Monday, 31 August 2009

Freebody threatens and bullies: Same old, same old

In a pattern I'm all too familiar with, when you talk about anyone in the Cairns Old Boy's Club, they try and bully those that speak out against them.

It's a rather tiresome tactic, because new media simply expose them and their vain games for all to see.
On Friday afternoon at 2:19pm, I received a rather rude and confrontational telephone call from former Cairns Councillor Paul Freebody.

It was in response to my story last week about his proposed waterpark development on the Northern Beaches sugar cane land. Freebody is trying to build a massive recreational development, just south of the Yorkeys Knob roundabout, between Dillion Road. Long-time locals will know this site where the failed Vic Hislop's Shark Show was.
It's smack bang in the middle of the Barron Delta flood plains. Freebody's been getting the blind Cairns Post to promote his venture, without a single approval in place, just a bunch of pretty drawings. Not from the State Government, nor the local Council, even though he says everything is approved, "bar the Council."
Let me remind the ambitious Paul Freebody, that he of all people should well know as a former city councillor, the State Government won't be looking at his plan until Cairns Regional Council says they agree with it moving forward.
Over the next couple of weeks, prior to Council's mid-September Planning and Environment meeting that will consider Freebody's application, CairnsBlog will detail substantive and mitigating reasons why this development will be proved disastrous and will never pass the rigorous approvals that State planning will allow for such a site.
Meanwhile, back to Friday afternoon's telephone call from the good Christain Paul Freebody. "Freebody here!," a loud and rude voice introduced itself.
"Get my name and my family off that dirty grubby little website of yours," Paul Freebody shouted down the phone before I had a chance to even say 'hello', or 'how's your lovely family Paul?'
"I'll give you one chance to get rid of that stuff that I've just learnt is on your site," he screamed with anger.
At this stage, I had more important things to do, like check out the Broncos line up later that evening. So I placed the phone to one side on my desk and let the angry caller talk to himself. I heard muffled yells for a further two or three minutes. I guess he eventually realised he wasn't getting any acknowledgement. It's a trick I do with those trying to sell Amway or double-glazing folk from India. Freebody has earned to be in that category.
The last time I saw Paul, he was in The Good Guys a few weeks ago, purchasing a discounted vacuum cleaner. I thought at the time, that maybe he had a lot of dirt hiding behind the couch to get rid of. We swapped sweet nothings. However Paul harbours great hatred for things that doesn't fit his version of normality. During the 2008 Council election campaign, as CairnsBlog was gaining thousands of local readers, Freebody started to spread great gossip about myself. He passed the mantle over to the Deputy Mayor and the former Cairns Post Chief of Staff Gavin King, in an effort to discredit me.
Seventeen months on, Freebody is no longer Councillor. King left the Post - not such a bad thing - and CairnsBlog is still very much alive and well.
As I mentioned in my piece last Wednesday about Paul's wacky waterworld wonder, he's been on a self-promotion tour ad nauseam for months. Besides the Cairns Posts sickly promotion of a development that would have severe environmental consequences, the good man himself has not left a stone unturned as he butters up everyone that could influence support for his project.
Just last week he popped a text message in the Cairns Post, their idea of responsible journalism. He's saying nice things about the Mayor. Who would have thought. When you're the boss, and someone sweet talks to you, you have to ask, what does he want?
This was followed by a telephone call whilst the Mayor was on her weekly radio show.
"Hi Val, it's Paul here, Paul Freebody," he said. "You know, when my development for the adventure waterpark comes before Council, you'll support it, won't you?"
Now I won't debate how tacky this is, but needless to say, the Mayor wasn't complicit in his request for instant public support.
"It has taken my wife and I nearly three years to get to this point and obtain this prize site in the prime location on the tourist strip to the north of Cairns," Freebody told Australian Leisure in March.
"We will also try and make use of the natural water course running under the site for our water requirements for the attractions."
Jimmy Mac, a local commentator writing on the Sky Scraper City forum, has raised issues about the approval.
"Word is that there are serious issues with the site - it's clearly in the Barron River floodplain and will flood yearly," writes Jimmy Mac. He cited a housing development near Freshwater, similarly situated in the Barron flood plain that was given a rejection letter by the State Government for just this same reason.
"The waterpark developer is not known as a 'team player' and apparently isn't up to a co-developer. This is a pretty good project although probably pretty high risk, so with a rejection at Dillon Road looking very likely," he writes.
Some objections have been lodged with Council, as the Development Approval notice on the highway was removed when my story aired.
One objector cited the serious flooding issues, in great detail. Word has it that within days Freebody got wind of this person's name and paid him a visit. The resulting breach of confidence by another Councillor due to passing of information to the applicant Freebody, is now subject to a Crime and Misconduct investigation.
Well, this waterpark proposal does have some serious issues, and it's all about water. Lots of water. More water than the swimming pools and tubes at this fantasy wet land will ever see in a thousand years. In fact, if you've lived in this part of Queensland for a few years like I have, or more that 20 or 30 years, then you'll have stories to share about what tricks the Barron and its Delta can dish up, and we have little or no control over.
Tomorrow, along with a number of local experts, who have a history in local government and environmental land management, will detail and tell why this waterpark will be a disaster if it is ever allowed to proceed.
I'll also introduce you to a book, commissioned for over half a million dollars in 1980, by the then Mulgrave Shire Council and the Queensland State Government. The report was ordered by Maritime Minister, the Hon Val Bird.
It was called the Barron River Delta Investigation, and it reads better than a Stephen King novel. It's 455 pages of frightening history with many pictures that I'll share. This report alone will be the end of Freebody's baby.

Tourism crashes this car

I make no apologies for this posting.

I, like thousands of other locals, drive every day on our roads. It's part of our daily necessity. Following some horrible road killings, most preventable, over recent weeks, I want to show you the stupidity of some.

Last week, a CairnsBlog reader emailed me this photo, showing an employee of Heli Charters driving on the Captain Cook Highway, yapping on his mobile phone. "It went on all the way from Holloways Beach roundabout to the airport," the sender wrote. He assured me his passenger snapped the scene.

Now I don't want to become a 'dob em in' service, as we're not all perfect drivers sometime.

However, there are a few things that I have little patience on the road for. Top of the list is using a mobile phone, either talking or texting with it. They're lethal distractions and can easily be connected to driver dysfunction.

I showed this photo to Cairns Senior Constable Russell Parker today. He saw this all too often, and suggested I pass it onto the traffic branch to pursue. I asked him about the incidents he encounters around Cairns with the use of mobile phones. Russell told me about an incident last year, when he was doing random stops along the northern highway, not far from the Fruit Bat.

"I was flagging vehicles down that were over the 80 kph limit. This one was doing 96, so I waved my lit beacon to stop the driver," Russell recounted. "The vehicle didn't slow at all as it was fast approached me," Russell said.

Constable Parker said the driver was almost on top of him when he swerved and saw the officer's instruction to stop. The young driver admitted he was using his mobile, and wasn't watching the road, probably for hundreds of meters.

Using a mobile will gain you three demerit points and a fine just over $300. You can also get stung with careless use of a motor vehicle, another chunky fine. However, the fines are one thing. It's the consequences of not looking at the road, and the evolving conditions that hurt the most.

When you see a marked company vehicle, like the Heli Charters one, I am reminded about the local tourism campaign that touts on about how visitor dollars inject into our economy. Well, in this case, it will be a great bit of marketing when this driver crashes whilst using his mobile, costing not only his company and their image, but probably someones life.

In Wales, a very graphic advertisement has just hit the screens, showing the violent conclusion of using mobiles in cars. It was part of a 30-minute drama produced by Peter Watkins-Hughes, an award-winning BBC producer.

Its all about Cassie, a girl who kills four people on the road because she used her mobile and lost concentration for a few tiny seconds. It's a challenging piece of footage.

