Thursday 30 September 2010

Wendy Richardson confirmed as Barron River Queensland Party candidate

With the State election expected to be called for November 2011, the Queensland Party has today announced the preselection of Wendy Richardson for the seat of Barron River for the next state election.

This will be Richardson's fourth election race, having previously run in the State seat on Cairns for Liberal, the Tablelands Regional Council, and also in the 2009 State election for Barron River with the LNP.

Leader of the Queensland Party and Member for Beaudesert Aidan McLindon said Richardson would be focusing on common sense issues in Barron River that had been ignored for too long.

"Wendy grew up in the Barron River electorate and is very familiar with the diverse needs and interests of the community," McLindon said. "As someone who lives and works in the region, she has an extraordinary knowledge of the issues of Far North Queensland and her commitment to serving the people is without doubt."

Wendy Richardson, who has four children and lives in Brinsmead, said that she was excited at the prospect of representing her community as a Queensland Party Member of Parliament.

“The Queensland Party focuses the on the need for its members to represent their communities first and foremost which will give me the opportunity to deliver results that will make a real difference locally,” Wendy Richardson says. "Local issues such as unemployment, needless government bureaucracy and the creation of more opportunities for our young people to live, learn and grow in this electorate are critical to the region, and to our state."

"We in the electorate have known for a very long time that our community has often been overlooked by this government, and we must do so much better in delivering government investment in the area," Richardson says. “As part of Aidan McLindon’s team I am confident that we can start immediately to change Barron River for the better."

It is believed that the LNP and Labor will commence pre-selection meetings in the next two months. Hot favourite for the Cairns seat for Labour is political consultant, Tim Grau, however there may well be a push from Queensland Rail union advocate, local sports and community identity, Richie Bates, who contested the 2008 council election.

Yodie Batzke, who ran in the Federal election, will contest the Cairns seat in next year's State election as an independent.

Wild Rivers Unplugged. Part 3 - End the Blight

The Wild Rivers debate will emerge as a hot potato as the new Federal Parliament sits this week for the first time. In a three-part series, Bryan Law reviews where we are at with this important legislation, poised to have dramatic effect on the northern Cape York Aboriginal communities.

Any impetus to change the present Wild Rivers legislation has to come from the LNP, because it’s not going to come from Labor or the Greens. Labor’s going all tribal.

Any private members bill has to be genuine legislation that solves problems. It needs support from conservative independents. Warren Entsch might like to take a hand in drafting it. Last year’s draft will fail.

Support from the Greens would really tone the legislation up, but isn’t 100% required until next August, and is unlikely to eventuate for a couple of years at least.

There’s no doubt the Greens were the big winners in the 2010 elections. Nine Senators give a controlling vote WITH Labor, or a sanction that can be used AGAINST Labor (In 9 months time). Immediately they have the strategic presence of Adam Bandt in the House, which reinforces the agreement for dialogue and access between Labor leadership and the Greens.

And best of all it’s a permanent step forward in a plan - which is succeeding - for more Green influence in Parliament. Cooeee! Cobber. You’re on a winner there.

It’s likewise the case that Greens preferences got the ALP over the line in more than a hand-full of seats, and was a significant factor in Gillard holding onto office.

So for the next little while we’re going to see how this “bloc without” arrangement is going to function between the ALP and the Greens. But that’s a separate topic for later on.

The biggest obstacle to an amicable solution of the Wild Rivers issue is the arrogant and intransigent behaviour of the Bligh Queensland government. I’m going to work for the removal of that government as soon as possible. Eighteen months away at its longest.

Anyone who doubts how much trouble the ALP is in, ought simply check out the swing against Labor in key booths on Cape York Peninsula. The Wilderness Society and the Queensland ALP ought now admit that a big pile of folk on Cape York Peninsula don’t like the Queensland Wild Rivers Legislation.
  • Aurukun 85.96 +20%
  • Bamaga 46.22 -35%
  • Bloomfield 46.31 -29%
  • Coen 37.22 -23%
  • Cooktown 39.73 -12%
  • Hopevale 38.03 -32%
  • Horn Island 55.42 -16%
  • Injinoo 58.33 -24%
  • Kowenyama 63.14 -6%
  • Lockhart River 48.80 -35%
  • Naprunum 65.33 -16%
  • Pormpuraaw 42.09 -38%
  • Thursday Island 53.96 -14%
  • Weipa 49.68 -7%
Jason O’Brien isn’t going to kill himself just yet on these figures. But I’d argue that the size and extent of some of these swings signals the end of Labor’s presumed indigenous support on Cape York Peninsula and far north Queensland.

