Wednesday, 30 June 2010

13% electricity rise for Cairns from tomorrow

Household budgets across North Queensland will be under more pressure as a 13.29% electricity price rise comes into effect.

The rise has been sanctioned by the Queensland Competition Authority, approved under the State Labor government

The Federal LNP candidate for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch says this is a reflection of the cost of living under Labor.

“For a family with an average quarterly power bill of $400, this Labor-induced price hike adds a further $53 to their bill. That is grossly unfair, given that it has been the utter incompetency of Labor that has forced these massive increases,” Warren Entsch says.

Entsch suggests that the increases will be even higher if Federal Labor is returned at the next election. He says that Queensland electricity increases would have been 50% higher if the flawed emissions trading scheme went ahead.

“These increases will hit low and middle income households hard. Before the election, Labor promised it would put downward pressure on the cost of living and this is what voters get – increases five times the Consumer Price Index which is currently 2.9%,” Warren Entsch said. "Whether it’s Kevin Rudd or Julia Gillard in charge, Labor promises are clearly worth nothing. They said they’d do something about petrol prices and came up with FuelWatch which would have increased prices for most motorists. Then they dropped it.”

“They said they’d do something about food prices and came up with GROCERYchoice which was useless. Then they dropped it," Warren Entsch says. "Now Julia Gillard has confirmed she will be setting a price for carbon which means those huge planned price rises will go even higher. And she’s committed to the mining tax which will, in effect, be another great big tax on everything,” Mr Entsch said.

“This is the reality of life under Labor – broken promises, useless policies, rising prices and massive debt.”

Regardless of who is to blame, this increase on the back of a rate rise by Cairns Regional Council, is going to impact everyone in the unemployment capital of Australia.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

I told you so

One month ago I blogged that Cairns Regional Council would up your rates, along with a number of other services, by 5%.

A week later, the Cairns Post, and various other media, tried to clamber over the prediction, but Council went into lockdown, preferring to gather time so they could muster their own explanation together (read spin).

Today they did exactly that.

This morning I was going to head into the high-security, all secret pre-budget meeting chinwag for media types, to trawl over numbers and get a free scone along with freshly-squeezed imported orange juice, but a nice extended breakie on the nard became a more enjoyable way to start the day.

I said last month, in light of a massive 13% electricity rise heading towards our letterboxes in four weeks time, like an out of control privatised Queensland Rail locomotive, on top of 11% unemployment, this rate rise will have a compounding effect on so many.

Council says today's rise puts Cairns and the region in a "sound future... delivering one of the lowest rate rises across the state of 5%."

Mayor Val Schier outlined her Council's fiscal plan that is "ambitious in its drive to improve the business of running Council while saving ratepayers’ money by applying strategies that do not involve a reduction in services."

“Council is in a tough position and deliberations on this year’s budget were long and arduous. We have shaved $11 million off the operating budget and worked hard to come up with a plan to maintain a high level of service for residents while keeping the necessary rate rise as low as possible,” Mayor Schier says.

“Our capital works budget is $110 million and despite paring it back, works will be focused on revitalising existing infrastructure and the construction of projects important to the region’s future.”

Over the next year, Council will spend $800,000 for the Port Douglas waterfront, $3 million for the Edmonton Multi-Purpose Centre, $4 million to restore the Sugarworld waterslides and $4.3 million on the Botanic Gardens visitor centre. $900,000 will be spent on festivals and events. On top of that, the Cleaner Seas Levy and sewer access charges will be combined and rise by 5%.

We will also see a rise in residential water charges of 5%, or seven cents per 1000 litres. Commercial water usage will not rise, aimed to assist businesses following the economic downturn. Most other Council fees will rise by 4%

Tomorrow morning I'm having a cuppa with Council CEO Lyn Russell. I wonder what we'll talk about? I might bring my own spare change.

Monday, 28 June 2010

ABC shop opening in Cairns next week

ABC will be opening its first store in Cairns next week.

The ABC Shop, located on level one, Cairns Central Shopping Centre, will open on Tuesday 6 July.

There'll be a dedicated children's area and "reading nook" as well as access to the ABC via TV, in-store radio and internet access.

The digital 'hub' will allow customers to around 10,000 ABC products. The store will also carry Blu-ray DVD, digital free-to-air television channels and the digital radio service information.

From Tuesday, there'll be opening specials and giveaways, live radio broadcast with Fiona Sewell from ABC Far North, and a special appearance from Postman Pat.

For those that really miss Kevin...

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Air New Zealand and Virgin Blue share deal will be good news for Cairns

Combining Air New Zealand's 26 domestic destinations with Virgin Blue's 32 domestic Australian will give trans-Tasman travellers more options.

This is the claim of the two domestic airline players as they plan a code share agreement, ready in the next few months.

"Whether it's Blenheim to Broome or Tauranga to Townsville - ticketing, bag transfers and schedules could all be seamless," so reads the marketing hype.

Part of the plan is to use the combined resources to grow the 58 destinations across New Zealand and Australia, increase frequency and new direct routes.

Air New Zealand and Virgin Blue are still seeking regulatory approval to create the new alliance on the trans-Tasman route. They says it will allow both to "strengthen their competitive offering and to collaborate on future route planning," as well as code sharing. This hopefully means cheaper airfares, more flights, and better connections to places we want.

It is expected that approval will be granted before Christmas.

Breakfast with Ginger (not Gorman)

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Laptops and mobiles now being searched at Cairns Airport for pornography

Australian Customs has stepped up surveillance at Cairns Airport, enacting new powers to search travellers' computer laptops, digital cameras and even mobile phones.

Customs now have the power to search all travellers for pornography on electronic devices as they arrive in Cairns.

A 22-year-old New Zealand traveller, who arrived in Cairns from Auckland, was interrogated by Customs for pornography, by the new intrusive powers under the guise of looking for child porn.

"I was pulled aside at Cairns Airport and after they searched my bags and suitcase, they asked me if I had any pornography on my laptop," the Auckland man told Jacqui Stanford from GayNZ.com. "I said no, but they insisted that I switch it on so they could check."

However it seems that not all passengers are being asked to declare if they have pornography in their luggage. It's understood that only some passenger arrival cards ask if pornography is being carried. If travellers answer "yes", they face the humiliation of having their material examined by customs officers. Ticking "no" if you are carrying pornography, which includes electronic photos, you are breaking the law.

The New Zealand traveller, who was visiting Cairns for a week's holiday, watched customs officers go through his entire computer for more than 10 minutes, in full view of other travellers in the Cairns International Airport arrivals area.
"They didn't find anything remotely pornographic," he told CairnsBlog. "Then they took my laptop into a room to do further searching," he said. "About five minutes later they returned looking rather disappointed that there was nothing to be found. I was also asked if the camera I had with me had ever been used to produce pornography."
"When I was pulled aside by customs, where they went through all of my luggage, they asked me lots of questions about what I was doing and what I did for a job in New Zealand," he said.

"I was also asked why I had a video camera and a still camera and if I had ever used them to make pornography. I explained to them that Cairns was known to be a tourist destination so I had anticipated taking lots of photos of the area. To say that this experience soured my first trip to Queensland would be an understatement."

The overt scrutiny has caused concern for civil liberties.

The Australian Sex Party claims that Customs now has an "unfettered right" to examine all electronic devices, marking a new era of investigation into people's private lives.

"We're demanding an inquiry into why a new question appears on Incoming Passenger Cards asking people if they are carrying pornography," president Fiona Patten says. "If you and your partner have filmed or photographed yourselves making love in an exotic destination or even taking a bath, you will have to answer 'Yes' to the question or you will be breaking the law," she says.

Customs have confirmed to the Sydney Morning Herald there are now references to "pornography" on the passenger arrival cards and new search powers. They have acknowledged that searches conducted by officers may involve the discovery of "personal or sensitive possessions".

