The first rule of Parliamentary government: TAKE THE MONEY.
When Bob "Sleepy" Manning took office as Mayor, ego and/or stupidity caused him to ignore this essential element of local government. A city like Cairns spends MILLION$ to develop projects that deserve and require upper-level government funding. In the case of the Entertainment Precinct, over $11M was spent by previous councils to develop the project that was shovel-ready to go.
A smart guy would have come in, made an announcement that he had "fixed" the problems in the project, and then proceeded with the construction since a contract was in place with the government. Joh Bjelke Newman couldn't take the funding away - every government is required to honor the contracts drawn by the previous one. No, these dimwits now minding the store GAVE IT BACK. They also GAVE BACK $38M in commitments for the CBD. Newman couldn't believe his good fortune - the idiots in Cairns gave back $97M. HIX NIX STIX PIX.
A level of stupidity that makes a thinking person breathless.
This is the core of anger among the business community, and expressed by the Cairns Chamber of Commerce. With the years in delay now guaranteed for any theater project, Blind Freddie could have seen that whatever we do will cost heaps more than the $57M the Schier Council project would have cost us.
What was Manning's response? We understand he's issued orders forbidding any council staff from attending Chamber of Commerce meetings. Deputy Dawg Terry James has also told councillors that they shouldn't attend, either. Most have dutifully complied - not much of a stretch since the public in most divisions never sees or hears from their councillor at all. So instead of cooperation with the business community, Manning has escalated the warfare, in an illogical and petty way.
And many Chamber members at the last luncheon were commenting on how the "usual" council staff were no longer present.
Additionally, with many working at Council having made "public service" their careers, we understand an exodus of skilled staff is about to get underway after the holidays. No professional wants to have years of dysfunction on their CV's. The initial one or two emails from Council employees that HBW has received have turned into a torrent (another reminder boys and girls, everything in/out of Spence Street is recorded).
So finally and belatedly, it was no surprise when the Cairns Post finally sees the light and agrees with the HBW blog and much of the Cairns progressive community in bitch-slapping these ignorant politicians. While couching the criticism as "a look to the future", their observation that "politics has overpowered public need" is unfortunately too little, too late.
We're likely to see upper levels of government eager to open their wallets with the G20 Finance Minister's meeting in 2014. Do they dare sending all these world leaders to Cairns when it looks like such a shithouse? OF COURSE NOT! The testicle-challenged Mayor and Assistant Mayor Gavin "Don't Rape Me" King should by all accounts be using this world event to get the $50M needed to completely update the CBD, along with the money needed for an Entertainment Precinct, whatever the outcome. And the upgrading of the airport access. And perhaps the bulldozing of all the rundown buildings around the airport entrance. They should reject any half-arsed $7M "paint job", as we'll then be told after the G20 "you had your money, go away". Newman and Gillard should both be told "we've been neglected too long" and the full amount should be paid. IT'S OUR MONEY that electoral stupidity has squandered. IT'S TIME TO ANTE UP ON CAIRNS' FUTURE!
But with the Newman government showing little interest in FNQ nor the members here, a Council that is rapidly becoming ineffectual at even basic service delivery, and Cairns leadership and spine in the crapper, we suspect this won't be the last attack editorial from the Cairns Post.
It surely won't be the last from us.
Happy New Year One and All from the most read blog in regional Queensland!