Friday 18 November 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


:Kevin-John: Morgan. said...

Whoever decides to grow enough testicles to investigate this sham of a Radio station, should go back further than 2001.
Try 1993 and onwards, when other monies went "Missing", and there were at least two presenters accused of stealing.
Seeking the connection between Arona and the past management would be a fine start.
The quality of presented shows back then was unsurpassable, ask Margaret, ask Tony, ask Kurt, ask anyone.
It's all gone, and so has the money and the will to improve.
Bring on the Auditor-General.

spangled lady said...

I understand that a new committee has been installed at the radio station and they are attempting in good faith to restore the station to some sort of order. I find it very disturbing that not one of the guilty have been held to account for the rorting of community funds that went on for all those years.As an example, I refer to the last Financial Statement handed out at the 2010/11 AGM -and note that an unqualified bookkeeper was remunerated the princely sum of $30,987.50 and $41,270.48 in the 2009/10 financial year -this for work that would take 2-3 hours a week -and this is supposed to be a volunteer workforce! an office assistant was paid $18,481.13 2010/11 and $10,536.39 2009/10 -nice work if you are a relative perhaps?
These people should be forced to return their ill gotten gains to the public purse -a Community Radio is a Community asset and should be there for our Community not the greedy few who had their hands in the till. (I must also refer to "Legal Fees" 2010 of $25,350.64 and 2011 $7,411.66-this needs some explanation).

CBD Tarzan said...

The ACMA and The CMC have shown what toothless tigers they are time and time again.
True investigative journalisim is about bringing important issues to the for front of the publics ever diminishing attention.
Good on CairnsBlog for getting this information out for all to see and comment on because there are a whole bunch of lazey journos sitting on their hands doing bugger all at the Compost!