A special Council meeting was held this morning Tuesday 9 August 2022, at 10am. Business conducted at the Special Council meeting was the Daintree Ferry crossing solution.
According to the attached Council report, Council has received feedback from the community and visitors over a long period of time regarding the travel experience of the Daintree River Ferry (ferry). After having more direct understanding of the day to day operations of the ferry, they find it prudent that all reasonable initiatives to improve ferry services be re-evaluated.
Council Officers have worked closely with the current ferry operators, traffic engineers and the regulator bodies within the State Government to understand the feasibility of various options that have been suggested by the community and tourism industry.
The report seeks to present a synopsis of the findings from investigations carried out over the past eleven months and to recommend an agreed way forward to make short and long term improvements to the ferry service.
Council officers’ preferred option is to replace the existing ferry with a wider ferry, with four lanes and dual loading capability. Delivers 48% increase in capacity (worst case), or up to 90% increase (best case). While there is no service redundancy it is the preferred option out of the seven.
Cr Mckeown moved the recommendation that Council resolves to replace the existing Daintree Ferry with a single ferry capable of increased loading capability and associated landside infrastructure upgrades on both riverbanks.
The motion was seconded by Cr Scomazzon.
Cr McKeown acknowledged the long process involved to date and expressed his happiness to accept the officers’ recommendations, as a start to a solution to the ferry issue.
Against the motion, Cr Zammataro, as per last meeting, wanted further discussion and has not been a part of any discussion, if there has been any since the last meeting. He expressed a preference for the two-ferry solution, based on financial implications and impacts on existing infrastructure. Cr Zammataro asked a number of pertinent questions, such as whether the proposed new ferry be dry-docked on site? Or how would it get to Cairns (lengthy down times) for dry-dock servicing and maintenance?
Cr Zammataro also asked whether it is financially viable for the Council to actually own the ferry? When looking at the expenditure of a proposed $6.5 million of ratepayers money, he needed more answers to his concerns first.
Cr Scommazon spoke in favour of the recommendation, as “a work in progress”, emphasising the recommendation as a “start”. She proposed a shadow amendment to the motion, to add a point, that the Council delegates authority to the Chief Executive Officer to prepare quarterly reports to Council, to be presented in ordinary meetings on all matters associated with this project.
The amendment was seconded by Cr McKeown.
The Mayor agreed with the proposed amendment but expressed his concerned with perceived issues of legalities associated with revealing financials such as corporate confidentiality.
Cr Noli, appreciated the opportunity for the public/ ratepayers to have the opportunity to follow the process.
Councillors unanimously voted for the amendment. The motion went back to the vote.
Cr Noli explained how she perceived she had no other option but to vote for the motion. The amended motion was carried, with Cr Zammataro opposing.