Jason’s going to have to fight hard to keep Cook in the next state election. My inclination is to assist in a little political murder of Jason O’Brien. I don’t like him very much.

But who knows, he might do something for his constituents between now and the next election. Might. Miracles happen every day (according to Forrest Gump’s mother).

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Don't miss out on Mr Pinstripe Suit

If you haven't been along to the Civic Theatre to see the locally produced Mr Pinstripe Suit, you should book yourself in to this amazing local production that runs until October 9th.

This musical is a world premiere, with an extraordinary line up of local talent.

Pinstripe Suit is a new musical featuring the songs of the world’s most influential modern swing band, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. With music and lyrics written by BBVD front man Scotty Morris and libretto by Dale Treanor, Mr Pinstripe Suit is a song and dance extravaganza set in wartime America worked around the story of an unassuming office worker who rises above setbacks such as death, selling his soul to the devil and being late for work to find courage and the girl of his dreams.

The show features 18 toe-tapping songs, a funny and endearing story line, dynamic dance routines and dazzling sets and costumes, Mr Pinstripe Suit reunites the team from Cairns Choral Society’s productions of Grease and Cats in an ambitious project.

Gruen Transfer finishes tonight

The final Gruen Transfer for 2010 will screen tonight at 9pm on the ABC.

Host Wil Anderson, with ad men Todd Sampson and Russel Howcroft will be joined tonight by Matt Eastwood and Bridget Taylor on the final episode for this series.

The Pitch will have to convince Australia to join forces with New Zealand (it's a small island off the coast of Queensland). Wil also awards the Gruen Turd to the worst ad of all time. Cairns Community Radio is nominated in this category. Let's keep fingers crossed.

White, middle class, affluent: Tourism Queensland's new campaign

There's obviously no black fellas in Queensland.

Palm Cove gets a mention in Tourism Queensland's new branding, summed up what they call "a powerful statement, Queensland - Where Australia Shines".

"A great holiday does more than just take you to places where you can see different things; it takes you to a place where the real you shines," Tourism Queensland says. "The 'Queensland - where Australia Shines' brand reflects that."

After 12 months of what they call "extensive research and industry consultation," Tourism Queensland have launched their first "truly global tourism brand."

"We’ve known for a long time that Queensland is where Australia shines in so many ways; now we can tell the world through a clear and consistent tourism message for our state," TQ says. "The brand is about why we love living in Queensland. It’s about adding value to people’s experiences and about discovering and sharing the magic of Queensland that only the locals can know and understand."

The State Government have thrown $4.16 million at the campaign.

However, the result is a predicable mono-syllabic approach to what Queensland is like, all poster puff. Tourism bodies have a role to truly reflect the diversity and cultural make-up, and this latest effort fails miserably. It's full of pretty hedonistic moneyed locals and travelers, splashing around in the water. Looks nice, but is it really a true reflection of Queensland? I think not.

Oh là là, je n'ai vraiment pas dire ça!

The NZ Herald reports:
  • Without any attempt at double entendre, it could only be described as a slip of the tongue.

    The former French justice minister, Rachida Dati, 44, has become an overnight internet sensation after accidentally using the word “fellation” instead of “inflation” in a television interview.

    A clip of her mistake has become one of the most viewed items on the French-language internet. The former minister, now a Euro MP, was talking about job losses at Lejaby, a foreign-owned French company which specialises in lingerie.

    “These foreign investment funds are only interested in excessive profits,” she said. “When I see some of them demand a return of 20 or 25 per cent, when fellation is almost non-existent… I say they are just trying to destroy businesses.”
A superb gaffe. Almost as good as New Zealand MP John Carters quip a few years ago, when he said “cunning stunt."
Hat Tip: KiwiBlog

And the winner is... um, hang on, opps.

"I don't know what to say right now. I'm feeling a bit sick about this," host Sarah Murdoch told the audience, seconds after announcing the winner of Australian's Next Top Model live on TV last evening.

Queenslander Amanda Ware was the real winner, however host Sarah Murdoch announced Kelsey Martinovich.

"I'm so sorry, oh my god, I don't know what to say. This is a complete accident, I'm so sorry," Murdoch said. "It was fed to me wrong. This is what happens when you have live TV folks, this is insane, insane, insane."

The winner received a spread in Harpers Bazaar magazine, a deal with Priscilla's modelling, a Levi's campaign worth $25,000, $20,000 cash, a new car and a trip to New York.

