Sunday, 30 October 2011

Thomas (Tom) Alfred Pyne 1935 – 2011

Former Cairns Mayor, Tom Pyne, father of Cairns Regional Councillor Rob Pyne, passed away today, after a sudden stroke yesterday morning.

"Dad passed this evening," Rob Pyne said. "He lived life to the fullest. He was the most loved person I have ever known. We will all miss him so much."

Cairns Mayor Val Schier paid her respects, saying that in the 'forestry of life' a big old tree came down today.

"Tom will be mourned and remembered by many, many people," Val Schier said. "They don't make them like Tom any more: a person driven by his sound country values and genuine interest in people and public service."

"He liked to give me a bit of advice from time to time and had telephoned me several times lately, keen to see the entertainment precinct happen. He and I had something in common - we'd both beaten Kevin Byrne - and it was always good to have a yarn. He will be sorely missed. A great man," Val Schier said this evening.

Rob Pyne's partner Jenny, who supported Rob after a tragic diving accident in 1991 that left him a quadriplegic, was bracing for the tough days ahead for her family.

"Rob may need to rally all his friends and get lots of support to help him through the tough parts," Jenny Pyne said. "It was such sudden loss, I don't think any of us have had time to process it thoroughly."

Tom Pyne, born in Babinda, was awarded an AM, Member of the Order of Australia, for over 40 years continuous service, a record he shared with Sir Robert Sparkes as the longest serving Local Government elected members in Queensland.

He was Mayor of the former Mulgrave Shire, and was elected as the first Mayor of Cairns City Council following the amalgamation in 1995, where he served till 2000. Pyne was also the president of the Local Government Association of Queensland 1997, having been a senior vice president since 1988.

When Tom joined the Mulgrave council in 1961 at the age of 26, he was elected chairman, which later became Mayor in 1979. He was elected unopposed through to 1991 and in 1994 his popularity and expertise were endorsed when he received 75% of the primary vote against two other candidates.

Pyne also served as chair of the FNQ Electricity Board, and was also appointed to Queensland's Centenary of Federation Committee.

"The new Administration Centre is a major achievement of the first City Council," Tom Pyne said when the Cairns Council relocated to the Spence Street site under his watch. "It is never an easy task, but people are now seeing the benefit. The previous situation, of paying rent and staff being scattered over five locations around the City, was not conducive to good management."

Tom Pyne claims that is very proud of the Esplanade Lagoon. "The best aspect is that through extensive consultation, residents decided what they wanted," he said. "It is a beautiful project."

He often described tourism as the 'power house' of the local economy and said that lobbying by the two former Councils to ensure Cairns became an international airport had seen the area never look back. Cairns is now Australia's fourth busiest airport.

In March 2008, Tom launched his son Robert's campaign in his successful bid for Cairns Regional Council.

As news spread about Tom's passing, around 190 had already posted condolences online.
  • ''My sympathy to the whole family. The passing of an authentic legend. Will be felt around Queensland.'' - David Anthony

    ''I've lost one of my heroes tonight, our region has lost one of it's best ever leaders, and many have lost one of our dearest friends. My thoughts, and those of all my family - Warren and Linda Pitt, David and Dionne Berry - go out to Marion, Rob Pyne, Joann Pyne, and family. Tom will be enormously missed.'' - Curtis Pitt MP, Mulgrave

    "Heart and Soul of the town I love. Nite Tom. Thanks for everything.' - Greg Dwyer

    "Tom dedicated his life to the service of the Cairns community and we are all poorer for his passing." - Gavin King

    ''RIP Tom Pyne - a man of action for all of Cairns - dealt with ratepayers queries and complaints with integrity and sincerity.'' - Margaret Schokker

    ''Tom was campaign manager for the late Ray Jones, MLA when I was Ray's electorate secretary. Tom always had a hearty laugh and was always so positive as to the election results. I used to look forward to Tom's visits because he always had something funny to say.'' - Alison Alloway

    ''I'm so sorry to hear this news. I have many great memories of Tom from my school days and his regular visits to Woree High. He was one of the select few politicians who I've always respected. Thanks for your contributions to our community Tom. You will be sadly missed.'' - Mel Commerford

    ''Cairns won't be the same without you. Thanks for letting us share in your life and leaving us your legacy in Rob Pyne. 2011 has taken some very important and loved people from our lives. x'' -Tanya Brooks-Cooper

