Friday 4 January 2008

John Nimby McKenzie

So here's a story that the mainstream media ignored.

There it was glaring them right in the face, and what did they do? Nothing. To frightened to even put the right questions to the guy at the centre of the storm.

Well, we at CairnsBlog will ask the questions. We love asking questions. That's what we did about the Mayor's junkets to China before the Cairns Post even entered the debate. Nor have they followed the story up, to find what we as a community are gaining or have gained from all this massive investment of our rates in China. However, we'll return to that one later, as it's close to our heart and the Mayor's stomach.

I think I've taken around 15 calls and as many emails about the unfolding drama and subsequent comments from radio personality extraordinaire John McKenzie, who lives in Cairns Street on the north end of town.

You see John resides in the quaint neighbourhood of the rather quiet and lovely old Cairns Street. It's special because it's remained almost unscathed from 8 years of Mayor's Bryne's demolition squads. Cairns Street, tucked a couple of blocks back from Sheridan Street, retains a large number of character homes, many 50 - 80 years old.

I've known a good friend who lives in Cairns Street and have to concur with McKenzie. It is indeed a beautiful street full of houses that are what Cairns used to be like. In fact, it could be said that this area could be a model to remind us what we have lost from our local landscape over recent years.

Now I've commented before about my attempted communication with 846 AM, but the reason this connection is all the more fascinating is that our learned and distinguished John McKenzie is not only on first name name basis with Mayor Kev, he gives him dedicated airtime every week, he's a huge promoter of such apartment constructions with personal endorsements.

Now no one couldn't suggest John doesn't have a knack for radio. He's the voice. He's our Alan Jones of the North. No doubt about it. But on AM??!! I didn't know that was still being broadcast. Most new Pod devices don't even have that on the dial!

McKenzie's comments about this unit complex being built in his neighbourhood, yet on his daily radio show for the last few months, John has been heavily promoting one of Council latest apartment monstrosities.

CEC are building on a relatively tiny block of land in Oregon Street, Manoora. They are clearing the entire site and constructing nearly 400 apartments, 4 story high. The blot of the landscape is called it The Boulevarde. John is the public radio voice behind CEC's marketing campaign and he speaks up about how wonderful and accessible it is to everywhere.

"It's close to the airport, the gardens and even the city," he says. Presumably it's not close to Cairns Street though.

Here he is on radio every day blasting the good reasons to live in a 600-apartment complex, yet we hear John doesn't want one on his doorstep!

Advertising for this awful gated-community complex has been in full swing for a while now, and at nearly $100 million to build this disaster style living, they need all the airtime they can get.Why on earth does Cairns City Council continue to allow this type of horrible high-density construction to be approved? Because it's all about money. Nothing about the livability of our community or the type of town we as residents want. It's money.

You see, with nearly 400 units going up, the greedy Council wants the rate income. CEC as the developer wants their chunk and the banks back it because there's lord knows how many mortgages waiting to be written up for every under-paid hospitality worker that gets trapped into these appalling concrete boxes, all designed with air cons in every room.

The amount of angst created about the continued pursuit by this greedy self-indulgent Council for approving this type of construction is now in almost every suburb is unforgivable.

John McKenzie says he's concerned the complex would damage the ambiance of area about the plan to build a 3 story unit complex near his home in Cairns Street.

“My feeling is if it means a lot more activity in that quiet little suburban backwater, it is unwanted,” he told the Cairns Post.

What a revelation. Maybe John could lead the charge against continued high density apartments being constructed all over our landscape? He could be the new white knight in this fight against the Mayor's horrible plan to further ruin our town. Get real!

Clifton Beach residents have loudly voiced their concerns about the same thing occurring in their neighbourhood. GlenCorp is constructing two huge high density 4 story high apartment complexes at the entrance to the beach community, on the former camping and caravan park. This conflicts with the Council's own Cairns Plan and the Residential 1 grading.

