Sunshine Coast Mayor not contesting next election

November 13, 2023 9:39 am in by

The Sunshine Coast Mayor, Mark Jamieson, has decided he will stand down at the next election to focus on his family and personal interests. Here’s a statement he issued when making the announcement.

Statement by Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson

Nearly 12 years ago, I was afforded the great privilege and honour by the residents of the Sunshine Coast, when they elected me as their Mayor.

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This is a responsibility that I have never taken for granted – and my commitment to the residents of the Sunshine Coast is something that has motivated and guided all of my actions and decisions as Mayor since that time.

Now – after nearly 12 years serving the communities of the Sunshine Coast and vigorously representing the interests of our residents to the other tiers of government – I have decided that it is time to put my family and my personal interests first.

For this reason – and this alone – I have decided not to contest the next election for Mayor of our great Sunshine Coast Council on 16 March 2024.

I will continue to serve as Mayor and complete my term when the election is concluded next

I know this may come as a surprise to some people, but there comes a time when we all re-evaluate our priorities – and recognising the importance of our nearest and dearest has to be Priority Number 1.

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That said, there is much still to do between now and March next year and the Sunshine Coast community can be assured that I will continue to give everything to this role as Mayor until my term ends in just over four months.

The thing that has always been most important to me as Mayor is to put the interests of the Sunshine Coast first, last and always.

I have never shied away from pushing hard with the other tiers of government – no matter what party has been in office – to get a better deal for our residents and our region.

And I have copped flack from many local politicians because I have put the interests of our
residents and our Council ahead of their own party interests.

Equally, I have always recognised it is critical for the Mayor to be independent and have the
ability to work with whichever political party holds office in Queensland or nationally – because that is the only way to get things done.

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This is why I have always been – and remain – a vocal advocate for keeping party politics out of local government. Because councils have to be able to work with whomever is in power.

This is particularly crucial for our Sunshine Coast with the infrastructure challenges we face
– and which only the Federal and State governments can resolve.

If there is one piece of advice I will offer to our residents is that when it comes time to vote
for your next Mayor in March next year, remember it is too great a risk for the future of our
Council and our region to place your trust in someone who is aligned in any way with a major
political party.

Or someone who simply craves the position, limelight and attention.

That is not what being the Mayor of our Sunshine Coast Council is about. It never has been. Nor is it what I believe, our community wants or needs.

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Whoever nominates to be elected to our region’s most important role, I wish them all the very best.

I won’t be involving myself in anyone’s campaign – every candidate must present their own vision for the future.

But as I look back on the last 12 years, there is little doubt that the councils which I have led have achieved some truly historic and ground-breaking milestones for our region.

In fact, the Sunshine Coast today is markedly different to what it was when I was first elected as Mayor.

Our region has a much stronger and resilient economy – with a clear blueprint for its future, generating investment and employment opportunities that help to keep people employed closer to home.

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Importantly, what this does is allow our young people to make career choices that enable them to stay in our region.

It also has helped to bring our average household incomes up from 22% below the State average in 2012, to being near par with the State average today.

This has always been what I have regarded as the significant dividend for our community in building a stronger and more resilient economy and it is why it has always been a key measure in our regional economic development strategy.

Under my leadership of Council, we have seen transformational investment in infrastructure that will well and truly set our Sunshine Coast up for the future.

Like the $334 million expansion of our Airport to provide our residents, tourists, local businesses and the food and agribusiness industry with a direct international travel and export gateway – at no cost to the ratepayer for an asset we still own.

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We are establishing a new city centre here in Maroochydore, which is coming out of the ground and will continue to go from strength to strength.

We have secured our very own international broadband submarine cable network that connects the Sunshine Coast and Queensland directly to the world.

The councils which I have led have also invested around $2 billion since 2012 in local and community facilities, roads and other infrastructure to improve the functionality and liveability
of our communities.

In that time, we have also well and truly carved out our reputation as a national leader in environmental sustainability and conservation initiatives.

Today, our Sunshine Coast is a UNESCO Biosphere – something I committed to achieving in both my 2016 and 2020 election campaigns.

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Under my leadership, our Council has established and delivered nation-leading programs
and initiatives like:

  • The establishment of a 15 megawatt solar farm at Valdora – making our Council the first
    in mainland Australia to offset the entirety of its electricity consumption with energy from
    a renewable source.
  • Our 5,000 hectare Blue Heart partnership – which will help to preserve the Maroochy
    River flood plain for its intended purpose as an important ecosystem and flood storage,
    while opening up new economic opportunities for land owners in blue carbon storage.
  • Expanding our conservation estate to the largest council owned protected area in south
    east Queensland.
  • Recognising the existence of a Climate Emergency – but unlike others, we are also
    taking real action through measures like our Zero Net Emissions Plan and Climate
    Hazard Adaptation Strategy to better prepare and adapt our region to the impacts of a
    changing climate.
  • And hosting the largest Land for Wildlife program in the nation, thanks to the
    partnerships our Council has forged with local landowners.

Since 2012, we have also become a much more inclusive and diverse community.

Welcoming new residents from many nations; growing our migrant population; building stronger, more enduring and respectful partnerships with our First Nations peoples; celebrating diversity; and focussing our efforts on improving accessibility for people of all abilities in our public realm.

We have also built a solid reputation as the go-to region for national sporting teams and outdoor events.

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Who would have thought 12 years ago that Elton John would play two concerts on the Sunshine Coast – or that we would become the home away from home for one of the nation’s leading NRL teams.

I am also incredibly proud of how our Council worked with our community to keep people safe and supported throughout the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic – and how we came together to support local businesses which has enabled our region to bounce back strongly.

One thing I have been delighted to achieve has been to secure a significant role for our Council in the staging of the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

This will be an unparalleled opportunity for the Sunshine Coast – putting us on the world stage in front of a global audience and I look forward to watching us out-perform, out shine and out do, every other location involved in the Games in 2032.

Our Council is also in a strong financial position – one that is the envy of many other councils.

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This year we posted our first $1 billion dollar budget and in my time as Mayor, we have achieved a clean bill of health every year from the Queensland Audit Office.

Today, our Council remains one of the three most financially sustainable councils in the State.

Something that is very much a part of being Mayor – just as it is part of many aspects of life – is that you are only ever as good as the rest of the team.

To this end, I want to particularly acknowledge and thank my fellow Councillors – our current Councillors and those who I have served with since 2012 – for being part of an incredible journey as we have shaped a heathy, smart and creative future for our Sunshine Coast.

I also want to acknowledge and thank the many dedicated, professional and committed staff of Council who I have worked with over the last 12 years to help make the Sunshine Coast the best that it can be.

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Finally I want to express my deep appreciation to my much loved wife Lorrell; my children Sommer, Bart and Theo and their partners; and my beautiful granddaughter Lucky, for their enduring and steadfast support, loyalty, tolerance and commitment during our public life.

I could not have done this job without them.