The embarrassing live boo boo, has cost Foxtel. They will also send Martinovich to New York along with $25,000 as well.

The Australian reported that this monumental television stuff up was equal to 2004 Big Brother evictee Mervin Luck when he taped his mouth shut in support of refugees and refused to speak. Last night's beauty queen moment will easily make it to a Bert Newton 20 to 1.

Christchurch records 1,153 earthquakes since September 4th

Since the massive 7.1 earthquake hit the South Island city of Christchurch at 4:36am on Saturday the 4th September, there have been 1,152 more aftershocks and quakes, many of the substantial.

The local reaction is impossible to imagine and the impact that it's having on residents. On the initial Saturday there were 98 quakes recorded, two days later on the Monday, 261 quakes were recorded in a single 24-hour-period. The numbers are hard to comprehend.

Michael Hooper wants to meet Oprah

"As we all know Oprah is coming to Australia, Oh my God, I would love to meet her when she comes to Cairns," says former Mareeba boy, Michael Hooper, in a open letter to meet Oprah Winfrey.

"Why? Well she has come from rags to richers [sic] and worked very very hard to get where she is today and help millions of people on the way to show them love and the value of life if good or bad."

Hooper, who lives in Cairns, has set up his own Facebook page in an effort to attract attention from the talk show diva.

"So Oprah, if u see my Facebook page when u come to Cairns to see the our great city along with our reef and rainforest, I would love to spend 15 to 30 mins with you over a cold glass of wine and say G'day," Michael Hooper says.

Looks like they both need a stiff one.

Powderfinger says goodbye to a huge Cairns crowd

Aussie rock band Powderfinger rocked Cairns last night, as part of their farewell tour.

The band, that formed in Brisbane in 1989, with vocalist Bernard Fanning, guitarists Darren Middleton and Ian Haug, bassist John Collins, and drummer Jon Coghill, is breaking up.

In April they announced they would be finish after 21 years, with their Sunsets tour, saying it would be their last ever. "The band had musically said everything we wanted to say," Fanning said at the time. They leave a legacy of 2.5 million albums in Australia alone, 16 ARIA Awards, and three successive ARIA Awards for Album of the year.

"So had the most amazing time at Powderfinger with Amie Thorpe," an excited Rodney Hudson, who won tickets from the Cairns Post. "OMG..... They played every hit. Still recovering from the excitement."

Jesse Kuch from TimeOUT snapped a series of photos, as there was relaxed security and cameras were allowed.

"It was a great gig. Jet rocked it as well, and the sound/lighting was mind-blowing," Jesse Kuch said.

Powderfinger take a bow after their second encore. PIX: Jesse Kuch

The epic sound and lighting setup at Powderfinger's show last evening at the Cairns Convention Centre. PIX: Jesse Kuch

Tuesday 28 September 2010

After 17 days of negotiations...

Independent analysis of community radio accounts, draws serious questions

The activist group Friends of 4CCR, set up to reform and instill openness at Cairns Community radio 89.1 FM, has commissioned an independent auditor to analyse the Cairns Community Broadcasters Incorporated annual statement of accounts, which were reluctantly tabled at the AGM on 13th September 2010.

Chairman of the Friends, Ross Parisi says there are now serious questions that demand an open and honest declaration to the public from community radio president, Rodney Coutts.

The Cairns community radio have been subject to nine Federal ACMA investigations in the last 12 months, and it is believed at least two more are being considered.

"I am unsure whether Mr Coutts is tabling all communications to the committee that I have had with him or whether, as is likely, he is withholding critical letters from the Management Committee," Ross Parisi says. "I have therefore sent this independent report to all of his committee directly. hey need to understand that the Friends of 4CCR will not be retreating from this mission until a satisfactory solution is found which is in the public interest."

"The report shows there are many serious concerns," Parisi says. "Our investigation shows a disturbing and increasingly perilous financial position. It is our belief that if no decisive intervention takes place, it is highly probable that Cairns community radio may become insolvent during the course of the current financial year."

The ACMA requested substantial infrastructure improvements to the station's Mt Yarrabah transmitter site - expected to cost as much as $300,000 - much of what was saved up over many years. However, the new first-term president, has been on a $163,000 spending spree. Little of what has been spent in the last 12 months, is identifiable in the annual accounts, presented at the AGM.

"Mr Rodney Coutts' management committee is therefore requested as a matter of urgency to table for inspection a detailed management accounts for the last two financial years."

