Thursday 31 March 2011

Smoke and Enemas

This old tool has been reintroduced in Australia by the Gillard Government. It will be an integral part of the Carbon Tax Emissions Trading Scheme...

Tuesday 29 March 2011

Aww, that's nothing! Try Queensland's $80 billion debt

Spot the diff: Queensland Party Vs the rest

According to The Queensland Party, their structure is different from the other major parties for three key reasons...
  • The party is based in Queensland and will work only for Queensland.
    ''This means the Queensland Party can truly represent Queensland. The other parties' state branches are secondary to their federal branches. This results in premiers and opposition leaders who are unable to criticise poor policy from Canberra because they need to toe party lines.''

  • The party acknowledges there may be times when elected representatives will vote against party policy to voice the interests of their constituents.
    ''The Queensland Party also believes every vote is a conscience vote. This means the Queensland Party encourages debate and believes robust argument is the best way to improve policy. The Queensland Party expects each member of parliament to represent their electorates on every issue, from daylight savings to asset sales. The Party also believes the last thing Queenslanders need are politicians that lock up their conscience for some bills but not for others.''

  • The Queensland Party leadership rests in a combined vote of the parliamentary party and the party membership.
    ''This means the Queensland Party is truly stable and democratic. Party members are given a voice during a leadership contest, preventing factions in the party room from gaining power. This also means the leader of the Queensland Party has a responsibility to listen to grass-roots members, unlike the other major parties.''

Next on ABC's Q&A: Krudd

Monday 28 March 2011

Queensland Party calls public meeting - Tuesday 7:30pm RSL Esplanade

The Queensland Party is gearing up for the possibility of an early State election, with leader Aidan McLindon visiting important regional seats in Townsville and Cairns this week.

McLindon will host a public meeting in Cairns on Tuesday 29th March, RSL on the Esplanade, touting that the party will be a "new voice for Queensland.”

The party today announced seven new candidates for the next State election.

"The new candidates include a local flood hero, a previous advisor to Richard Branson and Tony Blair, a Senior Vice President for the QPSU, a former federal Labor candidate and an LNP pre-selection nominee who resigned recently due to factional fighting," Aidan McLindon said. "We will also pit a successful financial advisor against the Treasurer in the key seat of Mount Coot-tha in what will be a crucial four-way contest between the Greens, the ALP, LNP and The Queensland Party."
McLindon says he and his team are ready to take on "the ALP/LNP monster."
“The Queensland Party has been working tirelessly since August last year to build a genuine alternative for better government and now that genuine alternative is coming to fruition as we prepare to make a series of key announcements in the coming weeks,” Aidan McLindon says. “From Mount Isa to the Far North, Rockhampton and a growing base in the South East, Queensland Party candidates are campaigning to return power to local communities. Queenslanders are genuinely interested in a party that has no ties to old factional rivalries, no faceless party machines and is interested in putting Queensland first by returning accountability to the parliament.”

The Queensland Party intends to contest every seat at the next state election, with the exception of those currently held by independents.
    Darren (DJ) Hunt will contest Cairns for the State election. Wendy Richardson will run in Barron River and Brendan Fitzgerald will stand in the Mulgrave seat.

    Brendan Fitzgerald is another former Liberal to join the emerging party, and is a strong supporter of Aidan McLindon 's drive to chance the landscape of Queensland politics.

    "He's has done a great job. I have been involved with the Libs since birth," Fitzgerald says. "My father was on the State executive and was a campaign director for Jim Killen, Don Cameron and Sam Doumany - the first Queensland Muslim attorney General. I can assure you the Libs and Nats in Queensland are not even a shadow of their past."

    The new candidates announced today are:
    Mount Isa: Jim Nicholls
    Queensland Party Chairman is based in Mount Isa and will contest the far western seat with a focus on addressing systemic issues surrounding poverty. Mr Nicholls previously advised Richard Branson and Tony Blair and also stood for the presidency of the Queensland Branch of the Liberal Party before the merger of the LNP.
    Rockhampton: Shane Guley
    Water and sewerage operator will stand for election in the central Queensland city with a deep understanding of the betrayal of the electorate by the Labor Party. Mr Guley has contested three elections previously with the Labor Party before being forced out due to factional warfare and sees The Queensland Party as the state’s only viable option into the future.
    Burdekin: Ron Wadforth
    A law and order officer will join Ray Grigg as the second Queensland Party candidate in the greater Townsville area. Mr Wadforth has been awarded a meritorious service medal for his long and commendable career in law and order and understands the need to address crime in the electorate. He is currently the Senior Vice President of the Queensland Public Sector Union for Townsville.
    Bundamba: Ray Cole
    A father and truck driver will put the people of Ipswich back onto the Government’s agenda by standing in Bundamba and raising issues of flood assistance, public transport and mental health. Mr Cole’s house was looted while receiving an award for saving a kangaroo during the recent Ipswich floods. My Cole is a genuine local who wants to get the Ipswich region back on track.
    Cleveland: Paul Golle
    Former soldier with operational experience in Namibia and East Timor, had nominated to contest the next election with the LNP but resigned due to ongoing factional rivalries and lack of regard for process. Mr Golle strongly believes in the requirement to deliver opportunities for business in the Cleveland electorate and is actively involved in his local community.
    Sunnybank: Chris Burns
    At 29 years is one of the youngest Queensland Party candidates, a mother and a qualified surveyor who has been involved in the natural disaster recovery following the floods, including in Grantham. Ms Burns is also the Chair of the Queensland Young Professionals committee and is committed to bringing her energy to represent the diverse community in Sunnybank.
    Mount Coot-tha: Matt Tuton
    A successful financial advisor with a proven track record in the industry will be facing off against the Queensland Treasurer in the critical western Brisbane seat. Mr Tuton, who has employed more than 25 people in his own financial business and now works for major bank in Brisbane, is also acutely aware of the need to support small businesses.
      7pm RSL Club, The Esplanade, Cairns

      (NB: Free Pauline Hanson doll with complimentary pins, for every attendee)

    "Neutralize the morons" - Lance Royce

    As hundreds gathered in City Place, Cairns last evening, dejected Liberal party member Lance Royce, who scribes Northern Truth, sent out a message in light - well, in the dark, of the Earth Hour celebrations.

    "Earth hour at my place? I don't think so." Lance Royce said.

    "So in protest and for one hour Saturday night, I turned on every light and electrical appliance in the house," Royce said.

    "I reckon that should neutralize you morons that think that turning the lights out will make any difference whatsoever!"

    Sunday 27 March 2011

    Grau pulls out of Cairns Labor race

    The only Labor name touted as Desley Boyle's replacement has announced that he will now not seek selection as the Labor candidate for the upcoming State election.

    Tim Grau, who had the support of the party's dominant right faction, including outgoing MP Desley Boyle, has said he will now not put his name forward for pre-selection as the Cairns candidate.

    "While here has been much and continued uniformed media speculation about my potential 'parachuted' candidature, now that the Party has officially opened nominations, I think it is appropriate to advise Branch members that I will not be a candidate for the next State election," Tim Grau said yesterday.

    Grau was touted as the preferred candidate for what has been a strong Labor seat for around 100 years. He was subject to intense scrutiny over recent months when in September last year Tim Grau penned a opinion piece in the Cairns Post, with no reference to his presidency of the local Labor Party branch.

    Grau replied very angrily in response to the comments. Recently he had an exchange with veteran activist Bryan Law, where he was labelled a "slave-owner" and a "scab."

    Tim Grau said yesterday that the next State election is going to be an important one for Queensland and the region and a "tough one for the Labor Party."

