Friday 15 May 2009

Yacht Club building reconstruction in ruins

James Cook University's Pro-Vice Chancellor, Scott Bowman, with Yacht Club campaigner and Barron River LNP candidate, Wendy Richardson, overlooking the destroyed Yacht Club building this afternoon.

10 roof trusses, spanning up to 50 meters across, collapsed and crashed to the floor of the relocated remains of historic Cairns Yacht Club. The site is fenced off from the public, and the incident is now subject to a Workplace Health and Safety investigation.

Just before 11am this morning, the original roof trusses started to sway in the wind. A number of the roof trusses appear to have snapped in half on impact, when they smashed into the floor. The wall at the Western end of the building, also collapsed as the trusses fell in a domino-like fashion.

Manunda-based VIS Constructions, who have been contracted by JCU to complete the re-construction of the 100-year-old building, remained tight-lipped about what caused the building to collapse.

"No one was hurt and we are caring out an investigation to find out why this happened," a spokesperson from VIS said this afternoon, who wished to remain anonymous.

"I came back after about 20 minutes after I started working on it [the building], and I looked up and noticed it had a slight lean on it," the VIS employee said. "A crane was urgently called, but arrived too late."

"No one was working in that area at the time."

"We [VIS] had not done anything with the upper roof or trusses, we have just re-braced the walls," he said.

"I will say however, that our company did not install the trusses. A contractor, I only know as Milo, put the roof trusses up a month ago," the VIS employee said.

He did not think the earthworks undertaken yesterday, around the side of the building, played any part in the roof collapse.

"There's a fair bit of wind here, but we've had days when it's really blowing, and there's a substantial weight on those trusses," the VIS employee said. "Where's it's gone wrong, I can't say. I don't want to blame anyone."

The worksite was closed down and workers were removed.

James Cook University's Pro-Vice Chancellor, Scott Bowman, inspected the ruins this afternoon and was saddened by the events of the day.

"This is very very sad," Scott Bowman said. "The rebuilding was going well, and it was a project that I want to see completed."

Bowman was instrumental in offering the university land for the Yacht Club building relocation, at the height of bitter public debate to retain the building on it's city waterfront site.

Councillor Diane Forsyth, who lead public protest against the Yacht Club's removal, was shocked at today's destruction.

"I'm very dismayed at this. It is awful," Councillor Forsyth said upon hearing the news. "All of us that protested late last year, were hoping to love the building again, when it was finished. I'm shocked."

"I guess there was an expectation from JCU that they would have had more of the building. In fact, they are having to rebuild the entire building, starting from scratch," Cr Forsyth said. "I bet they thought the building would have been simply relocated there, but it wasn't."

"What I see here is a total disaster," building campaigner Wendy Richardson said, as she surveyed the collapsed building.

"It proves that this whole exercise to move the historic building, was done in haste. The Labor State Government rushed this from the beginning, and this is the result," Richardson said as she looked in disbelief at what had occurred.

Barron River MP Steve Wettenhall said that the State Government would not contribute any additional money to the building's restoration, in light of the building's collapse today.

"This is a university project now, and I would not expect any approach to be made for further financial support," Wettenhall said.

"I'm very very disappointed. Everyone will be very sad and disappointed to learn of this set-back. Most importantly, I'm relieved that no one was injured as a result of this collapse," Steve Wettenhall said.

I suggested to Wettenhall that maybe Labor's credibility was injured.

"I can't see how that has happened," Steve Wettenhall said

Maybe the speed and the rush to relocate the building's remains to the new site could have contributed to today's collapse. Maybe due process has not been followed, I suggested to the Barron River MP, who advocated for it's relocation.

"That may well be, and the manner in which it has been, but I'm not going to speculate on what the report will investigate, but those are issues that need to be considered," Wettenhall responded.


Wendy Richardson said...

The Cairns Yacht Club building should NEVER have been offered up for re-location.

It was the 'real deal' as far as our first hundred years in the town we know as Cairns. Its heritage value was unquestionable.

