Sunday 10 February 2008

I choked on my cornflakes

I sometimes take a full weekend to get through the Weekend Post.

So it was Sunday until I noticed on Page 31 Big Kev, and I mean big. A whole page big. The second in his series of $5,000-a-pop party political broadcasts.

The first full pager Kev ran last weekend breached the Electoral Act in not mentioning his street number, merely his street. I see he has corrected this on the latest installment. Good boy, and thanks to CairnsBlog for alerting you.

Anyway, enough of semantics. I’d rather debate the content of his big fat ad.

First Byrne states that he is the only candidate running for mayor with “hands on experience”. If this was the pre-requisite to changing Mayor, you’d be running this place in 30 years time, and we’re not going to let you do that! This is hardly a qualification with much merit. Politicians are not like a normal employee. They get judged by their track record, performance and ability to engage with the constituency, not merely the fact that they’ve been in the job.

A Coles checkout operator won’t keep his or her job if they don’t work well with their customers. It’s no difference on your $130,000 job, mate.

The things I look for in electing, and re-electing, a person or team to lead our city are honesty, openness, trustworthy, accessible, respectful. These are qualities I don’t see in the leadership or interacting with this current Council.

Also, it’s hard to find people amongst the Unity Team that are community-minded, something that should be high on the agenda of local government. Those that are from the grass roots, know how it feels to contribute to a community and make a real difference in the important things in people’s lives.

Big business seems to underpin this Unity team. With only Terry James, and Deirdre Ford left in the Unity camp, it’s looking like a strange claim to say the team he's presenting this March has achieved a lot over the last four years. Former members of the team are divided, ignored and belittled. His new additions are fresh off the rank. So if Kevin talks about hands-on experience, then there’s little evidence presented.

Councillors Cochrane and Blake left after various clashes with the Mayor, who has a pattern of not taking people with him on the journey. He also had a well-known stand-off with Councillor Sheppard that lasted nearly a year. Hardly great leadership.

It’s obvious that Plath and Freebody are their own team, and even possible that they may split away from Unity prior to the election. It’s believed that Freebody had a war with his master’s voice in the last couple of weeks, so anything’s possible.

Sno Bonneau, who moves from the old Division 11 to the new Division 9, has a reputation of being a yes man to Byrne. He says he’s running as an independent, but seems to lack a clear position of his own on issues. “He has a bob each way almost every vote,” said one Councillor to CairnsBlog.

With that, the rest are a new squad. Linda Cooper, Denis Keefe and Bill Phillips-Turner, are all are from the commercial business field.

One of the most disturbing things about this weekend’s advertisement is the claim that Byrne will not put up with, nor tolerate, “minority interest groups.” This should send chills down every community residents’ association. Every lobby group. Every sports club. Every historical organisation. Every one who wants their view to be heard and at least listened too.

Maybe that’s why the Northern Beaches residents were ignored completely in the draft plan that his Council approved. This plan was the basis for moving forward for the proposed Beaches Town Centre. It wouldn't appear that Mayor Byrne doesn’t want you involved in planning our future.

His statement about not being dictated by minority interest groups is a shocking and revealing announcement. Someone wanting another four years to run our city appears to be signaling that if you're not from the big end of town, get to the back of the queue.

Finally, I really did choke on my cornflakes when I saw the logo at the bottom right of the advertisement: “KEVIN BYRNE & U”.

Kevin Byrne who? Certainly not the minority interest groups.
Is this Mayor so full of it that we would want to entrust him with another four years after...
  • the betrayal we’ve all felt;
  • from an undemocratic system whereby you have to pay money to read Council minutes if you missed them online because they’re removed;
  • when he goes to China every year with a bunch of his mates and won’t even report to you what was done or achieved;
  • who's style of running Council meetings is widely regarded as domineering.

As for “You own this great city, I just look after it for you”… oh, please!

We really don’t want you to look after our great city the way you have been.

We don't want you destroying our camping and caravan parks and filling them with hundreds of 4 story apartment blocks any longer.

I believe you treat history and heritage as something that is merely an obstruction that doesn’t fit into your view of a modern Cairns, and that you mis-understand indigenous problems woefully.

