Tony Foster AM OAM, Mayor and Councillor
Brighton Municipality, 1985-1988 and 1990-2021
BRIGHTON Municipality’s long-time Mayor and councillor, Tony Foster has retired from Council after 34 years’ service to the Municipality, with 28 years continuous service as Mayor.
During that time and under Mayor Foster’s leadership, Brighton Municipality has experienced exponential growth, improved, and expanded services to ratepayers and the community, key innovations introduced, and the Council managed in a highly efficient and cost-effective manner.
At the same time, Cr Foster has made an outstanding contribution to local government affairs and has been a strong advocate for the sector to the State and Commonwealth Governments.
Cr Foster’s key achievements include:
Bridgewater Bridge: lobbied hard for a new Bridgewater Bridge replacing the ageing infrastructure of the current bridge. The bridge is a critical interconnector transport and freight link between northern and southern Tasmania. The Australian and Tasmanian Governments have committed $576 million for a new Bridgewater Bridge, the largest ever investment in a single transport infrastructure project in Tasmania’s history.
Brighton High School: successfully lobbied for enhanced educational opportunities to assist the community’s growth and development gaining a commitment from the State Government to build a new high school at Brighton and commit funds for a major upgrade to the Brighton School Farm.
As a result of this achievement, students at the Brighton Primary School, now one of the largest primary schools in the State, will have a pathway through to grade 12 without having to leave the area. Importantly, the new high school will act as a regional education hub for students from neighbouring municipalities.
Brighton Bypass: successfully lobbied the Commonwealth and Tasmanian Governments to complete the $164 million Midland Highway bypass which was opened in 2012 following more than 20 years of planning.
The Municipality has a new and welcoming streetscape for small business operators, locals, and visitors to Brighton. This was successfully lobbied by Cr Foster and the result is a revitalised township, with further substantial growth in the coming years.
Brighton’s Fair Rating Regime: a prime mover in ensuring Brighton Council maintained strong financial control, based on responsible budget policy and its fair rating regime.
This allowed Council to provide the full range of local government services and amenities, always cognisant of the community’s capacity to pay. Brighton’s rate increases remained in line with CPI for 24 consecutive years.
Brighton Transport Hub: oversaw the establishment of the Brighton Transport Hub which plays a vital role in the economy of Tasmania. The Transport Hub, completed in 2014 continues to expand and provide local job opportunities as well as economic benefits for the Municipality.
Brighton Medical Centre: secured a matching Federal grant to enable the building of a new medical centre at Brighton and encouraged locum doctors and a dental service to meet the community’s needs following closure of the previous medical clinic in Brighton.
BIHC – Brighton Industrial and Housing Corporation (BIHC): following Council establishing the Brighton Industrial and Housing Corporation as a wholly-owned propriety limited company to manage and sell surplus land for low-cost and affordable housing Cr Foster was installed as chairman.
BIHC built and sold 33 new homes on previously under-used land in Bridgewater and Herdsmans Cove. Profits were invested in the municipality on a commercial basis, providing a lasting return for ratepayers.
Councilwise / Microwise Australia: A leader in local government software technology, in 2017, Brighton Council established a new wholly-owned company, CouncilWise Pty Ltd, to market a full suite of local government software products which supported Council’s successful Microwise business then chaired by Cr Foster. The software products, developed by Brighton Council and its strategic partners are being used by local government authorities throughout Australia and the South Pacific.
Microsoft partnered CouncilWise enabling the new company to sell Microsoft products. As well, Council secured a generous grant from Microsoft enabling it to move all Council software to its Azure cloud. Brighton Council also went serverless providing significant savings through lower cost on-site computers as the work is done in the Cloud.
TasWater: Cr Foster was a strong advocate of merging the four businesses to create TasWater. He served as the inaugural Chief Owners’ Representative on the establishment of TasWater and continues to assist the organisation on its Board Selection Committee.
Cr Foster also fought to protect TasWater from takeover so that local government would maintain ownership of this important asset for ratepayers.
Investment buildings: encouraged MicroWise Australia Pty Ltd to buy the building in Bridgewater leased by the Hobart Gymnastic Academy. The sale of the building to other interests would have resulted in hundreds of young people without a venue to engage in healthy activity and sport.
Brighton Council also bought three properties in Old Beach from the Catholic Church. One was converted into club rooms for the Old Beach Cricket Club and the remaining two leased to Uniting Care (with the organisation moving from Bellerive) to provide essential community services for residents in Gagebrook.
Brighton Cricket Club: pressed Cricket Tasmania to grant entry for a Brighton cricket team in its Premier League competition. He believed this to be a valuable sporting outlet for young males and females in the municipality and would provide a pathway for talented players to seek higher honours. The negotiations with the State’s cricket body continued for six years.
Council also worked closely with the Brighton Eagles Cricket Club on a formal submission and with Mayor Foster’s endorsement, the club was granted admission to the League.
Brighton Bowls and Community Club: encouraged the Brighton Bowls Club to expand to become a true community club catering for everyone, not just the local bowlers
A $400,000 Commonwealth grant (matched by Council funding) was used to refurbish and expand the former clubrooms to meet the growing community need. The club is now called the Brighton Bowls and Community Club. The new clubrooms were opened in 2018, giving Brighton a modern community facility that can be enjoyed by all residents and visitors to the municipality.
Today’s Municipality is significantly different from a decade ago. It’s a municipality that sees its community as its greatest value and with a council that views its primary responsibility to create an enviable lifestyle and expanding opportunities for its people.
Under Mayor Tony Foster’s leadership, Brighton is undoubtedly achieving much. With the strategies and policies, he has helped develop and put in place, the municipality will continue to grow and further enhance opportunities for ratepayers and residents.
Thank you for your long and dedicated service Tony Foster.