Friday 24 August 2012

Leaked email shows Cairns MP Gavin King has been ‘loose with the truth’ on CBD

Labor MP for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt says that a leaked email from Cairns MP Gavin King to Cairns Mayor Bob Manning detailing plans for work on the Cairns CBD, proves he has been deceiving people in Far North Queensland.

Yesterday in State parliament, Pitt asked Premier Campbell Newman to acknowledge that the LNP planned to replace Labor’s $38 million funding commitment with a tokenistic $3 million project for the Cairns CBD.

“The Premier didn’t seem to know anything about plans for the Cairns CBD when asked about this and quite simply didn’t answer the question. Has the Member for Cairns not kept him in the loop or is Mr King acting alone?” said Mr Pitt.

In the leaked email (above) King says:

“The $38 million that many people were concerned about ‘losing’ is staying in FNQ.”

The email acknowledges that there is $38 million that won’t be ‘lost’ to FNQ despite King previously saying it didn’t exist.

“Mr King himself wrote an article in The Cairns Post in 2011 that talked about the previous Labor Government’s budget announcement of $38 million," Curtis Pitt says. “Mr King has been caught out being loose with the truth on numerous occasions and it’s very disappointing.”
Mr Pitt said the email also revealed that only $3 million will now be spent on the CBD instead of what was previously a $38 million package for the Far North under Labor."

“This is a loss of $6 million straight up from the $12 million that has already been allocated as a line item in the 2011-12 budget, with the remaining $26 million included in the forward estimates,” Pitt said. “With a $3 million commitment, no wonder Mr King was being ‘tight lipped’ about the costings of his CBD proposal in the newspaper earlier this week.

“And it’s no wonder that CBD business people aren’t optimistic about the city getting its fair share in the budget, with Craig Squire saying:

“I think it’s disappointing; we were on the verge of getting some good money but we’ve been shafted.”

Curtis Pitt says the email also makes it clear the money King is using as ‘currency’ for local negotiations is not guaranteed as it is still subject to the Cabinet Budget Review Committee.

The email goes on further to say that the remaining $32 million will be spent to improve flood immunity on two bridges on the Bruce Highway between Cairns.

“If the government does intend to spend money on the Bruce Highway between Cairns and Ingham, residents in my electorate of Mulgrave or further south in Hinchinbrook may benefit, and of course I would welcome that,” Pitt says. "But residents of the Cairns electorate must sure be asking – can Gavin King hold on to any funding?"

“At a time when the Far North needs support from the State Government, the LNP has announced they’re walking away from projects that would’ve provided vital jobs and economic stimulus to the region," Curtis Pitt says. “Since becoming the local member, his contribution to the Cairns electorate to date has conservatively been ‘’minus $95.3 million’ – based on lost state funding of $38 million for the CBD project, and $57.3 million for the Cairns Entertainment Precinct."

“It gets worse when you throw in the $40 million value of the port land and the $40 million from the federal government for the CEP. If the full $38 million is made available for Cairns and the Far North, people need to remember that it’s because it had already been previously allocated," Curtis Pitt says. "Even the LNP Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch said the Newman Government has no excuse for scrapping the Lake St upgrade."

“The money may well have been [committed] by a previous government, but it’s the government that made the commitment, not a political party.” [-Warren Entsch]

In terms of how the LNP views Cairns, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney let the cat out of the bag earlier this week Curtis Pitt says.

"When he said ‘it’s not all about Cairns’ as it was when the ALP was in government. If ‘Brisbane’s man [King] in Cairns’ does indeed turn this around and bring on some projects to replace the shovel ready ones he’s lost, I’ll congratulate him," Pitt says. “But that’s the point – these projects that have been lost were well advanced in their planning or were shovel ready.”

Gavin King’s statements

* On radio 4CA, the Member for Cairns said on 13 June:
“This $38 million was just a figment of Anna Bligh’s imagination.[and].the reason no dollars were spent by the previous Labor Government was because there was no money.”

** Article ‘Construction, tourism big winners’ written by Gavin King, 15 June 2011 said:
“The budget also contained the first $12 million of a $38 million package to overhaul Lake St Bus services and City Place...”

Budget reference
*** Capital Statement 2011-12, page 111 – Cairns Bus Station and Barron River Bus Stops.

Thursday 23 August 2012

NewsLtd gets it wrong on Gillard trust fund

Restoring Cairns 'City Place'

This is a story about public space in Cairns. Veteran local activist and anti-war campaigner Bryan Law, sets out the argument.