Electronic Frontiers Australia says the change has been sneaked in under the radar without any public consultation about the massive privacy issues. "It's hard to fathom what the pressing concern could be that requires Australia to quiz every entrant to the country on their pornography habits, as if visitors would be aware of the nuances of the Australian classification scheme," Colin Jacobs says.

It was Benjamin Franklin who said that the man who trades freedom for security, does not deserve, nor will he ever receive either. Just lucky he didn't own an iPad. Or a digital camera. Or a laptop. Or engage with Australian Customs.

inaugural Cairns ukulele festival set to be a hit


It attracted derision and mirth led by former Cairns Post editor Andrew Webster, however the inaugural Cairns Ukulele Festival is looking to a unique, if not surprise hit with locals.

The festival has already attracted interest from across the country and abroad. World-renowned ukulele artists, Hawaii-born Jason Arimoto and USA mainland born The Jumpingflea will both perform.

A highlight of the programme is the Great Adventures Ukulele Island Gig on Friday July 2nd at Green Island.

The programme has a great weekend line up and includes...
  • 25th June - Opening Art Exhibition
    28th June - Ukulele Building Course
    1 July – Uke in the pub
    2nd July - Great Adventures Ukulele Island Gig + screening of Mighty Uke
    3rd July - Free performances in the CBD, and Esplanade, world record attempt
    4th July - Performances, workshops, markets at the Tanks Arts Centre
  • Cairns Ukulele Festival on Facebook

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Kiwi MPs buy porn movies, flowers, and a golf umbrella

The New Zealand parliament has released credit card receipts from the previous Labour government.

Thousands of payment statements from Minister's credit cards from 2003 have been released. They included the-minister Shane Jones, who used his government credit card to watch porn movies in hotels, saying he "lost the plot".

"The reality is I watched blue movies, I'm not going to deny it," he has said. "I've dug a hole for myself and it could well prove to be my grave."

Others were exposed for paying for a spa in hotels, flowers for their partners, dinners and drinks, and even golf clubs and umbrella, and a massage.

Free jobs on offer. Call Jim for a good time on 4051 2220


Qantas will be attending the Jobs Expo at the Cairns Showgrounds this Friday, with interest from local employers and training organisations expected to be strong.

Local Federal MP Jim Turnour is also asking key Ministers to attend Jobs Expo.

"Cairns is the only city in Australia to get a second [job] expo so it is great to have major companies like Qantas on board as well as many local operators," Turnour said. "After a very difficult 18 months for the region, airlines were returning to Cairns and seat capacity was on the rise; a positive sign the Tropical North was rebuilding."

Jim has a local free-call number to telephone his, or rather our, electorate office. The number is 1300 301 917. However mobile numbers are banned from ringing it.

"The number you have dialled is not available from a mobile phone," so says the message when you call. What Job seeker doesn't use a mobile? You'll have to call 4051 2220 instead.

Doesn't have a nice ring to it.

Shopping for schools has become dodgy business in Cairns and Smithfield

Accusations of corruption and skulduggery are rife amongst cash-hungry and school-proud mums across Cairns, as two 'shop for school' campaigns draw to a close this week.


The Shop for Cairns' Kids campaign run by Cairns Central, and Scholar Dollars run by Smithfield Shopping Centre, are both community-focused promotions to financially support local primary schools. Both have been the target of suggested foul play and deceitful practices by participants.

Over the last month, school-loyal shoppers have been dropping off their store receipts by the hundreds so their local primary school can grab cash prizes of up to $10,000. Each time a customer makes a purchase at either shopping centre, their receipts gain ‘points’ for their nominated school.

Dexus, the managing company behind Smithfield, has had to intervene to change the rules and prevent some innovative, if not cheeky shoppers from presenting multiple shopping dockets, that didn't belong to them.

Desperate mum's and children have been stalking customers in the car park, asking for their receipts, outside Dan Murphy's Liquor on Friday nights, and and asking for their receipts.

"We found that a few schools were standing out in the carpark asking people for their receipts," Smithfield Centre marketing manager, Deborah McKilligan told CairnsBlog. "We felt that that was against the spirit of the competition. We saw that was soliciting people and so we amended the rules, as was our right. We informed all the schools to please not do that."

"To be fair, it wasn't against the conditions, more against the spirit. The schools that did that, had to be commended on their initiative. It's been interesting to watch the more competitive schools have really found different ways to go around and get people behind them," Deborah McKilligan said.

CairnsBlog can also reveal that some staff in supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths have been printing duplicate receipts and taking them to the customer service desk to boost their nominated school. Deborah McKilligan said they having been accepting duplicate shopping receipts. "We've also spoken to the supermarkets to make sure this doesn't happen."

Some schools have put street banners up in their neighbourhood, letterbox dropped, and even door-knocked every house in their suburb, encouraging shoppers to support them.

McKiligan is unsure if the campaign has increased revenue for local stores, however acknowledges the exercise has been a success on other levels.

"I think as a community engagement exercise, it's been quite good."A spokesperson from Cairns Central, says they haven't had many problems with the way people were participating in the campaign, however was aware of the tricks people play, and has tightened up the rules. Anna, who has run a similar campaign in another State, says she's seen it all before.

"The mum's and dad's get smart. They stand outside grab all the dockets from the mothers. However we worked a way through that so people didn't bring in a fist-full of dockets," Anna said. "Because the smart schools, that's the way to go."

The Smithfield promotion, which has run for 10 weeks, has Caravonica and Yorkeys Knob State schools neck in neck, with Trinity Anglican at Kewarra Beach, a distant third place. There's $10,000 up for grabs, with $2,500 and $1,000 for second and third places.

Taking the lead in Cairns Central is McDonnell Creek, followed by Bartle Frere; St Rita's Catholic; Aloomba; Kairi; Freshwater Christian; Alexandra Bay; Radiant Life; Machans Beach; and St Francis Xavier. A prize pool of $35,000 will be shared among the top ten.

A school principal on the Northern Beaches said the vigor of the campaign reflected to a degree, the tight economic climate that Cairns has been facing.

"I think people are finding it very difficult [financially] and even for funding extras at our school, it's impossible, so we see this in fund-raising," he said.

Sugarworld could be open by Christmas: Cr Rob Pyne

Councillor Rob Pyne will today seek to rescind a motion for Cairns Regional Council to undertake a feasibility study to replace old waterslides at the Edmonton Sugarworld facility.


Robert Pyne has had hundreds of calls from locals, upset that the waterpark will be closed indefinitely, pending a study into the future of the leisure park.

Many simply want the slides repaired and reopened in time for the next season.

If the original motion is dropped, Pyne will seek support to move immediately to seek out suppliers to replace the four wateslides that are deemed unsuitable and in need of replacement.

It is also believed that the $4 million believed to be allocated in the 2010/11 budget, could be halved, and this could sway many to support the alternative motion.

In light of the expected 5% general rate rise, this could be a wise move for Council.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Blogging from the top of Australia

I've just landed in Bamaga.
This is just 30 kms from the northernmost tip of Cape York, Australia, about 2,700 k north of Brisbane, and just over 1,000 k from Cairns.
Only 800 locals live in this far flung place, situated on Urradhi traditional land, which is now centre for three Aboriginal communities of Injinoo, Umagico and New Mapoon, and also Islander communities of Seisia and Bamaga.
I've 4WD across a lot of Cape York over the past 10 years, but this is the first visit to Bamaga, however I have some expert guides, and there's not a pollie in sight.
Over the next three days I have a few interesting assignments to complete, including sussing out what locals think of the Wild River legislation that will cause huge changes as the State and Federal Labor Governments redefine what local folk are allowed to do own their own land and on and alongside these important rivers.
I'll share some interesting local stories from this stunning piece of far north and remote Queensland. Oh, and I hope to drop a line and catch a few fish.

