Saturday 31 October 2009

Ditzy Dan dumbs down a doozie dity

Oh dear, this is becoming a sport. They're not even making it hard for us anymore.

Daniel Bateman's column in today's Cairns Post, is right up there with the opinion feature Thomas-a-dingo-stole-my-story-Chamberlin wrote just over a month ago, when he suggested - seriously - having the disgraced former Cairns Regional Council CEO Noel Briggs on the interview panel to pick his replacement.

When Thomas mentioned to a Council staffer the day before about his 'story' idea he was working on, he confirmed he was dead cert.

Today's silly feature story, that Editor Webster donates almost a full page to, matches Thomas' high accolades of journalistic endeavours. It again professes to be a legitimate dialogue of current issues, pressing matters, and intuitive dialogue with it's readers. Or does it?

"Reporter" Dan Bateman suggests that Cairns should change it's name, penned in a 'letter to Val.'

Is this the best that the Post's journos can come up with in our major weekend regional newspaper?

"We need to change the name of the city," Bateman writes. "Does the city need a new name? What would you like to call the city? You may not be aware that our mono-syllabic city name tends to be quite the tongue twister among our international visitors."

"To put it bluntly, they just don’t know what to do with it, mangling it like Madonna singing Don McLean’s American Pie. If you don’t believe me, the next time you’re lined up for a flight home in the airport ....... strain your ears and listen to the antics that go on across the Virgin Blue counter," Batman, I mean Bateman goes on to bore us, para after para after para. It's like reprinting a month's worth of Gavin King in one article. At least the King could write and string a few thoughts together, in between not feeding his dog. God dam it.

He goes on with "American tourist: "Ceeeeehrns … I mean Cehns. No? Cerrrrrns???" They really don’t know what to do with it. And it’s just as bad for us Cairnsites on the rare opportunities we get to go overseas – everyone thinks we live in France," Dan Bateman scribes.

"But what do we rebadge Cairns as, you may ask? ...No need to worry there, I’ve done most of the heavy lifting for you. Cairns’ biggest competition for the tourist dollar at the moment, believe it or not, is Townsville... We’re going to need to become a ’ville ourselves," Dan spouts forth full of wisdom beyond his years.

".......the logical name choice is (drum roll, please), Awesomeville. Think about it. If you lived down south and had a choice of holidaying in North Queensland in either a place called Townsville or a place called Awesomeville, it’s a no brainer, ain’t it?"

Other ideas from this master of invention and suggestion: Oarsham, oarsome, Cairn-Cairn, ca-ching. I genuinely don't know if the writer was trying to be funny, serious, or just plain goofy. He makes the Chaser lads look like T. S. Eliot.

And this is what we get for a Murdoch 'quality news service' that we'll all want to pay for? What a waste of $1.70c.

PS: Evidently you can email Bateman with name ideas. Why, I don't know. It'll only encourage him.

PPS: What on earth does his title headline "Change the name of game" mean?

PPPS: So, do you think Cairns needs a new name? You can even vote in one of the Post's delightfully inciteful polls, where there's never any statistics of how many voted, just a percentage. I expect they make the whole thing up.

PPPPS: Post in the comments below, your suggestion for a new name for the Cairns Post!

Greenie garage sale today

CAFNEC's annual garage sale is on this morning. Why not pop along a grab yourself a green bargain.

Cominos House, corner of Greenslopes and Little Streets. Bring along your own trash and treasure and find a new home for your unwanted goods, by making some dosh for your local environment centre.

Refreshments available (almost extinct sea slugs, have-grown dugongs, rare ostrich eggs, crispy fried baby cassowaries, Irukandji bites marinated in a Delicious toasty Tiapan venom.)

The depressing gang of four

When I saw this bunch of four must-have keteers in the paper the other day, looking all grim and serious, as if Warren just announced he'd be back again, I couldn't help but think... if this lot is all we've got to help save us from the unemployment doom and gloom (besides Paul Freebody of course), then we may as well slit our wrists and move to Townsville.
The 3 "R's" (relief, recovery and reform) which sounds like a Saturday special from Northern Belle, is a joint effort by Cairns Regional Council Mayor Val Schier, Bill Calderwood from Tourism Tropical North Queensland; Russell Beer of Advance Cairns; and Jeremy Blockey of the Cairns Chamber of Commerce.
Now I'm sure their ideas are laudable, holy even, however this gang of four in the photo look more like a circus troupe handing out a series of bad taste jokes at Noel Briggs' farewell party, than an economic recovery plan. I'm sure when Post photographer Marc McCormack set this up, he demanded they look all grim and depressed, as if someone had nicked off with nearly 14% of their lunch money. It worked.

But to be a bit serious for a minute, instead of this lot yelling at the State and Federal pollys for a free handout, why not do something that they have in their powers themselves. Right now.

Why not reintroduce that early bird rate payment discount Val? Give us back our greening water allowance. Allow free dumping at the tips until the end of January. These things will put real money back into our spending pockets straight away instead of waiting for Kevin and big spending Anna. While you're at it Val, send that executive assistant of yours out for a decent lunch. He needs fattening up.

Bill, you could drop your TTNQ membership fees by 50%. You'd still have plenty left over for your junkets. And why not stop paying yourself a whacking great "honorarium", the day after the Council deposited nearly half a mill of our money into your slush fund?

As for Advance Cairns, I dunno why Val didn't keep her pre-election promise and ditch the old boy's club and start over fresh. The $280K we give this mob, plus the mandatory holidays to Guam and China, have to stop. You'd think after 8 years of these "sales" trips by successive "trade groups," you'd think they'd worked out who to mail the glossy brochures to.

Which leaves us with the Chamber of Commerce. Now I've been to many a slap up lunch at the Michaelmas Cay room (who was there when I asked the Gold Coast copper after his speech on CBD safety about that naughty Big Brother's antics Hot Dog?). Name 10 things the Chamber have done to generate business over the last year. In fact, name five.

However, there still seems something decidedly odd about that photograph. What is it? And did I over-hear Val Schier saying."I'm a lady, I do lady's things," ?

Civil disobedience can contribute to change

Two local supporters of Bryan Law's civil disobedience action, say such acts are good and can achieve a dialogue with the public.

Life-coach Geoff Holland, who moderates Cairns-coev, an online forum on environmental, community and sustainable development issues, advocates a careful approach to the attention-seeking behaviour.

Cairns is a conservative community.

Civil disobedience was used at False Cape and one person was arrested. It may not have directly achieved a lot, but it was certainly justified in hindsight.

It wasn't long ago it was declared illegal by the Queensland government to congregate in the street in groups of more than three or four (anti-assembly laws) - I forget the details but I believe that legislation enacted by the Joh Bjelke-Petersen government are still in effect. Civil disobedience should be used if only to have these repressive laws repealed.

A couple of years ago I set up a table with a petition on the pavement in Cairns CBD for two hours once a week. I had a police permit and there was plenty of room for pedestrians to pass the small table. Nevertheless, one politician and one law firm couldn't tolerate it (though there was nothing directly relating to them other than different political views) and contacted the Cairns City Council who forced me to stop.

I think civil disobedience should be used carefully and with discretion, and I think people need to be trained to carry out civil disobedience actions properly (eg to keep them positive and non-violent). It also does cost public money to address civil disobedience actions (but often saves
lots of public money in the long run).

But when there is failure of government, we need civil disobedience. There has been a massive failure of government up to this point to adequately address climate change.

