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PODCAST the Moreton Bay Region NEWS

Huxtable Will Have Just One Job, MBRC Div 11


After attending a Moreton Bay Regional Council meeting and seeing the frustration of the public who attended, Stephen Huxtable decided to put his hand up for Division 11.

The former military man with wide-ranging skills has said that if he is elected, he will only have one job.

“You don’t run the place from the office, and the council is my only job,” Mr Huxtable said in the podcast interview above.

“I don’t have another job.

“I don’t have any other commitments anywhere else.

“I am 100% committed.”

His comments were a shot at the current councillor, Darren Grimwade, who also has a real estate business.

According to the Electoral Commission Queensland website: “Early voting will be conducted between Monday, 16 March and Friday, 27 March 2020.

“The timeframes for early voting will vary in different locations and detailed information about early voting times will be published on the ECQ website prior to the election.

“Election day is on Saturday, 28 March 2020 and polling booths will be open from 8am to 6pm.

“Details of polling booths will be published on the ECQ website.”
Stephen Huxtable image

Stephen Huxtable podcast interview TRANSCRIPT

Andrew McCarthy-Wood:
Thank you very much for your company. Once again, we are looking at the election for the Moreton Bay region. The council election is coming up very, very quickly, and we’re going to have a chat with one of the candidates that has come on our radar, Steven Huxtable. He’s put his hand up for division 11. Steven Huxtable how are you?

Stephen Huxtable:
Oh mate. I’m happy to be here. I’m also old and grey, fat and ugly, but that’s just me individually.

Andrew McCarthy-Wood:
Look, we’re going to look at why you put your hand up and who you are and all of those sorts of things. But before we get into your history and what you’ve been up to and there’s been a lot of it. We’ve been chatting a little bit before we hit record and we thought we’d just pull that up because the conversation got quite interesting. But before we do that, first and foremost, why have you put your hand up to run for division 11 in the Moreton Bay Regional Council elections coming up?

Stephen Huxtable:
A number of months ago I went to a council meeting. It was the first council meeting I’d ever been to at Strathpine. I was interested in a subject that was coming up, and it was development at Woody Point. I had done a little bit of research on the development and found that the council’s own limits were 21 metres in height. Anyway, I went to the meeting, and I was a little bit amazed when I walked in to see a number of protestors. I knew it was a debate and might be a little bit controversial, but the development was 40 plus. I think the number might’ve been 45 metres. Now that’s double the height of the council’s own regulations or own limits.

Stephen Huxtable:
Anyway, the people that I was talking to were not impressed to say the least. Anyway, the meeting continued. It was fairly obvious there were a number of councillors, a small number, that did not want the Woody Point development to go ahead. The councillor in that particular division voted against it, and they were well and truly overwhelmed by the other side. A number of councillors went and said, “No, we’ll accept this. The development can go ahead.” That infuriated me. People are the reason we’re here. The people elect the councillors. They work for the people. The people don’t work for the councillors, and it just annoyed the bejesus out of me.

Stephen Huxtable:
I’m extremely patriotic. I love this country. But fighting for the country is not what you’re fighting for. You’re fighting for the people and the way of life, and the people at Woody Point have a way of life they didn’t want to damage, change, annoy. They were willing to accept the rules, which were 21 metres. They were not happy with 45. So yeah, I would have probably just sat back if the council was doing its job and everybody was happy. If they’re not doing their job, I’m not happy. The people aren’t happy, then we need to get rid of them.

Andrew McCarthy-Wood:
Look, you put your hand up for division 11. The sitting councillor for this division is a Councillor Darren Grimwade. Do you remember how he voted in that instance?

Stephen Huxtable:
Oh yeah. He voted for the development. He definitely did.

Andrew McCarthy-Wood:
And is that one of the motivating factors for you particularly looking at division 11? What drives you to put your hand up for this area and not one of the other areas of the Moreton Bay region?

Stephen Huxtable:
As we’re coming closer to the actual declaration, for want of a better phrase or word, for the election, Darren really had no one standing against him. And I just could not sit back, sit on my hands and say, “Oh well that’s okay. We can have the people trodding on.” No. Like I said, I’m a huge patriot for the country, but it’s the people you’ve got to look after and if he’s not going to look after the people, he shouldn’t be doing the job.

Andrew McCarthy-Wood:
What do you think places you best to be the councillor for division 11?

Stephen Huxtable:
I think it’s what I’ve just said. I’m a people person. I like to listen and look after the people. I understand wholeheartedly that you’ll get 10 people in a room, so you have 10 different attitudes, 10 different approaches on anything and any way. Now a councillor has to accept all those different opinions and go with the majority and the least objectionable. I understand that. I’ve been all over the world. I’ve spoken with lots of different nationalities and lots of different cultures. So I’m happy to deal with people, but you’ve got to include them. If they say don’t build a 45 metre high rise, then don’t build the thing. It’s as simple as that.

