Saturday 31 July 2010

"Don't let Gillard do what Bligh has done to Queensland"

No anon-e-mouse comments, please. I've told you before

I can always spot new comment posters to CairnsBlog, they appear terrified of leaving their name, or even a pseudonym, attached to their contribution.
I remind newbies and virgin CairnsBlog comment posters, that anonymous comments submitted are never published.
Here's a short technical lesson for those less fortunate of us to arrive before the Gen Y's.
After you've typed your witty, clever and urbane contribution [see right] that also follows the simple comment rules to avoid be moderated, you must fill in the "Name/URL" section on the comments dialogue box [see right].
The "URL" (a place to pop in a web link - Facebook profile, your own website, etc) is optional.
Also, it's not okay to simply type your name in the same area where your comment is typed. You need to use the option as mentioned above.
An 'Anonymous' option does appear, and Google is looking at removing this, however if you select this when posting a comment, your well-thought out argument, will head straight to a dark hole, just like the back seat of Councillor Alan Blake's MX5.
Oh, and another tip: I recommend you construct your comment in an external Word programme, and then copy and paste it in. That way, if the Blog system crashes or doesn't appear because of a glitch, you can always submit it again without drama.
Over the last week alone, over 60 comments came in - some beautifully scribed - as "anonymous". All went automatically to the sin bin. Make your voice heard, that's a dear. And by the way, it's a rare case that a comment isn't posted - no matter what the opinion, so long as it follows the appropriate netiquette.
PS: I really do encourage folk to use their real name, and I know we've had this debate back in 2008 on CairnsBlog but if you can't muster that, use a nic name. You can also use a Google log in.

Ballot order for Leichhardt

  • Jen Sackley (Ind)
  • Yodie Batzke (Ind)
  • Warren Entsch (LNP)
  • Shannon Royce McSweeney (Family First)
  • Neville St John-Wood (Greens)
  • Jim Turnour (ALP)
  • Steve Lane (Ind)

Saturday SoapBlog: Bryan Law - Vote 1 Greens (below the line)

If he won't be famous, he'll be notorious... however our Bryan Law is no Oscar Wilde.
To peace activists in Australia and New Zealand, he's a hero for free speech and taking direct action, often at personal cost. To others who often accept governments are right and should be obeyed and not questioned, he's a serial stirrer.
The Cairns Post infamously labelled Bryan a serial pest, a serial protester, a serial activist, and even a serial trouble maker. To supporters, Bryan's a veteran, and has well and truly earned his badge over the last 30 years of direct activism. But The Greens won't have him. Maybe his mum told him not to join any club that would have him as a member.

Bryan's election campaign request, is that we should turn green with envy. Oh, and he warns me to look out for some election mischief in the next three weeks.

I first met Bob Brown in 1984 at the Getting Together conference in Sydney.

This was a meeting of environmental / peace activists, after the successes of the Franklin Dam campaign, and national mobilisation around uranium, land rights, and social justice. The question was whether it was timely to forge a national Green party, following the formation of very successful Green parties in Tasmania, Germany, and other European countries.

The gathering affirmed that we should all move in this direction on a State by State basis, developing both the grass-roots movement and a structured political party. In Queensland that translated into Drew Hutton and a group of colleagues forming the 'Rainbow Alliance' to contest elections, while another bunch of us wanted to strengthen the social campaigns all the time and not just at elections. The two courses were seen as complementary, with the formation of a Green party coming down the track.

That situation continued more or less in harmony for the next seven years. One ought always expect some frictions and disturbances in the social movements, and in the interces between social movements and their political representatives, like in the Labour movement. This certainly happened within the rainbow Alliance.

The Queensland Greens were formed in November 1991, in time to join the Australian confederation of Green parties in August 1992. These are the Greens we now get to vote for in State and Federal elections.

I welcomed the formation of all the Greens parties, and supported them morally and financially at every election they ran in.

I decided not to join because I still saw a priority in trying to build the social movements, and a capacity for grass-roots activism. I also wanted to be able to communicate with Australians from all walks of life, particularly rural folk, and I didn’t see The Greens as a good platform for doing that.
In 2004 Drew Hutton came within a whisker of winning a Senate seat in Queensland. Margaret Pestorius and I decided that we would spend the next three years actively supporting the Greens in the hope that 2007 could see the election of a Greens Senator in Queensland. We applied to join.

Unfortunately we got caught up in an internal orgy of bitterness and recrimination among Brisbane Greens. A group calling themselves Grass-roots Greens had disputed Drew Hutton’s continuing monopolisation of the Senate candidacy before the 2004 election, and had run dead when he was the candidate once again. After the election failure the Party split and indulged itself in recrimination, expulsion, and generally negative behaviour. Our membership application got caught up in what was a very ugly dispute.

Unwisely perhaps, I opined during the discussion that responsibility for the election failure was pretty widespread, and that the way to address it was by recruiting more activists and developing a regular and ongoing Greens profile between elections. I pointed to the failures in the Leichhardt electoral campaign as an example of what could be improved. Oops.

Denis Walls and Jon Metcalf took the criticism personally, and sabotaged my membership application. Margaret’s application was rejected simply because she is married to me. The constitutional rorting, back-biting gossip, and destructive nature of Jon and Denis’s behaviour was very disappointing and hurtful.

I am not the only one they’ve done this to.

Margaret and I made the decision to accept rejection. To refuse to retaliate, and to try working with Greens' members to improve the processes inside the Far North Greens – while continuing with our grass-roots activism.

In 2009 I lodged another application for membership with convenor Steve Brech, who agreed a process with me for considering that application at a branch meeting. Secretary Jon Metcalf refused to allow my application to be considered by the branch. So when you read about how 'the members' of The Greens rejected my membership, please realise that most members have never had a chance to consider it – and there has never been a discussion among far north greens about how to improve their election performance.

So I got to decide once again not to seek recrimination.

But now I don’t fully trust The Greens, and am wary of the idea that unprincipled technocrats are running the party simply to win seats in alliance with the ALP. So preference deals like the one announced on day three of this election campaign make me nervous.

At the same time The Greens have by far the best policies in this election, and have some elements within it that seek a different and better way of doing politics.

For these reasons, I’m swallowing my pride and advocating a first preference vote for the Greens on August 21st.

