Monday, 22 June 2009

Who leaked the budget?

Leaking political secrets is a time-honoured game. However, like the now-coined 'Ute-gate' email affair encircling Canberra presently, it's usually done by the opposition.

Last week, someone who was aware of a great amount of detail about the upcoming Cairns Regional Council budget, due for formal release at the end of the month, was provided in detail to the Cairns Post.

Whilst I've played a role in leaking information in past Parliamentary roles many years ago, you can't blame the recipient to not run with the news, if the information is credible and the source authentic.

In rumours circulating around the Spence Street Council offices mid-last week, Deputy Mayor Margaret Cochrane all-but accused the Mayor's office, implying that someone in Val's team - or Val herself - was deliberately behind the premature release of the budget announcements, including the 6-8% rate rise.

"It's come from the very highest level," Cochrane said, implying it was someone amongst the 3rd floor team.

Val Schier quickly responded, saying that no Councillor was behind the leak.

A number on Councillor Alan Blake's side have been spreading the story that the Mayor herself was behind the leak, however she has asked the acting CEO to investigate who was behind this information getting out.

The developer's friend, Councillor Sno Bonneau, said "Who would do such a thing?" Well, Sno, I think you are closer to the person behind this leak, than you know, or wish to admit.

Councillor Margaret Cochrane was nearly right. It was someone from the 3rd floor. There was one person that this all points to rather clearly. One person that has the motivation and vindictiveness to carry this out. One person that has been away from the office for the last week, and had the time on her hands.

In tracing leaks, you look at other bits of information, to collaborate and see a pattern to the source of information.

Some tried to use the friendship the Mayor's Executive Assistant Robert Leeds has with Cairns Post Council reporter, Thomas Chamberlain, as the source for the leak.

"We saw them having dinner the other week," another Council staffer said. However, Robert is not a political operator and his friendship with Chamberlain is to build the relationship with the Mayoral office. Shame, I can see little effect of this to date.

Post Editor Andrew Webster wrote in his weekend editorial, about a $6,000 PR backdrop, that was ordered in the last month. It's one of those wanky-type sales presentation features, you often see at home-shows or conferences. Our terribly poor-performing Tourism Tropical North Queensland, has a number of these that they trump off to tourism events, in a vain effort to entice travel agents and buyers.

They are so 80's and such a huge waste of money, and achieve zero for the establishment.

The besieged Council Corporate Communications Manager, Kerie Hull, who was at the centre of the Cash for Comments debacle, was the person behind designing and ordering this waste of Council cash.

A mutual friend at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, said Kerie Hull was behind similar PR projects when she worked for them in 2003. "This has Kerie all over it, and she ordered something the same for us when she was doing media stuff here," they said.

The Post tried in a lame attempt to connect the approval of the PR backdrop with the Mayor's office, by implying the colour chosen was the Mayor's favourite.

The PR backdrop is so large, when unfolded, there is no place for it to be permanently displayed around the Council office.

The truth is that Kerie Hull unilaterally ordered this massive waste of our Council rates under her own budget. She had the discretion in her role to do this, but in light of the spotlight firmly on expenditure, you have to question why she would move ahead with this.

If she was the one that leaked this to the Cairns Post, and it's extremely likely she did, it simply reflects poorly on her own judgement to order such a display sign. The exposure of this exuberance does nothing for her case and the media unit she used to head up.

Kerie Hull was also busy over the last six weeks, amidst Jim Henry's Cash for Comments investigation, working many extra evenings and weekends, putting the PR spin and media briefing together for the budget. She has been boasting to a number of people about her role, in order to deflect and detract her muddy role in the dodgy 4CA radio deal where she never informed the Mayor.

Hull was unique in knowing key points about the budget and what should be communicated to the public about Council's intention for the next budget year. It is the role of the Communications Manager, to undertake such a strategic task.

Hull was again kept away from the Council office all last week. This occurred as the new interim CEO, Peter Tabulo settled into his first week in the job. He's busy working through how best to dismiss her. Sources say the process is taking longer than expected due to HR processes, and the termination of a public servants contract is complicated. However Council appear determined to get rid of this staffer that has generated so much bad press over the last three months.

If Hull was behind this latest debacle, then this further cements her as a former employee of the Cairns Regional Council. There was a rumor doing the rounds at Council over the last couple of weeks, that when Kerie Hill is dismissed, she plans to leave Cairns to 'avoid any more embarrassment'. Staff said the rumour also doing the rounds said that Councillor Alan Blake would resign and leave town with her. A modern-day Bonny and Clyde, if you will.

As NQ Party spokesperson Darren Howie said, if his Tinny had as many leaks as this Council, he'd drown. Well, Darren, they're well on the way to throwing more people overboard in order to stay afloat.

But, is it too late?

24 comments:

Chow Chow said...

Could we be so lucky to have Blake the Snake leave town!! I think not. Like I said - he will go along for the cruise, but he won't go down with the ship. Ms Hull will be sailing into the sunset on her own I would think and she will have to sail a long way. After being exposed on programs like Media Watch one would think her reputation is mud.

nocturnal congress said...

For gosh sakes, it is only $6,000 and if it can be used then it is probably worth the money. As for the leaks...why am I instantly thinking Bonneau? How nice to know "doing lunch" is how to establish a "relationship" with "The Cairns Post" these days.

CBD Warrior said...

Sigh.

Is this the best we can expect from the "alternative media"? Made up quotes from non-existent people, pushing your own sorry agenda?

It's transparent.
It's pathetic.

