TOP 5: Ipswich's most important people as voted by you

Last year we brought you our inaugural series of Ipswich's 50 Most Influential people.

We gathered a panel of four well-known and well-connected local people engaged with a range of industries, from education to events.

From a list of almost 100 of the city's most influential, they individually gave scores that resulted in that list being whittled down to our top 50.

You can read more about that here.

We then asked you - our readers - to vote on the top 50 and narrow that number down to a top 25.

Here are the people who made the Top 5.

FOURTH PLACE TIE - The Sinnathamby Family and Federal Labor politician Shayne Neumann finished in a dead-heat for fourth place. The Sinnathamby's originally finished in second place in the Top 50. Neumann finished 48th, climbing 44 places in the readers' poll. 

4 (2) The Sinnathamby Family

YOU know you have influence when a Prime Minister attends an event celebrating your project.

And that's just the case for developer Maha Sinnathamby who earlier this year had then PM Malcolm Turnbull launch a book about the 25-year history of Greater Springfield.

The master planned 'city' began 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.

These days, politicians seek opportunities to bask in the success which has also helped transform the image and economic fortunes of the wider Ipswich area.

Daughter Raynuha, 47, 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 Sinnathamby family.
The Sinnathamby family. Rob Williams

 

Shayne Neumann 4 (48)

Shayne is an Ipswich-born Labor politician representing the electorate of Blair.

First elected in 2007 during the Kevin Rudd-led Labor resurgence, Shayne has again been elected in 2010 (scraped through with a minor swing against), 2013 (picking up a small swing for) and again in 2016 where he technically made Blair a safe seat with 58.88% per cent of the vote.

Following the 2016 election, Shayne was appointed to Bill Shorten's Shadow Cabinet as the Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.

During his time in Parliament Shayne has served on a number of House of Representatives and Joint Standing Committees. He was Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Committee from October 2010 to May 2013.

Shayne Neumann is an Ipswich-born Labor politician representing the electorate of Blair.
Shayne Neumann is an Ipswich-born Labor politician representing the electorate of Blair. Inga Williams

 

THIRD PLACE (26) - Gerard Pender finished 26th in the Top 50 poll. This result sees him jump 24 places.

Gerard Pender is a senior director of one of the largest legal practices in the Ipswich and Springfield area. Gerard has practised as a solicitor in the Ipswich area for almost 40 years firstly as a partner with his father in Pender & Pender and then as a partner and director of Walker Pender Group Pty Ltd.

He has held positions on the management committee of the Ipswich Hospice Care, chairman of the St Edmund's Foundation, treasurer of the Ipswich District Law Association, a past president of the Rotary Club of Ipswich North and Paul Harris Fellow.

Gerard is a patron of Habitat for Humanity and Ipswich Rugby Union Club and has contributed to countless other commitees and boards.

Gerard Pender is a senior director of one of the largest legal practices in the Ipswich and Springfield area.
Gerard Pender is a senior director of one of the largest legal practices in the Ipswich and Springfield area. David Nielsen

 

SECOND PLACE (5) - Ipswich City Council boss Greg Chemello finished in fifth place in our Top 50, but our readers' poll pushes him into second place.

HE IS the new boss of one of the region's largest employers, sent by the state to fix an organisation plagued by poor governance and criminal allegations.

Greg Chemello is the administrator of Ipswich City Council.

He was appointed by Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe as the man to get in and change the council's ways.

Greg has about 35 years' professional and management experience; the last two decades in leadership roles within public and private sector organisations.

He has absorbed the role and influence of 11 councillors.

Earlier this year he was the key player in changing the council's CEO and still has the power of the grass-roots organisation in his hands.

The humble and straight-shooting administrator will lead the council until fresh elections are held in 2020.

He has set an ambitious agenda for the next year.

Greg and his five-person advisory team have introduced Vision 2020; a blueprint to overhaul the council's policies, procedures and culture before the next elections.

A revival of Ipswich's dilapidated CBD is at the top of the administrator's agenda.

He has the influence to reconsider the ambitious mall project, award tenders and set the direction for a precinct that will serve Ipswich for decades to come.

Greg Chemello.
Greg Chemello. Cordell Richardson

 

FIRST PLACE (4) The Edwards Family - Tom Edwards, Sam O'Connor, and Sir Llew Edwards - finished in fourth place in the Top 50 but were voted number 1 in our top 25 poll. 

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.

At the time RT Edwards owned 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 went into state politics and was the minister responsible for Expo 88.

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 - the Edwards Family.
Tom Edwards, Sam O'Connor, and Sir Llew Edwards - the Edwards Family.