Candidates put election hand up
AROUND 60 residents from Clifton Beach to the Daintree attended a local council election forum to hear what the mayoral and Division 10 candidates had to say on Tuesday night.
The meeting, hosted by the Port Douglas Chamber of Commerce, at the Sea Temple Golf Club, was to give residents an opportunity to ask the candidates questions and find out who will best represent them.
All eight candidates agreed de-amalgamation seemed the best option for the region but in the interim promised to work harder to sort the growing rift between the Douglas region and the Cairns Regional Council and also work on improving the tourism industry.
Mayoral candidate Margaret Cochrane promised to replant mature coconut trees in place of the 49 cut down on Four Mile Beach and investigate green power for the Daintree and raised her idea of community “chat sessions” with councillors.
Bob Manning is concerned the economy could return to a global financial crisis and promised a cost-effective council and to restore Cairns’ current assets, the CBD’S appearance and loss of business.
Ian Thomas painted the council as having an “uncertain financial situation” and believes no money should be spent on the Cairns Entertainment Precinct or any new assets while warning the diversification of tourism needed to be carefully considered.
Incumbent Mayor Val Schier was in opposite view, wanting to capitalise on the solar eclipse in November similar to the President Clinton visit to capture a global audience and was confident with the council’s financial management, comparing the debt to other councils as “low”.
After a questions and answer time, the Division 10 candidates spoke and all said they would chase funding and support from council to implement the Melbourne Business School’s Revitalise Port Douglas report.
Candidate Terry Melchert promised to focus on both the tourism and agricultural industries and said he would push to freeze rates for one year to help combat the economic downturn and focus on public infrastructure maintenance and relook at the Waterfront plan.
Pete Smith said he would lobby for more money for tourism, promised more communication and said the original Waterfront lagoon location in the tidal zone was the only place for it and offered more help for the fishing industry.
Incumbent Julia Leu said she would support the council’s economic development and innovation team to diversify the economy and promised to continue to listen to people’s views and focus on upgrading the sewage treatment plant, getting a new reservoir for Port Douglas and lighting for Port Douglas’s sports ground.
Bob Shaw expressed his concerns Palm Cove and Clifton Beach had a “reduced presence and representation on council” and would investigate changing the divisional boundaries to be part of the northern beaches, and said Palm Cove and Clifton Beach would prefer the money spent on Tourism Port Douglas Daintree went towards Tourism Tropical North Queensland for everyone’s benefit.