Saturday 30 August 2008

Garrett wants new information to save Yachtie

Those advocating a 11-hour reprieve to save the historic and socially significant Cairns Yacht Club building have been asked to put up - immediately - by the Minister of the Environment.

Garrett, sounding like a pony of every Labor polly in the region, said the former Howard government rejected a nomination for the club to be put on the National Heritage List in 2004 after an assessment by the Australian Heritage Council. I thought that would be reason alone to rally and protect the grand old lady.

Garret thinks it's unlikely to qualify for the list unless there is 'new information'.

Here's some new information Peter:

- how about another 10,000 locals that have said they want to keep this piece of our community history where it is;
- another highrise, that only for those who can afford a million-dollar apartment, is not welcome in Cairns;
- that such a small parcel of land can and should be gifted to the community for the people, would be a gracious move by the Government;
- that it is, and has been for over 100 years, a famous music and entertainment venue serving two World Wars, countless local weddings and the creation of many local musos;
- the will of the majority of the community is to retain this building and all that it represents as we change and grow our population;

The Yachtie is on the register of the National Estate, the National Trust’s list of endangered places and its Queensland register.

The motion was moved Federal Parliament on Thursday by Senators Ian MacDonald and Barnaby Joyce. It requested the Minister for Heritage, Peter Garrett, to accede to the request by PADYC for the Emergency Listing of the Cairns Yacht Club building and site on the National Heritage List. Senator Bob Brown also noted the Greens support for the motion.

It's obvious it alarmed and confused his office on what to do next. Garrett was reluctantly dragged into look at the mess that is False Cape. It's taken those campaigning for Federal intervention, months to even get an ear of the nervous Minister, who is being forced to tow a Party line.

The Yacht club building has a firm place in the establishment of the colonisation of the far north of Australia and direct involvement in the defence of the nation in both World Wars. This justifies its place on the National Heritage List.

“Our waterfront and other parts of Cairns once held many places of such significance but they are all gone except for this one," says Wendy Richardson, who is coordinating People Against Demolishing the Yacht Club (PADYC) and spearheaded the 10,000 petition to State Parliament.
"Once restored, this building could continue as a commercially operated dance hall, restaurant and bar, but also be a living testament to those times. Tourists are looking for heritage tourism opportunities and Cairns has so little." Richardson says.

PAYDC says that we need to see past the dilapidated 1970’s additions, which could be removed in a restoration project.

"They need to understand that this was a very important place for our first citizens in their struggle to establish themselves in this hot and humid outpost," Richardson said. "And then there were the servicemen and women who fought for this country in two World Wars. The fabric of their lives; their heroism, love stories, tragedies and celebrations have all been inextricably linked to this building.”

I believe that the building could also house a state of the art regional martine museum, and would be an excellent real example of our humble beginnings as a community. Maybe Peter Garrett can draw on the true meaning of heritage to a community, that with care only grows in time.

"We need his help to defend this small piece of Cairns that has such a large history,” PADYC says.

However this is all very uncomfortable for a Labor government and the local member for Cairns Desley Boyle, and also the Cairns Ports, the landlord where the building sits, long before they were even thought of. This Authority is a government entity and answerable to the people. We pay their wages.

It's my belief that the plan for our Cairns waterfront is covered in secrecy. The Port Authority are crafty buggers and have been less than open about what is going on around the Trinity wharf area. They have had plans for years now to build highrise apartments where the Yacht Club building is. However, the people of Cairns are strongly against this.

"The short term gain of funds for the site, will be long forgotten, like the early history of Cairns, if we lose the opportunity to develop this site as part of our heritage precinct,” Wendy Richardson says.

“We urge the State Government, through its two shareholders in Cairns Ports, John Mickel and Andrew Fraser, to halt the rapid progression of this decision and look for another way to achieve everybody’s’ goals.”

Labor's attitude is becoming one marred with arrogance, ignorance and a "eff you" style of politics. However, like the old building at the centre of this battle, Queensland Labor will be history before to long.


