Friday 30 March 2012

Cairns Cultural Precint to be first casualty under a Unity Council

Cairns mayoral candidate Bob Manning vows to move precinct

Daniel Strudwick
Saturday, February 11, 2012
© The Cairns Post

Precious land: Cairns mayoral candidate Bob Manning is keen to keep port land.

The former Cairns Port Authority chief executive Bob Manning says saving port land earmarked for the Cairns Entertainment Precinct will be his top priority if elected mayor in April. Do you agree with his plans?

Mr Manning and his team of council candidates have pledged to move the proposed complex to another site, scrap any facilities not related to the performing arts, and scale back the project’s size and cost. But the group concedes it could have trouble dismantling the current $155 million proposal if the cost of tearing up existing contracts and funding deeds proves too dear.

Despite assurances from Ports North that the current precinct site is "entirely compatible" with its master plan and strategic plan, Mr Manning insists the region cannot afford to give up port land to non-marine ventures. "We will do everything we can to protect that port – that is the most crucial issue," Mr Manning said yesterday.

Mr Manning's Unity 2012 team says it will consider other sites for construction such as the existing Civic Theatre, Munro Martin Park, the Ports North car park site or Hartley St opposite William McCormack Place. And they said a budget of about $85-90 million was "fair".

According to Unity's action plan released yesterday, a council led by Mr Manning would immediately scrutinise the current council's dealings to ensure all contracts comply with relevant legislation. Mr Manning said if the $155 million precinct was "contractually bound up" by the works already under way, he would have no choice but to proceed with the existing proposal.

Contracts already signed include funding deeds with the State and Federal governments worth $97.3 million.And the contract for project management rights could also be signed with a construction company before the April 28 local government elections. But Mr Manning said the next council should put forward a case to governments to spare the port land by building the precinct elsewhere."That story has not been taken forwardly strongly," he said.

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Cairns City Forum | Candidates under the spotlight

Candidates for Mayor and for Divisional Councillors will take to the stage this Sunday to put their case as to why citizens should vote for them.  The public will have an opportunity to ask their opinions on issues as diverse as the Cairns Entertainment Precinct, the City Masterplan, rates, youth crime, airport mangroves, public transport and many more issues.

Kicking off at 1.30pm in City Place, organisers say they are prepared for any kind of weather.  “Underwood Party Hire are providing three large marquees so that should keep everyone dry and cool” said Angus Gasson, one of the main organisers.

“We are expecting an even larger turn out than last time because there are a lot of new faces in this election and the public are keen to find out about the people running in their own Divisions” said Pamela Taylor, another organiser.  

With former Ports North chief Bob Manning confirming he will definitely be attending the Toastmasters Cairns City Forum in City Place this Sunday, the only mayoral candidate still to confirm is Margaret Cochrane.

“It’s great that the Cairns City Forum has been organised to give people a chance to quiz their local candidates. Whilst many people have election fatigue after the long State government election, I believe that people are interested in local issues and will be keen to attend” said Mayor Val Schier.    

A veteran of local politics, Ross Parisi, was elected Councillor on former Mulgrave Shire Council in 1976 at the young age of 23yrs.  “Ross is back in the running for Cairns Regional Council and he will be speaking at the forum on Sunday” said organiser Angus Gasson.

Meanwhile Michael O’Loughlin, better known to his radio listeners as ‘Locco’, has also now confirmed he will be speaking at the forum.

“We are counting on Locco to bring his well-known sense of humour with him.  While some of the issues are serious of course, we mustn’t lose touch with the lighter side of things” said Gasson.

The Toastmasters Cairns City Forum begins with a live music performance by Johannes Selhofer at 12.30pm, this Sunday 01 April in City Place. 

“Of course some of the candidates like 4CA radio personality ‘Locco’, rugby star Rod Jensen, and Cairns Taipans’ sales manager Matt Bolton, many people are already familiar with but maybe wondering how they will go in the political arena” Taylor added.

As with the last Cairns City Forum, Toastmasters International will be chairing the event.

The event will be podcast live thanks to an internet link to 12 Bar CafĂ© in City Place.  

There will be breaks between sessions with performances by local contemporary folk artist  Jeremiah Johnson who will play songs from his forthcoming album, as well as classical guitarist Johannes Selhofer.

