Talking Climate with Townsville's Mayoral Candidates

Troy Thompson, Harry Patel and Jenny Hill

Townsville residents know we're on the frontlines of climate change, and the need for strong local leadership on climate action and environmental conservation is higher now than ever before.

Last night, NQCC invited Townsville's three mayoral candidates to share their perspectives and priorities on all things related to climate, environment and liveability, as they responded to questions from NQCC and the community.

About fifty locals participated in the event, which was held at JCU's Education Central and also online. You can watch the full recording here

Troy Thompson, Harry Patel and Mayor Jenny Hill (pictured above), arrived early, along with some divisional candidates from around Townsville, for an opportunity to mingle with attendees. 

After an acknowledgement of Country and brief introduction, the candidates were invited to introduce themselves and their vision for Townsville, before we heard from our first guest speaker.

Cliff Cobbo is WWF's Senior Manager of Indigenous Engagement. His talk "People and Country - we are one and the same", evoked some powerful images, and reminded us of the significance and splendour of the natural world and our innate and unbreakable connection to it. You can watch this at 8:34 on the recording. 

Cliff Cobbo presenting

The candidates were asked what they thought Council could do better to allow our waterways, ecosystems and wildlife to thrive. You can hear their responses at 25:35 on the recording.

Professor Stephen Turton - Adjunct Professor for environmental geography at Central Queensland University joined us via zoom, for a presentation that laid out the state of knowledge on climate change and implications for local government (36:00 on the recording). He delved into what Townsville's future holds - worsening heatwaves and flooding and an increased risk of power outages, water scarcity and infrastructure damage. His final slides highlighted what steps local government could take and the positive outcomes of declaring a climate emergency.

Professor Steve Turton presenting online

This brought us to the next question: Do you think Townsville City Council should declare a climate emergency? What other measures will you champion to make our city more safe, resilient and insurable in an uncertain future?

Their full responses can be heard at 1:02:10 on the recording, but to summarise:

Mayor Jenny Hill: We recognise that there is an issue, but no, we’re not going to declare a climate emergency. 

Harry Patel: I feel that the increasing risk to the community and environment are facing from climate change, we should declare a climate emergency because we’ve got a big problem here. 

Troy Thompson: Do I think Townsville should declare a climate emergency? Not at the moment. But I think we are heading in that direction. 

Our final speaker, Emma Small - a local social worker and member of Social Workers for Climate Action - presented an ecosocial work perspective on living in a changing climate (1:14:38 on the recording). This highlighted the real and lived experiences of Townsville locals - particularly those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and the ways that many people are let down by a lack of leadership, strategies and support from the Council. 

Emma Small presenting

Our candidates were then asked: What steps do you think Council should take to protect the most vulnerable people in our community from the impacts of climate change? Their responses begin at 1:24:24.

Our MC took this opportunity to point out the high level of engagement and commitment shown by some of Townsville's community (such as those attending the event), and draw attention to how difficult it is for these people to have a say or contribute to local government decisions and initiatives.

Candidates were asked: If elected, would you support the establishment of a community environmental advisory committee? And how else might you facilitate opportunities for community members and organisations to share their expertise and work with you towards solutions for our environment? Their responses are at 1:33:53.

We then moved to questions submitted by community members. Candidates chose questions at random, "lucky-dip style". These questions covered zero-waste events, live exports, water demand management, wildlife protection, illegal dumping and uranium mining.

We wrapped up with a summary, and a promise that this would be the beginning of an open dialogue, not the end. Candidates welcomed further contact or questions via email or social media.


Mayor Jenny Hill: [email protected]

Troy Thompson: [email protected] or social media

Harry Patel: social media only


Thank you to the following people/organisations for your contributions to the event:

  • JCU staff, who were very helpful in arranging the venue and setting up the technology;
  • Groundswell, whose core funding meant that we had the organisational capacity to make this forum happen;
  • The local candidates from all around Townsville who supported the event, during a very busy time;
  • Our three mayoral candidates who also gave their time, and provided thoughtful responses on the night;
  • The three guest speakers, who opened our minds (and hearts) a little wider:
    • Cliff Cobbo
    • Prof Stephen Turton
    • Emma Small
  • Our climate action team, who each played significant roles in bringing the event to life:
    • Sandra Croaker
    • Emma Small
    • David Cassells
    • Frank Dallmeyer
    • Luna Prince
    • Connor Gregory
  • Madde Price, Katharina Dallmeyer and Simon Cheers for your assistance on the night.





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