Friday 12 June 2009

When will Val do what we voted her to do?

As Cairns Regional Council's former chief executive officer Noel Briggs sneaks out the back door with a sack full of our money, for not even doing the job we paid him to do, rumours are flying round this town.

When Briggs had his lawyers in their on Wednesday morning, did Val and her team auger that Briggs job performance will be reviewed before any payout was made from the public coffers?

For a start, it was he who defrauded the Councillors just months earlier by deliberately tampering with an externally-commissioned report, that was named Red Hot Poker and released solely by CairnsBlog.

It was Briggs who has protected the disruptive influences of Councillors Blake and Bonneau.

I welcome a letter from Briggs' lawyers, so he stand on his record to publicly defend his actions of secrecy and the way in which he carried out his role. He was no CEO, and it's a blessing that his name was removed from the Council website, within 30 minutes on him leaving the building.

"After much consideration I thought it was the best way forward for me not to continue my role in council, and I just thought it was probably best for the organisation and probably best for me," Noel Briggs said yesterday.

And like the Mayor said over and over again, Briggs says he "just wants to move on."

Well, we're not ready to move on yet Val. We want closure on this. We want open and accountable government. You have not delivered this yet. You, and you alone, have the power and ability to do this. Be decisive and show leadership. Manage the Interim CEO, unlike the last one who called all the shots. Val, you could still come through this last few months with a little more respect from the community, if you listen to us, with both ears wide open.

Did Communications Manager Kerie Hull threaten Briggs on Monday afternoon, when Briggs said she was about to be fired over her part in the Cash for Comments debacle? (Is CairnsBlog the only local media to spell Kerie Hull's name correctly?)

"Noel, you fire me, and I'll tell the full story about our relationship and your part in deliberately and covertly plotting against the Mayor," Kerie Hull could well have said.

Hull should still get the boot, and once the Report is made public, there will be no option but to remove here so the Council Media team can do what it's paid to do.

Did Mayor Schier do a deal with Briggs prior to last Wednesday's mock media circus, when Jim Henry's report was buried, that he get rid of Hull in order for Val to go easy on him?

Was the upcoming Crime and Misconduct Commission investigation, that will explore Briggs' behaviour, going to expose a Council administration under his leadership as corrupt and complicit in protecting Councillors Bonneau, Cochrane and Blake? That knowingly allowed Hull to carry out the non-disclosure of a radio contract to the Mayor?

Why doesn't the Mayor simply direct her CEO to do what is in the majority interests of total transparency? This is the reason why she's lost so much support over the last 15 months. How odd, she'd be a shoe-in if she did. I've talked to so many members and supporters of her Cairns 1st - Val Schier's Alliance, including some who stood for election on her ticket, and they're far from impressed. Not surprisingly, the Cairns 1st website is not even active. Her Blog hasn't been updated since August last year, and the last e-newsletter that Val sent out to the huge database of supporters was over a year ago. So where is her support now? How difficult would it have been to take them along the journey? It's what they all wanted, of that I'm sure.

On the Monday after the March 2008 election, I wrote to Val, followed up by a telephone call the following day. The call happened just as she was about to head out the door to the Tablelands, for her first rest in months. Former Councillor Ross Parisi and myself proposed a structure that would have been a Gods send for the last year for this first-term Mayor. The idea was not rocket science, nor anything new really. We suggested a structure whereby party faithful could network together every month or two, and channel policy and ideas and support to her and the Cairns 1st elected Councillors. The idea didn't get a warm reception. It's why Val's support base is now fragmented and almost invisible.

"Michael, we don't need to do that, I will get them back together a year out from the next election to start fundraising," Val told me in no uncertain terms. It was after that telephone call that I knew she wasn't open to listening to others opinions very well.

Bloody hell. I wouldn't know half the things I know now about this Blog if I didn't use my mouth and ears in the correct proportion.

The idea to set up a party structure and feed information to her, Kirsten and Dianne, was to embrace the huge number of then-active supporters of her campaign and victory to become Cairns' first female mayor, a truly great achievement. It was a recipe that would have been powerful as the powers of Briggs and Councillor Blake's evilness where exposed.

Standing up to the bully boys in Council is not that difficult to do. It was the mandate that we gave Val Schier. It was what she campaigned on. Mind you, Val was deliberately silent on the massive community campaign to save the Yacht Club, stifled by her Labor mates in Brisbane. She's voted for I don't know how many high-rise developments, not just in the city, but at Woree and even on a golf Course at Palm Cove.

