Saturday, 27 November 2010
Thursday, 25 November 2010
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
“Despite being provided with photographs, videos and the discovery of illegal dugong nets Minister Jones has continually denied the existence of the problem and has constantly demanded someone provide her with proof."
“Well Kate Jones, here are the names, here are the addresses — stop trying to sweep this under the carpet and prosecute this matter.”
Elmes said there was enormous support from indigenous and non-indigenous residents for a moratorium on hunting dugong and turtles until numbers of the species can be determined.
“The cruel and inhumane slaughter of these animals must be stopped, but once a moratorium is in place and we have established how many dugong and turtle are left, a sustainable take must be reintroduced for traditional indigenous hunting by traditional means for traditional purposes," Glen Elmes says. “However, the black market for dugong and turtle meat must be shut down. I have given the Minister and the police the means, now I expect action."
“I have asked for an urgent investigation. If that is not forthcoming, I will use the opportunity at the next Sitting of this Parliament in February to name the individuals," Elmes says.
“I simply cannot believe a majority of councillors will vote to stop this project and return millions of dollars to Brisbane and Canberra," Councillor Robert Pyne said this morning. "This money could be spent here creating jobs here, to build something that would fill a great need into the future.”
- "The Action Plan proposes ways of resolving issues raised by Councillors in order for the project to progress.
Not adopting the Action Plan will prevent the project from proceeding.
This report specifically addresses the issues raised by Councillors at the Cairns Cultural Precinct Committee meeting of 17 November 2010. These issues will be addressed until resolved through the actions summarised in the Plan.
Council’s acknowledgement of the issues raised by Councillors and adoption of the proposed actions as outlined for the resolution of those issues is now sought.
The US Alliance
In 2010 Australia is a compliant military servant to the United States of America. More than ever before, we are a reliable component of US global military machinery.
We have been at war in Afghanistan since October 7 2001 - more than nine years. We are part of a US led “Operation Enduring Freedom”. We expect to stay at war in Afghanistan for at least one more decade. Looks more like Operation Enduring Futility. Have we achieved a state of permanent war?
In 2010 the Australian Defence Force is armed, organised, and trained to fight as junior partners with the US in wars of aggression around the world. The USA now has “access” to all ADF bases and facilities. Australia provides rest and recreation, storage, and logistics support for the US Navy, Air Force, and Marines operating around the Indian and south west Pacific Oceans.
Australia gives unqualified political support for US military aggression in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and potentially Iran. The US has exceeded the limits of its economic and military power, but Australia is a loyal servant.
ANZAC Day 2011
100 years ago, Australia and New Zealand were rustic outposts of the British Empire. We celebrated a common heritage and culture, and we shared a colonial experience. We enjoyed parliamentary democracy and the rule of law. When our young men were called to assist in the military defence of Empire over in Europe they experienced together the murderous folly of industrial warfare – with among other things the first use of chemical weapons and aerial intelligence. It was hell.
It was also a wake-up call exposing the myth of empire. It was a foundation of emerging self-reliance.
The surviving ANZACS returned from Gallipoli and France with a warning to avoid war. One purpose of the original ANZAC Day was to remember the soldiers who’d been put through hell, and to dedicate our country to ways of peace. No more war!
Today, our cousins in New Zealand have very nearly abolished their military defence forces, won’t allow nuclear warship visits, and fight in far fewer US imperial wars around the world.
In contrast Australia has never been so heavily armed, or so aggressive. Australia must now be counted as a militarist state, but it is no longer ANZAC. The ANZAC liturgy is a corruption of Christian teaching...
“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. - John 15:13
Every ANZAC Day, war is given Christian legitimacy through the use of John 15:13 When a soldier “lays down his life” for the sake of his comrades on a field of battle, he is said to have made a sacrifice equivalent to that of Christ at Calvary. That is a perversion of Jesus’ revelation.
Which is not to say that soldiers can’t exemplify the graces of courage and comradeship on the field of battle, sacrificing one’s own life for that of friends, family, or innocents. Simpson and his donkey ambulance comes to mind.
