Mayor Bob Manning
Cairns Regional Council
1. Over the years what is the one thing you have come to appreciate about the city of Cairns?
Its natural beauty. The Reef, rainforest, beaches, Atherton Tablelands and the Cape, mangrove-lined inlets with an abundance of fish, crabs and prawns – this stuff cannot be seen together anywhere else in the world as it is here.
2. The region has experienced many tough times throughout the years, but none quite like we are experiencing now. What is one message you would like to give to the people of Cairns at this uncertain time?
From the time Europeans first settled Australia it has been tough. Droughts, floods, fires, two horrible world wars, a global depression and a number of smaller conflicts such as Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East and Afghanistan. And yet Australia soldiers on; it is truly a ‘gutsy’ country.
Today we stand together in meeting this threat from coronavirus and in looking after each other.
3. Leaders like yourself have united to fight for the region in what are unprecedented times – what role are you and your organisation playing in all of this?
Council has been very active in maintaining strong relationships with the two senior levels of Government (Federal and State) and established a two-committee structure to support this:
a) Economic Response &
b) Human & Social Sub-Committee
These two sub-committees are being overseen by a Local Leadership Committee comprising of myself, and the local Federal and State members. This structure has been working well and is ensuring good co-ordination.
Council moved early to provide support for residents and business, initially fast tracking $2.4m in funding to TTNQ to promote our region, providing $40,000 to the Cairns Chamber of Commerce for a campaign to encourage residents to spend locally and to give landlords a three-month extension on rate payments.
As the situation has developed, Council endorsed another series of measures aimed at helping business generate employment, including the bringing forward of $2.5m of maintenance works, reducing rent for businesses leasing Council facilities and providing a three month extension on a range of business related-fees and charges.
Indications are positive that Cairns is showing great discipline in maintaining hygiene and social distancing, two key elements of the strategy in defeating coronavirus.
4. While there are many negatives about the current situation, we all find ourselves in – what is one thing you are looking forward to doing while in isolation?
We are all keen to see the defeat of this virus and the return to normalcy. I know that clichés sometimes drive people silly, but when we do come out of this we will all be stronger, and we will experience the joy of having defeated that which so disrupted our lives. I think a big barbecue will be in order.