I recall when ABC hosted a strategically important “Looking Forward” public debate at the JCU University in 2002 about the future of the region, hosted by Maxine McKew. After 10 minutes you pretended to take a mobile phone call, and then excused yourself for the entire evening’s discussion. The audience were stunned that you behave like this Mr Mayor. We don’t forget, and in your case, we will not forgive.

You treat community engagement as something that gets in the way of your plans, and we are sick and tired of that style of communication. We have views about how this city should be built and grow to adapt to population increase. We are about to take back our local government - a government for the people and by the people.

Cairns - and even more so the expanded Cairns region - is no place for you to govern like this any longer Mr Byrne.


Anonymous said...

I have noticed that Big Kev says that he will hold council and divisional meetings in the Port Douglas and Mossman areas. My question to him is ... Will these meetings be open to the public, all those who wish to attend, or be behind closed doors as they do here in Cairns now???
It would be interesting to hear Factmans comments on this question.

Anonymous said...

Well now Kev's got another issue...the Cairns Base Hospital, and you know what? Right before the Council Elections he starts the BIG CAMPAIGN for a new hospital. I mean, he has had years and YEARS to do something......

Unknown said...

The Cairns Base Hospital and Qld. health care are State issues. Obviously it affects the locals of Cairns but it is NOT a local election issue. What's he gonna tackle next? Australian foreign policy? And what's with the photo of Kev in today's Post...he looks about 10 years older and about 20 k's heavier than his "cornflake choker" ad!

Anonymous said...

The white shoe developer brigade may already be reading the writing on the wall...word on the streets of Cairns this morning was that the backers of the False Cape development have pulled the plug on the the finances, cancelling all existing contracts relating to the development.

No doubt it will be sold off cheaply to another developer to continue but only after the site has been left unattended for years with no erosion controls and half the hillside slips into the inlet.

Sounds like the disaster that is Port Hinchinbrook all over again, nearly 20 years after Tekin first dozed the mangroves without an approval look at it now. An ailing Keith Williams tries in vain to flog it off, but one has ask why do these contracts keep falling through?

Anonymous said...

I thought the cornflake ad was a corker.Im new to this part of the world and I'm not sure why you all complain so much- this place is the envy of the rest of Australia. I cant get rid of my relatives from down south- can you? if it was such a crap place with a crap mayor would the place have gone to shit (well apparently u already think it has) be covered in concrete and you'd all be drinking contaminated water from some festy waering hold. So what are you really complaining about. And as for the Hospital campaign and the Mayor, wasnt it launched by The editor of the Paper Mark Alexander- I doubt this mayor as powerful as u think he his has any sway over what newsltd publish- do u? Get off the grass and stop complaining this is a great place to live and at least the guy running the show seems to have some idea of whats going on !

Anonymous said...

Well don’t sound so surprised, DICKtator Kev has been at this for a very long time. That long in FACT that when he started his tirade they use to call Community Groups “Progress Associations.” But that wasn’t good enough for the “FAT ONE” his little in joke is to call them “Regress Associations” isn’t that right Gary.

And we cant forget Kev’s little “MINI ME” Sno Bonneau, an arrogant piece of shit that desperately needs to be run through the sewerage treatment works and flushed, placed in a drum and stored on Bill Phillips-Turner’s place. He could be left there until some poor bastard from the EPA stumbled upon it, tagged the drum as unfit to be opened and sent it to the incinerator. Oh and I’d Hazard a guess and say that he wouldn’t be missed!

Anonymous said...

Ben of Mt Sheridan, KB suddenly has a "new" policy to take council meetings to Mossman?? Hello. He's copying his federal namesake and doing a "ME TOO". He's pinched one of Val Shier's policies from last election and one she's been going on about this time too. Only problem is that Kev hasn't got a clue what community engagement actually is.

Anonymous said...

Of course they put Rip van Winkle Phillips Turner on the You-nit-eh ticket. He'll be saluting the Loo-tenant right away.

Poor old Dildo Phillips-Turner missed the drum muster last year eh? Jeezus Bill, how many drums of oil and farm chemicals do you use each year? I snuck along to have a look and there would have been upwards of 300 drums not the 100 reported in the paper. As a former farmer we wouldn't have used 300 drums total in 30 years.

No wonder our river pH_ucked. Lying bastard will fit right in with the rest of the "team".