But the full message of redemption through sacrifice can’t be understood from a single line of scripture stripped of all context.
John 15:12-14 expands on the purpose of Christ’s sacrifice...
Love one another, even as I have loved you.
The whole purpose of Jesus’ crucifixion is the redemption of humanity. Jesus sacrifices not to punish the sinners, but to channel God’s forgiveness and redeem them. To love them, at the cost of his own life. Jesus exhorts us to do the same. To love one another, to love our enemies.
If nation is warring against nation then Jesus’ commandment has already been refused, and we are guilty of idolatry, worshipping military technology. The personal grace and courage of the soldiers does not justify the evil of their political leaders.
Reclaim ANZAC tradition with a candle-lit vigil
Times change. While the ANZAC legend was being formed there was an active peace constituency in Australia. The Suffragettes, the Catholic church, and the Labor party organised to refuse conscription for WW1. ANZAC Day was as much a popular outpouring of grief, pride and resolve to honour the sacrifice of young Australian men who died, as it was a government initiative.
Today we have instead the theatre of pro-war spin, and an ANZAC Day wholly captured by government. The recent announcements about the revised Australian/US Alliance was timed to coincide with remembrance Day. ANZAC Day 2011 will see a further eulogising of our commitment to our war in Afghanistan. Times change.
The state used to need our participation in war. Then they needed our consent. Today, in the age of media spin and drone bombardment, all they require is our silence.
We need to reclaim ANZAC Day, and turn it back to the memory of the ANZACS.
Starting in 2011 there will be a new citizen initiated component of ANZAC day. An ANZAC Eve vigil will run from sunset to dawn on ANZAC Eve at the cenotaph or the ANZAC memorial in each city and regional centre which participates. There will be a vigil at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Peace by Peace will be organising a vigil at the Cenotaph in Cairns.
Vigils will be candle-lit with lanterns designed by Graham Dunstan. There will be some liturgy and contemplation of John 15, and consideration of what it means to love one’s enemies. All the casualties of war will be remembered – the men, women and children, the social and environmental health, of all the parties.
Participants will have the opportunity to deepen their resolve in the third Millennium after Christ: No more war!
- ANZAC EVE VIGIL
Monday 25 April 2011
Cenotaph, Cairns Esplanade
5pm till dawn
- Cairns City Library (meeting room 1). corner Aplin and Abbott Streets.
6pm - Thursday 25th November (doors open 5.30pm)
Voluntary gold coin donation on entry towards Amnesty International Australia.
More info: Jai on 0425 278 408
Tuesday, 23 November 2010
Monday, 22 November 2010
- Prime Minister John Key says he is praying that the 29 men trapped at Pike River are safe.
“I just pray to God that they are alive,” he said. "Obviously we need to begin a rescue as soon as we practically can, and we just pray that they have managed to secure an oxygen source.”
However, I suspect many Kiwis will be praying for a good outcome, but the delay of any rescue commencing, is not promising a positive outcome.
- “Because I wasn’t as far up … the explosion wasn’t as bad for me. It just bowled me over and knocked me unconscious and someone dragged me about 300 metres, brought me around and then two of us held each other to get out of the mine.”
Mr Smith described the explosion as quick and without heat or smell.
“I just remember seeing a flash of something in front of me and then the concussion hit me. It wasn’t just a bang. It just kept coming, kept coming, kept coming. So I crouched down as low as I could in the seat to try to get behind this metal door [on the loader he was driving] to stop being pelted with all this debris … I just couldn’t breathe and that’s the last I could remember and then someone found me about 15 minutes or so later.”
Mr Smith said the next thing he remembers is looking out of the ambulance as it was driving into Greymouth.
- I'm sick and tired of being so fucking accident prone. Can't go a day without hurting myself or a month without almost dieing -.-
- "A pit bottom with deep, highly gassy coals and the associated risk of "outburst", or gas or water-pressure- forced explosions, outwards at the coalface. The presence of an active fault that needed to be crossed underground with a zone of considerable and sustained ground stresses.