Well, what did they uncover

I don't want to rain on anyones party, but this morning's Cairns Post dedicates a half page to some shameless self-promotion.

The annual Queensland Media Awards granted Post writer Thomas Chamberlin as the Young Journalist of the Year.
  • "Chamberlin’s success followed his work to uncover the so-called Cash for Comment saga, which saw Cairns Regional Council pay for Mayor Val Schier to receive friendly air-time with radio broadcaster John Mackenzie, without disclosing the deal publicly.

    The resulting fallout, which Chamberlin documented with incisive stories and opinion pieces, led to a clumsily handled internal investigation that in turn forced the departure of CEO Noel Briggs.

    "Tom’s work revealed a divided council organisation with questionable judgment when it came to spending public funds," The Cairns Post editor Andrew Webster said.
    "Sometimes it’s not popular, but we are all well served by journalism doggedly determined to reveal the truth and hold authority to account.

Well, good on you Tom, however you were a reactive proponent of the drama. You never got to the bottom of shamed CEO Briggs, and his sudden departure. There's still a massive story there, still, waiting to be exposed, why a CEO leaves with no explanation, mid-crisis, among monumental and complicit mis-management.

The culture of this Council, as dirty as it is and was, wasn't created in the last 12 months. Surely you can work that out?

You not only ignored one of the key agitators in all this, Councillor Alan Blake, you patted him on the back and thanked him for his good work after his colleagues lost faith in him and his ability to continue as Finance chair.

You ignored Councillor Sno Bonneau and Communications Manager Kerie Hull in the debacle. In fact you continued to publish rubbish that Hull was privileged to, ever since she went on 'stress leave' where is she still enjoys running her own business, whilst on a Cairns Regional Council WorkCover claim.

You and your editor published rot about Hull's 'media wall', in an attempt to debase the Mayor.

You wrote more crap about a weekly flower bill on the third floor of Council.

So did you uncover much? Well, not really. You left the ones alone who threaten and bully those in the community and drip feed you budget leaks. You appear more interested in talking to Feng Shui experts and making up stories based entirely on anon comments from your website.

If that's why you got this award, then congratulations. And congratulations to editor Webster for believing his paper is serving his community.

PS: Marc McCormack has done some amazing photography.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

It's no good leaving it in the bottle

CairnsBlog reader Colin Riddell popped a long-awaited bottle of Penfolds Bin 707 today, and it was a smooth as a baby's bum.
"I had it for 15 years," Colin said. "It was smooth as!"
At $324 a bottle, it would have to be stunning.
"I have two bottles of 94 Grange, so I now know they are OK," Colin says.

State signs off on Edmonton Town Centre development

Cairns Regional Council can now move ahead on the next stage of the proposed Edmonton Town Centre, after the Minister for Infrastructure and Planning today signed off on the
first of two planning scheme amendments.

Minister Stirling Hinchliffe says that the first of the amendment finalises the proposed Edmonton Centre as a key sub-regional centre.

The second proposes the necessary planning framework for the centre’s detailed design and is
currently undergoing a State interest check.

"Once approved by the State Government, scheme amendment will be available through the Cairns Regional Council for public inspection and comment," Stirling Hinchliffe says. "Council could now adopt the first amendment and continue to plan a vibrant Edmonton Town Centre."

The new centre is to meet the massive population growth in the Southern corridor of Cairns.

“As the Far North Queensland Regional Plan recognises, we must plan for jobs, limit urban sprawl, and protect Queensland’s unique environment. This amendment also complements the objectives of the structure planning process for nearby Mount Peter, currently being undertaken by the Council.’’

The town centre will be off Mill Road on the western side of the highway, in the area known as Mann’s Farm.

Local State Labor member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt welcomes the move.

“Council is ensuring the Edmonton Town Centre will become a community focal point for new jobs and housing south of Cairns."

False Cape propaganda exposed

Local environmental activist have been lobbing all levels of Government, especially Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett, to withdraw any further approval for development on the scarred False Cape land, across Trinity Harbour, East of Cairns.

Garrett's decision is expected this week.

The Cairns and Far North Environment Centre – the peak regional environment group for Far North Queensland, have been campaigned for more intervention from Council, State and Federal Government over the False Cape development.

Cafnec supporter Terry Spackman says the original plans of the developer validates his theory that the Reef Cove development is a scam.

"I thought that soon after I started going over there, but then I allowed myself to think they were serious," Spackman said today. "Partly it was gut feeling, but mainly the thought that people would have to be crazy to build a home at the bottom of a steep slope with great boulders on it."

Terry Spackman, a member of the Save False Cape action network, says that a geo-technical survey was not only recommended, but essential.

"That would have been the sensible and responsible thing to do, common sense says you should do it," Terry Spackman says. "But it was never done because it would have exposed the whole scheme for what it was: a scam. Seven years and what have we got? A lot of cleared land, two un-sealed roads and a couple of minor tracks."

He says there's no power, no sewage, no water, nor access road on the False Cape site.

"They have been busy making a lot of noise blowing up rocks and crushing them. The longer they could look busy, the longer could keep flogging off what they call 'absolute beachfront blocks' that were in reality absolute slimy rocky front blocks," Spackman says, who has surveyed the land on numerous occasions over the last four years.

With this decision in mind, the following propaganda from False Cape's Reef Cove developers written in September 2007, is worth noting.

"The figures they cite make interesting reading," Save False Cape activist Steve Brech says. "I'm sure most have seen this before, nothing new, but two years on it makes me think about how far we have come."
  • Over the past few years many of our purchasers of properties in Reef Cove Resort have asked for estimates of the anticipated settlement dates. These were provided based on information given to us by the developer of the resort, and were a best estimate at the time.

    Many of you may have wondered how and why a development such as this could take so long to complete (it has been almost 5 years now), and it is a reasonable question to ask.

    The short answer is that the developer has had to overcome many obstacles in the development process, many of which were totally unexpected and certainly not planned for. In the case of this development, the planning applications and approvals sought were complex, and many of the proposed designs and infrastructure planned were amended as a result of external organizations, Cairns City Council and Government departments putting pressure on the developer to provide alternative arrangements. These invariably were negotiated with the respective organisations and in some cases the developer was forced to take legal action to obtain the desired objective.

    One of these major hurdles was the approval sought to establish a road from the main road leading from the Yarrabah Road to the Reef Cove Resort entrance. Although the developer had purchased the land years ago, the EPA sought to block his application for the approval of the entrance road and the developer was forced to seek approval through the courts. This has been done and the courts have ruled strongly in favour of Reef Cove Limited in respect of that application.

    The implication of the above is that Reef Cove Limited is finally in a position to surge ahead with the development process, properly plan the stages, and more accurately advise on anticipated dates.

    There are still some obstacles to overcome, and these are being dealt with. When you consider however that $2,370,000 million was spent on construction in the last month alone, the scale of the project and the progress made becomes very apparent.

    After consultation with the project management team, we are pleased to advise we anticipate settlement of the 1st stage of the development in late Jan 2008/ early Feb 2008. This will apply to the residential lots in stage 1 and the respective superlots purchased by the various developers.

CBD lane closures public meeting

Following hysteria from the ever-flappable John Mackenzie on his morning 45CA radio show about possible lane closures within the Cairns CBD, a community meeting has been called this Wednesday evening.

According to the meeting organiser, Barry Neall of the Residents Against Crime group, the lane closures are being carried out without any public consultation.

"No businesses or residents are being consulted," Neall says. "It is felt that any changes of this nature should involve all interested parties."

However, Mayor Schier has said on Mackenzie's show that consideration for improving inner-city roads are being discussed by the Council.

The local reaction followed a degree of outrage from the conversion of McLeod Street, in front of Cairns Central, into a single land to accommodate angle parking. However, the former Cairns City Council had this planned for some time before the work was commenced last year.

