Sunday, 31 May 2009

Nitschke thanks JCU Cairns students

The offer from the James Cook University Student Association to host the euthanasia public meeting and workshop in Cairns, was welcomed today by Exit Director, Dr Philip Nitschke, following a story in CairnsBlog on Saturday.

Speaking from Townsville, Dr Nitschke of Exit International, he relieved that there had been an alternative venue made available after the last minute decision by Cairns City Council to cancel the planned event at the Cairns City Library.

"The late decision by the Cairns Regional Council library, had threatened the event and would have been a blow to free speech and the need for open debate on this important issue, Dr Nitschke said. "Exit was grateful for the offer of an alternative venue by Janine Aitken, Education Officer of the Student Association."

Dr Nitschke said the incident was similar to the events that had taken place in Mackay where there had been a last minute decision to cancel the venue that had been booked. In this case it was the Central Queensland University Mackay campus who had come forward with an alternative venue.

“Once again we have the important issue of free speech and open debate on contentious issues being threatened by decisions to close venues - it is now thanks to the James Cook University Student Association that this issue will receive the open debate it deserves. We particularly welcome the interest shown by the younger generation in the euthanasia debate.

Dr Nitschke said the public meeting would now start at 11.30am Monday morning, in the refectory of the James Cook University, Smithfield campus..

“I will put the proposition that is makes sense for elderly and sick Australians to develop a practical strategy so they can reliably end their lives at the time of their choosing. Those who agree with me will be invited to a closed session to discuss the practicalities of such a plan that will follow on from the public meeting,” Dr Nitschke said.

Blog Boys - 7:35am Monday morning

AM gets crazy in the morning, thanks to Locco.
The first of the Blog Boys, Lance Royce and myself,
Tune in from 7:30am to 846AM, and we'll try not to break any broadcasting rules.
Note to self: set the alarm.
(Disclaimer: This programme was bought to you by the letters B, L and the colour red. No money has changed hands in the production of this radio show, besides chocolate.)

Watch out when you hear a beep

Missed this one, by a few days, and us Bloggers should take note ;-)

Queensland parliament adopted phone tapping laws laws under the Telecommunications Interception Act 2009.

This will allow Police and the Crime and Misconduct Commission to apply for telecommunications interception warrants.

"The passing of this legislation ensures Queensland authorities have access to the tools they need to fight crime and keep Queenslanders safe," Attorney-General Cameron Dick says.

"These powers assist officers investigating serious crimes such as drug trafficking, paedophilia, organised crime, serious premeditated violent crimes, and corruption."

However, Australian Council for Civil Liberties president Terry O'Gorman, says new laws can be abused, if more resources aren't provided for the Public Interest Monitor, a new statutory appointment under the Act.

I support such tools being provided to catch nutters, however get rather concerned when the State becomes too much of a big brother.

Wonder if they should be looking into tapping a few Cairns Regional Councillors Blackberrys?

Wild Rivers heritage legislation, leads to conflict

ALP's Wild Rivers divisive legislation to turn Cape York's waterways into World Heritage, is leading to conflict.

Last Monday, well-known Greens leader in Cairns Denis Walls, wrote to CairnsBlog with a request.

Denis apparently feels that I have been publishing misinformation about Wild Rivers and Cape York Peninsula [here is the follow-up story.] He asked me to put up an article by Greg Roberts from The Australian, which alleged strong disagreement between Cape York leader Noel Pearson, and his brother Gerhardt Pearson.

Denis described the article as “revealing”.

I don’t know enough about Cape York and the issues involved, so I sent the material to CairnsBlog correspondent Bryan Law for his perspective, as he has a history and background of involvement with Indigenous Australians in Cape York.

Bryan said the story was a beat-up by The Australian. He also said the comments from Gerhardt Pearson in his letter to Anna Bligh (to publicly commit to progressing the nomination of Cape York for World Heritage listing, and that she should "work collaboratively with traditional owners, landholders and green groups"), have been said by many Aboriginal leaders, including Noel Pearson, for a long time.

According to Bryan, “Noel Pearson has long supported the World Heritage listing of Cape York Peninsula after due process. It was an integral part of the Cape York Heads of Agreement signed by Noel and others in 1996, but there it was placed in a context of Aboriginal land ownership that had to be respected through an agreed process of consultation and negotiation.”

Article 13 has a reference to World Heritage listing:
  • 13. The parties agree that areas of high conservation and cultural value shall be identified by a regional assessment process according to objective national and international criteria.

    There shall be an independent review acceptable to all parties in the case of dispute as to whether the values are consistent with the criteria. Where such areas are identified, the landholder shall enter into appropriate agreements to protect the area under State or Commonwealth provision which may include World Heritage listing.

    As part of such agreements, funds shall be provided for management of the area, monitoring of agreements and equitable economic and social adjustment.
“Noel’s problem now is that the consultation process has not been carried out effectively, or in good faith,” Bryan Law says.

Bryan Law suggested that instead of simply reprinting The Australian’s article, CairnsBlog ask Denis Walls of The Greens for his own thinking on the issues involved, starting with the principles of negotiation and informed consent that are embedded in the Heads of Agreement.
CAFNEC’s new coordinator, Sarah Hoyle, was reported in the Cairns Post on 22 May:-
  • “CAFNEC supported a World Heritage nomination process for Cape York Peninsula that was underpinned by the free, prior and informed consent and agreement of traditional owners, and other land holding interests”.

Does Denis Walls agree with Sarah’s statement? “Yes,” says Denis. He is emphatic that World Heritage nomination should not take place without Traditional Owner (TO) consent. However, he denies that consultation to date has been ineffective, and asserts that right now will be “the start of what will probably be a 10-year process with massive TO input to come”.

Denis goes on to complain about Noel Pearson, and the level of support he receives from the Australian.

"Noel is one prominent leader amongst a diverse population. Many TOs are probably happy with the Bligh government, The Wilderness Society, and the Greens. They are a diverse mob," Denis Walls says.

In addition, Denis accuses the Australian of “being gung ho behind Noel Pearson for some time. The Weekend Australian was one constant attack on green groups. Today’s piece redressed the balance a bit for the first time”.

"The Greens had a good relationship with Balkunu and Cape York Land Council," Denis Walls says. "They had a good meeting only 18 months ago, before the last federal election."

I can’t help but feel things may have changed a little since then.

One problem The Greens will have is the unrestrained behavior of The Wilderness Society, which continues to issue provocative comments about Cape York from their protected bunkers in Sydney and Canberra.

There seems to be precisely one publicly identified development proposal (near Lockhart River on Cape York Peninsula), that may fall foul of the Wild Rivers and World Heritage legislation. The proposal involves some 16,000 hectares of Pongamia pinnata, an Asian tree, in plantations for the production of bio-diesel.

The proponent, Evergreen Fuels, claims that 35 of 37 TO trustees support the development. One TO says the proposal keeps changing and is filled with uncertainty. Bryan Law says the proposal is the kind of issue that cries out to be resolved through negotiation and problem-solving engaged in with good faith.

“Employment issues, the local economy, and the provision of sustainable fuels at Lockhart River are all issues that green groups should be interested in supporting," Bryan Law says.