    "I strongly believe the Bligh Government and our Labor members in Far North Queensland deserve, and will be, re-elected with our help and support," Tim Grau wrote to party faithful, and some who are not so faithful (you know who you are).

    "With Desley Boyle's announcement that she will not re-contest the next State election, it will be more important than ever for us to work hard to ensure Cairns remains a Labor seat. Now more than ever Cairns needs a Labor representative."

    Grau said that only Labor has a commitment to the important core community values of job generation, regional economic development and diversity, the opportunity of education and training and the importance of a strong universal public health system.

    "As many of you know, I am a father to a beautiful two-year old, Matilda, and at this time my priority is to be fully in her life and the best father that I can be," Grau said. "Those who actually know me, know she is after all the real and only reason I 'parachuted' into Far North Queensland."

    "Having worked for, and with, Members of Parliament for many years I know the amount of time and level of commitment that is required to serve the community. It is truly a 24-hour seven-day a week job – sadly a fact not often recognised or acknowledged by many outside the Party or politics."

    Tim Grau says he doesn't believe he could be the father he wants to be, or his daughter needs, while seeking to be a State Member of Parliament.

    "I appreciate and am genuinely humbled that a number of you were eager for me to put myself forward as Labor’s candidate for Cairns," Tim Grau says.

    "I apologise if I have disappointed you."

    Local tram union representative, community and sports identity, Richie Bates, has said he will seek the party's selection for the seat of Cairns. Bates contested the Cairns Regional Council in 2008, against former councillor Kathy Plath and incumbent Alan Blake.

    "Now that nominations have officially opened, I will submit mine this week," Richie Bates told CairnsBlog.

    However Desley Boyle would probably dig up a body from the Pioneer Cemetery to run, before endorsing someone like Bates, who really represents the core values of Labor.

    Saturday 26 March 2011

    Holding the Labor bastards accountable about privatisation - the stealing of Queensland Rail

    Labor is on the nose everywhere.

    This weekend it is likely that the NSW Labor government will be served a sharp lesson and will be kicked out of office.

    Last week, the Queensland Labor party expelled two of their more vocal members: Cairns Electrical Trades Union organiser Stuey Traill and state secretary, Peter Simpson. Both Traill and Simpson had often been the face of a large number of members who were incensed at the party ignoring the party platform – to reject any move to privatise state assets – a move the Bligh Government needed to address a debt mountain in excess of $80 billion – higher than all other States combined.

    Labor across the country is no longer a party of the people. It is arrogant, confused and disloyal to its core values. This doesn’t mean that the primary alternative is the natural choice. In Cairns, the LNP chosen a disreputable former Councillor, Paul Freebody who believes bullying and death threats are the way to gain respect, and a federal member Warren Entsch who didn’t even use a local IT company to construct his website because his media chick owes a quarter of a million bucks to local media businesses. What an effing mess.

    However, this story is about Labor.

    Let’s state the bleeding obvious: Privatisation of state-owned assets is against Labor Party platform and principles. But we all know this, don't we? Even Barron River MP Steve Wettenhall agreed but has since bent over and let Bligh use a strap on.

    Bligh and her cronies surprised unions on the left with her privatisation plans at the Labor state conference, and then rigged the vote by encouraging certain members to abstain from voting.

    The road to privatisation was being paved well and truly before the last state election. The then Beattie government appointed Lance Hockridge as CEO of Queensland Rail specifically to rationalize and break up the company for sale. Hockridge has a rather interesting corporate track record. Many say he’s not the sort of CEO you would expect a Labor government to employ.

    Prior to the last state election, Hockridge offered QR employees $10,000 each to sell out their no-forced redundancies and relocations policy contained in the EBA's. This was a deliberate attempt to downsize the company, and would have resulted in a loss of rail services over time. Bligh saw this as being potentially damaging for her election chances, and vetoed the payments before they could be made. The rail unions were understandably grateful and continued their support throughout the election process.

    Once elected, Bligh, and Hockridge wasted no time in continuing their privatisation plans.

    Once privatisation of QR was ratified, Hockridge and upper QR management embarked on a revolting propaganda campaign, constantly telling employees that the sale entailed "exciting times" and "new opportunities" for QR and its employees. What bullshit. Staff morale was utterly destroyed and many employees justifiably feared for their jobs. Even today, the level of depression and defeatism in staff is alarming.

    Shortly after the election, Bligh's chief of staff, the electoral fraudster Mike Kaiser, quit his post and was subsequently awarded a $450,000 a year job with the National Broadband Network. Kaiser had previously been a disastrous chief of staff for NSW Premier Morris Iemma. He was also heavily involved in the Goss government’s failed plans to privatise QR in the mid- nineties.
    In order to sell off QR's coal freight arm, it was decided to split the company into two new entities. QR National would be mostly sold off and Queensland Rail would run purely passenger services and remain state owned.

    QR National carries much more than coal though, but Hockridge made it quite clear that he was only interested in carrying bulk coal and mineral freight. To date we have seen much of the grocery and general freight consigned to the road, and hence the disgusting state of the Bruce Highway. Heavy road transport is rapidly destroying our major roads.

    Employees were sent out forms to sign. They could either accept placement by management in either of the two "new" companies or, as they say "hit the road Jack". The CEO and upper management positions were announced, and surprise, surprise, Hockridge was made CEO of the profitable QR National, with a massive salary increase.

    He has stacked this company with former colleagues from his previous corporate crusades. Paul Scurrah was named as Queensland Rail CEO, and interestingly, his wife is none other than Nicole Scurrah, Bligh's chief of staff. Hockridge and Scurrah had their fingers burned when their companies were taken to court by the rail unions for failing to properly consult with their employees during the sale process. The unions won this case but it has made little difference. You can understand why so many employees are filled with suspicion and fear for their jobs.

    Hockridge is now offering 3,500 job redundancies within QR National. This means only one thing: he is planning to reduce regional freight services to increase profits.

    This will mean yet more trucks on our roads, with resultant crash deaths, injuries, and massively expensive road damage. Convenient though, that much of the Bruce Highway is federally funded. People simply do not know how their freight and groceriies get up here from southern centres. All you hear about is road closures stopping the trucks getting through. It would be far cheaper, easier, and much less inconvenient to the public, to flood proof the rail line than it would be to upgrade the Bruce Highway. Sure rail transport can be slower, but look at the distance freight has to be transported to get here.

    In fact, freight rail prices have increased at alarming rates in the last 18 months, even in the build up to the QR float. It was a deliberate measure to encourage less-profitable freight onto roads and off rail, small freight and grocery stock, destined for Cairns supermarkets. Have you noticed how much prices have gone up in the last two years? Well, now you know why. People need to realise that rail freight transport was never meant to be profitable, but it was meant to provide a service to the people of Queensland. Privatisation is taking this service away.

    The irony of this is that Labor is all for a carbon tax, yet they're forcing more and more freight onto the roads. Between 30 and 40 truck loads could be transported in just one train journey.

    Keneally looks like being wiped out at today's election, after a disastrous privatisation of power assets in NSW.

    Both Bligh and Keneally should have realised by now that those who voted for them did not vote for privatisation, but to uphold Labor platform and principles.

    Labor should not be surprised that they are under fire from the unions, as the unions represent the very same people that Labor is supposed to represent. Bligh's popularity may have been boosted by disasters and a revolting womens' magazine spread, but this will be short lived.

    We can't forget that her financially-inept government has wiped the fuel subsidy, massively increased vehicle registration to the highest in Australia - maybe to pay for the damage caused by heavy trucks, and the tripling of our electricity prices. Truth be known, modern Labor is probably the most conservative party in Australia's history.

