Tuesday 11 December 2007

Mayor to the rescue

After last week's amazing trek to Cairns from her native PNG, Beverly Abia has found a new friend in our mayor Kevin Byrne, reports the Cairns Post today.
Byrne was born in Lae, Papua New Guinea in 1949, so was no doubt touched by this. He also speaks the local lingo.
Whilst anyone would be moved by Abia's story, I was moved even more by the amazing statement from the mayor: "Whatever happens, this community will look after you".
This is in such stark contrast to his actions on local indigenous relations in our region since he's been mayor.
In the last of many ignorant reactions to indigenous welfare in Cairns, Byrne two weeks ago said he wanted to rid this city of the many "squatters" that housed themselves in Portsmith makeshift camps.
There was no plan of repatriation or rehabilitation attached to this, just that he wanted to clean up the area.
We were reminded of the Council's support in 1994, under Byrne's leadership, of the removal of more than 250 Aboriginal people from around Cairns to Lockhart River in Cape York in a widely publicised outcry around the country. There were many questions over that incident that still are unanswered. No one can walk away from the fact that it was the Council's mission to simply rid the public areas of Aboriginal people.
It is still the Mayor's wish to do this.
Back in 2004, Byrne was behind the threats and eventual bulldozing of a large disused building in Sheridan Street, that many aboriginal folk had used as temporary accommodation. After much local public reaction to his threats, one morning he simply sent in the bulldozers and demolished the building.
There is clearly an issue for local government to lead issues on welfare and community assistance to help venerable people. There have been some strategies at State level working on this problem. However, over many years there's been no strategic approach from this Council to work with these people to assist in their ongoing welfare or living conditions, just outburst every so often from the Mayor.
The reaction around the country after the Mayor's latest response to "cleaning up the aboriginal problem" in some ways mirrored that of the 1994 forced moving of people. On Channel's 7's Sunrise TV show they were stunned by the initial comments from Kevin Byrne. "Did you see what that mayor up in Cairns is trying to do again?" they said in horror.
However, I always remind myself one of the most amazing outbursts, back in 2001/02 when I picked up a copy of the Cairns Sun. There was a large front page story about how Aboriginal were evidently taking some of the wildlife, ducks presumably, for food source. This was occurring in the Botanic Gardens and around the Centenary Lakes.
Mayor Byrne famously weighed into the debate and exclaimed that they "can do what they want on their land, but they should leave our property alone."
If we had a Jacob Weisberg in Australia, he'd have enough material for a book or two in the Bush-style goof publication.
So here we have a city leader running to the rescue with real practical support for a young mother in need. Wonderful. I know the local Red Cross and Hospital Foundation will also do a tremendous job for Beverly.
So what's the mayor saying on the more important issue of helping our local Aboriginal folk, that have needed assistance from our local community for years and years?
Imagine if he used the same attitude as he did with young mother Beverly Abia: "Whatever happens, this community will look after you"?
Oh, that's right, it's merely a great publicity stunt and a photo opp.


Anonymous said...

Most in Cairns support the Mayor being tough on crime, public drunkenness, and other anti-social behavour.

Why haven't you pointed out the racist actions of Judge Sarah Bradley, who has declined to punish aboriginals for serious crimes FOR YEARS, which has been the root of these kinds of problems in the community? Do you support gang rape of aboriginal GIRLS, Mr. Moore?

How about publishing the address of Sarah Bradley so we can organise with Bryan Law a public protest on her front lawn for being such a racist pig?

Anonymous said...

"examine the facts" do you know all of the facts in the Sarah Bradley case? Did you sit there during the court case and listen to everything?
Emotionalism makes for poor judgement.

Anonymous said...

Of course people didn't sit an "listen to everything", how absurd! We know the essential facts - a 10 year old was gang raped. Legally she can't consent, and it's RAPE, CASE CLOSED. All the excuses in the world don't change the essential facts.

Put on your thinking cap and shake off the XXXX fog and you'll understand what us thinking people see clearly.

Anonymous said...

well facts is facts, baby, from what I have read and heard, this girl willingly and concentually laid down for these boys. Now ,, most of these boys where underage. If the legal age boys are to be charged and committed for rape, why isnt the girl being charged for raping the underage boys?? .. what is good for the goose, is good for the gander. or is it the other way around???