Friday 28 January 2011

Cairns Police charge two with Kewarra Beach murder

Cairns detectives have charged two men with murder, following the discovery of 44-year-old Gregory John Elms at his Frankson Street home, Kewarra Beach, a week ago.

The two men, who were already in custody for other charges relating to the incident, are 36 and 28-years-old, both from Edmonton, south of Cairns.

They will appear in Cairns Magistrates Court this morning.

It was believed that the man may have died up to a week earlier, before being discovered by neighbours.

Thursday 27 January 2011

And this car would belong to which Cairns Councillor?

(Pssst: She is indeed!)

The country is broke, so let's tax the peasants

A Federal levy of .5% for every Australian taxpayer earning over $50,000, has been announced today. Those earning over $100,000, will pay 1%.

''I know this [levy for flood damage] will be unpopular,'' Anna Bligh said today. "Queenslanders didn't ask for their State to be wrecked by flooding,'' as she defended the new tax.

The tax will equate to around $1 a week for those on $60,000. Those on $100,000, will pay about $5 per week. Around $1.8 billion would be collected in in the 2011/12 tax year, however those who were flooded would not have to pay.

Prime Minister Gillard also agreed today to pay $2 billion immediately to Queensland to start the rebuilding, an acknowledgement that the State's coffers are depleted after 10 years of mis-management - and around $80 billion owed.

"As a nation we have come together in the past to help out the milk industry, the sugar industry, the workers of Ansett and to buy back guns after the Port Arthur tragedy," Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said. "I think the people of Queensland are at least as important as all of those other levies in the past. Australia will benefit from getting Queensland's key industries like agriculture and mining back on their feet.''

''The prime minister had got the levy badly wrong,'' State Opposition Leader, LNP's John-Paul Langbroek said in response. ''It was unfair that people who had been indirectly affected should have to help foot the bill. The government should be able to fund the rebuild another way. We've got our whole tourism industry that's basically had a very, very difficult season. We've got truck drivers, we've got people who work in the cities who've been unable to access their offices. All of these people are now going to have to pay a levy.''

"I'm just concerned that adding a tax to Queenslanders is not going to help Queenslanders to regain their consumer confidence," John-Paul Langbroek said.

Federal opposition leader Tony Abbott says Labor should cut spending in other areas and also look at its own budget to pay for the flood damage.

''While it was important to help rebuild infrastructure in flood-ravaged areas in Queensland and Victoria there was no need for Australians to pay a levy,'' Abbott says. “There is fat in the budget, there is more fat upon which the government should draw.''

State Treasurer Andrew Fraser says he still doesn't know the total bill.

"When you see the numbers tomorrow you'll get a sense that this is, indeed, a very big impact on the Queensland budget so soon after the global financial crisis," Fraser said. ''Friday's new fiscal strategy would map a way to rebuild assets like schools, roads and bridges that had been destroyed. Into the future, we need to make sure that everyone understands the priority is on flood recovery first and foremost.''

Abbott drew the comparison of the new tax to the failed pink bats insulation scheme.

''This is another government spending program for which no one is going to be held accountable if things go wrong," Tony Abbott said today.

Labor will dump the dumb idea of the 'cash for clunkers' program, that was designed to trade in old cars for new; the green car innovation fund and the solar hot water rebate, in order to help pay for the flood bill. $325 million to undertake six Queensland roads projects, will also be put on hold, with cuts to projects across the country, adding up to $625 million.

Following September's massive 7.1 earthquake in New Zealand's third largest city, Christchurch, the nation's earthquake fund was immediately activated. There were literally billions of dollars in the fund, with no financial impact on the country's taxpayers.

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Cairns Council honours Clive Skarott as citizen of the year

Cairns Regional Council has acknowledged some special local residents on Australia day, for their contribution to our local community.

Ten residents have been recognised for their exceptional contribution at an Australia Day ceremony at the Cairns Civic Theatre. The awards were selected from a panel of Mayor Val Schier and some Councillors after nominations from the public.

Seth Fourmile of Gimuy Walabara Yidinji, extended a 'Welcome To Country' followed by the national anthem. The event also welcomed sixty new Australian citizens, from 27 countries.

Today there have been Australia Day events at Port Douglas, Yorkeys Knob, Trinity Beach, Cairns Esplanade and Edmonton.

Clive Skarott
Citizen of the Year –

- Member of a Cairns founding family; Foundation Director of Advance Cairns and the Electricity Credit Union (ECU); CEO of the EC and past Chairman of Queensland Ports Association 2000-2010; member of the community who has ensured continual support of Cairns Amateurs, Australian Volunteer Coastguard, Cairns Yacht Club, Festival Cairns and Cairns Indigenous Art Fair; associated with Cairns Junior Cricket and Cairns Post in 2008 named him one of 25 of the Most Influential People in the region.

