Division 5. This important area covers the Cairns CBD, but also other adjacent areas of high density housing. Along with the Cairns Airport, Aeroglen, Bungalow, and Portsmith. The economic heart of Cairns.
This division is best served by a councillor with deep business experience, ties to Cairns' core business (tourism), and an appreciation of the challenges faced by small business in the city.
Current councillor Richie Bates has failed the business community in all of these criteria. Bates, known as a Labor leader in a previous life, ditched his Labor mates and ideals once his election as a Bob Manning rubberstamp was complete. Bates has in our view been the most profound disappointment of all the Unity Team councillors. Bates is mistrusted by the right-wing mates of Manning - Terry James, John Schilling, and Max O'halloran
Bates has never once disagreed with Manning. His one burst of conscience, after the pedestrian death along the Airport Road, was squelched with nary a peep of objection from him.
And Bates has stood by as issue after issue comes to Council and Bates rubber stamps the clearly wrong choice. Flying foxes. Lake Street. Shields Street. The "zero requirement" for parking at the Cairns Aquarium. All issues where Bates' known disagreements are never voiced. $100K+ per year buys a lot of councillor silence. The business area has gone downmarket with many absentee building owners from "down south" content to leave the investments to deteriorate. Some areas (Grafton near the Convention Centre, Abbott Street across from the Casino) are retailing dead zones. Bates also failed to speak up when the homeless food van was parked in the centre of our tourism area. Bringing bad elements back to the CBD after years of steps taken to intervene.
Bates is the worst kind of councillor - spineless. It's easier to understand the poodle mentality of the others.
Business leaders in the CBD have been roundly disappointed with the lack of consultation by the Council and Bates on the projects that have disrupted their businesses. Some closed after the Lake Street fiasco. Others now on Shields Street are starting to feel the pain, with few lessons learned from the Lake Street debacle.
Candidate Raj Patel? No thanks. Bitterness is a poor excuse for a proper CV. Patel is an almost daily caller to the MacKenzie show, offering his pithy observations that rarely make any sense. And Patel's only slogan "I can work with anyone". Essentially Patel is a less-intelligent poodle than Bates.
We don't need another poodle.
The Connect Cairns candidate Steve Edwards *HAS* the requisite business experience that will him to interact professionally with the business community. A great addition to the Jim Brooks slate. Edwards is a well-known tourism operator, working as general manager for one of the main Cairns companies. And not content to sit on his laurels, Edwards has put in the hard work to get his Masters of Business Administration (MBA). With none of the Cairns (un)Regional Council senior management educated to this level, this will make Edwards a vital cog in analysing the Council's spending - and identifying the massive financial holes left by "Bankrupt Bob" Manning and his cronies.
Our choice for Division 5 has no dissent. Steve Edwards and the Jim Brooks Connect Cairns team.