IT is going to take a huge effort for the Douglas region to come together after Saturday’s de-amalgamation vote and ensure the best outcome for everyone.
Obviously there are a lot of disappointed residents who did not get their chosen form of local government, but the fact is a significant majority did. While the yes vote was largely carried by Port Douglas voters which outnumber the rest, the majority of Mossman voters also opted for deamalgamation as did Wonga Beach, the third-largest pool of voters.
It will be particularly important for the new council to open meaningful dialogue with residents north of the Daintree River and implement programs which deliver positive outcomes for residents and businesses of the area. From most accounts, the Daintree was largely neglected by the old Douglas Shire Council and Cairns Regional Council was able to deliver projects of significance such as the Cooper’s Creek causeway upgrade.
It is also imperative for the new council to embrace the concerns of those who voted no and prove their interests can be catered for under the new Douglas Shire Council.
Unfortunately, the process of untangling from Cairns Regional Council will not start for at least four weeks with the appointment of the transition manager. January 1 will come around very quickly and every moment matters and the State Government should have taken measures to ensure the transition manager started on Sunday, not in at least one month’s time.
Cairns Regional Council is in the process of formulating its budget for next financial year and part of the transition manager’s role will be to ensure the Douglas region gets its fair cut of the cake. While this is not the greatest start to deamalgamation, the most important aspect is for the community to put our differences aside and present a united front. We’re all in this together now, whether you voted for it or not.
Greg McLean Managing editor