"I have also asked the committee to provide the minutes for the last two years," Ross Parisi says. "The ACMA ordered the community radio to publish all committee minutes on it's website in December last year, and nearly 10 months on, have failed to do this, among a number of other measures."

"The committee should also make public any contracts or documents between members of the committee with particular reference to Rodney Coutts, Mimelle Alvero, Peter Ricketts and Diane Jensen."

"We put on notice that failure to comply to these requirements, will cause this matter to be referred to the MP for Leichhardt, Hon Warren Entsch, and Cairns MP Desley Boyle, and also the ACMA, and Office of Fair Trading," Ross Parisi warns the community radio committee. "We will not rule out more serious action that could involve the Police."

"I've been told that the accounts are still with Jessups, the station's auditors, however the AGM has been and gone, so why are they there and can't be accessed?" Ross Parisi asks.

At the AGM two weeks ago, when many members question the financial report, especially the unexplained $110,000 "other activities", a offer was made for anyone to come into the station to see the full details. However this stalling tactic was something the former Arona-controlled committee engaged in, and no more details were ever provided. Coutts is up to the same games. He can run (or waddle) but he can't hide.

Former community radio secretary Donn Corcoran, who has a background in government regulation and community associations, says that even though Rod Coutts has offered access to the expenditure report, he may not provide it.

"We are still seeking the management committee minutes. Each member of the station has the right of access to the minutes through the constitution and the law requires that committees comply with their constitutions," Donn Corcoran says.

Corcoran says that if they defy this legal requirement, then members have the right under the Act to take them to court.

"The 'Agreed Measures' - the actions agreed between the station and the ACMA in December 2009 - require that the station publish its minutes on its website," Donn Corcoran says. "So far this has not happened, although the final report on action is not required until 1 December 2010. The term 'crude delaying tactics' might be appropriate here."

"I am inclined to agree that the financial position probably results from incompetence and mismanagement rather than direct illegality."

Ross Parisi says he has intentionally withheld the name of the Friends' Auditor for fear of any retribution by Mr Coutts and the management committee.

Here's the Friends of 4CCR report on the 2010 Financial Statement accounts:
  • From the figures supplied, we can only draw attention to the movement in Revenue and Expense items between 2009 and 2010, as well as commenting on some Balance Sheet items.

    Revenue Items:
    1) Increase of $17,782 in Campaign income.
    2) Decrease of $12,859 in Rent Received
    3) Increase of $9692 in Electricity Received (NIL in 2009) (refer 11) below)
    4) Increase of $4,602 in Sponsorship (NIL in 2009)

    Expense Items:
    5) Increase of $17,365 in Administration Fees
    6) Increase of $2,996 in Depreciation
    7) Decrease of $4,217 in Employee Benefits
    8) Decrease of $4,103 in Office Expenses
    9) Increase of $4,898 in Rent Expenses
    10) Increase of $21,866 in Repairs & Maintenance
    11) Increase of $7,849 in Utilities Expense (but refer 3) above)
    12) Increase of $98,452 in Other Expenses from Ordinary Activities

  • (a) By far the most significant movement is 12) above, but there is no information in the annual accounts regarding the nature of this expense. Alone it equates to the deficit for 2010 year, and if the expense is ongoing it would impact adversely on the viability of the association.

    (b) Overall (excluding the increase of $98,452 in other Expenses from Ordinary Activities), net operating income has declined from $64,810 in 2009 year to $3,047 in 2010 year. Access to detailed management accounts would provide more insight into business income and expenses.

    (c) Increases in operating income at 1) and 4) of $22,384 are partly offset by the net effect of expense items 5), 7) and 8) (net $9,045)

    (d) Rental income at 2) has decreased by $12,859 while Rental expense at 9) has increased by $4,898.

    (e) Electricity Received at 2) is $9,692 (NIL in prior year) but is offset by increase in Utilities Expense of $7,849.

    (f) In the Balance Sheet, the Cash at Bank – Grant Account has increased by $139,230 (Grants Received $82,874 - ?) Is there any contingent liability regarding the spending of grants?

    (g) Trade Receivables in the Balance Sheet are shown as $58,620 ($7,149 at 30/06/09). This is a very high figure in relation to the operating revenues shown at Note 2. What does it relate to, and is there any likelihood of non-recovery of all or part of the amount?

    (h) Trade Creditors in the Balance Sheet are $42,351 ($1,733 at 30/06/09). Once again this is very high. Does it relate to the large amount in Other Expenses from Ordinary Activities in the Income Statement?

