'Kaunsela Meri' i sanap gen lo eleksin
What does it take to remove a prime minister?

Introducing the flammable politics of Noosa


Projection is a psychological phenomenon where feelings directed towards the self are displaced outwards towards others

NOOSA - As the Campaign for Noosa takes on the uneasy rhythm of all early political campaigns, my thoughts drift back to my first inklings that this seemingly laid-back seaside resort had Politics. So I dug out a five year old piece I wrote on Noosa Politics and blew off the dust before adding some contemporaneous notes.  Reader alert, at 2,000 words it’s quite a long read….


This morning at a ridiculously early hour (OK, it was seven o’clock), I was interviewed by Tess Connery for the 2SER-FM Sydney breakfast show, a meal that now passes me by.  Tess had called upon me to reminisce about the first day of 2SER, which had begun broadcasting on 1 October 1979.

In April of that year I’d returned to Australia from a two-year stint with the United Nations in the Maldive Islands.  I was fortunate enough to quickly score the job as station manager of 2SER and I was allowed six months to get Sydney’s educational and community radio station built and on air.

One of the 150 volunteer broadcasters and related staff we recruited was Tony Wellington, a pleasant and impressive young man. He pitched me with an idea for a weekly program of progressive and avant-garde music.  Tony was knowledgeable about the genre and I was happy to agree.  So from the first week the station was on air, Tony presented Elbow Room every Tuesday from 10pm for a couple of hours.

A year or so later Tony moved on to other things and soon enough so did I and it was to be more than 30 years until we caught up again. That moment came after Ingrid and I purchased a holiday unit at Sun Lagoon, a Noosa resort. Thereafter, whenever we came to Noosa, Ingrid and I met up with Tony and Judy.  Our interests coincided with theirs and Ingrid and I were eager to find out more about the Noosa that lay behind the curtains.

At the time Tony was an aspirant Councillor for the newly formed Sunshine Coast Council of which Noosa had become a reluctant part after its own Council was disbanded. Tony was an artist and photographer of talent and he could write more than a bit.  I was inspired enough to kick some money into his election campaigns. He also published an online newsletter, The Noosa Gumshoe, that even I, a man who enjoys a bit of scurril, regarded Tony's as very scurrilous indeed.  At the time I believed Noosa Gumshoe reported a true story of Noosa.

Gumshoe purported to offer revelatory information about collusion, cronyism, stupidity and silliness in local affairs. Most of the people it featured were characterised as irresponsible or venal or both:

“While Noosa Biosphere members like to crow about their volunteer status some are featherbedding themselves”

“Largely faceless people committed to shoring up their own positions of power”

These and other allegations later occurred to me as projected – “a psychological phenomenon where feelings directed towards the self are displaced towards others” says Wikipedia.  So our introduction to the story and politics of Noosa was the mythology of a small group of ethical visionaries boldly battling against a malign, entrenched and disreputable local ethos.  Not long after we were reunited, Tony was elected to Sunshine Coast Council in a bitter contest against incumbent Lew Brennan.

Then, in 2013, Ingrid and I retired from our jobs in Sydney and decided to leave behind our friends with only an invitation to come visit us.  We drove the 1,000 km with a loaded car to settle in Noosa and live the good life.  From our Sun Lagoon apartment, we sallied out to find a home.  Our quest lasted only a couple of days when we found our prize.  We’d been coming to Noosa on holidays for more than 20 years, loved the place, wanted to drop anchor here, and did just that.

After we got ourselves shipshape at Sun Lagoon, Tony was kind enough to ensure we met Noel Playford and Michael Gloster and their wives.  After this round of meetings, Ingrid and I were full bottle on Noosa being under siege from developers, their proxies and fellow travellers.  Noosa needed a new Council in which Playford would be Mayor and the boys would have a majority of Councillors.  That’s pretty much how the 2012-2026 Council worked out.