Foley Road, Palm Cove developer up to tricks again

Another development application is on its way back to Cairns Regional Council tomorrow for the notorious Foley Road, near Palm Cove.

A development application for the hillslope overlooking Palm Cove is being submitted by CANAS Pty Ltd.

This is the second time that this application has come before Council, with the first application being refused.

During 2008, CairnsBlog exposed through a series of revealing videos with local environmentalist Terry Spackman, appalling land management of the steep hillside slope. Council were slow to act and every drop of vegetation was removed, with few adequate sediment traps protecting run-off into the adjoining creek system.

Officers have again recommended refusal, but those wishing to make sure that this happens, should contact their Councillors today.

CairnsBlog on YouTube - Foley Road Development -
Citizen's inspection



Monday, 21 June 2010

Cairns, Barron River and Mulgrave targeted by new party

Wendy Richardson will today join the new Queensland Party, along with at least 10 members of the LNP. Branches in the state electorates of Cairns, Barron River and Mulgrave are all being formed.


Aidan McLindon, Member for Beaudesert, says Wendy Richardson has a wealth of knowledge about issues that are important to the residents of Far North Queensland.

"She is acutely aware of what is desperately needed in this beautiful part of Queensland," McLindon says. "She has twice been a candidate in previous state elections, and in fact, at the last election, beat the current Labor Member, Steve Wettenhall, on primary votes."

"Wendy has a unique skill set and an unwavering motivation to seeing Queensland get back on track."

Richardson, who resigned from the LNP in May, said that she was excited and optimistic about the future of Queensland now that there was a third political dynamic.

"This party has been born out of the community's immense dissatisfaction with the two existing parties and their lack of real representation. It will succeed because it will be founded on a commitment to integrity and ethical behaviour," Wendy Richardson says. "It also has a central belief in the need for a member of Parliament to represent their electorate first and foremost, even over and above their party where necessary. And it exists to represent the people, which is the most important point to me".

Richardson believed that McLindon had the balance right when it came to matters that were important to Queenslanders.

“It is time for Queensland to be the first priority – this is what is needed, and this is what The Queensland Party will deliver. Steve Wettenhall has failed to be an advocate for the people of Barron River. North Queensland will no longer tolerate being taken for granted".

"There is only one set of people I want to be answerable to – the voters," Wendy Richardson says.

Racism and hatred enter public housing row on Cairns beaches

"I'm speechless. I'm really horrified," Fred Morris, president of the Regional Tenant Advisory Group told CairnsBlog as he viewed the anti-public housing graffiti at Palm Cove on the weekend.

"I really don't know what to say. It's a slur on all Australians, and they should be before the full force of the law and condemned by community. If they have leadership aspirations, may your god and my god protect us." Fred Morris said.

"What must they who fled for their lives to this country [in the 2nd World War], they must be horrified. How do I know? My wife was one of those people who fled Europe she was just that."

A 'Nazi Swastika', "Jihad" and "No Public" are among the signs sprayed onto the Palm Cove eight-unit public housing complex, that is being constructed on the corner of Harpa and Oliva Streets, just two blocks from the beachside.
Public housing is about unifying a community, Fred Morris says, and is shocked at how misplaced this graffiti is.
Morris says that the first public housing was built in 1942, as the government was getting ready for soldiers coming home from war.
"This included migrants, from Scotland, Ireland and Italy. Of course back then we had down in Bunda Street, we had 1,800 called wharfies, those who worked in timber mills, railway and the brewery. It was alive and well. They took people out of it."

Morris believes that a Howard government would never have done put such substantial investment in public housing.
"Not under a conservative government. There has been only one person from that side who has stood up and put something in writing, and that is Senator Russell Trood," Fred Morris says. "He came out and supported it. He said there's a very big role for public housing as a stop-gap between the ability to buy your own home, but people in lesser need still needing a home."

"Housing is a fundamental human right," Fred Morris says. "There were red herrings like air conditioning or parking. Then they try to profile us [public housing tenants] against others that are above us in their wealth or status." Fred Morris says.
"We in public housing have had to tolerate that for 65 years. What they don't realise is that we've created a culture, we've passed onto our children, that knowledge. If you've noticed, not one of my public housing people, come out and play the NIMBY game. They stick to their facts. Fred says that the protagonists have got little idea of the housing being constructed.
"They got no idea the style of housing, what's in them. While I don't play politics, as far as I'm concerned, I'd do every possible thing I can, to get any one who runs for the LNP, not to be elected. I don't mean that out of vengeance, but the cold hard fact when you look at Warren [Entsch], when you look at Langbroek, Greg Hunt, Joe Hockey, they stood there, on the back of the truck, putting down their own Australian people. They were defining where people could live," Fred Morris says.
"They alienated us. No matter what Warren Encth and that lot do, the community that I circle within, will never forgive them for the stance they've taken," Fred Morris says. "They say that people like Steve Wettenhall didn't do anything. That's rubbish. He set up meetings with the minister. Steve's office was under constant visitation. He never turned them away."

"The other side of this argument got caught out. They said this area is too expensive, we can't have them here. They were only hiding what was behind them."

Fred said there was an under-lying racism that was often behind arguments from some angry locals.

"We needled them for weeks before one fella from Palm Cove came out and said, 'Alright, I'll tell you. It's a black thing.' "

"If you want the social housing for those that are less well-off than the rest, a conservative government will never do that. It's always a socialist government that will support this. It's a cold hard fact," Fred Morris says. "I was born in public housing. Therefore my mum was in public housing. My children have been in public housing, so we've got a generation that is built on a culture of this."

Fred Morris at Trinty Park, Bluewater - Part 1



Fred Morris at Palm Cove - Part 2

Jim on Facebook

"The National Broadband Network a lot closer now deal done with Telstra. It's going to be great for FNQ."

- Jim Turnour, Facebook. Monday 21st June 2010

Call for a High Court challenge against Wild Rivers legislation

The call by traditional owners in Cape York in far north Queensland that taxpayers should be funding a High Court challenge against the State Government's Wild Rivers legislation has been supported by LNP candidate for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch.

Native Title holders want the legislation overturned and have lodged a writ in the High Court of Australia claiming it is invalid and racially discriminating.

Mr Entsch said he had been campaigning in support of the Traditional Owners since the Wild Rivers legislation was first declared.

"I am disgusted at the way indigenous communities and other Cape York residents, attempting to develop social and economic futures for themselves, had been effectively sidelined by a centralist and paternalistic Labor state government who have allowed policy to be developed by the Wilderness Society, a southern-based extremist group masquerading as an environmental organisation," Warren Entsch said today.

Entsch says he's appalled at the way many communities had their pleas for effective consultation ignored by a Labor Government that had secretively “done a deal with the devil.”

“I have given a commitment to the people of Cape York that I will fight this draconian legislation. By his silence, the current Federal member [Jim Turnour] had been complicit in the deal that has seen so many people in so many communities have their potential for economic and social opportunity ripped from them," Warren Entsch says.

“We in the LNP have been supportive of the traditional owners to the extent that we’ve had Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, to the far North on three separate occasions this year to support the case they’re mounting."

Entsch says Abbott has done his part by tabling a Private Members Bill to overturn the legislation.

“We’re awaiting the outcome of a Senate Committee’s investigation into the matter, however we’re not at all confident given that it’s a Labor Party dominated committee,” Entsch says. “We’re concerned that the inquiry has been deliberately manipulated to ensure the outcome is favourable to the extreme green complexion so desired by Labor in the lead up to the Federal Election.

“In fact I’d go so far as to say that the entire process has been orchestrated in cahoots with the Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation,” Warren Entsch says.

There were 33 written submissions presented. 26, or around or 80%, were directly favourable to Abbott’s Private Members Bill or otherwise advocated strengthening of Native Title and indigenous land rights.

Entsch says that the legal case was an important constitutional matter and needed to be properly dealt with.

"Given this, the Federal Government in particular, should be funding this as an important test case."

