Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Free Hugs

There has to be a reason why this Aussie vid is our most viewed YouTube ever - in Oz that is (the most viewed video ever is Judson Laipply's Evolution of Dance at 108 million views!)

With 36 million views and 67,000 comments, it's not only a good way to end the year, but a great way to start 2009.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Мосмен Вэл Шир (Val Schier)

Cairns Regional Council mayor Val Schier, makes it onto the Russian news.
  • Полиция Малайзии предостерегает приглашенных на нудисткую вечеринку
    09:26 30/12/2008

    МОСКВА, 30 дек - РИА Новости. Малазийская полиция предупреждает желающих поучаствовать в нудистской новогодней вечеринке на одном из пляжей в штате Джохор, что ее организаторами могут быть тривиальными мошенниками, сообщает во вторник со ссылкой на местные СМИ агентство Франс Пресс.

    Сообщения о проведении в канун Нового года нудистской вечеринки для людей не старше 40 лет ранее появились на одном из интернет-сайтов. По словам организаторов мероприятия, стоимость входного билета на "праздник плоти" составляет 250 ринггит (72 доллара). При этом к участию в секс-вечеринке допускаются только абсолютно голые мужчины, а женщины могут прийти лишь в трусиках-стрингах, которые они обязаны будут снять в полночь после наступления нового, 2009 года.

    Представители правоохранительных органов штата Джохор склоняются к тому, что рассылка сообщений о предстоящем действе на пляже является ни чем иным, как банальным мошенничеством.
    С резкой критикой самой идеи проведения "секс-пати" выступили также представители министерства туризма Малайзии, по мнению которых такие действия вредят репутации страны.

    Идеи проведения нудистских вечеринок по различным поводам прямо-таки витают в жарком воздухе стран азиатско-тихоокеанского региона.
    Так, в середине ноября стало известно о том, что нудисты в Австралии в рамках борьбы с мировым финансовым кризисом целый месяц будут проводить вечеринки в стиле "все дозволено".

    По словам владельца расположенного в штате Квинсленд курорта "Большой белохохлый какаду", на территории которого и запланировано в марте следующего года проведение супервечеринки, "суровые времена, наставшие в экономике, требуют ответных жестких мер".

    Впервые курорт "Большой белохохлый какаду" стал скандально известен три года назад, когда уставшие от разнузданных выходок постояльцев жители прилегающих населенных пунктов вызвали полицию и потребовали прикрыть "гнездо разврата".
    Новые амбициозные планы владельца курорта уже вызвали резко негативную реакцию со стороны католического духовенства Австралии, представители которого считают, что многодневная вечеринка нудистов может обернуться не только массовым попранием моральных устоев, но и вспышками насилия между самими гедонистами.

    В то же время, мэр расположенного неподалеку от "Большого белохохлого какаду" города Мосмен Вэл Шир (Val Schier) заявила о том, что она не будет препятствовать проведению оргии до тех пор, пока действия нудистов не будут выходить за рамки дозволенного.

    На фоне мирового финансового кризиса в Австралии неуклонно снижается число иностранных туристов. Только в сентябре этого года данный показатель упал на 7,6%. По прогнозам аналитиков, в начале 2009 года общее снижение в сфере туриндустрии может составить около 30%.

Translate it here!

Ground Zero

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a nuclear bomb goes off in Cairns? With Google's Maps framework (you'll need Java installed), you can see!

Pick or search a destination, and a type of nuke. The four zones are:
Black - Conflagaration - all dead
Purple - 3rd degree burns
Pink - 2nd degree burns
Orange - 1st degree burns


I’ve been nuking Townsville. If you pick a big enough bomb, you can also get Thuringowa, Ingham and Tully as a bonus!
Hat Tip Kiwiblog

Nice for some

KiwiBlog reports that the New Zealand Herald has story on what Prime Ministers are paid.

They noted that Singapore's PM will have a 19% pay cut due to the world financial situation. How will he cope? Lee Hsien Loong earns the equivalent of $3.8 million a year, six times more than Barack Obama will earn and 12 times Kevin Rudd.
"Ambitious Australian pollies in straitened circumstances should head not east but west," the article says. "Western Australia's leader is the highest paid premier in the nation, and the WA backbencher earns more than his federal counterpart in Canberra. If that seems nonsensical, Australia also pays its governor-general more than its prime minister," the Herald article says.
Interesting to see that Australia and New Zealand Prime Ministers are relatively the same, given the massive difference in populations. The US President probably makes up for his meager salary with post-presidential duties.

Friday, 26 December 2008

CairnsBlog cartoon by Circusmouse - Holiday Special!

Thursday, 25 December 2008

The Kiwi exodus continues

KiwiBlog reports about the Permanent and Long-term Departure Rates of Kiwis, that in the year to November 2008, there were:
  • 83,802 PLT departures (76,000 previous 12 months) or 1,600 a week
  • 48,474 PLT departures to Australia (40,786) or 930 a week
  • 60,871 PLT departures of NZ citizens (54,722) or 1,170 a week
  • 37,502 Net PLT departures of NZ citizens (31,614) or 720 a week
KiwiBlog author David Farrar ponders if the credit crisis will make the exodus worse, or if Kiwis return to home in troubled times.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

It's Xmas eve, oh dear, how did that happen?

Oh dear, It's that time of the year again. If Christmas was a girl, there would be period pains all over the place. There is!

Before I tell you all my dreaded stories of all things Christ-mas, why don't you share yours with CairnsBlog readers.

Don't hold back, I know everyone has a tale to two to get off their chest.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Deep Throat dead

Mark Felt has died aged 95.

Mark Felt was Deep Throat. It was the code name given to the secret source who provided information to The Washington Post about the involvement of the then US President Richard Nixon's administration in what came to be known as the Watergate scandal.

It led to Nixon's downfall, the only US Presidential resignation in history.




Hat Tip: KiwiBlog

Can you see the sign?

Those sneaky dodgy developers are at it again.

This time at the end of Escape Close, Clifton Beach, a public notice appeared recently, advising of the Development Application before Council to extend the Clifton Shopping Centre.
They've hidden the Public Notice sign, not only at the back of the Shopping Centre, at the end of a no exit road, but in the bushes!

Pete Johnston is a nearby neighbour in Escape Close, which is at the rear of the Clifton Shopping centre. He says that the sign should be placed on the developer's property in full public view.

"The public notification of the Development Application is clearly not in compliance with the Integrated Planning Regulations," Pete says.
He is absolutely correct. They state:-
  • 18 Requirements for placing public notices on land—Act, s 3.4.4
    (1) This section prescribes, for section 3.4.4.(1)(b)1 of the Act, requirements for the placing of a notice on land.
    (2) The notice must be—
    (a) placed on, or within 1.5m of, the road frontage for the land; and
    (b) mounted at least 300mm above ground level; and
    (c) positioned so that it is visible from the road; and
    (d) made of weatherproof material; and
    (e) not less than 1200mm x 900mm.

The developer is not ignorant of the Public Notification requirements. It's reasonable to suggest that they do this rather deliberately, to avoid as much scrutiny as possible from the public.

"I can only conclude that the placement of this sign is mischievous and vexatious," Pete Johnson says. "I have asked Cairns Regional Council to officially inform the Applicant that the Public Notification requirements of IPA Sect 3.4.4 (b) have not been complied with."

Pete Johnston, who is also a member of the Combined Beaches Resident's Association, has also asked Council, in light of this breach, to revise the closing date for submissions once the requirements of the Act are met. "Unless this occurs, I will submit the Application has not been 'properly made'."

