On Sunday, Queensland Labor announced that Rebecca McIntosh (aka Bec Mac) will stand against Councillor Trina Massey as Labor’s candidate for The Gabba.

The Gabba Ward encompasses Kangaroo Point, South Brisbane, West End, Highgate Hill, Dutton Park, and parts of Woolloongabba. It falls within the state seat of South Brisbane and the federal seat of Griffith, both currently held by The Greens.

Jonathan Sriranganathan became the first Greens candidate to win a seat in Brisbane City Council elections following the retirement of longstanding Labor Councillor Helen Abrahams in 2016. He secured a second term as Gabba Ward Councillor in 2020 with a significant 5.3 per cent swing in favour of The Greens and an impressive 45 per cent of the first preference vote. Always an area of interest, The Gabba Ward gained considerable attention with Jonathan Sriranganathan’s resignation in April when Cr Massey stepped into the role.

Cr Massey has yet to face an electoral test, so it is hard to know whether the swing to the Greens in 2020 resulted from Jonathan Sriranganathan’s personal popularity or was part of the broader swing towards the Greens in inner Brisbane. The speculation is that Sriranganathan is the likely Mayoral candidate for the Greens against LNP Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner and Labor’s newly endorsed Tracey Price.

A rapidly growing population, densification, affordable housing, the impacts of the Brisbane Olympics on local amenities, and public transport, including the development of green bridges, are all hotly contested issues in The Gabba. State Labor’s recently announced support for the Lord Mayors’ Temporary Local Planning Instrument (TLPI) Plan for the Kurilpa Precinct has sparked heightened resistance from community groups. And the federal struggle between The Greens and Labor over affordable housing has now permeated the local government arena. These factors set the stage for a compelling showdown between Rebecca McIntosh and Trina Massey in coming months.

Below, Ms McIntosh addresses our questions about her candidacy.

How do your values align with your party’s values, and what drives this alignment?

I am for action not agitation, unity not division! The last thirty years of my arts practise has been about unifying communities through critical conversation and meaningful experiences. I will be applying this same human centric approach to my political campaign. The Labor Party , supports women, supports inclusivity and diversity and aligns with my values of being part of a team dedicated to listening to locals and supporting every community to thrive all across our beautiful city. I’ll be putting to use my experience as a community activist and campaigner which has taught me that my special sauce is bringing people together for positive purpose, at the right time!

In what ways does your party’s policy agenda stand out from that of other parties?

The Labor Party agenda is about making sure that every community thrives. The heart and soul of The Gabba Ward is its small business community which has been neglected for far too long, it’s creative economy which is the largest in the city and its diversity. I will be working every day to listen to the community and put ideas forward that matter to our Ward.

Are there any specific issues for which you would be willing to break party ranks?

Our team doesn’t really work that way – we’re about listening and making sure every local community advocate gets to have a say and put forward their ideas. We work as the Labor for Brisbane team and we are empowered to advocate for our communities. We all share the same values and work together on big issues and all bring our different perspectives to those discussions.

Considering that Labor currently holds only five Wards in an LNP-dominated Council, what strategies can build Labor’s performance in the upcoming 2024 elections?

I believe Brisbane has an unrecognised potential as a city to activate its superpowers of creativity, innovation, and diversity to build a modern inclusive city. A city that is open for business with an economy and a culture that attracts and retains the greatest minds and talent.

Yes it’s time to for a change and it’s got to be a city wide approach, I am getting to know all the different candidates across the Wards and it’s an impressive group of community champions! We’ll be working hard in every suburb of Brisbane to get our message out. The LNP Administration is tired and out of touch. They are spending $141 million on Victoria Park when they could be working on mobility issues and investing in plans like our $25 million mobility plan to make Brisbane truly accessible for everyone. We have a positive vision for Brisbane and I’m excited to share it!

People are increasingly disturbed by party-political responses to crucial social issues that seem to ignore voters’ interests.

Could you elaborate on your approach to working with Independent and Greens Party colleagues, detailing how you plan to work collaboratively towards achieving shared policy objectives?

As I said at the start, I am for action not agitation, unity not division which is how I’ll work with our Gabba community. I am most passionate not only about the liveability of a place but it’s lovability and that means building a plan that is humancentric that embraces the power of community and helps foster that.

Already I have led great collaborations within the community during the 2020 pandemic when I co-founded of Chrysalis Projects. This ground-breaking initiative not only brought art to public spaces in West End but also created employment opportunities for artists, fostering community connections and promoting a circular economy around the arts. I understand that politics is a hot topic in the hood but I am also aware that we all live here together and have many commonalities, so my focus will be on talking to my neighbours and voters in our local area to put forward the ideas and suggestions that they have.

How do changes in The Gabba Ward since the previous election influence the electoral landscape leading up to the March elections?

I think in 2020 when we went to vote the focus was on a global pandemic, so the 2024 election is certainly a different context. There have been lots of changes, the Olympics being the biggest one of which I want to ensure a community and cultural legacy from.

As a long-time local and passionate arts entrepreneur I have a lot of experience I can bring to this campaign to champion our community and bring my unique perspectives as well to our Labor for Brisbane team. I love our community and have always put myself forward to help, emceeing West End State School Fiesta, the Kurilpa Derby, working with Micah Projects, I think people know who I am and that I will stand up for them and I think this campaign will have colour and cut through!

What main concerns have Gabba Ward constituents voiced as priorities for them, and how do you intend to address these issues?

As a long-term resident, I have seen the rapid changes in the area and there is a lot of pressure on the community to adapt, I know housing is obviously a big problem as it is nationally, the cost of living and the impacts that is having on both the residents and the small businesses in the area. I will be listening to the community and standing up for them!

Given the widespread dissatisfaction with the Schrinner Council’s current planning and consultation methods across Brisbane, could you outline your vision for enhancing these processes as part of the Labor Party’s agenda?

I have heard from a lot of people who feel the LNP council does not represent them, and it certainly does not represent the city that I know which is very diverse creative and innovative. Brisbane has a relaxed sensuality imbued by the subtropical environment, a penchant for the bold and the colourful, a culture driven by our contemporary First Nations artists and influenced by our Asian Pacific geography, a rock’n’roll heart matched by it’s queer fabulousness with a radical underbelly. A place where new ideas and innovation are embraced, female leadership is valued and diversity celebrated.

I think that the LNP have the wrong priorities for Brisbane and that they have stopped listening, and that’s a big problem. I am all about listening and conversation, as is our whole Labor for Brisbane team. We want to empower local communities to have a say more directly and that is certainly what drives me as a passionate advocate for our beautiful part of Brisbane.

In the event of a conflict between the positions of State Labor and the interests and concerns expressed by Gabba Ward voters, how would you navigate and advocate for your constituents’ needs while remaining committed to your party’s overarching objectives?

Our Labor for Brisbane team is dedicated to putting forward a vision and policies that fit our beautiful city, I doubt they’ll conflict with our state Labor team, but I know that in our Party passionate advocacy and the contest of ideas about how to make things better for everyone is something we are all committed to.

You can follow Ms McIntosh on her Facebook site HERE.


Big shoes to fill: an interview with incoming Councillor Trina Massey.