It was used in both World Wars,it was a Centre of yachting excellence reknowned throughout the Commonwealth and it was our civic centre since 1907.

Even the Qld Heritage Council listed it (contrary to what Desey always tried to tell us.)

They just decided to take it back off the list after some highly questionable processes took place.

We needed diversification of tourism experiences in Cairns back in 2008 but we need them even more now.

Too bad - the last surviving remnant of how European settlement started in Cairns has all but been obliterated.

Steve Wettenhall and Desley Boyle along with Jason O'Brien and Warren Pitt (Snr) couldn't wait to get the matter of the old Yacht Club building off their collective consciences last year. They knew they couldn't be seen to straight out destroy it, so they went for Steve's infamous 'win-win' and arranged for it to be all but wrecked and shipped up to JCU.

People are very angry still with the questionable haste in which the building was taken apart with no regard at all for its historical value.

And for what? A desolate patch of disused, ugly foreshore.

At every turn this saga deteriorates just like the building itself.

What will be left of it remains to be seen.

Syd Walker said...

Surprising no-one has blamed Bin Laden yet. Unexplained collapses are his hallmark - although he usually appplies his magical talents to buildings at least 47-stories high.

Incidentally, am I the only one to find it surprising that JCU's Chancellor is openly 'pro-vice'?

I was often pro-vice myself when a student, but the teaching staff always pretended to be 'pro-virtue'. How times change.

Whinging Wendy said...

The people have spoken. Get a real job Wendy and get over it.

Noto Beni said...

Please note that Wendy Richardson is the FORMER LNP candidate for Barron River, and has not been endorsed or preselected again by the LNP as the candidate any time past her last loss.

Rob Williams said...

To those misfits and people with not enough grey matter to blow up a matchbox, get off Wendy's case. If you can read have a look at the polling results you Morons..She got MORE votes in Barron River than Steve Wettenhall. As for Steve Wettenhall, he was the one who stood out there beating his chest proclaiming he had SAVED the Aquatic Building. Now that he has unloaded it on the suckers at JCU, he is doing the Pontius Pilot. The man is a waste of space.
And I'll bet you knockers have'nt even been out to Mariner Point to see the mess there! The $6 Million Dollar Cairns Yacht club is waiting for your inspection.

Unknown said...

one way of demonstrating that wendy's campaign was an election-time hoax is to ask where the money raised to save the building went. did wendy or those so-called 11,000 signaTORIES donate one cent to save this miserable ruin? Did they demonstrate their commitment in any other way - for example working bees, seeking in-kind donations from business - where's the huge donations from all your real estate and development mates, Wendy? No, there was no such thing. This was just another LNP political stunt to dupe the public and the our simpleton media including CairnsBlog.

Ray Taylor, Little Mulgrave said...

In response to "Whinging Wendy"...

The People have spoken. They sure have, mate. or whoever you are, to ashamed to put your name up, yet to willing to fire off insults...

Over 10,000 of them wanted that old Cairns Yacht Club to remain exactly where it had stood for close on ninety years.

And, just for the record, in the recent state election Steve Whettenhall, in fact lost in the vote tally. His winning of the seat of Barron River came courtesy of the Green Party.

So do yourself a favour. Remove the party political blinkers and open your own eyes to the absolute crime inflicted on a much loved Old Cairns icon and, if you can handle the truth, identify the perpetrators and their supporters. Wendy Richardson is most certainly not one of them.

Alex Blair said...

This is what happens when incompetent people are awarded contracts.

Now we have the Pro Vice-Chancellor implying it’s only a temporary set-back!

No doubt they’ll patch it up, have a big opening, pat themselves on the back and boast about saving the old Yacht Club building.

We live in a very sick society.

Bryan Law said...

Unda, yet another brave and anonymous critic who seems to think that taxpayers exist only to enrich and make important the kind of political hacks who fatten through obedience to Party plans and apparatchiks.

I got involved in the Yacht Club campaign because of the many older cairns residents who simply wanted their heritage preserved.

