Saturday 2 April 2011

Saturday SoapBlog: Val Schier - Significant Achievements

Val Schier made history when she was elected as the first female mayor of Cairns in March 2008.

With just 12 months till the next Council election, Val looks back on the last three years, on what she counts as the significant achievements.

Schier says she's taken this Council back to the people.

Today will mark the third anniversary of my election to the Cairns Regional Council.

This time next year we will go to the polls and I will be putting my hand up for a second term as Mayor. I have led this Council with determination and a commitment to doing the right thing by the people of this region. However, it has been a challenging time both politically and economically.

My team does not hold a majority on Council and this has made it difficult to deliver some of the key projects that I believe this region deserves. Despite this, I have fought hard to deliver the projects, initiatives and levels of service that we need to grow our city in a sustainable way.

I've also faced significant external challenges, particularly from the difficult economic circumstances the region has faced over the past two years. In spite of the GFC, economic downturn, high Aussie $, swine flu, high profile business collapses, cyclone Yasi, dengue fever outbreak - my Council can demonstrate significant achievements.

I want to highlight some of the important work Council has done under my leadership in the face of these significant challenges.

My vision for our region to be the greenest in the nation has been adopted by Council. Some of our green achievements are:
- closed the Portsmith dump which had the constant threat of chemicals leaching into Trinity inlet;
- propagated and planted 79,000 native plants across the region in the last 18 months alone;
- backzoned 26 hillslope areas for conservation meaning the green face of Cairns will be protected;
- created the Cattana Wetlands and other public spaces which will develop into outstanding wildlife habitats to protect native species.

Economic development
Previous Councils in this region have failed to play an active role in the economic development of the region. My Council has initiated a dynamic new economic development team and is playing an active role in creating jobs, supporting businesses and advocacy and has:
- created the economic development fund to support businesses that are diversifying the economy;
- worked with Advance Cairns, TTNQ and the Cairns Chamber to respond to the GFC and develop the "New Deal" initiatives which delivered tens of millions of $$$s for infrastructure and to create jobs;
- spearheaded the development of our first ever Regional Economic Development Plan to guide our regional economic growth;
- initiated the inaugural Tropical Innovation Awards to uncover and support local business ideas to be export ready;
- used the website to provide up to date information and data for potential investors to the region;
- given support and certainty to the tourism industry through our funding agreements with Tourism Tropical North Queensland and Tourism Port Douglas Daintree

My Council has delivered the largest infrastructure program this region has ever seen with a focus on maintaining and upgrading our most important and well utilised assets including:
- completed flood mitigation across the region: Hutching St, Lake St, Caravonica, Gordonvale;
- upgraded community halls from Diwan to Babinda;
- built new bridges all over the region from the Alice River near Bramston Beach to Mason and Coopers Creeks north of the Daintree;
- allocated tens of millions of $$$s on road re-sealing and footpaths

Recreation and sport
I have worked hard to deliver projects that enhance our region's outdoor lifestyle. My Council has put significant funding into competitive and social sport as well as active recreation including:
- built 23kms of new and better connected cycleways;
- increased "Fun Free Fitness" activities like zumba and aqua aerobics;
- initiated the long overdue purchase of land in Edmonton for sporting facilities;
- allocated $4.2M for new Sugarworld slides before the end of this year;
- upgraded Barlow Park and the Manunda sporting precinct;
- opened the new regional tennis centre which has already hosted an international tournament and a Davis Cup tie;
- built all abilities playgrounds at Mossman and Edmonton;
- brought the Challenge Cairns ultrathon and the inaugural Cairns Adventure Festival to the region

I ran for election on a platform of sustainable development and good planning for this region and in office have focused my energy on making sure we are planning in a way that allows growth but maintains the character of our region. Some of the key planning projects include:
- Daintree Gateway and Port Douglas Waterfront plans which are out for public consultation after extensive stakeholder input;
- Mt Peter planning which has won a national award
- a parking strategy for Cairns which includes plans for the first public car park to be built since 1979 (!).

