Wednesday 27 August 2008

Sun shines of heritage elsewhere

Even after the Member for Cairns Desley Boyle, was presented with over 10,000 signatures yesterday morning, she still refuses to accept the will of the community she supposedly 'represents' to protect and retain the 100 year old Cairns Yacht Club building on our waterfront.

It's now obvious that the Cairns Port Authority have convinced Boyle and her Labour State mates, that there's too much coin to be made out of the land that the grand old club house sits on.

In an striking similarity, the Sunday Mail reported over the weekend that a modest backpacker's hostel on the Sunshine coast will not get the axe following a protection order from the EPA and Heritage Queensland.

Cotton Tree Backpackers now occupy the old building, at the mouth of the Maroochy River

"The hostel [building] is a reminder that the things we treasure need not be that grand or that old," the Sunday Mail reports. "They merely have to be things we want to keep and pass on to future generations."

Queensland Heritage says that these are elements that "reflect our history and can evoke special meaning individuals or members of a community."

The hostel is a 1930's style flat, sited on the beach at Maroochydore, is worth keeping and a reminder of our past, the report says. They were built at a cost of 1200 pounds ($2,400) but the land on which they now sit is worth millions.

"Their real estate worth is incomparable with the treasure of memories they evoke and the place they occupy in our history," the Mail writes. "We think of our Queensland history in bricks and stone, but it can be just as imperishable when built of humble wood.

The credibility and respect for the Queensland Heritage Council, Federal, State and local governments will be in tatters if they allow the destruction of Cairns' old Yacht Club building in around four weeks time.

There's now an abundance of information that shows why this place should be saved, all punctuated by three consecutive petitions since 2003. Over a six year period, the level of support has increased at an exponential rate.

Yacht club campaigner Kerry Riella recounts a similar story from Townsville.

"My husband was telling someone in Townsville about what we are doing to save the old building, she says. "Apparently they did the same thing to the Townsville Yacht Club, kicked them out of their little humpy a few years ago, put them into some flash place where they went broke within a year."

"Then they had a caravan on the Esplanade that they taught the kids how to sail out of for a few years, and struggled for many years," Kerry says.

What was that about history repeating itself?

Desley Boyle is no longer a member for the people. She is clearly here to support the big fat greedy developers who want to make huge profits out of the piece of dirt that the Yacht Club building sits on.

Time she booked herself into a weekend stay in Maroochydore's old hostel, and reflected on the hurt she is dishing out to the Cairns community.


Anonymous said...

Seriously Kerry..... are you worried about the yacht club going broke like Townsville...... how much are the CYC in debt to the port authority..... ask them how long it's been since they've paid rent..... i think that ship's already sailed....

Anonymous said...

When it comes to “cultural heritage,” importance and significance are relative concepts, determined by a variety of factors including history, locality and community perception. A place does not need to be important to everyone in Queensland to be of cultural heritage significance and worthy of entry in the state heritage register. So says the Queensland Government’s own publication for the Heritage Council.

The Burra Charter which the Heritage Council adopted in 2005 says – “Cultural significance means aesthetic, historic, scientific, social or spiritual value for past, present or future generations. Cultural significance is embodied in the place itself, its fabric, setting, use, associations, meanings, records, related places and related objects. Places may have a range of meanings for individuals or groups.” What more relevant words describe the Cairns Yacht Club and what it means to the community?

How many more times does the community have to re-affirm its will to have the cultural heritage values of the CYC recognized and protection measures instigated.
A piece of statutory law – The Wet Tropical Coast Regional Coastal Management Plan confirmed the cultural heritage values of the CYC along with the Cairns War Memorial and the Wharf complex. The Council itself in its 2004 council minutes acknowledged the obvious cultural heritage values of the CYC and importance to the Cairns Community. Nothing was done. The Port Authority failed to comply with provisions of the Transport and Infrastructure Act in relation to its Port Authority Land Use Plan by failing to co-ordinate and integrate core matters relevant to land use. “Valuable features” is a core matter which includes “cultural heritage” issues. Once again a deliberate refusal to acknowledge the cultural heritage values and importance of the CYC to the community. The list goes on.

The State Government by its own actions has demonstrated scant regard for its own legislation and statutory law and a lack of commitment not only to the protection, conservation and management of coastal resources but also to the conservation of Queensland cultural heritage for the benefit of the community and future generations.

