Monday 28 February 2011

Still no sign of Cape York aircraft

There is still no news about the location of a light aircraft that failed to arrive at its destination last week.

Police continue to conduct land sweeps of Horn Island, Prince of Wales and the Northern Peninsula. The aircraft, which was travelling from Cairns to Horn Island, failed to arrive on Thursday morning. Extensive searches have been conducted in the area since then but have failed to find any sign.
Police believe the pilot, a 37-year-old Yorkyes Knob man, was the only person in the aircraft at the time of the incident

Crimestoppers update

Cairns drink drivers frustrate police efforts.
Cairns police are disappointed with motorists, after 23 drink drivers were detected over a 48 hour period on the weekend.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is hazardous to all motorists on the roads, let alone driving during extreme weather conditions.

A 17-year-old learner driver from Kewarra Beach allegedly lost control and crashed his motor vehicle on the Captain Cook Highway at Trinity Beach at about 10:30pm on Saturday. The man was charged with drink driving, driving unaccompanied on a learner permit, driving an unregistered and uninsured motor vehicle, and using false registration plates. He is due to appear in the Cairns Magistrate Court on March 21.

Boy located safe and well after being feared missing, Kewarra Beach: Emergency Service’s conducted a search over the weekend for a boy who was reported missing whilst swimming in flood waters at Deep Creek, on Sunday afternoon. The 14-year-old was later located at his home address and was unaware a search had been undertaken. He was uninjured as a result of the ordeal.

Smithfield Police kept busy with wet weather.
A number of landslips on the Kuranda Range section of the Kennedy Highway and the Captain Cook Highway created delays for motorists over the week-end. Police conducted traffic control on Saturday in order for Roadtek crews to clear debris open roadways.

Smithfield crews attended ten traffic crashes over the weekend as a result of vehicles losing traction in the wet conditions. Police are reminding motorists to drive to the conditions and not take risks by entering flood waters. Police are advising the community to:

• Be aware of reduced tyre traction when travelling on wet roads and adjust your driving habits accordingly – smooth driving is the key;
• Take extra care, re-think travel plans and limit non-essential travel if possible in areas experiencing heavy rainfalls or localised flooding;
• Do not try to cross flooded roads, creeks and watercourses;
• Do not drive, walk or cycle through floodwaters;
• Do not swim in swollen rivers and creeks;
• Be alert of currents, especially during periods of heavy rain. The current, both in waterways and water covering roads can be extremely strong and people and vehicles can be swept away in a instant;
• Remember that road conditions and road closures can change rapidly as creeks and water courses can rise and fall quickly;

Break and enter offence, Caravonica
Police are investigating the break and enter of an Orana Street residence overnight on Friday. It is believed that the offender/s entered the dwelling via a widow. A laptop computer, cash, compact discs, two spear guns and a diving knife were stolen.

Christchurch, but not as we know it

I have a rubbish internet connection here from where I am harbouring on the east of Christchurch.

I've been here since Wednesday, the day after the 6.3 quake, number 4,965 since early September. I've felt plently of quakes in the last few days and everytime, you can't but help jumping and wondering what will happen. Just as I started writing this blog post on my mobile phone, another quake rocked the house I'm in, close to Brighton on Beach Road. They freak you out.

Mum's home is a wreak, along with thousands of others that will probably be condemned, 200 alone in the central city area are likely be demolished. I'll take mum out for a drive away from the city today.

I've just got off the phone to Locco on 4CA to share with his listeners my account of how things are unfolding. Around 10% of the population have left town in the last six days. Who knows how many more. The locals are stressed and upset and confused.

Tomorrow it will be a week since Tuesday's quake and there'll be memorials here across the country for the 145 bodies that have been discovered, and the 50 or so still thought to be buried amongst the rubble.

Mum won't be going back to her home for months, it at all.

There's too much uncertainty and nothing is running to normal. It will need more than money to fix up the mess and rebuild the lives of the shattered town. Buildings may be wreaked, but there's so many emotionally damaged by the last five months of disruption. This will take a strong determination and spirit. How anyone will want to go to work in a high-rise in Christchurch, is beyond me. 50,000 work there which is still under lock up.

Kia kaha. Keep strong.

Labor price hikes are never ending

Our power bills in Cairns have doubled in the last three years.

If Anna Bligh really was concerned about Queenslanders, she would move to stop State and Federal government increases in household bills, the State Opposition said today. Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Costs of Living Rosemary Menkens said Labor was again looking after their own political interests rather than looking after Queensland's battling families.

“Increases to utility charges are crippling far too many Queensland families,” said Mrs Menkens. “The essential service of electricity is fast becoming a luxury with a luxury price tag. Now our power bills have increased by 56% nationally over the past 5 years, and doubled in price in Queensland in just 3 years.  It is no wonder the consequence has seen 5827 disconnections across regional Queensland during the September quarter alone."

“I ask how, in this modern day, can Queenslanders ill-afford electricity? I have had too many, proud community contributors who are also hard working tax payers, come to me and plead for relief from Labor’s incessant price hikes. Labor’s price hikes are coming thick and fast. Water bills are skyrocketing, with hundreds of people protesting on the Gold Coast yesterday. Car owners are also being punished by the Queensland government with the introduction of the most expensive registration fees and the scrapping of the fuel subsidy."

“Whack on top of that the Gillard Government’s intent to introduce a Carbon Tax that will see another layer of added cost to these essentials of electricity and fuel, and don’t forget Federal Labor’s flood levy...or Friday’s announcement of an increase in private health care and locally, in my electorate of the Burdekin, the associated northern road funding cut that will delay road improvement to the north. The Bligh Labor Government and the northern Labor MP's have not been critical of these road funding cuts,” Mrs Menkens said

“It appears Federal Labor are making the ammunition, while the Bligh Labor Government willingly fire it,” Mrs Menkens said.

Help for those bereaved by suicide

The Suicide Bereavement Support group now meets 7.30pm on the second Tuesday each month.
The next meeting is March 8th.

They are held at the Red Cross Training Room, 245 Lake Street, Cairns. Tel 0407 695 891

Vodafone is Vodafail for many Cairns mobile users

Hundreds of North Queensland Vodafone customers have received a letter admitted abject fail from the mobile phone company.

"I’m writing to you because over the past few months we have let down some of our customers," Nigel Dews, Vodafone’s CEO said in a letter on Friday. "Recently our network and customer service performance, particularly in December and January, fell well below the standards we have set for ourselves."

"Some have experienced issues including dropped calls, delayed SMS and voicemails, slow data speeds, inconsistent coverage and long waits when you called us. I am truly sorry and apologise both personally and on behalf of everyone here at Vodafone."

Nigel Dews blamed all the problems on the company's growth.

"The simple answer is that we’ve been growing fast, and when problems came, we responded too slowly," Dews said. "When more people joined us and some of our customers started using lots more data than they had before, we didn’t keep up, and some technical faults added to the issue. When you contacted us to talk to us about network problems, too many of you waited too long to speak with someone who could help and give you the answers you needed."

