Monday 26 January 2009

Another reason to leave Townsville

Townsville Engineering Industries need to keep their perverted eyes out of the bog.

They state that they "have adopted a pro-active approach to management of Workplace Health & Safety." This seems to mean that the follow their workers to the toilet to see how they do their business!

So it was late last week that one of their workers, 43 year old Amador Bernabe was followed to the staff toilets by management, to "see how he used it".

According to his cultural habits, Amador uses water to clean himself instead of toilet paper. So? This is a European tradition as well.

The Townsville Bulletin reports that Townsville Engineering Industries sacked him yesterday for "not going to the toilet the Australian way."
  • "I went to go to the toilet and I took a bottle of water when my foreman saw me and he said `you can't bring the water in there'," Mr Bernabe said.

    "I asked why and he said it wasn't good but I said it's our way and he followed me into the toilet. I said it's my personal hygiene. I didn't break any law, I didn't break any rules of the company, why can't I do this, and he said he would report me to the manager.

    "The next morning when I came in I went to punch my time card and he told me the manager wanted to talk to me in his office. He asked me what had happened and I explained to him and he said if I didn't follow the Australian way I would be immediately terminated and I said `sir, then you better terminate me'."
"Our Workplace Health & Safety is continually under review and pursued at all levels," the company profile says. "New employees are inducted into our work environment."

Amador has a working visa from the Philippines, so it seems that this company likes to hire staff from overseas, no doubt at a cheaper rate. I think that this is rather 'un-Australian'.

They should be ashamed of themselves.

Sunday 25 January 2009

All rise at the Courthouse Hotel

Cairns' historic Courthouse Hotel appears like it's closing, yet again.

Last night, patons were greeted with a padlocked gate.
This place must be headed for the knackery this time, as it's the second closure within a few months.

Saturday 24 January 2009

Tuesday 20 January 2009

Fuck you, George Bush















Hat Tip: Molly, the fab Door Bitch

Tom bombs out

Cairns's grandfather of high-density development, Tom Hedley, is no longer CEO of his own listed pub group (Hedley Liquor and Gambling), reports Kitchenslut.

Hedley has resigned to devote time to his Hedley Private Group businesses.

"His replacement is the apparently well credentialed, recently recruited, Peter Armstrong," KitchenSlut says. "Armstrong would appear to be among those departees from Coles, perhaps not entirely voluntarily, following acquisition by Wesfarmers, and their clean out of the Augean stable?"

"HLG remains a hopelessly conflicted structure controlled by Hedley whose private interests manage the concern for a fee. Hedley also has contracted development rights for the pubs. Hedley is also the largest shareholder (and mezzanine financier) to the largest (troubled) pub tenant NLG. Hedley's own private interests are the third largest tenant. Now, the former CEO of the other key tenant is also inside the circus tent."

As one CairnsBlog reader suggested, it might be useful to keep an ongoing tally of closed/bankrupt businesses in Cairns.

Read full report here.

Two men in a leaky Chilly Bin

This will have to go down as one of the most amazing stories of 2009, without doubt.

Two men aged 22 and 24 years, were picked up today in the Torres Strait, northwest of Horn Island, after being afloat for nearly a month in an Esky (us Kiwis call them Chilly Bins).

The Burmese sailors said their boat sank in late December. The immigration-friendly Rudd government said they would be transferred to 'an alternative place of detention' when they get out of hospital. "It will not be a detention centre but possibly a motel room," the immigration department said. Would Johnny Howard has done this?

They were due out of Thursday Island hospital late today. And their first meal? Fish soup, followed by some lightly deep-fried Barra.

Cairns: Where NOT to go

Now this is funny, and kind of embarrassing from a tourist town point of view.

Local self-confessed Cairns 'insider' Sonja Anderson writes for the hugely popular national website Ninemsn, on their travel pages.

However, NineMSN is quick to allow her to bag some suburbs from a long out of date rumour.

Although she recounts that a good night out involves dinner with friends, listening to live music on the waterfront and "a bit of dancing, or watching an old film under the stars at the Cairns Botanic Garden outdoor amphitheatre," Sonja is pleased to record where not to go when visiting our fair region.

"Don't waste your time when you're on holiday in Cairns, find out the over-hyped spots to avoid," Sonja Anderson says on NineMSN.
  • "Mind your 'M's. Cairns is generally a safe place, but be cautious when you're in the 'M' suburbs — Manoora, Manunda, and Moorobool.

    If you find yourself walking alone from a bus stop in the early morning or late evening. Parts of these 'burbs are prone to violence. Also, avoid walking alone or riding a bicycle on the Cairns Esplanade or in the central city suburbs, Parramatta and Cairns North late at night. Early mornings and evenings are fine — it's just after the clubs close that you're better off inside or as part of a group.

She also doesn't hold back when it comes to dining on the Esplanade.

  • "The restaurants along the Cairns waterfront, although beautifully situated with awesome views and some excellent food, are not always the best value for money. Try the suburbs instead."

    "Avoid the Vertigo Bar in the casino complex if you don't like the meat-market scene. It's good for live music, but the clientele is focused on picking up rather than getting down.

And she bags Great Barrier Reef operators Quicksilver and Great Adventures...

  • "When deciding which company to book with, don't choose based on price alone. Check carefully what's on offer — large vessels (such as those operated by Great Adventures and Quicksilver) carry 300-400 passengers on each run, so don't expect a quiet moment if you're trying to save a few bucks."

Sonja also has some mis-conception how far the Reef is out from the coast, and that some smaller operators have backpackers working for free. Is this woman for real?

  • "Smaller, cheaper vessels tend to be slow and shabby, and as the Great Barrier Reef is a long way off shore, you may find yourself chugging along for up to five hours. They're often full of backpackers travelling on a shoestring and boat staff working as unpaid trainees."