"TOs ought drive the issue, and green groups seek input respectfully. If collectively we can’t problem-solve around a proposal like this, and at the same time we are unable to bring bauxite mining under control, then I think Noel Pearson is right – the legislation will effectively discriminate against Aboriginal people”.

It all appears to be much simpler for Cape York activist Lyndon Schneiders, has long campaigned for protection who said from his bunker in Sydney that rainforest, woodlands, and native grasslands would be bulldozed under the plan.

“It is not worthless cattle country as is implied by the proponents. Importing a weed into an area of high conservation value with marginal economic prospects looks like an ecological disaster,” Lyndon Schneiders says.

So not only is Cape York Peninsula a wilderness area where native people get in the way, “non-native” plants are “weeds”. Lyndon lives in a town where no high conservation values exist anymore, and where non-native weeds like wheat provide his daily bread – and he compensates for this by telling the poorest, weakest and most isolated Australians, what they are allowed to do on their own land.

I wonder whether or not the colonial mentality is alive and well in some parts of the Green movement – and whether or not younger leaders like Sarah Hoyle, are able to restore some integrity to what used to be called the Green/Black alliance.

Time will tell.

Susan Boyle loses 'Britain's Got Talent'

The much-hyped 'Scottish sensation' Susan Boyle, who rose to instant stardom just seven weeks ago, lost Britain's Got Talent last evening. She dreamed a dream, but she has achieved something she never dreamed about.

Diversity, a ten-person hiphop dance group, picked up the top prize, with a stunning performance. They will perform before the Queen at the Royal Variety Show. They also take home $201,989. That's a $20,198 each (AUD).

Simon Cowell called them as "the only act tonight I'd give a '10' to" and "sheer and utter perfection."

Boyle sang the song that made her a known, 'I Dreamed a Dream.' "Lads, I wish you all the best," Susan Boyle said to the winners.

Here's the winners...

Compost earns its name

I’m amazed at the ethics of the Cairns Post, when they publish a hate-filled scumbag letter like this.
I thought Alan Hudson was vetting the Letters these days? Maybe he was off on Friday.
This disjusting vent was penned by Jeff Barnes of Callum Street, Mooroobool. You can easily find Mr Barnes on Whitepages.
I might pop over for a little chat and cuppa.

View Larger Map

Kim Jong is ill

According to a raft of experts and Time magazine, this photo with Kim Jong-il and his army, is the last in a long line of North Korean government-released photos that are doctored.
I discovered a fondness for this mad leader when I saw him in Matt Stone and Trey Park's Team America. Watch Kim singing I'm so ronery.
Both the BBC and the UK Times newspaper believe its rubbish, to coin a Brit saying.
Take a closer look at the white platform the the second row of soldiers are standing on. The line seems to magically stop at the two soldiers standing to Kim's left and right, which shows that he was digitally inserted into the photograph.

If Chatrooms were real

Saturday, 30 May 2009

JCU euthanaise Council and Cairns Post story

Director of the pro-euthanasia group, Exit International Philip Nitschke, will be speaking in Cairns on Monday morning, contrary to the Cairns Post today.

The four-time nominee for Australian of the Year who holds a PhD in laser physics, is in Townsville this weekend, on route to a planned Cairns function on Monday.

Cairns Regional Council has banned Nitschke from holding his public forum in a meeting room at the city library.

"As soon as I became aware that Dr Nitschke had been denied access to Council-run facilities, I was horrified," Janine Aitken, Education Officer of James Cook University's Cairns Student Association told CairnsBlog.

Aitken, who ran for Council in 2008 against Sno Bonneau, has arranged for Dr Nitschke to speak at James Cook University, instead of the Cairns Regional Council library in Cairns.

"It's amazing that in this day and age the opportunity for open debate and access to information is being denied by Cairns Regional Council," Aitken said. "I see the need for this discussion to be had and am fortunate that I am supported by a Student Council that believes in the importance of free speech."

"We are delighted to be able to provide a venue for Dr Nitschke to speak at."

Nitschke called the Council’s decision “farcical and implausible”.

JCU Cairns Campus president, Justin Ganzer also warmly welcomes the controversial doctor to speak at his University, that the brain-dead lazy media refer to as 'Dr Death'.

"Although some people may not agree with what he has to say, or the certain ideas that he's putting across, nonetheless he should be able to express them," Justin Ganzer said this afternoon.

"We are approaching this delicately to ensure we're not upsetting anyone by holding this event. We had to talk with the University hierarchy to "make sure it wasn't going to cause any controversy for them," Ganzer says.

"I believe if you're going to have intelligent debate on any subject matter, you need to at least express both sides, or as many sides as possible. Whether you agree with it or not, this isn't a way to debate a topic."

"The [Cairns] Council acted in the best interests of their concerns, however I would assume that if there was concerns like that, there were measures that could be be taken. I guess the Council has their reasons for doing that."

You can listen to my interview with Justin here:

Carenda Jenkin, writing in today's Cairns Post, said that the Cairns city library wouldn't host a event because of security concerns...
  • [Nitschke's] office was told that “too many people may wish to attend” and “security would need to be involved, as they were at the last gathering”.

    But Dr Nitschke denied security was needed at a previous meeting in Cairns due to numbers. He said it was due to a power failure.

    “We booked this venue in March and we are three days out from our workshop and there’s no time to find another place to hold it,” he said. “We haven’t had any trouble in Townsville and we’ve been to the Cairns library before and we haven’t had any problems in May 2005, when 50 people turned up.

    “This mirrors what happened in Mackay when their neighbourhood centre made a last minute cancellation due to the philosophical views of the booking agent.

    Cairns library manager Kerrie Still said the booking had not been confirmed but an inquiry had been made by Exit International’s Lindy Boyd in March.

    “The booking form was referred to me as the meeting purpose stated on the form was for a “public meeting” and in response to a standard question on the form answered “yes, would possibly attract media attention’,” she said.

    “The terms and conditions of use clearly state that library facilities are not available for public meetings that could exceed maximum venue capacity.”

Simple. Only let the first 100 in.

  • Ms Still said she called Dr Nitschke’s office and suggested that a larger facility would better suit their needs. “There was no last minute response or any delay on the part of the library,” Ms Still said.

Yeah, sure. I bet some right-wing nut in Spence Street sent you orders when they got wind of it. I recall former Mayor Kevin Byrne banning Puppetry of the Penis from the Cairns Civic Theatre on more than one occasion, because he thought it was a bit too rude for Cairns.

Don't you love it when our politicians try to censor what we're allowed to see and hear?

  • Queensland Right to Life Cairns branch president Dr Tim Coyle said he was delighted to hear Mr Nitschke’s workshop had encountered some problems.

    “The usual thing in those workshops is that they give a detailed instruction on how to commit suicide and these kind of workshops are a bad influence,” Dr Coyle said.

And you can sit in on a Council meeting and learn how some Councillors can multi-task: txt message their girl-friends and vote on selling off properties, all at the same time!

Nitschke's book, Killing Me Softly, that he co-wrote with Dr Fiona Stewart, was a compelling and radical examination of the euthanasia debate. Janet Homes a Court called said it advanced the discussion on dying painlessly and with dignity.

Nitschke was the first doctor in the world to administer a legal, voluntary, lethal injection.

