Monday 14 September 2009

More freeloading for Freebody

"I ran into Paul and Kim Freebody at the races and I nearly dropped my half-strength rum when they told me they expected a number of councillors to vote against their Water Park," said Danny Betros, a commercial property consultant from CBRE Richard Ellis in the Weakend Post.

"Why?" asked Danny. He went on to claim that Freebody's waterpark is an 'investment' in a new tourism attraction and good for jobs, tourism and the region.

"I hope The Cairns Post will publish in large letters the names of any councillor who votes against it as proof of their ignorance of the local economy," says Betros.

Absolutely! You can be assured of that Danny.

Paul Freebody has a rather close relationship with the Cairns Post. After all, they've acted as his consulting advertising partners in this project, in advance of any approvals. They've been like headless chooks, printing huge color drawings of the wonderful water park and talking it up to the nines. Not once have they objectively looked at the development application, as the stories appear to be written by someone who arrived in Cairns on the last boat, with no knowledge of the Barron Delta and the ecologically fragile nature of the land. It's shallow reporting at best.

However those that oppose Freebody's dream, will not be acting out of their ignorance of the local economy, as Betros says. They will be exercising sound judgement if they care to read a little history. Those that support it will be brain dead to the mighty effects off the Barron River.

Former Councillor and Barron delta farmer Ross Parisi has called for a moratorium on development in the Barron River delta, ahead of this week's development application.

"It is obvious that the Barron River / Thomatis Creek Delta is forever changing," Parisi says. "It is imperative Cairns Regional Council restrict the type and magnitude of development."

Now, as I've said before, I'm not against such a proposal, but this location is smack bang in the middle of a substantial flood area, so you can easily see why the land is dirt cheap. The 1979 report into the Delta needs to resurface and be completed with a computer modelling to carefully manage all future development in the area from Machans Beach to Smithfield.

The proposed Adventure Water Park is located within an old Barron River channel. The highway culverts opposite the site, are indicative of the annual water channel. When the delta is in flood, this section has extremely fast moving water flows. The Cairns Regional Council should defer any development consideration until a Council-commissioned hydraulic study is conducted and the proposed development can be tested through a computer flood model.

Any development, especially that of Freebody's proposed water adventure park, will raise the water level in the rest of the flooded areas, including the access roads into Yorkey's, Holloways and Machans beaches.

The Mayor agrees with further careful planning on the Barron delta.

"Yes, I would think that's a good thing to do," Mayor Val Schier said about looking into a proposed Council-State Government updated report on the Delta.

The Mayor, a resident at the low-lying Machans beach community, has also seen first hand the effects of the annual flooding the Barron unleashes, having famously to navigate the road via canoe during the election campaign. Schier has seen how the course of the rivers and creeks change their course. "It's a very environmentally fragile area," Val Schier says.

There's already been proposals before for large-scale development on the Barron Delta. Three years ago, it was proposed to relocate Cannon Park Raceway and also build a large sports arena on land just north of the Barron River on Smarts Farm. Neither had any chance of proceeding.

"There's no way any of those should go ahead. They would have a really huge impact on the Barron Delta and the flood plain," Val Schier says.

With Freebody doing all his lobbing in advance, he'll have to do a bit more than that to convince Councillors his water park isn't going to affect anyone else.

However, back to Danny Betros's comments in the weekend paper. It's interesting the way that the editor chooses his writers for the soap box column. He loves attacks on the Mayor or the Council. He thinks it's a positive contribution to the community. In almost every report about the wonderful Festival Cairns, the Council was never mentioned as the organiser. Belinda Griffin, the manager of the Tanks and a senior Council employee was thanked for her work in co-ordinating the Festival, rightfully deserved. However, the Cairns Post carefully left out the bit that she works for Cairns Regional Council. Don't give em any credit, seems to be Andrew Webster's bible.

The editor started off with a couple of community sector people in the weekend 'soapbox', however the column has quickly degenerated into a bash em up piece.

Betros said that Mayor Val Schier had the foresight for a tourism / economic development levy ought to be implemented, but the Council had no leadership to implement it.

So where was the leadership in the previous eight years when Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast demonstrated how valuable a levy could be? Former mayor Kevin Byrne kept on talking about a levy, but didn't have the guts to make it a policy. Editor Webster must think it's much easier to have a go at a female Mayor?

If Danny Betros thinks there's a gap between Council and the business community, does this mean that Val is not wining and dining the big end of town at Villa Romana with ratepayers' dollars to smooth the relationship enough?

Danny asks if development encouraged to attract new projects into Cairns to support the building industry. "Development is not a dirty word," he says. "The development industry is responsible for so much of what Cairns now has, and is a major employer."

