226 Anzac Avenue, Kippa-Ring, QLD 4021

What’s in Your Garage Podcast Episode #11 Bob Aldons Speaks to Koliana Winchester

koliana-winchester

Bob Aldons: Good morning and welcome to What's in Your Garage? I'm very, very pleased to have with me today Councillor Koliana Winchester, who's one of the two councillors for the Redcliffe area in the Moreton Bay Regional Council. Koliana's been a customer of mine for many years, and Koliana's daughter as well, and we've just arranged the purchase of a Hyundai Elantra for Koliana. And tell me, how's that car going?
Koliana Winchester:  Oh, going very well, thank you very much, Bob. I haven't looked back. It has been so good. It's cruising very well. It took me to places where I wanted to go, so that's the main thing, isn't it?
Bob Aldons:    Yes, absolutely. Now, Koliana, I know you as a councillor and you've been a councillor for ...
Koliana Winchester:    Well, this is my second term with the Moreton Bay Regional Council, but I was with the Redcliffe City Council before the amalgamation.
Bob Aldons:  So, how many terms in the Redcliffe-
Koliana Winchester:  That was only one term.
Bob Aldons:  So you're a third-termer, really.
Koliana Winchester:   Yes, this is my third term.
Bob Aldons:  Third term.
Koliana Winchester:   Yes, exactly.
Bob Aldons: Okay. Now, I don't know too much about you either, so let's go back pre-council and before the amalgamation. Tell me all about Koliana Winchester.
Koliana Winchester:  Thank you, Bob. It's a long story, but I'll cut it shorter. I was born in Tonga and I've been in Australia now for around about 34 years, but I met my future husband to be, Mr Winchester, Bill Winchester, in Tonga, who came in 1982 because we had a very bad cyclone that really damaged the islands, and he came under the Federal Government office's aid. He was an architectural draftsman and he was helping drawing all these little hurricane houses, so that's how I met him. We got married in 1983.
Bob Aldons: In Tonga?
Koliana Winchester:    In Tonga, and then we left Tonga. We came to Redcliffe first and then we went to Sydney for four years, 'cause he was working at the restoration of the Queen Victoria buildings ... beautiful building, Bob.
Bob Aldons: Yes, yes it is.
Koliana Winchester:     And after four years, we had two lovely daughters over there and then we left. We moved to Redcliffe in 1987 and we had another two kids here in Redcliffe hospital, so you could imagine our state of origin, Bob. There's always been two sides in my household.
Bob Aldons:   So, two girls.
Koliana Winchester:   Two girls, and a son. The younger daughter, Eleanor, which she's been dealing with you is buying her car. So anyway, that's the story.

I've been in Redcliffe now for quite a long time and I have been elected to the Redcliffe City Council on a by-election in 2005, and since then ...

Bob Aldons:    So, let me interrupt there and say: what were you doing pre-local government?
Koliana Winchester:  Oh, right. Well, back in Tonga I was holding a few government jobs with Ministry of Works. That's where I met my husband. Then I left. I came here. I was basically staying home mom and look after the kids while Bill was working, so held a bit of a part-time job, but mainly, the mostly, is staying home and bringing up our four lovely children.
Bob Aldons:  Beautiful.
Koliana Winchester:  I volunteer a lot too, Bob. I've been a volunteer for about 20-odd years and did a bit of a programme on our local radio station, 99.7 FM, which is Community Focus. I've done that for around about three years just communicating with our community through the radio station.
Bob Aldons:  I'm going to diverge for just a second and I suppose one of the things that people know you for is that lovely flower in your hair, behind your left ear. Tell us about that.
Koliana Winchester:  All right. I wear this lovely red Hibiscus everyday, if I can help it. Sometimes, very rarely I don't have a flower in my hair. Well, this is just part of my culture. I grew up in Tonga. We always wear flowers in our hairs and a lot of people said to me, "Koliana, is that means you're available?" It's on my left hand side.
Bob Aldons:    Is it the other side that means you're available?
Koliana Winchester:   It's so funny because I go out a lot and when I was doing my volunteer work, I do go and sell raffle tickets at the shopping centres, and that's when people come said to me, "Are you available?" And I said, "Yes." And the look in their face is they were really excited and I said, "Yes, I'm available to sell raffle tickets today," and they were just, "Ah ... "

But, no, it's just culture and I just love wearing it, Bob, because it makes me ... and I'm happy-

