Thursday 3 April 2008

Her Worship the Mayor

Val Schier, was invested as the Mayor of Cairns Regional Council today.
  • "I would like to start by acknowledging the Aboriginal traditional owners of this land.
    I pay respect to their elders and their cultures and look forward to working in a constructive way with all the Indigenous peoples across our region.

    On this historic occasion, the first meeting of the newly amalgamated Cairns Regional Council, I say thank you to the people who have placed their faith in the 10 councillors and in me to provide leadership of our region over the next four years.

    This is a time of great possibility. It is also, for many, a time of sadness as both the Douglas Shire and the Cairns City Council, each with over a century of history and achievement, cease to exist.

    I would like to personally thank Mike Berwick, who is unable to be here today, for his 17 years of commitment and integrity and for his thoughtful stewardship over all those years of the former Douglas Shire, the jewel in the crown of tropical north Queensland.

    I also acknowledge the contribution of Kevin Byrne who, as Mayor for two terms, presided over the Cairns City Council in a time of unprecedented growth and development. I wish him well in his future endeavours.

    I thank also the councillors who served with both Kevin and Mike for their contributions over many years. Former mayors Tom Pyne and Ron Davis have honoured us with their presence, and there is some of the spirit of another former mayor, the late Keith Goodwin, in the room with us today too, I think.

    Thank you also to the staff of both Douglas and Cairns City Councils who have done so much behind the scenes to keep the business and services running, particularly during the uncertainties of the amalgamation process.

    Today we form a new local government for the Cairns Region and will need to face up to the problems that come with no easy solutions and challenges that will require us to work in innovative and different ways.

    I've met parents in Mooroobool who want their streets to be safer; teenagers in the southern suburbs who need more sporting facilities and things to do; beachside dwellers concerned about soil erosion and loss of animal habitats; hospitality workers in Port Douglas who find rents are too high; business people worried about the impact of an unstable world economy; engineers who offer advice on flood mitigation and residents in places like Babinda and Wonga who think their communities are going to miss out.

    It is the duty of this Council to act on these concerns. And to act in a way that cuts across our political affiliations and diverse personal agendas.

    Many people today feel disempowered by the political process. Can I say to those people who did not vote for those being sworn in here today - we remain respectful of your opinions. It is inherent upon us, as a part of a true and healthy democracy, to govern for all - and to do so in an open, transparent, accountable, and thoroughly professional way. That means local government that gets potholes fixed; the noisy dog next door dealt with; the drains unblocked.

    It also means we need to be actively involved with the major issues such as climate change and population growth, ensuring that developments and housing take into account the unique nature of our environment, its tropical heritage and lifestyle.
    We must remain vigilant in our care of the world heritage reef and the magnificent rainforests on our doorstep.

    Of course to do this effectively we will need to collaborate and work very closely with the two other levels of government, state and federal. That is why it is particularly heartening to see Warren, Desley, Jason, Steve, Jan and Jim here with us today demonstrating an absolutely clear message that they want to work closely with this new regional council.

    Election campaigns inevitably bring out issues that divide us as well as those that unite us. In the aftermath of this campaign there have suggestions that this Council will be anti-business. Let me assure everyone that this Council looks forward to working closely with the business sector, I have already held productive meetings with key groups, as we will also work with non-government organisations and community groups. Some of you know that I come from a small hamlet in rural Tasmania. A community that helped form my strong value base and my lifelong desire to work with and serve the public.

    My parents were good, hard-working people. My mother, who became terminally ill with cancer and died at the end of last year, endowed me with her high energy and the Schier determination to keep going in my goal to be mayor. My father implanted in me a love of the land, integrity, a huge measure of common sense and thankfully ... a sense of humour.

    These qualities, and my diverse life and work experiences, add to the mix of personalities, skills and passions that my 10 councillor colleagues bring to the table.
    Among them of course is Kirsten Lesina, a person I am very much looking forward to working with.

    At 21, Kirsten is making history as the youngest person ever to be elected to council in Cairns. She will be in the position to remind the rest of us daily that the decisions we make will also be for the young people of the region, our grandchildren and our shared future.

    My hope is that we will have robust, energetic discussions - that we will build on the positives, on the things that have gone right, at the same time acknowledging and planning around those areas where we might have done better.

