There has been some controversy this week around criticism of the new Cairns Regional Council by Anthony Miritsos of the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, as reported in the Cairns Post, and the response from Bob Manning. There would clearly appear to be some tension and politicking happening between Council and the Qld Guvmint. This is the full letter to Chamber members from Mirotsos circulated yesterday:
LETTER TO MEMBERS
20 September 2012
Dear Members and Valued Business Colleagues,
I’m sure you will have noticed the commentary surrounding last week’s
Cairns Chamber State Budget response, particularly as it relates to our
As your President, I back away from none of it. My role is really very
simple – to translate the thoughts and feelings of the Cairns Chamber
membership to external audiences. And the overwhelming feeling of our
membership at the moment, in relation to the Cairns
Regional Council, is one of frustration. The current CRC leadership
went to the local elections knowing that there had been a change of
government. They went to the election promising to hit the ground
running. They talked of a seamless transaction from state
to local administration in relation to getting work happening. They did
not go to the electorate, let alone the business community, saying
‘give us whatever amount of time’ before we can start creating action
outcomes for you.
Let there be no doubt that we believe the new state government is far
better positioned than the previous administration to ‘get the economy
back on track’. But the simple fact is that while the Newman
administration set clear 100 day targets, published and
articulated them widely, then hit the vast majority of them, our CRC
leadership appears to our members to have listed and achieved very
little in the same space of time.
To be fair, the local budget has spared our rate payers an average 8%
rate increase, and under Mayor Manning rates are up only 3.7%. We
applaud this move, as it’s clear, decisive and positive for business and
the wider community. Ten out of Ten.
Cairns Chamber members want the Mayor to make clear pro-business
decisions and shout them from the rooftops. But that’s clearly not
happening. Members want him to engage more with the business community
and to work with us to set and achieve new goals. For
example; at the Cairns Chamber lunch this week, Mayor Manning who was
in attendance could have stood up and said anything he wanted about his
current position – but instead, many members commented on his lack of
response, his-folded arm lack of engagement
and his apparent despondency. This doesn’t send a positive message to
The State Government started their budget too with the cupboard bare but
they were still able to announce some positive initiatives and show us
how and why the tough decisions were made. The messages were clearly
communicated to us and they were able to articulate
where they were being proactive, with limited dollars. The message we
are receiving from our local government is much more reactive. We’re not
blaming the local government for the lack of dollars – we know times
are tough – but what we want them to do is to
tell us what they plan to do about it and to take a leadership position
and articulate a vision to the business community.
To make our position crystal clear:
• We support the state budget, and totally agree with the pathway and foundation that it
provides. Thank goodness we now have a vision from our state government.
• We believe that the physical dollars in the state budget are not enough to help us dig
ourselves out of the hole our local economy is in. We never withdrew our support, nor
did we recant our position.
• However, the reality is that the first two points remain meaningless without a local
council that is prepared to lobby hard for us, make some decisions they’ve already
promised they’d make, and actually convert some of their thinking into doing. It’s vital
that they be proactive rather than reactive and show some action. We are looking for
jobs not more reports and studies.
I simply don’t believe, and neither do members, that council can’t
actually do anything until they have funding and other commitments come
down the pipeline from Brisbane. That’s exactly the story the last
council ran, and precisely the story the current administration
I have respect for both the CRC leadership and the Mayor. But it would
be remiss of me as your President if I didn’t stand up for what you
believe to be the frustrations that many in our business community are
having with our local authority in relation to
The Cairns Chamber has already tried to engage with the Mayor, inviting
him as soon as he was elected to meet with the Cairns Chamber Management
Committee and begin building a solid working relationship. It took
nearly 4 months for him to say yes. We know he
is busy, but you’d think he’d be interested in at least engaging with
the Cairns Chamber Management Committee. When he did meet with us, we
were disappointed with his low level of engagement and frustrated by his
lack of vision and limited clarity on what
he is doing.
The bottom line is this - We want:
• More communication from the Mayor’s office directly to the business community.
• The opportunity to meet regularly with the Mayor and discuss business’ priorities.
• A Cairns region vision that is very clear and that has an associated action plan for how
things will be progressed and achieved.
• Clear, ongoing information to the business community about what decisions are being
made, and what initiatives are being implemented, how and when.
• Whatever is being done - we want it shouted from the roof tops so businesses know
what is actually happening and can plan and manage their operations accordingly.
To play our part, we are prepared to work with CRC in the following ways:
• We will host a function, at our cost, and give the Mayor an opportunity to present his
plan of action and to articulate his vision to the business community.
• The Executive Subcommittee of the Cairns Chamber’s Management Committee is
prepared to meet with the Mayor monthly, or more regularly if required, to build an open
line of communication.
• We will communicate the Mayor’s messages to our database of 4000+ business
contacts as he articulates his vision, his decisions and his council’s progress.
Yes it has been tough and the Mayor has been dealt a difficult hand, but
let’s get some runs on the board. Great leaders, even in tough times,
take a strong position and show vision, action and leadership.
In closing, let me thank each and every one of you for your conversations and other communication.
We have been inundated with positive support from members, and where the
feedback is negative, we are listening and will reply to these messages
as well. It is only by you raising your concerns directly that your
Cairns Chamber Management Committee and I as
your President, can make sure your voice is heard.
Cairns Chamber of Commerce
And on behalf of the entire Cairns Chamber Management Committee.