Paws: a fight all the way
Gordon promises to back up Mayor Leu in deputation to the Minister
STANDING next to the proposed – and now rejected – block for the new Paws and Claws facility, Member for Cook Billy Gordon declared it the ‘perfect location’ for an animal shelter. “I think in terms of the challenges that Paws and Claws have faced, and criticisms and opposition to other locations, I think this perfectly meets the needs (of Paws and Claws),” said Mr Gordon during a visit to Douglas Shire where he also took part in the March on Macrossan to save Paws and Claws.
Speaking to the Gazette, he added that the Yule Point location “eliminates any other arguments that have been put up by other members of the community about why they didn’t want the facility built in those other locations,” referring to noise and traffic complaints and hurdles put forward to counter other proposed sites.
Mr Gordon said that news Paws and Claws was on the rocks was a surprise to him, having assumed the matter was settled months ago and Yule Point was to go ahead.
“I thought it was stowed and everything was sorted.”
It was a call for help from Paws and Claws president Michael Kerr and other members of the community that tipped him off to the outrage brewing in Douglas Shire in the wake of the surprise preliminary rejection of the sale of the Yule Point block.
Mr Gordon travelled to Port Douglas to march with about 60 members of the community and their (well-behaved) pooches to make their voice heard.
The sentiment was one of unanimous outrage and disappointment with the State Government decision to block the sale of the land, which is claiming, among other things, it is cassowary habitat and to be preserved.
Mr Gordon said the rejection could have been due to ‘tainted advice’ from the department to the minister.
“I pulled Anthony (Lynham) aside and had a meeting with him about this – he seemed quite … resigned to the departmental advice that this is a nature reserve.”
Mr Gordon said he believed a “frank and open conversation” with Minister Anthony Lynham about “common sense” would help the cause.
He said that after good discussions with Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu, “I think we’ve mapped out a strategy, and I think it’s a sound one ... I think some political pressure needs to be brought to bear.”
Mr Gordon said he would be hitting the phones and walking the corridors of power in Brisbane to fight for the Paws cause, with the help of Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu, who he invited to attend meetings he’d have with ministers.
Mr Gordon praised the environmental credentials of the DSC, saying it was a “bit of an insult” for the DSC to be “labelled reckless for this particular endeavour and to question your environmental credentials.”
Speaking at the rally, Cr Leu threw doubt on the department of Natural Resources and Mines’(DNRM) claim there were cassowaries in the area, declaring council officers would be “combing through the site” for evidence of cassowaries and quizzing locals to find out when they last saw any.
“We are completely and utterly bewildered,” said Cr Leu, adding “something is very fishy” about the 11th-hour rejection of the project which according to her had been receiving positive encouragement from the department.
Talking to the Gazette later, Cr Leu revealed she will be meeting with the Minister’s office today in Brisbane, and “presenting a detailed brief outlining (DSC’s) concerns about their current refusal to support the Yule Point site.”
Cr Leu said that despite repeated requests for information about evidence of cassowaries and information about the single objection lodged against Paws and Claws being relocated to there, there had been no response.
As a result of Brisbane’s silence, the DSC has lodged Right To Information applications to the DNRM and the Department for the Environment and Heritage Protection.
Cook MP Billy Gordon and Paws and Claws president Michael Kerr at the proposed site at Yule Pt on Saturday