Interesting that they failed to mention the four million customers whose private was made public when Vodafone breached the Privacy Act by "failing to take reasonable steps to protects customers' data."

In January Vodafone's billing and call records were available on a publicly-accessible website protected only by a password. It was discovered they did not have the appropriate level of security measures in place to "adequately protect customers' personal information."

Time to hang up on this phone company.

Friday 25 February 2011

Courthouse Hotel goes all Kiwi on us

The Cairns Courthouse Hotel in Abbott Street is throwing a earthquake party on Sunday from midday.

They're hosting a Christchurch Earthquake Appeal to help those affected, and are asking FNQers to make a donation on Sunday or purchasing a 440ml can of New Zealand's favourite beer, Tui (debatable!). The Courthouse will donate $1 from every Tui to the Red Cross Christchurch Appeal and Courthouse owners, the Mangifesta family will match donations dollar for dollar.

"Hundreds of New Zealand families have been coming in and supporting our venue for many years, so we have the opportunity to give something back to them at this time of need," hotelier Claud Mangifesta said. "In true New Zealand spirit Whitebait and Green Lip Mussels have been specially ordered in and there will be New Zealand music and entertainment including face painting for the kids throughout the day."

"We are encouraging people to come down, show their support and enjoy a meal and some live entertainment," Mr Mangifesta said.

Get the vibe

iPhone users, you need to get Viber. Seriously.

LNP refuse to refund Cairns candidate Vic Black, will take legal action

Vic Black is fighting the Liberal National Party following the shock termination of his membership, just a day before the selection of candidates, rendering him eligible to contest. Black is seeking to be treated with dignity and fair play.

Just a week ago, around 9am Friday morning, the LNP hierarchy in Brisbane were secretly planning to terminate Vic Black's party membership.

They were about to pay out for him supporting a letter that he'd signed, along with 14 others a year earlier, questioning the management and what he perceived as financial irregularities of the Cairns LNP organisation.

Rightly or wrongly, a complex and detailed set of question were put to the LNP bosses, seeking answers. It didn't bode well and the truth is they've held a grudge with almost everyone who signed that fateful letter since.

As payback, Vic Black's party membership was terminated hours before the party voting on him becoming the next candidate for Cairns in the upcoming State election. It was a callous and cowardly act. It will further damage the party, already struggling to be a credible alternative to the appalling financial mis-management of Labor. This latest incident will expose it's internal behaviour as undemocratic and arrogant, something voters will consider when they cast their vote. As many have said, this incident, and the selection of Paul Freebody, is a gift horse (or dog) for Labor in Cairns.

Vic Black is seeking $1,700 of expenses, including a $1,200 nomination fee to be a candidate.

According to State party secretary James Martin, under the constitution an application fee may be refunded where the application for endorsement is withdrawn by the applicant.

"You did not withdraw your application, and so the fee is not refundable," Martin told Vic Black in a email yesterday.

However Vic Black told State Director Michael O'Dwyer on Thursday 17th February that he was not given any choice but to request that his money be returned.

"I was not being allowed to stand for pre-selection regardless of their pretenses," Vic Black says. "That to me was a withdrawal."

Vic Black will start legal recourse if the Party does not refund his fees.

"Should [they] fail to return my money, I will be seeking return of the money through the judicial system," Vic Black says.

I had been informed during the telephone “hook up” on Thursday that I was not being endorsed.
You have the emails. At that time I asked him for my money to be refunded. What they are now saying is that “if Vic Black had been a good boy it was our intention to let him run, which is a load of balls”.
Here's Vic Black's conversation with O'Dwyer, which he never responded to Black's call Friday 1.27pm. "All I wanted was to pick up a cheque and move on, and the text messaging was at 2.31 pm," Black said....
  • VIC BLACK: "What time did the state exec meet? As I believe Katrina Breen/Twomey/Tobin donnely were part of a telephone “hook up” at 3.30pm to have the pre selection re scheduled.

    “Michael. I am still waiting for confirmation as to where I can collect my Cheque. It can be a FNQ Zone cheque as long as there is sufficient money in the account. Looking forward to your earliest response. Vic Black."

    O'DWYER: "I responded to your email of last night re a prospective hook up with state exec at 4 pm. I will be in contact with you immediately before then to confirm. Regards, Michael”

    VIC BLACK: : “That’s all well and good but I haven’t read any emails today as I have been working and I cant see the point of wasting any more oxygen with you over this matter. Surely you don’t want the papers to read LNP steals candidates money.”

    O'DWYER: “ Vic Standby for a call as per my earlier advice”

    No more correspondence.

Update from hell

It's difficult not to be over-dramatic from where I am sitting right now.

Just over a week or so ago, I was in the middle of post-Cyclone Yasi communities, and saw the awful devastation of homes and building and a significant amount of natural vegetation. Of course those of us who have lived in North Queensland is no stranger to Cyclones and we can prepare, both emotionally and physically, even when the outcome is total loss of possessions.

It's been a trying time for us all in recent weeks. The flooding in South East Queensland was shocking, taking 22 lives. Cyclone Yasi spared us as we fled and looked after our friends and loved ones. And this Tuesday, we all learn't the news of yet another quake in an already distraught and shaken Christchurch.

You obviously feel closer and impacted to a dramatic event when there's a real connection like family, however there's much affection and connection with New Zealand, as like many Kiwis, I also decided to make North Queensland my home.

I will write shortly of my venture out yesterday and try my best to relay the sights. Authorities asked to not use cars for the second day so I travelled by cycle across the city, CBD and the eastern suburbs, eventually arriving at mum's home. It was like a movie with a terrible ending, a shocking journey. The town is a wreak, building after building, street after street, beyond any simple comprehension, and of course comes on the back of five months of large aftershocks.

As you may expect, I have to dedicate much time right now to mum and her home, which is unlivable. I was greeted with an extraordinary sight when I entered it around 5pm last night - and as I stood there in wonder, another 4.3 aftershock hit. Most of the central part of the city and eastern side of town is completely without power and water.