    So, who you gunna support?

    VIDEO: Attention all you rule-breakers and misfits

    Attention all you rule-breakers, you misfits and troublemakers, all you free-spirits and pioneers. Everything the establishment has told you is wrong with you - is actually what's right with you.

    Friday 25 March 2011

    The reason the Labor Party expelled Stuey Traill

    Desley Boyle, MP for Cairns, has acknowledged that there is concern amongst some members of the Labor Party about the expulsion of ETU organiser Stuart Traill, and his Brisbane colleague, Peter Simpson.

    In a statement this afternoon, circulated by Tim Grau, Desley Boyle said Traill was expelled from the party because he talked about running opposing candidates.

    "The reasons for this serious step were not to curtail free speech but rather because Mr Trail [sic] spoke publicly about proposing candidates to stand in opposition to endorsed ALP candidates at the next state election," Desley Boyle said.

    "The full and proper process whereby this was considered by the ALP, is detailed in [a] document as are the reasons for the unanimous decision of the Disputes Tribunal to recommend expulsion."

    Here's the "Party Office Brief" in full, from Labor's state secretary, Anthony Chisholm:
    • In early December 2010, Mr Peter Simpson and Mr Stuart Traill outlined in various media articles plans for a new political party and that "the party would be called the Independent Labour Party.

      Further comments were made by both Mr Simpson and Mr Traill in relation to the seats identified in which either candidates from an "independent Labour party" would run against endorsed ALP candidates or support would be given to other independent candidates rather than endorsed ALP candidates.

      The Administrative Committee Meeting of Monday, 13h of December 2010,
      unanimously referred both Mr Simpson and Mr Traill to the Party's independent Disputes Tribunal after considering the above statements and correspondence exchanged between the State Secretary and Mr Simpson and Mr Traill. The charge for which they were referred to the Disputes Tribunal was engaging in conduct severely harmful to the best interests of the Party and having been disloyal to the Party.

      It is fact that over the preceding 18 months, Mr Simpson and Mr Traill were very vocal advocates in the campaign against the Queensland Government's decision to sell public assets. It is also a fact that the dispute initiated by the Administrative Committee had absolutely nothing to do with the anti-privatisation campaign.

      The Party understands and respects that all affiliates will, from time to time, run campaigns in opposition to Government policy in order to protect the interests of their members. In the same vein, the party has the right to regulate its internal matters in order to ensure its electoral success - the very reason for the formation of the ALP, 120 years ago.

      his dispute was initiated because of the explicit threat made by Mr Simpson and Mr Traill against the electoral success of the Labor Party in Queensland. For the Labor Party there can be no more serious a threat than to run against endorsed Labor candidates, history has proven how damaging this can be to our Party.

      Disputes Process and Recommendation

      Following the Shepherdson Inquiry, the party disputes process was significantly reformed to ensure that the deliberation of any dispute was conducted at arm’s length from the Party. Under the party rules, different panels are established in order for disputes to be considered by different panels throughout the different phases of mediation, arbitration and appeal.

      Disputes Tribunal members are made up of eminent party members who have no day-to-day dealings with the ALP.

      The Queensland ALP process calls for a first panel of three eminent Party members to convene and attempt mediation. This process was unsuccessful as no fault was conceded, no conciliatory statements proffered and no offer of support for the Labor MPs of the Party made.

      The arbitration phase was conducted by a different panel and this phase was held over two sessions with adjournments being granted in order to accommodate requests from Mr Simpson and Mr Traill.

      At no stage during mediation or arbitration, did Mr Simpson or Mr Traill deny the quotes presented in the media or repudiate the articles as represented. Further, during the arbitration phase, Mr Simpson articulated that he "did not support the re-election of 49 of the 51 Labor MPs."

      All parties were legally represented during the arbitration phase and numerous submissions were put and exchanged between the Disputes Tribunal and the parties.

      At all times, the principles of natural justice and due process were adhered to as were the rules of the Party.

      The Disputes Tribunal heard final submissions on Monday, 28th of February and found the complaints established and unanimously recommended to the Administrative Committee that the Respondents (Simpson and Traill) be expelled from the Party.

      The Party's rules provide that decisions of the Disputes Tribunal can be appealed to another panel. In this instance, Mr Simpson and Mr Traill did not take up their rights of appeal and, whilst not agreeing with the findings and recommendation of the Disputes Tribunal, consented to the Tribunal's report going to the Administrative Committee for final determination.

      Administrative Committee 18th of March 2011

      A special meeting of the Administration Committee was held on Friday, 18th of March and the recommendation of the Disputes Tribunal was considered carefully and dutifully by members through reasoned debate.

      The motion to ratify the decision of the Disputes Tribunal was carried, thus formalising the expulsion of Mr Simpson and Mr Traill from the ALP.

    Attack on Lyons House is "media driven propaganda"

    The alcohol rehabilitation centre in Westcourt, Lyons House, that has now been subject to three sensational stories by the Cairns Post, is "media-driven propaganda" and contains "deliberate misinformation" according to the Lyons' management committee.

    If you want to hear another side to this story, one without a personal campaign from the Post against Councillor Diane Forsyth: here it is.

    I asked the committee that runs Lyons House, formerly the Addiction Help Agency, for their side of the story, something the Post has ignored. Lyons is a residential facility that provides a drug and alcohol free environment for people to make "positive life changes".

    The management committee believes the Post coverage, that was largely in reaction of two employees who's employment was terminated, has jeopardised the work of the organisation. Director Margaret Renfrey and John Ellis, who looked after operations, were both asked to leave.

    The funding bodies has said they would not continue to financially resource Lyon's House if they "don't fix things up." A committee member told CairnsBlog that the two sacked sacked were not co-operating with the management committee.

    "The director [who was sacked] was showing a resistance to mandatory reporting that was not being sent to the funding authorities," the members told CairnsBlog. "The committee kept asking for these, but they were not forthcoming. This was risking our continued funding, and is why we had to bring in an independent investigator. We don't know what she [Director Margaret Renfrey] has not done this."

    This is all about taking the focus away from the main issues and discredit certain individuals and ignor the real problems in the management staff. It was why the committee moved this week to remove those two people, so that we could re-structure the agency," the member said. "It's a smokescreen."

    The Post reported there was "a vote of no confidence" in the committee, which includes Cairns regional councillor Di Forsyth, who is secretary. Yet only 12 out of 28 staff have voted not to cooperate with the management committee.

    "This [media coverage] has jeopardised the normal open and transparent governance of the organisation and the organisation's ability to be able to provide a high level of service to clients," president David Couplan-Jones told CairnsBlog in his first public statement about the affair.

    "Today the management committee of Lyons House has asked the Member for Cairns, the Hon Desley Boyle to urgently seek the Government's intervention by requesting an investigation of Lyons House operations," David Couplan-Jones said [pictured right]. "The committee has for sometime had deep concerns about the lack of financial accountability and probity in the operation of Lyons House."

    Both Margaret Renfrey and John Ellis who were sacked this week, contacted Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch, and said he had lodged a complaint with the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

    “I have grave concerns about the evidence presented to me about Lyons House,” Entsch said. “It is only right that Councillor Forsyth stands down from her role as secretary at Lyons House and the Council until this matter is thoroughly investigated.”

    However Cairns MP Desley Boyle, who is also a patron of Lyons House, says such "upheaval in community organisations is common.

    "Unfortunately it is not uncommon for community organisations such as this to go through organisational upheavals from time to time," Desley Boyle says. "With accusations and counter-accusations by the disaffected and, sadly, sometimes fueled by politicians like [Liberal] Warren Entsch wading in and requesting others to behave as he does not himself."

