Thursday, 3 September 2009

False Cape future uncertain and confused

The intent of Minister Garrett's decision to further suspend the rouge False Cape development, is that any new purchaser of the site who wishes to resume construction, will need to satisfy the Minister that adequate measures will be taken before lifting any suspension.

That's according to Steve Mercer, director of the EPBC Act Compliance, Department of the Environment.

"This might include an immediate commitment or ability to bring the site up to scratch, for example, the completion of all permanent erosion and sediment control devices," Steve Mercer said today.

"This includes the completion of permanent upslope diversion structures, through drainage, hardening of discharge points, consolidation of batters, stabilisation of water road/site etc."

Mercer said the aim would be to bring the False Cape site up to scratch, so it is stable, before resuming new capital construction.

"We [Department of the Environment] do not have any ability to regulate or otherwise put conditions on commercial sale contracts," Steve Mercer said. "We have, however, provided all relevant documents to the Administrator that we think should be disclosed to potential purchasers. We assume that the Administrator, and any potential purchasers, will undertake their own due diligence including obtaining further expert advice as to the risks and costs associated with stabilising the site to a satisfactory standard, as well as further capital construction."

Mercer says it is possible that any developer will want to change or scale down the scope of the False Cape development, and this may need a new assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

"We would hope that the developer, in such circumstances, would be able to commit to maintenance of the site in the interim. However, this is just one of any number of speculative scenarios at this stage," Steve Mercer said.

"It is a difficult issue for governments to resolve in terms of overall liability and expenditure of public monies, if it gets to this stage."

Campaigners against the False cape development are now extremely concerned about what they call "a horrendous mess on our doorstep" here in Cairns.

"The developer and his contractor repeatedly breached approval conditions and the people that were paid to ensure those conditions were complied with," Terry Spackman says. "Three levels of government refused to act, despite repeated warnings."

"I don't want a witch hunt, but I don't want everyone to pretend the was no dereliction of duty either," Spackman says.

"Let's identify what got us into this mess and learn how to stop a repeat performance. My two fears now are that he three levels of government will haggle over who will pay for the clean up while the wet season refuses to wait for a decision and overwhelms everyone, and the site," Terry Spackman said today.

He says that it will ultimately be the Cairns ratepayers who will pay, not the people [developer] responsible.

"The site will be sold to someone who will let it sit there, and cry poor when ordered to fix it."

"I'm a 'greeny', and it seems popular to portray greenies as lunatics," Spackman says. "Whereas I think, they are sane yet passionate people who are not willing to sit idly by while the real mad men, wealth and power addicts, destroy this wonderful country to satisfy their insatiable greed."

Meanwhile, there are still serious questions two years on with the Coroner still to report about the death of Dougie, a contractor that was killed at the False Cape development.

Steven Nowakowski has been involved trying to stop the development for a number of years.

"I even brought up the issue of safety concerns at the CEC Group Annual General Meeting in 2007," Nowakowski says. "Then later that same year, a worker gets killed on the site."

"I am still very concerned about future deaths on the site as no proper Geotechnical Investigation has ever been done for this development."

Steven Nowakowski says that no investigation has been done on potential rockslips from above the site.

Curtis Pitt, the MP for Mulgrave has advised that the Attorney Generals Office said the case is being prosecuted by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

"At this time a trial date has not been set for a hearing. A coronial inquest will not proceed until the prosecution action by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has been finalised," Curtis Pitt's said today.

"From my understanding CEC is being charged. Unfortunately these things take time but we endeavour to monitor the progress of this matter," Pitt said.


Terry Spackman said...

In his book Power Without Glory, Frank Hardy called Parliament, "cowards Castle".

Barry Johnston, Palm Cove said...

I never get surprised by the depths the Cairns newspaper stoops to.

It saddens me how they carry on continually ignoring their true mandate to inform and represent the community in which they serve with Integrity.

In my circle I hardly know anyone that wastes their money on the trash the calls itself a news-paper.