In the Cairns Post summary of the issue on 26 December 2011, the developer Eldav Properties P/L, hiding behind local lawyer Jason Briggs, claim that "they have endured their family business being vilified and tarnished". In all the public documents at council, this "family business" is merely a corporate entity registered in NSW. The family in question is David and Elena Shitari, of Peakhurst, Sydney, with David Shitari listed as the sole director - at an address owned by a business advisor, Lindsay Aitken. You can't vilify a family business unless you know who the family is! Welcome to the internet, Mr. & Mrs. Shitari!
Lawyer Briggs makes several claims that clearly don't stack up. He has previously claimed, and a statutory declaration was proffered from David Shitari, that council staff gave them verbal permission to knock down the Rex. Of course council staff dispute this claim, and offer a differing set of facts. And as community leader Ross Parisi points out, the statutory declaration from Mr. Shitari regarding council's actions in this issue needs to be fully investigated and explained by the city manager. The Cairns Council Development Department has had a long history of poor performance, lack of follow-thru, and plain old incompetence. Resident complaints are routinely lodged and ignored by this department, led by Peter Tabulo. Tabulo was felt by many community leaders to be Kevin Byrne's black hand as large inappropriate projects were pushed thru the previous council, and many in the community expected Mayor Shier to get rid of this guy after she was elected. However a sleazy deal got Tabulo a new contract from the Byrne-mate city manager Noel Briggs, who was ultimately sacked as part of the MacKenzie "Cash for Comment" scandal.
How many Development Department staff and managers drove past the Rex for days on end, seeing the demolition proceed, and not putting stop to it? How many councillors, for that matter!
So the Development Department is likely a witting or unwitting culprit in this matter, and the community needs to have the facts. But let's not stop there, likely there are other culprits. This property, along with the adjacent now-razed properties, were marketed for sale prior to the Eldav purchase by Australian First Realty on Bunda Street, director Robert Smith. And the property is again being marketed by Australian First, and while they show the picture of the Rex Theater in the ad, it's listed as "Cairns Best Development Site"! No mention in the ad of the building, the disputes, the heritage listing. Nothing. The site now being marketed, at over 3200m2, would seem to include the adjacent two vacant allotments which were previously also marketed by Australian First, and then razed.
And the ad goes on to say "Owner will consider joint venture", and "Preliminary plans upon request". So apparently Mr. Shitari has planned all along to pull the entire building down without regard to the heritage overlay, and went so far as to have plans drawn up for an undisclosed project. And you can't pull this kind of scheme together without a cooperative estate agent like Australian First.
Estate agents are required to ensure advertisements contain "all material facts". Why has the heritage status of the site been omitted? And the potential for large fines and perhaps criminal action? All would seem to be "material facts" that should be disclosed to a "joint venture" partner, don't you think?
Australian First has a long history around dodgy deals, according to council insiders. The Qld Office of Fair Trading shows no licence for "Australian First Realty". Other sources close to this situation have indicated that the Shitari family were unwitting victims in a plan to illegally tear this building down for developers. Requests for information from Robert Smith have had no response. And Australian First's PO Box (1010) are shown on all the council documents as the address for Eldav, so they look to have been the instigators all along of this plan to demolish this heritage building.
Australian First also is marketing the failed Snap Printing business, believed to be owned by Cueball MacKenzie shill, Raj Patel - birds of a feather, blah, blah.
And in an even bigger twist, the former MP DisHon. Martin Tenni is shown as "fully licensed" agent on several Australian First properties! This despite the fact that Fair Trading shows NO real estate licence for Martin Tenni! Guess Tenni figures white aboriginals don't need no stinking licence!
|Quite a shit pile on Bunda Street!|
Let's get to the bottom of this mess!