Council cancels October meetings

Cairns Regional Council has cancelled the Finance and Administration Committee, the Infrastructure Services Committee, and the Water and Waste Committee meetings, all scheduled to be held on 20 October.

"Reports that would be considered at these committee meetings will be presented to Council’s Ordinary meeting to be held on Wednesday, 27 October 2010," CEO Lyn Russell said.

Agendas for all Council meetings are available on Council's website on the Friday prior to the meeting date.

This is in stark contrast to the former Cairns City Council under Kevin Byrne, that only kept minutes up for a short period. During the campaign led up to the 2008 local body election, I asked several times for this to occur. One answer given that there wasn't enough space on their server. You can now access all prior meetings dating back to whenever.

A similar battle to publish minutes on their website is being waged with the Cairns Community Radio, following an order from the ACMA nearly a year ago to do so. How hard is that?

Takes over a year to get a minute.

Help and orphan, go to the pub this Friday

This Friday there's a perfect excuse to go to Port Douglas (or Port Uglyarse as a unnamed friend of mine insists).

There's a fund-raiser for Fun For Life for their 2011 Haiti project, that is working with children in need.

There'll be music by Kim Hurley, who you can hear on Port Douglas radio.

A short documentary on Fun For Life work in Sri Lanka by local filmmaker and photographer Alison George, will also be screened, along with a great prize auction.

Roy Weavers from NewsPort has a different take on supporting this Friday's event.

"As an orphan myself, I feel it is my duty to go to the pub as often as I responsibly can," says Roy. "And I know how much support I need!"

Fun For Life is an educational theatre and arts organisation that empowers young people and their communities, particularly those disadvantaged through sickness, war or poverty, by teaching them vital life skills and inspiring them with a passion for life-long learning.

Sno-Vishnu Bonneau publishes Indian architectural book

The Cairns Regional Councillor in charge of inner peace and tranquility, appears to have plenty of time on his four hands, as he's now the author of a book.

Just in the nic of time for the Commonwealth Games construction project, Divisional 8 councillor, Sno Bonneau has just published Pratishthan: Shri Mataji's home in Pune, a book on architectural design in India. Boy, can they do with some help right now.

Sno-Vishnu Bonneau has self-published the book under his Clifton Beach Cool Breeze Promotions company, that also produces the popular Cairns northern beaches map.

It portrays Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi's home in Pune, founder of Sahaja Yoga, something very close to the good Councillor's heart and soul.
Maybe with Sno's connections, he should lead a trade mission to this substantial emerging economy.

Wild Rivers Unplugged. Part 2 - The Process

The Wild Rivers debate will emerge as a hot potato as the new Federal Parliament sits this week for the first time. In a three-part series, Bryan Law reviews where we are at with this important legislation, poised to have dramatic effect on the northern Cape York Aboriginal communities.

The Coalition

Warren Entsch made Wild Rivers an issue in his campaign, and now he has to keep his promises. He’s off to a flying start with the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott announcing on 21 September that dealing with Wild Rivers was his “first priority” in the new Parliament.

The easiest path will be a private members bill passed in the Senate before July 1 2011. Such a bill can be passed in the House at any time. The Bill must render the present Queensland Act null and void, and make compulsory a round of genuine negotiation between the crown and native title holders re conservation regimes.
The opposition put up a private members Bill last year which passed in the Senate (the same Senate we have until July). He can put up another one now.

The Independents

Senator Xenophon has said he still supports overturning the Queensland legislation, but he wants another round of consultation with stake-holders before voting on another private members bill. Senator Fielding voted for last year’s Bill, but has made no comment on the issue recently.

Let’s assume that a well-crafted and productive Bill can pass the Senate before 1 July 2011.
Such a Bill needs 76 votes to also pass in the House. That’s 72 Coalition, 1 Country Oldthinker, and three more votes between Andrew Wilkie, BobKatt, Oakeshot, and Windsor. That should be achievable, provided the legislation is positive and effective.

BobKat has already declared a desire to overturn the Queensland legislation. Tony Windsor has said he’s “sympathetic with Aboriginal people” and open to being convinced by Tony Abbott of the merits of his legislation. Rob Oakeshot has said he needs to carefully consider all the issues involved, and that he has sympathy for both Aborigines and environmentalists. I haven’t found any recent comment from Andrew Wilkie.

It’s pretty clear from their comments that Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshot will consider the Wild Rivers issue carefully, and in the context of parliamentary reform and Constitutional propriety.

