Where to now for Port?

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Where to now for Port?

The Melbourne Business School has delivered its findings to the Steering Committee containing representatives of various Port Douglas industries and groups, and we now await their take on the findings and to see the report in full.

The MBS have also outlined ways we can climb out of a recurring 6% p.a. economic decline which has seen dozens of businesses close in the town, and skilled labour looking outside the region for work (see article "Shared vision, one voice" Tuesday 3 April 2012).

A clear finding of the MBS is that there is a distinct lack of co-operation and co-ordination to community projects.

Associate Professor Selwyn D'Souza from the MBS suggested at the presentation of results on Saturday that a majority rules approach to town projects could apply whereby the town's residents are surveyed to see if they are for or against a particular project. Sounds simple enough.

The idea would aim to eliminate any bickering and confusion about whether a project has the support of the community (eg. the lagoon), and suggested that projects be considered supported if 75% (or a figure to be agreed upon) of residents approved - the will of the community must be followed.

The Newsport spoke with Steering Committee member and business owner Doug Calvert to get his take on the presentation and the way forward for Port Douglas.

The Newsport: What were some of the key findings that should be the main focus?

Doug Calvert: The structure for leadership in the town. I thought that was very pointed, the fact that we do need strong leadership in the town.

The idea that 75% of people being in agreeance should be sufficient, I would have thought, for us to proceed on specific projects.

TN: Do you think our current leaders in the town are capable of working together, or do you think there needs to be new blood introduced?

DC: What has been demonstrated over the past period of time which has been part of the downward spiral is that the answer is no, they're not working well together, we don't have a shared vision with one voice.

I would love to see new leaders involved. One thing that's evident is that there is not many volunteers to be involved in leadership positions.

TN: What is the process the Steering Committee will go through from here?

DC: Later this week we're trying to tee everyone up. Our next priority is to get that presentation that was presented at the meeting out to the public.

We'll decide if we're going to put our own executive summary to it and distribute it with our thoughts or comments on where we're heading. Hopefully that will happen as a result of our meeting.

I don't see any reason why the report wouldn't be released to the public in full.

TN: What role will the Steering Committee play in implementing the recommendations?

DC: This is something we'll need to discuss because we're all busy people and this is a huge project. Pursuing a lot of the recommendations that are in there will require a lot of work.

Work requires time, it requires resources. It's more than just the Steering Committee, it requires the town, it may require some money, and it certainly will require leadership from Council.

The one thing that is evident to me is if we continue to do what we're doing at a 6% reduction in tourism per annum then we are on the spiral. Unless we take positive action it won't get any better.

TN: The Steering Committee is made up of representatives of the local tourism body, Chamber of Commerce, local business etc. Is there absolute commitment to implement the recommendations of the MBS?

DC: There is 100% support to review all of the proposals. I would hope that everyone is in agreeance that we need to do something, however this is part of our discussions that will be coming up.

TN: Will the MBS follow up to see if progress has been made?

DC: No. They believe there is sufficient there for us to either decide to use or put it on the shelf. They would be very disappointed if we did put it on the shelf.

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