Come and hear Dr Phillip Nitschke speak on Monday June 1st, from 11:30am to 2:30pm.

  • James Cook University
    McGregor Road, Smithfield
    The Refectory, Ground Floor
    Building A2

St Oink College of Cairns

After seven schools have been closed in Victoria due to the swine flu outbreak, the ABC report that St Monica's College in Cairns will be closed on Monday after a 13-year-old girl tested positive to the virus.
  • Queensland Health Minister Paul Lucas says a 13-year-old girl from St Monica's College tested positive to the virus overnight, bringing the total number of cases in Queensland to 15.

    There are more than 200 cases throughout Australia, mostly in Victoria.
    He says the school will be closed for seven days.
    "Public health officers will begin contacting people who have been in close contact with that student," he said.

    "I understand the student was a student at St Monica's college in Cairns and it will therefore be necessary for students at that school to be away from school for a period of seven days."

However, the Cairns Post is behind with the news today....

Not the Great Depression

Kiwiblog posted this graph, from Andrew Sullivan’s blog. It's presumably about the US economy, and puts things into perspective.

Cairns Post 31, CairnsBlog 71

While I'm on the subject of other media, I did a quick review of Friday's Cairns Post.

In the printed (paper) edition, there were 6 letters to the editor, 5 'Short and Sharp' notes, and 14 SMS 'Txt Posts'. Additionally, there were 6 comments posted online, making a total of 31.

It's fair to say that the Txt messages add hardly any value to the journalistic depth of the paper, but I added them into the total of contributors, nevertheless. Oh, and there was the usual line-up of six "They Say" vox pox, this time asking about the parking meter increase.

In the online edition, the following stories had comments posted by readers:

Thursday's edition had 6 full page advertisements in the local news section, or 30%. Friday's edition had 4 full page, and 4 half page advertisements (which equates to the same) in the local news section.

On Friday the 29th May, there were 71 comments from readers posted on CairnsBlog. None were edited, censored, or moderated.

A reader emailed me last week and drew the connection between mid-life obesity and this Blog, a claim I strongly refute.

"You know Michael, I get up in the morning, open up CairnsBlog with a nice coffee, and start reading the blog and reader comments," Willis wrote. "Before you know it, it's after 11am, and I've missed my morning walk with the dogs. You have a lot to answer for young man!"

7 TV News runs a dodgy survey

I'm no statistician, but this one makes the abacus appear postmodern.
With great fanfare, Channel 7's Local TV News, have launched a viewer questionnaire, optimistically called Cairns tells the truth. I kid you not.
"Express your views in the Cairns survey by clicking on the following link," so the website says.
As they've only put a postal address on the form, meaning you'll have to pay to contribute your opinions, I thought I'd help them out. Therefore, so 7 News can get the maximum response, I'll provide their email address and you can send your survey results back, should you feel so compelled to fill in this stunning piece of statistical marvel. [Simply copy and paste the text below into an email.]
Even the survey logo, whipped up in someones afternoon tea break, is a treat to behold.
I've written a number of marketing surveys and questionnaires in my time, but this one is a real gem. I was going to re-print a few excerpts, but it's gold so I will copy the entire dodgy questionnaire for your edification and bemusement.
I loved these ones in particular:
  • Do you know your local Council member's name? I think they mean Councillor. Unless Sno has a nic-name for his peepee?

  • What keeps you awake at night worrying? If Cr Alan Blake will send the heavies around.

  • Does the cost of rent/mortgage negatively affect your lifestyle? Yes and No. Bloodly silly question.

  • Is there enough for children to do in the community? Depends if they have dumb parents I guess.

  • Do you find tourists’ behaviour annoying? No, just the locals are the ones that are annoying. Oh, and some elected ones too.

  • Do you feel, as a society, we are Criminal? Devious? □ Yes □ No As a society, we are Nethanderals, and still evolving.

  • If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be? I'd ban all stupid media surveys.
  • Does Cairns / Townsville rivalry really exist? No, they're shit at most things.

Where's the question about how lame-arse some of our local media is at doing their job?

What kind of answers they're trying to solicit from such questions, is beyond me.
  • How long have you lived in Cairns?
    Less than a year / 1 to 5 years / 5 years or more

    How happy are you living in Cairns?
    Very happy / Mostly happy / Not happy

    What keeps you awake at night worrying?
    Job security / Financial worries / Personal safety / Family issues /
    Other - ? (Please state)
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    How well do you know your neighbours?
    Very well / a little / not at all

    Would you lend them your garden tools?
    □ Yes □ No

    If you went on holiday, would you rust them to look after your
    a) house
    b) mail
    c) pets
    d) plants
    (Please circle applicable)

    Have you ever been a victim of crime in your community?
    □ Yes □ No

    Are there areas in your community you would be afraid to walk alone at night?
    □ Yes □ No If yes, where? (Please state)
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Is enough being done to combat crime in the community?
    □ Yes □ No

    Do you know your local Council member's name?
    □ Yes □ No

    Has Council amalgamation been a success?
    □ Yes □ No

    Have you had any reason to contact the Council?
    □ Yes □ No

    Are they accessible, do they return your calls?
    □ Yes □ No

    Do you know your local federal and state MP?
    □ Yes □ No

    If you had the chance to abolish one of the following , which would it be?
    a) Local Council
    b) State government
    c) Federal government

    Do you know your Bank Manager's name?
    □ Yes □ No

    Are you happy with the service your bank provides in Cairns?
    □ Yes □ No

    Does the cost of rent/mortgage negatively affect your lifestyle?
    □ Yes □ No

    How well does your local GP know you and your family?
    □ Very well □ Not very well

    Are you happy with the quality of medical care they offer?
    □ Yes □ No

    Do you think there are adequate medical services in the region?
    □ Yes □ NO If not, what services do you think are most needed? ( Please state )
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    If you have school-age children, do you let them walk/ride to school?
    □ Yes □ No □ N/A

    How do you rate their standard of education?
    □ Good □ Fair □ Poor What areas could be improved?
    ( Please state )
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Is there enough for children to do in the community?
    □ Yes □ No

    How important is tourism to the Far North?
    □ Very Important □ Important
    □ Not Important

    Does our economy rely too much on tourism?
    □ Yes □ No

    Are you worried that more tourism could threaten our environment?
    □ Yes □ No

    Do you give enough recognition to the value of the backpacker market?
    □ Yes □ No

    Are we doing enough to encourage tourists from?
    Overseas - □ Yes □ No
    Australia - □ Yes □ No

    Do you find tourists’ behaviour annoying?
    □ Yes □ No If yes, why:
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Does Cairns / Townsville rivalry really exist ?
    □ Yes □ No If so, does it cause any problems?
    □ Yes □ No

    Does Townsville get preferential treatment from the government at Cairns’ expense?
    □ Yes □ No

    Should local political leaders be doing more to get a better deal for Cairns?
    □ Yes □ No

    Are you still working?
    □ Yes □ No

    Do you have an active local social network?
    □ Yes □ No

    Do you get lonely?
    □ Yes □ No

    How often do you see family members?
    Daily/ Weekly / Not regularly

    If you had an accident at home and were unable to call for help, would someone worry and check on you?
    □ Yes □ No

