Friday, 28 October 2011

Queensland Reconstruction Authority goes missing in action

Mission Beach misses out on firm's cyclone shelter offer

Natalie Dixon
Friday, October 28, 2011
© The Cairns Post

Mission Beach has lost out on a category 5 cyclone shelter just days before the start of the storm season amid claims the Cassowary Coast Regional Council failed to cut red tape and was too slow to find land to build it on.

Brisbane-based company Force 10 offered to donate the materials to build a 30m x 12m facility in the weeks after cyclone Yasi hit the Far North, exposing the region’s lack of shelters.A Mission Beach builder was in place to construct the shelter on the condition it was built on public land.

But Force 10 this week withdrew the offer, saying it had not heard from the council for nine months and "the horse had bolted". Chief executive Adrian Murphy said the process had been drawn out and the company had donated materials to projects in other cyclone
Yasi-affected areas when the council did not make contact.

The builder who offered to complete the work was no longer available, Mr Murphy said.
"I don’t want to embarrass anyone. "But we are talking nine months later and we hadn’t heard anything from anyone since we put the offer on the table. "To me, the horse has bolted because it took far too long to find land and get things moving. "Our buildings go up extremely quickly and the builder was free to do the work just after Yasi.  "We thought things would just happen but it appears the red tape got to them and really, the opportunity has been lost."

Mr Murphy said the company was no longer in a position to make the offer and the builder was now working in Papua New Guinea. When asked to comment on Wednesday, Cassowary Coast Mayor Bill Shannon dismissed the notion the region would not be getting the shelter. But yesterday he wrote a letter to Force 10 asking if the offer had been withdrawn and said the council had communicated with the company  many times regarding the shelter.

Two sites at Mission Beach had been selected as options after consultation with Emergency Management Queensland and the community, Cr Shannon said. "There has been no red tape and certainly no lack of effort on council’s behalf," he said. "I will be chasing this up at the highest levels. It is completely out of the blue and frankly, bizarre."

Mission Beach residents were furious they had lost the shelter which local community groups hoped to use outside of the cyclone season.Tully State School has been earmarked as a site for one of 10 State Government shelters being built along the Queensland coast. Weipa, Port Douglas and Edmonton are other locations in the Far North. "I guess this is fairly typical of most councils in this country," Wongaling Beach resident Kirsty Boyd. "They let red tape stop progress when they should just push things through while they have the chance."
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