    ''I remember your Dad right back to the Edmonton shop and servo days and can honestly say he never ever left an event or passed me in the street without coming up to say hello and ask what I was doing and how my family was!'' - Lee Todd

    ''I'm a Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly because Tom Pyne believed in me and gave me a chance. In 1999, he was retiring from the Mayoralty and helping build a team to take over the city. He endorsed Max Plummer for Mayor and I got the nod to run in Division 5 which I subsequently won by 55 votes. Tom was wary of me because I am a lefty but he gave me a go. I have now been in public office for 12 years and I owe Tom a great debt. He left a legacy in this town that won't be surpassed by any politician for a long time to come. Thank you for so much Tom. My deepest sympathies to the family.'' - Jason O'Brien, MP Cook

    ''Very sad news Rob. Our deepest sympathy to you and your family. The entire region will miss his presence, his effervescence and his wonderful sense of humour. The last time I saw him, he fell off his chair laughing......what a great way to be remembered.'' -Leigh Dall'Osto.

    ''My deepest sympathies to all your family. Your father was a really wonderful man and an absolute GIANT in local government circles. All my love. - Councillor Julia Leu

    ''Incredibly sad, huge loss.'' - Janine Aitken

Rob Pyne is his father's legacy. The fighting no-bullshit way he carries out his public duties with integrity and honesty, are instilled in him from his wonderful father.

There's no doubt that Tom was immensely proud of his son when he got elected as a Councillor. His joy was obvious that his memory and life in politics would be carried on in the Pyne tradition, gave him peace and satisfaction in his later years.

''It must be in our blood,'' Tom said of Rob's election win.

Tom's ilk in politics is a rare commodity these days, one who was a true community worker and intricately connected with the business fraternity. Politics nowadays seems a race all about greed, celebrity and arrogance, where talking with the people and representing their interests, is given second-rate lip service.

I had the pleasure to meet Tom on many occasions and was humbled by his frankness and genuine support for my work with CairnsBlog. He helped me with legal action being waged against me and CairnsBlog by then-mayor Kevin Byrne in 2007. Tom told me that in all his years, he never took legal action against anyone like that and withstood much criticism over his 40 years in politics.

"You just take it with the job Michael," Tom told me. "It's part of politics to be talked about and criticised. It made me stronger."

His advice and guidance in the uncharted world on online media, even in his later years, was still extraordinary.

Tom is survived by his wife Joanne, known as Marion; daughter Joann, director of TAFE; and Rob.

A win for Qantas would be a win for Cairns

In toady's Loose Change column, local business commentator Mark Beath, dishes up a contrary view on the Qantas dispute.

The Qantas grounding has obvious threats to the Cairns economy. At least in the short term.

It would be expected and hoped that this phase of the dispute will be short and that services will resume this week.

Longer term impacts will be more complex related to the dispute itself and the impacts of any subsequent agreement. So it was interesting today to see the blog response from Harry Clarke, an economics professor at La Trobe University: Qantas to fight trade union reactionaries...
Allan Joyce’s move to ground the entire Qantas fleet today was an inevitable attempt to break the backs of trade unionist reactionaries. As a Qantas shareholder I am dismayed at the current outcome but, as Qantas has not paid dividends for a couple of years, I support attempts to force the airline to gain competitiveness and staying power. Having pilots paid over $500,000 annually is inconsistent with this task and the attempts by maintenance engineers and pilots to trash the Qantas brand suggest that the best outcome for these clowns is to be sacked and then sued. Ungracious, overpaid pilots who lie to me about their employer when I travel on their airline arouse nothing within me but contempt. When a firm is losing $2m per day because of a strike the fact that the CEO is paid $5m per year is irrelevant. He is worth $20m if he can give these reactionary trade unionists the kick up the backside they so richly deserve. Qantas sells air services as an internationally traded good and international travellers are voting with their feet to support other airlines which offer cheaper and better quality service. Domestic air services in Australia remain expensive and the service is anything but great. The Australian travelling public deserve better and Australia needs a viable international carrier not a sheltered workshop.
Already the Labor politicians are shaking in their boots at Joyce’s move because it is hardly a good look for the Labor Government but reading Joyce’s press release I support it. The Government should keep out of this one. Qantas will fail without decisive action and, even though this might cost me money, I’d prefer to see this fight resolved now – it offers the best prospect for competitiveness reforms. Pilots, engineers, baggage handlers – accept the need for reform or find yourself new jobs. As the Qantas AGM showed you have no support among shareholders and the travelling public will see you for the contemptible grasping reactionaries that you are. That you attacked the customer base of Qantas as a negotiating tactic should never be forgotten.
Well, I suspect that rant from Harry will not gain unanimmous support of sentiment, which may be an understatement. However, as previously posted, why I like Harry is that he can never be accused of ideological bias and dishes it out in equal measure accross the spectrum. The very next post on Harry's blog starts "Tony Abbott’s idiot populism..... " and then goes on to berate the "dwarf throwers at Catallaxy" which is our most prominent libertarian economic blog with some high profile right wing economists. Yep, he's my kinda guy!!