For example in Cairns and FNQ we still have no program to measure greenhouse gas emissions for this region. If you don't measure it you cannot measure the success of any policy to reduce GHG emissions. Cairns and FNQ has one of the highest per capita emissions of GHGs in the world.

Here's an example of how civil disobedience is being used in less conservative (less parochial?)
communities in Australia.

Margaret Pestorius says that civil disobedience is often linked to civil and civic rights. She explains her reasons why, following her arrest after wanting to "inspect" the USS Blue Ridge in Cairns recently.

When Terry and I went to 'inspect' the USS Blue Ridge last week, we spent about half an hour handing out GI Rights pamphlets to sailors and marines.

For the second time this year, the PR guy for Cairns Ports told me that I couldn't hand out leaflets on Port Authority/Cairns Ports land. No one could. This is a classic example of the intersection between nonviolence on an issue [in this case challenging war] and civil rights [the right to freedom of communication – an inherent right underpinning democratic processes].

Terry asked him "what would you actually do if we kept handing out." He said he would warn us and then tell the police.

I told him again that actually Freedom of Communication is a right under the Australian Constitution, and this includes political communication: a democracy requires freedom of political communication so that people can remain informed about issues.

I suggested that if the Government was going to make public land 'private' by using the Government-owned corporations structure, I doubted it would stand up in court. That is what Singapore has done. After all, at what point does the Government stop restricting the actual spaces/places in which people can communicate?

I know this from a previous experience with the Cairns Post and the Council who had both at time tried unsuccessfully to stop us handing out pamphlets.

We kept handing out, and the guy told the police. They were smart enough to do nothing.

But over the past eight years, we have heard many examples of people in Cairns succumbing to this sort of civic threat and restricting there own actions – or worse still paying for them by being tricked into getting “public liability insurance”.

Many people were tricked by officers of the last Council. That Council had an unofficial policy that “there should be no politics in City Place” This was Kevin Byrne's idea but was never formal policy. There were many Council officials who attempted to enact the “policy”. The fact is they can’t stop politics in public places as long as people act reasonably regarding pedestrian/traffic flow and respectful behavior, especially if you get a Peaceful Assemblies Permit from the Police.

Once you have a permit, it becomes up to the Council to take your daggy activist group to the Magistrates court to oppose your suggestion for a stall or a handing out of leaflets. It just doesn’t happen because once they get there the magistrate is going to want to know how annoying it is compared with your right under the constitution - and it just isn’t. It is not annoying at all.

Donna Maree O’Connor once came down and issued a Bylaw offence ticket to the Buy Nothing Day Crew. What a joke. That didn’t succeed. It couldn’t have stood up in a court with the most basic ‘defence’.

So be warned and don’t be tricked by gamon Council officers pushing a non-policy from an ex-mayor. ‘Freedom of communication’ is an inherent right.

Mobile phones banned in Kiwi cars

A new law in New Zealand (it's an island on the East coast) will ban anyone from using a handheld mobile phone whilst driving.
This will not stop anyone who wishes to use a handsfree device. From tomorrow, Kiwi motorists must have a handsfree device if they want to use their mobile phone, otherwise they risk being fined $80 and receiving 20 demerit points.

I blogged about this before as it's rather easy to spot Cairns' drivers using their beloved mobiles whilst driving. Mobile usage has increased probably due to the fact that mobiles are now complete communications devices, accessing email, social networking sites like FaceBook, Twitter and the Internet.
KiwiBlog reports that New Zealand's road policing manager Superintendent Paula Rose said staff had been told that a period to allow the “bedding in” of the legislation was appropriate. Ms Rose doesn’t answer the phone when she’s driving. Instead she puts it in the boot, so if it does ring, she can’t get to it to take the call. She said she was excited about the new law because New Zealanders might think more about driving safely.

“In policing we’ve seen some really stupid things – people getting changed, putting their makeup on, eating their breakfast," Paula Rose said.
And in related news, a new Queensland law will now ban smoking in vehicles when there is anyone under the age of 16 years in the car. A $200 fine will apply when the new anti-smoking laws come into force in January. 3,400 Queenslanders die annually from smoking, with smoking-related illnesses costing us Queenslanders $217 million.
And even more related news. A $40 fine for pedestrians if you walk across the road with you back to oncoming cars. ABC Far North chatted with Mike Stapleton about this, and many more new road rules.
And in unrelated news, Mackay North State High School has banned hugging between students, after Year 9 girls were given detention caught embracing with their friends. The school policy bans PDA (public displays of affection). Evidently the ban on hugs is part of the school's "behaviour management policy," designed to protect students and staff.
What's next? Bad mayoral hair dos? Silly MPs speeches? Nudity at the Lagoon? Kevin Byrne being mentioned in the Cairns Post? Humour on CairnsBlog? 4:30am flight arrivals? Councillor Robert Pyne voting with Margaret Cochrane? Little green bags? Bryan Law?

Friday 30 October 2009

In Question Time

Looks like someone's following the carry on in the ALP on CairnsBlog...


  • My question without notice is to the Premier.

    I refer to moves within the Labor Party to boot out Labor member and ETU organiser Stu Traill for opposing the Premier on privatisation.

    Will Labor’s former state president, Ron Monaghan, also be booted out of the Labor Party, or is it a fact that Mr Monaghan is only mouthing opposition to privatisation in public and saying something else behind closed doors?


  • I thank the honourable member for the question. I am not aware of any moves to cancel the membership of any member of the Australian Labor Party on this or indeed any other issue.

    One thing I can say about the Australian Labor Party is that it is a very broad church. As uncomfortable as the church might be, it is a very broad one. It has a remarkable elasticity.


  • How is Gary Hardgrave going?


Unlike the LNP, which, in the council chambers this week, was disciplining one of its councillors; unlike poor old Gary Hardgrave, who served the Liberal Party as a federal member, and what thanks does he get? He gets disciplined. So the LNP is in the business of disciplining its former members of parliament.


  • They kicked another bloke out last week for criticising the Lord Mayor.


  • They kicked another bloke out last week for criticising the Lord Mayor. Mr Traill is welcome to express his views on whatever he wishes, and I reserve my right to disagree with him on a regular basis. That is what the Labor Party is about--a party of ideas, and these matters are a matter for the party.

    What an extraordinary turn of events we have had this morning. The member for Southern Downs is here selling himself as the champion of the Electrical Trades Union.

    This is the mentor who led the party that took their superannuation, that took their houses--the hero, the political mentor of the member for Southern Downs. The ETU were not happy when you owned SEQEB, I can tell you that much.

    We have seen the member for Southern Downs try to reinvent himself so many times. Once it was the young socialist worker from Russia. Then he reinvented himself as ‘the Borg’.

    Now he seeks to be the worker’s champion, the champion of the ETU. It gets less convincing with every reinvention.
  • NB: Stu Traill isn't the Messiah. He's just a very naughty boy.

Caption Contest

  1. "So, that's what a Reef looks like?!"
  2. "If you look close enough, you'll see a tiny replica of a Yacht Club!"
  3. "There's something seriously fishy about all this."
  4. "I can spot the Jason O'Brien and Steve Wettenhall look-a-likes, but blowed if I can find anything that looks like Jim Turnour."
  5. "I really can't see what is so funny about putting some silly fish in a box you know."
  6. "If everyone had one of these at home, then who would care about global warming?"
  7. "Gosh I'm beautiful. No wonder they keep re-electing me."
  8. ....your turn...