Clinton Cave and Mark Thompson (joint winners)
Junior Citizen of the Year

Mark Thompson -2010 Captain Saint Mary’s College and Senior Debating Award winner; winner of the Member for Mulgrave Youth Volunteer Award, Edmonton Lions Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement; Member of YMCA Queensland Youth Parliament and Cairns YEA! Environmental Committee Chair

Clinton Cave

- recipient Order of Australia Youth Citizen Association Award 2010; first swimmer ever in Cairns State High School’s 93 year history to be awarded champion swimmer of the meet for five years of his high school career and three year record winner of 1.5km Green Island Ocean Swim

Terry Doyle
Culture Award for the Arts
Mentor of performing artists and creator of a distinct brand of music; co founder of People Advocating for Live Music (PALM); Vice president of the Hamilton State Primary School and Manager of the Queensland Junior in-line hockey team.

Lone White
Special Commendation (Culture Award for the Arts)
Lone White – ceramicist and regional arts advocate; representative of the Anti-Discrimination League and coordinator of the Cairns Sister Cities Exhibition

James WatsonVolunteer of the Year
– past Treasurer and President of the Port Douglas Neighbourhood Centre; Community Veggie Garden carer; Senior Scoop reporter and Treasurer of Douglas Shire Seniors Incorporated; member of Toastmasters, Port Douglas Rotary and Tangaroa Blue Ocean Care Society.

Martin Hurst
Special Commendation (Volunteer of the Year)
Honorary Treasurer of Cairns District Rugby League and the Cairns District Women’s Rugby League; volunteer for his church community and local animal welfare groups

Chris Sheppard
Senior Sportsperson
CEO Northern Pride Rugby League Club with a life long career as a player of Rugby League

Jake Roach
Junior Sportsperson
- Captain of the Manunda Hawks AFL undefeated premiership team; team member of Cricket Far North under 19 Rep Team and North Queensland Country Under 19 Rep Team

Mitchell Evans
Special Commendation (Junior Sportsperson)
– member Cairns Motorcycle Club representing Queensland and Australia in competition; School Captain Redlynch College Junior School

I wandered down to the Australia day bash on the beachfront at Yorkeys. There was a line longer than a Timorese boat-load, queuing up for the free breakfast.
Local pollies were thick on the ground. Steve Wettenhall, MP for Barron River was up on the stage playing with Tony Hillier's Snake Gully. Just like his day job, but a little more in tune. I said hello to Warren Entsch, Federal Member for Leichhardt, as he was besieged with problem-ridden constituents wanting him to fix pot holes. I even shook hands with Councillor Sno Bonneau - I wonder how many Clifton Beach readers I've just lost?

And then there was Deputy Mayor Margaret Cochrane, a regular stalwart of Aussie day events. She kindly pinned a Koala on my singlet, complete with Australian flag, all made in a sweat shop in deepest China. Margaret even gave me a hug. I wonder how the Koala enjoyed the experience? It's not the first time a Cairns Regional Councillor has given me something furry with sharp claws.
Oh, it's great being a Kiwi on Australia day. However, as Waitangi Day falls on a Sunday in February this year, I expect it to be Mondayised.

Investigation launched into overnight Edmonton death

Police have asked their Ethical Standards Command to investigate how a 39-year-old man died during a police call out in Edmonton, South Cairns last night.

Around 9pm, police were called to a dispute in Hartill Street where a man was discovered acting in a threatening manner towards occupants and the police.

''Attempts to negotiate with the man, however, he was later discovered deceased in the building,'' a statement from Queensland Police said this morning. ''Officers at the scene commenced CPR on the man while ambulance officers gained access.''

A report is being prepared for the coroner and the investigation will be overseen by the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

Kiwi Rico wishes Aussies a happy Australia Day

Tuesday 25 January 2011

The King's ransom: Bligh and Labor must go

I've recently re-connected with the Post's illustrious Gavin King. We had a CBD revive encounter, the full story is worthy of a retelling on another occasion, needless to say, we exchanged pleasantries like two old chums.

King used his weekend column to do the dirty on the State Labor party, and in particular, give us all a reality check in the aftermath of a post-flood euphoria. It's the equivalent of Bligh sitting up in bed after doing the deed, smoking and saying: 'Wow, that was good for me.'

