Friday 15 February 2008

Byrne's Takeover of Douglas

Douglas Shire Mayor Mike Berwick reflects on the events of the last few months after the forced merger with cairns City Council and the fate of his region.

  • Letter to Interim CEO
    Cairns Regional Council

    Local Transition Committee
    12th February 2008

    Dear Noel,

    I am unable to attend the Transition Committee Meeting on 14th February 2008 due to a long standing speaking commitment made nearly a year ago, at an international conference in Melbourne.

    I would like this letter tabled at the meeting and recorded in the minutes, reflecting as it does the sad experience of this amalgamation on the community and staff of the Douglas Shire Council.

    The amalgamation of Cairns and Douglas is a takeover, not a co-operative merger.

    While Cairns City staff have barely noticed the difference, the lives and careers of our senior staff have been thrown into turmoil and with it the administrative and physical services to this community.

    I accept the dysfunction of the councillors has not helped, wasted time and money and was the reason for the amalgamation. I believe also the state process has been an appalling one and Cairns has had to live with that too.

    As the top layer of jobs and most of the second layer have gone to Cairns City our administration is dissolving as most of the senior, professional and administrative staff have already left or are planning to go.

    It has left our organisation barely able to function – the acting CEO told councillors this week there was insufficient staff to provide lunch for the council meeting.

    With all that corporate knowledge gone, it will take the new Council years to build an understanding of this community. As well the massive job of merging our systems, whether it be financial, planning, engineering, health or whatever will be increasingly difficult and time consuming if not dysfunctional, with the loss of all these key staff

    They (the staff) have been put in this position because the roles offered to them under the new regime are junior and demeaning to people who have pride in the work and their profession, to whom pay is less important than what they do and where they live. So they find meaningful jobs elsewhere

    The latest senior Douglas position to be lost is our strategic planner, Jim Allen. From a compliment of five qualified planners, just six months ago (including an internationally experienced general manager) we are looking at zero in the near future. It will be left to Cairns City planners to pick up the work who will not and may never have the understanding of this community that resides in our staff. I am fearful where this leaves the Port Douglas Waterfront redesign, a crucial issue for people and business in our community despite the strong momentum over the last twelve months.

    This is a top priority, community driven project that must be handled with kid gloves to maintain faith and trust that our staff took so long to rebuild after the ham fisted intervention of the state that put highrise on the waterfront and condominiums in the mangroves.

    The transition process was meant to be equitable and impartial, hence our suggestion at the outset of an independent chair. With the current Mayor of cairns as the Transition Committee Chair and his CEO as Interim CEO our community and staff see a distinct lack of equity, impartiality and transparency.

    Putting aside the personal interests of staff, their departure helps ensure this once proud, successful, engaged, controversial and innovative community, becomes a mere suburb of Cairns with little influence over its own destiny

    Mike Berwick,

    12th February 2008


Anonymous said...

Berwick, I am unable to attend this meeting because i am off on another taxpayer and ratepayer funded business class trip to stay in another five-star hotel. Gee I have been to Brissie, Canberra & now Melbourne in just a few weeks. Luv the free drinks in first class and the free roon service. Wow I'll be able to say urban footprint over and over again at the international conference, which would of course be cancelled if its most important VIP, Me did not show up. So my five-star hotel is more important than attending the transition meeting, besides I'm too busy to undertake Douglas Mayoral duties cos I hopw have another new job, with even more airtravel ande hotels, yipeeee!!

Anonymous said...

Berwick said "the acting CEO told councillors this week there was insufficient staff to provide lunch for the council meeting."
Is this man serious!?? I've been getting my own lunch for years. Berwick is so conditioned to a free lunch that he sees it a as major crisis when he does not get his served to him. Are not Douglas Councillors able to feed themselves without their staff to serve them!?? Berwick is sooooooo out-of-touch with reality. He is a commuincatively-manipulative man verging on a sociopath.
What are his Overseas and domestic travel expenses compared to that of Kevin Byrne, remember Douglas is a tenth of Cairns Shire, yet Berwick is far more on a plane and in a corporate hotel than Byrne. It seems whenever Berwick is interview he is interstate, either at a said hotel or waiting for another first class flight to go and speaks urban-footprints at some meaningless pigs-in-the-trough event.

Anonymous said...

Free roon service Ian? Small letter 'i' and the use of cos?

Lets see... airtravel ande hotels, yipeeee!!

The above comment is what we refer to in the Douglas Shire as a "Davisism". isn' it Rod?

Thanks Mike for just doing the jon for all these years, you were there because we wanted you there.

Enjoy whatever the world offers you. - Brendan

Anonymous said...

