Saturday 5 January 2008

Move the hospital, change the attitude

I, like many Cairns' residents, get very nervous every time I hear the old debate about moving the Cairns Base Hospital.

I get more nervous when the Mayor comes out like a drag queen at Madri Gras and freaks out Rev Fred Nile with his demands for it's removal.

Evidently Mayor Byrne is "livid" that there are still no plans to move the hospital. Now that would be a sight.

Byrne tells the Cairns Post it is clear "the government was intending just to put another Band-Aid on the longstanding problems rather than spend some real money fixing them."

“What we’ve done for 10 years is put Band-Aids on it to keep everyone happy but we’ve created a monster,” Byrne says.

Everytime a development-mad talks about clearing waterfront land, I get bloody suspicious.

He and his Council have been fixated on clearing the land that for more than 100 years, is home to the Cairns Yacht Club. He says it's not up to him, that it's a State Government issue. But they have given no positive support to retaining this.

Even Byrne's plans to build the long overdue performing arts centre, to replace the poor Civic Theatre, is woeful. I wrote back in November about this and questioned why many other options weren't being considered. There is much unused land that lies dormant where the old Trinity Wharf is located. This is a perfect location for a waterfront centre that the people of Cairns will have access to. To share, and enjoy.

Byrne's plan is to put a new theatre on the land across the road from the Cairns Convention Centre and alongside the State Government building in Sheridan Street. What he has been less upfront with though is that it will be dwarfed by three or four huge apartment towers on the same site, covering two sides of the proposed theatre.

Now that will be just great. Build a new theatre that is for night-time entertainment, and block it in with apartments for people that don't want to be disturbed at night!

Byrne's theatre plan also has an inadequate carpark facility, of which we've became well adverse to.

I know that waterfront land is a valuable bit of real estate. But it doesn't have to belong to the rich and big fat greedy developers for slapping up high-rises to block the sea and the magnificent False Cape, as Harbour Lights have done next door to the Hilton and the Cairns Yacht Club.

Byrne goes on to say “We can’t expand on the current hospital site so if nothing is done our health services will diminish. Trying to reclaim more land around the hospital would also just be “throwing good money after bad”.

Whilst I agree in a cyclone-rated region this wasn't the most sensible place to build a hospital.
JCU's Professor Nott has been harping on for years to a close-minded Cairns City Council about the ongoing onslaught of coastal development in our region.

Mayor Byrne infamously calls Professor Nott an extremist and neanderthal. Good one Kevin. I laughed as loud as when you dressed up as Yassh Afafat with a tea towel around you head. You should join the Chaser team.

However the Mayor acts in very poor form when he doesn't declare the full interest in such sites and the long term intentions for such prime land. His history would tell us that he's already had discussions with the likes of GlenCorp, CEC, Hedley, or all three for possible uses of the land that occupies the Base Hospital. You could almost bet your bottom dollar on that one.

Byrne says that smart communities build hospitals next to a tertiary institution so they enjoy synergies. What a load of trollop! This has never been the basis for the location of a hospital as far as I can ascertain. Sure there'd be some mutual services and avenues to leverage off. But as to sharing synergies, get my that bucket!

Like what? Synergy to piss off the hospital to some far off place like Edmonton, or Smithfield, the only two spaces that could accommodate a new enlarged and comprehensive health facility, and then play Who Wants the Esplanade?

The relocation of the hospital would be sensible. What worries me more is that I do not trust Byrne and his greedy development buddies for a minute with that land that would be left behind.


Anonymous said...

Yes ... I need a bucket also.
Your contiual crap re anti Byrne.

"What a load of trollop! This has never been the basis for the location of a hospital as far as I can ascertain. Sure there'd be some mutual services and avenues to leverage off. But as to sharing synergies, get my that bucket!"

Smart thinking from Kev I'd say, Mr Michael Moan, smart thinkin'.
Share equipment and lecturer costs.
Byrne is right ... and you know it, don't you,
Michael winge Moore !!!

Try fishing, golf, whatever ...

Anonymous said...

You are right Factman. Council has no control over how Crown Land is disposed of. But, it does have control over what is built on it, and how it is built.

Anonymous said...

Hello again! it's Factman,
Council's secret weapon, Pac Man,
Did his comments cause some grief?
Was he called in to de-brief?
Well, I guess we'll never know,
An FOI, it's too darn slow,
Never mind, he sure is back,
True to form and on attack,
You know there's something strangely wrong,
To kind of miss him when he's gone,
When he jumps into debates,
He at least communicates,
A dying Council in a flurry,
Needs someone to stir their curry

Anonymous said...

