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Wed 30 Jul

Letters to the Editor

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Deborah Favier, Daintree, 08-12-13 12:08:
I just received a response from the Cook Electorate Office on the issue of staff transfers, some of which I have cut & pasted below. It should be remembered that those who drove the engine of de-amalgamation should accept the responsibility of the inevitable staff cuts. Cairns Regional Council is not playing any game, Michael. They are taking this loss of their staff very seriously. To blame them for something that was never initiated by them, is like kicking someone when they're down.

When people ticked the YES box, they did so with full knowledge that staffing cuts would be inevitable. It's time to stop playing the blame game & stop throwing the mud. All it's doing is creating more pain for those whose jobs were put in jeopardy by the de-amalgamation result and making this a more undesirable place to live & to visit.

Cook Office's response: "While de-amalgamation has created challenges in establishing a new Douglas Shire Council, it has also required the Cairns Regional Council to restructure and reshape to reflect the reduction in size. This includes adopting a new organisational structure.

Residents of Port Douglas voted in favour of de-amalgamation knowing that there would be challenges in creating the new council.

The regulations for de-amalgamation require the Cairns Regional Council to determine a new organisational structure to apply from 1 January 2014. The Chief Executive Officer of the Cairns Regional Council has full discretion in deciding the positions that are to be transferred to Douglas Shire within an approved range of 135 to 165 employees.

I understand that as a result of the former Governments forced amalgamations 150 employees transferred from the Douglas Shire Council to the Cairns Regional Council.

Employees nominated for transfer will become employees of the new Douglas Shire Council on 1 January 2014 and will be entitled to all existing and accruing rights of employment that existed with Cairns Regional Council.

While the Transfer Manager is required to prepare an interim organisational structure for the new Douglas Shire Council, in early January 2014 the new Council will review and finalise its own budget and organisational structure. At this time they will decided on the number of staff required for the new council.

Any redundancies that result from this process are a cost of de-amalgamation. It has always been made very clear to the community that Douglas Shire Council would be responsible for these and other costs associated with de-amalgamation."
Michael Kerr, Port Douglas, 06-12-13 17:03:
So the CRC wants to play a financial game in regards to the transfer of staff to the DSC. Maybe they should be reminded that a certain bike race that is extremely beneficial to them utilizes a large area of what is now our land and has no real benifits to us. Perhaps a renumeration cost should be discussed for this event.....
Deborah Favier, Daintree, 06-12-13 15:16:
Re the staffing issue, Andrea, there is no "battle" between Douglas & CRC because at present there IS no "Douglas" as such. There are certain individuals who are posturing about this from a personal viewpoint. They do not represent the DSC at this stage. The state government laid down the process & it appears that CRC is working professionally within these parameters & that CRC has the support of the state government.

It appears that the divide & conquer ethos of the former DSC regime has been resurrected after all these years & is creating the smoke screens of old to shift the blame.

Rather than "battle" with Cairns, it would have been a more prudent approach, especially for the unfortunate staff concerned, to stop dragging this through the media. One would think that a conciliatory approach would have been adopted, especially as some councilors were elected on the platform of sharing resources with Cairns. Surely a new council, our civic leaders & our community can rise above this mud slinging.

If this unfair shifting of the blame attack continues against Cairns then any sharing of resources will be put in jeopardy. It was proposed for example that our library continues to share Cairns resources as it has been doing. The Douglas community will be the losers in this childish blame game.

I question any "abuse of process" as alleged by M. Bolt. This is his opinion & should be stated as such, rather than stated as a fact.

Mayor Bob Manning has made it repeatedly clear that there were 150 DSC staff at the time of transfer from Douglas to Cairns in 2008. Mayor Manning stated on radio today that there were 145 staff being transferred. This means that there would be 5 less staff than there were way back in 2007. Can a DSC run as professionally as CRC has done & cut the number of staff to a mere 138? What services will be cut? During the former Douglas regime our road in Daintree was potholed, acted as a drain & rarely mown. CRC raised the level of the road & regularly mows the road sides. CRC has streamlined operations & things get done, rather than put on the tomorrow list. What can we expect from fewer staff?

I'm sorry, Mr Bolt, but I don't believe that you speak for the "community" when you state that the community supports the modelling of only 138 staff. This again, is your opinion & should be stated as such.

The Queensland Treasury modelling and the FODS modelling which probably did have community support, as de-amalgamation was voted in, quoted 150 staff and this was modelled on the former 2007-2008 DSC Budget.

I feel compassion for the staff whose future employment has been jeopardised by the DSC de-amalgamation vote. Contrary to the comments made in the media, these staff are highly qualified people & there is apparently no evidence (Mossman & Port Douglas Gazette,05.12.2013, p.3) that staff have been selected for particular reasons.

Andrea, I have no intention of boycotting Cairns. This is divisive language, whips up negative energy & creates animosity. I grew up in beautiful Cairns and have no anxiety about any money flowing into the lovely Cairns facilities that I & my family will continue to use, like the Esplanade boardwalk, Tanks Art Centre, Botanical Gardens, airport, parks, libraries etc. I don't see lines drawn in the sand between "us & them"; such lines are only created by people.

PS Great comments Geoff Henderson on development.
Andrea Collisson, Oak Beach, 06-12-13 01:22:
Since the usual processes seem to have no effect on the issues (re the current battle between Douglas and the CRC), maybe there needs to be some form of civil disobedience campaign. Ideas anyone?

It sounds silly but is it such a dumb idea for everyone make a concerted effort to either cut back on trips to Cairns or stop going altogether for a certain period of time - say a year. Its not that i think the Cairns citizenry should suffer but if anyone can think of a way just to stop more of our money flowing into Cairns Council coffers then it would be nice to hear about how.