It's the all too familiar battle cry that you can't appose any development, as it brings employment and growth, blaa, blaa, blaa.

Well, you can't just go ahead a slap up anything anywhere, especially when you use the tactics of Paul Freebody over a site that is known for extensive flooding. Betros may be a strong advocate for commercial development and good luck to him, however the community who live in the suburbs are entitled to have a say how their region grows and develops.

One learned political observer reminded me that we must not forget the culture we were voting against when we voted for a change in 2008. Too true.


Smithfield Sam said...

The Freebody proposal has lots of other large problems, I believe several well written objections were filed with council. Freebody was offered more appropriate sites, including adjacent to Skyrail. All would have required him to have "partners" - the concept of working as a team with others is alien to the loose-cannon Freebody.

The bigger question is whether his US-based equipment suppliers are aware of his dodgy reputation in this community.

Steven Nowakowski said...

Danny Betros' dribble in the soapbox section of last weekend’s paper was breathtakingly laughable if it wasn't so serious.

Danny must under the illusion that our elected local mayor and councilors were elected to talk up local business and spruik business deals for those like Danny who must be really suffering as a Commercial Property Manager (poor thing).

Danny mate, Val was elected to run a council not your private business.! Val’s sole responsibility is to run a streamlined and efficient council that is as diverse as emptying your bins to providing you with freshwater. My rates are spent towards these services and not for Val to provide you and your colleagues with business opportunities. Further more council is elected to make sound and responsible local planning decisions such as restricting building infrastructure in a flood zone such as the water park. This is a planning decision and not a vote against business and the prosperity that it brings.

Bryan Law said...

I think Mr Betros ought be congratulated. Not everyone has the personal courage to put themselves forward as a drunken ignorant blowhard scrambling for taxpayers money.

Imagine the personal challenge of having to decide between half-strength beer and half-strength rum when all one really wants to do is get oblivious to the pain of trying to make an honest living in a difficult market.

I took Danny's material as an example of the kind of bar-talk amongst the courser elements of Cairns' business community. My respect for KB and John McKenzie went up because they'd have to listen to this shite all day long.

Then again, they probably agree with it (in which case my respect for them returns to zero). Oh well. I hope Danny manages KB's next election campaign. He ought be able to ensure a Schier victory, even against the odds.

Unknown said...

Danny B. was on McKenzie today and reckoned that money for bikeways would be better spent on promoting tourism. In other words : a hand-out for tourist businesses.

Why have all these people such an issue with making this town push-bike friendly or ,God forbid, pedestrian friendly? (check car-parks at Earlville shopping centre and the new Dan Murphy's for the worst,most pedestrian unfriendly designed places in Cairns).

Mulgrave Rd. and the Bruce Highway to Edmonton has been re-configured at least 3 times in the past 15 years. How hard would it have been to have included a separate contra-flow bike-way ?

And why do people like Danny B. keep raving on about the one-laning of McLeod St ? (My wife won't shop there anymore...).

I go there nearly every day and never have a problem finding a parking spot on McLeod St. and it only costs 80 cents.

Hedley,CMC,CEC,NQEA all have gone down the drain after having the best possible economic climate and support during the KB years. So what happened to them ?

Did the current council and Mayor send them broke ?

Maybe in next week's Soapbox someone can do a hatchet job on Property Managers.

nocturnal congress said...

It doesn't matter that there are legitimate concerns over the Water Park proposal. McKenzie and The Cairns Post will twist the issue to put further "blame" on Val Schier. We all know it.

Tom said...

Danny Betos is not totally pro-commercial development, he turns into a bit of a NIMBY when it affects his own neighbourhood. A while ago, Hedley applied for a material change of use to land just down the road from Danny in Redlynch. Hedley's application was to enable a number of small factories to be built on land that was zoned residential in Ernest Street, near Redlynch village. Danny wrote a letter to The Cairns Post letter's page to try and drum up some local opposition to the change - though fearing for his pro-development credentials, he asked the Post not to publish his name. They did publish it of course (which just goes to show; nobody can trust The Post) exposing Danny as a bit of a hypocrite.

Redlynch Red said...

You lot should wake up, open your eyes & look what is happening in & around Cairns.
Very bloody little!
Cairns currently has an unemployment rate of approx. 11%.
Whilst the country is apparently not in a technical recession, Cairns most definitely is.
Tourist numbers are down to almost record levels & there is no sign of an early recovery. The situation will, in my opinion, get worse before it gets better.
But there you are, the same old tree hugging lefties waving your anti development banners as high as you can, with no thought for the bigger picture.
If you all had your way we would all still be living in caves huddled around an open fire eating cous cous & mung beans!
If Paul Freebody gets all of the necessary approvals for his water park then let him build it.
If he can satisfy council, the EPA & any other government departments that decide these matters then surely, this development is a good thing for Cairns & should be allowed to proceed.
Danny is 100% correct in saying that now is the time that Cairns needs leadership, & positive steps need to be taken for us to progress & lift the city out of its current malaise.
Developments such as the water park can only help.
Negative comments & attitudes like yours will not.