The numbers...
  • 103 people are dead, 228 still missing
  • 122 people are thought to be inside the CTV building on Madras Street
  • Ann Bodkin was the last person rescued, from the Pyne Gould Corporation (PGC) building, at 2.25pm Wednesday
  • 16 to 22 people are feared trapped under falling masonary from ChristChurch Cathedral
  • 29 people have been rescued from the Pyne Gould Corporation (PGC) building, with 14 PGC staff unaccounted for
  • More than 600 search and rescue workers, including international workers from Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, the US and the UK are to search for survivors
  • 70 people pulled alive from the rubble
  • New Zealand Defence Force has 1,118 personnel working in Christchurch and Lyttelton; 738 Army, 200 Navy, and 150 airforce
  • 60% of the city is without water supply
  • 25% of the city has no power supply
  • 11 people are in intensive care as of Thursday night; 164 people had serious injuries
  • 431 patients have been treated at triage centres
  • 164 people were admitted to Christchurch Hospital in the first 24 hours after the quake, many with head and neck, spinal and crushing injuries
  • 220 people treated with major trauma injuries at Christchurch Hospital on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning
  • 1500-2000 people have been treated for minor injuries at medical centres around the city
  • 80 residents from two residential care facilities, including my mother, have been relocated to other sites around Christchurch. Canterbury District Health Board says up to 200 residents could be relocated.
  • 45 teams of building consent officers, EQC staff, welfare support and engineers today visiting the worst affected suburbs today - New Brighton, Dallington, Avonside, Parklands, Queenspark, St Martins, Opawa, Lyttelton.
  • 100 teams of building consent officers, EQC staff, welfare support and engineers visiting properties in Sumner, Redcliffs, Woolston, Ferrymead, Hoon Hay, Richmond, St Albans, Fendalton and Merivale over the next few days.
  • St John have 40 ambulances working in Christchurch, with 20 support cars, 20 aircraft and 117 staff
  • Red Cross has 130 staff working in Christchurch
  • Fonterra has supplied 34 tankers with 20,000 litre capacities to distribute water at sites across Christchurch
  • Air New Zealand has offered 1600 extra seats on flights in and out of Christchurch
  • 1,400 offers of accommodation for quake-stricken Cantabrians have been offered.
  • $5 million has been donated by the Australian Government for earthquake recovery
  • 30 per cent of GPs in the Christchurch area are open, Canterbury District Health Board is anticipating that 60 per cent will be open in the near future
  • All schools are still closed
    (stats from The Press)

Thursday 24 February 2011

Search for overdue light aircraft, Cape York

A joint air and sea search is underway in the area of Horn Island following the report of an overdue aircraft.

The aircraft left Cairns to fly to Horn Island earlier today, but failed to arrive at its destination. The last contact with the pilot was just before 8am. It is unknown how many people were on board, however it is believed it may just be the pilot.

A search and recue aircraft fitted with infra-red monitoring will continue to search the Horn Island area throughout the night. A joint air and sea search has recommenced Friday morning.

Nothing more certain than death and taxes, especially in Queensland

There's $7 billion in the New Zealand Earthquake Commission fund. No need for a levy like Anna and Julia's flood tax.

I'm a Cantabrian and my home town lies in ruin

I arrived back in Christchurch just after midnight last night, to be with family and especially, my 88-year-old mother, in the wake of Tuesday's earthquake, that so far has claimed the lives of 75 people.

I snapped this photo on the taxi ride from the airport to my brother's home in Papanui, that has become a refuge for Doreen, and a few other family members. There are temporary mattresses over the lounge floor, in what is a familiar scene across the city I'm sure.

Tuesday's 6.3 earthquake struck a few minutes before 1pm. Mum has been shaken by this latest quake. All the residents of her New Brighton Kate Sheppard retirement village were evacuated, as substantial liquefaction engulfed the community moments after the quake stuck.

As I arrived in the wee hours, I saw mum emerge from the guest bedroom to greet me. She was looking frail, however very alert and over-joyed to see me. We sat in the lounge chatting as she showed more interest in how I was and things in Cairns, than the events of the last 48 hours in Christchurch. As we sat together for around 10 minutes, sharing warm stories, at precisely 12:12am, another violent aftershock belted the house. I jumped up. This one was 4.1. The house moved and the kitchen lights swayed.

"Yeas, that was a small one," mother said. "That was nothing." I cannot imagine what the 370,000 residents of Christchurch have been going through over the last five months. Mother recalled the moment of Tuesday's quake, as she was standing in kitchen having lunch.

"Everything went all over the place, my china cabinet and the TV, I really don't know what's left," she said. Soon after a mass of mud and sludge created from liquefaction, a phenomenon when soil substantially loses strength and stiffness, and the stress of an earthquake.

To think that just last weekend I visited in Babinda, Bartle Frere, Silkwood, Tully and Mission, helping clean up the mess from Cyclone Yasi. I chatted with elderly that were tough as nails. They were survivors in the face of nature's fury. Of course, no one was killed by the storm, as there was plenty of warning and time to prepare. An earthquake does not afford such a luxury.

I previously returned home to Christchurch in November, three weeks after that original event, and was greeted to a town in devastation. However the quake on Tuesday, a 6.3, was much closer to the city, and only 5 kms deep.

There's been an extraordinary 4,958 quakes since the massive 7.1 in early September last year.

Today I will navigate the twisted streets to mum's apartment and retrieve some of her belongings. I know it will be a sad sight.

Serious traffic crash at Woree

Cairns Police are investigating a collision between a utility and a pedestrian at Woree, Cairns last evening.

Initial investigations indicate that around 8pm a woman was struck by the northbound utility on the Bruce Highway at the intersection of Ray Jones Drive. The woman, believed to be aged in her 30’s, has been taken to the Cairns Base Hospital with serious injuries.

The driver of the utility was not injured. Investigations into the cause of the crash are continuing.

Councillor Bonneau to be investigated by Crime and Misconduct Commission

Following Cairns Regional Councillor Robert Pyne's allegations of misconduct and conflict of interests levelled at fellow Councillor Sno Bonneau, a formal investigation will proceed.

CEO Lyn Russell has determined that the complaint against Sno Bonneau is "not frivolous" or "vexatious."

This conclusion arose following a meeting between Pyne, Mayor Val Schier and the CEO.

A substantive DVD of files and supporting information including emails, was provided.

As a result of the new Local Government Act, the full investigation of the claims against Councillor Bonneau will not be conducted by Council, but by the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

The public comments that Freebody doesn't want you to see

A string of critical comments on the Cairns Post website in reaction to the news of Paul Freebody's selection to run for State Parliament, were removed after a phone call from the man at the centre of the discussion.

Following Sunday's candidate selection when the LNP blindly selected former Cairns Councillor Paul Freebody as their preferred candidate to run for the State seat of Cairns, a Cairns Post article drew a raft of candid comments rallying against the controversial local businessman.

However within 24 hours all the comments were removed with no notice posted as to why.

In my review of Freebody's LNP selection, I also highlighted some of the outpouring including one comment with the auspicious initials that belonged to Paul himself...
  • "I see the Freebody bashers are at it again. Tall poppy is in their viens [sic].I know the carwash was closed by the the previous owners themselves and didn,t pay the staff after sucking all the cash out of it and going on a cruise. All Freebody did was fix up the place and got the 5 star service back on track. You should try it out its NOW fantastic!! Freebody will bring life back to the city after 13 years of labor neglect. You got at least 1 vote Paul Mine! keep up the goog [sic] work," PVF of Cairns, 2:38pm

Paul claims this comment was not penned by him.

He also believes it reflects badly on the previous managers of his Car Wash business. Interestingly, there are references in that comment that only Paul Freebody himself would be privileged to - in particular, a cruise and how the managers allegedly funded it.

