Friday 30 December 2011

Bus seriously injures two pedestrians in Lake Street, Cairns

Two young female pedestrians were seriously injured in what Cairns Police have called a "serious traffic crash" this afternoon in the central city.

The incident occurred around 4pm when the two women in their 20's, were crossing Lake Street when they were struck by a bus.

They were transported to Cairns Base Hospital in a serious but stable condition. No one else was injured.

Thursday 29 December 2011

Today was a day for some inspiration

Today I spent some time with a really special person, who genuinely knows the meaning of friendship, support and giving inspiration.

We spent a couple of hours talking about life's difficulties, looking at pathways ahead. This time of year is a great opportunity for reflection and some positive forecasting, when a lot of other maddening pressures are off to the sidelines.

After our coffee session concluded, I came across this story of 18-year-old Ben Breedlove. This young lad from Texas posted a couple of videos online around a week ago. Ben was well aware of his serious heart condition he'd had from birth, that was eventually going to take his life. Ben died on Christmas night from a heart attack.

His amazing video message was created silently with handwritten notes to tell his story, just a few days before he passed away.

"Kieran Miles inspired me to do this," Ben posted. "Just thought I should share my story to the rest of the world."

He had a unique condition: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, where one part of the heart is thicker than the others, making it difficult for blood to circulate.

There's a moving part in his video story where he explains when he was just four years old. Breedlove described the moment...
  • "There was this big bright light above me ... I couldn't make out what is was because it was so bright. I told my mom, 'Look at the bright light' and pointed up. She said she didn't see anything. There were no lights on in this hall. I couldn't take my eyes off it.

    And I couldn't help but smile. I had no worries at all, like nothing else in the world mattered.

    I cannot even begin to describe the peace, how peaceful it was," he wrote. "I will NEVER forget that feeling or that day."
It's a truly beautiful and moving tale, told as only a young person encapsulated in online social media could.

Stories like Ben's put life's dramas into great clarity and utter perspective. Love and nurture the moment and those important to you.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Council candidates slam Cairns councillors under investigations

Tanya Brooks-Cooper who is running for division 8 in the March Cairns Regional Council elections has called for a speedy conclusion to the conduct investigation of sitting Councillors Sno Bonneau and Alan Blake.

"I hope the investigation gets wound up soon so we can all move smoothly into the elections," Tanya Brooks-Cooper said in light of a local panel being announced to determine the penalty against division 9 Councillor Sno Bonneau.

Councillor Blake is also being investigated for non-declaration of interests and not abstaining from voting.

"I would like to point out I won't be taking any donations from developers," Tanya Brooks-Cooper says. "That way you can be sure I'm making decisions, once elected, that are best for you and our community."

Both councillors Bonneau and Blake have received donations to their election campaigns from numerous property developers and have then voted to support their applications before Council without following the Local Government Act which requires declaring a conflict and removing themselves from the council chamber.

Brooks-Cooper says that well-planned, sustainable development is where we need to head.

"We have some great examples happening around the place we can use to model other new developments."

Former Mulgrave Shire councillor and local Barron River farmer Ross Parisi, who is also considering running for a Council seat, says Bonneau and Blake should stand down.

"[They] should stand down from any official position and not participate in any Cairns Regional Council duty while they are under investigation for possible breach of conduct," Ross Parisi told CairnsBlog. "Any elected position is one of trust and for that trust to be compromised is not acceptable under our Westminster system of democracy and public accountability."

Parisi says the allegations that the councillor may have accepted undeclared donations from developers and may have voted in development applications are serious matters and go to the core in public probity.

"One of the major tenet in our parliamentary government democracy is that all citizens are subject to the law and that justice needs to be done but also is seen to be done," Ross Parisi said.

"The above mentioned Councillors should be given the opportunity to stand aside with dignity and falling that the Cairns Regional Council's CEO should demand that they stand down without pay and refrain from any Council engagement while the allegations are investigated by the Regional Conduct Review Panel."

Paul Freebody to run for Cairns State seat

After two years and no start of his Adventure Waters theme park situated in the Barron River flood delta, Paul Freebody is set to announce that he will be running for the State seat of Cairns in the upcoming election.

Freebody was dumped after months of internal discussions within the LNP about his business dealings after former employees and managers of his car wash business alerted the party to goings on.

Paul Freebody blames Federal MP Warren Entsch and LNP boss Barry O'Sullivan for his demise, accusing them of ''assassinated" him (Paul called it "assignation").

The Party finally removed Freebody as the Cairns candidate and terminated his party membership when it was discovered he was behind an email that compared the Prime Minister to assassinated US President JFK. Paul Freebody says it was a ''family member'' that was behind the rogue email.

Freebody has since released a recording of a meeting held with LNP Party bosses including Barry O'Sullivan, who was swearing and rude, demanding Paul provide answers about the letters of concern they were receiving from Cairns. He recorded the meeting covertly, not an offense in Queensland, in order to expose and shame the LNP.

On Freebody's website he indicates running in the State election race.

"My understanding and recognition of the large scale change that needs to take place to meet the community needs is the driving force behind my entry into state politics," Freebody says. "I believe the only way change can come about is to have a person who is committed firstly to getting the basics right, and then unleashing the sleeping giant of potential that I know exists in our city."

However on Facebook Freebody says things are improving.

''Things are good and life is getting back to normal since my assignation [sic] in the LNP by Warren and his mate in Brisbane Barry O, Sullivan,'' Paul Freebody writes.

''We are now getting ready and in full planning mode for our next adventure and will have an announcement soon.''

Thursday 1 December 2011

Desley Boyle says she's "so proud" of Civil Partnerships Bill

"Sometimes I'm so proud," Cairns MP Desley Boyle said in the aftermath of the Civil Partnerships Bill that was passed in Queensland State Parliament last night, 47 to 40.

The Public Gallery was so packed for the four-hour debate that they had to open a second room with a big screen that others could watch on.

Desley Boyle says it was a rare Parliamentary debate - a conscience vote.

"The Independents including Katter Party people, all spoke - very different views to mine - but at least they put their views on the line - they voted according to conscience," Desley Boyle said today.

"One person only spoke for the LNP saying they were united that this was just a political stunt and therefore they would oppose the Bill. They sat in an angry silence, some of them looking very uncomfortable," Boyle says.

"Many Labor members spoke with eloquence about the importance of validating and legalizing loving relationships and about the legalisation of human rights too long denied. It was truly, from my point of view, a validation of why it's worth standing for election, of why it's worth the daily struggle that is the lot of a politician and why Labor is, all the ways in which we fall short notwithstanding, still the right party to vote for."

"And it was for me, a re-affirmation at the end of my political career that a fair society for all Queenslanders is worth fighting for," Desley Boyle said.

Advance Cairns used endorsement without permission for Entertainment Precinct lobby

Advance Cairns, a peak umbrella business quango, that Mayor Val Schier decreed would lose funding prior to her successful mayoral bid in 2008, yet went on and supported increased cash injections, represented a number of organisations without permission, endorsing the Cairns Entertainment Precinct.

