Sunday 17 January 2010

Community radio president lies to Sunday Mail about records

In a shocking admission in today's Sunday Mail to journalist Gavin King, president of the besieged Cairns community radio lied about the records kept over the last ten years, probably in order to protect the former Arona-controlled committee from investigation.
  • "Current 4CCR president Rodney Coutts said the Arona-dominated committee left the station in disarray, and he was not aware of the existence of any minutes of meetings or financial records for the 10-year period the Arona sect ran the station. -Sunday Mail - 17th January 2010."

CairnsBlog can confirm that records were kept over the last 10 years. This includes financial statements, bank accounts, and minutes from various committee meetings since late 1999, when the Arona-dominated committee took over running the Cairns Community Radio station.

Donn Corcoran, who was secretary of Cairns Community Broadcasters Incorporated from the end of August 2009, and was one of those that pushed for an investigation into the former committee, says that Rod Coutts knows there are records.

"While it is true that the station was left in disarray and some electronic records were destroyed, Mr Coutts is being very disingenuous when he says he was not aware of any minutes or financial records for the ten-year period of Arona-dominated management," Donn Corcoran told CairnsBlog today [pictured right]. "They are in his office at the Raintrees studio. I can assure you that Mr Coutts is aware of and in possession of minutes and financial records going back for at least seven years."

Corcoran says that these records were to be used in a forensic audit agreed by the new committee at a meeting on 5th October.

"Since the resignation and removal of six of the nine newly elected committee members, that were forced out in November due to Coutts' mis-management, it appears that Mr Coutts is not planning to go ahead with the forensic audit," says Donn Corcoran.

"He has also co-opted the former president, John Fielder who presided over the Arona committee, to his committee and others who are Arona sympathisers. Mr Fielder is not a member of the Arona community but is a frequent visitor. Mr Coutts has also been a frequent visitor to Arona in the past and was a member of the management committee in the early 2000's when Arona reigned."

Corcoran says that there is a second and equally disturbing story about the events following the resignation of the Arona-led committee group in August last year.

"Following Mr Coutts' failure to obtain committee approval for his plan to become paid station manager as well as volunteer-elected president, he pursued a systematic campaign against members of the new committee, including a series of false accusations of ethnic discrimination, misappropriation and defamation," Donn Corcoran says.

"While in a minority position, and his committee questionably did not have a legal quorum, he unilaterally appointed new members to his committee and got rid of anyone who was not a supporter. He also sacked the station's technician without committee authority, when he expressed concern about Mr Coutts' behaviour." Corcoran says.

Community radio president Rodney Coutts has since been highly secretive about committee minutes and finances. As the station has assets of around $500,000 and annual turnover over $200,000, much of it from taxpayer funds, this is an on-going concern to everyone in the wider Cairns community.

In another serious incident, Coutts told Cairns Post reporters that no membership forms were "thrown out the door" as Cairns Regional Councillors Diane Forsyth and Linda Cooper attempted to attend a meeting on 6th January as guests of three members. However when questioned further, he said that he didn't see the incident.

Last Wednesday morning, Linda Cooper again caught Rod Coutts out being deceitful when she met with him. Cooper pressed for the new membership forms to be presented to a committee meeting "with urgency."

"Rod Coutts told me that this was not possible and that no meetings were scheduled before the next General Meeting (on January 20th)," Linda Cooper said. "I suggested he call a special meeting of the management committee to deal with the new memberships, but he insisted that this was not possible."

However, as Councillor Cooper was leaving the radio station, she was introduced to Marcus Smith, an indigenous announcer. During the short conversation, Rod Coutts let slip that there was in fact another meeting of the committee that night.

"I turned to Rod and told him that I was surprised to hear this. I questioned why he had not revealed this in our conversation a few minutes earlier, and then strongly suggested that he deal with the new membership forms that evening [Wednesday 13th January]," Cooper told CairnsBlog. "He just looked at me and said 'Oh?' "

Cr Cooper telephoned Rod Coutts the following morning [Thursday last week], to find the outcome of the meeting.

"What happened at the meeting last night Rodney? I'd like to know if the new membership forms were approved by the committee," Cooper asked.

"I only chaired the meeting. It's the committee's decision," Coutts told a bemused Linda Cooper. "Not all them were approved."

"What do you mean? Which ones were approved?" Cooper asked again. "Um, yours was but I don't know about the rest, I was only chairing the meeting," Rod Coutts said.

Cooper asked Coutts to telephone her back in 15 minutes with the answer. She's still waiting for the telephone call.

  • PS: The real headline in today's Sunday Mail was "Sect's Radio reign to face further scrutiny."


Mikes Plastic Sugeon said...

I see toyworld went broke on mulgrave road you can see there house for auction on and u can even see the toyworld cars out the front poor buggers maybe freebody will have some tips

Ed in Edge HIll said...

Mr. Moore

You ARE aware that writing falsehoods and making libelous statements about people can get you sued, aren't you?

