Sunday 16 August 2009

To KB or not KB, that is the question

It was bloody poor of the Cairns Post to run a feature letter from a "Kevin Byrne of Whitfield" this week without any footnote declaring who he is, was, or currently works for.

This is common journalistic practice when a politician or a candidate for office writes to a newspaper - declaring their role.

"It is unfortunate that some elements again denigrate this city, reject the benefits of growth and continue their scaremongering by suggesting that Cairns will become another Gold Coast," former Mayor and now property developer with Capital Globe writes in the Cairns Post letters.

"Usually their unsustainable logic includes emotive terms such as 'destruction', 'high-rise monstrosities' and 'razing landmarks'. Another common theme is their disdain for anything positive or any industry that might promote growth," his triad goes on and on, decrying the community of any involvement of how our city should evolve.

Byrne claims our City Plan "unequivocally prevents Cairns from becoming another Gold Coast." He says it "cannot be changed without wide-ranging consultation."

However, just last week, an over-whelming majority of Cairns Regional Councillors took such a right away from the community for the development that Kevin Byrne's company, Capital Globe is behind: the proposed Smithfield Town Centre. They removed any opportunity for public objection, which is probably the most significant the development in Cairns for many years. They voted to make it Code Assessable, not Impact Assessable, whereby neighbouring communities and businesses would be consulting and have input.

Byrne says that the CairnsPlan allows a "mix of developments within the core CBD area with areas designated to a maximum height of 16 storeys or thereabouts then it graduates down the further you get from the core."

Kevin Byrne says that we need to "relearn the importance of tourism and the value of visitors" and that "we need to be able to house them close to facilities."

What a lot of nonsense.

He compares Cairns and the Gold Coast, and calls our nearest Southern city Townsville, tedious and irrelevant. Well, it is a bit tedious, I have to agree.

"Development is here to stay as we have been growing annually at above 3 per cent for the past 25 years: we will be a city of about 225,000 by 2025," Byrne writes.

"Far from being rapacious destroyers, they are a constructive element of our community that takes commercial risks and builds homes, units and commercial buildings," Kevin Byrne says.

Well take a look at the mess that the former Mayor approved and supported at Woree by GlenCorp, who were also allowed to go ahead with the same mass-high-density at Clifton Beach, 20 kilometers north of the CBD, not as Kevin Byne likes to remind you of in his pro-development piece in the Cairns Post.

Byne is correct when he says that the building industry provides employment and opportunity for thousands of Cairns people. So does tourism. So does farming.

In May, Kevin Byrne, as executive director of Capital Globe Pty Ltd, wrote a long letter to his mates, as he formed a new gathering of his old boy's club. He called it the Cairns Forum. This was rather odd, as it was the same name that a community consultative group was called just a few years earlier, that Val Schier and former Mulgrave Councillor Ross Parisi, among others, were involved in running.

The breakfast meeting on Friday 22nd May had a few familiar faces around the table. Along with Byrne, there was former Deputy Mayor Terry James. Both were voted out of office by defining majorities just a year ago. We'd had enough of their ideas and their plan for a developer-lead Council, that treated consultation with the community as something that got in the road of their agenda. Yet here they are again, banding together, trying to put a vision for the future.

Some will argue that this developer-led mentality still exists in the current Council. If you scrutinise the voting pattern of some Councillors, even Mayor Val Schier, who came along with green-waving credentials, you would be shocked. Val's biggest problem, and remains so today, is poor communication. She has no effective communications strategy nor a strategic view of how any good work in Council is being communicated to the community at large. She's not entirely to blame, Noel Briggs, who walked out in disgrace just a month or so ago, and the Cairns Post have seem to have forgotten all about him, allowed the communications and media team at Council to work in opposition to the Mayor and many of the newly elected Councillors. As a result, we've had a long, dirty and expensive mess to deal with. However, things are changing.

