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Tue 2 Sep

Letters to the Editor

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Geoff Henderson, Forest Creek, 13-12-13 10:24:
Traffic lights at Mossman Woolies? Must be a ridiculous joke. Is there a serious history of collisions there that might justify the expense? Why was a roundabout built at the Port Douglas intersection instead of traffic lights where there is a history of vehicle accidents? And if the risk is so high at Woolies because shoppers and drivers can no longer manage an intersection, isn't the risk much higher and the stakes much more serious when the schools are active. Another set of light there too? That at least is worth some thought.

This is a case of deflecting some possible liability rather than addressing a demonstrated need.
Andrea Collisson, Oak Beach, 12-12-13 04:23:
Thank you Deborah. It is generous of you to compare me with Gandhi. I wonder if i could dine out on that notion.
Anna Addati, Oxenford, 11-12-13 17:37:
Hi My name is Anna and I live on the Gold Coast, while visiting Port Douglas, my family and I were very disappointed to find a severe lack in disabled facilities for my wheelchair Son. we had planed for a holiday to see the Great Barrier Reef for quite some time,we are from Melbourne, and after 20 years on the Gold Coast we finally managed to visit the North of Queensland. Our biggest problem was with transport, after a beautiful day at the barrier reef, we found we could not get back to our units in Palm Cove, because of NO wheelchair taxis in port Douglas, it took a little over an hour of phone calls to get some kind of transport to get us back, thanking the staff of Quicksilver tour who helped us find a taxi, the taxi came from Mossman.
The staff and the tour with Quicksilver were amazing, but very disappointed that such a big company like so has no facilities for disabled people, while everyone on tour gets picked up by coaches for an extra $26 per person return the person on a wheelchair needs to find their own way there, it coasted us $130 to get there and an extra $180 to return because the Taxi came from an other suburb, luckily we did not stay in Port Douglas as we did not know about this issue, we would have not been able to sight seeing, I would like to thank the staff from quicksilver tours, for making all those phone calls and the the Taxi that come to pick us up from Mossman,exclusive for us. Visitor from the Gold Coast
Michael Bolt, Mossman, 11-12-13 13:55:
To the Honourable
Mr David Crisafulli
Minister for Local Government
Community Recovery and Resilience

Dear Honourable Minister

I refer to my email to you of 29 November 2013.

I set out below the last paragraph of a release by your office on the matter of the DSC being lumbered with CRC redundancies and draw your attention to the attached QTC report.

“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.”
With respect, it was never stated that redundancies would be a cost to be paid by the new council.

The QTC Analysis of de-amalgamation does not entitle or endorse the transfer unwanted staff to the new DSC. There is no reference in the report for DSC to pick the bill for CRC redundancies. At page 14 of the QTC report it clearly states the number of staff to be utilised by the new DSC at 150.

The proposal by CRC to transfer 163 staff is contrary to the Analysis and flies in the face of the logic of presenting the community with an efficient model.

I must draw your attention to the error of stating that 150 staff transferred to CRC from DSC at the time of amalgamation. Whilst the former DSC had 150 positions at the time amalgamation was announced in August 2007 there were only about 130 actual personnel transferred to CRC in March 2008, as many DSC staff had found alternative employment.

Furthermore also I draw your attention to page 17 of the QTC report where it states that 117 staff will transfer back to DSC from CRC at amalgamation and that the new Council will have to recruit 33 additional staff to bring its staff complement back up to 150.

It remains in the best interest of the new DSC to allow the Transfer Manager to recruit the appropriate and necessary staff and for you to support that outcome in conformity with the QTC report and not permit staff that are unwanted by CRC and unsuitable to the new council to be transferred to DSC.

Your faithfully

Michael Bolt
Deborah Favier, Daintree, 11-12-13 11:26:
Andrea, points taken. I agree that civil disobedience has its place. It's just that in this case I don't see Cairns Regional Council as the bogeyman. If one wants to go to the source, the original cause for amalgamation was the DSC dysfunctional council. I see no point in blaming a council for following due process, a council that never wanted to marry us in the first place.