After over ten years of the Byrne-era, we all were so looking forward to a breath of fresh air. Although much has changed, these big picture items need solid and strong leadership. Val needs to be seen to be doing the right thing.

Now I don't want to be too harsh on the Mayor, gosh, it's not a walk in the park. Of course some of the antics are laid fairly at the feet of her plotters that have recently come to the surface, but there are areas where Val can improve.

As head of Planning at Council, Peter Tabulo has a very poor record on looking after chunks of dirt. Maybe as the Interim CEO this kind of dirt might be more up his ally.

However, this is the type of 'sediment' we will welcome to run-off from the Council slopes of shame. At least Tabulo's open to the idea. More than the last fellow, but Briggs was protecting his own butt.

Oh what an twisted irony it will be if it's Tabulo that makes Val Schier improve in the opinion polls.


colinwhodares said...

mike your comments about val losing support from people who tried to assist her , are spot on.
I personally tried to get macca to have her on the show , and the last occasion he told me and his listeners in no uncertain terms ,she will not be on his show .
After this fiasco of her not getting the report released and letting the other jerks working against her escape scott free , and now paying briggs a golden handshake , he should never be entitled too , she has lost me too

Pull Out Alan Pull Out said...

Political Correctness

Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rapidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end!

Syd Walker said...

Half a million dollars must amount to something like ten bucks per household.

Rather stingy when you think about it. That's the way poms treat Council dustmen at Christmas. Surely this generous community can stump up more than that?

From memory, Sol Trujillo was paid over 10 million for screwing up Telstra and leaving early. Where the fairness? Does Cairns want a reputation for being tight-fisted with the DeMeritocracy?

Surely CairnsBlog readers - more grateful than most for Mr Briggs' early departure - could organize a whip-round, to put a platinum topping on his golden handshake?

Briggs may end up as Emir of Guam. It would be a worry for FNQ if he bears us a grudge.

nocturnal congress said...

Under a corporate structure, CEOs have the ability to negotiate their own salaries and conditions.
This is undoubtedly what Briggs did when hired by Byrne. No doubt it was a little quid pro quo deal as well, scratch mine, I'll scratch yours. Val has been left with the shit on this one. Moreover because of the corporate structure now, she will have to negotiate another big bucks salary for a replacement CEO.
Thanks to Syd Walker who mentioned the golden handshake Sol Trujillo got. Well....have a bit of a look around OTHER corporations....

JKR said...

"However, this is the type of 'sediment' we will welcome to run-off from the Council slopes of shame."

Ouch Mike, "slopes of shame"? Reading that was like being poked in the eye with said "Red Hot Poker". :)

I dont know Val Shier, but I think she suffers from a terminal condition: lack of substance. So far she has lacked the political backbone required to be a strong leader, and I am not sure if backbone is something you develop, or something you are born with. I think she is demonstrating the latter.

At the moment, and I dont know who "the other one" will be in 2012, but I will be voting for "the other one".

Constance Lloyd said...


Basic Journalism 101 - Alliteration and allegory feature heavily in this course.

“Slopes of shame” is just so much more creative that “stuff-up”. Plus the pictures in the mind are endless.

JKR said...


Tell that to my eyes, they are the offended parties!


nocturnal congress said...

I've just been reading the front page of todays "Cairns Post". I wonder what would have happened to Val if she hadn't approved the "Capital Globe" monstrosity?? Hmmm??

"In the past I haven't always agreed with the previous mayor, but today we were supporting the same development," Cr Schier said of the decision.

The boys club have flexed their muscles; they have let her know who runs the city. There's BIG MONEY to be made in the coming quantum surge of development in Cairns. HUGE $$$$$$$$$$. Bigger than ever before. The stakes are higher than ever.

Seems to me as if someone has got at Val and she has capitulated. However as Mike has written here in this blog, she was approached by several Cairns people who knew the lay of the land so to speak, who knew that her win was not anticipated by those with big financial interests in the unfettered development of Cairns, and who wanted to form a solid group of support around her against the backlash...she refused point blank.

So she has stumbled from one crisis to the next, with, I can only guess, the worst yet to come, all by herself. The boys club want her out and they are getting more and more anxious. My guess is she won't see the full term out.

David Anthony said...