In November 2007 Matthew and Lena Ogilvie took out a 20-year management lease of Freebody's Car Wash Cafe in Reservoir Road, Manunda, however their stint came to an abrupt end on the 3rd December last year when they decided to remove themselves from the business for professional reasons. At this stage, I cannot go into much more detail surrounding this, needless to say the inside story is something that will be told. Maybe I'll save it up as the election nears.

The offending comment on the Cairns Post website irked Paul Freebody so much, that he telephoned the paper and sought it's removal. After I published my story Tuesday morning, I received a message from Paul on my phone at 6:47am...

  • "Michael, Paul Freebody, umm, I read your article. I expected that you would write that. The only thing you need to take down is the part about Paul Freebody's comment [from the Cairns Post website].

    I've had discussions with the people at the car wash, we are seeking legal advice to trace those comments back. They were not from me, or anyone that I know, and they are hurtful to previous owners of the car wash and I would ask you to remove them.

    They have nothing to do with this election campaign. They are people that should not be involved. They spoke to me last night and we had a long discussion because someones playing silly buggers. I can assure you that I'm not stupid enough to put those and I've certainly not posted anything on

    it's subject to a legal umm, umm investigation, to find out who posted those comments. They are offensive and hurtful. But the rest of it mate, I've got no issue, do what you like, go your hardest..."

The former car wash managers had a different view, and were not offended by the comment at all.

"We advised Simon [at the Cairns Post] that the comment made by a 'PVF' was a reference about us," Matthew Ogilvie says. "We also said that we wanted any information the Post could give us relating to it to prove that we didn’t write it."

The Ogilvie's were informed by the Cairns Post that there have been ongoing allegations that Paul Freebody had written multiple comments under other people’s names for a while now.

"He [Simon at the Cairns Post] asked us what we wanted done with the comment, and we said we were happy for it to stay there so that people would see he [Freebody] wrote a comment himself praising himself," Matthew Ogilvie told CairnsBlog. "He said he would get back to us to let us know if they found out the origin of the comment."

The online editor Simon Crerar (not the same Simon referred to above) confirmed that the comments were removed.

"They were removed from this article after suggestions someone commenting may not have been who they claimed to be," Simon Crerar told CairnsBlog. "We take allegations of misrepresentation very seriously."

It's not the first time that comments referring to Paul Freebody have been removed from the Post's comments section online. These ones also mysteriously vanished some months ago...

So why didn't the Post only remove the so-called offending comment, instead of the lot?

In the interests of public records, here's all the comments that were removed...

I love the way Val Shier supporters claim the Freebody's created the "Val Shier is a crap Mayor" group and simply refuse to consider that this is the general consensus of the people of Cairns. As the person who first brought his attention to that group, I have no idea who first started it, but good on them!!
Posted by: Steve of Mooroobool 1:49pm Tuesday Comment 44 of 44

From the comments I have read here and the talk on the streets of Cairns, the feedback is that the LNP erred in the selection of Freebody to contest Cairns. I believe to be a good candidate for any seat you must have commitment and political creditability. The question that is often put to me is whether Freebody is a 24/7 politician or will he be a 24/7 businessman . There is no room for both. My view is that the LNP needs to get a public commitment that if elected he will be a 24/7 politician. If he can't give that pledge, then the LNP should reopen nominations for the seat of Cairns.
Posted by: Ross Parisi of Smithfield 12:12pm Tuesday Comment 43 of 44

Oh no! I'm one of those people who voted Labor into power in 1998, and quickly became disheartened with them. Their inaptitude is beyond belief and I haven't voted for them since. I've been voting Nats/LNP now since 2001 in blind hope that Labor will be kicked out. I was getting excited for the next election as it seemed there was a genuine chance of a change in Government. But oh no!. There is no way I would vote for Freebody. C'mon local LNP branch. Is there any chance of a snap meeting? You really need to consider that you have chosen the wrong candidate. Put someone else up or you will lose the unloseable election.
Posted by: Jim Cooper of Whitfield 10:32am Tuesday Comment 42 of 44

mmm, I think the preselectors have shot their party in the foot. With his record I won't be voting for him.
Posted by: BMac of Cairns 9:20am Tuesday Comment 41 of 44

Mr Freebody Won't get elected Karma is a Bitch you know.. If there one thing that works in life is Karma.. Paul Freebody has alot coming his way.
Posted by: Lana Ventsov of Cairns 10:01pm Monday Comment 40 of 44

And with whom shall the third registered party of the Queensland Parliment sleep with when it comes time for preference deals? The comments in support of Mr Freebody seem to be telling their own story.
Posted by: Brenton 10:00pm Monday Comment 39 of 44

If Mr Freebody cannot maintain composure on a radio show by making inappropriate comments, then how will he cope with the cut and thrust of politics? It's all very well to think we could be politicians, but politics is an arduous and thankless arena demanding self-discipline and a coping personality.
Posted by: S. Northy of Cairns 9:55pm Monday Comment 38 of 44

Hahhaha KB why dont you have another few bottles of red wine and try dodge some more RBT'S!
Posted by: Gerald Malouf of cairns 9:44pm Monday Comment 37 of 44

Are you all nuts, this is about Paul Freebody not anyone else. He is the one choosing to be in the spotlight so he will need to take what gets thrown at him!!!
Posted by: Brian Bradly 9:27pm Monday Comment 36 of 44

Bill Smith. Perhaps Curtis Pitt hasn't responded because you are a stalker. Seriously buddy I've seen you post your whoa is me story on nearly every topic. Get over it. Now go out, and take up a hobby. Do something meaningful with your life rather than sit on your arse pissing and moaning about every little thing. Of course Quick will answer your email. She has nothing better to do in her day.
Posted by: Margaret of Cairns 9:24pm Monday Comment 35 of 44

Ams this isn't about the Carwash this is about Paul Freebody choosing to run for mp. Good and bad stuff will be brought up about him and he has to deal with it as this is what he has chosen. Some people will like him and some won't! A bet those " witches and bitches " at the council don't like him. Only time will tell and at the polls the people will have their say... My vote though isn't for that man that's for sure
Posted by: James of Cairns 9:23pm Monday Comment 34 of 44

What in the hell has this got to do with the EX carwash owners. Leave them alone. isnt this about Mr Paul Freebody isnt he the one that is going to be the Candidate,just for the record his wife was the bookkeeper.
Posted by: ILBloomfield of Australia 8:54pm Monday Comment 33 of 44

Stop the bashing on freebody I worked for matt and lena and know people who have worked for BOTH Paul and them and can honestly say they wrecked that place. One thing I can say is Paul has done things MOST of you naysayers would not that would show how worth your vote he is. Actually someone worth the vote this time
Posted by: Ams 7:32pm Monday Comment 32 of 44

As a small business owner, I welcome the LNP candidates and think it is fantastic to see the likes of Paul Freebody. Someone who has lived in Cairns for years and understands the plight of small businesses here in the area. Thank you Paul for giving Cairns the opportunity to vote for a true local who understands our needs. Bring on the election, the sooner we rid ourselves of Desley and these other useless ALP puppets the better. This region deserves representation, we have been ignored for too long.
Posted by: KB :-) of Cairns 7:13pm Monday Comment 31 of 44