Andrew McCarthy-Wood:
Look, for those listening, we’re sitting at the Dayboro Bakery, and I’ve just had a finger bun, which is absolutely sensational. It’s one of the freshest ones that we’ve had, we come out here regularly to enjoy that and a curry pie and a nice coffee. But [inaudible 00:04:55], you’ve already alluded to it, that you’ve got quite an interesting background. Can you take us through that and tell us a little bit about yourself?

Stephen Huxtable:
It’s a bit of a story I will admit, I joined the Royal Australian Navy at the age of 17. I spent about nine years in there. I joined what we call the Fleet Air Arm, and my base trade is avionics. So I fix aircraft instrumentation navigation, at the time, weapons systems and communications. After that, I left the Navy and started a small business called Snap On Tools. I was what they call a dealer or an authorised dealer in the area. Did that for about five years. It was a good job, but I found that aviation, I couldn’t get out of my blood and I must admit making money is not my end goal. It’s serving.

Stephen Huxtable:
So I sold the business, spent all my money and learned to fly. I got my pilot’s licence, fixed wing. Then I got my commercial helicopters licence so I now was a commercial chopper pilot. Nah, couldn’t get a job. Tried really, really hard, couldn’t get a job. So I started work at Oakey in ’97 working on the Army’s helicopters up there, back to base trade avionics, which was good. Enjoyed it.

Stephen Huxtable:
Approximately three years later. The company that I was working for lost the contract. I was made redundant. That’s fine. Actually, I took the redundancy, went time for an adventure, headed over to the Middle East to a country called Oman and started working for the sultan of Oman on his ground attack aircraft Jaguars over there. I was working for a British company. We were doing avionics upgrades and refurbishing their aircraft.

Stephen Huxtable:
By the time I left, three years later in that timeframe, the towers had been hit. By the time I left three years later I was an auditor, so I would audit the base on its operational abilities and all the different sections, weapons, photographic and so on. Well after that three years, I moved over to Kuwait and started working for a US company that was directly involved in logistics, supporting the US effort in Iraq. I did a small trip into Afghanistan to help build a power station. Nothing much. Back out to Kuwait.

Stephen Huxtable:
So that three years finished, so that puts me around 2006. Came back to Australia. I was a little lazy for about six months. Anyway, ended up working back again out at Oakey for the Australian Army, fixing their choppers again. I was working for Boeing at the time. Sideways stepped and did a course within Boeing on a UAV system. They called unmanned aerial aircraft I suppose, I forgot the phrase. Most people call them drones. That then gave me five years of, oh my god flat chat work.

Stephen Huxtable:
In that five years, I was either in the war zones. I deployed six times, four to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq in direct support of Australian Army troops on the ground. Or back in Australia training the Army’s personnel on how the system works and how the rest of the army interacts with the actual system. Now we call them systems. We don’t call them drones.

Stephen Huxtable:
After five years I was a tad worn out. Actually I was pretty much stuffed, so I took a bit of time off. Went over to Perth, retrained to fly what are called ROVs, remotely operated vehicles. They’re submarines, and we build things on the bottom of the ocean floor for the oil and gas industry. Did that for about five years. Didn’t really like it. It was far too money orientated, and all they were concerned about was making money. Not my real thing. Came back to Petrie. In that time I’d moved to Petri in 2009. So I’ve been in the Moreton Bay region for just over 10 years.

Stephen Huxtable:
Came back, have just been doing odd jobs. I spent five, six, seven, eight months on the side of the road as a stop-go man for traffic. Have helped out in other people in other areas. Got involved in the young veterans. Spent a little bit of time with the RSL, and just got upset and annoyed and irate with the council, and here I am.

Andrew McCarthy-Wood:
That is a hugely diverse career path and life that you’ve experienced. Talking about some of that experience, what does that bring to you being a candidate? And then if you’re successful being the councillor for division 11 in the Moreton Bay Regional Council?

Stephen Huxtable:
I think what it brings is exactly what you just said. Diversity. There’s nothing wrong with living here all your life. It’s a great place to live, but you get a little narrow sighted. You tend to see that footpath, that grass all the time. I’ve been in Kuwait City and seen water fountains at every second corner. I’ve been to places in Afghanistan where you wouldn’t stand for three minutes due to the fact the place stinks. I’ve been to Singapore and one seen an immaculate city that is run with an iron fist and an iron rod, and they make certain that you abide by the rules.

Stephen Huxtable:
So that knowledge of the rest of the world is coming in with me. I’ve chosen to live here because I like the place. I must admit I’m a tad partial to green as well. Too many years in the deserts, not happy with brown. So yeah, it’s the diversity and the history and that input from the rest of the world to see how other people do it and a better way of doing something.