    Boyle says that people should not jump to conclusions.

    "Let the proper investigations take place and report back publicly. I applaud the committee's determination to keep services being delivered in the interim. As patron I am aware of the very good work done by this service over the years and the tremendous benefit that clients, often in desperate situations, have received," Boyle said.

    The committee is determined to complete their investigations to ensure the ongoing funding of the service. They have said the report will be made public.

    The committee, that directs the paid employees, have engaged an independent financial consultant to investigate the irregularities and anomalies that arose from a recent meeting with their three main funding bodies last December. It is clear there appears to be sufficient questions around the management under the two sacked staff, Margaret Renfrey and John Ellis.

    "The committee has asked Desley Boyle to contact the Attorney General and request an investigation of Lyons House financial operations and to report to the Government on issues of financial irregularity and mismanagement in respect of the operations of Lyons House," David Couplan-Jones said, in an apparent attack on the two sacked workers that have been given the 'lyon's share' attention from the Post.

    "The unprecedented media driven propaganda and deliberate misinformation has jeopardised the normal open and transparent governance of the organisation and the organisations ability to be able to provide a high level of service to clients," David Couplan-Jones said on behalf of the committee. "As an experienced and highly professional voluntary management committee, who work tirelessly for the organisation, in recent times have had to deal with wild allegations made by mischievous and vexatious staff members, putting at risk the organisations credibility."

    "In order to safeguard and continue to deliver effective and accessible client-focused assistance and services in a professional and financially accountable manner, we believe it is better for the Justice Department to take control of the investigation," Couplan-Jones said representing the interests of Lyons House management committee.

    David Couplan-Jones, who heads the management committee is steadfast that the drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, with a major indigenous component, will continue amid the current attack.

    Council have said the Westcourt house was not been approved to be run as a live-in rehabilitation centre because it's graded 'residential 3', yet it is directly opposite the shopping centre and right next door to a series of commercial offices.

    Councillor Robert Pyne says they've simply got Warren Entsch to do their dirty work for them.

    "If Warren was on Council, he would be in breach of the code of conduct, by saying Forsyth should stand down like this," Pyne said.

    "The truth people are doing all sorts of things in private buildings and homes, like running home businesses for which they really should apply to Council, but the truth is that they have busy lives and more often don't think that they need council approval. Of course it never really matters until someone complains, and someone wants to make an issue out of it.

    David Couplan-Jones says the committee is taking a new direction of 'client focused funding'.

    "However the organisation has needed to make the difficult decision of making two staff positions redundant, with their full entitlements," Couplan-Jones said. "This restructuring will enable the organisation to continue valuable services in providing a holistic service to marginalised and at risk populations in Cairns."

    "As a result of a high level of scrutiny, by funding bodies, the committee was directed to take action to reform or programs will be defunded. The committee undertook an extensive review and appointed an independent financial investigator to uncover financial irregularities identified by the funding bodies at a meeting in December," David Couplan-Jones says. "After looking at all the options, the committee decided to take this step of restructuring."

    "Although we are an unpaid group of volunteers, the committee has responsibility under the legislation for the organisation, and are committed to moving forward to provide a better future for Lyons House, and developing a five-year strategic plan offering the community of Cairns a highly professional and first-rate service."

    David Couplan-Jones told CairnsBlog it is distressing that people have leaked documents about Diane Forsyth, the organisation's secretary, in an attempt to discredit her.

    "They are trying to discredit her and her commitment to the organisation," Couplan-Jones says. "The committee would like to state categorically that it supports Ms Forsyth and are fully aware of the issues raised by disgruntled people and firmly believe that these issues have been addressed satisfactorily."

    "The mistaken overpayment made to Ms Forsyth for her LSL when she resigned from the organisation in 2008, which she voluntarily offered to repay as soon as learning of the mistake; and a large internet bill, which has now been mutually settled.

    Diane Forsyth says the payment was paid back as soon as she was made aware.

    "The auditor at that time suggested that I could pay it back as a donation for internal accounting purposes, as the books were already closed," Di Forsyth said. "I have not claimed it on tax, as the receipts show clearly that it is a repayment of LSL overpaid."

    A substantial internet bill was also raised by the sacked staff, saying this was chalked up by Councillor Forsyth.

    "The majority of the internet bill was waived by Telstra when it was challenged. The committee is well aware of this issue and has now been dealt with," Diane Forsyth said. "I had no knowledge of the large amount of computer usage, over and above the monthly fee, as the alerts for reaching capacity were sent to my mobile phone which was then used by the new director at Lyons House, who at no time contacted me to say she had received any alerts from Telstra that the email usage was over. I rarely used the computer I was not aware there was an issue.”

    Forsyth worked at the organisation for 12 years as a director and a psychotherapist, prior to her election as a Cairns Regional Councillor in March 2008.

    "I have nothing to hide," Forsyth told CairnsBlog. "I welcome the investigation and have voted to support this.".

    David Couplan-Jones says the result of this "smear campaign" will be to muddy the waters in what is the real issue of getting Lyons House back on track.

    "All members of the committee have acted in good faith, giving up their own time to begin the restructuring process getting the finances and policies in order, by taking a more hands on approach to reform the agency in line with best practice."

    Of course this attack largely focused at Councillor Di Forsyth, pails into insignificance when it comes to the allegations of misconduct levelled at Councillor Sno Bonneau last month, that is now subject to a Crime and Misconduct investigation. Yet where's the front page banner headlines about Sno?

    Christchurch after the quake, aerial mapping available

    Graphic aerial photographs recorded two days after the devastating February 22nd earthquake in Christchurch, have just been released.

    Land Information New Zealand have uploaded the images that Police, Civil Defence and emergency services used to assess damage in the city.

    "It's important to remember that this imagery is a snapshot of the way Christchurch looked a couple of days after the earthquake," says Geoff Howard, New Zealand's Chief Topographer. "It's good that this information is now available to all of New Zealand and the world."
    • Christchurch February 24th 2011 images.

      (NB: You will need click the "+ADD 20m Contours" button to view the new layer.)

    Crimestoppers update

    In partnership with the Cairns District Crime Prevention office, CairnsBlog brings you Crime Stoppers update.

    Drink driver charged after traffic crash, Cairns
    Police were called to a single vehicle traffic crash at Freshwater in the early hours of Thursday morning. It is alleged that shortly after midnight the 42-year-old driver of a utility had failed to negotiate a turn from Kamerunga Road into Lavis Street and collided with a light support pole before coming to rest against a metal fence. The man allegedly returned a breath alcohol reading of .233% and was arrested and charged with driving whilst under the influence of liquor. He is scheduled to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court on April 8.

    Burglary offences, Cairns
    Investigations are underway into a number of burglary offences in the Cairns area. At around 10.30pm on Wednesday thieves gained entry to a Grafton Street North Cairns unit by way of an unlocked rear door and stole a quantity of jewellery. QP1100253732

    In another incident a unit in Anderson Street at Manunda was targeted by offenders who forced entry to the residence and stole a handbag and wallet as well as jewellery. The offence occurred sometime between 2.45 and 8am on Thursday.

    Theft from vehicle, Redlynch
    Police are also investigating the theft of trade tools from a vehicle on Thursday. The 24-year-old victim had parked and secured his station wagon in the vehicle parking area at a popular swimming hole on Redlynch-Intake Road at around 12.30pm. A short time after the victim returned to find that entry had been forced to his vehicle and items had been stolen. Thieves made off with tools including two power drills, a tool box, tool belt and specialized electronic equipment.

