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Sun 1 Mar

Monday 2 April 2012

It's time to be heard

As we all know, it's often those with the loudest voices that get heard.

With so much talk about the prospect of deamalgamation from Cairns Regional Council, we thought it was time for residents who actually experienced life in the former Douglas Shire to impart their knowledge on those of us who moved to the area post March 2008.

What was the reality? Were services, communication, and planning strategies better or worse than what we have experienced under a Cairns Regional Council? What were the councilors like to deal with?

We want to take the emotion out of the discussion (which may be easier said than done) and hear from you so that, if a referendum is called, your experience may help other residents make an informed decision to return to a Douglas Shire, or remain under the Cairns Regional Council umbrella.

As always, we ask you to keep your comments respectful, and to recognise other people's right to comment.

Over to you. Give us your thoughts below.

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Have your say!

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Will DEVLIN, , 22-04-12 16:14:
At the risk of sounding positive, I think most of your correspondents have missed the point. Let's "take the emotion out" of the debate and look at the facts. My mail is that the former (Douglas Shire) Council was run by a machine where paper bags, winks and handshakes were the norm. That HAD to stop. Now I've been resident/ratepayer for 6 years and my opinions on the current Council and its level of services have been the subject of previous letters both to Council and to your publication. Clearly, the level of maintenance of our parks, trees, paths and roads have been sub-par since amalgamation. My main gripe with ratepayers, though, is that they appear to 'let someone else do the griping'; that is, complain around the bar and in this newspaper, but don't commit their comments and complaints to Council on paper. My correspondence with CRC I have to say has always resulted in action. True, the park in Port Gardens is not maintained to the degree it was pre-amalgamation, and there are plenty of other issues too; I recommend ANYONE with a gripe about CRC e-mails the CEO and demands a written response. It has worked for me and I've no doubt it will work for others. As for de-amalgamation, despite what the Lib/Nats said pre-election, I can't see it happening in this Government's first term, and I'm dubious about whether it will EVER happen. That's my view.
Jennie , , 06-04-12 09:14:
Alas, the state of our run down shire is a representation of what amalgamation promised us and did not deliver.Rates went up, water rates went up, cemetry fees went up over 100%, our water is now contaminated with chlorine, instead of our finest microfiltration system we used to have, tourism is not being aided by Cairns' competition to suck us dry of tourists, we have no walkways, or bike tracks, we have no street lighting and no community waterfront,a roundabout that was supposed to save lives that didn't eventuate,lack of palm frond removals, and lack of street cleaning,less mown grass areas, with an increase in road signage which the Douglas Shire was dead-set against (as it disturbed our green view), removal of palm trees,no thought given to the erosion along four mile beach, potholes not fixed for nearly ten days at a time,no consultation with the community on major projects and infrastructure, and worst of all our "small town happiness" being stripped away and replaced by being a part of a "Big Town" circus. Wake up residents, we live here and should make all the decisions for the future of our town, but have been denied the right to speak for what we want. I am sick of the facade - go back to where you came from all you egotistical council bureaucrats and make changes to your former home towns - but dont come here and spoil our beautiful shire with your SOUTHERN CITY IDEAS.
Glenn Koch, , 04-04-12 18:18:
Touche' John, very well put, our current council is NOT our council, and never will be. The Douglas Shire needs it's own council back- NOW,
The Douglas Shire runs a different race to Cairns and it has it's own identity. The smartest thing for any politician local or state is to shut us up and give us back our council, otherwise we can continue stirring the pot, we didnt want amalgamation, and we still don't want it now or ever.
Tom Welch, , 04-04-12 16:04:
Living at Trinity Beach, and born in Cairns some 52 years ago, it's shamefull to be represented by this council. Port Douglas has always been a beautiful place, but this council looks and spends all ratepayers money for itself. Neither Port Douglas, or the shire ratepayers of Cairns have been cared for during the last 4 years.
Mim Hayward, , 02-04-12 13:40:
Absolutely John...totally agree with you. We had beautiful gardens, because it was in the budget, we had wonderful oil palms, it was in the budget..we had clean streets, every day, because we had our own street sweeper! Again, in the budget.. Ok, that's just a small slice of the pie..but it made a HUGE impact on our tourists..
Along with the agreement of the prior amalgamation council being slightly malfunctioned, all was VERY good.
The difference with CRC is astronomical..and sad. The state of our shire is in disrepair, alot of it..and that is thanks to them. They will always come first for the money..that we throw them. They have always competed with us for tourists too, so we simply cannot be under the same council..it is impossible. They still tell people you cannot get to the reef unless you go from Cairns.. How can a council be fair when we are so far away and totally different to the rest of them? NO, we need to break free and become our own identity again..asap!
Michael Anderson, , 02-04-12 13:13:
As a newby to Port Douglas (8 yrs) I have seen both positives & negatives .