GlenCorp have done the same to the caravan park at Woree with a 300 apartment complex, 5 stories high. Don't we start to see a pattern here?

However ironic, and incongruous, I have to agree with John McKenzie's views. The residents are shouting out from almost every corner. We don't want this crappy type of living being constructed.It's so sad that so much of this construction around our once beautiful town requires extensive tree and land clearing. This without question, is the awful legacy of this Council - not brave nor visionary enough to direct and construct a town with a unique tropical architecture, merely rely of greedy developers that will cram as many apartments in per sq metre as they can get away with.

Here's one of the [edited] emails I received about this wee tale...

  • With tears rolling down my cheeks I read an article in the Cairns Post. It appears there are going to be some three story units built on Cairns St and among the effected residents is non other than the Mayor’s other bum boy “John McKenzie”.

    Oh shit! I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time.
    The tears continued as I imagined the phone calls, “but Kev I’m your best buddy, think of all the bullshit you and I have feed all the residents, can’t you help?”

    “No I’m sorry John, Cairns City Council is a democracy and the democratic process will be followed, but just between you and me, how much do you think we could get out of these other silly bastards so they think we’re going to do something?”

    “Ok Kev I’ll ask around and see how much they’re good for, but in the mean while, isn’t there something that will help, like, well say you actually use the Cairnsplan and it’s visual impact assessment or protecting the amenity of surrounding residents?”

    “Amenity, isn’t that a toilet block?”
    “No Kev buddy it means anything which make a place more comfortable or pleasant, you can be so silly at times, ‘suck grovel suck’ I’ll shout you dinner every Friday night for six months!”

    “But Johnny you know I don’t pay anyway!”
    “Oh sorry Kev I forgot how important you are, nobody would dare charge you would they? ‘suck grovel suck suck”

    Then as my stomach starts to cramp from laughter my associate finishes reading the article and chimes in with,

    “Imagine the terms he’ll have to use to describe himself. Yes I’m just one of those in that pack of whingers, yes it’s happening on my doorstep, oh shit it’s really happening in my quaint little neighbourhood but it shouldn't have!

    But But But what about the enforceable sections of the CairnsPlan ? Doesn’t anybody care about what’s happening to me and my little street?

    Well Mr John (holier than thou) McKenzie, it’s about time you pulled your head out of the Mayor’s arse and listened to the residents instead of talking over them like a arrogant so and so! For all the other affected residents in Cairns Street, I feel sorry for you and wish you well in you endeavour however futile it may seem it’s worth it!

    And just before Kev hung up on John, he said “well John, as I say to all the other whingers that ring me about what my buddies the developers are up to, if you don’t like it you can always move!”

    By the way, there hasn’t been a radio survey in Cairns for years, but best guess within industry puts him at about 3 to 5% for his timeslot. He hasn’t even got the balls to venture into the wilds of FM radio
And what's the morale of this wee tale?

Well John McKenzie is allowed to challenge the unit complex in his neighbourhood. He may state that he believes it will not be good for the "ambiance" of his neighbourhood. However saying these constructions are all fine and dandy and having no problems selling them to anyone, then not wanting them in your own street is another thing. Rather hypocritical.

It usually takes someone like this to get one of these plonked on their doorstep to take notice on what's really going on in Cairns.

About time we see you drop the CEC promotions on air John. About time we see you being a radio for and by the people, not one of what the Mayor wants you to tell us.

If these buildings are not fit for Cairns Street, you can't say they're okay for Oregon Street. Nor Clifton Beach. Nor Woree. There are solutions to housing supply and demands. There are creative and tropical solutions that could be developed. Where's the new modern Queenslander design? Why does the Mayor see the need to stack these up 4 or 5 stories high and pack 600 of them in on a block of land?

About time for a change John. Why don't you come to the other side? It'll do you good.


Anonymous said...

