Monday, 31 May 2010

Bartlett blogs on Wild Rivers

Former Senator Andrew Bartlett, writes about the Wild Rivers debate on his blog...
  • "Contention over Queensland’s Wild Rivers legislation has been bubbling along for quite a while now. Unfortunately, as with many issues which become polarised, each “side” is focused on defending their position, which has meant that some important underlying issues are not getting the attention they deserve.

    I’ve just had a piece on this topic published at The Drum on the ABC’s website. It’s fairly long, so they published it in two parts – the
    first part is at this link and the second part is at this one. I should emphasise that the article reflects my personal views, and is not a formal view of the Greens, nor of ANTaRQueensland, who I am also involved with."

Cairns community radio has gone to the dogs

Looks like the committee that runs the besieged Cairns Community Radio, that is subject to a number of ACMA investigations for breaches of licence and blocking community participation, is now being run by a dog named Jack (see graphic below).

Have a look at their committee and, if you dare, tune in to 89.1FM to see what you're missing. It's ruff, ruff. This is no ordinary dog. Jack is almost a presidential canine, as he belongs to none other than the station's treasurer, Maria Cristina Mimil Alvero Exconde. Phew.

According to the website... "Jack is mostly bored at the station though he does get the first opportunity to sniff the station guests and then spends the rest of his time in the studio lazing around in places that would ultimately be in the way of our presenters and board members," reads the online profile.  "A music program is currently under development that Jack could help present."

According to the station's constitution, there are nine positions on the committee, but all approaches from former Mulgrave Councillor, Ross Parisi, who heads up the Friends of 4CCR group, have been ignored. Jack seems to be the ninth member.
There's a lot been going on in the last two months, since I last wrote about the abhorrent goings on after CairnsBlog reported 16 membership applications were rejected earlier this year. They have failed to admit any new members since.

No financial records or monthly accounts have been presented to the membership or the Cairns community since October last year. Against the wishes of the AGM last September, CairnsBlog has learnt that president Rodney Coutts has been secretly paying himself, his girlfriend and treasurer, Mimil Alvero, and Marcus Smith, who all serve on the voluntary committee.

Pieter Blaauw, who is subject to a police assault investigation against Councillor Diane Forsyth, still remains as vice president.

The committee also consists of John Fielder, Gary Montagner, Marcus Smith, Diane Jensen, and Julian Serong, who were all co-opted by Rod Coutts, without any election process. Jensen, who is the nominated secretary, is not allowed to answer any correspondence, as all communications are handled by Coutts.

If you want to see our community money at work, pop along to Raintrees Shopping Centre around lunchtime, where the station's bank book is flouted for all and sundry at Healthy Bites, or the cafe opposite the newsagency.

Jack the Dog, who looks after programming, has had a number of complaints about living at the station, to Raintrees Centre management.

A further report of the inept management of Cairns community radio, including their Mt Yarrabah transmission facility, will be published on CairnsBlog shortly.

  • The Full investigation by CairnsBlog can be found in the right-hand sidebar.

The Councillor in charge of inner peace and meditation

This week's Cairns Sun community newspaper has a soothing 'body, mind and soul' feature. A range of stress relief practitioners are on offer from the Crystal Ball bookstore, Reiki masters and even clairvoyants.

There's even our own local uber-political celebrity, Cairns Regional Councillor Sno Bonneau, featured with his 'inner peace with Sahaja yoga' course.

I certainly hope that most of his colleagues, especially Deputy Mayor and Adventure Waters official waterslide tester, Margaret Cochrane, book in for some much-needed meditation. The free four-week course will show the subtle system of peace, creativity, innocence, love and compassion and forgiveness. Cocky could learn a great deal.

Ironically, Sno's meditation and yoga course will be held at the Marlin Coast Neighbourhood Centre in Cumberland Avenue, Smithfield, the site that the very same councillor fought against developing for a new community hall last year. There was a wad of State government cash that was subsequently returned to the debt-ridden Brisbane coffers, after he refused to support Council land to used. Of course this was just prior to the last State election, and it would have been seen as a Wettenhall win, if the conservative faction of Cochrane, Bonneau, Blake, Gregory, Cooper, let Steve have an election warm fuzzy.

I recall one of my early interactions with Sno, in the lead up to the 2008 council election, when Sno bellowed out a defiant "no" at me, when I was taking some happy family portraits.

Back to the Yoga. You can telephone Sno on 4055 3608 to find out more about how to improve the quality of your life, and how to enjoy peace and tranquility. However, if you're a dodgy developer and want special attention, call him on his Council-funded mobile 0412 653 413. Peace be with you.

Byrne is barking up the wrong tree

To speak or no to speak, that is the question.

It's probably no secret that former Cairns Mayor Kevin Byrne is planning to run for Council again in 2012.

That speculation and disturbing thought aside, Byrne has been a vocal critic over recent months about the planned performing arts centre and cultural precinct for Trinity waterfront.

He has been shouting off about this, at the same time being a public servant of the State Government.

Byrne has described the waterfront cultural precinct proposal as a "'fantasy land" and has evidently released a paper labelling the idea as a "dumb decision that lacks a vision for our economic future."

"We have allowed ourselves as a community to be hoodwinked by some slick spin and a conga line of community leaders," Byrne said.

The massive transformation of our Esplanade, including the lagoon pool, something that Byrne oversaw under his tenure, following originally could also have been labelling accordingly.
However most saw a broader view and how the longer-term benefits far outweighed the investment. Of course the initial seed was laid for the Esplanade lagoon development by former Mayor Tom Pyne, who retired in 2000. He first floated the idea in 1997, and held meetings with then-premier Beattie to secure the lion's share of the funding.
As a funny aside, this reminds me when the 5th anniversary of the Esplanade redevelopment was due, Kevin Byne, in a pre-election frenzy, called the birthday celebrations three weeks earlier than the actual date of 29th March 2008, in an effort to capture the vulnerable voting public and claim glory. I called it a premature jubilation.
Byrne has recently been on business missions, paid for by the same state government he has been attacking, who have supported the development of our waterfront. They sent him up to PNG to improve links and trade opportunities - something that he has a background in.

There's an odd dichotomy that the very same person the who has been feeding him, he has attacked, albeit indirectly.

Given that one of the key outcomes of the waterfront redevelopment project will be to provide a world-class cultural, entertainment and commercial facility that will help attract visitors from surrounding populations, including no doubt, PNG, it makes Kevin's attacks all the more incongruous.

There's many fly-in fly-out miners who base their families in Cairns, instead of Brisbane or Singapore. I would suggest that such visitors or residents, would have a major input into our region's economy.

Kevin appears to have one eye closed and should carefully think what he says about a project that his 'employer' is a strong supporter of.

Whilst I admit there's mixed opinion by some, recent envoys to Brisbane and Canberra to obtain funding for the cultural precinct by local political and business leaders, shows there is strong amount of support. The development of a mighty visionary project like this, would undoubtedly be a substantial asset to Cairns.

Least of all, it would stop a series of massive private residential or commercial high-rises lining Trinity Wharf, and therefore I wholeheartedly support it.

Daylight saving will upset the cows and fade the curtains

Independent MP Peter Wellington has introduced a Private Members Bill to the State Parliament calling for a referendum on daylight saving in south east Queensland.

The online survey on daylight saving for South East Queensland closes tonight however 84% of those who have taken part, are from South East Queensland. Not hardly surprizing.

Cairns MP Desley Boyle says Far North queenslanders should also take part in "this vital issue" because the debate over daylight saving "impacts on all Queenslanders."

