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Shane Rendalls from Russell Island is the new Division 5 Councillor on Redland City Council. He has big shoes to fill. He is taking over from long-time and successful Councillor Mark Edwards., who has done much for our islands. Cr Rendalls has started off on a positive footing, and we shall all be watching with interest. He is our guest in our May Q and A interview.

Q: Congratulations. You are now the Divisional 5 Councillor on Redland City Council, how does that feel?

A:Thank you, Gerard. I feel very humbled by the trust and confidence the residents of Division 5 have placed in me and I will work hard to show that this trust is well-placed. As you are aware, I have always advocated for the islands and the whole of Redlands, through the Chamber of Commerce, BIMSARA, Regional Development Australia and many other local groups. Being your Division 5 Councillor, now gives me greater ability to represent our community and continue to get things done. 

Q: Did the surge in voting patterns surprise you?

A: I was pleased by the overwhelming win on the islands, where people know me. However, the mainland ‘early’ and ‘postal votes’ were against me, which I believe reflects the disinformation that was being promoted. But now is the time to move forward and work for all residents.

Q: So, what do you think of the new Council, as a whole?

A: It was a hard campaign and the behaviour of some of the candidates did leave a lot to be desired. But everyone in Council is now working together for the benefit of Redland City. 

Q: And the new Mayor, Jos Mitchell, has she reached out to you and the rest of Council?

A: No. But she is new to the role and like myself and the other new Councillor, Jason Colley, is on a steep learning-curve. I am sure with the support of the Executive Leadership Team of Council and all-10 appointed Councillors, Jos will quickly grow into her new leadership role. 

Q: One of your platform promises was to refuse a Council-vehicle for your use; do you think you might live to regret it when you need to travel to other destinations within Division 5 or the Redlands, and not just the islands?

A: I understand that public transport is not an option for everyone, but my commute to and from Cleveland is well-suited to the ferry and bus. If the need arises, I can use a Council pool-car when I reach Cleveland, or hitch a ride with other staff. There is also the convenience of Bay Islands Car Share, if I am travelling from Redland Bay to a destination where public transport is not available. What could be better?

Fun Fact: I did ask if the $10-15k minimum saving from this choice of transport could be redirected to the islands, but I was advised this is not allowed under State Government regulations. 

Q6: And how are the bus-rides to Council going?

A: I really enjoy the commute, as I get to meet and talk with a broad mix of local people from across the Redlands. Most of all, I love being challenged by the issues that they raise, especially from our future leaders, who are today’s youth.  If you see me around the islands or using our public transport service, don’t be afraid to come up and say, ‘Hi Shane.’ I am so interested in hearing your views!

Q: What issues do you believe are most pressing, from the SMB Islands point of view?

A: Our islands have some unique, major issues that differ to those of the mainland residents. The most pressing of these is undoubtedly, parking and transport, both on the mainland and the islands. Just as important, is sewerage; ferries and barges; roads; infrastructure; zoning and development; mobile reception; and having an overarching vision for the islands. Then, there’s the question of a bridge!

Q: Any other major issues, generally that need to be considered?

A: In common with our mainland neighbours, we share concerns about our rising rates and the value we receive in return; tree remediation; maintenance of roads and footpaths (and for us, even having roads and footpaths!); foreshore access; sporting and recreational facilities (particularly on Macleay); aged care and supports to keep our elderly in their own home; pets and pests; AND there is always going to be more.

Q: Do the other Divisional Councillors realise that they are not just a Councillor for their Division, but must act for the good of all the Redlands?

A: I would say, ‘Yes, they do.’ We’ve already been briefed on lots of city-wide programs which span multiple Divisions or have more far-reaching outcomes, such as Toondah Harbour and the Birkdale white-water rafting precinct. But then, we haven’t discussed or voted on any specific issues affecting the islands, as yet. But when we do, I’ll have our backs. 

Q: Some Councillors, who were re-elected, were notorious for opposing our islands and for not visiting here. Is that going to change in any way?

A: From my perspective, it’s too hard to say, just now. But what is changing, is Council having to get used to ‘ferry-time’ in scheduling meetings—which means shifting start and end-times from on-the-hour, to more obscure times, like 8:35am meetings. I’ve invited Councillors and staff to the SMBI for a day-in-the-life experience, so they can see first-hand how our needs differ to the mainland. It might just open their eyes, a little.

Q: And for the future, can you see the day that the Redlands Council boundaries might be changed so that three Councillors are not required to share mainland Divisions with separate islands; could there be a Councillor and Division for just the islands?

A: Perhaps, when the population increases across all the islands, then we could be regarded as a stand-alone Division. In the meantime, I am building upon the cross-island relationships established through the Chamber of Commerce and Cr Peter Mitchell and I are working together to continue to strengthen those relationships. Soon, the SMBI will have the opportunity to meet with Cr Mitchell and some business and community representatives from Minjerribah; and we’ll be sending delegates across to Straddie, for the same experience. We want to shift the perspective from the islands being a burden, to Council recognising them as an untapped asset. If this can be achieved in my 4-year term, then it will be a proud outcome. It’s a given, that the limited resources of the island’s eco-systems play a major role in the future of our environment, sustainability and potential for marine-tourism. We have RAMSAR wetlands, mangroves and endangered sea-life all living here, sharing the waterways. Decisions that affect these resources, in-turn, affect us all. Think of the islands as the lungs of the Redlands—without them, we wouldn’t exist! A united Council with a shared vision for the future of the Redlands is the best outcome we can achieve and having the islands play a vital role, is just the beginning. 

• Liz and Shane Rendalls



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