However, Gavin pointed out this was just a temporary hemorrhage, and the great unwashed (and unflooded) shouldn't forget the Anna and Labor party we've grown to love over recent years.

"Premier Anna Bligh deserves to be voted out of office when the state election is held in about 12 months' time," King wrote in his weekend column. "Believe it or not, it pains me to say that."

I don't believe he experienced any pain in declaring such vitriol. In fact, I suspect he probably got a little moist down below, like an under-cooked lemon sponge cake.

King went on to say that unlike the raging waters, a brief flash of leadership isn’t enough to sweep away years of ineptitude, reactionary politicking and a repeated failure to think outside the south-east Queensland square.
Is he just saying what a lot of us are thinking?

In September last year, a few weeks before I headed across the ditch to Christchurch to spend a month or so with mother, I did an expose on the best un-kept Labor secret in Cairns: Tim Grau was being groomed and coached for pre-selection as the candidate when Desley Boyle pops off her mortal coil.

It all started when Tim wrote the Cairns Post's Soapbox column one insignificant Saturday. He failed to declare his Labor connections, even though he was the chair of the Cairns branch at the time, a senior local role. Not disclosing this was a huge mistake of judgment.

However, the Post needs to take some of the rap for not printing this in the introduction. When Tim Grau defended this point, he said it was not relevant, and he was writing in a different capacity about political matters. Bullshit. It was entirely relevant and disingenuous that he thought he could have got away with it in the first place. Had he simply added a footnote to declare his political connections, we all would have read his article with a totally different perspective.

I recapped the mess on the Monday after, when Tim wrote two separate emails from two different email addresses, in order to placate his loyal colleagues and tell me, I 'd got it all wrong and I was just a naughty shit stirrer (my translation).

Tim Grau's likely nomination as the preferred Labor candidate for Cairns, also came under strong criticism from Gavin King.

"How my grandfather would turn in his grave at the power-broking elite now running the Labor Party." Kings wrote... "We need look no further for proof of this shiny new brand of Labor leadership than ALP Cairns branch president Tim Grau, long rumoured to be the anointed candidate for the seat of Cairns at the next state election should Desley Boyle retire."

"Mr Grau is a nice enough bloke, a marketing guru and former bureaucrat who appears to want the best for Cairns after a recent move north. He is everything my father isn’t: a smooth talker, a party apparatchik, a skilled schmoozer, a professional political operator who enjoys telling you what’s best for you and your community."

King says that in all his conversations, Grau appears more interested in big ticket items, like the National Broadband Network and the cultural precinct, rather than the smaller, but no less significant, struggles of suburbanites or incremental initiatives such as the new partnerships between the business and arts communities in the CBD Revive campaign."

"ALP bosses such as Mr Grau do not represent what the core of the Labor Party and its diehard supporters stand for," Gavin King says. "Sadly, he is just one local example of many across the country."

He says that Labor have lost their way and forgotten their roots.

"They have lost touch with the average Jills and Joes, the retirees, the strugglers, the hard workers, the people with their feet on the ground. The somewhat unhinged former Labor leader Mark Latham has regularly identified this loss of Labor’s identity since retiring in a blaze of bile and loathing. It was embodied in the acts of bastardry [sic] by the faceless men who axed Kevin Rudd."

Well-known veteran political activist Bryan Law, and a former card-carrying leftie, has also turned his back on the Labor Party. He lauded King's recommendation to take Queensland Labor to the gallows.

"It’s that blind loyalty and sentiment that allows machine politicians like Tim Grau to treat both Party members and voters with contempt and get away with it," Bryan Law wrote in response to what he calls 'tribal loyalty to the ALP' by party faithful who rallied against King's article. "Tim Grau will stand for Cairns at the next election as a result of factional deals already made with no regard for grass-roots members. The ALP was elected in 2009 with a secret policy of privatising assets. The ALP is in government. The ALP has failed. Someone else ought be given a chance," Bryan Law says.

Even long-time party members like union organiser Stuey Traill, who have stood up and aggressively challenged their party over privitisation, have been threatened with termination. It's a party fragmented and in a deathly spiral.
The widespread attack on Grau and Labor even dragged former Federal MP Jim Turnour out from the political wilderness. He felt compelled to defend the non-pre-selected candidate.

"The Cairns Branch of the ALP is made up of blue collar workers, unionist, pensioners, businessmen and professionals," Turnour said. "Tim Grau is a person who is successful, smart and articulate and has spent years working in support of the Labor Party. It is not surprising then that the Cairns Branch would elect him to a leadership role."

