After the rally today (31 October) against the Council decision to rip up of an Esplanade bike path and its permission to developers to submit development proposals under superseded planning schemes at Taylor’s and Buchan’s Points, a number of protesters attended the Council’s monthly Ordinary Meeting at 10 o’clock.
The first issue of interest was the rescission (re-vote) motion tabled by Cr Julia Leu and titled – Notice of Rescission – “on street” Bikeway on the Esplanade
Julia gave a spirited overview of the need to leave the current cycleway on the Esplanade as is. She mentioned an email that had been sent to Council from Brisbane questioning the decision to rip up such a path, after significant public expense and long community consultation, and counselling strongly against the decision. This email had arrived 12 days ago and yet had only been circulated to Councillors yesterday with little time to digest its importance. The CEO, Peter Tabulo, did not adequately explain why it had taken so long to distribute to Councillors and raises serious issues about information flow to elected representatives.
Nobody from the majority Unity team bothered to speak against Julia’s rescission motion so it went straight to a vote. It was defeated 6-4 with three Independents Julia, Rob Pyne and Linda Cooper voting for the rescission along with Richie Bates from the Unity team. It was very unparticipatory that no one from the majority even bothered to express a view. They obviously knew they had the numbers and didn’t need to justify their opinions to the expectant audience.
The next important matter was:
Repeal of the State Planning Regulatory Provisions for the Far North Queensland Regional Plan 2009 – 2031
This came into force on 26 October and was in the public notices of the Cairns Post of 12 October. The summary repealing of these regulations by State Government means that Council is no longer restricted from receiving or assessing development applications outside the current planned urban footprint.
Julia Leu again spoke against this repeal but the acceptance of the State Governments imposition was passed 8-2 with only Julia and Rob Pyne dissenting. Once again nobody spoke on the majority side.
The next key topic was: Strategic Direction: Flying Fox Colony Cairns CBD
There was actually a bit of debate on this one with Unity’s Greg Fennell of Div 9 arguing that flying foxes should be moved on to improve the amenity of the CBD. Rob Pyne spoke against, as did Unity’s Steve Brain from Div 1 and Julia Leu. Their arguments against moving the bats on were mostly based on other areas having to inherit the problem of where they would end up and, in particular, proximity to horses (which are pretty few in the CBD!) and the threat of the Hendra virus. Nobody mentioned bats as a tourist attraction although that destination of tourists, the Novotel in town got many mentions as it is the organisation pushing for the relocation.
The chambers held its collective breath, given that one of the Unity team had already broken ranks. Lo and behold, only four Councillors voted for the move on which the Mayor could scarcely believe because he turned for a long time to the CEO, then asked again for the numbers obviously disbelieving his own eyes. What had happened to the Mexican wave! He then announced that he would be voting with the gang of four but still didn’t seem able to work out that, even with his vote, the motion would fail. Mayors only need to vote if there is a 5-5 split. Yes, Mr Mayor, there were six remaining Councillors and they all voted for the status quo. The crowd let out a cheer and applause. A small victory for common sense. Steve Brain (Div1), Richie Bates (Div 5) and Jessie Richardson (Div 8) were the three Unity recalcitrants with the three already mentioned Independents making up the six in favour of leaving the bats in peace.
Council Watch was so excited by the small victory that the following topic was waved through in a scarcely noticed jiffy. It is review plan and doesn’t seem too threatening at this stage. See for yourself.
NORTH QUEENSLAND AIRPORTS CAIRNS AIRPORT LAND USE PLAN
One final topic was unanimous – prohibiting the giving away of free balloons at outdoor events up to 100 metres from a marine environment which was supported 10-0. This is to try to stop wildlife from ingesting them when the fall into the sea. Good idea but I wonder if the wind agrees that 100 metres is enough to stop turtles from choking.
Council Watch learned from this experience that Julia Leu puts in a lot of hard work on behalf of the whole Cairns community and that many in the Unity team appear to have chronic laryngitis.
Notes taken by Denis Walls 31 Oct 2012