Pete also says the disgraceful state of the 'landscaped buffer' and screen fence are of concern. He says that they were to be maintained to the satisfaction of the CEO. "This was a development condition, which has never been policed," he says. "This now constitutes a cyclone hazard."

"Also look at the destruction of the Council-installed watering system and damage to the verge area. This is caused by the installation of the 'overflow drain' [white strip of concrete], and the concrete waste and rutted soil that makes it impossible, and dangerous, for the residents to maintain this garden area as we have done in the past," Pete Johnston says.

"We have given up complaining about this development and lack of Council action, I am now saving my time and energy to register my submission and if the Clifton Shopping centre owner thinks that hiding this sign away in the bushes will stop this ending up in the Planning and Environment Court. They have another thing coming," Pete Johnston says.

You can do better than me


Smoking ban in Auckland

An Auckland City Councillor wants to entirely ban smoking in the central business district. Aaron Bhatnagar blogs that a City Vision councillor voted to ban smoking in parts of the city.

What about all the poisonous carbon monoxide spewing out of vehicles?

Monday, 22 December 2008

I amout of the office

The Ed should be a wee bit more careful when it comes to leaving his computer, while he's away on holiday.

Gove gone grazy

This just in from a bemused Cairns resident, who travels to the Territory for work every other week.

There are those that would suggest that there is a slack attitude to doing things in Gove, on the Northern Territory's East Coast. Last week, after 20 years of a car park with no marked parking bays, someone decided that they needed to be line-marked.

Did they let the fact that there were cars parked at random all over the place stand in their way? No they didn't.
Did they inconvenience the owners of those cars by asking them to move them? No they didn't.
Did they paint around the cars, in a completely half arsed job? You bet. The same technique was employed on an entire adjoining suburb of public streets!
God bless Australia.

The annual Ground Hog Day in Douglas

Cruising Ex Douglas Councillor Rod Davis, has plently of time to think these days. On board his boat, somewhere in the Caribbean, he's penned a contribution to his CairnsBlog readers, as he observes the wrangles inside the new Cairns Regional Council.


News travels fast these days, and even here, sitting in the cockpit of comfy old yacht, on approach to the Caribbean, on a Panamanian Island, I can follow the politics of Cairns Regional Council, with amusement.

For those from Cairns who don’t follow Douglas politics, my views may seem new. To anyone from Douglas, its Christmas Ground Hog Day, year 4. Here we go again!

Firstly, this time of the year is psycho-angst ,max out time. Add a dash of booze, some fatty sugary foods, pressure at work, and the seams come undone, all around the world, and especially in anal Australian politic, come Christmas. And especially in hot, wet, recessed Cairns, where the there is a bit more Oh, in “Oh what a feeling”, at Pacific Toyota. Not to mention its dependants.
It’s happened every year , for the last 3 years in Douglas. Its dysfunction day, once again.
Take some progressive type like Val and her mob. In Douglas, its was me and Mike Berwick.

In Douglas’s case, a bunch or right useless, redneck drunks, perverts and losers. In Cairns case, I’ll let the reader do his own personally casting analogies for the faceless anti-mob, who vote down one good idea, after another. Let’s call them , those who live in fear.

Those who live in fear, rule the world at the moment, including Cairns. And when you add those with fear, to those with ideas, and add a dose of school yard bullshit called the Code of Conduct, all you end up with, is a divided and therefore conquered governance. Some , like me, could give you a good argument, that says this is the way so called ‘free’ democracies are designed to work.

Others like Icke ably fill out the greasy details. The code just amplifies any argument, by giving those with the voting numbers, the ‘legit’ ability call code breeches on any political opponent with impunity. Its a farce. The code adds legitimacy to school yard politics, but allows bullying by vote number supremacy all at the same time. It’s a failure.

The irony of Beatties’ Council Code of conduct, infact the hypocrisy of his code, astounds me, on reflection. The aim of the code of conduct, noble as it once seemed, was to sort out petty differences in councils, and keep things squeaky. Instead, its actual impact, right across Queensland is the dead opposite. The Code of conduct promotes, feeds and adds steroids to dysfunction. And the irony, and hypocrisy of this, is that it all comes from the evil Queensland Government, itself a victim off dark forces, whether run by Joh, or Anna, it’s all the same subtle agenda. No one really knows about the dark, Opus Die-esque semi secret society, dear sweet Peter Beattie was a beholden member of. To anyone like me, who knows his way around the Code of Conduct, due to its regular application up my sphincter, the floor of the Queensland Parliament, on technical examination, is a working (but immune) example of one Code of Conduct breach after another. It’s a disgrace.

Add this to the gerrymander tactic of Joh, and now the ALP, with their ‘optional preferential voting’ that has till recently decimated the Libs and Nats in three corner contests, and well, Queensland remains a black backwater of governance, under a very thin PR veil.

Staff are meant to hire adjudicators to the code violation adjudications, but they themselves become rabbits in the cross hairs, so they simply call on useless, worn out public servants, such as the pathetic former CEO type of redneck central places like, Mareeba, to be judge jury and counsellor. The results make the kangaroo court that is the Rugby League judiciary, look like the High Court.

In the meantime, little depots, pretending to have no real agenda in politics, pretending to being ‘public service’, (when it all about self service,) get to run the roost. Mind you, in Cairns case, the defacto governor is seemingly Cairns Water, just like the RTA runs NSW. The dysfunction of the CRC puts the Christmas in Noel ( Briggs). In the case of Douglas, chief Masonic poo bah, and his merry, small town Masonic cohorts, Mr Terry Melchert, fed of the Code of Conduct to divide, and in Douglas’s case, run the council into oblivion. Who needs Jonestown , when you could have Douglas, eh Terry?

This pre-Christmas mania lasts till the holiday break, then builds steam once again in Febuarys’ mega wet season rebuilds angst.

From my point of view, I’ve seen it all before, but its disgusts me, when cancerous fools like Warren Pitt cite Douglas’s dysfunction for a reason to get rid of one of those councils offending his AWU and Property Council masters, by spearing Douglas, only to have the very same code driven dysfunction ( of his design) do the exact same thing to Douglas’s occupying force , the CRC. It’s ground hog day for Douglas.

It appals me, to be the last elected Councillor for Port Douglas, a part of multi award winning council, brought down by designer divide and conquer Code of Conducts, and Masonic madmen hell bent on taking the council down, all on the basis of so called ‘dysfunctional governance’ . All this then sold down the road by cancerous Pitt, Boy Fraser, and apprentice navy electrician Obrien, only to have Douglas rule, replaced by an even bigger, divided, bickering and dysfunctional Cairns Regional Council.

The irony of it drips like the arboreal bromeliads, on the jungle clad beach behind me. Partisan revenge politics says get rid of the Queensland ALP next election, which, whilst a worthy idea, will only lead to yet another dreadful government under the united redneck party. Australia sure knows how to breed up pathetic losers, whether on the left or the right, of our too many parliaments. The only governance that worked for 50,000 years on Australia, was consensual indigenous types of governance, the type of governance that we colonising wankers killed off.
But with the looming collapse of the fourth Reich, the USA, where I have just been, there is hope, through Shiva the destroyer type recreation, for a governance that may, in our lifetime, one day grow. For now, Douglas was a microcosm of Cairns, Cairns is a microcosm of Queensland, and Queensland its microcosm of dysfunctional world governance.

As a yachtie, used to working with rusted mechanics, my earliest introduction to things like WD40, was a spray lubricant called CRC. When CRC was deemed the new acronym for Douglas’s occupying forces, the use and application of the penetrating lubricant, CRC, came instantly to mind.