Robyn Quick ( Quick by name and quick by nature ? )Thank you for such a quick response, it may also interest other commentators that I emailed Blight on Friday to get her to kick Pitt into gear. Email speed must be a lot slower to the SE corner because she hasn't acknowledged my email yet. Tea and bikkies with the govenor tales priority over the serfs in the electorate I suppose. The last time I saw arrogance at this level was during the Jackboot Joh days.
Posted by: Bill Smith of Cairns 5:49pm Monday Comment 30 of 44

Whats all about this noise and critics on Paul Freebody, when we all remember about the past experiences with the present government here in North Queensland? If it's Paul or not, everything would be better! What's going on in your brain? Are you paid or brainwashed by this useless mob, ore do you have rocks in your head? To me, it's a waste of time to answer some of your comments. Karl Kobler
Posted by: Karl Kobler of Mooroobool 5:30pm Monday Comment 29 of 44

People need to get the real truth on Paul Freebody and his intolerant personality. Much is reported on the blog.
Posted by: Hillbilly Blogger of Behind the Carwash Mate 5:11pm Monday Comment 28 of 44

To all the disenchanted there is a third registered party in Qld parliament if you don't like the other two
Posted by: D.J.HUNT of Qld party 5:03pm Monday Comment 27 of 44

Yes, Bill Smith, I will respond to your emails if you are in the electorate of Mulgrave, unlike the present member. My earlier response today hasn't been posted. The present member's record is there for all to see: initial support of southern corridor demolition of 400 homes and businesses, no second access into Cairns from the south, no new hospital, asset sales etc etc. It's your choice.
Posted by: Robyn Quick of LNP Mulgrave 3:37pm Monday Comment 26 of 44

Perhaps now would be an opportune time for the peolple who have had buisness dealings with Mr Freebody, or have felt the tender love of his employ to tell their story? Frankly; I couldn't care less if someone came from Mars; I'm only interested in their Ethics, Intelligence & Morals; not their place of origin. The LNP could run a turd on a stick & do well in the next election. To force people to choose between more of the same or Mr Freebody is nothing short of a slap in the face to Cairns. A good story can be produced by any fecund imagination & is only of any value to a politician when it comes time to explain a poor decision derived from faulty reasoning or outright deception. Mr Lucas would also have a good story;that dose not however make his incompetence any the more palatable. I reiterate party-centric politics & blind faith is chocking this country.
Posted by: Brenton 3:13pm Monday Comment 25 of 44

Anon E. Moose, Freebody didn't own the franchise at that point in time that got 20 staff sacked so at least you know what you're talking about... and then if you want to make remarks that you know absolutely nothing about why don't you use your name? that is right so go crawl back into your cave tough guy.
Posted by: jim of mooroobool 3:10pm Monday Comment 24 of 44

I see the Freebody bashers are at it again. Tall poppy is in their viens.I know the carwash was closed by the the previous owners themselves and didn,t pay the staff after sucking all the cash out of it and going on a cruise. All Freebody did was fix up the place and got the 5 star service back on track. You should try it out its NOW fantastic!! Freebody will bring life back to the city after 13 years of labor neglect. You got at least 1 vote Paul Mine! keep up the goog work
Posted by: PVF of Cairns 2:38pm Monday Comment 23 of 44

The Freebody's have employed hundreds if not thousands of people over the years, they do not deserve any of this loony drivel directed at them. How many of the posters here are prepared to work as hard as they have?
Posted by: Steve of Mooroobool 2:32pm Monday Comment 22 of 44

I really hope that a few truly independents stand. These people just change the favoritism to their people, the world is looking for free open and transparent politicians, I certainly hope that the Cairns region does not fall for the trap being set here.
Posted by: Shaun Newman of Townsville N.Q. 2:31pm Monday Comment 21 of 44

Dear Bill Yes, I will be responding to your emails if you are in the electorate of Mulgrave, unlike the current member who avoids contact with his constituents.Remember that Curtis Pitt supported the Main Roads proposals that would have led to the destruction of 400 homes and businesses in the southern corridor.He doesn't support a second access into Cairns from the south and there will be no new hospital under his government. He supported the sale of Qld assets and is a part of a government that has clocked up $82 billion in debt. You and I are paying for this through all the increased charges and lack of infrastructure development in the Far North. We will need to restore the integrity of the budget and clean up after Labor. Why would you vote for Curtis Pitt again when you examine the record?
Posted by: Robyn Quick of LNP Mulgrave 2:13pm Monday Comment 20 of 44

The sale of the airport in 2008 netted ONLY $530 million. A new hospital will cost upwards of $1.5 billion. Cairns hasn't been cheated, the hospital redevelopment has already cost $446 million. Apparently not so hot on spelling, and obviously not very good at maths either Mr Freebody.
Posted by: Oliver of Redlynch 2:02pm Monday Comment 19 of 44

Love him or loathe him, Freebody is a man with a vision for the region. He and his family have been long-term employers of Cairns locals, and his Water Park shows he is capable of big ideas (even though he has been up against a hostile Council and State Government). Frankly, he has a good story to tell and I think he will do well. At least he isnt an ALP blow in like Tim Grau!
Posted by: JKR 1:46pm Monday Comment 18 of 44

Well what hope have we got of getting an alternative with this mob? I don't know much about Bachelor but I have major concerns for the other three. Including Quick - she could turn milk sour. I suppose given their poor quality LNP counterparts around the country it's no surprise that we would be served the offal.
Posted by: Margaret of Cairns 1:16pm Monday Comment 17 of 44

Dear Oh Dear, i was going to vote for any one but labor next election, but by the looks of the LNP candidates, self serving business men with alterior motives, academics with out of touch ideals, smooth criminals without the cool dance's all smoke and mirrors folks, little substance to warned people of FNQ, these people will only serve their own interests not the peoples!
Posted by: frank Castle of Cairns 11:54am Monday Comment 16 of 44

A very nasty man! He should be ok with LNP. Out of touch -out of compassion, a match made in heaven.
Posted by: Gavin Burns of Cairns 11:10am Monday Comment 15 of 44

Liberal party pollies are always saying they sick of this or sick and tired of something else. They must be sick in their minds.
Posted by: Bob of Cairns 10:58am Monday Comment 14 of 44

This decission must surely shorten the odds of cairns electing a minority or independent. Given that the next election is the LNP's to lose; they have just taken a significant step in that direction, it would appear the zeitgist of underperforming, & failing to read the mood of the people is still well & truly prevelent in their party, leaving little wonder at the longevity of the current government. Is it so hard for these people to see that the voters want something/someone new?; do they have so little regard for the seat of cairns that the endorsment of a failed councilor with a history of inarticulate diatribes against any who hold a view contry to his, is good enough for this region? Little wonder that JPL wants to keep his ideas for the region to himself; if this endorsment is an example of their quality & content then he may want to keep them thus. I would be very interested in what the oppinion of the LNP faithful is on this decission. For me it just highlights
the inadequacy of party-centric democracy, as even if the LAB candidate was articulate with impeccable abilities of critical thinking, his association with the LAB party & some of it's underperforming & incompetent dros, precludes any thought of voting for him. Given the choice between two undesirable outcomes, I feel for me the only prudent thing to do would be to abstain from the whole process.
Posted by: Brenton 10:51am Monday Comment 13 of 44