The May Cairns Forum breakfast meeting was followed by a private letter from Kevin Byrne to his followers. Parts are a tiresome read, but worth sharing for everyone to see the mind of our former Mayor and his determination to remain in the political arena:

  • From: Kevin Byrne
    Sent: Friday, 22 May 2009 12:39 PM

    "At the If ever I doubted the reason for the necessity of this morning’s breakfast my doubts were erased once I picked up the Cairns Post of today: The front page reads FROZEN IN TIME—State pushes for World Heritage listing of the Cape. This should send a shiver up the spine of anyone who values the opportunity for this region to grow and develop.

    Think back to the airport privatisation debate. Remember when I first suggested the privatisation of the Cairns Airport some 7 years ago to generate some discussion and debate. I was howled down from government ministers, to MP’s, to CPA CEO’s to Board members of ACNS and others. I was told in no uncertain terms that the issue was off limits and “we will never sell the airport”.

    Well we woke up one day and the decision was made for us and not even the CPA Board were consulted. I do not have any beef about the decision—governments are there to make decisions but the irony of this is that we were told that we need to sell it to pay for a new hospital. The decision to sell the airport should be made for good aviation and government investment decisions and not “spun” untruthfully.

    The community was played off a break with this one amplified more fully recently with the federal government funding decision to pump $250M into the Townsville health facilities. No debate, no opportunity just here it is.........and now we revisit the World Heritage issue again.

    Reading the paper today made me very, very angry indeed. There was no more divisive issue EVER ( and the scars are still there)to land on our communities up here than the 87/88 WHL decision to proceed with the World Heritage listing of now The Wet Tropics. It divided communities and divided families. It was “sold” as a listing of the Daintree. There was absolutely NO consultation. No one envisaged ( except a few of us )at the time the subsequent effects. It was going to result we were told in being the lifeline for tourism. Well it wasn’t—look at our figures. There were other promises. Anyone out there try to do any business in the WTMA area and still retain your sanity or not gone grey in the process?.

    If you think you have problems dealing with National Parks in Cape York just wait until it has a WH blanket listing put over it. This is not the first time that this issue has been proposed for Cape York. Bob Norman and I fronted a Senate Enquiry in 91 looking at the prospects of a space station on Cape York and were interrogated by some extreme elements then that told us point blank that a space station would never happen because it would destroy the environmental integrity of Cape York and that it would be listed in the future under WH legislation. Well here we are again some 16/17 years later.

    Once again no discussion, no economic thought process, to hell with the locals, don’t worry about the indigenous and other inhabitants (they are insignificant). The gall and the arrogance of how this proposition has seen the light of day is breathtaking and is an indication of the level of confidence in some areas that you can put anything over this community.

    If you tell them often enough to cop it sweet they will, after all they say to themselves we got away with the Wild Rivers legislation, we will get away with this. Locking up Cape York folks is a dreadful outcome for us now and into the future. Forget about Chinalco investment , forget space stations, forget about grazing, forget about dams, forget about roads, forget about future agriculture---no one will invest the time and the uncertainty let alone money in dealing with the environmental bureaucracy. Just think about all the legal challenges mounted by all those environmental NGOs on the government teat mounting legal challenge after legal challenge funded by tax payers against any development whatsoever. I can hear it now “ We are not against development but we are against THIS PARTICULAR development”. Sound familiar?.Where are our local leaders on this issue. What does Jason O’Brien think or Desley?. Remember Jim Tournour [sic] went to the fishing meeting the other night and assured attendees that the proposition of closing the Coral Sea to recreational and commercial fishing was fanciful. 7 days later the Federal Government imposed a conservation caveat over the area while permanent restrictions are investigated!.

    Jason, Desley and Jim might genuinely not know and not been consulted. If that is the case then that in itself is a cause of great concern if this is the level of consultation between the bureaucracy and the government of the day whatever the stripe. I am really over waking up to these surprises that go to the very core of our futures where we have been ignored yet again and treated so shabbily.