Barry Neall says that the meeting will address other issues of community concern if time permits.

When: Wednesday, 7pm
Where: De-Jarlais Pavilion, Cairns Showground, Mulgrave Road
Contact: Telephone 0438 111 722 or email

Council goes all gaa gaa

Today, the Council chambers will ring with baby screams and noises. No, there's not a special sitting of the Finance Committee saying goodbye to Alan Blake (he's off in New Zealand skiing).

They will be real cry babies, in a first-ever event, the Cairns Regional Council will be welcoming babies born in the region.

The inaugural Baby Welcoming Ceremony, will take place the Council's Spence Street offices. Each new resident and their families will be presented with a certificate and a native tree, to make the occasion.

All babies born in the last two years had been invited to register.

“Cairns Regional Council has been planning this for a few months and we will be welcoming 185 new children,” Mayor Val Schier said.

“The day will be full of festivities for mums, dads and siblings of our newest residents. Cairns Council Administration building will be transformed for the event with free family entertainment, activities, refreshments and trade stalls in the courtyard."

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Festival fever this weekend

This weekend, half-way through the revamped and reinvigorated Festival Cairns, there's heaps to choose from.
You can wander down to City Place to see the launch of Speakers Corner at 2pm, as part of the I Love Cairns speech contest. Local Toastmasters Clubs have put together the inaugural contest, with the final speeches christening the new speakers corners, that was the scene of banned public protests under a former certain Council.

“For someone to publicly declare their reasons for loving this area, fits with the telling our stories Festival theme,” Mayor Val Schier says.

“This place is central to the city which provides a ready audience, has a location that is well shaded and will retain its original name Ray Jones Speaker’s Corner.”

The official statement from the Council says that members of the public may use the new speaker's corner to "speak freely between 8am-6pm daily for no longer than one hour on any day and may not use amplification during speeches."

Today there's also the kids-only event called We Built this City. Head along to the lawn, just East of the Esplanade Lagoon, and see the amazing creations that children will construct. Huge fun.

You can head down to the Botanic Gardens this afternoon for Artistico, see and chat with local artists and musos, amidst the wonderful gardens, as they entertain you.
Then on Sunday from 11am, the Tropical Pride festival will grace the Tanks Arts Centre, complete with dog parade, markets stalls and entertainment.

The Tropical Writer's Festival will be at the Shangri-la over a slap up luncheon.

There's complete info at Festival Cairns.

Capitalism: a love story

My namesake, US documentary filmaker Michael Moore is about to release his latest offering, 'Capitalism: a love story.'

"It's a crime story. But it's also a war story about class warfare. And a vampire movie, with the upper 1 percent feeding off the rest of us. And, of course, it's also a love story. Only it's about an abusive relationship," Michael Moore says.

"It's not about an individual, like Roger Smith, or a corporation, or even an issue, like health care. This is the big enchilada. This is about the thing that dominates all our lives — the economy. I made this movie as if it was going to be the last movie I was allowed to make. It's a comedy," Moore says.

It will be in Cairns from early October.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Corollas and Honda Civics

Rudd's stimulus cash hand-outs plan has been a bonanza for flat screen TV retailers, pokies and brothels, according to a list doing the rounds.

However, it’s no match for the Obama ‘cash for clunkers’ car trade-in stimulus program. Eight of the top ten purchased vehicles under the programme were Japanese (or Korean) brands, while all the top ten trade-ins were US brands.

1. Toyota Corolla
2. Honda Civic
3. Ford Focus
4. Toyota Camry
5. Hyundai Elantra
6. Toyota Prius
7. Nissan Versa
8. Ford Escape FWD
9. Honda Fit
10. Honda CR-V AWD

...and the most popular trade-ins:

1. Ford Explorer 4WD
2. Ford F150 Pickup 2WD
3. Jeep Grand Cherokee 4WD
4. Jeep Cherokee 4WD
5. Ford Explorer 2WD
6. Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan
7. Chevrolet Blazer 4WD
8. Ford F-150 Pickup 4WD
9. Chevrolet C1500 Pickup 2WD
10. Ford Windstar

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Schapelle is insane. Family agrees.

Evidently, she's insane.   I have to agree.

Regos up 20%, sign the petition

There's an ePetition requesting the Queensland Government to review the 20% increase in Motor Vehicle registrations for Pensioners.

Anyone in your family may sign, including children who can read.

Sign the petition here and following the instructions.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Feng Shui master dobs in the Cairns Post

Following Saturday's "news story" in our weekend paper, when they got renown Feng Shui Master Jodi Brunner to interpret faces, she claims then Post mis-represented her.

"I'd like to add that the newspaper [Cairns Post] did exaggerate somewhat on what I said," Jodi Brunner told CairnsBlog.

"I regret that the Mayor was taken in that light in order to get a few extra ratings for the newspaper."

"I actually thought the Mayor was a lovely lady and had a lot of nice qualities. I was not particularly critical of her," Brunner said, following a heavily-edited interview in the weekend Cairns Post.

"Other favourable comments I made about her [the Mayor] were not included."

Unidentified Flying Orrful King

So the good folk at Festival Cairns get "celebrity" fallen Cairns Post Chief of Staff Gavin King, to be one of the regular Festival commentators (they call it bloggers), offer them a bunch of free tickets to see the cool events and write about them.

Then what does Gavin go and scribe?

Something nothing to do with the Festival:
  • Gavin King at 26/08/2009 5:04 PM

    I've got some serious questions about the big story of the week running hot in the local paper: are the UFOs/strange lights/aliens hovering and darting across the sky above our fine city this week actually in town for Festival Cairns? Have they descended from beyond the stratosphere to marvel at this frenetic fortnight of festival fun and frivolity? The truth is out there. Or here. Or somewhere else entirely.

    Either way these intergalactic interlopers have picked a good time to visit the tropics. If you happen to meet them ask if they're going to watch Tex Perkins at the Tanks on Friday night. And offer to buy them a drink. Space travel at light speed is thirsty work.

What planet is he on?

Black, the new green

Professor Michael Bird will speak on biochar, a charcoal created by pyrolysis of biomassat, at James Cook University tomorrow evening, Thursday 27 August.

Biochar is simply charcoal, produced by combustion of biomass under conditions of restricted oxygen.

“Humans have been making biochar, both inadvertently and purposefully, since they started to use fire over a million years ago,” Professor Bird said. “Natural and human-initiated fires burn around two to four million square kilometres a year.”

“Ironically, it will now be considered by UN climate change negotiators in Copenhagen in December as a way to mop up carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion and store carbon back in the soil.”

Bird will outline the history of humanity’s long association with biochar, and provide an introduction to potential uses of biochar, including developing applications in Queensland.

Professor Michael Bird is a Federation Fellow in the School of Earth and Environmental Science at James Cook University in Cairns. His research interests include the global carbon cycle on a range of timescales, as well as records of past environmental change (sea-level, biomass burning, weathering or vegetation change) and archaeology.

WHEN Thursday 27 August, 6pm
WHERE Crowther Lecture Theatre, JCU Smithfield
COST Free with refreshments
INFO Sue Kelly, tel 4042 1456

An iPhone app for Cairns Council

This, just in from Boston...
  • The City of Boston is plunging headlong into what may be the future of civic engagement by debuting an iPhone app connecting residents to city hall.

    The app (application), known as Citizen Connect, is the brainchild of a handful of mayoral aides and will allow residents to file complaints with the city by snapping a photo of a problem–a pothole, a fallen tree limb, a neighbor’s overgrown lawn–and sending it to city hall, complete with a geo-tag so city officials can find and fix the problem.

Maybe Gen Y Councillor Lesina can talk to Cairns iPhone app developer Greg Slapp, and get something going for Cairns' ratepayers.