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael,
Whilst I understand that this site (Cairns Blog) is a support mechanism for Cairns 1st, I would like to correct the record in regards to your paragraph:

"Also, it’s hard to find people amongst the Unity Team that are community-minded, something that should be high on the agenda of local government....
Those that are from the grass roots, know how it feels to contribute to a community and make a real difference in the important things in people’s lives."

Politics aside - my parents would be appalled to think that I have not been considered a community-player. They spent the better half of their lives raising five children who place community and family issues above everything else.

Here is a list (by no means exhaustive) of what I've done for this community over the past few years:
- President of the Leukaemia Foundation and volunteer for 10 years (children and hubby also volunteer)
- Currently managing the refurbishment of a children's oncology room at the Cairns Base Hospital
- Committee member for fundraising and installation of children's playground at CBH
- Patron for several years of CoCA
- Organised and fundraised a $10,000 event to send 10 local swimmers to the National Swimming Championships
- Fund raised in excess of $10,000 for the orphaned Mitchell children of Redlynch
- Assisted Harald Falge in awareness of Harald's House when first launched
- Previous mentor for Lead On - Creator of Operation Blanket appeal for 3 years for the Salvation Army
- Ran a campaign which collected and distributed 15 tonne of furniture, food and clothing for victims of the ACT bushfires - Instigator of the original Christmas Cavalcade
- and tuck-shop mum.

This does not include the many years (prior to marriage/children etc) of volunteering with the Cerebral Palsy Association (highest fundraiser in Perth in 1989) and the Royal Institute for the Blind (where I was sent for 3-months to the USA to teach the visually impaired how to water-ski).

I don't expect any political support from you but would appreciate not being lumbered with the notion that I don't support this community.

Kind regards, Linda Cooper Unity Team Candidate for Division 6
Linda Cooper
Leukaemia Foundation Queensland
Cairns Branch
0419 656 995

Anonymous said...


Congratulations on all of your achievements throughout the Community.
You almost sound too nice to be associated with the other thugs on the unity team.
Two questions for you,
1; are you going to commit to being a full time Councillor or continue to be in as many paying rolls possible?
2; would you expose/report corruption within Council if you were suspect/discover it?

Over to you

Enough Rope.

Anonymous said...

How many caravan parks or boarding houses left in Cairns??? Once upon a time, there were lots.

Anonymous said...

Enough Rope,

Yes I will commit to being a full-time councillor and yes I will expose/report corruption if I discover anything untoward. Inherently I cannot tolerate anything that's not fair and just.

Linda Cooper
Unity Team Candidate Division 6

Anonymous said...

More importantly.. when was the last time you spotted a caravan around visiting Cairns?

They simply don't come here now.

They know this City Council got rid of almost every one over the last 8 years..

SO they do the Tableands.. but the Grey Nomads, as they're called - bypass Cairns altogether.

Anonymous said...

Hey Coops!!!!! The first OPEN Unity player too comment on here.

You are great (miss u on radio!!)

So why are u slepeping with the devil?? Why Unity sweetie darling???

If u are honest and up front - u will soon learn that Kev;s gunna be no mate of yours.

Was it the lunch you had with him where he convinced you to run and said "Want a $88K a year job for three days a week work?

I think it was. He said the same to my friend and she told Big Kev where to get off.

Anonymous said...

thanks coops,

If all this is true, then I still don't know why you are on this team.
Clearly, this kind of honesty and integrity won't sit well with the Major and it is obviously naive of you to think it will, just ask Blakey about the bribery affair....
By the way, can you tell me your veiw on union membership and the right for employees to collectively bargain?


Anonymous said...

Hi there 'Don't Dine At Villa'. Thanks for the radio comment. It's just a shame that breakfast radio doesn't start until 8am - then I would've been able to see my kids in the morning and I wouldn't have ever left. I tried to get the radio exec-heads to switch forward the clocks but for some reason they weren't into it.

For the record, and in Kevin's defence, I approached him to say that I wanted to run as a Councillor and at no time was the salary mentioned. He is aware, as are all the people that are close to me, that I'm not motivated by money. Don't get me wrong, I like the nice things in life, but that has never been the reason of why I've chosen particular jobs (eg: .... radio announcer!)