Yep ... world class planner we had, Mike says.
He (the planner), sites a dunny on EPA controlled river bank and the poor folks of your dysfunctional shire pick up the $300,000 penalty fine.
Not to mention the asset management disaster ($500,000) with the Daintree ferry.
Great leadership Mike.
Let's bring on some real leadership.
Kevin Byrne, does not,(and will not), stand for such nonsense.

Anonymous said...

It's disingenuous to comment that somehow Cairns-employed planners can't "adjust" to Port Douglas. That's absurd for two reasons:

• Planners are trained professionals who move to different councils on a regular basis. It is insulting to the profession to somehow believe that they are so unprofessional that they won't adjust to a new area.

• Turnover of professional planners with Cairns Council is truly massive anyway, as there is so much political meddling in the process that no professional wants to stay here very long

We'd all be better off if well trained, professional planners were allowed to do their jobs without political interference from Berwick, Byrne, or anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Its as simple as this.....

Byrne will f%#k up Port Douglas and the Daintree

Val Schier will continue the good work done done so far.

The Douglas Shire, widely recognised for its environmental aspects, Mike Berwick and council deserve the credit. Tough decisions have been made and this has helped the area immensely. Good on Mike for having the guts.

Unfortunately there are many greedy folk out there who believe in $$$ and development at any cost (eg Byrne, Unity, gang of four). Many Cairns residents fear for the area under Byrne.

Anonymous said...

My recollection was that the new Regional Council transmission committee was made up of 2 representatives each from Cairns and Douglas and 3 Trade Union representatives. If the merger has resulted in all these negative outcomes for Douglas staff then what have the Union representatives been doing??

Anonymous said...

Crap-tain Cairns is at it again ...
Lets compare Cairns award winning Esplanade with Port Douglas non-esplanade.
Need I say more?
From my conversations with lotsa Port Douglas folks, they can't wait for some real, non-derisive, functional leadership.
Bring on Kevin Bryne and his cohesive Unity team they say ...
I hope they are not disapointed.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon.. welcome back Factman.. we missed you.. we know it's you when you "Cairns award winning Esplanade" and "Kevin Bryne and his cohesive Unity team" as you've used those exact words before Terry James.. Jason O'Brien was right.. you would come back and post anon!!

You silly wee man of yesterday's politics. Robert will roll right over you at the election!!!

Anonymous said...

Yes factman, welcome back. Bill at Kewarra is right, its you! In addition to Bills observations, you were the only one in the past to refer to me as craptain cairns. Nice word play there mate. I like it.

Love how you mention the esplanade. It was Tom Pyne who gave the go ahead for that.

Oh, and Bill is also right. Rob Pyne will anihilate you on March 15.

Anonymous said...

What cliché could we use to describe what Kevin Byrne and his team of thugs will do to Port Douglas and Daintree region?

‘He’ll be like a kid in a candy store’

‘He’ll reap rich reward through corrupt processes’

If you want to look into your own future, start by looking into the bank accounts of some of the Senior Town Planning staff and managers of CCC to see what value they have placed on your betrayal!
See how much they charged Ratface to remove creek setbacks or to destroy an iconic headland?
See how much they charged Tom to put his bottlo to close to a school?
Ask how much they charge to run an original application through as a negotiated decision?
That is of course once the public have spent hours objecting under the IPA changes made by Council to show empathy then as little as two weeks later, up pops a negotiated decision and the whole thing is as the corrupt council and developers wanted it the first place!!

And to finish…

“What Chance do we stand when good people do nothing?”

Anonymous said...

I am not surprised but still dissappointed by the extent of ignorannce of some in the community, especially "ian" and the second anonymous to post on this thread.

"ian" you clearly have no idea of what Berwick does as mayor or in the other non-Council roles he has, some of which are non-remunerated roles.

The second anonymous is under the impression that Berwick was responsible for the siting of the loo on the riverbank and the subsequent frivolous court case (which was in fact initiated by the king DSC nepotism Terry Melchert). You too are so out of touch with the facts of the matter that you have only supported the case for Berwick as mayor.

I don't like everything he does or did as mayor but at least judge him on what he is actually responsible for instead some fabrications.

Anonymous said...

to first anon, wot does the word Jon mean it your line, Thanks Mike for just doing the jon...?
Wot is this word, it must be a true and correct word because you r one of those people who have to wave their dik arund wen some1 makes a typo on an inet post, like you attcked my typos. Hve u only been on net for a few weekls or somefing? Surely you would not have placed a post criticizing typos when there was one in yhour own post, that would make you look like a real hypocritical moron.
Again wot does "Jon" mean.
I like typos in posts, it means people are being spontaneous and not doing first in a word doc and spellchekking first.

Ps. Just cos Berwick says the sun shines out of his ass does not mean we need to believe it.

