Saturday 14 April 2012

Unity rides a wave of community discontent

Cairns Entertainment Precinct a 'one trick pony', says Bob Manning

Daniel Strudwick
Saturday, April 14, 2012
© The Cairns Post

 Controversy: The future of the entertainment precinct has dominated the Cairns Regional Council elections, as mayoral candidate Bob Manning launched his campaign yesterday.

BOB Manning has criticised Mayor Val Schier for blaming the region's languishing economy on external factors such as the Global Financial Crisis, saying the current council is "making excuses".

am’s campaign launch yesterday to take the firmest swipe yet at the incumbent council, insisting Cairns had lost its "shining crown" as a safe and beautiful place to visit. But his campaign promises have been blasted by Cr Schier, who says Mr Manning and his team of candidates are trying to take credit for initiatives her council came up with.

Among Unity’s key policies is a commitment to manage a cost-competitive council that gets the most value for ratepayer dollars. The team, which has a candidate in all 10 divisions and the mayoral race, also promises to encourage investment in the region and improve safety in the CBD and local communities. "Like Anna Bligh and the former Labor state Government, Val Schier and her council would have us believe that all the setbacks of the past four years can be easily explained – we’ll blame it on the GFC and swine flu," Mr Manning said.

"Well I reject that explanation … this city could have been far more robust to weather these storms if we’d have had strong leadership." He said the current council was relying on a "one trick pony" by investing $57.3 million of its money in the proposed Cairns Entertainment Precinct.

Instead, the Unity team wants a smaller and cheaper performing arts complex built away from the waterfront on the corner of Lake and Hartley streets. "Cairns needs a fully diversified and balanced economy that has more strings to its bow than a CEP,’’ Mr Manning said.

But Cr Schier said Mr Manning and the Unity team have copied many of the policies she has implemented at the council since the last election."He’s pilfered the policies that we already have in place and is trying to pass them off as his own," Cr Schier said. "The suburban enhancement program, the cycleways strategy, the investment attraction fund, the economic development unit – we’ve heard nothing new from Unity. "I’m not blaming the Global Financial Crisis, but acknowledging that the whole world has had to deal with the GFC and that’s completely out of our control."

Cr Schier said Unity’s alternative vision for the entertainment precinct was inadequate.
"He wants to pull the CEP apart and yet he has no plans of his own – his plan is one sentence long."
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