Cairns City Forum - Program
Sun 01 Apr, City Place, Cairns

12.45pm                    Performance by classical guitarist Johannes Selhofer.

Forum 2

1.20pm                      Opening address
1.30pm-2.30pm      Mayoral Candidates

Forum 3

2.30pm-7pm            Councillor Candidates
2.30pm-3.45pm      Divisions 1, 2, 3, 4    

3.45pm-4.15pm      Performance by contemporary folk artist Jeremiah Johnson

4.15pm-5.30pm      Divisions 5, 6, 7
5.30pm-6.45pm      Divisions 8, 9, 10    

6.45pm-7pm            Closing address

For further information contact:
Angus Gasson 0404 191 411, 

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Thursday 29 March 2012

Japan Cairns daily flight boost

Mike Edwards
Thursday, March 29, 2012
© The Cairns Post

 Boost: Jetstar has announced it will ramp up its non-stop flights from Osaka, Japan, into Cairns with a daily service in August.

Cairns tourism is showing signs of a resurgence with Jetstar announcing it will ramp up its non-stop flights from Osaka, Japan, into Cairns with a daily service in August.

The increase from four flights a week will add an extra 4500 seats a week coming into the Far North in time for the region’s peak tourism season. "Cairns is a very popular destination for inbound tourism from Japan and Jetstar is adding additional capacity for flights into Osaka to cater for demand," a Jetstar spokesman said.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive Rob Giason said the extra flights were "sensational news". "It’s great to see that Jetstar have the confidence to put on these extra services," Mr Giason said. "Everyone here has been working the Japanese market hard and this gives us the opportunity to see if we can sustain the demand."

Mr Giason believes there is extra capacity in the Japanese market with TTNQ projections expecting a growth to 200,000 Japanese visitors to the region by 2015. "This will be a terrific boost to our industry and combined with Jetstar’s introduction of its Japanese domestic service Jetstar Japan in July it will give people the confidence they have been looking for," he said.

Advance Cairns chairman Cam Charlton said an increased aircraft capacity would boost confidence and demand in the ailing tourism sector. "The difficulties in Japanese markets have been in the volatility in aviation, high Australian dollar, natural disasters and the tsunami causing very major effects," he said. "Yes, there are some difficulties to overcome, but our destination has not diminished and with persistence I would expect very good rise in tourism numbers and I would hope that would be reasonably quickly."

Before the daily services start in August, the low-cost airline will be increasing its flights on the route from four to five times a week between 22 April and 9 May and also from 23 July to 27 October either side of the daily schedule in August.

The increased flights come on the back of news that China Airlines flights carrying 300 passengers each will land in Cairns from Taipei on July 11 and 25, opening up new avenues with the Asian market. Cairns Airport’s management team has also been pushing the case for increased direct flights.

The team has been targeting the Chinese and Singapore markets and putting a strong business case to Virgin, for a Singapore connection, and with China Eastern and its Qantas alliance. Jetstar yesterday also announced the reintroduction of its Auckland-Cairns service on April 3. "Low fares are returning between Cairns and Auckland providing New Zealanders with an affordable option to escape to the sun of tropical north Queensland," a Jetstar spokesman said.

Seats on the route will be on offer for $229 one way for the three flights a week service.
Connections to Melbourne are also being ramped up with an extra four services a week starting April 1. However, services from Cairns to Darwin will be wound back to three flights a week from April 22.
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Wednesday 28 March 2012

Four challenge for Cairns mayor job

Tarina White
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
© The Cairns Post

Close competition: Margaret Cochrane, Ian Thomas, Val Schier and Bob Manning will vie to ­become Cairns mayor. Picture: TOM LEE

With the nomination period for the Cairns Regional Council election having drawn to a close, the four-way race to become mayor has officially kicked off. Who are you backing for mayor?

Deputy Mayor Margaret Cochrane has claimed the top spot on the mayoral ballot after a random draw was held yesterday. Cr Cochrane will be followed on the ballot, in order from top to bottom, by Bob Manning, Mayor Val Schier and Ian Thomas.

Meanwhile, 37 councillor candidates across 10 divisions will be vying for a seat on council when residents head to the polls on April 28.