Adam Millar leaves Environmental Defender’s Office

Today is Adam Millar's last day as Principal Solicitor and coordinator of the Environmental Defender’s Office of Northern Queensland.

Adam Millar joined the team three years ago, taking over from Kirsty Ruddock who then moved on to lead the NSW legal team. After completing his Bachelor of Laws at the James Cook University in Townsville and being admitted as a solicitor in Cairns in 1999, Adam worked as the coordinator of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory.

More recently Adam worked with Williams Graham Carman, as a commercial and civil litigator focusing on dispute resolution. Since admission, Millar has spent time travelling throughout central Australia, western Europe, Cuba, Central and South America, and India.

Adam was born and raised in Cairns. Passionate about the unique and priceless natural environments in Australia, he used his role as an opportunity to educate the community about environmental protection and work toward increasing the standing and relevance that the environment has within the community and governments.

In leaving the job today, Adam gave special acknowledgement to those involved in the campaign to save False Cape.

"Of all of the work that I have been involved in the last three years, the campaign to save False Cape has been the most inspiring; and the campaigners behind it have been the most inspiring," Millar said today.

"Campaigns like this are never, in my experience, run by one person alone; they require the effort of many. The Save False Cape campaign is blessed by having many dedicated, passionate and thoughtful people behind it, including the likes of Steve Nowakowski, Terry Spackman, Steve Ryan, Mark Buttrose, Brynn Mathews, Denis Walls, Nev and Robyn Ridley, and many others."

Millar singled out local environmentalist John Rainbird, who provided him with a wealth of knowledge.

"John gave me peace and inspiration, which has stayed with me and which has allowed me to do what I have done over the past three years. I cannot thank you enough for that, and I do hope I have not embarrassed you too much by saying so."

Millar says that the Environmental Defender’s Office provides important services to the conservation community in North Queensland.

"We cannot do that job alone, and we would not have been able to achieve what we have without the support, passion, dedication and hard-work of many others, including the many conservation-minded individuals and organisations whom we have worked with and whom have been our clients."

"Whilst it will unavoidably be sad to leave this role, I know that I leave it in good hands, knowing that it is in a good position to continue to provide important services in public interest environmental law in the future in North Queensland, and across Queensland and Australia.

Millar says it has been an honour and a privilege to serve as solicitor and coordinator for the Environmental Defender’s Office for the last three years.

"I would not think it often that people are given the opportunity to use the skills and experience they possess to serve the community on such important matters as I have, and I will always look back on my time with fond eyes."

Crime Stoppers Update

In partnership with the Cairns District Crime Prevention office, CairnsBlog brings you Crime Stoppers update.

Wilful damage, Mossman
Mossman and Cairns Detectives investigated four wilful damage complaints to a number of businesses in the main street of Mossman on Wednesday night. Police charged a 24-year-old Mossman man with four counts of wilful damage and an 18-year-old Mossman woman was charged with one count of wilful damage. Both will appear in the Mossman Magistrates Court next month.

Vehicle theft charge, Trinity Park
Police have charged a 24-year-old woman and four men aged, 17, 19, 22 and 26 with one count each of unlawful use of a motor vehicle after an incident at Trinity Park on October 12. It’s alleged the owner of the vehicle parked her car in her residence, taking a child into the house, leaving the car unlocked and the keys in the ignition in the driveway for a short time, before the offenders stole the vehicle from the residence. They will appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court next month.

History Bites: Cape Grafton and Philip Parker King’s sketch of 1821

CairnsBlog brings you our weekly column, History Bites, a series of historical vignettes, pertinent to our unique and special region.

Produced by Dr Timothy Bottoms, 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 is 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.

Same view as drawn by King in 1821 [John Oxley Library, Neg.No.185931] in 2001 of the eastern side of Cape Grafton, looking S.S-E (taken from latitude 16° 51.12 South, longitude 145° 54.51 East). Cunningham (botanist with King’s expedition) landed in south Mission Bay to the far right of Djilibirri [Cape Grafton].

Philip Parker King in 1821 drew a Sketch of Cape Grafton [the eastern side of its North Point, when looking South South-East]. His eldest son added the erroneous ‘Saddle Hill’, ‘Cairns’ and ‘1817’ date on the 1890s publication.

Phillip Parker King first visited Fitzroy Island in 1819, then two years later on another voyage, Cape Grafton itself. The son obviously misidentified his father’s sketch as the South Point of Cape Grafton Range, ironically now known as ‘King’s Point’ with its adjacent Wide Bay as ‘King Beach’ [1].

Consequently the son’s misidentification had him looking N-W, which required the left background to be today’s Kuranda Range with its Saddle Hill – when, if viewed correctly S.S-E from the North Point, the same background is actually Fitzroy Island. Allan Cunningham, Monday 18th June 1821, [2] recorded that:-

  • The morning was fine, and calm, and moderately warm, our Thermer. Standing at 74 [23.5º C] at 9 [a.m.]…I landed with our Surgeon upon a small Sandy beach in the Bay, with an Intention of returning again on-board at noon, agreeable to Mr.King’s wish, who intended to weigh towards … the Aftn. Or even Earlier, as the wind might be favourable. Some Narrow shaded thickets, the boundary of the beach, which (from the darkness of the recesses) appearing at once interesting, invited me to Explore…

    We saw none of the Aborigines altho’ very recent traces were observed of them, both temporary, as well as more substantial Huts were seen by us, near the beach, the latter being well thatch’d, with leaves of the Calamus of which likewise some of their baskets were constructed.

    Quantities of burnt Shells were strew’d around their fires, the remains of their mussle or cocklefeasts, and a Canoe form’d from the stem of a Tree 12 feet long, with an outrigger and paddles, was found, hauled up among the Mangroves, - a Fishing line and hook made by grinding a shell down, was taken from beneath a Hut.

This is an extract from: A History of Cairns – City of the South Pacific 1770-1995, by Dr Timothy Bottoms, PhD, Central Queensland University, 2002, Photo 2.1, p.72.You can contact Dr Bottoms via email. There is more information on his website.

FOOTNOTES: [1] King, Philip Gidley (1817-1904), Comments on Cook’s Log (H.M.S. Endeavour, 1770) with extracts, charts, and Sketches, G.S. Chapman, Govt . Printer, Sydney, 1891.[2] Information in Cunningham’s diary has been sequentially re-arranged, unlike the original. See Allan Cunningham’s Journal, The John Oxley Library, Microfilm A4-2.

A letter from Anna

The Queensland Government is selling off the following assets:

  • Forestry Plantations Queensland
  • Port of Brisbane
  • Queensland Motorways Limited
  • Abbot Point Coal Terminal, near Bowen
  • Queensland Rail’s coal transport business and assets, also looking at other commercial parts of QR

They've blamed the sale on the "worst global recession in 70 years" which the Bligh Government say has reduced Queensland’s income by $15 billion over four years. However the debt situation had nothing to do with the so-called recession. The $74 billion Queensland is in debt, is more than all the other States put together.

Here's Opposition leader John-Paul Langbroek open letter to Bligh:

  • "When readers opened the newspaper yesterday to find Premier Anna Bligh's personal explanation of why the State Government is about to sell-off Queensland's assets, they had every right to ask why she failed to put pen to paper, only eight months ago, to outline her case for privatisation ahead of the state election.