A degree of uncertainty about the difficulties in accessing the resource due to geological structure, plus the risk of environmental damage from subsidence and "acid mine drainage".
Saturday, 20 November 2010
KEVIN BYRNE: Good morning, John.
Anyway, I wrote a letter to the editor, I hope they print it, in relation to getting back to the truth about that.
But yes, I have been following it, and I was very pleased to see in the paper today that commonsense may be rearing its wonderful head, because we're scaling back on what was really quite an outrageous plan…
Now it wasn't the most important issue earlier on, it took about a month, I think, to emerge as a prominent issue, originally it was the cost that horrified people most, but the site now has become quite an important issue in the light of proposals put forward first by Warren Entsch, and later by Alan Blake, for an alternative actually interfacing with the existing Convention Centre, what's your view on the selection of that waterfront site?
The site where they want to propose it now, that the State Government is virtually blackmailing the council to accept, was not in the mix, it was required for future port uses. The site where their current offices are, was not in the mix, because it was too early, and they hadn't decided what they were going to do, and in fact said that if they were going to do anything, they would put it out to tender for a convention hotel site, which makes sense, given its location to the convention centre.
So we eventually went out and we had a study done on a number of sites, I think there were four or five in all, and it came back to the site that we subsequently purchased, and that was the one adjacent to the Cairns Convention Centre, next to stage one and two of the William McCormack State Government buildings in that precinct there.
We were quite happy with that, because what people need to understand is that you can't retrofit a civic theatre, because it takes two years, and you can't retrofit it without closing it down, and we realised that we couldn't close down a civic theatre in a city like Cairns for two years, I mean there'd be uproar, and a legitimate outcry, so you're really forced into a new green fields site.
So we were quite happy with the site we purchased, and in fact my current feeling is that we should be redeveloping and putting a new civic - sorry, not redeveloping, but putting a new civic theatre on the site that we had originally purchased.
KEVIN BYRNE: Either/or, John, it's six of one and half a dozen of the other, one's one side, and the other's the other side. No, I don't think that's an issue, you know, as long as that site is big enough for a suitably proportioned civic theatre.
See, what people need to understand is that the previous council had planned to build a Civic Theatre, we went to the election in 2008 with that as a policy, the Opposition's policy, the mayor's policy and her team, was they were going to retrofit and develop on site the current Civic Theatre, this represents a huge departure from that position that they went to the council - went to the election on.
Our proposal was essentially that we would build a facility that had an 1100 seat auditorium, wonderful break-out facilities, adjacent to the Convention Centre, so you can go either way, I'm not too fussed about which side, but it provided that car parking alternative that the inner city needs, and was affordable.
The State and the Federal Government - it's not really a Federal Government issue funding this sort of infrastructure, but the State weren't too keen on putting any money into it, but we had enough as a council to go it alone, provided that it was held at around about $80 to $85 million.
And they're basically the plans that we had drawn, and the idea was we'd have the election, then immediately after the election we'd get some final designs done, and call tenders, and start towards the end of 2008, which meant that we would be opening the doors of a Civic Theatre now, the construction would have taken place during that dreadful period with the economic crisis, or the peak of that, and we'd have a theatre that was affordable, but at the same time, the State and Federal Government, who have come up and said that, you know, they're going to put some money in it, would have assisted in the payment of it, so we would have had a far better outcome.
The issue now we have is just - this issue has divided the community…
Now people who were critical of you and your council use the term arrogance. I'm hearing today this replacement council, if you like, the successive council, has turned arrogance into an art form, compared with the reputation of your council, how differently would you have approached this whole issue?
Yes, no council is perfect, but the reality is in this particular instance, this has been just thrust on the community, I mean the volcano concept came out of the blue, it was an announcement made completely out of the blue, without reference to council, nothing, I think Desley Boyle, Val Schier, Clive Skarrot and maybe a minister, could have been Paul Lucas, had this great photo op, all the stuff was done behind closed doors, and suddenly it was a fait-accompli.