Arts and culture
I want Cairns to be the Cultural Capital of regional Australia. We have unparalleled talent and creativity in our region and I have worked hard to make sure we have venues and events worthy of showcasing our talented people and their work by:
- supporting and revitalising festivals including the Cairns Festival, Gordonvale Pyramid Race and Country Fair, Ukelele, Chinese New Year and Blues Festivals;
- gaining significant federal and state government funding for a new performing arts centre on the Cairns waterfront;
- making improvements to the Tanks Arts Centre;
- initiating public art in laneways (opening 7 May 2011)

Disaster planning and mitigation
I have overseen the upgrading of our disaster co-ordination infrastructure and procedures to be recognised as amongst the best in the nation. Some of the new initiatives include the opening the new Disaster Coordination Centre at Woree; improving communications during cyclone Yasi; and reviewing our evacuation processes.

In summary, I have taken this Council back to the people.

We now hold meetings in Babinda, Gordonvale and Mossman and have introduced deputations to the full Council; something about which I am very proud. And there's still one year of my term to achieve even more for the people of this region.


Bryan Law said...

Val’s record is something I’ve been thinking about too. I don’t agree that she’s “taken this Council back to the people” because “the people” are more than TTNQ, Advance Cairns, and the Chamber of Commerce. More even than the Transport Department, and her state government crony Desley Boyle.

I’m remembering the way Val abandoned the Yacht Club, and allowed her close colleague Di Forsyth to twist in the wind as her CEO engineered code of conduct charges. I’m remembering the way she spent $5,000 of ratepayers money putting on a 4 July fireworks show for the USS Essex, and I remember the simpering laugh she gave me when explaining the idea came from TTNQ and that “she’d been told” the money was available.

Those things make me uneasy, but I can get over them if I see evidence of genuine commitment. Sadly what I see is an unswerving commitment to comply with state government planners no matter what the cost to local citizens. Four months ago, under Val’s direction, Council agreed to bull-doze City Place for a bus stop. That decision was made without even telling the people of Cairns about it, let alone asking their opinion. It was done because the Transport Department wanted it for an unfunded project. There was no other reason.

Similarly, the new cultural centre is going to be built (she says) on land of the state government’s choice, and there’s no prospect at all of Cairns’ residents having a say.

I think Val is a mediocre administrator, not a political leader. In fact I think she’s a stooge for Queensland Labor. I’m hoping we get a decent candidate at the next election who’ll give me someone worthwhile to vote for.

Alison Alloway said...

Not a bad achievement considering Val has faced an unprecedented media campaign against her personally, ever since the very day she was elected. I well recall the Monday following her surprise election when John Mackenzie phoned Kevin Byrne and said, "WE never saw it coming! WE never saw it coming." - a comment which displays not only frightening arrogance, but also reflects the very strong, close and affectionate relationship between Byrne and Mackenzie.

Jude Johnston said...

Plenty of discontent out in the northern beaches prior to the last local elections. I have always maintained that Val didn't win out here KB lost it. Val had the highest vote out in Clifton Beach. I agree Alison, the media campaign against Val is unprecendented. KB would not have "allowed" any campaign against him. Anyone who spoke out usually ended up getting "a letter".

Cairns watcher said...

Is this women on drugs! Val don't waste your time ,money or effort. People will run to the polls to vote you out. By the most things you claim had been set in place before your time, stealing credit won't save you.

Warren Entsch said...

I predict Val will win now she has been slandered with la revolution....they got the guns we got the numbers gonna win yeah we're taking over....the killer awoke before dawn....and walked on down the hall....killer on the run.....girl you gotta love your man.... riders on the storm...riders on the storm...riders on the storm....

MG said...

val you only continued what was already in place in planning by the previous councillors most of whom are still serving.

Get real

the only good i can say is that with proof you finally see that the new alan blake site is being run by lawless and his mates