uses as the population grows?
Yes. I want to return the Open Space Preservation levy to its original purpose of buying high value conservation lands. There are numerous areas that should be acquired for preservation – remnant koala habitat in East Coomera is most urgent.
New recreational open space within and surrounding residential estates should be designed, improved and dedicated through planning approval processes for new land subdivisions. The council needs a better recreational open space plan to ensure the design and delivery of these meet community needs and connect and contribute to a greater network of greenspaces.
What is your opinion of a second casino?
I will not support a second casino – anywhere. Successive surveys have shown that Gold Coasters don’t want a second casino. Let’s make the one that we do have, the best it can be. I will support the State Government’s proposal to expand the convention centre to capitalise on the growing business tourism market and fill our tourist accommodation.
I will negotiate for better pedestrian outcomes around the Star site, to connect safely and seamlessly with Pacific Fair, Cascade Gardens, and across Gold Coast Highway to Broadbeach mall and beach.
I will also seek to ensure that the convention centre expansion is designed to enhance the venue’s capability to host mid-sized music concerts and other entertainment productions. This will circumvent a perceived need for another ‘boutique’ sports stadium which has recently been mooted.
I do not support business monopolies generally, but I also do not want another casino in this city.
Let’s build on the one we’ve got and make Star and Broadbeach around it, our Global Tourism Hub.
The Ridong development proposal Tallebudgera Valley and the Songcheng development on the Carrara Floodplain?
The Ridong proposal is entirely inconsistent with the rural and natural landscape character of Tally Valley and the Songcheng proposal seems absurd – that site floods regularly.
We should not even be entertaining the possibility of residential development in flood-prone areas. We need to conserve the low-lying landscapes of our valleys and floodplains for the safety of the rest of the city when the rivers flood.
Brisbane was shocked out of complacency with a big flood in 2011 and Brisbane City Council has since been strategically working on ways to improve flood immunity. Most admirably, the council has made an annual commitment $10 million/year for 10 years in Oxley Creek Transformation to protect and enhance that flood prone land primarily for nature, recreational open space and sporting grounds. This is much like the long-held vision for our Guragunbah Greenheart which I promise to revive and advance.
We don’t need to fill and develop every possible bit of land in the city. There are plenty of renewal areas within the existing urban footprint for high and medium-density housing to accommodate population growth.
What are your top 3 priorities for the city?
- Traffic and transport – fix M1, heavy rail to Coolangatta, more buses, transition to electric cars, cycling and walking paths
- Beautiful city – better urban design, adhere to the City Plan, City Greening program
- Diverse economy – promote digital, creative, sustainable industries, small business and revitalisation of CBDs
Plus, Keeping rates down – working smarter and securing fair share of State and Federal Government investment