Sunday 31 July 2011

Where's Julian Assange when you need him?

With the catchphrase, "reveal their secrets, protect our own" the Australian Defence Department is recruiting hackers, yet the Government still refuses to support Julian Assange for basically doing the same thing.

They are also targeting Facebook users to find computer hackers in their nationwide recruitment campaign.

The advert says...
  • ''Can you put yourself in the shoes of a hacker?
    If so you will love what we do.
    We need savvy techies and analysts willing and able to immerse themselves in the murky world of cyber security to help us stay ahead of the game.''
Reminds me of the old saying... Join the army. Meet interesting people and kill them.

Pitt, our biggest Tweeter, while UK MPs spend 1,000 hours a year

UK MPs spend around 1,000 hours a year social networking application Twitter, no where near what Aussie politicians are doing.

The Telegraph says that the number of MPs tweeting has skyrocketed, from 111 a year ago to 275 today. Prime Minister David Cameron is anti-Twitter after he said two years ago "the trouble with Twitter, the instantness of it - too many twits might make a twat."

In Cairns, Cook MP Jason O'Brien, and Mulgrave MP Curtis Pitt, are the most regular Twitter users, with 197 and 260 tweets chalked up respectively. Premier Anna Bligh has sent 2,800 tweets, with LNP's Scott Emerson at 1,417, followed by Queensland Party's Aidan McLindon at 1,219. David Gibson LNP Member for Gympie has sent 1,078.

Bligh has 20,150 followers, dwarfing Pitt's 397 and O'Brien's 258.

However when it comes to what they message about, ''Cairns'' rates at the bottom of the 20 most used words. across all MPs.

Some stats....
  • Out of 89 sitting Queensland politicians, 25 are on Twitter
  • 11,151 tweets have been posted
  • 30 tweets per day on average in the past week
  • 66% of tweets are made by 20% of tweeters
  • 36% of tweeters are from Labor Party
  • 49% of tweets are made by Liberal National Party members

Naturally, he finished his set

The New Zealand Herald reports today about Mr Vintage clothing who say they will keep producing their "Naturally, I finished my set" a Tshirt.

The quote was made infamous just a week ago when a Kiwi was interviewed in Norway as he finished a gym routine, yet was only a few meters from a bomb, set off by right-wing activist Anders Behring Breivik.

The 2-minute cringe-worthy interview with Cameron Leslie, spent most of the dialogue boasting about his gym workout.

Cameron Leslie's TV quote became a viral hit on the net after he bragged about his gym work-out during the explosion in Oslo. He told the Herald that those who have repeated his comments have ridiculed him.

"The fact you trying to ridicule me for
your own commercial gain makes me sick and proves to everyone here what a low-lying scumbag you are,'' Cameron Leslie said. ''Tui New Zealand is first and then I'm coming for you, you prick!"

Tui, a New Zealand beer famous for bold and cheeky advertising, also created a "yeah right" billboard that said, "8th rep of 165kg. Naturally I finished my set. Yeah Right."

However Vintage clothing say he put himself out there to be ridiculed.

"We are echoing the voice of New Zealanders. It's his own fault, he made a stupid comment, he's getting what it deserved.''

Watch the interview here with Cameron the Brave. How he was able to get through the whole interview without taking his shirt off is beyond me...

Carbon what? Self-explanatory really

Friday 29 July 2011

Move to the left, please!

Is this just a Cairns thing, or what?

A reader sent me this pic of these folk, at Cairns Central this week.

When I've travelled abroad, through large populated cities like London, there's a convention that if you're being a slack-arse, you stand to the left, so normal moving human beings can walk past and get on with their life.

It always befuddles me when people jump on an escalator, they not take only take up the entire width that prevents any normal walking human being from passing, but they stand still.

And why do they stop walking on an escalator, or a stair version, instead of walking?

What's that about?