"If Cairns residents are serious about having a say on daylight saving then they should go to and follow the prompts or call their local MP or write to or fax the Premier," Cairns MP Desley Boyle says. "This is a very important issue on which everyone should have their say."

“There should be no confusion – our government has categorically ruled out daylight saving for the entire state but we need to see what Queenslanders want in regard to a trial for the south-east corner. It's the responsibility of all members of Parliament to talk to their constituents about it."

Boyle says that all Labor MPs have been out and about talking to people and getting their feedback, "at the direction of the Premier."

She says that people living in LNP electorates have been let down by their local members who have buried their heads in the sand on this issue.

"For the opposition to ignore an issue like this shows just how out of touch they are," Boyle says. This is an issue that will affect all Queenslanders, regardless of their views. But the government wants to hear those views so I encourage everyone to take five minutes and take part in the survey.”

I recall years ago when daylight saving was mooted, those opposing suggesting all kinds of preposterous things would happen, including upset cows and their milking routines and it would even fade the curtains.

Surely we have bigger issues to look at in Far North Queensland?

Jim Turnour and a bishop, by any other name

Last week Deputy Leader of the Opposition Julie Bishop made what I'd call a minor faux pas surrounding the suggestions fake Australian passports are in circulation.
Labor MPs scurried to the attack, along with our local Member for Leichhardt, Jim Turnour.
However Jim dobbed in Bronwyn Bishop, not Julie, before being corrected by a reporter.
Although I captured the exact second Jim realised his mistake in static photographic reality, you really need to watch the video from Weekend Sunrise's Riley diary to appreciate this Kodak moment...

Foolish Cairns Council to raise rates 5% in the face of 12% local unemployment

Residents in the Cairns Regional Council area, from Miriwinni in the South, to Daintree in the North, will face an astonishing 5% rate rise, the third consecutive year rates have gone up.

In 2008, the newly-elected Council hiked up rates by 10.5%, and in 2009 by another 8%. The planned increase of an additional 5% this year will bring a increase of close to 25% since this Council took took office March 2008. With increases in services and fees, the actual increase is often another 4%-8% in some cases.
Some senior council managers including councillors, were advocating an 8% rate rise.

One can only imagine if this Council continue on this management path, Cairns and Douglas residents will see a rate increase of well over 40% in the term of their tenure.

Every year Cairns Council has put forward extraordinary increases that far outstrip the Consumer Price Index, a measurement of the average price of consumer goods and services purchased by households. Currently the CPI is just 2.9%.

For the last quarter to the end of March, there were some significant changes in the CPI, namely furniture (-4.6%), fruit (-5.7%), domestic holiday travel and accommodation (-2.3%), audio, visual and computers (-5.9%); whereas fuel increased (+4.2%), pharmaceuticals (+13.3%), vegetables (+10.3%), electricity (+5.9%).

Council's managers, in justifying the recommendations for a rate increase to Councillors, say that the measurement of CPI bears little relevance to a rate increase.

"We can't have anything to do what the CPI is, Council doesn't purchase bread, milk and eggs," a senior Council manager said. "Council purchases steel and gravel and raw materials and all of those things. We're part of that economy, not part of the household purchasing economy."

It's a stupid and unintelligent admission as it shows little understanding of how purchasing is interconnected.

The reality is that Council's senior managers are paid such large salaries, that they are very much removed from the pressures felt by the majority of ratepayers. If the people making the rate recommendations were closer to the average ratepayer or the poverty line that many are experiencing right now, I wonder how keen they would be to put rates up?

Planning Manager Peter Tabulo and manager of water and waste Bruce Gardiner, are on around salaries up to around $240,000 each, whereas the CEO enjoys $300,000. These managers has also had their term contracts extended for five years, something that Deputy Mayor Cochrane rail-roaded through the week before the new CEO took office late last year.

Following the amalgamation, the State Government made every Council promise that they would not sack staff, and negotiate a 4.5% increase to all staff salaries.

It's important to note that the general rate rise percentage does not include increased fee charges for waste, dog registrations, parking buildings, roadside vendors, and access to a number of other Council services, which will also see a rise of at least 4%.
Some former Douglas Shire ratepayers have endured rate rises of 20-30%, and in some cases, over as high as 50%, with their water charges skyrocketed, and many say that local services have eroded, at the same time the introduction of new fees and charges, to bring them in line with Cairns.

Cairns MP Desley Boyle says that rate rises are not due to amalgamation and that "benefits are starting to flow."

"I urged them [Council] to keep focused on the job at hand of bringing more benefits online," Boyle said in State Parliament. "I commend amalgamated councils for the many benefits they are delivering despite the global economic crisis. All levels of government have felt the impact of the global financial crisis including councils, big and small. Their revenue is down, and yet there is, no less, an imperative for councils to keep their capital works program running and jobs flowing," Boyle said last month.

The opposition LNP has made it clear that they favour a policy to de-amalgamate Queensland councils, should they wish. Boyle says this would not only be costly, but was making councils nervous. However Douglas have been unrelenting in this endeavour.

"[This] at a time when they are starting to see the very real benefits of amalgamation only two years down the track," Boyle says. " 'Wind back amalgamation', those opposite are saying. De-amalgamation is their policy and it's back-to-the future indeed. It is most unsettling when councils have led the way in difficult times and are reporting the benefits for all of us in Queensland to see'" Desley Boyle told Parliament.

However Cairns Regional Mayor Val Schier says the shortfall of council amalgamation with Douglas Shire is $1.67 million. Request for compensation was not successful, however the Torres Strait Island Regional Council received nearly $8m. Schier has said there was a $2m cost to merge Cairns and Douglas' planning schemes and accepted that amalgamation costs would have to be found from local ratepayers.

It's a very irresponsible council to welcome in the third consecutive rate rise, on the back of solid unemployment figures that have hardly moved downward in over 10 months. This increase will hit our wallets as electricity prices rise by 13.29% in July, adding around another $200 to the bill.

In light on the tough economic times that so many Far Northern families and ratepayers find themselves in presently, it would not only be a politically smart Council but one that shows restraint and understanding of how people are managing.

When times are tight, and there is less money to go around, what do you do? You cut things from your budget. You say "I won't buy that this time, it can wait." You put expenditure over a longer period for a project or the new purchase you wanted. Why our Council cannot operate its books in a sustainable and responsible way, either holding the rate level steady or even cutting projects, putting their expenditure over a longer period in view of the economic situation, is beyond the reasoning of any intelligent rationale person.

To deliver a budget that not only delivers basic and essential services, but removes excess and puts on hold projects those that can easily wait for a year or two, may be described as a brave council, but I suggest it's a wise and well-informed compassionate council.

I've talked with many small business operators over the last six months, and they're finding this economic situation hurting a great deal, and they all know a number of others that are in the same situation.

People can ill afford these increases at this time. With the scant number of weekly advertised jobs, and, in some cases, up to 400 applications arriving for a basic administration role, the local economic climate is is a very serious state.

The 5% rate increase that is recommended, still needs to be sanctioned by the State Government, and would come into effect from July 1st.

It's time that we say enough is enough and tell this bunch that they no longer have our confidence to manage the books.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Funny posts read on Facebook tonight

  • "If you honestly think your four year old child is capable of carrying a 10kg bag of dog food unattended, you don't need to shop at K-Mart, you need to take fucking parenting classes."

    -Hugh Whitehouse

Sugarworld waterslides to be totally rebuilt for $4m

Cairns Regional Council will put $4m aside in the 2010/11 budget to rebuild Sugarworld waterslides at Edmonton.

This will be good news for today's rally and community forum at the Sugarworld Gardens.

