It’s a brave move to return as the underdog after being defeated in the mayoral election, but Tony Gibson is back with a new title: The Greens Candidate for Fisher. He’s determined to use what he learnt from the March election in a bid to make the Sunshine Coast a more sustainable and progressive place to live.
“Going for the Mayor’s position, I realised people wanted a voice,” he said. “They wanted to be able to vote Green. People are sick of politicians who are just about themselves and unclear of what their values are. They swing with what the party machine requires them to.”
He said in the Greens there was a grassroots democracy. “We have social justice; we have sustainability,” he said. “These are valuesthat we actually are quite clear about and we make it available.”
Gibson is continuing to push for green jobs as he did while running for Mayor. He said this refers not only to jobs in clean energy and renewables, but also health and wellbeing.
“The diversity of the Sunshine Coast economy isn’t very great, you know,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of people in tourism and there’s not a lot of breadth. Having worked as HR director in Queensland Health, for instance, I was responsible for workforce planning, and I know that there are lots of jobs in the health sector.”
Rather than updating the Bruce Highway, Gibson rates the implementation of high-speed rail to Brisbane as a top priority for the Sunshine Coast. “High speed rail to Brisbane is really important,” he said. “We’ll never be able to create a labour market the same as Brisbane, because it’s a capital.”
When asked where funding would come from, Gibson recommended “gradually phasing out negative gearing” and making “superannuation changes”. But first, he wants to address climate change. Environmental conservation and being one with nature is of the utmost importance to this bushwalking, swimming and yoga-lover. “That’s why I probably became involved in Greens politics because of love of the environment,” he said.
It was that and the noticeable change that the addition of Richard Di Natale made to the party that suddenly interested Gibson in becoming “party political”. “I saw the Greens becoming a third progressive party and really very relevant, not just being seen as tree huggers,” he said.
Gibson’s long-term friend of 47 years (and wife’s cousin), Chris Ball, says Gibson will be a tireless worker for the Fisher electorate. “He’s got the community at heart,” he said. “I’d describe him as an honest, forthright person who is very keen about what he does and what he tries out to achieve. He’s very keen on sustainable development in the area and I think that would appeal to quite a lot of people in that area.”
For Gibson, the Aura development poses some concerns when it comes to maintaining the Coast’s identity and tight-knit communities. “We really need to keep the villages that we have on the Sunshine Coast because they have their own identity and sense of community, and so it’s really important that change is well managed,” he said.
He said adding community centres to the development and light rail “from Caloundra right through to Mooloolaba to Maroochydore” would be beneficial. History shows the electorate of Fisher is predominantly a conservative area, having only federal Liberal MPs since 1993. Gibson said it’s because of this that the area receives little access to investment and “continually doesn’t attract the funding”.
If elected, he says his prior work will assist in bringing change. “I’ve worked for Labor governments as an industrial advocate, I’ve worked for LNP governments, so I know I can work with a range of stakeholders to bring about change,” he said.
Working broadly in the finance sector, Gibson started out in insurance and then various departments in government including Queensland Health, the Public Trustee of Queensland, Queensland Building Services Authority and finally he became a government consultant.
From there, he started his business, Spirit.3H, which provides holistic coaching and yoga chi gung classes. After introducing massages and yoga chi gung into the workplace as a HR director, Gibson then began hosting classes.
“I’ve been teaching in Brisbane and on the Sunshine Coast for seven years,” he said. “I suppose I was a HR director and I saw how important it was to support people in the workplace. Health and wellbeing is really important to me…it’s one of my strong values to have a healthy lifestyle and our connection to nature comes through that too.”
Gibson shares his beliefs and values with his two sons and wife of 37 years, Gay. “Both of us haven’t been party political, so we’re very much interested in political issues but not party political until the last few years,” he said. “We discuss it keenly together.”
So, if this election doesn’t produce a win for Gibson, what’s next? “I’m a person who does capacity building and bringing about change, so I’ll still work within the Greens,” he said. “And after this election, there’s a state election.” It’s safe to say we’ll be seeing a lot more of this keen Green.
This story was published on UniPollWatch: http://www.unipollwatch.org.au/candidates/tony-gibson.html