I’m pretty much a newcomer to Cairns. I moved here in 1993. The city was changing rapidly then. It was in recovery from the setback of the Pilot’s strike, and striving for environmentally “sustainable” economic “growth”. Struggling with the tensions between development and amenity. As you know, we’ve had mixed results.

In 19 years I’ve seen three incarnations of City Place, amid profound change in all our public spaces.

ANZAC Park has gone. Munro Martin Park has been majorly debilitated and deprived of love. The historic Cairns Yacht Club on Wharf Street is gone. The Esplanade has been congested and extended as an entertainment zone. The Casino precinct is up-market sterile.

Inherent to every discussion of public space and heritage in Cairns are the Aborigines whose land we share. When I first came to Cairns as a visitor the best public spaces were in the deep shade of giant figs, with water and toilets and panoramic views of the bay and ranges. Aboriginal people were present (plentiful) as if they had a right. As if the city could include them.

ANZAC Park has gone. Munro Martin Park has been disfigured. City Place is under attack.

In those 19 years I’ve seen the Bama (Aboriginal people) pushed from pillar to post, and the politics of public space in Cairns has regularly worked against them. We are all disfigured by the effects of racism. One reason for former Cairns Mayor Kevin Byrne’s assault against City Place was his burning desire to move along the blackfellas.

Today, City Place is “flat”. Sterile, under-used, just hanging on amid the debris of Cairns CBD. In response, the petit bourgeois of city tobacconists want City Place opened up to traffic.

Mind you they’ve wanted the motor car back in City Place for all the time I’ve been here. Not only does it get rid of the Bama, but it might bring an extra dollar to our door.

Now, these petit bourgeois are the very same people who’ve let the fabric of our CBD deteriorate in the first place. In good times they charged top prices for second-rate service while congratulating themselves for being clever operators. Now, when things get tough, they want taxpayers’ money.

City Place is worth much more than that. When I hang out in City Place, I appreciate being under the sky, away from traffic, in a place that encourages humans to congregate in open air. I like the birds, the bats, the breeze, the balm of tropical paradise. Of course it works best when I bring my own seating… and covered walkways would be nice - they used to be nice until Kevin Byrne tore them down.

Beyond that I like seeing the different peoples of Cairns going about their lives.

When I go to a political or public gathering at City Place, I feel at home. Being surrounded by the living fabric of our town square holds the city in the forefront of our minds – in a way unmatched by any other venue. I like to see speaker’s corner at play.

City Place can be improved alright. It can be majorly improved with very little money, and very little new infrastructure. City Place can be improved as a community project.

City Place does not need a bus-way running through it, or the loss of a stage which works just fine, and which cost more than a million dollars to build just three years ago.

The recent Council and Queensland elections have radically changed the circumstances around City Place. The Cairns Entertainment Precinct is dead. The CBD plan that relied on the CEP is likewise an ex-plan. Queensland Transport will be pruned like every other state agency, and Queensland grant money is much reduced. What will happen next?

I like Gavin King, and wish him well in his Parliamentary career. Can he solve City Place, in association with his Party colleague and Mayor Bob Manning?

If Gavin King is serious about our economy he needs to solve City Place using minimal elegant means. I’m going to have a little go at helping. I’d like to re-create City Place as a pedestrian town square.

As a citizen of Cairns I’d like to work with as many other citizens as possible who are prepared to give a shit about the public spaces of our polis. In particular I want to work in cooperation with Geoff Holland and the CBD group he set up earlier this year.

I want Mayor Bob Manning to keep the promise he made as a candidate speaking at City Place in April this year, which was to design a revitalised City Place using the wealth of local talent and skill.

This is our opportunity to get it right. Restore City Place.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Labor MP Curtis Pitt says Cairns is ''falling off the map'' for LNP

The Cairns region has fallen off the map for Queensland's new LNP Government with the Deputy Premier openly admitting Far North Queensland is not a priority, Member for Mulgrave and Curtis Pitt said today.

Pitt says Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney admitted to State Parliament that Cairns would not figure in the government’s major budget priorities, including the distribution of funds under the Royalties for Regions scheme.

In response to an interjection from Mr Pitt while the Deputy Premier outlined the carve-up of $60 million allocated in the first year of the scheme, Mr Seeney said...
  • “The interjection from the Member for Mulgrave really typifies the approach of the previous government – that it is all about Cairns, that it is all about the major regional centres along the coast. Those opposite never considered anything west of there and that is the situation we are about to rectify.”
Pitt said Far North Queensland residents should be horrified that the government would treat their region with such disregard.