What are they all staring at? Could it be the political career that never was? The ALP are bad enough, why would you elect this mob.
Posted by: Shaun Newman of Townsville N.Q. 10:38am Monday Comment 12 of 44

Robyn Quick is the candidate for Mulgrave. If she's at all interested in the feedback she'll be reading these comments. Therefore I expect a response to this question by tonight, WILL YOU BE RESPONDING TO EMAILS IF ELECTED ??? IF NOT WE MAY AS WELL STAY WITH PITT THE YOUNGER.
Posted by: Bill Smith of Cairns 10:23am Monday Comment 11 of 44

I think there needs to be alot of investigations into the Freebodys regarding Carwash Cafe, Waterpark and other business activities as i can assure you there is alot of dirt in there closets. Happy hunting Labour.. as this is a easy kill for you
Posted by: kevin soop of Cairns 10:10am Monday Comment 10 of 44

Michael Trout can't even look after his starving & malnourised horses at Blazing Saddles... How on earth will he handle a seat representing Barron River. Liberals wont be getting my vote if he represents slaving 5+ japanese staff 7 days a week for food and accommodation in a donger is constitutional.
Posted by: Cindy of Cairns 9:54am Monday Comment 9 of 44

getting back in politics to prop up your business ventures?
Posted by: mr l 9:35am Monday Comment 8 of 44

Isn't Freebody the guy who called the female Councillors the Council witches and bitches and sacked 20 employees at his failed car wash a week before christmas? I am normally an LNP voter but I wouldn't vote for this bloke if you paid me. Looks like a donkey vote for me.
Posted by: Anon E. Moose 8:47am Monday Comment 7 of 44

Is this the best the LNP can do up here? Well I suppose Freebody at least has form as a politician, what with all the broken promises.
Posted by: Oliver of Redlynch 8:47am Monday Comment 6 of 44

Mr Freebody - you can't even deliver on a waterpark, how on earth will you deliver as our representative? For the first time ever, the Liberals will not be getting my vote.
Posted by: Ali 8:20am Monday Comment 5 of 44

The way FNQ votes will have a major impact on the next State election. I think something like 3 of the 15 most marginal seats are up here. Should make things interesting come election time.
Posted by: JKR 8:18am Monday Comment 4 of 44

Great to see Mr Freebody also agrees with the need for an alternate hospital site. I hope he and his supporters have signed the e-petition to help force the government to take this issue seriously.
Posted by: D.J.HUNT of Qld Party 7:34am Monday Comment 3 of 44

Paul Freeborn was voted out of the last election for the CRC because he couldn't be trusted, now he's running for a state seat. He should try for the ALP selection , he'll be in good company.
Posted by: graham martin of forest gardens 7:26am Monday Comment 2 of 44

Paul Freebody has proven time and time again he does not have the temperament or intllect for public service. He famously called female councillors in Cairns "bitches and witches", and has run a Mayor Schier bashing site on Faceboom with his wife Kim. And can the community assume the Freebody watermark is now dead? He clearly can't do both.
Posted by: Jim McMahon of Edge Hill 6:39am Monday Comment 1 of 44

Council division number swings and roundabouts

The latest electoral numbers for the local Cairns Regional Council divisions has just been released.

With just over 91,200 voters in the region, the largest change is in Di Forsyth's division 7, that records a massive 10.5% drop.

"It is noted in the enrolment figures provided by ECQ that Division 7 has -10.5%, which is
outside the Act’s definition of reasonable," Council's manager of governance Linda Kirchner said. "It is further noted that Division 9 is +8.22%. As such there is a net 17.72% difference in the number of electors in these two divisions."

Council watcher Paul Drabble reckons that a 10.5% decrease in voters in Division 7, may be an ominous sign.

"I would think that crime in division 7 has finally made people move, or is it just they don't have a good councillor?" Paul Drabble asks.

By contrast, there was an increase of constituents in divisions 8 and 9 by 13%. A report that will be presented to this Wednesday's Council meeting, will seek advice if boundary changes are needed.

"It is appropriate that Council considers whether any change to Divisional boundaries is
in the public interest," Linda Kirchner said. "As a result of the State Government decision to amalgamate Cairns City and Douglas Shire, there were significant changes to divisional boundaries and this resulted in confusion for the electors within those divisions."

"It is therefore proposed in the recommendation that Council inform the Minister that it does not believe an adjust to divisional boundaries is justified at this time."

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Another massive earthquake strikes Christchurch, middle of business day

A 6.3 earthquake hit an already nervous Christchurch, late this morning, New Zealand time.

Since the September 7.1 quake, there have been over 4,800 after quakes, many over 4.0. Reports suggest there have been fatalities this time, unlike the September quake, as occurred during daylight and on a business day. Whole buildings have this time collapsed with workers inside.

I've tried multiple times to telephone my mother, brothers and his family, but no phone lines are operating. Mum lives on the coast at New Brighton, so I have to assume, will be away from the worst of the city damage.

The iconic Christchurch Cathedral in the center of the city has been largely destroyed, as this quake was centered close to the CBD. There are a series of aftershocks still occurring.

The Problem with Paul Freebody

On Sunday the green-skinned Liberal National Party selected Paul Freebody as their preferred candidate to contest the seat of Cairns in the next State election. It was a bold, yet dangerously foolish choice for the burgeoning political party, that is still to make a credible stamp on Queensland politics.

Prior to the last Federal election, the Australian Labor Party held every political office in the region. They hold every State seat, from Cardwell to the Cape. We even have a card-carrying Labor-mayor. With this amount of blue rinse sitting in branch meetings, you think we would be well-served.

When I first heard the news of Paul Freebody's anointment, just minutes after the scrutineers counted the results, I was flabbergasted. For the following two hours, my phone started to go crazy with all kinds of folk ringing as the news digitally permeated across the city.

"Is this an April Fool's joke?" one staunch former Lib asked me. "Do the seriously want to lose to Labor again," said another. "Fuck me dead! [Is] Paul Freebody...trying to make the LNP unelectable in Cairns? How stupid can they be?" Bryan Law said.

The calls had a common thread. There was little positive endorsement for LNP's decision to have the volatile Paul Freebody front their campaign. Hillbilly Watch didn't hold back with the news that Paul was seeking the LNP nomination.

"Cairns council LOSER and failed businessman Paul Freebody has today reportedly done what all business failures do - run for another government job!," wrote Mick Glennie.

Many similar messages appeared on the Post's website the next day...

