Thursday 23 April 2009

Council media chief resignation called for

Thomas Chamberlin's 'Cash for Comment' cover story in today's Cairns Post, unfortunately tells only one side of the story.

Not surprising, those behind the secret deal with John McKenzie's 846 AM on 4CA, are running for cover. In fact those behind the deal, are trying to manipulate and set up the Mayor, along with other Councillors.

Kerrie Hull, the Manager of Corporate Communications at Cairns Regional Council, on a salary close to the Mayor's, has been involved in a series of under-mining tactics, with the knowledge and probably support of the CEO, to 'set traps' and 'catch out' the Mayor. Today's expose about a secret contract Hull tied up with McKenzie, is yet another one of them.

For a senior Council staffer like Kerrie Hull to put a financial contract in place, and not inform the Mayor, or other Councillors who also appear on McKenzie's radio show, is a most despicable act and clearly sackable. She has shown herself to be politically naive.

Councillor Alan Blake, who was told by McKenzie about the commercial deal, leaked the information in the first week of April.

A source within the Liberal National Party sent me this message:-
  • Sent: Thursday, 9 April 2009 8:56 PM
    To: 'Michael Moore'

    Good evening Michael,

    Having read your blog with regard to the CRC media tart, I wondered if you wanted to make some enquiries regarding Val and the council 'PAYING' for her to appear on the John McKenzie show every week.

    This commercial contract came about because no one wants to talk to her and John would not give His precious time to Val without money changing hands.

    Kevin was an invited guest every week?

    For verification on this story why not try McKenzie/Blake or Kerie Hull. Best wishes for Easter.

Councillor Blake denied knowing my source, however he was in direct communication with him.

"He has got the wrong slant on old gossip," Alan Blake told me. "There is far better stories than that half baked crap. Who is 'XXX'?", Blake asked, in reference to my source.

I approached the Mayor and Kerie Hull on the morning of Friday 10th April, asking directly what knowledge they had of any arrangement.

Hull, instead of answering the question, was more interested where the information came from.
  • -----Original Message-----
    From: Hull Kerie []
    Sent: Friday, 10 April 2009 10:54 AM
    Subject: Re: Macca Question

    Where did this come from?

    We pay for advertising- our advertising budget has been minimal for radio so the spend is small compared with print.

However, the Mayor simply laughed at the proposition, who believed it was simply a story being spread with no validity:

  • From:Val Schier
    Sent: Friday, 10 April 2009 4:14 PM
    To: Michael Moore

    AAAAGHHHHH! It's amazing. 110% crap I can assure you. I can't believe how many angry people there are out there.

    It's very interesting who XXX asks you to refer to for verification.


It was indeed interesting that my source pointed me to Councillor Blake and Council media boss, Kerie Hull.

As part of a trap to embarrass and catch out the Mayor, Councillor Sno Bonneau asked about any arrangement with 4CA, in Council's full meeting yesterday.

It's no secret that Val Schier wanted to make her own rules, after taking office, in regard to media. She found the previous arrangement, between former Mayor Kevin Byrne and John McKenzie, awkward and way too comfortable. There was much public cynicism about the pressure and favours between the former Mayor and the show's host.

Byrne's well-known and close friendship with McKenzie, or Macca as he's referred to, was often the talk of much question. They not only shared the same side of politics, but enjoyed each others company, dining together almost every week at Villa Romana.

On the Monday after her March 2008 election victory, Val Schier had a very awkward interview with an equally uncomfortable John McKenzie. He had only minutes before had a crying Kevin Byrne on air, as he shared his departing monologue.

However, John has been on radio for long enough to know how to put people on the spot, with the pressure of live radio as his tool.

"So I'd like you to come on every week?" McKenzie insisted, putting Val on the spot. "Oh, uumm, I'll see, yes we can do something," Schier said.

The truth is that she wanted to spread her media time between a number of regional radio stations, and not be a lap dog to McKenzie's wishes.

Following yesterday's public revelation about a deal struck between Council's Kerie Hull and Radio 4CA, the Mayor called for an investigation, not CEO Briggs, as the Cairns Post stated:
  • From: Schier Val
    Sent: Wednesday, 22 April 2009 5:03 PM
    To: Briggs Noel
    Subject: Commercial Arrangement with 4CA


    I have become aware this afternoon that a commercial arrangement has been brokered by the Manager of Corporate Communications between Council and 4CA in relation to my appearance on the 4CA show on Friday mornings with John Mackenzie.

    I was not made aware of this arrangement at any stage and would never have supported it.

    I ran for council on a platform of transparency in Council and that includes transparency in decision-making in the organisation

    I am asking you to investigate how this commercial arrangement has come about and why I was not informed of it.