    How often do you attend church?
    Daily / Weekly / Sometimes / Never

    Do you give to charity?
    □ Yes □ No

    How often do you exercise ?
    Daily / Weekly / Not regularly/ Not at all

    How often do you:
    a) go out for coffee in your local community
    Daily / Weekly / Not regularly/ Not at all
    b) meet for lunch
    Daily / Weekly / Not regularly/ Not at all
    c) go out to dinner
    Daily / Weekly / Not regularly/ Not at all

    Do you feel, as a society, we are:
    Charitable? □ Yes □ No
    Civic minded? □ Yes □ No
    Compassionate? □ Yes □ No
    Criminal? □ Yes □ No
    Devious? □ Yes □ No
    Materialistic? □ Yes □ No
    Honest? □ Yes □ No
    Hardworking? □ Yes □ No

    If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
    Age (tick)

    If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
    A bad habit (tick)
    Community (where you live)

    Your age?
    □ 16-24
    □ 25-39
    □ 40-54
    □ 55-65
    □ 65+
    Contact no. (optional)

Kuranda Range Road speed increased

With local motorists’ attention fixed mainly on the reduction of speed at the Captain Cook Highway's multiple roundabouts, the speed limit on a section of the Kuranda Range Road has actually been increased. The section known to Kurandovians as the “long uphill overtaking stretch” has been increased to 70 kph.

Although less than the previous limit, the 10 kph increase will be welcomed by many.

Waiting for the errant motorist at the top has been has been the pastime of the police for many months – and from frequent observation it has been a good contributor to the Treasury coffers.
Wonder what will balance the budget now?

Hands off our Knob

"Hands off our Knob," Maurice Milliner says, a Yorkeys Knob resident and co-ordinator of the 5th annual Festival of the Knob.
"Every year our signs go walkabout. They are there to advertise our wonderful festival. It's very sad when they are stolen before the event," Milliner said.
"This year we hope people leave them alone, so we can let everyone know about our great community event."
The Festival of the Knob has become a highlight on the beaches annual calender, attracting several thousand visitors.
From 11am to 5pm next Saturday, the festival will have all-day entertainment, gourmet food, and 80 market stalls and displays.
The annual Crowning of the King and Queen of the Knob by Cairns Regional Council Mayor Val Schier. The first public performance of the Out Loud Choir, and arrival of 'Yorkey' will follow the ceremony..

Friday, 29 May 2009

The Chief Extra-spin Officer writes again

The drama surrounding the completed and subsequent release of a report on the commercial arrangement between Cairns Regional Council, the staff and Councillors involved, and radio station 4CA 846 Am, just gets worse.

"I will not be supplying a full copy of the report to any Councillors or any member of the public at any time," Noel Briggs has said today.

The Local Government Act states that all externally commissioned reports are received by the CEO. However, as Noel Briggs has admitted that he was one of those involved and interviewed in the investigation, he should exclude himself from any review of the report, prior to it being distributed to Councillors.

"Briggs has gone to ground," one Councillor told CairnsBlog this afternoon. "We've not heard anything from him about what's going on."

Whilst it's not unusual for a summary report to be prepared on an external report, in this instance it should not be undertaken by Noel Briggs, as Council's CEO.

When the report hits the Council table, only the Councillors have the ability to with-hold it's release, no one else. Any Councillor that sits at the Council table - has the ability to move a motion, if seconded, for the report to be made public, contrary to the wishes of the CEO that it remain private. Councillors Lesina, Cooper, Schier, Forsyth, Leu and Pyne, have all indicated that they strongly desire this.

However, if a certain Councillor is implicated, they can apply to the Supreme Court of Queensland for an injunction to withhold the report from being tabled. This would be extremely unusual.

Given the intense public interest in this investigation, and although it's not unusual for a CEO to prepare a report on a report, one would think Briggs would distance himself from this. If he wants his hands totally clean, he should pass this onto the Councillors immediately, or seek another independent party to do this overview. Further delays only shed doubt on his entrenched mis-handling of the Cash for Comments fiasco.

Let's not forget, there any many similarities emerging to what Noel Briggs did with the two externally-commissioned reports against Councillor Diane Forsyth six months ago. In the investigation that I revealed as the embarrassing Operation Red Hot Poker report, Briggs was caught deliberately tampered and fraudulently altered the report, before delivering it to Councillors.

Does Noel Briggs believe he's policeman and jury? The Act appears to assume that the CEO will always be judging others, never himself or his own actions.

Only a dumb Councillor requires a report, written on another report. Why else would you do such a thing? Can't they read and come to their own conclusions? Furthermore, if people are reporting on themselves, as is the case with Noel Briggs' involvement in this scandal, this is clearly a serious conflict of interests, and against the law.

Treat our Councillors like mushrooms. Total release of this report is paramount and in the public interest, as this investigation is all about institutional corrupt culture at Cairns Regional Council. For goodness sake, it was on Media Watch. The nation is watching.

Because this investigation involves staff, it can be held in closed session, to protect them, although the public of Cairns knows of the staff implicated. Such a meeting is usually done in a special closed meeting, as Briggs is calling next week. Given the strong public interest, a more open dialogue should be implemented, to appear seamless and transparent.

However, Councillors are not covered by the same provisions as staff are in the Local Government Act. They take an oath of office and are answerable to the electors of Cairns and Douglas. They are in fact, public property, and is why I have been so upfront and lurid with my findings over the last five weeks.

Because the situation is now becoming very murky, I call for intervention by the Minister for Local Government, to take a strong interest in this unfolding drama, so the public is not duped. The Minister needs to oversee and monitor the actions of the CEO of the Cairns Regional Council.

Finally, the veracity of this report must be questioned. The interviews that were conducted, were not taken under oath, and therefore the truth will not necessarily be known. There's a high chance of a grand whitewash .

Here's Noel's latest secret email. Enjoy.
  • From: Noel Briggs
    Sent: Friday, 29 May 2009 10:55 AM
    Subject: Investigation


    Further to my email dated 28 May 2009, I have received a request to provide a full copy of Mr Henry SC's report to all councillors and to the public at large.

    As Chief Executive Officer of Council, I engaged Mr Henry SC to gather information and make findings concerning a small subset of issues which form part of a wider investigation being conducted by me. Mr Henry's report is confidential and contains information about, and statements made by, a number of employees of Council. Each employee who was part of Mr Henry's investigation was provided with an undertaking that any information or statements made by employees would remain strictly confidential and would not be made public at any time.

    Quite apart from the express undertakings which I made to each employee involved in the investigation, it would be inappropriate for me to disclose to Council (or indeed, the general public), confidential employee information which forms part of Mr Henry's report. In closed session at next week's Council meeting, I will be providing to all Councillors an executive summary of the report which has been prepared by Mr Henry.

    Mr Henry has ensured that the executive summary is framed in a way that not only maintains the confidence of the employees involved in the investigation, but provides findings in relation to the subset of issues which he was asked to investigate. I will also be providing a report prepared by me which reports completely on the Council's commercial arrangement with prime radio (4CA), as I have been asked to do.

    For the reasons outlined above, I will not be supplying a full copy of the report to any Councillors or any member of the public at any time. I am conscious of my obligations to employees and to Council and in line with those responsibilities and duties, my position will not change in relation to the disclosure of the report.

