Paws fight steps up

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Scott Tibballs

THE shock pre­lim­i­nary de­ci­sion by the state gov­ern­ment to deny Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil land in­tended as the fu­ture home of Paws and Claws has been met with out­rage through­out the com­mu­nity.

Paws and Claws Pres­i­dent and DSC coun­cil­lor Michael Kerr has or­gan­ised a street march on Satur­day in Port Dou­glas to “as­sist peo­ple in vent­ing their anger” to­wards the De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and Mines, which con­trols the land.

“There’s pretty much an up­roar over it,” said Mr Kerr.

“Peo­ple are hor­ri­fied by it we’ve been copied into dozens of emails sent to the Min­is­ter (Dr An­thony Lyn­ham).”

Mr Kerr ar­gued the Yule Point block was the per­fect lo­ca­tion for Paws and Claws to make its per­ma­nent home. “It’s an ideal spit for it - close to town, but far enough away to not be an is­sue.”

Pre­vi­ous pro­posed lo­ca­tions have been ruled out for a wide range of rea­sons, in­clud­ing trans­port safety, noise and gen­eral com­mu­nity op­po­si­tion. “All the (pre­vi­ous blocks) we’ve gone through we’ve had to cut out for one rea­son or an­other.”

The rea­sons given by the de­part­ment to deny the Yule Point lo­ca­tion, ac­cord­ing to Mr Kerr, don’t hold up, es­pe­cially the en­vi­ron­men­tal as­pect.

“I spoke to one res­i­dent nearby that has lived there for 20 years who said she’d never seen a cas­sowary there ever.”

The street march and protest on Satur­day will start at 9am at the beach end of Macrossan Steet and go through to An­zac park.

“We want to draw at­ten­tion to what’s hap­pen­ing,” said Mr Kerr.

“I strongly be­lieve there are a lot of peo­ple that want to get in­volved.”

Mayor Ju­lia Leu has also gone on the warpath, declar­ing that she’s re­quested a meet­ing with the heads of the de­part­ment dur­ing her next visit to Bris­bane.

Cr Leu also said Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil had re­quested copies of the ad­vice that trig­gered the de­ci­sion by the de­part­ment.

Be­cause the re­fusal by the de­part­ment is pre­lim­i­nary, it can still be over­turned.

Mr Kerr said that with­out a new home, it could be the end of the road for Paws and Claws. “We’re in limbo. “If we don’t get this block of land ... in­evitably we’ll have to close down. We may have to start the process of pack­ing up.”

Work on se­cur­ing Yule Point had come so far that Paws and Claws even had pre­lim­i­nary plans drawn up, and much of the in­fra­struc­ture re­search had al­ready been done in or­der to stream­line con­struc­tion when the ex­pected ap­proval came through.

For now, Paws and Claws will re­main in limbo as a foster ser­vice.

“We will con­tinue op­er­at­ing as we have been un­til we get a for­mal re­sponse from the coun­cil that the state gov­ern­ment have said no.”

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