In the interests of presenting alternative viewpoints we today publish one of two opinions on the CCC received yesterday via our Facebook site’s Inbox. The second opinion piece will be published tomorrow.
“CCC will be a tourist attraction”
I have been quite alarmed to hear of dissenting voices against the construction of the proposed Cultural Centre in Coffs Harbour.
By Sandra Duncan
The vocal minority antagonists have enlisted very inappropriately State Parliamentarians, newly elected Gurmesh Singh, Shelley Hancock as well as Sydney based radio talkback identity Ray Hadley in a last- minute effort to halt construction.
Yes, things have radically changed with the appearance of Covid-19 along with social isolation, business and border lockdowns, the halt of air traffic as well as a grave disruption to our economy.
We are fortunate to live in a country that values lives, over money and have the budget that can support these measures.
Whilst the economy is undoubtedly going to take a shock, two new forces have emerged.
• State and federal govts are urging and offering extra funding for local municipal works to boost employments opportunities. This is the time-honoured and proven practice to kickstart economies affected by disaster, be it natural or manmade.
• With restricted entry through international borders in the foreseeable future, Australians will be holidaying at home. Coffs Harbour is an easily accessible and quite affordable holiday spot for both Sydney and Brisbane residents and hinterlands.
An upswing in tourist numbers from a wider demographic and travelling history will be likely. Whilst the glorious landscape, beach activities and the iconic Big Banana are great attractions, Australian families are also appreciative consumers of the Arts which include museums, art galleries and libraries.
These have a low profile here currently giving Coffs Harbour a bit of a cultural backwater rating. Furthermore, the Civic Centre will be a centrally located facility with administration hub will be in constant daily use by the entire community and should provide enhanced cultural life for all.
The inclusion of a designated Performing Arts space will not service the daily needs of the people and can incur huge running costs and losses. This demand could be regarded more as an obstructionist “red herring”.
Currently we have performing arts access spaces of the Jetty Theatre, C-Ex Club and International Stadium, Conservatorium of Music as well as the Botanical Gardens. But we have only one library, museum and a small art gallery which are way below the standards of a that are the norm of a town of our size. Objection after objection has been successfully countered by council for the Cultural and Civic Centre.
Costings have been proved viable, the community consultation processes adhered to, development applications submitted, architects employed, plans drawn, and this wonderful vision is nearing initiation.
I question the motives of the small but vocal locally powerful old guard objectors.
• Is it merely the ageless objection to change of status quo and power structures?
• Is it a hidden agenda of financial self-interest?
• Is it ignorance of how the Australian cultural landscape has changing expectations?
• Is it simply a xenophobic resistance to newcomers, including a democratically elected council and their wonderful and progressive changes to the city landscape? How much more harassment can this council endure?
• Why is Shelley Hancock very inappropriately, and perhaps even illegally in my opinion, threatening to change laws to halt construction? To whose interest is she responding?
• Is Gurmesh Singh merely an inexperienced puppet of Andrew Fraser or lacking an understanding of the importance of Arts for the whole community?
• Why is Ray Hadley, right wing Sydney based radio shock jock, suddenly so informed and concerned?
I hope this will be a noticed voice as I am not alone in my community’s support for this project to create a vibrant heart in Coffs Harbour which will be of great ongoing benefit for all Australians.
I implore you to oversee the continuation of this visionary project which will improve life in Coffs Harbour and perhaps even address some of the youth unemployment issues in the area.
It has been estimated that there will be 1000 new job opportunities and much work experience surrounding this development.
Following Covid-19, it would be highly advisable to spend on construction and infrastructure rather than spend the same money on Social Benefit Payments.
Of course, the financial burden will be all our responsibility in years to come but easier to bear that this money was spent on progress to provide Australians with employment opportunities.