Meet the candidate

John Brisbin

Falling in love

A place to settle in

Making ourselves a home in Molloy

My partner Caroline and I often reflect that finding ourselves at home in Mount Molloy has been one of the most satisfying and fortunate aspects of our lives.

After decades of travel and moving, we decided to settle down and dedicate ourselves to being part of a community. To raise our children in a specific place, a place with its own specific rhythms and flows.

It took us nearly three years of driving all over north Queensland until we realised the attraction of Mount Molloy was irresistible. 

Since settling here in 2012 we have been welcomed into many of the social circles of the community and been given opportunities to contribute our time and skills, as best we can, to the ongoing story of this place.

Shifting gears and finding a new future

A step toward public life

Learning to be a Chairperson

In 2015 I stood for election to serve as Chair of Northern Gulf Resource Management Group. The election would determine the organisation’s fate, and it was a test of my character. 

My campaign was based on reform and a commitment to integrity and community. Many people in the region had never met me. I don’t have family up here, and our kids are home educated. This was my first experience in a contested public election.

The members of Northern Gulf had a choice: would they opt for my opponent, a local candidate they knew well, or would they decide on a newcomer with a positive attitude and an unwavering work ethic?

The result…

When the vote swung my way, by a whisker, it set the stage for the next four years.

As Chair of a multi-million dollar non-profit organisation, I quickly learned a lot about good governance skills, corporate structures, and the delicate art of negotiating with very passionate people.

I drove thousands of kilometres crisscrossing the Gulf savanna country, visiting with graziers, local government Councillors and staff, researchers, business people and Indigenous leaders. I was in constant flight to Brisbane and beyond to lobby our case with State and Federal politicians and bureaucrats.

And I fell even more deeply in love with this magnificent region and its diverse people. The question arose: how can I contribute toward improving the health of our landscapes and the prosperity of our communities?

When my second term as Chair finished in 2019, some long-term Mareeba Shire people suggested I think about Council. 

On reflection I believe that Council is the right place for me. It’s a role that appeals to my sense of community and shared purpose. It’s a role I think I can do well. 

I reckon we all share a desire for our region to go forward. I am ready to serve on behalf of all the people in the Shire, across their many beliefs and values. That’s a place I am comfortable with. And that’s where we are today.

Learning to let go

Leadership of an organisation is a privilege, but it is not a permanent gig. Groups needs freshening and renewal over time, especially at the top.

I dearly enjoyed the role of Chair for Northern Gulf, and I also have celebrated my own exit. That has been a good experience to go through.

The new leader, long-term mover and shaker Riki Gunn, is a marvellous person for the role, and the organisation will go forward strongly under her leadership.

(Tablelander, November 2019)

Together, you and I will make our region stronger. Let's get to work.

Roads – Rates – Rubbish.

(and so much more!)

John, Varsha Rose (top), Laxmi Joy (bottom), and Caroline

We are a decade of “first generation” in this region: 2 years in Townsville, a year in Cairns, and now 7 years in Molloy.

Caroline hails from Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Northern Territory, Northern NSW (and India).

I am from the USA, Japan, Sydney, Wollongong, Northern Territory, Northern NSW (and India).

Varsha was born in Alice Springs, and Laxmi was born in Bali.


MSc Complex Systems & Organisational Development (University of Western Sydney, 2003)

BS, Marine Engineering and Nautical Science, United States Merchant Marine Academy (New York, 1982)


United States Naval Reserve (1978-1988, Hon Discharge, Lieutenant)

Current reading list

Mick Borzi: A Very Public Life (Alan Hudson)

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (Jonathan Haidt)

Farming for the Long Haul: Resilience and the Lost Art of Agricultural Inventiveness (Michael Foley)

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants (Robin Wall Kimmerer)

The 3rd Alternative: Solving Life’s Most Difficult Problems (Stephen Covey)

The Memory of Old Jack (Wendell Berry)

Service to community

Roles & responsibilities

Virtually all of my professional life has been in highly independent roles or else running my own small businesses.

I came to Australia in 1995 just at the time the Web was becoming a thing. My technical skills qualified me for a business specialist visa and I became a proud Australian Citizen a short time later.

Following is a list of my recent community, volunteer, and non-profit roles.

Julatten & Molloy Association of Residents and Ratepayers | Secretary
7 years | current
Mitchell River Watershed Management Group | Secretary
6 years | current
Australian Community Garden Network | Treasurer
10 years | current
FNQ Gingers & Turmerics Coop | Inaugural Director (just formed group)
Queensland Water and Land Carers | Director
Noeline Ikin Foundation | Inaugural Director (Admin Committee)
Northern Gulf Resource Management Group | Chair
NRM Regions Queensland | Director
Ravenshoe Bendigo Community Bank| Director (Marketing Committee)
Centre for Australasian Theatre | Chair