Friday 27 February 2009

Suddenly Val

Cairns Regional Mayor Val Schier, today endorsed the direct action protest when Councillor Diane Forsyth climbed the historic Cairns Yacht Club building in protest at its demolition by the Labor State Government.

The action resulted in a trespass charge before the Cairns Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

"The feedback [about] Di's actions in protesting the demise of the Yacht Club [building] has been interesting," Mayor Schier said today.

The Mayor's endorsement should be an embrassesment to Premier Anna Bligh and her local Labor MPs who refused to discuss or move on the issue.

"Whilst a few people believe that she has damaged her own reputation and also that of Council, the majority of people who have spoken to me believe that Di has been brave and courageous in her stance against an issue about which she is passionate: the preservation of the heritage of Cairns."

It is a late but welcome entry into the heritage debate for the Mayor that decided to make no public comment during the large-scale community campaign, that culminated in an 11,000-strong petition to the State Government. The issue galvanised many in the Cairns community for over 5 years. The Mayor supported two motions before her Council to get the Cairns Port Authority and the State Government to halt the iconic building's demolition last October. However, it was to no avail, and were repeatedly told, it was a 'commercial decision'.

On the morning of the protest action last October, Mayor Schier and Council CEO Noel Briggs called a press conference to talk about a possible breach of the Councillor's Code of Conduct, however, the Mayor never fronted the media. Briggs announced that "no complaint had been received" at that point, about the Councillor's protest action. "However, if a complaint was received, it would be investigated," he said. This was merely an invitation for a dissenter to complain," Yacht Club protest organiser Bryan Law said.

Local artist Robyn Johnston and his partner Niki Johnston, a Holloways real estate manager, were supporters of Deputy Mayor Margaret Cochrane's election campaign. They lodged a complaint about the Councillor's action the following day.

"I was affronted by the CEO's interference in this peaceful protest for an elected official to make her political point," Bryan Law said. "Why is the CEO calling a media conference to talk about a compliant that doesn't exist? It is repugnant to hear a senior manager comment about an elected Councillor."

Bryan Law says it's the Mayor's role to talk on behalf or about her Councillors, not the CEO. "The CEO looks after the Council staff. Likewise, it would be inappropriate for a Councillor or the Mayor to reprimand or instruct Council staff," Law said.

But Val Schier said she now supports Councillor Diane Forsyth's right to choose the method she thought would be most effective in showing her opposition to the and in trying to change the mind of the decision-makers, she says.

The Mayor's Cairns 1st brand, strongly advocated heritage protection and preservation in it's pre-election campaign.

"The law will decide on the allegations of trespass; the voters will decide in 2012 whether they commend or condemn her; I suspect the former will be the case," the Mayor said today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really Val,you should give serious thought to resigning from your position on Council.You have achieved little since taking on your mantle,resign and let someone like young Bob Pyne take over the reins.