Council staff have prepared and extensive evaluation of the situation. The public can READ IT HERE. It outlines the long history of the project, the extensive consultation done by Mayor Schier (on top of consultations done by mayor-loser Kevin "Hiding from the Pakis" Byrne). The Byrne council rejected rehab of the existing building, and rejected use of Munro Martin Park as inadequate. Additionally the Schier consultation rejected the Hartley street site as too small, hemmed in by the Capital Globe project (still a likely project given the stupidly dense Byrne council approval attached to it), as well as noise problems from industrial use and rail lines in the vicinity.
Additionally, this project is needed to be synergistic with the Convention Centre. This leaves only two possible sites, the current planned location, and part of the existing Ports North office building site. Ports North have shown no interest in investing another $20M in a new building, in an unknown location, to make way for a theater on what they have earmarked as a needed hotel accommodation site for the Convention Centre. Lack of a dedicated, attached convention hotel is a serious shortcoming to our longterm success at the Centre.
So now we have Bob Manning planning to take some action (move forward, consult and evaluate, or pull the plug) WITHOUT any community consultation with the stakeholders! It's quite clear the voters DID NOT REJECT the existing plan. The three biggest EP Precinct supporters (Pyne, Leu, and Cooper) were targeted by election campaigns focused on the precinct, and they WON ANYWAY. There is no "mandate" to kill off the project.
And it's quite clear to everyone that the evidence is overwhelming that the waterfront location, approved UNANIMOUSLY by the Schier council, in no way damages the future of the port. Despite a huge campaign of misinformation.
How can our new mayor who campaigned under the banner "more consultation with the public" take any actions on this important project WITHOUT CONSULTATION?? I would guess the hundreds who attended the project consultations previously, and provided valuable community input into the requirements and design, would have similar views with any future project. We know what we need - so where does that leave us?
Starting from scratch requires payoff of existing contracts, and the expenditure of another $7M to get the project back to this point on some new, less desirable site - letting of contracts. So we start a new project with $15-$20M of dead, lost forever ratepayer money on this 30% completed project (Page 467). The new LNP "Can't Do" government will pull their $57M commitment, something they can't do on the approved site. With new money unlikely. The Feds, who've said they're still committed, won't put $40M in without the state kick-in, so bye-bye to this money.
And ANY new theater will cost $100M minimum to build. The Byrne council estimated $80-$90 million in 2007. It's 2012, and 2014 before any contracts could possibly be let on a new location. $100M, easy-peasy. ALL Cairns ratepayer money, not just $57M that the previous council was able to swing. With the jobs generated not NOW, when we need the boost but 2-3 years from now. MINIMUM.
As only a fraction of the community indicated anger to the Schier-council plans, the rational and cost-effective choice for the Manning council is to move forward with those plans. Sure, you can "trim away" at the fat and look like you're being fiscally responsible. But to use spite to kill off this project at this stage is about the most ratepayer-unfriendly decision the new council could ever make.
So what's running this council? Common sense and good financial acumen? Or spiteful ignorance? Rubber stamps taking the easy road? Or people genuinely doing the best, even when it's hard?
On Wednesday, we'll know. Won't we?
APPARENTLY IN AN ATTEMPT TO STIFLE DISSENT, BOB MANNING HAS ORDERED THIS AGENDA ITEM MOVED FROM #24 TO #1, AT 10:00 AM.