Now you've got the State Government saying listen, kids, if you don't accept this block of land, you accept nothing. I'll tell you why - what hasn't been told yet is the State Government has got no money to put into this, it's all about, we'll give you some land, and everybody's jumped behind this, and I must say there's been a hell of a lot of whip-up by the Cairns Post and others about, isn't this wonderful, this grand $250 million vision?
Nobody ever sat down and said, where's the money going to come from, and how are we going to afford to pay it?
I mean I've been around - I was around Local Government for 11 years, and involved in budget processes and so on, I can tell you, any person that says we're going to borrow $50 million, and $80 million, or whatever the figure happens to be, and it's not going to affect the budget bottom - it's not going to affect your rates, is talking through their hat.
So it's all very well to talk about these wonderful facilities, but let's remember, Cairns is a community of 160,000 people, stretching from the Bloomfield River, to Miriwinni, and we have to cut our cloth, and we have to make sure that whatever pieces of infrastructure we put into this community, we can pay for, and that we consult widely about how we do it.
This was just basically thrust on the community of Cairns like a dose of cod liver oil you took from the end of a dessert spoon from your mother when you were four years of age, whether you liked it or not, open up, swallow this, and let's get going. And I mean the community's just over that.
me to be missing in action, never to be found [laughs], but I've always said that I never rule anything in, or anything out, I have a great love and a passion for the City of Cairns, I am not happy with what's happened, I mean there's nothing worse than ex-politicians sticking their oar in the water, and I've deliberately stayed out of most things, because of that, but the reality is that that's an option for me in the future.
At the moment I'm actively employed, I go to work with a spring in my step every day, I have a lot of challenges in my life, you know, I'm enjoying what I'm doing, I'd love to be doing it out of Cairns, I enjoy what I'm doing though, and I will review my position, as I've always said, in the first half of next year.
Friday, 19 November 2010
Only two miners have emerged out, with 27 still trapped. There has been some reports that there is one death at this stage. A gas caused the explosion.
Pike River, which employs 150 miners, is a horizontal mine, not a vertical shaft, which will facilitate the rescue. The main tunnel is 2.3 kilometres below the surface. It only opened just over a year ago.
This incident comes after similar accidents in Chile and China in recent weeks, however unlike a collapse, this explosion is, probably caused by methane, produces carbon monoxide, which is extremely poisonous. As a reader reminded me, this is where the canary in the coal mine comes in as canaries are famously sensitive to such gases. These miners have a breathing unit to put on for this to get themselves to a refuge station where there are oxygen supplies.
There has been no powered ventilation since 3:45pm Friday. There has been no communication with the missing miners.
"The bloke is a legend," Traill said. "It's the best outcome for so many reasons. This decision vindicates our campaign and our legal action through the Unfair Dismissal trial process, a process that has seen Tommy Sebasio without an income for 12 months.”
“Now we can negotiate the specific role that Tommy will perform for Ergon in his community for his people" Traill says. "Tommy can hold his head high and return to the job he is extremely good at, with the respect that he deserves."
Stuey Traill says this case proves that employees in remote and isolated areas need to be given the same amount of support that employees in major centers receive.
“I am proud to be associated with Tommy and congratulate him on his return to work and for the strength that he has shown through this whole process.”
Sebasio said that through his formal education and family upbringing in a remote community, he became acutely aware of the struggles of the indigenous race in Australia.
"I recognised parallels in other countries, oppressed races with their own struggles," Tommy Sebasio said. "Some of them were worse off than I, so I didn’t complain too much, I waited for change. Things did change for me. I starting working in the electrical industry.
Sebasio credits joining the Electrical Trades Union with the positive outcome.
"I joined the ETU as soon as I could, because I heard and believed that my rights at the workplace would be looked after by this mob," Tommy Sebasio said. "The Union felt like family. My workplace evolved with the union representing my rights. It became safer and I felt secure. Bargaining agreements were negotiated and I had a say through my vote as the member of the union. I liked this, it felt good, I felt equal."
"When tested the union stood up for me. They represented me and by that representing all the members and their family. I felt that this was bigger than just about me. To me the union is family. I am proud to belong to this mob," Sebasio said.
