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    Your daily local news briefing // Thursday 20 April 2017

    WEATHER FORECAST
    Cairns: 23-30C max, 90% chance of rain
    Port Douglas: 24-30C max, 90% chance of rain
    Mareeba: 20-27C max, 60% chance of rain
    Innisfail: 22-28C max, 90% rain


    TODAY'S TOP STORIES

    SPIKE IN BUILDING APPROVALS REFLECT CONFIDENCE IN TNQ
    A report released by Master Builders yesterday called Cairns a “stand-out performer” following a spike in building approvals.
    The industry association, which represents building and construction in Queensland, said the value of approvals for the TNQ region was up 16.5 per cent compared to 12 months ago, with $709 million of building work added to the pipeline since then.
    “Approvals for non-residential developments are up an impressive 97 per cent on the previous year and were valued at $291 million,” Master Builders deputy CEO Paul Bidwell said.
    Confidence amongst the building industry is also strong, with a recent Master builders' survey showing that nearly half of local builders expect the building industry outlook to improve.

    BUSTED-UP BOARDWALK TO GET FACELIFT
    The 14-year-old Esplanade boardwalk will be ripped up and replaced under a proposal recommended to Council yesterday.
    The $2.43 million project was earmarked after the council’s Infrastructure Committee reported that a quarter of the deck boards were in need of replacement and around another third had damage of varying degrees.
    The work, due for completion in May 2018, will be carried out in stages so as not to disrupt public use of the popular boardwalk.

    FLESH-EATING DISEASE HITS DAINTREE
    A new case of a flesh-eating disease has prompted calls for Daintree residents and visitors to take special precautions when going into the rainforest.
    The Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service confirmed that a local has been infected by Daintree Ulcer, a bacterial disease that can leave victims disfigured.
    Anyone living in or visiting the area should wear protective clothing and insect repellent, as the disease is suspected to be transmitted via mosquitoes.

    MILITARY MUSEUM EXPANDS IN TIME FOR ANZAC DAY
    The Cairns RSL’s Kokoda Hall military museum will unveil its armoury and bunker room today.
    The armoury will display weaponry from World War I, while the military bunker is a visual interactive space
    The museum, upstairs at the RSL club on the Esplanade, is the last stop on the region’s Anzac Trail, a walk which covers 24 sites from Trinity Beach to Bartle Frere. Entry is free.

    COWBOY ON THE MOST WANTED LIST
    It’s been confirmed that North Queensland Cowboy John Asiata is being headhunted by a clutch of NRL clubs, though reports indicate the stocky halfback is keen to stay with the Townsville side.
    Teams including Cronulla, Souths, Manly, Parramatta and the Gold Coast Titans are rumoured to be eyeing off the 23-year-old, billed as one of the code’s most versatile players.
    Despite the interest, the 106kg player told News Corp that playing for the Cowboys was “a dream come true”.
    Asiata has been in the spotlight of late, filling in for an injured Johnathan Thurston with aplomb. He’s been named at five-eighth to face the Knights this Saturday.