Indeed, my concerns that the CRC would be liberally applied the Douglas sphincter, and the spray can let run, has indeed turned out to me, to be an accurate premonition.

I wrote to Julia Lue today, and said, don’t hold it against me Julia, but I’m kinda rather glad, to be here, sitting on an old ocean sailing Bentley, rather than in her seat, with a can of CRC firmly applied to my ar...ah, you get my drift.

Blind allegiance to Mayor Valerie?

Cairns Regional Councillor Robert Pyne like to stand out of the pack. He voted against the Rate Rise. He wanted to sell off unused Council land. He stood by his pre-election promise to not support anymore highrise apartments in his neighbourhood.

Here he takes his right of reply in the stewing debate following two Code of Conduct enquiries.

[Fab photo of Rob: CairnsPost]

It seems to me that the issue of Council and how it operates is attracting much attention recently. Personally, I find nothing that has happened surprising. In fact it is just what one comes to expect in politics.

I can’t comment on the particular matter of Mayor’s Schier comments in response to the Council decision not to accept $2M of state funding for a neighbourhood Centre, as I may be in breach of the Local Government Act. However, there is a simple way to work out which Councillors are being mischievous and which are just doing their job. Simply ask each Councillor to confirm or deny they will be standing for the position of Mayor at the next election. Those who are up to no good will mumble some political waffle and refuse to declare their intentions. It is these would-be-Mayors that compromise the hard work of every Divisional Councillor with their carrying on.

Now I could never be accused of blind allegiance to Mayor Valerie, but people to need to understand the limits on her ability to control Council. Going back as far as the last real amalgamation (Cairns City and The Mulgrave Shire), Mayor’s Pyne and Byrne have had:

  1. Workable majorities
  2. A Loyal Deputy
  3. A strong inner sanctum (e.g. John Lane, Gary Schofield, Dennis Quick, etc.)

Unfortunately for Val she has none of these. What she has had is a hostile media, including Gavin King commenting on everything from her hair colour and her office décor.

Make no mistake, I think it is our responsibility to highlight where the Mayor is on the wrong track, but at the same time, let’s please have some balance in the debate. In some respects Val has been placed in a similar position to a one legged man in the proverbial bottom kicking competition. Please, let’s not be surprised when she falls over (or more often is pushed).

Finally let me predict that if Councillor Blake is successful in having the Mayor’s alleged ‘breach of ethics’ put to a vote that it will be a 5-6 vote. Should such an outcome concern anyone? Not really, it will just be a political outcome, by those seeking to attack the Mayor, nothing more nothing less.

It happens in state and federal politics all the time, but for some reason, these fine men and women are allowed to be judged by a different set of rules. Is their behaviour always as pure as the driven snow?

I will leave that question with you.

Paradise Poos

Last week, I highlighted the waste water spewing from Paradise Palms, near Palm Cove.


I always knew there was something smelly about the Paradise development, however some residents have told me it's 'waste' water, that they're wasting.

"Have you noticed the smell?" they questioned. "For about three weeks now, the irrigation system for the Paradise Palms golf course, housing estates and common areas, have been sprouting foul smelling water.


Several residents of Paradise Palms have formally complained to the EPA about the situation.

The investigation has revealed that the effluent ponds on the golf course, had their aerators broken. So for about a week, residents of these estates were waking up and dry retching and gagging at night, when these sprinklers were turned on.

The relatively untreated effluent sewerage was being sprayed onto front lawns, driveways and garden beds. I'm told that the sewerage was so ripe that mushrooms were sprouting everywhere!

"The aerators are supposedly fixed but the smell is still really bad," one resident told me yesterday.

There was no warnings or notices from the property developers, Vision Group. Residents were not told that there was a problem, and there was no instructions to the gardening staff to turn off the sprinklers. I wonder if there was any warning to golfers who may have inadvertently, picked up more in their hands than their golf balls?

There are many viruses and bacteria that contaminate and survive in fecal matter that make people sick and can cause death, Hepatitis A, cholera and typhoid just to name a few.

Tom is not only wasting water, he's using waste water. Make you stink, I mean, think.

No CairnsBlog for Council staff!

It's official. The Cairns Regional Council is more a closed shop than the old mob!
Who would have thought? Even under the right wing Kevin Byrne, this didn't happen.
It was leaked to me last week that Council computers have been blocked from accessing CairnsBlog.
This alone would be of some concern, but what was more interesting is that I was told this censorship did not extend to Dennis Quick's CairnsWatch blog.

I wonder who made the decision to do this.
Councillor Lesina says this is normal. "Based on my own personal experience, I believe that almost all outside websites are initially 'blocked' by Council computers," she said today. "The user is required to click through to the website after acknowledging that any outside websites they visit may be monitored. I am not sure if the Cairnswatch blog is 'blocked' but the ABC News website is and often comes up with an additional warning about 'offensive content'," says Kirsten. "Even google is initially blocked, I hope that sets your mind at rest," she advised.
However, Councillor Robert Pyne says that you can no longer 'click through to the website' after acknowledging that any outside websites may be monitored. Robert confirmed this. "You can with the ABC [news] and Cairnswatch, but not CairnsBlog. Di can confirm this."
And indeed the rooftop protester did indeed confirm this.
"CairnsBlog is indeed blocked from council computers," Councilor Forsyth said this evening. "I have raised with Val, not sure if she mentioned it to CEO, I will take it up with him."
Dianne said that it's been blocked for nearly two weeks. "Yet we can still access Dennis Quick's Blog," Di said.

Sex or the Internet

A Kiwi poll has found that 46% of women, and 30% of men, would rather go without sex for two weeks than the Internet.

I know what percentage I fit into.
HatTip: KiwiBlog

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Kevin's carbon cuts

  • In 2008 we listened to Kevin,
    And we thought he was boring, but probably straight.
    He'd put his green garb on and vowed to cut carbon,
    So we thought he'd deliver in 2008.
    The Murray is drying, the Reef may be dying,
    Kakadu's flooding and farmers face drought.
    The evidence clearly says we'll all pay dearly
    For ignoring the facts with inaction and doubt.
    Rudd consulted with Garnaut, but then he said, "Ah, no,
    Even those feeble targets are out of our range.
    It's too much ambition to cut our emission
    To the point where we'd actually stop climate change."
    "It might cause job losses, or so say the bosses
    Who make buckets of money from coal and cement.
    They can keep on polluting, while I'll be diluting
    My promises down to a mere five per cent."
    "So bugger the science, I'll propose an alliance
    With the Libs -- that'll make 'em break ranks."
    In this new coalition, Greens go to perdition.
    Rudd won't save the rivers, but he might save the banks.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Cyclone Billy is the first of the season

There always has to be a first.

Cyclone Billy crossed the Northern Territory coastline overnight. He's now a category 2, and was heading towards Wyndham.


Oh, don't you love global warming. Wonder how many we'll get in Queensland this wet season? Here's the cyclones off on the Queensland coast from 1970 to 2004.

Our most recent cyclones...