Treatment of a disabled Cairns boy shows Queensland Health in crisis

Queensland Party candidate for Cairns, Darren Hunt, has slammed Queensland Health’s treatment of a young Far North Queensland disabled boy, as an outcome of a health system "in crisis" that he says the State government continues to ignore.

"The treatment of this young boy is a national disgrace,''
Darren Hunt says. ''This child needed equipment associated with his catheter and colostomy bag for use three times a day. Items that needed to be replaced months ago have not.''

He says that the items have not been provided since March and his family have had to continue using the same equipment since then.

''That is disgraceful. It has put this child in grave risk of infection that could have had disastrous consequences," Hunt said.

The claims come after it was revealed that a young boy has been waiting on a chait access adapter with connection tube associated with his colostomy bag that is required to be changed every three months. The time elapsed means that this child’s equipment should have been changed three times. The family are also supposed to be supplied 60ml tip syringes to prevent infection as the child’s bowels have to be manually emptied three times per day.

“This child was leading an active life, was involved in sport and was able to get around with as much movement as his disability allowed,'' Darren Hunt said today. ''However now his health has deteriorated to such an extent he has to use a walking frame. The family have been trying and trying to get the items they need from the Cairns Base Hospital to no avail.”

“It was not until the child’s mother broke down in tears in front of a family friend, and the family friend began raising the issue that something was started to address the problem. The family friend contacted the office of Disability Minister and MP for Mulgrave, Curtis Pitt, to be told 'it’s not his area,' Hunt said.

''They did not even have the decency to take down the child’s details and follow up if the matter was resolved. The family then had to go through various other people in the health minister’s office until something was done.''

Darren Hunt says that the process has created a huge burden on the family as the boy’s mother is on a carer's pension and travelling to Cairns to pick up items that should be sent direct to him, or at least to the nearby hospital, is costing them a great deal of money along with the discomfort caused by the travel on the boy.

“To make things worse, when the department was told I had become involved and was going to highlight the issue in the local media, a Queensland Health representative contacted this child’s mother on Thursday this week to tell her the items were now at the hospital,'' Hunt says. ''The child’s mother informed them she had a friend at the hospital that would come and collect it straight away.''

However the items were not there when she arrived at Cairns Base Hospital and believed she was deliberately mislead.

“This is yet another example of how our most vulnerable in the community are getting neglected by a government with no focus,'' Darren Hunt says. ''This Labor government simply doesn’t give a stuff about Far North Queensland. Look at the obscene amount of money being spent to recover staff over-payments as a result of their $350m payroll system debacle, and you can see why patients can’t even be provided with basic medical items.''

Hunt says the Labor government should hang their head in shame.

''They owe this child a huge apology for allowing such a disgrace to occur. The Minister should jump in his tax payer funded vehicle and deliver these items to this child’s house personally, along with an apology for such a disgraceful situation occurring,” Darren Hunt said.

Eric talks about Cairns Festival 2011

More info: Cairns Festival

Sunday 24 July 2011

Cook Labor MP tweets with a fuck

MP for Cook Jason O'Brien doesn't give a fuck about budget estimates, it seems. with his own party.

The State Labor MP for Cook sent out a message to explain as much on Thursday. Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser has since said O'Brien's words are "inappropriate for public comment".

In the last Federal election campaign, Jim Turnour made a Twitter blunder.

Yesterday JOB messaged his Twitter audience that he was "Heading to Cooktown to open the new $10mil event centre (hope that tweet is boring enough for everyone)."

Thursday 21 July 2011

Murdoch crisis deepens shock

Spot the Difference: meet the Cairns councillor with two hats and one job

Cairns Regional Councillor, dog lover, and Labor candidate for the State seat of Cairns, Kirsten Lesina. Today she was busy wearing different hats at the Cairns Show.

"I will be manning the Council stall from 9 'til 12," Kirsten posted on her Facebook. "If you are at the show, pop by to say hello! Make sure to head to the Cairns Regional Council in the Fred Moule Pavilion."

