Figures indicate 80% of Cairns against development at False Cape (Cover Article - 30 May 2005)

Submitted by Webmaster on Sat, 04/06/2005 - 09:49

The Cairns Post had a telephone poll on whether the people of Cairns thought that the proposed development at False Cape should proceed. Unfortunately this poll did not to our knowledge exclude people from voting multiple times. I voted 3 times in quick succession (for 3 members in my household) on the same phone line and each time the vote appeared to be tallied. A more objective idea of the popularity of the proposed development can be obtained from looking at submissions that people produced regarding the proposed development at False Cape. One source of submissions was submissions to the Preliminary Environment Report which was open for public consultation over Christmas. Releasing consultation documents over Christmas is poor practice as many people are away on holidays. For this reason, the Christmas break is excluded from being counted as part of the consultation period under Queensland legislation but not Commonwealth legislation. The other source of submissions was submissions sent to Canberra in response to the ‘Did you know about False Cape’ leaflet that was produced by FutureOfCairns. Submitters were asked to send a copy of their submission to FutureOfCairns as well as to the Federal Environment Minister.A compilation of submissions on the Public Environment Report was released for public view in Cairns City Library.Those submissions can counted as follows:Against• 31 photocopied letter submissions;• 35 original submissions; Pro• 3 original submissions – including one from the developer;• 49 photocopied letter submissions;It is said that politicians consider one original submission to be the equal of 10 photocopied letter submissions as photocopies are the “lazy mans” response. Doing the mathematics, this gives a score of 388 against versus 79 pro – 80% against. The submissions against False Cape formed a pile 27 mm high and those for a pile 7 mm high.FutureOfCairns also received 36 original written submissions to the Environment Minister from people who responded to the leaflet - 35 against and 1 pro. We have no idea of how many people wrote letters to the Minister or who e-mailed the Minister without sending a copy to FutureOfCairns. The total number of submissions is likely to at least double what FutureOfCairns received. For people who not had much to do with public consultation, these numbers seem small. However the number of people who responded to the False Cape proposal is way more that the number that have responded to other major local projects. Considerable consultation went into the redevelopment of the Cairns Esplanade and when I asked the council how many submissions they had received, the reply was 26. A quite low number of submissions was also received for the recent botanical gardens consultation process. Even major infrastructure projects that affect a great number of people such as transmission lines only receive a few tens of submissions. False Cape is well and truely on the political radar.Finally, in the Cairns Post everyday there are many letters from people who do not appear in our records. It would be fair to conclude that the results returned by the Cairns Post poll do not agree with the other evidence on the feeling of the community on the False Cape proposal. FutureOfCairns recognises that the Cairns Post’s standard of journalism on the False Cape issue has been quite reasonable given the restricted space available for the discussion of this issue. However the issue of being able to vote an unlimited number of times on a poll needs to be addressed.

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