Following a month of budget planning meetings, CairnsBlog has learn't there is majority support to put the money aside to rebuild the the much-loved 20-year-old community park.

An options report presented earlier this month to Council, put the bill at $4.1M. There were also recommendations to repair and replace just two of the slides for around $700,000, however not sufficient support to keep part of the facility open whilst any repairs were undertaken.

A community campaign to save the popular waterslides, worked hard to show local MPs and councillors, the community's desire to reopen the park as soon as possible. Some were supportive of closing the facility altogether, in light of a planned waterpark near Smithfield by former councillor-turned developer, Paul Freebody.

The park closed suddenly at the end of April, following a damming report citing the dangerous state of the slides and the metal supporting structures. This was not the first time that Council was informed about the poor state of the facility. A 2006 council report highlighted urgent structural repairs, however it was largely ignored. Only minor repairs were commenced last year, under a subsequent council.

The current lessee has said that the 2006 structural report identified problems that needed attention, and nothing was done by Council at the time. The 2010 engineering report highlighted the same problems.

Paul Freebody served on the then Cairns City Council when the 2006 report was tabled.

"How it becomes so dangerous overnight is a mystery to me, the only thing I would think could be the problem is an insurance coverage one?" Paul Freebody said earlier this month.

The April 2010 inspection, was the first time a critical review had been undertaken since 2006.

It's likely that the reconstruction will take at least 12 months to complete.

This afternoon at 2pm, there will be rally and community forum at the Sugarworld Gardens.

Mulgrave MP Curtis Pitt said the turnout at today's community forum was low.

"There was a soccer carnival which would've drawn people away," Curtis Pitt said. "The forum was handled well in a calm and respecful manner. The message was reopen ASAP with community input into plans. I'll be happy as long as the end product continues to be affordable for families."

10 worst things to say when a cop pulls you over

10. I can’t reach my licence unless you hold my beer.

9. Hey, is that a 9mm? That’s nothing compared to this 44 magnum.

8. Hey, you must have been doing 125 to keep up with me, good job.

7. Sorry officer, I didn’t realize my radar detector wasn’t plugged in.

6. I was going to be a cop, but I decided to finish high school instead.

5. What do you mean 'have I been drinking?' You are the trained specialist.

4. Wow, you look just like the guy in the photo that my girlfriend gave me.

3. I thought you had to be in relatively good physical shape to be a police officer.

2. I was trying to keep up with traffic. Yes I know there is no other car around, that’s how far they are ahead of me.

1. Is it true that people become cops because they failed as a Council parking officer?

And one more...

Well, officer, when I reached down to pick up my bag of crack, my gun fell off of my lap and got lodged between the brake and the gas pedal, forcing me to speed out of control.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

3-year-old Korean child star, either disturbing or brilliant

3-year-old Korean child star, evidently is rather famous at the moment in his homeland. His confidence and performance are something else.

Gary Coleman: Feb. 8, 1968 - May. 28, 2010

Saturday SoapBlog: Michael Cermak - Which religion is better?

In this week's Saturday SoapBlog Michael Cermak ventures into dangerous territory and poses the question, which religion is better?
Michael Cermak is a un-voluntarily retired zoologist, who now is a freelance wildlife photographer and writer. He has resided and worked with animals in North Queensland for twenty-five years. He has published widely in scientific and natural history publications in Australia and overseas, and has produced a series of six books on Australian wildlife.

This is his virgin contribution to CairnsBlog. Please be kind to this self-confessed atheist of Earlville. On his death-bed, he''ll be all dressed up, with no-where to go. May his God bless him.

The resentment to Islam’s proliferation of the western world is gaining momentum in many countries including Australia.
Many folk and the pollies are saying “we are predominantly Christian country” and as such we should be respected. But is Christianity any better than Islam? Or in broader view, is one religion better than the rest … is there such thing as a good religion at all?
The Koran refers to non-Muslims as infidels, an enemy to be destroyed and the Bible reads (amongst other nonsense); those working on the Sabbath should be put to death (Exodus 35:2).
How nice!

Last week I watched on TV millions of Hindus bathing in the Ganges, cleansing their souls in filthy water, dodging the “floaties” (also in their millions) while the Buddhists were dodging wandering cows in the same streets where millions live in famine.

A few months ago I watched a group of Rabbis as they got off the plane at Cairns airport, dressed in their Hassidic “uniforms” in the middle of the summer – what a sight! I am sure these sweaty, hairy penguins came here for a good reason and no doubt their contribution, whatever it may be, will advance Australia’s prosperity.
The Catholics spread their heavenly wings over the uneducated, primitive tribes in many countries around the world with the objective to convert them to Christianity. Those poor souls lost their cultures, traditions, rituals, spiritual beliefs and everything that made them survive for millennia. Many primitive tribes engaged in wars that cost lives, harsh tribal punishment often resulted in deaths and so the do-gooders with the cross on their shoulder stepped in and put the end to the carnage. Apart from introducing far more devastating diseases the tribe people were not immune against, they invariably upset the cycle of life and death and subsequently the population sustainability and balance was interrupted.

With the exception of a few nasty diseases, all human suffering, genocide and oppression were inflicted by determined maniacs who acted in the name of God, Allah or some other fictitious figure. Historically, most wars were fought for religious or racial reasons and when we look at the old scripts, be it the Bible, Koran or any other crafty work of that kind, clearly racism is well entrenched in religion.

So, the Gods are content with all that – they must be! I wonder if they are quietly amused watching the Muslims hitting the carpet with their foreheads in their daily rituals, the Jews rhythmically arching their backs in front of a brick wall, the Christians dropping to their knees, Buddhists burning sticks in front of that fat fella and the Hindu priests walking naked in the streets.

On the serious note, there are creationists amongst us constantly and deliberately trying to erode science and the theory of evolution, there are religious groups and cults preying on people with low self-esteem, taking their money, breaking up families and destroying lives.
And there is Mr Abbott in Canberra.
We don’t have to go too far to see the effects of religious lunacy. There is a deeply religious doctor in Cairns who relentlessly advocates against abortion – it’s worrying to see faith overriding logic and pragmatic decision-making, particularly in such prominent profession.

Isn’t normal life, i.e. without religion, interesting and exciting enough? Why do so many people waste their time, pollute their minds, and indeed pollute the whole world with religious fantasies?

John Lennon sang; “Imagine there's no countries. It isn't hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for. And no religion too. Imagine all the people. Living life in peace...”
I say (wish I could sing); Imagine all the churches would become concert halls and one of the mosques on the outskirts of Cairns would be converted to Johno’s Blues Bar. The world would be better place to live in – that’s my belief.

What gives me the right to criticise and stand against religion?
I have the same right to express my opinion as the Jehovah Witnesses, the Mormons and other morons that knock on my door on Sundays.

Old cycle sounds updated on Davie Allan's new album, Retrophonic

There's some old cycle sounds updated on Davie Allan's new album, Retrophonic, writes CairnsBlog music reviewer David Anthony

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something bluesy.

That’s how I would describe guitar man Davie Allan’s sensational new album Retrophonic.

Retrophonic hits the right notes, bringing the California sounds of the 1960s into the 21st century. It comprises a potpourri of new instrumentals, previously unreleased vocal covers from the 1960s and updated versions of Davie Allan and the Arrows classics.

I ordered my copy via Davie’s website and when it arrived I couldn’t wait to whack it on the stereo.

As I listened to the two sensational opening tracks, “Devil Dust” and “Uprising”, I dug up a few old DVDs as well as my well-thumbed copy of Stephen J. McParland’s history of biker movies and soundtrack albums for a night of Cycle Cinema and Sickle Sounds.

