Gavin "Don't Rape Me" King came into 4CA today to defend himself from his own party's attacks on his loss of over $135M in state funding. Explanations that are ringing hollow for the public on all sides of the political equation.
Then a so-called merchant in the CBD called in to complain that a tour shop on the Esplanade has sent young female staff to greet the cruise ships - staff who are providing apparently a smiling welcome, maps of the CBD, and of course directions to THEIR tour desk. "UNFAIR!" this merchant bellowed. "They're sending the cruise visitors to another shop". "Gavin, you've got to stop them!" Yup, the free market is alive and well in Cairns. Perhaps the reason we're still copping $1.50/ltr for petrol while Brisbane residents are paying $1.33 or less.
The big surprise that Gavin hasn't yet shared with the Cairns community are the plans our new LNP masters have for our harbour dredging. Minister Andrew Cripps has already passed the draft plans thru cabinet, and we understand has briefed new Ports North chief Brett Moller, with details of the draft leaked to Cairns Regional Council staff. Come'on kids, you can't keep secrets in a town this small!
Along with a dredging programme to deepen the channel and increase the swing (turning) basin, Cairns will be the first cruise ship port in Queensland to levy the new $30 per passenger disembarkation charge!
This charge has been the brainchild of Liberal NSW Minister for Ports, Duncan Gay, who has imposed the tax on passengers at Sydney Harbour without any industry consultations. To help NSW balance their books, says he. With Queensland already under a microscope for the dredging of harbours at Gladstone and Brisbane, Can-do Newman has apparently decided that Cairns will need to be the first to collect this new tax on our growing visitor pool.
This will be on top of the Federal Labor Party's 17% increase in the Passenger Movement Charge which is currently loaded into the passenger's overall ticket price. Cruise ship companies however will likely make disembarking passengers pay the $30 head tax when they get off in our new, deeper Cairns Port.
Merchant leaders like Brett Moller have been complaining bitterly that no one has organised a proper welcome for our visiting cruise ships. We're now getting a "Pay Toll, $30" gate at the end of the gangplank. This what you were looking for, Brett?