Bush Lawyer said...

To Ed in Edge Hill ... Derrrrrrr

Spangled Drongo said...

Ed in Edge Hill ...
You are certainly not the first person who has alleged that the Blog contains falsehoods about 4CCR and its history. However, if you can actually identify a falsehood you WILL be the first one to do so.

Michael P Moore said...

Agreed Mr Edgey-Hill.

Tell me this...

Rod Coutts says there's no records (minutes, financial statments etc)

There are records (minutes, financial statments etc)

Where is the grey area?

Shane Wilson said...

It’s interesting how Coutts is now trying to cover up for Arona…..or maybe not. Coutts spent a lot of time at Arona and time serving on the Arona Board.
Another huge lie to add to his record of mistruths...

Radio Investment Banker said...

I don't think he will destroy the records as it would be an offence against the Associations Incorporation Act, or at least a more serious offence than the minor infringements recently. Annual Financial Statements are held in Brisbane and could be retrieved, but the more detailed records are important for an audit. Information on cheques, which account for most transactions, can be obtained from the bank.

James Martin - Freshy said...

Hey when is all this going to be serialised for TV? It's got the making of a 10-part mini series for Channel 10!!!!

Miss Chief. said...

Geez - they could be immortalized as Underbelly - The Community Radio Cover-up. George Freeman was a rank amateur!

LOL How word verification code is "conit"

Donn Corcoran, former secretary 4CCR said...

Ed in Edge Hill has still not identified any falsehoods in the blog article.

It needs to be made clear, however that any implication by Mr Coutts that the Arona group did not return any financial records or minutes is certainly false.

Although some computer records of financial transactions were apparently wiped out, they actually returned about a dozen boxes of financial records and minutes of meetings going back over the period of their management.

The financial records included cheque books, bank statements and other material.

If Mr Coutts is 'not aware of the existence of any minutes of meetings or financial records for the 10-year period the Arona sect ran the station' then he is either guilty of a falsehood, has removed or permitted the removal of a substantial quantity of records from his own office, or simply cannot manage an office.

In either of these cases, he would appear to be unfit to be President or Station Manager.

Sam the ex-ex Labor voter and supporter said...

I've been reading this stuff about the community radio since sometime late late year and can't for the life of me understand why the coppers of the local politicians havn't made one public statment on it...

where's Wettenhall, Boyle, Pitt and O'Brien in all this? All their respoective communities cover the broadcast area... just amazes me the pig arse lazy members of parly we have.

Observer of chaos said...

I used to know this Coutts guy when he was in business about 10 years ago I think.

My wife told me at the time that he "was as smelly as cat's urine and takes ages to get rid of..."

I think my Betty was rather accurate it seems!!!


Michael Hyams said...

So he has a past business record - "Observer of Chaos"

What business - what was smelly, and what about the urban rumours about his Commission if the Royal Air Force?

Cr Linda Cooper, Cairns Regional Council said...

In regards to comments made on the blog and in Sunday Mail’s Arona article, I am quite bemused by Mr Coutts statements that there are no records under Arona’s management etc.

The reason for my bemusement is that during our one-hour meeting last week, Mr Coutts commented several times that he shouldn’t be expected to make changes overnight because he still has to deal with sorting through all the previous paperwork (and then pointed to a pile of boxes at the end of the room and explained that the boxes contained records from the previous management).

Ed from Edge HIll said...

Previous commenters have noted the minimal amount of money involved, and the changes in technology that are rapidly making community radio moot.

You've heard about the "Law of Unintended Consequences"? A forensic audit of the community radio operation by the feds would cost at least the same as the $200K spent on this operation. A bureaucrat could easily decide that all the yammering isn't worth anyone in the governmnent's time or trouble, and shit can the whole thing ending the station's operations altogether.

Will this accomplish your goals, Mr. Moore?

As the basic controversy seems to be dissatisfaction with programming decision, it's a no-win situation for everyone. I predict the demise of this station thanks to the actions of this blog.

Donn Corcoran said...

The amount of money is not negligible. The replacement value of the 4CCR's assets is about $600,000 and its income is well over $200,000. The value of volunteer input is at least $50,000 a year.

Community radio may become even more important as commercial radio becomes increasingly networked and non-local. A well-managed and community supported station could readily make the transition to digital transmission, as well as streaming via the internet. Quite a few stations do this already.

The proposal for a forensic audit was agreed by the Committee of 4CCR on 5 October for very good reasons and following consultation with financial experts. It was to have been undertaken by a local accounting firm at a very moderate cost .

The controversy over the station is about the competence and propriety of the management committee first and foremost. Getting a fresh committee which is honest with the community and treats local Councillors with a bit of respect would be a good start.

The programming issues can be sorted out later.

Luke @ Clifton said...

Dear Mr Ed,

Stop horsing round...

Clearly there is an issue which needs to be attended to by the authorities to get the place running 'by the people, for the people' instead of running it 'by Mr Coutts for Mr Coutts'.....