Council wants Crean to back Boambee bid

SIMON Crean was treated to a panoramic view of Boambee Beach and the proposed site for the 2010-12 national surf life saving titles on his visit to Coffs Harbour yesterday.

Coffs Harbour mayor Cr Keith Rhoades, deputy mayor Cr Rod McKelvey, and senior staff met the Federal opposition spokesman on Trade and Regional Affairs at the deep sea fishing club to persuade him to support their $17 million infrastructure project for the titles if Labor wins government this month.

Mr Crean, who was accompanied by ALP candidate for Cowper, Paul Sekfy, said he wanted to hear their submission, but had already gleaned that the community thought the project 'stacked up'.

The council wants three-way Federal, State and local government funding to build roads, car parks, amenities and a caravan park to support the titles and future tourism.

Bagawa women elders presented Mr Crean with a document outlining the Bagawa women's area at the Jetty, which includes the deep sea fishing club and Boambee Beach.

Aunty Sue Hoskins, Aunty Marie Tarplee, Aunty Sarah Cunningham and Aunty Linda Tweedie attended the meeting.

They said while they were not opposed to the Boambee Beach site being used for the surf titles and tourism, they wanted to ensure that it created 'as light a footprint as possible' on the area and they did not want to see any high-rise development.

Arlene Hope, speaking for the group, said it was Aboriginal lore for women to speak for their country.

Among others meeting Mr Crean were the president of the deep sea fishing club Ian Finn, vice-president Max Glenn, Coffs Harbour Fishermen's Co-op manager Phillip Neuss, CHEC executive director Bob Prater and Coffs Harbour businessmen Todd Blewitt and James Parker.

Also in view from the club veranda was the loading ramp used by major heavy manufacturing and export firm WE Smith Engineering Pty Ltd.

Yesterday WES manager Siang Kit said the company was facing a major local infrastructure problem in that the roads and bridges between the factory and the port limited them to transporting equipment weighing no more than 400 tonnes.

He said discussions with federal, state and local officials had so far produced no results and the problem was restricting their expansion.

Mr Crean said the ALP wanted to revamp the way regional development was handled, challenging the community to come up with solutions.

While this sounds like the present Sustainable Regions and Regional Partnerships operated by the Federal Coalition government, Mr Crean said the ALP approach would be not to provide money to individual firms, but to promote the region and 'brand' the region as a whole.

He told the gathering rather than marginalising the regions in specific aid programs, he wanted to see them have access to mainstream portfolios, opening up the Federal Budget so that each region would know what was being spent there and how the spending program fitted their needs.

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