The Queensland state government has control of the balance between infrastructure growth and the development of green space in urban areas.
Where do the main parties stand on prioritising this balance?
The benefits of greenspace
Greenspaces are areas within an urbanised region with the primary purpose of maintaining plants and wildlife for residents and visitors to interact with and derive value from.
By cultivating rich flora and fauna in tandem with urban infrastructure, many important mental and physical health benefits are experienced by city dwellers.
Research indicates benefits of green space include an increase in the uptake of exercise, improvements of mental health amongst children, and more integrated communities.
The majority of these physical and psychological benefits are instigated through socialisation, events and gatherings, which result in more socially aware and interconnected citizens.
Furthermore, the unification of communities may result in widespread cultural changes, and according to Greens Party Clayfield candidate, Andrew Bartlett, greenspace developments increase the value of properties in their proximity.
“The benefit [greenspace] provides to people’s lives on a day to day basis in the form of better amenities and access to the environment [is important],” Bartlett said.
“We are not just talking about a ‘nice looking tree’; it is pretty clear that there is a benefit for everybody.”
Mr. Bartlett also stated that it’s important to consider that while a vast parkland is the typical example of urban greenspace, smaller projects and plantations can be considered green space.
Whether this is a rooftop garden utilised by a business for workplace events, or a tree providing shade next to a busy public transport stop, greenspace takes different forms, but is beneficial regardless.
In Brisbane, several greenspaces already exist, including the Mount Coo-tha Botanic Gardens, the Roma Street Parklands, and Albion Park, which are utilised by 100,000’s visitors annually who are either passing through or spending the day.
But, even considering these spaces are interacted with on a daily basis, they are often overlooked as valuable pieces of infrastructure, receiving minor attention from government policies in favour of other projects.
The implementation of new policy frameworks and the allocation of state funding not only opens up opportunities for greenspace in Brisbane, but in other developing cities throughout Queensland such as Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns.
One of the last major greenspace policies promoted in Queensland was the Q2 Greenspace Generation project, proposed by former Labor Premier Anna Bligh in 2010.
Current Greenspace Projects
As Brisbane is experiencing a current growth rate of 2.1% (the highest of the state capitals including Sydney and Melbourne), urban areas are being developed while densely populated regions such as the Brisbane CBD and Southbank are being maintained.
Financial investment is also being made in purchasing land for green space in outskirting suburbs, which are experiencing the most significant increases in population due to the decentralisation of jobs outside of the CBD.
This increasing demand for the development of areas purposed for leisure and community building is among many reasons why the Brisbane City Council is currently proposing several greenspace projects.
According to the Brisbane City Council’s Brisbane’s Future Blueprint, “keeping Brisbane clean and green will make our city liveable and sustainable for our children, and their children to follow. More greenspace will mean a healthier city with new places to relax as a community”.
The Brisbane City Council’s core greenspace objectives include increasing Brisbane’s natural habitat from 37% to 40% by collaborating with schools and infrastructure developers to create gardens and open eco-friendly spaces.
The blueprint also seeks to make under-used natural areas publicly available, while continuing to plant trees and diverse flora in high traffic areas, to benefit pedestrians and cyclists.
Candidate Stances and Proposed Projects:
Upcoming General State Election candidates hold opposed views on the best policies and projects to achieve greenspace in Brisbane and surrounds.
Current petitions to construct a fifth Green Bridge are being fully supported by Hon. MP and McConnel Labor Candidate Grace Grace, who is seeking community consultation to choose its location.
In response to our enquiry, a spokesperson for Labor detailed a $600m funding scheme for SEQ Councils and 65 other regional councils, announced recently by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
“[It will be] used by Councils to provide playgrounds, water play, walking tracks and public amenities to further enhance green spaces in cities and regions across QLD,” she said.
Greens’ candidate for McConnel, Kirsten Lovejoy sees the priority being to dismantle The Planning Act , to allow Queensland communities the freedom to develop green space at their own pace.
According to Lovejoy’s website, “The Planning Act introduced by Labor in 2016 has stacked the system in favour of property developers… The Greens would fundamentally transform and democratise our planning system. We’ll take power from the developers and give it back to everyday Queenslanders.”
Andrew Bartlett also described these overarching systems as detrimental to the development of greenspace and said The Planning Act state legislature prevents local governments from enforcing eco-friendly infrastructure policies.
The LNP, KAP and ONP did not provide a response to our enquiries.
Central Brisbane (McConnel Electorate):
Grace Grace (ALP)
Pinky Singh (LNP)
Kristen Lovejoy (Greens)
What Do The Local State Candidates Think About Greenspace Development?
(Anna Bligh Q2 Greenspace Generation) – https://www.cabinet.qld.gov.au/documents/2010/mar/greenspace%20strategies/Attachments/Draft%20greenspace%20strategy.pdf
(Green Bridges with Grace Grace) – https://www.epetitions.brisbane.qld.gov.au/petition/view/pid/927