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.


Attempted robbery, Parramatta Park:
Detectives are investigating the attempted robbery of a 25-year-old woman on Saturday night. The woman was riding her bicycle along Martyn Street when she was approached by two men who pushed her from her bicycle and attempted to steal her handbag. The victim screamed out and the two offenders then ran off along Gatton Street. She sustained minor bruising and grazing as a result of the incident. The men are described as being dark skinned and aged approximately 17 years.

Man charged over traffic crash:
A 24-year-old Edmonton man was charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle yesterday after investigations into a traffic crash at Freshwater on April 10. It is alleged that at about 2.00pm on that date the man lost control of his Holden sedan near the intersection of Corkill Street and Old Freshwater Road causing it to collide with a power pole. He is scheduled to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court on July 9.

High range drink drivers continue to create concern:
Smithfield Police were called to the scene of a traffic crash at the intersection of Machans Beach Access Road and Christensen Street at Machans Beach at about 5.30am on Saturday. It is alleged that a 26-year-old local man returned a breath alcohol reading of 0.195%. He was charged with driving a motor vehicle whilst under the influence of liquor or a drug and is due to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court on July 8.

In another concerning incident, a 57-year-old Palm Cove woman is due to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court on July 5 after being intercepted her on the Captain Cook Highway at about 11.40 pm on Friday. The woman allegedly returned a breath alcohol reading 0.165% after Mossman Police allegedly observed her north-bound vehicle being driven erratically. She was charged with driving a motor vehicle whilst under the influence of liquor or a drug.

Edmonton Police plead with residents to secure vehicles:
Thieves hit a number of soft targets in Mt Sheridan over the weekend and all too easily made off with property. A laptop computer, headphones and cigarettes were stolen from an unlocked vehicle after the garage door had been left open at a Melville Close residence overnight on Saturday.

In another similar incident at Mt Sheridan on Saturday night, thieves stole a wallet, a music player, shoes and a backpack from unlocked vehicle in Bromley Close.

Edmonton Police are also investigating the attempted theft of a Nissan sedan from an Alderman Street residence early on Sunday morning. Thieves entered the unlocked vehicle and rolled it out onto the street before being disturbed and running off.

New Queensland Party may join with North Queensland party

The recently announced Queensland Party, established by LNP detractor Aidan McLindon, MP for Beaudesert, is expected to discuss amalgamations with the North Queensland Party today.


"Everything is on the table and up for discussion," a party insider told CairnsBlog, who didn't wish to be named. "Yes, it's on that cards, and makes a degree of sense. We should pool our resources."
The North Queensland Party has had difficulty in gaining traction and widespread public support, and so far, has failed to reach the magical 500 number to formally register as a party. The NQP was established in Cairns soon after the last Queensland state election, in a reaction to the main two parties that they said, ignored far north Queensland.
"It's a fundamental flaw in our two party preferred electoral system," secretary Matthew Filippi says.. "While the two major parties are kicking each other for brownie points in the larger populations the smaller communities miss out. This is precisely what the NQP want to change. A North Queensland Party who can fight for Rural and Regional Queensland to get North Queensland’s fair share of funding."

Cairns Regional Councilor Rob Pyne, who had thrown his support behind the NQP, has recently distanced himself from the organisation, and indicating he may not have further involvement.

Pyne, who was a member of Val Schier's Cairns 1st Alliance in the lead up to the 2008 local body elections, but went it alone and toppled then Deputy Mayor Terry James for the Division 3 seat, has long advocated to be an independent. He has also detached himself from his Labor roots. Critics of Pyne, say he is becoming a populist politician.

Aidan McLindon arrives back in Cairns this morning for a two day visit, and will seek formal public support from former LNP candidate, Wendy Richardson, who is yet to announce joining the party.

Richardson has said she will contest the Barron River seat as an independent at the next State election in 2012. She is also tipped for a senior role in the new party.

A former adviser to the Leader of the Opposition, who resigned after being appalled at the lack of direction of the LNP, is also set to join The Queensland Party. Jessica Christmas, who resigned in May after warning that "insanity" prevailed in the opposition leader's office, says she is delighted to join the party.

"Aidan has shown courage and conviction in terms of his vision for Queensland", Christmas says. "It is a refreshing change to see someone who is determined to put Queensland first and that is why I have decided to join the new Party".

Christmas says that in recent weeks, many disenfranchised members of the LNP had communicated to her their increasing support in relation to The Queensland Party. The Mt Coot-tha State Electoral Council Chair, Peter Hamilton, has also recently quit the LNP.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

David Anthony: A rock book to Rave On about

CairnsBlog music reviewer, David Anthony writes that Dick Stewart’s rock book, Eleven Unsung Heroes of Early Rock and Roll is to rave on about.

SUBTITLED Historic Contributions by Artists You Never Heard Of, rock musician/journalist Dick Stewart’s new book is my kind of read - and it should be all lovers of rock'n'roll.

Not only is it concerned with the golden era of rock, Eleven Unsung Heroes opens the vaults of history and retrieves authentic pioneers from that wonderful era.

While you may not have heard of the likes of Jack Ely, Keith McCormack, Sonny Curtis, Sonny West or Larry Knechtel, you will know the music where their creative contribution was significant.

If the titles of such old hits of the 1960s like “Louie Louie”, “Sugar Shack”, “Wheels” and “I Fought the Law” don’t immediately ring a bell, check them out on YouTube. You will know them when you hear them.

Perhaps the best known of the “Unsung Heroes” of the title is the King of the Fuzz Guiar, Davie Allan, who I have written about previously. A virtually anonymous session musician for Mike Curb’s record labels in the 1960s, Davie’s influential soundtrack for Roger Corman’s The Wild Angels set the standard for cycle cinema despite the fact he didn’t get an on-screen credit.

The film’s instrumental theme, “Blues Theme”, was a huge hit for Davie and his music was a mainstay on several iconic films of that time such as Wild in the Streets, The Glory Stompers and Devil’s Angels.

Influential rock producer Curb’s surname suits him for his has curbed Davie’s career for the best part of the past 50 years. Stewart acknowledges this, but tries to see things Curb’s way: “Curb was and still is a very busy man. And, like all record producers of note past and present who agonise over the very short life span of their product, he has focused from the very beginning of his career on projects that he feels best serves his needs monetarily, no matter how it might make others feel.”

Despite the setbacks, Davie is going strong with concerts and recordings to this day, most recently Retrophonic, and some of his ’60s tracks are used in Quentin Tarantino’s recent pictures.

Jack Ely from Portland, Oregon, the “home of frat rock” (think National Lampoon’s Animal House), was one of the original Kingsmen.

The band’s cover of Richard Berry’s “Louie Louie”, featuring what Stewart describes as Ely’s controversial unintelligible vocalisation”, was a sensation. A huge hit, its cult status was enhanced when fans tried to comprehend the lyrics and imagined there was swearing and smut going on. Even the FBI investigated the lyrics during, one imagines, a brief lull in the Cold War.

Check out YouTube for a fairly accurate transcription of the songs nonsensical words.

Guitarist/singer Sonny Curtis from Buddy Holly’s The Crickets wrote the Bobby Fuller Four hit, “I Fought the Law”, the Everly Brothers’ “Walk Right Back” and, in the 1970s, the theme for the popular TV series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Jimmy Torres, a member of the almost forgotten guitar band, the String-A-Longs. Legendary record producer Norman Petty gave the band its awful name, but they were hitmakers in the 1960s, especially “Wheels” which is now a standard.

Singer/songwriter Robert Kelly, who wrote songs for Gene Vincent, performed between the strip acts at Jack Ruby’s nightclubs in Dallas. (Jack Ruby? Yes, Lee Harvey Oswald’s killer).

“He (Ruby) was a bisexual,” Kelly tells Stewart, “so he would bring the strippers from the nightclub so all the guys would come around, and then he would hit on them.”

