Wednesday 30 September 2009

A real eyeful

According to a CairnsBlog reader, the October edition of the Cairns Post's monthly magazine, Cairns Eye (it used to be weekly) is way too risque.
The headlines say "look hot at every age," "flirty at 30," "women on top," "strippers secret lives," and "designer corsets."
"Judging by the advertised content of the Cairns Eye displayed on its front cover this morning, future issues could be in a sealed brown wrapper for adults only," my correspondent writes.
The Cairns Eye is inserted in the paper free every month, and is largely another advertising vehicle.
"What a load of trash to foist on the Cairns public and what a waste of Compost money. If this rubbish has to be published it should be an optional pick up on street corners, or gutters."
Beauty is in the Eye of the beholder, maybe.

Open Debate returns

I intended to pop the Open Debate posting up once a week.
This is your space to raise any pet subject that I have missed or ignored.
You can discuss an item that should be aired, or simply get that annoying problem off your chest and in the back seat on the MX5.


Happy Birthday Margaret

Today our Cairns Regional Council Deputy Mayor, Margaret Cochrane celebrates her birthday.
Margaret is a sports nut, but not a nut like a certain waterpark nut.
She has a keen interest in the local Soccer Association, and also the North Queensland Sports Foundation. She is also a supporter of the the pony club at Freshwater and the Animal Welfare Society. You'd think with all this animal experience, it would bode well for her Council duties.
Pictured on the left, but politically right, Margaret is signing the petition to save the ill-fated Cairns Yacht Club last year.
The entire staff and team at CairnsBlog, including the tea lady, the photographer, the webmaster and even the typesetter, send her the best for a happy birthday.
You can send Margaret a birthday wish.

Waterpark go-ahead hangs by a thread

There now seems hardly any support for Paul Freebody's wet dream to build a waterpark in his beloved Barron River.

The talk around Council is that there's now even less support for his plan to develop the proposed flood-prone site, following his angry rant on radio where he attacked those that sort a deferral, after they were given 40 extra conditions to read two minutes before having to vote.

Paul Freebody claimed on radio last Thursday following Council's deferral decision, that a supplier of the waterslides had pulled out "because of Council." He went on then, with the grumping and groaning of radio hostess John Mackenzie in the background, "they wouldn't be involved anymore in the project."

Personally I don't believe it for a minute. It was a scare-tactic and in line with Freebody's self-promotion of this dodgy scheme over the last year. However, if a supplier has pulled out it would be because of the recommendations from Council's Development Manager's report who gave 70 pages of reasons why this site is not suitable and would have substantial problems. That would wake any investor up.

On radio, Freebody claimed that he'd paid tourist-grade rates on the property.

"We pay rates and have paid rates on that land for 30 years. It's under the rates notice, a freehold tourist attraction," and "now they say it's no good." Well we know Paul get tongue-tied, but he's only owned the 8 hectares at Dillon road for the last two or three years, including the ruins of the old Vic Hislop's Shark Show, along with a lonely a yellow digger that you can see when you drive along the highway. Maybe he was planning on driving that off to the "witches and bitches," as he called them on radio, when he threatened Councillors by saying they "will have a lot to answer if this doesn't get up in a fortnight."

What a way to conduct business. Did he think he was going to persuade them and their wavering support by publicly bullying and accusing them of everything under the sun?

If you missed the shocking outburst on radio from Freebody, you owe it to yourself to listen to this supreme nut, and the type of personality we're dealing with here.

The Councillors that moved and voted for a deferral were treated with such disgust. Anyone that didn't agree with his nutty idea, was worth the most condescending public insult. He said they all had no idea and had never run a business.

He attacked the clever Julia Leu and said she'd failed in business after running the Douglas Shire Council as CEO. He especially targeted Councillor Kirsten Lesina on Mackenzie's radio show with a number of sexist and ageist insults he's famous for, reducing any remaining creditability Freebody had in tatters. He appears to be an angry, twisted sole.

The best outcome for this would be for Council to approve the plan, but adding one more condition.: find a suitable site elsewhere. And for the record, there's no such thing as a "Smithfield Entertainment Precinct."

I heard a funny story the other day. Evidently the Shark Show on the same site, was so unpopular that Vic used to park a number of old cars in the car park, that he'd picked up from wreckers, to look like there was people there. I can just just imagine a similar scene.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Denis Walls responds to the Wild Rivers debate

Denis Walls of The Greens, writes a personal response to the ongoing debate about Labor legislating to regulate use of Cape York's Wild Rivers.

He explains that The Greens support the Wild Rivers legislation.

There are six statements often made which attack Wild Rivers. Denis states that these responses expressed are his own.

1.) It has been imposed on Indigenous communities without their consent.

The criticism previously was that there had been inadequate consultation. Now the tack is that there hasn’t been consent. The WR consultation process isn't new - it is set out in the Wild Rivers Act which has been in place since 2005.

This Act explicitly recognises Native Title rights. Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation was contracted and paid around $70,000 by the Queensland government to organise the consultations for the Lockhart, Stewart and Archer rivers, which happened over a six month period. It appears there was a rough split between the western side of the Cape and the Gulf (who were broadly in favour of the legislation) and the eastern side (who were mostly against).

Many Weipa and Aurukun leaders and elders have come out strongly in support of the legislation – Gina Castelain, Reverend Silas Wolmby, Pastor Ralph Peinkinna, Elder Rebecca Wolmby, Elder Pat Pootchemunka, Elder Caroline Peinkinna and Elder Anne Woolla. Greg McLean, Hope Vale mayor, has recently said that the WR legislation won’t affect communities unless the Queensland Government is planning major developments like refineries (which the legislation disallows).

On the results of the consultations, and as per the WR Act, the relevant Minister made the final decision to declare the rivers.

2.) It ignores Indigenous people’s record of stewardship and proven conservation on Cape York.

No, it doesn’t. A Wild Rivers declaration recognises the conservation value of a river system and ensures these values are protected long term, helping to safeguard it from external development pressures such as strip mining, large dams and intensive irrigation in sensitive riverine and wetland areas.

For example, declaring the Wenlock River a Wild River would help protect unique spring systems from the new bauxite strip mine that is being proposed by Cape Alumina.

3.) It stifles sustainable economic opportunity, undermining Indigenous people’s attempts to get off welfare.

After repeated efforts to find out what economic opportunities will be stifled by this very mild legislation, the only thing mentioned has been a passionfruit farmer near Hope Vale, where there is no Wild River and the farmer uses bore water for his crops. Activities of this nature are permitted under the legislation.

The Cape York welfare reform agenda is already in place in four communities in the Cape. This has been supported to the hilt by the government. Millions of dollars have gone into it, a part of which revolves ultimately around the quarantining of welfare payments to people in those communities if certain conditions are not complied with. It is worth noting that, whatever you think of this policy, it has been deemed racist by many people when applied to the Northern Territory intervention.

4.) It is a backroom political deal that does nothing to stop large scale mining or uranium mining on Cape York Peninsula.

The oft-repeated claim that the legislation was pushed through in exchange for green preference deals at the last state election is simply untrue. There was no preference deal done in the Brisbane suburbs based on Wild Rivers. The Wilderness Society hold precious little sway with the Greens as a political party at election times and this constantly reiterated furphy demonstrates that the ‘antis’ have little idea of how green politics actually works.

The Chalco mine that this refers to has not yet been approved. The Aurukun Elders, although in favour of the WR legislation, are rightly concerned about the impact of this mine should it go ahead. However, WR declarations can actually prevent new mines by limiting water extraction and protecting explicit areas as mentioned in point 2.

5.) It will mire communities in red tape, forcing local Indigenous people, wanting to make a living from small business, to negotiate a minefield of bureaucracy.