“I’m not ashamed that our government was all about Cairns, in fact quite the opposite – I’m proud of our very strong record in the FNQ region,” Curtis Pitt said. “Ours was the government that poured hundreds of millions into infrastructure in the city, that developed the Cairns Economic Plan. What you see by way of contrast is a government and a local member who gleefully, wilfully rip hundreds of millions out of the region and refuse Cairns the right to participate in such schemes as Royalties for Regions."

“It’s high time people like Gavin King started to perform for the area and do what they said they would do – stand up for Cairns and ensure that this government allocates the funding that Cairns and the region require and deserve. The Newman Government has earmarked almost $500 million to be split among 14 local council areas under the royalties scheme, but not one cent will come to our local area or region."

“Not only has the LNP excluded Cairns Regional Council, it has also ignored the Cassowary Coast Regional Council, Tablelands Regional Council and Cook Shire Council. I am sure FNQ residents will be disappointed that their local LNP MPs have failed to secure even the thinnest slice of this funding for our region. The expectation is – rightfully – that Cairns would at least be in a position to participate in the scheme and apply," Curtis Pitt says.

Yet another Cairns Council report commissioned for Entertainment Precinct

Cairns Regional Council will conduct a feasibility study to build a Entertainment Precinct on Ports North land.

Council will enter into a formal agreement with Ports North to undertake the study for the location of a performing arts centre on the site of the Ports North office building.

Successive Cairns Councils' have commissioned various reports and studies for more than 10 years for a new performing arts theatre complex, costing over $3 million.

The Ports North site is located across Wharf Street, just meters from the waterfront site favoured by former Mayor Val Schier.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said the site, adjacent to the Cairns Convention Centre, had been identified as a possible site for a community performing arts centre.

“Council is mindful of the community views on this issue and has progressed its consideration of the matter in a measured and deliberate manner to ensure the right decision is made for the long term,” Bob Manning said.

“The Ports North site warrants further consideration in terms of cost and functionality in the context of a development, which is to be scaled back. A development on this site would not include the requirement for a regional museum, a civic meeting place and the bridge link across Wharf Street but provides the opportunity for exhibition space immediately adjacent to the Cairns Convention Centre."

“For this to happen we are entering into a Heads of Agreement – an arrangement that allows Council and Ports North to work together in this investigative process.”

Manning says Council had not committed to any further action on the site.

“This is not a decision to proceed with a performing arts centre but the outcomes of the feasibility study will be a key consideration for Council to determine its future direction concerning the provision of a facility for the performing arts in Cairns,” Bob Manning says. "Council continues to work with both the Federal and State Governments in attempt to preserve funding arrangements that were previously in place."

The feasibility study is expected to be completed early 2013.

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Get Fluffy or Rover microchipped for $25

Next weekend you can get your pooch or putty tat microchipped for just $25.

Microchipping a pet allow Councils to easily identify its owner should it be found wandering in a public place.

Under the State Government’s Animal Management Act, all cats and dogs born after July 2011 are required to be microchipped. Microchips are required for any dog, cat, puppy or kitten given away, sold or received.

Trovan Microchips is partnering with Cairns Regional Council to have their animals microchipped for just $25.
  • 9am – 4pm, Saturday 18 August 2012
    Council's Impound Facility
    145-161 McCoombe Street, Bungalow

  • INFO 4044 3044

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Voluntary redundancy packages offered to Cairns Council staff

Cairns Regional Council is offering voluntary redundancy packages to employees.

The voluntary redundancy push is intended to assist streamlining Council operations to improve efficiencies to meet financial targets. Council say that this is in response to decreased workloads associated with the ongoing economic downturn in the Cairns region, an odd claim as the approved the fifth successive rate rise in five years.

Redundancies will be implemented on a strictly voluntary basis and employees have been invited to apply.

“Council has a policy of no forced redundancies and this is validated within our new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement, accepted last week,” said spokesperson Peter Tabulo, after Lynn Russell left the CEO role soon after the election of the new Council. “We expect just as much interest this time around from employees who see the program as an opportunity to achieve their personal or career goals."

Tabulo says that technology improvements is bringing changes to the working environment and external circumstances such as decreased development activity has meant less workload in some areas of Council.

Only permanent full-time and part-time staff who have been employed at Cairns Regional Council for at least 12 months will be eligible for consideration by August 22nd.