Several contenders entered the five-week race in the final days of the nomination period, including Northern Pride player Rod Jensen, former Cairns City councillor Annette Sheppard and former Mulgrave shire councillor Ross Parisi.

Mr Jensen yesterday joined Cr Cochrane’s election team as a Division 3 candidate, along with Annabel’s Bakery owner Greg Hutton, who will campaign in Division 2. "One of the main reasons I’m running is I want to give something back to the community," Mr Jensen said.

Cr Cochrane, whose Community Alliance team has a candidate in all but three divisions, said she did not nominate anyone in divisions 1, 6 and 10 because those electorates have strong independent candidates. Ms Sheppard, a Cairns City councillor for 17 years who failed in her 2008 re-election bid following amalgamation, said she wanted to run in Division 6 since she disagreed with council’s financial management. "I’ve been disappointed about the performance of council over the last four years," she said.

Mr Parisi, who served on Mulgrave shire council for 14 years, said he threw his hat in the ring for Division 9 because he was "answering the call from the community to bring some sanity and some sage advice back into council".

Cr Schier kicked off the election campaign yesterday by opening her campaign office to the public. "I want to hear from as many people as possible," she said.

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Tuesday 27 March 2012

Cairns Regional Council | Why I nominated | Ross Parisi

Today I have announced that I have nominated for a seat on the Cairns Regional Council, Division 9.  Born and bred in Cairns, I have been involved in public life since the age of twenty three when I was first elected to the Mulgrave Shire Council in 1976. I continue to hold a passion for the betterment of our community and I will endeavour to achieve positive change. 

As a sugar cane farm manager in the Barron River Delta I nurture the earth and as such I have a special affinity with the environment. I am currently studying politics and international affairs at James Cook University. I am a Justice of the Peace and a Commissioner for Declarations.

Numerous requests for me to stand for office from individuals in the Greater Cairns and in particular by the  Division 9 community led me to nominate. 

In tough financial times, experience counts.  I will, if elected, hit the ground running.  My priorities will be honest and forceful representation, value for the rate dollar, financial equity between Division and working towards a vision which has at its core, balanced and sustainable development.

I have witnessed a community divided over the Cairns Entertainment Precinct ( CEP ). With the election of the LNP this issue needs to be revisited. I want to be a steadying hand on the CEP and as decisions are made about our city’s future.


* 14 years as an elected Councillor for the Mulgrave Shire Council

* I0 years as President of Friends of the Flecker Botanic Gardens

* Chairperson of Friends of Cairns Community Radio 4CCR 89.1 FM

* Council representative on the Cairns Hospital Board

* Council representative on the Cairns Fire Brigade Board

* Chairperson of the Smithfield Ambulance Sub Committee

* Chairperson of Cairns Forum - a Cairns think tank

* Member of Val Schier ‘Cairns 1st’ public policy development unit

* Chairperson of Xavier Herbert's House preservation Committee

* Chairperson of Smithfield Ratepayers and Resident Association

* Trustee of the Freshwater Pony Club

* Trustee of the Trinity Beach Sporting Trust

* Convener of Friends of Munro Martin Park

* Justice of the Peace and Commissioner of Declaration since 1985

Ross Parisi

Mayor Schier backs split by Douglas

Daniel Strudwick
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
© The Cairns Post
Mayor Val Schier will help the former Douglas shire break away from Cairns if re-elected, but not if the move sparks the huge rate rises seen in other de-amalgamated councils.

Cr Schier has promised to work closely with the new LNP Government, which will soon appoint a boundary commissioner to assess whether splitting the council is what residents want. 

Under the LNP’s plan to give merged communities a choice about seceding, it would be up to the ratepayers to bear the cost of breaking away, which could force a rates blowout.

In the year after the Delatite Shire was de-amalgamated in country Victoria, ratepayers in the two new local government areas copped rate hikes of 37.8 per cent and 33.2 per cent, compared with the 5 per cent proposed before they split.

The LNP’s boundary commissioner – to be appointed in the next 100 days – will work out how much it would cost to split Cairns and Douglas, and whether they would be financially viable on their own. Local advocacy group Friends of Douglas Shire estimates it would cost $3 million to re-establish the old council.