Jim Turnour says he was affronted that the Cairns Post would allow Grau to be "denigrated."

"What I find unfair and unethical is that a multinational company, News Limited would use their positions of power within the community to denigrate an individual in this way," Turnour said. "Leadership is about debate and the pursuit of ideas not character assassination. The Labor Party has problems but having members like Tim Grau isn’t one of

King says we should praise Bligh for her "extraordinary work during the flood crisis and then proceed to punish her government at the poll booths by remembering its woeful performance over consecutive terms. Maybe then they’ll realise style will never replace substance when it comes to leadership."

At least both Turnour and King agree on one thing: The Labor Party has problems.

CAPTION CONTEST: Remembering Jim

As we just learnt, the Member for Cook, Jason O'Brien, heads off to Peru today in search of Llamas, an alert CairnsBlog reader came across this snap.

It's the former Federal Member for Leichardt, Jim Turnour, who lost his seat to Warren Entsch, 54.2% to 45.8%. Jim took a well-deserved non-taxpayer-funded international holiday with Tiffany and Zoe. It looks as if he went to some wild and far out places. Maybe Jim and Jason are going to share a log cabin, high in the Peru mountains?

It's screaming out for a caption or two. As always, I'll start the llama spitting...

  1. "At last, someone who really understands me!"
  2. "Are you telling me, I should have dressed like this and it would have got the attention of the Cairns Post?"
  3. "This post-election job as ABC's roaming wildlife commentator is really not that different to my last job: some of them spit at me, others can't understand a word, and I can make all kinds of nice promises and they really don't know any difference."
  4. "Actually, with a steady diet of cheese burgers and coke, this one would resemble Warren Entch in no time."
  5. "So you once used to be a member of parliament, did you? I hear it's not that different to me. I shit wherever I like; do what I want; expect to get fed and watered; and really don't have to do anything for a few years. Not a bad ticket, if you know what I mean."
  6. "..................your turn ......................"

Monday 24 January 2011

Kewarra Beach death identified, help wanted

Cairns Police have named a man found dead at his Frankston Street, Kewarra Beach home as 44-year-old Gregory John Elms.

The death is being treated a suspicious after Police were called 4:30pm Saturday afternoon.

It's believed that the man may have died up to a week earlier before being discovered by neighbours. A major incident room has been set up and the investigation has been named "Operation Juliet-Memphis."

Police are asking for help from the public who may have any information or sightings, call 1800 333 000.

'Labor mismanaged Wivenhoe Dam' - Williams

The State Labor Party must take some responsibility for the severity of the January floods, especially the impact on Brisbane and surrounds, according to Rob Williams, a retired Cairns farmer and horticulturalist.

WHY? Because of their misunderstanding of why former Queensland Premier Sir Joh Bjelkie Peterson built the Wivenhoe dam in response to the 1974 flood.

"The Wivenhoe was held to 190% of capacity because of the 'Anna Bligh syndrome'," Rob Williams says.

Here's the rationale...
  • The flood in Brisbane was avoidable if the original operating systems of Somerset and Wivenhoe dams were used.

  • When Sir Joh., started building Wivenhoe Dam in 1975 it was designed to be a flood mitigation dam, not a water storage dam as it used under the present operating regime as introduced by the Labor Party.

  • As a result of the Labor mismanagement of Lake Wivenhoe, thousands of homes and businesses flooded.

  • How the original operating system was to work as designed was: Somerset to be the water supply dam for Brisbane on the Brisbane river, Wivenhoe to be the FLOOD MITIGATION dam below Somerset on the Brisbane River.

  • Wivenhoe was not supposed to fill more than about 40%.

  • When Somerset was filled by a non flood event 20% of its volume was to be released and held at Wivenhoe for consumption in Brisbane.

  • If a food event happened above Somerset (as it did), whilst that 20% at Somerset was filling, Wivenhoe would release the water that was released from Somerset at a rate that did not flood Brisbane.

  • When Somerset overflowed, Wivenhoe would collect that water which could then be released at a rate that did not flood Brisbane.

  • The filling of the 20% of Somerset by the flood means that Somerset held a volume of water of that flood event equivalent to the holding of 20% of the capacity of Somerset.

  • Under the new operating regime were Wivenhoe was used as a WATER STORAGE dam both Somerset and Wivenhoe were 100% full before the flood event in the Brisbane River Valley.

  • Wivenhoe filled to 190% of its capacity.

  • If you do the maths under the operating regime as Joh had it designed, to prevent a flood in Brisbane, Somerset’s 20% flood mitigation capacity plus another 70% of the flood event to be held at Wivenhoe.