    After all, it was known then that Queensland had lost its cherished AAA credit rating; it was known then that Queensland was in record debt; and it was known then that our economic bottom line had been hit by a downturn, coupled with the Government's failure to bank money in the boom times to help get through the tough times.

    But the Government assured Queenslanders its policies were all fully costed with not so much as a hint that assets would go in a fire-sale. The Premier claims she has to make tough decisions. But leadership isn't about being tough; it's about being tough and honest. Privatisation in Queensland isn't just an economic debate. It is also a truth debate and the two issues cannot be separated.

    Taxpayers own these assets and are therefore the shareholders. In any model business, a board and its chairperson who offer themselves for re-election, in this case the Government and the Premier, have a corporate duty to provide shareholders upfront with honest financial data and honest financial plans before any ballot. Before more privatisation, sound economic debate surely demands frank analysis of the consequences of recent State Government decisions to privatise other assets.

    The Premier points to a decision, 17 years ago, by the federal government to sell Qantas as a model for privatisation.

    She does not point to the more appropriate comparison that would be how the State Government privatised the retail arms of Energex and Ergon in 2006, overseen by Bligh while she was Treasurer, and the consequent skyrocketing electricity bills.
    No one argues that Queensland has a real problem with debt; it's a problem compounded by the loss of the AAA credit rating.

    Budget projections show the Government does not plan to stop borrowing until at least 2017. By that date, even with asset fire-sales, Queensland's public debt will be more than $100 billion; approaching 50 per cent of Queensland's gross domestic product. Management of this debt is Queensland's greatest economic challenge. That debt took eight years to accrue, but in reasonable terms, even if we started today, it would take about 35 years to pay it all off.

    That is the legacy this Government has left children from the boom years. If we sell the five assets Bligh has identified, and sell them at market bottom prices as proposed, the expected return is about $15 billion. However, those five assets currently return a solid income stream through tax-equivalent payments, dividends and commercial interest rates above the borrowing rate of Queensland Treasury Corporation.

    Should we not be harnessing those assets, rather than throwing them away, to help pay off Labor's debt? The issue is not one of privatisation; it is one of debt. The fact is, the sale of these assets will not solve Queensland's debt problem.

Now this letter will interest you. Here's a letter from Premier Anna Bligh, sent just before the last State election to the Hermit Park Branch from the Labor Party.

What part of "no intention to privatise" did she not mean? And you wonder why her own Party is standing up to these lies.

Thursday 29 October 2009

Always blow on the pie

"Three o'clock in the morning, that pie has probably been in the warming drawer for about 12 hours," Kiwi Police Sgt Guy Baldwin told a young lad, evidently caught carjacking at three in the morning.

"It will be thermo-nuclear – always blow on the pie. Safer communities together," he delivered in deadpan style.

Here's Guy on morning TV talking about the incident. It's become an Internet hit and a new catch phrase, "always blow on the pie," appearing on t-shirts.

Jim on climate change

Jim Turnour, Member for Leichhardt
House debates - Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2009

  • "I rise to add to this debate today on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2009 [No. 2] and related bills.

    I am going to build on my comments on 3 June 2009, and I would encourage members who are interested in my broader thoughts on this to read that second reading debate speech when this issue was first introduced into the parliament. I want to add to those comments with this legislation coming back, because it is particularly important legislation in my electorate of Leichhardt, the home to the
    Great Barrier Reef and the home to the wet tropics rainforest.

    To us it is not only about protecting the environment and making a difference in terms of the reef; it is also about jobs in the tourism industry. We have over $2 billion in economic activity in the region based around tourism and there are 35,000 direct and indirect jobs. So when we talk about jobs and the need for us to take action on climate change, we are talking directly about regions like mine and the importance of tackling climate change.
    The science is in. There is no doubt that there are real risks to the Great Barrier Reef, the wet tropics rainforest, the Murray-Darling and the agricultural sector. The report brought down this week also highlighted the risk to coastal communities. I am proud to represent the
    Torres Strait Islands. Mayor Gela, representing the outer islands, is very concerned about the long-term impact of climate change and sea level rise on islands such as Saibai, Boigu and some of the central island group as well.

    It highlights how out of touch the opposition are when Mr Abbott in comments this week on the doors when asked about the report being released said that sea levels had risen 20 centimetres along the coast of
    New South Wales and nobody had really noticed it. The reality is that a 20-centimetre rise in sea levels in a place like the Torres Strait could mean that we would have to look to move people from islands like Saibai and Boigu. Members opposite making contributions like that in this debate really do not understand how important this issue to communities like those in the Torres Strait.

    Indigenous Australians are really struggling and thinking about the long-term future of those communities.
    I heard the member for Mackellar’s comments earlier. They struck as being quite different from the overall view that I thought the Liberal Party brought to this issue. The reality is that the Labor Party took to the last election a commitment to introduce an emissions trading system and we are now debating our emissions trading system, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

    The member for Wentworth, the current Leader of the Opposition, made it clear that he supports an emissions trading scheme. As the environment minister in the former Howard government he introduced legislation into this parliament. There was discussion about it going to the former coalition caucus and being supported. The reality is that the Leader of the Opposition is on the record as saying that he supports an
    ETS. We heard the member for Mackellar say that basically she does not support this legislation and does not support an ETS, like many other members over there.

    But we have heard from the leadership of the Liberal Party that they do support this proposal for an emissions trading scheme. They might not like our particular emissions trading scheme, but they do support an emissions trading scheme. We are negotiating in good faith with them. But that sounds quite different from some of the comments from their back bench.

    The business community supports an emissions trading scheme. The
    Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group support one. The National Farmers Federation reckon that we need to have an emissions trading scheme. They are saying—quite differently from the National Party—that they support an emissions trading scheme. They want to have the emissions out but they want to be able to take the benefits of the abatement. So there is a broad coalition that supports an emissions trading scheme. The NFF says that they want to see an emissions trading scheme. They want to see the benefits of abatement go to the agriculture sector. I come from an agriculture and farming background. I talk to local people in my part of the world in the sugar industry, and they see real benefits from being involved in getting the abatements that will flow if the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, an emissions trading scheme, passes through the parliament.

    There is a broad coalition of people who want to see the government take action on climate change. There is international agreement. The
    American President has made it clear that he supports an emissions trading scheme. The Europeans already have an emissions trading scheme. There is a broad coalition of support that we need to get an emissions trading scheme in Australia through the parliament. We are negotiating in good faith with the opposition, but we are quite confused about where the opposition really stands on this issue.
    The Leader of the Opposition is saying very clearly that he now wants this legislation delayed until after Copenhagen.

    The reality is that Copenhagen is going to be important in terms of setting the levels of international targets. This legislation will be different, no doubt, from the American legislation and different from the European legislation—that is understandable; we have different economies. What we need to do is agree on the targets, and that is what Copenhagen is about.

    We and the Australian community are tired of listening to the Leader of the Opposition and other members opposite continuing to delay this debate and not making a decision. That has been their approach to this issue. I do not believe, and I do not think that anybody sensible who has been watching this debate, would believe that this is about them making a decision. This is about internal problems in their party. The member for Mackellar and a range of other members have made it very clear that they do not actually believe that climate change is happening. They are very sceptical about it. That is why they cannot make a decision on this issue.