"There are fantastic displays on the Entertainment Precinct and the CBD Masterplan, and you can even explore the plans on one of two iPads set up at the stall," Kirsten invited her Facebookers.

In between her Council duties, around 2pm. Kirsten managed to nip over to the Australian Labor Party booth, sandwiched appropriately between a bank and a dose of the Hendra virus.

There's Barron River MP Steve Wettenhall on the right, for the first time in a while, scaring the elderly.

I haven't been to the show yet, but this photo was sent to me by a questioning voter who wondered if Kirsten's double was all kosher?

Anti-war protestor Bryan Law arrested again in Rockhampton

Cairns Peace by Peace anti-war protestor Bryan Law was arrested this morning after using a garden mattock to smash a military helicopter in Rockhampton Airport during the Talisman Saber US/Australian wargames.

Bryan Law, who is now in police custody, caused a stir in Rockhampton by announcing his intention to disarm a military helicopter to the Rockhampton Airport, Defence Dept and QLD Police many months prior to the Talisman Saber military exercises.

Fellow protestor Marissa Dowling says that Bryan's action follows in the tradition of the Ploughshares Movement, the nonviolent disarmament of weapons of war.

"We find inspiration in the Bible scriptures of Isaiah (2:4) and Micah (4:3) where the prophets tell of a time when swords will be beaten into ploughshares, and Nations will no longer prepare for war. Since 1980 there have been more than 70 such actions, many resulting in jail sentences," Marissa Dowling says.

Three other peace activists, including Margaret Pestorius, Law's partner, along with Andy Paine and Robert Jones, have also been charged with trespass on Commonwealth property after walking into the Shoalwater Bay Training Area intent on hindering and disrupting the wargames.

The trio spent the last three days within the restricted training area and were arrested blockading military vehicles.

The activists treated their trespass as a peace pilgrimage dedicated to the Blessed Franz Jaegerstaetter, the Austrian villager who spoke out against the Nazis, refused military service, was arrested, beheaded in 1943 and beatified in 2007.

Amongst other things, the Three Jaegerstaetter Amigos built and left a shrine to the Blessed Franz Jaegerstaetter within the Training Area.

Pestorius, Paine and Jones appeared at the Rockhampton Magistrates Court this morning and were found guilty of trespass and obstruction. Jones was sentenced to pay $200 or serve 5 days in prison; Paine $600 or 6 days in prison, and Margaret Pestorius was fined $750 and made to forfeit her GPS and map.

The war games continue.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Another serious crash on Port Douglas highway corner

Two people have been seriously injured in a traffic crash at the intersection of the Captain Cook Highway and Port Douglas Road just before 6pm yesterday.

The corner has been the scene for numerous fatalities and collisions for many years.

In yesterday's incident, a 20-year-old woman and her 22-year-old passenger were freed from their vehicle before the driver was flown to Cairns Base Hospital in a serious condition. The man was transported to Mossman Hospital.

A 33-year-old man, the only occupant of the other vehicle was not injured.

Tuesday 19 July 2011

One month till 50th Cairns Festival

Today marks one month till the Cairns Festival will be in full swing.

It's a special festival as this year will the the 50th year since locals and new arrivals alike, have celebrated together.

Eric Holowacz is again leading the team and hopes that the fresh and invigorated festival that so many applauded last year, will be built on for this year's event.

"This year is our milestone season, 50 years under a tropical sun, and will offer hundreds of great events over 17-days, including a healthy offering of free events and experiences," Eric says.

Cairns Festival runs from August 19th to September 4th. Activities will be in the streets, parks, and venues around Cairns.

"The main stage in Fogarty Park comes alive on Friday 19th August when the new Cairns Gondwana Indigenous Children's Choir takes the stage," Eric says. "The choir will be joined by Will Kepa and friends, and then the legendary Torres Strait Islander, Seaman Dan."

Look out for regular updates on CairnsBlog.

A real laptop.. Don't mention the war

The Germans are at it again. Have a peep...

Monday 18 July 2011

Live cat call exports

We're $86 billion in debt, so let's buy $80k of plastic signs!