I wonder what TTNQ, our local Tourism authority would have to say about this kind of publicity?

Meteors droppping out of the sky

Not The Cairns Post spotted a beauty in Cairns Post's visitors' guide.
They highlight a story in the current January edition (you can find these all around the town, and at all good KFC's). It's an easy-to-read advertorial.
The anonymous writer talks about the crater lakes on the Atherton Tablelands, which are of course remnants from our region's violent volcanic past, around 190,000 years ago. The Undara explosions generated massive lava flows onto the Tablelands. Anyone knows that who's read the 101 about our history.
However, the Cairns Post thinks that the lakes of the Tablelands (Tourism Queensland now calls it the 'Cairns Highlands', which I cringe at), Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine were formed by "meteors dropping out of the sky thousands of years ago." !!
Is George W Bush's speech-writer on their team? I mean, he's been looking for a job over the last few months.
All the lakes on the Southern Atherton Tablelands are volcanic craters and were formed thousands of years ago, but not by Chicken Little's belief of something falling out of the sky.

Where do they get this trash from? I mean to say. Talk about funny. Good spotting Not The Cairns Post!

167 dengue cases in Cairns now

Cairns is in the lead. Yay!

In this case, it's not really worth shouting about though. This 'win' is worse than the Cairns Taipans after a drunken night out with Catalini.

Cairns now has 167 recorded cases of the mosquito-born Dengue virus. Dengue fever is an acute febrile disease, caused by four closely related virus stereotypes and is similar to malaria. A friend of mine was infected a couple of years ago, and although a rather healthy and fit guy, it knocked him out for around two weeks.

Gavin Broomhead from the Tropical Population Health Services at Queensland Health said that since the beginning of December, the following Cairns suburbs have been affected with type 3 Dengue:
  • Aloomba, Bungalow, Cairns North, Clifton Beach, Edge Hill, Kanimbla, Kewarra Beach, Machans Beach, Manunda, Parramatta Park, Stratford, Whitfield. (Yay, not Yorkeys!).

In Townsville there have only been 9 cases recorded since the first outbreak on 5 January. These were in Belgian Gardens and North Ward.

Cairns Regional Council's threat to fine residents up to $400 if they don't clean up mosquito breeding areas, appears not to be having much effect. I dunno if they've been peering over back fences, hunting for out pots and containers harboring stagnant water, it all seems a bit big brother to me.

The Cairns Blood Donor Centre is currently banned from using red cells from whole blood donations. This means that any blood required for surgery from Cardwell to the top of Cape York, has to be bought up from Brisbane or inter-State. So if you're a donor, your red cells are of little use at the moment, but they will use your plasma, extracted from the donation. That's why, during Dengue outbreaks, plasma donors are very much sought after.

If you are feeling drowsy, faint, weak, and nauseous, have severe headaches, then you're either a member of the Queensland Labor party or may have early signs of Dengue. Either way, I'd recomend you see a doctor.

Sunday 18 January 2009

Clever advertising

Orchestrated or not, makes for some great public theatre and how we've become a society of mobile communication.

Saturday 17 January 2009

World Freedom Report 2009

Freedom House has released its 2009 freedom report.

Some extracts:
  • Only 46% of 193 countries are free, 32% are partly free and 22% not free
  • 2.28 billion people live in not free countries
  • 20 years ago 41% of countries were not free
  • In the Americas there is only one not free country (Cuba)
  • In Asia-Pacific 41% are free, 38% partly free and 21% not free
  • In central and eastern Europe, 46% free, 29% partly free and 25% not free
  • Middle East/North Africa has only 1 free country (Israel), 6 partly free countries and 11 not free countries
  • Sub-Sahara Africa is 21% free, 48% partly free and 31% not free
  • Western Europe has 24 free countries and a partly free country
  • There are 119 electoral democracies in the world, down from a high of 123
  • In recent years there has been a small decline in both free and not free countries, with a growth in partly free countries.

Hat Tip: KiwiBlog

Friday 16 January 2009

FInger licking memories

The first Kentucky Fried Chicken Aussie TV commercial, featuring some KFC-sized tummies on Hugo and Holly...

Wednesday 14 January 2009

On the right, you're in the wrong

Does this photo piss you off?

Is this a scene you've put up with before?

How many times have you been heading north, or on the Southern access roads, and there's a RHHW* in the right-hand lane, going at or under the speed limit?

This is as bad as my other pet hate, having your fog lights on in addition to your normal headlights: not needed in FNQ thanks dickheads. Plus, it's illegal.

Someone wrote a rather eloquent response in the Cairns Post letters a couple of months ago about the subject of right-hand lane hoggers. It was all about drivers that hog the right-hand lane in a two (or more) lane highway, known as a dual carriageway.

Pictured above is a 'L' driver, which is very often the case, driving North yesterday afternoon.

The female driver, who was just out of school-age it seemed, stayed in the right hand lane from before the Barron River Bridge until past the Yorkeys roundabout, and as you can see, there was no one in the left lane to prevent her from moving across. Approaching along the Holloways section of the highway, there was around 6 car trying to pass this driver, and the horn tooting appeared to have no effect.

What happen when you go for your driver's licence test these days? Does this basic road rule get omitted?

Now the road rules are reasonably clear on this one. It's also no excuse to sit in the right lane if you stick to the speed limit. The right hand lane is a passing lane, and any other traffic should utilise the left lane. It's rather simple, according to the Queensland Road Rules...

  • When you drive on a two-way road, the basic rule is keep as close as practical to the left.