The legislation put up by Tony Abbott last year was a pretty shameless piece of politicking. It was duly noted as such in the Senate inquiry that the Bill would have had at best a temporary effect if the Queensland government was determined (stubborn even) to proceed along its course.

The current situation requires better quality drafting of a Bill, and a context in which a short-term Wild Rivers Bill is matched with a long-term commitment to reform of the Native Title Act to better empower remote Aboriginal communities, throughout northern Australia.

The Labor Party

The Federal Party will support their state “colleagues”, even though the Bligh government was largely responsible for Labor losing 9 seats in the federal parliament. Wild Rivers was a part of that swing, with privatisation having a larger impact. Arrogant Anna Bligh and her government appear completely determined to drive their bus off the cliff. The most they’ll change is a new paint-job on the way down.

The Wilderness Society is an appendage of the ALP, and seems to prefer internecine gun battles to bus-driving.

The Greens

During the election, Greens Senate candidate Larissa Waters (now Senator elect for Queensland) claimed at a meeting in Cairns that Wild Rivers was a state issue, and that nationally the Greens supported reforms to native Title.

Now the election’s over Greens Leader Bob Brown told The Drum that Greens supported the Queensland Wild Rivers legislation, and that many Aboriginal people in Cape York did too, although he wouldn’t name any of them when asked (HINT to Bob, Murrandoo Yanner and David Claudie are strong supporters).

After July 2011, we’ll need Greens’ support for any Commonwealth resolution of the Wild Rivers conflict in Queensland. That would require a strong effort to educate the Queensland Greens about the issues. Via good old fashioned public debate. Via problem-solving built into the legislation proposed.

This is a big ask because most Queensland Greens have been persuaded by the dishonest campaign from TWS. Decision-making has been confined to Brisbane, where Greens professionals like Ronan Lee and Larissa Waters have helped shape the Queensland legislation from the beginning, without consulting Aboriginal people.

I haven’t given up on the Greens. It will require a substantial effort to change the Party dynamics, but I believe there are ways of doing this in the longer term. Of course the Queensland government is likely to fall before this work can be accomplished.

The Aborigines

Aboriginal politics is complicated. A recent story (23 September) talks about the Wild Rivers issue “turning ugly”, as if deep and bitter disputes were a new thing.

The personalities and splits mentioned in this story have been engaging in conflict and rhetoric for many years now, and not just about Wild Rivers.

David Claudie would like to create a new Land Council for Cape York, and is a strong advocate of The Wilderness Society. Murrandoo Yanner has an entrenched dislike of the Pearson brothers, but always declares he is speaking for different country. Noel and Gerhard Pearson aren’t noted for their shy and retiring approach to politics, and their push for family responsibilities and mutual obligation gets mixed reviews across Cape York Peninsula.

I’m not going to try and resolve any of those arguments here (I don’t have the heritage, knowledge, or skill). All four Aborigines above (and many others) gave testimony to the Senate Committee on Wild Rivers earlier this year, and I encourage you to read their testimony and submissions.

Then ask yourself “What is so urgent that time cannot be taken for a fair and meaningful process of consultation and negotiation to resolve conflict and produce legislation that accommodates all indigenous interests, and all conservation interests?”


We need a Queensland “Caring for Country” Act that sets out a framework for most of Cape York getting managed as a high value conservation area.

Local people/traditional owners ought be primarily responsible for shaping land-use decisions, and their thinking ought be supported with adequate professional resources. The “Land Management Industry” in Cape York ought be built in consultation with, and using the knowledge of Cape York traditional owners/locals.

The cost of land management of high-conservation value lands can be paid out of the mining tax, or the carbon tax, ‘cos it’s an integral part of a carbon neutral future for our country: a modern future that still contains and reverences the oldest human culture on planet earth.

Call me naive, but I think such a solution would win support from fair-minded Greens, the Country Free thinkers, the Coalition and, I suspect, five or six Labor members of conscience. We could move away from the brutal knife-edge politics presently operating.

Imagine if we could use the present political situation to have Parliament acting in a more consultative manner, genuinely aspiring to inclusion and problem-solving. Somewhere. Over the Rainbow. With Wild Rivers.

Propaganda never sleeps

Don't recall advertising like this before the Queensland State Government was selling off assets.

What a waste of money. How many meals at soup kitchens would this fund for those going hungry on our streets?

Monday 27 September 2010

Two trouble-makers: Di and Daryl do dinner

Last night there was a rather special dinner at the Steiner School in Kuranda, organised by the Permaculture group.

Cairns Regional Councillor Diane Forsyth was a guest at the function that hosted US actor Daryl Hannah, who is visiting the region for the Australasian Permaculture Convergence.