On November 16th, Advance Cairns, which celebrates its 10th birthday, placed a full-page advertisement in the Cairns Post. Today the CEO, Stewart Christie, admitted the error and appologised.

"Due to the urgency of placing the advert, logos of organisations endorsing the Tropical North Queensland Regional Economic Plan were erroneously included," Stewart Christie said. "Advance Cairns would like to applogise."

The organisations that were used without permission or knowledge were Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils, Tablelands Regional Council, Cassowary Coast Regional Council, and Cook Shire Council, and Regional Development Australia.

Independent Council candidate for Division 2, Paul Drabble, has called the incident and "attempted deception by Advance Cairns."

Drabble has written to the Cairns mayor asking her to resign her position on the Advance Cairns board.

"It seems professionalism in this organistaion is now at an all-time low in favor of blind sensationalism of the truth," Paul Drabble told CairnsBlog. "All Council funding should be withheld and a full explanation of the attempt to deceive the people of Cairns explained."

He says that a full page apology to the people of Cairns should be a priority.

"I found it very disturbing to find that Advance Cairns of which you are a member of the board, has had to issue an apology for the erroneous use without consultation and without approval of logos in its advertising of support for the Cairns Entertainment Precinct," Paul Drabble wrote to Mayor Schier.

"[This is an] attempted deception by Advance Cairns over the Entertainment Precinct and apology for the erroneous use of logos. I think in the face of this disclosure of facts, you as our Mayor, should resign your position on the Advance Cairns board immediately."

"Also upon your resignation you should inform Advance Cairns that all Council funding will be withheld and until a full explanation of the attempt to deceive the people of Cairns is explained to both Council and the people of Cairns."

In June Cairns Regional Council agreed to $250,000 a year funding for Advance Cairns until 2014. Under "Spirit and Intention", Council states...
  • 1.1 This Agreement establishes and articulates an integrated way of working together to deliver the vision and priorities of the Tropical North Queensland Regional Economic Plan (TNQREP) and to support the sustainable economic development of the Cairns region.

    1.2 The Parties will work to the following principles:
    i. Open, transparent and honest communications and discussions;
    ii. Respecting each others roles and accountabilities and acting in good faith; and
    iii. Commitment to the common goal of developing and delivering the vision as agreed in the TNQREP and of sustainable economic development of the Cairns region.

    1.3 This is an outcome-based agreement, with clear performance indicators providing the basis from which to regularly monitor progress.

    1.4 Cairns Regional Council encourages Advance Cairns to source additional funding to support economic development outcomes for the Cairns regional economy. This may include grants from the Queensland State Government, the Federal Government, industry partnerships and other sources, as the Advance Cairns Board determines, in alignment with the TNQREP.

300 people living with HIV, as Cairns marks World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day, observed around the world on December 1st.

Government and health officials throughout the world observe the event, often with speeches or forums on AIDS topics, since 1995, the President of the United States has made an official proclamation on World AIDS Day.

World AIDS Day was first observed on December 1, 1988. It has been common to hold memorials to honour persons who have died from HIV/AIDS on this day. This evening from 6pm, on the Esplanade (will be at the Budda Bar, above McDonalds, if raining.

Seth Fourmile will give a Welcome to Country followed by a performance from One Blood Dance group. Cairns Regional Council Mayor, Val Schier will speak, along with Dr Arden Dearden, and Bill Chappell. The Out Loud Choir will also entertain.

AIDS has killed more than 30 million since it was first recognised in 1981, and an estimated 33 million people worldwide live with HIV today, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. Despite recent, improved access to antiretroviral treatment and care in many regions of the world, the AIDS epidemic claimed an estimated 2 million lives in 2007, of which about 270,000 were children. And over 7,000 new HIV infections continue to occur every single day in the world, predominantly in low and middle income countries.

Director of Sexual Health at Cairns Sexual Health Service, Dr Darren Russell, an Adjunct Associate Professor at James Cook University and the Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne, says in Cairns we have more than 300 people living with HIV, which is quite a large number for a smallish city. Of course we have a bigger epidemic on our doorstep in Papua New Guinea, where an estimated 34,000 people are living with HIV. PNG is only 800km to our north, whereas Brisbane is 1700km south. PNG is therefore of great importance to us in Cairns as we continue to deal with the issue of HIV.

Here's Dr Russell's speech on the launch of World AIDS Day in Cairns...
  • The United Nations General Assembly in June of this year made a Political Declaration on AIDS with 105 points aimed at finally eliminating HIV, including efforts to improve access to prevention, care, and treatment around the world.

    In addition, the UN remains deeply concerned that globally women and girls are still the most affected by the epidemic and that they bear a disproportionate share of the care-giving burden. Furthermore, the ability of women and girls to protect themselves from HIV continues to be compromised by physiological factors, gender inequalities, including unequal legal, economic and social status, insufficient access to health care and services, including for sexual and reproductive health, and all forms of discrimination and violence, including sexual violence and exploitation.

    The United Nations has also set the ambitious aim of halting and starting to reverse the rise in HIV infections by 2015, less than 4 years away. Even more than this, they plan to work towards reducing sexual transmission of HIV by 50 per cent by 2015; work towards reducing transmission of HIV among people who inject drugs by 50 per cent by 2015; and work towards the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015 and substantially reducing AIDS-related maternal deaths.

    These are amazing goals, unthinkable even a couple of years ago. They will require each of us to work towards achieving them, and to keep pressuring governments to continue funding prevention programs that have been proven to work – programs that involve education, the provision of condoms and clean injecting equipment for those who use drugs, and more recently the use of antiviral HIV drugs to reduce a person’s infectiousness. These drugs are available to all those who require them in Australia, but that is not yet the case in PNG, where only 50% of those requiring HIV drugs to treat their infections are receiving these life-saving medicines.

    In my 21 years of working in the HIV field I have seen many changes. When I started work in 1990 we had only one HIV medicine – AZT – and it didn’t work well at all by itself. We know have over 25 drugs, and they are used in combinations of 3-4 drugs that suppress the virus that leads on to AIDS. In my early days of working in HIV/AIDS, the outlook for people with HIV was very poor indeed. It is now, of course, much better, such that people who have HIV can look forward to long, mainly healthy lives. People can have long-term, loving relationships, can have children who are free of HIV, and can lead long, productive lives.

    The word ‘cure’ is even being bandied about, although eradicating HIV totally from a person’s body may still be many years away. However, it is a wonderful thing to work towards.

    The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is ‘HIV is still here’. The aim is to encourage all Australians to be aware of how common HIV is; to take action to reduce the transmission of HIV by promoting safe sex practices; and to accept individuals living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.

    HIV positive people need to be empowered in our society to feel included and to actually educate others about living with HIV/AIDS. People living with HIV have the right to participate in the community free from stigma and discrimination.

