Wednesday 5 March 2008


After last Thursday's Council meeting, Councillor Annette Sheppard telephoned Cairns 1st candiate for Division 9, Janine Aitken, from her Council office.

Fellow councillors Sno Bonneau and Alan Blake were in the background, witnessing the call.

Janine recounts her story...
I arrived at the Council chambers at 5.30pm ready to witness what might unfold at this council meeting.

With zoning applications changing at close to the speed of light, the whole meeting was over by 6.15pm Well, not quite… that’s when the meeting was closed to the public, anyway.
After having a chat with some residents from Freshwater, who had a minor win when they received a “stay" until the community could be consulted before yet another multi-unit development was approved, I headed downstairs where I said my goodbyes and jumped in my campaign-ridden and laden car.
I barely made it out of the Council parking lot when my mobile phone went off. Given I had recently lost my hands-free headset for my mobile, and ever-conscious of the 'Charliegate' mobile phone debacle, I pulled over to answer the call.
“Hello?” I ventured, not recognising the number. It was 4044 3072.
“Janine, this is Councillor Annette Sheppard” was the reply.
“Annette, how are you?” I answered in surprise. Given we had only met once before, I wasn’t expecting a call. Maybe she noticed I had my hair cut, or maybe she wanted to take me under her wing? I mean, she has been around forever. Perhaps she wanted to support a fellow female candidate. Perhaps we hit it off better than I realised at that Smithfield library launch recently.
“I'm not very happy” came Annette's reply.
Oh-o, somehow I didn’t think she was calling up to find out who did my hair. No, definitely no female bonding going on here.
“Janine, I'm in receipt of a letter you put out at Caravonica.”
Then, without exhaling once, Annette proceeded to tell me how this 'issue' had been dealt with. How I was playing dirty politics.
In her six elections she has never seen anything like this, she has held meetings on this 'issue' who had I spoken to?
I was trying hard to get in a response but between her talking 100 miles an hour, and some guys in the background talking about how the ducks were lined up, then Annette's clarification on the ducks (they will be shot down one by one …. I hope animal rights don’t hear about that), I could not even get a word out.
So, I turned off the engine to my car and got comfortable. Nope, Annette definitely had not called up for my hairdresser's number or any other girly bonding.
Finally, Annette paused long enough for me to suggest this wasn’t the appropriate time or way to have this conversation.
Did she want to have coffee? "We could make a time have coffee and discuss it," I suggested.
Nope! Annette continued that this 'issue' would all be fixed mid-year, so I'd better not take credit for it.
No danger there, nope, no danger of me taking credit for anything the current Council has done, or not done.
I tried again. “Annette, let's talk about this over coffee. I'm not comfortable having this conversation on your speaker phone,” I suggested.
“You're not on speakerphone! YOU'RE NOT ON SPEAKERPHONE, DO YOU HEAR ME JANINE?”
Bit hard not too, I thought.
"I think the people driving past several cars over can hear you!" I tried to advise Annette that although I'm sorry my flyer had obviously upset her, I didn’t make this issue up. This wasn’t some story I had concocted.
Over 300 residents had spoken with me about their concerns about flooding, insurance and poorly designed developments.
“People will complain about anything,” Annette informed me. "What do you know about?" she demanded.
“Well apart from actually speaking to the residents who live there and feel they are being affected, I have found it difficult to get any information from Council on this issue.”
"Annette, there is a problem with ordinary everyday Cairns residents getting information from this Council”
I then challenged Annette. “You find an ordinary everyday person and set them the task. See how they go in getting information from Council.”
“Annette, I don’t want to fight with you over this. Let's make a time have a coffee and talk about this. There is a small chance we may be working together soon.”
“No, there's not! You're not going to get elected,” came Annette’s abrupt reply.
“We'll see, we'll see,” was my response.
Annette went on to state that she thought I'd was better than this. She thought I was a better person.
“Annette, no you didn’t. You didn’t think anything of me. You don’t even know me.”
“Oh yes, but from what I’ve read,” she hastily replied.
We ended the chat with me wishing her a pleasant evening, and her gruffly saying: "You too."
I'm guessing she doesn’t want to have coffee or talk hair anytime soon.
Postscript: Looks like my fellow 9 contender Sno Bonneau isn't happy about my contribution to this debate either.


Anonymous said...

So now Spineless and Invisible Bonneau is getting a woman to do his dirty work!


Anonymous said...

Ohhhhhh the courage of being "assertive" in a phone call! Typical characteristic of a passive/aggressive personality.

Anonymous said...

wot's happened to factman, has he got stuck in his public toilet cubicle again?

Anonymous said...

This article is very one sided.

Oh and if you wonder why Annette screams so much? she's been wearing hearing aids from a young age.