    Fraud charge, Cairns
    Police have charged a 24-year-old Mooroobool man with fraud following an investigation into a number of allegedly fraudulent transactions. It is alleged the man stole several cheques from his employer and cashed them over a five month period between November 2010 and earlier this month. He is scheduled to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court on March 28.

    Police Officer assaulted, Mooroobool
    A 17-year-old man was charged with serious assault and obstructing Police on Tuesday following an incident at a McCoombe Street address. Police were called to the residence shortly before 1pm and were attempting to negotiate with the man when he allegedly threatened to strike the officers with a chair. It is further alleged that the man then ran at one of the officers and struck him in the upper body. The man was subsequently taken into custody and charged. The officer received treatment at the Cairns Base Hospital for a shoulder injury as a result of the incident. The man is due to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court on April 7.

    Break and enter offence, Bungalow
    Police are investigating a break and enter offence that occurred at a Lyons Street business overnight on Tuesday night. Thieves forced entry to the premises sometime between 9pm and 6.30am and stole a cash register containing a small sum of money.

    Anyone with information which could assist police with their investigations should contact Cairns Police on 40307000 or Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or Crime Stoppers 24hrs a day. Crime Stoppers is a charitable community volunteer organisation working in partnership with the Queensland Police Service.

    YEA! and their amazing race

    YEAH BABY: Cairns Regional's Council's youth development officer Glen Martin, Cairns YEA! committee chair Councillor Kirsten Lesina, Mayor Val Schier with Paricxit Dahal, Sharine Hornig, Lidi Li and Cameron Howlett.

    The team from Cairns YEA!, Council's youth engagement and action initiative,
    launched a unique race through Cairns this morning that will test teenagers' local knowledge.
    YEA! acts as Council’s youth advisory committee and is staging the 'Amazing Race-style event' on Saturday April 2nd.

    “The race will be run in a series of stages, where participants will have to do things like find a particular fruit at Rusty’s Markets, prepare a Meals on Wheels lunch, identify native trees, pack a cyclone evacuation kit, follow a bus timetable and race against the Mayor in a bike ride,” councillor Kirsten Lesina said. "The initiative highlights council’s commitment to the personal development and entertainment of young people in our region."

    There will also be a beer goggle obstacle course to demonstrate the dangers of excessive drinking, with all activities targeting messages about health, education, safety or environmental awareness.

    The race is open to Year 10-12 students, runs from 1.30pm - 3.30pm. The winning team will receive a $1,000 to spend at JB Hi-Fi.

    A Sundown youth concert will follow the race and features local bands Colour Society, Phoenix Rising, Sonic Probe and Jobstopper, as well as an Arc Disability Drumming Beats performance, DJ Battle Cat and the Cultural Dance Troop. Sean Choolburra will MC the event

    The concert will be on the Esplanade, opposite the night markets, from 4pm to 7pm.


    Cyclone Bune "going to wipe out Cairns" - Bligh

    NB : A lady known as Anna didn't say this, but it's the bullshit language she used during Cyclone Yasi.

    Thursday 24 March 2011

    Lookout. What a load of rubbish

    I snapped this the other day, on the way down the Kuranda range road.

    This disgusting rubbish is overflowing at the popular lookout, about half way up the range. Why don't visitors take their bloody rubbish with them? Huh?

    Mackenzie listeners say yes to Cairns cultural centre

    A CairnsBlog reader who attended tonight's meeting at Cairns State High School about the planned cultural precinct, gave the massive project the thumbs up.

    ''The overall mood of the meeting was positive,'' Alison said. ''There were a lot of John Mackenzie supporters there.''

    The majority favoured the cultural precinct, but not in the location proposed by Val,'' Alison said.

    ‎115 people at the meeting voted to stop it.

    "I wonder if the other 160,000 people in the region agree with them," Mayor Val Schier said.

    No surprises there.

    Wednesday 23 March 2011

    Stomp is back!

    Just a week or so after Cairns Regional councillors refused to support the widely successful Stomp the Nard youth dance event, organiser Angelo Saliba has announced the beat will go on.

    "Stomp will return to the Cairns Esplanade on Saturday 9th April from 6pm and will feature the biggest lineup we have ever seen," Angelo Saliba promised. "Expect to see ThreeSixFive, Evident Supercrew, Tru Phaze Crew, Inkredibles Inc, Spectro Kids, and that's just to name a few."

    "We welcome all dancers to battle, including solo, crews, and doubles. No style is safe, no age restricted,"

    Special guests DJs will be Montaj, Dj A.N.G, Fozzey and VanC.
    • Saturday 9th April, 6pm – 8.30pm
      Fogarty Park Esplanade
      Want to help? Email to be part of the team
    • After parties: Ages 18+
      - Gilligans Nightclub - Saturday April 9th
      - Ages 13-17 = Underage Rage @ Brothers - Friday April 15th

    Tuesday 22 March 2011

    VIDEO: Missing 13yo Declan Crouch video shows adventurous and happy boy

    Missing Machan's Beach teenager Declan Crouch, is shown as a happy and normal lad in a compilation video just released by his family and the Cairns Police.

    An updated report, including an interview with Declan's sister Grace, will appear on CairnsBlog later tonight.

    Monday 21 March 2011

    They're going bananas, now up to 10 bucks kg. Just bullshit.

    Turmoil in LNP ranks

    "The leadership of the parliamentary LNP is determined by elected representatives not faceless men," State opposition and leader of the LNP John Paul Langbroek said this morning.

    "The LNP constitution is clear on this matter:
    • Section O.2: “The State Parliamentary Party shall appoint a Leader, Deputy Leader and such other officers as it may decide and shall govern its affairs according to its own rules.”
    Langbroek says that the actions of some senior members of the LNP executive are in clear contravention of the constitution.

    "If any executive member of the LNP is incapable or unwilling to abide by the Constitution of the LNP by accepting the decisions made by the parliamentary team, then those people should resign and make way for those who can."

    The turmoil comes hot on the heels with suggestions that Queensland Labor MPs are controlling the State's administration committee. On Friday, Labor expelled prominent union organisers and outspoken privitisation activists, Stuey Traill and Peter Simpson. They are both taking legal action.

    Federal MP Entsch spends thousands on new website, but not in Cairns

    Federal MP for Leichardt Warren Entsch, has just commissioned a new super-dooper website, but believes there isn't the expertise in his own electorate to get it done here.

    It's a claim that has angered several of the top internet and web development businesses in Cairns. They are demanding an explanation as to why the website, launched just a week ago, was not tendered locally.

    Three prominent Cairns website and internet companies have come out lashing the MP's decision to purchase his website in Brisbane.

    "The not so 'honorable' MP for Leichhardt has a website developed by a Brisbane company," Gabrielle Cooney of justpurple said. "I am so not impressed. What a kick in the teeth for our local serving member to not seek local companies for this type of work."

    However Entsch, through his senior media advisor, Danae Jones, says that local companies were sought and had a lot to do in the development of the website.

    "All photography and design for the website was done by locals," Entsch wrote on his Facebook page. "All content was written by my staff. The only part of the website done by a Brisbane based firm was the content management system."

    Entsch says that this web management system was "customised with specifications unable to be provided locally."

    "So we went with the company that has developed the CMS's for the majority of Federal MP's websites," he says. "All of our printing, design, photography, eNewsletters, promotional collateral and merchandise are proudly produced by local businesses and always will be."

    Entsch and his staff, have however refused to name any of the local companies involved. When I chatted to half a dozen local web businesses in the region late last week, all said there were not sought to tender for the prominent website.

    Nicky Jurd who runs the highly successful Precedence, previously City of Cairns, internet business, based on Mulgrave Road, says she was very surprised the MP didn't get the website produced in the region.