Tommy was born in Bamaga, and lived most of his life there. The residents of the communities are predominantly Torres Strait Islander or Aboriginal. He is a respected figure in the community and he spoke five languages including Torres Straits Creole; Western Torres Strait Islander; Eastern Torres Strait Islander; and Local Aboriginal English.
Talking from Bamaga this morning, Tommy Sebasio said the decision was surreal, and that large companies like Ergon, can't get away with actions like this.
"The first person I thanked was my mum. She was praying very hard for me," Sebasio said. "It was natural for me to stand up against Ergon, because of what has happened to my people in the past. Our elders that served in World War 2, weren't paid properly. Those issues came up. There was another mob, called DCS money, that were never paid to us, so when this sort of thing happens, you stand up."
"I see this as natural justice. I spoke to someone on Facebook, and he congratulated me, however I said to think about what happened to us in the past, and thank all the principles our elders have," Tommy Sebasio said.
Although Ergon will say this was never a dispute about cultural issues, the clashes the led to Sebasio's termination a year ago show that the company had little understanding in working with indigenous communities and the difficulties that are faced in remote Aboriginal towns throughout Cape York.
The case of Ergon and Tommy Sebasio is a perfect example of corporations not understanding how to work productively with indigenous employees.
In August, to assist the ETU's application at the Fair Work hearing CairnsBlog author Michael Moore travelled to Bamaga to talk with locals about Tommy Sebasio’s termination. You can see more on the CairnsBlog YouTube channel...
Thursday, 18 November 2010
One of the agenda items gave the extensive history of consultation and feasibility studies over the past 16 years, yet this was largely ignored by those in opposition to the cultural precinct project.
The mood of the opposing councillors at the meeting was adversarial. Someone in the public gallery went so far to suggest that Cairns Regional Council should return the $40 million back to the Federal Government. Such an idea could be seen nothing more than a sick joke in the current unemployment situation that the region is still experiencing.
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Staff who talked with CairnsBlog said they were shocked at the decision. Some learnt of termination by a telephone call midday Monday.
There were around 20 field staff employed on the Asian honey bees programme since February 2010. All have been terminated, even though they were given assurances they would be employed till the end of the year, with the likelihood there would be work past this date.
The inspection field staff funding is approved in six month periods. January appointments were told in April it was likely to be extended. By May staff were again informed that there was "definite funding" for the programme until the end of December.
While staff knew there may be some cuts due to increase in nests found, they weren't expecting all to be cut. Long-term casuals were expecting to retain their jobs. As they were all on casual employment arrangements, there is no notice period pay out or holiday pay. All pay ceased on Monday.
There is a story doing the rounds that the State government apparently have a "don't fire anyone 30 days short of Christmas" policy. I wonder if that's true?
There remains the four team leaders who are shell-shocked by the sudden developments. One permanent field staff, one compliance officer and the manager, Wim De Jong, who's only known qualification is as a bee keeper. Some staff told CairnsBlog that he is not well-liked within the local bee community. "He has little or no science background, and shouldn't be in charge" one staffer said, with some labeling the programme a "joke". De Jong wound the programme back in 2007, which was widely said to give Asian Honey bees time to swam to out of control levels.
Australia is the last country, apart from Antarctica, to not have the destructive Varroa mite that can kill a honey bee colony.
Of course, the view is not the only problems that arise from a litany of broken promises. The state of the derelict condition of the old derelict building located on the site, is of greater concern, in particular to the children of Caravonica School, the residents of Smithfield Heights and to the nearby adjoining residents.
The community is constantly reminded by the authorities nonetheless, by the weather bureau, of the impending more intense than normal, monsoonal wet season, along with the potential of extra cyclonic activity. The region is already experiencing the consequences of such increased activity.
The loose iron roof cladding, along with the general disrepair of the building, is a disaster waiting to happen. Paul Freebody has had ownership of the site for in excess of three years and no maintenance/removal to the vandalised and graffiti-ridden structure, has taken place.