    With this in mind I would ask all of you – especially over the coming week - to think about HIV, to talk about HIV, and, if possible, to do something practical about the themes of World AIDS Day. HIV has not left us – ‘HIV is still here’.

  • WORLD AIDS DAY SERVICE: - 6pm tonight, Cairns Esplanade.

    (If raining, will be moved to Budda Bar, above McDonalds on the Esplanade, entry is on Shields Street).

    A Welcome to Country by Seth Fourmile. One Blood Dance group will perform followed by words from Mayor Val Schier and Dr Arden Dearden. Bill Chappelle will also speak on behalf of HIV positive community. Cairns' Out Loud Choir will entertain.

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Civil Partnership Bill passed by 7 votes

At 11:12pm Wednesday night, the Queensland Parliament passed the Civil Partnership Bill, 47 votes to 40, in a historic move forward for relationship recognition, joining Tasmania, ACT, South Australia, Victoria and NSW.

The heated and at times volatile debate, ensured for 3 hours and 50 minutes.

The Public gallery, packed to capacity, erupted with screams when the final votes were announced by the Speaker, and Andrew Fraser's private member's bill was passed.

Local Far North Queensland MPs, Barron River MP Steve Wettenhall and Member for Cook, Jason O'Brien, spoke in favour of the bill. MP for Cairns, Desley Boyle, chose not to speak and was present only for part of the debate, however voted in support, as did Mulgrave MP Curtis Pitt.

Cook MP Jason O'Brien, who has blocked CairnsBlog from all his online social media sites, spoke passionately about the legislation, and was vocal in condemning the LNP.

"[This is about] social justice, fairness, equity. It takes courage to make change," Jason O'Brien said in his speech to the Queensland Parliament. "The time has come to recognise what is undeniably true: gay, lesbian, transgender, intersex people exist. They're humans. They're here. They should enjoy the same rights as heterosexual people. I do not understand why one group of people who enjoy those rights, will not share those rights with those who do not."

O'Brien said that the Civil Partnerships Bill will cost "next to nothing" and will bring so much joy to to so many people.

"Why is it so hard for those opposite to enhance rights? How can it be so wrong for two people to stand together in public and declare their love for each other. How can that be wrong?" O'Brien said. "The Australian Labor Party is a broad church and we are proud to welcome gay people. I would have thought the LNP would have been the same. Surely they have gay members in the LNP. How can they sit there and deny their own supporters their right to celebrate publicly their love? It's shameful."

The speaker ruled it was unparliamentary to speculate on why all LNP members, except one, had decided not to express their conscience.

"I hope they [Labor] take it one step further over the course of the weekend in Sydney," Jason O'Brien said, in reference to the party's national conference.

Much was said that the Civil Partnership Bill mirrors marriage in all but name and therefore undermines the institution of marriage. However their were harrowing stories recounted when a same sex couple was refused access to be with his dying partner in hospital.

Queensland's State leader on Bob Katter's Australian Party, Aidan McLindon, refused to debate the bill, only rising to make one comment, that was widely laughed at: "A marriage is between a man and a woman."

Only Federal Parliament can amend the Marriage Act. Since 2004, under the Marriage Amendment Act 2004, which amended the Marriage Act 1961, same-sex marriages have been banned, however all levels of government under nearly all recognise same-sex couples as de facto couples as "unregistered co-habitation" or de facto status since 2009. Centrelink has recognised same-sex couples equally since 2009 for social security and unemployment benefit.

Liberal National Party's Jarrod Bleijie, whom I met within Cairns recently to discuss youth and justice issues, criticised Andrew Fraser, saying he only introduced the bill "to stitch up a Green preference deal,'' Bleijie said. "This bill is nothing more than a stunt."

The statement prompted an terse response from Nick Thompson, who is standing for Division 4 in the Cairns Regional Council's election.

"My relationship isn't a cheap stunt," Thompson responded on Twitter.

Barron River MP Steve Wettenhall who also spoke in support, says he holds a fundamental belief that all Australians should be equal before the law.

''Over the years this parliament and other Australian parliaments, mostly led by Labor reforms, have progressively removed laws that discriminate,'' Wettenhall said. ''As a result of laws that protect and promote human rights and prohibit discrimination, Australia and Queensland have become immeasurably fairer, more tolerant and better societies. Yet there is this important piece of unfinished business.''

Wettenhall said he recalled his wedding day as one of the happiest days of his life.

''This was not especially because we looked forward to the legal consequences of marriage; it was because we wanted to publicly declare our love and commitment to each other and celebrate that relationship with our friends and families,'' Steve Wettenhall told the Parliament. ''In my view, no-one should be denied that opportunity, and it is that opportunity that this bill provides.''

''Since this bill was introduced I have been sent many moving and heartfelt testimonials from same-sex couples who have longed for the day when their relationships could be recognised under Queensland law. We should give them that day today. I thank them for sharing their stories, their emotions and their hopes.''

Wettenhall's Barron River Smithfield office has received a lot of communication to support the Civil Union Bill, but ''many, many more than those have urged its defeat.''

''I did not need to search my conscience for too long. This bill can do no harm to anyone. It can do no harm to our state. It can only bring happiness and benefit to the couples who choose to use it and to the community of Queensland,'' Steve Wettenhall said.

The LNP argue that there has not been enough time for community consultation, and say that more than 54% of the final number of submissions to the legislative committee that examined the bill, were received 17 days after the cut-off date.

"That goes to the heart of the lack of consultation. We do not believe the people of Queensland have had the appropriate opportunities to raise their concerns,'' Jarrod Bleijie said.

Jarrod Bleijie says the bill is not a priority for Queensland.

"Civil partnerships is not on a priority list in the minds of Queenslanders,'' Jarrod Bleijie said in Parliament. "The passing of this bill will not save Queenslanders money, it will not ease cost of living pressures, it will not get our triple-A credit rating back.''

Over 5,000 submissions were received by the committee reviewing the bill. Most MPs spoke of great division and conflict in their community, saying that there was as must support as opposition for the recognition of same-sex partnerships.

The opposition LNP united together and in an unprecedented show of arms, disallowing any of it's MPs to support the bill, saying Labor's action was a ''political stunt.''

It was a shameful display and bordered on contempt of Parliament, prohibiting MPs to undertake a free conscience vote, the way Leader Campbell Newman coerced his party. He said in the last few days that it was the ''members and candidates'' that made the decision.

31 LNP MPs voted against the bill, along with five Independent MPs. Four Labor MPs didn't support the Bill: Capalaba MP Michael Choi; Albert MP Margaret Keech; Bundamba MP Jo-Ann Miller; and Health Minister Geoff Wilson, who has previously supported civil unions. Independent MP Peter Wellington voted to support the bill and rebuked attempts to be "intimidated."

Chris Foley, Independent member for Maryborough, chose to spend most of his speech on tired worn-out stereotypes, and even read of lengthy definitions of polyamory, in an warped attempt to confuse the issue.

