The loss of the Skytrans airline and 70 employees was a blow to the Far North and the State Government’s tendering system was “squarely to blame”, Katters Australian Party candidate for Cook, Lee Marriott said yesterday.
Speaking from Lakeland Mr Marriott said the Skytrans debacle was typical of the State Government’s discriminatory and flawed tendering system which often favoured interstate contractors.
“The LNP prefers interstate companies when awarding tenders and cares little about the collateral damage it causes to established local contractors, their workers and their families,” Mr Marriott said.
“If I can get into Parliament our party will ensure that capable local contractors, using a similar tendering method to Mareeba Shire Council, get preference over contractors from out of the local area.
“Just look at the Main Roads Department and the major blunders they have made with tenders on the Tablelands and on the Peninsula giving road construction contracts to the Perth company that attempted to do a major road building job at Ravenshoe.
“The company had no idea about Tablelands conditions or the wet season and the job over ran by a year and was $6 million over budget.
“Then the Walkamin highway job the year before where an interstate contractor got caught up and went broke and the job had to be finished by local contractors who should have been given the job in the first place.
“Then the Walsh River section on the Dimbulah Rd also suffered similar problems, and on it goes.
“The Peninsula spray seal bitumen jobs near the Weipa section fell apart in a year and that is why I am sceptical about the Member for Cook’s claims they will bitumen most of the Peninsula Development Road over the next two years.
“That is not possible with the amount of federal money they have got and the job will have to be below standard.
“The MRD might have $210 million over two years but when you take out 35 to 40 per cent for administration and traffic control there’s not much left for road works.”
Meanwhile the KAP Member for Dalrymple, Shane Knuth, said he was preparing a Bill to go before the Parliament for legislative changes to the tendering process whereby local, pre-qualified contractors would get preference over outside companies.
Robert J Lee in Cairns
Three Community Cabinet meetings, hundreds of thousands of dollars in hand-outs to sporting clubs, millions for council beautification works and Main Roads projects done on the cheap will not change the hostile community attitude towards the Member for Cook David Kempton and will not help him hold his seat.
Multi-million dollar grazing property purchases handed over to indigenous corporations, construction of useless walking and pushbike tracks and the demolition of valuable rail assets will drive the final nail into the box of the former Cooktown land rights solicitor.
Liberal Party sources say they know the writing is on the wall for their short-lived domination of the Far Northern electorate which stretches from just north of Atherton to the Papua New Guinea border.
Traditional Owners from communities across Cape York Peninsula say they are infuriated with the performance of Mr Kempton.
Likewise community leaders from southern parts of the electorate which will be the subject of a future article.
“Where are our jobs?” demanded an angry Traditional Owner from Injinoo.
Two outspoken indigenous community leaders have targeted the Liberal Party and Mr Kempton for “under the table deals” with foreign mining companies and inaction over the removal of Alcohol Management Plans that he promised before the last election.
Others are speaking out about the ‘freehold’ housing deal offered to some communities with conditions that are impossible to meet.
Self-appointed national indigenous spokesman Noel Pearson is believed to be “totally pissed off” with Kempton because of his “back door deals” between various community groups, which undercut the influence and domination by the Cape York Land Council and its business arm, Balkanu over varous community groups.
Cairns News is being careful not to specifically identify the issues that have alienated the Liberals from the CYLC and its “jobs for the boys” program, suffice to say the latest land grab over the entire Peninsula by the CYLC and its nominees has inflamed a turf war among competing groups that will be impossible to extinguish.
Another cop-out at Bamaga by the LNP and Mr Kempton will bring down the roof when it hits the national news bulletin.
Predictions by pastoralists of the 80’s and 90’s have begun to take shape as the State and Federal Governments further dispossess white pastoralists of their generational holdings and hand them over to Aborigines.
It goes without saying that abandoned indigenous cattle grazing enterprises have been the bane of the northern cattle industry and the shame of governments pandering to indigenous pressure groups who simply want to live “on country”.
Gone forever is an integral part of the Far Northern breeding herd and gone forever is proven white stewardship of the fragile Peninsula grazing environment.
Former Peninsula leaders predicted the invisible and sticky fingers of the CYLC would eventually control the entire area north of Lakeland.
The late Harvey Schwenke of ‘Strathmay Station’ and former Peninsula Cattlemans Union chairman created controversy 15 years ago when he said the Land Council would one day control the entire Peninsula.
“They will fence across the lower boundary between Lakeland and Laura, place a gate on the Peninsula Development Road and charge entry to any white people wanting to enter,” Mr Schwenke told a Cairns reporter of the time.
It is notable that ‘Strathmay Station’ was one of five large cattle properties recently handed over to an indigenous group.
Just who will replace the Liberal Party on the Peninsula is anyone’s guess but a tip from Cairns News: “Keep an eye on Katters Australian Party candidate Lee Marriott,” a Cape York Peninsula native from Lakeland.
For more information read Cairns News December 12, Entire Cape York Peninsula soon to be owned by Cape York Land Council