What I noticed is that the outcome they wanted was so easy for the government to achieve, and very affordable. It couldn't be achieved by private individuals because the land was owned by Cairns Ports (a more bloody-minded and incompetent bunch of pirates is hard to imagine - unless you consider Mike Kaiser, Anna Bligh, Demolition Desley and useless Steve Wettenhall).

Steve Wettenhall's take on the current situation: "It's a University Project".

I want to see Desley Boyle charged with wilful damage. Is it just a dream that politicians can be held accountable? (Unda seems to view the idea as a nightmare).

Syd Walker said...

Ray Taylor wrote: "(Steve Wettenhall's) winning of the seat of Barron River came courtesy of the Green Party."

Ray - I'm sympathetic to what you say. But i think it's time to nail the myth that The Greens HQ handed the seat of Barron River to Steve Wettenhall.

It's true that the official Greens' preference recommendation in Barron River favoured the ALP. But most Greens voters make up their own minds about preferences. The party recommendation makes some difference - but it's unlikely to sway the majority of Greens voters.

I think it's fair to say that over the last two decades, the ALP had to screw up very badly to lose Green voters' preferences. That's because the alternative was not at all attractive (although it did happen in 1995, the last time the ALP lost the deat)

The campaigning Wendy Richardson has done on the Yacht Club stands her in good stead. If she - and the LNP - continue to work hard for progressive causes that appeal to green-leaning voters, we'll draw our own conclusions come the next election.

Greens voters are typically smart enough to make up our own minds about who's fair dinkum and whose not. That's why we vote Green 1 :-)

Bryan Law said...

Syd Walker, wash your mouth out with soap, and try a little honesty next time you talk about Green preferences.

It's true that many Greens will make up their own minds, but recommendations fro Party "leadership" are one important factor in that.

When the "Party" (read Drew Hutton, Ronan Lee, and maybe four others in a smoke-filled room) decided to preference the ALP, it resulted in perhaps a 1% differential in Barron River, and it certainly influenced the results.

It was a typical top down, anti-democratic old-style political gambit that betrays everything the Greens say they stand for.

You will know, and I hope you have the good grace to admit that NO consultation took place with local Greens members about the preference deal. I was trying to get Sarah Isaacs to meet with Wendy Richardson, but Brisbane made its decision without anything so mundane as discussion, research, or consultation.

One price has been to alienate the bama of cape York, and further entrench a politics of exclusion in the Greens in FNQ.

I stayed quiet about this symptom of Greens fascism in 2009. Now I'm ashamed of myself. I think that next time I'll speak out.

Lee Stuart said...

And the voters will all listen to you again, hey Bryan?

Unknown said...

Is this the sickening supplicant who goes grovelling to any politician who will let him slither under the door every election trying to do a deal on any issue he can. You only got involved in the yacht club campaign to get your name in the paper. And that's all you do - big-note yourself at the expense of all and sundry. hypocrisy, thy name is bryan law.

Jude Johnston said...

Unda, You aren't a reincarnation of Factman are you? Or a half brother of Quickie?. You seem to have the same log of wood on your shoulder.

Ray Taylor, Little Mulgrave said...

Syd-Forgive me, but I find your explanation regarding Green Party preferential votes in the previous election too convoluted to come to a conclusion, so I’ll chose to stand by what I’ve said.

Also the statement that, “Greens voters are typically smart enough to make up our own minds about who's fair dinkum and whose not. That's why we vote Green”, unfortunately comes across as somewhat smug and elitist.

The only conclusion that can be drawn from such a statement is that Green Party voters saw hon. Steve Wettenhall as being fair dinkum, and Wendy Richardson as not.

I can assure you however in this matter of the old Cairns Yacht Club, this lady put a lot of time and effort attempting to save this old place. No one can sustain that level of upfront support for so long without being---fair dinkum.

This local girl was the only one to go into bat for those keen to see the old place saved. Not that she needed encouragement. Unlike the State Labour Party and the Green Party, she fully understood what was at stake.

The social significance of the old place, its association in Australian history, not to mention its value to the tourism industry.

Syd Walker said...