Although government bureaucracy is always a worry, it seems unlikely there will be a new ‘minefield’ to negotiate. After all, only excessive developments as indicated in point 2 will be disallowed. Case managers are already employed to support individuals with form filling and so on in the Cape.

6.) It removes the opportunity promised by land rights and dwarfs the gains made by the long fought battles of the Wik and Mabo.

This is a grand and rather fluffy statement meant to tug at the emotions. But, in reality, there appears to be no tangible way in which it does this.

It has been hard for environmentalists and many Indigenous people in the Cape to work out what the agenda is behind the virulence of the anti-Wild Rivers campaign. Its leaders have simply refused to meet with the state government. What is, however, of increasing concern is the affiliation of the ‘anti’ leaders with right wing, anti-green, pro-big business interests. Shock jock Alan Jones, Property Rights Australia, the Centre for Independent Studies and the Chamber of Commerce have all recently attacked the WR legislation.

Who is funding this concerted and expensive anti-Wild Rivers campaign and why? Is it big business groups which might stand to benefit from large scale development in the Cape? Surely the campaign is not being funded from public monies?

On a matter of such importance, the public is entitled to know why there is an obsession among a few powerful people with this very mild legislation which does not.contravene any Indigenous custodianship on the Cape or any specific development proposal.

A letter from the new Car Wash Cafe owner

  • 29 September 2009 08:27

    Hi Mike,

    Someone has bought to my attention the recent comments on CairnsBlog under In orderly development - Barron and Freshwater Delta regarding my business owing people/other businesses in town money.

    I am a little miffed by such comments as I know them to be un-true. I would like it if they could be removed please.

    Paul Freebody has not owned the carwash cafe for nearly 2 years now and we still manage to get dragged into the debates regarding him.

    A lot of people put themselves out there to cop this sort of criticism and comments but I do not. I am not here to make an enemy or bring my business anymore un-necessary publicity.

    The comments have no merit or justification behind them and they insult me and my business.

    Kind Regards
    Matthew Ogilvie
    Managing Director
    Car Wash Cafe

I have honoured Matthew's request and edited or removed the offending comments from “Smithfield Sam,” “Nick” and “Factman.”

If readers have particular issues with the business, I suggest they email Matthew directly, or telephone 4053 4399.

I remind everyone about the CairnsBlog Posting Comments Policy.

I forgot a rememberance

Today was Police Remembrance Day. I forgot.

I mean, I really should not have forgotten a remembrance day.

Assistant Commissioner Andrew Henderson joined families and friends to pay tribute to officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty at a memorial service this afternoon at St Monica’s Cathedral. The service was preceded by a march along Esplanade.

Today, I also shed a tear for the family of 15-year-old Tyler Cassidy, who was shot point blank by three police officers, within minutes of arriving at a Melbourne skate park last December.

To Cary, Russell in the Police team, and all those coppers who follow and support CairnsBlog, I thank you.

Rates up, dodgy water, fluoride coming, now stop watering

Mossman and Port Douglas residents have been asked to stop using water by their southern masters, the Cairns Regional Council.

The call is due to "unprecedented low flows in Rex Creek which supplies water to both Port Douglas and Mossman, following reduced flows due to the extended dry period."

Council says that Douglas residents have experienced the driest winter on record, with only 25mm of rain in three months.

The catchment rate has dropped from 460 to 340 litres per second, with the demand for water is over 180 litres per second, on some days.

Watering of parks and open spaces has also been cut back as Cairns Regional Council introduces Level 1 restrictions to private gardens and commercial watering in Mossman, Port Douglas, Craigie, Mowbray, Newell Beach, Cooya Beach and Cassowary.

  • Level 1:
    ODD numbered houses Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
    EVEN numbered houses Wednesday, Friday, Sunday
    - permitted watering times between 6 - 8 am, and 6 - 8 pm.
    - Hand-held hoses with trigger nozzle and buckets may be used at any time

There are contingency plans to extract water directly out of the Mossman River just in case their is a crisis of supply.

Interestingly, restrictions are applicable in Cairns, as the trigger point applies when Copperlode Dam reaches 80% capacity. The dam is currently just over 90%.

Telstra wins Clifton mobile phone tower appeal

In December last year, Telstra appealed to the Planning and Environment Court against objectors, which included the Cairns Regional Council, of their plans to build a communications tower on the Northern Beaches.

A large number of submissions from local residents at Clifton Beach, objected to Telstra constructing a 27mt communications tower on the corner of Clifton Beach Road and Captain Cook Highway.

Telstra Country Wide's Area General Manager Wally Donaldson told CairnsBlog in December that the decision by Cairns Regional Council was not justified.

"That's why we are contesting this," Donaldson said. "We're only building this tower because there is a demand for increased services on the Northern Beaches."

I originally reported about this in late October, when Cairns Regional Council rejected Telstra's application to go ahead with the structure, amid strong local objection.

However, today Telstra's appeal was upheld in the State Planning and Environment Court today, and Judge Wilson allowed their appeal.

The Combined Beaches Residents Association are not impressed. "Don't you think it's amazing that a multinational company the size of Telstra, are fighting to have their monster high steel monster in a location where local residents and Council have stood up and said no?," they said at the time.

Judge Wilson's findings can be read herek

SBS About Women, this Wednesday

The SBS documentary, "About Women" that featured Val Schier and her four-year quest to become Cairns' first female mayor, will screen tomorrow night.

The unique documentary series focused on several Australian woman. This week's episode was filmed in the lead up to the inaugural Cairns Regional Council election in February and March last year.

Wednesday's episode blurb says....
  • The Third Age is described thus: Can the ‘crone’ years bring peace and freedom? Mayoral contender Val. Breast cancer survivor Ruth. Same sex couple Denise and Bernie. Jennifer accepting her own mortality.
"Unfortunately, a day's footage shot in Tasmania ended up on the editor's cutting room floor," Val Schier says. "A lot of water has gone under the bridge in the last 18 months since it was filmed. Hope you enjoy it," she says.

Four weeks of filming by Iris Pictures, commissioned by SBS, tailed Val Schier to make an 'absorbing and intimate snapshot of what it means to be female in Australia today.'

Put on the Lentil soup, roll out the doona (or eiderdown), and curl up for a unique televisual feast.
  • 8.30pm: SBS Wednesday 30th Sept

Monday 28 September 2009

The fight to save Mansfield Street

It was a fight of David and Goliath proportions.

On one side was Roy Lavis, the CEC property and development magnate. Lavis is a stalwart of the Cairns business community, and also a generous philanthropist, over the years supporting different community groups and sporting clubs from his construction empire.

On the other side of this battle, are around 100 residents of Mansfield Street, Earlville, and neighbouring streets. They formed an action group to fight Lavis' plans to develop his massive 30-hectare hillslope land, high above their idyllic suburb.

Mark Buttrose, of Save our Slopes fame, who has long campaigned against False Cape and other inappropriate hillslope development, supported the folk of Mansfield street to set up the Cairns Hill and Habitat Protection Incorporated, and fight the proposed sub-division.

The application by Lavis to subdivide his property at the top end of Mansfield Street, went before Cairns Regional Council's Environment and Planning meeting last week. Roy Lavis had earlier taken Councilors up to his property for an inspection, however it did little to dismiss the objections or fears of locals.

It was a close vote, 5/6. Councillor Lesina moved the motion recommended by officers. Councillors Bonneau, Cochrane, Blake, Lanskey and Gregory supported Lavis' application and voting against the motion, ignoring the substantial local campaign for protection of their neighbourhood.

Council officers cited that the proposed development was contrary to the "desired development outcomes for the Conservation Planning Area. They said it was in conflict with the purpose of the Conservation Planning Area Code, which specifies land in private ownership is not further developed.

Furthermore, it was said the development would be incompatible with the surrounding natural environment, and contrary to the desired development outcomes and performance criteria of the Hillslopes (Urban Category 2) Code as it fails to retain land in its natural state.