Sharing sad stories

Sharing My Stories is a moving website, put together by the Queensland Government for anyone to tell their story about a tragic road accident that they have been effected by.

"There are thousands of stories behind the road toll, the sites says, "stories of sadness, tragedy, inspiration, heroism, remorse and regret."

"Your story may help the memory of a loved one live on. It could even save a life. Whether you’re a survivor, have lost a loved one, or you deal with road tragedy in your job, we invite you to share your story."

Here's an excerpt:
  • My beautiful boy Dan died in a car crash on 25th April 2008 – Anzac Day. He was only 16 years old. There’s nothing to prepare you for it – that knock on the door to tell you your child is dead – it’s so final. Dan walked out the door and is never coming back again. He was a back seat passenger, the driver and two other passengers survived with non life threatening injuries. How do you make sense of what has happened? You question where is the fairness, ‘why didn’t my son crawl out too?’
    He would send me little ‘love you’ messages. I’ve got about 130 messages still on my phone which I'll never delete. They’re so precious to me.

If you have a story, you should consider sharing it with the world.

A free and slippery ride for Freebody

It's hard to think of another former Councillor going to such lengths to promote a business venture, prior to any Council approval.

For the last six months or more, Paul Freebody, ousted by Councillor Kirsten Lesina at last year's election, has been in cahoots with the local paper, getting huge free advertorials for his waterpark venture, complete with colourful plans.

The predictable local rag has published a series of articles to promote his venture, with promises of jobs for hundreds to the millions of investment in the local economy. They even wrote a sob story about him selling his mansion to fund the new business, to gain sympathy.

Now I'm not that against the proposal, as it's going to be constructed on sugar cane land, and a facility like this, would a nice change from another GlenCorp or Hedley high-density apartment complex. However, the way in which this has been promoted ad nausem through the local paper, is disgusting.

Freebody's former Council connection has hardly been raised in the press, another common tactic for this discredited newspaper.

Where he gets his 250,000 admissions to his over-sized swimming pool from, is pie-in-the-sky stuff. It's merely a lure to get Councillors to vote for his proposal.

“We have every government approval, we only now have to go through the Council," Freebody said for the tenth time. It goes before Cairns Regional Council next month.

Why he won't allow such a application to go through the normal process of fair evaluation by Council officers, and Councillor, is very undemocratic.

Paul isn't known for his sense of humour.

After lashing out at his opponents in the run-up to the March 2008 election, he used derogatory and condescending language aimed at Kirsten Lesina, after she criticised his election leaflet, which contained no less than 15 errors. It was an embarrassment, yet running mate Kathy Plath, who was also defeated, had a leaflet produced by Paul as well.

Freebody demanded that the YouTube video of his sexist outburst on TV against Lesina, be removed from CairnsBlog, so I put up the transcript for all to see his behaviour.

"She’s only 21, and she’s young and needs to do a bit of growing up," he said about Kirsten, who bet him at the poll. "You’re better than that love. I know you’re young. I know you’re ambitious. Don’t go down that path."

Freebody infamously penned a threat to then Mayoral candidate Val Schier, following a comment on CairnsBlog.

"This is a low act and you have now put a fire in my belly which I have not had for some time!Bring it on Val because the gloves are off and I will not rest until I have destroyed you and your grubby little mates!" then Councillor Paul Freebody wrote.

Just days before the Council election, Freebody won a defamation case before the Cairns District Court, after he wrote a derogatory letter in the Cairns Post about two horse racing identities.

Oh, he's nothing, if not colourful.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

‘I was so humiliated’, toilet prank victim tells CairnsBlog

**CairnsBlog EXCLUSIVE

An upset stomach and forgetting to grab his glasses led Cairns man Ronald Goodall to experience the most humiliating moment of his life: being named and shamed in the Cairns Post.

On Saturday, Mr Goodall, who moved to Cairns seven weeks ago, had to be rescued from a toilet in Cairns Central and taken to hospital after sitting down on a strong, fast-acting glue that thoughtless pranksters had smeared on the seat.

Speaking to CairnsBlog yesterday Mr Goodall, who is 57 and not 70 as first reported in a typical but expected typo error, said the incident of being named in the Cairns Post was devastating.

“I have never been so humiliated in all my life, appearing in the Cairns Post,” he said. "I mean, what were they thinking?"

“I first saw them publish the story on Monday, then the stupid paper rang me yesterday and went on and on, wanting to expose more about me.”

The editor of the Cairns Post, who goes to toilets looking for stories every morning, said he went to the toilet “as a matter of urgency” after suffering a "lack of stories."

The editor said he had not been wearing his glasses at the time, "but we needed a front page story to humiliate someone, anyone."

The editor returned to Cairns Central after he was released from hospital, but said he was disappointed at the “who cares” attitude of Cairns community about his first story.
"I thought I'd run it again. There's a craving for this sort of news," he told CairnsBlog exclusively, under the agreement his identify would remain anonymous.
When contacted yesterday, Cairns centre manager said he had not spoken to the editor of the Cairns Post, but said he planned to, and would express his disgust at their irresponsible journalism.

“From our point of view we are taking it pretty seriously. We are doing all we can to make sure that the Cairns Post keeps away from our toilets in future. Our security guards have photos of all their reporters for future reference,” he said.

The story attracted strong interest on The Cairns Post’s website au as readers discovered a pithy story to comment on in their toilet break.

Cairns police Sen-Constable Russell Parker said police were investigating the “stupid act” about the Cairns Post publishing such a story. "If caught, those responsible at the Post would face serious charges for stupidity."
The regular Cairns Central shopper who did not wish to be named, said it gave new meaning to the Cairns Post being a 'crappy' paper.
"We're looking into it, but as the toilet seat was damaged, we have nothing to go on," the Police told CairnsBlog.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Is that an All Blacks tie Prime Minister?

Here's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at Lismore Hospital looking at plans for new cancer centre. What is hard to see, is he's wearing an All Blacks tie.

Kevin made a promise with New Zealand Prime Minister, National's John Key, that if Australia lost the Bledisloe game, he'd wear their tie for a day.

However, the win was rather close at 19-18.

Hat Tip: KiwiBlog

Sea Change, Tree Change

Here's the Channel 7 promotional film that Cairns Regional Council supported, and the Cairns Post believes was a waste of time and money.

Sea Change, Tree Change - Part 1

Sea Change, Tree Change - Part 2

Garrett: False Cape orders for remediation ought to be observed

Federal Minister of the Environment, Hon Peter Garrett, was cornered in Townsville this afternoon, following the opening of the Turtle Hospital, at the Great Barrier Reef Headquarters.

Garrett was questioned about a number of things, including the oil slick North of the Western Australian coast; Labor's $200 million Reef Rescue commitment; Coalition split on nuclear power; and the Townsville Ocean Terminal.

There was even time to slip a question about the debacle at False Cape, East of Cairns, and what his Government intends to do about it.

  • GARRETT: It is a great day for Townsville and the Great Barrier Reef when we open a Turtle Hospital here at Reef HQ.

    It is a fantastic effort on the part of the Townsville community and visitors who have made a contribution here and it is a recognition of how important these species of turtles are to the Great Barrier Reef and also what a great educational facility this will be. Not only will we look after turtles here and see them go back into the wild, fixed up, but it will give many of our young kids that come to Reef HQ to learn about the Reef an idea about what care is available for them.

    Let’s not forget the Great Barrier Reef remains a most significant driver of regional and national tourism. It is World Heritage Listed and one of the most important natural environments in the world, and for Australia it’s of critical importance. This Government’s profoundly committed to making sure that we look after the Reef - a $200 million investment on Reef Rescue, making sure that the challenges of climate change are addressed in a robust fashion and also the work that is being done through Reef Rescue and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, something which this Government supports.