    When you drive on a multi-lane road where the speed limit is more than 80 km/h, you must not travel in the far right lane unless you are:
    - overtaking
    - turning right
    - making a U-turn
    - avoiding an obstacle
    - driving in congested traffic.
    You could be fined for driving in the right-hand lane.

The right hand lane is also used for those folk turning right as they enter a roundabout, which again, failed to register with the driver above.

Learner drivers are not the only culprits. A raft of drivers of all ages seem to hog the right hand lane, and they're easily spotted, with a line-up of increasingly irate road users building up behind. The practise is very dangerous, as road rules along with common courtesy gets thrown out the window, and people start speeding past on the left lane to overtake the slower drivers.

It's not difficult to keep a continual eye in your rear view mirror, after all, that is one of the most import tasks whilst driving. When there's an approaching vehicle, indicate then move to the left lane. Why this practice appears common on dual lane roads and highways, is rather mysterious. I often think it's more about control. When people are forced to move to the left lane, they feel like someone is better than them and therefore will loose their SDS* status.

I've also seen those that give a gentle nob of the horn or flash the lights to indicate to the driver in front, they wish to pass, yet this still fails to enact the right-hand hogger to take any action.

And while I'm on the subject, the Demerit Points system increased at the 1st January. Check out the new numbers here.

Talk about contributing to road rage.

RHHW* = Right Hand Hogging Wanker
SDS* = Small Dick Syndrome

Someone's watching

Someone was watching the story last week on CairnsBlog about the beach dumping.

After huge loads of vegetation waste was dumped in beach car parks, north of Palm Cove, I published photos of the illegal dumping. It undoubtedly had to be a commercial operation, given the size and amount of waste.

Paul from Palm Cove telephoned me today and reported that the entire lot has been removed. By whom, we don't know. Maybe Cairns Regional Councillor Rob Pyne took up the challenge and asked his road gang to deal with it. Whoever did, thank you. Next time, I hope someone catches and prosecutes these blighters.

And in other pleasing news, the Fearnley Street drain mess that Molly helped me publicise back in October, has also been attended to. "Fearnley Creek Drain is no longer a shame," Molly says. "It's all beautifully repaired, safe and ready for back to school. A very smooth ride now." Council has been back to the site on at least three occasions, cleaning up the city eyesore.

Finally, I'm very happy to report that after numerous reports and videos exposed on CairnsBlog, a number of measures have been installed to prevent or limit sediment run off at Phil Hartwig's massive steep development at the top of Foley Road, Palm Cove. I know Councillor Paul Gregory took a particular interest in this one, as did Councillor Julia Leu.

Along with the Fiona Tulip and the Combined Beaches Residents' Association, Terry Spackman and myself spent a great deal of time monitoring this site late last year. This development went under the Council and EPA radar for more than a year. Even though the Residents' Association wrote to the State Government and communicated it to the Federal False Cape inspection team, nothing was done. It was only after we filmed run-off in October, following a small rainfall, that the unfolding disaster got the attention. Channel 7 ran the footage, that was first aired on my YouTube channel.

Council has subsequently sent staff to the Foley Road site and now initiated a new fine regime for developers and land owners that cause sediment run off with no preventative measures in place.

Our own Tobruk gardens

Now you have to be kidding.
A CairnsBlog reader sent in this pic yesterday.
A sign has appeared in the last few weeks at the North end of Lake Street, across from Cairns Regional Council's Tobruk Swimming Pool.
'Tobruk Gardens' that sign claims, that adorns a large empty field at the very northern end of the Esplanade's infamous mozzie-ridden mangroves.
'Open to the Public from 5am to 10pm ONLY' the sign states. Yet there's no fence, gate, and certainly no gardens!
Now I don't know about any 'garden', but there's nothing on the Council website that refers to Tobruk Gardens. A quick drive by will show that there's nothing there that resembles that description.
Can anyone shed some light on this latest addition to our city beautification programme? Are these a new invisible species of plants? Is this simply another Council waste of time and resources putting up signs to use up it's monthly budget?
This all seems rather odd, when nearly a year on, they still have the wrong Council name displayed outside their Spence Street offices.

The last press conference

Henry at The Blarg of Fosnez wanted a giggle, so he tuned into President Bush's last press conference yesterday.

He notes some quotes:
"Some of you have mis-underestimated me."
"[The republican party] needs to be compassionate and broad minded"
"I inherited a recession, I'm leaving in a recession"
"Clearly, putting mission accomplished on an aircraft carrier was a mistake"
"I guess I could have been popular by accepting Kyoto"

Dirty Harry

When you hear about another News of the World 'exclusive' about one of the young Brit Royals, I cringe.
This time it's about a three-year-old video in which Prince Harry is questioning whether a fellow officer is feeling "gay" or "a bit queer on the side". He also calls friends "paki" and a "raghead" (being a Middle Eastern).
I really wonder why so much fuss gets made of such informal chats. In context, they are harmless and certainly not intended to be derogatory in any way. Of that I'm sure. I know language can be powerful and words can be loaded with discriminatory fuel. But after watching the video at the centre of this latest Royal storm, it's harmless. Paki refers to a mate of his that is Pakistani. How can that be racist? I reckon we're getting way too PC these days.

24 year old Harry, third in line to the throne, gave an apology for his comments. However the British Ministry of Defence said "neither the Army nor the Armed Forces tolerates inappropriate behaviour in any shape or form. This specific case will be dealt with in line with normal Army procedures."
"The words he used are more in currency among British people than British people like to admit," says Gail Walker at the Belfast Telegraph. "Just look at all the lapses Harry has been involved in: underage drinking, smoking cannabis, grappling with the paparazzi, even the infamous Nazi uniform incident. It sounds like a catalogue of New Lad rights of passage par excellence."