"The site visit actually pointed out that the proposed construction of one resident under the current Council construction guidelines, would be highly visible and would be much higher than any other construction," Ben Price said.

"It would therefore reduce the vista due its close elevation to World Heritage listed rainforest."

The site inspection showed the substantial easement that was constructed without Council approval, yet it is in the impact assessable zone.

"We found the lack of any subsequent interest in this particular offence by the Council disturbing and conflicting," Ben Price said. "They expect normal residents to abide by such polices."

Photos taken during the site visit showed the extent of unapproved works, resulting land slippage and erosion. This area is deemed to be high risk, under the Cairns land slippage risk assessment.

The campaign against the sub-division of Lavis' property exposed contradictions in hillslope codes.

On Thursday, I popped up to Mansfield Street to chat with those that made it all happen. There was Ben Price and John Martin, including their local Councillor, Kirsten Lesina. I also met Yvonne Lockyer, a neighbour across the road who came over to thank Kirsten for her help.

They tell the story in their own words, how a community can get together and make a difference.

Sunday 27 September 2009

Typical male, Santa comes early

What's the commercial world up to?

A CairnsBlog reader snapped this pic at Big W, Earlville, last week when she saw staff filling shelves with Christmas decorations and other Chinese-made Coca-Cola inspired gimmicks, three months ahead of the big day.

"Mike, I couldn't believe it, I had to take a photo to prove it was real!," Joanne wrote in an email this morning. "I counted around three isles that were getting stacked full of Xmas crap in our local Big W."

Santa really shouldn't come so early. He's starting to get a bad reputation as a cheap whore.

In orderly development - Barron and Freshwater Delta

Cairns Regional Councillors Bonneau, Blake and Cochrane are regular readers of CairnsBlog, to get a feel of the community mood.

However, Public advocate for an orderly development on Barron and Freshwater Delta, Ross Parisi, says they have their own agenda.

Notwithstanding the mood, Councillors Bonneau, Blake and Cochrane have their own agenda to implement and will not deviate. In essence they are yesterday people, stuck in a rut. Whereas, the community has moved on and is mindful of orderly development and becomes irate when abuse of power is evident.

The Town Plan they all voted for, expresses a philosophy and vision which if applied to the letter of the law protect iconic areas. It highlights the Barron/Freshwater Delta, the Scenic mountain rim, the Wetlands and prime agricultural land, for all intents and purposes, as no go areas. Yet, the moment an application is lodged with the Council they are prepared to betray these icons.

They claim their motive to approve developments in these pristine areas as a necessary evil. They use the disturbing unemployment rate as the reason. Of noble intent one might argue. I would argue a spurious and deceitful one.

I remind these recalcitrant Councillors that unemployment as bad as it is, is cyclical. While inappropriate approved developments are there forever. They set the tone for other developers to emulate.

Should Council reject other developmental applications in these iconic areas that are remotely consistent with previously approved application, the Town Planning Courts will consider the refusal as a politically capricious decision. Furthermore, once a legal precedent is established Appellant lawyers readily use the example as evidence that their developmental application should be approved. As well we know, the Judiciary accept precedents as a guide.

Bonneau, Blake and Cochrane need to restate to themselves the Oath of Office every time they deviate from accepted protocols and vote to assist one of their mates.

The community considers it is at the crossroads when it comes to development within these iconic areas. Snubbing the community, holding the community in contempt and disregarding the community’s expectations are indications of arrogance which the community will not tolerate, without electoral consequences.

Saturday 26 September 2009

Wild Rivers run free (for a price)

Veteran community campaigner, Bryan Law returns from the wilderness, but not The Wilderness Society, to argue the debate for the indigenous Australians having access to, and making their own decisions about the wild rivers of Cape York.
In April, Law wrote on CairnsBlog, saying how wild he was about Wild Rivers and how he viewed the impact of Labor's brutal protection legislation. He followed it up a few weeks later, following outbursts from the Wilderness Society campaigners and asked why they're wild about wild rivers?
I published a third article in this series in late May, Wild Rivers heritage legislation, leads to conflict, following a letter from Greens leader in Cairns Denis Walls.
Just like our climate, the Wild Rivers contest is getting hotter.

On 17 September, Gerhardt Pearson shaped up to Anna Bligh, over what he called a "grubby Greens preference deal" about the Wild Rivers legislation. Gerhardt alleges serious issues of misconduct and deception against the Queensland government and called Wild Rivers “the biggest con job that this state has ever seen”.

With Gerhardt was Professor Greg McIntyre SC, one of Eddie Mabo’s legal advisers from back in the day. Prof McIntyre foreshadowed a legal challenge over the validity of wild rivers legislation, given its impact on native title. I can imagine that Anna Bligh and Mike Kaiser are just delighted by the prospect of a court challenge to their laws.

On 19 September, this legal and political story was followed by a three-page human interest feature in the Cairns Post. I confidently expect that we’re six months into a two year campaign to repudiate the Wild Rivers legislation.

Anyone interested in the campaign, can read a letter from Tania Major to Lyndon Schneiders from the Wilderness Society, asking him to attend a public meeting at Lockhart River. You can also read letters from Neville Pootchamunka (Mayor of Aurukun) and Alan Creek (Southern Kaanju eleder) asking for discussion and public consultation with the Wilderness Society. The letter from Alan Creek addresses a long shared history with The Wilderness Society around the Cape York Heads of Agreement.

A month ago there’d been public speculation that Tania Major would nominate as a candidate in the next election for the federal seat of Leichhardt against the ALP’s Jim Turnour, and an as yet unknown LNP candidate.

That electoral speculation was widespread, and Crikey published this fevered story about what might be going on. The Crikey piece is interesting because of the way commentors personally attack Noel Pearson, and because (an un-named source from) the Wilderness Society alleges that the mining industry is funding “Noel Pearson’s campaign” and also explicitly raises Noel’s position on the NT intervention as somehow relevant to the issue of Wild Rivers legislation in Cape York Peninsula.

I’m not privy to the political strategy of the Indigenous Environment Foundation, but I guess that running Tania Major as a candidate in Leichhardt (or in Cook for that matter) would provide opportunities to build organisation, show political strength, influence policy development, and pressure the Commonwealth government to restrain Anna Bligh and her pirates from their worst excesses. The Racial Discrimination Act, and the UN Charter on Indigenous Rights may compel the Commonwealth to act.

When the next Queensland election rolls around, there might well be a bunch of Bligh’s crew ready to walk the plank.

Meantime the Wilderness society has been tooling up its own campaign, and we can see pretty clearly now TWS is prepared to lie, character assassinate, misrepresent and sacrifice any principle of sovereignty or equality for Aboriginal people in Australia. In order to support the Queensland ALP.

Exhibit 1 for the people is a web site created by TWS to culture jam the bama. Give us a break mimics the Give us a go website. I think it reveals a lot about TWS’s campaigning principles.

The banner photos on Give us a go are all about people, the enduring culture of people living on and caring for Cape York Peninsula. The banner photos on Give us a break, don’t have any people at all. It’s like TWS has morphed back into a late Victorian matron in charge of keeping children well behaved in the garden. What this country needs is a rejuvenated national parks society toodle pip!

While Give us a go provides whole letters in context, so that we might know what Aboriginal leaders are thinking, Give us a break sticks with short excerpts from people that may or may not be about the wild rivers legislation, or which comes from Aboriginal leaders with no responsibility for Cape York land and no right to speak on its behalf. While Give us a break styles itself as “Indigenous voices on the Wild Rivers initiative” it is very much a western propaganda piece.

Speaking of seriously slick propaganda, Exhibit 2 for the people is a TWS produced video with simply stunning visuals of Cape York rivers and wild life, a group of white tourists recreating in water (recognising true wilderness values), a couple of picaninnies running around on the beach – and one of the sickest and most abusive lies I’ve ever seen in a piece of green propaganda. Watch it and see if you can spot the lie.