"The first time I met one of my best friends who comes to visit me regularly in parliament was in a former life when I was a full-time piano bar singer,'' Chris Foley recounted. ''He tried to pick me up. He would be one of the gayest people I have ever met in my life. I will never forget the first time he came in. He had the handbag, the lipstick and everything going on.''

Foley's address was one of the maddest of the late night debate.

The Civil Unions Bill is available in Hansard. Go to page 49, actual page number is 3974.

New Zealand passed Civil Unions in 2005. Same-sex and opposite sex couples, will now be able to register with the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

I spotted this on Twitter early the next day. Summed it all up really...

Paul Freebody wants to be my ''friend''

Honestly, is he for real?

What on earth does Paul take me for?

I just received a Facebook ''friend'' request from the former Cairns Councillor, Adventure Waters developer, and most recently, the dumped LNP candidate for the State seat of Cairns.

Paul was ditched after a horrible email from his computer was circulated to heaps of his ''friends'' bestowing the ill the became of assassinated US President John F Kennedy, on Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Two months later, the LNPers promoted former Cairns Post provocateur journo Gavin King, to the nomination, complete with 200 juicy and opinionated articles including the now infamous quote “if a woman drinks to excess and is raped or assaulted, is she partly to blame? As uncomfortable and difficult as this question is, the answer surely is yes," wrote Gavin.

So the question I pose to you today is... should I become Paul's ''friend'' or not?

Tuesday 29 November 2011

27-year-old to appear in court over child's death overnight

Cairns Police has confirmed that a 27-year-old local woman has been charged following the death of an 8-year-old girl at a Westcourt house last night.

Around 9.30pm last evening, Police attended a Mann Street home where they discovered a deceased 8-year-old child.

The 27-year-old has been charged with two counts of assault occasioning bodily harm whilst armed and one count of torture.

She will appear before the Cairns Magistrates Court this afternoon.

Friday 18 November 2011

The drama of Cairns Community Radio... the whole sorry story.

4CCR 89.1 FM is the local community radio, a government and public-funded broadcaster, serving Cairns.

Over the last decade, the station has systematically locked out over 100 community members, "fired" volunteers, refused memberships, demanded private ID when joining, announcers and presenters have left in droves on the back of two corrupt committees since 2001 - one served for 7 years, the last one didn't account for $100,000, they put it down as "other expenses - and at least five federal ACMA investigations.

Former Senator for Queensland for nearly 11 years, Andrew Bartlett, who was with the Democrats and also a Greens candidate in the 2010 federal election, was asked in an interview at the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia conference, how community broadcasting shapes and cultivates Australian music, arts and culture.

"I was asked how important community radio is now to the Australian music scene, as opposed to when Four Triple Zed Brisbane started," Andrew Bartlett. You can listen to Andrew's podcast here.

Well, as I pointed out to Andrew, our local station has hardly served the Cairns community. It receives around $100,000 a year from the taxpayer, yet has operated as a secret society.

It's such a shame because when community radio is at it's best - like in Townsville's Triple T and Darwin's Territory FM, it is a positive and valuable community asset. Good community is rare indeed.

Sadly when the local community sought intervention from local Federal MPs, then ALP's Jim Turnour and now Warren Entsch, they did nothing or were powerless to act.

There really should be a fraud investigation over the 2001 - 2009 period when the mad Arona cult from Kuranda ran the place, and the last 17 months under president Rod Coutts. Both committees have huge and serious questions to answer to the Cairns community.

Over nearly a year, I documented the whole sorry saga. Here's most of the sorry stories...

Thursday 10 November 2011

Cairns Mayor Schier is a 'dupe for war' as Obama wants war from Australia, says Bryan Law

US President Barack Obama will visit Australia next week.

Obama’s visit to Canberra is being touted that his address to Parliament will be the defining speech of his first term on how he views America's role in the (Asia-Pacific) region.

America’s role will be military, according to veteran Cairns Peace by Peace activist, Bryan Law.

“The White House has not confirmed an expected announcement of expanded American access to Australian army bases, but says the 'next phase' of the alliance will be on the agenda,” Bryan Law says.

There will be a rally in Canberra next Thursday when Obama addresses the Australian Parliament.

Obama is also going to review Australian troops in Darwin, the home of Australia’s Tiger Attack Helicopter Squadron. Local activists are planning to protest Obama’s commitment to the militarisation of northern Australia.

If you live in Cairns, Bryan Law is inviting you to attend the Community Peace workshop at the Tanks Arts Centre. This will be held on Wednesday 16th November at 6pm. More info from Chris Stannard 4032 6609. The workshop will offer an opportunity to talk to the Council, through its Community Development branch, what kinds of actions we’d like Cairns to take in becoming a city of peace.

"Right now, Cairns – as part of Australia – is rapidly becoming a city of war," Bryan Law says. "We have around 1,500 troops at war in Afghanistan. Some are training Afghan Army regulars, some are special forces carrying out kill/capture night raids - targeted assassination."
Bryan Law says that three times since May this year, twice in the last 10 days, Afghan regular army soldiers have fired on Australian troops, killing four, and wounding ten.

"Australian troops are seen as part of a US occupation of Afghanistan, and are not welcome in Cairns," Bryan Law says. "The war in Afghanistan has been going on for ten years. Civilian casualties and Coalition troop casualties are higher now than ever before, and the growth in deaths/injuries is accelerating. Prime Minister Gillard, or KillHard as I prefer, is now saying that Australian troops will be fighting in Afghanistan well beyond 2014 which has, up until now, been the scheduled date of departure.''

Whilst Barack Obama is in Australia next week, the government will sign agreements to host US troops in every Australian base at home and around the world, and to host visiting US warships in every port in Australia.

"Australia will now become a deputy sherrif to US wars in both the Indian - Middle East - and Pacific - China, North Korea - Oceans,'' Bryan Law says. ''We are doomed to a condition of perpetual war and global hatred.''

''The Cairns Regional Council response to this is to lobby for an expansion of HMAS Cairns, and fore more US warship visits. Mayor Val Schier pretends to be a 'Mayor for Peace', but is in fact a 'Dupe for War,' Bryan Law says.

''If you want a better future for Cairns, if you want peace in the world, come along to the workshop and put your thinking forward.''
  • Community Peace workshop
    Tanks Arts Centre
    - Wednesday 16th November, 6pm
    Info - Chris Stannard 4032 6609
    Light refreshments will be served

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Purchase Tom Pyne's book and help FNQ Youth Assistance Fund

Former Cairns Mayor Tom Pyne, who passed away last week, will have touched many across the region.

Tom was particularly fond of the FNQ Youth Assistance Fund that assists young people with personal, health, education and welfare problems.

A limited number of Tom's wonderful memoir, Up Front, are available through CairnsBlog for just $20. You're also encouraged to make an additional donation to support the Fund.

If you'd like a copy, you can use the PayPal button on the right hand-side of the blog, making sure your include full details. You can also drop an email.

