Do you Live in the Gabba Ward? Briefly, outline your history in the Gabba Ward.

Yes, I live in Highgate Hill with my husband and four children – all of whom were born in The Gabba Ward.  I am on the P&C of West End State School and Brisbane State High, am the immediate past President of the Corbett St Kindy and have been actively involved in a community group that was integral in getting the LNP Council’s Kurilpa Point Draft Master Plan scrapped.

In what ways do the policies and principles promoted by the Australian Labor Party best represent your personal values?

The Labor Party is built on the values of equality, fairness and opportunity.  A Labor Council led by Rod Harding would not allow the rights of developers to override the rights of residents.  When more than 200 submissions are made on a development and nothing changes (like what happened to the old Distance Education site) you know the balance is completely off. What is happening isn’t fair and it isn’t equitable.  I want to stand up for The Gabba Ward and bring those values back to Council.20141206_121046

What life experiences will you draw on to be an effective representative for Gabba Ward residents?

As a Highgate Hill local and mum of four, I have a lot of experience working with, and advocating on behalf of our community.

When Campbell Newman wanted to close Dutton Park train station, I was proud to work with Jackie Trad, Helen Abrahams, Terri Butler and our community to fight to keep it open  – and we won.

When Quirk and Newman wanted to cut bus services, I was proud to again work alongside our Labor representatives and the community fighting to ensure equitable access to public transport so we could all get to where we needed to go – and we won.

When Quirk wanted to put dozens of 40 and 50 storey buildings on Kurilpa Point, I was there with our community fighting to scrap his ridiculous developer-led plan – and it was only because Queensland elected a Labor state government that those plans were scrapped. Our Deputy Premier delivered on her promise to our community to call in the development – another win.

These examples show the power of having a team of representatives – at every level of government – who will work together with the community to fight for what we believe in.

My working life experiences – as a former sustainability consultancy owner and as someone who has actually worked in the Brisbane City Council  – mean I’m uniquely placed to represent Gabba Ward residents and follow in the stellar footsteps of Helen Abrahams.

As you move about the Ward what are people telling you about their concerns and hopes for coming years?

People are telling me that they are primarily concerned about development that doesn’t comply with the CityPlan but is still being approved by this LNP Council. Residents are so tired of being ignored. They’re telling me that there isn’t enough green/open space for the numbers of new dwellings that are being approved and I agree.  They’re telling me that we need fresh ideas and new energy for Brisbane, which is exactly what Rod Harding and Labor are planning to inject into City Hall.

Should Brisbane aspire to be “a new world city”, and if so, how do you envisage that taking shape in The Gabba Ward?

A ‘new world city’ certainly doesn’t include unsustainable development, decreasing bus patronage or spending $650 million of ratepayers money on saving 60 seconds on one road!   I think Brisbane should aspire to be Brisbane – and the best version of it – rather than try to be carbon copies of other cities.  With 1 million new residents projected to be calling Brisbane home in the next 15 years, I’m really excited that Labor is investigating light rail for Brisbane. It is just one of many fresh ideas and energy that a Rod Harding Labor Council has for Brisbane.

Political donations have been in the headlines over the past year: what is your party’s position on accepting political donations, particularly those from developers?

I’m really proud that one of the first things the Labor state government did when they came to power last year was to restore the $1,000 reporting threshold for political donations.  The LNP had increased it to an outrageous $12,800! Transparency in donations is vital.  In line with the expectations of The Gabba community and local party members, the local Labor Gabba campaign does not accept developer donations.

What will your priorities be for 2016, if elected?

Delivering on the commitments I have made to the people of The Gabba Ward, including reviewing CityPlan and then sticking to it, investigating innovative public transport solutions like light rail, and working with residents to find the solutions that will work best for them for parking on their streets.

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Twitter:                @NicoleLessio