  • Monica 17-27 April 2006

  • Larry 17-21 March 2006

  • Ingrid 6-17 March 2005

  • Steve 27 Feb - 11 Mar 2000
  • Byrne 14 March 2008 (ran out of puff after 8 years of damage)

Honeymoon Crocodile

Yesterday a dead crocodile washed up at Honeymoon Bay, just north of Palm Cove.
The beast was just over 1.5mt, and although they are in a sleep-like state, three CairnsBlog readers reported that he was definately deceased.
"I reckon he was eaiser attacked or suffered some kind of injury," said John of Clifton.
The northerly coastal walk from Palm Cove to the remote Honeymoon Bay, is a favourite with nudists, hardy enough to take the 25 minute walk.
The croc, now dubbed Lazy Jane by locals, was thought to have washed up in the last couple of days. "She wasn't there on Wednesday," Clifton beachgoer John told CairnsBlog today.
Meanwhile, a number of small stingrays and Shovelnose sharks have been seen right along the water's edge around Palm Cove, Buchans Point and Ellis Beach. At this time of the year, the water temperature reaches at least 28 degrees in the very shallows, and these rays come right to the edge of the surf to feed on Guppy (not Damon) and other small fish and sealife.
It's almost impossible to see the stingrays, as they ly very still just below the sand. However their lethal barb tails are the giveaway. Look out for the pretty Coach Whip, it's the one with the stripped tail. You'll need to keep a watchful eye out if you wad along the water's edge over the next few months.
Three years ago, a Japanese tourst got caught out when she stood on the back on a 14cm stingray and received a nasty jab through her ankle. I mean, if someone jumped on your back, you'd be looking for revenge as well.

CairnsBlog cartoon by Circusmouse


Thursday, 18 December 2008

Our land warriors celebrate


L-R: Denis Walls, Terry Spackman, Mark Buttrose, Steven Nowakowski, Steve Ryan, Brynn Matthews, Nev Ridley.

Some of Cairns most influential environmental warriors gathered for a quiet and reflective balcony drink recently at Cominos House, home to CAFNEC.

Mark Buttrose and Steven Nowakowski were there, lucky to be alive after their private chartered helicopter crashed on False Cape, during a photographic survey. They were attempting to expose environmental violations to the huge development site at the East of Trinity Bay. Their documenting, contributed to closing down of the site and intervention by Hon Peter Garret, the Federal Environment Minister. It followed an extensive five year battle to get the local Council and State Government to take action against serious runs off into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Steven Nowakowski has since opened a landscape photographic gallery at the Pier Shopping Centre.

Nev Ridley also contributed to the Save False Cape team, and was the very real gate-keeper to the scared development site.

Steve Ryan has for another year been the lead advocate for our region's unique environmental lobby group, CAFNEC. Steve shared his expertise with numerous causes and community groups during the year.

Besides jumping on the 100 year old Cairns Yacht Club roof and getting arrested, Terry Spackman was also celebrating after another year exposing dodgy developers and Council's inaction to prevent unlawful sediment runs off from building sites. There's no doubt that Terry forced the new Cairns Regional Council to act and monitor development sites. His CairnsBlog videos made it to local TV, and Council saw they similar had to act.

Yacht Club campaigner Bryan Law was also there. The camera-shy serial-non-violent protester, made a significant contribution during the year. Through a series of significant public and media-orchestrated events, Law highlighted the vile heritage destruction by the Queensland Labor government and the former Cairns City Council. Just a few weeks ago, Bryan under-went open heart surgery.

There was much to be happy about for these defenders of all things green, but the fight continues. It's a dirty world out there.

Rod Davis doesn't give a toss

I bet that former Douglas Shire Councillor Rod Davis is glad that he lost his bid to be the new Division 10 representative.
Rod's sailing Panama’s Pacific Isles, in the Caribbean.
"There comes a time when one needs to take the temperature of the world, via its sphincter, armpit and under its mouth, albeit not necessarily in that order," Rod writes on his travel blog. "In god knows how many days, or months, for that matter…hell, even years. Who cares," he says. "Every grand journey starts with a single step.
Rod says who needs a postcards when you have instant uploads, downloads."
"This is deeply philosophical and spiritual site," he says of his Blog. "There are three types of people here on earth, those who are good at maths, and those who are not. Pick a location in the index, and cancel ya National Geo subscription. Welcome to the World according to Rod."
Why didn't he take Julia Leu with him? I think she deserves a good holiday after the last few months.

Water, water everywhere

Tom Hedley's Paradise Palms is awash with water - seems like it's plentiful at Palm Cove.

For around two hours today, in the 30 degree heat of the sun, Tom had the taps turned on full tit, watering his front street-side garden.

Council are famous for doing this as well, under the scorching heat of the midday sun, they water the city's medium strips. Most of us in the burbs, know that for watering to be effective, you water in the evening hours, therefore retaining most to work and get to the root system of the vegetation. Watering during the day also burns the roots and damages plants.

Maybe after Tom's approval to start digging up Paradise Palms golf course to build hundreds of apartments, he doesn't give a toss about wasting water. I have to wonder why he's so blatant about it, right on our main tourist highway, in the middle of the day?

Do you drive a blue Mercedes, rego 475JVE?


Do you drive a blue Mercedes, rego 475JVE? Do you know who does?
Around 3pm Thursday afternoon, the driver of this vehicle did something that really pisses me off. He flicked his bloody cigarette out the window. The driver did this right in front of my car, as he turned left off the Captain Cook Highway, heading towards James Cook University.
Doesn't he have an ash tray inside his car?
I think there's nothing more disgusting and insulting than blatant pigs like this that insist of rubbishing our environment and our community. Also, at this time of year, such littering has the potential to spark a fire, as embers can travel for miles.
Now I know I'll get slammed for such a generalisation, but I reckon smokers are some of the worst litterers on Planet Earth. Although some of my best friends are smokers, Paul, Clint, and another Paul, to name butt three, are considerate about where they smoke. However, they still need hand-holding on where to dispense their dirty little habit of butt leftovers.
If I was a smoker I'd be carrying a small ash/butt container, that are available for a few cents.
Even when smokers supervise their children around swimming pools, right in front of the No Smoking sign, they insist of lighting up, and then throwing the butt right on the ground where they sit. Smokers do this on the beach as well. It's odd because it's obviously an environment and a space they enjoy and love, yet they still see fit to leave their ciggy butts all around where they lay. It's up there with dog walkers that don't carry poopie bags with them.
Imagine if we of other habits, did similar. Those that ate at restaurants, threw all their food scraps out on the street side. Those that drink from a can or a bottle, throw the container out the window. Those that did the lawn, emptied the clippings onto the street. Those that went to the toilet, well, you get the idea.
I recall a mate of mine saw a parked taxi driver who threw his ciggy butt out the window, just as a passenger jumped in. My friend walked over and told the driver to get out of his car and pick it up. Embarrassed, he did what he was asked, in front of the customer.
I gave this Mercedes litter bug a loud toot, as soon as he dispensed his unwanted butt, and he momentarily looked around. I suggest you do the same for other offenders. Better still, drive them off the road!

A real turn on from Council

Blakie has done something.

Well, not really, but the good Councillor Alan Blake did pump out a press release today. Well, not really. Council's spin department did that for him.

He announced that Scott and Severin Street intersection now have traffic lights.

"Councillor for the CBD" as he's now referred to, says the intersection has "heavy traffic flow from major inner city precincts and had been in need of traffic lights for quite some time." He goes on to tell us that is was upgraded by Council under the Federal Government’s Black Spot program.

Blakie wisely informs us, just in time for Christmas, that road accidents are "a major cost to Australians financially and emotionally every year," he says. "The Black Spot program funds effective measures such as traffic signals and roundabouts at locations that have more than three serious accidents over five years.”