And I wouldn't know how to only work 3 days a week - not in my nature sorry.

Anonymous said...

An $88k paycheque?? Whew, and you don't even have to give up your normal job?!!!!
HEY PEOPLE, I AM THE MOST EMPATHIC, CARING AND SHARING, SHARING AND CARING, AS GOD IS MY WITNESS COMMUNITY MINDED CARING AND SHARING PERSON WHO WAS EVER BORN. Work? I don't know the meaning of relax. I carry doggie bags to collect my waste products as I work.......

Anonymous said...

Sorry anon - probably just over-excited (I am a very passionate person). Have definitely been listening to residents of Division 6 and have a massive sheet of issues that they have raised in the area that I am helping out with.

Would love to catch up with you to hear what you have to say. And I do appreciate the advice.

Anonymous said...

G'day Coops,

Good to see you have replied to some questions, however I too believe you have sold your sole by aligning yourself to Byrne. I have some questions for you...

1. Can you guarantee the current Douglas Shire water filtration system will remain? Even if the stategovt tries to force flouridation on it, will you oppose it?

2. Can you guarantee the Unity team, if they win, will keep the rule in Port Douglas which says you can't build anything higher than the tree line?

3. Do you support retaining the Cairns Yacht Club?

4. Do you believe that the False Cape development should have been approved?

Appreciate it if you can answer these. Good on you for having the guts to respond on here. I may have more questions yet. Please no wishy wishy political answers either please.

Anonymous said...

Well it's interesting that 'Coops' wont tolerate anything not fair or just but it seems her 'integrity' will allow her to tolerate anything misleading if it means a vote.

I'm particularly curious about the promise in the above ad for "no rate rises above the FNQ CPI" and wonder if 'Coops' could explain more precisely what this means as many ratepayers have experienced rate rises way in excess of any CPI under KB and Unity?

Most particularly i'm curious about the reference to the "FNQ CPI", as the Australian Bureau of Statistics would appear to know nothing about this? The published CPI stats are a weighted average of 8 capital cities and there is no published CPI for FNQ? So what is this index that is referred to 'Coops'??

Oh, also, the Unity Team (sic) website doesn't appear to carry any authorisation which I think is required by the electoral act? For a Team (sic) with a campaign based on experience there doesn't seem to be much evidence of integrity, knowledge or professionalism?

Anonymous said...

Everyone has a right to comment on this blog and some choose to do so anonymously. That's all well and good but some anonymous posts are just disgraceful. I refer to the anonymous post re: Bill Philips-Turner. If the writer has not got the guts to say such things with a name attached, don't say them at all. I have actually met Bill Philips-Turner on a few occasions and found him to be a decent man. Indeed, for that reason, I was surprised that he decided to stand as a unity team candidate. Don't get me wrong, I won't be voting for Bill or the Unity team leader, not because of Bill's oversight with EPA regulations, but because I don't agree with the Unity team policies or past performance. It's obvious that much of the electorate of Cairns (or at least the ones that post comments to this blog) are wholly sick and tired of the current regime, but can we try to stick to the issues. One thing that hasn't been mentioned about the Unity team ad is that it's not the job of an elected council to interfere with the day to day "running" of things. That's the job of the paid staff. The elected council should focus on representing the aspirations of their communities and deliver on policy, based on those aspirations. That, in my opinion, is where the current elected council has failed.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear roisin. Commentators should stick to the issues...God knows there are enough of them!

Anonymous said...

Dear Coops

I realise that you have been bombarded with correspondance here, and you have been most gracious so far...

but I really would like a response to my comments and question.


Anonymous said...

Well if its relevant nerdy issues we want a quick examination of the issue raised by thersites should be relevant as it directly relates to the claims in the Unity advertisement posted here in the blog.

The Mayors most recent budget speech states: "The residential minimum general rate has been set at $625 – up from $595. This means 67 per cent of all residential ratepayers will pay no more than a 5 per cent increase."

Ummmm, well actually Mr Mayor that increase in the minimum rate for the lowest value properties IS more than 5% (5.04% Actually). So when we combine this large chunk of ratepayers on the minimum rate with the apparent 33% who suffered an even larger increase then the rate rise for the majority of ratepayers must be more than 5% (not including service fees and charges).