Tuesday 13 January 2009

Mansfield Street in a mess again

Roy Lavis' driveway is again in strife. This time during the flooding yesterday.
The Mansfield Street Action Group, who are campaigning against CEC owner Roy Lavis' application to sub-divide his massive chunk of land on the hills above Earlville. I reported about this odd application late last year.
During Monday's flooding around the region, the access road to the Lavis property became an accelerating water chute, causing tons of water, mud and debris to wash out into Mansfield street and into the storm water drains.

During yesterday's heavy rain, large amounts of topsoil and red sediment washed down Mansfield Street, and into Chinaman's Creek. As the rest of Cairns was inundated, the torrential rain caused havoc on the Lavis property. Once into Mansfield Street the silt then ran down the gutters and into the storm water drains, ending up in Chinaman's Creek.

"As we had no access to the property, we can only assume it came from the bottom straight stretch of roadway," local resident John Martin says. "However, it was very heavily contaminated with red silt which seems to have come from erosion of the unretained walls of the cuttings and from the road pushed through from the main property to an adjoining one owned by a member of the Lavis Family."

The roadway further up the hill runs down to Chinaman's Creek and there is no conceivable way a similar deluge would not have happened into the creek at higher level.

If the development goes through, John Martin says, which consists of a new house, an extension of the roadway up to the new house, and any bared ground in the future, will be similarly eroded. "That will all contribute to further erosion and more water running down the road way and down the slopes into the rain forest, creek and street," John says.
The decision for Lavis' application will be made at the February 11th Council meeting. It's highly likely that Council will refuse this application.

Cairns Council on Facebook

No here's an innovative and clever way to get some input from the residents, even non-ratepayers.
Across the ditch, Wellington City Council has set up a Facebook group, where Wellingtonians can discuss what they want for their city. This is to gather ideas for consideration in their ten year Long Term Council Community Plan. Every three years, Wellington prepares a long-term plan outlining all of its intended activities over the following three years.
"By documenting how rates will be spent over this period, it also creates an opportunity to forecast what Wellington should be like in 10 years, and how to get there," Council says.
You can read the full plan for detailed policy or go to the Facebook group and make random comments. It's a good example of easy community outreach.
Meanwhile, unlike London's famous Trafalgar Square pigeons, the Save the Pigeons in the Wellington CBD Facebook group, only has 6 members. This follows a decision to cull pigeons in the city because of their intimidating behaviour towards lunchtime diners.
The public health manager has stated that due to visitors feeding these birds and leaving rubbish that in turn the pigeons are becoming more desperate, aggressive and creating a health risk with their poo. I don't know about you but I've never been attacked by a rogue pigeon and find the typical human mess much more disgusting than what a
How about Cairns Regional Council start this up? It would only take a few minutes and with zillions of people using it, would be a great way to gather comments, especially from a younger demographic.
I dare them to do it. I bet you Councillor Kirsten could make this one happen.
Hat Tip: KiwiBlog

Monday 12 January 2009

GlenCorp and Council should be ashamed

Well, we bought this to the attention last wet season.
This is the dodgy development at Clifton Beach, right on the highway, built by GlenCorp and approved by the then Cairns City Council, when Sno Bonneau was the Councillor. He still is.
Yet again welcome you to Clifton Raging Water Views (the developer calls it simply Clifton Views, but we know better).

Here's Deadman’s Creek running at about 100klm per hour and roaring yesterday.

Various Glencorp workers were on site early today in a panic, trying to sort out the mess. There were also smoke alarms going off.

The next photo was taken two hours later, and shows the aftermath and the subsequent damage to fences, construction infrastructure and who knows what damage has been done inside the units.

I am as sure as eggs, that water would have flowed right into the ground floor units as it did in March 2008.

This is what happens when Council allow a developer to illegally put their building alignments less than 10m from the high bank mark of a creek. When you have a pro-development Councillor in Sno Bonneau, who allowed this to happen on his watch.

We will not go down (Song for Gaza)

A moving song by Michael Heart, for Gaza.

Hat Tip: Syd Walker

Cairns gets wet

Thanks to some pix from KitchenSlut and Henry Poyntz.

Cairns road closures

Due to Tropical Cyclone Charlotte, and the associated Low, Cairns Regional Council announces the following road closures and areas to watch:

Southern District
Yarrahbah Rd (at Middle Ck)
Highleigh Rd Gordonvale
Campbell St Gordonvale
Peets Bridge Goldsbrough
Moller Road Aloomba - Behana Crossing
Mulgrave River at the Fisheries
Maitland Road
Clyde Rd Bramston Beach
Page Rd Edmonton

Central District
Lake St
English Street
Cochrane St
Brown St (between Mann & Earl St)
Greenslopes St (at McNamara St intersection)
Richardson & Pease St
Lake Morris Road (at yellow gates)
McCoombe St (southern side of Mulgrave)

Northern District
Lower Freshwater Road
Yorkey's Knob Access Rd (300m from Hway and at Dunne Rd)
Freshwater Roundabout
Dunne Road
Kamerunga Rd at Stratford
Barron Gorge Road (landslips)
Kuranda Range Road OPEN (one lane only)

Far Northern District
Mossman Daintree Rd - Nth of Foxton Bridge
Mossman - Mt Molloy (at Bushy Ck)
Finlayvale / Anich Rd
Alexandra Range - Cape Trib Rd (landslips) OPEN with care

Howard Kennedy Dr closed
Bramston Beach Road closed at Russell River bridge
Eubenangee Road closed
East Russell closed at Clyde bridge

Copperlode Dam level
Water is currently 0.5 metres from the top, rising 1.2 metres since Friday.
Dam levels as at:
Friday- 1.7m
Monday 12 January at 7am- 0.56m. The dam is expected to overflow sometime today.