The book was published in various forms before its appearance as an updated “collector” edition in 2003, a handsome volume illustrated with photos and dingy old grindhouse movie posters.

Stephen McParland, an Australian living in Sydney, is the foremost chronicler of the California Sound and his previous works include a series of books on musician Gary Usher and a history of the Beach Party movies of the ’60s.

A book like this is heaven. The American biker movies of the 1960s and ’70s are inseparable from their music soundtracks and McParland’s encyclopedic work is a comprehensive and exhaustive record.

It recognises 57 films as part of the biker sub-genre that roughly spanned a decade from 1965 to 1973. Sure there was Brando in The Wild One which shocked sheltered theatre-goers out of their seats in 1954 and grindhouse king Russ Meyer’s Motor Psycho in 1965.

But it was Roger Corman’s The Wild Angels in 1966 where it all started.

Davie Allan, known as the “King of the Fuzz Guitar”, wrote one of the forewords to Cycle Cinema and Sickle Sounds and McParland’s book pays due tribute to Davie’s significant contribution to biker movies and rock music.

As a session muso for the impresario of the California sound, Mike Curb, Davie was the real creative talent behind the acclaimed soundtrack for Roger Corman’s 1966 cult classic, The Wild Angels, co-starring Hell’s Angels members.

McParland details the making of the film, including its soundtrack.

The Wild Angels starred a pre-Easy Rider Peter Fonda as Heavenly Blues and Nancy Sinatra (as you have never seen before) as his girl Mike.

After the death of friend Loser (Bruce Dern), whose injured body they kidnap from the hospital, they stage a funeral in a small town, complete with a swastika-draped coffin and an alcohol-soaked orgy.

After the bikers are attacked by the angry townsfolk, Blues, finally recognising the futility of his dead-end lifestyle, stays behind to face the music of police sirens.

Davie Allan’s music is a crucial counterpoint to the film’s action. Though uncredited onscreen, he gave the movie its sound and with his band, The Arrows, played all the tracks.

He was subsequently given due credit on the two hit LP soundtrack albums released soon after the film.

“The sound achieved and developed…was a joint concept created by Allan, Curb, (Richie) Podolor and arranger Harley Hatcher, another Curb associate,” McParland writes. “This successful formula would be used over ad over again in successive soundtracks featuring Allan and the Curb stable of artists.”

What Davie brought to The Wild Angels was the thrilling energy, freedom and hedonism of the bikers, at the same time, importantly, his music, underlined the alienation, emptiness, disillusionment and loneliness of these outsiders as well as foreshadowing their impending doom.

This was a hallmark of many future soundtracks such as Davie’s excellent Devil’s Angels, The Born Losers and The Glory Stompers as well as non-Allan soundtracks like Rebel Rousers, the almost flower-powery sounds in Angel Unchained, and even Easy Rider which effectively used existing songs.

Davie’s “Blue’s Theme”, a big instrumental hit in the ’60s, is revisited twice on the new Retrophonic album, first as the grungy, high-octane “Heavenly Blues” and later as, ironically, “Recycled”.

The Glory Stompers was one of the worst, grimiest and sleaziest of all the biker films with its star, a pre-Easy Rider Dennis Hopper, at his mumbling worst. Geez, I wish they’d put it out on DVD.

Davie Allan’s score was the best thing in Glory Stompers, his lyrical instrumentals a curious but perfect counterpoint to the hysterical mayhem on-screen from the most ghastly biker gang in cinema history, Werewolves on Wheels notwithstanding.

Apparently unhappy with his previous versions of the title foot-tapping track, Davie re-recorded it for Retrophonic. “I feel I finally got it right!” he declares confidently and correctly in the liner notes.
Sadly, Mike Curb, later a Republican politician, clung tightly to the rights of all music bearing his name, cutting Davie out of credits and royalties. Davie kickstarted his career in the 1990s with new originals and a new line-up for the Arrows. In 2004, Curb permitted the release of a double album of Davie’s Curb recordings from 1964 to 1965, Devil’s Rumble.

Most of this music were from biker movies and youth flicks now considered cult classics – Wild in the Streets, Devil’s Angels, The Hellcats to name a couple.

Since McParland published Cycle Sounds, filmmakers are rediscovering Davie Allan. To be more specific, Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino in 2008 dragged a couple of old biker movie stars out of retirement to go for one more Hell Ride.

Larry Bishop from Angel Unchained starred and directed with a cast including David Carradine and the Man Himself, Dennis Hopper.

Hell Ride is probably too slick and handsome to re-create the older films which were more ragged around the edges.

But all the old elements of sex, lust, violence, revenge and alienation, are there, including a score dominated by Davie Allan tracks, including “Devil’s Rumble”. Tarantino liked this track so much he re-used it on the soundtrack for his Oscar-nominated war opus, Inglorious Basterds.

The Retrophonic album comprises a potpourri of new instrumentals, previously unreleased vocal tracks from the 1960s and updated versions of Davie Allan the Arrows classics. The ’60s vocal tracks include a California version of the Beatles’ “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” and The Mamas and the Papas’ “Straight Shooter”.

Two bonus tracks feature vocals by a new young talent, Lisa Mychols, who has one of the sweetest, prettiest voices I’ve heard in a long time.

With this renewed interest in his work, fans are fortunate that Davie is still going strong and is better than ever.

It might be time for Stephen McParland to update his indispensable volume.
  • Retrophonic (Arrow Dynamic, $US12.50)

Friday, 28 May 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.

Vehicle submerged, Cairns Inlet
Cairns police are investigating the circumstances surrounding a submerged maroon sedan near the public boat ramp at Smiths Creek, Portsmith. Around 7.30 last night witnesses reported seeing the vehicle hit the water at speed with the headlights on and the engine still running. It was reported that the vehicle floated 15 meters down the creek before slowly submerging in approximately three meters of water. It’s believed no-one was in the vehicle at the time. The boat ramp remains closed while police continue to guard the scene until the police dive squad inspects the vehicle, before it is retrieved at low tide later today.

Man assaulted, Cairns North
Police are investigating the alleged assault of a 37-year-old local man around 2am yesterday morning (May 27) on Beryl Street. The man was allegedly punched several times before his wallet was stolen by a group of 4-6 male and female youths. The man was taken to hospital for treatment, police investigations are continuing.

Traffic charge, Woree
A 21-year-old Woree man has been charged after he allegedly overtook a marked police vehicle at speed around 7 last night on Anderson Road. The man was allegedly also weaving in and out of traffic and driving in excess of 120kph in the 60km zone. Further investigations revealed that the man is an unlicenced driver; his vehicle was subsequently impounded for 48 hours. The man was charged with driving without due care and attention and unlicenced driving. He is scheduled to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court next month.

Calling all installation artists for the 2010 Cairns Festival

This year's Cairns Festival, or Festival Cairns, as it was called last year, is only 85 days away, running from 20 August to 5 September.

There's now a hunt out for visual artists of the far north to submit their sculpture proposals for this year’s Esplanart exhibition, a popular exhibit last year's Festival Cairns, I mean Cairns Festival.

It's hoped that again public art will line the Esplanade, with weird and unexpected works of art that will make the waterfront walkway far from boring.

“Last year we saw a giant cupcake, multi-coloured shark fin and little houses on stilts among the 10 artworks on display,” said organiser Eric Holowacz. “We’re pretty excited to see what will be submitted this year, but you can be sure the exhibition will give the people of Cairns plenty to talk about.”

Ten artworks will be selected and displayed along the waterfront throughout the festival. Submissions will be considered by a panel and successful artists will receive a small commission. Artists should contact Kate Hard at the Cairns Regional Gallery on 4046 4800 or drop her an email. You must get your proposal in by Friday 11 June.

