A draft of the Cairns Ports report on the proposed dredging project makes good Premier Joh Bjelke Newman's promise to do this project.
We remind you, he never said he was going to pay for it.
Taking a page out of the ALP playbook, the Newman government will propose the >$100M cost of this project be paid for BY CAIRNS. The report lists a range of options which include stripping money out of Cairns Ports operational profits, selloff of several Cairns Ports properties including the former Schier entertainment precinct site, the Cairns Ports office site, and additional properties south of the oil storage farm in Portsmith.
This is reminiscent of the "new" hospital we were promised that saw our airport sold off to outsiders. Unlike every other new hospital in Queensland in the last 15 years, which was paid for by ALL the Queensland taxpayers, Cairns somehow doesn't get the same return on our tax dollars from the state government.
Other proposals to finance the dredging project include a
tourism "bed tax" imposed on all the hotels, motels, and unit holiday letting accommodation in the city. While Cairns and other Australian tourism destinations have lagged in taxing the tourist visits to pay for local infrastructure compared to other tourist destinations around the world, this would essentially be an additional tax levied on our tourists by Brisbane. Guaranteed to generate squeals of protest from the tourism professionals in Cairns.
The draft paper also confirms what many professionals have already pointed out - the very largest cruise ships can't use our harbour now, and won't be able to use the newly dredged harbour. And as the cruise industry continues to move into larger ships, the number of ships docking offshore at Yorkey's Knob will continue to INCREASE, not decrease. In short the report confirms that this is a colossal waste of taxpayer money, but since its CAIRNS' money, who cares?
We understand Mayor Bob "Sleepy" Manning has been briefed on some aspects of the report, but it's understood the Member for MacKenzie Gavin King has not seen it. King's seat is being canvassed among LNP insiders, as he's deemed unelectable - King's been tapped on the shoulder so many times he's developed a noticeable bruise. Urged to use his health issues to step aside, Steve Grasso has been using his insider access to pave his way into the slot.
Huge efforts are being invested with marketing professionals to develop a strategy to "sell" the dredging plan to Cairns residents. Some of these strategies include calling it a "creative and exciting" plan to finance the project despite the "dire straits" that Queensland is in, financially.
Business as usual. Grab your ankles.