Council updates here.

Sunday 11 January 2009

Happy 2009

Just weeks after open heart surgery, veteran community campaigner and activist Bryan Law, is ready to continue to battle and raise issues for our community.

Here, he looks back at the tumultuous year that was 2008.

2008 was pretty trippy for me.

It started real well with a legal victory in the Court of Criminal Appeal at Darwin. A nice and very capable lawyer, retired Federal Court Judge the Hon Ron Merkel QC, made some compelling arguments for us in relation to the Defence (Special undertakings) Act 1952 – and the miscarriages of justice that had occurred during our trial of June 2007. You can read one lawyer’s account here.

Before the legal argument in Court, the four of us served out some time in Darwin’s Berrimah prison, a barbarous and decrepit hole some 15 kilometres north of the city. 83% indigenous. I spent 10 days on a package stay. It’s been ten years or more since I was last in prison, but like riding a bike, it doesn’t take long to get used to it again. Anyone who thinks prison is a doddle has never been there.

So on Wednesday 20 Feb I’m being escorted to cells under the court-house and guarded by three or four security officers all day. On Thursday 21 I’m in the court-house coffee shop getting a toasted sandwich and cappuccino. On Friday 22 I’m acquitted, the Act has been interpreted to our satisfaction, the government is unable to use its heavy legislation against us, and we are free to enjoy a few days rest and recreation in Darwin - which can be a fairly pleasant spot, even in February.

The legal victory, and the jail time, came out of nonviolent direct action I’d taken at the Pine Gap spy base with Christians Against ALL Terrorism (CAAT) in December 2005. It was a citizens inspection, based on work I’ve done around US warships in Cairns with Margaret Pestorius and Peace by Peace. It was a terrific action, and CAAT made some real achievements for peace and nonviolence. It’s a good group. Here’s a photo of us all together in Brisbane in November 2008 where we had a yarn about the Talisman Sabre war-games in Shoalwater Bay, Queensland in July 2009. Left to right: Adele Goldie (Mt Nebo), Sean O’Reilly (Brisbane), Jim Dowling (Mt Mee), Jessica Morrison (Melbourne), Donna Mulhearn (Sydney), Bryan Law (Cairns)

By February 2008 I was on a promise from Australian Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, to meet and discuss Pine Gap. (“I respect your position and I will be happy to discuss with you after the Federal election” Joel had written to me in October 2007, when the ALP wanted support from the peace movement). In January 2008 the newly elected Labor member for Leichhardt, Jim Turnour (for whom I’d campaigned) promised me he’d follow up my letter to Minister Fitzgibbon, and ensure we got a meeting.

Being a political realist, I maintain pretty low expectations of the Labor Party. But I started 2008 fairly optimistic, firstly that nonviolent activism is enjoying something of a resurgence in Australia, and secondly that we might get some useful discussion with government around defence and security policy. The resurgence is real. The ALP is not.

In April I experienced some difficulty breathing, and went to Cairns Base Hospital for a couple of weeks with a condition called heart failure - which put a temporary hold on my activist agenda for Pine Gap. Apparently I’d had a heart attack without noticing. I spent a quiet winter coming to terms with life’s little changes, and preparing for surgery through Queensland Health.

While I was waiting for surgery I got involved with PADYC (People Against Demolishing the Yacht Club) when Wendy Richardson from the Liberal National Party declared she would chain herself to a bulldozer with union organiser Stuart Trail if she needed to, to save the Cairns Yacht Club building. CairnsBlog's Michael Moore, facilitated the introductions, and my old china plate Warren Entsch attended the first meeting. In the event, Wendy chickened out of NVDA (non-violent direct action), but Labor Councillor Di Forsyth climbed up on the roof in a safety harness.

In September 2008 half a dozen citizens stepped forward to have a go at civil disobedience. Terry Spackman had a good go at staying on the roof for days, but was foxed by Police. Sharon, Wendy and John all pushed it past the point of arrest as well as Di. I spent six or seven hours in the Cairns watch-house. Around the campaign were maybe 50 real nice folks who wanted to preserve a little bit of their heritage and values in modern Cairns. Bloody Cairns Ports. Bloody Labor Party. Good on ya Di Forsyth. Good on ya Wendy.

For me it’s always a privilege to know people who are willing to act on their beliefs. The bunch around PADYC came mostly from circles I don’t usually move in. Older, whiter, and more conservative (and of course a scattering of crazies). It was good to show them how a direct action campaign works. We’ll complete the program when Anna Bligh calls the election in 2009. That will be the time to target Desley Boyle and Steve 'Wet ‘n No Balls' for their seats in Parliament. Bloody Labor Party.

In February 2009 Di Forsyth will need a display of support as she confronts the real Court, as well as the kangaroo Court of her fellow Councillors. More about that later.

In November 2008 I did the surgery thing, with a triple coronary by-pass which is a traumatic thing to do to the body but generally provides an extension of life. They cut the chest open, stop the heart, deflate the lungs and keep you alive on the heart lung machine while they graft leg veins to augment the coronary arteries. If you’re at all lucky you survive the operation. Sort of ouch but good on ‘em. I’ve spent the past seven weeks basically hanging at home and healing the wounds of surgery. It’s a trip.

So my time and attention for politics was limited in 2008, but not entirely absent. I now have little projects around local, state, and commonwealth issues. All the actions are planned out of my experience and vision of strategic Nonviolence - latterly Christian Nonviolence. (I’m busy joining the biggest Christian church on planet earth) Here’s my little plan for local, state, and federal NVDA.


I’ve enjoyed nine months of Val Schier as Mayor. My experience has been limited, but I have my concerns, and I’m aware of a general feeling that folks would like a stronger performance from Val and her administration. She’ll be Mayor for around another four years.

