Monday 22 September 2008

Labor MPs in lockdown over Yacht building plan

Following my report this morning where I released details about Labor's plan to move the Cairns Yacht Club building, the region's Labor MPs are not talking.

Three 'traditional' media outlets have now telephoned me, asking what's going on. "We talked to Wettenhall's office, but they won't tell us a thing," said one TV reporter.

This is indicative of how the entire issue surrounding the Yacht Club building's retention is being mis-handling from the State government. The process has never been open nor transparent. There has been no public consultation or input allowed. The Port Authority has also treated the local Cairns community with contempt of the Yacht Club building.

“The Cairns Yacht Club building should never have had to move! It’s as simple as that!” said Wendy Richardson, who has been coordinating a group called People Against Demolishing the Yacht Club.

She said that Steve Wettenhall's claim a new location will please many people is an insult to the citizens of Cairns. "It's another demonstration of the serious lack of vision this state government has when faced with a choice of immediate dollars or plans for the future,” Richardson says.

“One of the most disturbing features of this whole saga has been the fear that the Yacht Club membership and other influential people in the community have expressed about talking openly on the issue. They have seriously feared reprisals from either the State Government or the Port Authority if they said how they really felt,” says Richardson.

People involved in the PADYC campaign have been told that there have been threats of intimidation if they speak out. "We don’t agree with what’s happening, but we are funded by the State Government/have employment through the Port Authority and can’t be seen to go against them.’

Richardson says that this is a serious erosion of democracy, and the end result is a smug government who know they have bought silence and compliance.

“The 88 year old Cairns Yacht Club building, which was probably rebuilt from the original one of 103 years vintage, has also been much maligned due to its current dilapidated exterior and corroded 1960’s style verandah," she says. "Surely it does not take too much to imagine the renovated end product, especially if one takes a look at retired architect, Bob Cleland’s plans for such a renovation. These plans have been shown to the community for several years now.”

PADYC believe the building could provide a vital piece of heritage tourism, much needed in our city. They have proposed a community board running the overall operation, similar to Cominos House in Greenslopes Street. It could include a commercial operator running the restaurant and bar with a coffee shop added, a dance hall section, and cultural uses from indigenous performances to ballroom dancing. There would also be opportunities to incorporate multimedia displays for tourists and locals.

“Once relocated, it is hard to see how the building can provide this heritage tourism opportunity that would have brought us economic value and the ‘soul’ that heritage locations give a community.”

Wendy Richardson says that the lost potential from removing the building means replacement. "It means replacing a facility for everyone with a privately owned residential block. Nothing of great importance, especially since there are to be many more built in the same Cityport area”, says Richardson. “Taking the Yacht Club away leaves a gap to be filled and no-one I’ve spoken to wants highrise there.”

“On top of all this, the most serious question of all that needs to be asked is Why? Why is this small piece of land so vital to the Port Authority? Why is there such a feverish, hysterical response from both the Port Authority and the State Government absolutely insisting that the building must go? Who have they promised it to?”

The community have not been involved nor engaged in this debate that has raged now for around four years. You would think, showing the enormous amount of community interest, that the Government would, at the very least, engage and ask what they think, should they insist on a relocation plan.

Wendy Richardson says that one day we will find out the answers about who the building and the land is promised to. "By the time we find out what was behind all this, the building and the site will be handed over.”

She asks for the wider community of Cairns to not give in. "Do not be conned into thinking something wonderful is being done here. Certainly relocation is better than demolition, but neither should have been on the cards.”

“Whatever our Labor members have in mind for the building, it is not what most of us wanted. 11,000 people have said so via the petition, with many more agreeing via polls and letters to the Editor. The government should have used the money they now have on offer to renovate the building for us all, and remain where it is."

The State Government should be ashamed to call themselves representatives. The irony of today's news is pathetic and insulting. Tonight the Deputy Premier will be in Cairns to launch a series of public forums asking the community what they want there region to look like. Their Toward Q2 - Tomorrow's Queensland plan is aimed to placate people and show a united consultative government. However, we know otherwise.

Actions speak louder than words. This community will now be taking action.


Anonymous said...

