General Aviation businesses including charter, search and rescue and aero-medical services employing hundreds were under threat from Labor re-zoning the western side of the Cairns Airport, the LNP revealed today.
LNP Shadow Minister for Tourism, Manufacturing and Small Business Jann Stuckey told state parliament grave fears were held that Labor was set to renege on its 2008 promise* not to turn the site into a discount shopping precinct.
“Desley Boyle made the promise to parliament, but she’s going, and so it seems is Labor’s promise to keep the General Aviation site,” Ms Stuckey said.
Ms Stuckey said at a recent meeting with Cairns tourism stakeholders the issue of the General Aviation area rezoning was raised by members of the Australasian Aviation Group – concerned about the potential loss of hundreds of jobs.
“They informed me that Deputy-Premier Paul Lucas has seen first-hand that there is a two-speed economy in Cairns – tourism, building and retail are all struggling, while out at the airport, General Aviation is thriving.
“Labor privatised the airport two years ago and the new owners have developed a draft Land Use Plan due to be submitted to the Deputy-Premier for approval.
“If given the go ahead, this plan will allow the bulldozing of all General Aviation businesses and the Royal Flying Doctor, the Bureau of Meteorology, the aviation fuel depot, and the Fire and Rescue Station – replacing them with retail and office blocks.
“Why do the airport owners want another shopping centre in an already glutted Cairns market, and why is a successful General Aviation industry, which is helping to keep the Cairns economy afloat, being interfered with in this way.
“Where’s the airport’s transition plan for aviation businesses – who’ll pay for the relocation of these businesses and new buildings they require. What will the new lease costs be, and will they be comparable with other industrial/commercial areas in Cairns,” Ms Stuckey asked.
Ms Stuckey told parliament the Cairns Australasian Aviation Group deserved some straight answers from the Deputy-Premier on the promise made by Desley Boyle there would not be retail or office development on the western side of Cairns Airport to displace the present General Aviation industry.
* In September 2008, during debate to privatise Cairns Airport [Hansard page 2750], the Member for Cairns, said “There is good control written into this legislation to ensure that we do not have a Harvey Norman or a Bunnings on the airport site and that that land is not misused for other commercial purposes.”