I resisted by responding to information that didn't sit right with me. I would expect any one else to do the same.

It's important therefore, that we have a council (& governments) that can function with accountability & transparency & that listen to their constituents, rather than follow their own one-tracked agendas. This is the ideal situation. Unfortunately egos come into play & unfortunately also, our world is becoming over-governed, over-regulated because of fear of litigation, eg. a council chopping trees down, from fear of being sued if it comes down on someone's house during a cyclone. Your suggestion to replant trees has merit.

Civil disobedience also has merit. When Gandhi, at the peak of his political career, was asked in a British court what his professional career was, he answered, "Resister". If he was in a situation that conflicted with his ethics or beliefs in what was right, he felt compelled to resist, consistently, but effectively, until the situation was set right.

It's important that we all speak out if we see or read something that upsets us, be it a tree that's being cut down, an animal that's being hurt or the truth being distorted. Andrea, you are, like Gandhi, a passive resister.
Andrea Collisson, Oak Beach, 10-12-13 11:57:
Sandy I commiserate with you, although it sounds silly to say that. The loss of any big tree is an occasion for sadness and even anger when it seems to be done so stupidly or contra the rules.

Of course we don't know if there is good reason for its removal but having seen the way these things tend to be done by those in power even on my own land, and what a hack job these contractors tend to do.

All i can suggest is that every time a big tree comes down like this, a replacement is immediately planted in its place. I happen to have a spare rain tree seedling that you could have if you want it. Its about 2 foot high and they grow really fast. Do you want it? If so, send me a message via Facebook and we can work something out.

Previously i had written a long reply to each of the points made by Deborah. Luckily in a way it didn't go through because it was long.

However given more time to think about it, rather than rebut each of her points, i will just say that i had no expectation that someone like Deborarh would consider boycotting Cairns. And the suggestion of the boycott was only a wild suggestion.

Really i wanted people to come up with ideas of civil disobedience that would be effective and more fair against the CRC.

I would also point out that when i suggested a boycott, i had no intention of suggesting people don't go to the botanic gardens or any other free events or experience that would have no impact on the council. Whatever civil disobedience is done, has to be something they could feel in the bank or as public pressure.

Short of breaking the law - because i am not recommending that in any dimension. Its seems to me that civil disobedience is perhaps what we need more of in this region because the legal structures and processes seem to be having no positive effect when the mass majority of the public rejects the governments and councils actions. eg forced amalgamation, tree removals, forced changes to water, and so on.

I'm not an activist by nature but i'm starting to think i might become one.
Sandy Simpson, Port Douglas, 09-12-13 15:02:
To Div 10 Cr Julia Leu
Cairns Regional Council

Hi Julia,

I am compelled to write you after once again confronting tree loppers removing a huge (at least 30m ft high) rainforest tree with enormous, dense canopy, from the state-owned rainforest strip behind 20 Solander Blvd, Port Douglas.

I confronted MPBD tree loppers, who told me they had approval. As I doubted that it could be possible to remove such a significant tree, I phoned Mossman council, who told me they didn't have approval for it and would send someone out. I requested they also telephone MPBD to stop work on it immediately.

As nobody came out within the hour and logging continued, I phoned Cairns Regional Council office, and was informed that Sean Cooper had authorised the tree removal.

I am informed by John Sullivan that this person is not qualified to authorise the removal of such a tree from state land.

I then phoned DNRM who informed me that new laws came into force on the 2nd December, governing the protection of these trees. I thought you may be interested to know this, if you were not aware already.

Apparently, Cairns Regional Council are still informing people that they can still self-assess these trees if the tree is on their land and remove them without any approval, which is apparently no longer the case.

They are still sawing this beautiful tree down and it is too late to save it, but it would be wonderful if you could please inform the people who are sanctioning this behaviour to stop it forthwith, otherwise we may not have any significant trees left protecting us from cyclones.

If it is left up to out-of-state investors who own these holiday let houses and the loggers, this will be the case.


Sandy Simpson
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.

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