I am so bloody angry over this. There has been a deal done for this site, the pieces of silver having probably already been paid. That is how much our local Labor pollies have taken us for granted.
I've been labor to my boot-heels all my life, but this a one-time vote changer. I'll punish them for this.

Anonymous said...

Ray Taylor Says:
What ever the outcome of the issue of the Cairns Yacht Club, Wendy Richardson has shown a sustained level of honest support on this matter and a capacity to listen to the community, unlike the current brace of turkeys that masquarade as our representatives.
We need more like her.

Anonymous said...

I think that Jason, Warren, Steven and Desley should all get together and see if they can get a package tour to somewhere, as come twelve months time they will be going on one long holiday. I will personally do my damndest to remind the people of Cairns what disregard they had for the people over The Cairns Yacht Club. Lest we forget.

Kerry Riella.

Anonymous said...

I attended the Q2 forum last night and I was surprised to Desley front up!

I was even more surprised to see that she had her arm in a sling.

At the sight of this, I smiled to myself and said,"OK has she done this for the sympathy vote as she was too scared to come otherwise" OR "did someone take her out the back of the yacht club and give her a punch up."

I am hoping for the latter.....

Anonymous said...

Typical example of greed and apathy by developers and the council

Anonymous said...

To our state government politicians, you may celebrate your triumph but it is a hollow victory. Everyone of you should hang your heads in shame because not one of you had the courage or personal integrity to stand up for the community you supposedly represent and acknowledge that what was done in relation to the Cairns Yacht Club was not only morally and ethically wrong, but breached your own government’s policies and laws. It was all about State/Labor interest, never about community interest.

Not only is the Cairns Yacht Club along with the Wharf precinct, still a designated “area of state significance (cultural heritage)”, but it was listed on the Queensland Heritage List because it satisfied the required cultural heritage significance criteria. That your government through the Port Authority used its power and resources to negate this listing and ensure that no one could re-apply to list the CYC on the Heritage List again until 2009, speaks volumes. Boundary uncertainties were predictably not a problem when it came to Cityport and Precinct 7, the area the CYC building sits on. That our former Council under Mayor Kevin Byrne aided and abetted these actions is equally as damning. Some of the councillors during that period are still in Council – Cochrane, Gregory, Blake, and Bonneau. Of these four councillors, Cochrane to her credit, was the only one to support the recent motion to retain and preserve the CYC on its current site.

To those ordinary decent folk who never gave up and who tried so hard for so many years to save what little cultural heritage remains in this city, you never knew what you were up against but you should feel immensely proud, not only of your efforts on behalf of the community, but in the fact that the State government had to resort to the methods it used, to defeat your endeavours and further their own shameful agenda.

To those same politicians, continue to tell yourself that it was just an “old tin shed” and that you acted in the public’s best interest. That’s your justification for doing nothing. In that you are not alone. The silence and inaction from the tourism industry and the business sector is deafening. It says much about their commitment to the community, the people who support their very existence. Cultural heritage has long been acknowledged nationally and internationally as an important component of tourism, but not in Cairns it seems. It’s in the public’s best interest to have private development to a maximum of 6 storeys on that part of our waterfront but not to retain an important cultural heritage resource that could easily be integrated into future development and serve many purposes, all consistent with Precinct 7’s intended land use. The price of cultural heritage in this city- its very history, has been reduced to a boardwalk, extensions to the Hilton and other private development.

Nothing in this whole process has been honest, transparent, democratic or carried out in the best interests of the public - the Cairns community, the people you represent. Like the Ancient Mariner, that’s your personal albatross and although as far as you’re all concerned, this issue is “dead in the water,” it is I hope the harbinger of your own political demise. Some measure of justice, but will it ever be enough? Never.

KitchenSlut said...

I am enjoying the input of Tellus very much!

My old mining mate Brad Geatches was the previous CEO of the Port Authority when the dirty deals were done! Dear old Bradley .... what an interesting character with close Union connections ..... last time I saw him was in the bar at the RSL with his old mining mates from the CFMEU .... shoulder to shoulder with recalcitrant communist Johnny Maitland, comrade!

I wonder what Johnny Maitland, let alone Jack Mundy, would have thought of his actions as CEO at the Port Authority?