REVEALED: 10-1 Ipswich’s Most Influential People

More from the count down:


10. Shannon Newley

AS the editor of Ipswich's only daily news service, Shannon is responsible for setting the news agenda for the Ipswich community, in print and online.

Shannon and her team are also responsible for promoting local initiatives and causes and holding our elected officials accountable, while connecting all aspects of our local community.

After working at a range of regional newspapers in reporting, chief of staff, deputy editor and editor positions, Shannon started at the QT in February 2017. She has a passion for regional journalism and believes that local newspapers should champion their communities.

Editor of the Queensland Times, Shannon Newley.
Editor of the Queensland Times, Shannon Newley.

9. Claire Thurwood

Claire is the Chief Executive Officer at St Andrews Hospital.

It has been just over a year since St Andrew's landmark $64 million development was finished and there are no plans to slow down under a new chief executive officer.

Claire Thurwood replaced Jude Emmer after her two years in the role.

The 33-year-old arrived in Ipswich determined to make her mark in the biggest challenge of her career after serving as CEO of two hospitals on the Gold Coast and stints in facilities in Sydney and Melbourne.

Ms Thurwood aims to reduce the number of locals travelling to Brisbane, and lure in those coming from further west who usually bypass the city, for private health care.

"I'm passionate about improving health services in regional areas," she once told the QT.

St Andrew's Hospital CEO Claire Thurwood.
St Andrew's Hospital CEO Claire Thurwood.

8. Jim Madden

Born and raised in Ipswich, Jim Madden is a fifth generation Ipswich resident. A former Eddie's boy (St Edmunds) he studied law at QUT and was a councillor for Somerset Regional Council before making the switch to state politics.

He was elected to the seat of Ipswich West in the 2015 state election, replacing Sean Choat.

In 2016 he supported the lock out laws and also supported the criminal law amendment bill which removed "unwanted sexual advances" as a partial defence for murder describing it as a "gay panic defence".

Jim has been a long-time supporter of updates to our roads, especially at the Mt Crosby interchange.

He is involved with a number of local sporting clubs, community action groups and Chambers of Commerce and is currently a board member of Healthy Waterways.

Jim also fought for better regional health services, successfully bringing the Breastscreen Van to more regional locations in Ipswich West.

A former agronomist, Jim currently serves as a Member of the State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industry Development Committee.

Jim Madden MP at the proposed site of the Rosewood Fire and Rescue Station.
Jim Madden MP at the proposed site of the Rosewood Fire and Rescue Station.

7. Air Commodore Veronica Tyler

After a three-year absence from RAAF Base Amberley, Air Commodore Veronica Tyler returned with an impact when she was posted to Ipswich, continuing a 30 year career in the Air Force.

Earlier this year Air Cdre Tyler was appointed the first female Senior Australian Defence Force Officer of Amberley and became the Commander of the Australia-wide Combat Support Group.

As the most senior ADF officer, she has oversight of the entire base and on a day-to-day basis is responsible for the governance and general wellbeing of the largest air force facility in the country.

Air Cdre hopes her lofty position would inspire other women to follow in her footsteps.

"If I can inspire only one young woman that 'I can do that' then I see it as brilliant," she told the QT in March.

Fifteen years ago female participation in the ADF was around 12 per cent, today it is over 20 per cent.

RAAF Amberleys Senior Australian Defence Force Officer, Air Commodore Veronica Tyler.
RAAF Amberleys Senior Australian Defence Force Officer, Air Commodore Veronica Tyler.

6. The Edwards Family

Tom Edwards took over the RT Edwards stores from his father Roy who started the company in 1931.

RT Edwards was the biggest member of the Retravision electrical buying group for many years, before Tom sold the company to the Radio Rentals group in South Australia, headed by the Walker Brothers in 2008. Last year the group closed all its retail outlets, bringing an end to the RT Edwards retail history.

At its peak, there were 11 Retravision branded electrical stores as well as three furniture stores in southeast Queensland at Alderley, Beaudesert, Booval, Browns Plains, Garden City Shopping Centre, Gatton, Greenslopes, Ipswich, Logan Mega Centre and Macgregor.

Tom's brother Sir Llew Edwards, went into state politics and was the minister responsible for Expo 88 under the leadership of then premier Joh Bjelke-Peterson.

Son Gary heads up Edwards Property, while Tom's grandson Sam O'Connor is a state government politician based on the Gold Coast in the seat of Bonney.

Tom Edwards, Sam O'Connor, and Sir Llew Edwards
Tom Edwards, Sam O'Connor, and Sir Llew Edwards

5. The Sinnathamby Family

The master planned 'city' of Springfield began over a quarter century ago as a vast expanse of unwanted scrub land and a dream by the son of a poor Malaysian rubber grower to create a bustling mini-metropolis of liveability.

