Thursday, 12 January 2012

Port Douglas snubbing , will it further alienate disgruntled residents.

Port Douglas waterfront misses out on Federal Government funding

Mike Edwards
Thursday, January 12, 2012
© The Cairns Post

Future site: The Port Douglas waterfront master plan has missed out on $200 million of Commonwealth cash.

It also lost out to three other Far North proposals that are still in with a shot at the money.
Cairns Regional Council thought the $35.3 million Port Douglas waterfront overhaul would be the region’s firmest chance of securing funding from the Federal Government’s Regional Development Australia Fund, which announced successful expressions of interest yesterday.

Cairns Mayor Val Schier said she was very disappointed, but insisted the project would still go ahead. "I believe that there were a number of other projects put forward and it’s a competitive process," she said."Council has already made the commitment to implement the waterfront plan so we will just have to look elsewhere for the funds. "The State Government has indicated that it will be committing funds and the plan is a major priority for me and it has the support of other councillors."

Port Douglas Chamber of Commerce president Ken Dobbs said the decision was a kick in the guts for Port Douglas.  "I thought that our project was the best, but of course everyone supports their own," he said.Far Northern projects chosen to proceed to the next stage of the RDAF process include the Etheridge Shire Council’s proposal to upgrade the Hann Highway and seal the last link in that road.

Employment and training organisation QITE was also successful with its proposal to rebuild the Malanda visitors and interpretive centre. And the Torres Strait Island Regional Council’s proposal for coastal protection works will also be considered for the RDAF cash.

The Tablelands Regional Council also failed to attract funding for its mountain bike facility project. "I’m not surprised," Tablelands Regional Council Mayor Tom Gilmore said.  "The problem with the RDA Fund is that there was never enough money in it." "I am pleased about the Hann Highway upgrade getting through, it is one of the last links in a major freight route.  "I am disappointed because the bike project would have had a major impact on tourism for the area."
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My Opinion

As sure as night follows day this decision will add fuel to the de amalgamation movement that is smouldering in the old Douglas Shire Council. Would the project have met with  success if it had been submitted by the old Douglas Shire?

This will remain an unanswered quandary. However, I am sure the sponsors of the de amalgamation movement will be claiming that an application submitted by the old Douglas Shire would have had more chance of success. 

Port Douglas like Cairns CBD is reeling with the loss of tourist number. The number of vacant shops resembles the days during the 1989 pilot strike. The dislocation that this brings to families will have enormous ramification on the short and long term social fabric of a civil society.

Mayor Val Schier needs to show leadership and find a solution to the impasse urgently. In my opinion she should call a meeting of Local, State and Federal politicians to garner their support. Party politics should be put aside and a united approach sort.  

Ross Parisi
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