By choosing to ignore a piece of regional statutory law ( which I might add they brought in and implemented ) the State government have not only set a precedent but have also proved beyond doubt that another piece of statutory law, the Far North Queensland Draft Regional Plan 2025 has “no force of law” and is just as worthless.

As we all are endlessly reminded by government, actions have consequences and sometimes many we don’t anticipate.

Anonymous said...

I'd bloody second the above (Anonymous), 20 times over. Can I vote for you???

Anonymous said...

Whoever wrote this, would you PLEASE send it to the ComPost. Please???????????

Anonymous said...

To anonymous and Lillian, I would send it to the Cairns Post if I thought it would help but I doubt it would be printed and even if it was, it would be significantly edited. The Cairns Post has never been the champion of the community against developers or the big end of town. That’s the reality.

I don’t think people realise the significance and importance of this whole issue. It’s a matter of principle and ethics and the fundamental right of a community to decide what has value and importance to them in terms of cultural heritage and what they wish to preserve and leave for future generations.

It’s also a matter of the spirit and intent of law, in this case the Coastal Protection and Management Act and the associated statutory instruments, the Regional Coastal Management Plans which specifically detail the intentions for each region. Local governments and the State government have a duty to reflect the intent, policies and principles of the respective plans in their decision making. If the spirit and intent of the plan is not reflected in new planning schemes then it must be taken into account during the assessment of development applications.

The former Council will argue that because the Cairns Yacht Club was on strategic port land their hands were tied. In regard to having no authority in respect to development assessment this was true however there was nothing preventing the Council taking action on behalf of the community to have the CYC properly protected. The same was true in regard to the state government and the Port Authority. Demolition removes an impediment. If the building stays, and the land is still strategic port land, the Port Authority is the assessment manager and must take into account “cultural heritage” values. If the land has become freehold then the assessment manager will be the local council and they must also take into account “cultural heritage” values during development assessment. The Cityport North and South planning areas already overlay strategic port land which will become subject to the CairnsPlan when the land becomes freehold. We are not talking about a piece of land that is needed for vital port or marine activities. We are talking about a piece of land intended for private commercial or residential use. This is public interest (the community) against solely private concerns. Money is more important than cultural heritage. You don’t need rocket science to work out why the CYC never made official heritage listing or why community efforts to gain cultural heritage protection have been frustrated and blocked at every turn by both levels of government.

This is also about ethics. The right of the community to have the information it needs to make an informed decision when commenting on proposed planning schemes or draft planning scheme amendments and Port Land Use plans. The community was not made aware that the Cairns Yacht Club along with the Cairns War Memorial and the Wharf complex had been designated an “area of state significance, cultural heritage.” The community was led to believe the CYC had no cultural heritage values when in fact it was and is a coastal cultural heritage resource.

These are some of the words of the then Minister for Environment, Dean Wells MP when the Wet Tropical Coastal Regional Management Plan was implemented:
“Everyone involved in coastal management has a responsibility to protect the Wet Tropical Coast region’s priceless coastal resources by appropriately managing the many activities that affect these resources. I congratulate the Wet Tropical Coast Regional Consultative Group for their effort during the preparation of this plan. This group played a vital role in identifying the coastal resources and associated management issues in the region, proposing solutions for these issues, and revising the plan in response to public submissions on the draft plan. We now have a coastal planning framework in the Wet Tropical Coast region that focuses on achieving ecologically sustainable management of the coastal zone while taking into account its enormous environment, social cultural and economic importance. This will help to ensure that the way we live and the way we plan for future development minimises any adverse impacts on the region’s coastal resources.”

Hollow words it seems because the State government has demonstrated that it can and will override regional and community interests if it so desires. Statutory law obviously has “no force of law.” What does this say about the FNQ Regional Plan 2025 which for the first time will be a statutory instrument, ie statutory law? “Get involved and have your say on the future development of the region” says the Honourable Anna Bligh MP, Premier of Queensland.

Well the community did have their say on the Wet Tropical Coastal Regional Coastal Management Plan and the community has said again and again and again that the Cairns Yacht Club building is a valued and important cultural heritage asset that must be protected for the present and future generations. As the Burra Charter says, “the location of most structures is integral to their history and significance. Relocation should always be regarded as a last resort.”

It might seem like an insignificant issue but it is very significant in terms of the right of regions and communities to determine what they value and what is important to them.
If a community can not or will not stand up and fight for something as fundamental as “cultural heritage” it will never succeed on any issue and the worst is yet to come with the FNQ Regional 2025 plan. The precedent has been set.