Meanwhile, Ingrid was seeking to make her retirement productive and enjoyable.  On Tony’s advice we joined the Noosa Parks Association.  After a couple of months, Ingrid - skilled in the ways of organisations - was invited to become Honorary Secretary.  This eventually led her to represent NPA on the board of the Chamber of Commerce.

Then, in late 2015, came the real sea change when Tony and NPA president Michael Gloster, separately but on the same day (presumably having conferred), encouraged Ingrid to run for Noosa Council at the March 2016 election.  At first Ingrid was hesitant but the idea of a community leadership role was very appealing.  Anyway, if she won one of the six Councillor positions, it would help Tony and the boys slay those dragons that were intent on trashing Noosa’s environment and misgoverning the community.  Ingrid called them back and told them she was up for it.

So, around November 2015, we began to organise her campaign, in the process gathering together a 60-strong team to help out.  Now we were getting truly embedded in in the community.  Ingrid, like most of the other aspirant councillors was to stand as an Independent. (The only admittedly party candidate of the 16 who stood was a Green.)  Ingrid took her role as an Independent seriously.  Her paternal grandfather had also been involved in politics.

On 15 March 1939, during a visit to Berlin, Czechoslovak president Emil Hácha was bullied into signing away his country's Independence. On the same day as Nazi tanks rolled across the Czechoslovakian flatlands, the Mayor of a small town not far from the capital was very concerned.  Ingrid’s grandfather was both a leading Liberal Democrat and Jewish. Somehow he survived most of the war but in 1944 his luck ran out and he was banged up in Theresienstadt concentration camp, where he died, the records insist, of a ‘heart attack’.

Ingrid bears that story with her as she campaigns.  Her role as a people’s representative is of intrinsic importance to her.  And her position as an Independent means what it says.  She belongs to no group or party.  The totality of her representation is the people she serves.  Her Independence is not something to be casually messed with.

An early decision we made was to avoid future conflicts of interest by funding Ingrid’s campaign ourselves.  We had received a number of generous offers, including one of $500 from Michael Gloster.  Mayor Noel Playford offered nothing to refuse but, during Ingrid’s campaign, as she began to articulate a platform containing three main commitments that generated a few newspaper headlines Playford decided, probably not for the first time, that he would overlook the status of this pesky Independent and teach her a lesson.

Principal amongst Ingrid’s policies was a commitment to reform the much-reviled Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation (NBRF), another to reorientate the Council’s culture to develop a more positive approach to residents, and her third was to free up land zoning limitations to enable more mixed-use precincts to be built.

A greatly irritated Playford decided he would strongly attack these ideas, his story making the front page of both local newspapers just a few days before the election.  The NBRF had been the Mayor’s baby. His baby would not be called ugly.  So cop that ma’am.  One of the newspapers, Noosa News (now defunct), was able to clear a space on the front page the day before the election for Ingrid’s acid response.

For my part, the more I was out and about meeting people who knew something about the Shire, the more I realised I’d been spun some specious yarns about the nature of its leaders and its residents.  I revised my opinions of the motives of Tony and his chums and recalibrated my views of who was who and doing what in this particular zoo.

During the 2016 campaign at which Ingrid was elected, I had not formed a definitive assessment of what made Noosa tick but in the months following Ingrid’s election, I often found people who had been described as self-seeking or incompetent to be, for the most part, decent and likeable.  I pondered about the reasons for Tony and Judy’s deep loathing and misrepresentation.

I particularly focussed on a remark Gloster had made to me. “I’m the Noosa gatekeeper and I decide who comes onto the park.” It was a one-liner alive with ego and aggression.  I began to realise that Noosa’s problem – the weight of the conflict between NPA and other community leaders—lay more with Playford, Gloster and Wellington’s restrictive, controlling and ultimately unreasonable and undemocratic view of who should control Noosa Shire and how this control should be exercised.