An artist who refused to be named, said he wanted to construct a sculpture in honour of long-serving Councillor Alan Blake, who resides in a 10th floor Lake Street apartment, overlooking the waterfront. "It will be a monster, 11 stories high and will be a giant prick," the discreet artist told CairnsBlog. "I think it's something that he'll appreciate and the local ratepayers will enjoy. It will just stand around doing nothing for a month."

The Cairns Festival, I mean the Festival Cairns, or whatever it's going to be called, is supported and presented by Cairns Regional Council. The full festival programme will be available in late July.
  • CONTACT Eric Holowacz, Cairns Festival Producer Tel 4044 3086, mobile 0457 898 566

Thursday, 27 May 2010

18,000 gallons of oil leaked into the Great Barrier Reef

Local writer, funny man, publisher, speaker, former CEC spokesperson, and the hardest person to secure a coffee date with, Andrew Griffiths, flicked me this link about the recent massive oil spillage off the coast of Louisiana.

The stunning photographs were captured by the Boston Globe, the same team that bought us the amazing pix of Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

New oil flow estimates by scientists studying the spill in the Gulf of Mexico say the leak is far bigger than 11 million gallons that spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster, in 1989. The well that exploded on April 20th and then sank, has spilled as much as 39 million gallons, the worst in US history.

Talk about a tragedy. Yeah, no need to pilot ships through the Great Barrier Reef is there? Just imagine this happening in our waters.

Innisfail's Jubilee Bridge to be rebuilt for $20 million

The Cassowary Coast Regional Council has voted to construct a new Jubilee Bridge at a cost of $19.8 million. $14 million will be contributed by the State Government, and the balance from the local council.

Jubilee Bridge was opened in 1923, and links the township with East Innisfail.

In March, when Premier Bligh bought the Cabinet to Innisfail, she told Cassowary mayor Bill Shannon she was looking at financing arrangements that will not be a burden on local ratepayers.

"That will take some work, but we want to see this bridge built," Anna Bligh said.

Cassowary Coast Council announced this month that the bridge would be closed permanently to all vehicles.

"The decision to close the bridge was made in the interests of public safety," Mayor Bill Shannon. “Recent testing of the bridge by GHD and structural testing experts, integrity testing has found the structure is deteriorating rapidly with major cracking. Public safety is the highest priority, so Council has decided to permanently close the bridge to vehicle traffic as of Friday 21st May."

The trip is around an extra 10 minutes longer to travel from East Innisfail into the town. Pedestrians will still be allowed access, but this will be monitored for safety.

"The early closure of the Jubilee Bridge is going to have a significant impact on the people of Innisfail," Bill Shannon said. "The bridge is used by thousands of residents each day to travel between work, school and services in the CBD and their homes in East and North Innisfail."

A 2008 inspection found that the structural components of the 87-year-old bridge had continued to deteriorate since 2003, and had extended to more spans.

The Mulgrave River bridge at Gordonvale, cost $48 million to construct.

Unemployment down, but Labor's marginal seats the crunch points

Jason Whittaker in Crikey writes:

  • Many of the most marginal seats crucial to Labor's re-election chances are also among the hardest hit by unemployment, new data shows.

    Unemployment under Labor has averaged 6.3%,
    according to Roy Morgan Research released this morning, but 14 of Labor's most marginal electorates have suffered unemployment rates above the national average.

    Labor will be particularly concerned about three crucial seats in Queensland (Leichhardt, Bonner and Flynn), along with the New South Wales bellwether electorate of Eden-Monaro, which have some of the highest rates of unemployment in the country.
    Roy Morgan estimates unemployment fell to 6.6% in April, the lowest rate since December 2008. About 760,000 Australians remain out of work, down 76,000 from March.

    But as the research firm notes today: "While this is good news for the Rudd government, it is critical to recognise that unemployment is never uniform across the country."
    The electorate of Grey -- which takes in most of non-metropolitan South Australia -- has had the nation's worst unemployment rate between January 2008 and December last year at 16.3%. While the Liberal-held seat is listed as marginal the chances of Labor securing a 4.4% swing now seem remote.

    Of the government's marginals, Flynn (held by Labor on a slim 2.2% margin, where unemployment has averaged 9.7%), Leichhardt (4.1% to Labor with unemployment at 11.2%) and Bonner (4.5% margin, 9.7% unemployment) are all likely to punish Kevin Rudd for the economic downturn.

A letter to LNP members from Jessica Christmas

Here's the resignation letter from LNP strategist Jessica Christmas, who worked in the State Opposition's office.

Her resignation to party leader John-Paul Langbroek on Monday, comes just three weeks after MPs Aidan McLindon and Rob Messenger, and LNP candidate Wendy Richardson, fled the party, and she warned that "insanity" was the norm in the office. Jessica also says her colleagues spoke "in glee about crushing and destroying" McLindon and Messenger.
  • May 24, 2010

    Dear John-Paul Langbroek,

    It is with immense sadness that I need to inform you of my resignation. I wrote to and spoke with John-Paul a number of times yesterday evening and whilst I am grateful for his genuine attempt to have me re-consider my position, I will be re-confirming with him shortly that I will indeed be leaving the Opposition Office.

    I wrote a lengthy letter to John-Paul and felt that it was appropriate that as my Shadow Minister I communicate to you a number of matters that I believe are relevant relating to my departure. I would ask that you treat this as personal correspondence, and ask that in the spirit of respect for John-Paul, and myself, that you do not share it with others.

    When I joined our office, I was enthusiastic and felt an almost overwhelming sense of pride that my skills would contribute to the LNP winning government at the next election. As you know, I was a member of State Council and was heavily involved in the successful merger of the Liberal and National Parties in Queensland. The combined Constitutional Convention in 2008, I felt, would be a turning point in making us a real alternative to Queenslanders who had been exceedingly tolerant of an apathetic, lazy and contemptible Labor Government.

    We are less than two years away from the next election. I had anticipated, prior to joining your team on Level 6, that I would be joining a group of people who saw no outcome other than victory. Hungry, focussed, relentlessly hardworking people who were committed to providing a better life for all Queenslanders.

    I cannot bear to walk into a particular office anymore and see a senior staff member playing Solitaire anymore, because, as cliched as it sounds, Queensland deserves better. It is an indictment on the direction of our office that this person sees it remotely appropriate to constantly play computer games in full view of staff. It is de-motivating and a slap in the face to those who are working towards our common goals.

    The very people who hold the "power" in our office and allegedly drive our undefined, uncommunicated and shaky "strategy" have been the architects of defeat in prior elections, yet remain in safe and secure employment. Ironically, I recall Lawrence debating the merger with George Brandis at the Mt Ommaney Bowls Club some years back. He said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome. Insanity is what prevails in our office. There is no innovative thought, no fresh ideas and little regard for those people who desperately want to believe in us.

    Whilst I was optimistic about my new role, I can no longer tolerate or endure the direction that the LNP is taking. I sat in an office recently as one of my colleagues spoke in glee about "crushing and destroying" Aidan McLindon and Rob Messenger. I was aghast that his strategy involved attempting to accuse both Aidan and Rob of spending their electorate allowances on things other than their electorate. I recalled a newspaper editorial in which it was stated Aidan was renovating his home and it was clear that there was an attempt to leverage off this to smear the two MPs. It was stated that Aidan's constituents may find it interesting that he was spending money renovating his home instead of using his electorate allowance to send out newsletters and clearly was devising a plan to attempt to draw a link between the two.

    When I questioned this, it was stated that the point was "If you throw enough mud at the f@*%wits, it will stick".