Another violent bus attack, this time at Redlynch

Sunbus, Cairns' local commuter bus service, has sustained more attacks, in what has now become a growing spree of violent attacks across the region.

The latest attack occurred last week in Redlynch, as a group of teenagers hurled rocks at an evening bus service along Michaelangelo Drive.

The photo shows the damage to last week's Redlynch attack.

However when CairnsBlog spoke with Sunbus manager Richard Gabasa, he appeared dismissive about an ongoing problem, and did not want to discuss the serious matter on the phone. When questioned about the latest attack in Redlynch, Mr Gabasa played down the incident.

"Yeah, there was some excitement up there," Gabasa said.

I put to Gabasa that this violent and unprovoked behaviour had been going on for some time.

"Oh, no mate. Look if you want me to make a statement, I invite you to send me an email, but I don't respond to phone calls about these things, because obviously we involve the police."

Some Sunbus drivers have said that they have taken things into their own hands, reporting attacks themselves and some even installing cameras as the company isn't doing enough.

I asked Richard Gabasa if the latest attack was reported to the police, but he appeared confused.

"Arrh, I don't have the report in front of me, I would imagine it would have been," Gabasa said.

The latest stoning attack occurred around 8pm on Halloween night, when around 30 youths between 10-15 years old spread across Michaelangelo Drive, in Redlynch, hell-bent on causing fear to passing motorists. They eventually dispersed of their own accord.

Youths have been using sling shots to propel large rocks at passing buses.

Drivers has said after previous attacks that they will refuse to drive some routes. Attacks have occurred in Gordonvale when a rock came through the front doors, thrown by a 14-year-old missile. The driver received concussion and the youth was charged.

Other attacks have occurred in Kewarra Beach, Trinity Beach, Raintrees shops, White Rock, Edmonton, Bayview, Redlynch, and in the violence-tempered Murray Street in Manunda.

In 2009 a Sunbus driver was assaulted and robbed at Manunda's Raintrees Shopping Centre around 10pm. In April this year, at 9pm, a rock was thrown through the bus's left side window, whilst there were passengers on board. Drivers have also been spat on and robbed in other incidents in recent months.

Around 30 incidents have occurred since 2009, with most of the attackers in their teens.

Sunbus drivers and Transport Workers Union have been asking for shatterproof glass and protective screens to be installed all around the buses.

"We are very concerned and there doesn't seem to enough being done about this," a driver told CairnsBlog who asked not to be named for fear of retribution. "Youths are getting in packs, however there seems a culture in Sunbus to not take some serious action about this violent problem."

Janine Aitken, industrial advocate and Cairns organiser of the Transport Workers Union, says it appears the attacks are growing in violence.

"What is Sunbus doing to protect its passengers and their staff?" Aitken asks. "The seats at the front of the bus are reserved for disabled, elderly, or mothers nursing young children, and this is the area where most of the attacks have occurred."

Aitken says that the carrying of cash on buses provides a extra temptation for anti-social behaviour.

"In Brisbane a GoCard system is in place, where the driver does not have to handle cash. Money has been stolen in Murray Street attacks," Janine Aitken says. "It won't be long before there is a very serious incident."

Brisbane drivers enjoy more safety with a shatterproof glass system, that make windows safer and more effectively resist missiles thrown at them.

"This design fault can be rectified on our local Cairns' Sunbus fleet," Janine Aitken says. "It further highlights the need to review windows in buses."

The Union says that Sunbus has an obligation to provide security on the buses for both drivers and passengers. One suggestion is that there's an additional staff member on board, especially in the evening. A security officer travels on buses on the Gold Coast.

In September the ongoing attacks caused a number of local Sunbus drivers to threaten an "after-hours ban" on some routes, including Murray Street. Drivers are demanding shatterproof screens and windows and also security guards in the evening routes.

Janine Aitken told CairnsBlog that Sunbus drivers have had enough.

"It’s not safe being a bus driver in Cairns," Aitken says. "So we’re taking action before serious injury or fatalities occur. We have called for anyone throwing rocks at buses to be charged with serious assault or a charge that reflect the seriousness of the attacks."

Sunday 30 October 2011

Thomas (Tom) Alfred Pyne 1935 – 2011

Former Cairns Mayor, Tom Pyne, father of Cairns Regional Councillor Rob Pyne, passed away today, after a sudden stroke yesterday morning.

"Dad passed this evening," Rob Pyne said. "He lived life to the fullest. He was the most loved person I have ever known. We will all miss him so much."

Cairns Mayor Val Schier paid her respects, saying that in the 'forestry of life' a big old tree came down today.

"Tom will be mourned and remembered by many, many people," Val Schier said. "They don't make them like Tom any more: a person driven by his sound country values and genuine interest in people and public service."

"He liked to give me a bit of advice from time to time and had telephoned me several times lately, keen to see the entertainment precinct happen. He and I had something in common - we'd both beaten Kevin Byrne - and it was always good to have a yarn. He will be sorely missed. A great man," Val Schier said this evening.

Rob Pyne's partner Jenny, who supported Rob after a tragic diving accident in 1991 that left him a quadriplegic, was bracing for the tough days ahead for her family.

"Rob may need to rally all his friends and get lots of support to help him through the tough parts," Jenny Pyne said. "It was such sudden loss, I don't think any of us have had time to process it thoroughly."

Tom Pyne, born in Babinda, was awarded an AM, Member of the Order of Australia, for over 40 years continuous service, a record he shared with Sir Robert Sparkes as the longest serving Local Government elected members in Queensland.

He was Mayor of the former Mulgrave Shire, and was elected as the first Mayor of Cairns City Council following the amalgamation in 1995, where he served till 2000. Pyne was also the president of the Local Government Association of Queensland 1997, having been a senior vice president since 1988.

When Tom joined the Mulgrave council in 1961 at the age of 26, he was elected chairman, which later became Mayor in 1979. He was elected unopposed through to 1991 and in 1994 his popularity and expertise were endorsed when he received 75% of the primary vote against two other candidates.

Pyne also served as chair of the FNQ Electricity Board, and was also appointed to Queensland's Centenary of Federation Committee.

"The new Administration Centre is a major achievement of the first City Council," Tom Pyne said when the Cairns Council relocated to the Spence Street site under his watch. "It is never an easy task, but people are now seeing the benefit. The previous situation, of paying rent and staff being scattered over five locations around the City, was not conducive to good management."

Tom Pyne claims that is very proud of the Esplanade Lagoon. "The best aspect is that through extensive consultation, residents decided what they wanted," he said. "It is a beautiful project."

He often described tourism as the 'power house' of the local economy and said that lobbying by the two former Councils to ensure Cairns became an international airport had seen the area never look back. Cairns is now Australia's fourth busiest airport.

In March 2008, Tom launched his son Robert's campaign in his successful bid for Cairns Regional Council.