  • As Wivenhoe would have been only 40% full when the flood event started.

  • This meant that under the original operating regime as designed, Wivenhoe would have reached 110% full which is very manageable in its design.

  • The flood waters held in Wivenhoe could then be released at a rate that did not flood Brisbane. As a flood mitigation dam, water would be released until it was once again 40% full.

  • Releases from Wivenhoe would be timed so as to reach Brisbane as the tide is going out and to be a maximum just before low tide and as the tide comes in the flow to be reduced.

  • A new water supply dam and a flood mitigation dam below it needs to be built on the Bramer River which would protect Ipswich from flooding but this won't happen as Labor and it's coalition partner, the Greens hate dams.

  • During the Bjelkie Peterson era, 60 Dam sites were identified, 30 had the land mass acquired and owned by the Government.

  • The Labor Party sold off 30 sites and built nothing!

  • There have been no dams or flood mitigation construction since Joh left office!

Death toll 35 from Queensland floods

The death toll in south-east Queensland since January 10 has today risen to 22.

This follows the discovery of human remains at Murphy’s Creek on Saturday evening and Lowood yesterday. Detectives and forensic specialists are currently investigating on behalf of the Coroner. The thorough search for people missing from the Lockyer Valley is ongoing.

To date 35 people have died as a result of flood-related incidents that have occurred in Queensland since November 30, 2010.

A mean means test from Premier Bligh for flooded residents

Queensland's Premier clawed back a few points in teh aftermath of the floods, as she sounded sympathetic and supportive, however that will all be lost after she's rolling out a discriminatory and mean means test for flood victims to swallow.

Bligh has said she will not apologise for means testing the financial aid for those affected by the January floods throughout the State.

"Those worst hit need the most help," Anna Bligh says. This means that a substantial number, probably well over 50% at some estimates, will not receive any financial help from the Government. This is after the initial $4000 from Centrelink and the Disaster Relief Appeal fund.

Those with a combined annual income of more than $48,400, or have too many assets, will not be entitled to the $5000 grant, regardless if their home was destroyed in the floods. The grant is to help uninsured home owners. For singles, the means test will be just $36,600.

"The payments were modeled on State-Federal arrangements and were to ensure the 'neediest get the most'," Bligh said.

"[She's] got her means test policy badly wrong," John-Paul Langbroek of the opposition says. "The Premier needed to recognise that her $48,400 cut-off was simply too low. Queenslanders need flood assistance grants they can access now."

Langbroek says most families won’t qualify because the income limit is too low. Most households have joint incomes above $49,000.

“The sentiment from Queenslanders and Australians is that we should be helping these people. But with reports indicating up to 60% will not be covered by insurance and have lost everything, the Premier needs to significantly raise the cut-off level for household income," Langbroek says. “In these extraordinary circumstances we should try to help as many people as we can and I suggest the joint-income cut-off should be at least $100,000."

“Let’s get on with helping those people by having grants that are available to most families. Unfair restrictions only serve to upset families who already have enough stress in their lives," John-Paul Langbroek said. “These families have houses they can’t live in …their furniture and most of their belongings have been ruined and now they’re probably paying rent on top of a mortgage. In fact, in some cases, the mortgage may well be higher than the value of the home."

What’s Cairns Council doing for flood protection

In the aftermath of massive and damaging flooding in Rockhampton and the greater Brisbane region, many residents in Cairns are rightly asking: what’s our Cairns Council doing for flood protection?

Mayor Val Schier defends her record about development approvals that could compromise flooding issues in face of criticism. She did not support a leisure waterpark development on the Barron River delta in 2009, when a majority of Council approved after expert recommendations not to.

Flooding is on our mind at the moment. Just look at what the Barron Falls are up to at the moment.

Local political activist Paul Drabble [pictured right with Mayor Schier] says that Cairns Regional Council Mayor Val Schier is an adamant proponent of Climate change and its effects, yet she is willing to spend $240 million of tax and ratepayer’s money to have a cultural precinct put on the waterfront site and Trinity Wharf.

Drabble claims that climate change advocates will admit that area will be under water within 30 years.

“If the mayor is such a believer in climate change then she is hypocritical if she allows the building and development of areas that are less than five feet above sea level at present or in a flood plain,” Paul Drabble says.

He asks if Council will be reviewing the possible flood-prone areas and upgrading the approval system to not allow houses to be built in areas of great danger. This is one of the serious questions that Brisbane residents now face, and it will be interesting to see the cat fight between insurance assessors and local South East Queensland Councils that have, since the massive and larger 1974 floods, subsequently approved substantial residential and commercial construction in known flood areas.