    I also asked about the "investigations" that were underway on Aidan and Rob that were reported in the media and asked whether we would be able to prove that. I was told that this was irrelevant and repeated that the media wouldn't be interested in "minutia" such as particulars relating to alleged "investigations" and the comments about the mud sticking were repeated.

    Not once have I heard this person say he would "crush and destroy" the Labor government, which ironically, is what some of our members would expect. When I raised the issue that his strategy could in fact, reflect poorly on all of the LNP, the response was astonishing. I was told that when Aidan's initial email was leaked to the media regarding the lack of direction by the LNP, that he was "prepared to let the leash out and allow Aidan a bit of slack...but the moment those two f%@ers went after Lawrence was the moment they were going to learn their leash was a big f@%*ing choker chain". How can one person's stated personal vendetta against these two MPs be a basis for media - for direction - for anything? Does our election strategy hinge on avenging the fact Aidan challenged Lawrence's position of Deputy Leader?

    I have never spoken more than ten words to Rob Messenger in my life. However, last Tuesday I listened to his somewhat awkward and strained speech in Parliament and listened too, as some in our office laughed and sniggered at his references to becoming "intimate" with his wife. I felt immense sadness that a man had to stand and defend private details in public of his sexual history. Only days prior, I had listened as a media strategy was outlined to me regarding Rob's trips up north and I was shown what had been prepared for the media. Again, it was outlined with delight that albeit Rob's trips were "technically legitimate", that he would be making people question Rob's honesty. What a cheap, political stunt.

    As a woman, I cannot fathom the humiliation that Rob's wife must feel. Moreso, the fact that I have been told that details are being sought about the fact Rob's wife does not have custody of her children is absolutely and utterly despicable and shameful. Is this the Party that stands against the dead hand of Socialism, in defence of the right of the individual and free enterprise, or is it the Party whose direction is dictated by a stated personal vendetta?

    I cannot, and I will not, be part of a pre-meditated affair that is being launched against previous LNP members. I cannot and will not act in concert with those who seek to divide - to "crush and destroy" not only two prior LNP members, but their wives and children as well. Who will be next?

    We may be members of a political party, but we should never abandon core values of decency and respect.

    Those who are blinded by a personal vendetta are also blinded to the fact their actions crush and destroy lives, relationships, livelihoods and hope. They attempt to stifle debate, suffocate alternative reasoning and choke the life out of any chance that we may have to one day govern this magnificent state of Queensland. I have on my refrigerator a magnet that harks the memorable quote by Winston Churchill "These are great days". I long for the day that they are.

    The day before I started in the office, my mother gave me a beautiful book. It was, she said, for me to write down what would be the beginning of an exciting journey. On the first day I wrote "Level 6" inside the front cover and my book is now full. I'm on to my fourth, and on each page is written what transpired in the office on that day. These contemporaneous notes began excitedly, enthusiastically and with vigour. This changed however, and I felt like I was somehow a traitor for recording such treacherous and dreadful activities.

    I now know that it is not I who is the traitor.

    I received the written notification on Sunday when I went in to the office that as a result of a recent request I had received a significant increase in my remuneration. Whilst I appreciated the gesture, and although salary is an important issue, it can never, and will never, be the sole motivator in terms of my job satisfaction particularly relating to issues that have arisen subsequent to my request for a remuneration review.

    I have the Brisbane City Brisbane Branch AGM next Tuesday night and will not be recontesting the position of Chair. I do not know what the future holds for the branch, but in the same vein I do not know what the future holds for the LNP. In that regard, I cannot continue to aspire to the "values" of the LNP when I vehemently disagree with the direction in which we are going at present. I am a Conservative, but I feel no connection anymore with a Party that I helped to nurture and develop. I will therefore be cancelling my membership with the LNP as well.

    In my letter to John-Paul, I told him that I hope with all of my heart that one day he will be Premier. I feel, and believe I have shown, an immense loyalty to him and have done this as I believe that he is a good and decent man. However I do believe that there are some close to him who do not share his vision. I have appreciated John-Paul's friendship, his intelligent and dry wit, his gregarious nature and have watched the faces of those who did not know him immediately change to delight upon meeting him. This is the John-Paul Langbroek who should be Premier.

    I wish you every happiness and success in to the future.

    All the best and with fondest regards,
    Jessica Christmas

The following letter was sent a day later after media reports about Ms Christmas's departure from the party.

  • Dear friends and former colleagues,

    As you are no doubt aware, I resigned from my position in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition on Monday evening.

    A number of MPs and staff have contacted me with regards to outrageous and duplicitous comments being made by a current senior member of the Opposition team in relation to my departure.

    I would like it placed on the record that my decision to resign was not based on remuneration, nor any alleged "pay dispute". This is a disappointing yet predictable response from those who are unable to reflect on their own performance and repeatedly refuse to take responsibility for their inability to be a viable alternative government. I never joined the Opposition Office to advance my financial position and I utterly reject any suggestion that I left for reasons relating to my remuneration. To also suggest that I would not have been "privvy" as reported in the media this morning, to the incidents I referred to in my correspondence is quite frankly, pathetic at best. This is false, and those making these types of comments know them to be false.

    I am an honest person and find it intolerable that despite the significant contribution that I made to the LNP over a number of years, I am now being cast as disloyal. This is not acceptable to me, nor is it acceptable to numerous MPs and staff who have contacted me by phone, email and SMS to lend their support.

    Although I did not anticipate (nor was it my intention) that the letter letter that I wrote to Shadow Ministers would be on the public domain, as there is some speculation regarding its contents, I attach it for your perusal and interest.

    The past 24 hours have been heartbreaking for me, but I have no regrets.

    I wish you all the very best for the future, and send my fondest regards to those of you who have been a wonderful support to me.

    Jessica Christmas

Council revokes False Cape special approval

The checkered history of development at False Cape, East Trinity near Cairns, has now received Council intervention to protect it from any new development.
Cairns Regional Council passed an amendment to the CairnsPlan, removing a Special Facilities approval that currently is in place for the site.

The controversial narrow strip of steep hillside land, currently held by receivers following the intervention of the Federal Environment Minister last year, has been plagued by poor management for the last six years.
"Governments at every level have not managed False Cape at all," local environmentalist Terry Spackman told CairnsBlog. "The best thing that could happen is that land could be handed or gifted back to the community."
The State Department of Infrastructure and Planning says it has no further interest in the site.
Mayor Val Schier says the future of False Cape should be environmentally sound and is prepared to take the necessary steps.

“False Cape is a beautiful site and this is an opportunity to make right a decision that was made in the past,” Val Schier says. "False Cape has been identified as an area of high ecological significance and is affected by guidelines designated by hill slope protection, vegetation conservation and containment of significant waterways."

Following a decision in October 2009 to amend the status of the land at False Cape, Cairns Regional Council sought submission from the public over the proposed amendment early this year. Submissions wanted increased protection for the land and encouraged Council to pursue total protection.

The False Cape site remains in a very poor condition, following the stalled development. It is contained in the Rural 1 planning area under the CairnsPlan and in the Regional Landscape and Rural Production area planning category under the Far North Queensland Regional Plan.
In March 2008, CairnsBlog extensively photographed the state of the site, and showed that False Cape was still in ruin. Little has changed to this day, despite attempts by Council to undertake more sediment run-off controls.

