OUR ISLANDS AND THE FRIENDLY BAY ISLANDER HAVE COME A LONG WAY IN 10 YEARS Time flies so quickly, but amazingly, this edition of your Friendly Bay Islander is Volume 11 No 1, the 10th anniversary of when we first were delivered to the people of the Southern Moreton Bay Islands. We produced 24 pages in that first edition, and we surprised many with the quality of our production and the amazing glossy colour. The magazine quickly took off with a positive outlook and working towards common goals that would bring about a better recognition of our islands. None of it would have been possible, however, were it not for the amazing support of the businesses and advertisers of the island group that have seen the magazine grow into the 80-page publication that it is today. PHILOSOPHY Many refer to The Friendly Bay Islander as ‘the island Bible’. The philosophy of the magazine has always been about supporting our islands, our businesses and our readers. Along the way we expanded in more ways than one, delivering to homes and businesses on all six islands linked to the Redlands Coast incorporating both Coochiemudlo and North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah) early in proceedings. We have endeavoured to be a ‘collective voice’ for our islands supporting issues and needs for our islands above all else, and calling to account when necessary. There have been issues and outcomes that have been front and centre to the future prosperity of our islands: ISLAND TRAVEL The biggest issue by far was the fight for a better and fairer access to and from our islands. Change came from within, when in 2012 a new Mayor, in Karen Williams and a new councillor for Division 5 (our islands and the Redlands) Cr Mark Edwards, were elected. Our State Member at the time was the LNP’s Peter Dowling, who meant well, but could do little following succession of Labor Governments. It changed dramatically when the LNP gained power in 2012 and a successful agreement was negotiated with Translink taking over the passenger service, with the bonus of free inter-island travel, once you got to our islands. It changed everything in how we finally got to know each other and to communicate and socialise, which was previously impeded by inter-island travel fees. The status quo with travel has been maintained with the latest State Labor Governments and now our Labor Member for Redlands, Kim Richards. Having a member of the Government as our representative is everything in positive outcomes. INITIATIVES The Friendly Bay Islander quickly introduced some new initiatives, particularly the Community Days that were held from 2012 to 2015 at the Russelll Island Shopping Centre. We joined with Cr Mark Edwards, Steve Morgan and Bob Turner to introduce the annual island Australia Day Awards and island celebrations which are still awarded each January 25. Another major early initiative was our Zero Tolerance program and posters that tackled poor island behaviour, and domestic violence issues. This program is still running. We saw one of the biggest issues involving the then real estate industry; renting out to some people, with inadequate research, and rental history, which saw a rise in island crime, and issues in relation to behaviour in public areas. Along with Cr Mark Edwards, we encouraged the majority of our island real estate firms to sign an agreement for better outcomes in this important area of rental accommodation. We organised and ran a number of initiatives, one of which was bringing former Mayor of Ipswich Paul Pisale to the islands for a seminar, and what a night that was at the Tingira Boat Club from a man who is now maligned somewhat, but put his community first, in a way not previously seen. Unfortunately, he will be remembered for all the wrong reasons rather than for putting Ipswich on the map! We also saw the links between the SMB Island Group and close neighbour North Stradbroke Island as a issue. So, at our cost, we introduced a regular monthly direct ferry to Straddie, for a considerable length of time. It was well supported in the beginning, but support dwindled in time, making it unviable in the end. ARTS SUPPORT There has always been strong support for our arts community since our inception. Back then artists Maddie Ekeblad and David Wells were our leading lights. Today Maddie lives in Malaysia and David Wells is based on the mainland. We noticed the high standard of their work, and suggested to David Wells he should paint ‘someone famous’ to gain notoriety for his high quality artwork and our island arts community. He wanted to know a subject to paint? We suggested the popular Duchess of Cambridge and future Queen of England, Kate (Catherine) Middleton, the wife of future King and Duke of Cambridge, Prince William. We negotiated with the Federal Government at the time, and the painting was given permission to be one of the ‘official gifts’ to the Duke and Duchess at the time they were then visiting Australia. Many Islanders, including the FBI, helped package the painting after a huge public viewing in the Queens Street Mall in Brisbane. The painting is now hanging in Kensington Palace. The biggest story in our 10 years, however, was the murder and subsequent trial involving Macleay Island grandmother Liselotte Watson. It was a shocking event with a final shock outcome that we will not mention any further here. INFRASTRUCTURE Infrastructure, or lack of it for our islands, has always been an issue. Whilst the Redlands on the mainland was prospering, the islands were not. Because of its place as a major Queensland tourism venue, North Stradbroke Island was protected