As 'Councillor for the CBD', I wonder when Blakie is going to ditch the 10-month-old Cairns City Council street sign outside the Spence Street Council offices? It's odd that there's no rush to put up the new Council name from the merged Council's. The CEO ordered his workers to tear down the Douglas Shire Council's sign on the Mossman Shire office the Thursday before the March election, as an act of repugnant defiance. They were quicker than a Baghdad brickie.

I wrote to Noel Briggs back in July, to find out when he was going to change the Council Spence Street signs, but got no answer. Noel's still off on a 'fact finding' trip in some exotic overseas destination (well, I made that up). TanTabulous Tabulo is currently sitting in Noel's chair.

Di's Magic Roundabout

Councillor for all things Edge Hill, Di-on-the-roof-Forsyth, has finally got her knobby neighbours a new spanking new roundabout.
Just days after the March Council election, some clever local snapped some pics of their grubby roundabout and wanted it repaired. You see it was bumped and marked from all those BMW's and 4WD Shopping Karts. "Congratulations Di, Now Fix This!" a sign said the appeared on the dodgy and tire-marked roundabout.
"I must say I was surprised this morning when checking the CairnsBlog to see my [election] sign in the Edge Hill Roundabout," Di said in April. "I think I know who the 'cheeky' resident is, and I want to assure him and all the residents of this area, that fixing this eyesore will be one of my priorities," she said. Well, it only took 10 months.
Di said that part of the problem is the large number of heavy transport that use the Edge Hill roundabout. "This is an issue of the Edge Hill traders." The police were asked months ago to monitor heavy vehicles using Collins Ave and the Edge Hill roundabout.
So, last week Di got her Council boys to relay the roundabout. You have to wonder how it got so grubby and smashed up in the first place, when most other roundabouts, of which Cairns is famous for, hardly get a scratch on them.
What is it with the Latte Loonies, can't they drive properly or are they busy perving on who's downing a mocha with who at the Edge Cafe as they sweep round Five Ways?? Oh, there's Cochrane and Blake, together again.

The Lord works in mysterious ways

Sent in by a CairnsBlog lurker, of Sheridan Street's Mother of Not So Good Counsel church in Sheridan Street...


Plastic fantastic

Don't you hate all the new extra packaging on stuff you buy from the supermarket these days? You know, those extra 'security seals' under the milk lid. I mean, what the hell is that about? You need a Swiss Army knife these days to enjoy a simple snack.
I have to record that it's my pet hate about a myriad of products that insist on more packaging, not less. I remember when Dad managed the corner IGA Four Square on Oliviers Road, Christchurch, a great number of goods were in bulk, and you simply filled up the brown paper bag, or bought you own, and it was weighed. Zero packaging. What happened to common sense?
Here's some stats from a report about plastic and recycling in Australia over the last year:
  • A total of 261,109 tonnes of plastics were recycled, an increase of more than 17,000 tonnes compared with the previous year.

  • Overall plastics recycling rate was 15.3%, a small decrease from 15.9%.

  • While the recycling rate for total plastics decreased slightly from the previous year, the overall consumption and recycling of plastic products increased. There was a significant increase in the quantity of plastics consumed in long-term durable applications.

  • 205,019 tonnes of plastic packaging was recycled, an increase of 26,668 tonnes over the previous year.

  • The plastics packaging recycling rate has increased from 30.5% in 2006 to the highest recorded level of 32.7%.

  • The recycling rate for packaging made from polymers 4 – 7 has increased from 24.1% in 2006 to the highest recorded level of 25.4%.

  • Of the 261,109 tonnes of plastics collected for recycling, 64.4% was reprocessed in Australia and 35.6% was exported overseas for reprocessing. The quantity reprocessed in Australia has increased more than 12,000 tonnes compared with the previous year. The majority of plastics that are reprocessed in Australia continue to be used locally to manufacture new products.

  • The demand for plastic waste in Asian markets continues to grow, and this had some influence on the Australian reprocessing markets in 2007. Victoria and New South Wales continue to dominate the collection and reprocessing of plastics in Australia.

Elton would rather have his balls bitten off

Now this is funny.

UK pop star and one of music's best-selling artists has told a packed audience in London how much he hates the television X-Factor talent show.

"I would rather have my cock bitten off by an Alsatian, than watch X-Factor," Elton said.
"My balls too!"

Now becoming infamous for his verbal outbursts, Sir Elton is ironically going to appear alongside X Factor winner, Alexandra Burke, at London's New Year's Eve concert.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Dealing with the hard issues

The Australian Sex Party needs a slogan. Are you up for the challenge?

Fiona Patten says the party has over 1,500 signed up members and will register next year. She wants to schools to include sex education in their curriculum, censorship freed up, and want Viagra available for government subsidy. Email Fiona here.

Friday, 12 December 2008

The murder of Tyler Cassidy

You have to wonder how bloody stupid and totally incompetent the Victorian police are when they shoot to kill first, and ask questions after. Of all trained professionals in the community, you expect that the Police have under-gone hundreds of hours of specialist negotiation training.

Tyler Cassidy only had a kitchen knife in his possession, and he 'threatened to kill' the two female and another male constable. Police Commissioner Cartwright said the officers had been "trained to fire at the central body mass rather than shoot to wound." Local residents heard up to six shots being fired by the police.

The incident haunts of the trigger-happy UK police hunting for London bombers who killed a Brazilian man without asking any questions. In a report released today, the family said slammed an inquest into his death was a whitewash.

So an young upset and angry teenager shouts out threats? What's dramatic about that? If we fired at every teenager who flipped out, we may as well be downtown Bronx.

15 year old Tyler was shot dead by three police officers, within minutes of arriving at the skate park in Melbourne around 9.25pm on Thursday night. Tyler's MySpace profile has rants like lots of teenagers that express extremes in interests. It's too easy to draw conclusions from such postings, like the media were quick to jump on the Columbine High School killers for similar online raves. However, that's all too easy.

"Hmmmmm well my names Tyler," he writes. "im aussie i love Austrlia more then eneythink and 2nd to that i love bundy (good stuff) ehhh cbf doin this now. Who I'd like to meet:every one."

Here's a statement released by Tyler's family this afternoon...

  • The entire family and friends of Tyler Cassidy are appalled at the actions by the Victoria Police last night. Their heavy-handedness, and lack of negotiating skills at the scene of the shooting, contributed to the untimely death of our beautiful 15 year old. He was in the prime of his life, had just started a new school, and was coping really well. He was a popular student with high expectations and a good network of friends.

    The Northcote police were notified 30 minutes prior to the killing and briefed completely on what had happened including what he was wearing and to look out for Tyler.

    The four officers concerned acted unacceptably by killing Tyler last night. He had a very gentle side, striving to grow from a boy into a young man and would have been completely overwhelmed by the situation.

    The police according to our witnesses chased him, cornered him at the skate park in Northcote, he was surrounded and gunned down by four officers firing at least six or seven shots.

    Our eyewitness confirmed that Tyler patted her dog, was confronted by the police and sprayed with capsicum foam, then pursued to the skate park, surrounded and hunted down.

    We look forward to a serious and thorough investigation and inquest into why Tyler was killed and to the serious nature of the attending officers' actions.

    It should have been dealt with differently and more compassionately, but tragically resulted in Tyler's death that should have been avoided.

    "I promise you my darling, I will fight for you as you were taken from me under the most horrific circumstances.

    "Why was he slayed to death when it was so unnecessary. Four officers were not capable of managing the situation.

    "Now you have passed over I will speak for you and others like you," Shani, Tyler's mother

    This is a released statement on behalf of his loving family and friends. He died alone without his family at his side, gasping his last breath, he was only a scared little boy... Rest in Peace.