On June 18th, 2008, a private charter helicopter undertaking surveillance photography over the False Cape development site, crashed, with four people were on board. Renowned landscape photographer Steve Nowakowski, along with Cairns architect Mark Buttrose, was on board. The pair have led a five year campaign to stop development on the land, along with their Save False Cape group.
In September 2009 Minister Garrett suspended development at False Cape for a further 12 months.
The now abandoned site, stretches almost two kilometers along the coast, to the east of Cairns. It has been the focus of much controversy since originally receiving State development approvals, and also support from the former Cairns City Council. The site is now widely damaged and scarred, from poorly managed excavation, breach of approvals and lack of any proper sediment traps, over the last five years.
Cairns Regional ratepayers have forked out $150,000 for temporary remediation work on the site, following the abandonment of the site for developers.

Save Sugarworld community rally this Sunday

The campaign to save the popular Sugarworld waterslides will hold a rally and community forum this Sunday.

You can come and have your say on the future of the waterpark. Cairns Regional Mayor Val Schier will be there with a number of local councillors, along with Mulgrave MP Curtis Pitt.

Meet at the Sugarworld Gardens at 2pm.

Meanwhile somewhere in the middle of the Barron River delta, on the other side of town, former Cairns councillor Paul Freebody, who oversaw the 2006 report to urgently repair Sugarword, will be playing on his bulldozer.

A car bumper sticker from above

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

The Former Member for Leichhardt invites you...

The Artist formally-known as the Member for Leichhardt, must be a good cobber with Reef Casino chief Allan Tan.

Tan has bestowed the auspicious title of North Queensland Patron of the Arts and Former Member for Leichhardt, on LNP candidate, the Hon Warren Entsch.

Invitations have gone out to the Cairns social artisans and b-grade paparazzi, to witness the opening of local artist Jo Hardie's new exhibition, Summery, Thursday at 5:30pm.

Famous dad and environmentalist, Bob Irwin will also be there, probably in khakis.

Artist and sculptor Jo Hardie has also created works in partnership with Australian Rainforest Foundation and is behind the Cairns Candle Factory. Hardie's works will be on display at the Reef Casino until August 31st.

Another famous art lover of all things gallery, Cairns Regional Councillor Allan Blake, will probably be spotted at the function. Like Entsch, he has been awarded an extra title by his colleagues: FNQ Former Chair of Council Finance Committee and Local Government Regional Minister of the Arts and Harbour Views.

Another new blog joins the Cairns Blogsphere

Local Cairns photographer Mike Watt, is the latest to engage in the social networking world.

Mike has launched his own blog, offering a collection of personal and professional snaps from his archive. You may have spotted Mike's work in the Cairns Post, where he is one of their feature photographers.

A full list of active local blogs in and around Cairns, can be found in the right-hand sidebar on CairnsBlog. It's an active feed so you will see a snippet of the latest story. They are sorted in order of most recent posted.

If you have a local website or a blog and are not listed, please send the required amount of cash in a brown sticky envelope, and we'll do a deal.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Cairns Post' sister rag embroiled in gutter tablewd entrapment

Rupert Murdoch, who owns the Cairns Post and also the trashy News of the World in the UK, has overnight "exposed" the Duchess of York as plotting to sell access to her ex-hubby Prince Andrew for £500,000.

However in a typical fashion, the reporter who wrote the story, Mazher Mahmood, is not the reporter who set the entrapment sting up, and now wants to remain anonymous, probably claiming he's not part of the "story."

50 year old Sarah Ferguson was covertly filmed on Tuesday night taking $47,000 (£27,000) in cash as a down-payment from an undercover News of the World reporter.

Whilst CairnsBlog has used similar hidden recording tactics, most famously to expose the unscrupulous and closed door goings-on at Cairns Community Radio with a secret video, it wasn't entrapment, nor illegal. When a community or a public organisation that receives substantial funds from the public purse, we have a duty to dig and expose the dirt. It's pertinent to note that that particular video, that serial cereal eater Bryan Law filmed, was the trigger for an ACMA to launch their third investigation into Cairns community radio - a finding on this is due next month.

However it's questionably what the obviously silly Duchess has done anything wrong. She hasn't secured a deal at present for this stooge to have access to her ex royal hubby, she was merely made to look foolish. Mighty foolish. If someone approached you with a tonne of cash, would you accept it? Probably not, but some would.

"Look after me and he'll look after you. . . you'll get it back tenfold. I can open any door you want," Sarah Ferguson says in the covert video.

James Whitaker says in the Guardian that he is not surprised that Ferguson would take the cash...
  • "The woman is skint. And, like any desperate person, she will do almost anything to get her hands on some cash. Fergie has made it abundantly clear that if this means 'using' Andrew she will not think twice. It isn't attractive - it's not so different from selling your mother. But the question has to be asked: how has the Queen allowed the situation to deteriorate to this level? The duchess was always a loose cannon and needed looking after."

However Phillip Knightley in the Independent questions the dodgy reporting and the motivation for News of the World...

  • "Going undercover is considered glamorous. Acting a role that exposes wrongdoing or greedy and bad behaviour attracts some journalists, particularly those seeking to become the heroes of their own stories. But above all, at a time of falling circulations and editorial financial restrictions it is a comparatively cheap form of journalism with a quick result. Standard investigative journalism is expensive, often open-ended and uncertain. Many stories simply fail to stand up."
Such reporting raises a number of ethical questions, least of all that this is hardly a story. Sure it's sensational and dramatic and all that, but it's hardly a story.

In comparison, local Cairns writer and former London journalist Tony Hiller criticises today's front cover "story" in the Cairns Post about a 'Car collector driven to sell his dream machines.'

"It's a non-story — it's a classic example of the Compost's embarrassing rev-head mentality," Hillier says. "To compound the travesty, it's also the subject of the day's editorial. 'Car-tastrophe for Far North'. Really? I'd be interested to know what the incoming new editor made of Nick Dalton's cockeyed news sense. Even the "Tizer" would think twice about running a piece that is at best trivia; at worst a full page ad."

Fergie has since apologised for what she called her "serious lapse of judgement". Today she flew to Los Angeles to accept an award for her work with underprivileged children, where she said "I hate grown ups and I love children."

You can read the full script here, or watch the rather entertaining and probably tiddly Duchess here...

Mums the word on Facebook for Cairns mothers

Cairns self-confessed single mum, Bree Collison, is mummy to a beautiful baby girl Charlotte.

She's just set up a Facebook group called 'Cairns Mum's' for mothers in and around Cairns.

"Post any meetings, walk you do or any other activities you like to do with your bub's," Bree Collison.

Just over 100 have linked up and sharing stories and information, and it's fast becoming a hit.

"Hopefully soon I wont be as tired and will have energy to go for walks again," Bella Sara says. "We should all organise events or something I need other mums to hang out with from time to time most my friends don't have babies."

Corrie Bateman, who moved to Cairns last year, with a 10 month old daughter, is using the site to connect with other mums.

"We dont know anyone in Cairns so if anyone wants a friend count me in. We are free for coffee."

Trudy Gilholm's new bub was born in January, and was her first baby.

"My partner and I moved to Cairns November 2008 and are looking to get to know people with kids," Trudy says. "We just found out last week that we are expecting a little girl! We are very excited. Looking forward to getting to know you."

Zero, Hash, and repeat to avoid those effin telephone robots

This is an old trick I learnt years ago, and I share this on the proviso that you don't tell anyone else. Certainly not your local Councillor or MP.

It's works a treat and will improve the quality and sanity of your life, guaranteed. In fact, I really should demand a donation to the CairnsBlog Defamation Fund in exchange for giving out such life-changing tips. I feel a Hillsong moment coming on.

So here it is.

When telephoning those corporate giants, especially the large utility companies like Telstra, Ergon, your favourite bank, internet company, etc, there's always the dam automated answering service. Always.

