Coun­cil cop-out

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Angelique Pat­ter­son

A BRIDGE for the Woobadda Creek cross­ing has been put on hold again - risk­ing $2 mil­lion in grants - be­cause Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil is re­luc­tant to fund the pro­ject.

The CRC last week ap­proved ad­di­tional fund­ing re­quired to build the bridge, how­ever a rescis­sion no­tice was lodged by Di­vi­sion 2 Coun­cil­lor John Schilling to re­view the ap­proval.

Al­though Mayor Bob Man­ning was one of the nine coun­cil­lors to vote in favour for the pro­ject, he has since said the pro­ject is not a ‘‘high pri­or­ity’’ and Cairns should not have to fork out for it.

‘‘If there was a job go­ing to cost $5 mil­lion in which had to be funded now and would be com­pleted prior to de-amal­ga­ma­tion, is that right for the peo­ple of Cairns to trump up that $5 mil­lion when it would only ben­e­fit the Dou­glas Shire?,’’ he said.

‘‘Clearly the an­swer is no and the the same logic can be used for the $470,000.’’

Cr Man­ning said he did not want Dou­glas to be ‘‘dis­ad­van­taged or ad­van­taged’’ and jus­ti­fied this back­flip in coun­cil.

‘‘We are not op­er­at­ing in a nor­mal pe­riod,’’ he said.

But ac­cord­ing to the dea­mal­ga­ma­tion leg­is­la­tion, pro­po­nent coun­cils are sup­posed to op­er­ate as nor­mal dur­ing the tran­si­tion process.

Di­vi­sion 10 coun­cil­lor Ju­lia Leu said she feared this was a de­lay­ing tac­tic so the CRC could avoid pay­ing its con­tri­bu­tion.

‘‘It is an out­ra­geous move af­ter the bridge was ap­proved by the ma­jor­ity of coun­cil­lors last week,’’ she said.

‘‘I don’t want to see res­i­dents and the tourism op­er­a­tors that rely on this cross­ing fur­ther dis­ad­van­taged by yet an­other de­lay and risk los­ing the ap­proved ex­ter­nal fund­ing.’’

Cr Leu said the move has put at risk not only the ex­ter­nal fund­ing but the $437,923 al­ready spent on the pro­ject, which was la­belled as a high pri­or­ity by the com­mu­nity and in­dus­try dur­ing the Cape Tribu­la­tion Road Link Plan­ning Study.

Mike D’Arcy reg­u­larly uses the Woobadda creek cross­ing as a tour op­er­a­tor and said coun­cil was putting the com­mu­nity’s wel­fare at risk.

‘‘Even think­ing about re­scind­ing the pre­vi­ous ap­proval is absolutely ridicu­lous, it’s dis­re­spect­ful and danger­ous,’’ he said.

Cook MP David Kemp­ton said he will lob­by­ing the coun­cil to get the ‘‘high pri­or­ity’’ Woobadda Creek bridge pro­ject back on track.

‘‘The cur­rent coun­cil has a re­spon­si­bil­ity un­til Jan­uary 1 and I will be lob­by­ing Bob Man­ning heav­ily to en­sure those es­sen­tial works are done as planned,’’ he said.

While it has been con­firmed the ex­ter­nal funds have been ex­tended un­til the end of the 2013/2014 fi­nan­cial year, FNQ Re­gional Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Coun­cils ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Dar­lene Irvine said she was con­cerned the fund­ing could be with­drawn.

‘‘If the State Govern­ment does not make any changes to the cur­rent ar­range­ments it is likely the ATSI and LRRS con­tri­bu­tions ($1.2 mil­lion) could be ‘swapped’ with an­other pro­ject in 14/15,’’ she said.

‘‘With re­gard to the RSDP fund­ing ($900,000) - this pro­gram was al­ways due to end in 13/14.

‘‘With the cur­rent cli­mate within the State Govern­ment it is highly un­likely they will al­low the fund­ing to con­tinue into 14/15.’’

Coun­cil­lors will vote on the rescis­sion mo­tion on Wed­nes­day.

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