Regardless, the pay and security demands from the unions here can never be seen as positive for the Cairns economy. It can only ever contribute to slower regional growth and higher risk. The Asia focus of the Qantas business strategy is to our advantage. The concept of job security in airlines indicates that these unions have never grown past their protected public service mentality. The interests of the employees of Qantas, even local employees, are not the interests of Cairns.

As Warren Buffet famously observed, from the perspective of an investor, the best outcome would have been for someone to have shot down the Wright brothers at Kittyhawk given the investor money that has been trashed in this industry.

Qantas is 90 years old. In metaphorical perspective job security in context for this industry is like a 90yo prostitute demanding job security in a brothel.

Shane Knuth leaves the LNP for Katter

The Liberal National Party is dealing with the defection of another MP, in the wake of their Gold Coast state council meeting this weekend, this time Shane Knuth, MP for Dalrymple, that takes in the Atherton Tablelands.

Knuth will join Bob Katter's Australia Party, that has been more politically aligned with the old merged National Party. Reports say that some other LNP members may join Katter's mob.

"I no longer stomach being forced to vote against National core values or watching the poor treatment of former Nationals," Shane Knuth told the Sunday Mail. "It has been clearly seen that many of the long-term, experienced MPs have been thrown out of the backbench and have little to no say in shadow cabinet. I believe the LNP merger hasn't been beneficial for rural and regional MPs."

Knuth follows the defections of Aidan Mclindon and Rob Messenger, who resigned from the LNP in May 2010.

Mclindon, MP for Beaudesert, went on to form the Queensland Party, and two months ago, abandoned it, to join Bob Katter's Australia Party. When he defected from the LNP he said the two major parties with not fit for the job.

"Queensland is now unfortunately faced with two options: one of incompetence and one of complacency," Aidan McLindon told CairnsBlog. "Until a third dynamic of co-operative independents form, we'll still keep getting what we've always got.

"The Australian Party welcomes Shane, a courageous man who has put his community first and is ready to take up the fight,'' Mclindon said this morning.

Labor's coal seam gas plan on agriculture land was a tipping point for Knuth as the LNP does not support a moratorium.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Former Mulgrave Mayor, Tom Pyne, has stroke

Tom Pyne, who became the Mayor of Cairns when the Shire of Mulgrave and the City of Cairns merged in 1995, has had a stroke.

His son, sitting Cairns Regional Councillor Rob Pyne, broke the news this afternoon.

"I just want to [tell] all my friends and friends of the Pyne family out there that dad has had a Stroke," Rob Pyne said. "We hope to know more soon, but please forgive my absence for a while. Thank you all for your understanding at this time."

Tom Pyne, now 76 years, was elected to the Mulgrave Shire Council in 1961 and served continuously until 2000, when he retired from public office having never been defeated at an election.

Following the amalgamation of Mulgrave with the City of Cairns, he was elected as Mayor for a five-year term in 1995.

Tom Pyne was the driving force behind the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon project and also the relocation the Council Offices from Abbott Street to Spence.

In March 2008, Tom launched his son's campaign in his bid for Cairns Regional Council. Rob Pyne said at the time, that while large Councils are said to deliver greater efficiencies and economies of scale, much is lost.

''I doubt the mega Council will ever have the respect and in some cases you can almost say ‘love’ that was held for the old Mulgrave Shire,'' Rob Pyne said. ''The of us who knew her, can understand the feeling of loss that residents of the former Douglas Shire have had in more recent years.''

Tom Pyne joined the Australian Labor Party at 18 years. In 1985 he was presented with Life Membership by the then Foreign Minister of Australia, and later Governor-General, Bill Hayden.

Here's Tom in a 1995 TV election advertisment...

Mirrored Cairns Botantic Gardens centre opens today

The stunning new Cairns Botanic Gardens visitor centre officially opens today.

Situated just along from the Tanks Arts Centre, the vsitor's centre is likely to be a popular talking point for it's unique architecture, reflected the neighbouring flora and fauna.