I understand that Mr Paul Freebody is having difficulty putting together the finance to make his water park happen. The much-publicised starting date as reported in the Cairns Post has come and gone. All the promised jobs have not eventuated. The principal reason for approval has proved to be a false premise.
This does not surprise me, due to the fact that the proposed facility is located within the Barron River Delta and bisected by an old river bed. I wrote a year ago, when I called for a moratorium, that the highway culverts opposite the proposed development are indicative of a channel. When the delta is in flood this section has extremely fast-moving water flows. The Cairns Regional Council should have deferred development, pending a Council-commissioned hydraulic study.
Therefore, I find it incredulous that Cairns Regional Council can condone a $35 million development approved site, to remain a cyclonic-borne threat to the surrounding community. What I find more disturbing is that Paul Freebody and his development company are showing contempt for the community by their arrogant demeanour. His action or lack thereof, is synonymous with an errant corporate citizen.
My challenge to Paul Freebody is to rectify this situation forthwith and to show the Cairns community that he is indeed interested in the well-being of the local community. Perhaps, Mr Freebody could begin to create the promised employment opportunities by hiring unemployed people to clean up the site.
As a resident of the Cairns area for over 50 years, and a keen advocate of positive community action, I find it abhorrent that Mr Freebody allows such a situation to exist and continue unattended. Using the excuse that construction work is imminent will not wash with the community. It is unlikely that the project will go ahead and even if it did go ahead, it will not happen before this years’ monsoon.
On behalf of the community, I hereby call on Mr Paul Freebody to clean up the site of all loose material that is a potential threat to the well-being of the Smithfield Heights residents. Bring back the old excavator and put it to work.
The Cairns Regional Council representative for Division 8 is Councillor Cochrane. It is imperative of her to take a personal interest in this matter until it is satisfactorily resolved. The time has come for action, not more empty promises.
Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Monday, 15 November 2010
The new website has a fresh look and feel and appears a far better interface for visitors and those looking at investing or moving to our region.
Many web links to individual pages will change, so you may need to change addresses to specific pages you regularly look up.
Sunday, 14 November 2010
Langbroek says moving towards an electronic voting system and requiring people to show identification will put an end to this practice.
Friday, 12 November 2010
"The Cultural Precinct, if designed right, will satisfy all four of these criteria," Boland says. "It is unfortunate that despite detailed personal briefings on Port operations and plans to numerous organisations and individuals, including to the former CEO, that the debate continues to be ill-informed."
"It is unfortunate that Bob Manning, a former Chief Executive Officer of the Port, has sought to incorrectly claim this is not the case. It is important to set the record straight in this regard," Chris Boland says.
A Heads of Agreement between the Queensland Government and the Cairns Port Authority was signed in 1994 to facilitate the construction of the Cairns Convention Centre, which has specific clauses related to the molasses tank removal, that committed the Queensland Government and the Cairns Port Authority to $2.1M relocation costs. This same agreement also specifically identifies the area east of Wharf Street, extending from approximately Wharf 4 to the General Cargo access road, as a landscaped buffer zone. This is the location of the proposed Cultural Precinct.
"Notably, Mr Manning, as the then CEO of the Cairns Port Authority, recommended and signed the Heads of Agreement which included the following clause," Chris Boland says. "Critically, the proposed Cultural Precinct is setback from the load restricted heritage-listed wharves to enable them to be continued to be used for Port activities."
Yesterday a woman received a phone call from a person claiming to work for the Queensland Energy Board, which does not exist.
In another scam, Cairns restaurants have been contacted by email and asked to provide a booking for multiple guests over a number of nights whilst clients were in town. The scam involves an email from an international business wishing to book a restaurant for multiple clients and then relies on requesting direct phone numbers to make arrangements for credit card authorisations to be processed.
Cairns Police are reminding people if they are approached by someone asking for money transfers or to provide credit card details, to ensure they are legitimate.
"Never rush into any transaction. Always take your time and seek independent advice before making any decisions," Acting Sergeant Cary Coolican says. "Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. Just ask yourself, if a stranger knew of a quick way to make money, would they be telling you about it."
There's heaps of info about how scams work at ScamWatch.