This is way above even the CPI rate which is currently causing concern for the Reserve Bank and results in interest rate increases. The joke here is that Unity have promised no rate increases above the inflation rate when their own rate increases are a principal component of inflation in FNQ.

Anonymous said...

LIGHTWEIGHT LINDA! what a shame you can't answer a question that goes beyond what's in your CV

Anonymous said...

Both of the published Unity advertisements make reference to a population for our 'cities' regional council of 165,000. This is described as "a region with a population 75% of the size of Tasmania and 45% more than the Northern Territory" which seems odd?

The 2006 census population for Tasmania is 476,481 and 75% of this is 357,360. The census population for the NT is 192,898 and 45% more than this is 279,702. So none of these stated numbers correlate with each other and the comparisons seem rather inflated? But hey, whats a discrepancy of 100% or so?

A theory has also been postulated that if we divide the Mayor's hat size by the value of free food consumed at Villa the result is his brain/body mass ratio although this has not been emprically tested.

With Kevin on the calculator and Freebody on the typewriter the next month should certainly be entertaining.

Anonymous said...

Dear Council Worker,

This is precisely why I have been loathe to continue any kind of debate through this forum. You are now presuming that I don't care/don't have an answer but the reason why I didn't answer yesterday is because I went out doorknocking for 2 hours, I went to a business event, I then picked up my kids and helped them with homework and then I went to a 4-hour Leukaemia meeting.

I have been thinking seriously about how to respond to your question about union membership because you are going to automatically think that I'm a fence-sitter, so please hear me out. In principle I agree with unions and their right to fight for the majority. In saying that, the jury is still out on how effective they really are because I have personally been involved in a strike where many union members lost their jobs - with no recourse. Also, as far as collective bargaining is concerned, I still haven't seen major results for groups such as nurses so it is difficult for me to say "Pay your union fees and you'll be looked after". Realistically, some unions are stronger than others.

Please don't result to name-calling until you are aware of what else has gone on in my day.

Anonymous said...

Gday coops.

I have a sure fire way for you to get voted in to council. You are well known around town and certainly have knowledge of media and promotions. It is also evident that many residents are very dissapointed you have aligned yourself with Byrne.

So here goes...I suggest at some stage during this campaign you call a media conference to announce that you are RESIGNING from the Unity team. Imagine the circus! It would be shock horror. Why?, they will ask. Tell them you simply cannot be associated with someone who has shown such contempt for the people of Cairns and simply do not agree with the negative vision that KB has.

Believe me, you would gain massive respect, get voted in by a mile and help in doing Cairns the greatest service imaginable, getting rid of Byrne.

Anonymous said...

anonymous above is a little behind the times about unions, with "the jury is still out about how effective they are.....".
All those women suffering from breast cancer at the Toowong ABC studios wouldnt have had a chance at compension if it hadn't been for their union, for a start.
Second, you great dill, George Bush's darling, Johnny Howard was ousted from office largely through the efforts of Australia's union movement.
Phooey, some people keep on regurgitating and regurgitating the same ole same ole, despite history marching on.
Wake up to yourself, you clown.

Anonymous said...

I think that was "Coops" commenting on "the jury is still out on the effectiveness of unions".
As a former journo you would think the Toowong breast cancer cluster and the role the union played might have changed her mind about "effectiveness" of unions.

Isn't it bloody marvellous where ideology throws commonsense to the winds?

Anonymous said...

National Party!
Union Member!
Non-Union Member!
Seventy Day Adventist!
Church of England!

When will everyone get their head around the facts! It is irrelevant your own personal beliefs be they political or religious.
When you are elected to office of Councillor, you are there to represent the people of your electorate, you are a PUBLIC SERVANT if you cannot wear this tag or get your poor little head around it don’t stand.

For people the likes of Sno Bonneau or Paul Freebody go into the next room and see if there’s a grown up in there and ask them to explain any big words to you very slowly.
As for the reference to the FNQ CPI figures, Australian Advertising Standards, The Australian Electoral Commission or the Office of Fair Trading will sort that for you. If you’re lucky they might even shut the web site down for a period. You see you must be HONEST when you advertise shame it doesn’t carry through to Council proper!


Anonymous said...

you are scaring away the Unity candidates