GN chats with a CEO – Colin Jensen, Brisbane City Council

Colin Jensen is CEO at Australia’s largest local government and council for the host city of the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games. GN asked him about the challenges of 2022, his hopes for 2023 and how Council is responding to changes in the LGA.

At a glance:

  • Glad to see the end of: floods
  • Projects for 2023: turn-up-and-go electric Brisbane Metro, release of final plan for the city’s biggest new park
  • Excited about: 2032 Brisbane Olympics; FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023
  • Biggest change facing LGA: rapid population growth

GN: How did 2022 treat Council and what did you learn from it?

CJ: 2022 threw some challenges our way.

Colin Jensen

The rainfall and flooding we experienced in February was unlike anything seen in Brisbane’s history. Over three consecutive days, more than 200 mm of rain fell each day, saturating our catchments and causing an unforeseen combination of river, creek, and overland flow flooding. Homes, businesses, communities, parks, infrastructure, and roads were all affected or damaged in some way.

But Brisbane is an incredibly resilient city and what we continue to learn each time we endure hardship is how our people’s agility, passion and commitment to innovation ensures our desire to support our community and achieve our vision for Brisbane doesn’t waver. 

I am immensely proud and inspired by the commitment and community spirit our Council employees displayed and continue to display – going above and beyond to deliver an enormous scope of work with care and empathy for those communities affected.

Given the scale of the disaster, it will take our city some time to recover, but our people will continue to be there for each other and our community.

How is your financial outlook for the coming year, and what are your major projects?

CJ: Supporting Brisbane’s recovery through the pandemic and severe weather events last year has only been possible thanks to strong and responsible financial management. While we remain focused on recovery, we’re not slowing down. We have some very exciting long-term projects that we’re working hard to deliver to create a more connected and liveable city.

The turn-up-and-go fully electric Brisbane Metro will help us evolve our public transport network to meet community needs, and construction has started on the Kangaroo Point Green Bridge and Breakfast Creek Green Bridge, both of which will provide greater connectivity across the river to the city, giving residents and visitors more opportunities to walk or ride.

Lastly, community consultation on the Victoria Park / Barrambin Master Plan has closed, with the final plan for the city’s biggest new park in more than 50 years to be released this year.

This space is going to be an amazing jewel in Brisbane’s crown when completed. We are already progressing exciting projects in the park alongside the finalisation of the Draft Master Plan.

What are you most looking forward to in 2023?

The past few years navigating a pandemic and enduring severe weather events has been tough for so many and impacted so many lives across the city and I look forward to continuing to support Brisbane’s recovery.

As Host City of the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Brisbane will be home to 18 of the 32 Olympic venues, including Victoria Park / Barrambin. We are currently managing a number of projects to prepare the city for the Games and we look forward to continuing to see these come to life. The enduring benefits to the community this work brings will keep seeing Brisbane grow and flourish. 

We are currently managing a number of projects to prepare the city for the (Olympic) Games and we look forward to continuing to see these come to life.

Add to that the opportunity for the city to play a part in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 – Brisbane will host 8 games over July and August – is just wonderful.

The economic and social benefits from hosting a tournament like this are terrific and the tournament provides us with an amazing opportunity to showcase our city to a potential global audience of more than 1 billion people.

What do you expect the biggest challenges will be for you in 2023?

CJ: Current inflation and economic downturn will have an impact on our business, as it will all businesses, but to ensure we can deliver for Brisbane we are continually monitoring and evaluating what is best for our business while also doing what we can to support the thousands of local businesses also navigating financial stability across our city. 

How is your LGA changing and what are you doing to adapt?

CJ: As Queensland’s capital and Australia’s fastest growing city, Brisbane has experienced the strongest population growth of any capital city in Australia. With that growth comes constant change and new expectations.

Council is dedicated to ensuring Brisbane is a great place to live, work and relax, and plays a fundamental role in making the city the best it can be for our current and future residents, businesses, and visitors.

As one of the biggest employers in Queensland, Council continues to build an engaged, high-performing workforce by investing in our people.

Providing ongoing learning and development along with the right resources, as well as flexibility in the way we work, ensures we can remain resilient, innovative, insightful and able when it comes to getting thing done.

*Before joining Council in 2010 Mr Jensen had an extensive public career in the Queensland Government, including serving as Director-General of the Department of Infrastructure and Planning, and Coordinator-General for Queensland.

Mr Jensen was also awarded the Queensland 2010-11 National Emergency Medal for sustained service by the Governor-General for the role he played in the January 2011 floods.

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