How quickly some people can turn. Now that the CEO has quit, the critics are turning their sights on Val. Val has been though a heck of an experience that could have been avoided had the majority of councillors allowed for the CEO position to be advertised after last year's council election.
I wish to express my strong support for the Mayor throughout the recent debacle (which has yet to end, by the way) and I dissociate myself from any comment that Val Schier doesn't have a backbone.
One thing Cr Schier has demonstrated since the Cash for Comment turnout hit the headlines is that she has a substantial backbone.
Her opponents have tried from day one to white-ant her and to force her out.
Their are dark forces among the now discredited Byrne clique who continue to exert pressure on her personally.
The Cash for Comment setup has now exploded in their faces and those opponents still standing need to reassess their attitude and start working for Cairns/Douglas First.
I do not wish to stand with the anti-Val brigade. I would rather stand with Val, someone with backbone.

NotTheChaser said...

Nice to know that Val has at least two friends - David Anthony, and a new best friend, Kevin Byrne.

What were those policies you stood for, hand on your heart, at the election Val? Hey, who cares, eh?

Unknown said...

i wonder in fact whether the byrne monstrosity was required to be approved under a current permit issued under an old planning scheme - probably a permit approved by one of the proponents, perhaps?

Bryan Outlaw said...

Val has turned into one big s*** sandwich. She's proven to have NO BACKBONE whatsoever, she merely regurgitates whatever someone else has told her. She has no ethics and no opinions of her own. And now that she "wants to be loved", she's taken to voting for any old crap that people want to build. Her defense of this on Wig Mackenzie's talkathon was ignorant and weak - she justifies it because "The Corporate Tower" is already this tall. The approved project is completely outside the CDB tall building zone, and the proposed project looks like another Hedley prison tower.

Val's dead, politically and intellectually. Sadly, thanks to this blog, we're stuck with her for another three years.

the cat's vomit said...

"" We suggested a structure whereby party faithful could network together every month or two, and channel policy and ideas and support to her and the Cairns 1st elected Councillors. The idea didn't get a warm reception. It's why Val's support base is now fragmented and almost...."""
Well said. The Mayor does need help....

the cat's vomit said...

That Capital Globe monstrosity would have to be one of the ugliest buildings scheduled for the CBD. It conjures up instantly images of welfare housing blocks. Has this been deliberately designed this way in line with the corporate thinking that if it doesn't make money, then the taxpayers can pay for it??? I'm disgusted...and suspicious as to the developers motives for designing such an appalling building.

KitchenSlut said...

Outlaw, i agree but the alternative to Val was what? And how would that have delivered a better outcome on this development?

I emailed all Councillors on this non-conforming development approval on Friday, explicitly demonstarting that the development contradicted both the letter and intent of Cairnsplan. The only response being from Rob Pyne who despite a strong record still doesn't convince me that he fully understands and can advocate more nuanced arguments required to move beyond populism. We do not have a very bright Council or support executive which is sad.

We are not getting worse outcomes rather the disappointment is that we are just getting the same on the most such critical issues while the Cairns Business Boys Mafia works to return itself to power with the aid of the Compost. Please note that I do not naturally live to the left of the political spectrum (if it still exists?)with a rationalist economic bias if anything.

There is still a few years to go and i don't believe Val will recontest. Another candidate from within the ALP would be a divisive disaster and deliver control back to the Mafia. There is more than enough time for a strong independent candidate to emerge.

Lillian at Yorkeys said...

Folks - I have been saying for ages that the Planning Dept of Council is rotten to the core, & has long been in bed with the developers, back from the Byrne erc. Peter Tabulo is the Head of Planning - & for this reason alone should not be considered for the CEOs job.
By the way, development approvals, if they are passed, are current for two years. Although I don't know the date that this monstrosity was approved, it could well have been way before Val & Crew came in to Council.
Yet, there have been a couple of approvals for crap developments during Val & Crew's time. In part, I think this was due, especially in the first year of this Council, from new and unsure Councillors approving stuff that Planning had recommended, especially when they bring out the Code Assessable mantra, ie. if a development has satisfied the requirements of being self-Code Assessable within Council constraints, then Council 'automatically' has to pass the development. The alternative to this is that developers can technically take Council to Planning & Environment Court if their plans have been deemed Code Assessable.
I think the newer Councillors are getting the plot now, that developments can be challenged, & the developers requested to change their plans or practices, & then resumbit.
However, until the Planning Dept is given a very clean sweep, we will continue to have inappropriate development all over the region.
Additionally, the State Integrated Planning Act badly needs an overhaul, as it takes a lot of local power away from Councils, as the IPA can override any local Council decision. However, a revue of the IPA could be a long-time coming.
However, I am still convinced that developers just want to get on with their development, make money & go on to the next one. I cannot see any reason why, if the Planning Dept. were truly PLANNING the damn area, that they could not turn to developers & say - this is a crap, non-tropical-friendly design or too-high density or takes away parkland or is going to remove melaleucas from waterways or remove wallaby/cassowary habitat ( - or all of the above, as most developments tend to be around here).
I am sure most developers would happily quickly dedesign & resubmit so they can get on with their projects.
It would be great if the Planning Dept had real teeth, & got known amongst developers as a tough nut to crack, akin to the former Noosa Council.
Additionally, I believe plans can be processed by Planning and passed by Council, before the Vegetation Crew at Council have even had a look at the site. This is why you get such debacles as melaleucas being removed from the banks of waterways such as has recently occurred at Clifton Beach.
Additionally, the EPA here in Cairns is piss-weak, & just adds to the whole rotten problem.
Another thing for Val's To Do List: Clean Sweep of Planning.
Give Vegetation Dept Teeth.