    They were going to make a decision after the Garnaut report and tell us what their policy was. They were going to make a decision after the Treasury modelling and tell us what their policy was. They were going to make a decision after we had put forward a white paper and tell us what their policy was. They had their own Pearce report that would inform their policy and give us an idea about where they stood on this issue. Their opposition spokesman on this issue, Mr Robb, said that after the Senate inquiry we would get a clearer understanding of their position. And according to the Leader of the Opposition we would get a clearer understanding after the
    Productivity Commission report.

    Delay, delay, delay. It is not about the fact that the Leader of the Opposition does not support an emissions trading scheme; it is about the fact that he cannot get his own side of politics all together and into the room to agree.

    The Australian people are tired of it. They want a government to take action; they want this legislation through the Senate. We want to be able to go to Copenhagen with legislation that has passed the parliament and is very clear about how we can go about achieving our targets. We know that there are members opposite that support the view that getting this legislation through the parliament and through the Senate before Copenhagen is important. We want to show leadership to the international community. We want to make sure that we can get a good deal and set a high target so that we can keep carbon levels at or below 450 parts per million, which we need to do to make a real difference in terms of things like protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

    I mentioned Mr Abbott earlier on and some of his comments that indicated that he was out of touch with places like the Torres Strait and the impacts and threats of rising sea levels. But even Mr Abbott has made it clear that getting this legislation through the parliament will assist us in our negotiations in Copenhagen. In the Australian on 19 October 2009 in an opinion piece, Mr Abbott, talking about getting the legislation through, said:
    It could indeed help the outcome of the Copenhagen climate change talks if Australia agreed in advance not only to a carbon emissions target but also on a mechanism to deliver it.
    The mechanism to deliver it is the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. I, representing communities in the north and an area including the Great Barrier Reef and wet tropics rainforest, plead with the opposition to come together and make a decision. The Leader of the Opposition said a month ago that he was going to effectively stake his leadership on this issue. He needs to take shadow cabinet’s position—his position—after the negotiations to the party room and say, ‘This is the best deal that we could get from the government.’

    The government is prepared to sit down, through Minister Wong, and come away with a compromise if necessary to get this legislation through the parliament. But the Leader of the Opposition needs to stand up in his party room and take on the sceptics and get a deal on this issue so we can get it through the House and get it through the Senate and take to Copenhagen a plan to take action on climate change. People in my community in Cairns and
    Far North Queensland are demanding of the Australian parliament that we come together and come up with a solution to deal with the issue of climate change.
    Jobs are on the line in Far North Queensland in the tourism sector, if we do not take action. It might not be tomorrow but over the medium to longer term.

    My pleading and my call to the opposition is to come together and stare down the sceptics, stare down the National Party and come to an agreement with the government so that we can get this legislation through the parliament and take action and make a difference to the world in terms of our response to climate change.

Crime Stoppers update

Thanks to Senior Constable Russell Parker at the Cairns District Crime Prevention office, CairnsBlog brings you Crime Stoppers update.

Drug charges, North Cairns
Two North Cairns men aged 48 and 44 are due to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court in November. Detectives executed a search warrant at their Lake Street apartment on Wednesday morning. It is alleged that police located a quantity of blank prescriptions as well one forged prescription document. They also allegedly seized drugs and utensils. The men were charged with receiving tainted property; fraud; attempted fraud; possession of a dangerous drug; possession of things used in the commission of a crime; failing to dispose of a syringe and possession of drug utensils.

Man charged with assaulting police, Mossman
A 20-year-old Mossman man was charged with serious assault of a police officer after an incident at Mossman Gorge community last night. Police located the man on Johnson Street about 8pm and he was arrested in relation to several outstanding matters. The man then attempted to flee and struggled with police as they attempted to place him into the rear of the vehicle. The man allegedly kicked out and struck the hand of a female officer against the vehicle’s door, causing a laceration and swelling, as well as a possible fracture. The man was subdued with capsicum spray and transported to Cairns. He will appear in the Cairns Magistrates later today. The officer was treated by QAS at the scene.

Police investigate backhoe theft, Smithfield
Smithfield Detectives are investigating the theft of a backhoe from a Smithfield palm farm that occurred some time between Monday afternoon and Wednesday morning. The JCB machine and a 400 litre spray tank were both stolen from a shed on the Captain Cook Highway property. Anyone with information regarding the theft is urged to contact Smithfield Police on 4057 1900.

Police hunt bag snatchers, Cairns
A 19-year-old Parramatta Park woman fell victim to thieves yesterday after her handbag was snatched at a city shopping centre. The woman was seated at a Cairns Central Shopping Centre internet booth about 12.30pm when a female youth ran past her and grabbed her bag. The offender then ran off in the direction of the railway station before meeting up with another youth and fleeing the scene. The woman’s bag was subsequently recovered however an MP3 and a mobile phone are still outstanding.

Graffiti offences under investigation, Machan’s Beach
Smithfield Police are investigating a number of graffiti offences that occurred at Machan’s Beach overnight on Tuesday. Offenders sprayed markings on two vehicles parked in Machan’s Street as well as a building at the Machan’s Beach primary school.

  • Call Cairns Police on 4030 7000 or Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1800 333 000 if you have information
Crime Stoppers is a charitable community volunteer organisation working in partnership with the Queensland Police Service.

Come to the 'newshound's paradise'

Our beloved Cairns Post is looking for a journalist, I mean a reporter...

  • Senior Reporter full time - Cairns

    Further your journalism career - your lifestyle
    A great place to live and work, Cairns is the vibrant capital of Far North Queensland, home to an exciting range of social, economic, political and environmental issues a newshound's paradise.

    We are looking for a confident self starter with an impressive newsroom background, and a proven record of breaking strong, original stories across all rounds.

    They will enjoy writing to suit both our daily newspaper cycle and online.

    The senior reporter will be an enthusiastic team player who leads junior colleagues by example and helps set the Far North's news agenda.

    If you are an innovative and creative thinker with a passion for local news reporting we want to hear from you. To apply email a covering letter, your resume and samples of your writing to quoting the reference number: EDT-18

Now, should I apply?

Cairns CBD to Aeroglen cycleway

Motorists on the Northern highway will notice that the Cairns CBD to Aeroglen Cycleway is now well underway. It is the first stage of a dedicated cycleway connecting Palm Cove in the north of Cairns, all the way to Gordonvale in the south.

The joint long-term project is between Cairns Regional Council and Department of Transport and Main Roads. The objective is to to provide a safe and convenient cycling option to encourage everyone to get on their bike.

There has been extensive negative publicity of the initial changes to McLeod Street, alongside Cairns Central., whipped up largely by a small minority on John Mackenzie's 846am radio talkback.

"You won't get me out there with the less than 1% of cyclists," Mackenzie defiantly said on radio.

In 2007 and 2008, Main Roads consulted with community groups. Abbott, Lake, Grafton and Sheridan, McLeod and Martyn Streets were all looked at, but the Esplanade route was favoured as the safest for cyclists. There are only 3 intersections and 6 driveways along the route. Cyclists will be physically separated from vehicles and pedestrians. Car parking layouts along the Esplanade, Airport Ave/Sheridan St and some side streets, will be reconfigured.

75% of the $6.1 million project is coming from Main Roads and Council chipping in $1.5 million.

The proposed Esplanade route will run along the eastern side of the Captain Cook Highway from the General Aviation entrance to Airport Avenue. The route then follows the northern side of Airport Avenue for a short distance, crosses over and connects to Moffat Street.