That’s right, while the entire first part of the film deals with your actual rivers in Cape York peninsula, at 2.15 minutes a sign appears saying “But these wild rivers are under threat” and at 2.30 minutes “some of Australia’s rivers are already in serious trouble."
Following these two statements, we’ve moved out of Cape York, and are shown a montage of destruction and industrialisation of un-named rivers that are nowhere near our Peninsula – and in no way represent the dynamics of anything existing or intended for Cape York Peninsula.

TWS has deliberately and falsely initiated a scare campaign aimed at naive urban conservation voters. TWS exploits their ignorance and their vulnerabilities by projecting a threat that doesn’t exist.

The decision to do so is politically motivated and has to do with TWS long-standing policy of delivering green preferences to the ALP around Australia.

In the Cairns Post feature, TWS Campaign manager Tim Seelig says “it was not the aim of the Wilderness Society to affect small Aboriginal business but rather large scale mining and agribusiness. He says the North Australian Taskforce was planning to set up large-scale irrigation of fields to make the Cape the "food bowl of Asia", which he says is totally impractical. And he says he doesn’t want Cape York to end up like the Murray Darling.”

When Premier Anna Bligh appeared on the ABC’s Q&A along with Tania Major, she said that she didn’t want to see Cape York’s Rivers turn into another Murray-Darling. Give us a break refers readers to the Queensland government web-site on wild rivers.

TWS and the ALP are singing from the same hymn sheet, and running a campaign to consolidate whatever support they can get from the naive urban greenie.

And also it seems from the more traditional left, which is why Pearson’s support for the NT intervention gets a run in crikey and elsewhere. Socialist Action, and sections of the secular left in this country seem to enjoy demonising Noel Pearson for having had truck with Satan (trading at the time as John Howard PM) and for advocating constraints on welfare.

One of the more curious manifestations I’ve seen of this syndrome that comes from a Jagera run speak-out against Noel Pearson held recently in Brisbane, during the writers’ festival. The Jagera are one of the tribes from Brisbane area, and Sam Watson leads this particular exercise, with a powerful speech from Alex Gator, an indigenous Anglican priest. Socialist Action is also present, and I’m sure that was renowned Brisbane anarchist Brian Laver I saw standing in front of that banner.

Scroll down for the videos with Noel Pearson’s name on them.

This report from the Green Left Weekly highlights the TWS allegations against Pearson as part of the speak-out story, but the video doesn’t show the TWS speaker.

It seems to me that whatever way you slice it, Aboriginal and Labor politics are undergoing a change in Queensland, and the wild rivers campaign has the potential to make or break black/green relations in far north Queensland.

My position on all these issues is pretty clear. I support Aboriginal sovereignty, and I think Noel Pearson is a pretty smart and well organised advocate.

However, I also think the Wild Rivers issues go well beyond one man, and that the Indigenous Environment Foundation with its philosophy of empowering Aboriginal youth is a vital part of this campaign. I hope Tania Major does run for Parliament in Leichhardt.

I think the Queensland ALP government is a disgrace.

I think TWS is a disgrace, and I think the Queensland Greens are a disgrace.

I don’t know what to think about the far north Greens, or the local TWS folk, because they’re not out and about in the community talking and doing politics. What does Denis Walls think about Wild Rivers? Steve Brech? Sarah Isaacs?

In a year or so they’ll be asking for our vote. I wonder what makes them think they deserve it? At this stage (being all wild about wild rivers and all) I’ll be voting First for Tania Major, Last for Labor.

The Semenya cover up

The Times reports:
  • South Africa’s sports ministry today called for the sacking of the country’s top athletics administrator after he admitted that he lied about two gender tests carried out on Caster Semenya.

    Semenya, 18, won the women’s 800 metres final a month ago at the world athletics championships in Germany, but questions were immediately asked about her husky voice, muscular frame and other apparent male characteristics.

    South Africa’s outrage, which until Saturday had been directed at the foreign media for daring to question whether Semenya’s gold medal had been won legitimately, today swivelled heavily towards Leonard Chuene, president of Athletics South Africa. …

    Mr Chuene admitted that he had ignored the advice of ASA team doctor Harold Adams to pull Semenya from her event before Berlin. He also made the extraordinary allegation that he met with IAAF commissioners before Semanya’s world championship gold medal run and that they had suggested to him that she fake an injury to withdraw from the race and thus avoid all the worldwide publicity that would inevitably follow if she won.

    “It is slowly emerging that she has been abused, deceived and shamefully exploited. She was sent to race by men and women who knew that serious questions were being asked and probably could not be satisfactorily answered, but whose lust for gold trumped any concern for her well-being.

The 18-year-old has had to face global humiliation, which could have been avoided if the South African officials had not done a cover up, David Farrar says on KiwiBlog. Cheune’s labelling of media scrutiny as racist is exposed as a deplorable playing of the race card to cover up his own lies and manipulation.

HatTip: KiwiBlog

Friday 25 September 2009

Sir Howard Morrison 1935 - 2009

Famous entertainer Sir Howard Morrision, often called the "Sinatra of New Zealand’, died suddenly in Rotorua yesterday morning, at the of 74.

Morrision, knighted in 1990, was a giant of the entertainment industry for the last 45 years, and an incredile concert performer.

Teno pai, teno aroha.

Rudd on UN. NZ PM on Letterman

Kiwi Prime Minister John Key made it to David Letterman's show in the USA.

Besides reading the Top Ten list, they chatted about New Zealand (it's an island, off the East coast of Australia). Not a mention of fush n chups or sharing a cheep.

The ten are...
  • 10 The Auckland Airport now has a cinnabon
    9 We have the loosest slot machines in the Pacific Rim
    8 Only a convenient 20-hour flight away
    7 It’s like England without the attitude
    6 Down there Leno’s on at 9 o’clock
    5 Get the whanau together, stay in a bach, crack open the chilly bin and slap on your jandals
    4 Visit in the next 30 days, I’ll pick you up at the Airport
    3 70% of our energy is generated through renewable hydropower – look they don’t all have to be jokes
    2 We drive on the left side of the road, like the British and Lindsay Lohan
    1 Unlike most of the world, we still like Americans

Hat Tip: KiwiBlog

Go to Georgia, Paul

Ninemsn reports the Scream Machine rollercoaster ride in Georgia, is now submerged after torential downpours and flooding over the last week.

The 32m ride, once the tallest in the world, has been engulfed in 6 meter floods and left in ruin. This theme park has all the hallmarks of the ill-fated Freebody Water Park plan, that Cairns Regional Council doesn't want a bar of on the proposed site, right in the middle of the Barron River.

No wonder his backers and the company behind the slide equipment are pulling out of the crazy hair-brained idea to invest millions in a business that will be literally washed away. Do you think he would have built his toy shop at this site?

Kevin “bloody” Rudd

David Farrar of KiwiBlog says the generally profane language from Prime Ministers can often land them in trouble, but when they use it against their own colleagues, Farrar suspects the public is far more approving.
  • The factional leaders had gone to see the Prime Minister in his Parliament House office to object to government plans to slash MPs’ printing allowances from $100,000 to $75,000 a year. The decision was in response to a report into parliamentary perks by the Auditor-General.

    According to sources present, Mr Rudd said: “I don’t care what you f—ers think!”

Even better, he swore at MPs protesting against his reducing their perks. Definitely a poll bump on the way.

  • He then went on, singling out Senator David Feeney declaring, “You can get f—ed”, before asking, “Don’t you f—ing understand?”

I suspect the Senator now does.

LIVE: Paul Freebody out of control

Here's the outrageous outburst from waterpark nut, Paul Freebody, on John Mackenzie's 846am radio yesterday morning.