My plan on a local level is twofold. First and most important is to organise and show support for Councillor Di Forsyth’s act of civil disobedience re the Yacht Club. Di showed personal courage and political commitment to get up on that roof and represent the thousands of her constituents, and the thousands of other Cairns and Queensland signatures collected on the PADYC petition.

I think Di deserves support for her actions. The best way we can show support is by creating substantial public rallies whenever Di fronts Court or the Regional Council as they consider her civil disobedience action.

But it’s not just a matter of support for Di Forsyth. It’s also about preserving civil disobedience as a vital ingredient of our Parliamentary democracy. The Suffragettes, the Civil Rights movement, the ATSI movement, the trade union movement and all the social movements have relied on civil disobedience to achieve their democratic aims. In Cairns the Police and the Courts have recognised the Yacht Club actions as nonviolent civil disobedience.

Within the Cairns Regional Council there are moves afoot to conduct star chamber hearings against Councillor Forsyth, and equate nonviolent civil disobedience with terrorism. CEO Noel Briggs is one player threatening our democracy. Councillors Cochrane, Gregory and Blake share his desire. In defending and supporting Councillor Di Forsyth we proclaim a standard of democratic representation that we wish to see in our Cairns Regional Council.

My second action will be to try and facilitate a small process of community engagement through which those passionate about Cairns development/environment can play a significant role in improving it. We’d be looking for ways to communicate with, and coordinate with, Mayor Val Schier and key Councillors about significant environmental and development projects over the next few years.

I believe that community input and support can be orchestrated in such a way that Council policies and operations work to provide a much better and more cost-effective amenity for all city residents. I see the invitation being open to all Councillors – at the same time recognising that some Councillors are hostile to community participation in Council business. I’m hoping that CAFNEC will play a sponsoring role.

I haven’t given up on Val Schier yet, and I don’t plan to anytime in the next three years. Anyone who’d like to propose electoral action against Val, if they want to convince me, will have to come out and say who their alternative mayor is, and demonstrate the reality and value of that alternative. I’m happy to listen.


Unless something truly remarkable happens I’ll be using the Queensland election to hammer ALL the local ALP MLAs because they’ve been so pathetic. I don’t want a “better class of manager” as my political representative – a spin doctor, or a representative of Cabinet.

Call me bitter, call me twisted, but the yacht Club issue convinced me that the ALP has once again forgotten that its job is to represent the community and engage with its values and desires. Imposing “solutions” on an unwilling population just doesn’t do it for me – especially when the “solutions” involve such an incompetent, unimaginative and expensive failure such Cairns Ports Inc.


Minister Joel Fitzgibbon went from a position of “respect” to one of simply not acknowledging or answering my correspondence. MP for Leichhardt Jim Turnour turned out to be no use whatsoever. Instead of a dialogue about Pine Gap and Security, the Rudd government introduced into Parliament amendments to the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act which plugged the holes we went to so much trouble to disclose. Pine Gap noe receives more support and protection from the Rudd government than it did from John Howard and Philip Ruddock.

According to Minister Fitzgibbon’s first reading speech I and my friends are either “mischief makers” or someone altogether “more sinister”. This according to a government that effectively supports the commission of war crimes by Israel in the Middle East and USA around the world.

In July 2009 the Rudd government is conducting exercise Talisman sabre ’09. Some 8,000 Australian troops, and 15,000 US troops will practice the sea-borne invasion of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area near Rockhampton – where they will conduct urban warfare against a city built around a walled market square. There’ll be a nuclear Aircraft Carrier Battle Group, plus Marines and amphibious Landing Craft, Live Firing, and all the fun of modern warfare.

As a humble citizen I’m compelled to accept that my betters (Jim Turnour, Joel Fitzgibbon and Jan McLucas) have better things to do than talk with rabble like me.

However as a proud member of the rabble element I see no reason to stand idly by and let these fuckers practice mass murder and invasion unchallenged. With my family, and with Christian nonviolence activists from around Australia, I’ll be going to Shoalwater Bay in July and trying my level best to interfere with the war-games. At this point I’m planning to enter the live-firing zone of the exercise area and compel the defence forces to search me out before they can proceed with their stupid and barbarous wankery.

I’m planning on a happy 2009 because I’ve learned through practical experience that life is sweet, and government/policy merely transitory. If any one of us truly stands for what we believe, we make a difference. If enough of us stand for what we believe, we change the world. To echo a black man from the other side of the world who takes office next week as president of the USA “Yes, we can”.

I hope you all have a happy 2009 as well.

Friday 9 January 2009

Great Firewall Report

Cairns resident and IT nerd, Henry Poyntz over at The Blarg of Fosnez highlights today's Crikey where there's an interesting report by the Brooklyn Law School doing a report on Australia's Clean Feed Filter (read Great Firewall).

Henry says that the Report, titled Filtering in Oz: Australia's Foray into Internet Censorship, is one of the first reports by a neutral foreign school to explore the subject. I do like this quote from the report:
  • [Australia] "will likely become the first Western democracy to block access to on-line material through legislative mandate."

"As I have said before, it is Very VERY Easy to just bypass these types of filters anyway," says Henry.

World will change as consciousness evolves

Former Douglas Shire Councillor Rod Davis files this feature from on board his boat, somewhere in Panama.