Sonny West co-wrote “Rave On” and “Oh Boy!” for himself, but they become classics for Buddy Holly. Guitarists George Tomsco and Keith McCormack were members of the Fireballs, an early surf guitar band.

They hated the catchy riff producer Norman Petty added to “Sugar Shack” and thought the song would fail, but today it’s the riff we remember so well.

An interesting addition to the “Unsung Eleven” is country and western musician and music salesman Clyde Hankins who didn’t especially like rock’n’roll. He nurtured such talents as Buddy Holly and Sonny Curtis and probably sold Holly his first Fender Stratocaster.

Los Angeles keyboardist Larry Knechtel was a prolific session musician throughout the 1950s to the 1970s recording with Elvis, the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Papas, the Ventures, Simon and Garfunkel (on “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”), Nancy Sinatra, Jerry Garcia, Sting, the Dixie Chicks and many more.

If you ever meet this bloke, you will only be about two degrees from just about every rock star in America. Rounding out the book is Buddy Holly and the Crickets’ drummer Carl Bunch.

Eleven Unsung Heroes is the kind of book that will dog-ear quickly. I keep it handy when I surf through YouTube reacquainting myself with great old rock songs and discovering ones I didn’t know about.

It doesn’t matter where you live in the world, you can order a first edition copy of Eleven Unsung Heroes of Early Rock and Roll from Dick Stewart’s website for the bargain price $25.

Not only that, Dick will personally sign it for you. Get rockin’ for a piece of unforgettable music history.

Labor facing wipeout after NSW by-election

Labor is facing a total wipeout after a disastrous NSW by-election, so say Linda Silmalis and Claire Harvey in The Sunday Telegraph today.

A swing of 25% to the Coalition and swings of 35% recorded at some polling booth. "Rudd is a dead man walking if this is anything to go by," says Carl Butcher.
  • LABOR is facing political oblivion, with Premier Kristina Keneally having failed to woo angry western Sydney voters in Penrith.

    In a devastating result for the State Government, Liberal candidate Stuart Ayres annihilated Labor, with former mayor John Thain suffering a two-party preferred swing of more than 25 per cent.

    Across the polling booths, swings of up to 35 per cent were recorded in favour of the Coalition as voters turned their back on Labor. Labor needs to lose only six seats to hand government to the Coalition.

How many $10 light bulbs does it take to change the world?

This one is doing the rounds, so I thought I'd share.

I still like a more intelligent approach to using and abusing our limited natural resources. The waste culture we have embraced over the last 20 years, in excessive and needless packaging for one example, is extraordinary. There's no doubt that some much pollution could have been avoided.

Rudd's stalling of his climate emissions tax, created a political ice age on the debate. Now it seems the other hot potato, Labor's internet filter, will also be shelved until after the Federal election.

Needless to say, the flat earth society folk like our very own Lance Royce will wet their pants over this little tale. Grab a Sunday morning cuppa before you turn The Insiders on...

  • "All of you out there across the globe who have fought so hard to tackle the hideous enemy of our planet, namely carbon emissions, you know ....that bogus god you worship of “Climate Change” or “Global Warming” ....well, I feel it is necessary to inform you of some bad news. It really does pain me to have to bring you this disappointing information.

    Okay, here's the bombshell. The volcanic eruption in Iceland, since its first spewing of volcanic ash has, in just FOUR DAYS, NEGATED EVERY SINGLE EFFORT you have made in the past five years to control CO2 emissions on our planet - all of you even One Hung Lo and Ooo Flung Dung in China.

    Of course you know about this evil carbon dioxide that we are trying to suppress - it’s that vital chemical compound that every plant requires to live and grow and to synthesise into oxygen for us humans and all animal life.

    I know, I know.... (group hug)...it's very disheartening to realise that all of the carbon emission savings you have accomplished while suffering the inconvenience and expense of: driving Prius hybrids, buying fabric grocery bags, sitting up till midnight to finish your kid's "The Green Revolution" science project, throwing out all of your non-green cleaning supplies, using only two squares of toilet paper, putting a brick in your toilet tank reservoir, selling your SUV and speedboat, vacationing at home instead of Bali, nearly getting hit every day on your bicycle, replacing all of your $1 light bulbs with $10 light bulbs ....well, all of those things you have done have all gone down the tubes in just four days.

    The volcanic ash emitted into the Earth's atmosphere in just four days - yes - FOUR DAYS ONLY by that volcano in Iceland, has totally erased every single effort you have made to reduce the evil beast, carbon. And there are around 200 active volcanoes on the planet spewing out this crud any one time - EVERY DAY.

    Oh, I don't really want to rain on your parade too much, but I should mention that when the volcano Mt Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, it spewed out more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the entire human race had emitted in its entire 40 MILLION YEARS on earth. Yes folks, Mt Pinatubo was active for over one year - think about it.

    Of course I shouldn't spoil this touchy-feely tree-hugging moment and mention the effect of solar and cosmic activity and the well-recognised 800-year global heating and cooling cycle, which keep happening, despite our completely insignificant efforts to affect climate change.

    I'm so sorry. And I do wish I had a silver lining to this volcanic ash cloud but the fact of the matter is that the bush fire season across the western USA and Australia this year alone will negate your efforts to reduce carbon in our world for the next two to three years. And it happens every year.

    Just remember that your government just tried to impose a whopping carbon tax on you on the basis of the bogus “human-caused” climate change scenario.

    Hey, isn’t it interesting how they don’t mention “Global Warming” any more, but just “Climate Change” - you know why? It’s because the planet has COOLED by 0.7 degrees in the past century and these global warming bullshit artists got caught with their pants down.

    But hey, grab a XXXX Gold and give the world a hug and have a nice day!

    PS: I wonder if Iceland is buying carbon offsets? Ask Kevin Rudd, he has all the answers!!


Here's the graph that Syd Walker pointed me too, that contradicts this rumour doing the rounds on the net:

Saturday, 19 June 2010

So, it's an offence to use your fog lights now

Way back in August 2007, I wrote a rant about getting pissed off with those dickheads, as I called them, who insist on using their fog lights as well as their normal car headlights.

It is something that never gets policed, but is bloody annoying when you've got four lights coming towards you instead on the usual two.

Well, tonight, low and behold, Senior Constable Anthony Kirkham was busy pulling people over on the Northern Beaches, for exactly this.

"It's an offence," Kirkham said. "I'm just warning everyone tonight, but the fact is you're not allowed to use fog lights unless the [weather] condition is poor."

This is music to my eyes. I know many Cairns' drivers have slopped into this SDS syndrome to almost blind everyone in the approaching lane.

Flick em off you guys, or we'll flash our headlights at you. Dickhead.

28,924 Queenslanders sign petition against licence fee increase

Yet again our debt-ridden state government are trying to round up more donations for their coffers.

A five-year licence will go from $73.30 to $96.05 after July 1st, then to $152.50 by 2014, making Queensland the highest-charging State. It's a 22% rise over last year, following a statewide 9.2% increase in fuel after the subsidy was removed.

The cost of other licences and cards will also go up, from learner's permits, boat licences and proof of age card (formerly 18+ card).

This follows a massive increase in vehicle registration, fuel tax, electricity charges... the list goes on.

The licence increases are all to support a new digital driver's licence, which was to be a cost-neutral project but will now cost $110 million.

The online ePetition reads...
  • "Queensland residents draw to the attention of the House the Government's proposal to double the cost of Queensland Drivers Licences to more than $150, making Queensland licences the most expensive in the Nation. These changes, along with hikes in vehicle registration costs, the new State fuel tax, and above CPI increases for tolls make Queensland the most expensive State in Australia to be a motorist."
To date, 28,924 have requested the Queensland Parliament oppose the massive increase in Queensland drivers licence charges.

