In my de­fence

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

IN RE­SPONSE to the re­cent spate of at­tacks on my term as mayor - I over­saw a change to the bal­ance sheet from net debt to sur­plus, was suc­cess­ful in get­ting large licks of out­side money into the shire and ini­ti­ated some sta­teof-the-art in­fra­struc­ture in­clud­ing chem­i­cal-free drink­ing water and ter­tiary sewage treat­ment for Port Dou­glas with 100 per cent water re­use. I ini­ti­ated and ne­go­ti­ated the bi­tu­men for the road to Cape Tribu­la­tion, a free ferry for lo­cals, pro­tected agri­cul­tural land, in­tro­duced the self­fund­ing tourism pro­mo­tion fund, at­tracted $50 mil­lion for con­ser­va­tion and in­fra­struc­ture north of the Dain­tree River and drove many ini­tia­tives to sup­port the cane in­dus­try at its low­est point. The main sore point is the Dain­tree Coast, where the en­tire Wet Trop­ics World Her­itage con­cept was con­ceived be­cause it’s the birth­place of flow­er­ing plants The ef­forts to save it by my­self and many oth­ers from clear­ing, sub­di­vi­sion, a bridge and high­way up the coast since the mid-’70s has paid huge div­i­dends. To the sur­prise of the broader con­ser­va­tion sec­tor at the time, tourism - now 80 per cent of the shire’s econ­omy but non-ex­is­tent then - was em­braced from the out­set by the lo­cal pro­test­ers. The Dain­tree Coast was not ‘‘ne­glected’’, it was the sub­ject of a rad­i­cal reg­u­la­tory mea­sure that re­moved devel­op­ment rights from a num­ber of prop­er­ties and paid com­pen­sa­tion. It caused wide­spread of­fence to prop­erty right val­ues and had a big im­pact on a num­ber of peo­ple plan­ning to build there not those al­ready there - a lesser im­post than land re­sump­tion for a school, road or air­port? It also made a lot happy - peo­ple who at last could sell their land at a pre­mium and those who lived off tourism. Yes I fought mains power that few could af­ford any­way, un­til the buy­back was com­pleted but agreed once done, the sub­ject should be re­vis­ited. I stuck to that and suc­cess­fully ar­gued for money for fea­si­bil­ity work which was fi­nally spent by Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil on an in­ef­fec­tual study. Now I’d like to see in­no­va­tive lo­cal area, retic­u­lated, un­der­ground power that links ex­ist­ing rooftop so­lar pan­els and re­places gen­er­a­tors and bat­ter­ies with cen­tralised backup. Sav­ing The Dain­tree from look­ing like Mis­sion Beach has helped con­serve the shire’s great­est tourism and con­ser­va­tion as­set. I know it has hurt some, not on the scale many make out but look at the size of the eco­nomic div­i­dend - tourism is the only sub­stan­tive econ­omy on the Dain­tree Coast, sadly look­ing in­creas­ingly tacky th­ese days. Yes CRC have done a great job fix­ing the road, and it will need more of that as time goes on, but it has ne­glected the pre­sen­ta­tion such as the Gate­way, it has boom-sprayed the road­sides giv­ing us ugly col­laps­ing dirt banks to look at and done noth­ing to progress a new fu­ture for the area, a process be­gun and bud­geted for by the pre­vi­ous Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil. Dain­tree needs at­ten­tion again but it’s not just elec­tric­ity, it needs to look beau­ti­ful and that’s more an eco­nomic than a con­ser­va­tion is­sue. It needs its own mar­ket­ing strat­egy that ad­vo­cates on­go­ing con­ser­va­tion, pre­sen­ta­tion and pro­mo­tion. The whole shire, as well as Cairns tourism, would ben­e­fit enor­mously from it.

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