As news spread about Tom's passing, around 190 had already posted condolences online.
  • ''My sympathy to the whole family. The passing of an authentic legend. Will be felt around Queensland.'' - David Anthony

    ''I've lost one of my heroes tonight, our region has lost one of it's best ever leaders, and many have lost one of our dearest friends. My thoughts, and those of all my family - Warren and Linda Pitt, David and Dionne Berry - go out to Marion, Rob Pyne, Joann Pyne, and family. Tom will be enormously missed.'' - Curtis Pitt MP, Mulgrave

    "Heart and Soul of the town I love. Nite Tom. Thanks for everything.' - Greg Dwyer

    "Tom dedicated his life to the service of the Cairns community and we are all poorer for his passing." - Gavin King

    ''RIP Tom Pyne - a man of action for all of Cairns - dealt with ratepayers queries and complaints with integrity and sincerity.'' - Margaret Schokker

    ''Tom was campaign manager for the late Ray Jones, MLA when I was Ray's electorate secretary. Tom always had a hearty laugh and was always so positive as to the election results. I used to look forward to Tom's visits because he always had something funny to say.'' - Alison Alloway

    ''I'm so sorry to hear this news. I have many great memories of Tom from my school days and his regular visits to Woree High. He was one of the select few politicians who I've always respected. Thanks for your contributions to our community Tom. You will be sadly missed.'' - Mel Commerford

    ''Cairns won't be the same without you. Thanks for letting us share in your life and leaving us your legacy in Rob Pyne. 2011 has taken some very important and loved people from our lives. x'' -Tanya Brooks-Cooper

    ''I remember your Dad right back to the Edmonton shop and servo days and can honestly say he never ever left an event or passed me in the street without coming up to say hello and ask what I was doing and how my family was!'' - Lee Todd

    ''I'm a Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly because Tom Pyne believed in me and gave me a chance. In 1999, he was retiring from the Mayoralty and helping build a team to take over the city. He endorsed Max Plummer for Mayor and I got the nod to run in Division 5 which I subsequently won by 55 votes. Tom was wary of me because I am a lefty but he gave me a go. I have now been in public office for 12 years and I owe Tom a great debt. He left a legacy in this town that won't be surpassed by any politician for a long time to come. Thank you for so much Tom. My deepest sympathies to the family.'' - Jason O'Brien, MP Cook

    ''Very sad news Rob. Our deepest sympathy to you and your family. The entire region will miss his presence, his effervescence and his wonderful sense of humour. The last time I saw him, he fell off his chair laughing......what a great way to be remembered.'' -Leigh Dall'Osto.

    ''My deepest sympathies to all your family. Your father was a really wonderful man and an absolute GIANT in local government circles. All my love. - Councillor Julia Leu

    ''Incredibly sad, huge loss.'' - Janine Aitken

Rob Pyne is his father's legacy. The fighting no-bullshit way he carries out his public duties with integrity and honesty, are instilled in him from his wonderful father.

There's no doubt that Tom was immensely proud of his son when he got elected as a Councillor. His joy was obvious that his memory and life in politics would be carried on in the Pyne tradition, gave him peace and satisfaction in his later years.

''It must be in our blood,'' Tom said of Rob's election win.

Tom's ilk in politics is a rare commodity these days, one who was a true community worker and intricately connected with the business fraternity. Politics nowadays seems a race all about greed, celebrity and arrogance, where talking with the people and representing their interests, is given second-rate lip service.

I had the pleasure to meet Tom on many occasions and was humbled by his frankness and genuine support for my work with CairnsBlog. He helped me with legal action being waged against me and CairnsBlog by then-mayor Kevin Byrne in 2007. Tom told me that in all his years, he never took legal action against anyone like that and withstood much criticism over his 40 years in politics.

"You just take it with the job Michael," Tom told me. "It's part of politics to be talked about and criticised. It made me stronger."

His advice and guidance in the uncharted world on online media, even in his later years, was still extraordinary.

Tom is survived by his wife Joanne, known as Marion; daughter Joann, director of TAFE; and Rob.

A win for Qantas would be a win for Cairns

In toady's Loose Change column, local business commentator Mark Beath, dishes up a contrary view on the Qantas dispute.

The Qantas grounding has obvious threats to the Cairns economy. At least in the short term.

It would be expected and hoped that this phase of the dispute will be short and that services will resume this week.

Longer term impacts will be more complex related to the dispute itself and the impacts of any subsequent agreement. So it was interesting today to see the blog response from Harry Clarke, an economics professor at La Trobe University: Qantas to fight trade union reactionaries...
Allan Joyce’s move to ground the entire Qantas fleet today was an inevitable attempt to break the backs of trade unionist reactionaries. As a Qantas shareholder I am dismayed at the current outcome but, as Qantas has not paid dividends for a couple of years, I support attempts to force the airline to gain competitiveness and staying power. Having pilots paid over $500,000 annually is inconsistent with this task and the attempts by maintenance engineers and pilots to trash the Qantas brand suggest that the best outcome for these clowns is to be sacked and then sued. Ungracious, overpaid pilots who lie to me about their employer when I travel on their airline arouse nothing within me but contempt. When a firm is losing $2m per day because of a strike the fact that the CEO is paid $5m per year is irrelevant. He is worth $20m if he can give these reactionary trade unionists the kick up the backside they so richly deserve. Qantas sells air services as an internationally traded good and international travellers are voting with their feet to support other airlines which offer cheaper and better quality service. Domestic air services in Australia remain expensive and the service is anything but great. The Australian travelling public deserve better and Australia needs a viable international carrier not a sheltered workshop.
Already the Labor politicians are shaking in their boots at Joyce’s move because it is hardly a good look for the Labor Government but reading Joyce’s press release I support it. The Government should keep out of this one. Qantas will fail without decisive action and, even though this might cost me money, I’d prefer to see this fight resolved now – it offers the best prospect for competitiveness reforms. Pilots, engineers, baggage handlers – accept the need for reform or find yourself new jobs. As the Qantas AGM showed you have no support among shareholders and the travelling public will see you for the contemptible grasping reactionaries that you are. That you attacked the customer base of Qantas as a negotiating tactic should never be forgotten.
Well, I suspect that rant from Harry will not gain unanimmous support of sentiment, which may be an understatement. However, as previously posted, why I like Harry is that he can never be accused of ideological bias and dishes it out in equal measure accross the spectrum. The very next post on Harry's blog starts "Tony Abbott’s idiot populism..... " and then goes on to berate the "dwarf throwers at Catallaxy" which is our most prominent libertarian economic blog with some high profile right wing economists. Yep, he's my kinda guy!!

Regardless, the pay and security demands from the unions here can never be seen as positive for the Cairns economy. It can only ever contribute to slower regional growth and higher risk. The Asia focus of the Qantas business strategy is to our advantage. The concept of job security in airlines indicates that these unions have never grown past their protected public service mentality. The interests of the employees of Qantas, even local employees, are not the interests of Cairns.