CairnsBlog cartoon by Circusmouse

Not only the ones you liked, but ALL the fab
Circusmouse cartoons, archived
in one easy location!


Thursday, 11 December 2008

More local blogging

Not the Cairns Post is the latest blog to join independent commentary from our local community.

This nicely designed site, was created by "several Cairns citizens who bemoan the lack of truly independent press in our fair city" author Ian Turp says. They, like me, are frustrated with the quality of our local tabloid.

In a posting about the odd weekend Cairns Post column that Gavin King scribes, they say....
  • "while trying to compliment Cr Alan Blake, he manages to back-hand the compliment and sink the boot in. The icing on the cake being his throw away line in closing which once again attacks Mayor Val Schier without any justification. The comment is only loosely linked to the subject matter anyway and it seems that Gavin simply uses his position to publicly attack Val Schier whenever he gets the chance."
Sloppy journalism indeed. Actually, I don't like using that long 'j' would for some of what the Cairns Post churns out.

Not the Cairns Post say they're not specifically against the Cairns Post but think it can do a better job. "The Cairns Post, as the major local media source, is a symbol for local media in our little slice of Far North Queensland," the author says. You can email them here.

Welcome on board boys. And grrrrls.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Spend up on prostitutes, wine and beer

The Federal Government is sending many of us a $600 to $1,400 rebate, thanks to the so-called global financial crisis.

The story doing the rounds today goes like this...

- If we spend that money at K-Mart, the money will go to China.
- If we spend it on petrol it will go to the Arabs.
- If we purchase a computer it will go to Taiwan.
- If we purchase fruit and vegetables it will go to Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala.
- If we purchase a good car it will go to Japan or Germany.
- If we purchase useless crap it will go to Korea and none of it will help the Australian economy.

The only way to keep that money here at home is to spend it on prostitutes, wine and beer, since these are the only products still produced in Australia.

Roasting Cairns

Another local Blog joins the ever-growing stable of independent writing here in the north.

Have a look at the Cairns Roast for another undiluted, if nnot odd view, of our local media and things Cairns. You can email the author Paul Templeton, who resides at the tiny settlement of Miallo, 30k north of Port Douglas.

You'll find a full list of all local blogs under my Favorite Links on the right hand side.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

A Christmas message from Cr Rob Pyne

Goodnight Kiwi returns after 14 years

Any loyal Kiwi, over 30 years old, will know and reminisce about the infamous 'Goodnight Kiwi'. Jude and Pete at Clifton will. And so do I.

He last turned out the lights and went to bed in October 1994, after a 14 year run - the last thing people saw on their screen before TV closed down for the night. Television New Zealand are bringing the animated Kiwi back.

New sequences have been drawn, to modernise it. "We want the cat and kiwi to continue, but we're not too sure how just yet," TVNZ says. The music track is has also being retained.

Here's the original...

Saturday, 6 December 2008

The Obama Cabinet

David at KiwiBlog welcomes the strong Cabinet, that President-elect Obama is constructing.
  • "He has wisely abandoned his pre-election rhetoric about change, and stolen half the former Clinton Administration, including the Clintons! Also has abandoned the nonsense about just fleeing from Iraq by keeping on Bush’s Secretary of Defence. So who are the appointments:

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
    Brillant for Obama as neutralises them, forces Bill to have his diary vetted, and his administration gets to benefit from the massive set of contacts the Clintons have internationally.

    Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

    Emanuel is an economic liberal (anti regulation) and a very tough politician. Those who think Obama will pursue a socialist agenda, should look at Emanuel’s record. Of course Obama promised all sorts of socialist stuff, but he doesn’t actually have to deliver on that as people will love him anyway. Emanuel also voted for the Iraq War and doesn’t blame Israel for all the problems in the Middle East. He’s not a Republican, but he’s my sort of Democrat.

    Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
    Geithner is President of the New York Federal Reserve. He actually arranged the Bear Stearns bailout, and is a very experienced choice for these times

    Peter Orszag is the Office of Management and Budget Director. He currently heads the Congressional Budget Office and even blogs from there! A bit left for my liking but definitely experienced.

    As previously mentioned Defence Secretary Robert Gates will remain in office - the first ever Defence Secretary to do so across parties. Gates was CIA Director under Bush 41.

    Attorney-General Eric Holder has a very good career in his early days but blotted his copybook with involvement in the disgraceful Clinton pardon of Marc Rich. I suspect he will not last a full term.

    Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano is to be Homeland Security Secretary and is well regarded as a competent Governor. Homeland Security is huge though and will be a challenge.

    Bill Richardson as Commerce Secretary is another former Governor. Very sensible making use of people with executive experience. Plus it is a reward for him for deserting the Clintons.

    Tom Daschle I do not like. A nasty man. I think Secretary of Health and Human Services is beyond him and like Mrs Clinton he will fail at healthcare reform.
    Absolute genius to appoint Paul Volcker to head a Economic Recovery Advisory Board, Volcker is a God.

    General James Jones is inspired choice for National Security Advisor. Jones is a four star Marine General and has served as Supreme Allied Commander Europe and as Commandant of the Marine Corps. Condi Rice tried to get him to be Deputy Secretary of State. He declined but has done work in the Middle East for her.

    So far, so good for Obama. Of course the real challenges lie ahead.

Friday, 5 December 2008

CairnsBlog cartoon by Circusmouse

Telstra off to court over Clifton tower

Telstra served a notice yesterday on all the submitters against their recent proposal to build a 27 meter communications tower in a residential area at Clifton Beach.

I reported about this in late October, when Cairns Regional Council rejected their application to go ahead with the new structure, amid strong local objection.

Telstra will now take this to the Planning and Environment Court. There is 10 days in which to notify of an intention to be heard in this matter.

The Combined Beaches Residents Association are not impressed. "Don't you think it's amazing that a multinational company the size of Telstra, are fighting to have their monster high steel monster in a location where local residents and Council have stood up and said no?," they said.

A letter was served yesterday to all respondents, Cairns Regional Council, Department of Infrastructure and Planning, Department of Main Roads and over 400 submitters.

Cairns Council ruled that the proposal involved a re-zoning of land and therefore was inconsistent with the current CairnsPlan. Locals say that there would be significant loss of visual amenity to the residential area of Clifton Beach, especially as it would be situated on a cleared block of land, sitting right beside the Captain Cook Highway. They are already reeling from the construction of a line-up of GlenCorop apartment highrises, at the main entrance to the beachside suburb.

The Telstra tower was also rejected on the grounds that the health impacts are relatively unknown. "Scientific debate is split over the issue of whether the microwave energy generated is a risk to human health or not," a Clifton resident said. "Many scientific studies show a direct relationship between illness, especially cancer and the use of these new technologies."

The local residents association accuse Telstra of wasting government money, in this appeal. Ratepayers and taxpayers will foot the bill for something that will be "unsightly, unnecessary and pose potential health risks due to its proximity to residential houses. It beggars belief and common sense," they say.

However Telstra Country Wide's Area General Manager Wally Donaldson told CairnsBlog that Telstra is not wasting taxpayers money in caring out this appeal. "We're a private company," he says.

Wally Donaldson doesn't want to interfere in the process now before the Planning Court.

"We think that the decision by Cairns Regional Council is not justified, that's why we are contesting this," he said this morning. "We're only building this [communications tower] because there is a demand for increased services on the Northern Beaches," Wally Donaldson says.

Indeed, the growth on the Northern Beaches of Cairns has recorded some of the most significant population increases over the last 5 years. Property development, including the controversial new Smithfield Town centre, is all proceeding to meet the demand for those that want to live close to the water.