But I’m also echoing Bob Brown in encouraging folk to allocate preferences according to their own principles. For me that requires the dismissal of the KillHard government, and I’ll be giving my preference to Warren Entsch before Jim Turncoat.

Just as The Greens may go down the path of unprincipled political manipulation, the ALP already has. As Stuey Traill says – the union movement was able to take on and defeat Howard’s Work Choices. They have been unable to defeat KRudd and KillHard’s Work Choices because it comes from within the Labor Party. The ALP needs reformation which will not happen while the technocrats can win elections without it.

The Greens will face these same problems.

So I encourage a vote for The Greens in the short term, alliance with the Labour Movement in the long-term, and constant vigilance of those who would manipulate politics through gossip, personal attacks, lies and the abuse of power.
  • If you'd like to jump on the CairnsBlog SoapBlog, just drop me a line and convince me your story is worth a sackful of cashola and should be shared with the free world.

Friday 30 July 2010

Elvis is well and truly gone, but the King is back

Gavin King is back.

King will re-join The Cairns Post as Editor-at-large - a new title, developed especially for the former out-spoken Post columnist.

According to new editor Andrew Holman, Gavin will be the Post's "man around town," and a "key person in developing the voice and spirit of the paper, breaking news, filing in-depth reports, analysis and opinion."

"I am thrilled that someone of Gavin’s experience and stature is 'coming home' after a very successful period with The Sunday Mail," Andrew wrote in a leaked email to CairnsBlog late yesterday. "I am looking forward to his contribution in helping set a challenging news agenda for The Cairns Post as we move towards one of the most critical and exciting periods in the history of this paper."

Gavin King, who has had a regular spot on Radio 4CA's talkback show with John Mackenzie, on top on his duties as North Queensland correspondent with the Sunday Mail, returns to the Post where he was previously Chief of Staff. He Macca radio stint has however become drool and came across as ill-prepared.

It was believed that Gavin King left the paper last year due to serious editorial conflicts with then editor Andrew Webster. His departure was hot on the heels of business and community reporter Roger Dickson, who resigned via a text message.

Andrew Holman's appointment in late May, following the sudden sacking of Webster, has seen a more accessible editor who genuinely wants to reform the paper's preception in the community. One of the more notable Post critics over recent years, has been freelance journalist and local musician Tony Hillier. After Mark Alexander left the top job, Hillier wrote to newly-appointed Webster, who moved from the Innisfail Advocate. He alerted the fresh-faced editor to things that needed attention.

"As the first FNQ editor of The Cairns Post since Alan Hudson, it was hoped that Andrew Webster would elevate the content and the quality of its coverage of local affairs," Hillier said. "Alas, he failed miserably to match the tenor of his early rhetoric. When are we going to get a daily newspaper that merits respect — one that truly reflects life in Cairns and environs?"

In his early editorials, Webster espoused virtues of 'local' and 'community' and wanting to listen to his audience, well aware of past public criticism. However such lofty ideas, rarely materialised.

Taking this recent history on board, Holman has put “rejuvenation’’ on top of King's to-do list, along with strategic touchy-feelie words like "examine" and "reinvent." Holman wants King to "challenge the very core of what they do, in-paper and online." He says that newspapers world-wide are undergoing enormous change. This is true, however few print media have moved and adapted and the massive rate that social media and social networking has virtually reinvented how the world shares its stories. Even though Holman recently appointed a dedicated manager to look after and develop the paper's online presence, it still gets caught out on fundamental faux pas.

"I can think of no better time to be involved in this industry," Andrew Holman wrote in a staff email. "In the meantime, let’s welcome back The King and get this newsroom pumping with energy and excitement."

Over the years Gavin has sent many an email to CairnsBlog, almost all are unfit for publication. However following my extensive investigations about the corrupt and appallingly dysfunctional Cairns community radio, that is pocketing $300,000 public funds with no public accountability, I received a few surprisingly kind and gracious messages of support from Gavin King. Following my enthusiasm, King himself took up the torrid tale in his Sunday Mail columns, giving the story yet another welcome airing. Gavin even suggested that my efforts merited a gong in the Queensland Multi-Media Awards, and with around half a million views during the last 12 months, CairnsBlog probably ranks up there (however, the nomination deadline was yesterday!).

So I too welcome Gavin back. Without Big Kev, this town is lacking in public footballs, and Gavin always provided much journalistic fodder to keep a blogger amused and entertained for a long wet season.

Expect to spot King at all the best eateries, hob-nobbling with those that matter and those that should, and those that just want a favour on page three. Who knows, he may even grant CairnsBlog an interview one day. I'll await the phone call with trepidation and moist excitement.

Anyway, he's not really the King, but I know the odd Queen that would love to knight him.

Thursday 29 July 2010

Two for one tix tonight at Sam's Xtreme Illusions show

Tonight only, it two for one tickets at Sam Powers award-winning illusion show at Cairns Casino.

Book on 1300 500 331. Get in quick as they'll disappear fast. Boom boom.

Do you want a cultural centre? Tell Council what you think....

Hot on the heels of Council's "vision" sessions, the first of weekly sessions with the community to explain the proposed cultural precinct project, will kick off tomorrow.

The series of forums will be held over lunch-time, to allow as many people to join in as possible, and will be hosted by Cairns Regional Council's cultural precinct project manager, Linda Cardew.

"The sessions are designed to inform the community about all aspects of project," Linda Cardew says. "The informally styled sessions are designed to deliver information and answer one on one questions."

The meetings will be held every week, with the first session tomorrow focusing on the proposed site and its relation to the heart of the business district.

The meeting venues will change every week, moving around town and around the region so that everyone gets a chance to attend.

"Each week will cover one or two aspects of the project and give people plenty of opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns," Julie McGlone, Council's marketing and communications manager says. "We are very serious about listening to the community throughout the entire roll out of this project and we want to ensure the information that the public is up to date and factual."

