IF CAIRNS Regional Council wants to promote shovel-ready projects for federal funding to qualify for the Federal Government’s Regional Development Australia Fund, there’s plenty of alternatives in the Douglas region more worthy than a new cycle path, an indoor sports centre and a recycled water project in Cairns.
While Mayor Val Shier argues the Waterfront is not yet ready for funding applications, there’s a very strong case there are elements outside the lagoon pool should certainly be at that stage.
Whichever option is finally decided on for the lagoon pool, the boat ramp will need to be relocated and there are many millions of dollars to be spent upgrading Rex Smeal and Anzac Park.
As Member for Cook Jason O’Brien states, the plans for the Waterfront are well ahead of many other projects which will seek a slice of the federal funding pie.
The three Cairns-based projects the council intends to put forward for some of the $100 million in federal funding up for grabs are all projects which were already in the pipeline for the council and the budget has blown out by millions of dollars over the past few years. By waiting on the Waterfront, the project is likely to get pushed back in the queue.
It would only take a federal by-election in one seat and the minority Gillard Government could fall over, which would jeapardise the remaining hundreds of millions on the table.
Meanwhile, the $42 million Mossman wastewater treatment plant upgrade sits idle, as does the sewering of the northern beach suburbs of Cooya, Wonga and Newell.
These are both projects which are absolutely vital to the future growth and development of the Douglas region.
Without them, there is no potential for population growth, and their progress would also arguably stimulate the local construction industry as much as the Waterfront.
It was heartening to see the council put in so much effort over the past 12 months to get the Waterfront development to the stage it is at now.
But as was witnessed only last week with the council’s refusal to initiate a chlorine-free trial based on what should be regular maintenance issues anyway, there’s no point doing half a job.