"I met Daryl, a great person and the guest speaker," Diane Forysth said.

"We have something in common. We both went to jail for sitting up on things. Daryl for tree-sitting to save a community garden in Los Angeles, and me for sitting atop the historic Cairns Yacht Club!"
  • Di will furnish suitable G-rated pics shortly

Mayor Schier shys away from public debate

Well-known Cairns activist Bryan Law will be conducting a blatant act of free speech and anti-defamation sentiment tomorrow at the "Speakers Corner", in City Place, however Cairns Regional Council Mayor, Val Schier, is refusing to get involved.

At the event a group will be formed to support Cairns Blogger Michael Moore who is presently the subject of a $350,000 defamation suit in the Supreme Court by Cairns Regional Councillor Alan Blake.

The group will be called "Allies to Free Speech", and it will fundraise and mobilise political support for Michael Moore.

The topic selected for discussion at the speak out will be "Alan Blake is a disgraceful, cowardly, lying bully who should be sacked immediately by Council", deliberately selected to provoke minor outrage, and to invite Alan Blake to sue Bryan law, on the basis of "pick on someone your own size".

"However the central issue is much more far-reaching," Bryan Law says. "After establishing the truth of the allegation against Councillor Blake, I will go on to ask 'Is there any Councillor, MLA, or MP in Cairns about whom this cannot be said?' followed by an argument that our present political culture is barbaric, corrupt and largely empty of meaning."

"And that grass-roots activism is the way forward," Law says. "Mayor Val Schier is declining to attend because she believes the topic is disrespectful. Deputy Mayor Margaret Cochrane is declining to attend for no stated reason. Councillor Alan Blake is declining because he thinks it will not be in his interests."

"I support free speech and the right of constituents to challenge councillors' policies, behaviours and statements," Cairns Regional Council Mayor Val Schier said. "As previously conveyed to Mr Law, I am not supportive of the topic he has set for the event."

However, Councillors Rob Pyne and Di Forsyth have indicated their intention to attend, with Pyne intending to speak. He will join local historian Tim Bottoms and former Mulgrave Shire Councillor Ross Parisi who will address the event.

Be there! Or be square!

Dear Alan, Love Michael

Wild Rivers Unplugged. Part 1 – The Numbers

The Wild Rivers debate will emerge as a hot potato as the new Federal Parliament sits this week for the first time. In a three-part series, Bryan Law reviews where we are at with this important legislation, poised to have dramatic effect on the northern Cape York Aboriginal communities.

Now we know who was elected to Parliament and who among them enjoys the conditional confidence of the House. What will our government look like? How will it behave? What does Prime Minister KillHard intend?

In the Senate
Senate numbers until July 1 2011 remain:
- 5 Greens
- 32 ALP
- 1 Xenophon
- 1 FF
- 1 CLP
- 32 Liberal
- 4 National

From 1 July 2011 the numbers will be:
- 9 Greens
- 31 ALP
- 1 Xenophon
- 1 DLP
- 34 LNP

So in July next year, the Senate will move from a Coalition dominated organ, to one in which a Labor/Green alliance can prevail any time the majors are split on policy. Meanwhile the Coalition can use the Senate to restrain any government “excesses” until July 2011.

In the House
- 72 Labor, 1 Green,
- 1 Wilkie
- 2 Country Freethinkers
- 1 Country Old thinker
- 72 LNP

All of which apparently makes for stable government under the kinder, gentler leadership of Prime Minister KillHard.


So Labor continues to enjoy all the powers and benefits of executive authority and incumbency, provided it can maintain an effective mutual relationship with the Australian Greens (not easy) AND the Country Freethinkers (tee hee hee!), at the same time!

And to think this is a job Ms KillHard wants (would in fact kill for, sorry Kevin). Good luck!

Still the promise is on for a better standard of government, including question time and private member bills. Initially it will be the Greens and Independents who use the democratic space to promote policy debate. But increasingly ALL MPs will be asking themselves how best to achieve real outcomes through the Parliament for their constituents.

“Real outcomes” is more and more the demand of constituents. There are three combinations of voting that can get a piece of legislation up in the House. The two majors agree OR either major gets support from four out of six small cannon.