"We're hoping these sessions will go a long way to ensuring face-to-face interaction with the community, and will be a useful tool in our engagement campaign," Julie McGlone says.
  • 1pm (for one hour)
    Friday 30th July
    Foyer of Cairns Civic Theatre

A woman's weakly airbrushes Julia

"I have picked up a copy of the Woman's Weekly," Julia Gillard said yesterday. "Arh, I think arh umm, I think I'll let others judge, arr, what they think of it. Arr, there's arr, obviously a combination of make-up and lighting that does you a lot of good."
Our new Prime Minister Julia Gillard features in a 13-page spread in this week's edition of the Australian Woman's Weekly in a story called "On dating, drugs, and life with Tim..."
Weekly editor Helen McCabe, calls it "her most revealing interview yet.''
Evidently there's been hundreds of emails and letters about the digitally-enhanced photographs, to ''smooth out skin tones, reduce imperfections and often alter ill-fitting clothing."
So what is revealing in the story? It turns out that Ms G uses double-sided sellotape to keep clothes in place, and detests stilettos. She doesn't care for not having her own children. She also talks about drug use... the perennial question all pollies get asked to make them sound real or human.

''I have been asked before if I have tried marijuana and the answer to that is yes,'' Gillard says. ''In university, we would go out to the pub and perhaps drink more than we should have on occasions.''
''If you went up to your average Australian and said, 'Would you get married because you might get a promotion at work?', they would say, 'No, I wouldn't dream of doing it.'
Next week's edition features Jim Turnour, followed by Warren Entsch. I know which one enjoys stilettos more.

"If Tony Abbott becomes PM , God help us!" - Paul Keating

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Challenging year ahead for Cairns

Cairns Region has been experiencing a great start to the financial year, Vlasta Eriksson of Signature Staff says.

"Four new flights from Taiwan and the national school holidays increased the tourist numbers into our region which was well received by local business," says Vlasta Eriksson. "Hospitality and Tourism industries are enjoying the influx of dollar coming through much needed boost to our struggling economy."

"The construction industry on the other hand has not been so lucky still struggling and it doesn’t look like it will picking up for a while. Commercial, Mining, Financial Services are also on steady rise," Vlasta says.

"Cairns has recorded 8.9% unemployment for June and should be dropping further in the next few months."

Vlasta says that employers have been challenged with new legislation coming into the 2011 financial year.

"Federal wage increase has been fairly confusing for most SME due to number of Modern Awards being in the transition period," Vlasta Eriksson says. "ATO has made a new ruling with regards to the Salary Sacrifice being recorded on the payment summaries for last financial year. And not to mention Modern Awards are still is a state of confusion for most employers."

"WHSQ is slowly getting through auditing all medium size business, so if you are a business and declared over one million but less then ten million in workcover for the financial year 2009 your turn is coming."

If you’re finding it just too much to take in and would like some assistance, Signature Staff are offering Employer Coaching Program, covering recruitment, employment process, and employment procedures and policies.

Vlasta is currently accepting applications for the Amateurs and need FB, bar, chefs, cooks, and kitchen hands. So if you want to be part of the action at the most significant event on the Cairns' calendar and rather earn money instead of spending it, contact Vlasta.

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Julia Gillard on her own tax policy

Here's Julia Gillard this morning on Alan Jones' radio show, getting rather confused about the her own tax policy. (or MP3 download here.)

Your community needs your view

Cairns Regional Council needs your help to plan for tomorrow.

"We need to know your dreams, your hopes, your vision on how our region will unfold over the next 20 years and beyond," CEO Lyn Russell says. "This is your community and your voice needs to be one of those calling directions for the path we take into the future."

"Right now, our community is poised to take its place as one of the great tropical cities in Australia – and the world," Lyn Russell says. "Cairns Regional Council is entering a crucial stage of planning with the community to ensure we provide a plan that truly reflects a united way forward. Council wants to hear about how you view future opportunities that need to be pursued for you, your children and your grandchildren. We also want your views on how you’d like to see Council shape its future role to take full advantage of our resources, expertise and knowledge for the region."

Russell says this means working in new ways to make sure they hear opinions and engage in consultation in the most effective ways possible.

"We will be asking for participation from all stakeholders in our community – from special interest groups, community leaders, business people, individuals – everyone who wants to have a say, regardless of age, gender, geographic location, income, religion, ethnicity or any other factor," Lyn Russell says. "To start the process, we are inviting key stakeholders and community leaders to attend a workshop for a discussion on this exciting program of engagement."

The workshops...

CAIRNS – Monday 2 August
9.30am – 12.30pm Tanks Art Centre, Tank 5, Collins Avenue
4.30pm – 7.30pm Tanks Art Centre, Tank 5, Collins Avenue

GORDONVALE – Friday 6 August
10.30am – 1.30pm RSL Hall, Gordon Street

Light refreshments will be served. If you'd like to attend, RSVP by emailing (include venue and time) to Helen Jarroe, by Wednesday 28 July.

Monday 26 July 2010

Crime Stoppers update

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

Anyone with information which could assist police with their investigations should contact Cairns Police on 40307000 or Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or Crime Stoppers 24hrs a day. Crime Stoppers is a charitable community volunteer organisation working in partnership with the Queensland Police Service.

Robbery in company, Cairns City:
Police are investigating the assault and robbery of a 24-year-old tourist that occurred on Sheridan Street early on Thursday morning. The man had befriended the two offenders after asking directions to an accommodation complex. The two offenders offered their assistance and walked with him before the man was struck from behind and knocked unconscious. His bag and wallet were stolen during the incident. The male offenders are described as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander appearance of unknown age. One was about 150cm tall and the other was about 180cm.

Youth arrested after vehicle thefts:
Detectives from the Cairns Child Protection and Investigation Unit arrested a 15-year-old Mount Sheridan youth on Wednesday following an investigation into thefts of vehicles and property. The boy was charged with unlawful use of a motor vehicle, four counts of unlawful entry to vehicles, as well as receiving tainted property. The charges follow a series of thefts from vehicles in the Woree area earlier this month. He is due to appear in the Cairns Children’s Court on July 27.

Youths arrested after burglary, Edmonton:
Detectives from the Edmonton CIB have arrested and charged three male youths aged 13, 15 and 17 following the break and enter of a residence on Senate Street at Bentley Park at just before midnight on Wednesday. The three were charged with burglary, entering a dwelling with intent, stealing, possession of house breaking implements and an animal cruelty offence. The 15 year-old is due to appear in the Cairns Children’s Court on July 27 and the 17 year-old is due to appear in the Cairn Magistrate’s Court on August 6. The 13 year-old has been dealt with under the provisions of the Youth Justice Act.