Over recent years, more and more development has occurred closer to waterways, often breaching the minimum requirements of the riparian corridor. This can be seen no more clearly than at Clifton Beach, alongside Deadman’s Creek. cairns Council was asked retrospectively to allow construction, then permitted the developer to dig the natural river and line it with cement. This atrocity can be seen from the Captain Cook Highway, just to the south of the BP service station. It was a disgrace for such an approval. There’s nothing more certain than another flood at this site.

So it's a good question if flood mapping for Cairns is up-to-date and takes in future possible rain events of greater than 100 year proportions.

“Has this map had large tidal variances added that could also impact on and adversely cause major issues with infrastructure as well as he lifestyles of the cairns population?” Paul Drabble asks. “Has Council investigated flood prevention measures for the Cairns airport, with maybe the use of levy banks to protect this major piece of infrastructure?”

The Cairns airport, now flogged off to a private owner after the State Government needed some dollars to pay the interest on the $80 billion State debt, it’s likely Council would not become party to such flood mitigation work.

What about the positioning of new water and waste infrastructure, taking into account possible flood inundation? The Northern Beaches site is not far from the low-lying Catanna Wetlands, would have to be a contender for serious flooding. Has the Queensland State Government done flood prediction mapping for the site of new hospital services on Edmonton’s Mann's farm?

Paul Drabble says there are many questions the residents of Cairns, who already live in flood-prone areas, are going to ask. These areas with the effect of climate change will greatly increase if the science is proven to be correct, which only time will prove.

The sprawling new southern suburbs, West of Edmonton's established village, is of concern.

So just what is our Council doing today to ensure this region does not fall victim to a similar fate that the South Queensland has endured? Is our river hydrology that different? Are we immune?

Division 3 Councillor Rob Pyne says everything approved has to be Q100 complainant. This was most certainly not the case when just over a year ago, a majority of Councillors ignored expert recommendations, including their own officer’s report, and gave the green light to the first large-scale commercial development on the Barron River Delta – at extensive flood plain immediately north of Cairns city, that covers 20 sq kilometers - that has forever been reserved as agriculture land. The waterpark approval has set a dangerous precedent.

I've written extensively about the history and hydrology of the mighty Barron River on CairnsBlog, especially in terms of the surrounding delta. Local sugar cane farmer and former Mulgrave Shire Councillor, Ross Parisi, has also been a regular commentator about the Barron River. He has seen first hand over the last 40 years, how the river changes course and takes control of the land. Parisi was a staunch advocate to cease any commercial development on the delta.

In 2009 Parisi called for a moratorium in light of the push by former Cairns Councillor, Paul Freebody, to build a large-scale adventure waterpark at the corner of Dillon Road and the Captain Cook Highway, just to the South of the Yorkeys Knob roundabout.

The delta has seen significant flooding when the banks of the Barron breached it's banks over the years, a number of times in the late 1970's the inundation was such, you could have taken a boat from Smithfield Shopping Centre, to Sheridan Street.

There are also questions on the south of Cairns. Councillor Robert Pyne says the planned hospital construction near Edmonton, Council does not have power to compel the State.

“Residents can search Council records before purchasing a property to see if it will flood,” Cr Pyne says. “Many properties in the old city areas do flood, indeed the first king tide of the year was just last Thursday at 9:30am and if there was very heavy rainfall at this time, you should see some minor flooding in the city.”

Pyne says that flood immunity in South Cairns is actually very good and that Brisbane will experience flooding again, and so will Cairns. He also defends the mayor to hold views different to others.

“Val [Schier] is just one vote on Council and in any event, at least on this issue, she is one of the Councillors who is 'living in the real world' and not suggesting any 'less stringent' requirements for short term economic benefit,” Rob Pyne says. “I will not name those who proposed a 'Q50 standard' for Cairns, suffice to say such approach would be inconsistent with anyone who wants to be seriously considered for the position Val currently holds.”

I think it's easy to assume the two or three Councillors Pyne is referring to.

Schier says Council has plentiful information about cyclone, disaster management and planning, including flood and storm surge maps, and says that Cairns Regional Council has recently been acknowledged by the United Nations as one of the world’s leading cities in its disaster planning.

Cairns Regional Council will be conducting community education and awareness sessions at the new Disaster Coordination Centre at Woree, so the general community is up to date with information and awareness of disasters.

“You [residents] can be assured that storm and tidal surges, and the impact of climate change will be taken into account with any waterfront planning and that we will not be constructing anything that is likely to be ‘underwater in 30 years’ as you inaccurately suggest,” Val Schier says.