To sign the petition, you must be a resident of Queensland and old enough to understand what is it you're are signing. This will exclude some politicians. The ePetition closes on 29th July 2010.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Hugh Whitehouse on sports

"I'm pretty sure that if Australia lose to Ghana on Saturday somehow, somewhere people will blame Kevin Rudd."

FNQ unemployment down to 8.9%

Far North Queensland’s unemployment rate has dropped to 8.9%, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released yesterday.


Member for Leichhardt Jim Turnour says he knows many small businesses are still doing it tough, but says this is good sign that shows the region is rebuilding.

"With economic stimulus projects like school upgrades, social housing developments and road projects underway in the region, they were creating and supporting jobs in the region," Jim Turnour says. "Also, domestic and international flights into Cairns are on the rise."

“I’ve been working hard to attract new flights to Cairns; the government has provided additional marketing support and aviation regulatory reforms, and we are seeing positive results as a result of this.”

The latest tourism data released by the Australian Government shows Tropical North Queensland has outperformed the rest of Australia, increasing its share of domestic overnight tourism expenditure to 4% at a time when spending has remained flat at a national level.

Visitors to the region had the highest spend among Australia's top 20 destinations, and the average length of stay was six nights - higher than any other destination in the top 20.

A second Jobs Expo will be held in Cairns, following one in December that generated around 400 jobs.

"I’m looking forward to another good turn out this time,” Turnour said.

New Queensland Party wants a "brighter and more accountable" government

Just a couple of weeks old, The Queensland Party has come up with six initiatives to "pave the way for a brighter and more accountable government" in Queensland.

The default leader and only sitting MP of the new party, Aidan McLindon, member for Beaudesert, who said at the party launch, we are faced with two options: one of incompetence and one of complacency, believes the current flawed political process is costing Queensland dearly as a result of minimal public and political scrutiny.

"Quite frankly, the people of this once great state have had a gutful of the political process as it stands", McLindon says. "These initiatives will underpin a parliamentary reform process that will ensure a return of accountability to this Parliament, and give the people of Queensland a real choice regarding the direction we are headed in."

The ambitious McLindon says that this is a unique opportunity for Queenslanders to change the political landscape as we now know it, "in order to see this magnificent state at its full potential." Do we really believe any polly can change the world for us? Certainly us folk in FNQ, suffering from wall-to-wall Labor pains, might be a bit cynical.

McLindon and his cohorts are striving for...

  1. The re-introduction of the Upper House to implement a real checkpoint of accountability. This model will not create an increase in politicians and will be different to the model that was abolished in 1922.

  2. Abolish the current electorate allowance system. This will be replaced with a more accountable method which will increase the transparency of allowances, and will include mechanisms to curb tax-payer funded political advertising.

  3. Work with local councils across the state to ensure the dumping of rubbish becomes cost-free within five years. This will be done by using existing fees and charges to fund the technology required to turn waste into sustainable and useful by-products.

  4. Amend the time limits that apply to speeches in Parliament. This will partly address the widespread public disengagement in the current parliamentary process.

  5. A "Royalties for Regions" approach to ensure that rural and regional Queensland get a fair share of mining royalties. This will ensure that frontline services are provided in these communities in the areas of health and education, in addition to essential services.

  6. An increase in vehicle registration to those convicted of driving offences. This would allow an offset for greater discounts for pensioners, and those who abide the laws.

Pets pooping in the park - this Saturday

520k bicycle tour to fundraise for CAFNEC

There's only just over a week to register for the FNQ Wilderness Bicycle Tour, if you want to receive the early bird discount.

Last year's event was a great success.

The tour runs from the Saturday 18th to Saturday 25th September.
Over eight days, this 520 km ride climbs through the World Heritage rainforest-covered mountains behind Cardwell, to Blencoe Falls, the Herbert River, Innot Hot Springs, Ravenshoe, Lake Tinaroo and through to Copperlode Dam, and back down to Cairns.

Half of the trip is is on sealed roads, and half on dirt roads, so you'll need a mountain bike or a touring bike with wider tyres.

The ride is a fundraising event for Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC), which will use monies raised to further their core objective, to protect and enhance the natural environment of far north Queensland, through conservation and ecological sustainability.

Entry fees:
Adult
$540.00 (up to 30 June 2010).
$250 Deposit
$590 after 1 July 2010
$50 Rail Transfer Cairns to Cardwell


13-18yrs:
$300 up to 30 June.
$150 Deposit
$350.00 after 1 July

$50 Rail Transfer Cairns to Cardwell

7 - 12 yrs:
$240
$50 Rail Transfer Cairns to Cardwell


Any questions, contact the ride co-ordinator, Su Groome.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Watching John "hillbilly" Mackenzie

Another blog joins the free-thought debate in Cairns today.

The John Mackenzie Hillbilly Watch is the work of Mick Glennie of Edge HiIl.

Mick says he was convinced to start the online forum after a bloke called "Jim from Caravonica" went on John Mackenzie's radio show last Friday, whilst Cairns Regional Council Mayor, Val Schier was his guest.

"He gave Mackenzie holy hell, accusing him of race baiting and community divisiveness," Mick Glennie says. "All true in my book."

"The caller specifically went after Mackenzie's 'poll' that indicated 90% of Cairns did not want the mayor's Performing Arts centre. As 'Jim' put it, Mackenzie's polls are biased because Mackenzie's listeners comprise 'only 300 hillbillies'," Mick says.

"Given Mackenzie's reaction, and his continued attack on 'Jim of Caravonica' since, I decided to start a blog to allow the community to highlight the untruths and 'hillbilly' comments continually given credence on this programme," Glennie says. "I don't know who 'Jim' is, but I have the greatest respect for his pointing out Mackenzie's continued ridiculous behaviour."

In his first posting, Mick Glennie asks readers to "post all John Mackenzie lies, mis-statements, racist comments" ...
  • John Mackenzie is a "Cash for Comment" radio host in Cairns, Queensland on Radio Station 4CA.

    He uses his program to bash those he doesn't like in State and Local Government, although on the occasion when he can snag an interview with the Premier or Federal Minister, he can't get down on his knees fast enough to show his appreciation.

    He walks around the CBD sponging free meals off advertisers and potential advertisers, all of course tax free.

    Mackenzie spent a week bashing Mayor Val Schier and her visionary plan to create a Performing Arts Precinct on the wharf, which included a "poll" of Mackenzie’s listeners.

    On Friday, remarkably, a member of the arts community in Cairns - "Jim of Caravonica" called into the Mayor's hour and proceeded to support wholly the Mayor's vision, but also called Mackenzie’s so-called poll worthless and said "a poll of your 300 Hillbilly Listeners means NOTHING!"

    Mackenzie has used his bully pulpit long enough.

    He's been charged by ACMA on more than one occasion for his racial vilification, foul and abusive language, and most recently his lies regarding the "Cash for Comment", where he attempted to shake down Mayor Schier's council management for weekly payments just to allow the Mayor to take phone calls! A "public service" previously provided by 4CA for free, of course keeping in mind that the airwaves are owned by the public.

    When you hear any disgusting or abusive remarks by Mackenzie, please write in and we'll post them!

Criticise public figures all you like, but after four years blogging away in this redneck paradise we call home - a year of that under a semi-Nazi state of Sargent Major Kevin Byrne - I''m a bit more street wise. I'm also careful with what I know is a fact, and what I think is a rumour. I hope Mick Glennie, who says he's in the telecommunications industry, is ready for the letter that may arrive from John's minders in the next few days. You can email him here.

All blogs in the great Cairns and Far North region, appear in the CairnsBlog Blogroll, found in the right-hand sidebar.

10 wallabies, and they weren't playing soccer

10 wallabies have been found slaughtered at a soccer oval at White Rock, South Cairns.

Many of the wallabies had joeys in their pouches. It is believed the wallabies were killed by uncontrolled dogs from neighboring homes.

So far, no witnesses have come forward.

