Monday 17 September 2007

Your Mayor sneaks off to China...again

Last week I chatted with some Councillors who "heard on the grapevine" that the Mayor might soon be off on another 'trade mission' to China.

I said "Surely you have access to his diary or at least are aware of his movements in advance?" However, it appears that this is not the case. Councillors rarely share correspondence and the mayor certainly doesn't make public his activities. I also know that some Councillors don't even use the email system at the Spence Street office because it is monitored. Oh, what a happy place to work.

If this is a Council-sanctioned and paid visit, then where is the accountability? Is the Mayor a law unto himself?

Only yesterday, on the day of departure, were we able to discover that the Mayor, our highest public official, was jetting off to China yet again, at our expense.

A number of these trips are done under the guise of Advance Cairns. China is a favourite destination of our Mayor, and there are reasons for this that we will disclose later.

He believes that relationships with the Chinese government and businesses will open opportunities for Cairns. On his song sheet he spouts that Cairns Water has provided 'environmental expertise to undertake water treatment contracts in China', yet we are yet to see that this has eventuated and what benefit derived.

Cairns Council have been running these junkets every year since 2003: China 2003, Guam 2003, China 2004, China 2005, China 2006 and China 2007 Call me cynical, but why does the Mayor and his staff need to travel there every year, five years in a row? I don't know one salesman that travels repeatedly to the same destination and doesn't announce the results to the shareholders (constituents).

It was also stated that these trade missions have created opportunities for projects for local horticultural and landscape architects in China. However, it's difficult to locate tangible achievements from these regular trips. Here's some other prizes they claim are a success of these visits:-

  • International education teacher and student exchange
  • Sports development and exchange opportunities with the Beijing International Sports Exchange Centre
  • Opportunities for the Cairns region to act as a supply hub for PNG, following a series of discussions and submission of report to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Council's Economic Development statement talks about 'China market intelligence' to intra and interstate enquiries as to development and event activity within the region, to calls looking for general information on the Cairns region and the economy. It appears that this was written by some over-paid bureaucrat as it's political speak at the highest order.

Following a recent trip to China, the public were not briefed on his escapades. His 25 minute report was delivered to Councillors only after the media and public were asked to leave the Chamber. It was not minuted nor recorded. Why the secrecy?

While it may be laudable for the mayor to co-ordinate such "trade missions', it needs to be questioned and answered, what we as a community are receiving from this substantial investment. When no reports are available publicly, there is great suspicion about these 'missions'.

It is a good question, of the many repeated trips our Mayor has had to China, what evidence of success there is. Other than the now infamous Friendship Garden (and some work for a gardening company), how is Cairns profiting from these 'trade missions'?

Anyway, in the interests of full disclosure, here's your Mayor's travel itinerary for the next two weeks. There appears to be a lot of free "to be confirmed" spots, so you may wish to suggest some extra activities for him while he's there on your pay packet...


Anonymous said...

Guam is part of China?

The domino theory lives they will be on our doorstep before we know it!

Anonymous said...

This dude must eat up the 'carbon credits' of a small city!

Is there any way of comparing his travel budget to the last Cairns mayor or even Mike Berwick?


Fiscal Fred.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Byrne will eat anything, he's FNQ's Homer Simspon, with a grey rug. Anyway you'd be peeved at Berwick's travel bill too.
Both men's expenses could feed thousands but it is Berwick's much-hotter air that adds to greenhouse gases which will inturn lead to rising seawaters, which will then engulf Port Douglas.
And what about M Moore's visit to North Korea to meet with senior Viet Cong leaders to do a deal to smuggle WMDs to Val Schier's campaign?? The media won't touch this!

Anonymous said...

I feel that our much travelled Mayor is putting in the groundwork for a job in China,in case he is booted out in the forthcoming Council Elections.China can have him,poor devils.

Anonymous said...

His Arrogance the Mayor putting in ground work for a job in China? Hope its not as a landscape gardener, if the landscaping at Clifton Beach is anything to go by.
Maybe we can all have a whip round for his ticket, Oh silly me, we already do that in the rates!!

Anonymous said...

The Chinese connxn has got to be top of the list... KB will be following in the footsteps of Advance Cairns' former CEO, David Maguire... David saw the light and bailed out... Kevin is hedging his bets. KB was asked before the last council election in 2004 if in the event of him losing the mayoral race, would he stay in Cairns?... KB didn't hesitate in replying an emphatic "No!"... so KB's loyalties lie with KB... oh, and just an interesting aside... Annette Sheppard, Div 12 councillor is in.... China at the mo... it'd be interesting to compare itineraries

Anonymous said...

We can only hope Kevin (fat arse)Byrne does not get re-elected and receives an invitation to take-up job in China. Because if he carries on with the same shit and corruption as he does here the Chinese have a great justice system. They execute the corrupt individual.
Bye Bye Kev we wont miss you.