The Positives - Running the shire as a business and leaving personal benefits out of business requirements

The Negatives -
* The town looks tired, the roadways are not cleaned often enough
* The gardens and parks are poorly maintained. Too often the grasslands with in community parks are left until they are knee high before they are mown.
* The Community Centre on Mowbray Street is not maintained up to any standard, same again, the grasslands and gardens are overgrown and not kept.
* The Palm Trees lining the roads into town are no longer a picture pefect streetscape, but more of an eyesore. (Yes I know it costs $50k to maintain, but as a tourist town, image and presentation is paramount to maintain our image that was developed 25 years ago)
* The best water system in Australia has been tampered with to coincide with Cairns' water supply.
* Our rates have increased significantly however services are fallen behind.(as detailed above)
* We have become a little sister to Palm Cove, rather than a destination.
* Our township has not kept up with similar tourist towns in Qld, ie: No cycling/running /fitness circuits etc.

At the end of the day, This was the amalgamation that Port Douglas had to have......... It has removed the aging traditions and backhanded paperbag deals that were cultural with the shire. It has also made us aware of what we don't want, and that is the loss of control of our shire's management.
John Cooper, , 02-04-12 12:27:
I first moved to Port Douglas with my wife and four children in 1978.
We had resided in Cairns for 18 months immedialy prior to that having left Gippsland in Victoria in June 1976 and motored north looking for that special place to reside and raise a family. I feel adequatly qualified too offer the following. Firstly arriving in Port Douglas it was so refresehing to discover the Famous Four Mile Beach with its hard sandy texture and coconut lined strip running right the way from the little township to the then Four Mile Beach Caravan Park some 4 miles south. I purchased a business on the outskirts known as Port Motors and together with my wife and son Jim we ran the garage and service station which included a tow truck and the RACQ breakdown service. Our dealings with the council and councillors in those days were conducted with a minimum of problems. Throughout the eighties Port Douglas and indeed the whole shire underwent enormouse change. Services were barely keeping up as new sudivisions and development applications kept streaming into council but they did. The Daintree was on everyone's lips and when the QQTC (Queensland Tourist and Travel Corporation) revealed the chosen applicant to develop the Mirage resort The southern media frenzy was on in earnest. I had by then been a member of the Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigade (QATB) as it was then known and the late Slo Andrews was the shire chairman. The Late Tony Mijo took over as head of the Douglas Shire Council during those heady (skase Days) and did so admirably. There was no Internet Iphone or even mobile phones in the early days and yet communication flowed so much better. I was the inaugrel president of Port Haven. I received a phone call from Tony Mijo in mid 1986 advising me that a portion of absolute beachfront land known as R207 which a small committee of us local residents had been lobying the state government to have gazetted for aged persons homes had finally been approved. Council had done everying in their power to assist and new we finally had our own land for shires aging population. The reasons I have elaborated a little on these long gone events is for the benefit of many newer settlers. My point is that Councillors will come and go and obviously some will be far better than others. I personally believe that apart from the last four years prior to amalgamation. We had a good decisive and cohesive council and councillors. We did not deserve that forced amalgamation on us particularly when we openly opposed it. At the time I wrote to the new Premier Anna Bligh along with the then minister for main roads who rather rudely I thought sugested that "there was a small pocket of opposition interest in Port Douglas". He went on record to state that, "if we felt we would ever de-amalgamate we were deluding ourselves". Our local Cook representative answed my email to him promptly stating that I would get used to it in time and that he loved to visit Port Douglas to have a Mochas Pie. Last week I wrote to ex premier Bligh suggesting with great respect she should have listened a little more intently to what the constituents were saying rather than her treasurer and the party machine. As a rate payer I have found nothing but pain being part of the CRC. I have to endure chemicals put in my water supply so we buy pure water which is an additional cost. We have two new water meters installed on our residential property by a Victorian contractor who told me he was being very handsomly rewarded. I had occasion to write and phone council on two occasions last year and I received very consilitory responses which said nothing. In conclusion communication is poor and respresentation with one councillor is a joke. Despite the previous council having many problems and a few loose cannons we were far more in control of our own destiny and history than what we currently have. Perhaps with elections around the corner someone may listen. That is the very best we can hope for.

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