Or is it that these pollies think until they get 10 000 letters flooding their desks and email inboxes, that we don't really care about what's going on. We do care. Its just that most people do not care to speak up.
Steve Turner, Mossman, 05-12-13 19:22:
I hope I am not the grinch that spoiled Christmas but can I be the only person to object to the pitiful PC laden message from our council that is festooned across the main road in Mossman that purports to be a seasonal greeting? It was the same sign as last year and i didn't like it then either

It's Christmas, not "holiday". Why can't we have a sign thats says "Happy Christmas" or "Have wonderful Christmas". What's the point of wishing us a safe holiday? Who is the CRC trying not to offend? I for one hate the sign and its message
Noel Weare, Douglas Shire, 05-12-13 09:47:
Michael Bolt, in his letter of 4 December, makes a perfectly unbiassed, sensible and logical statement as to the current state of affairs regarding the viability of a de-amalgamated fledgling Douglas council.

Not only is the staffing transfer arrangement in which our constituents have no say, forced by our overbearing Cairns Regional Council and is inefficient, during the recent CRC full meeting at Mossman Mr Tabulo referred to these mostly unwilling staff transferees as being “bodies” - his description for those actual employees involved belies his human disregard for those who are ordinary mortals with families, mortgages and years of loyalty to their former employer - shame Mr Tabulo!

As for Minister Crisafulli’s statement that “the decision made by the Cairns Regional Council is fair” on the ABC News website yesterday in reply to Councillor Leu who is the new Mayor-elect tasked with overseeing financial viability - seems that we have returned to a past when the rest of Australia regarded Queensland as laughable - and rightly so in my view.

Where also in this debate is the State Member for Cook who represents Douglas interests as part of his diverse electorate?
Michael Bolt, Mossman, 04-12-13 14:22:
To the Honourable
Mr David Crisafulli
Minister for Local Government
Community Recovery and Resilience

Dear Honourable Minister

I write with great concern over the proposed staffing arrangements planned for the new Douglas Shire Council ( DSC) by the CEO of the Cairns Regional Council (CRC ) Mr Tabulo.

As you will be aware the Transfer Manager Mr Jeff Tait, has structured the new council with a total of 138 staff. This model is seen as efficient and practical and has the support of the community.

It is vital that there is not an overrun of costs upon the commencement of the new council and so it is essential that staffing levels be kept lean.

Mr Tabulo has been aware of the planned staff numbers at 138 for several months.

Mr Tabulo now sees fit to increase that number by 25 to a total of 163, the sole purpose of which is to shed numbers from the CRC. The additional staff are clearly surplus to the needs of the DSC.

The problem is not only that the cost of wages will increase but also the DSC will be responsible for redundancy payments thereby exacerbating the problem and forcing an even greater financial burden on the DSC. Some of the staff subject to the transfer have over 20 years of service and so will be requiring the payment to them of their accumulated entitlements.

Mr Tabulo claims that he is doing what he is allowed to do under the legislation. That may well be the case but it is clearly an abuse of process.

Your intervention is requested so that the DSC is able to commence business with a streamlined and effective model with precisely the required number and type of staff that the Transfer manager selects. I respectfully request that you intervene and allow the Transfer Manager to select the staff and direct that Mr Tabulo desist from unreasonably burdening the DSC.

Yours Faithfully

Michael Bolt
Andrea Collisson, Oak Beach, 03-12-13 15:22:
Anne-marie, I think you should say who those businesses are. On a site like this, space is no object.

Also congratulations on your excellent fundraising and on your good works.
Ann-Marie Clark, Mossman, 03-12-13 08:39:
Dear Community of the Douglas Shire

The Committee of KIND Inc (Kids In Need Donations) would like to congratulate the generous community we live in for its continuing support of the work we do. Since April this year our small group of volunteers has held several fundraising events, these functions together with the generous donations of some regular supporters and the small change dropped into our money boxes scattered throughout Port Douglas and Mossman, have seen us raise an incredible total of $17,841.90.

All of the money we raise goes directly towards helping local children facing life threatening or debilitating illness or injury. Over $19,000 has been provided to 12 families in the past 8 months to help with such things as airfares for family members not covered by government assistance to attend important health appointments or just more basic assistance to help reduce the enormous costs faced by a family caring for a sick child. This help would not have been possible without the support of our Community and we, the Committee of KIND Inc, are very thankful our goals are supported by so many.

We also have to recognise and give thanks to the businesses in the area for their extremely generous donations, there are too many to name individually. We would not have been able to conduct our fundraising without this necessary support.

2014 will continue to see many of these functions held in some form or another and we hope your support continues. If you want to find out more please find us on Facebook or on our web page at www.kind.org.au

We wish everyone in our Community a safe, healthy and happy Christmas and New Year.

Ann-Marie Clark
Treasurer - KIND Inc
Geoff Henderson, Forest Creek, 25-11-13 19:11:
Driving on the Tablelands last weekend I was reminded by the cane fields of the concern that the cane billets were to be shipped by truck to Mossman mill for processing.
There have been several letters written that draw attention to the heavy cost to the community and infrastructure caused by hundreds of truck movements, and the mill operating 24/7 over the crush period. I have to agree that there seems little merit in the trucking option.

So why bring down the raw cane? Could it not be crushed on the tableland and brought to Mossman as a liquid and then refined? Seems logical to me. OK there is a need to buy a crusher but that would be offset by the enormous savings generated by the reduction of truck movements. And truck costs will continue to rise much faster than crushing costs.

Surely this option should be debated.

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