    I will shortly be forwarding a notice of meeting in accordance with my email dated 28 May 2009.

    Noel Briggs
    Chief Executive Officer
    Cairns Regional Council

Robbing from the roach, giving to the paws

I usually dislike fraud, but when I saw this case yesterday...
  • Employee jailed for stealing $200,000
    Thursday, May 28, 2009
    © The Cairns Post

    A FORMER credit controller at The Cairns Post will spend 15 months in jail after admitting to defrauding her employer of more than $200,000.
    In Cairns District Court yesterday, Kellie Jane Owens, 36, pleaded guilty to one count of fraud to the value of $226,568.
...I think a case could be made that it's an act of resistance against tyranny, in the tradition of Robin Hood.

But that probably wouldn't have cut any ice with the judge. Stealing from Barons used to be punishable by death, so the Post probably think she got off lightly.

Ethics and conduct of a Councillor

Former Mulgrave Shire Councillor Ross Parisi, is a vocal advocate for strong accountable local government, having dedicated many years to serving his community in public office.

In light of the recent revelations about the questionable behaviour of Cairns Regional Councillor Alan Blake, and the exposure of Councillors and senior staff in the Cash for Comments debacle, Ross Parisi says that the system must not be abused by capricious individuals with their own personal agendas.


It is almost 15 months since the Council election. From time to time I am asked what my views are on the Cairns Regional Council’s governance. I, like so many other interested observers, am becoming increasingly concerned and bewildered by the dysfunctional appearance that is becoming evident.

For the purposes of this critique, I would like to quote a relevant section pertaining to the Model Code of Conduct for Councillor, adopted by Cairns Regional Council on the 3rd April 2008:-

    - It is vital that the public has confidence in a local government’s ability to ensure the good rule and government of its area,

    - Councillors must conduct themselves in a way that promotes and maintains the public’s trust and confidence in the local government and the good rule and government of its area.

It is obvious that the above articles are not being adhered to by at least some of the Councillors who with their experience should know better. The "Cash for Comment" controversy is but one example of the dysfunction that permeates from the Cairns Regional Council chambers.

The democratic process by its very nature, is a fragile institution and as such must not be abused by capricious individuals with their own personal agendas, otherwise the process will spiral into chaos. All self-interest including party political beliefs should play no part in the decision making process and need to be left outside of the Council Chambers.

Machiavellian principles should play no part in the governance of Cairns, a city that is in financial peril due to the Global Financial meltdown. That is not to say that debate should not take place. Indeed debate is an essential ingredient in any healthy democracy. What is toxic though is the snipping, undermining and malicious conduct of those that relish such disorderly conduct.

Cairns at this moment in time, needs stability and strong leadership, if not a Council united in purpose and goodwill with a set of values that aspire confidence and trust.

Proper deliberations cannot take place in an atmosphere where the Mayor and Councillors need to watch their back in fear. Invariably decisions arrived in circumstances as such are poor ones with the ratepayers and residents bearing the burden of irresponsibility.

For the sake of good governance, it is high time that all Councillors and staff to put their personal agendas aside and work together for the common good.

Perhaps it is time for the Minister for Local Government to ask for a please explain.

IGA manager slams Cairns Post, Villa owner

It was a battle between Levi the Brave, and George of the Villa.

Former chef, and now manager of the 24-hour IGA Esplanade convenience store, received the wrath of Villa Romana's owner, George Papagelou on Tuesday night. The 30-year-old business owner was welcoming the arrival of his new son, born at 10:15pm on Monday night, as the drama unfolded.

"I got a call from staff, saying that security had arrived and were demanding they leave the building," IGA manager, Levi Blackwell said. "I didn't have much sleep on Monday and then having to deal with all this wasn't fun."

Papagelou ordered a security officer and locksmith to evict staff and patrons from the Aplin Street IGA at 7:30pm on Tuesday night, citing a tenancy dispute.

"I was shocked and we were taken off guard," says Levi Blackwell. "It's why they did this late in the evening."

"This action was taken by the landlord, without any prior notice and in circumstances where our solicitors were still waiting for answers to a number of questions," Jennifer Blackwell-Spencer, director of the family-owned business said.

They contest that there is money owed by the landlord to companies related to IGA Esplanade.

"There's a damages claim against George Papagelou for more than $60,000, as we had to pay to install air conditioning, plant equipment and additional lighting, which were part of the tenancy agreement," Levi Blackwell said.

An electricity account, issued by Papagelou to the Blackwell's, included charges for other businesses, unrelated to the IGA premises.

An urgent proceeding was filed in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Wednesday, and Justice Phillippides ordered Papagelou allow staff to re-occupy the shop, whilst the disputes were being resolved.

"We view these actions as unconscionable conduct by the landlord," Jennifer Blackwell-Spencer says. "We maintain that the landlord had no legal entitlement to lock us out of the shop and we are most disappointed with his actions, which have caused damage to our reputation in Cairns."

"I'm not impressed with the coverage in yesterday's Cairns Post," manager Levi Blackwell said.

"I wasn't contacted, the directors weren't contacted, I mean a reporter can say they called the store for comment, but the shop was closed on Tuesday night," Levi said.

"I went on John Mackenzie's radio to tell our side. There's not a lot we can do about it, other than some damage control."
Papagelou snubbed his nose at local Cairns Council planning laws, when he claimed 53 sq mt of the Aplin Street footpath in 2008, after covertly extending his restaurant. The incoming Schier-led Council vowed to demand it's removal, but only a cosmetic change was every made. The fixed exterior wall was replaced with a semi-permanent wall. The difference is unrecognisable, yet it was touted as a 'great compromise.'

Tune in to the Blog Boys

CairnsBlog goes live on radio from Monday.

Together with Lance Royce, who writes the ultra right-wing Northern Truth (not to be confused with the Dennis Quick's Northern Watch), we're putting together a weekly half-hour show.

Blog Boys will air on No Cash for Comment radio 4CA 846 AM, on Monday's from 7:35 am.

I'd like to thank Mike "Locco" O'Loughlin, who will introduce the show, and fire off subjects on the day for open debate.

Lance will of course be wrong, narrow-minded, you know - a typical Yankee import, telling us how to live our lives. Whereas I, as a fellow Kiwi, piratically Australian if it wasn't for my stunning good looks, will be compassionate, realistic, and with a herbal tea and moccasins under the studio desk, will argue that the Earth is in fact round.

I'm looking forward to a lively debate every Monday, that Locco promises will be 'quirky yet annoying'. It aims to be a no-holds-barred extension of our individual Blogs, so duck for cover, the Blog Boys are coming.

Now where's Val's number, so she can come on as our guest?

Thursday, 28 May 2009

CEO to write a report on the report

The controversial and much-anticipated report into the Cash for Comments scandal that has rocked Cairns Regional Council over the last five weeks, has been completed and delivered the Chief Executive Officer this afternoon.

However, Noel Briggs has not given it to any Councillor. Instead he, and only he, will read it, and prepare his own report, on the report.

I'll repeat that again, because it sounds rather odd.

Noel Briggs, the guy we pay around $250,000 a year, will write his own report on Council's commercial arrangement with 4CA . Many have suggested that Noel himself, was part of the problem and is why the external investigation was called for in the first place by the Mayor.

