La­goon fall­ing off elec­tion cam­paign radar

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

Un­der coun­cil’s pro­posed fund­ing struc­ture for Stage 1, es­ti­mated to cost $35.3 mil­lion, the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment would con­trib­ute $10 mil­lion and the State Gov­ern­ment would chip in $20 mil­lion.

But both La­bor’s Mem­ber for Cook Ja­son O’brien and LNP can­di­date David Kemp­ton have hosed down any chance of fund­ing for the la­goon be­com­ing an elec­tion is­sue, cit­ing com­mu­nity di­vi­sions over the need and lo­ca­tion of any pro­posed la­goon pool as the ma­jor rea­son.

“Clearly the project is go­ing to be done in stages over a num­ber of years,” Mr O’brien said. “There is not enough money for the la­goon - it is caus­ing di­vi­sion in the com­mu­nity.”

La­bor has com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing money raised from the free-hold­ing of the Meri­dien leases to the Wa­ter­front but this is well short of the $20 mil­lion con­tri­bu­tion coun­cil was look­ing for.

“The other com­po­nents of the project should get prece­dence over the la­goon,” Mr O’brien said.

“This is be­cause there is no money for the la­goon and it’s un­likely the free-hold­ing of the Merid­ian leases will raise enough to build it so why get so worked up about it?

“It’s bet­ter to do the land­scap­ing, im­prove­ments to the play­grounds and fix the sugar wharf which ev­ery­one agrees is nec­es­sary. When that is done, and other fund­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties arise for the la­goon, re­visit it then.

Do what peo­ple agree should be done with the money from the Merid­ian free-hold­ing and re­visit the la­goon when the money comes avail­able.

“There is di­vi­sion in the com­mu­nity about whether it should be there at all and di­vi­sion on the lo­ca­tion.”

LNP can­di­date for Cook David Kemp­ton said the re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion of the Wa­ter­front and lo­ca­tion and de­sign of the la­goon are is­sues “that have not been cor­rectly ad­dressed by the State La­bor Gov­ern­ment and Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil and the town it­self”.

“Be­fore any­thing can be done, the town needs to work out what it wants and ex­pects from the la­goon project,” he said.

“I

believe

the

Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil’s Mas­ter Plan has up­set a num­ber of peo­ple in the com­mu­nity and it must be re­solved be­fore any fund­ing can be made avail­able.

“Even af­ter the years of con­sul­ta­tion there now ap­pears to be more con­fu­sion than ever.

So it might be wise to get fund­ing that is im­me­di­ately avail­able to do other works and look at build­ing the la­goon at a later stage per­haps but the town must sort out first what it wants.”

Con­trary to claims by both elec­tion can­di­dates and sec­tors of the com­mu­nity rais­ing con­cerns about the lo­ca­tion of the la­goon, an in­de­pen­dent sur­vey com­mis­sioned by coun­cil as part of the Wa­ter­front Mas­ter­plan last year of 200 peo­ple by tele­phone and 80 peo­ple in in­ter­cept sur­veys found the ma­jor­ity sup­ported the pro­posed lo­ca­tion of the la­goon.

The ma­jor­ity of Macrossan St re­tail­ers sur­veyed by the Port Dou­glas Cham­ber of Com­merce last year also sup­ported the la­goon lo­ca­tion.

Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Ken Dobbs said he was frus­trated by the whole process and is fear­ful no gov­ern­ment will be forth­com­ing with the fund­ing be­cause of the lack of con­sen­sus that now per­me­ates the com­mu­nity.

“There are peo­ple in the com­mu­nity now say­ing we need more con­sul­ta­tion over the place­ment of the la­goon and those that say we don’t need it at all,” he said.

“We have been through the con­sul­ta­tion process, it took four years and we as a com­mu­nity signed off on it.

“Maybe not all of us got 100 per­cent of what we wanted but it’s rare that any­one gets 100 per­cent of what they want. With the lack of con­sen­sus I fear no gov­ern­ment will give any fund­ing be­cause they will see the in-fight­ing and lack of con­sen­sus and so we risk blow­ing it and get noth­ing.

“This is the per­fect time to be get­ting the fund­ing dur­ing an elec­tion cam­paign but no one from ei­ther side has come for­ward be­cause they see our lack of con­sen­sus.

“With peo­ple con­tin­u­ally un­der­min­ing the project we will be seen by gov­ern­ments as ’shoot­ing our­selves in the foot’ and so get noth­ing.”

On the back­burner: an artist’s im­pres­sion of the pro­posed la­goon

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