Wednesday 30 December 2009

Val Schier sends end of year message

"It's the end of a challenging year and I want to thank you all for your on-going support, positivity and encouragement," Cairns Regional Council Mayor Val Schier writes in her end of year message.

She says that Council has a considerable number of achievements under its belt for the last year.
"I am having a short break over the Christmas and New Year period in Tassie with family, good food and hopefully some good weather too," Schier says. "I hope that you can find time over the coming holiday period to appreciate family, friends and the wonderful environment in which we live."

Schier says that the Prime Minister and Premier's response was valuable.

"I don't think that anyone anticipated that we'd have a visit from both the Prime Minister and the Premier when the 'New Deal' was developed two months ago by Advance Cairns, Cairns Regional Council, the Chamber of Commerce and TTNQ," Val SChier says. "The 'New Deal' proposed a range of short, medium and longer term strategies to reduce our unemployment, assist small businesses to get through the next 12 months, and to diversify our economy so that in the future we are not so vulnerable to downturns in tourism and construction."

Along with Kevin Rudd and Anna Bligh, Schier had meetings with Ministers Arbib, Ferguson and Emerson, and Treasurer Andrew Fraser, in Cairns. They also had an audience with eight Ministers when a deputation went to Canberra.

"The positive responses from the State and Federal Governments have been a clear demonstration that the region will be listened to if we show leadership, propose solutions and don't resort to ‘bagging' the three levels of government," Val Schier says.

"It's great to be part of a new collaborative style of leadership that has moved on from the old adversarial style of confrontation and complaint that has been so evident from some conservative elements in this city," she says.

Val Schier also says that Council will not police illegal clearing of vegetation.

"A key decision of our last meeting will now makes it easier for Council officers to prosecute people who have breached local laws for vegetation and management and have illegally cleared vegetation," Schier says. "Disappointingly, Council has only ever issued warning letters and has never taken a vegetation clearing matter to Court."

Under the new policy, the CEO will be able instruct Council's solicitors to initiate legal proceedings against a person who has wilfully or unlawfully damaged vegetation. Fines will range from $50 - 85,000.

"This decision complements another recent Council decision to erect 'shame' signs in front of any beachfront areas where coastal vegetation is deliberately damaged by people wishing to improve their waterfront views," Schier says.

Val Schier also joined about 200 people in the Walk against Warming on Cairns Esplanade recently, and along with Councillor Diane Forsyth and ALP Member for Barron River, Steve Wettenhall, were the only elected representatives to participate.

"Hopefully, next year the Cairns Climate Change Coalition, who organised the event, will invite the Council to participate and to share the many initiatives which Council has instigated to encourage us to live more sustainably," Schier says.

"Council is particularly proud of its progress on enhancing cycling and walking, and is pleased that both the State and Federal Governments have provided assistance to us through their various funding programs."

She says it's good to see the work being undertaken to make the northern beaches roundabouts safer for cyclists, and to see that the persistence of groups such as CBUG has brought these improvements forward.

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