So we, as ratepayers of Cairns, have just paid a high-ranking QC a substantial amount of money to investigate and deliver a totally independent report, only to have another one done by the CEO.

There's something seriously backward about all this:

  • From: Noel Briggs
    Sent: Thursday, 28 May 2009 5:44 PM
    To: ~~Councillors
    Subject: Investigation

    I have received at 4.00pm today the report from The External Investigator.

    The next step is for me to read the report and then prepare a report to Council on the findings.

    I should be in a position to report to Council some time next week.
    I propose to call a special meeting next week. My aim is to have the meeting on Wednesday in closed session at 12.00 noon.

    I have to give 2 clear days notice for a special meeting so for the meeting to be held on Wednesday the notice will need to go out tomorrow.
    I will advise tomorrow.

    Noel Briggs
    Chief Executive Officer, Cairns Regional Council
    T: 4044 3595

What a fiasco. The CEO is treating the Councillors like a bunch of brain-dead monkeys.

The Mayor should call immediately for full and open disclosure. Val Schier should also demand Noel Briggs remove himself from any further involvement in this matter forthwith.

However, a number of Councillors have not accepted the CEO's plan to censor the original report. Division 4 Councillor Kirsten Lesina, wants all Councillors to receive a copy immediately.

"Every Councillor should be entitled to see the full report ASAP, rather than just an abridged version," Cr Lesina told Noel Briggs, in a written response this evening.

"I request that the full report be available to all Councillors tomorrow [Friday]."

Councillor Linda Cooper also has called for a full public disclosure. "When the report comes before Council, I will be the first to ask for this to be released to the public," Cr Cooper told CairnsBlog this evening.

Kirsten Lesina, who graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from James Cook University, also wants the report, given it's public interest, to be dealt with in open Council session.

"I believe that as the public has paid for the report, they have every right to know the contents and thus the report should be dealt with in open session, rather than closed session," Councillor Lesina said.

ABC Far North's Richard Dinnen interviewed Noel Briggs late yesterday. This from ABC's blog:

  • But Mr Briggs was unsure of when the report will be presented to council and exactly how much of the report will be available to the public.

    He was unable to explain what the possible outcomes of the report will be.This is the first time Mr Briggs has commented to the ABC Far North since the investigation began last month.

    Click here the audio of Briggs speaking with Richard Dinnen.

Following the interview, Dinnen played Paul Kelly's Don't stand so close to the Window. It was an inspired song choice following the defiant Briggs:-

  • Oh Marlene, how we fell
    What we've done now we can never tell
    Bottle of wine, then another
    Suddenly we fell into each other

    Don't stand so close to the window
    Somebody out there might see

    Then the word on the wire
    Would be just like Ash Wednesday bush fire
    Kiss me quick, kiss me warm
    Put your dress on and hurry back home

    Don't stand so close to the window
    Somebody out there might see
    And you're not supposed to be here with me

    There's a way, there's a track
    One false move and there's no turning back
    Turn the page, close the book
    Walk out the door now with never a look

    And don't stand so close to the window
    Somebody out there might see
    And you're not supposed to be here with me
    The walls have ears and the darkness eyes don't you see?

The separation of power

There's a fundamental tenet in politics, that perception breeds reality.

Today, five weeks after Cairns Regional Councillor Sno Bonneau, asked an ominous question before a full Council meeting, about a financial arrangement with a local radio station, a report, estimated to have cost several thousand dollars, will be delivered to Councillors. It will hopefully be the full story, and not a white wash.

The report investigated the undisclosed Council / Radio 4CA commercial arrangement. Councillors Pyne and Cooper have called for its full public release, as an act of transparency.

Sno Bonneau's actions indicated he was most probably fully aware of the goings on behind the scenes. He himself, has had many questions hanging over about unethical and inappropriate disclosure to developers in advance of Council hearings. Just two weeks ago, he was caught colluding with developers about an Application for Cable Ski park, Smithfield.

A long-serving former Cairns [Mulgrave] Councillor Ross Parisi, says that the separation of power between staff and Councillors is vital for the integrity and respect of local democracy. It is on this basis that I share this story today.

A week ago I wrote about two degrees of separation, in response to Councillor Alan Blake's legal threat to this Blog, an attempt to censor the investigation into his, and other Councillor's involvement in the Cash for Comments scandal. This whole episode has seriously damaged the entire Council's reputation in the community, and for what? Some ego-driven objective to debase a faction of the elected Councillors.

For more than a month now, I've been writing about those behind what has been exposed as a deliberate plot to embarrass the Mayor. This was all about the financial arrangement that Cairns Regional Council negotiated with radio 4CA 846am.

It was sparked two weeks ago, following a question by Cr Sno Bonneau at a full Council meeting on Wednesday 22nd April. It wasn't simply a throw away question, but part of an orchestrated campaign, involving one of our most senior Councillors, Cr Alan Blake.
Whilst there were at least three primary ring leaders in this drama, CEO Noel Briggs doesn't go unnoticed. The primary reason why Mayor Val Schier insisted on an external investigation, as there was many questions about what involvement and knowledge the CEO had about the deal done between Council and Radio 4CA.

I can now reveal, that during and prior to the 'Cash for Comments' saga was unveiled and an inquiry called, one of our most senior and long-serving Councillors, Alan Blake, had been secretly meeting with Council's Media and Corporate Communications Manager, Kerie Hull.

This is important because Ms Hull was the primary negotiator for deal to get Mayor Val Schier on radio talkback with John Mackenzie. Hull was aware exactly what was agreed and also what she informed the Mayor, prior to going on air.

Councillor Alan Blake had advance knowledge of this information, as indicated by the information he deliberately leaked to members within the LNP, attached with a specific request to inform CairnsBlog the following day. The fact was, the Mayor was not informed of the specifics of the radio deal. Blake first talked about the arrangement with a former LNP member on April 2nd, and a week later on April 9th, he talked to a current LNP member about leaking it to CairnsBlog.
At the time, Alan Blake had been meeting secretly with Ms Hull for the weeks prior to the story going public. What the content of those private meetings were, we will not know, but we can assume that as Ms Hull was a central figure in the arrangement, and Blake actively participated in leaking the information, it doesn't require a rocket scientist to work it all out.

What Blake disclosed to the formal inquiry, may well contradict his relationship and interaction with Kerie Hull. However, many meetings were held, most away from the prying eyes of Council offices to avoid gossip and innuendo from staff and other colleagues.

Since I contacted Alan Blake after my telephone call on the evening of Thursday 23rd April, he engaged Council's lawyer to send me a threatening letter, saying that I may have breached his confidentiality by transcribing his telephone call.

He accused me that I may have breached the Privacy Act by "recording his telephone call without permission." Well, I did record his telephone call, after all I rang Blake to ask questions about the event of the day, with the view to write it up and publish. Alan knows the game I'm in and he knows all about CairnsBlog. After all, he gave me numerous bits of information about Kevin Byrne prior to the 2008 Council election. He therefore willingly took part in the telephone call, and answered my questions.

To suggest that our conversation was private and confidential, is ridiculous. He's a regional Councillor. I'm a journalist, seeking his contribution to the events of the day. It was why we connected that evening.