    "I'm surprised Mr Entsch was unable to source a local website developer to customise a Content Management System to his specifications," Nicky Jurd said. "All web development companies in Cairns are able to provide this service. That’s pretty audacious to say this couldn’t be done locally. That bites. I'm disappointed he didn't look harder, as website developers like other Cairns businesses significantly rely on local business to keep our staff employed here."

    Skye Oliphant, a supporter of Warren Entsch and the Liberal National Party who lives on the Gold Coast, believes that the concerns being voiced are made by Labor party supporters.

    "I wouldn’t believe a word that comes out of their mouths, just like Julya [sic]… lies, lies, lies." Ms Oliphant said. "It is a business decision that really comes back to the best fit for the job."

    However Nicky Jurd says she and the other website companies in Cairns are not Labor party supporters. "We're owners of website development businesses who employ staff here in Cairns."

    Robert Rutten, a well-known internet specialist, who regularly appears on ABC Far North and designed and developed the former Federal MP Jim Turnour, was also angry at Entsch's decison not to purchase locally.

    "Saying that there is no expertise in this town, is an uninformed, shallow or deliberately deceitful comment that belittles the talent and expertise in the community," Rob Rutten told CairnsBlog. "It really irks me. This is a blow to the local industry, it's a vote of no confidence. He goes on one hand and says how important it is to bring jobs to the local economy - saying come to north Queensland, then on the other hand, he's sending money down south."

    Rutten, who has written a detailed full-page letter to the MP, says Entsch's position is indefensible.

    "He's sending the local's meal ticket down south. It's not just this spend," Rob Rutten says. "This is the start to a relationship with a web developer that is going to go through the length of his term - four or eight years. When they need a modification; when they need an upgrade; when they need a security patch to apply, all those things will be done by that company and all that money goes out of Cairns. So therefore it's worth many times the initial spend of the website."

    Rob Rutten recalls when Jim Turnour was putting together his website at the beginning of his term. "He said to me, 'can you do it or do you know a local firm that can?' "

    CairnsBlog can confirm the website was produced entirely in Brisbane firm DataSearch. David Myers was "personally involved" and confirmed that his company was behind the website design and construction . Myers said he personally did "everything, except for the design."

    Late on Friday, DataSearch removed the new Entsch website from their online portfolio, probably at a request from the MP to avoid further scrutiny. [NB: I like the bit where it says 'Entsch had her website redesigned...']

    The website was based on their 'Gold package' starting at $5,000, with extras like video content that can take it to $8,000 to produce. This excludes ongoing coding, maintenance and service updates whilst Entsch is MP - taking the full budget into several thousand during the life of the website.

    Warren Entsch, and his media advisor Danae Jones, refused to discuss the matter late last week, and repeatedly ignored phone calls, written requests and messages to respond as to why the decision was made to produce the website in Brisbane.

    Warren's number is now managed and answered by Jones:
    "Hello, you've reached the mobile service of Danae Jones. Please leave your name and number and the time after the beep, and I'll get straight back to you." She never did.

    "What a wanker. He didn't ask me for a quote," Gabrielle Cooney of justpurple said. "This is terrible. His PR person in Canberra is Danae Jones who left town owing lots of money."

    Soon after the election, Entsch appointed the media savvy Danae Jones as his senior media advisor, however Jones' company, In Touch In Business was in the process of being placed into liquidation. It is unclear how much of Jones' perilous business situation was revealed to the incoming MP, as he expressed surprise when confronted with the news in late October.

    In Touch In Business owes $257,000 to 70 local media organisations, internet, printing and publishing businesses. Many of these local businesses refuse to deal with Jones in the fallout of her business. The sale of Fulton House in McLeod Street, was recently sold by Penridge Commercial for just over $1m, twice the purchase price, however it is believed that the offer fell through. The asset of the house, which housed Jones' office, was kept in a separate holding company, with Jones and her partner as the only directors.

    When I asked Warren Entsch in October if Danae Jones' relationship with local media might be compromised, given that many of her creditors are in the media and public relations business.

    "That's not going to affect her at all," Entsch said at the time.

    None of the creditors have heard from the liquidators.
    However it's now clear that a decision was made to not use a local internet company due to the damaged relationships that resulted from the collapse of In Touch In Business.

    Gabrielle Cooney of Just Purple says Danae Jones' dealings were "very underhanded to say the least."

    "She is earning a fat sum of dollars down there while her bills mount up, up here," Cooney says. "It's definitely going to affect the interaction [Warren and Danae] they have with local businesses. SHe's not going to be able to deal with local businesses who she owes money to."

    Cooney's partner Craig, who runs Ochre Restaurant, is owed money from In Touch In Business. "She even took money from us for TV adverts that she knew weren't even going to run," Gabrielle Cooney said. "She was booking averts that she couldn't afford to pay for, and accepting money for them. This was totally bloody shocking. I know it's hard when a business is going bad and you need the money and taking one hand to pay the other, but what bought this all to a head was radio 4CA called in the debt to foreclose on them."

    "Danae's not going to feel that she can come to me or the other prominent web companies in Cairns when she owes us money," Cooney says. "There's probably four or five firms in Cairns that they could go to, but to use the excuse that it's work that no one could do here, is just absolute rubbish."

    Mulgrave MP Curtis Pitt, who had a local firm create his content-managed website, allowing him and his staff to update and add new information daily, said it was important to get locals on board.

    "One of the great things we've got in our area, is this type of experience," Curtis Pitt told CairnsBlog. "We look at diversifying our local economy, and it's things like this that are important. It's really important to make sure we do it locally.

    During the 2010 Federal Election campaign, Warren Entsch was critical of the Cairns Regional Council, accusing them of tendering the planning process for the planned waterfront cultural centre to southern businesses.

    "Local companies have been told they are ‘not good enough’ to work on the cultural precinct," Entsch said in August last year. "They were so appalled by the blatant disregard for local businesses and felt what happened needed to be made public. The only regions who will win from this project obviously are the southern states.”

    The outburst was greeted with a legal censure from Council's lawyers, saying the whole story was simply not true.

    This isn't the first time that a prominent local website wasn't made locally.

    Local web companies were excluded from tenders for Cooked in Cairns website, backed and part-funded by Cairns Regional Council. It was produced in the Sunshine Coast. Contemporary arts group KickArts' new logo and website, was done in Brisbane, and even the logo design for local indigenous Djumbunji Press, was done in Brisbane.

    However the most startling example of local businesses being ignored, was the massive $280,000 of Federal Labor funding for the new Tourism North Queensland's new website: Cairns Great Barrier Reef. The lion's share of the massive funding went to Zoik in Brisbane to produce the region's most expensive web project. The supreme irony of this, was not only that there was there no opportunities for locals to tender, the primary purpose of a regional tourism website is to drive local business. In an amazing twist of fate, Zoik were the only web company to have TTNQ membership outside of Cairns. How handy ;-)

    In a final touch of irony, last Friday the would-be Cairns MP, LNP's candidate Paul Freebody, called for locals to get local work, in the aftermath of Cyclone Yasi.

    “It defies any shred of common sense that Labor would give a large amount of work to three southern contractors straight after the Premier promised that local builders would get the work,” Paul Freebody said on Friday. "Many of these builders and contractors have been around for 30 years or more, employing locals and creating jobs; and this is the thanks they receive.”

    “Instead, they get short shrift, with the lions share going to large southern based firms that fly into town, grab the cream of the jobs, whip the profits out of town and then leave themselves,” Freebody said in stark contrast to what the serving Federal MP has done. “Cairns cannot afford to sit back and watch contracts and jobs go elsewhere.”