Traffic offender charged, Cairns:
Smithfield Police charged a 54-year-old Kewarra Beach man on Wednesday afternoon after he was intercepted twice in four minutes on Lake Street. The man was initially intercepted around 2.45pm, he was found driving with a suspended license. The man allegedly claimed he was unaware of the suspension and he was warned not to drive. Officers were amazed to see the man driving along the street four minutes after the initial interception. His Hyundai sedan was seized and the man is due to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court on August 5 to answer a charge of unlicensed driving.

Assault Police, Port Douglas:
A 33-year-old New South Wales man has been charged after he allegedly kicked a police officer in the face during his arrest at Port Douglas Station around 11.50 Saturday night. The man was charged with committing a public nuisance and two counts of assault police, he is scheduled to appear at the Cairns Magistrates Court today.

Hit and run traffic crash, Earlville:
A man is assisting police with their inquiries following a hit and run traffic crash that occurred in an Earlville car park around 2.00 yesterday afternoon. A 36-year-old Westcourt woman was struck by a vehicle as she walked though the car park. The driver of vehicle fled the scene. The woman was taken to hospital but was later released suffering only minor injuries.

Single vehicle rollover, Rocky Point:
Two people were injured in single vehicle rollover that occurred around 7.30 last night on the Captain Cook Highway near Wonga Beach. Four people were in the vehicle, including a pregnant woman and two children when it lost control and rolled. The driver and a child suffered minor abrasions, the other passengers escaped without injury. Police investigations are continuing.

Witnesses sought, traffic crash, Cairns North:
Police are seeking witnesses to a two vehicle traffic crash that occurred at the intersection of Sheridan Street and Airport Avenue around 5.00 this morning. The incident involved a white Ford taxi sedan and a dark blue Mitsubishi Nimbus station wagon, the crash occurred in the inbound lane. Police believe that there was a significant amount of traffic at the time of the incident.

And the winner of MasterChef for 2010 is...

Who cares, really?

'Cairns is the fastest growing region in Australia' - Filip Binst

Real estate agents are renown for talking it up, but these stats are worth repeating, from Filip Binst, manager of The Professionals real estate Cairns South.

Did you know that Cairns is one of the fastest growing regions in Australia?

Despite some of the hardships our area has been facing of late, Cairns remains a great place to live in and that is evidenced simply by the number of people that want to move here.

In a report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics it was found that over 25,000 people moved to Cairns in the years between 2004 and 2009, meaning a growth of 3.8%. We even showed higher growth than popular areas such as the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.

It could even be our cheaper housing that is driving the growth. The south-east corner of the state has been facing extreme demands for housing lately, and this is causing rising house prices that are simply unaffordable for most.

It could also just be that when people visit Cairns they realise the amazing lifestyle and climate that we have to offer here, and once people come here they never want to leave.

Sunday 25 July 2010

Sunday joke....

  • A young Aussie lad moved to London and went to Harrods looking for a job.

    The manager asked 'Do you have any sales experience?'

    The young man answered 'Yeah, I was a salesman back home in Dubbo.'

    The manager liked the Aussie so he gave him the job.

    His first day was challenging and busy, but he got through it.

    After the store was locked up, the manager came down and asked, 'OK, so how many sales did you make today?'

    The Aussie said 'One!'

    The manager groaned and continued, 'Just one? Our sales people average 20 or 30 sales a day.

    How much was the sale for?'

    The manager choked and exclaimed £124,237.64!! What the hell did you sell him?'

    'Well, first I sold him a small fish hook, then a medium fish hook and then I sold him a new fishing rod.'

    'Then I asked him where he was going fishing and he said down at the coast, so I told him he would need a boat, so we went down to the boat department and I sold him that twin-engine Power Cat.'

    'Then he said he didn't think his Honda Civic would pull it, so I took him down to car sales and I sold him the 4 x4

    The manager, incredulous, said, 'You mean to tell me...a guy came in here to buy a fish hook and you sold him a boat and a 4x4?'

    'No, no, no... he came in here to buy a box of tampons for his lady friend and I said...

    'Well, since your weekend's buggered, you might as well go fishing.'

$2000 cash for your old(ish) car "another Labor lemon" says Warren Entsch

Labor’s plan to pay $2000 for Australians to upgrade their old cars is just another lemon of an idea from Julia Gillard and Labor, LNP Candidate for Leichhardt Warren Entsch says.

Warren Entsch says the scheme encouraged motorists to take on debt they couldn’t afford, pushed up the price of old cars and did little for the environment.

“What this makes very clear is that Julia Gillard and Labor have learnt nothing from their disastrous pink batts policy,” he said.
Labor has announced a $2000 rebate to encourage people to get their "old, polluting cars" off the road, when they purchase a new, lower emission, fuel efficient vehicle.

Senator Kim CarrImage via Wikipedia

This is a program that has already been rejected by the Labor Industry Minister Kim Carr as being “extremely expensive” and as a Labor ‘green’ project it is sure to have unintended side effects and cause havoc for the industry.

“In Far North Queensland, and around the rest of the nation, there are businesses still waiting for the government to pay outstanding bills for the insulation scheme that had to be abandoned once people started dying and houses burnt to the ground," Warren Entsch says. "Now the Government is handing out more taxpayers money for another green farce."

“This scheme is nothing but a lemon — Kim Carr knew that last year but the Prime Minister is moving forward with this disaster anyway.”

A similar cash for old cars scheme in Germany has resulted in a surge in the number of new cars bought, followed by a big drop that resulted in job losses.

“The $400 million taxpayers are paying for this scheme will only cause motorists to upgrade their car today instead of tomorrow,” Entsch says. “In return the industry will suffer a huge hangover, when car sales that would have been spread over several years are squeezed into a short period.

“What I am very concerned about is how many people will be tempted to buy a new car when they can’t really afford it? This scheme will also force up the price of older vehicles, making it harder for teenagers to purchase their first car and putting the price of second-hand vehicles out of reach for families who are doing it tough," Warren Entsch says.

“This recycled policy idea is just a waste of $400 million and another green lemon from Labor.”
Households will be able to receive a $2,000 rebate towards a new vehicle by trading in their pre-1995 car for scrapping.