I recorded the call with good old fashioned short-hand and notes. I also had a witness in my office when I called Alan Blake that evening. None other than Richie Bates, who also took extensive notes, as it was on speaker phone. Immediately following the call, I typed the call up, and checked it against our two sets of notes.

I have rebutted with a number of corrections to Alan Blake's legal threat, and exposed the flaws in his accusations. I also showed that he deliberately got a number of things wrong in his four-page letter. I also challenged Blake's suggestion that the use of the word "incriminating" in a txt message I sent him, was done in a threatening way. In fact, I have offered on no less than three occasions to meet with Blake, discuss this matter and provide the information and photos I referred to. He never responded.

Following my first story on this long drawn-out affair, some anonymous emails arrived from Northern Beach residents who have been reading CairnsBlog. They were independent of each other and the three of them wanted to share their 'Alan Blake' story. Two of these folk said that they'd seen the Councillor's red Mazda MX5 driving around the beaches during weekends in early April.

"He was up here this afternoon, and one afternoon I saw some children with him," said Joan X of Trinity Park. "I knew it was him as it had a personalised registration plate of 'ATB 51', I've seen him in the newspaper before."

Another emailer, who refused to give me any name, reported that Blake was a regular visitor to his neighbourhood.

"My wife and I have seen him around our streets for a while now, on at least three occasions we can recall," XX said. "We were walking our dogs and he drove in and a large wooden gate was closed very quickly behind him. We thought this was unusual and Mr Blake looked like he didn't want to be seen."

There was very good reason why the Councillor didn't want to be seen, as he was holding secret meetings with Council's Corporate Communications Manager, Kerie Hull. During this time, Hull had been implicated and questioned about her involvement in the Cash for Comment row that has been the subject of a four-week investigation by a Cairns QC.

Alan Blake was also involved and had deliberately set the leak in motion the first week in April. There was now a definite connection between these two high-profile Council identities.

Councillor Alan Blake should have realised back then, that his involvement was very precarious, and as Chairman of the Finance and Administration Committee, his actions were most probably a serious cause for concern.

After being suspicious that local residents had noticed him visiting Hull's private Trinity Park residence on a number of occasions, he swapped with another vehicle, a 1994 BMW. However, this time he didn't park the car in Hull's driveway.

"We saw him, he arrived on Saturday afternoon, around 5pm I think," Barry of Trinity Park said. "We live around the corner, and he parked outside our place and walked around to this woman's place. We noticed this because we don't have any cars like that in our street, so it was unusual. You notice these things."

Another resident in the neighbourhood even reported they had seen the Councillor cycling to Ms Hull's residence, after "leaving his vehicle three or four streets away."

The residents contacted me because they felt these were serious breaches of trust, given the current investigation before Council. They felt that a Councillor should not be in a situation where suggestion could be derived about collusion and private meetings. I have to agree. In discussing the severity of this matter with five different Councillors and a number of senior business professionals in Cairns, there was a similar pattern of concern.

Two members of the public recorded vehicle movements, to verify their statements.

In Alan Blake's telephone conversation with me about Council governance in his now infamous call a month ago, he said: "We just have to get it back on an even keel, and get on with good governance. All I want to do is straight policy. We're essentially board members," Blake told me.

It's perhaps timely to look at the nature of the organisation, known as the Cairns Regional Council. Including the Executive and the Councillors, they have a responsibility for annual expenditure of just under $330 million dollars. By Council’s own estimate, there are over $2.4 billion worth of assets that are managed, a not insignificant amount.

To oversee an organisation of this size, we would expect to see competencies and professionalism of a very high calibre. That is why I believe that we should look closely at the conduct of Councillors. There is undoubtedly serious room for improvement. After all, Councillor Blake is meant to be our 'Treasurer' as the chair of the Finance Committee, an irony not lost on a number of company directors I've talked to in the last month about our Council's poor corporate performance.

Perhaps a more business-like approach is needed. This month’s Company Director magazine highlights the duties and responsibilities of company directors. Excerpts from their Code of Conduct, seem very apt for our elected Councillors:
  • The member should act honestly, in good faith and in the best interests of the company as a whole.

  • The member should have a duty to use care and diligence in fulfilling the functions of office and exercising the powers attached to that office.

  • The member should use the powers of office for a proper purpose, in the best interests of the company as a whole.

  • The member should recognise that the primary responsibility is to the company as a whole but may, where appropriate, have regard for the interest of all stakeholders of the company.

  • The member should not make improper use of information acquired as a director.

  • The member should not take improper advantage of the position of director.

  • The member should properly manage any conflict with the interests of the company.

  • The member should not engage in conduct likely to bring discredit upon the company.

  • The member has an obligation, at all times, to comply with the spirit, as well as the letter, of the law and with the principles of this Code.
Cairns Regional Council clearly discusses perceived conflicts in the Staff Interaction Policy, updated and adopted in February 2009 - No. 2:02:01:
    Employees of Cairns Regional Council shall avoid conflict of interests, whether actual or apparent.

    Being honest and trustworthy by ensuring all of your actions are open and transparent.

    This means all decisions are based on merit, not favouritism and that your employment is not used to gain a personal advantage.

    Where a Conflict of interest may be perceived, such an interest must be disclosed and discussed. If appropriate, such interest will be recorded as to protect both the reputation of the employee as well as the Council.

There are other references where concerns are raised about these meetings between Ms Hull and Councillor Blake:

  • (c) If an attempt is made by a Councillor to direct staff, this must be reported to the CEO directly or through the employee's General Manager so that the matter can be addressed with the Councillor concerned. Generally speaking, requests should be made utilising the email system and Councillor's computers.
The only exception to this Councillor / Staff interaction Protocol is:
  • (b) These controls for help and advice do not apply to the Mayor who may seek information from any employee.
The Local Government Act also highlights areas of concern when such a conflict can be perceived, or not declared:
  • Councillors' roles:
    If a conflict arises between a public interest and the private interest of a Councillor or another person, - [a local Government Councillor] must give preference to the public interest.

    A Councillor cannot direct, and must not attempt to direct, an employee of the local government about the way in which the employee's duties are to be performed.

There is of course a serious case for a formal Councillor Code of Conduct breach, however many in the community have little faith in this process been carried out, in light of the recent debacle of the Kangaroo Court with Councillor Diane Forsyth.

What is of greatest concern, is all this activity and secret meetings has been played out in the midst of a serious investigation about Council corruption and collusion, about inappropriate interaction that occurred between certain staff and elected Councillors.

Without transparency and the true separation of power, we can hold little trust in those we elect to serve us.

The irony is deafening.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Cookie gets a make over

Good ol Captain Cook, a landmark of Sheridan Street, Cairns for years, has had a maroon make-over.

The 43 meter tall statue was left to die, until in August 2007, local maintenance company Programmed Maintenance Services co-ordinated a city-wide effort to restore and spruce up the old fella.

Two years ago, the monument was going to be demolished if a new home couldn't be found. Suggestion for a relocation to Cooktown, the Esplanade, JCU University, and even Kier Shorey's garden came up, but no one wanted him.

This week PMS gave him a good State of Origin colouring.

"We just wanted to give him a bit of love," Mark of PMS said at the time.

"Whoever the new owners of the property are, they may think about keeping him if he looks more presentably."

Regardless of what people think about this statue, after 40 years, he's an iconic landmark in Cairns.