    Maybe Freebody and Enstch should start to practice what they preach.

    Saturday 19 March 2011

    CAPTION CONTEST: Willy and Val. Oh, and Anna

    Here's a snap from Trent of 7 News, who got to shake the Prince's hand today, as a nice birthday prezzie.

    Willy was escorted by Cairns Regional Council Mayor Val Schier, who was feeling rather non-republic. If you look very hard, ironically on the left, you'll spot a premier with a pointy nose, looking decidedly witchy.

    Let you imagination run wild and put some words in their mouths.

    1. ''So who here is a member of the Australian Labor Party's Expulsion Committee?''

    2. ''Yesh, I like Subject Valorie. However she invited me back to her beachside estate, but I declined when she asked to 'walk her corgis'. I wonder now if she was meaning something quite different. Daddy warned me about her type.''

    3. ''So why did Madam Bligh say Yasi was the world's biggest storm, would wipe out thousands and scare the living bejesus out of you lot? Is she as mad as marm says she is? Thank God she's not your weather forecaster.''

    4. ''Val! Over here! Does this angle look okay from here? Is my popularity still going to get us Laborites re-elected? Please tell me Stuey isn't in the crowd.''

    5. ''I think Queensland is so quaint. Kate might like to pop over for a visit. I mean, there's a lot of ramshackle cottages available rather cheap south of Cairns at the moment.''

    6. ............... your turn.........

    Peace lanterns working bee

    Next weekend there'll be a lantern working bee at the Digger Street arts collective.

    "We already have 23 lanterns, and would like to make at least 27 more," Margaret Pestorius says.

    "The lanterns are a lightweight, luminous - a beautiful design from Graeme Dunstan."

    "We plan to have at least 50 for the ANZAC Eve Peace Vigil on 24th April, that's Easter Sunday, starting at 6pm at the Cenotaph on Cairns Esplanade. The ANZAC Eve Peace Vigil is an inaugural event. It’s most powerful manifestation will be in Canberra."

    "We’re hoping to be a notable presence for peace at all future ANZAC commemorations," Margaret says.

    "The lanterns will also make a display for Earth Hour, where there’ll be a broad range of community groups celebrating. Our display will say things about the quality and sustainability of appropriate technology and community spirit."

    "Think about participating in some good ol’ lantern making and community celebration," Margaret Pestorius says. "Think about what you’d like to see happen this ANZAC Day. Then make it happen."
    • Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th March
      105 Digger Street, 10am

    • Earth Hour, City Place, 8.30pm Saturday 26th March

    Friday 18 March 2011

    Union organiser Stuey Traill booted out of Labor

    Outspoken Cairns Electrical Trades Union organiser, Stuey Traill, has been booted out of the Labor Party.

    The decision was handed down at a meeting of the Party's administration committee at 7pm this evening in Brisbane.

    Stuey Traill has been prominent speaking up against privatisation as Labor commenced the sell off of State assets to boost the Queensland government's coffers that is nursing an $80 billion debt.

    ETU's State union secretary Peter Simpson, who was also removed from the party, is saying that the fight is not over.

    "This evening I was advised that a majority at today’s ALP Queensland Branch Administrative Committee meeting has voted to expel me and the ETU’s Far North Queensland organiser, Stuart Traill, from the Australian Labor Party," Peter Simpson, ETU Queensland secretary said.

    "I am deeply disappointed in this decision, as I have placed great value on my membership of the ALP," Simpson said. "I am also informed that legal proceedings are set to commence, which would, in effect, make today’s decision invalid, therefore I will make no further public comment on these matters at this stage."

    Simpson said that both he and Stuey Traill have both been contacted by many "loyal and hard working ALP members" who expressed their deep concerns.

    "I thank them very much for their support and suggest to those people that now is a time to be calm," Peter Simpson said. "It is a time that we need to stick together and maintain our membership of the ALP."

    "With their help and the help of many others, we will continue the fight to overturn this injustice and the fight to make this a real labour party; one that we can all be proud of."

    Stuey Traill told CairnsBlog he would not make any comment about the decision, but his anger was evident in this evening's decision.

    Christchurch is grumpy - Vicki Anderson

    This morning a memorial was held in Christchurch to remember 182 killed in February's earthquake in the garden city. All the suits turned up: Gillard, Abbott, Key and even a Prince. But was it all too soon for a town still in a state of shock and chaos?

    Christchurch mother and Press journalist Vicki Anderson, who was separated from her four children in last month's earthquake, is grumpy. Vicki's grandmother, along with my 88-year-old mother Doreen, were both residing in somewhat peaceful existence at Kate Sheppard retirement village in the east Christchurch suburb of New Brighton on Tuesday February 22nd, when just before 1pm, their lives and homes, along with 56 others, were wreaked from beneath them.

    "My grandmother was in that home too and she has returned to war-time mentality (she's Irish)," Vicki told me. "Your poor mum, I know she's not alone feeling that way - it must be hard for you, too. I have always thought of Christchurch as a quiet safe haven, it's just not like that any more. I can understand why people want to leave."

    Vicki said she's sorry that this tale is such a long piece. "I had a two hour wait for a lift out to where I'm living, so thought I'd fill in the time with a 'little' rant :-)" Vicki told CairnsBlog.

    People in Christchurch seem to be experiencing a mass episode of PMT (post magnitude tension).

    Mind you, there's a lot to be tense about. Homes lost, jobs lost, everywhere you look life is tough.

    No to the Rugby World Cup. Yes to a grandiose memorial service happening too soon. Nuclear terror in Japan. Moon man predictions. My head hurts.

    The thing that makes me feel particularly upset is the national memorial service in Hagley Park on Friday. Just who is this memorial service for? It's not for Christchurch. It's not for the families who lost loved ones in the February 22 quake.

    It's a grandiose, empty gesture starring so-called V.I.Ps - Prince William, Prime Minister John Key, Aussie PM Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and presumably other assorted boring people in suits.

    Lite background entertainment provided by Hayley Westenra, parachuted in from elsewhere, to sing the national anthem.

    I can already picture the crowd mumbling along awkwardly. Dame Melvina Major will warble a bit (she does warble nicely but still). This will be awkward for everyone except those in suits who consider themselves cultured.

    Dave Dobbyn will get the goose bumps rising amongst the common man during an all-too predictable rendition of Loyal.

    Why couldn't they give Christchurch musicians the chance to perform for their city? Do we really need to fly Our Hayley in commando style? Earthquake-ravaged Christchurch, as our city is so often described now, still has a bountiful supply of talented artists.

    Why weren't they, who have lost so much, given the opportunity to perform for, and pay tribute to, the city they live in?

    Some say it is just too soon for a memorial service and I agree. Life is still too raw here for us to have a memorial. With a memorial comes some form of closure - we're just not in that place yet. To the rest of New Zealand and visiting dignitaries the earthquake might be old news but it's not to us, the ones living through it.

    The Government has declared a provincial holiday to allow residents to attend the service. Small business owners struggling to survive after the quake will have to close or pay holiday pay. Just what they need right now, another kick in the guts.

    Looking on the bright side I guess the homeless, sorry, displaced, will be able to go to Hagley Park to finally get to use a toilet. Some affected colonials might even get a glimpse of Prince William's rapidly decreasing hairline.

    Difficulties with road access, 78 toilets and 10 ''large urinals'', V.I.Ps speeches, plants which were to be displayed at the cancelled Ellerslie Flower Show will be used as part of the service and trotting out grieving families to sit centre stage. It's not a memorial. It's a side show.