Cringe from the introduction where John has a wet dream about Deputy Mayor Margaret Cochrane, to the end when Paul almost gets tears in his eyes, and then blames CairnsBlog for his woes.

It's an Aria nomination moment.

Vile angry rage on radio from failed waterpark developer

Yesterday morning, the former Cairns City Councillor, Paul Freebody was a special guest on John Mackenzie's 4CA 846am radio show.

He let loose, with displaying his uncontrollable temper and anger, at the majority of Cairns Regional Councillors, who agreed on Wednesday to defer any decision on his proposal to build a waterpark in the middle of the Barron River delta, that council planners have said would be cause significant problems.

Assessment Manager, Simon Clarke concluded to Councillors last Friday in a 70-page document, that the site at Dillon Road, just South of the Yorkeys Knob roundabout, was not suitable.said the plan. He said it was lacking in many aspects, and was not at all suited for this type of development. He strongly recommended against its approval.

The 9 minute 20 second telephone interview, was a hate-filled angry rant, probably the worst outburst from a sulking developer this town has ever seen.

In it he called those that didn't support his plan as the "five witches or bitches from east side." Paul Freebody said Councillor Julia Leu was "unsuccessful as a CEO when Port Douglas [Shire Council] went under."

However Freebody saved his most invective venom for Councillor Kirsten Lesina, who defeated him at the polls in March 2008.

"The only one that is negative, and always negative, is Kirsten Lesina because - I mean, I don't know what the problem is with this young kid, but she hasn't got a clue," Freebody screamed down the line.

"I mean, how this city voted in some of these people is beyond me. And I pray that we learn at the next election that councils do make a huge difference in economics of a city. And when you put dumbos in there, you're going to get poor results."

He accused Mayor Val Schier and Councillors Di Forsyth, Kirsten Lesina, and Julia Leu, and Nancy Lanskey (or as John Mackenze said, Lancy Nanskey), as all failed in life.

"I just cannot believe that Lanskey and Leu and Forsyth and this young kid bloody Lesina, do not have a commercial [background] and that's the problem," Freebody bleated to a receptive Mackenzie.

"If you look at all their backgrounds, outside of Leu who was unsuccessful as a CEO in Port Douglas, it went under, if you look at their background, none of these people have a business background, none of them have achieved anything in their life, we're paying them 120 grand a year and we get results like this."

"But to defer it yesterday because you've got Kirsten Lesina coming out going 'oh I don't understand the report'. Of course she doesn't understand it, she's 21 and she shouldn't be in council. But read the report, girl. I mean if you're going to be a councillor do your job and understand the report," Paul Freebody said.

Actually what occurred at Wednesday's meeting, is the last minute 40-condition 20-page recommendation, was handed out to Councillors during the meeting. There was no time whatsoever to even open it or read and consider what it meant.

For Deputy Mayor Margaret Cochrane to push this under Councillor's noses and force them to make a judgement of this project in two minutes, is a professional insult to all her colleagues. Serious questions also need to be raised who directed the Council planning staff to prepare the second report at the last minute. No Councillor has the right to order or direct Council staff.

Freebody, in trying to defend what changes were required for an interim approval from Council, said it was just "minor changes in car parking." In fact it wasn't just carparking, however that alone was going to turn almost half the entire allotted land into a carpark. There were 40 extra conditions, that were almost impossible for him to meet.

"There was a few minor changes, minor changes in car parking. That was the changes put forward and they tried to use that as an excuse to defer this thing for a fortnight, and they're arguing against it," Freebody said, as his voice got more emotional.

"As you can probably tell I'm pretty wound up about it because I'm pretty upset the fact that we have lost a major attraction to Cairns."

Even CairnsBlog got a roasting, not the first time on Mackenzie it's come in for some free publicity.

"I can tell you Councillor Cochrane is wonderful. I mean they're saying because she's a mate of Freebody's and all this on this silly blog site that guy runs," Freebody said.

"That is rubbish. She understands the commercial reality, she's been in business, as does Councillor Bonneau, Pyne, Blake, Gregory and Cooper. These people have a business background, they understand the commercial reality and they're not tree-huggers who say oh you can't have it in the middle of a cane field," he said.

In a brief moment of reason, John Mackenzie said that Freebody's publicity that the park was going to get 250,000 people a year "could that have been wishful thinking."

Freebody said "we have six intelligent councillors who have given us a fair go. They have looked at the report. They have read the report. They understand the report."

If Paul Freebody wanted to move his agenda forward yesterday, and persuade more Councillors to support him and his hair-brained scheme to build a business in the middle of a river bed, then he failed miserably. In fact, I doubt he could have done any worse. He showed his true colours.

What an angry vile individual to talk about our elected Councillors in the way he did. He deserved nothing except a kick up the arse and the public shame of being run out of town with his broken toys and inflated ego.

Here's the recording here:

Please Give on now till next Friday

From today till next Friday, October 2, two artists Elizabeth Dunn and Jessie Hall will complete an inhabitation at KickArts gallery, Abbott Street, Cairns.

"We will be creating installation and media-based artworks from donations made by public, who visit us during our stay," says Elizabeth Dunn.

Supported by the State Government and Cairns Regional Council, the public are encouraged to donate materials as part of this event, or maybe we should call it an experiment. The two will "hibernate" in a cold room for a week. You'll find the chilly pair in the upper gallery at KickArts.

"We've been fielding some queries about what sort of 'stuff' we want," says Elizabeth Dunn. "We want what you give. This may include memos, love notes, to-do lists, toys, instruments, clothes, bits and bobs, paper, cardboard, paint, biros, photos, supposed trash, your voice, your stories, your moves."

If you're in the city, drop in and say hello," Elizabeth says.

You can follow the event and also get live feeds from their Blog.

History Bites: Earliest Known Drawing of Djarrugan or Walsh’s Pyramid

CairnsBlog is delighted to bring you a new weekly column, we're calling History Bites, a series of historical vignettes, pertinent to our unique and special region.

Dr Timothy Bottoms is a published and widely respected historian, based in Cairns, North Queensland. He has spent ten years researching and writing City of the South Pacific, A History of Cairns.

History Bites will be a series of unique and easily readable pieces for CairnsBlog readers.

Dr Bottoms is a specialist in Aboriginal and North Queensland history and has wide experience in writing, producing and presenting radio documentaries and music biographies.

[From: The Illustrated Australian News, 29 November 1876]

This is Trinity Bay, North Queensland, depicted in 1876.

On 29 November 1876, The Illustrated Australian News reported....

  • “The view is taken from the deck of the of the A.S.N. Company’s steamer Porpoise, on the occasion of the exploring expedition to Trinity Bay, for the purpose of discovering a road to the Hodgkinson from the harbor [sic].

    The sketch represents Mount Walsh and the Bellenden Kerr [sic], as seen from the steamer’s anchorage, about ten miles [16 kms] from the entrance to the river, and tow or three miles [3-5 kms] from the head of navigation.

    The course of the river up to this point, is nearly parallel with a range of mountains dividing Trinity Inlet from the Mulgrave River on the eastern side, and a shorter and more broken range immediately on the western bank.

    The conical mountain is named after the hon. The late speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, and is almost due south from the entrance to the river, forming a striking land mark with the Bellenden-Kerr [sic] ranges, the highest mountains in northern Queensland, in the background.

    The river, completely sheltered by the eastern ranges already described, and of which Cape Grafton forms the extreme point, is for the first seven miles [11 kms] a noble sheet of water fully 600 yards [540m] in width, with an average depth of six or seven fathoms, and being almost straight in its course, the eye is delighted with the above picturesque view immediately on entering the harbor [sic] from seaward.

    The landing places are easily approachable from the uniform depth of water from bank to bank. The rise and fall of the tide is here about 12 ft [3.6m].”

