Babinda held hostage by Queensland Heritage Act

The community of Babinda is being anchored to the past and not allowed to progress towards a new future because of bureaucratic interference, according to local residents.

“After the destruction of Cyclone Yasi and the closure of the Babinda Sugar Mill, the community has been working to find a way forward and build a new future,” LNP candidate for Mulgrave, Robyn Quick said.

“Now the community finds itself in the position of being put in a strait jacket by government regulations about what it can or cannot do to progress.

Mrs Quick said that under the 2008 amendments to the Queensland Heritage Act 1992, Cairns Regional Council is obliged to establish a Local Heritage Register if it does not already have adequate conservation of local heritage places. CRC has chosen not to seek an exemption as its planning scheme does not meet the requirements of the Act.

Consultants, and heritage advisory groups including representatives from the National Trust, James Cook University, DERM, Cairns Historical Society and the Mulgrave Historical Society have identified properties in the recent round of assessment by the Qld Heritage Council, and the subsequent notification to the properties’ owners of the intention to include these properties in Council’s local heritage register or the State register.

“Local community consultation sessions have proved to be inadequate and people are left in a state of confusion about the ramifications, obligations and restrictions about being placed on the local or state register,” Mrs Quick said.

Mrs Quick said she had counted 27 listings for the register in Babinda including most of Munro St.
“Changes to the Queensland Heritage Act 1992 (QHA) came into effect on 31 March 2008 making it compulsory for local governments to prepare and keep a register of places of local cultural heritage significance in its area. Cairns Regional Council has undertaken local heritage studies to identify, assess and document places of local heritage significance within the region in order to prepare a Local Heritage Register,” Mrs Quick said

“However the local Labor Party member says it is ‘not compulsory’.”

At its meeting on 26 October 2011, Council proposed to enter 240 places in the Local Heritage Register.

“The community feels that their views and opinions are not being listened to and they have lost the ability to control their own destiny. Why should unelected officials make unilateral decisions about Babinda’s future,” Mrs Quick said.

Mrs Quick said that property owners would now have to make submissions to CRC within a very short time frame as submissions close on 9 December.

“It should be up to the community to determine its own future and not to be held hostage by bureaucrats,” Mrs Quick said.

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