"Hello, welcome to XYZ, your call is important to us. To put your call through to the right department, we first need to ask you a few questions.....blaa, blaa, blaa."

By this stage you are already shouting at the phone, "just give me a person to speak with!"

It goes on...

"If you'd like accounts and payable press 1, repairs and sausages press 2, emergency rabbit stew press 3, your favourite recipe press 4, anything else that we can't think of right now press 5.. or stay on the line and we'll read this list out again..."

There's then often a series of secondary menus, asking more and more details. However, loyal CairnsBlog buddies, do not fear, help is at hand.

These automated computer answering systems are all manufactured in the same Zing Pow Ding Chinese factory in Ghangzou province. They all have the "0" (zero) and the "#" (hash) keys programmed as overrides. This means that you can bypass those silly menu systems, that rarely have any effect where you call is directed. If you do get to a wrong department, the human can transferred and often provide a direct number.

Telstra also have a voice activated system, where you are meant to speak what you want, invariably this is worse than pushing a series of 22 different keys in order to get a human on the other end.

Nevertheless, the "zero" "hash" option (and in that order), is almost 100% effective. You will have to repeat it a number of times, and the system will eventually realise you're not playing their silly talky game. For instance, the first time you press the "0" then "#" (hash is recognised as a close or end of instruction key), you will hear a "sorry, that is not a valid option..." or some such. Simply ignore that and persist on repeatedly pushing the two keys, and in a few short secs, you'll get the magic sweet smell of chocolate telephony...

"Okay, we'll just put you through to one of our operators.."

Well, that's what we wanted when we called in the first place.

Some large companies are getting the message that we not only detest these systems, but they turn people off so much, that it's enough to change to another company. Having a human answer your call immediately, really isn't that difficult. We used to do it ion the good ol days. Some now not only answer the call, they do the redirecting or even, god forbid, answer your question and look into your account enquiry. I have to say, our very own Cairns Regional Council's customer service department, have real live humans (not locked in a cage or anything : hi Josh!) that answer the phone.

So next time you confront one of these beasts, try it. Those bloody awful automated telephone answering systems are a pain in the arse. You'll thank me for making your life a little happier and more fulfilling. Praise be to your God. Amen.

Our man in Canberra

Here's our Jim Turnour, Federal MP for Leichhardt, championing our far northern woes in the budget debate late last night around 9:45 pm (Monday, 24 May) when most of you were watching some trashy Amercian crime drama on TEN, or WIN, or 7:

  • "I have spoken consistently about the challenges facing Cairns and the Far North Queensland economy during the past 18 months as a result of the global financial crisis that led to the global recession. Our region has been hard hit with the economic reliance on tourism and construction.

    Unemployment peaked at almost 14% last year, up from around 5% prior to the GFC. Sadly, in the current debate around a mining super profit tax, when I look back on that period of time and the economy that I was left with as the new member for Leichhardt, there is a recognition that our economy was left very vulnerable because of a failure in many ways of us to benefit from the mining boom under the former Howard government.

    There was no major investment in infrastructure, whether in roads, education or health in Far North Queensland under the former member as part of the Howard government. The former member now campaigning for re-election has been so embarrassed by the lack of investment in Leichhardt in his more than a decade in office that he has been left trying to claim credit for infrastructure projects being built in my first term. Why? Because our region did not benefit from the mining boom under the former government. That is why the mining super profits tax is important.

    It is critical that all Australians benefit from the proceeds of what are all of our natural resources. The 14,000-odd small businesses in my electorate who have been doing it tough deserve to benefit from the planned tax cuts and the red tape reductions. We want to see more infrastructure investment and increases in superannuation retirement benefits in our region.

    Since being elected I have been working in partnership with the local community business leaders and the Prime Minister and ministers to turn around our struggling economy. We have seen significant investments in projects like the new dental school at James Cook University currently under construction, a new $40 million bridge over the Mulgrave River and planning well under way for a $150 million upgrade of the southern access road into Cairns. In Cape York we have new houses under construction, in Cooktown a new multi-purpose centre, in Weipa a new childcare centre and I have secured funding for the upgrade of the Horne Island airstrip in the Torres Strait.

    Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the government have responded to the specific needs and challenges facing communities in Far North Queensland, unlike the previous government. We have been working hard to strengthen and diversify our local economy, including tapping into the developing opportunities in the mining sector in places like Papua New Guinea. Last week we started to see some light at the end of the tunnel with unemployment dropping to 10.4%, which is down from the 12.4% of the previous couple of months. The end of the wet season is seeing tourism picking up and more of the Rudd government’s economic stimulus construction projects are beginning.

    These economic stimulus projects have been critical to supporting jobs in the construction industry in my electorate. Builders like Laurie Lidner, whom I met at a recent Building the Education Revolution opening, said that he had not heard from a developer for more than 12 months and his business would be in real trouble if he had not had this economic stimulus work. Similarly, Wayne Cavallaro, who is building social housing at the moment, talked about how subcontractors were dependent on that work to feed their children and to help pay off their houses.

    These critical projects are supporting jobs in local communities like mine. The tax task force that has been working in my electorate to support small businesses struggling with cash flow has been critically important—all direct responses from the Rudd government. Support for tourism has also been important. Recently, the return of flights from Japan and new flights from New Zealand have been supported with additional marketing funding from the Rudd government.

    We know that there is much more work to be done. I continue to work in partnership with business and community leaders, like those in Advance Cairns, the local council and the government, to deliver ongoing support to our local community. Last week the Deputy Prime Minister announced that another jobs expo will be held in Cairns on 25 June this year, building on the successful expo last year where more than 300 people found a job. The local council has been working up a plan for a new cultural precinct on the waterfront in Cairns, and I am working hard to secure funding for a new regional performing arts centre as part of that project.

    I want to see us go back to a fair system for funding air service charges at Cairns airport. The user pays system that was developed and implemented under the former Howard government has made our airport less competitive with other major gateways, and I want to see us go back to a network charging policy. That will encourage more airlines into Cairns and make our airport more competitive.

    We cannot risk the Tony Abbot led opposition.

Three days on a cycle with Labor MPs, now that's a challenge

Skilled road cyclist and Mulgrave MP Curtis Pitt, will accompany his Barron River Labor colleague Steve Wettenhall, to support the annual Yellow Pages Cardiac Challenge ride, a fund-raiser for the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation.

"We're urging other riders to join with us on the 3-day journey," Wettenhall says, that will depart Cairns on September 25th, 335 km from Cairns to Cooktown.

This year the Foundation will fund setting-up the Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic at Cairns Base Hospital.

Cairns Council to raise flags for reconciliation tomorrow

It would never happen under former Cairns Mayor Kevin Byne. That's the inference Mayor Schier is giving as she prepares to raise the two significant Aboriginal flags from Council offices this week.

Tomorrow the Cairns Regional Council will fly the flags of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island for National Reconciliation Day and National Sorry Day at council’s offices in Spence Street, Cairns and also in Mossman.

Schier has called the flag-raising an 'historical first for Cairns.'

“I am honoured to be the Mayor who will finally raise the flags and see them fly over Council’s office on this important day,” Mayor Val Schier says. “It is imperative that each year our community acknowledge the impact of the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families.”

National Sorry Day was first held on 26 May 1998, one year after the tabling of the Bringing them Home report which detailed the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. The report recommended that a National Sorry Day be declared on the anniversary.

Everyone is welcome to come along to the ceremony from 7am Wednesday in Cairns. The Mossman service is at 12.30pm in Front Street.

“I urge all members of our community to join us in remembering and reflecting on this significant day on Australia’s history," Val Schier says.