The massive Barron Flood of January 1979

Val Schier says that one of the early decisions this current Council made in 2008 was to refuse a 400 lot subdivision at Bramston Beach.

"This was on low-lying ground and might have been a burden on future ratepayers in the region if allowed to proceed," Val Schier said last week. " Unfortunately, my views did not prevail when the decision was made to approve the [Freebody waterpark] development on the flood-prone Barron River delta, and I hope this decision does not come back to have an adverse impact on Council at some time in the future."

The unseasonal wet season weather has held up the completion of the Cairns Local Disaster Coordination Centre in Woree.

The facility is now completed and was recently opened to wide acclaim. And it's just in time for what is tipped to be a record wet including several cyclones.

The centre is situated above 1 in 100 year flood levels on Windarra Street, Woree and is rated to withstand a Category 5 cyclone - the first of its type in Queensland. Beside disaster co-ordination, the centre will also provide a training and education hub for our community, where school groups can learn how to improve our resilience when disasters hit. A fibre optic was laid to Council's offices in Spence Street, and allows for back-up data to a new and secure recovery room located.

With predictions for a hotter and wetter season this year, it looks like new residents will experience what the tropics is really like. Historically in the average cyclone season, four major cyclonic storms occur, however the Bureau of Meteorology is predicting at least six before this season is out.
  • CONTACT...
    Cairns Local Disaster Coordination Centre 4044 3377
    Barlow Park 4051 9701
    State Emergency Service (Cairns SES) 132 500

Cold water is the hottest topic in Port Douglas and Mossman

The hottest topic in the former parochial Douglas Shire, now Divison 10 of Cairns Regional Council, is water. What the do with it. How it's captured and how it's distributed to the local residents.

There are now serious questions about future water sources for the townships of Mossman and Port Douglas, around 70 kilometers north of Cairns.

The flow in Rex Creek, with forms the current water supply, is now not sufficient to meet local demands, especially during extended dry periods. In fact, water flows in Rex Creek were very close to drying up in late 2009 and restrictions were instituted to slow usage. There were even emergency measures on standby if needed.

Cairns Regional Mayor Val Schier says it's extremely important that Rex Creek retains sufficient water flow to ensure a healthy environment.

“An additional water source or sources will ensure the reliability of water supply for areas currently serviced by Rex Creek,'' Val Schier says. ''Council is taking proactive steps in searching for future alternative sources now. Council intends to commission a report on the situation, but before we do, we are asking for input from the community.”

The communities of Mossman, Port Douglas, Mossman Gorge, Mowbray, Newell Beach, Bonnie Doon, Cassowary, Craiglie, Cooya Beach and Killaloe currently receive drinking water from Rex Creek, which is a tributary of the Mossman River. With an increasing population in this region, the existing water supply could easily fail in meeting the local needs.

If you'd like to have your say about the planning process, share your input online at Council’s website.

Sunday 23 January 2011

33 year old assaulted in glassing overnight

A 38-year-old Cairns man will face court on Monday after he assaulted a younger female, in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The violent incident happened at a bar in Cairns around 2.30am when the man assaulted a 33 year old woman with a glass at a Wharf Street bar. She received a number of lacerations to her face and was taken to Cairns Base Hospital.

The male has been charged with assault 'occasioning bodily harm whilst armed.'

Saturday 22 January 2011

The roaring Barron Falls today

Here's the majestic Barron Falls, Kuranda in full flight this afternoon.

John Robinson videoed this on his mobile and it shows the effects after the last two days of consistent rainfall in the tropics.

Click full screen, and wait for the mist to clear. Better still, if you're a local, take a drive up the hill and see the mighty river for yourself.

Member for Cook heads to Peru in search of Llamas

Who else worked through Christmas and New Year? Wasn't Parliament closed?

CairnsBlog cartoon by Robbie

The floods have left more than many residents across the country adrift.

While plenty of Labor MPs are keen to blame the media, especially The Australian, they also privately acknowledge that the Government in general and Gillard in particular, have seemed curiously adrift for months.

CairnsBlog cartoonist Robbie Williams says the red head has been adrift for years, and probably lost in the Timor Sea.

Monday 17 January 2011

'75% of Queensland is flooded' - Anna Bligh

I'm getting rather sick of some in the media, making up shock stories about how much of Queensland is affected and under water.

NewsLtd papers in South East Queensland appear to be the biggest offenders.

I don't know who started this over-dramatised view of the flooding, but I even heard Premier Anna Bligh say repeatedly at press conferences that "75% of the State is under water."