Local laws officers from Cairns Regional Council are keen to hear any information. Telephone 4044 3044.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Corruption levelled at Cairns Councillor for mixing business with pleasure

For 10 years Councillor Alan Blake has been using a Council-funded mobile telephone for what could amount to tens of thousands of dollars in personal calls.


Since at least 2000, Alan Blake has been using a council-funded mobile telephone account - 0414 708 529 - for his personal businesses.

In late January, I released evidence of his latest business where yet again he was using the official Council mobile telephone to promote and market his private business. It sparked a large response from CairnsBlog readers.

I subsequently put in a formal complaint to Council about Blake's ratepayer-funded phone for his private businesses.

Today's Council finance meeting, chaired by Cr Linda Cooper, will vote if Alan Blake has breached the Councillor's Code of Conduct. Ironically, Alan Blake used to chair this same committee until a majority of his colleagues lost faith with him last July, the only committee chair to be changed. The following month, he was booted out of his office.

Following my complaint, Council commissioned independent investigator Anthony Walsh to undertake a formal investigation. In what Walsh called "Operation Bottlebrush" he found that Blake had breached of the Moral Code of Conduct for Councillors.

“Cr Blake has made an error of judgement in having the mobile telephone number of the Council funded service printed on the subject business cards," Walsh wrote in his report. "To that end we believe that Councillor Blake has committed a minor breach of the Moral Code of Conduct for Councillors (Local Government Act 1993, the Act) in relation to ethics principles for local government councillors."

Chief Executive Officer Lyn Russell says that it is argued that the breach of the Code is a minor breach of Blake’s "ethical obligations with respect of the use of Council entitlements."

Russell said the report was prepared in accordance with Corporate Plan Objectives to ensure that Council is "open, accountable, ethical and financially responsible." "Should Council resolve that a breach has occurred this will then be recorded in [the] 2010/2011 annual report," Lyn Russell says.

Cairns Regional Council, and its predecessor, Cairns City Council, has never granted permission for Blake to use the mobile number for non-Council matters, especially in such an overt and flagrant manner, by advertising it on numerous businesses as a private commercial number.

CairnsBlog is seeking Blake's phone records over the preceding years he has served as an elected councillor.

Whilst the investigation into his latest use of the mobile telephone on a company called "Mogo" failed to get going, the investigator said the intent was there.

Mayor Val Schier, speaking from Canberra this morning, where she is attending the National General Assembly of Local Government, told CairnsBlog that the report is thorough.

"I hope that the Councillors will look at suitable actions to take," Val Schier said. "Lyn's done a good job of getting it investigated and has been very professional about it."

Councillors who talked with CairnsBlog last evening, were quick to express their discomfort with the issue, saying that there should be clear separation and transparency when dealing with public funds.

Councillor Julia Leu said it was a "no brainer" and "so obvious" that councillor-provided mobiles are for official business.

"It's always been understood that it's for council business," Julia Leu said. "There's a zero-tolerance with misuse of a council asset. Who has the time to run another business anyway?"

Councillors are entitled to claim 50 percent of their home telephone costs and also their internet, however some choose not to do this. Councillors Leu and Lesina don't claim this entitlement.

"It's certainly inappropriate," Kirsten Lesina said. "I have a personal mobile as well, and rarely use the council one for any other calls." Lesina said her monthly mobile bill is between $100 and $160, and there's usually a few dollars of personal calls she pays for. "Yes, it's like not much at all, maybe $10, but I have my own mobile for that."

Both Councillor Pyne and Forsyth said it was "totally inappropriate" to use a council-paid mobile for personal use.

Councillor Paul Gregory says there's "some grey areas" that he will seek advice from the finance team.

"The grey areas to me are whether or not the policy was articulated to him [Blake] initially or not," Gregory said. "There is an opportunity to use his old phone number and pay it back. Whether or not he's made a bad error of judgement, one that I would have personally got clear beforehand, I'll have to wait and see. There is some thought going around that this is a code of conduct breach."

"My phone for example, is my own phone, it was clearly articulated to me," Paul Gregory said. "The old Council policy [pre-2008] was simply to get a phone allowance. Under this new Council, Blackberrys were provided if you wished, but I didn't want to do that. I'm still a bit leery about the technology and seen them breaking down. But we have a policy around this phone."

Some councillors confirmed that Alan Blake had boasted on previous occasions that he doesn't have a personal mobile and he "charges it all up."

"It's clear to me and anyone that the Council mobile is for Council business," Diane Forsyth said. "I have two mobiles, and don't use my Council mobile for personal stuff hardly at all. You really shouldn't even have to be told."

The investigator says the the intent to operate Blake's private business was surely there at some point.

"To that end as the business cards had been printed with the mobile telephone number of a service paid for by Council, it would seem that there was intent on that part of Councillor Blake to have used those business cards to promote the business," Anthony Walsh said. "In light of the evidence gathered and the admissions made by Councillor Blake, we believe he have made an error of judgement. We believe he has breached the following ethics principle:
  • 'Councillors must conduct themselves in a way that promotes and maintains the public's trust and confidence in the local government and the good rule and government of its area...'
In Blake's four-page submission, he says the due process was not followed.

"I have not been afforded procedural fairness," Alan Blake said. "[The] findings are not supported by facts. Alternative findings or conclusions are not considered. The report does not explain why the conduct is determined to be a breach."

"I believe that the complaint is frivolous and vexatious, that the investigator failed to follow the Code of Conduct in managing the complaint, that a biased investigation has been conducted to intimidate and discredit me as a councillor, and that I have been prejudged," Alan Blake said. "For this reason the report is flawed and must be rejected."

However, this was not the view of the independent investigator.

"This finding is evidenced by the complaint from Mr Moore insofar as a concern was raised that the Council funded mobile telephone was being used in the conduct of the business 'Mogo'," Anthony Walsh said. "That no personal benefit by Councillor Blake would not appear to mitigate the public doubt raised by the production.... of the business cards."

However Blake says that my CairnsBlog complaint about his use of the Council mobile, is "a continuation of a well orchestrated slanderous campaign driven politically to undermine my ability to perform the duties of my office." He's called the attacks "cyber-bullying".

The Mogo business was to be a bluetooth transmitting "push" message service, where mobile uses would receive advertising when they were in range of the transmitter.

Deputy Mayor Margaret Cochrane acted as Blake's 'support person' during the investigator's interview.

When Blake was questioned by the investigator, who organised the printing of the business cards, he said he couldn't remember.

"I would have been jointly involved in the decision to print the cards but I cannot recall whether I or Jason organised for the cards to be printed," Alan Blake said.

"I had nothing to do with the printing at all," Jason Greg, Blake's former business partner told CairnsBlog. "He took them to the printer, Lotsa I think it was. He ordered them. He paid for them by his cheque account. Blake knows exactly what he did."

Alan Blake says that even though 1,000 cards were printed, he says that "less than ten" were distributed.

"The only person who had access to the business card other than myself and a family member, was Dr Jason Gregg," Alan Blake said. "He became aggrieved when I decided not to proceed with the venture."

"Well that's an outright lie," Jason Gregg said. "He handed them out all over at Blue Sky [Brewery]. Definitely, absolutely, unequivocally. I was sitting there when he gave many of the cards out. He even gave a bunch of them to Kerie Hull, because Kerie wanted to be the manager of that company."

"How does Blake get away with this?" Jason Gregg said. "You see at that stage he was my friend, but that was before he fucked me over royally. His whole life went to that Blackberry. I arranged for a Motorola Razar (mobile) for him to use, and that's how I found he was *** with my ex-wife [Carla]," Jason Gregg said. "Carla contacted Blake via email and sent it to the wrong phone. From the tone and content, it was obvious that they had colluded to strip me of the business all along, even though it was my idea."