New signs advertising Queensland Government's solar logo have cost $80,000.

The State Opposition questioning in State Parliament has revealed $80,640 has been spent to produce and distribute 51,800 plastic signs promoting the Bligh Labor Government’s solar slogan. Shadow Energy and Water Utilities Minister Steve Dickson said the solar sign splurge was another example of wasting taxpayers’ money on self-promotion.

“It’s a little ironic that the government champions the environment on the one hand while it’s mass producing a stack of plastic signs to advertise this fact on the other, isn’t it?” Mr Dickson asked. “These signs don’t even mention the solar hot water scheme by name. This is just blatant propaganda by the Bligh government to push an agenda. It’s misappropriation of funding as advertising.

“To top it off, the people who are receiving the signs have already installed a solar hot water system. Is it really the ‘bright thing’ to be telling Queenslanders who’ve already participated in the scheme how good it is? Shouldn’t they be targeting new people?

“And the real kicker with this is that it seems no one is falling for this stunt. In all the travel I do for my job, I have not seen one, not one, of these signs on display anywhere.

“This money would’ve been far better put to use addressing soaring electricity costs which are only increasing under the mismanagement of this lazy incompetent Labor government, and which will rise even further thanks to Labor’s carbon tax.

“This tired, 20 year old Labor Government has just perpetuated the trend for waste and more waste. With the Labor Government’s debt bill spiralling out of control at $85 billion incurring an interest bill of $595,000 an hour, shouldn’t it be lights out for blatant and unabashed propaganda campaigns?

“A Can Do Government will save you money and deliver more by getting action on the basics and cutting waste.”

Thursday 14 July 2011

Quote of the day... Joolia !

"I get I've disappointed you..." reportedly said Prime Minister Julia Gillard...

Is this a typo from our faithful NewsLtd stable... or should it be "guess"?

Maybe I just don't get it.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

AUDIO: I like Chinese, they only come up to my knees

What a doozy of a question by Rockhampton 7 News reporter, Anna McManamey.

The blonde bombshell put this question to peace activist, Margaret Pestorius, Bryan Law's partner, who are protesting Operation Talisman Sabre. You gotta love her answer.

"If we didn't have the Americans as allies we'd all be speaking Chinese. What do you say you that?''

"I think that's extremely uneducated and doesn't make any sense at all."


  • Thanks Anna, but I think you will need to do a little history lesson. I found this Monty Python classic song, just for you...

    Saturday 9 July 2011

    A Classic Aussie: The carbon tax song

  • Bryan Law arrested in Rockhampton

    Cairns peace by peace anti-war activist Bryan Law was arrested on Friday afternoon following threats to interfere and damage military helicopters, ahead of the massive US/Australian Talisman Sabre exercise in Rockhampton this month.

    Bryan Law has been in Rocky for the last month, joining a steady stream of anti-war activists from around Australia and New Zealand, protesting against the military bi-annual exercise.

    He was arrested after agreeing to a police interview after and was charged with "threatening to damage a division three aircraft under the Commonwealth Aviation Act."
    Additionally, there were four arrests yesterday in Geelong and two more today, near the military base as protesters chanted "Stop the training, stop the war in Afghanistan."

    Law was charged under Section 24 of the Crimes [Aviation] Act 1991. This is a Commonwealth law. He was released on bail after giving an undertaking to stay away from sites where US weaponry will be stored in the immediate future.

    "I am bemused that it had taken almost nine months to be charged since he first made the Rockhampton airport manager aware of my intentions to undertake a 'ploughshares' type action last year," Bryan Law said. “My intention has always been clear: to disarm a US helicopter so that it may be removed from fighting and killing people. I abhor this conflict that has seen thousands of Afghan civilians killed through the normal operations of war.”

    “Machine guns mounted on a US Apache helicopter, possibly even one that will attend Talisman Sabre, killed innocent journalists and wounded children in Iraq in 2007 as shown in the collateral murder film which sparked the Wikileaks controversy.”