    So I am absolutely delighted to be able to launch this facility today and I think it is going to do a great job in the future.

    JOURNALIST: Can we talk nationally for a moment, what is the latest on the oil slick?

    GARRETT: Well we will continue to monitor very closely the activities that are now being focused on the dispersal that has been underway on the slick. This is something where the response has been immediate, the Marine Safety Authority has taken charge of this issue working very closely with both the West Australian authorities, the company and in communication with my department, to make absolutely sure that everything that has to be done can be done.

    We have been a little bit lucky to have calm weather off the coast of Western Australia. That has meant that there has been access to and monitoring by officials and also that the aircraft that are spraying the dispersements down have been able to get access to the slick. But clearly it is a matter which needs to be watched very, very closely. The work is ongoing and it will be some time until it is satisfactorily concluded. My very strong hope is that we don’t see the slick reach the environments of our coast but that is something which we will see rollout of the next coming days.

    JOURNALIST: The Gorgon gas project of course still needs you approval. Are there any implications from this slick that we can take to that?

    GARRETT: No, I don’t think so. I think that in relation to Gorgon that is a proposal that has been very carefully and closely assessed over a period of time by both the West Australian and Commonwealth governments. I expect to make a decision this week on those matters that relate to specific environment issues under the national environment legislation.

    In relation to what has happened off the coast with this particular oil spill, this is something where a national plan has to be enacted immediately. That has happened. Where we need to make sure that we’re working very closely both with the company and state officials and Commonwealth officials; that is happening. And we will investigate once the actual treatment and activities around the spill have concluded, the particular matters that led to the spill. We will look very closely at whether the contingency plans have been followed. That is something which will happen once we have done the work that needs to be done immediately.

    JOURNALIST: Just on a separate issue now Minister, the caring for the Reef. How can the Government work to keep costs low for landowners who do their bit for the Reef?

    GARRETT: Well I think the great thing about Reef Rescue is that it actually provides for the first time, specific resources to enable farmers to put in place good practices which reduce nutrient and chemical runoff onto the Reef. That is the first time we have ever had this.

    And you know I hear the National Party meeting on the weekend – a week after we actually saw a renewable energy target passed in Australia where we will have more wind power, more solar power, cleaner, more renewable energy resources – saying they want to reintroduce a debate about nuclear power. Well where is Barnaby Joyce going to locate nuclear reactors around this coastline? Where is Barnaby Joyce going to say that the radioactive waste should be carried? And whilst at the same time that they are going against the interests of renewable energy, this Government is providing direct investment to Queensland farmers to give them the support that they need to have good farm practices which reduce the nutrient runoff onto the Reef. Maintaining the water quality, the inshore water quality, for the Great Barrier Reef is critical. Farmers know that, Indigenous communities know that, the Government knows that – that is the main game for us here particularly in North Queensland but in Australia.

    What can I say about the weekend’s discussions when Senator Joyce is at odds with his Coalition partners and wants to bring back John Howard’s plans for 25 nuclear reactors for Australia? These people are fast becoming irrelevant. They need to recognise what the key important environment and business issues are and get on board with the Rudd Government as we bring our agenda through.

    JOURNALIST: Mr Garrett, the Bligh Government is pushing ahead with the Townsville Ocean Terminal project, however conservationists fear it threatens several marine mammal species. What is your position on this development?

    GARRETT: Unless that matter comes before me as a controlled action I haven’t seen it in detail at this point in time. What I would do is if it were a matter that fell under the national environment legislation as a controlled action and if there were likely impacts on matters of national environment significance, we would look at it very closely. And I would just say more generally that the expectation of the Commonwealth is that planning processes at any level – local, state and federal – need to happen in accordance with the relevant regulations and environment laws that are in place. It is my expectation that that will happen here. But if there are any additional matters that I need to consider because there are impacts on matters of national environment significance then I would look at them very closely.

    JOURNALIST: Further north Minister, what’s the situation in False Cape?

    GARRETT: Well we have got a situation at False Cape where the Government has made very clear what it thinks the path through is and there is an expectation that if there orders for remediation in relation to any parcels of land which have got sensitivities of this kind, then they ought to be observed.

    So I will watch – I have seen the newspaper reports about False Cape up to this point in time – I will watch very closely the progress of that particular matter.

    But I just repeat again for the benefits of all those listening and that is this – the Commonwealth Government takes very seriously the environment of north Queensland - World Heritage Areas, the rainforests of north Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef.

    These areas are vital and precious to all Australians and they are drivers of the local economy, a sustainable economy, which needs to be able to know – we need to be able to know, I beg your pardon – that the environment is properly protected at all times and in all places and that is our expectation.

They just don't get it

Any local or visitor that attended any one of the many weekend Festival Cairns events, from the amazing Parade to the inaugural Cairns Indigenous Art Fair, would have felt a sense of pride in our community and region.
The Parade was an amazing collection of community groups and individuals that were celebrating the tropical north of Queensland.
The Indigenous Fair alone had 10,000 visitors and nearly half a million dollars in sales since it opened on Friday, and the launch of the wonderful Festival Cairns - revitalised this year by Cairns Regional Council - who have done an amazing job bringing a new event together after the community asked for a radical change.
So, at a time when the city was celebrating the success of telling our stories and enjoying what we're good at when we come together, the Cairns Post chose to have a go at the Mayor and Council on no less than four pages of their weekend edition.
This newspaper is becoming so sad that it's becoming a regional embarrassment. We now publicly make excuses for it to visitors and friends.
As Matt Heirink, a CairnsBlog reader said, the story about getting a Feng Shui expert to use her psyhic ability, to have a go a the Mayor, was such a new low for the Post.

Jodi Brunner was given photos of naughty footballer Todd Carney, disgraced developer Tom Hedley and Mayor Val Schier.

"She was not told who they were and did no research on her topics," the Post wrote. "Ms Brunner, who has been studying faces for 15 years, gave very accurate readings for three of the Far North’s best-known people."
"She immediately picked Carney as a footballer, Hedley as an entrepreneur, and Shier as a leader," Matt Heirink, writing to CairnsBlog said. "While disgraced sportsman Carney and disgraced developer Hedley were applauded for being clever, poor Val got the thumbs down for being a bad communicator."
About Carney she said he would be quite good as a captain, and Hedley: "He’s got a very entrepreneurial face shape, he’s very clever and as he gets older," Jodi Brunner told the Post.
The stunning revelation about our Mayor was that she could get along better with people if her eyebrows were darker. "Eyebrows represent communication with peers,” she said
And this is meant to be the basis of creating news? Getting psychics to tell you what they think?

It was only last month that the Post was using their website anonymous comments as the total basis of a story "Mr Smith of Woree said that..."

The Cairns Post has gone to new depths in this paper's continuing campaign to denigrate our Mayor and the Council.

Last week the Cairns Post started on a path of biting the hand that feeds them. The revelation that Council spent money of a promotional video, along with almost every other local Government in Regional Queensland, the Post got the viewing numbers wrong. Very wrong.

They subsequently blamed Channel 7, producer of the programme, and mis-quoted the audience. It was very foolish, stemmed from jealously, that they missed out, and yet another vain attempt to say the Council is wasting money.

The head of channel 7 was in town last week and was furious when he read the Post article. The TV show that the Cairns Post criticised had actually been seen by 220,000 people, including 48,000 in Sydney, not counting regional WA or Tasmania. The Sea Change Tree Change series has also been screened to domestic and international visitors in 6,700 hotel rooms in Cairns.

It's ironic that the Cairns Post, which receives a vast majority of Council's advertising budget, was commenting on the medium of TV being used as a promo by Cairns Regional.

Maybe the Council should move towards radio and TV advertising, instead of the trash that the Post is publishing.