"I spent six months building it [Mogo] and I was an equal 'partner'.. I just happened to have the phone in my possession at the time, and she screwed up and sent it to the wrong phone rather than the infamous Blackberry," Jason Gregg said. "That's how is all ended between us. But he would not use that Motorola, he used the [Council] Blackberry for everything."

Gregg says that Blake later claimed that he had illegally intercepted the messages and took the matter to the Blake's favourite agency, the Federal Police.

"They said it was a ridiculous claim, but she then went ahead to take a domestic violence order against me with Blake's encouragement - even though I had not seen or spoken to her for months. Blake was behind all this and she was Blake's partner in the crime," Jason Gregg said.

The investigator asked Blake if he had made any calls on the council mobile in relation to the Mogo business. "No," Blake said in his sworn statement.

What business allows their employees to use a company-provided mobile telephone for marketing and use for employees private unrelated businesses, especially when no permission is granted?

Last year Blake said "if I take care of what I need to do today, without fear or favour, and do what I feel is right, the future will take care of itself".

In words that will now come to haunt him, when Blake sold his Furniture Associates business, he said it was to "focus on council obligations."

"With the added responsibility of the amalgamated council, I found I was becoming time-poor so something had to give," Alan Blake said. Just months later he actively set up new business ventures and again, for the fourth time in ten years, used his Council mobile to market and promote a private business.

You'd have to be dumb as a sewer rat to find this Cairns Regional Councillor not guilty.

This weekend, Alan Blake turns 59 years old. You would think by now, he would have learnt right from wrong.



The "chosen few..." words in this video from the 2008 election campaign will come home to haunt Councillor Alan Blake... now subject to a code of conduct investigation.

Another LNPer resigns from the party

Another LNP candidate has announced that she will leave the party and team up with independent Aidan McLindon's new Queensland Party.

Andrea Johanson, who ran for the Gold Coast seat of Albert, quit the Liberal National Party yesterday, saying she has lost faith and vision with the party and "where they are going in the direction for Queensland."

The continuing unrest within the LNP is not showing signs of dissipating anytime soon. The defections were flamed by a revealing letter signed by 15 Cairns party faithful in September last year, airing dirty laundry and questioned local financial management and accountability. The letter was tabled in the State Parliament on May 20th by Rob Messenger, who called for a police investigation, however LNP hierarchy, including local candidate Warren Entsch, largely dismissed the grievances raised, saying that they had been dealt with.

It's likely that former Barron River LNP candidate Wendy Richardson, will follow Johanson and sign up with the new party to contest the 2012 State election.

Meanwhile, the LNP have selected 20-year-old Wyatt Roy to run for Longman, probably the most marginal federal seats in Queensland.

Tuesday, 15 June 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.


Two men rescued, Torres Strait:
Two men diving on Kikaldie Reef in the Torres Strait were located safe and well by the rescue helicopter after their boat capsized on Sunday afternoon. It is believed the boat began to take on water and stalled while negotiating big seas at around 3pm. The men attempted to bail the water out of the boat before it capsized. The men activated an EPRIB and a smoke flare alerting the helicopter crew. They were recovered from the water at around 4.45pm.

Police officers assaulted, Badu Island:
A 24-year-old man has been charged following an alleged assault on two police officers at Badu Island on Saturday morning. The Senior Constables had arrested the Darnley Island man in relation to another matter when he allegedly became aggressive. The man allegedly punched one officer in the chest and then head butted the other in the forehead during the incident at around 5.50am. The man was charged with two counts of assault police and committing a public nuisance. He is due to appear in the Darnley Island Magistrates Court on August 23.

Police officer assaulted, Cairns Watchhouse:
A 25-year-old woman has been charged with serious assault after she allegedly spat at a police officer in the Cairns Watchhouse at around 1pm Sunday. The officer will undergo disease testing after the spittle allegedly hit her in the face. The Bungalow woman has been held in custody to appear at the Cairns Magistrates Court today.

Men charged over drug possession, Machans Beach:
Police have charged an 18-year-old Aeroglen man and a 29-year-old Machans Beach man with drug offences following a routine traffic stop in Machans Beach on June 12. Police intercepted the men in a vehicle on Machans Street at around 3.30am allegedly locating a quantity of drugs. The 18-year-old was charged with possessing a dangerous drug and the 29-year-old was charged with possessing a dangerous drug and producing a dangerous drug. They are due to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court June 28.

Public security reminder:
Police are again reminding home and vehicle owners to be vigilant with security after a spate of break and enter offences across the Cairns District over the long weekend. In most cases opportunistic thieves have gained entry to unlocked homes and vehicles before stealing property. Several vehicles were stolen over the weekend, in one case a set of spare keys was left in the vehicle enabling an easy get-away for thieves.

Police are currently looking for the following vehicle:
1. A green 1996 Hyundai Excel sedan bearing Queensland registration 512DKP stolen from Upward Street on June 14.

2. A white 1997 Holden Kingswood sedan bearing Queensland registration 469DCA stolen from Westcourt on June 14.

3. A red 1987 Holden Barina bearing Queensland registration 344KRE stolen from Cairns

Sunday, 13 June 2010

It's nice to make a living out of the thing that got me kicked out of school

I mentioned my gratitude for Kiwi comic John Clarke a few weeks ago.

Here he is in 2007 receiving recognition into the Logie Hall of Fame. My Kiwi readers will look back with much fondness of Fred Dagg's antics

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Family First candidate slams WIN TV reporting as "tokenistic"

Family First candidate for Leichhardt Yodie Batzke, has called WIN TV's reporting of her Party's indigenous sea rights symposium "tokenistic" and "discriminatory."
The Family First party held a symposium on Thursday at Cairns Rydges Esplanade to discuss the alarming situation of turtles and dugongs being killed, following calls for a ban on hunting, within the designated enclosure areas no use of hand lines, nets.

"Indigenous people of Far North need to take time and see the other benefit of a 12 month moratorium," Yodie Batzke said.
Batzke has worked with many in Indigenous elders to come to the agreement, of a 12-month moratorium.
"However it is amazing the tokenistic reporting by WIN TV. Mind you Carrie Kay did not even want to ask me any questions," Yodie Batzke said. "You have to remember reporters [Carrie], people you interview may be very discerning and do know how to read body language and facial expressions - profiling personalities is part of my business," she said.

"You may not be the one on camera but the person you interview can read and see whether or not you really want to be there. Send someone else next time WIN, Maybe Adam Marshall," Batzke said.

Yodie Batzke however praised the Post's Daniel Bateman.
"He did a very objective story on this issue. You researched this particular issue well."

Coverage of the event by WIN TV news excluded any mention of Family First, even though Yodie Batzke was filmed. WIN aired comments from the indigenous who were present, even talked about dugongs, but didn't mention Yodie or her comments.
Dugong campaigner Colin Riddell was also ignored.
"I used Yodie's name as well, to talk about the brave stance she and her Family First party have taken. It was disappointing what they did," Riddell said.
Yodie Batzke says that if Indigenous people put a hold on hunting, and support existing and new sustainable management practices being developed by traditional owners, they will see benefits.
"With TUMRA's or ILUA's, lobby both federal and state for for resources for more man-power to police," Batzke says. "[They should] lobby for more dugong enclosures on both west and east coast of Cape York Peninsula for similar enclosure to the one in the Torres Straits between Friday and Boobie Islands where no hunting is allowed."
"There should be no use of hand lines, hand spears, or nets are allowed at all. We need to develop better cultural awareness programs, specifically about hunting and gathering methods of Indigenous Australia dependant on the sea," Yodie Batzke says.
"I am really pursuing not only a 12 month moratorium in order for sustainable management to be developed across the board, but in addition to this, protected specific enclosure areas that will still remain when the 12 month moratorium ends."
"We support Traditional owners on the east coast who are wanting a consistent approach and lobby for the establishment of a land and sea management unit to be located at Lockhhardt River."

WIN TV News...