KitchenSlut said...

Lillian, while I disagree with you on many things you are also on the ball with the Council planning dept I think!

While not a promiscuous man the kitchenslut has been blessed to have his life touched by beautiful and intelligent women and is a man who appreciates such rather than be intimidated by them. A few years ago I was blessed with some dinner company (alas no more) from a lovely woman who had come to town to work for Williams Carmen Graham on the Daikyo property transactions.

I will only say that she was somewhat disturbed by the nature of the relationship between Council planning and the developers although this was only a peripheral reason for her subsequently leaving town!

nocturnal congress said...

".....Another candidate from within the ALP would be a divisive disaster and deliver control back to the Mafia." KitchenSlut, an ALP Mayor might have some control if, for a start, there was an ALP controlled Council. At the moment, Val simply doesn't have the numbers. The Business Boys Mafia does.

Clifton Ratbags Rule said...

Kitchenslut's analysis is right on the money about the council. While lawyers are often derided, their training in government, negotiation, and intelligent discussion is a component that is missing from this council. We were warned about Val before the election, that she had failed as a leader in her previous management roles. This is now painfully obvious. Then you've got the "cruisers", like Bonneau who fine their $100K paycheque like a gift compared to their previously non-productive and unsuccessful lives. Then we've got the housewives who ran a meeting or two with their neighbourhood watch group and suddenly have found themselves in a JOB where they actually have to READ tons of voluminous documents. It's quite clear from council discussions that half of these people haven't read the documents in question. "Skimming" isn't reading. Neither is looking at all the pretty pictures.

The council could be whipped into shape by a leader. Sadly, we don't have one.

It's going to be a long three years.

Alison Alloway said...

David Anthony, I agree that Val has demonstrated considerable strength and backbone. Unlike any of her predecessors, she was not given a "honeymoon" period, once she won office. The media "hate" campaign against her has been simply unprecedented in this city.
No other Mayor or public figure has ever been pilloried to the extent she has been. Not ever! No male Mayor has been subjected to the hate campaign that she has been forced to endure. "The Cairns Post" in particular attacks or makes snide comments over every single thing she does. Moreover, she has faced covert undermining within the Council and a hostile CEO.
There isn't any doubt that the dark forces against her expected her to crumble in a heap of tears after a couple of months and crawl away somewhere. Well, she hasn't. I have personally known a good number of the previous male Mayors of Cairns, and I doubt many of them would have coped with what Val has had to deal with. That is a fact. I don't agree with all of Val's decisions, but I admire her strength and resolve in the face of this ongoing adversity. She does have backbone.

NorthernBeachesWarrior said...

Lillian at Yorkeys,

Our experience in the last 5 years shows us that the Council Planning Dept is either incompetent or in collusion with developers. Its probably a little of both, but certainly there is collusion. The collusion also goes along with State govenment departments, such as Dept Natural Resources, who back in 2004, declassified a natural creek system at Clifton from a Category 3 to "a drainage easment". Everyone in Clifton Beach believes that this was done by the developer, Council etc so that building could occur on the flood plains of Deadman's Creek in the form of Glencorp's Clifton Views and the North development. Clifton Beach has been signficantly inundated b floodwater with homes, properties and vehicles submerged in the last 2 years with only moderate rainfall. One long term resident, describes the situation that we have had, as never happened like that in 35 years of his living there with such little rain.

The Council's solution to this problem is now to hand over the waterway to the unit body corporate, widen and deepen the creek, but the fools just do not realise that, if we get a high tide and moderate rainfall or heavy rainfall greater that 400mls,
there will be unprecedented flooding like we have never seen there before.

I feel sorry for the unsuspecting new unit owners who are all going to have water 1m deep through the ground floor units and again, for the residents living downstream. In January, 4 cars along Arlington Esplanade had water 1m deep inside them.