When seeking Parliamentary action, there is now a wider variety of starting points and pathways to success. We constituents had best be using and building electoral and lobbying power if we’re going to hold the following bozoes to account:

- Prime Minister, Julia KillHard
- Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch
- Kennedy Independent MP, BobKat
- Councillor Alan Blake
- Cairns MP Desley Boyle (or her successor Tim Grau)
- Cairns Regional Council Mayor, Val Schier

How do we hold the Bozoes to account? How can we as citizens ensure that Parliament enacts the will of the people, according to our democratic values and desires?

The first thing to notice is the flexibility of decision-making now possible. I’m particularly impressed by the potential of Greens/Country alliance. We’ve seen that alliance emerge around coal seam gas extraction on the Darling Downs and Traveston dam on the Mary River. What could be more natural in this context than BobKat and renewable energy?

So, keeping an open mind, I’m going to have a look at one issue close to my heart. The Wild Rivers Act of the Blight Queensland government, and the need to replace it with an Act that recognises and honours the Aboriginal custodians of those wild rivers.

Cairns Central shopping centre attacked by abortion mob

"If you feel woman have the right to decide for themselves, people need to speak out," Peter Lambert of Pro Choice Cairns says.

Over the weekend, a number of supporters protesting against the case soon to go before the Cairns Court, made a FlashMob appearance at Cairns Central Shopping Centre, above the main entrance.

Around 20 participants took part, and at least one member of the public challenged a Pro Choice member and ran off in a huff.

"We all moved along and left before security asked us to leave," Peter Lambert said. "None the less security, made a few smart-arse comments and for some reason rang the police."

The 'mob" unveiled a large "Drop the charges, Repeal abortion laws now" sign over the first floor handrail.

"Abortion is a health issue, remove it from the criminal code," Peter Lambert of Pro Choice Cairns says. "It was a peaceful and successful event and we where happy with the action."

"Procuring an abortion caries charges under Section 225 of the Criminal Code - with the possibility of seven years imprisonment. Back in the 80's, a High Court decision said you can have an abortion if you have mental health reasons with yourself or a deformed baby," Lambert says. "And that is the only reason why we have the 14,000 abortions a year in Queensland. At the moment all these women go their in extreme depression, post-natal depression, saying 'I'm crazy, I'm going to jump off a cliff if I have a baby'. Well this is just not on."

Lambert says that in 1986 it was a Queensland legal decision - R v Bayliss & Cullen (1986) McGuire J (District Court) - or more commonly referred to as the McGuire judgement that liberalised the interpretation of the crimes act for Doctors performing abortions. The Queensland ruling was based on an earlier Victorian ruling - the Menhennit decision.

Pro Choice Cairns have three positions.
  • Drop the charges against the Cairns woman and her partner who are charged under sections 225 and 226 of the QLD Criminal Code;

  • Repeal sections 224,225, and 226 of the Criminal Code to ensure that termination of pregnancy is no longer subject to criminal law;

  • Support funding for abortion services through the public health system, with full Medicare coverage for terminations.
Termination of pregnancy remains a criminal offense in Queensland. Under the current legislation, women are at risk of criminal prosecution for accessing a safe medical procedure. Health professionals also remain at risk of prosecution for providing safe abortion services to women.

Queensland law on this matter is increasingly out of step with other Australian states and territories. In 2002, the ACT Legislative Assembly removed abortion from the Crimes Act. In 2008, the Victorian government also removed abortion from the Crimes Act. The majority of public opinion in Queensland has consistently supported the de-criminalisation of abortion.

A former Council candidate and James Cook University Student president, Janine Aitken, says regardless of peoples view on the issue, the fact is that the young Cairns couple were clearly charged incorrectly.

"The more appropriate charges would have been under the drugs misuse act for having a drug without a legal prescription and also possible importing a drug into the country," Janine Aitken says. "Not to mention that the issue no one is addressing, is that this girl didn't know she could get the same pill here in Australia even though the charge is ridiculous, only $400, or she could have got a surgical abortion on medical grounds - mental capacity - for free."

"This is a massive failure on Queensland Health not addressing unwanted pregnancy, the fact this girl had the drug imported, goes to show how uninformed not only her but her whole circle were in the services that are available."

The case will return to Cairns District Court for a three-day trial starting on October 12th.

Sunday 26 September 2010

Facebook launches "Like" page browser

Facebook have launched a new browser to "Like" pages.

This will help you discover Facebook Pages. They're organised into nine different categories including Music, Sports, Celebrities, Movies and Games. You’ll also still see the country drop-down menu for accessing popular Pages by country, and the “Friends similar to you.".

Many local businesses and organisations are setting up a page on Facebook, in additional to a person's individual profile.

Here's some local Facebook pages... feel free to add your favourite ones to the Comments.