Anonymous said...

to last anon, I know more about berwick than most peoplle because I am paid to watch and research his every move. The guy's a egomaniac, a big fish in a small pond who would not last 2seconds with grown up people in the real world.
Oh, yes if the Daintree Loo had been a success then berwick would have claimed credit, now he just passes the blame. One can only do so much in a part time job because Berwick has other jobs, with WTMA & FNQ NRM.

Ps. 3rd anon made good points.

Anonymous said...

To the person who is paying Ian to "watch and research" Mike Berwick's every move, I would suggest you find someone other than Ian as he obviously isn't doing a very good job! You may consider, however, the legality of paying someone to stalk. For your information, within about 5 minutes of researching on the internet I have established that Mike hasn't worked for WTMA for many years and when he did it was mostly non-paid. He is the Chair of Terrain (formerly know as FNQ NRM). Their Annual Report is available on their web site including financial reports, travel expenses etc.
Judging from the travel expenses, I doubt that Mike or any of the other directors are travelling first or business class.

Anonymous said...

I always have to laugh when people praise Kevin Byrne on all his award winning achievments.
1/ The Cairns Gateway Project. Yes, it looks fantastic. Pitty every other major city in the country did it between 10 and 15 years ago.
2/ The "Award Winning" Esplanade. Once again, FANTASTIC. But, did KB go for a drive to Townsville in the last 10 years to have a look at the Strand in Townsville. I seem to recall that they did it long before Cairns did. Mackay also did their water front area up many years ago too. But, go for a drive along the Esplanade and try to find a table to sit at at the northern end that is under cover so you can enjoy the Esplanade when it is raining. (Tried it last night, couldnt find anything).
Maybe KB and Factman should take praise for something original.

Anonymous said...

Roisin is spot on, then again if ian's employer is Jeff or Louise McCloy it would explain a lot, more money than brains, that one.

Anonymous said...

What appalling ill informed dirt [from "ian"]

I was an invited guest of Melbourne City Council – they paid the costs. I travelled economy and stayed three star.

As a matter of additional interest I was one of only a few Australian speakers – the rest were from Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, and the US

I was invited because Douglas has a formidable reputation for good planning. This kind of promotion is important to us because we are a tourist town – 80% of our economy and jobs is tourism and image is what the industry is built on. If you like I’ll post my address on your blogg

That reputation however is on the verge of collapse – it may have withstood one term (4yrs) of bad governance but it will struggle to survive the Cairns mentality that is likely to come with amalgamation, Mike

Cr Mike Berwick
Douglas Shire Council
PO Box 357
Mossman QLD 4873

Anonymous said...

I agree planners are professional and for that reason I have always been of the view that a panel of staff should decide ALL applications while Council should set the policy ie the planning scheme:

That keeps policy separate from operations as it should be ie it’s a clear separation of powers
It would work much better – no political decision making
It would force councils to be clear about their planning intentions

It would need a statutory “firewall” between applicants and the assessment panel (with only formalised negotiation/discussion)
I think that is how development assessment should be under the icon legislation (as well as making Icon Values matters of state interest)
The IPA should be thus amended

Anonymous may be able to tell me though, would the councillors still be able to influence planning staff?

Cr Mike Berwick
Douglas Shire Council
PO Box 357
Mossman QLD 4873

Anonymous said...

Mike, it must be unbelievably difficult not to respond to the kind of garbage being dished up by the likes of 'ian' but i urge you to let it go.

You can very extremely proud of your efforts over all these years because, whether it turned out to be right or wrong, good or bad, you did what you believed was best for the community not for you own material gain.

Ignore the likes of 'ian'.

Anonymous said...

What Mike, have the State take away the power of elected representatives to monitor the Panning Scheme and it's day to day implementation?

Far from being a seperation of powers, this would place immense power in the hands of paid staff with no public accountability. The opportunities for corrupt practise would increase accordingly.

No,what we need is an independent bunch of councillors not following some party line, and not implementing a doctrine kept from the electorate come election time.

I have sat through too many CCC meetings where "our" elected reprentatives have rubber stamped the most outrageous environmentally unfriendly applications, and many where they reversed the professional officer's recommendations.

At one such meeting, I heard with some disbelief, from a "professional" planner the remarkable statement that, "it was Councils job to set conditions [for the application], if we had to worry about how they were to be enforced we would never pass anything.."

Despite all the rhetoric about seperation of powers, there will always be a degree of influence by the Mayor and Coucillors about the outcome of any matter. Whether that be for good or ill, depends on the individual and how well they represent their constituents.

What we need is an informed public, not one held in ingnorance of what is to be discussed at Council until the day of the meeting Yes the agenda comes out a week earlier, but the detail is only released on the morning of the meeting.

What we need is objective reporting and discussion..not tailored to meet the "desired" outcomes.

Pete Johnston
Independent Candidate Div 10