What it Takes to Run a City

Experience 

The Gold Coast is the second largest council region in Australia and as such commands a massive budget and a lot of responsibility to its rate payers. But who exactly makes the decisions on behalf of the city and how are they implemented? Who is responsible for the city’s planning and what is its future direction? These were just a few of the big questions posed by the Mayor’s Student Ambassadors as part of their program’s City Workshop.

With the Ambassadors filling the seats usually occupied by the City Councillors, Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate began the session in Council’s chambers with an overview of the city, its governance structure and how it operates. He talked about leadership, responsibility and the privilege he had as Mayor of the Gold Coast. Then the team from the Office of the Mayor went into detail.

Investing in the Future

Chris Lynch is responsible for Policy Implementation and is also the City’s Communication Engagement Officer. He provided a comprehensive history of this relatively young city from the original custodians the Yugambeh people, who have inhabited the region for 23 000 years, right through to the city of today – now Australia’s sixth largest city with a population in excess of 600 000 people.

Gold Coast Ariel

Image credit: City of Gold Coast

As he moved into the Gold Coast’s current strategy and investment Chris discussed the implementation of the light rail network and its future expansion, the introduction of the city’s first ferry service which is just about to launch, and stage 2 of the cultural precinct at HOTA with its $60 million art gallery due to be completed by the end of 2020.

Connected City

Chris also proudly stated that the Gold Coast is the only city in Australia to install its own fibre optic network, a city owned asset that provides free Wi Fi for locals and visitors alike and a fact that brought smiles to the ambassadorial faces.

The Gold Coast’s Active and Healthy Program Officer Skye Miller explained why the city invests so substantially in the wellbeing of its citizens and the many activated programs that so seamlessly reflect its lifestyle. Tai Chi, Parkrun, Pilates, aquaerobics, yoga, bushwalking and group fitness classes are regularly held, taking advantage of the beautiful beachfront areas, parklands and natural reserves that adorn the city and its pristine hinterland.

Our Own Culture

Surprisingly the most entertaining session was conducted by Jeszaen Lee, a man who made his Policy Advisory role sound like he had the best gig in the city. He explained how the city’s governance works, with the distinction between the elected officials and those who implement the city’s programs and initiatives.

Jaz Ambassadors

Jaz even made the Gold Coast’s water and waste system sound exciting, so highly regarded internationally that it draws delegates from all over the world to inspect the infrastructure. But Jaz saved his best words for the elites from the south who think their artistic merits are somehow more worthy than this upstart gleaming city by the beach.

“What does culture mean in Melbourne?” he asked. “Having a latte in a laneway – big deal! We’ve got a unique culture on the Gold Coast – it’s rich, it’s alive and it’s ours.”    

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