    You have advised me this afternoon that there is no written agreement with 4CA, that no money has been paid, no invoices have been sent to the Council

    Can you ensure that no money is paid now or at any time into the future unless a written agreement comes to light. If an agreement is found to be in place, can you please seek legal advice to break the contract.

    I await your early response to this investigation.

Noel Briggs was aware of the deal with 4CA, as Kerie Hull had informed him. He told the Cairns Post, he thought it was for advertising. "I don't know the specifics of the agreement. I’ve just checked with the finance department and I haven’t received an invoice to date," Briggs said, as he was obviously caught out, looking like a fumbling fool.

Briggs has also admitting to knowing that "around $20,000" was discussed for this deal. Although there are questions about the CEO's involvement and knowledge, he should ask for the immediate resignation of Kerie Hull. She has gone behind the back of the Mayor, and then lied about it.

The fact that Kerie Hull was not only involved in setting up this deal, but never declared this to the Mayor, is clearly sackable. It's a shocking situation to financially pave the way for elected Councillors to speck on a local radio station, and not inform them fully of the deal behind the scenes. Councillors Blake and Pyne are also regulars on McKenzie's Friday morning show.

Nothing is declared on air, that the 4CA Councillor-spot is a paid one.

Val Schier revealed to CairnsBlog this morning, that there was a strong desire to get back onto McKenzie's show, after a stand off of nearly a year.

"I asked the media team to see what they could do to get me back on the radio show," Val Schier said. Sonja Anderson, who has worked in radio previously, said there was a lot of resistance from McKenzie to have the Mayor back on his show.

Is the CEO just too stupid to know that anything was happening?

"I can categorically say to you, and swear on my heart, that I knew nothing at all about this," a very disturbed and angry Mayor told me this morning.

4CA said that Council staff knew about the arrangement. "I was contacted by council to arrange to get Val on the radio. "There is nothing that the council don’t know about it," 4CA's Steve Hirst told the Cairns Post.

In a very concerted campaign to trip the first-term Mayor up, Val has been having to deal with being undermined for over a year.

"These things detract from the business of good governance of this Council," Val Schier said. "This is a deliberate attempt to undermine, at a very difficult time, all for the sake of egos."

The irony of all this is that the perpetrators will now have the table turned on themselves, and not on the Mayor, as they are behind all these dirty dealings.


Alison Alloway said...

McKenzie has consistently displayed hostility towards Val Shier, therefore I am inclined to believe Val's comment that McKenzie "had not allowed me" on his program.
I am not aware of any previous Mayors of Cairns (Byrne, Pyne, Goodwin, Davis etc) having had to pay for "on air" time.
I always believed that commercial radio stations were obligated under the terms of their license to allocate a certain amount of free air-time for the community. So why would the station even consider brokering an agreement for payment for something which they SHOULD HAVE PROVIDED TO THE COMMUNITY FOR FREE, as they willingly did so in the past?
I agree with you Mike. This is very bad. Note! I am not entering into any "conspiracy" theories, merely arguing that Val has not been treated with consistency and that 4CA may even have breached the terms of their broadcasting license.

Anonymous said...

Council Pays for Mayor to Speak on Local Radio Show?
Thursday, April 23, 2009

In this morning Cairns Post, "Cash for Comment" in extra large bold print on the front page. Apparently the Cairns Regional Council (CRC) is paying for the Mayor to appear on 4CA 846AM every Friday morning. But, what's truly interesting is the CEO, Mayor, Council and everyone else at City Hall had no idea? The manager at 4CA Steve Hirst said, "I was contacted by Council to arrange to get Val on the radio. There is nothing that the council didn't know about it."

I reckon there is more to this story than it appears on the surface and the true facts should flush out soon. But if these allegations are true, this could be political poison to the Mayor and who do you think will benefit (politically) the most by it?

What is truly bizarre about this whole matter is the former mayor Kevin (KB) Byrnes (Pictured) sticks his two cents into this matter and to my surprise (Not), he says, "We never paid, I never did and I did it for 10 years." Well Kev you might have gone on to explain why and your exact special relationship to the shows host?

And that's The Northern Truth!!
Bookmark Northern Truth - Queensland Politics Blog

Posted by Lance T. Royce at 8:12 AM 0 Rants

Labels: 4CA 846AM, Kevin Byrne, Mayor Val Schier, Steve Hirst

Anonymous said...

Good Work Mike! More to come I'm sure! Lance

Tell the Truth, Michael Moore said...

It sounds like you had this information ahead of the ComPost, and yet you sat on it, Michael. Why? Now you're spinning Val Schier's story while another story seems to be more credible. Val told me personally right after the election that her "advisers" including YOU had strongly advised against going on the McKenzie show. She apparently discovered somewhat later how silly it is for any politician to be battling the media, any media. So she began taking advice from media professionals and left you and other amateurs "swinging in the wind".