The boys’ methodology seemed to be to keep and maintain power over the Shire through ferocity, intimidation and even social dislocation Not to agree with these men would classify you as an enemy. There were no shades of grey in their minds. No room for disagreement or nuance.  Their way or the highway and, if you persisted with your way, you would be intimidated, lied to and lied about

The tag most of us used, ‘Independent’, seemed just a lazy deception to mislead voters.  Once elected, the seven-person Councillor body was told they were a team and they were treated as if they were members of a quasi-political party.  There was a strong expectation that they should always toe the line.

As I came to accept the reality of this embedded culture of loathing, conflict and coercion, I understood I was on a route travelled by others, including Australia’s pre-eminent playwright David Williamson, who wrote a long email, of which I have a copy, ferociously denouncing Gloster.  It seems Williamson later changed his mind about Gloster and his mates, or maybe stepped away a number of paces to create some peace for himself.


Williamson might have changed his mind but I didn’t change mine.  I knew the identity of the troublemakers and I understood their methodology.  I could see the fissures and fractures this created in the community.  I saw how they tried so hard to crush Ingrid – wheedling rapidly transforming into behaviour that moved through offensive and intimidating to brutish.

This toxic flow of anger and bitterness that emerges from the wellspring of Noosa politics has for decades been addicted to the taste of command and control, the addiction of secrecy and a methodology of crude attack rather than temperate persuasion.  These same characteristics infect others who inhabit this echo chamber. To read the abuse and lies they stoke into social media sites is all so, so …. sociopathic.

My instinct in the current election is that leaders will want to moderate their cronies’ behaviour.  They don’t want to lose the mayorship again, which they might if the disrespect and bad behaviour are not tempered and become an election issue. The loss of a second consecutive mayoral race would .… be …. the …. end. 

If it true that Wilkie has engineered the support of these people to try to obtain the reward of the mayoralty after an otherwise fruitless 10-year trek.  If it is true that some kind of deal or arrangement was reached, there should be disclosure.

Yes, one of the big issues in this election should be the behaviour of those male Councillors who are alleged to have bullied or intimidated the three women Councillors.  I have been informed that two of the three, feeing under threat, will say nothing.  If this is so it is scandalous.  The community should know what, if any, misbehaviour occurred to cause them to maintain their silence.

The people of Noosa – a few tens of thousands of whom desire to escape the conflict and lies– do not want this precious place trashed or taken for granted.  It does not want its female Councillors to feel they occupy an unsafe space.

I hope the community is alive to this misbehaviour and does not allow threats and lies to land another 4-3 majority in Noosa Council.  There’s too much to do without these oafs playing selfish political games and inventing pet projects on which to spend ratepayers’ money. 

Noosa needs a stable, respectful, achievement-orientate Council.  It has nothing like this at present.  I hope the community has run out of patience and deliver the changes required through the ballot box.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Bernard Corden

Dear Ed - Is this the Alderley Mummers Society website?

Mmmffff - KJ

William Dunlop

Lindsay, ha ha ha ha. What's new pussycat!

Lindsay F Bond

What clues? Are any in 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' written by Lewis Carroll in 1865 as an English children's novel.

Example: "How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here." "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat. "I don't much care where-" said Alice.

My reflecting today on that encounter stems from a priceless reply I received near a decade ago, as if of 'grin' from Cheshire Cat.

Ain't that so, Keith

Another example: "Let the jury consider their verdict," the King said, for about the twentieth time that day. "No, no!" said the Queen. "Sentence first—verdict afterwards.". "Stuff and nonsense!" said Alice loudly. "The idea of having the sentence first!" "Hold your tongue!" said the Queen, turning purple. "I won't!" said Alice.

And 'Cat' excels in saying "social media sites is all so, so …. sociopathic".

That so, Lindsay: 'Cheshire born / And Cheshire bred / Stout of arm / And thick of head', as the doggerel would have it - KJ

Henry Sims

Got the message. Noosa politics, albeit at the local government level, stinks as much as anywhere.

Politicians can generally appear to be coloured dirty, keeping the good types trodden down.

A worldwide problem, even back to Plato's time.

Bernard Corden

Noosa could easily have been nominated in the Private Eye Rotten Boroughs Awards:


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)