    Bryan Law says that politicians have neither the moral courage nor the ability to stop this warmaking.

    "At this time over 67% of Australians are against the war yet that would translate into maybe 2 votes against war in the House of Representatives. It is now up to the Australian people themselves to find ways to hinder the military and stop the war.”

    The charge against Bryan Law is an indictable offence, carrying a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment. He will appear in Rockhampton Magistrate’s Court on Monday 25th July,

    Law told the Rockhampton Bulletin; Seven News Cairns, and also admitted the threat in a police interview.

    Friday 8 July 2011

    Storm maps and digital TV in your letterbox today

    In time for the next cyclone season and all those dooms-dayers, the Cairns Regional Council and the State Government have delivered a Storm Tide Evacuation Guide to every letterbox along the coastline.

    Those that followed the appalling performance of the Council's website as Cyclone Yasi approached the coast in February, will recall how poorly prepared the Council's website was when a zillion residents tried to access the flood maps online. Most of the files were substantial and not optimised for viewing, especially when there was a great interest in what streets could have been affected by a tidal surge.

    The printed version in booklet form, is still not that user-friendly, in that it's nearly impossible to identify streets. Never-the-less, this is an attempt to placate those that say the authorities were not organised in time, and this has the hallmarks of saying "wee ticked this one off" as a Council and State election loom in a few months time.

    Also in your letterbox today, is some propaganda about switching to the digital TV, which will go live across most of regional Queensland on 6th December. If you haven't grabbed a set-top by now, that costs around $40 for a basic unit, then you're missing out on a load or new channels and audio stations. All new TVs have a built in digital tuner, so there's no need for an extra box.

    It's likely that you won't need to upgrade your television antenna, but it must be capable of receiving bands 4 and 5. There is also a Household Assistance Scheme to purchase a new digital box, and CentreLink can help with this.

    Speewah, west of Kuranda, will switch across ahead of others on Wednesday 20th July. They will have to upgrade with a set-top box or digital TV otherwise they will lose all free-to-air TV.

    Koombooloomba Dam future Cairns water supply

    Water from the Koombooloomba Dam, around two hours south of Cairns, should be used to feed into local water supply, according to Queensland Party Candidate for Mulgrave Brendan Fitzgerald. He also proposes the supply to irrigate farmland in the Tully and Innisfail regions

    “It is high time we looked into the overall economic security of our region as a whole. Koombooloomba Dam has a storage volume of 205,000 Mg/l and sits above Tully in a very active catchment area," Brendan Fitzgerald says.

    Building a pipeline from the dam, elevated to over 700 meters, would ensure significant friction head in the line which translates into low operational costs, the pipeline would also add value to farmland in the area though irrigation.

    “A Koombooloomba irrigation system would have benefits for the Great Barrier Reef as well," Queensland Party Candidate for Mulgrave Brendan Fitzgerald says. "Nutrient applications via irrigation are better targeted thereby reducing nutrient runoff also the farmers won’t need to pull water from the aquifers anymore which will help to eliminate salinity problems.”

    “We need to put together a 10 year plan with the Local, State and Federal Governments to work towards adding value to our farms and ensuring town water supplies in the area by building this much needed infrastructure that we will have to build one day anyway, I say let’s get on it now and not in 10 years’ time when it’s too late.”

    The Koombooloomba Dam was built in the late 1950’s and runs the privately-owned Stanwell Kareeya Hydro Plant.

    Thursday 7 July 2011

    "Why I resigned from the Labor Party" –Queensland Public Sector Union general secretary Alex Scott

    • It is with a heavy heart I submit my resignation from the ALP.

      I joined this party in 1983 with the youthful enthusiasm of a sixteen year old inspired by the leadership and vision of Bob Hawke and how our party could create a fairer and better Australia. While after all these years my deep respect and admiration for Bob Hawke remains I no longer believe that the ALP remains committed to that vision for our state and our country.