    Importantly, we will to continue to listen to the diverse views of locals and experts, among them the 12 people from Tropical North Queensland who are heading to Canberra for the 2020 summit.

    There has been pain associated with the amalgamation process. However last Thursday at the Summit of Mayors in Brisbane, Premier Anna Bligh talked about a new era in local government in Queensland and how partnerships will take us forward.
    I met with Tom Gilmore from the Tablelands Council, Bill Shannon from Cassowary Coast, Peter Scott from Cooktown and Percy Neal from Yarrabah. All of them are seeking to work in new ways with the Cairns Regional Council to grow our regional economy, to look after our environment and to care for all the people in our diverse communities, particularly the vulnerable.

    We will be called upon during the course of the next four years to provide continuity and stability. And also to be adaptable and creative as we plan to address the changes that are happening on an international, national and local level.

    This Council will need to be alert and responsive to people's fears as well as their hopes.
    And there is hope in this room today; you can feel it.

    We will endeavour to maintain this feeling as we engage with all the communities from Bloomfield to Bramston Beach. I am honoured to be here today as your mayor.

    I will do my utmost to serve the community over the next four years, to provide strong leadership, to work hard, to be approachable. And, above all, with my fellow councillors, ensure the future well-being and prosperity of this most wonderful part of the world.

    Thank you.


Anonymous said...

I together with another 200 or so residents had the privileged and honor to be part of an historic day in the public administration of Cains City, the investiture of the Mayor and 10 Councillors.

I wish to extend publicly to the Mayor and Councillors my sincere congratulations and best wishes. The challenges ahead are formidable and the community expectations are high. Excitement and anticipation filled the Chambers and a good measure of goodwill was evident between the Councillors.

I am sure the people of the Cairns Region will want their Councillors to continue to extend their hand of friendship and to put aside their personal ambition and agenda and work together for the common good. The residents will not put up with political posturing and point scoring. Those Councillors that have those aspirations should stand for Federal/State Government where they can vent their frustrations.

As the Mayor's address implies Cairns region has rejected the experiment
with authoritarian rule, where the questioning individual/community group was marginalised and dismissed so readily. I am certain the people of
Cairns and region would welcome an inclusive parternship with their Council to achieve great things together. The opportunity does now exist. We must seize the moment and make it happen.

Anonymous said...

Hear hear.

Anonymous said...

I was also a witness and can attest to what Ross has so eloquently stated.
It seems that this feeling of a new era is also apparent in the adjoining Council Regions.
Each Councilor has a bigger number of residents to represent on this level of Government and I felt the optimism of the large gathering. However, the representatives are only as good as the people they serve and it’s up to them to support their Division too. As JFK put it to the American people in other words, “Ask not what your Councilor can do for you, but what you can do for your Councilor” I believe positive input will get positive results.
Rob Williams j.p.(Qual.)
President Cairns Tropic Jazz Club Inc.

Anonymous said...

The residents of Cairns will also not put up with Councillor misconduct and poor behaviour from people whose salaries we not only pay for but also, were voted by us to represent us.
Mr Bonneau that includes YOU! We are watching your every move and word!

Anonymous said...

I agree that the likes of Bonneau,Blake and Gregory will have to be watched closely.Another
matter that deserves some attention
is whether the new Council will take consider whether Mr.Schofield,
(not certain if his name is spelt correctly)will retain his position on Council staff.He is the Council PR man.I call him the million dollar christmas tree man,after his stupid remark regarding the reason the Council would not contribute to the cost of a christmas tree in the city some years ago.How he has retained his job is a mystery to me.

Anonymous said...

Re Mr Schofield, another public servant waiting in the Departure Lounge!

Anonymous said...

The other one leaving is Robyn Homes. she was Kevin Byrne's media hack. She leaves this coming Fridfay.. or so goe sthe rumour round the town.

One by one, my guess is they will all fall... as this era of politics will go against their real heart!(if indeed they had one!)

Anonymous said...

What about Peter Tabulo? As far as many involved with the development and preservation issues, Tabulo is the key reason crappy buildings have been allowed around town. He's been Byrne's right hand man in jamming all these monstrosities into our community. Real changes in development policy won't occur with Tabulo still in charge of the development department. He's GOT to be sent packing back to the Gold Coast or wherever his kind of overdevelopment ideas are still worshiped.