Disgruntled Kerie Hull, once a servant of communication for the Council, now seems to be very busy feeding information to the Cairns Post, that she alone is privileged to be aware of. Hull, along with former CEO Briggs, was instrumental in organising and approving this Channel 7 deal, whilst she was working in the office.

The Post has clearly become one sad reflection of our community, with a single-minded motivation. Any thinking person can see right through.

They just don't get it.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Cutting more than flowers

What the Cairns Post published on 22nd August....

What was sent in from the letter writer...
  • In light of what appeared to be a correction (pg 3, 20.08.09), although it wasn't headed as such, to Wednesday's "Council Blows $55k on Doco", it may be of interest to some readers to know that our current Mayor reduced her predecessors Heliconia order by half, thereby reducing the cost.

    The responsibility of Cairns' only newspaper is to report fact, isn't it?

    Julie McEnerny
    Edge Hill 4870

The Letters' editor has neatly excised Julie's criticism of the newspaper.

Earlier in the week, Fran Clayton or Woree wrote to the Post criticising the paper for raising the trivial issue in an earlier story...

  • Val Schier has been in office for more a year and yet the petty nitpicking continues.

    I’d be happy to read about the big issues but how many people really believe that if another mayor was in her job, they would reduce rates or run the council for less?
    To read the petty article about mayoral flowers at $ 55 a week is just chicken feed.

    The Federal Government has allocated $ 672 million for Aboriginal housing and 16 months later only the bureaucrats are seeing any of it.
    Give us the real issues to complain about and we should be, loudly, and allow the mayor to have a bunch of heliconias in her office where she would greet all sorts of dignitaries and needs a splash of colour and a taste of the tropics.
    To pay $ 55 for weekly flowers, it’s a cinch.

Maybe the Post should compare what the former Mayor Kevin Byrne spent in vast weekly quantities in his office. And it wasn't flowers.

Night Lights

A series of short films from local Cairns filmmakers will be projected onto buildings, rooftops, walls, alleys and TV screens, as part of Festival Cairns.

The project was developed specifically for the Festival and features 9 local filmmakers. They all followed the theme, "telling our stories".
  • 21st Aug - 6th Sep: MacDonnells Law - Grafton Street (window tv)
  • 21st Aug: Pacific International Hotel - (the west facing wall of the building) Spence Street (projected from DFS Galleria)
  • 21st - 6th Sep: from Hides Hotel - City Place, from Civic Theatre - Florence St, from Heritage Hotel - Spence St, from Tandem Skydive - Aplin St alley wall, iShop Cairns (window TV) Grafton St, Twelve BC Cafe, (wall TV) City Place
  • Fri 4th Sep: Cairns High School, (side wall) Upward Street
Here's the locations...

View Night Light: Short Films In The City in a larger map

Typical day at the Cairns Post

According to the Cairns Post YouTube channel, the latest uploaded video is a "Typical day at TCP".

The 31 second clip is called Paul & Libby.

"Hey Paul, why don't you sell something?" says one of the characters. It ends with the words "I'm a bad arse mother f*%ker!"

What on earth it has to do with the Cairns Post is beyond me. However, maybe it portrays, as the title says, a typical day at the Cairns Post.
Grab a view before they rip it down when the boss gets in tomorrow.

There are comments left on the channel like:
sisterspure sisterspure cannot understand what CairnsPost is supposed to be about!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Oil still leaking off WA coast

WA Today reports that an oil spill eight miles long and 30 metres wide, that started in the early hours of Friday morning, has still not been curtailed.

It emanated from the drilling rig West Atlas, 250km off the north Kimberley coast in Western Australia. That's around 150km from the Ashmore Reef.

69 workers have been evacuated to Darwin.

"PTTEP is continuing its planning to determine how the leak can be brought under control so the West Atlas can be safely reboarded and begun to be restored to working order," a statement from the Norway Seadrill owner told WA Today. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority is trying to the clean-up the mess.

Cairns conservationist Terry Spackman reminded me that some local politician said it would be safe to drill for oil on the Great Barrier Reef. Something about modern technology?

Quickie exposes himself

The notorious 'Quickie' who posts regularly on CairnsBlog, has been exposed as a hate-ridden distraught angry poster.

In an email to a Council employee this week, he writes "I am not Dennis Quick. Both Dennis and myself have made this clear previously on Moore's blog."

"I don't like Blake, I just don't like Michael Moore more-so. Moore is a vindictive little creep who will fabricate something out of nothing to get at someone he has a vendetta against.

Quickie went on to claim that I altered the time on the photos of Blake's car outside Kerrie [Hull's] place. "I have proof," he exclaims.

This is in reference to my story in May when I published photographs showing that Council Communications Manager Kerie Hull was holding private undisclosed meetings with Councillor Alan Blake. For the record, the car was parked inside Hull's driveway, not outside.

"I am a supporter of the truth, not Blake. Sorry for the misunderstanding and I should cease posting under the name Quickie - I only use that name because of Moore's hatred of Bryne and [Dennis] Quick," Quickie writes.

Actually, I have a rather good dialogue with Dennis Quick, Bynre's former executive assistant and LNP member. We've even enjoyed coffee together on more than one occasion. I actually enjoy his political dialogue and respect his point of view. Dennis has told me previous he is not the Quickie behind the one on the Blog.

You wouldn't believe, but just last week, a Council parking officer chatted with me outside Cairns Central. Evidently she's a regular follower of CairnsBlog. Who would have thought.

"I know who Quickie is and he's like an old woman," she said. She wouldn't disclose anything else other than to say he was a "good mate of Councillor Blake." No surprises there.

After nearly a year of anonymous writing on CairnsBlog as 'Factman' prior to the 2008 Council election, I exposed Council employee Murray Langdale, the person behind the moniker.

You can drop Quickie an email at

Festival kicks off at 6pm tonight

The much-anticipated and revamped Festival Cairns kicks off tonight, with the Parade from Munro Martin Park, along the Esplanade.

There's also a line up of art exhibitions, entertainment and you can even stick a song on one of the public pianos placed outside around the city.

This year's festival adds food and lifestyle events, along with educational displays and even a walking meditation programme.

“No one should be left out of this year’s Festival Cairns – businesses, individuals, families and visitors all have the chance to join in something,” Cairns Mayor Val Schier says.

“We want to encourage people to just come out and get amongst it – get involved in celebrating our Cairns lifestyle.”

Events on this weekend include...
  • Spraying Our Stories; an aerosol art project to transform temporary buildings, Marking Places - New Voices Now, visual art exhibition at the Centre for Contemporary Art.
  • Tropical Wave Festival, six short plays by young playwrights.
  • 3 Million Shades of Grey, a multi-cultural visual art and entertainment display, contemporary art exhibition by three local artists.
  • Keys to the City, community piano playing throughout the city.
  • Pacific Toyota Grand Parade and Fireworks
  • Esplanade Free Concert with Saltwater Band
  • Festival Hub Market Square.
  • Street markets showcasing local produce and celebrity cook-offs
  • Cairns Street Busker’s Festival, six of the best national buskers perform.

"I'll be attending most of the events throughout the festival as an astonishing collection of talent would be on display," Councillor Di Forsyth says.

“I am looking forward to watch the parade, as I am sure it will be the best event to start the celebrations for this year’s Festival Cairns. It's the finest way to get to know what amazing talent we have in this region.”

See the Festival Cairns website for the full programme or collect a copy around town.
Pictured: Dom Johns Cupcake on the Cairns Esplanade

Cairns Post is getting nauseous

I cringe when I see "as reported in The Cairns Post." Well they did that again in today's weekend paper.

"Also participating in the Pacific Toyota Grand Parade will be Johno Johnson and his Blues Band. After an article in The Cairns Post yesterday, 14 people offered the use of their flat-bed trucks."

Absolute rubbish.