Andrew McCarthy-Wood:
Okay. Let’s talk about vision then for a moment. How would you like to see the Moreton Bay region transform over the next four years?

Stephen Huxtable:
I’d like to see it transform with a sensible plan. We have to improve our infrastructure, roads, water, electricity. All of those things have to go because the Moreton Bay Council has been told by the state that we will be getting more people. That’s not an option. We can’t get away from that. Now okay, if we have to do that, let’s do it with a sensible plan. Let’s build the right roads. Let’s build the electrical systems so that it can supply the people that are going to come here. Let’s ensure that we’ve got enough water. Dayboro is not even connected to the main water system. Let’s put everything in place. People are going to come.

Stephen Huxtable:
What I don’t want to see is a development of a six story high building in the main street of Sanford. That doesn’t match with the actual surrounds of that particular village. It’s a lovely valley. Let’s keep it with big blocks and acreage and that valley and village mentality. It’s just wonderful.

Stephen Huxtable:
Also, the same thing with Dayboro. It’s a lovely place. I don’t want to see it lost. We have to increase the number of people that are going to be here because we have been directed by the state. Narangba at the moment are just having a large number of estates coming up around them, and people are not happy. It’s not being thought about. There’s not a tree on the hills when they get rid of it. That’s just wrong. We need the verges. We need the grasslands. We need the places for our animals to go where they need to go, but we also have to have the people. It’s no use putting a million people in one little area and no trains or buses or anything to support them.

Andrew McCarthy-Wood:
You’ve mentioned that the state is requiring this council area to maybe take a large number of people. So you’ve had a lot of experience with different governments around the world, also in the military I’d expect that you would have had experience with chains of command and all of that sort of stuff. As a councillor, if the people that you’re talking with say that they are uncomfortable with maybe larger numbers of people coming to the area or maybe the way some sort of infrastructure is to be rolled out that isn’t directly under the influence of council. Are you comfortable in pushing back on that?

Stephen Huxtable:
I don’t have any problems with arguing the points with anybody. I’ve pushed my knowledge and my argument with several high people within the military that you’re supposed to at sometimes just go, “Yes sir.” Well, if it’s not a sensible command or it’s not a sensible decision or it’s not a sensible approach, you then have to describe a better way to do it. It’s no use turning up and saying, “Oh, I don’t like that. That’s just yucky and painted blue instead of green.” No, you have to come in with a logical argument, approach the situation with an answer. I don’t mind anybody coming up and saying, “Again, we’re going to paint it blue instead of green.” If you can give me a reason and it’s justifiable, that’s fine.

Stephen Huxtable:
Same with developments. It’s no good putting a thousand house development on the other side of Dayboro and not giving it bus services and water and electricity and trains. But you wouldn’t put it there in the first place because there is none of that support. Out at Narangba, they need better, and this is a state thing, they need better parking at train stations for a start. That’s not difficult to figure out. You go down to Dakabin and see all the people parked on the side of the train station there. You can’t get a parking spot at a Petrie after about seven o’clock in the morning. Ferny Grove’s no better. So infrastructure needs to support.

Stephen Huxtable:
If it’s not sensible and the people are saying, “We don’t want this”, then you’ve got to argue the point. You can’t not. You have got to stick up for the people. And that’s my approach.

Andrew McCarthy-Wood:
Since making the decision that you would run in this upcoming council election, what have people been saying to you? What are their big issues?

Stephen Huxtable:
I think disappointment with not being included in the conversation is probably the single largest one. There are many individual issues. There might be a lack of a street crossing or a particular zoning that someone doesn’t like, but they keep coming back and saying the councillors didn’t listen to me. Or if they did, they didn’t care. They didn’t do anything about it or I didn’t hear back from them. I think inclusion is very important, and I must admit there are some people that are not as trusting of the councillors because of the environment in the Southeast Queensland area. They’ve lost a lot of trust in the councillors. And I can’t argue with that.

Andrew McCarthy-Wood:
How would you ensure that you’re going to be more accessible to your constituents then maybe the current councillor has been?

Stephen Huxtable:
I think the simple way is to get out there. I would like to be able to have more time in the area. You don’t run the place from the office, and the council is my only job. I don’t have another job. I don’t have any other commitments anywhere else. I am 100% committed. I suppose the easiest way to explain that is every time that I’ve been associated with militaries, you can’t be a military person plus a train driver. It doesn’t work. You have to be committed to the job. It is your only job. At three in the morning when it’s lightning going and the storms are everywhere and the roads are blocked and you’re required to be there, then go and do it. It’s not oh, I need to go and see somebody else because I’m talking about a deal about something else. No, not on the future. Doesn’t happen. You are a councillor, and that’s it.

Andrew McCarthy-Wood:
Steven Huxtable, thank you very much for your time.

Stephen Huxtable:
Thank you very much for your time. Enjoy yourself and great to be here.