Bob Aldons:     You feel good?
Koliana Winchester:   - when I'm wear them. I feel good about it and plus I'm Aussie now of course, as you know. I'm a Redcliffian I hope, but I still have that little kind of feeling about my background.
Bob Aldons: You can never forget about your history.
Koliana Winchester:   Never forget where you came from.
Bob Aldons: Exactly right. So, do you have a Hibiscus bush in your garden?
Koliana Winchester: I certainly do, Bob. It's been like 10 years ago. I planted it myself actually. It's about nine, maybe, different Hibiscus there, but this is the one. This is my supplier, but don't tell anyone, okay, 'cause when it doesn't flower, guess what? I have to look around the Peninsula.
Bob Aldons: And we know to get one.
Koliana Winchester: And I do, you know. Yes. But, mind you, a friend of mine got one and she said, "Don't worry, Koli. Just come and pick one. I don't mind." So, yeah, but I have to wear them otherwise people ask me, "Where is your-
Bob Aldons:   Where's your flower?
Koliana Winchester:  - flower today?" Yeah.
Bob Aldons:   Yes. All right, let's talk about cars for a moment and it'll be interesting to hear you say about cars from a Tonga point of view. So, what was your first car in Tonga?
Koliana Winchester:   I'm afraid to disappoint you, but I never had a car in Tonga. We never had a car.
Bob Aldons:    Ooh. Okay.
Koliana Winchester: Grew up in Tonga. I came from a very, very big family, Bob. We're about eight girls and eight boys.
Bob Aldons:  Wow.
Koliana Winchester:  We're a family of 16 children.
Bob Aldons:   Wow.
Koliana Winchester:  I know.
Bob Aldons:  Plus mom and dad.
Koliana Winchester: Plus mom and dad, 'cause there was no television in Tonga in those days.
Bob Aldons:   Obviously not.
Koliana Winchester: So, there you go, Bob. said that. We relied heavily on public transport and often we walked a lot. We walked to school with  my friend's neighbourhoods ... We always walked to school and back, so there was not much money in those days but if we can afford it, we'd catch the bus. It used to be only 10 cents to catch the bus, but we never have a car. But since being in Australia of course, we have to have a car.
Bob Aldons:   Of course.
Koliana Winchester: You've got to have car.
Bob Aldons: What was your first car in Australia then?
Koliana Winchester: Well, it was a Holden ... not a Holden. It's a red Ford car. Now, I've forgotten now what it's called, Bob. You can help me ...
Bob Aldons:   Was it a small car?
Koliana Winchester:   No, it's not a small car.
Bob Aldons:  A Falcon.
Koliana Winchester:   A Falcon. That's the one ...
Bob Aldons:     A Ford Falcon. Okay.
Koliana Winchester:   ... in here, but in Sydney we used to have different cars there too. I can't tell you exactly. It's a long time ago, Bob, and you know how much I know about cars. That's why rely on you.
Bob Aldons: I just helped you with the name of the car that you had.
Koliana Winchester:   That's exactly right. That you did.
Bob Aldons:  At least you gave me a clue. A red Ford.
Koliana Winchester:   A red Ford, yes.
Bob Aldons:   Okay, so of the cars that you've had since the red Ford, what's been your favourite?
Koliana Winchester:  Well, Hyundai, as you know. Is that Hyundai or Hyundai?
Bob Aldons:   Well, in Australia, we call it a Hyundai. In the United States, they call it a Hyundai.
Koliana Winchester:   Why is it so ...? It's just the way they ...
Bob Aldons:  Americans decide what they want to call things, but we call it a Hyundai.
Koliana Winchester:  All right. Okay, so this is my second Hyundai car. As you know, I had the i30, which is a little nice blue car, small, but it was enough for me to do with my job, but now I've got a bigger car, as you know, and it's more room.
Bob Aldons:  Yeah, and the Elantra. Now, an interesting thing for my listeners to understand is in the amalgamation, you decided not to take a council vehicle.
Koliana Winchester: Yes, that's correct.
Bob Aldons:  Why?
Koliana Winchester:    Well, I go often ...
Bob Aldons:    Look, it's a wonderful thing that you did ...
Koliana Winchester:  Often people ask me about it, but that was one of the things that I put out there when I was running for the Moreton Bay Regional Council was that it was based on my community work before that is that I have been a volunteer for many, many years, including volunteer for Meals on Wheels and I can see firsthand how people struggling to make ends meet and I know this job, it's a good paid job, there's no doubt about it in my view. Being grew up in Tonga, not very much money. Probably my first job in Tonga I got paid about $2.50 a week.
Bob Aldons:   A week.
Koliana Winchester:  A week.
Bob Aldons:  Wow.
Koliana Winchester: But now looking back at that, and then I think I've got the opportunity now people elected me to represent them on this huge council, so the least I can do is to show them that I appreciated their support and also, at the same time, I'm their voice on this council-
Bob Aldons:    Yes, you are.
Koliana Winchester: - and they can't be there to represent themself, but I can. I always think about how people struggle and I always think about my background, of how I grew up-
Bob Aldons:    Very important.
Koliana Winchester:   - and the struggle we had with my family. Not everyone in Tonga got money, but I think that set me on the right path that when you've got an opportunity, especially representing your community, you really need to seriously consider their feelings and how they feel about things and of course, as you know, people look at politicians differently these days.
Bob Aldons:   They do.
Koliana Winchester:  So I want to be making sure that I'm there and that money I saved the ratepayers could go and probably build foot paths or do something with that.
Bob Aldons:  It's a very conscientious thing to do and from my comment, it's a shame that more politicians don't do it.
Koliana Winchester:   Look, I can't speak on behalf of them but I just hope that some politician can see and put themselves in other people's shoes and see how they feel about paying the bills and paying the rates. And that's what I'm trying to do, making sure that I make it works for my community in Redcliffe, as you're right, only myself and Councillor Houghton, that we're both representing Redcliffe on this huge council.