The rebate scheme is part of Labor’s plan to make "positive changes to how we live, work and travel."

According to Labor, from 1 January 2011 to the end of 2014, the Cleaner Car Rebate is expected to result in significant cuts in Australian fleet emissions as close to 200,000 pre-1995 vehicles are taken off the road and replaced with more fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly cars.

The Rebate will be capped over its four years of operation at 200,000 vehicles.

Saturday 24 July 2010

Security check

Saturday SoapBlog: 'I can’t get my meds today' - Cairns failed to provide medical support

A disturbing story of a HIV positive man visiting Cairns from Sydney last week, has raised serious concerns for the provision of basic health services in the region.

Secretary of Positive Action Cairns, Geoff Harrision, says the visitor could not get three days supply of a medication when his supply had run out while visiting Cairns on holiday.

"It shows that no matter how hard he tried to get the medication, it was blocked by all levels of the local system," Geoff Harrision told

Alex from Sydney tells his story...

I can’t get my meds today - Adherence with the worst medical support.

I have just been spending a nine day holiday in Cairns to get away from Sydney winter and catch up with my long time friends.

On Thursday I realized that one of my HIV medications was going to run out – Oh no I didn’t pack my supply very well did I. My local poz friends put me onto the HIV service so I could get three days supply of one of my HIV medications.

I called the Cairns Sexual Health Dolls House and told them of my problem and the need to get the days supply of Isentress. They said they will call me back. Two hours had passed and my mobile had not received a call, so I rang them to see how my appointment/prescription request was progressing.

They replied saying that they had called my mobile before but did not get an answer. As I had been sitting at my friend’s house reading a book with my phone next to me, I knew it didn’t ring. They would find out and would ring me back.

When they called me they said I couldn’t get an appointment with the doctor in time to get my prescription filled in, as this was a Friday, and that I should get my Sydney doctor to send a script to the Cairns Base pharmacy.

So then I called Sydney and asked for my doctor to call me, and was told he would call me later on.

I then had a friend call to book a PBS doctor in Cairns to make an appointment, as this may have been a bit easier for me to get my HIV medication, but he was not at work. Maybe he was off to a conference? My friend then called another Cairns PBS prescribing doctor and made an appointment for noon, with 15 minutes before to fill in the new client form before doing my script.

At 8pm, my Sydney doctor called. I told him my problem and said I had managed to get an appointment with a HIV doctor here in Cairns. He said to ring him in the morning if there were any problems. The next morning the Cairns doctor’s clinic called and said they had to cancel my appointment as he wasn’t going to be available.

Cairns Base no go. Next HIV prescribing GP no go. Another HIV prescribing GP no go. Is that three misses and you’re out?

Another call to my Sydney doctor to get a script faxed to the Cairns Base Hospital pharmacy, and a call to the Cairns Base Hospital pharmacy to get their fax number. This then went to the Hospital director who said they needed to liaise with my Sydney Hospital where my prescriptions are filled in. The Cairns Base Hospital director wanted a fax from my Sydney doctor - and that their original script be posted to them along with a covering letter from my Sydney doctor.

This was now about 10 phone calls over 18 hours and still nowhere nearer to getting the medication that I needed.

With luck, a local HIV friend handed over to me five of the six doses that I needed, using up the last of his own until he gets his next supply on Monday.

So be warned, never travel to Cairns or maybe any other part of Australia, without excess supply of your medications. And don’t stay away any longer than the supply of medications that you have. Most likely, call after call and conversations after conversations with the right doctors and HIV clinic, you may still not get anywhere.

Friday 23 July 2010

ABC's Fiona Sewell talks with the ACMA about Cairns community radio's licence breach

Fiona Sewell from ABC Far North discusses the latest licence breach by community radio broadcaster, Cairns 4CCR / 89.1 FM with Stephen Atkins of the Australian Communications and Media Authority.


Follow the election on Campaign Pulse

The ABC have launched an interactive site for the election, called Campaign Pulse.

It operates in real-time and sources data from numerous polls, and social media blogs, Twitter and Facebook, through "# tags". The service accesses Australia's electoral mood - from the "tried and true opinion poll to experimental social media" sentiment analysis.

There's also web pics, and what's hot and what's not. Here's some of the data I've just extrapolated....
  • 22,429,049 - Australian population
    13,869,021 - enrolled to vote
    9,300,240 - Aussie Facebook users
    1,150,000 - Aussie Twitter users
Tony Abbott
Twitter followers 13,078
Likes on Facebook 8,709
YouTube views 23,646

Twitter followers 26,831
Likes on Facebook 38,693
YouTube views 187,750

Issues Ranking
  1. Education
  2. Environment
  3. Health
  4. Economy
  5. Communications
  6. Jobs
  7. Tax
  8. Family
  9. Immigration
  10. Defence
The average of all polls (Galaxy, Essential , Morgan, Neilsen, and Newspoll) @ July 19th:

- Lib / National 42%
- Labor 39%

Two Party Preferred
- Lib / National 47%
- Labor 53%

Labor $1.24
Liberal/National $3.90

Labor $1.28
Liberal/National $3.50

Sex, sex, sex, that's all they think about

I've been approached by a number of the local candidates to advertise on CairnsBlog to tap into the political savvy readers for the upcoming election, then along comes this request.

Looks way more exciting than handing out stickers at the Cairns Show...

  • TO
    Date 21 July at 23:31

    Hello Michael,

    I'm running for the Senate with the sex party in the upcoming federal election and am looking for people to hand out my how to vote cards on election day.

    This is the time to make a difference against the tide of moral conservatism – please help the sex party hand out how to vote cards between 8am and 6pm (if you can’t volunteer the whole day a few hours would still be greatly appreciated) on Saturday August 21.Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,
    Jason Virgo, Australian Sex Party
    Senate Candidate for South Australia

The Australian Sex Party now has an official song thanks to an Indian TV show..

Meet Larissa Waters, Queensland Greens Senate candidate

According to Larissa Waters, Queensland Greens Senate candidate in the upcoming Federal election, the Greens are the fastest growing political force in Australia.

"One million people voted for the Greens in 2007," she says. "This federal election will see the Greens expand representation in parliament."

"I will fight for a fair society and protection of Queensland’s unique environment. Vote to give Queenslanders who care about the future a voice," Larissa says, who is set to become the first Greens Senator for Queensland.