It was a bit of a tough call, getting up and packing, making porridge and beans, and getting a boat over here with shitful hangover, but hey, at least I’m away from the lunatics who keep lighting bungers day and night on Bocas, here in Panama's Caribbean coast, making it me feel a tad Palestinian.
Some righteous Israeli foreign minister called Livni, or something, ( more like Live NO to a Palestinian) had all the air time she wanted on CNN, to justify her countries brutality. She’s upping the score, whilst maintaining her ratios. Since last CNN broadcast, she has managed to blow another 100 Palestinian men, women and children into oblivion, raising her death toll score to 400, whilst only one more Israeli has been killed, keeping a fine balance on her 100 to 1 retaliation rate. The manipulators of the Zionists deserve a word or two.
They should be ashamed of themselves, is the tright way to summarise it. With the Fourth Reich US on the edge of implosion, without the evil black hand of the US to pat the murdering Israelis on the back, it could get real messy for Israel in a few years. The Israelis just don’t know how badly they have been used by the Rothschild Illuminati as a tool antagonise the Middle East, and urge earth to war.
My favourite freak, and lucky to be alive conspiracy theory writer, sent out his weekly blog yesterday. David Icke, former professional soccer player, and one time spokesmen for the UK Greens, doesn’t tend to twaddle around with the story of Israel…he’s our best yet conspiracy theorist, just that he’s all conspiracy, and no theory:
“So yet again the people of the virtual-concentration camp, known officially as ‘Gaza’, are being bombarded from the sky by the bully-boys of Tel Aviv.
State-of-the art Israeli jets, paid for by the United States, bomb civilian targets in this tragic, poverty-stricken wasteland which acts as a holding camp for the human beings the Israeli government would rather be dead. Waiting in the wings are Israeli tanks preparing for a possible ground invasion of Gaza, again paid for by the United States.
The world watches as a nation of people, the Palestinians, are systematically crushed and destroyed by the tyrants who call the shots in Israel on behalf of that country’s real power structure - the House of Rothschild.

And, taxpayers of America (and elsewhere), you are paying for this calculated slaughter. American aid to Israel accounts for something like a third of all US overseas aid when Israel is home to just .001 per cent of the global population and has one of the highest incomes per head in the world. This is even without all the ‘private’ donations from US corporations and individuals which are tax-deductible even when given to the Israeli military, unlike any other foreign power.
According to 2007 figures, the United States government gave more than $6.8 million to wealthy Israel every day while to the desperate and devastated Palestinians of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank they gave just $300,000.
This and other support makes Israel the biggest recipient of United States foreign military funding since the Second World War. In their book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt write:
  • ‘Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing the amounts provided to any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct U.S. economic and military assistance since 1976 and the largest total recipient since World War ll. Total direct U.S. aid to Israel amounts to well over $140 billion in 2003 dollars.

Why do they do this? Because the House of Rothschild controls Israel and the House of Rothschild controls the political system of the United States. The network that links the two is called ‘Zionism’, a Rothschild creation - just like Israel itself.

The might of this Zionist cabal spanning Israel, the United States, Europe and beyond is yet again, like the playground bully that it is, attacking the little kid in the calipers - the people of Gaza.

At the time of writing the death toll is 430 Palestinian men, women and children with more than 2,000 injured. They are bombing the unarmed innocent knowing there will be no credible response - the way all bullies operate. Oh, brave men of Israel; oh how Yahweh would be so proud:

  • ‘When the LORD your God hands these nations over to you and you conquer them, you must completely destroy them. Make no treaties with them and show them no mercy.’ - Deuteronomy 7:1-4

What we are seeing in Gaza, and have seen so many times, both there and in the Lebanon, is merciless Old Testament slaughter: cold, calculated, heartless slaughter.

  • ‘So they sent twelve thousand warriors to Jabesh-gilead with orders to kill everyone there, including women and children. “This is what you are to do,” they said. “Completely destroy all the males and every woman who is not a virgin”.’ -Judges 21:10-24
  • Then I heard the LORD say to the other men, “Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! Kill them all - old and young, girls and women and little children. But do not touch anyone with the mark. Begin your task right here at the Temple.

    So they began by killing the seventy leaders. ”Defile the Temple!” the LORD commanded. “Fill its courtyards with the bodies of those you kill! Go!” So they went throughout the city and did as they were told. -
    Ezekiel 9:5-7

Imagine if Iran or anyone else outside Israel and the United States (both Rothschild assets) was doing what the Israeli military is doing in Gaza. There would be global condemnation, not least from Israel and the United States, resolutions passed in the UN Security Council and talk of the need for sanctions or military intervention to ’save the innocent’.

But when Israel does it we have vacuous calls for a truce, an end to the violence while ‘understanding Israel’s position’, and, in terms of soon-to-be President ‘Change’ Obama, silence. It’s all a fraction of what others would face because Israel is a wholly-owned asset of the Rothschilds and so is not subject to the same rules as anyone else. As former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, said:

  • ‘Israel may have the right to put others on trial, but certainly no one has the right to put the Jewish people and the State of Israel on trial.’

And Prime Minister Golda Meir betrayed the same Zionist arrogance:

  • ‘This country exists as the fulfilment of a promise made by God Himself. It would be ridiculous to ask it to account for its legitimacy.’

Ah, it’s all in the Old Testament? Gotcha, right, well do as you like then. The ‘Jewish homeland’ was from the start a Rothschild fiefdom orchestrated through the global secret society network of interbreeding families where The Rothschilds funded the early European settlers in Israel, and manipulated events in Germany that led to the horrific treatment of Jewish people and others, and then used that as the excuse to reach their long-term goal - a Rothschild-Illuminati stronghold in Palestine using the Jewish population as fodder to be used and abused as necessary.

They called their plan ‘Zionism’. This term is often used as a synonym for Jewish people when it is actually a political movement devised and promoted through the House of Rothschild and opposed by many Jews. After the Rothschild-controlled Zionist terrorists had bombed the State of Israel into existence in 1948, an estimated 800,000 Palestinians were made refugees and fled what had been their own country. Their descendants are said to number some four million.
And the world simply looked on - just as it does to this day - because Israel is a law unto itself and so terms like justice, fairness, decency and mercy do not apply.