The building includes 104 solar panels and has been constructed to use minimal lighting and air-conditioning.
    Check out the creative local products for sale in the shop and the lovely botanic gardens book.

    The popular Trinity Beach L'unicos, will be opening the cafe there soon.

    Already some have said birds are haplessly flying into the mirrored walls, and according to reports, at least two have hit the walls.

    Councillor Pyne has defended the structure saying people need to focus their passion in the right area.

    ''A cat outside will do more damage in one night," Rob Pyne says. ''Some people need to get a grip and note some of the positive initiates of Council, such as registration of cats and moves to address that, quite a real problem.''

    The centre features interpretive displays, a gift shop and you can even get a up-close look at some native snakes. Council will co-ordinate events and activities, including arts workshops, guest speakers and theme-based presentations.

    The first will explore the theory of evolution with guest speaker Gary Wilson, a local botanist and photographer, on Saturday November 5th.

    Big Bands on the lawn at Palm Cove

    No plans late arvo?

    Wander along to Jazz on the Green at Palm Cove.

    Today features our own Dixie Jazz Band from 2pm, a Cairns institution.

    $5 entry support the Buchans Point SES, and spend a lazy afternoon on the lawn at Ocean's Edge, part of Novotel.

    From 4pm, the "Big Bands" will play: Afterhours, along with Hot Shots from Atherton and a special appearance of the Smithfield High School Big Band.

    Darren Hunt tweets and takes swipe at Gavin King

    A number of people walked the Red Arrow track last evening as part of Reclaim the Night, that Karen Struthers Minister for Women encouraged was important that all politicians took part in.

    "We all have a right to be safe in public spaces," Cairns Regional Council mayor Val Schier said about the event.

    Vote for the new 7 Wonders of the World

    • ‎There's only 11 days left to vote for the Great Barrier Reef. If you can't swim out to the polling station, you can still vote here.

    Friday, 28 October 2011

    Two Millaa Millaa bushwalkers found safe

    Two bushwalkers, who are local Millaa Millaa residents on the southern Atherton Tablelands, have been found safe and well at 2.40pm this afternoon, after been missing overnight.

    The two men went missing in bush land near their property at Millaa Millaa, 100 kms South West from Cairns.

    Police were contacted at around 4am this morning and searched at the Sutties Gap Road property, with the Cairns Dog Squad, with additional aerial searches.

    The 57-year-old man went bushwalking at around 4.30pm yesterday and failed to return. His son, a 23-year-old man, went looking on foot at around 8pm last evening, and also failed to return to the property.

    Both men are related to Cairns businesswoman and internet entrepreneur Nicky Jurd, who drove to the area this morning to assist.

    "My dad and my little brother JJ have been found in the forest," Nicky told CairnsBlog. "Everyone is safe and well."

    "Thanks everyone for your support. Especially thanks to the SES."

    Traffic crash kills 19-year old at Ravenshoe

    A 19-year-old man has died following a traffic crash just south of Ravenshoe earlier this morning.

    Around 7am two utility vehicles were involved in a head on collision on Tumoulin Road. A 17-year-old man in the other ute received minor injuries. The 19-year-old died at the scene.

    The road remains closed while Forensic Crash Unit investigate at incident.

    Cairns Post hypocritical over gambling

    A case of the pot calling the kettle black.

    A CairnsBlog reader pointed out that it's a tad hypocritical for the Cairns Post to run a cartoon today lampooning James Packer, saying he is addicted to gaming revenue when the same newspaper issue features a 12-page racing and punting guide aimed at assisting gambling on horse races.

    Methinks the Post is addicted to betting (and alcohol) revenue.

    Mayor supports complaint to ACMA over Gavin King's regular appearances on Radio 4CA

    A complaint has been made to ACMA over Liberal National Party's Cairns candidate, Gavin King, about his regular appearances on John Mackenzie's Radio 4CA programme.

    "This should be publicised," Cairns Regional Mayor Val Schier told CairnsBlog. "I see daily transcripts about both King and Mackenzie who both lie and mislead in relation to me and allow listeners to denigrate."

    The complaint asks that the ACMA, Australian's communications watchdog, should take a ''serious interest'' in Radio 4CA in supporting the declared Liberal candidate for Cairns in the upcoming Queensland State election.

    Gavin King, a regular commentator on John Mackenzie's morning show when he was a journalist at the Cairns Post, still appears on 4CA every week, sometimes more than once a week, after being selected at the LNP candidate.

