Monday 2 March 2009

Anna and Desley's Memorial taking shape

Who thought ALP's election campaign would extend to this.
However, there a flurry of activity in a paddock at James Cook University, 25 minutes north of Cairns and no where near any place for a boat.
The so-called 'heritage precinct' that the Labor government presented to the Cairns community at the 11th hour, was their rescue plan, an olive branch. However it was an appalling attempt to preserve and protect this, the last significant socially and historically important piece of Cairns heritage.
"The people spoke loudly to preserve the building on it's site," says Rob Williams of the Save the Yacht Club campaign. "Over nearly six years, we told the government about it's importance to our community, but they, including the local member Desley Boyle, ignored us. They never listened to us."
Three petitions were mounted, the last included 11,000 signatures that Wendy Richardson co-ordinated under the banner of People Against the Demolition of the Cairns Yacht Club.
"A huge majority of the public clearly wanted the historic building to remain at it's Wharf Street home, Richardson says. "This is such a strong example of community neglect for a Government so out of touch."
Richardson is running for the Barron River seat against ALP incumbent Steve Wettenhall.
Eight months before being elected to office, the new Barron River Labor MP Steve Wettenhall vowed to save the building. In a conversation with Cairns Jazz Club's secretary Ian Horn and Rob Williams, who had played at the Yacht Club for many years, asked the aspiring politician what he could do to help preserve the building about four years ago.
"If I was in Parliament, I would have preseved this building, where it is now," he said at the time.
After he won the seat, Williams and the Jazz Club wrote to Wettenhall for support. "Now that you're elected, we want your help to save this building," they wrote.
However, Wettenhall, and his Labor colleagues never did come to the rescue. They called the campaigners 'irrational' and failed to listen to the community that supported their election.
Bryan Law, who lead a series of civil disobedience actions at the site last October, that culminated in Councillor Dianne Forsyth climbing onto the building's roof in protest, says this was something the Government could have easily done.
"Why they simply didn't listen and did what the people asked, when it was a really simply and gracious thing to do, is amazing," Law says. "We said last year we will take this issue forward to the State election to hold these Labor politicians to account, and we will."
The remains of the Yacht Club building that was transported in pieces to JCU, has been left exposed to four months of torrential wet season downpours and harsh sun.
A citizen's inspection carried out on the weekend, shows irreparable damage to the historic Black Bean sprung dance floor. Black plastic and tarps are haphazardly across the remains, with pooling water, breeding mosquito, in the midst of Cairns' worst ever Dengue outbreak.
Exposed floorboards have buckled the tongue and groove flooring beyond repair. Only the base and roof trusses, along with scant remain of the walls were transported to the site. Everything else was either dumped or is now being sold off at Anton Demolitions Machans Beach yard.
It was noted that there was no numbering system of timber during the reconstruction process. "Timber is all over the place," Rob Williams said. "There's no way this has been undertaken with any respect or care for the building's history."
"The removal and destruction of the old Aquatic Dance Palais and Cairns Sailing Club painted signs that adorned the weatherboards is disgusting, says Wendy Richardson. "These were only uncovered in the last days of the battle to save the building, yet they were not salvaged or preserved at all."
It is understood that one of these signs are available for sale from Anton's for up to $3,000. The other one was deliberately destroyed during the demolition process.
In an interview on ABC Far North radio this morning, Stratford resident Kerri Riella spoke of the strong feeling in the community as she collected signatures of support last year. "Everyone was upset and angry, black, white and brindle. Their voices were not being listened to," she said. "Labour will feel the effects of this at the pooling booth, especially in Cairns and Barron River. Of that I'm sure."
Following the building's removal in October, no archaeological dig occurred on the 110 year old site, that heritage expert Dr Janice Wegner called for.
I guess we should have realised something was array, when the Labor Government, along with the Cairns Port Authority, hired a demolition firm for the job, with no experience of heritage preservation.
Befitting of the ruined and scarred memorial, the foundations of the old remains now adorn with a permanent reminder of Labor's contribution to saving and preserving our heritage.
The Cairns community will never forget.


Anonymous said...

What kind of bulldoody story is this? Bryan Law lead NOTHING. He showed up to a rally organised by others, and did nothing but be his usual, loudmouth, self-promoting nonsense.

Bryan Law in his 50+ years has accomplished exactly NOTHING.

Anonymous said...

I have a sneaking suspicion that Bryan Outlaw isn't his/her real name, but it is witty in a half kind of way. I'm thinking - profession - rocket scientist?