Friday 14 March 2008

Byrne out, Fresh faces

I've been looking forward to writing this column.

It signals the end of the line for questioning and battling what we see as this local Council's inability and incompetence to work with the people.

I started this exercise only mid last year, and was spurred to do so from many far from satisfactory interactions with the Cairns City Council.

Little did I foresee that 9 months on, over 800 articles later, a combined regional council, I'd be here still ranting away. It was always my intention that CairnsBlog would have a place in the community beyond the local election. I'm happy to announce that it will, regardless of the outcome on Saturday.

What has become crystal clear over recent months, is that much of the existing local commercial media is in the emergency waiting room. Like our Base Hospital, they need open heart surgery.

When they receive a press release, it appears they don't ask question. When they get a response from the mayor, it appears they don't challenge his reply, they just print it. It's plain lazy.

When I read the Cairns Post's editor's comments extracted from their advertising promo sheet, he says (rather honourably):

"[Newspapers] tackle the issues that matter by campaigning for change, highlighting wrongdoings, demanding action, and keeping our elected representative honest. Great newspaper are champions of the community they are part of celebrating and sharing in the triumphs and successes."

I just wish even half of that mantra was true.

Media, in all it's forms, has a very valuable role to play within our community. They can stimulate debate, but more importantly, they need to speak for those that can't.

I missed the Media Mix drinks tonight at Sapphire Bar. I would have loved to been their, regardless if I was welcome. But here I am still bashing away at the keyboard in the last hours of the Byrne local government. My hope is that every word I type may convince another voter.

Independent journos, like what I've attempted to contribute to the local debate over the last few months, walk a fine line. We are often not as balanced, unashamedly so. We fight for causes that others won't touch and will back individual viewpoints, regardless of their popularity.

The mayor, in his first election advertisement some months ago, claimed that his Council would not support those of minority interest. If a Council can't represent and listen to everyone in the community, then it's a very sad day for democracy.

Under Val Schier's leadership, residents will be given an opportunity to speak at Council meetings. And you won't have to apply in writing to do so.

Why is it that the Mayor sees there's no place for an historic Yacht Club, that's been here for 100 year? Why does he feel that there's no place for live music in the city? Why does he feel he doesn't have to declare his full business interests? Why does he treat residents with contempt and shouts at them? Why does he threaten anyone with defamation when they wish to debate issues publicly and question Council expenditure with him?

This is not a city people feel they are connected with under Byrne leadership.

I hope and pray for a dramatic change this weekend. The will of the people will speak.

Since November, I deliberately allocated my full time to the blog and activism to instill new ideas and facilitate community discussion, for anyone, no matter what political persuasion. I think I've been fair in giving everyone a fair go. I've had to do very little censorship.

The debate has been very dynamic. With the growing audience on CairnsBlog, now around around 1,500 - 2,000, locals every day log on and share their views. CairnsBlog only had it's beginning mid last year. Financially, it's be difficult however, I hope that my small contribution to the election debate has assisted and will facilitate change in our local government.

The more I've got to know those running for office over the last 8 months, they more they became friends than political candidates. Most are genuinely committed to make change and contribute to the community in a way few ever do.

I have to record that I sincerely believe that Val Schier has been a strong and consistent fighter for this community. Among personal tragedies along the way, she has been a true battler and her contribution is admirable.

Let's hope that her legacy does not end this weekend, and that this is only the beginning of making the Cairns region something we can again feel proud to live in.


Anonymous said...

Have you got your tirade written, just in case KB wins. Snigger.

Anonymous said...

It has been a pleasure, these past few months, to be part of "cairnsblog". Unquestionably, the blog must go on regardless of who gets into Council tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

If KB does win he won't serve a full 3 year term, a Freefall from grace as Mayor will have a much harder landing.

Anonymous said...

Well done Mike. Good luck to the progressives today, up and down the the hill.

Incidentally, if anyone would like an appraisal of the options for Mayor of the Tablelands Regional Council, I've written one for my own blog.

It is HERE

Anonymous said...

I agree with second Anonymous, Cairnsblog must live on.
A true voice for the people of Cairns where we can freely state our thoughts and opinions about our town.
Thanks Michael for all your hard work in creating such an entertaining blog.
Thanks Bloggers, for making it interesting.. even Factman, we love to hate you.
See you all back here tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

the fart jokes have been my fave!

Anonymous said...

You think the Cairns Post is bad - try reading the biased, drivel that calls itself the 'Gazette'. The locals of the former Douglas Shire have had to endure constant biased reporting since Berwick's partner owned the paper years ago! Try getting anything printed which doesn't agree with Berwick and Leu! You assert that the Cairns City Countil doesn't support those of minority interest. Douglas Shire Council is exactly the opposite. It supports those of minority interests and forgets about anyone who is not involved in the tourism industry. Our whole town plan is aimed at tourists with the scenic amenity being the most important part of the Plan. God forbid if Leu gets in today though I think she will.

Anonymous said...

If King Boob continues his reign of terror White Knight of the large table, "Michael the Magnificient" must be helped to save us beleagued peasants.

New recruit training starts next week for all you aspring white knights.