      The party I joined was a vibrant organization where members were encouraged to debate our competing ideas on how to build a better society. Our election campaigns were an opportunity to show these ideas to the broader community and when we won in Australia in 1983 and in Queensland in 1989 our party was elected because we convinced the community of our vision. These governments fundamentally changed our society and our economy and we all continue to benefit from these reforms.

      Our party no longer provides a vision for the future. Our party no longer encourages debate on ideas, ideals or ideology. Our parliamentary wing announces policies, normally during election campaigns, which often are anathema to everything we believe in and any attempts to challenge these policies are suppressed. We take the community and community debate for granted in between election cycles.

      I applaud the Gillard government’s commitment to address climate change but our party’s inability to maintain a consistent position on this issue, which truly is the moral challenge of our generation.

      Inconsistency is an indictment of the policy vacuum which our party has become and the broader community has recognized this.

      Rather than providing leadership on refugees, as Malcolm Fraser did, we attempt to replicate the opposition policies but choose a different island to lock away the refugees, away from the media and community’s attention.

      This might play well to the focus groups but it damages the moral core of party because this policy is only about winning votes not making a better world.

      The issue of refugees is a dog whistle issue for a deeper concern held by many Australians about the insecurities they feel about the future.

      By chasing the conservatives’ policies we are reinforcing those attitudes.

      We should be better than that. We are a party that used to believe in fairness and compassion, values which all most all Australians share. When we have policies which are part of a broader vision of our society we will win but currently we are selling our soul because we are afraid of argument. We should be leading public opinion not determining what we believe by what we think people want to hear. We can change what people think if we are right.

      Why have we not prosecuted the argument against the ABCC? As a unionist I am appalled that the parliamentary wing will not forward the policy that rank and file union delegates can have less rights that criminals. We will be criticized for any move against the ABCC but that does not reduce the basis for our position to defend workers rights. They are wrong. We are right. Bring on the fight and the community will support us just as they did when the parliamentary and industrial wings of the movement stood together on the waterfronts of Australia.

      At the state level the current term of the government has been dominated by the decision to privatize key public sector assets. This policy was announced without consultation with the party and yet this decision will frame the position of our party for years to come. All attempts to have this fundamental issue debated at a state conference were thwarted. This is in stark contrast to the heated and vigorous debates about privatization during the Hawke government. Those proposing privatization at the time took their position to the party and had the debate in full public view. Disunity was not death. Our party was stronger for the debate because members had their say. Why was this time different?

      Now the state government is seeking to outsource and privatize our schools, our hospitals and our prisons. Workers and the broader community will fight these attacks on core government services because we know what it means for Queensland if our services are run for profit and not for people. We will win the argument because we are right and because we talk to the community about our ideals and our vision. We are working for a better Queensland and a better Australia. The ALP is concerned solely with the next election and the community knows it.

      Unless the party changes, the community will punish this government, just as they punished the arrogant and out of touch New South Wales government.

      There is little left to the party but political machinery. As agents of social change we should be focusing on more than just winning elections and maintaining government. We have a responsibility to try to change the nature of our communities, to build greater empathy amongst citizens and encourage a more socially just and considered society. In my view the ALP is no longer an effective vehicle for achieving this sort of change.

      There are organisations doing wonderful work in communities and achieving real, genuine and lasting social change, and I intend to devote much of my time to helping them, because I believe that my aims will be best served by resigning from the party.

      I believe that the party can one day reform itself to put the community first and be effective at creating real social change. Given the way that party power is entrenched in the hands of such a small group of people I do not see any scenario where this reform happens quickly. While I will encourage my friends and colleagues to stay active within the party and push for reform, I’m not willing to wait for reform before trying to make a difference.

      The last term of the Queensland Government has been an administrative, political and policy nightmare. The machinery of government changes, the health disasters and privatisation have created a dark legacy for those involved.

      The Australian Labor Party has wasted a golden opportunity to make Queensland a more progressive place.

