Cairns projects set for fast track
CAIRNS Mayor Bob Manning, other councillors and senior officers will meet key State Government ministers and bureaucrats early in the new year to fast-track priority capital works for the region.
Cr Manning told The Weekend Post that a list of projects had been drawn up to help boost confidence and add to the optimism the business community was expressing for 2013.
"Early in the new year the council will sit down with the State Government to discuss a five-year capital works program with a view to locking in projects early to give more confidence to the construction sector and business generally," he said.
"This will include works such as the CBD renewal works, sports precincts, the Port Douglas waterfront project, the proposed performing arts centre and associated convention centre exhibition space, a multi-level car park (the old post office site in Grafton St) and commercial development at the bottom end of Lake St.
"After several particularly tough years, 2012 provided hope that things were turning around for the Cairns region's economy.
"While I know there is still a long way to go there have been sure signs of recovery and I'm confident that this will continue into next year.
"The commencement of China Eastern flights between Shanghai and Cairns, and the announcement by China Southern to commence a series of direct flights in February, are the most exciting aviation announcements since the late 1980s and early 1990s.
"These announcements have far-reaching consequences and could turn out to be real game breakers for this region." Cr Manning said there was high interest among Chinese investors considering partnerships with Cairns businesses.
"The flow-on benefits to the broader community will be an increase in employment and an opportunity for business to supply goods and services in an expanding market," he said.
Cr Manning said the construction industry had suffered badly in previousyears but there was renewed energy in the sector, with several major projects to get under way in 2013.
"This has been assisted by the waiving of $11 million in infrastructure charges by the council. This move has also guaranteed a boost to the local workforce and suppliers, through conditions imposed on recipients of the discount."
Pullman Cairns International hotel general manager Craig Syphers said actions were required, "not words".
"Lake St is a perfect example. (The) council and state have conferred for years ... funded, dumped funding, designed, dumped designs," he said.
"The latest promise is something by next Christmas, so hopefully that does occur, because City Place is a heartland without a heart."
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Decision time: Cairns Mayor Bob Manning, other councillors and senior officers are set to meet in the new year to fast-track capital works for the region.