James (Jim) Gerard Soorley (born 8 April 1951) is a former Australian politician. He served as Australian Labor Party Lord Mayor of Brisbane from 1991 to 2003. Soorley is a former Roman Catholic Priest and continues to be a strong human rights advocate. Soorley has a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in psychology, from Macquarie University, and a Master of Arts in organisational psychology from Loyola University Chicago.
The 1991 election was a close election with Soorley just edging out the then Lord Mayor of Brisbane Sally Anne Atkinson through the preferences of Drew Hutton, the Australian Greens candidate. Soorley was not expected to wrest the Lord Mayoralty from the very popular first female (and first Liberal Party of Australia) mayor of Brisbane. The transition period between Atkinson's administration and the incoming Soorley administration was difficult, with the outgoing Atkinson refusing to believe she had lost the election for many weeks afterwards.
Soorley was a virtual "unknown" at that first election, but was one of the few Australian politicians to increase his popular vote in each of the next three elections, standing as Lord Mayor for 13 years.
Some of the changes in Brisbane Soorley has been credited with include allowing widespread footpath dining, introduction of the CityCat ferries, advancing the Busway system, building the Inner City Bypass, starting Riverfestival including the popular Riverfire fireworks and the River Feast, bringing all sewage treatment up to at least secondary treatment standards (with removal of nitrogen and phosphorus to additional standards), a city wide recycling program, gas CNG powered buses, starting air conditioning on buses, accelerating the purchase of "at risk" bushland, Implementing a system of long term re-habilitation for old municipal solid waste tips and a long term plan to link riverfront land and open it up to the people of Brisbane through a series of pathways called Riverwalk.
Soorley also instituted a number of institutional changes including a 24/7 Call Centre; "business style" accounting for budgets and annual reporting, enterprise bargaining, significant changes to leave and other entitlements, increased employment opportunities through increased apprenticeships, traineeships and community jobs programs, including a nationally awarded program for "at risk youth" who were recovering from drug addiction, as well as a shift from Brisbane Council being only concerned with "rates, roads, rubbish" to taking on issues such as drug use, homelessness, domestic violence and social justice.
Before leaving office Soorley started the major infrastructure projects, such as the Eleanor Schonell Bridge (previously known as the Green Bridge) from Dutton Park to St Lucia and North-South Bypass Tunnel.
|Lord Mayor of Brisbane
- "Former Brisbane Lord Mayor Jim Soorley". 20 October 2006.
- "Brisbane Mayor, Jim Soorley, to quit". The World Today. 16 May 2003.
- "Meet Brisbane Lord Mayor Jim Soorley on his mission to make Brisbane the most livable City in Australia.".
- Ward O'Neill. "Jim Soorley, Lord Mayor of Brisbane, who defeated Sallyanne Atkinson in 1997 by promising to cut his salary by $60,000 dollars".
- Graham Staerk (2 Jan 2010). "Jim Soorley stopped urban sprawl".