An important issue in this area is accessibility to our elected representatives.
Ferny Grove electorate has two quite different parts – the suburbs this side of ‘the range’ (Ferny Grove Upper Kedron Ferny Hills Arana Hills Keperra); and a big area ‘the other side of the range’ on the Samford Valley side. The demographics of the populations in these two areas are very different indeed. The physical distances involved can also be large (on the Samford Valley side the electorate stretches a long way). There is a lot more wealth in the Samford Valley and as a well-defined hub Samford attracts a lot of funding and facilities readily which is something we have a lot more trouble doing on this side of the range. The present Labor MP Geoff Wilson’s office in the Ferny Grove Shopping Village on McGinn Rd is probably as good as we will ever get for physical local access. However our MPs also have offices in Parliament. As Minister for Health Geoff is a very busy man and almost impossible to get hold of in the local electorate. The best most of us could ever expect is his electoral office staff. If the LNP candidate Dale Shuttleworth was elected where would his electoral office for Ferny Grove be located (Samford Valley or in a suburb in The Grove)? If Dale was elected he would almost certainly be a ‘back bencher’ which would make him much more accessible time-wise to locals. The Greens candidate Howard Nielsen is local to Samford Valley and unlikely to suddenly become highly accessible to us this side of the range.
Everton is a well-defined electorate and parts of The Grove in Arana Hills are just at one edge of it. Distances are not nearly as great as in the electorate of Ferny Grove. Even where the electoral office is ‘outside’ The Grove it is reasonably accessible and likely to be in an adjacent suburb such as Everton Park including by public transport (bus). Everton MPs are seen locally around here on a pretty regular basis. If Tim Mander were to be elected to Everton he is very local here and it is unlikely we’d miss out on accessibility. He’d also be likely to be a ‘back bencher’ in the short term at least and would have time to devote to the electorate.
The federal electorate of Dickson stretches a long way and the electoral office is out at Strathpine. Ferny Hills and Arana Hills are at one extreme end of it. It provides virtually no facility to us locally here.
Similarly the federal electorate of Ryan is at the other extreme end of that electorate and the electoral office is over several mountain ranges. Whoever designed the electoral boundaries did so without any attention whatsoever to natural geography and demographically coherent communities. The Toowong community is very different from the community in The Grove. The electoral office might as well be on the moon for all the accessibility it provides us locally here.
Moreton Bay Regional Council Division 10 is top on the accessibility list with Cr Brian Battersby usually accessible at his home office in Ferny Hills and keeping very close to the ground in this area. This is a very valuable amenity for this area. Actually for both sides of The Brook since residents on the Brisbane City Council side frequently and normally use the facilities on the Moreton Bay side because they are local and there is nothing similar on the other side of The Brook. If Division 10 was hived off to the Brisbane City Council who knows where the council office would end up (the whole Ward would not create insurmountable accessibility problems even with a Ward office at say Albany Creek). The greater problem would likely be what residents on the other side of The Creek already face – the CBD & inner 5km zone focus of Brisbane City Council with little attention to ‘outer’ Wards such as ours here.
Brisbane City Council Enoggera Ward is a long skinny electoral area pointing out from the City starting at Alderley with the Cr Andrew Wines and the Ward office at Alderley on Samford Rd. To get there by public transport you’d have to go by train and get off at Alderley and then walk quite a way. Between The Grove and there is a steep rise that is a natural division between the valley/plain that Mitchelton Enoggera occupy and the upper Kedron Brook valley where Keperra Ferny Grove and Upper Kedron are. Over the years The Grove has developed a well-earned reputation for being in a ‘rain shadow’ for resources as far as Brisbane City Council goes. Some times it feels as if we might as well not exist except that our rates are certainly important for Brisbane City Council to have. In terms of accessibility the Enoggera Ward council office is not the only issue – also an accessibility issue is all the council amenities such as library and recreation facilities. Brisbane City Council has a strong planning focus on the inner city within a 5 km radius of the CBD. Parking is very expensive in that area but they assume that residents of suburbs such as ours “should” take public transport in to use all the council amenities (and State Government) amenities that are clustered in the CBD. But suburbs such as Upper Kedron don’t have public transport once evening or weekends set in. If Labor candidate for Enoggera Ward Matt Siggins were to be elected would he move the Ward office up to this end of the Ward? He is a Ferny Grove local.