Paws: a fight all the way

Gor­don prom­ises to back up Mayor Leu in dep­u­ta­tion to the Min­is­ter

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

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.

Pic­ture: SCOTT TIB­BALLS

Cook MP Billy Gor­don and Paws and Claws pres­i­dent Michael Kerr at the pro­posed site at Yule Pt on Satur­day

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