Following a coffee meeting on Thursday morning with Festival Cairns coordinator Belinda Griffin and PR consultant Pip Miller, they asked if I could put up a message on CairnsBlog to seek a truck for Johnos Blues Band.

"We need a more immediate way to get the message out," Pip said. "We can't wait until the paper."

So, as new media can show, I did this via my mobile on Thursday morning. Blog articles are immediately replicated via the CairnsBlog social networking subscribers on Twitter and FaceBook, a combined instand local audience of over 12,000.

The Cairns Post spotted this, and ran a story the following day. This has become a regular source of information for the beleaguered Cairns Post.

I'm just so delighted that I can help them out with news ideas and leads. Saves them leaving the office.

Politics: the art of communication

Former Cairns Councillor Ross Parisi says it's a pity more Councillors don't contribute to CairnsBlog.
"Particularly those that are under the spotlight, do not take up the opportunity to contribute to articles highlighted by CairnsBlog," Ross Paris says.

"At least 15,000 hits are made every week, and it's a medium that as such is expanding in popularity. Its access is readily available and with no direct financial cost to those that read it, it is a avenue to public policy and affairs."

Parisi says it's common knowledge that most, if not all Councillors, read CairnsBlog, yet they are reticent to contribute at least under their real name.
"Their lack of contributions only adds to the smouldering suspicions and the ridicule that is attributed to them. It is undignified to the office they occupy," Parisi says.

"Politics is the art of communication. Councillors have a golden opportunity to utilise this forum as a means of communication. Inertia, laziness and ignorance has taken refuge with some of the elected members, particularly those that are approaching their use by date. Their arrogance does not endear them well especially with the general public."

"Councillors, would find that if they were more open with the public, less secretive and took them into their confidence, they would go a long way in regaining/earning the respect of the public. The public is tolerant, understanding and usually can live with hard unpopular decision, provided the deliberations are made public and explained."

"The unpopularity of the Cairns Regional Council does not stop with the Mayor. The Councillors are not excluded and are a contributing part of the problem. The solution is within their grasp."

NB: Councillor Linda Cooper responded to a story yesterday, as the new Chair of Finance and Administration. Paul Gregory posted his first comment on CairnsBlog recently.

Garrett told to refuse further approval of False Cape

I wrote in July that it was only five months until the next wet season - a disaster waiting to happen yet again at the ruined False Cape, where substantial erosion at East Trinity, can be seen from along the Cairns Esplanade and all the way along the Northern Beaches.
The sediment traps, which are supposed to protect the Great Barrier Reef from sediment run-off from this dormant development, are full again, showing how ineffective they have been.
In just over a week, the twelve month Federal suspension for development at False Cape, will be lifted.
The Save False Cape environmental action group, have written to the Federal Minister of the Environment, Peter Garrett, asking to fully revoke any ongoing approval.
They understand that the report from NRA (commissioned by DEWHA) is scathing of the False Cape's developer Reef Cove, and their failure to comply with the EPBC Act approval conditions.
Save False Cape also highlight mitigating points in an attempt to persuade Garrett to revoke further development approval on the site.
"Since hitting financing difficulties, Reef Cove has been either unwilling or unable to fund any on-site remediation or rehabilitation to address the Minister’s concerns," False Cape campaigner Steven Nowakowski says.
"This is evidenced to a degree by Cairns Regional Council spending a not inconsiderable amount of ratepayers money to attend to some of those matters."

"Despite Cairns Regional Council’s funding of on-site remediation and rehabilitation efforts, the site is not really in much of a better state than it was when the Minister suspended the approval," Nowakowski says.

Reef Cove went into receivership three weeks ago, however there is strong concern in the community for the future plans of the site and the developer's intention.
The initial Federal Government suspension of approval was made on condition that the developer demonstrate an ability to clean up his act. Since the suspension the developer has demonstrated an unwillingness or inability to clean up his act. The only responsible action is for the Minister Garrett to revoke the approval altogether, the Save False Cape groups says.
Cairns Regional Council's Acting General Manager of Planning and Environment Peter Boyd has completed a digital elevation model of the False Cape site.
"The next stage will involve the identification of sites that have slopes in excess of 1:4 that have development potential," Peter Boyd says. "This information will be presented alongside a response to the Save our Slopes community action group (SOS) version 3 report."
Peter Boyd points out that although differing classes of slope have been used in the digital modelling, they are closely aligned.
"Council's DEM identifies the 'new' area triggered by the CairnsPlan amendments that commenced in March 2009 (slopes 1:3 to 1:4)," Peter Boyd says. "These are the dark green areas."
Solicitor Adam Millar, from the Environmental Defenders office is advocating a revocation of Reef Cove’s EPBC Act approval, as the most appropriate action.
"We submit that suspension for a further period will not resolve current problems, [and]revocation is the most appropriate way to deal with the currently suspended EPBC Act approval," Adam Millar says in a letter to Minister Garrett.
"In those circumstances it is proper for you to revoke Reef Cove’s EPBC Act approval before the end of the current suspension period. If you are not convinced that revocation is the most appropriate way, then we submit that at an absolute minimum you should suspend the approval for a further period of no longer than six months, having due regard to the conditions entailed in the initial suspension."
Miller highlights the reports commissioned by the Minister's Department that investigated the developer’s actions and the considerable environmental harm by contractors at the False Cape site. These reports have been kept secret, despite many calls for openness.
The False Cape property has two mortgages over it with Perpetual Nominees and MFS Pacific Finance. Additionally, there are three caveats lodged over the land, in favour of two other parties, namely Prestige Resort Developments and Fortress Credit Corp.
"From a legal point of view, the property title at this stage is messy," Steven Nowakowski says.
"It has been mortgaged twice, and the three parties holding the caveats, are claiming a legal interest in the property. Most importantly the proprietor of Reef Cove Resort has not shown any interest in abiding by the Operational Works Permit. Systematic breaches and cover up’s are a way of business for this company."
"We therefore urge [the Minister] to fully revoke your Federal Approval for this development so another suitable use for the site can be investigated," Nowakowski says.
There is a push for a government buy‐back of the False Cape site.
"The market value of the False Cape site will be reduced, more substantially so if the currently suspended EPBC Act approval is revoked altogether, which we believe is the most appropriate action," Adam Miller says.
"It appears clear to us that the time is ripe for all tiers of government to come together to buy‐back the site, and urge [the Minister] to consult with Commonwealth colleagues, relevant Queensland Ministers concerned and the Mayors of Cairns and Yarrabah to explore," Adam Miller says.
"This innovative alternative option for an ecologically and culturally appropriate future for the False Cape site, would well support the necessary rehabilitation of a highly compromised, fragile environment and the creation of sustainable, green jobs for the local community."
The Environmental Defenders Office lodged an application in the Planning and Environment Court in 2005 on behalf of the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre and Save our Slopes.

The trans-Tasman relationship

KiwiBlog author David Farrar writes...

While I have reservations over aspects of the EU, I love the fact they have a common currency and almost no borders. Hence I am a fan of New Zealand and Australia removing as many barriers as possible.

I don’t see much merit in political union (unless both islands gained statehood giving us more grunt in the Senate) but am persuadable on a joint currency etc.

The possible revival of the ANZACs could be hugely popular, as ANZAC Day on both sides of the Tasman becomes more and more hallowed by the public. The Herald reports...
  • New Zealand and Australian defence chiefs will soon begin discussions on setting up a joint Anzac rapid-response force.

    The shape, size and operations of the proposed force – disclosed by the Herald in May – have yet to be considered, but Prime Minister John Key and his Australian counterpart, Kevin Rudd, believe the close ties between the two defence forces should be formalised in a new transtasman unit.
Whether it is practical or not has to be worked through, bu the principle is exciting. It may also give opportunities for NZ soldiers to serve on missions they previously could not.