It then travels on the northern side of Moffat Street to Lake Street and along the eastern side of Lake Street to the northern side of Lily Street. It then connects to the eastern side of the Esplanade to arrive at the Minnie Street intersection.
The Lily Creek route will complement the cycleway by providing an alternative day use recreational route. Its also a scenic route alongside landscaped parklands.
It was considered a high priority for a cycle route from Smithfield to the CBD. There's no truth in the rumor that it will be named the John Mackenzie Memorial Cycleway.
Current angle car parking bays on western side to become parallel parking – less parking bays in immediate vicinity
but reconfiguration of parking layout in the side streets will result in more parking
• 3m wide path
• Slow point for cyclists at pedestrian crossing locations by the use of raised humps
• Fencing to direct pedestrians to safe crossing locations
• Pedestrians using proposed path between future parking and new fence will be protected by raised kerb

• 4m wide path at same level as road but separated by raised kerb on western side and landscaping on eastern side
• Current 45° car parking with separate service lane will be changed to 90° parking (with buffer zone) off the two-way

• 3m to 3.5m wide path
• Separated from vehicles by raised kerb
• Formalising the car parking in the business area and providing parking along Airport Ave

• Mostly 4m wide path; • Separate dedicated cycleway beside the highway; • Separate bridge over Saltwater Ck
You can still provide feedback for the project by telephoning 4044 3303 or email Council before 13 November.

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Nine lives

This photo is from the Dominion Post in Wellington.

Anyone who knows the notoriously steep and winding Rimutaka Road that connects the capital to the Wairarapa, wouldn't expect to survive if they drove off the edge.

KiwiBlog writes that this happened the other day as a car plunged 200 metres. The driver survived. The rescuer suggested he go buy a Lotto ticket. Indeed.

Ergon loves CairnsBlog

A staffer at Ergon's regional office in Lake Street, was surprised to see a "printed copy" of CairnsBlog in the staff room last week.
"There was a copy printed out in the staff room, and it looks like they do it all the time," Ergon employee Aaron said.
"I've not tried to access the Blog from the office, but it might be restricted, so one of the bosses who follows CairnsBlog prints a copy to share around."
Now there's a corporate citizen.

Cochrane: time for having some fun

Cairns Regional Council's official statement announcing the 7/4 vote in favour of the waterpark on the Captain Cook Highway north of Cairns, trumps up the jobs and what the facility will eventually boast.

"Council approved the application for the development of the more than six hectare site, that will eventually house 16 water slides, a surf simulator, pools, lagoons, restaurants, retail outlets and function rooms, is proposed for a site that formerly housed a local shark show," the statement reads.

It goes on to say that Deputy Mayor and Division 8 Councillor Margaret Cochrane championed the proposal, and says the building of the $35 million scheme would "create jobs during construction and for future employees."

“The developer has done all the work in the planning stages with respect to creating an environmentally sound recreational facility with sensitivity to the surrounding agricultural land,” Margaret Cochrane says.

Developer, former Toyworld manager and raffle ticket winner, Paul Freebody has long touted that the park will employ "over 200 locals." However the economic feasibility study conducted by Cairns Chamber of Commerce President Jeremy Bockey said that it's only a quarter of that, as there will be 52 full-time equivalents.

As for Freebody stunning claims the he's done all the flood modelling, I think there'll be a few more than tourists looking at the first flood across his park. There's nothing more certain in the world than a flood there. Just pop onto Google Earth and zoom into the river system that feeds directly into the subject land. How could Councillor Paul Gregory support this as chair of the water and works committee. He of all people should have known better.

Cochrane says the Dillon Road site is currently derelict. "This plan will give it new life as a functioning economically viable and sustainable facility for locals and tourists alike. The plans for this theme park have been long in the making and it is time to get on with the job of creating the reality – and having some fun.”
A source close to the project has informed CairnsBlog that Margaret Cochrane will "get to test out all the water slides first. They have been made 'Councillor-Cochrane compliant'," the source said.

No blues for Blues Festival

Following the huge success of the inaugural Cairns Blues Festival, next year's event will be supported by Council to "stimulate the local economy."

In applying for funding under the Economic Development Fund, the event showed in could deliver economic benefits. It's expected that a cash grant and provision of the venue and Council services, will be part of the assistance.

However, an application to help run a film festival in City Place was not supported.

Clifton Telstra tower will be green

Despite Cairns Regional Council’s opposition, a Telstra communications tower will be erected at Clifton Beach but the transmission "monopole" will be subject to conditions minimising its impact on the landscape.

In September Council lost its appeal in the Planning and Environment court to prevent the erection of the 27 meter structure.

"Council will impose strict development constraints on the site where the tower will be erected to mitigate its visual impact," Mayor Val Schier says. “Council refused the first application by Telstra last year in October in line with what local residents wanted.”

Telstra appealed the decision in the Planning and Environment court and won.

"We are subsequently requesting that Telstra paint the tower and all its support structure a dark green colour, preserve existing vegetation on the site and landscaping the site include a screen of shrubs and trees to minimise the visual impact,” Schier said this afternoon.

Surely Sno Bonneau could have selected the colour, being the Councillor who lives in the neighbourhood and has a history of achievement for the Clifton Beach community.

Freebody's faceless FaceBook and a 15-year old schoolboy

Rodney Hudson, a 15-year old schoolboy, may have saved the day for waterpark developer of Paul Freebody.

Hudson set up a Support For A Cairns Water Park FaceBook page just a few weeks ago, and within days, over 7,500 "supporters" joined up. There's now just over 8,000 members of the Facebook group.

However, in an interview with ABC's new drive presenter Ginger Gorman, a self-described gypsy, Rodney admitted that a lot of the supporters were not from Cairns. Gorman, with a unique high-pitched voice, lined up the schoolboy against Mayor Val Schier, who was simply not prepared with a decent answer when it came to tourism ideas.

Here's the interview...

Here's the letter that Rodney sent to the Mayor...
  • Dear Miss Val Schier,

    I aa 15 year old Cairns resident currently attending Trinity Bay State High.

    I have noticed in the last few wweks some discussion about Mr Paul Freebody planning on building a Water Park at Smithfield. I also noticed that the council rejected permission to construct this water park due to flooding, environmental and planning concerns and although considering these factors is a great part in protecting the Cairns community from over development and potentialy threatening the Great Barrier Reef, as far as the public is aware the council has not proposed another site for a Water Park to be built.

    The Adventure Waters Water Park be ideal for Cairns. With Cairns' unemployment rate alarmingly high at the moment and the Global Financial Crisis, this Water Park would create many jobs and help boost tourism within the Cairns region and with Cairns being a tropical environment tourists are always looking for a way to cool off. I have also noticed a bit of discussion about tourism in Cairns recently, with a Ukulele Festival being proposed as an anual event to attract tourists to Cairns.

    While this idea is supported by a few Cairns residents and strongly by the yourself, there have been a lot more residents disagreeing with this idea as Cairns' way to attract more tourists to the region. A Water Park would attract a lot of tourists to the Cairns region and it could easily be themed with the Great Barrier Reef which is what most tourists come to Cairns to see. And the ukulele festival could still go ahead as the Water Park is a private project by Mr Freebody and won't come at much, if any, cost to Cairns.

    I have taken it upon myself to
    start a facebook page for people that support the idea of Adventure Waters Water Park as facebook is an easy way for people to express their opinions on topics and often get a point accross. There hav well over 2500 people so far that support this idea from around Cairns and from people that would visit Cairns if it had a Water Park.