Anonymous said...

Okay so what exactly is the role of a PR person or any other Council staff member for that matter? They are there to provide advice but ultimately carry out the decisions of the Mayor and Councillors. Exactly as I do for the company I work for and I suspect you do for the people who you work for. If you run a business then I am sure that is what you expect from your staff and you would get rid of any staff that failed to do this.

Unless a request is illegal staff are to carry out any reasonable direction given to them. Staff are entitled to have a personal opinion on a matter, but only some are permitted to speak on behalf of the organisation to ensure statements match the opinion of the owners or board. In the Council’s case that is the opinion of the Mayor and Councillors.

From what I have seen of Val Schier so far I believe she would be the type to give anyone the opportunity to show what they are capable of doing before bringing out the axe. In addition the State Government’s amalgamation process has put in some additional protections for staff so removal must be clearly justified otherwise people like Gary will get a nice pay out at our expense.

I’d rather see people removed for performance reasons not the policies and practices of the last Council.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the 'recycled' cronies
Briggs & Hawkes as well
Put a broom through the lot

Anonymous said...

Did Denis "Lets get out of here " Quickly know that the mighty KB would fall....and decided he wouldnt be there to witness it?

Anonymous said...

Yes Anon,I think Denis knew the time was ripe to jump,he would have known he would be next to go.
He only got the job in the first place because of his connection with Byrne,he certainly had nothing
to offer in the way of manners or experience.

Anonymous said...

Well he had experience in Townsville trying to get his wife (un) succesfully elected...several times !!
Although Im sure she was a Labour candidate there...I could be wrong.
Im sure someone can clear that one up!

Anonymous said...

I am disappointed that all of our new Councillors voted for the highest salary available to them.
It would have shown some community
spirit if some of them,say Pyne,
Lesina and maybe Coops had shown some independance and voted for
a lower scale salary.As the saying goes,money talks all languages.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, wasnt the pay rate decided BEFORE the election?? Me thinks so !!

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that a
standard base and high salary figure was allowed by the tribunal.
It seems unforunate that all sitting Councillors chose the highest figure available.It appears
money is one thing all Councillors
can agree on.

Anonymous said...

I voted for the last election,however I am now starting to wonder whether my decision was the correct one.
Firstly, all Councillors jumped at the chance to take the highest salary tier available,in comparision with Townsville Council adopting a salary restraint policy.
Secondly,all Councillors decide to spend a night at a luxury resort,
to do a crash course.As long as Councillors personally foot the bill for this overnight stay I have no problems,However,if it was left for ratepayers to pay this bill I protest.Val. should publicly advise who is responsible
for this account.
Thirdly,The Committee Chairs have been advised as follows,Finance Cr.Alan Blake,Water and Waste and Water and Services Cr.P.Gregory.
Both these Councillors were members or de-facto members of the Unity,It is a wonder Cr.Bonneau did not obtain a Chair as well.It is common knowledge that these two Councillors have already chaired these Committees in the past,their achievements could be written on the back of a postage stamp.Just two examples,water costs have gone up dramatically,purchase of land for new entertainment centre a lost cause.

Anonymous said...

Councillor Blake in charge of Finance. The Fox in charge of the Henhouse.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the high salaries hasn't gone down very well at all.

Anonymous said...

When Byrne regained power in 2000, he and his coucillors immediately gave themselves the highest payrise possible as well.

Anonymous said...

As for Cllr Bonneau chairing a committee.... You must be joking or mad!

That man is the most detested man on the Northern Beaches and for 100s of very good reasons. He remains unaccountable for his actions and deeds re Clifton Beach rock wall and Clifton Road inappropriate developments and could not run a chook raffle as far as most are concerned. He has little in the way of communciation skills and certainly should never be put in charge of any committee or funding. This man cannot tell the truth and has lied to his constituents on many occassions. He has ignored/fobbed off and ridiculed the very people who have voted for him in the past.

Not the kind of person who should be given any kind of adult responsiblilty as he is clearly incaple of functioning at this level, and was lucky this time around to even be made a Councillor.

Leopards do not change their spots even though they jump Divisions.