But I think it's working very well. People are still getting in touch with myself about things that they think should be done, so my role then is just to listen to them and take it on board; advocate to get something done.

Bob Aldons: Sure. Now, I know I receive your newsletter. Is it Giving Back, or Reaching ... ?
Koliana Winchester:  It's Reporting Back.
Bob Aldons:   Reporting Back, that's it. And I appreciate the read. The Mayor has a little bit of a say on the back page.
Koliana Winchester:  That's right.
Bob Aldons:   What sort of reaction do you get from your constituents about your newsletters?
Koliana Winchester:   Very good reaction, Bob, because that way they know what's going on. It's not as if that I've been elected and disappeared and not reporting back to them, but I do that because it's very important for them to see what's happening and what's coming up, you know, this project, because it's very important anyway to keep in touch, communicate.
Bob Aldons:   And the constituents can see that you're active in their community and that things are happening.
Koliana Winchester:   That's exactly right.
Bob Aldons:   And that's the important thing, isn't it?
Koliana Winchester:  It's very important, Bob, and not just that, I go to the library every fortnight and I've done this since I've been elected in 2012.
Bob Aldons: Well, you're a very visible councillor.
Koliana Winchester: It's probably because of my flower.
Bob Aldons:  No, not because of the flower, but you are. I see you out and I don't spend a lot of time outside of my office, but I see you out a lot, and that's good.
Koliana Winchester:   It's part of the job, and you've got to be visible. In that way there's a lot of people that don't have, especially our elderly citizens, they don't have computers and therefore it's hard for them to communicate through ...

But being out there, I go to the Op Shops, Bob. I go there because I know I help the charity because I used to volunteer there too, but at the same time you're running to the grass root people…

Bob Aldons:  That's it. Grass roots, isn't it?
Koliana Winchester:  - that's where they go and you go there and they see you there, they chatted to you, they raise concerns about council, which is I love; I love it very much.
Bob Aldons:  I'm not going to ask a lady her age, but you've been three terms. Where do you see Koliana in four years’ time or three years’ time now or whenever the next election is?
Koliana Winchester:    Yes, that's right. Hey, Bob, obviously the next election will be in 2020, so-
Bob Aldons: Oh okay, so we've got a fair way to go.
Koliana Winchester:  So, it's while way to go yet, but the time's flying. As you know, when you're busy, like your job, takes you a lot of places. Even though you're sitting here, but you're very, very busy. You're working on the computer or you're out there, 'cause you've got a job to do. You're selling cars and you have to sell and you have to-
Bob Aldons:   Yeah, you've got to get out.
Koliana Winchester: - sell, you've got to get out; it's part of the business. In my role, of course, I'm very busy, there's no doubt about it, but that's part of the job. In four years’ time ... who knows? Or three years’ time. I just take year by year as it comes-
Bob Aldons:  And that's fair.
Koliana Winchester:   - day by day as it comes and not thinking ahead of myself. But at the end of the day, up to the community if they wanted to ...
Bob Aldons:  So, if you stepped outside your role as a councillor, Koliana, and said, "We're going to rate the Moreton Bay Regional Council," which is a huge council, "we're going to rate them on a score out of 1 out of 10 for what they're doing for the community, how would you rate the council?"
Koliana Winchester:     I'd probably rate it about 8 out of 10.
Bob Aldons:   So doing a good job, but could do a little bit better.
Koliana Winchester:  More. Can do more. Just from experience when I'm out and about, Bob, I hear a lot of good feedback from community, people I just meet up at the supermarkets or the Op Shops or wherever, and they say, "Keep up the good work," and they're very happy with what the council do. Very rarely I receive someone that's not happy, but that's very important to me because even if it's only one or two that are not happy with council, they are the two that I have to concentrate on working with them to see exactly what's upset them or what's the issue, and then I take that on board and try to get a better solution or a better outcome.
Bob Aldons:     No, that's good.
Koliana Winchester:  So, to me reality is there are people already happy with what you do and happy with what council do, but there will always be people who is not going to be happy no matter what, so they are the one that you try to work, that I try to work with very closely.
Bob Aldons:    Very good, very good.