"This election the Greens have a great chance of getting a senator elected in Queensland," says Cairns Greens member, Denis Walls

"Please come along and tell your friends, colleagues and networks, and come along to meet Larissa on Tuesday evening."

A vote for Labor is a vote for the Greens - Chris Forsberg

Cairns political commentator Chris Forsberg, ponders the purpose of supporting your party of choice this election.

The 'Who Will You Vote For' CairnsBlog survey results to date [Entsch 37% / Turnour 23%], seems pretty accurate at this stage of the campaign.

I have no doubt that Wazza will womp back-in. This doesn't mean an Abbott government - Leichhardt will be one of a handful of seats the Coalition will claw back - breaking the 40 year old mould wherein litmus-test Leichhardt always goes with the winning party.

Only Entsch could achieve this break in recent tradition.

The Fishing Party, at the 2007 last Federal election, 're-branded' itself as the Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party. They will be contesting the 21 August election for the Senate. Their candidates are Gold Coast businessman Keith Douglas and Cairns orthopedic surgeon Dr Mike Mansfield.

The reason for the name change is as follows: Whereas a citizen's ‘Right to Fish’ has long been under threat from extremist environmentalist agendas - more recent violations of civic rights have impacted on a much wider range of outdoor and recreational activities. This includes access to National Parks and 'crown land' for campers, bushwalkers and horse and trail-bike riders. Indeed, the Tablelands former forestry areas, long favourite horse-riding destinations, are about to be declared 'verboten' to the equestrian folk.

Fraser Island, another example, for decades a popular 4WD 'beach highway', is about to cop a ban on 4WD vehicles, trail and quad bikes etc. - following a few fatalities in recent years and supposed environmental damage.

Also severely trashed of-late, property owners rights.

A farmer or landholder can no longer chop-down a tree or alter the course of a creek on his/her own land -indeed, he/she no longer owns the rain water that falls on his/her own land - it's been deemed property of the state.

There's a long list of civil rights that are under increasing threat.

Parental rights - you can no longer smack your child in a shopping mall without some 'do-gooder' reporting you to the 'Child Safety' authorities. Privacy rights - telcos and government agencies routinely refer your address information to other agencies.

Even the right to free speech looks like being buttoned up by internet censorship.

Seriously, our rights are being undermined assiduously at this time - with Labor pandering to the Greens with countless, very dubious 'environment initiatives' for the express purpose of securing Green preferences at the looming Federal poll, and the state election in 2012.

The success of this civil-rights-violating Labor-Green arrangement was demonstrated yesterday, with the announcement that each will preference the other for the 21 August poll. Their joint claim that this will occur in "selected seats" - and the Senate - is itself duplicitous.

In fact, Labor will preference the Greens (and vice-versa) unilaterally, in all seats - and in all Senate situations.

Hence, a vote for Labor is a vote for the Greens.

Labor have miscalculated badly with the political assassination of Kevin Rudd, because Queensland is the key state, the critical state, to Gillard retaining office.

There is most-certainly a State of Origin vibe at play here. Bananaland voters will punish Labor for knifing one of their own. That Kevin Rudd was a meglamanical control-freak who alienated just about every one in Canberra - certainly all his Labor 'comrades', even school-chum Wayne Swan - is not known to the Queensland public.

Queenslanders are rightly pinged-off that Rudd was axed by faceless faction players and union heavies, and Ms Gillard acting under their instructions - and will turn-on Labor in a way that the ALP should have seen coming.

Abbott's only chance is this inevitable anti-Gillard swing in Queensland - 'Queen Julia' is absolutely blitzing them in South Australia, ACT, Victoria and Tasmania, holding her own in NSW 'news-polls' - and WA, which is anti-Labor always, doesn't have enough seats to influence the final outcome.

As with the Rudd-slide in 2007, Bananaland will determine the winner - and there will be a substantial anti-Labor 'retribution' vote across our state - because Kevin Rudd, for all his faults, was a Maroon, a Canetoad, and the first Bananaland-born PM ever.

As Tony Abbott himself said on Sunday "You can't trust Julia Gillard - Kevin Rudd did - and look what happened to him."

The Abbott Family, with appologies....

Bought to you by the Australian Workers Union, according to the introduction...
  • "They're tricky and their sneaky, dishonest and cheeky. They're all together freaky.

    The Abbott Family.

    They belong in a museum. Their policies make you scream. WorkChoices is extreme. The Abbott Family. Crony. Phoney. Tony. He'll unfairly dismiss you. And lie when he tells you. They'll bring back WorkChoices.

    The Abbott Family.

Thursday 22 July 2010

Warren Entsch scares the kiddies at Cairns Show

And then there was Wazza.

This one almost deserves a caption contest... It looks as though Warren is a great supporter of paid maternity leave, but wasn't that a Rudd policy?

Needless to say, this election race is a battle of the minds. Who ya gunna vote for?

Would you buy a show bag from Jim Turnour?

Here's Leichhardt MP Jim Turnour, in full election mode, telling his stories to gain re-election at the 2010 Cairns Show today.
Make sure you take home a free free fridge magnet. They just might be a collector's piece one day.

ABC News 24 debuts tonight

A 24 hour news channel will be launched by the ABC tonight at 7:30pm.

ABC News 24 will include new programs developed specifically for the channel, focusing on world news, national politics and business, including Afternoon Live at 3pm, The Drum at 6pm and The World at 9pm. Lateline, The 7:30 Report and Four Corners, will also be presented.

The new service will broadcast on the web, mobiles and on channel 24 nationally, and will replace ABC HD. Simply do a rescan on your digital TV recorder or set top box, however your hardware must be HD.

The service will be continuous and commercial-free, with live news coverage of breaking stories, broadcast from a new state-of-the-art studio at ABC's Ultimo headquarters in Sydney. Journalists include Jim Middleton, Annabel Crabb, Insiders and Offsiders anchor Barrie Cassidy, AM host Tony Eastley and ABC Radio National’s breakfast presenter Fran Kelly. Foreign affairs editor Peter Cave will also contribute.

Mobile application IceTV will provide a TV Guide for their iPhone app

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Cairns community radio found in breach of licence conditions

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found that Cairns community radio 4CCR breached their broadcasting licence.

