Interview: Mayor of Sunshine Coast Regional Council
Innovation hubs, community consultations, and the Glass House Mountains.
Mayor Mark Jamieson talks about why he welcomes disruption, and how digital solutions will boost the standard of living.
What is your vision for Sunshine Coast?
In short – a smart, healthy and creative city-region that has its own identity and is intimately connected to the world. We start and end with one proposition – the future is here. For that is our ethos here on the Sunshine Coast.
We are bringing the future to us, shaping it and creating opportunity as we go. Being bold and unpredictable – being innovative, creative and entrepreneurial and keeping our people connected and at the forefront of the main game.
Our Council and our region has developed a transformational agenda, strongly anchored in building our new economy, but at the same time, focussed on liveability.
We will give better access to jobs and services for our residents and make sure our outstanding environmental assets remain just that - outstanding - and a valuable community resource for generations to come.
What role does technology play in it?
Technology is an enabler and an important part of the infrastructure that underpins our vision for the Sunshine Coast. Digital disruption is no longer an occasional event – it is all pervasive and will fundamentally reshape our workforce, our engagement with others and most aspects of daily life.
The Sunshine Coast needs to be well positioned to accommodate these circumstances and ensure that its workforce now (and in the future) has access to enduring employment options.
This is why our Council is playing a leading role in developing a regional innovation hub, has identified “knowledge industries and professional services” as one of its seven high value industries and importantly, is aggressively pursuing the opportunity for the delivery of an international broadband submarine cable to come ashore on the Sunshine Coast.
Our connectivity with global markets, domestically and with each other will be crucial to the future prosperity of our community.
How will you develop your digital services?
The Sunshine Coast has recently been recognised by leading Australian demographer, Mr Bernard Salt, as Australia’s capital for entrepreneurs. This is because we have a flourishing innovation ecosystem and an array of successful businesses which prove that you can locate regionally in an area like the Sunshine Coast and easily transact business across the globe.
The Council is pursuing some initiatives to demonstrate our leadership in advancing our participation in the digital environment, such as focusing on development and investment in digital industries, leading the delivery of the “Smart City Framework” and its living laboratory - which provides a real-time test bed environment for new digital solutions.
What has been the greatest innovation from your civil service?
In terms of the significance and importance to the safety of our community, it goes without saying that Council’s Disaster Management Hub is a critical information tool that assists our community in times of natural disaster.
We live in a subtropical climate and as we all know, variability in weather patterns is becoming a regular feature that all communities must manage.
Our Disaster Management Hub provides a real-time online environment where current information from the emergency management agencies can be accessed by our community to assist to enhance their safety and wellbeing in times of natural disaster.
How is the council using feedback from citizens?
Council undertakes wide ranging community consultation activities across all aspects of its business to shape its priorities, refine services and ensure it remains responsive to the needs of communities.
This ranges from how we better service library patrons, to how we design our roads and the alignment they take, to how we ensure that we remain at the forefront nationally in the management of our outstanding natural assets.
What has been the biggest challenge that Sunshine Coast overcame in 2016?
Securing the State and Federal Government approvals for the expansion of the Sunshine Coast Airport and to commence construction of our 15MW utility scale, grid connected solar farm.
These projects will deliver substantial benefits for our community over many decades to come and achieving those milestones in 2016 has helped to move both projects from the planning stages into delivery phase.
What is your top priority for 2017?
Getting the construction program for the expansion of the Sunshine Coast Airport underway.
The expansion of the Sunshine Coast Airport is forecast to deliver an economic benefit to the region of A$4.1 billion to 2040 and 2,230 jobs over the same period.
It will ensure our region has access to a functional and accessible airport for jet aircraft for decades to come and can accommodate flights to all destinations within Australia and new locations internationally - providing greater direct access for our region to the world.
It will also provide an opportunity to export fresh product directly into high-value Asian markets, reducing the lead and transport time from point of origin to the consumer in Asia.
What is the biggest area of spending for the council?
Our capital program – this financial year we have allocated A$253 million to new and upgraded infrastructure and capital works across the region (which includes the capital budget for three of our region making projects – the Solar Farm, the Maroochydore City Centre and the expansion of the Sunshine Coast Airport).
This reflects that the Sunshine Coast is one of the fastest growing regions in Queensland.
Our local infrastructure and facilities need to accommodate the needs of the current residents and the future population.
If I were to visit Sunshine Coast, what one place would you recommend?
There are many beautiful places on the Sunshine Coast to visit and experience but one in particular that should not be missed is the spectacular Glass House Mountains.
Formed over 25 million years, they are one of the most quintessential landmarks on the Sunshine Coast - eleven peaks that rise dramatically from the coastal plains. These volcanic plugs are spiritually significant to the local Aboriginal people and are listed on the Queensland and National Heritage Registers as a landscape of national significance. Their beauty caught the attention of Captain James Cook in 1770 who named them the Glass House Mountains because they reminded him of glass furnaces back in Yorkshire.