This appears to be one of the earliest drawings that has survived of Djarrugan or Walsh’s Pyramid.

The artist has taken some liberties in his version of this prominent feature. He has given the impression that there is an expanse of water running to the base of the conical-shaped hill.

Similarly, the writer fails to mention that there are some 14 miles or 22.5 kms of land between Trinity Inlet and the Mulgrave River to the south, which skirts the base of Djarrugan.

Thursday 24 September 2009

Fraudulent email purports to be from Cairns Mayor

A fraudulent email was sent yesterday afternoon to CairnsBlog, and all Cairns Regional Councillors, purporting to be from Mayor Val Schier.

It was sent from "" and signed "Valley Girl."

The spelling of "Schier" was incorrect, and it contained the hallmarks to indict the Mayor, that's if anyone believed it was from uke-loving Val.

The email makes references about Councillors Linda Cooper and Di Forsyth. It appears to make inference about the Kerie Hull sacking and the emails that circulated at the time. It talks of a development at Smithfield and "now that Cooper is on board (promotion is such a powerful carrot), I have all the numbers."

"I need them gone now before they subpoena the emails," the email says, purporting to be the Mayor writing.

It also says that the Cairns Post could be "distracted with another story."

  • To:
    From: "valley girl"
    Subject: be more carefull [sic] Mike

    "Hello Mikey,

    You sent another message to my CRC box and that could be very dangerous to us all.

    If we can monitor his messages, they could monitor mine and that would be disaster so send it to the other address. I'm up for the concert on Friday and we can meet with Di and the others after to talk over the H strategy.

    I like your new direction on this so make sure it goes out next week so she has no credibility left. She can still make a noise so we have to distract the CP with a new story about her so they don't go looking at me on this

    I looked over your ideas on Smithfield and I think it could be done but only if we alter the plan - not impossible and I have the numbers but we will need to trade favours on this.

    And yes, you will get the job but we need to let this die down a bit. This court case will cause some real ruffles and that might be the best time to get you in to the chair while the paper is full of it. Then we can get our agenda under way. Di has some great ideas and now Cooper is on board (promotion is such a powerful carrot), I have all the numbers.

    And he's powerless to stop us because nobody listens to him any more.
    Have you had any luck tracking down the server messages yet.

    Do your magic, I need them gone now before they subpoena the emails or I'm in deep here!
    Talk tomorrow
The awkward and confused message, hardly makes sense. Interestingly, waterpark developer Paul Freebody used the same introduction in previous email messages to me saying "Dear Mikey."

You have to ask what was the intent of the sender.

The Council IT manager has been aked to launch an investigation and track the email origins and the author of the malicious email. The acting CEO Peter Tabulo says it's simple to determine in an email is a legitimate Council communication.

"I advise the public that such items are being circulated and that they need to be mindful of the content of such, especially if it does not contain a Council disclaimer about its authenticity."

However, Council's manager of information services Dennis Littlewood says the sender used an email service to deliberately with hold information about it's origin.

"The result is that the service doesn't allow us to determine who initially sent the email as the anonymous emailer's purpose is to hide this," Dennis Littlewood says.

The email was sent from a UK internet provider Dannix Limited ( which provides an anonymous emailer service via Littlewood is working with Council's email filtering company, Webroot, to find out how the this email made it through the Council computer network in the first place.

"The email contained a spoofed address and therefore shouldn't have made it through our filtering," Dennis Littlewood said. Council are contacting the provider of the anonymous email service, to advise that their service is being used to send fraudulent emails.

For the record, I've been the recipient of a number of fake emails over the last year or two. They often send them to my employer, in an attempt to discredit me, as they don't like a Blog that airs issues from different viewpoint to the controlled-sleepwalking print media.

There was a string of them from Councillor Alan Blake's supporters (probably both of them), during my writings of the dodgy radio deal that engulfed Council and led to the downfall of Blake as Finance Committee chair, the former CEO Noel Briggs and Communications Kerie Hull.

They used the same email provider, and also names like "Maxx Brown" and "Majella Martin". The Cairns Post even published a letter online yesterday from "Majella Martin of Bungalow." "Maxx Brown" also has had letters published in the Cairns Sun. These are fake invented names and the local NewsLtd papers never ever check to see if the writer is authentic. No such people by these names exist.

One hate email to me even used the name "Xerses Dillon", probably a reference to the waterpark site address.

Minutes after I posted the Assessment Manager's recommendations last Friday, I received three emails, some which I allowed to be posted. The messages were hate-filled rants with poor grammar and little cohesion, all the hallmarks of Freebody's previous communication he's infamous for.

Paul said at the time that the errors in his leaflet were "a storm in a teacup."

"I'm not in Council for my spelling. I am in Council for more important issues like keeping us on track in the economic stakes. This is important stuff. Not a bloody spelling contest," Paul Freebody said prior to the Council election in which was defeated.

For IT geeks, and to show you the substantial amount of "footprints" that are left when you send an email, here's the full email path:

  • Received by with SMTP id p7cs22376wfi;
    Tue, 22 Sep 2009 22:13:09 -0700 (PDT)
    Received: by with SMTP id e48mr450287wee.1.1253682788032;
    Tue, 22 Sep 2009 22:13:08 -0700 (PDT)
    Received: from ( [])
    by with ESMTP id 10si1471000eyd.8.2009.;
    Tue, 22 Sep 2009 22:13:08 -0700 (PDT)
    Received-SPF: pass ( best guess record for domain of designates as permitted sender) client-ip=;
    Authentication-Results:; spf=pass ( best guess record for domain of designates as permitted sender)
    Received: from localhost ( [])
    by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 4227E277ED
    for ; Wed, 23 Sep 2009 06:13:07 +0100 (BST)
    X-Virus-Scanned: amavisd-new at
    Received: from ([])
    by localhost ( []) (amavisd-new, port 10024)
    with ESMTP id hjtdp+BN1Gek for ;
    Wed, 23 Sep 2009 06:13:06 +0100 (BST)
    Received: by (Postfix, from userid 48)
    id 0A6DE277EE; Wed, 23 Sep 2009 06:13:03 +0100 (BST)
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
    Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary="------------2.7273720260413e+17"
    MIME-Version: 1.0
    From: "valley girl"
    Subject: be more carefull Mike
    X-PMID: 13097520
    Message-Id: <>
    Date: Wed, 23 Sep 2009 06:13:03 +0100 (BST)

It's slim, dusty, and a whole lot of country

NASA's satellite has captured this amazing image, showing the enormous wall of dust that stretches from North Queensland to the southern tip of Eastern Australia.

"The dust is thick enough that the land beneath it is not visible,"the NASA report says.

The dust storm is the worst in 70 years, and has causes flights and traffic disruptions, and health issues. Today, all other the greater Cairns area, you can clearly, or not so clearly, see the effects of the dust storm as it travels north.

NASA says of the image...
  • The concentration of particles in the air reached 15,000 micrograms per cubic meter in NSW. A normal day sees a particle concentration 10-20 micrograms per cubic meter. Strong winds blew the dust from the interior to more populated regions along the coast.

    The dust rises in plumes from point sources and concentrates in a wall along the front of the storm. The large image shows that some of the point sources are agricultural fields, recognizable by their rectangular shape.

Australia has suffered from a multiple-year drought, and much of the dust is coming from fields that have not been planted because of the drought, ABC news says.

Hat Tip: Henry Poyntz

Post waters down waterpark

BLURRY VISION: The proposed waterpark site this morning, covered in dust and 64 reasons why it's the wrong place to build a recreational facility.

The Cairns Post may have woken from their valium-induced coma.

They seem not to be able to read nor understand that it's rather stupid to build a massive tourism venture in the middle of a river system.

A ten-year-old could work that one out.