      No party has ever grown stronger by getting smaller.

      When I became Assistant Secretary of my union, back in 1994, I stepped back from party activity. This was a choice that I made to make sure I put QPSU members, and Queensland services first. I committed myself to working for a better life for Queenslanders through the trade union movement. Maybe I should have remained active to fight to keep the ALP a strong and vibrant organization which valued democracy and debate but when I made my decision in 1994 our party was not in crisis.

      Now it is. I remain passionately committed to fighting for Queensland.

      Given the state of Queensland politics I can no longer remain outside of the political debate.

      I believe I can achieve more for the community and for my members working outside the current party political structures. Queensland deserves better from all our politicians and their parties.

      I want to stop the strip mining of Queensland politics, where voters are resources that get used and discarded every election. As a community we have important things to say.

      The community needs a strong voice not just at elections but throughout the year so all Queenslanders can have their say about their government and their state. To create such a voice will require leadership, but even more importantly it requires the ability to work with members of the community who have been sidelined by the current processes and are justifiably cynical about all political parties. To engage genuinely with them I cannot be a member of any political party.

      It is for that reason I have decided to quit the ALP because membership of any party will reduce my ability to help build a real voice for a better future for all Queenslanders.

      I wish you the best in any endeavours to reform the party.

      Yours sincerely,
      Alex Scott
      General Secretary
      Queensland Public Sector Union
      Hat Tip: Raj Report

    Cr Diane Forsyth on Howard and refugees

    Tonight's quote....
    • "Just been watching Q & A, I feel distressed and ashamed when watching the lies and the fear campaign orchestrated by John Howard and his cronies, aimed at mainstream Australians to reject and deny the tragic plight of refugee asylum seekers.
      Keep up the good work ABC..."
    - Acting Mayor Councillor Diane Forsyth

    Bring on the carbon tax, yeah right

    The fact that Queensland is holding over $80 billion of debt, and following the rise in our dollar, Australia is now home to four of the 15 most expensive cities in the world.

    The Australian reports that UK-based Economist Intelligence Unit says...
    • "Sydney has moved up from 32nd place two years ago to sixth now and Melbourne is up from 38th to seventh, with a cost of living more than 40 per cent higher than New York.

      Perth and Brisbane, which are almost 25 per cent more expensive than New York, are ranked 13th and 14th.

      All four cities are now costlier than major cities including London, Vienna, Rome, Berlin, Hong Kong and Beijing, according to the survey, which compares the cost of living using more than 400 individual prices in 133 cities around the world.

      Tokyo, Oslo and Osaka take the top three places overall while Mumbai, Tunis and Karachi are the three cheapest.
    How many times have you heard a tourist to our fair city say that the prices for basic things like eating out and tours, are way over the top?

    The survey reported that just ten years ago, Sydney was ranked 71st; Melbourne 80th, Perth 91st, and Brisbane 93rd. The Australian says that the cost of living index of 100 for New York, costs in our cities have doubled in 10 years.

    It's not the year of the Tiger

    As Cairns continues its economic slump, the grounding of budget airline Tiger, will affect many, least of all, our spending backpacker market.

    We have always had a stream of arrivals into Cairns on the 1:20am Tiger service from Melbourne, however the three-week grounding after one of their planes flew too low into Melbourne Airport, will have a big impact on Cairns. The pilot used a navigational database with a wrong descent altitude, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said today.

    Cairns is still hurting, as we still record one of the highest and most constant unemployment figures in the country, even though some economic commentators try to forecast brighter things for the local economy, we are yet to see some real signs.

    On top of this, the news that the State Government will now not relocate some of their administration offices or departments to Cairns, a move that would have boosted the local depressed environment - a failed election lure - we are going to have a long hard road ahead.

    And we hardly need stuff-ups like the lapse of safety that a Reef operator experienced last week, something that is a timely wake-up call for the industry, but would have no doubt had an impact on visitors and their choice of leisure activity whilst visiting our region.