Whilst I was chatting to Wally Donaldson on my Telstra Next G (3G) mobile, it dropped out, and I lost the call. Where's Wally?, I wondered!? However, he telephoned me straight back. "See, that's why we need more coverage around this region," Wally quipped.

I have to agree.


Thursday, 4 December 2008

Worst business jargon phrases

Sideswipe notes a survey of the worst business jargon:

1. Thinking outside of the box.
2. Touch base.
3. At the end of the day.
4. Going forward.
5. All of it.
6. Blue sky thinking.
7. Out of the box.
8. Credit crunch.
9. Heads up.
10. Singing from the same hymn sheet.
11. Pro-active.
12. Downsizing.
13. Ducks in a row.
14. Brainstorming.
15. Thought shower.
16. 360-degree thinking.
17. Flag it up.
18. Pushing the envelope.
19. At this moment in time.
20. In the loop.
Hat Tip: Kiwiblog

A brick above the rest

We should offer this guy a priority visa and an unlimited busking permit if he relocates to Cairns. I'm sure Tom Hedley could also do with his skills.

In this country he’d win Australia’s Got Talent.

A blot of the landscape

Here's what rouge developer Phil Hartwig has done to a huge chunk of hillslope, 18 kms north of Cairns, looking towards Palm Cove.

The massive amount of vegetation that has been stripped, was documented on CairnsBlog video and woke the Council up to some serious environmental breaches.

This photo was snapped just a few days ago, approaching the shoreline.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Council's compliance letter

Here's Cairns Regional Council's development compliance letter that have been sent to all developers...






Power of the people

Following my report a couple of days ago, there's been a great deal of discussion around the region about Cairns Regional Council's new initiative to curb poor development controls, where damaging sediment is being allowed to run off in substantial volume, through waterways and tributaries, and out to the Great Barrier Reef.

Council hopes to strengthen its environmental enforcement by policing development sites, in particular soil and erosion control. The new enforcement team will be 'out in force' and issuing on-the-spot fines, we're told.

Following the release of Terry Spackman's revealing video on CairnsBlog two days ago, Division 4 Councillor Kirsten Lesina said that action will now occur in relation to the sediment problems at Kanimbla Heights.

"Additional measures will be implemented at Kanimbla, Stage 7 over the next few days," Kirsten said today. "[This will] include doubling of the hydraulic capacity of the sediment retention basin."

However, after talking with Council offices about the Kanimbila Heights development site, local Councillor Kirsten Lesina says this area will remain problematic. "They say that this is due to the extent of exposed works that has been undertaken, with out protection to the sediment."

"[Kanimbila engineers] Projex North have advised they will prioritise works to maximise cover of exposed works prior to Xmas, revised
erosion and sediment control plan due this week," Councillor Lesina said today.

"I love the power of a video camera and CairnsBlog," says Terry Spackman. "We've shaken them up and frightened them. This is very good."

However, Cairns resident Keith Martin, hopes that this latest 'environmental policing initiative' is due to Council’s commitment to clean up dodgy development sites. "I believe it may also have a lot to do with recent changes to the Environmental Protection Regulations that were passed by the Queensland Government in November 2008," Keith Martin says.

These new regulation changes, that come into effect on the 1st January next year, are complex. You can find them here. A more readable summary interpretation of the changes is available from a legal firm website here.

"Basically, the new changes devolve enforcement of those sections of the Environmental Protection Act relating to environmental nuisance and contamination from State Government to local Councils," Keith Martin says.

To quote from the summary...

  • “The new Regulation gives local governments responsibility for all environmental nuisance except where the unlawful emission is generated from a state or local government activity or regulated under another law.

    Local governments will be given flexibility to vary and regulate environmental nuisance through their local laws to reflect the community’s preferences for emission standards. The standards in a local law will override those in the new Regulation”.

And also...

  • “The responsibility for enforcement of minor water pollution matters, including the offences for the release of certain things or build up of sediment in a roadside gutter, stormwater drain or water, will also be devolved to local government under the new Regulation”.

An interpretation of these changes is that Council is now wholly responsible for enforcing environmental nuisance and water pollution laws. Furthermore, Council can set local laws on these matters that override State legislation.

Keith Martin believes that under these new changes, the community will no longer be able to complain to EPA about sediment discharges, noise and air pollution from development sites, because these enforcement powers will now be entirely Council’s responsibility.

"There are new State Planning Policies for noise, air and water, and that 'local governments will be required to have regard to the new SPPs when assessing development'," he says. "This has always been the case but up till now, Council has rarely given them much weight when assessing development applications."

Meanwhile, Member for Cairns Desley Boyle is claiming some kudos for this latest change of environmental heart at Council. In a letter in today's Cairns Post she applauds 'Val's good initiative'...

  • "Credit goes to Val Schier and the new Cairns Regional Council for tackling an issue that the previous Council refused to deal with. For years development sites on Cairns hillslopes have been poorly controlled especially during the wet season. Unnecessary environmental damage has occurred through poor sediment and erosion control. Nearby residents have borne the brunt.

    Some years ago when I was Environment and Local Government Minister I took up this issue with the Cairns Council. They said that their hands were tied in enforcing controls over builders/developers by state government requirements that limited council’s ability to act and instead involving them in slow and difficult court processes.

    I took that on board and changed the system to give councils the ability to impose on the spot fines on non-compliant builders/developers.

    Then I again asked the then Cairns Council to get tough on the issue but still they were reluctant to act.

    The EPA also offered assistance to the Council with best practice development site plans for erosion and sediment control which the Council could require before development work started. Site control plans such as these would have protected the environment as well as saved developers from accidental or otherwise compliance failures and the consequent fines.

    This all fell on deaf ears. How good it is to hear that the new Council has raised the penalties and formed a new specialised squad in the Environmental Protection Unit of Council to monitor and police controls on building sites. Great timing too with a heavy wet predicted. Good on you Val and Councillors.

"I will support Val but what more do you want her/the Council to do now that she has an implementation group up and functioning?" Desley says.

Along with Terry Spackman, I've been relentless in exposing serious sediment run-offs, so Council is forced to take action. Two months ago, I publicised Palm Cove's Foley Road, and Council then acted. A development at Sugarword Glenn on the southside is in serious problems as well, and have been forced to install sediment run-off controls. Developments in Redlynch and Bluewater are also coming under Council's eye.

Meanwhile, the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre CAFNEC, is asking locals to become 'sediment busters' and attend a meeting on Wednesday December 17th. "You will learn how you can take effective action in looking after our creeks, rivers and reef," says campaign director Steve Ryan.

"The meeting will address the roles and responsibilities of the Council’s [new] Environmental Protection unit and how the community can be report environmental incidents," Steve Ryan says. "This is for the whole community and environmental groups."

If you're tired of seeing our rainforest creeks and waterways running red with soil that should have stayed on someone's construction site, then it's time you stood up. Along with Steve Ryan, Brynn Mathews, an environmental regulation expert with EPA experience will address the meeting. Terry Spackman and also Toni Johnston, the Environmental Protection team leader at Council, will address the audience.

The public workshop is on at 5.30pm, Wednesday 17th December at the Civic Reception room at Council's Spence Street.

Meanwhile, Councillor Robert Pyne facilitated a meeting between community environmental activist Terry Spackman and head of Council's new sediment control team, Luke Nicholson.

Local councils have had some state environmental laws for a long time, but the old Kevin Byrne-led Council refused to use them when it came to sediment run-off from development sites.