I regret raising this topic again, especially in the light of Bryan's intemperate comment and quite unnecessarily abusive comment.

Ray - if I offer any 'explanation', it's in the entirely private capacity of an observer - and someone who usually votes for the Greens. That’s all. I'm not a member of the party at present. Nor is Bryan (and don't we all know it!)

The discussion between Bryan and myself on the topic of Greens decision-making is rather like a couple of village canons discussing the election of a pope. To be truthful, neither of us really knows what happened behind the scenes.

The purpose of my earlier comment was to encourage Wendy and others on the 'conservative' side of politics; few Greens voters, in my humble opinion, simply take orders from Greens HQ. If Wendy raises the bar on conservation issues in this area, so much the better for all concerned. I’m sure green-leaning voters will notice.

Whatever the respective merits of the two big party candidates in Barron River at the last election, local issues were only one factor. A lot of Greens voters were opposed to an LNP Government, even though they may have admired Wendy's stand on some local issues. That was obvious to me when I was handing out 'How to Votes' in the morning. A significant number of Greens voters who indicated their feelings on the way past declined to take a HTV. They knew very well who how they were going to vote. Some checked to find how they could vote green without voting against the Bligh Government.

I can accept that Bryan holds a different view from me on this, but I find his accusation of personal dishonesty silly and offensive. If my analysis is wrong, so be it; I didn't try to deceive anyone.

Unless there's a remarkable new twist in the argument, this is positively the last time I ever comment here on the topic of Greens preferences. The topic has been done to death.

If people want to believe Steve Wettenhall is in Parliament entirely because of backroom deals in smoke-filled rooms in Brisbane at which undemocratic Greens Party bosses ruthlessly imposed their view, to the deliberate detriment of long-standing green causes, it's there right to hold that belief.

Many people believe stranger things than that. In the greater scheme of things, it’s one of the more innocuous myths of our time.

I alluded to a more sinister myth earlier in this thread. We're still at war over that one...

Syd Walker said...

The long-term future of a progressively-oriented, conservation-minded electorate such as Barron River may - I hope - be glimpsed by looking west. On Saturday, Greens candidate Adele Carles took the seat of Freemantle from the ALP. She will now sit in the WA Lower House.

Adele's 'preferences' was irrelevant, because she won.

Good on her!

Bryan law said...

Syd, get it straight! You didn't raise the issue of Greens preferences in Barron River. Ray Taylor did, and then you wrote in with a strictly anecdotal perspective to deny that the Greens head office in Brisbane could be responsible in any way for how Greens voters allocated preferences. You didn't do a very good job.

Check out Antony Green's (ABC election commentator) piece on the incidence and effect of the Greens' allocating preferences here:

You'll see that in Barron River in 2009, if Green's figure of 13% holds true, that some 450 preference votes went to Steve Wettenhall as a result of the uber-committee's decision in Brisbane.

If preference allocation had gone the other way (to Wendy Richardson) and the 450 preferences had followed that direction, Wendy would have won (by one vote). Election figures here:

The point is that decisions like the one made by Drew Hutton and Ronan Lee are important to the ALP, and in 2009 the Greens made its decision in an anti-democratic, unaccountable, and unproductive way. Do you seriously believe that Steve Wettenhall is able to deal with public transport effectively?

By the way, when you proclaim your own ignorance about preference negotiations, speak for yourself and don't assume that I'm as uninformed as you are. I followed the negotiations, and I asked people about what was going on.

Drew and Ronan FAILED to achieve any material gain for the Greens in Queensland, which fits in with this state being the worst performing Greens Party in the nation.

They get away with it in part because supporters like you are happy to act on their uninformed prejudices, and anyone who proposes a different path is excluded from the Party.

It would be nice one day to have a debate within the Party, or in any public forum, about how the Queensland Greens might do better. It won't happen while the old guard is happy with the crumbs that Labor gives them.

We can do better Syd, but first you'll have to learn to pay attention to the real world, and stop defending the reprehensible behaviour of the ALP/Greens white boys club.

Syd Walker said...