I look forward to your spin on the cover-up.

Martha said...

Don't you just love KB's comment in the Post today: "We never paid"

says it all really....

Syd Walker said...

The only time I ever hear of this John McKenzie is via Cairns Blog. Who is he?

Anyhow, I run a similar service from my home. People can ring me up for a fee too. I offer therapy for most varieties of political ailment.

Potential cliants will be pleased to learn my service is rather more discrete than McKenzie & Partners.

John, Kuranda said...


Perhaps you, I, and others in our tropical paradise here in Kuranda are outside the broadcast range of 4CA and as such do not have the opportunity to hear the dulcet tones neither of John McKenzie nor his guests - paid or otherwise.

I don't feel left out - do you?

The Headless Horseman Rides Again said...

Congratulations Michael for asking the hard questions and uncovering some illuminating news. It beggers belief that Noel Briggs and Kerie Hull did not know about the McKenzie-gate deal. But what is extraordinary is that the deal, whoever was responsible, was deliberately done behind Val's back. Why the Machiavellean sneakiness?
Now I have a clearer understanding why the Mayor, Val Schier, has maintained class and dignity despite the open disloyalty of Alan Blake, Margaret Cochrane and some senior staff. If she carried on like them, Cairns Regional Council would be as dysfunctional as the useless old Douglas Shire Council.
We are lucky to have a Mayor who, despite the undermining and disloyalty of a handful of councillors, puts Cairns and Port Douglas First.
Val has proven she meant it when she called her team "Cairns First".
This whole trashy McKenzie-gate episode may well be the defining moment for Cairns Regional Council. It is a wake-up call to the Blakes, Cochranes and Bonneaus etc to forget their petty little games behind the scenes and to work with Val Schier to build a better Cairns/Port Douglas Region.
They will find Val easy to get along with as she has endeavoured to be since her election.
Who knows? They may find they like each other and that progressing Cairns is much easier when they work together.

Syd Walker said...

Hi John. I was joking. I did listen once to McKenzie from my hill perch. That was sufficient for my needs.

Funnily enough, it was his interview with Val Shier after the election. At the time, I thought it was just another shallow interview. Now I realize it was an historic event.

John, Kuranda said...

Hi Syd

I envy your hill perch with the opportunity to listen and watch all that media being disseminated from Cairns. Unfortunately I am in a valley, don't receive free to air TV, radio or mobile phone coverage; I feel so deprived.

Good job that I have this blog, and contributors such as yourself to rely on for real news about what's on down the hill.

Joe, Gordonvale said...

There is no doubt peewee Blake,
Bonneau,Cockrane,Gregory and Briggs,should be put under the hammer for undermining Val.
It appears that dear old Desley may soon have the power to deal with these people under the new code of conduct.Desley may also have the power to recommend the council be dissolved.
Happy days ahead.

Richie Bates said...

Love your work today, that is a nice piece of investigative blogism!

Johansen Waymouth, Lake St, Cairns said...

I am awestruck at your coverage on the blog today. Excellent investigative journalism - and at last some issues get an airing.

Personally, I am glad Val has not stooped to the gutter level of her opponents. It is not desirable for any of us to have a dysfunctional council or one seen to be dysfunctional. Just look what happened on the hopeless Douglas council. Just look what the thin-skinned Blake did when Val made a very mild criticism of a foolish council decision on the Smithfield Neighbourhood Centre. But Val is doing her best to work with all councillors regardless of their behaviour.

However, I admit that I am also glad that Val has been sticking up for herself in the past week or so. She doen't deserve the crap. In fact, she deserves some credit for taking the blows for the sake of keeping council on the track.

Anyway, you blowing the whistle on what's happening behind the scenes (that not even Val knows about) is awesome...mind-blowing. Cairns Post story today is nothing compared to what you did. And sounds like the radio station wasn't completely honest in revealing who they dealt with on the council.

Well done on getting your hands on those emails. I wouldn't be surprised if resignations occur out of all this.

Anyway, well done and congratulations. Cairns Post might even offer you a job over this.

Vanessa said...

"Anyway, well done and congratulations. Cairns Post might even offer you a job over this."

... I'd laugh my head off if Mike accepted!

nocturnal congress said...

RE SOCIOPATHS IN CRC? The Corporate Culture fosters an ideal work environment for the rise of sociopaths.
We all know their characteristics:-
* They are charming; they "smile" a lot and are articulate
* Physically they tend to be better than average looking
* They are accomplished, polished liars
* They believe they are "special" and superior to other people
* They know how to manipulate
* They crave power and prestige
* They are usually promiscuous and see sex as a power thing
* They cannot empathise
* They have no conscience or ethics and are ruthless in getting what they want.

The corporatised finance world has been largely stuffed because of these types.

Just thought I would run through those characteristics for everyone.........