Gate­way still on track for 2011 open­ing

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - RICHARD KOSER

FIRST the good news - the $17 mil­lion Moss­man Gorge Gate­way precinct will prob­a­bly still open next year.

Now the bad news - the precinct is un­likely open at the be­gin­ning of the tourist sea­son, as orig­i­nally planned.

The en­tire project hit a snag a few months ago when the fed­eral Depart­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment asked for a study to de­ter­mine whether the Gate­way would pose a risk to cas­sowaries or to the com­mon mist frog, both of which are en­dan­gered.

The cur­rent fed­eral elec­tion has thrown an­other span­ner in the works.

The In­dige­nous Land Cor­po­ra­tion, the fed­eral agency re­spon­si­ble for build­ing the precinct, said it is un­able to pro­vide any in­for­ma­tion dur­ing an elec­tion cam­paign.

It is un­der­stood that the ILC has un­til Fri­day to ac­cept con­di­tions to pro­tect the cas­sowary and mist frog, such as ad­di­tional fenc­ing, and will be­gin call­ing for ten­ders shortly. Con­struc­tion of the precinct is likely to be­gin in late Oc­to­ber.

Lo­cal busi­ness lead­ers, how­ever, say they are happy to wait if it means mak­ing sure the precinct is an A-grade prod­uct.

“I’ve got pa­tience,” Moss­man Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Kraig Byrne said. “It’s taken so long to get to this point, an­other cou­ple of months won’t make a huge dif­fer­ence.

“The ILC is mak­ing sure ev­ery box is ticked and ev­ery­thing is per­fect. The de­lay might even be good be­cause it gives the trainees and contractors time to get up to speed.

“Like any busi­ness, you want your prod­uct to be A1 from the get-go.”

Mr Byrne said he thought the Gate­way would be a huge feather in the cap of Moss­man. “It’s go­ing to be bril­liant,” he said. “I think it’s go­ing to sur­prise a few peo­ple, just how good it is. It’s a real credit to Damien (Brit­nell) and Roy (Gib­son).

“It’s been their dream for a long time. I’m sure it will be worth the wait.”

While lo­cal builders are un­likely to win the ten­der to man­age the over­all project, the ILC has placed an in­dige­nous em­ploy­ment covenant on the project, re­quir­ing the suc­cess­ful builder em­ploy 20 per cent in­dige­nous labour.

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