Makes us all appreciate the Cairns Post much more.

Tony Hillier said...

CBD Warthog. The only worthwhile entities to have emerged from the ComPost in months are: a) (appropriately) the giveaway seeds, and, b) the article in Saturday's edition bringing some balance to the 'great' ukulele festival debate. (Incidentally,contrary to what the daily organ would have us believe, the latter is not Val Schier's idea).

Kev's Ute Driver said...

'Makes us all appreciate the Cairns Post much more.'
No CBD Wombat - it's still rightwing Murdoch crap - sounds like you might work there. Do you know Glen Milne?

James and Sammie said...

Is this the best we can expect from "CBD Warrior"?

Made up statements from a non-existent person, pushing your own sorry agenda?

You're transparent.
You're pathetic.

Makes us all appreciate the CairnsBlog much more.

CBD Warrior said...

James & Sammie (I assume you're a "couple").

The Cairns Blog is not much longer going to be in "publication". Michael Moore will likely be unable to raise enough money to fight the next batch of lawsuits coming shortly.

nocturnal congress said...

Woooooooh CBD Warrior, tell us more? C'mon on........

Thornton On Spence said...

I take great pleasure in noting that CBD Warrior did not respond to my pointing out his gross misrepresentation of the Cairns Blog article on Val Schier. They did not respond also to the reference to Alan Blake being referred to as a Dud in Council emails. Obviously this pathetic person who has difficulties with their eloquence ...."The Cairns Blog is not much longer"....is an Alan Blake clone. Maybe they will run away with Alan and Kerrie.

Thaddeus said...

I feel the young lass in question may have been used and abused by some unprincipled scoundrels. If it was the 18th or 19th centuries, I would have slapped their faces with a white glove and called for pistols at 6.00am, but so much for romanticism (is it still alive?).
I can only hope the lass concerned learns from this, gains strength and never allows herself to be put in this situation again.

The Headless Horseman said...

CBD Warrior is a hoot. I wonder if he's the same bloke who writes those drivelly vitrilic text messages to The Cairns Post.
And what on earth does his moniker mean? I know D stands for "disorder", but I can't work out what the C and B stand for. Hmm, B might be be "brain". That leaves C. Any suggestions, Cairnsbloggers?
The Headless Horseman might be headless, but unlike CBD Warrior, he's not brainless.

Thornton On Spence said...

I've worked it out. CBD Warrior is Alan Blakes love child. He was conceived in a Mazda MX5 red one of course and as a result suffered some brain damage. Blake got him a job at a lawyers firm in exchange for a $2,000 Donation and this is how he has all the inside gossip on future law suits. I wonder if he gets to dress up in Silks like a real lawyer or maybe his "Dad" is using them currently.

Chow Chow said...

Thaddeus - this is no "young lass" we are talking about - this is a woman in her thirties with two kids, who has recently separated from her husband (I believe following a questionable work place relationship that she had prior to joining Council). Sorry if the cap fits wear it. This "woman" is a wily cat, not an innocent victim.

Doc said...

I agree with the MP that wants to abolish local government. Or possibly just this one??

Far northern leak said...

Fair play Headless could be "CairnsPost Brain Disorder" a common enough issue in the northern parts

Aunty Jack said...

Another CBD acronym...

How about?

Common Bile Duct - Bile is a yellowish fluid manufactured by the liver to digest fats.

nocturnal congress said...

The leaks all happened with a little "quid pro quo" with The Cairns Post so called journos. You know a big nosh up somewhere, a few bottles of wine, and our City Council leaker is as pissed as a parrot and spills it all.
This is what they call "establishing relationships".
Every bastard is doing it. Of course we pay for it all.

Thornton On Spence said...

The Council budget is being formulated and developed by Cairns Financial genius Cr Alan Blake. As Chairman of the Finance Committee he would definitely have a say in how this budget will be bought down......kind of like the fox in charge of the henhouse......and would have all the details locked into that below the waist brain of his. The Cairns Post could save money on an expensive meal with alcohol and instead send a pretty young thing to interview him. He more than likely is the Godwin Grech of Cairns.

I Am The Stig said...

Attention Fiona Sewell ABC Radio Journo.
During your interview with Cr Alan Blake you closed by asking him what he knew about the Communication Department in Cairns Council and potential sacking of some personnel. He claimed he was unaware and knew nothing. I almost floored the accelerator coming into Gambon and then when he repeated he knew nothing of any misdemenours I almost pulled my White Crash Helmet off. You might want to rethink the honesty and integrity of this man in future interviews.

Chow Chow said...

Honesty integrity and Alan Blake. Now theres four words you wouldn't normally see in the one sentence. Has Alan Blake be walking around with his head up his arse that he doesn't know what's going on?

Chow Chow said...

Just a bit of extra food for thought the other person who had full access to all the information about the budget and was working on its release prior to going off "sick" was none other than Ms Hull.

Brian, Kewarra said...

We know that Chow Chow.. that's what this article that Mike wrote above, was all about! DOH!

Sir Humphrey said...

Ah yes Blake, financial genius and the words "integrity and honesty" a novel concept by the stig and Thornton. On the subject of Council Budgets a little closer look at the vast sums dissapearing into the Cairns Water black hole need a little review. Budget blowouts and it still cant do the job. Our 8% rise is getting flushed down the drain literally!!

Bruce said...

Blakie's feeling the heat - and not just that generated by his new girlfriend. Why doesn't he do the right thing and resign. The pair of them could then disappear south and the council would be better off without both of them. And could this stop the leaks.