    Friday 1 July 2011

    Statement by Passions of Paradise

    Here's a statement just released from Passions of Paradise.

    They also supplied two images showing Michaelmas Cay and the moorings. The vessel Coral Sea Dreaming was at the mooring marked "public" which is the closest one to the beach.

    I'll make a separate blog about this however the salient matter in all this torrid affair, is that Passions say the utilise a "Queensland-approved Dual Active Headcount” by the affected tourist confirmed that this did not occur last Saturday afternoon.
    • MEDIA INFORMATION 1 July 2011

      Snorkelling incident on 25 June 2011 at Michaelmas Cay

      Statement by Passions of Paradise Managing Director Alan Wallish

      On 25 June 2011 there were three vessels including a large passenger catamaran, two overnight dive boats and the Passions of Paradise catamaran at Michaelmas Cay. On this particular day there were approximately 150 people snorkelling and swimming at Michaelmas Cay.

      On average 250 – 300 people visit Michaelmas Cay per day. Michaelmas Cay beachfront is approximately 200m long, is approximately 2.4 hectares in a medium tide and is a marine bird sanctuary. It is generally considered one of the safest places to snorkel in Cairns because it has a sloping beach leading into shallow water. The water is between 1 – 3 metres deep in the areas where there is coral. It is a popular area for families and suitable for swimmers of all abilities because it is well protected from winds and currents. Passengers snorkel between the beach and the boats.

      On 25 June 2011, Mr Ian Cole was seen snorkelling approximately 10 – 20 metres from the beach in water approximately 1 – 3 metres deep. After snorkelling to Coral Sea Dreaming (an overnight dive boat affiliated with Passions of Paradise) and speaking to the crew, he was then returned to Passions of Paradise. A period of 20 minutes had elapsed before he was back on board Passions of Paradise.

      The location has two snorkelling rest stations and there were a number of other snorkellers in the water at that time. A crew member of Coral Sea Dreaming was on snorkel lifeguard watch.

      Passions of Paradise utilise a Queensland approved “Dual Active Headcount”. Each passenger is assigned a unique number and their name is attached to that number on a computerised list. The staff member in charge of head counts greets each passenger, asks for the passenger’s name, asks their assigned number, checks that they match and marks it off the list. Once all passengers are identified and marked off, the list is given to the Master of the Vessel. The Master of the Vessel then searches the list for any names not marked off and, if satisfied all passengers are on board, countersigns the list.

      This is the company’s standard safety procedure which passed a Workplace Health and Safety audit only two weeks earlier. Staff members in charge of head counts undergo strict training in these procedures before they are allowed to undertake the task.

      Passions of Paradise has since taken the initiative to go beyond standard Workplace Health and Safety procedures. This includes utilising two crew members to carry out the final tally count and passengers now sign against their names.

      The crew member in charge of the head count on 25 June 2011 has since been dismissed. He speaks and writes fluent English.

      In response to the incident on 25 June 2011, Passions of Paradise had direct contact with Mr Ian Cole. This included a number of telephone conversations and text messages. Passions of Paradise also had a face-to-face meeting with Mr Cole on 27 June 2011, where he was shown the head count documentation used that day. On the boat, Passions of Paradise refunded Mr Cole’s ticket, then on 28 June 2011 provided a letter of apology and enclosed a gift of “dinner for two” at a local restaurant to leave him with some happy and positive memories of Cairns.

      The Passions of Paradise staff and management are deeply affected by the incident and sincerely regretful.

      Passions of Paradise is a small family run business with a close-knit crew and this has affected every single staff member and management personally. Passions of Paradise has been operating for 22 years and has won 14 regional, state and national industry awards during the past 11 years. They have been awarded an Australian Tourism Award for Best Adventure Tour and inducted into the Queensland Tourism hall of fame. Passions of Paradise takes 25,000 passengers annually to the Great Barrier Reef and since the company’s inception has taken almost 400,000 passengers to the reef.

      No similar incidents have occurred in this time.