Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Locals helping Locals- works every time!

Ever get the feeling that ordinary people power, instigated by extraordinary people, is far more effective than what our representatives can achieve?

In the past few months especially, with the effects of Yasi and the downturn in Cairns employment and tourist numbers, there have been so many occasions where real results have been achieved by simply getting involved in an event, function, group or cause and running with it.

Success is in the eye of the beholder and for some it may mean enough money to buy the dream car and the dream house while having enough spare cash for the yacht....for others however it's much more tangible than that. Success for them is seeing the people in their community thriving. Jobs, access to services, a roof over their heads and businesses that are viable is all any community really needs.

While there have been many, many occasions that warrant a mention here, there are two unfolding right now that I would like to bring to everyone's attention. Both have similar outcomes in mind but it's there that the similarities end.

In Daintree there is a serious downturn in tourism numbers (up to 50%) and as a result, many businesses are struggling. Not the ordinary struggling, meaning you may have to hold a sale or close on Mondays, the seriously struggling....as in the business will fold very shortly. The businesses in question are not asking for a handout, nor do they want our pity, they are simply asking for the Council to make it much more attractive for locals to visit. How? By giving all Cairns Regional Council rate payers the opportunity to enjoy the same ferry deal that the former Port area rate payers currently get. $13.50 for a pass that gives you unlimited access till June 2012.

This would encourage locals to get up there and while they are there, spend a few dollars, thereby saving the businesses. Sounds logical to me. In fact, sounds great! I'd go in a heartbeat.

The problem is, Council CEO says no. Not in April anyway, which is when school holidays and Easter are on, maybe not in May and possibly not the few months after that. Apparently, these things need to be studied (sound familiar) and no decision could be made at such short notice. Several Councillors disagree and have said they would support the move but without the CEO on board it's unlikely to even reach a vote.

Vince O'Flaherty has decided that is not good enough. He went to The Cairns Post and stated his case. A survey is available online which was advertised via the paper. Within days he had 50 responses. (Sadly, only 2 were from the south side) All of which stated they would take friends and family up to Daintree and Cape Trib if the ferry cost was no longer an obstacle. By the time I write this, the numbers will be much higher. In no time at all he will have received more responses via that survey than any of the recent consultation surveys that the Council have undertaken.

You can fill out a survey form to win 2 nights accommodation at Ferntree Rainforest Lodge at beautiful Cape Tribulation as well as family passes for Crocodile Express Cruises and entry to the multi-award winning Daintree Discovery Centre. Simply go to Daintree Rainforest River Cruises website and click on the 'Register and Win' link to join in the fight to get the businesses of our tropical rainforest region a fair go. These people are trying to help themselves, lets give them a hand.

The next great initiative is one for the yuppie in us all. In Yasi affected areas there are still concerns for the health and wellbeing of those who have, and continue to suffer hardship. Basic services are still not fully operational and for those who have chosen to stay while the re-build occurs, home is often a tent or a single room for an entire family. Food is difficult to prepare and the morale of these people is waning.

Rotary Club in Tully and Innisfail have been supplying food from a kitchen in Tully that they quickly invented in the aftermath of the cyclone. From this facility they have also branched out and helped the communities in many and varied ways, all of which are essential and appreciated by the local residents. Now it's our turn to help keep those facilities going.

The Flood Relief Fund will eventually make it's way into this area but for now there is not one cent going there for essential services. Two residents (Jodie and Lauren) decided to try to make a difference and an idea became a reality as on this Sunday (3rd April) the Reef Hotel Casino will host a luncheon titled 'Bring Back the Paradise Charity Luncheon'. The cost of the event is $85 per person which includes a $25 donation to Rotary. If a glass of bubbly, live music, three course meal and live runway show are not enough....you really need to see the prize list. It's astounding. Valued at $26'000 in total there is something there for everyone, including me. Tickets are available from Brothers Leagues Club or Stockland Earlville but you will have to be quick.

What a great way to have a fun afternoon while supporting a very worthy cause and helping to ease the way for people in our region who are facing a long wait before any sort of normal life can resume.

Once again, residents have taken it upon themselves to make a difference, refusing to sit around waiting for things to happen, they have chosen instead to make things happen. Proving that they will not be victims they would much rather be part of the solution.

I would like to wish both groups well in their missions. I have responded in the survey and will be buying my ticket for the lunch tomorrow.....they did all the hard stuff so that I can make a difference without much effort at all. I can't speak for the entire region but I certainly can from me.....Thankyou very, very much.


  1. Why do some think the solution to every problem is a government handout? This is another idiotic idea that we all will be required to pay for.

    If businesses in the Daintree think this will work, they should all chip in and pay for ferry operation for a month or two.

  2. The survey results that I have been given a copy of all indicate that locals only visit the area once or twice per year. Most haven't been in a long while. Changing the structure of payment for the ferry would not be costly (currently it's $21 return, this initiative would make it $13.50 for a year) if that trend only doubles. Council is not making money off the ferry service as people aren't using it so it will make little difference to them anyway. Would you prefer the deal be for 6 months only? That might work.

    The other argument, besides the fact it will get more people travelling up there, is that the entire region should be viewed the same since we are all in the same Council now.

  3. We went up last month as a result of the excellent Ferntree offer (had a brilliant time), and didn't even consider the ferry cost. Do you really think it'll make that much difference to locals? The long journey, the cost of petrol, the cost of overnight accomodation and food are probably much more relevant.

  4. The first aged care home in Cairns (Farnorha) was built with funds raised entirely by the community between the years of 1959 and 1980. The official opening was in 1972. It shows what can be done when the community works together.
    Pensioners operated a car-park on the corner of Spence Street and the Esplanade for many years, offering Cairns motorists an all day, secure car park. They raised more than $80,000 up to 1980 from the carpark. (About $250,000 today). I remember those old folks well...they would sit there with a folding chair and a flask of tea....

  5. One of the worst things which has happened to Cairns since our population exploded has been the loss of community memory. Important community knowledge such as when our sewerage system was first laid out, when we undertook massive new drainage of the CBD, what the establishment of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority meant to the local authorities,
    the community lobby for a museum, the community fund raising for Farnorha....all important issues and milestones the details of which have become lost in the mind of the community.

  6. News as of now is that the Ferry will be FREE for all residents during the school holidays/Easter holidays. This is great news for the region and excellent news for those in the Daintree area.

    Local residents now need to get up there and take a long overdue look around! Stay overnight if you can and completely immerse yourself in one of the most stunning natural environments we have on our doorstep.