    Why do people regard the regions with such disdain. I am angry but probably not quite as angry as others. Can you understand the anger that Noel Pearson, and Jeff McLean and other indigenous leaders that have lost the Wild Rivers fight and now this. This will destroy forever any opportunity for economic advancement of any of our Cape York Communities. They need our support and collaboration on this one and urgently.

    This may be a catalyst for another discussion on another day but discuss it we must as this is something many of us are passionate about.

    These are my individual views and are not necessarily reflective of my employer’s view.

    I will not get to my private computer until later in the day but needed to get this out as I reflected on this morning’s activity. Hope you understand and thanks again for getting out of bed so bright and early. KB.

    Kevin Byrne
    Executive Director
    Capital Globe Pty Ltd
    PO Box 5330, Cairns QLD 4870

PS: You can email Kevin here. Say hello from me.


nocturnal congress said...

No doubt of course that Capital Globe had some projects in mind for Cape York.

KitchenSlut said...

Byrne says that the CairnsPlan allows a "mix of developments within the core CBD area with areas designated to a maximum height of 16 storeys or thereabouts then it graduates down the further you get from the core."

Graduated heights is the explicitly stated intention of Cairnsplan but seems to have been bypassed in two recent decisions to approve buildings above specified height limits for their zone on the fringes of the CBD rather than the the core. These are on the RSL Club site at one end of the city and KB's own Capital Globe development on Kenny St at the other end.

A response I have from Val Shier is that she doesn't support this principle and wants high rise outside the current CBD towards the industrial area. No, as Val also says "Cairnsplan is not set in concrete". However rather than changing Cairnsplan the intent appears to have been subverted without due process and consultation.

This would appear to create a zero sum transfer of wealth from other property owners to the likes of Capital Globe.

NorthernBeachesWarrior said...

So much for height restrictions limited to the CBD.

There are a number of high rises along the Esplanade at Trinity beach which are more that 4 or 5 storeys!

Oh and lets not forget the tall building that is 12 storeys in height that has been approved by Council for Moore Road, Paradise Palms but not yet built by Vision.

KB is a liar!

Lillian at Yorkeys said...

Right - so Fat Kev has all of a sudden developed a conscience regarding the wellbeing & livelihood of Aboriginal communities on the Cape. Yeah, right.
Of far more concern is the Council's bullshit decision to make the Northern Beaches Town Centre development code assessable rather than impact assessable. With the history our Council Evil Planning Dept. has of allowing crap planning by developers through time & time again, do the Councillors not realise what a wormhole they have opened up to the development. All of them with any conscience, & who have come bearing 'green' credentials, any of them who have any basic understanding of sociology & the importance of planning to the health & enjoyment of communities should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

KitchenSlut said...

Noted in today's Compost business section that the Capital Globe tentacles are soon to extend into our stomach! The previous site of The Big Apple Cafe on the corner of Abbott and Shields will soon be the 'Avenue 8' with New York style Pizza. Just what we need to join the growing throng of franchised mediocrities in the vicinity?

The plan is apparently to cater to a local clientele although KS is aware of many locals who will be disappointed that the adjacent Jesters Cafe will go to make way for Big Kev's pizza shop. KS still hasn't recovered from the demise of Java Joes some years ago now to make way for another Hedley edifice of architectural blandness.

The 'Avenue 8' franchise name reported is curious as the Capital Globe franchise pizza parlours in the US and Asia go under the 'Avenue A' name. Capital Globes slender slice of the global pizza market is held through a strategic interest in the Sun Valley Group domiciled in The Bahamas.

A browse through the Avenue A menu doesn't reveal anyting which would pull the Kitchenslut through the door however his interest was piqued by the new Sicilian Mafia pizza offering. Maybe they could do an opening special of a Sicilian Mafia with a Big Kev pork fat pizza topping? Should be a good combination!