    A more fitting service for Cantabrians would be held on February 22, 2012. When we have had the time and opportunity to get over current hurdles.

    These very important people visiting Christchurch to gawk at our damage would be better served spending their time trying to get to the bottom of how it can be that some people here have had their buildings, their livelihoods, their wordly valuables demolished without any notice or opportunity to salvage anything of their former lives.

    On Friday the two minutes of silence at 12.51pm will give news organisations - this memorial requires media accreditation - the perfect opportunity to zoom the lens in on the grief stricken.

    Some untalented people will surely be inspired to create a tribute song, using the suitably traumatic footage of the day the nation stood still, again. Endless repeats of crumbled buildings will adorn the 6pm news.

    A council spokeswoman said around 300 family members of earthquake victims were expected to attend the event, and would be seated in a special area at the front of the stage.

    A team of 40 counsellors and up to 300 volunteers would provide support to those at the ceremony, with some roaming the crowd and others stationed at information centres.

    It's like Band Together - Concert for Canterbury, but this is the memorial version. This is Wail Together - Concert for Elsewhere.

    A strict alcohol ban will be in place for the event, and there will be a large number of police officers and security guards on site.

    Does this sound like a memorial to you?

    The security guards will obviously have their meaty hands full stopping grieving, earthquake ravaged locals from mingling with royalty or expressing their drunken grief by brawling amongst the liquefaction in Hagley Park.

    I won't be going to Hagley Park on Friday. The last time I walked through Hagley Park it was on February 22. I had blood on my clothes and never thought I'd see my family again.

    Instead I'm going to spend the day with a friend who lost a loved one in the CTV Building. We plan to drink wine (no alcohol ban here) and look at photos of her cherished family member and remember happy times. We will laugh. We will surely cry.

    We will observe the two minutes silence. It will be meaningful. It will be real.

    Afterwards I will talk to a friend in Japan I am worried about. We've become complacent about nuclear threats, haven't we? Nuclear power plants are places that employ Homer Simpson. I've never heard Homer talk about using iodine against radiation.

    The devastation in Japan just rips me apart. Those poor people.

    Some in Christchurch are grumpy about cancelled Rugby World Cup games. The tragedy in Japan must surely put things in perspective for them.

    It doesn't matter that we're no longer having Rugby World Cup games here, it's still happening in New Zealand. And we all share these shaky isles together, don't we?

    It's just a game. Rugby was the winner at the end of the day and other cliches.

    I'm so far removed from thinking there will ever be a time when I'll be able to go anywhere and relax and watch multiple nationalities tossing a pigskin around that this news barely registers.

    And, really, was the Rugby World Cup ever going to be here after February 22? Politicians have just been tiptoeing around the issue like a scrawny wing ducking props.

    A comment from Englishman Ian Hensman on the Stuff website when the story broke made me smile for the first time in ages: ''Guys - I'm English and I've got tickets, flights and a hotel booked. I'm coming to Christchurch that weekend even if the games are somewhere else and I hope other England fans will feel the same and come and show our support to you all. So get some big screens set up, some bars, and a campsite - we'll be happy to share your rebirth with you.''

    After reading that I felt far less grumpy for at least 10 minutes before I got back to worrying about surviving day-to-day life in Christchurch right now.

    Can't we just sell ourselves as a rugby free zone? While the Rugby World Cup is on surely the rugby widows of New Zealand might want to come here for a bit of adventure tourism. Our catchcry could be: ''Leave him to his scrum, we'll make the earth move for you'' or "We promise never to play Right Here, Right Now'' or ''Come to Christchurch - you won't hear Keith Quinn talking about strapping thighs''.*

    We could be the Kiwi rugby equivalent of cricket's Barmy Army but without all the beige (it reminds me too much of liquefaction). Think high viz.

    Back in Christchurch on the gridlocked roads the cheery wave of yesterday has been replaced with the middle finger of today. Driving anywhere is a mission, roads full of unexpected hillocks and a veritable obstacle course of traffic cones and other agitated motorists all trying to get somewhere via a convoluted backroad route. I literally don't know where I am anymore. I feel more than displaced - I feel discombobulated in every sense.

    I'm living somewhere else, I'm working somewhere else, I'm buying my groceries somewhere new - I don't know where anything is. (Why can't all supermarkets have the same layout? I'm sick of wandering loosely down strange aisles searching for basmati rice). A friend texted me this afternoon, he spent three hours driving around trying to find fresh fish so he could make his missus tea. ''Fish! All I want is a bit of fish!'' the plaintive text sent from amidst a traffic gridlock read.

    I can't hear live music unless I want to go and hang out in a suburban bar listening to drunken strangers warble karaoke. Which reminds me - please don't choose Lionel Richie songs if you're performing karaoke in Christchurch - Brick House, Hello (Is it Me You're Looking For?), I Just Called to Say I Love You etc all add up to poor taste, in every meaning of the term.

    Lionel Richie is supporting the people of Christchurch with a re-make of his hit All Night Long with Guy Sebastian.

    Haven't we suffered enough?

    The three constants in my life are gone - my home, my workplace and going to gigs. There's no way I can describe how that feels except to say it makes me feel grumpy.

    The shock and awe phase has passed and now I'm locked firmly in grouch mode. I don't think I'm alone.
    I'm writing this from a portacabin parked around the back of The Press' printing plant we are working from now.

    Ours has a nice blue trim but is marked with the words Men's Locker Room, and when the sun comes around to whack me in the eyeballs in the early afternoon it smells like its name. Walking to the tearoom to get a cup of coffee is a slalem course of forklift navigation.

    To make it worse I keep nearly being run over by the same forklift guy. Working with the printers is great, though, they're a fun bunch - they were wearing high viz before it became a Christchurch fashion statement.

    We've been working with them for a couple of weeks now and I have observed them closely and noticed they all do something rather curious.

    They're so in tune with the printing machinery that when they're having a coffee break outside they can tell when it's about to stop.

    This means they need to bolt back inside at a great rate of knots. While I can detect no discernible change in the noise from the printing machinery at all they stop, lift their heads up like dogs which have just caught a whiff of rabbit and off they run mid sentence.

    They're quite vexing to have conversations with. The old timers don't always run - one told me he knew that although it sounded like it was about to stop it was actually just slowing down and would come right by itself. It did. Forget the horse whisperer, I've secretly nicknamed him the Prince of Print.

    What is making me spectacularly grumpy today, as any woman who has ever worn an underwire bra will know, is the fact that the only bra I have in my displaced life is broken.

    I've managed to knot it back together in feeble MacGuyver styles but now an errant wire is poking me incessantly where it shouldn't or rising up out of my cleavage like some olde worlde instrument of torture. The poking wire, trying to get anywhere, dodging forklifts and the smell of the Men's Locker Room... it's like death by a thousand paper cuts.

    It's St Patrick's Day tomorrow and someone sent out an email saying ''remember to wear green tomorrow''. Green? I'm living out of a recycling bag, I don't own anything green except for the recycling bag itself. I know at some point I'm going to have to listen to someone singing Whiskey In A Jar.

    If I have to hear one more person tell me about how the Moon Man's prediction for an earthquake this Sunday is running them out of town or scaring them to the point where they feel paralysed by fear, I have a prediction of my own.

    I predict I will hunt down the Moon Man and catapult him, grandstanding politicians and errant underwire bras the world over, on a one-way trip to the moon.

    * Every time I heard Keith Quinn commentate there would always be a mention of ''strapping thighs'', eg. ''Look at his strapping thighs powering towards the try line.'' I can't think about rugby without thinking about strapping thighs now. It's wrong on many levels. I apologise. Please feel free to record a tribute song to strapping thighs.