The ACMA found that 4CCR, also known as Cairns FM 89.1 FM, breached a licence condition that requires them to encourage community participation in the operations of the service.

CairnsBlog exposed the alleged corruption and sinister activities last year following the mass resignation of the former committee, and the volatile new committee that replaced it, under the leadership of Rodney Coutts, a retired Air Force officer and an insurance and photocopy salesman.
The ACMA's investigation (report 2350) was sparked following a meeting on January 6th 2010, when 14 membership applications were refused and thrown outside the meeting room. The same evening, Cairns Regional Councillor was physically assaulted by radio vice president, Pieter Blaauw, that is subject to a Police investigation.

"I am disgusted and shocked by the way I was treated by Mr Pieter Blaauw with his aggressive and violent behaviour," Forsyth said at the time, after lodging her complaint at the Cairns Police station.

The ACMA investigation followed a large number complaints, launched by an initial letter from CairnsBlog author, Michael Moore. 12 more members of the Cairns community also provided documentation, outlining a series of abuse of power and restricting community participation in the community radio.

The ACMA found that the licensee was not encouraging the community to become involved in the operations of the service, and proved it had policies that restricted membership.

In it's decision, the ACMA said it "considers open membership to be critical to encouraging participation in the operations of a community broadcasting service."

4CCR was found in breach of Clause 9 (2)(c)(i) Schedule 2 of the Broadcasting Services Act - "failing to encourage community members to participate." The station refused most of the new membership applications because an "unauthorised membership form [was] submitted (copy paper)."

The ACMA called this "problematic" and said that the 'copy' was in fact a true representation of the original form. Of course, this was simply a tactic to restrict membership on nebulous grounds. This was a practice the former Arona-controlled committee engaged in.

Station president Rodney Coutts, in his submission to the ACMA, was concern how the form had been sourced, however the findings said this was not a valid reason to deny membership, nor was any such clause in the station's constitution.

Just last month, Coutts announced that there would now be two separate and different membership form, on specific coloured paper. This is also in breach of the ACMA's latest findings, and shows that Cairns community radio has continued, even after making submissions to the ACMA, continued to flagrantly ignore previous rulings to encourage community participation.

"In response to the breach finding, 4CCR has begun the process of redeveloping its membership policies and constitution to ensure it has open membership," the ACMA said today. "This process is being undertaken in conjunction with a range of agreed measures that were implemented in December 2009 when 4CCR’s licence was renewed." However, no such action has occurred and only one meeting for members has been held since last September.

Cairns community radio has been dogged by serious problems and corruption allegations for ten years. I outlined the torrid history in a series over recent months, which was then picked up by Cairns journalist Gavin King in the Sunday Mail...

In late January, CairnsBlog released a secret video, that showed both president Rod Coutts and his deputy, rejecting members without reason. The video was used in the ACMA complaint to expose the covert goings-on at the community radio.

In the last 10 months, not one financial report has been provided to the membership or the wider-Cairns community. This alone has is cause for serious concerns.

It's believed that a number of committee are receiving secret payments, including the treasurer and Rod Coutts' estranged partner, Mimelle Alvero. This was in direct conflict with the will of the annual meeting in September 2009, when it was revealed than many committee members were receiving substantial and non-disclosed payments. A forensic audit was also called for, but has not occurred, following a mass resignations of committee members due to Rod Coutts' management.

The ACMA says that it considers 4CCR is demonstrating a commitment to meeting its obligations under the licence conditions and that the current management committee is working to address these operational issues. However their actions since the January 6th meeting clearly show no change in actions or behaviour from the management committee led by Rod Coutts.

"While the ACMA will take no further action at this time, it will continue to monitor 4CCR’s implementation of the agreed measures," the report said today. "In this regard, 4CCR is required to provide regular reports to the ACMA."

Today's findings have angered many who have been fighting for open and transparent management of the community radio, that collects as much as $300,000 government funding a year.

"This is so weak," one complaint told CairnsBlog in receipt of the findings. "They are off the hook again."

Intervention by Federal MP Jim Turnour failed to have any effect.

Former station manager and presenter of the community radio from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, Tony Hillier says little has been achieved by ACMA's findings.

"What has actually been achieved? This parody of a community radio station continues to go to air with the same puerile amateurish pap, presented and listened to by only the party faithful," Tony Hillier said today.

Another former member who was refused membership, calls Rodney Coutts "Capt Mainwaring" and says his "Dad's Army march on to the beat of their own drum ad nauseam."

"This is a huge disappointment -it is less than a slap on the wrist for Coutts," former committee member of Cairns community radio Judi Corcoran said today. "Cairns has lost a community asset and Coutts will ride the rest of the funds into the ground and probably blame Friends for the station's demise. I am trying not to be too upset by this but it is hard to remain detached after all the work we all put into trying to keep a community radio for everyone, not just a few."

Of course the only winner in all this is the station's lawyer, Tom Stevens. It's hard to imagine how much of the community funds of $300,000 has gone into legal advice.

Sadly Cairns is still deprived of a community radio and those on the committee continue to show no will at all to actively welcome and encourage participation. Their submissions to the ACMA mount to nothing more than lies and invention when they say they are now encouraging community membership.

Cairns Regional Councillors Linda Cooper and Diane Forsyth are steadfast that they want to see reform and change at the community radio station.

"I want this organisation to be accountable and open to the community again," Forsyth said earlier this year. "Along with Linda Cooper, we want to see transparency and openness. It's clear that they didn't want us or our membership applications when Mr Blaauw threw them out the door on the floor at us. But we are going to see this through."

In February, a splinter group formed called the Friends of 4CCR, led by former Mulgrave City Councillor Ross Parisi. He, along with Cairns Regional Councillor Linda Cooper, were the only two to be granted membership in January. Because of his actions to reform and engender community involvement in the station, Parisi's membership has recently been called into question. He was summoned to a closed committee meeting last month to defend his membership termination.

This ACMA ruling is the fourth investigation against the radio station in the last 12 months, with another one pending. This proves that bodies like the ACMA and Office of Fair Trading, provide little confidence in public accountability and transparency of community organisations.

It's abundantly clear that the current committee have little or no skills in radio, let alone community organisations. On the station's website the committee has a dog named Jack on the committee. I think this says it all.