    The complaint has been made directly to the ACMA, instead of a notice to the broadcaster in the first instance, as King's appearances are deemed "political advertising or election material," and potentially breach a licence condition.

    It's well-known that John Mackenzie gives little or no time to any other political candidate or sitting politician, especially to those from other parties. Mayor Schier has not been on Mackenzie's shows for some time, preferring to use 4CA's earlier timeslot with Mike "Loco" O'Loughlan and ABC Far North.

    A senior local industry radio professional, who wished to remain anonymous, told CairnsBlog that it is shocking that 4CA management have not intervened previously.

    "I'm amazed that they let Mackenzie carry on like this, they must be aware that it's not appropriate," the source said.

    As the declared LNP political candidate, King was again yesterday bagging Mayor Schier for all manner on things, with no political authorisation mentioned. Gavin King was endorsed as the Cairns LNP candidate on October 2nd and has since made numerous appearances on Mackenzie's radio programme.

    Just last week in response to a question when he became a "supporter" or "a member of the LNP", King, who has been a senior journalist with the Cairns Post for a number of years, said it's always been his leanings.

    "[I] have been highlighting dismal Labor failures for years so it was time to walk the walk," King wrote online.

    "It's my understanding that Mackenzie's show is open to any and all guests," King told CairnsBlog today. "I know for a fact certain Labor politicians have refused to appear for talkback because they don't enjoy the response they get from many listeners and callers."

    However this doesn't negate the way balance is purportioned to political candidates on air. ACMA are very clear about this. It's quite a different kettle of fish now that Gavin King is a political candidate and not a "commentator" from the Cairns Post.

    An outspoken opponent of King who supported Charlie McKillop's LNP campaign, economic commentator Mark Beath, questioned Gavin King whilst he was with the Cairns Post over a a column he wrote about a dinner with Alan Jones without revealing whether he paid. Beath says it was an LNP fundraiser.

    Now as the endorsed candidate, nothing appears to have changed and Mackenzie still has King on for hour-long slots. He appears to give no other candidate or party equal airtime.

    King and the LNP have received much criticism after newspaper columns including his views about women that encourage being raped if they drink... a victim-blaming approach. Party Leader has failed to distance himself to the polarising views that women group find abhorrent. King now states that "the first two sentences were badly worded," but stands by safety message of the whole column."

    Val Schier has decided to go on Mike 'Locco' O'Loughlin's show on the same radio station, along with ABC Far North's morning programme, after repeatedly finding Mackenzie hostile and uncooperative towards her. It's also known that Mackenzie's racist attitude towards Aboriginals have irked Val Schier.

    Schier's appearance on Mackenzie's show was the center of a $17,000 investigation dubbed 'cash for comments' in 2009 which led to the dismissal of senior Cairns Regional Council communications manager Kerie Hull, who is now directing Gavin King's media campaign. Council CEO Noel Briggs also resigned over the affair. The ACMA ruled that Radio 4CA were in breach of their licence for not disclosing the arrangement.

    Cate and Geoffrey review 'Margaret and David'

    After 25 years together on TV, David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz have become an institution.

    Here's an affectionate review of their career.

    Thursday, 27 October 2011

    Labor will drive ahead with Cape York Rivers lock up plan

    Earlier this month the Wilderness Society, an organisation that tries to fool people it supports indigenous peoples and their land, stuck up some massive billboards with Labor's help.

    The billboards, costing between $15,000 - $25,000 a month, incorporates a flashing red neon sign below saying ''TELL NEWMAN NOW''

    Ahead of the next State election, expected in the next five months, the government will steam roll Wild Rivers' declarations in three Cape York river systems. Today in Queensland Parliament, Environment Minister Vicky Darling would start ''consultations'' with traditional owners on Cape York peninsula.

    Labor's target is the Coleman, Olive-Pascoe and Watson River systems. Four Cape York rivers are already ''locked up'' under the legislation. Labor, along with the politically-aligned Wilderness Society, say it will ''preserve pristine environments by restricting development around rivers and creeks.''

    Federal MP for Leichhardt Warren Entsch says it's just another step in appeasing the Greens.

    ''I think it should be vehemently opposed," Warren Entsch said. ''The declarations, along with a push from the state and federal governments for a World Heritage listing in the peninsula, were an attempt to 'lock up' the region and would stifle economic development in impoverished Aboriginal communities.''

    Entsch and LNP State leader, Campbell Newman, have vowed to stop the declarations from being made.

