Cairns event suppliers question Council preference to use Sydney company for local light show

Local events suppliers in Cairns are dismayed to hear the Council is planning to use a Sydney-based company to develop a light show for the Cairns Festival instead of using a local supplier.

The Cairns Regional Council is debating whether to ditch a public tender process in favour of using Sydney-based Laservision to develop and present a laser and light show called ‘Reef Lights’ for the festival in August.

The report in favour of the proposal cites the tight deadline, successful grant funding linked to the preferred presentation partner and competitive pricing as reason to use the Sydney supplier.

Council has received a $79,000 grant from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications through the Festivals Australia program, with the Laservision show to cost $296,000.

But Michael Jaeger from local company Jam Productions has told Tropic Now the Council should be supporting local firms particularly after challenges of the last 12 months.

“We have been trying to get Council to do a large interactive installation and light show for years,” he said.

“We’ve submitted the proposal to them a few times now and usually get told they don’t have the money.

“It seems that they have no faith in local suppliers that are more than capable of executing at this level.

“I’m dumbfounded that they would just send their money south without even attempting to engage local talent.”

Mike Newman, from local company Xplosive Art, told Tropic Now that local companies are among the nation’s best, with his business having won an international fireworks competition in Dubai in 2019 and being one of the suppliers for the Halo festival in Townsville.

“We choose to live here because it’s a great place to live but we have the skills to work in any capital city anywhere,” he said.

“We’ve got in-house specialist Indigenous laser designers that do first-rate designs.

“The Council hasn’t even tried. This really has me furious, it could and should 100% be a local engagement.”