Okay. There's one more question that I need to ask you, Koliana, and I'm unsure how you're going to answer this one, so let's just try and see what happens. Given the cars that you've had and if you had the ability to buy any car, any car that you want, the cheapest or the most expensive, do you have a car in mind that you say, "Yeah, I'd like to go out and drive a Ferrari or own a Ferrari or own a Lamborghini or a Range Rover or whatever." Do you have that thought in your mind as to, "One day I might drive this."

Koliana Winchester: This is a far cry from how I grew up in Tonga, isn't it-?
Bob Aldons: Exactly right.
Koliana Winchester:   - from being walking and then ... Look, as I said earlier, I'm not a car person, but I often see a lot of beautiful cars being driven on the road and what have you, and I always look at them and I think, "Oh my God, if only I could get hold of that car and drive."
Bob Aldons:   There you go.
Koliana Winchester: But as I walk in to your ... this is probably there second or third time I've been here, and you've got this beautiful car sitting in here.
Bob Aldons: Now, thanks. That's an Alpha Romeo Spider which is an Italian convertible and this car is 10 years old, but it's only done 50-odd thousand kilometres, so this has caught your attention.
Koliana Winchester: It's caught my attention and you probably recall when first time I came here to pick up my car, I saw this car and I'm thinking, "What's that car doing sitting in there? You should be out there driving." And I looked at it and I thought, "I've seen so many cars, Bob, out there, red Ferrari," whatever you call it, all different expensive cars, but I look at this, I thought, "That's really look very, very ..." I can't say this word, but I think it's really look very romantic.
Bob Aldons: Right. Okay. Folks, I think I know the word, but let's just leave romantic as the description.
Koliana Winchester:    No,  car, romantic car to drive-
Bob Aldons:  It's a sexy car.
Koliana Winchester:   - because obviously, it's easy if they can put it down the roof and they can put it up and it's just beautiful to drive.
Bob Aldons:    It's a pretty car.
Koliana Winchester:   So, it's 10 years old now. When was the last time you took it out for a drive?
Bob Aldons:   About three months ago.
Koliana Winchester: Now we're turning the thing around; I'm interviewing you. Sorry, sorry, I had to ask that one.
Bob Aldons:    Hang on a second, hang on a second. It's one of those things, Koliana, that I bought it about four years ago and I bought it to keep. My grandchildren, they live in Switzerland. My grandson ... I only have one grandson ... he'll get the car stuff when I'm no longer here, so-
Koliana Winchester:   Lucky grandson.
Bob Aldons: - maybe it'll be in a shed somewhere and he can use it as a barn find or something like that.
Koliana Winchester:  Why not, Bob? Well, can I just quickly mention about Eleanor, you know my youngest daughter. She had two cars off you, hey? She's enjoying that car.
Bob Aldons:  Excellent.
Koliana Winchester:  And she talked to me into trying to get the car, like the same, and I said, "Well, I'll go with that one because it's a bit bigger," but who knows in the future? But she really enjoys ... she really like the car.
Bob Aldons:    That's great.
Koliana Winchester:    Thank you, Bob.
Bob Aldons: Thank you. Koliana, it's been an absolute pleasure having you here. Thank you so much for coming into our office today. Ladies and gentlemen, Councillor Koliana Winchester. What's in your Garage? Thanks very much for coming in.
Koliana Winchester: No worries, Bob. Thank you.

 

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