    I strongly reccomend you take a minute to start a facebook page easily accessible by people of the Cairns Community so that u can easily be contacted and people would feel a more personal relationship with you. And after that it would greatly be appreciated if you took some time to look at the page and see what the people of the cairns community think about having a Water Park. I know you have a busy schedual and may not be able to do this but as i mentioned it would be greatly appreciated. To access the page you will need a login for facebook and
    go to the following link.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this and I am looking forward to your response,

    Yours Sincerely,
    Rodney Hudson
    [NB: copied as per original letter]

..and the Mayor's reply...

  • Hello Rodney

    Thanks for your email and for taking the initiative to start up a facebook page. I will certainly take your views into consideration.

    I’m not sure where you got the idea that the council has “rejected permission to construct this water park” as that statement is not correct.

    The council actually voted unanimously to defer a decision on the proposal until there could be further consideration of some issues related to flooding and car parking. We could have voted on it this week but I understand that Mr Freebody himself has postponed the application going to council until 28th October.

    You have brought the ukulele festival proposal into the debate; the people behind this initiative will do the same as Mr Freebody and put forward a proposal that council will vote on depending on how it fits into our corporate and land use plan. People running the Jazz/Blues festival will do the same thing as will other developers who have proposals that they want Council to consider.

    I’ve had a Facebook page for years Rodney and people often use that as a medium to contact me and to give me their points of view.


    Cr Val Schier
    Mayor, Cairns Regional Council
Rodney hit back at those who said he didn't write his letter to the Mayor...

"No my father didn't write the email. I know that you may not believe that a 15 year old is capable of writing an email like that, but it was written by me with absolutely no help or input from my father," Rodney said. "If you read the email again you will see that i didn't at any point mention her ideas as being 'stupid'. I simply stated the truth that there are more people that disagree with the ukulele festival as the way to attract Cairns' tourists."

"And lastly, the site at which the water park will be built is not going to put any place at risk of flooding. The concerns by the council were that the park wouldn't have enough parking spaces and that it may be flooded... not Yorkey's Knob. I dont see why everyone is getting so worked up about the location on the water park," Rodney Hudson says. "Where it gets put is up to Mr Freebody... all we are waiting for is Council to give it the go ahead. There is no way Council would ever let a major water park be built in South Cairns because they would lose their money from sugar world because everyone would be going to the bigger water park."

Here's some of the banter from the Facebook page...

Jim McMann wrote on October 12...
  • I think everyone is favour of a waterpark. Just not in this location.Freebody was offered other, more appropriate locations adjacent to Skyrail. He refused. Freebody is a greedy bastard, odd for someone who claims to be a "born-again Christian". And anyone that thinks this is a "tourist attraction" has rocks in their head.

    NO ONE is going to come to Cairns for a water park, especially a lame little one like is proposed when there is a huge, spectacular water park at the Gold Goast. No construction should be allowed in the Barron River floodplain.
Rikk Altree wrote...
  • This won't be built, get used to it. Freebody is an arsehole. Unless he moves somewhere else it won't be built, not by him anyway. The good news is, it wasn't going to be built with his money anyway, so maybe the company putting the money up will do it off their own back.
    I support a water park, and have done for many years, but NOT where Freebody wants to put it, on a bit of cheap, flood prone agricultural land he bought years ago.He was caught last week trying to alter the course of a creek on the site, only a broken track on the digger stopped him.
    The man is an arsehole, have any of... you read or heard the remarks he made about the female councillors?The water park should be constructed in Edmonton or Gordonvale, not where dickhead wants to put it.

Paul Freebody

  • WOW over 7300 hits and nearly all supporting the Park. Thanks to everyone for their great support! Just for the record if my memory serves me correctly Rikk Altree was sacked for stealing from our business! Hence his rude comments on this site.

Greg Howarth

  • why would we support another paul freebody project, he didnt care for cairns when a councillor, now he wants council to fast track his project.

Darren Anderson

  • I think there is a deliberate reason why tourists aren't encouraged to the south side of Cairns... quite simply it isn't very nice down there. Someone mentioned that we should be letting the tourists see 'what the rest of Cairns has to offer'... all the southside has to offer is graffiti and low-bud...get housing developments. The southside simply doesn't have what is required to support or even supplement a tourist market.

Leaha Coxon

  • yep we need somrthing like this in Cairns increase our unemployment

Howie Thomas

  • I think Council will approve you Paul but i think they will garnt approval for a limited time period (18 months from date of approval to be up and running) and with you as the developer to see if you keep to your word.. I think that would be fair...cos you said some things in the heat of battle and whilst they cannot stop the people wanting this... they definitely want you to fall on your arse unfortunately.

Brett Youwish

  • Mustnt be enough in it for the councilors to take positive action over it. You can bet your last dollar that if it effected them directly it would be pushed to the top of the adjenda ASAP and decided on that night just like their pay rises.

Freebody's waterpark: Underwaterbelly - a tale of a putrefying road kill carcass

The Dillon Road Site, in the middle of Barron River Delta system, a serve and known flood plain

Sugarworld Waterslides, near Edmonton on the South side of Cairns

The Whitewater World, Gold Coast. Look at all those carparks!

The Wet n Wild park, Gold Coast

The whole sordid waterpark development proposal, that got the nod from Cairns Regional Council today, was voted against by Mayor Val Schier, Kirsten Lesina, Diane Forsyth, and Julia Leu. Every time one takes another look at this plan, it seems more and more like a putrefying road kill carcass, more maggots seem to crawl out of it.
"I did not support this proposal because it goes against the Cairns Plan," Councillor Diane Forsyth said. "Also, due the significant change in the visual amenity of the area, which only allows up to 8 meters, yet some structures will be 31 meters on this development."
"It sets a precedent for development of the Barron Delta. The site is very problematic due to flooding," Diane Forsyth says.
Most of the Councillors that voted against the application, did not appose the project, just the location. They showed great restraint in not attacking the applicant the nasty way he attacked them a few weeks earlier.
As a matter of public service, I provide a summary of some operational loopholes. I wish Freebody all the luck in the world with this venture, as he couldn't have chosen a worst site if he tried.
Those Councillors that supported today's vote, have a foolish understanding of the Barron River delta, and have failed in their duty to exercise good governance in allowing commercial development on this fragile and volatile water system. Council, nor Paul Freebody will have any ability to control the force of nature when we next see a flood the size of the late 1970's.

In addition to a Queensland business name, Adventure Waters Water Park, ASIC records also show a Queensland business name Adventure Mountain, and a registered company named Adventure Mountain Pty Ltd. The company registration was applied for in February 2007, with its registered office in Cairns.

One can only guess what Freebody had in mind with the 'Adventure Mountain' name. Perhaps he was copying the name of the now long defunct Gold Coast amusement park named Magic Mountain, or perhaps he was planning to acquire the old Portsmith landfill tip, which the Council are in the process of capping off.

Maybe Freebody realised that by the time he builds up the Dillon Road site above the Q100 level, it might seem like a small mountain, or just a large mountain of debt, or just maybe, he actually considered a hillside site some time ago.


The water park proposal states that the site is 7 hectares. With a land use comparison, Wet n Wild and Warner Bros Movie World at the Gold Coast, show some interesting comparisons. There is no dividing boundary shown between the two attractions, and the total area is around 143 hectare, which is over 20 times the area of Paul Freebody's Dillon Road site.