"People need to get the real truth on Paul Freebody and his intolerant personality," wrote Hillbilly. "Well what hope have we got of getting an alternative with this mob? I don't know much about Bachelor but I have major concerns for the other three," wrote Margaret of Cairns. "A very nasty man! He should be ok with LNP. Out of touch -out of compassion, a match made in heaven." said Gavin Burns. "Getting back in politics to prop up your business ventures?" said another.

There were also supporters of Freebody, and even one penned by Paul himself, using his own initials (Paul Victor Freebody). It had his journalistic hallmarks...

"I see the Freebody bashers are at it again. Tall poppy is in their viens [sic].I know the carwash was closed by the the previous owners themselves and didn,t pay the staff after sucking all the cash out of it and going on a cruise. All Freebody did was fix up the place and got the 5 star service back on track. You should try it out its NOW fantastic!! Freebody will bring life back to the city after 13 years of labor neglect. You got at least 1 vote Paul Mine! keep up the goog [sic] work," wrote PVF of Cairns, 2:38pm

Federal Member for Liechardt Warren Entsch backed former Chamber of Commerce chief, Bob Norman, for the Cairns seat. He'd taken the business stalwart to Villa Romano many a time to win him over after supporting Wazza's re-election campaign last year. It was payback time, Warren believed. It was also an opportunity to free up Kevin Byrne to run again for the Cairns mayoralty in early 2012. Warren thought he had the numbers but he wasn't there on Sunday. The irony is that Kevin Byrne could probably have won the Cairns seat for the LNP.

The Cairns pre-selection vote was in stark contrast to Barron River's later that day. Around 35 members where there to see tourism businessman Michael Trout get over the line. He only needed 12 votes to win. There were 11 Nats in the room. The vote went to a second ballot with Murray Ferguson. However, most of the Barron River folk had never seen Trout before. Someone told me it's called branch stacking. The ALP probably invented the game.

Earlier that morning, at around 10:30am, Paul Freebody won on a first vote, shocking the LNP hierarchy. But had they done their homework on this colourful and often inarticulate bumbler, who Tony Abbott offered a $100,000 election carrot to get is waterpark going?

Freebody has served as a Councillor in Cairns under the Stalinist Unity regime of Byrne. He was a happy lapdog to the formidable political warrior who didn't care who he upset. Byrne ruled the chamber and controlled councillors' microphones willy-nilly. In 2008, Paul Freebody lost to a 21-year-old first-time novice campaigner, Kirsten Lesina, who became the youngest ever election councillor in Cairns. It was a close race, but Paul must have known his days were up when he packed his booth up two hours earlier that overcast Saturday afternoon.

The campaign of 2008 displayed Paul's unique marketing style. He wrote and designed the brochures and even helped with Kathy Plath's leaflets. It was a remarkable hidden talent, like we had our own George W Bush.

In the weeks leading up to the March poll, Freebody paired up with the Cairns Post to defend his arrogant letter-writing in a Supreme court defamation case against two Cairns horse racing identities. He won, but the ensuing publicity put an end to his re-election hopes.

Paul spent the next two years re-grouping and putting together an ambitious plan to use a useless chunk of land he'd purchased on the notorious flood-prone Barron River delta. It took 18 months to get the plans drawn up and find some potential investors, wet with enthusiasm, and a year to get Council approval. Along the way Freebody abusively called the female Councillors "witches and bitches" after they stalled the decision for two weeks to seek more information. Council's manager of development assessment in his 75-page report, refused to endorse the water pipe dream. [LISTEN: Paul and the "witches" interview on 846am John Mackenzie.]

Paul's wife Kim and his children, rallied behind a Val Schier hate page on Facebook.
The waterpark vote narrowly passed, but without the support of the Mayor and the "witches and bitches". The local sugar mill contested the development in court and sought more conditions.

"They [Mulgrave Sugar Mill] have objected because they have an old piece of rail track that they store bins on - use three weeks a year," Paul Freebody told ABC radio, showing his ignorance of sugar milling.

To this day, no waterpark has materialised nor the promised bund wall. The only evidence is Paul's personal attempt to drive his dozer and divert a natural waterway on the land. Last November, a year on after approval, Barron sugar cane farmer Ross Parisi, called Freebody's plan a litany of broken promises, after the site was left in a cyclone wanting to happen.

Just before I left to see my family in New Zealand, the evening of Tuesday November 2nd, I telephoned Paul about another incident, his son's illegal antics that I 'd become embroiled in, and ended on the receiving end of a horrible rage-filled outburst in a one-sided conversation that extended just over 14 minutes. Paul was in full flight and was like a dog with a blogger's bone. A couple of my friends were in speaker-phone ear shot, as the dialogue descended into depravity. We couldn't believe what Paul said, especially in light that he was then seeking Liberal nomination for the seat of Cairns.

Anyway, let sleeping dogs lie, but don't sleep with them or you'll get fleas, as Paul infamously has said. There would be another day and time to re-visit Paul's shocking telephone threats, which remarkably mirrored Councillor Blake's one on two prior occasions. It's like they'd compared notes and battle plans in advance.

Last Sunday, after the LNP's pre-selection, I put a call into Paul Freebody. It rang out and I got his voice mail...

"Paul, it's Michael here. Congrats on your successful selection as the LNP candidate for Cairns, I hope you can help turn the tide from Labor in this region. When you've got a moment free, can you call me to have a chat about your thoughts on what is needed in Cairns under LNP. I've already talked with the other successful candidates."

I heard nothing back, so flicked him an email. Another two hours, another message. He was clearly avoiding me. Earlier that morning just after the vote announcement at LNP central, Paul's mobile went off. "Wonder if that's Michael Moore the blogger calling you Paul," exclaimed some wise-cracking Lib. "I wouldn't talk to him," Freebody snapped back.

I'd already had a fruitful discussion with Michael Trout, who gained the Barron River nomination. He gave me his wisdom on reforming and reinvigorating the commercial sector, should be boot Wettenhall out of office.

Paul, notorious for his verbal and written blunders, simply ignored my requests for a friendly chat about the momentous news of the day. I resorted to a final txt message, the most horrible of all human communications...

"Paul, would u like to have a chat about your successful LNP nomination or in absence, would your like me to write the story about your conversation in November when you said [words removed]. Which story would you like?"

I then put a call into a senior party chief, and recounted the events on November 2nd last year, which they were totally unaware of. Last evening, the following text messages ensued from Paul...

I can understand why Paul and the party is cautious. They may have to assign a speech writer. His last message is a bit bumbled, as he meant the "LNP", not "NLP", which is of course Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Or maybe he did mean that. Who knows?

I've already heard suggestions that senior members of the party may consider revisiting the Cairns selection, citing that substantive checks were not undertaken and a full declaration of conflicts had not been declared.

So we'll see if the LNP think social media will pay a role in this election campaign, and "clear CairnsBlog as a media outlet." Or any independent writer, for that matter.