Burn offs start today across Cairns region

The annual burn-off program, starting today, will continue over the next two months.

The programme will kick off with a controlled burn at Gordonvale Transfer Station today.

The annual burn-off programme is undertaken by the Cairns and District Fire Management Committee, with support from Cairns Regional Council. The fuel hazard mitigation program is conducted during the cooler months when reduction burns are effective in controlling high vegetation fuel loads.

Cairns Regional Council Chair of Works and Services Committee Cr Paul Gregory said this pro-active and cost efficient approach minimises the threat to life, property and the environment during the summer.

“The controlled, low intensity fires assist in weed control, and encourage native vegetation to regenerate,” Paul Gregory says. “We are fast approaching the time of the year when residents should be aware of the risk of bushfires and can help by reducing flammable vegetation that may pose a threat, particularly down slope from homes."

Representatives from government agencies responsible for fire management on the Cairns hillslopes, from Yarrabah to Yule Point, make up the Cairns and District Fire Management Committee, including Cairns Regional Council, Queensland Fire and Rescue Service, Rural and Urban Fire Brigades, Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service, Dept Environment & Resources Management, Wet Tropics Management Authority, Dept Main Roads, Queensland Rail and Traditional Owners.
  • Burns will be conducted at:

    Gordonvale Transfer Station - Wednesday 21 July
    Kamerunga Conservation Park -Thursday 29 July
    Henley Hill - Wednesday 4 August
    Mt Whitfield - Wednesday 11 August

Cairns Festival just one month away

The 2010 Cairns Festival runs from 20 August to 5 September.

This year it will offer hundreds of opportunities to celebrate our creative community and unique sense of place in tropical Australia.

The vision is simple...
  • "To deliver a quality, vibrant, progressive and collaborative, arts festival - highly reflective and engaged with the community; to seek greater regional and national recognition of our cultural identity; to tell our unique stories and celebrate our distinctive, tropical lifestyle.

The programme, and hundreds of great creative opportunities, will make this year's festival even better. The Festival will be held at locations all over the region.

"Expect a bounty of great free and family events, an incredible culinary arts program, a host of international productions and performers," says Festival co-ordinator, Eric Holowacz. "There's also challenging array of local works and cultural representation projects to unfold over our 17 day celebration, from the Tanks Arts Centre to the Civic Theatre; and from the Esplanade to Palm Cove, Cairns Festival will offer something for everyone."

The festival is backed by Cairns Regional Council and many local businesses.

This Too Shall Pass – Rube Goldberg Machine

Remember Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer, Dire Straits’ Money For Nothing, and MJ’s Thriller?

Well, here's the next great music vid. It's from the new album Of the Blue Colour of the Sky, by OK Go. The video is directed by James Frost and Syyn Labs, and was filmed in a two story warehouse, in Los Angeles. There is an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at the warehouse. What a load of fun.

Green power for Cairns from Barron River hydro

A major overhaul of the hydro-electric power turbines at Barron Gorge Power Station has just been completed.

The Barron Gorge hydro power station is Australia’s first underground power station and the most northern generation site on Queensland’s electricity grid, and has been in operation since 1960.

The station is managed by Stanwell, a government owned corporation, who have spent $9 million to rewind two generator units at Barron Gorge Hydro. This makes the station more reliable and efficient. The upgrade will increase generator capacity by 10%.

Barron Gorge Hydro, a 60 MW power station, produces approximately 260,000 tonnes less of greenhouse gases a year compared to a coal-fired power station. It is one of only a few power generation facilities in Queensland able to supply green power.

The power station was originally expected to be at the end of its service by 2010, but the upgrade will extend its life until at least 2055.

Steve Wettenhall, member for Barron River says that $28 million was set aside for a mid-life refit three years ago, and it was the largest project undertaken at the power station since it was built.

Work at the site included a pre-overhaul testing program; generator dis-assembly; stripping and disposal of old winding; conductor generator bearing condition assessment and testing; install new winding into the core with final testing and painting; install online condition monitoring; commission generator and final testing.

“This is about delivering clean, green power to the people of the far north,” Wettenhall says.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

$5000 reward offered for turtle killers

Turtle and dugong activist, Colin Riddell, has put up $5,000 as a reward to catch those responsible for the slaughter of dugongs near the top of Cape York recently.

"I offered a $5000 reward today for the conviction and appropriate sentencing on cruelty charges for the persons cutting up the sea turtle , let us see Peter Garrett and co dodge this," Colin Riddell said today.

"Environment Minister Peter Garrett will not act, I have. I am a private citizen," he says. "I have personally offered a $5,000 reward for the conviction and appropriate sentencing of those people videoed in the Torres Straits in an act of cruelty to a sea turtle," Riddell said.

In April, Colin Riddell highlighted a video that was released, showing the killing of turtles, at the tip of Cape York.

"As the video I have released shows [see below], the limbs of the turtle were hacked off whilst the animal was alive," he says. "This senseless act of cruelty has not at all been sought to be prevented by the Department of Environment, nor have past atrocities been followed up. No person in Australia should be able to treat an animal like that and get away with it."

ANIMAL LUBERS - Colin Riddell with renown environmentalist, Bob Irwin.

"For instance the slaughter of three dugongs off Cairns on Anzac day, and at Yarrabah when 14 of these harmless creatures were herded up and murdered. “Where is the Minister of Environment?” I have made many attempts to get the Minister and his office to investigate the illegal trade of turtle egg and meat trade - including dugongs - through Cairns airport with no response! Month after month goes by with no action from the Governments, Federal or State."

Federal candidate for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch says there needs to be tougher legislation to protect sea turtles and dugongs.

"Someone knows who set those nets for the dugongs off Yarrabah," Warren Entsch says. "We have got to remove any entitlement to use commercial nets of any description for traditional [Aboriginal] fishing."

Colin Riddell says there are many people that are appalled with what he calls "blatant indigenous cruelty," who have also offered support, including Bob Irwin and Derryn Hinch," Riddell says. "Barrister Geoff Beveridge has all provided me with an overview of the legislation that in his opinion only supports aboriginal animal abuse."

"He and others have offered to add substantially to the reward, and echo the sentiment of the hundreds of people I have spoken to."

"It’s about time someone did something before it’s too late," Colin Riddell says.