Colin Espiner also reports on the travel plans...
  • Trans-Tasman travel is about to get easier, but passport-free visits are unlikely.

    Travellers between New Zealand and Australia will be able to use electronic passport control and bypass queues for baggage screening from the end of this year, under changes to New Zealand airport arrangements announced by Prime Minister John Key in Canberra yesterday.

    Electronic-passport kiosks, called smart gates, will be installed at Auckland International Airport’s arrival hall in December and in Wellington and Christchurch from the middle of next year.

    The kiosks will be available to departing passengers in Auckland from late next year and in Wellington and Christchurch by mid-2011.

    They allow travellers aged over 18 with an electronic passport containing a biometric chip to be able to scan their own passports and use facial-biometric technology to identify themselves and go to departure gates without going through immigration control.

    Most New Zealand and Australian passengers arriving in New Zealand will no longer automatically have their baggage screened under changes announced by the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry.

I like self service kiosks. Air New Zealand has done a brilliant job with its technology and the e-pass and m-pass. Queues are almost a thing of the past. If this can be extended to security checks, all the better.

Werner Schmidlin is now blogging

Local Schriftsteller, ist Werner Schmidlin jetzt Blogging entfernt.

Sie finden sein Blog finden Sie hier. Ich habe auch sie zu dem BlogRoll rigt auf der Seite.

Es ist schön zu sehen, noch eine andere örtliche Beitrag zur Blogsphäre hier in Far North Queensland.

Lauchlan likes this one

Your Saturday EweTube giggle, with two outrageous Aussies.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Boot Bonneau, Blake out of their office

Two Councillors are clinging on to their plush locked office, even though they have no need for it.

Coupled with this, the new chair of the Finance and Administration committee, Councillor Linda Cooper, along with Councillor Paul Gregory who chairs Water and Waste, are seeking their own office each.

They are so keen, they've even asked Brett Gosser, Cairns Regional Council's manager of corporate services price up how much the new offices will cost. They have requested new offices be constructed, at a whopping cost.

Most Councillors operate in an open plan environment, a fab idea that was created in the early 80's to enable workplaces to engage in better communication. There was praise and ridicule, if not confusion, about what many felt was an Amercianised influence into our workplace.

Nevertheless, Blake and Bonneau, who is still overseas, are clinging onto their private offices. When Blake heads away next week for two weeks leave, maybe Paul and Linda should simply do what your big brother would do when you were away at Summer Camp.

Besides the Mayor on level 3 of the Spence Street Council building, Deputy Mayor Margaret Cochrane and Councillor Robert Pyne enjoy their own office. However, if size was a measurement of status between the two, Margaret would be accused of compensating for a small appendage, if you know what I mean.

I believe that Blake and Bonneau do require a locked office. Why don't they telephone Lotus Glen Correctional Centre to see if they has a spare room.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Flat deck truck wanted for Saturday Parade

The Festival Cairns organisers are after a flat deck truck for the Grand Parade on Saturday night.

It needs to be large enough for Johno's four piece band.

If you can help, please call Belinda on 4044 3593, 0407 966 530 or Pip 0419 681543 

Festival kicks off tomorrow

The 47th Cairns celebration of our region starts tomorrow.

This year's show, has had a face-lift and a total change, in look, feel, and content. After the tender process backfired after the project organisers when belly up, the job to put on the two week programme fell back with Council.

The parade along the Esplanade at 6pm on this Saturday, will also be a treat.

I recommend you grab a copy of the free Festival Cairns programme, or program as it's labeled to save money.

This year's is the first for long while to be largely under the direction of Cairns Regional Council.

It's good to see that Pacific Toyota has returned as a major sponsor, under it's new management, despite the turbulent year they've had.

They join funding from our Council, Ergon Energy, Queensland Government, along with the Federal Heritage and the Arts support.

There's a heap of other sponsors, and they're all listed on the website, and in the guide.

This year's offering provides a lot of free activities, and unlike previous years, almost every event is specially on for the Festival.

You can collect a copy of the Festival Cairns guide from all good KFCs, or venues around town. The Cairns Post will no doubt have some spares at their Abbott Street office, if you ask them nicely. Thomas will be working in reception, as part of a new work experience programme.

I'm having a cuppa at Bang with Belinda Griffin, who's co-ordinating the Festival from Council, and Pip Miller, who is driving the media. I'll give you an update tomorrow on the inside goss and what you really must see over the next two weeks.

Dodging the business bullets

Cairns author Andrew Griffiths, has launched his new book, Bullet-proof your Business Now.

Andrew says that from experience, there are two kinds of businesses in the world - those that have had tough times in the past and those that will have tough times in the future.

"It is simply a fact of business life, survival is all about what we do when we are faced with tough times and that is exactly why I have written this book now," Andrew Griffiths says.

"I have broken this book into four distinct sections. The first covers the steps we need to take at any time to make sure our business is bullet proof. The second section covers what action we need to take when we start to get nervous and the third section is all about what to do when 'it its the fan'. The fourth section is for those businesses that don’t make it, which will sadly be the case for many," Andrew says.

He insists it's an easy read, and Ross Gittens, a business columnist with the Sydney Morning Herald, agrees.

“It's a remarkably sensible, practical and useful book for business owners who want to be masters of their own fate. Andrew Griffiths knows his stuff,” Ross Gittens says.

Bullet-proof your Business Now is published by Allen and Unwin and is available in bookstores.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Another story about Hull and Briggs

Cairns Post Council reporter Thomas Chamberlin showed such potential, like the new editor of the paper he serves.

Both have failed their role in presenting a real story, hell-bent on spinning.

Today Thomas writes another piece of "investigative" journalism, clearly aimed to discredit the Val Schier, complete with a photo of the Mayor in their online version:
  • Cairns Regional Council has paid $ 55,000 to promote the region in a television series that bombed in the weekly ratings.

    In the program, Mayor Val Schier and other faces of Cairns spruik the region as a liveable destination packed with adventures and job opportunities.
He goes on to state how Townsville, Chinchilla, and other local government area s also went in on the commercial deal by Channel 7, and proves that it was a waste of money from the sadly-lacking audience.
  • Burnett Shire Council said it would support the project “morally” but not financially. Tara Shire Council rejected the proposal. The $ 55,000 investment by the Cairns Regional Council – revealed in purchase documents leaked to The Cairns Post this week – equates to spending about 80c for every viewer of the program.

    The council said it received 50 inquiries after the show, which equates to spending $1100 for each lead generated. Council sources claim no figures ever went before the council for approval and no direct references of payment have been found in public documents.
Chamberlin tries yet again, in a pattern that is becoming nauseating, that the Mayor, Val Schier was behind the dodgy mis-spent deal.
  • Channel 7 staff and thought the show was “good value”.
Then we find out, buried in the bowels of the "story" who was behind the latest scandal, regardless of the emotional mayoral-spin that Thomas Chamberlin and his angry editor wanted to make the copy read...
  • Documents obtained by The Cairns Post show an invoice dated in 2009, though it is believed negotiations took place before September 2008, with a payment order lodged by new communications manager Kerie Hull and signed off by former CEO Noel Briggs.

Of course, this was done in the days when Hull and Briggs were thick as thieves and you could have mistaken them for a pair of Easter bunnies with baskets of poison chocolates.

Why wasn't the Post headline, and the first paragraphs, about those who authorised the bloody video, just like that dodgy deal with Radio 4CA? Why? Well, the whole story reads like a press release from Councillor Alan Blake.

Will we ever get a paper that we deserve, or has the majority of Cairns given up? I really thought, following the first few editorials from new editor Andrew Webster, that he was going to turn the newspaper around. Sadly it's not happening.

In unrelated news, we read about "'Sexy snakes slip into suburbs', a pair of dirty dancers have become entwined in a suburban love story." Thankfully, it's not about a certain Councillor.