I agree with Paul. For example, the State sold off Buchan's Point some 20 years ago to Mr Ratcliffe. At that time anything could have been built there assuming stability and engineering were ok. However, the Cairns Plan put Buchan Point as Res 1 land. The day before the Cairns Plan came into effect, Mr Ratcliffe put his Development Approval before Council. Bearing in mind that Mr Ratcliffe had 18 years previously to do something with it and he chose not to. It duly went through council and Mr Ratcliffe was able to give an impassioned speech to council. In spite of submissions council approved it citing they had no option blah, state sold it off blah, we will be sued blah. However, the council could have invoked the Coty Principle
"Coty establishes no more than that, when determining whether to approve or refuse a planning application, it is permissible, in appropriate cases, to take account of any provisions affecting the site which are included in a general
planning scheme which is in the course of preparation; the weight to be accorded to either consistency or inconsistency between the draft planning scheme and the Environment & Planning – articles 2 SS/1583637_1.DOC
application will depend on the circumstances, including the stage to which the draft planning scheme has progressed, and usually will be only one of the factors to be
considered, although in a particular case it might be decisive"
Some residents and locals took a stand and approached the labour member to assist in having the deveopment "called in". The saga is still continuing.

Anonymous said...

We are correct in questoning Byrne's motives in moving the hospital. After all, the likes of him, never go into a Public Hospital when there is a exclusive, privately funded one just down the road.

Anonymous said...

What would be interesting to see is how many new developments are before council now for approval. Witht the very real threat of the current council being voted out in March, what are the developers rushing in to council to be approved, and what back door deals are being done to get them approved before march. Knowing how this council works, we may have to deal with dodgey council approvals for many years to come, with no way of stopping them from happening.

Anonymous said...

There is simply no question about it.
The Cairns Base Hospital must be moved to a larger and more appropriate site (away from the flight path and the waterfront) if it is to service the projected 185,000 residents of the Cairns Local Government Area and provide services to the FNQ region with a projected population of 285,000 by 2026. For the City of Cairns alone, that is an extra 55,000 people. Assuming it takes 3 years to re-build the hospital, we have less than 15 years to have a fully operational, fully funded, state of the art health facility that can cope with an aging population, increasing consumer expectations about service and technology provision, a burgeoning chronic disease cohort in our population with diabetes, heart disease, smoking related diseases such as emphysema and cancer, tropical diseases that other areas do not have to deal with such as dengue fever and leptospirosis, chronic staff shortages and a need for good quality health care service whereby people are not dying or injured as a result of neglect or negligence or system failures.

No doubt the state govt does not want to spend the money to re-site the hospital (hence the draft plan without a re-site mentioned), but if they do not start this process now, our hospital simply will not cope with the demand for service and we are already seeing some of those problems and issues emerging now (Emergency Dept cannot cope on a daily basis and has to be enlarged physically, the Oncology unit needs more staff and resources, the Maternity Unit has had record number of babies delivered in the past few years, Renal Services stretched). Townsville had to build a new hospital to fix their problems and so should we.

Anonymous said...

Comments yesterday on the news by Angela Beckett (Cairns District Manager), that the long awaited Consultant's Report ('Preliminary draft of the Health Services Plan' was full of errors, omissions and things that were incorrect and needed fixing.)

Just how much tax payer's money has been spent on this non factual document? I heard a rumour it was around $270,000. I also question the need for external consultants to be paid our tax dollars when there has been an exponential increase or more like explosion of health bureaucrats since Dr Death scandal in Queensland, all being paid big bickies.

Anonymous said...

Years ago the showground was proposed for the new Cairns hospital, but architects etc etc told the Qld Health they could refurbish the Cairns base for $75 million. and a new hospital at that time in the mid 1990's would cost $150million ( Had this from the horse's mouth). The refurbishment of the Cairns Base has already cost over 150Million and with the proposed extensions to the ED etc etc will soon reach $200 million. The show ground, currently grossly over staffed by very much underworked quango employees, is in use for about 3 weeks a year. for the other 49 weeks these over paid drones at the showground have nothing to do. Hedley suggested that the showground be moved to his Woree racecourse, thus freeing the showground site. Hedley must have considered the value of the current hospital land site as a unit developement. So a deal could be that Hedley gets the contract to build the new hospital at the showground site, gets the current base hospital land at a good price and has the showground + quango staff relocated to Woree. Win win win for Hedley and probably for Cairns as well.