Name: Howard Nielsen
Party: The Greens
Suburb of residence: Samford Village
Occupation: Business owner and consultant
Bio: Howard is the co-owner and principal consultant of a company that helps improve the sustainability of businesses and communities. He has a strong belief that our quality of life is improved when we have significant control over our lives and when we have our connections with work, family and nature in balance. Howard's previous ‘lives’ include being a tertiary lecturer, school teacher and principal, environmental education consultant, school-community consultant and business CEO.
During his 37 years in the Hills District he had leadership roles with Patricks Road School P&C, Everton Aussie Rules Club, Ferny Grove Cricket Club, Pine Community School and Bunyaville Environmental Education Centre. He is currently involved in leadership capacities with ViVaSamford, the Samford Solar Neighbourhood, the Samford Sustainability Hub and the Samford Green Business Precinct. He is an active member of the Samford Chamber of Commerce and Life Member of the Samford Tennis Club. He has facilitated many major projects and has presented his ideas at five world conferences.
He played tennis and Australian Rules football at state level in his youth and continues playing tennis at the Samford Tennis Club. He and his wife Wendy live in the Samford Valley and have three adult children and four grandchildren.
What do you think are the most important issues for Ferny Grove this election?
At a local level the main issues include the provision of frequent and cheaper public transport for all districts in the electorate. This includes the need for much better bus services in Samford, Upper Kedron and Bunya. There should be free public transport for seniors and youth. Seniors should have free solar energy and free water tanks. Bikeways are in desperate need of construction, not just between Ferny Grove and Samford but also on other significant connecting roads. The secure bike lockers at railway stations need quadrupling to enable the backlog to be reduced. The D’Aguilar Biosphere project needs special support as a measure to protect the ‘green lung’ attraction of the area. At a state level, preventative health, stopping coal seam gas mining and investing in renewables for a green economy is vital.
If elected, how will you help to improve the state’s health and education systems?
Preventative health needs a huge injection of funds – it’s better to stay well rather than having to recover from being sick. Community health has been severely under-funded and this needs redressing. Free dental services are needed and the Greens have already taken the lead on this at a Federal level.
The education system is very well served by its professional teachers and school administrators and ancillary staff. However, primary school teaching staff need support to keep up with necessary changes in education and they need increased non-contact time for their professional development. Attention needs to be given to reducing homework loads for children in their early years. It would be unwise for the system to concentrate solely on testing – motivating and energising creative thinking and physical activity is a necessary part of children’s full development.
What are your main policies on employment and the environment?
Significantly increased investment in renewable energy and the sustainability industry generally will heighten employment and create a stronger economy. We need a diverse economic base which doesn’t put all our eggs in the unsustainable mining basket. Shifting the emphasis over a period of time will enable the state to get back to a AAA rated economy. The new renewable industry employment priority needs a parallel shift in vocational education and training and in the focus of tertiary education.
What do you think has been lacking in the representation of the Ferny Grove electorate?
Proactive and creative engagement with the broader community is needed so that the collective wisdom of the community can be a positive force rather than a reactive force. The model which it has been my privilege to help lead in Samford is one that should be implemented across the whole electorate through our ‘Capacity of the People’ process. Some projects which were initiated many years ago are only now beginning to be implemented. This has taken far too long. A ‘Whole of Community’ approach to building sustainable businesses and communities needs to be initiated, as has been initiated in Samford.
Why would you make a good representative for the people of Ferny Grove?
I am committed to servant leadership, that is, using leadership capacities to serve the direct interests of the community. I am passionate about this and am happy to stand on my track record of practical implementation in the communities, which it has been my pleasure to serve. Meaningful consultation with the community is essential, not passive after-the-event consultation when things are already in train.