Enough chiefs, not enough Indians

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Enough chiefs, not enough Indians

When the Melbourne Business School delivered its findings on 'Revitalising Port Douglas' to an enthusiastic audience almost one year ago, the idea of an economic development group was spawned.

The MBS' message of 'Shared Vision, One Voice' has been repeated many times since, but a group of local people are working to make it a reality.

"Basically, the Port Douglas Economic Development Group, which has expanded to become the Douglas Economic Development Group (DEDG) arose out of the collaboration between TPDD, the Chamber of Commerce, Julia Leu, Wendy Morris and a few others to try and put together some kind of group to try an present some kind of united front," said solicitor Martin Tranter who also participates in the DEDG.

"It was designed to be a net which caught anyone not completely affiliated with either TPDD or Chamber, but still wanted to have some level of input on how we proceed.

"It will never itself be a lobby group beyond the scope of the other parties, but as a vehicle to actually bring together each party's viewpoint and then to communicate it as a united front, it works pretty well," he said.

"It has evolved to be more of a sharing of information forum."

Mr Tranter said there had been lack of communication between people and organisations in years gone, particularly in Port Douglas.

"As a consequence we went off in different directions...it wasn't very conducive to getting a solid result for Port Douglas.

The DEDG, whose participants meet on a monthly basis, discuss issues such as the Port Douglas waterfront project in a bid to find a solution which "best fits the need of the marketer and business group."

Mr Tranter said in recent months the group has been investigating data to uncover what industries the town relies on, and set realistic goals to improve those industries.

"There's no point talking about a diversification of industry if there is none," Mr Tranter said. "There's no point trying to find the rabbit in the hat if there's an 80 per cent reliance on the tourism industry.

"That allows us to turn around to parties and say 'concentrate on those items otherwise you're doing yourself a disservice.'"

He said the priorities of an organisation such as Advance Cairns, which is designed to service the entire region, may not reflect the priorities of our region.

"We need to make sure that as a region we have our own vision and strategies and goals, and where they're inconsistent with Advance Cairns we need to make sure we lobby hard enough and strong enough to get our own agendas across."

Mr Tranter stessed that the DEDG is not a legal entity, but is simply a forum for sharing ideas and information. He added that the group would not take sides in political debates.

"It's not our job to sit here and deal with politics. Our job is to deal with whoever is in power, under whatever regime, with whatever affiliation, and make sure business continues and that the town's direction continues.

"It's a mistake for any think tank, or TPDD, or even the Chamber to come out solely (for or against de-amalgamation) at this point in time, simply because if de-amalgamation doesn't proceed business still needs to deal with the regime that's there.

"You cannot have a situation where business, for whatever reason, is knocked back in a de-amalgamation debate, and then permanently carries a chip on its shoulder."

Mr Tranter denied there was a leadership void in the region.

"It's a mistake to think there's not enough leaders, the mistake is rather that there's not enough Indians.

"Everyone can have a viewpoint, but unless you're actually prepared to put in and do something then it goes nowhere."

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