BOB Manning will act quickly as the new mayor of Cairns to ensure the struggling community that elected him begins to get a reprieve from the sky-rocketing cost of living.
After a campaign built on back-to-basics promises, Mr Manning says his landslide victory is a mandate from the people of Cairns to tighten the council’s belt and pass on the savings.
His first order of business will be "serious briefings" from Cairns Regional Council’s top brass so that the incoming group of councillors is fully aware of the region’s financial position. Attention will then turn to the Unity council’s inaugural Budget, to be handed down in the coming months.
"We want to go into this Budget holding things as tight as we possibly can, because the cost of living is such an important issue for our people," he told The Cairns Post yesterday. "There are some assumptions in the Budget in regard to the entertainment precinct and perhaps some other major projects that will have to be revised and that may have a positive impact on the Budget," Mr Manning said.
As ballot counting resumes this morning, Mr Manning has clinched 56 per cent of the primary vote and easily seized the mayoralty from Val Schier. He will have the backing of a supportive majority in the council chamber, unlike the outgoing mayor, Ms Schier, whose single term was dogged by a deep divide between councillors.
Six of Mr Manning’s Unity team are poised for election, and the remaining four councillors will likely be independents. The Far North’s swing towards a conservative-led council reflects the results of the recent state election, when three of Labor’s longest-held seats in the region fell easily to the LNP.
Mr Manning has already received phone calls from the new LNP Premier Campbell Newman and the state’s Local Government Minister, David Crisafulli, welcoming him to the role. "We can’t go head-to-head with Brisbane, we need to be working with them,’ Mr Manning said.
He will attend a meeting with Mr Crisafulli soon to discuss the upcoming term and the controversial entertainment precinct, which faces an uncertain future. He acknowledges that tourism will remain Cairns’ biggest industry, but hopes to support the region’s nascent employers such as mining, the marine sector and tertiary education.
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