RE­PORT CLAD IN SE­CRECY

Hid­den truth on new $71m the­atre that even coun­cil­lors aren’t al­lowed to know

The Cairns Post - - FRONT PAGE - CHRIS CALCINO

A CLOAK and dag­ger re­port into fire safety de­fi­cien­cies at the Cairns Per­form­ing Arts Cen­tre is be­ing kept even from the coun­cil­lor who rep­re­sents the CBD.

Di­vi­sion 5 Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil­lor Richie Bates has re­sorted to fil­ing a right to in­for­ma­tion re­quest to Queens­land Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices af­ter weeks of be­ing stonewalled by the coun­cil.

The $71.1 mil­lion cen­tre is sched­uled to open on De­cem­ber 15 but grave con­cerns have been raised over its alu­minium com­pos­ite cladding and in­su­la­tion, and those in the know have closed ranks.

“It’s hard to be­lieve that a re­port of such sig­nif­i­cance could be kept from key stake- hold­ers such as the CPAC Steer­ing Com­mit­tee and coun­cil­lors,” Cr Bates said.

“We can’t even be told whether the $70-odd mil­lion fa­cil­ity is deemed to be fire safety com­pli­ant or non-com­pli­ant by the CEO who holds a copy of the QFES re­port.

“In­stead, we have re­ceived the same vague state­ments for months about work­ing with the QFES on any is­sues to meet the De­cem­ber 15 open­ing date.”

The Cairns Post un­der­stands the coun­cil and its build­ing cer­ti­fier are work­ing on a tem­po­rary com­pro­mise with QFES to get the project ticked off for open­ing night only – which may in­clude hav­ing a team of fire­fight­ers on site in case of emer­gency.

Panel and in­su­la­tion re­place­ment, new fire de­tec­tion and sprin­kler sys­tems and other mea­sures may then be en­forced in the in­terim month lead­ing up to its first ma­jor pro­duc­tion.

Mayor Bob Man­ning said he had not seen the phys­i­cal re­port but did not an­swer whether he knew of its con­tents.

“It’s be­ing in­volved in dis­cus­sions with QFES and the cer­ti­fiers, and our peo­ple, as they’re needed,” he said.

“It’s a mat­ter for man­age­ment and tech­ni­cal peo­ple.

“I don’t go down and ham­mer the nails in or screw the screws in. “That’s done by staff.” Cr Man­ning said he was con­fi­dent the De­cem­ber 15 dead­line would be met.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate the ef­forts which have been made by QFES to work with us to make this hap­pen,” he said.

Cr Bates said he was hang­ing his hopes on free­dom of in­for­ma­tion laws be­cause he could not get any in­for­ma­tion from the coun­cil.

“While I sin­cerely hope we do make the dead­line for the of­fi­cial launch, what could be more im­por­tant than the safety of the com­mu­nity, and fin­ish­ing the job prop­erly be­fore we cel­e­brate the fa­cil­ity?” he asked.

“Fur­ther, the last steer­ing com­mit­tee meet­ing was can­celled weeks ago and there has been no fur­ther fo­rum to dis­cuss the on­go­ing progress (or regress) of the the­atre.

“At this crit­i­cal junc­ture, it is un­fath­omable that we would cease meet­ings of the peak de­ci­sion-mak­ing fo­rum and deny elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives ac­cess to the all the facts.”

COUN­CIL­LOR: Richie Bates

CEO: John An­drejic

MAYOR: Bob Man­ning

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