The truth is, they don't have a choice.
FOOTNOTE: At 6:45am this morning, I received a missed call from Paul. How odd.

Monday 21 February 2011

Mulgrave MP Pitt takes on minority roles as a Minister

Mulgrave Labor MP Curtis Pitt, in a rapid ascension to the top in his inaugural term, will become Minister for Disabilities, Mental Health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.

Barron River MP Steve Wettenhall, will remain as a parliamentary secretaries "assisting the Premier and economic development in the Far North."

Richie Bates to seek Cairns ALP selection, calls for transparent process

Local Queensland Council of Unions Secretary, Richie Bates, announced his intention to stand for pre-selection as Labor candidate for the seat of Cairns, amid suggestions that the local party organisation want to steamroll a preferred candidate into the position.

With Bates publicly declaring his plans to seek selection, the ALP will now be forced to undertake a plebiscite amongst members.

"If there was four or five that wanted to put up there hands in Labor, I'd say that's a good thing," Richie Bates told CairnsBlog. "It would give more choice."

It is believed that Labor's administration committee will get together in the next couple of weeks, and make a decision when the pre-selection will be held.

"I assume that this will be the case, however with these things, there's no guarantees," Richie Bates says. "I'd just like to see an open and democratic process. That's all I ask for. It [the candidate] needs to be chosen from the rank and file ALP members."

The only other name that has been touted in recent months for the Labor nomination, is Tim Grau, a political strategist, who returned to Cairns over a year ago. In September last year, he wrote an opinion column in the Cairns Post, with no mention of his Labor party connections, something I called a party political advertisement. The following day, Grau responded in a fire-fighting mode, inflaming the original article and defended his right to to disclose his presidency of the Cairns ALP branch.

Many local Laborites have told CairnsBlog that retiring MP Desley Boyle has been saying for some time that a selection from the Party's "left" will get the candidate nomination "over her dead body."

Richie Bates doesn't know what his chances will be, but wants to raise issues about his party reconnecting with the people, something many observers have accused Labor of walking away from.

"It's about Labor reconnecting with the grass roots, it's local people and not a centralised party machine in Brisbane. I will be using my pre-selection campaign to say how we need to return Labor to the people," Richie Bates said.

Bates' point is exactly what came out in the Party review following the election debacle last year. They said that the party needs to return their focus to the membership and get more input from rank and file.

"If I can get this message out in the next couple of weeks, it is a powerful thing to say," Bates says.

The State election was thought to be planned for around March 2012, however this will clash with local Council elections across the State, which would suggest a possibility for Bligh to call an early election, possibility even November this year.

Bates supports the retention of public-owned assets, especially those lucrative assets like QR National (Queensland Rail) which underpin Queensland's economy well into the future.

"We are already seeing the first signs of QR National getting rid of jobs and damaging rural and regional communities," Richie Bates says. "We should learn from this lesson that we can't risk vital public services by handing them over to commercial interests who do act in the public interest. Privatisations of public assets are supposed to pass the public interest test."

Bates says QR National has failed and he will support the Labor Government in any effort to regain control and ensure the Party doesn't make the same mistakes again.

"My hope is to bring Labor principles back to the table in any major decision-making in government."

He supports Premier Anna Bligh and says she had shown strong and "inspirational leadership" during the recent natural disasters in Queensland.

"I would enjoy the opportunity to be part of her term that can provide strong and principled government to Queensland."

Bates, who ran for Cairns Regional Council in 2008 on Val Schier's Cairns 1st ticket, is a railway employee and delegate for the Rail Tram and Bus Union, and has been actively involved in community sport for many years. He is a staunch advocate for improved sporting facilities in the Cairns region.

CAPTION CONTEST: Libs take on Labor

Here's the team that will take Labor head on at the next State election, expected to be late this year, if Bligh and her post storm euphoria is anything to go by.

Mike Watt's pic in today's Post shows a bunch of happy campers, and they're all smiles, amid much disquiet amongst the rank and file LNPers. I wonder what words you'd like to put in their mouths? Go on, give it a go...

The best of the LNP: (left to very right) Paul Freebody,
Michael Trout, Robyn Quick and Craig Batchelor, who will contest the four local seats at the State election.

  1. "You know, the view over the trinity inlet is rather dirty, muddy and impossible to navigate. Kind of symbolic don't you think?"
  2. "We'll need a lot more than the new Macleans Whitener to make this happen guys!"
  3. "Robyn, you're not only the token girl. You're the token normal candidate as well!"
  4. "One of these four, just doesn't fit together..."
  5. ......... "your turn..."

Which country will be next to go?

Here's a good wrap up from Agence-France Presse about the latest developments of unrest sweeping the Middle East and North Africa. This follows the mass uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, bringing the fall of two long-time leaders.

Which country will be next to go? Will it be Bahrain or Libya?
God help China when the euphoria reaches there.

LIBYA: Protesters seize Libyan military bases, weapons. The premier denounced a "plot" to turn his country into a terrorist base, as anti-regime protests reached the capital and world powers slammed an iron-fisted crackdown said to have cost hundreds of lives.

IRAN: A massive police deployment in Tehran prevented large-scale protests from erupting, although Iranian opposition websites reported stray clashes and officials said the capital remained calm.

BAHRAIN: Bahrain's Sunni Muslim ruling family came under increased pressure to open in-depth talks with the Shiite-led opposition, as protesters erected more tents on the capital's Pearl Square and unions called off a strike.

MOROCCO: Thousands staged rallies in Moroccan cities demanding political reform and limits on the powers of King Mohammed VI, with protesters shouting "the people want change."

KUWAIT: Hundreds of stateless Arabs demonstrated for the third day running to press for basic rights and citizenship of the oil-rich Gulf state and Human Rights Watch called for the release of dozens detained on Friday.

YEMEN: Hundreds of students demonstrated on the eighth straight day of anti-regime protests in Sanaa, while police shot dead a protester in south Yemen and the opposition vowed to join protests.

EGYPT: Three police officers in Alexandria face questioning over the shooting of protesters in the early days of the Egyptian uprising, as banks reopened and workers at Egypt's largest factory ended a strike.

TUNISIA: Tunisia's interim government asked Saudi Arabia to extradite deposed strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali as it faced a second day of protests on the streets of Tunis, demanding its resignation.

DJIBOUTI: Djibouti authorities have "provisionally released" three top opposition leaders briefly detained after unprecedented protests demanding regime change, the state prosecutor said.

IRAQ: At least eight people, four police and four civilians, were reported wounded when clashes erupted during a rally in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah.

JORDAN: King Abdullah II urged speedy reforms, comprehensive dialogue and more efforts to battle corruption amid popular discontent and pro-reform protests.

SYRIA: A jailed Syrian Kurdish blogger and rights activist, Kamal Hussein Sheikho, is on a hunger strike, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

ALGERIA: Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci told Spain's El Pais newspaper the anti-government revolts in Tunisia and Egypt will not spread to Algeria, a day after riot police clashed with protesters in the centre of Algiers.