Where do they get such rubbish from?

Queensland, the second largest State in Australia after WA, is 1,730,648 km2, excluding Island territories. The entire Brisbane area is just 40,000 square kilometres. Now I know there's Rocky and many smaller regions in the South East, including the Lockyer Valley area West of Brisbane, but this combined is still nowhere near 75% of our massive State.

With no disrespect to those that have lost their homes, or their family members, it would be more like 5% - 7%. Cairns and the Cape York Peninsula, and even Townsvile, who are all very used to regular flooding, are reasonable dry and have certainly not experienced any floods this wet season. That's not to say that we're in for some harsh weather over the next two months.

The media deserve a kick up the arse when they either invent drama or deliberately mislead their readership. And so does Anna Bligh.

Yesterday another body was located in the Withcott area, of a middle-aged man in a large pile of debris near Lockyer and Gatton Creeks, bringing the number of flood related deaths to 18 since January 10th.

I guess in all the reporting, it's easy for the brain-dead media to ignore other more dramatic tragedies. Last Wednesday torrential rains inundated a hillside area near Rio de Janeiro, causing floods and mudslides. 610 bodies have so far been recovered - the deadliest single-day disaster in Brazil.

Kind of puts this home-grown disaster into perspective, doesn't it?

Sunday 16 January 2011

Official list flood dead released

Queensland Police have released the names of those killed since the 10th January.

16 people have died as a result of the floods in south east Queensland, however there are still around 28 people missing.

"The devastation of the disaster that has struck is no more apparent than when it claims a life,"
the Queensland Police Service said late last evening when releasing the names of those killed. "The thorough search for people missing from the Lockyer Valley is ongoing, but will take some time given the scale of the area."

Last night's Taipans game in Cairns raised $28,600 for the flood appeal.
  • LISTEN Flood update from Deputy Police Commissioner, Ian Stewart

The following people are confirmed as deceased:



Donna Marie RICE
(43 years, female)

10/01/2011: Swept from roof of car with son at intersection of James St and Kitchener St.,Toowoomba

Male child, 13 years

10/01/2011: Swept from roof of car with mother at intersection of James St and Kitchener St., Toowoomba

Next of Kin to be advised - name known, 56 years, male

10/01/2011: Trapped in house with wife by rising water at Spring Bluff (Murphys Creek). House damaged and deceased washed out. Wife also deceased.

Next of Kin to be advised - name known, 46 years, female

10/01/2011: Trapped in house with husband by rising water at Spring Bluff (Murphys Creek). House damaged and deceased washed out. Husband also deceased.

Llync-Chiann CLARKE
(31 years, female )

10/01/2011: Rural Fire Brigade Truck (Fire Truck 51) which became inundated while on the Gatton Helidon Rd. Two occupants escaped to safety, three (mother and two children) trapped inside and were later located deceased in the vehicle.

Female child, 5 years

10/01/2011: Rural Fire Brigade Truck (Fire Truck 51) which became inundated while on the Gatton Helidon Rd. Two occupants escaped to safety, three trapped inside(with mother & brother) and were later located deceased in the vehicle.

Male child, 12 years

10/01/2011: Rural Fire Brigade Truck (Fire Truck 51) which became inundated while on the Gatton Helidon Rd. Two occupants escaped to safety, three trapped inside (with mother & sister) and were later located deceased in the vehicle.

(88 years, female)

10/01/2011: Trapped within residence due to rising water. Located deceased within residence.

Pauline Lesley MAGNER
(65 years, female)

11/01/2011: Located on creek bank near Sawmill in Gatton.

Male child, 4 years

11/01/2011: Child lost during attempted rescue at Marburg. Deceased swept away by floodwater along the Lowood Minden Road.

Next of Kin to be advised - name known, 66 years, male

10/01/2011:The deceased was located on 12/01/2011 in a room of his dwelling.

Selwyn Hector SCHEFE
(52 years, male)

10/01/2011: Residence swept away. Located deceased on 13/01/2011.

Unidentified Male

13/01/2011: Located in open paddock near Grantham. Not yet positively identified.

Robert John KELLY
(30 years, male)

12/01/2011: Located in Grey Toyota Landcruiser upside down in Myall Creek Dalby.

Unidentified female

14/01/2011: Located by SES searchers at Grantham.

Van Toan GIANG
(24 years, male)

13/01/2011. The MP has driven to Durack to check on a family property. A friend saw him walk about a 50 meters into moderately flowing water across Bowhill Road and where he disappeared into the water and not re-surface. His body has since been recovered.