One writer recently described conditions in Gaza:

  • ‘ … Israel nails shut the coffin that is Gaza under a siege that has lasted nearly three years, steadily intensifying so that malnutrition rates rival those of sub-Saharan Africa, sewage runs raw in the streets and pollutes the ocean, homes are still being bulldozed to super-add collective punishment upon collective punishment; men, women and children are still being sniped at and killed; children are deafened by continuing sonic booms, the vast majority of them suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, and many of that majority have no ambition other than becoming “martyrs” …’

The Bush administration for the last eight years has been dominated by the Neo-conservative, or ‘Neocon’, network which is, itself, dominated by US/Israeli duel citizens and/or Zionists like Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Pearle, Dov Zackheim, William Kristol, Robert Kagan, Elliot Abrams, Douglas Feith, John Bolton, Robert B Zoellick, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and others. The neo-con godfather is the late Leo Strauss, a German-born Jewish ‘philosopher’, who believed that people must be governed by a ‘pious elite’.

But surely those days of Zionist dominance are over because ‘Mr. Change’ is coming to ‘power’ now. Er, if only. Barack Obama has packed his ‘new’ administration with Zionists like Rahm Emanuel, his White House Chief of Staff. Emanuels’ father, Benjamin, was a member of the Irgun terrorist group in Palestine and we can clearly expect the Obama administration to be balanced and fair on its Israel/Palestinian policy. No wonder Obama has kept quiet on the Israeli bombing of Gaza.

You got’a hand to the Illuminati, they are very professional lot. They indeed know how the Illumination works, just they use it for the dark. Still, no point in complaining I suppose, we all signed up to reincarnate to a planet of duality, of good and evil, and the trick is simply to observe and not absorb.

Maybe, I add a trite spiritual phrase, ‘observe and not absorb‘, is only that can come from the comfy pens of western spiritual writers, not watching their families bleed under yet another bombing. Nonetheless, some argue you can’t “fight” to save the world. Peace kills according to P.J ORourke.

There is only one way to sort things, say the likes of Gandhi’s image, and that’s inside ya’self, not outside ya’self.

The world will change as the consciousness evolves, not because the peace comes upon Israel. The answer, in that top secret hiding place, is inside humanity’s heart.

CairnsBlog cartoon by Circusmouse

Wednesday 7 January 2009

When you're in opposition, you need all the friends you can get

  • Helen Clark confirmed you as a friend on Facebook.

Pyne's January video report

Councillor Rob Pyne is fast becoming the latest movie star in Cairns.

Pyne was the first to use this medium whilst campaigning for Council election a year ago. In fact, he launched it here on CairnsBlog first (copied by the Cairns Post two days later!)

"This will be the first of a number of regular reports I'll make to residents," Robert says. "I'll address issues that are relevant only to particular suburbs and also to foster a greater sense of community."

The Division 3 Councillor also produces a regualr Rock News that is emailed to thousands of local residents in Mt Sheridan and southern suburbs. He campaigned on be a good communicator,a nd is keeping up to that promise.

“Some issues are not likely to be picked up by the mainstream media, but they are very important to people that live in the area,” he says. "A couple of the issues in my first report concern the smell from the Southern Waste Water Treatment plant and the efforts of Southside residents in relation to the dengue outbreak.”

Pyne said the exercise is about fostering a sense of community. “Community building has to include identifying with an area and sharing information with people who associate with that area. I do this with my Division 3 website.”

He points out that this is a good way to stay in touch with residents. "One of the best things is, as I am doing it myself, it does not cost ratepayers a cent.”

Why doesn't every Councillor do this?

Tuesday 6 January 2009

Who's dumping all this rubbish at the beach?

Over the last few weeks, at least three large truckloads of vegetation cuttings, including palm trees, have been dumped along the coastal beaches, north of Palm Cove.
A CairnsBlog reader sent this photo in today, soon after another truck had dumped it's load overnight. It appears that these are from a commercial operator, due the to significant amount that has been dumped.
"I reckon it was a very large truck that did this last load," Northern Beaches resident Clinton Vollmerhausen said. "There are large trees amongst the dumpings and they are deposited right in the beach car parks. Someone should be prosecuted over this."
Cairns Regional Council does indeed have the ability to fine people for illegal dumping of rubbish, including vegetation waste. To take this waste to the Smithfield or Portsmith tip, it would be probably around $100, or free if it was just prior to Christmas.
What possess people to do such an act of vandalism like this?
Councillor Robert Pyne says that this is a problem for the region. "We need to catch and fine these people," he said. "The public need to be alert and report this, surely someone must seen this happening, if it's done in broad daylight?"
Councillor Pyne says that managing green waste is difficult. "We need to make sure that the dumping charges are not prohibitive enough to discourage people from using Council's services," Robert Pyne says. "It has been discussed to receive green waste for free more often, however that argument presented problems due to overheads and some waste cannot be used. The idea was not supported."
If vegetation comes from Electric Ant infested areas around some Northern Beach communities like Kewarra and Smithfield, it is unsuitable for mulching and has to simply be dumped with the general waste.
I don't know why Cairns Regional Council doesn't adopt a free green waste dumping programme year-round, not just for a week or two prior to Christmas. A massive amount of mulch is required and used from public-dumped waste, and subsequently used on Council gardens and road medium strips across the region.
The former Douglas Shire Council allowed locals to deposit green waste over and extended period without charge, and were also known to give away mulch to the public.
It goes from a proactive Council supporting a green-waste intensive area to simply revenue raising, that encourages nutters to dump there garden cuttings and dump them on the roadside.