Community First to contest developers in Cairns Council

November 30, 2023
Community First launch barbeque
Community First launch barbeque. Photo: Denis Walls for Mayor/Facebook

Community First, a progressive ticket, has been formed to challenge a conservative group that dominates the Cairns Regional Council. The Queensland local government elections will take place on March 16, 2024.

The Community First team include members of the Socialist Alliance, the Greens and independents. Some left Labor members are supporting the ticket.

Candidate Renee Lees told Green Left that the council is “very business and developer heavy”. She said they have “increasingly taken council down an anti-democratic path” including by limiting councillor’s ability to put motions. They have also been accused of repeated conflicts of interest.

The Crime and Corruption Commission found in 2021 that former Mayor Bob Manning had not repaid a “sweetheart” $150,000 loan from a lawyer connected with local developers. Manning resigned as mayor on November 17, allowing Deputy Mayor Terry James to take the job and run as an incumbent.

Community First has a list of key policies including affordable housing, better public transport and climate action. It is supporting restorative justice solutions to youth crime as opposed to a controversial new youth detention centre.

The group supports democratic reforms, including measures to end “conflicts of interest and dodgy deals” in council. If elected, they plan to organise monthly neighbourhood meetings with residents.

Lees said the housing crisis in Cairns meant that the ticket was pushing for limits on rate rises, measures to ensure major developments include affordable and public housing and restrictions on AirBnB to expand local rental options.

Community First is organising a January 30 forum about what council can do to tackle the housing crisis.

Its candidates are: Denis Walls for Mayor, Marisa Seden (division 3), Dr Nicole Sleeman (division 6), Renee Lees (division 7), Phillip Musumeci (division 8) and Carine Visschers (division 9).

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.