As Warren Buffet famously observed, from the perspective of an investor, the best outcome would have been for someone to have shot down the Wright brothers at Kittyhawk given the investor money that has been trashed in this industry.

Qantas is 90 years old. In metaphorical perspective job security in context for this industry is like a 90yo prostitute demanding job security in a brothel.

Shane Knuth leaves the LNP for Katter

The Liberal National Party is dealing with the defection of another MP, in the wake of their Gold Coast state council meeting this weekend, this time Shane Knuth, MP for Dalrymple, that takes in the Atherton Tablelands.

Knuth will join Bob Katter's Australia Party, that has been more politically aligned with the old merged National Party. Reports say that some other LNP members may join Katter's mob.

"I no longer stomach being forced to vote against National core values or watching the poor treatment of former Nationals," Shane Knuth told the Sunday Mail. "It has been clearly seen that many of the long-term, experienced MPs have been thrown out of the backbench and have little to no say in shadow cabinet. I believe the LNP merger hasn't been beneficial for rural and regional MPs."

Knuth follows the defections of Aidan Mclindon and Rob Messenger, who resigned from the LNP in May 2010.

Mclindon, MP for Beaudesert, went on to form the Queensland Party, and two months ago, abandoned it, to join Bob Katter's Australia Party. When he defected from the LNP he said the two major parties with not fit for the job.

"Queensland is now unfortunately faced with two options: one of incompetence and one of complacency," Aidan McLindon told CairnsBlog. "Until a third dynamic of co-operative independents form, we'll still keep getting what we've always got.

"The Australian Party welcomes Shane, a courageous man who has put his community first and is ready to take up the fight,'' Mclindon said this morning.

Labor's coal seam gas plan on agriculture land was a tipping point for Knuth as the LNP does not support a moratorium.

Saturday 29 October 2011

Former Mulgrave Mayor, Tom Pyne, has stroke

Tom Pyne, who became the Mayor of Cairns when the Shire of Mulgrave and the City of Cairns merged in 1995, has had a stroke.

His son, sitting Cairns Regional Councillor Rob Pyne, broke the news this afternoon.

"I just want to [tell] all my friends and friends of the Pyne family out there that dad has had a Stroke," Rob Pyne said. "We hope to know more soon, but please forgive my absence for a while. Thank you all for your understanding at this time."

Tom Pyne, now 76 years, was elected to the Mulgrave Shire Council in 1961 and served continuously until 2000, when he retired from public office having never been defeated at an election.

Following the amalgamation of Mulgrave with the City of Cairns, he was elected as Mayor for a five-year term in 1995.

Tom Pyne was the driving force behind the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon project and also the relocation the Council Offices from Abbott Street to Spence.

In March 2008, Tom launched his son's campaign in his bid for Cairns Regional Council. Rob Pyne said at the time, that while large Councils are said to deliver greater efficiencies and economies of scale, much is lost.

''I doubt the mega Council will ever have the respect and in some cases you can almost say ‘love’ that was held for the old Mulgrave Shire,'' Rob Pyne said. ''The of us who knew her, can understand the feeling of loss that residents of the former Douglas Shire have had in more recent years.''

Tom Pyne joined the Australian Labor Party at 18 years. In 1985 he was presented with Life Membership by the then Foreign Minister of Australia, and later Governor-General, Bill Hayden.

Here's Tom in a 1995 TV election advertisment...

Mirrored Cairns Botantic Gardens centre opens today

The stunning new Cairns Botanic Gardens visitor centre officially opens today.

Situated just along from the Tanks Arts Centre, the vsitor's centre is likely to be a popular talking point for it's unique architecture, reflected the neighbouring flora and fauna.

The building includes 104 solar panels and has been constructed to use minimal lighting and air-conditioning.
    Check out the creative local products for sale in the shop and the lovely botanic gardens book.

    The popular Trinity Beach L'unicos, will be opening the cafe there soon.

    Already some have said birds are haplessly flying into the mirrored walls, and according to reports, at least two have hit the walls.

    Councillor Pyne has defended the structure saying people need to focus their passion in the right area.

    ''A cat outside will do more damage in one night," Rob Pyne says. ''Some people need to get a grip and note some of the positive initiates of Council, such as registration of cats and moves to address that, quite a real problem.''

    The centre features interpretive displays, a gift shop and you can even get a up-close look at some native snakes. Council will co-ordinate events and activities, including arts workshops, guest speakers and theme-based presentations.

    The first will explore the theory of evolution with guest speaker Gary Wilson, a local botanist and photographer, on Saturday November 5th.

    Big Bands on the lawn at Palm Cove

    No plans late arvo?

    Wander along to Jazz on the Green at Palm Cove.

    Today features our own Dixie Jazz Band from 2pm, a Cairns institution.

    $5 entry support the Buchans Point SES, and spend a lazy afternoon on the lawn at Ocean's Edge, part of Novotel.

    From 4pm, the "Big Bands" will play: Afterhours, along with Hot Shots from Atherton and a special appearance of the Smithfield High School Big Band.

    Darren Hunt tweets and takes swipe at Gavin King

    A number of people walked the Red Arrow track last evening as part of Reclaim the Night, that Karen Struthers Minister for Women encouraged was important that all politicians took part in.

    "We all have a right to be safe in public spaces," Cairns Regional Council mayor Val Schier said about the event.

    Vote for the new 7 Wonders of the World

    • ‎There's only 11 days left to vote for the Great Barrier Reef. If you can't swim out to the polling station, you can still vote here.

    Friday 28 October 2011

    Two Millaa Millaa bushwalkers found safe

    Two bushwalkers, who are local Millaa Millaa residents on the southern Atherton Tablelands, have been found safe and well at 2.40pm this afternoon, after been missing overnight.

    The two men went missing in bush land near their property at Millaa Millaa, 100 kms South West from Cairns.

    Police were contacted at around 4am this morning and searched at the Sutties Gap Road property, with the Cairns Dog Squad, with additional aerial searches.

    The 57-year-old man went bushwalking at around 4.30pm yesterday and failed to return. His son, a 23-year-old man, went looking on foot at around 8pm last evening, and also failed to return to the property.

    Both men are related to Cairns businesswoman and internet entrepreneur Nicky Jurd, who drove to the area this morning to assist.

    "My dad and my little brother JJ have been found in the forest," Nicky told CairnsBlog. "Everyone is safe and well."

    "Thanks everyone for your support. Especially thanks to the SES."

    Traffic crash kills 19-year old at Ravenshoe

    A 19-year-old man has died following a traffic crash just south of Ravenshoe earlier this morning.

    Around 7am two utility vehicles were involved in a head on collision on Tumoulin Road. A 17-year-old man in the other ute received minor injuries. The 19-year-old died at the scene.

    The road remains closed while Forensic Crash Unit investigate at incident.

    Cairns Post hypocritical over gambling

    A case of the pot calling the kettle black.