"When I reported problems to EPA, they would say, it's a Council responsibility," Terry says. "Although EPA did act in two bad cases, Red Peak estate, and I think Kewarra Beach. My concern with these changes is, what happens when we get another Byrne-type Council that refuses to fine developers again?"

"However, I came away from the meeting with Luke Nicholson feeling cautiously optimistic that there will be a change for the better," Terry said. "Time will tell how willing he will be to use the big sticks available in the new year."

Applying to work at Cairns Regional Council

Believe it or not, a faithful Blog buddy emailed this "true story" in to me today. I'm duty-bound, under strict conditions of my publishing agreement with Council, to post this for all to read.

This bloke I know went into Cairns Regional Council last week to apply for a job.
The interviewer asks him, 'Are you allergic to anything?'
'Yes - caffeine', he said.
'Have you ever been in the services?'
'Yes,' he says. 'I was in Iraq for a year.'
The interviewer says, 'That will give you 5 extra points toward employment.'
He then asks, 'Are you disabled in any way?
My friend says, 'Yes 100%...an bomb exploded near me and blew my testicles off.'
The interviewer tells my mate... 'OK, in that case, I can hire you right now.. Normal hours are from 8am to 2 pm'
'You can start tomorrow at 10am - and plan on starting at 10 every day.'
The guy is puzzled and says, 'If the hours are from 8 to 2, why don't you want me to be here before 10?'
'This is a council job,' the interviewer says. 'For the first two hours we just stand around drinking coffee and scratching our balls. No point in you coming in for that.'

True story.

New Zealand results finalised

David at Kiwiblog has done a final analysis of the recent New Zealand election, where Helen Clark's Labour was defeated.
  • "I’ve uploaded for the serious politics geeks my 41 page analysis of the election results by electorate and region, including changes from 2005.

    LINK: 2008-final-election-results

    [NB: The file is around 3 MB and in MS Word. Almost every piece of data you can want is in there. I have not yet added on the split voting statistics though.]

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Cairns Port Authorty security guard 'counselled'

Kerry Egerton Cairns Port Authority Employee and PR manager, has admitted that there was dangerous and unsafe behaviour carried out by a Cairns Port Authority security guard.

In responding to the formal compliant I laid last month, following community protests to save the historic Cairns Yacht Club, Egerton said the Port Authority undertook a Workplace Health and Safety investigation. They spoke with a number of independent witnesses.

"The investigation considered the causes and consequences of the incident and a series of unsafe issues have been identified," Kerry Egerton admitted. "A number of these relate to the protesters and these have been referred to Division of Workplace Health and Safety."

The Port Authority has also admitted that the security guard at the centre of the complaint, pictured above, has now been reprimanded for his dangerous actions that morning. "The guard involved has been counselled in regards to his actions and required responsibilities in the future," Egerton said.

Conroy’s ‘Clean Feed’ support evaporating

Syd Walker loves the internet. It's the only peace and quiet he gets, hidden in the rainforest of outer Kuranda hugging trees.

Syd supports free speech as defined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that says: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

It's why he's so damm angry about Labor's proposal to check everything that we look at on the internet.


It’s been a good week for the campaign against Senator Conroy’s disgraceful mandatory Internet filtering proposal - the so called ‘Clean Feed’.

The Australia Greens have formally announced that they oppose this type of Internet censorship. According to AAP “We’re very, very concerned that there’s going to be a unnecessary clamp down on the internet and it has to be watched,” Greens leader Bob Brown told ABC Television on Tuesday.

His colleague Scott Ludlam has been lobbying against the changes.
  • “He’s working very hard with community groups in Australia to oppose the current proposals by the Government,” Senator Brown said.
The Federal Coalition has done the same. Here’s the conclusion of a press release issued by Shadow Communications Minister, Senator Minchin:
  • “The Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has further fuelled concerns with his talk of filtering not only illegal content, but also unwanted and inappropriate content. This policy proposal is also causing Australia embarrassment internationally, with comparisons to the world’s most repressive regimes,” Senator Minchin said.

    The Government is planning a ‘real world’ trial of mandatory filtering before the end of this year and needs the cooperation of sceptical ISPs and their customers.
    “If adequate numbers of Internet users cannot be roped into this trial on a voluntary basis, Senator Conroy needs to clarify whether the trial itself will become mandatory, or will this policy be implemented regardless?” Senator Minchin asked.

    The Opposition continues to consult widely with stakeholders and will monitor this trial very closely. In the mean-time, it also urges the Government to re-think its plan to stop providing Australians with free pc-based Internet content filters at the end of 2008.

Now, the Government may not need legislation to implement its scheme. If not, its lack of a Senate majority may not matter. As of now, Conroy seems determined to continue pushing ahead with ‘trials’. It’s way to early to throw hats in the air.

But deep cracks are appearing in the Government’s case. It’s indicative that Senator Conroy continues to avoid scrutiny and won’t risk critical interviews. Last week he ducked an opportunity to explain his policy on the ABC 7.30 Report.

The chief proponent of the ‘filtering’ scheme – Dr Clive Hamilton - soaks up every opportunity to preach the Gospel According to Clive. He DID appear on the 7.30 report. But Clive has started to come under sustained attack from critics with a variety of perspectives. I sought to expose his key analogy as a fallacy in my recent article Why the Web is NOT Like TV. Dr Hamilton has yet to respond.

With the probable exception of would be ‘filter vendors’, the entire IT industry is aghast, from Telstra to home-based web designers. The bush is in revolt. Demonstrations are coming up in several major cities on December 13th. Even Glen Milne has joined the chorus of dissent (in fairness to News Corp, it has given coverage to the anti-censorship case).

Now for the punch line…

“Children’s welfare groups slam net filters”, according to a remarkable report by Asher Moses in the Fairfax Digital Brisbane Times:

  • Support for the Government’s plan to censor the internet has hit rock bottom, with even children’s welfare groups now saying that that the mandatory filters, aimed squarely at protecting kids, are ineffective and a waste of money.

    Live trials of the filters, which will block “illegal” content for all Australian internet users and “inappropriate” adult content on an opt-in basis, are slated to begin by Christmas, despite harsh opposition from the Greens, Opposition, the internet industry, consumers and online rights groups.

    Holly Doel-Mackaway, adviser with Save the Children, the largest independent children’s rights agency in the world, said educating kids and parents was the way to empower young people to be safe internet users.

    She said the filter scheme was “fundamentally flawed” because it failed to tackle the problem at the source and would inadvertently block legitimate resources.

    Furthermore there was no evidence to suggest that children were stumbling across child pornography when browsing the web. Doel-Mackaway believes the millions of dollars earmarked to implement the filters would be far better spent on teaching children how to use the internet safely and on law enforcement.

Given the circumstances, the amusing ‘Hitler’ video produced by opponents of the ‘Clean Feed’ proposal is misleading. Hitler in the bunker had more support than Conroy.



In an earlier article I posed the question whether Kevin Rudd made a Faustian pact, before the last election, to deliver mandatory Internet censorship in Australia?

That scenario might help explain why the government’s proposal, by its own admission, would at best serve as a ‘leaky’ filter for extreme porn - yet it would work like a treat for political censorship.

Is that why the government is ordering a tractor to do the job of a car? If so, Rudd had better undo the deal ASAP. It’s political suicide.

If there is no such deal and this whole issue is truly a case of the Australian Labor Party gripped by moral panic over child porn - like mass hysteria over witchcraft in times past - can the Government please come to its senses at once?

There’s real work to do.