"The waterpark proposal for Smithfield would bring hundreds of jobs during and after construction, while diversifying the tourism offering in Cairns," editor Andrew Webster bleats on this morning in his editorial. Yesterday Councillors voted over-whelmingly to not vote on an extra 44-amendments that was shoved in front of them at the last minute yesterday.

He says, on developer Freebody's marching order, that the project would complement the nearby Tjapukai Aboriginal park and Skyrail, etc, creating what he coins a "action-adventure entertainment precinct."

"So far, the idea ticks a lot of boxes, however, as council officers have rightly said, the proposal presents serious issues in relation to flooding in the Barron delta flood plain and could impact surrounding development," Webster says in what is a reality check for the developer.

He rightly comments that Freeboy's waterpark site is contrary to the Far North Queensland Regional Plan, you know, the one that Desley said you all did such a stirling job over.

"It's inconsistent with the description and intent of the Barron-Smithfield district," Webster writes in his editorial today. "The Cairns Regional Council made the right decision in deferring a decision on the proposal, which has been in the pipeline for about three years."

However, he's still hell-bent supporting this on the Dillon Street site. Webster says another two weeks "won’t hurt if the result is a stunning new tourist attraction that adds another string to Cairns’ bow while avoiding the potential long-term pitfalls of building in a flood-prone area."

Well the only way that can happen is if Freebody finds a site that isn't in the middle of the Barron River delta. And why can't he do this? Because he's been offered this chuck of dirt for a few pennies. It's useless for anything beyond farming. He'd have to pay up to four of five times the amount for a similar lot of land on the South side of Cairns, where the growing population around the new south city hub will form. It would be an idea location for such a park.

One prominent city architect told me yesterday after he heard the plan was rejected, said it wasn't the kind of development welcome in the Far North.

"People go to the Gold Coast for that kind of thing, maybe if they put it out where Sugarworld is, out of sight, then it might be okay," he said.

Editor Webster agrees that the final decision might be to reject the proposal.

"Council had better be very sure it has first done everything possible to help the cause."

His own paper this morning reports on page 5, that 200 staff will operate the business, yet Paul Freebody only allocated 30 car parks at the remote location. Planners slammed the design and the crammed infrastructure. They said that at least 700 car parks were needed, leaving little room for a waterpark, just a monster carpark in the middle of cane fields.

Mind you, they'll get get flooded like the stupid car park that services the Cable Ski park every year, and several car get destroyed.

Regardless, nothing will negate the damming conclusions that Simon Clarke, Council's manager of development assessment made in his recommendations. He said that this site is the worst that could have been chosen for such a venture.

Best of luck Mr Freebody, but find a place that meets with community and the Council's approval.

Great Northern Australia Clean up Day

The chief of Clean Up Australia, Ian Kiernan, has just visited Cairns to help launch the first Great Northern Australia Cleanup Day, which will be on 3rd and 4th October.

If you've taken part in Clean Up Australia before, it was usually in the first week of March, but it often rains and is way too hot and humid.

Many people, including the new Cairns Regional Council, wanted to change the date so it better reflected the climate up here and also served the needs for a pre-cyclone clean up.

The following communities and cities across Northern Australia, will now have their own clean up day in early October:
  • Shire of Broome, Burdekin Shire Council, Cairns Regional Council
    Darwin City Council, Hinchinbrook Shire Council, Port Hedland Council, Tablelands Regional Council, Townsville City Council, Whitsunday Regional Council, Shire of Roebourne, Katherine Town Council.
It not only avoids the heat, mosquitoes and floods that can interfere a clean up day in March, but it's easier to get access to creeks and waterways prior to the cyclone season.

The Council, which has always supported the event, is keen to get more involved this year. Community groups, businesses and individuals seem to come together for this great initiative to help their local environment.

You'll need to register a site online, or telephone 1800 282 329.

The Great Northern Clean up day was launched at the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre in Tingira Street, Portsmith. You could see what happens to turtles who swallow rubbish, including plastics and other rubbish thrown into waterways or drain. Large turtles with Floater's Disease are being monitored at the centre. They have consumed plastics, netting, fishing lines, that were lodged in their stomachs. Once rehabilitated, they're returned to the wild.

So get a group together for the clean up next weekend. After all, Council appears to have thrown out a few things, and this one, oh, and this one, that it didn't want over the last few months.

Sister Cities snaps come to town

Tomorrow an amazing photographic exhibition comes to Cairns.

It's called the "Face of a Sister City" - depicting our sister cities, and you can see it for free at the Tanks Art Centre, in the Botanic Gardens.

The exhibition will be opened officially tomorrow evening (Friday). Come along from 5pm.

In the same 24 hour period in May this year, photographers from Cairns, together with photographers from our sister cities of Oyama and Minami in Japan, Riga in Latvia, Scottsdale in Arizona USA, Sidney in British Columbia Canada, Lae in Papua New Guinea and ZhangJiang in China. All took photographs for this exhibition.

It's truly an amazing and unique local project. Each sister city forwarded 20 photographs for the exhibition. It's certainly going to be interesting seeing the differences, or even similarities in the peoples from the diverse sister cities.

The free exhibition will be open until mid-October.

At tomorrow's opening, there'll be a talk by internationally-renowned Cairns portrait photographer, Peter Rossi.

A letter to Val

I often receive copies of letters from readers who have written to the Cairns Post, but were never published, for some unknown reason.

Here's one of them, and you can see why they choose the ones that don't fit their agenda.

Mayor of Cairns Regional Council, Val Schier, also tells me that she gets sent letters from constituents that never made it to the letters column in the local newspaper.

"This letter, that was set to me by a local that was first sent to the Cairns Post," Schier says. "It articulates well what many have been saying about this year's Festival Cairns. I love getting feedback from people."
  • The carnivals of the north this year have returned to grassroots, volunteer committees, and embodying the spirit of the local culture and environment.

    Having been a part of Carnivale in Port Douglas and the Gordonvale Great Pyramid Race and Country Fair's 50th Anniversary celebrations, and witnessed the goodwill, donation of time, talent and sheer commitment and hard work put in by so many people - it is a triumph of community power over outsourced professional events management. The atmosphere at Carnivale was terrific with many locals commenting that it was a record number of floats.

    During Pyramid Race celebrations we saw Gordonvale State High School students rehearse for weeks to take centre stage at the pub to re-enact the wager between the two cane farmers who started it all, David Hudson generously donating his time and talent to entertain the crowd, and locals turning up early on race day to give a hand putting marquees up, and clean up afterwards.

    Festival Cairns too this year had a different, more inclusive spirit - many Council staff members throwing themselves into the organising and locals coming out in droves to support the many Indigenous events - the wonderful Art Fair at the Tanks, the Indigenous Film Festival at JUTE and thousands on the Esplanade staying to listen to Saltwater Band - an Aboriginal troupe from Arnhem Land.

    Also great were the many international food stalls lining the Esplanade, the cultures of Cairns coming together to celebrate the many tastes of the world.

    These last few months have felt like the Cairns of old, when all worked for the greater well being of community. Let's keep the spirit going - building a strong community and recognising and celebrating our unique diversity of cultures and beautiful environment.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

CairnsBlog V2.0

CairnsBlog is just over two years old now, having survived a cesarean birth in July 2007, weighing in at just a meager 3 lbs 6 oz, and a bunch of friends who wanted desperately to kick some fat arses in City Hall.

We've seen a GFC, two cyclones, a rather bad flood with very few pages going under water, several sackings at Council, and even a death at False Cape, I felt it was time to take the Blog to the next level. As the regular local FNQ audience tops 6,000, with between 30-45,000 visits a month, it's time to take stock and redevelop the interface.

I'm delighted to partner with Nicky and Kaj who are the brains and brawn (you decide which is which), behind the entrepreneurial City of Cairns, a leading innovative web engineering company. They are also about to relaunch and rebrand their organisation, so stay turned.