Here are some facts about the Barron River election in 2009, all taken from the ABC website.

There were three candidates, who got the following primary votes:

Wendy Richardson LNP 12,025 43.8%
Steve Wettenhall ALP 11,864 43.2%+1.9%

Sarah Isaacs GRN 3,545 12.9% -0.8%

In 2009, Wendy got back almost all the 'other vote' from the Independemnt who ran in 2006 (Fishing Party, from memory). But Steve may have picked up a smidgen of that vote too - and his primary vote percentage actually increased by nearly 2%.

Sarah ran a great campaign, IMO; she was drafted in at the very last moment and the Greens had a much smaller budget than the ALP or LNP. Even so, facts are facts; the Greens vote declined very slightly as a % of the primary vote, compared with the 2006 result.

Because the swing to the conservatives was so small in Barron River (less than the State average), Greens voters' preferences were critical.

Of Sarah's primary vote, which was 3,545, 497 preference votes (14%) went to Wendy, 1,878 (53%) went to Steve, and 1,170 votes (33%) exhausted.

Almost half the Greens voters, therefore (47% to be precise) ignored the Greens HTV, which recommended a second preference vote for Steve.

Bryan apparently believes that if the white male Greens Politburo Chiefs in their smoke-filled Brisbane rooms had imposed a Bryan Law approved How to Vote Card in Barron River, it would have made a decisive difference to the outcome.

Personally, I doubt it. But my sources, of course, are not a patch on Bryan's and I don't have smoke detectors or hidden microphones installed at Greens HQ.

Bryan Law said...

Syd, you didn't read Antony Green's piece did you? Still, what would he know compared to the Oracle of Up There.

Ray Taylor, Little Mulgrave said...

Syd- When it came to the environmental issue of the heritage status of the Cairns Yacht Club, located on Trinity Inlet, an area which, incidentally, is acknowledged as being the city’s most valued asset, where were you blokes?

The people to whom the Green Party voters chose to direct their preferences, are directly responsible for the destruction of a much loved ninety year old club house that had been the social meeting place for many a Far North Queenslander over a ninety year period and where many a visitor, from far and wide, was able to experience true Far North Queensland hospitality.

Well Syd-its bloody well gone, and those good people have been scattered to the four point of the compass, rendering this old place to a plaque in the pavement----if you’re lucky.

Syd Walker said...


As you can see from the statistics I presented, Greens voters in Barron River were a diverse group at the last election.

A significant percentage of them agreed with you and Bryan about where to lodge their preference vote. About a third seemed to loathe both major parties so much they didn't allocate any preference. Just over half preferenced the ALP.

Any attempt to speak for them all would be palpably absurd.

Those who - like you - believe more Greens voters should have given their second preference to the LNP would be better served by reflecting on why approximately half the Greens voters chose to do the opposite, quite recently. Could they have had good reasons for their choice?

It would probably help if you showed better appreciation of the distinction between an 'environmental issue' in the broad sense and a 'heritage protection issue'. Saving the Yacht Club fell into the latter category. Greens are typically very keen on protecting built heritage. I'm sure the ALP's failure to protect the Yacht Club was a negative for many of them. For some it was probably decisive.

But if the Queensland LNP wants to imagine that, in 2009, it also had superior policies on the broad range of environmental policies, it risks lapsing into self-delusion.

I gave my second preference to Labor because I saw it as the better of a dodgy duo on a broad range of environmental and social issues.

You may be able to change my mind by reasoned argument. Tell me why you think I was wrong, by all means. Improve your policies and help me change my mind for next time. But whinging and shouting doesn't cut it for me.

The way you write, you seem to believe the LNP deserved ALL Greens voters preferences. If you really believe that, make the case. Good luck to you. There's another election due before too long. Get out there and win over the green vote by attractive policies and good candidates. But don't imagine one issue alone can win all or even most of those voters over.

There are plenty of ways to upstage the ALP on environmental issues. Labor makes it easy. But the LNP needs to rise to the challenge if it wants the green-leaning vote badly enough.

I hope it does.