    A CairnsBlog reader pointed out that it's a tad hypocritical for the Cairns Post to run a cartoon today lampooning James Packer, saying he is addicted to gaming revenue when the same newspaper issue features a 12-page racing and punting guide aimed at assisting gambling on horse races.

    Methinks the Post is addicted to betting (and alcohol) revenue.

    Mayor supports complaint to ACMA over Gavin King's regular appearances on Radio 4CA

    A complaint has been made to ACMA over Liberal National Party's Cairns candidate, Gavin King, about his regular appearances on John Mackenzie's Radio 4CA programme.

    "This should be publicised," Cairns Regional Mayor Val Schier told CairnsBlog. "I see daily transcripts about both King and Mackenzie who both lie and mislead in relation to me and allow listeners to denigrate."

    The complaint asks that the ACMA, Australian's communications watchdog, should take a ''serious interest'' in Radio 4CA in supporting the declared Liberal candidate for Cairns in the upcoming Queensland State election.

    Gavin King, a regular commentator on John Mackenzie's morning show when he was a journalist at the Cairns Post, still appears on 4CA every week, sometimes more than once a week, after being selected at the LNP candidate.

    The complaint has been made directly to the ACMA, instead of a notice to the broadcaster in the first instance, as King's appearances are deemed "political advertising or election material," and potentially breach a licence condition.

    It's well-known that John Mackenzie gives little or no time to any other political candidate or sitting politician, especially to those from other parties. Mayor Schier has not been on Mackenzie's shows for some time, preferring to use 4CA's earlier timeslot with Mike "Loco" O'Loughlan and ABC Far North.

    A senior local industry radio professional, who wished to remain anonymous, told CairnsBlog that it is shocking that 4CA management have not intervened previously.

    "I'm amazed that they let Mackenzie carry on like this, they must be aware that it's not appropriate," the source said.

    As the declared LNP political candidate, King was again yesterday bagging Mayor Schier for all manner on things, with no political authorisation mentioned. Gavin King was endorsed as the Cairns LNP candidate on October 2nd and has since made numerous appearances on Mackenzie's radio programme.

    Just last week in response to a question when he became a "supporter" or "a member of the LNP", King, who has been a senior journalist with the Cairns Post for a number of years, said it's always been his leanings.

    "[I] have been highlighting dismal Labor failures for years so it was time to walk the walk," King wrote online.

    "It's my understanding that Mackenzie's show is open to any and all guests," King told CairnsBlog today. "I know for a fact certain Labor politicians have refused to appear for talkback because they don't enjoy the response they get from many listeners and callers."

    However this doesn't negate the way balance is purportioned to political candidates on air. ACMA are very clear about this. It's quite a different kettle of fish now that Gavin King is a political candidate and not a "commentator" from the Cairns Post.

    An outspoken opponent of King who supported Charlie McKillop's LNP campaign, economic commentator Mark Beath, questioned Gavin King whilst he was with the Cairns Post over a a column he wrote about a dinner with Alan Jones without revealing whether he paid. Beath says it was an LNP fundraiser.

    Now as the endorsed candidate, nothing appears to have changed and Mackenzie still has King on for hour-long slots. He appears to give no other candidate or party equal airtime.

    King and the LNP have received much criticism after newspaper columns including his views about women that encourage being raped if they drink... a victim-blaming approach. Party Leader has failed to distance himself to the polarising views that women group find abhorrent. King now states that "the first two sentences were badly worded," but stands by safety message of the whole column."

    Val Schier has decided to go on Mike 'Locco' O'Loughlin's show on the same radio station, along with ABC Far North's morning programme, after repeatedly finding Mackenzie hostile and uncooperative towards her. It's also known that Mackenzie's racist attitude towards Aboriginals have irked Val Schier.

    Schier's appearance on Mackenzie's show was the center of a $17,000 investigation dubbed 'cash for comments' in 2009 which led to the dismissal of senior Cairns Regional Council communications manager Kerie Hull, who is now directing Gavin King's media campaign. Council CEO Noel Briggs also resigned over the affair. The ACMA ruled that Radio 4CA were in breach of their licence for not disclosing the arrangement.

    Cate and Geoffrey review 'Margaret and David'

    After 25 years together on TV, David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz have become an institution.

    Here's an affectionate review of their career.

    Thursday 27 October 2011

    Labor will drive ahead with Cape York Rivers lock up plan

    Earlier this month the Wilderness Society, an organisation that tries to fool people it supports indigenous peoples and their land, stuck up some massive billboards with Labor's help.

    The billboards, costing between $15,000 - $25,000 a month, incorporates a flashing red neon sign below saying ''TELL NEWMAN NOW''

    Ahead of the next State election, expected in the next five months, the government will steam roll Wild Rivers' declarations in three Cape York river systems. Today in Queensland Parliament, Environment Minister Vicky Darling would start ''consultations'' with traditional owners on Cape York peninsula.

    Labor's target is the Coleman, Olive-Pascoe and Watson River systems. Four Cape York rivers are already ''locked up'' under the legislation. Labor, along with the politically-aligned Wilderness Society, say it will ''preserve pristine environments by restricting development around rivers and creeks.''

    Federal MP for Leichhardt Warren Entsch says it's just another step in appeasing the Greens.

    ''I think it should be vehemently opposed," Warren Entsch said. ''The declarations, along with a push from the state and federal governments for a World Heritage listing in the peninsula, were an attempt to 'lock up' the region and would stifle economic development in impoverished Aboriginal communities.''

    Entsch and LNP State leader, Campbell Newman, have vowed to stop the declarations from being made.

    "I would hope that we would be in government and we would kill it off before then," Entsch said.

    Wilderness Society say that the rivers of Cape York are some of the last free flowing rivers in the world, and are wanting declarations to stop mining developments, near the catchments and surrounding wetlands.

    Amazingly, after over two years of posturing about this, the Government announces just a few short months out from an election, it will now consult with indigenous elders and community groups in Cape York. This of course means that they will pump out a ton of pretty brochures and some new websites no doubt and tell the black fellas what they're going to do with their rivers. It truly is an insult of significant proportions to treat the locals like this in such an arrogant, last minute fashion.

    Mayor of the Northern Peninsula Area, Joseph Elu told CairnsBlog that the State Government repeatedly had not engaged his people in the process.

    "We're the first people in Queensland that say the Cape rivers need protection, but protection doesn't mean lock up," Joseph Elu. "Wild Rivers is very much a lock up situation."

    Mayor Elu said they have river protection covered under conservation covenants and national parks, which is enough protection. He warned that any lock up will only damage the river systems, with many feral pigs and cane toads. He was scathing about the lack of negotiations by the State Labor government over the proposed Wild Rivers legislation.

    "Their way of consulting, is telling us what's going to happen," Joseph Elu said. "They did not come to us when the crucial decision on Wild Rivers were declared. They did not come to us and say why they are doing this. They did this behind closed doors."

    CairnsBlog author, Michael Moore, talks with Northern Peninsula Mayor Joseph Elu.