‘Malicious rubbish’: Mayor Kerr responds to website comments


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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The development location at the centre of a public war of words between adjacent holiday apartment owners and the Mayor of the Douglas Shire. The marker indicates the Lot ear-marked for development that has sparked an online campaign. Image: Supplied.
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Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr will be seeking legal advice after being quoted on the ‘protectourparadise’ website with statements he describes as “malicious rubbish”.

This relates to an “anti-development and Council approval campaign”, which is being spearheaded by a group of concerned residents and ratepayers.

Wendy Crossman, owner of By The Sea Port Douglas, is a member of the group who believe a significant development should be scuppered. Her property is close to where the development is slated.

In December last year, Newsport reported that Douglas Shire Council confirmed that multi-billion-dollar property developer, Tim Gurner, had submitted an application for a $60 million ‘mixed use’ development on the 69-73 Murphy Street site in Port Douglas. The proposed property will overlook the Four Mile Beach Esplanade.

The Newsport report added that initial town planning designs have been submitted to council and subject to approval, construction is earmarked to commence in mid-2021. 

- Gurner reveals $60m luxury retreat for Port Douglas

The website Protect Our Paradise has a page that states MAYOR KERR IS NOT A FAN OF COMMUNITY CONSULTATION

It continues:

Douglas Shire Council’s Mayor Kerr is very excited about the prospect of this high-end property.

He fervently believes in the project and has no doubt that it will now go ahead. This is despite:

  • the eco impact on Flagstaff Hill
  • the impact on iconic Four Mile Beach Esplanade
  • the ruination of the Esplanade’s Park
  • the destruction of local businesses, and
  • the fact that the development application breaks the town planning scheme codes which have protected our Shire from becoming full of high-rise buildings and retaining its signature village style beauty.

The website also features a Q&A with Kerr, despite the mayor saying he did not respond to the questions featured on the site.

“I went down and spoke to Wendy back in December about her concerns with this project. But what she is saying I said is not true (on the website) and I emphatically deny making those comments.

“I recommend people go to council’s website and look at the application themselves to get the factual information about the application which council planners are currently working on,” said Mayor Kerr.

The site, which is reported to be seven-storeys high, is set to feature 16 ultra-luxury private residences and a further 18 boutique hotel rooms. 

Kerr said that once again the internet and social media are being used for misleading information and actually complete outright lies.

“The statements being credited to myself are nothing but malicious rubbish and I am now seeking legal advice as they are absolutely false and defaming my reputation.

“This project is currently in the hands of the planning staff in council. The developer has submitted a legitimate application for assessment and their planners will work with the council planners.

“For the project to be passed, it would need to be presented to all five councillors for a decision, not just me. Unfortunately Ms (Wendy) Crossman believes that I am clearly above the law and can just block an application as it doesn’t suit her or won’t complement her own large accommodation property.

“Properties of this calibre are absolutely what Port Douglas needs, but like all other applications it needs to work with the planning scheme or we will all find ourselves in court,” said Kerr.

Ms Crossman confirmed she met with Mayor Kerr in December and contrary to the latter’s statement, they did address the issues posted on the site.

“There was a lengthy conversation with Michael about the development and during these discussions, these questions were asked, and Michael did provide the stated answers,” said Ms Crossman.

In confirming that she is involved in this campaign, she said the campaign has been formed by concerned residents and ratepayers, who have come together after reading of the Flagstaff Hill development in the Weekend Australian.

“It is a group spearheading this campaign of which I am part, it’s not just me,” she said.

In responding to Mayor Kerr’s assertion that the published material attributed to him is “malicious rubbish”, she said: “This is not accurate and by the way we all voted for him.”

Launched only two days ago, the campaign has already received feedback and support.

“Our community group is going from strength to strength in only 24 hours. The campaign has now gained national media attention, and we expect it to continue to do so, because the location of this proposed development is so iconic, is part of Port Douglas' unique signature, and the impact will be devastating in multiple ways,” said Ms Crossman.  

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