Reports are that one donor alone has pumped over $100,000 into the Unity Team and their local councillor candidates, as well as the LNP candidate for the electorate of Cairns, Gavin King.
This donor is reported to be companies and individuals associated with shopping centre giant Westfield.
When reports first circulated about this largess, questions about their motivation to influence the Cairns local elections began to surface.
We can report that a massive expansion of APPF/Westfield's Cairns Central Shopping Centre is in the final stages of planning, as well as a huge expansion at Smithfield Centre. While Smithfield is essentially owned by Dexus Property Group, interlocking arrangements between Dexus and Westfield are known to exist making Smithfield essentially a Westfield investment. And while Westfield announced last October that it had sold its 50% ownership to APPF (Lend Lease), the APPF fund is a private investment vehicle and Westfield is still said to have management influence over the group - including guarantees to add Kmart and David Jones to the centre. As well as the political muscle.
Cairns Central is reported to almost double in size, with the addition of a third "anchor" tenant with whispers of David Jones being the likely occupant. However a doubling of Cairns Central will likely do irreparable harm to the retail environment in the CBD. When Cairns Central first opened a wave of vacancies occurred in town. A doubling of Cairns Central, in the current retail environment where almost 200 empty shops dot virtually every street, would see retailing decimated in the CBD for a decade or more. Leaving the only retailers selling stuffed kangaroos and overpriced coffee. The expansion is also set to include a "restaurant experience" - not just a bigger food court, but one with full upscale restaurants, like their new shopping mall in Sydney. Even the CBD restauranteurs won't stand a chance to compete on a level playing field.
|FRANK LOWY AND HIS SONS, SMILING OVER THE|
RAPE OF CAIRNS PLANNED TO START SOON
Hence the campaign contributions from Westfield/APPF. The balanced development approach taken by the current Mayor and Cairns Regional Council would likely unfavourably look on such an aggressive move by Westfield. Even if approved, conditions imposed by a moderate-thinking council could add millions to the cost of the project. A few hundred thousand dollars splashed around to pro-developer council candidates like Bob Manning, Gavin King, Alan Blake, and others would see council packed with pro-developer lackeys under the leadership of the Byrne lookalike. The bad old days would be back with the gunslingers in charge.
Westfield is said to have retained some of the same local "black hands" that were previously ousted by the Chamber of Commerce for their anti-small-business stance. We're working to confirm and out these cretins.
Keep watching the money!