Cape York speaks up

Tuesday January 28th 2014

Cape York speaks up

Community ownership, protecting infrastructure and balancing economy and environment were the major drivers coming out of a packed forum about the Cape York Regional Plan on Thursday, January 23.

More than 150 people attended the event, including local leaders, industry representatives, residents, land owners and conservationists, with dozens more turned away at the door after the hall filled to capacity.

Hosted by Member for Cook, David Kempton, the forum focused on the State Government's draft plan, the future of the Peninsula Development Road (PDR) and other issues critical to the region.

"Today is about kick starting real community engagement and ownership of the future of Cape York which, in my view, is where Government has got it wrong for the past 20 years," Mr Kempton told the crowd.

“If you are prepared to work together today, you have my guarantee I will take each and every recommendation forward, regardless of what it is," he said.

Mr Kempton said he would also welcome individual submissions on the plan.

"In the past, Cape York has endured a process of consultation which usually involved a pre-conceived idea cast about and implemented anyway.

“Today is about real engagement and truthful conversations.” he said

The draft plan was presented by James Ross from the Department of planning, and
the forum then had a general discussion and broke into groups to come up with 3 key recommendations each. 

The recommendations to go the Minister include changing the basis of the draft, that currently only reflects environmental zones to a more balanced and realistic approach, identifying areas for development, environment, community use and recreation.

“There needs to be more community engagement and greater attention to the long term aspirations of indigenous communities,” Mr Kempton said.

Tenure and economic consideration were identified among the highest priorities.

"There are no surprises here, the overwhelming majority agree these were the most important areas that need to drastically change," he said.

“My big challenge now is to ensure my Government and the Federal Government listen to the voice of Cape York,” Mr Kempton told the forum.

A report will be released to the public in the near future.

After lunch, the focus moved to an information and brain storming session on the PDR, led by FNQ Regional Director for Main Roads Tony Potter who presented an informative overview of the present state of the road and the potential for works to come.

More than 20 people put their hands up to be included in a task-force which will be assigned the task of assisting the Government to determine the most cost-effective outcome.

"This is not going to be an advisory board, this is an action based group made of local people in the know who will have their voices heard.”

Mr Kempton said other people from the area interested in joining the taskforce should contact his electoral office.

“I will now work hard to break down all the recommendations and submissions put forward at the forum before taking it to my Government.”

Submissions close on the Cape York Regional plan draft on March 25. Hard copies of the draft are available at Mr Kempton’s Mareeba office or online at