Saturday, March 12, 2016

Make me do it Annastacia

Bob Manning had no hesitation in removing fluoride from the Cairns water supply in 2013. He showed no concerns for the dental hygiene of Cairns children, didn't look at the evidence from Townsville and Mareeba, who've had it for decades, and didn't bother consulting with anyone.

Now the Cairns Post is on to it (thanks Daniel Bateman for your common sense), and Manning and mayoral contender, Jim Brooks, were asked if they will re-introduce fluoride.

Jim Brooks says he supports it and will consult with residents. What does Manning say? "I'll lobby the State government to force me to do it." Unbelievable!  "Make me Anna. I made the decision to take it out but I can't make a decision to put it in again."

2nd Edition of the Cairns Times in your post box this week

It was great to receive such positive feedback from the first edition of the Cairns Times. It really seems to have provided people with a much-needed alternative perspective. Keep an eye on your post box this week for the latest edition.

Email if you have any comments on articles, extra information or exposes.

With the Cairns Roast firmly on Mayor Manning's side, we are providing a valuable platform for progressive views.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Says it all really: the proposed new theatre

Theatre too small

The Civic Theatre Debacle

The Civic Theatre Debacle

Too expensive

In his haste to push through the theatre before the next Council election Mayor Manning has left rate payers exposed to the full cost of the Civic theatre rebuild.

Because he did not lodge applications to State and Federal governments, ratepayers can expect to pay in the order of $76.5 million dollars. These costs will rise as this doesn’t include acquiring the Ergon land for car parking or costing works on the area between Munro Martin Park and the theatre site.

Wrong place

The key entertainment hub of Cairns is predominantly along the water’s edge with shopping and dining precincts (Pier, Esplanade) and Convention centre. Locating the theatre on the edge of the CBD away from this hub deters pedestrian traffic. It dilutes the vibe of the precinct and local businesses will miss out on passing pedestrian trade. Locating the theatre close to the waterfront would attract more people into a compact walkable hub. This has benefits beyond purely commercial ones by promoting people of all ages to walk or be wheeled and to socialise in a communal area. It also reduces costs associated with driving short distances around the CBD.

 No Vision:  a go-ahead city with a no-vision theatre

40 years ago Cairns was the first regional town to build a major theatre, Townsville, Mackay and Rockhampton followed shortly after with larger capacity theatres. The proposed Civic theatre rebuild is proposing an auditorium with 940 seats which is less seats than Townsville (1014 seats), Mackay (1090 seats) and Rockhampton (967 seats). For a region with a vibrant tourist industry and projected population of 550,000 – 620,000 by 2050, providing an auditorium that will not accommodate large national and international shows is short sighted and lacks vision.

Mark Buttrose

A rectangular stadium?

Tim Trehearn has put pen to paper in the latest edition of the Cairns Times.

Think outside the rectangle
What is the most used sport/recreation facility in Cairns? Woree Pool? The hockey fields? Netball courts? Cazalys? None of these even come close to the thousands of people who use the Red, Blue and now Green arrow walking track each day. These regular users do so for free, building strength, aerobic fitness, endurance and addressing mental health issues along the way. The coloured arrows are centrally located and serviced by generous parking facilities and a coffee shop and stunning visitors centre to boot. The annual cost to rate payers for this facility is less than $100,000.

Why we don’t need a rectangular stadium
·       A rectangular sports stadium would cost around $60 million to build and have an annual upkeep bill of near $3 million.

·       Cairns does not have a national sporting team in rugby league, rugby union or football (soccer) to anchor the stadium and isn’t likely to have one in the next ten years.  

·       Barlow Park has not been full for NRL games or super rugby trial games involving the Queensland Reds.

·       Several detailed studies have assessed thoroughly examined the proposal and found it economically unfeasible.

·       There are not enough ratepayer dollars to fund a rectangular stadium that would be used twenty times a year at most.
It's a populist idea to build a stadium and initially sounds like a good idea. But many believe it would be a white elephant and end up costing the rate payers heaps. And we hear the Show Society is not happy that Bob Manning has his eyes on the Showgrounds to build his stadium. No consultation of course!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Second rate theatre for Cairns - needs a "rethink"

Interesting article in Saturday's Cairns Post from Ian Roberts, the former Chairman of the Australian Performing Arts Centres Association.  One would think he knows what he's talking about. He says that:
  •  the Manning Council hasn't even used a theatre designer to get the performing spaces right (unbelievable as that sounds)
  • the stage wings are inadequate
  • staff costs will be higher because the loading dock is a long way from the two stages
  • 941 seats is too small; larger regional towns across Victoria all report they wish they'd built over 1,000 seats (The previous council's plan - after extensive consultation was for 1100 seats)
  • the precinct is not connected to other activities that might make it viable. (It's on the fringe of town and too far away from the action)
If Jim Brooks does get elected to replace Bob Manning at the election on 19th March,  he's going to be faced with a theatre that does not even meet current needs, let alone the needs over the next 40 - 50 years of a growing city.

Shame, Bob, Shame.  You ripped up those contracts for $97 million from the state and federal governments and now taxpayers are going to have to foot the bill for an inadequate substitute.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Going batty - Manning vs flying foxes

March 2012 heralded hard times for flying foxes when the Newman government came to power with a declared anti-flying fox policy. At that time Cairns Regional Council had a benevolent attitude towards the CBD spectacled flying fox camp, centred in the heritage listed trees at the Cairns library. The studies that supported the listing of this species as threatened cited the tourist value of this camp, that it was a significant camp with more than 10% of the total species population and that it provided shelter for adults and juveniles with a significant population of mothers and babies in the breeding season.

The Manning Council, elected soon after the Newman government, initially maintained the hands-off status quo but, when pressured by the Newman government to disperse the CBD bats, adopted an aggressive anti- flying fox policy.  
The facts that the spectacled flying fox is a listed threatened species under the Federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act and that the library fig trees are on the Queensland Heritage register should have dampened the vigour with which Council attacked the trees at the library. Unfortunately, for Council, it didnt and they now find themselves in court for breaches of both the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and the Queensland Heritage Act.

Council decided not to pay the initial $14,000 fine and have now spent many times that amount in lawyers’ fees. All this wasted expenditure of ratepayers’ money on top of the costs of a failed dispersal has only fragmented this flying fox camp. They are now spread out over two city blocks from Shields to Florence Streets.

Bryn Mathews