Sick news day, Cairns style

Jennifer Elliot's cover story in today's Cairns Post deserves serious examination.
In case you weren’t aware, the Post is owned by Murdoch’s News Corporation - a corporation that is incapable of telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
In increasingly common circumstances, there is no difference between News Ltd journalists and wild animals, acting without morals or ethics, yet it’s the very accusation they throw at independents writers and Bloggers, that serve no master, other than the reader and the pure pursuit of truth.

This is a media corporation that will print anything if it brings in a quick buck, and hang the consequences for ordinary, innocent human beings.

Last week, I posted some jokes from the Cairns Roast asking the question: what is the difference between a journalist and a bucket of shit (answer: the bucket).

Given the public odium in which journalism is held nowadays, it’s not surprising that News Ltd, like other mainstream media, are dying a slow, miserable death. And that is a death to be applauded and encouraged. The single desire to boost circulation, was the reason behind today's Post to make a complex legal battle over a family child molestation case, in today’s front-page story.
The Post’s coverage of the Frederick Martens story is beyond excuse, let alone explanation. It is sickening. It stands as an example of the perversion of the mainstream media’s values and lack of any ethics.

The Cairns Post has sensationalised a human tragedy in a most calculated way, and presented it in a blatantly and deliberately one-sided form. The Post knows that the young women involved in this case will never present their side of the story, except as witnesses in a court case, if they are lucky.

The Cairns Post knows that these women are probably so traumatised and fearful after their experience of our legal system that it is safe for its journalists to write what they like with total impunity.

The Post also knows that the young the Papua New Guinean women involved are never going to be in a position to protest against its cheap and mercenary commercial use of the case to further its own financial interests.

The Post has not attempted to provide any balance whatsoever in its coverage of the case. It knows that it doesn't need to, and has ruthlessly exploited that fact. It has assiduously and unquestioningly followed the script of a public relations campaign devised and implemented by one side of this awful story.

This is gutless, gutter journalism at its worst. The journalist and editor Andrew Webster should be ashamed.

Good time flies, like the good ol days

Former “Fireflies” members: Alan and Josie Hull, Barry Daniel and Graham Hull.
Josie and Alan Hull and Barry Daniel are former Fireflies band members, known to legions of Far Northerners. They have formed a new band, Goodtime Flies, with Graham Hull joining in as drummer.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, The Fireflies played to packed dance halls as well as winning the Cairns section of Hoadley’s Battle of the Sounds for three consecutive years.

This Saturday locals will have another chance to listen and dance to their favourite band, when Goodtime Flies plays at the Cairns RSL. The cabaret will raise funds for Crusaders for a Cure, one of the Relay for Life teams and profits will go to the Cancer Council.

Carmel Borgo, the team leader of “Crusaders for a Cure” said her team was hoping the fans of the old 'Fireflies' would come out in force and relive the 'good old times.'
“We’re thrilled to have the band playing for us” Carmel said. “The Fireflies were such a part of our youth that they are regarded today with great affection and sentiment.”
Guest artists will be Katie Daniel, Chazlyn Morrissey and Miss Miah.
WHEN Saturday, 30th May
WHERE Cairns RSL, The Esplanade
TIME 7.30pm Supper would be provided
INFO Carmel Borgo, tel 4054 1721

Maria Ball's killer sought

81-year-old Maria Ball of Freshwater, was killed in the early hours of Sunday May 24th.

A mannequin will be displayed at the intersection of Kamerunga Road and Paschendale Street at Stratford on Thursday, with Cairns detectives on site to speak to any witnesses.
Maria's injuries resulted in her death in hospital on Sunday night. She was located unconscious lying on the ground opposite the railway line in Kamerunga Road with head injuries.
A man was seen walking along the railway tracks around the time of the incident. He is described as of Aboriginal appearance, 178 to 182cms tall, short black hair with loose curls, and was wearing a dark coloured collarless long sleeve t-shirt and dark baggy jeans.
Information is also sought relating to a hat, that was located at the scene, inscribed with the words ‘United by Fate’, images of syringes and a distinctive ‘shell’ brooch.

Police are appealing for anyone with information to contact Cairns CIB on 4030 7153 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Council told to close fake Twitter account

Yesterday I alerted Cairns Regional Council about a fake Twitter account, purporting to be official Council communication. I suggested that they take urgent action to close it down.
Council staff were surprised and said they would take immediate action. "We have contacted Twitter under their impersonation policy, and have requested it be closed down," a Council staffer said.
Twitter has become phenomenally popular as a new free social networking service. It's the the fastest-growing service on the web with 55 million monthly visits, recording a stunning growth of 1382%, above Facebook and MySpace. Known as micro-blogging, Twitter enables users to send and read other users' updates, known as tweets, of up to 140 characters in length. It's been compared as the SMS of the internet.

The illegal impersonation of someones name is a serious breach of Twitter's terms of use policy, and is equated to identity fraud. Although they allow parody accounts to exist, when there is a clear intention to defraud readers.
"Pretending to be another person or business as entertainment or in order to deceive is impersonation," Twitter states. Non-parody impersonation is a violation of the terms of service, specifically article 4 states:
  • You must not abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Twitter users.
    The standard for defining parody is, "would a reasonable person be aware that it's a joke." An account may be guilty of impersonation if it confuses or misleads others—accounts with the clear INTENT to confuse or mislead will be permanently suspended.

The fake Cairns Council Twitter account is named Cairnscouncil, and uses the official Council website in it's profile link, in an attempt to fool readers:

Here's some recent posts:

  • Cairns Blog continually censors views that don't conform to the LNP lefty agenda. Twitter provides great alternative view for council staff from web

    Crybaby Michael Moore tries to shut down alternative views of Cairns Council - workers file his complaints in the dustbin. from web

    Council CEO considering joining legal actions against Cairns blogger Michael Moore. He continues to harass staff and is a malcontent.
    from Tweetie

    New unit development at Smithfield Ski Park guaranteed to be UNDER WATER during the next heavy rain event. IT'S SNO BONNEAU'S FAULT! from web

    We're planning more big rates increases to keep and expand local services. How can we cut anything? We love you all!!! from Tweetie

    Main Roads working today to "safeproof" Northern Beach roundabouts for bicyclists. Maybe the riders can now start acting smarter safer! from web

    Large number of complaints filed with CMC about under-the-table payments made to chathost John "Wig" Mackenzie during Byrne election campgn [sic] . from Tweetie

    More shopfronts look to be closing this weekend (end of month) and administrators confirm "Courthouse" bankrupt, and for sale. from web

    Gavin King also made continual lame jokes about the "make your dick big" nasal spray - it was embarrassing and disgusting, but typical. from web

    Gavin King said on Mackenzie radio show "he has memos that prove Auntie Val is a liar". He has yet to produce them, however. from web

    Council staff all interested to know--how much did the Queensland LNP pay Radio 4CA to speak to Cairns today? from Tweetie

    ABC ran a piece about Mayor Val Schoer [sic] last night. Radio bigmouth John Mackenzie under ACMA investigation for FRAUD! from Tweetie

    Mayor Val Schier kissed the ring of John MacKenzie today on 4CA. Clearly she's desperate for attention as her administration implodes.