somewhat, but the other islands definitely missed out. Roads were deplorable, particularly on the SMB Islands, and the jetties were not much better. It was Cr Mark Edwards, with the help of an island engineer John Clissold, who came up with the idea of a unique road sealing method that would provide sealed island roads much quicker and cheaper than previously thought possible. It was called ‘green seal’ and it involved tidying up existing island roads and adding x2 layers of bitumen seal. Previously, roads were torn up and rebuilt at a cost of $1 million per kilometre. Now nearly seven times the value is achieved with all island roads on track to be fully sealed with this method in about five years (compared to the previous timeline of 30 years); provided funding levels are maintained. The PDA areas of Weinam Creek and Toondah Harbour are in the pipeline and, along with $34 million in new jetties for the Southern Bay Islands, these projects will help to totally transform our islands. Additional funding has come, of late, for other infrastructure such as parks, reserves and play gym areas on most of the islands. Another initiative that has been the ‘brainchild’ of the Friendly Bay Islander is the Botanical Gardens planned for a unique rainforest area of Russell Island. Working with the Bay Islands Conservation Group and its president, Peter Nelson, a viable concept to save this unique and pristine area for posterity, is close to fruition and has the potential to change the ‘demographic’ of our islands. It is unique and necessary, and something which we will continue to fight for. CHANGE IN PERCEPTION Up until two years ago and the previous Redland City Council, our islands, were still perceived by some as a ‘pest’ and a ‘blight’ on the Redlands. One former Redlands City councillor, Murray Elliott, became recognised as the ‘Anti-Islands King’. He was photographed at successive council elections holding up signs stating ‘Make the Islands Pay’. It was his belief, and others’, that our islands were a financial drain on Redlands City Council. His belief was based on historical rumour and innuendo. The facts told a completely different story, and it was our very own Cr Mark Edwards who did the research, and discovered the hidden truth that were it not for the islands and the revenue from the many blocks of investment land here, that Redland City Council would have been a ‘basket case’ financially, instead of the best run and financially responsible council in Queensland today. Cr Edwards went to the State Archives and unearthed the real truth. He discovered that the revenue derived from the island properties was used to pay for loans to seal roads and provide infrastructure for the mainland; while the islands missed out! That perception at council and at other Government levels has now changed, fortunately and, for once, the islands are now, finally, getting higher financial consideration. It is our turn! RELATIONS WITH GOVERNMENT Relations with Federal, State and Local Government are currently the best they have ever been, thanks to supportive representatives who are now working harder than ever before on behalf of our islands. Cr Mark Edwards, Mayor Kaen Williams, Redlands State MP Kim Richards, and Federal Member for Bowman, Andrew Laming have been working together better than ever before with the islands now at the forefront of their minds. It should have happened years ago, but, finally, we have the right people in the right places, to provide the help our unique islands require. HELP WHEN IT WAS NEEDED The Friendly Bay Islander has provided help to many groups and organisations over the years for the betterment of the island community on all our islands. The BIMSARA group, Olympian Mara Stransky, the Renegades men’s shed group, the island seat program, Island charity days and community days, art events and Island Festivals, Sea Markets, our island Clubs and more, have been supported with financial help, advertising and story-help, and assistance in so many areas by the actions of the FBI. OUR COVERS One of the features of the Friendly Bay Islander over the years has been our covers. We have many advertisers asking for space on the front cover, which we have declined. That is because we have always seen the front cover as an exceptional space to provide some great photographs of issues, people, and events important to our islands. We do have to admit that we have used family on our front covers from time to time, particularly at Christmas. Here grandchildren Allegra and Ari Thompson and Lilah Grant have made multiple front covers as they have grown from very small children. And we are pleased to say our latest grandchild, Oliver Dane Thompson makes his ‘debut’ on the cover of this edition, with his mother Morgan, and his dad Dane. Morgan (read elsewhere) was the very first cover in our very first edition way back in October 2011. OUR ADVERTISERS AND READERS Again we reiterate that the last 10 years of The Friendly Bay Islander could not have been achieved without the support of our many advertisers and island businesses. The monthly format of the magazine means their message is ‘current’ for an entire month, giving them effective and affordable reach of their message. We also thank our many readers who tell us time and again how much they enjoy the FBI and look forward to it each month. We will continue to strive for the excellence that has been paramount to our longevity. It has been a positive outcome for all concerned, whilst bringing to the attention of islanders all the issues important to them.
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