North Cairns along with Edge Hill were the middle class suburbs of Cairns prior to the 1970s. Henceforth they contained some of the loveliest, grandest old weatherboard Queenslanders. Digger Street was once my favorite street, however today, a good number of those grand old homes are gone.

Anonymous said...

I too rolled around the floor laughing when I read that JM had been caught up in the "Oh no not in my street".
On the Cairns Plan it is Res 3 and yes it is in a Character Precinct.
How you can have Res 3 and Character Precinct is beyond me.
Everytime one of us Whingers, Ratbag Troublemakers (as the Mayor called us on the JM Show), or just plain tiresome residents out at Clifton Beach have a letter to the Editor published, or speak out about the development happening out here, JM is quick to get Councillor Bonneau on the radio to get his view. Lets hope that JM will get the councillors and Mayor on his show and ask some searching questions. Oh and by the way as it is CODE ASSESSABLE, Public and affected Residents have no requirement for notification, no statutory right of submission, and NO rights of appeal to the Planning and Environment Court. The only person who has these rights is the Developer should the Council decline their application.

Anonymous said...

Bwah hahahahaha John MacKenzie.
SUFFERRRRRRRR! Suffer, you myopic fool. Put up with dozens of cars outside your drive-way and parked bumper to bumper up the road. Put up with noise, parties, fights, the thump thump thump of dozens of sound systems roaring all night long. Put up with the loss of sunlight over your side of the house. Watch your plants die. Pick up those hundreds of ciggie butts off your front lawn every morning.
Listen to the early morning screech of cars roaring off to work, you won't hear much birdsong any more.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to find out, that despite what we hear on the radio, John McKenzie is just like us. A Ratbag resident who doesnt like what the mayor is doing. It will be interesting to see if this block of units goes ahead as planned, or is changed. Hopefully, John has more pull with Kev than we have. If this developement gets changed, or stopped, it will set a precendent for the rest of us.
It is good to see that it is happening to one of Kev's bum boys tho. it goes to show that as we all presumed, Kev has no loyalties.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to reality John MacKenzie. It couldn't have happened to a more fitting person. Perhaps enlightenment will come with experience. What it feels like to be powerless,ignored, misled, lied to and be so worn down by the process you are put through that you eventually give up. What it feels like to be treated like just another expendable casualty of so called "progress." What it feels like to live in shadows where once there was sunlight, to never feel a breeze again and to lose all privacy and peace. What it feels like to be forced from the home you love and have lived in for years because life becomes so unbearable. What it feels like to watch your beloved local community and environment be needlessly destroyed before your eyes. What it feels like to watch developers contravene the planning scheme and development conditions time and time again and get away with it. What it feels like to be branded a "whinger", a "ratbag" or "troublemaker" because you refuse to accept what is happening.

Anonymous said...

I too thought your article was extremely funny and hit the mark.
Since I stopped reading the Cairns Post in favour of other independent on-line newspapers like Cairns Blog, Crickey, and the ABC, I have become a real person again. I must say it took me a few weeks to un-spin and realize that propaganda had clouded my view.
But Michael, Surely, John McKenzie is not a person given to hypocrisy, double standards, duplicity, two facedness, and a whinger to boot. Hey, wait a minute, I went into the dust bin and retrieved that article. Dang me, you are right.

John McKenzie says he's concerned the complex would damage the ambiance. Well you poor thing, John. No kidding. How about the ambience of our beloved Trinity Inlet. completely shagged by Advance Cains, Kevin Byrne and his Port Authority mates with wall to wall high rise apartments and the Harbour Lights prison. The Trinity waterways are a death trap, full of sunken and rotting superstructure and ships carcasses. But hell John there are still a half dozen timber houses left somewhere in the city, why should they be a concern when the oldest living treasure, The Aquatic Club House, over 100 years old, is to be destroyed so that more concrete monoliths can be raized to the heavens above the safe limit for approaching aircraft and block out the clean air, increase the heat generated from a billion cubic metres of air-conditioning and suffocate you down in the sound proofed, air conditioned comfort of your studio. My sentiments to you, the Mayor, the Port Authority and the State Government is, cop what we have copped for 30 years and suffer. After all there is only a handful of you and 140,000 of us.