The success in bringing that vision to reality - it's now home to 36,000 people and will add another 100,000 by 2030 - is due in large part to the persuasive powers and indefatigable determination of Mr Sinnathamby in attracting $16 billion of private sector investment and government support including building a rail line and two stations.

Mr Sinnathamby and his business partner Bob Sharpless were relentless in pursuing reluctant politicians in the early years before eventually securing an act of Parliament to provide certainty in planning the city.

He has been happy to employ high-profile lobbyists over the years, including former Labor heavyweights Terry Mackenroth and Con Sciacca and Liberal Santo Santoro to push the cause.

Daughter Raynuha, has taken an increasing leadership role as managing director of Greater Springfield City Group since 2012. Siblings Uma, Meera and Naren also have positions there.

A former Queensland president of the Property Council, Ms Sinnathamby is highly-regarded not only in the sector but the wider business community and as a female executive and is in strong demand as a speaker. Ms Sinnathamby is a member of the Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity.

The extended Sinnathamby family
The extended Sinnathamby family

4. Dave Cuskelly

A passion for community and frontline policing has been the driving force behind the career growth of Ipswich's District Officer Superintendent Dave Cuskelly.

Supt Cuskelly started his career as a cadet 35 years ago and has climbed the ranks ever since.

He's worked in many police districts across the state and took up the District Officer role in Ipswich earlier this year after holding the same position on the Gold Coast.

Disaster response, population growth and the region's road death tolls are some of the top priorities for the new top cop.

He was previously in charge at Brisbane Police Station, one of the biggest stations in the state at the time, before he was promoted to Commissioner.

He was also in charge at Dutton Park before he started as Superintendent on the Gold Coast.

Policing runs in the family, with his son recently beginning his career in the Queensland Police Service.

Ipswich Police superintendent Dave Cuskelly
Ipswich Police superintendent Dave Cuskelly

3. Jennifer Howard

A 30-year resident of our city, Jennifer was elected the Member for Ipswich in 2015 and has been in the role since.

Jennifer raised her two children in Ipswich and co-ran a local. She has been active around the community as a Justice of the Peace (Qualified) since 2001 and working with school PandCs, sporting club committees and local community and seniors groups.

In 2005, Jennifer played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Ipswich Women's Development Network, a not-for-profit organisation which provides an annual scholarship to a local female student at the former UQ Ipswich campus. Jennifer is also a member of the Zonta Club of Ipswich and was previously a member of the National Executive of the Australian Labor Party.

Jennifer has a passion for the Arts and for in her spare time, yoga.

Ipswich MP Jennifer Howard Picture: Kevin Farmer
Ipswich MP Jennifer Howard Picture: Kevin Farmer

2. David Farmer

The new Chief Executive Officer at Ipswich City Council has over 20 years' experience in council administration.

Before he started work in Ipswich in early 2019, Mr Farmer was general manager at Wollongong City Council, working with administrators, and worked there for almost 12 years.

He also spent time at Cairns City Council and Mudgee Shire Council.

With a new council elected in March this year, and 1200 employees under his leadership, his experience in managing a council will be needed more than ever.

Ipswich City Council CEO David Farmer. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Ipswich City Council CEO David Farmer. Picture: Cordell Richardson

1. Teresa Harding

When she was voted in as mayor in March this year, Ipswich's first female mayor in Ipswich's history was under no illusions as to the job ahead of her.

"I can't tell you what an honour it is to be elected mayor of Ipswich, and I'm very humbled to be in this list, especially when you see the caliber of people on the list," Mrs Harding said.

The first female mayor in Ipswich's 160-year history, Teresa wants to bring to Ipswich a positivity that has been missing over the last couple of years.

"I think the main thing is that people want a competent mayor, they want someone who can do the job. We are going through a period of change, especially in this COVID-19 environment right now. "Ipswich is a proud city with a great history, but we also have an incredible future ahead of us."

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding
Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding

"We are still the fastest growing area of Queensland. I take that responsibility very seriously, and I can't do that on my own. To be given this opportunity is such an honour, and we need to make sure that all decisions that the council makes are out in the open."

Teresa lists her inspirations as people like Neville Bonner, and uses his life, and a mantra in her office every day to motivate her.

"I read a lot of biographies and I read Neville Bonner's book back in the 1980s and I found that inspirational," she said. "It's been an honour for me meeting some of his relatives over the years.

"I'm loving the job, absolutely loving it. I have a sign in my office that only I can see. It has the crest of Ipswich on it and it says 'What have you done today to make things better for the residents of Ipswich?'

"I'm not going to waste any of these days in the next four years to make sure things are better."

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding
Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding