Wednesday 13 May 2009


The 'Cash for comment' saga, as it has become known, has destabilised the entire Cairns Regional Council, and it's perception in the community.
The perpetrators behind the fiasco, thought they were clever enough to avoid any implication, but the tables have turned.
Later this week, the Cairns QC will complete his report, ready for the Mayor's return from her Guam trade mission.
On Thursday, 23rd April, the day the story broke, I revealed an audit trail of emails. At 6:30am on that morning, I had a telephone conversation with the Mayor, who was shocked and upset that she was implicated and the inference the Cairns Post story gave.
"I can categorically say to you, and swear on my heart, that I knew nothing at all about this," Mayor Val Schier said.
The very first leaked email, indicated that John Mackenzie, Kerie Hull and Councillor Alan Blake had knowledge of the set up. Councillors Blake and Bonneau, have so far been publicly connected with this toroid tale, after Bonneau asked the patsy question in Council on Wednesday 22nd, about what the Mayor knew about the 'commercial arrangement with Radio 4CA'.
"Can the Mayor clear the air about an arrangement with the radio station?" Cr Sno Bonneau asked.
Bonneau was fully aware of the plan to embarrass the Mayor, after all, he fired the trigger.
Along with Cairns Regional Council's Corporate Communications Manager, Kerie Hull, the two councillors were named and identified in the original email, deliberately leaked to CairnsBlog, on the 10th April.
They trio were part of the plan to 'expose' a story, first unleashed by 4CA radio presenter John Mackenzie, to ruin Mayor Val Schier. And they almost got away with it.
I can today reveal that Councillor Alan Blake, chairman of Council's Finance Committee, had talked about the plan to 'expose a story of a secret financial deal' with radio station 4CA, a week prior to the 10th April.
He discussed the subject on or about April 2nd, but refused to release anything in writing at that point. Blake then discussed the same 'story' with a fellow Liberal National Party member on April 9th.
The following evening, I was sent a email, with all those involved, spelt out. I forwarded it to Councillor Pyne, who asked Kerie Hull to confirm it's contents, and received a very guarded and surprised reply. I also passed it to the Mayor, who was just heading off for a Easter break on the Tablelands. She laughed it off and called the claims in email "110% crap I can assure you," Val said. "I can't believe how many angry people there are out there," in a reference to it;'s intended purpose.
  • 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.

    For verification on this story why not try McKenzie/Blake or Kerie Hull.

The day the story made it to the cover of the Cairns Post, the talk of the town was ripe with disgust about payments being made for the Mayor to speak on radio. Mackenzie came out fighting and rubbished almost every line in the Cairns Post, a quaint turn-around from his normal nauseating complicity of the morning ritual, reading the paper cover to cover.

So, on the evening of Thursday 23rd April, I decided to ask Councillor Alan Blake a few questions and telephoned him at 8:52pm. Here is that call...
  • MM: Hello Alan, it's Mike here again.

    AB: Gidday Mike, how are you? I haven't even got home yet!

    (party noise in background)

    MM: Sounds like you're having fun?

    AB: I'm at the [Cairns Regional] Gallery function, had a couple of ales, and a coffee on the Esplanade.
    MM: You do far more socialising than I do!

    AB: Oh mate, I'm allowed to socialise. I'm only allowed to do it after hours. What's happening?
    MM: I'm just wondering where all this [Cash for Comments] drama is at. I probably don't even know half of it, like you mentioned to me a couple of weeks ago.

    AB: Nah you don't. Look. Where it's at. I'm very concerned that it is at the moment that Council is very destabilised. We're just trying to sort that out. That's where we're at. Umm, we just have to get it back on an even keel, and get on with good governance, and that's what we're doing. You know, the three Chairs [on the committees] are very stable. We're working hard. Look, I don't have five minutes spare. I know Cochrane doesn't and Gregory doesn't. Gosh, he's so busy with water and everything.
    MM: Yeah. There's far bigger issues on the table of course, that you folk have got to deal with.

    AB: It's a lot different than it was say 3 or 4 years ago. It really is.
    MM: It's interesting that Kevin Byrne seems to come into this debate.

    AB: Yeah, I dunno whether he's going to buy into the debate or not. I don't know about him.
    MM: I heard that Kerie Hull was put aside this afternoon, pending more discussion on the matter.

    (pregnant pause...)

    AB: I don't know about that. You know more than me.
    MM: Well, evidently that happened late this afternoon, Alan.
    AB: Well, I haven't been back since midday.
    MM: That's the latest anyway.
    AB: I'd leave her out of anything you write about me, because I tell you what. What a fantastic worker that girl is.

    MM: They obviously had a pretty bad relationship, her and Schier.

    AB: Yeah, I don't know about that. That's operational stuff. All I want to do is straight policy. We're essentially board members. I don't know what's going to come out in the wash. I got no idea what the [Cairns] Post are doing., I've not been near them today. You've probably got a better relationship there than I do.
    MM: Let's know when you're free for a coffee over at Edge Hill.

    AB: Later next week I'm not too bad. Monday and Tuesday are full, I know that. Talk to you next week. Mate, I'm absolutely knackered. The workload in there is astronomical., really is. Umm, it's a totally different Council to what it was 2 or 3 years ago. We've just got to keep our heads down, it's as simple as that. Talk to you Monday, Tuesday, see what happens. See ya.
No coffee date ever eventuated. I still go to Edge Hill. I don't wear dark sunglasses or a long coat.


Thornton's Peak said...

Clearly, by the tone and content of the conversation this man is working damn hard. I think we are getting real value for the ratepayer dollar here. Much in the same way as when you deal with Blakey at Furniture Associates - the quality, the price, the service, it's second to none!

Bryan Law said...

"I don't wear dark sunglasses or a long coat". I think that's the problem right there Mike. Think Matrix, and all will be well.

Tony Hillier said...

Sounds like the erstwhile BBQ King of Cairns has already received the latest virus alert, viz:

The Centre for Disease Control has issued a medical alert about a highly contagious, potentially dangerous virus that is transmitted orally, by hand, and even electronically. This virus is called
Weekly Overload Recreational Killer (W O R K)
If you receive WORK from your boss, any of your colleagues or anyone else via any means whatsoever - DO NOT TOUCH IT!!! This virus will wipe out your private life entirely. If you should come into contact with W O R K you should immediately leave the premises.
Take a good friend to the nearest liquor store and purchase one or both of the antidotes - Work Isolating Neutralizer Extract (W I N E) and Bothersome Employer Elimination Rebooter (B E E R). Take the antidote repeatedly until W O R K has been completely eliminated from your system.
You should immediately forward this medical alert to five friends. If you do not have five friends, you have already been infected and WORK is controlling your life!

Unknown said...

It's rather conspiracy theorist that Councillors revealing information about the Mayor was to "ruin her," especially when it appears there is little left to ruin in the public eye.

Or, maybe it's just easier if Councillors don't talk to each other and inform the ratepayers of their knowledge related to the Mayor's improprieties.

FNQ Watermelon said...

"I feel the Council has failed to deliver in openness and transparency in the past six months and said it was time the Council stopped dreaming about 'warm and fuzzy' projects and delivered basic core services at an affordable price," Alan Blake said on Monday"

Does this guy think we are all stupid?

Veritas said...

FNQ Watermelon, yes he does!

He has got away with it for years and has perfected his skill since elected to Council.

For all his other faults, Byrnes saw through him and sacked him without to much fuss.

He had been exposed in actions verging on corrupt practices.

He is as slippery as an eel. Uses people as steps in his political ladder.

The most notable one of late is Kerrie Hull. He used her up in many dubious ways, in an attempt to destroy Schier. His plot exploded in his face before he was able to unwrap it.

Kerrie Hull as a consequence has been left 'hung out' to dry.

She has been reduced to taken leave of her work due to her fragile mental state.

The sooner the Minister for Local Government, via a complaint from the CRC, serves him with a show cause notice why he should not be dismissed, the better off Cairns residents will be.

FNQ Watermelon said...

I dont think that will happen... The minister is as stupid as blakey thinks we are...