Cr Schier insists the communities should know of all the impacts of de-amalgamation before they ask the State Government to make it happen. She said the inaugural Cairns Regional Council had worked hard to make amalgamation successful, but acknowledged the strong push from Douglas residents to reclaim their own council. "As hard as we’ve tried, we’re still not meeting the aspirations of the Douglas people," she said, referring to the vocal opposition to chlorinated water and the Port Douglas waterfront lagoon. "It’s a special place and maybe the best thing is that they have their council back."

The push to de-amalgamate has reignited since Cairns Regional Council cut down century-old coconut palms from an iconic stretch of Four Mile Beach this month. Area councillor Julia Leu, who was the CEO of Douglas Shire Council at the time of amalgamation, said the latest saga signified the disparity between Cairns and Douglas. "This is exactly what we feared going into amalgamation – we didn’t want to become a suburb of Cairns and we didn’t want one-size-fits-all solutions," Cr Leu said. "But the most important thing is making sure we have all the facts and all the information to make a truly accurate decision about de-amalgamating."

Friends of Douglas Shire spokesman Robert Hanan said the group had lobbied the LNP to make de-amalgamation a priority in its 100-day action plan, and now they want commitments from other mayoral candidates. "It’s fabulous news that Val is supporting us, and we’ll be seeking the opinion of the other candidates," he said.

Going into amalgamation in 2007, Douglas Shire Council had an operating revenue of $25 million, and assets of $205 million.

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Monday 26 March 2012

Incoming LNP members promise to make sure Far North's voice is heard

Daniel Strudwick
Monday, March 26, 2012
© The Cairns Post


Landslide win: After winning the election in a landslide, incoming LNP members Gavin King (Cairns), Michael Trout (Barron River) and David Kempton (Cook) promise the Far North's voice will be heard in Brisbane. Picture: MARC McCORMACK

GAVIN King, David Kempton and Michael Trout will unite as a force for the Far North when they take their seats in State Parliament, insisting the region's voice will not be drowned out in the huge Campbell Newman-led LNP government.

The newly elected LNP members in Cairns, Cook and Barron River will make the region’s languishing economy among their top priorities after clinching clear victories in the long-held Labor seats. But the LNP has been warned not to become complacent after Saturday’s landslide win against Labor, as voters in the Far North prove they are not afraid of dumping an under-performing government.

"It’s up to us to work hard every single day to deliver on the faith that the people of Cairns have shown the LNP, and shown me," Mr King said. "We’re not taking anything for granted and we’re going to hit the ground running."

Mr Newman will be sworn in as Queensland’s premier this afternoon, and the first party room meeting is expected to be held in Brisbane on Wednesday. The Far North has been promised swift action on key election promises once the initial housekeeping of an incoming government is taken care of.

Within a month, the Newman government will set up new bodies to boost the tourism industry and address the need for upgrades to the Bruce Highway. And during its first 100 days, it will start arrangements for dredging Trinity Inlet, appoint a commissioner to look at de-amalgamating Port Douglas, and improve protection for dugongs and turtles.

And the Far North will be a key target in the LNP’s flagship commitments to reduce the state’s unemployment to 4 per cent and ease cost-of-living pressures. "We’ve had the highest unemployment in Australia so it’s a top priority here," said Mr Trout, who seized the bellwether seat of Barron River by the biggest margin in the Far North. "What I want to see is that we get out of small businesses hair – start to help them, not hinder them. "If each small business in the Far North just hired one more person, the economy could go through the roof."

James Cook University’s associate professor of political science, Doug Hunt, said the new MPs in the Far North needed to make good on their commitments or risk losing their seats.
"Allegiances to political parties are decreasing and it’s much easier for people to transfer their vote if the LNP doesn’t satisfy the people who supported them," Dr Hunt said.

Mr Kempton, who wrested the seat of Cook from Labor for the first time since 1977, said strong Far Northern representation in Parliament meant local residents would soon get the change they voted for. "To have the three of us singing from the same hymn sheet for this region is absolutely critical to making sure the Far North’s voice is heard," he said.
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Sunday 25 March 2012

QLD Labor Party | Will the life support be turned off?

Labor on life support after Queensland election as Campbell Newman sweeps in

Saturday 24 March 2012

Qld State Election | Facing the worst defeat since 1974

Newspoll points to crushing defeat for Labor