Anonymous said...

The continual shilling for crap that McKenzie does is what should be investigated. He was promoting the failed Townsville ISP Rawnet despite clear indications that it was insolvent - all because they were PAYING him.

A couple years back he was promoting a "perpetual motion" energy machine, helping the Lutec Company fraudsters in their attempt to scam money from the morons that form his listener base.

And as business people in town know, he'll gladly sell you advertising on his program without charging you, but only getting an "exchange" of goods and services, which might handily avoid income tax the rest of us pay.

The new owners of the station are Prime broadcasting, based in Canberra. They need to be told of the widespread dissatisfaction of this abuse of the public airwaves.

Anonymous said...

Gavin King in the CP this morning, leaves no doubt on which side of the Development fence he is on. The major growth in Cairns is the building industry. It seems the Mantra "Build it they will come" is alive and well. But who will come? The Tourists - nah who wants to come and look at a concrete towers and drive along roads with the Wooden Palisades.
The Cairns Plan has adequate sustainable growth built in. It is the Council not sticking to their Plan that causes the problems. Council can say no to the developer when he wants a Material Change of use, but they don't. Council will use the "we'll get sued" stick.
The apartments are marketed to Investors not those wanting to turn them into their family home. Are they to provide accomodation for all the tradespeople moving into Cairns for the building boom? Are they providing accomodation for all the workers in the Tourism industry? Who are living in these apartments?

Anonymous said...

So Cairn’s Talking Head has inappropriate multiunit housing now at his backdoor! Fancy that, eh?

Personally, I think it’s his overdue comeuppance over the way he has treated others who have tried to air their opinions about inappropriate development in their suburbs on his radio program. If they are lucky enough to get past the minders on his show, he is barely interested and never takes up the issue in earnest, obviously because he has many conflicts of interest in paid advertising with developers (the same problem that the Cairn’s Post has, but that is another story!). However, Macca always seems to have the likes of Bonneau and Byrne on in a flash and gives them plenty of air time, in which they can spin doctor and tell the most outrageous fabrications without rigorous debate or questions from the callers and if the debate gets heated, the caller gets terminated unfairly.

It is nice to know that McKenzie is now being shat on from a great height (like most of us have) and there is not a damn thing he can do about it. Code Assessable means no objection process, so get used to no light, no breeze, no privacy, no views, no sunshine, no parking outside your street and if that is not enough to drive you out, the noise over the 12-18 month construction period over 6 days a week will surely do the trick. Until you have experienced it yourself, you do not understand, just how insane it sends you. Constant noise in the form of incessant beeping, high powered drills and machinery noise, large trucks and fully laden semi trailers reversing, coming and going down your street all day. You cannot listen to music or the TV, you cannot read a book in peace and quiet, you cannot have a conversation in your own home and the noise penetrates your very thoughts to the point where you constantly have a headache. You cannot escape the noise in your own home and the best you can do, is go out to work or out for the day.

I truly hope the shite (development) is a big one, (and they are always bigger than what you think eg supposed to be 3 storeys but really 4 as they have an underground carpark that somehow is not counted and plus they never look like the plans that are supposedly approved by Council when finished. Have you heard about negotiated decisions yet Macca? – bound to be a few of those thrown in for good measure).

Unless, Macca takes up this issue on a grander scale across Cairns, and fights for the rights of ordinary folk who are not lucky enough to have friends in high places or unlimited resources for court action, my care factor for Macca’s predicament, is a big fat zero. As I like to think sometimes, every dog has his day and it is now Macca’s turn and he is a most deserving recipient.

Anonymous said...

Good question Jude. Just who are living in these apartments? Just who is buying them? How many of the completed towers are fully occupied?