How long can this situation continue, before residents have to take legal action.

Who is responsible for this mess,

Peter Tabulo and the planning dept.

Sue E said...

How did we get the Capital Globe monstrosity? Simple really and all part and parcel of the power of developers and big business and a compromised and incompetent planning and assessment group within council. The history of this site SP187403 goes back to late 2007 when development was approved for an 11 storey business facilities and restaurant development. As I understand it, a material change of use for residential purposes and holiday accommodation would have been impact assessable - public had a right to make submissions in regard to the proposed development because it was in a commercial planning area. Accordingly on the 27 September 2007 the developer applied successfully to change the planning area of Lots 1-5 of SP 187403 from commercial to City Centre Planning Area. On the current planning area map the applicable lots while still designated commercial, are now contained within the central business area rendering any application for a Material Change of Use for Multi-use housing and holiday accommodation, code assessable not impact assessable - the public has no right of submission.
The height of proposed buildings exceeds that allowable for Precinct 2 - 30 metres but this is of little concern to council. The developer argued that precedent has already been set by other developments allowed and council of course agreed. There are numerous other inconsistencies but the proposed development was still approved. Demonstrated proof again that two laws operate in this city - one for developers and big business and one for the residents and ratepayers of this city. The CairnsPlan is a joke and can be abused and manipulated at will by those with the power and money.

the cat's vomit said...

Thanks Sue E. for the explanation behind the Capital Globe eyesore.
I wonder if Val was put under some pressure to approve it?

Sue E said...

I have no doubt she was put under pressure. Val as Mayor is part of the Advance Cairns group. Take a look at some of the other directors - Russell Beer, Chairman of Mac Donnells Solicitors, Clive Skarott, Chairman of CairnsPorts, Rob Giason, CEO Tourism Tropical North Qld, Jeremy Blockey, Chairman of Cairns Chamber of Commerce and Director of the 20/20 Group, Clive Abbot, Betta Real Estate, Cam Charlton, Director of Kleinhardt FGI, Rose-Marie Dash Director and CEO of HS Vision Group, Owen Dalton, Senior partner of Conics and Michael Huelin Partner of legal firm William Graham Carman. The Cairns Regional Council and CairnsPorts are shareholders of Advance Cairns.
It doesn't need rocket science to work out that this organisation has a huge influence on development in this city. The potential for a conflict of interest is enormous when Council is a major shareholder and the Mayor has a vote on development applications coming before council.

the cat's vomit said...

Thanks Sue E. for confirming my suspicions. So Val is put under some exertions to approve the Capital Globe atrocity, which she does and then "The Cairns Post" mocks her for it. That's the position she is in today. It can only get worse from this point.

Clifton Crusader said...

Re Sue E comments re the tall 17 storey building on Kenny street that got approval this week.

Guess who the Planning consultants were?


Unknown said...

this is the perfect example of what happens when a city has a newspaper more interested in shallow, circulation-driven game-playing rather than serious and useful journalism. if the cairns post was a newspaper rather than a purveyor of mindless drivel and advertiser-friendly puffery we would know about these issues in a timely manner rather than having to pick up the facts from citizen bloggers.

nocturnal congress said...

Anyone read the public's comments on the Capital Globe eyesore in the compost? The sheeple "blame" Val. None it seems have twigged it is the former Mayor's project.

KitchenSlut said...

Nocturnal Congress,

The disparaging term 'sheeple' does you no credit, has developed particularly partisan ideological basis, and will only diminish broad based support?

While ever you adopt a position of some kind of false moral superiority this can only diminish your position and those of us who seek a broad based consensus, and destroy Cairns. Grow up mate!

Will also shortly be delivering a missive to MM including some of the strange links between KB and the Middle East via Capital Globe for anyone who hasn't already bothered to ponder a google search?

nocturnal congress said...

KitchenSlut, I've had a bit of a gander at Capital's a Hong Kong based company from what I can make out, and it is involved with the new Smithfield project. This isn't the company which currently has Hedley in the courts is it? We know Kev Byrne is involved with Capital Globe, but I am also wondering just who else in Cairns is?

Arthur Festerbestertester said...

the information and commentary being provided here on this subject by people like sue e, nocturnal congress and kitchenslut is to be appluaded (and it is basic stuff now sadly lacking from murdoch rags like the cairns post). am i being a conspiracy theorist when i ask them to see if there is any corporate link between capital globe and any of its related entities and, gasp, beyond shanghai? just a thought.