Steven Nowakowski said...

Thank You Redlynch Red for you comment. I totally agree with you. Unemployment is 11% and tourism which drives this town is so low that I wouldn't be surprised that this season has been the lowest ever, and far lower than the pilot strike and sars put together.

However, building a water park isn't going to fix this one iota in the short or medium term. The park may act as another incentive for tourists to come to Cairns but this alone will not attract tourists.

Considering Cairns is at 11% unemployment does this mean we should approve all developments.? Let the CRC do it's job and vote on the proposal considering it's own environmental, social and town planning regulations and laws.

I'm all for new tourist attractions in Cairns but don't let the fog of a near recession cloudy our rational thoughts. The water park would be better located at Edmonton or Gordonvale and not in the Barron Delta.

Unknown said...

But we had record tourism and record development under the previous council, didn't we ?

Where are all the long term jobs and benefits that the boom years produced?

Why did all these developers go broke ? How does that fit in the big picture ?

Tourism need people who want to spend money. Property development needs investors with money.

Nobody is spending any money. That's why we are in the doldrums. It's the same all over the western world

What's that got to do with leadership or the type of council we have ?

Why doesn't Danny Beetroot run for council and show us all how good he is ?

And as far as I am concerned Freebody can build his Waterpark if he gets all the approvals.

Danny Betros said...


Just to clarify some facts rather than fantasy.I am totally opposed to one laning any CBD streets.I said that on the Radio-How you could get that so wrong is stunning.

Calling me Beetroot is so childish and hardly relevant to a debate on some serious issue and at least you know my surname. What is yours?

Tom, my opposition to an Industrial Estate near the Houses at Redlynch was because it conflicted with the Town Plan and it was an application by the Paino Family not Hedley. Hedley bought it later.

Creating an Industrial Estate next to people who built houses thinking it would always be residential is hardly good planning.

Yes I did ask the Post to hold back my name as I hadn't had a chance to talk to the Paino's first as they were from Sydney.

Get your facts in order.

Unknown said...

"Just to clarify some facts rather than fantasy.I am totally opposed to one laning any CBD streets.I said that on the Radio-How you could get that so wrong is stunning"

Danny, I did not get that wrong. Read my earlier post properly.I know you are opposed to it and that's the point I made.I gave McLeod St. as an example. I go there every day and I can't see the problem.We simply cannot keep pumping more and more cars into the CBD forever.

Why are you so opposed to any change? I did not hear you speak out about KB's disastrous "redesign" of the City Place. No one talks about that...

"Calling me Beetroot is so childish and hardly relevant to a debate on some serious issue and at least you know my surname. "

Yes, it is very childish Danny. Just as childish as the constant ridiculing of the Mayor by the likes of McKenzie, Gavin King and business leaders like yourself.

Is the Mayor responsible for the general economic downturn that is also effecting Cairns ?

Is she responsible for the demise of Hedley's, CEC, CMC and others ? They had a dream run for years. What happened and where are all the profits gone ?

cutting loose said...

I don,t know what the big deal is ,this city never refuses anything ,shit units, shops with shit parking, homes in flood areas, stuffs waterways, oversize buildings ,tears down icons, four useless state members ,mumbling moron federal member ,hope I can sell up before this city implodes! it is hillbilly heaven up here

Alison Alloway said...

Speaking of tourists, I'm just back from a wonderful road trip out West....where there were literally HUNDREDS and I mean HUNDREDS of grey nomads meandering their way along the roads. Catching up with some of them later for a chat, I found almost ALL of them bypassed Cairns......
The leading edge of the baby boomers retire in a few years time...most will be cashed up with Super......

Jude Johnston said...

The grey nomads bypass Cairns because Mr Hedley and Glencorp bought up all the caravan/camping parks and turned them into Apartments that no body wants. See in the Cairns Post today Unit price in Clifton Beach is - 30.2%.
No return there on investment.

Blogster said...

And a suggestion that may bring some back to our town next year, dare I say it, a ukulele festival, is being poo poo'd...

Alison Alloway said...

Yes, Jude and Blogster. We are most certainly missing out on the grey nomad tourist money. We need to pitch our tourism to the older market more, particularly with the leading edge of the boomers shortly about to retire.