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High-Flying Councillor Spreads His Wings

By Dan Hutton on February 10, 2015 in News

Photo: Dan Hutton

Photo: Dan Hutton

Randwick Councillor Brendan Roberts is not your average politician, a fact I found out firsthand when he took me up in an open cockpit bi-plane and turned both the aircraft and my stomach upside down. Not afraid of stepping outside of his comfort zone, the former Royal Australian Air Force pilot has decided to run as the Liberal candidate for the seat of Maroubra in the upcoming state election.

Originally from Sydney, Roberts spent much of his youth moving from town to town as a result of his father’s military postings.

“I was born in Penrith. Dad was in the Air Force so we moved a lot before finishing up in Ipswich Queensland when I was 10,” he said.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Roberts spent 16 years in the Air Force before leaving in 2007 to pursue other interests.

“I flew the PC-9, Caribou, Macchi, FA-18 and New Zealand’s CT-4. I mainly flew as a Caribou tactical transport pilot and also as a flying instructor on the PC-9,” he said.

“I left the Air Force in 2007 and experienced the challenges of self-employment by diving into my other passion: video production. This led to one of my current roles doing business video news stories for Fairfax Media.”

On top of this, Roberts still finds time to explore the skies, taking people for aerobatics and scenic flights over Sydney Harbour for Red Baron Adventures.

“I work as their Pitts Special pilot. The Pitts Special is a red, open cockpit, fully aerobatic bi-plane (pictured above). I love sharing the thrill of aviation with the general public,” he said.

When not entrenched in the editing suite or inverted in the cockpit, Roberts is indulging a passion that has interested him since he was a child: politics.

“I remember first becoming interested in politics as a young boy on a family drive to my grandparents’ farm during the school holidays,” he said.

“We were complaining about how long the trip was taking and Mum told us to be thankful for the sealed roads. She said that if it weren’t for my grandpa, the roads would still be dirt.

“She told us that when she was a young girl her district had no sealed roads whatsoever. Everyone complained but nothing was ever done, so my grandfather decided to sort it out himself and successfully stood for his local shire council, even though he was quite an introverted man.

“Before long bitumen and bridges were extended to his much-relieved and long-suffering constituents.

“That struck a chord in me that has never left – ordinary people can make a difference for the better if they stand up and have their voices heard. Pa was a bit of a hero to me after I heard that story. I have his original councillor desk name plate sitting on my own desk now: CR. G.S. BOND.”

Having signed on as a Randwick Councillor in 2012 to “make our city the best city it can be to affordably live, work, play, retire and raise kids in”, Roberts recently made the decision to enter state politics.

“I’m in a position to offer myself to my community as their representative knowing that if voted in I have the life experience, energy and tenacity to make sure our area gets the hard working and grateful representation that it deserves,” he said.

“If people believe in a fair go, personal responsibility, reward for effort, simultaneously protecting the environment and jobs, equality of opportunity and governments not overly interfering in people’s enterprises, then they should vote for me.

“I absolutely love our area. It’s God’s own country. I’m raising my family here (Roberts is the father of a five year-old and 12 month-old identical twins) and I simply want to see the best for its future, and I look forward growing old here. The Air Force exposed me to so many different places, but there’s no place I’d rather be than in our area.”