Friday, 13 January 2012

Kevin Byrne says no to tilt at Mayoralty

Manning's tilt to be Cairns mayor

Daniel Strudwick
Friday, January 13, 2012
© The Cairns Post

Stalwart:Bob Manning's name is expected to be included in the line-up of candidates named by the Unity team on Tuesday.

THE race to become Cairns' next mayor will gain another contender next week, with local marine industry stalwart Bob Manning set to make a tilt for the top job.

While Mr Manning would not be drawn on his plans, The Cairns Post has been told by sources close to Mr Manning he will be included in the line-up of candidates named by the Unity team on Tuesday.

The Unity brand was dumped by voters at the 2008 poll when Kevin Byrne stood for re-election as its mayoral candidate, but Mr Byrne’s former deputy Terry James has been working to resurrect the ticket for the March 31 election.

Speculation about Mr Manning’s bid for the mayoralty has grown since rumblings of Unity’s re-formation surfaced last year, and it is believed a fund has been set up to further Mr Manning’s and Unity’s campaign.

Mr James previously confirmed the group was in talks with Mr Manning to run for a spot on the council, but the Unity camp is remaining tight-lipped until the official team launch on Tuesday.

Whoever is named at Unity’s helm will join a field of mayoral candidates that includes Mayor Val Schier, her deputy Margaret Cochrane and businessman Ian Thomas.

If speculation about Mr Manning’s candidacy eventuates on Tuesday, it would signal the start of an election-day showdown between candidates with opposing stances on the future of the Cairns Entertainment Precinct.

In a letter published in The Cairns Post last year, Mr Manning criticised the council for bungling the project and raised concerns about the cost and location. "Any decision on the precinct should be left to the council to be elected next March," he wrote.

Mr Manning is the business manager of Norship Marine and is the former chief executive of Ports North. He has previously insisted the council should take a "long-term look" at the entertainment precinct’s proposed location on port-owned land.

With Mr Thomas promising to kill the $155 million project if elected, and Cr Cochrane vocally opposed to the existing precinct plans – voters in favour of the entertainment precinct could flock to its chief proponent, Cr Schier.

Unity’s campaign manager, Graham Lucas, said next week’s team launch would not include policy announcements. He said the team’s policies would be released closer to the election.

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My Opinion

Politics is about numbers. In the circumstances if the above posting comes to pass, then what it will do is hand a political life line to the current incumbent Mayor Val Schier.

 Assuming there are no wild card Mayoralty bids from the progressive side of politics the 3 way spilt in the conservative vote and the optional preferential voting system will help in the bid for Val Schier to retain the top position against an otherwise electoral drubbing.

The contest will ultimately be between Schier and Manning. Val Schier is a show if she is able to secure between 25 and 30% of the primary vote. Her advisers would do well if they can organise to secure the second preference of one or two of the alternative contenders. If successful that would be a masterstroke. The personal animosity between Cochrane, a one time Unity member and Unity may well be something that Schier could capitalise on. 

Nevertheless, it may well come to pass that the early announcement of Margaret Cochrane to stand for the Mayoralty could prove to be a political mistake in her overall plan to get the top job and prove that with her ill advised tilt at the Mayoralty maye be the saving grace for Val Schier to again win by default. 

Ross Parisi
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