Anonymous said...

Sadly, and very regrettably, I voted Labor for the first time in my life at the last State Election, this was mainly due to a family friend running. I never have had any faith in Labour Governemnts, and had never voted for them before, and now I see my decision to vote Labour has definately turned around to bite me on the bum, in light of the CYC predicament, friend or no friend. In my campaign to help save the building and site I have spoken to over 600 perhpas 700 Carinsites, these are everyday man on the street type people, who are VERY angy with their State Labor Govenrment, and Mike you are spot on, because the general consensus is that they WILL be history at the next election, at least locally anyway they will have one less vote than they had last time, but according to the talk on the street, I won't be the only one.

Anonymous said...

As a (possibly ill-informed) observer of the Yacht Club debate from some distance, what seems to me entirely lacking is any kind of explicit account, from Government, of the projected benefits to the community if the building is demolished and the site redeveloped as currently proposed by Cairns Ports.

The latter, I understand, is wholly State Government owned and is ultimately controlled by two 'Shareholding Ministers' (although I imagine it's also a nice gravy train for others at senior levels).

But given that Cairns Ports - and its assets - are actually the property of all Queenslanders, why can’t our custodians tell the real owners (us) exactly what’s at stake in this case - and explain in detail why there’s (allegedly) such a strong public benefit in demolishing this very popular heritage?

Perhaps they have done this and I missed it? If so, could someone p;ease point me in the right direction?

If not, why should the onus be on supporters of the building to defend it’s retention.

Isn’t the onus on developers who wish to knock it over?

One final point. Cairns Ports two ‘shareholding Ministers’, if I understand correctly, are the Transport Minister and Treasurer. Those are appropriate choices – but surely other portfolios have an interest too? What about the Sustainability Minister, for example? What about the Environment Minister/EPA?

Public interest considerations are inadequately represented by current shareholding arrangements. The public assets managed by Cairns Ports are multifaceted and shouldn’t be reduced to dollars and cents and bodies and containers moved.

This is a modern society with sophistication needs and objectives. We need institutional arrangements which better reflect that fact.

Anonymous said...

The silence from Messrs Boyle, Pitt, Wettenhall, O’Brien and Turnour on the Cairns Yacht Club issue is deafening but then again when you are defending the indefensible
no words will ever suffice.

This whole issue has nothing to do with politics but everything to do with respect, commitment, principle, ethics and integrity.

It is bad enough when the State Government by its actions, demonstrates that its commitment to the protection and conservation of coastal resources and cultural heritage is nothing but a farce. But when a government agency takes action which can only be construed as deliberate, to effectively negate any attempts by the community, the people it supposedly represents, to protect and save a treasured cultural heritage resource, it has lost all credibility. It is beyond the pale.

What I’m talking about is the Certificate of Immunity obtained by the Port Authority under Section 57 of the Qld Heritage Act 1992 which provides that a place may not be entered in the Qld Heritage Register as a state heritage place within 5 years of the date of the certificate. This effectively prevents any person applying to have the CYC listed under the Qld Heritage Register until August 2009 by which time of course the building will have long been demolished.

That our former Council and Mayor aided and abetted this behaviour compounds the utter betrayal of the Cairns community. In relation to the Wet Tropical Coast Regional Coastal Management Plan, Kevin Byrne and Councillor Bonneau were both members of the Regional Consultative Group as was Paul Lucas the now Qld Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure and Planning. All part of the process ( together with the community and other groups) that resulted in the Cairns Yacht Club being designated an “area of state significance” (cultural heritage) but then also part of the unethical process of ensuring that the CYC would never receive heritage listing that would protect it for present and future generations. The community and cultural heritage obviously means nothing when it comes to dollars and private enterprise. As demonstrated, adherence to and respect for the spirit and the intent of regional coastal plans and statutory law also means nothing.

Our former Council and the State Government have both condemned themselves. Actions speak louder than words and this is one issue that won’t be conveniently going away.