It's important to note that only stage 1 of the $30 million development will occur at this stage, planned to be built with a year. However the site is planned to include 16 water slides, restaurants, cafes, retail outlets and function rooms. Freebody expects approximately 248,500 visitors a year, using his “very conservative approach”.

Assuming that Wet n Wild occupies around half of the 143 hectare site, they have around 10 times the land area of the Dillon Road site for their 15 rides, pools, other facilities and car park. If Freebody intends to locate 16 slides and the other facilities on the 7 hectare site, then presumably the slides will not be very large or exciting. Alternatively, if stage 1 is for only part of the full facility, is he planning to acquire adjoining land for expansion?


It is good to see another waterpark operator is now throwing their hat into the ring as an alternative and competitor to Freebody's wet dream. Long time, highly successful tourism operators such as the Chapman, Freeman and Woodward families would have the wherewithal to create an attractive and successful development, based on their outstanding track records.


There have been a number of references and discussions of the possible dire consequences which could result if the Council dared to reject the approval of the Dillon Road proposal, one of which is the untenable outcome that the water park might be built in Townsville instead, resulting in a great loss to the Cairns community, and a perceived massive boost to the Townsville economy. If you considers the statement that the Cairns proposal is based on attracting over 20% of locals in their visitor numbers, leaving the remaining number comprising domestic and international visitors, then it is extremely unlikely that the same formula could be realistically applied to Townsville.

According to the data, there were only 264,000 domestic visitors, and 120,000 international visitors to Townsville in the 2008- 2009 financial year, which is around 19% of the visitor numbers to Cairns, so that a similar development in Townsville could not realistically expect either domestic or international visitors to comprise a major portion of their total visitor numbers. Given the cost of entry to a water park, the time and cost of travelling from Cairns to Townsville, and the incidental costs such as meals and accommodation, it is highly unlikely there would be many Cairns district residents who would travel to Townsville just to visit a water park.

So realistically, a similar water park in Townsville would be primarily supported by local residents, particularly considering that there is little else to do in Brownsville, and precious else water to see other than the ocean. If one attempts to look through the fog, you just might perceive that it was really just a diversion to hoodwink Council that Cairns was once again in morbid danger of losing yet another crown jewel to Townsville.

There would be a number of full time employees for management, supervisory and maintenance positions, possibly in the order of 30 persons, who would work different shifts to accommodate the seven-day trading needs, so perhaps the allocation of 30 car parking spaces for employees would be sufficient.
If the 30 full-time employees were paid an average of $50,000, there would be only $1.2 million left out of the wages budget of $2.7 million for the other 170 employees, resulting in an average of around $7,000 each. On that basis, Freebody is probably planning to use school kids as his slaves, especially as the busy periods would coincide with the days when there is no school, and there would be few other persons who would be prepared to work for that sort of income.
As the school kids would generally not be driving themselves, they would travel to and from work by bicycle, Sunbus or lifts from parents and friends, so maybe they wouldn't need car parking. Obviously, the part-time casual employment of 170 school kids will do little to reduce the local unemployment crisis, so the supporters who think the Waterpark will create 200 jobs and be our saviour will be sorely disappointed.
Dividing the $2.7m wages bill by 200 workers, to get an average of around $13,500. Considering there would be both some full time employees and some higher paid staff, there will be a lot of part time staff who will earn very little.
The second stage will cost another $7.5 million two years, followed by a third and fourth stages, however he's expecting to have at least six major rides on opening day, followed by a three more rides sometime years later. If Skyrail had really offered an alternate more suitable site, they may also have more than just a passing interest in the project, rather than a desire to help out a possibly struggling tourism competitor.
Google Earth images (above) show aerial views of Wet n Wild, Whitewater World, Sugarworld and the Dillon Road sites. This offers a good perspective of the development size, with any room for expansion. Wet n Wild already covers a far greater area than the Dillon Road site, and has ample unused land available for expansion.
The 1,400 car park spaces are also use by the R M Williams Outback Spectacular show, but as it only operates at night when Wet n Wild is closed, there is no conflict. Whitewater World is in the lower portion of the image, with Dreamworld in the upper portion. The 2,500 car park spaces are shared between the two parks.
Sugarworld waterslides and the adjoining Council parkland, are around the same size as Freebody's Dillon Road site. There is over half the number of car spaces planned for the Dillon Road site, despite Sugarworld being a far smaller operation, and also within walking or cycling distance for many Edmonton residents.
It appears that Paul Freebody plans to open his park with as many slides and rides as Whitewater World, yet on a much smaller land area, then expand it to be as large as Wet n Wild without any additional land, and only allowing for around 200 car park spaces. Perhaps he plans to aquire additional land from the neighbouring farmer.
Even if Freebody could fit more rides onto the existing site, it would be difficult to carry out the construction without storing materials and operating equipment outside his boundary. There is also the necessary slip lane to be considered. Is there enough space available without encroaching on the cane farm on the opposite side of Dillon Road?
Will the exit slip lane roading further reduce the size of his site? Will Council pay these substantial costs? Will Paul provide a sign thanking the local Councillor for his new slip lane? Even Google Earth images does not support the site as clearly shown by the misalignment of the northbound and southbound lanes of the highway opposite the Dillon Road intersection.
Adventure Waters is budgeting for around 250,000 visitors per year, with over 20% being locals. If Freebody, and his girlfriend Kathy Plath, expect to get just 50% of visitors from the tourist market, then with around 2 million domestic and international visitors a year to Cairns, they will need around 6.25% or 3 out of every 50 tourists, young or old to cough up. To attract them, he will need to promote heavily to that market, and have more staff on weekdays outside school holidays, as tourism is a 365 day a year business.
Based on the expected entry prices, visitors would be paying only 20% less than the entry cost to Wet n Wild, a mere 12% less than the entry cost to White Water World, and three times the amount of a visit to Sugarworld.
    Open 363.5 days per annum
    Hours 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM most days
    Day Pass Adult $49.95 Child $32.95 Average=$41.45
    Annual Pass Adult $145.95 Child $95.95 Average=$120.95
    Child is 4-13 years old
    15 world class rides
    Opened 1984
    Initial cost $20 million
    Around 1,400 car park spaces

    Open 363.5 days per annum
    Hours 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
    Day Pass Adult $45 Child $30 Average=$37.50
    Annual Pass Adult $130 Child $82 Average=$106
    7 world class rides including 4 of the world’s best water slides
    Opened 2006
    Initial cost $56 million
    85% to 90% of visitors from the domestic market
    70% of visitors from the surrounding area
    Around 2,500 car park spaces shared with Dreamworld

    Open on weekends, public holidays and school holidays
    Hours 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM
    Day Pass Adult $12 Child 5-14 years $10 Child 3-14 years $4
    Average is probably around $11
    4 water slides
    0 mechanised thrill rides
    Over 100 car park spaces

    Open 363 days per annum, according to promotional video
    Budgeted turnover $11.1 million per annum
    Day Pass Adult $39 Child $27 Average=$33 ( article)
    Budgeted visitor numbers 248,500 per annum
    Budgeted average spend per visitor=$44.67
    Number of water slides?
    Number of mechanised thrill rides?
    Proposed initial cost of $30 or $35 million
    Over 20% of visitors from local market
    200 car park spaces
  • With sincere thanks to Fearless Fred for his support in this feature.