This will allow me to better support advertisers with dynamic larger advertisements and create a series of new interactive features is more intergrated struture. To this end, I'm in the process of analysing the demographics of my readership. One way you can help give me feedback, is to participate in this week's QuickPoll, on the right-hand side.

I forgot to ask on the Poll, the type of job you do, so welcome emails about that: trade, Council, white/blue collar, etc.

A large part of the Blog's success, is the commentary system that anyone, even Councillor Blake, is welcome to engage in.

Additionally, I welcome any feedback (and donations) you'd like to share, things you'd either like to see in CairnsBlog or other features / services. I'm happy to hear any wacky idea, so long as it's nothing to do with a waterpark. Or a ukulele festival. Or a uke festival in a volcano.

I'm hoping to launch the new CairnsBlog 2.0 in the next month or so, weather and lawsuits dependant.

NB: I sincerely apologise in advance to all ukulele lovers. No offence was meant, nor inferred.

Freebody's waterpark deferred; No to Lavis subdivision

Cairns Regional Council has deferred a decision to approve Paul Freebody's controversial waterpark proposal, that is planned for construction in the middle of the flood-prone Barron River delta.

Deputy Mayor and Freebody sympathiser, Councillor Margaret Cochrane wanted a second recommendation that she promoted, loaded with extra conditions, to be voted on today. This was in stark contrast to the Assessment Manager's original recommendation, that slammed the project going ahead on the Dillon Road site.

"I think we should press ahead," Cochrane told the meeting.

However serious concerns were raised by Councillors, who had only just been provided with a copy of the second recommendation. They felt there was no time to give the new recommendation, that amounted to more than 20 pages, any consideration.

Councillor Kirsten Lesina, supported by Julia Leu, led the charge to defer any decision, and said it should be considered at a later meeting. There was a heated discussion in the Council Chamber as the decision was made to defer the developer's application.

The application to sub-divide a large Roy Lavis' lot of private land above Mansfield Street, Whitfield, was not supported.

Council voted 8-2 in favour of the amendment to backzone False Cape from Special Facilities to Rural 1. Only Paul Gregory and Alan Blake voted against. Council agreed to spend more money on urgent remediation work at the beleaguered site, East Trinity. Last year, $150,000 was spent to prepare the land for the wet season, as the owner fled under a Federal investigation of it's future.

The application AFL for an accommodation facility on Buchan Street, removing much-needed sports ground, was approved. The conditions will be presented at a future meeting

The application for a multi-unit housing alongside the Canopy's Edge hillside development at Smithfield, was pulled by the applicant at the last minute. Council planners have recommend that this not be approved.

Big fun-filled Council agenda

Today's Cairns Regional Council meeting is packed full of big ticket items.

Freebody's water park is on the agenda. Councillors are now presented with two recommendations, which is rare, but not uncommon. If this extreme flood site is allowed to be used, it will set a precedent without debate, and subsequent applications would be almost impossible to be refused. There will be more that are waiting in the wings to develop the cheap flood-prone cane land on the Barron Delta that many farmers want to flick off.

I remind Councillors, that their task is one of planning seriously for the future. Why would a 70-page report be prepared with an over-whelming amount of supporting evidence saying that this land use change is absolutely wrong for this development?

There's another submission from CEC's Roy Lavis, for the controversial sub-dividing of his hillside mansion, that has a a massive number of neighbouring residents against the plan.

False Cape is also back on the agenda, where Council must decide a path forward to again spend another $150,000 to prepare the land for the wet season, whilst the former owner runs away in disgrace.

There's also an unusual application by the AFL for an outdoor sport short term accommodation at 75 Buchan Street, in an industrial area.

There's also a "negotiated decision", these are always of particular concern. This one is for a multi-unit housing near the Canopy's Edge development, at Smithfield. Offices are recommending this one not be approved, but do we have faith in our Councillors, who would hardly ever get their boots dirty and view the site.

Should be fun. Better pack the sandwiches and watch who I sit next to in the public gallery.

The no story, story

Disclaimer: Disclaimers usually appear at the end of a story. This one doesn't. For good reason. At the outset I need to tell you that the following story has no connection whatsoever to do with the last 5 months of scandal that has rocked Cairns Regional Council. The so-called Cash for Comments, as coined by Thomas Chamberlin at the Cairns Post. Or the Secret Dodgy Radio deal, as coined by Councillor Alan Blake and Sno Bonneau. Or, as the Early Retirement Plan, coined by Noel Briggs. This story has been in the wings since the beginning of this new Council, but has nothing to do with the sudden resignation of former CEO. Nor does it have anything to do with the sacking of Council's Communications Manager, Kerie Hull, yesterday. As Councillor Alan Blake was driving Kerie Hull to the airport early yesterday morning, just hours after being accused of "gross mis-conduct", I was putting the finishing touches on this tale. This story, and it's real-life events, are just an amazing coincidence. No mirrors, kickbacks or bribes were accepted in the making of this story. Again, I repeat, it has nothing at all to do with the last 235 days in the life of the inaugural Cairns Regional Council. Amen.

Over the last few months, I've had an problem, an aching one. One that I didn't want to deal with, and no matter how long I ignored it, it would have to be dealt with eventually.
I knew for some time that it was there, in the background, niggling away. I also knew, at some stage, I'd have to face it head on but, for the most part, I turned the other cheek and got on with the business of the day, hoping it would go away, or simply get better - do what it was put there to do in the first place. Often I didn't even know it was there, but in the background it was festering away, doing some nasty things and undermining almost everything it connected with. It was gradually unleashing havoc, in the dead of night.
You see, I had an aching tooth. You can see the actual x-ray here. The one with the red circle is the problem bugger. If you look closely, and for anyone that's had an aching tooth, especially one at the back, will know all too well it's discomfort and it's gradual assault on pleasant living.
Some weeks or even months went by, and not a thing. However experts will tell you, it's something that needs to be dealt with, "sooner or later".
I guess I was putting off the inevitable, that one day it was going to have to go. It was like a poison, deep inside, that wasn't playing the game, that wasn't getting on with those around it, and didn't do what it was originally put there to achieve.
The problem can clearly be seen at the very base of the tooth. The dark round patches are the naughty problem bits. Right in the middle of the inner circle, so to speak, is where the problem lies. It where the infection was causing all the problems.
I had to make a decision. Either take to cleaning the insides of it out - a re-bore, or re-programming if you will, or remove the blasted thing so it will stop infecting surrounding neighbours, those that need to and want to get on with legitimate business.
To go or not to go, that was the question. Where's a good CEO when you need one, I contemplated.
To use an Andrew "Websterism", regardless of who is to blame, the issue has shown the tooth was teetering on the verge of dysfunctionality for some time.
So I bit the bullet, and decided to remove the culprit, to once and for all, deal with the ongoing and slowly engrossing pain, and the possibility that any infection could spread and cause more problems in the future.
One hour later, I was ready to take on new challenges, fresh and looking forward. The dam problem child was gone. It was like a new dawn.
And the cost? About the same as one hour on a John Mackenize talkback show - 250 smackaroons.

Last night, with three other accomplices, I roasted the day all this sordid affair came to a final conclusion.
As promised, I cracked the Moet, that was in the fridge for the last four months.
There were a few close calls, when I nearly popped the top, but it had to wait until the last nasty thing that was causing all the problems, had gone.


You wouldn't read about it, but a cheerful CairnsBlog reader snapped this photo and sent it to me yesterday. It's from the side of a vehicle, which he said was spotted parked "very close to the Council Chambers" on Monday.
It is a company that appears to offer "Hull Cleaning and Inspections."
The sender proposed that the driver must have been holding a meeting with someone rather high up in Cairns Regional Council.

A quick internet search today yielded this wee gem. You can read the small print and answer the question at the bottom.
Enuf said.
(NB: posted at tooth hurty in the morning)