Clive Skarrott: Cairns Port can double in size with Entertainment Precinct!

The Former Chair of Ports North and the Cairns Citizen of the Year in 2011, Clive Skarrott has asked for the following article to be published, so here it is:

Cairns Port can double in size with Entertainment Precinct

The State Government’s decision to prevent the awarding of an important contract to allow the Cairns Entertainment Precinct puts the entire project at serious risk and ignores facts about Port of Cairns expansion options.

As Chairman of Ports North for many years and the one that signed off on the agreement to provide the waterside land for the Precinct I am intimately aware of the Ports operations and the proposed project.

I can assure Cairns residents and the new State Government that the proposed Cairns Entertainment Precinct is entirely compatible with the CityPort Master Plan and the Seaport Strategic Plan.

As the current LNP Member for Cairns, Gavin King, has said it will be good for school kids, good for the construction industry, good for culture vultures and artists of all stripes and it will be good for the city’s morale.

That the new State Government has now put this project at risk is alarming to say the least.

All existing port operations will continue and there is ample space to for expansion of the port’s traditional cargo operations as new trade and business opportunities arise.

Claims that the Precinct will restrict or prevent the operation or expansion of the Port are wrong.

The Port’s planning documents have always foreseen the ability to at least double cargo wharves in future years if necessary.

That has not changed and can still occur with the Entertainment Precinct development.

Ports North and the Council entered into a Heads of Agreement as early November 2008 that ensures the Entertainment Precinct is consistent with the Port’s ongoing operations and future needs.

The site of the Entertainment Precinct is in the transitional area, identified in the Master Plan, between Cityport and the general cargo operations on Wharves 7 and 8.  As well as being in the transitional zone, the proposed Entertainment Precinct is set back from the adjacent heritage-listed Wharves 4 and 5 to enable them to continue to be used for Port activities.

The Precinct will act as a major attractor for Cairns and is completely compatible with Cityport and SeaPort Plans.

Those raising concerns that the Entertainment Precinct would adversely affect the existing or future operations of the Port do not understand the Cityport Master Plan, the Seaport Strategic Plan, the Heads of Agreement with the Council, or the Entertainment Precinct plan.  Or they are being deliberately misleading.

The Heads of Agreement between Council and Ports North ensures the Entertainment Precinct can, and must, be designed and operated in a way that will deliver economic benefits and maintains the vital infrastructure and operations of the Port.

Notably, those objecting to the current waterfront site because it is “Strategic PortLand” are at the same time arguing that the Precinct should be relocated to the existing Ports North Building site in Hartley Street that is also “Strategic Port Land”.  All land holdings of the Ports North are identified as “Strategic Port Land”

 This is an extensive public sector investment in infrastructure which will provide a boost to the city and be the much needed stimulus for private sector development.

After many years of consultation and a first-ever partnership between all levels of government to fund and build this vital tourism, civic and world-class infrastructure, now is not the time for further delay or petty politicking.

Cairns Entertainment Precinct: Fully Funded and work to be completed by 2015.



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