The Qantas debacle serves to highlight the urgent need for the Far North to stop talking about economic diversity and actually do something about it, Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said.Mr Entsch said that while tourism will always remain the region’s number one economic driver, the sudden cut to Qantas flights over the weekend was a stark reminder of how vulnerable the tourism industry can be to market forces beyond our control.
“It is a crying shame that we have had $40 million from the Federal Government sitting in the bank for nearly 18 months (pledged in July 2010) without any action on the Cairns Entertainment Precinct,” Mr Entsch said.
“For months and months I have been urging Cairns Regional Council to start spending that money on shovel-ready projects that could’ve been well underway by now.”
“We could be well under way to getting a roof over the tennis centre, upgrading Tobruk Pool or starting stage one of the hockey stadium.”
“The Cairns Business and Sporting Group has worked extremely hard to identify the community’s sports infrastructure needs, with their final report due for release in the coming two weeks.”
“I urge Mayor Val Schier to talk to her Labor mates in Canberra to allow elements of the existing $40 million to be spent immediately on shovel ready projects that we know Cairns urgently needs.”
“We should not be placing all of our economic eggs in one basket whether it’s a $240 million Entertainment Precinct or $155 million Performing Arts Centre,” Mr Entsch said.
“That money should be divided up and spread across the region for small sports infrastructure projects and used as seed money to get the ball rolling on a tropical campus for the Australian Institute of Sport, co-located at James Cook University.”
“There are a range of sports, medical, and training opportunities we can start work on tomorrow to finally act on the years of talk and endless studies about the need to diversify the Far North’s economy.”
The goal of the Cairns Business and Sporting Group was identify the infrastructure needs of our region that would enable us to develop top flight sports, training, research and medical facilities and add economic value and community lifestyle benefits to the Cairns region.The Cairns Business and Sporting Group is due to release its report in the next two weeks.