    "I would hope that we would be in government and we would kill it off before then," Entsch said.

    Wilderness Society say that the rivers of Cape York are some of the last free flowing rivers in the world, and are wanting declarations to stop mining developments, near the catchments and surrounding wetlands.

    Amazingly, after over two years of posturing about this, the Government announces just a few short months out from an election, it will now consult with indigenous elders and community groups in Cape York. This of course means that they will pump out a ton of pretty brochures and some new websites no doubt and tell the black fellas what they're going to do with their rivers. It truly is an insult of significant proportions to treat the locals like this in such an arrogant, last minute fashion.

    Mayor of the Northern Peninsula Area, Joseph Elu told CairnsBlog that the State Government repeatedly had not engaged his people in the process.

    "We're the first people in Queensland that say the Cape rivers need protection, but protection doesn't mean lock up," Joseph Elu. "Wild Rivers is very much a lock up situation."

    Mayor Elu said they have river protection covered under conservation covenants and national parks, which is enough protection. He warned that any lock up will only damage the river systems, with many feral pigs and cane toads. He was scathing about the lack of negotiations by the State Labor government over the proposed Wild Rivers legislation.

    "Their way of consulting, is telling us what's going to happen," Joseph Elu said. "They did not come to us when the crucial decision on Wild Rivers were declared. They did not come to us and say why they are doing this. They did this behind closed doors."

    CairnsBlog author, Michael Moore, talks with Northern Peninsula Mayor Joseph Elu.

    Wendy Richardson ''failed permanently''

    Too funny not to share.

    Just sent an email to Wendy Richardson, who is still presumably standing for the remnants of what is the Queensland Party, the one that Aidan Mclindon ran away from to play with crazy Bob Katter. What was he thinking?

    Wendy has contested for the Tablelands Regional Council; the State seat of Cairns; Barron River three years ago... and now for the Queensland Party in Barron, again. To be fair, she won the primary vote ahead of ALP's Steve Wettenhall, but the Greens sucked up on preferences.

    This is the auto-reply I got to my email...
    • On 27 October 2011 15:59, Mail Delivery Subsystem wrote:

      Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

      Technical details of permanent failure:
      Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the recipient domain. We recommend contacting the other email provider for further information about the cause of this error. The error that the other server returned was: 550 550 No Such User Here (state 14).

    Wayne Swan, the world's best treasurer

    'Marriage for All' rally in Cairns Friday

    A bill introduced into State Parliament that would allow same-sex couples and heterosexual couples to register a civil union in Queensland, has been greeted with mixed opinions across the State, with the proponent, Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser saying it is “the right thing to do”.

    Tropical North Queensland’s lesbian and gay community has welcomed proposed new legislation that could introduce a state-wide same-sex relationship register.

    A rally will be held in Cairns tomorrow, Friday 28th October, on the Esplanade across from the Mercure Hotel, at 12.30pm.

    Spokesperson for the Cairns LGBTI Alliance Ben Woodward, a sales manager for the CaPTA tourism group, said Cairns is already leading the way on the issue.

    “Cairns Regional Council has already accepted the establishment of a local relationship register, and consultation into drafting the scheme has already commenced,” Woodward said.

    “New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT all have similar registers so it was really a matter of when rather than will the state government move towards relationship equality."

    The bill, that will formally recognise committed, loving relationships, as an alternative to partnerships under the Marriage Act, is a jump start over Federal Labor's plan to address the issue at their national conference in December. Premier Anna Bligh will allow Labor MPs freedom to vote as they wish on Fraser's bill, which is not an official government proposal but has high-level support.

    Nick Thompson, a Labor candidate standing for Division 4 at the Cairns Regional Council elections, is disappointed LNP will not support the move.

    "Campbell can't do equality," Thompson said.

    Newman, who personally supports legalising gay marriage, says opposition MPs would vote as a bloc against the private member's bill, rather than being granted a free vote. The LNP party room today backed his position to vote against the civil partnerships bill.

    "The bill is a stunt and a distraction from a government that had lost the state's AAA credit rating and failed to rein in cost-of-living pressures," Campbell Newman said. "This distraction is more about politics between the Greens and Labor than it is about the more immediate priorities Queenslanders are pleading with the Government to address."

    Federal MP for Leichhardt Warren Entsch, a vocal voice for gay rights, has also voiced is concern over a long period that civil union and marriage equality, is "not a priority" and "there are other more important issues to deal with."

    Andrew Fraser says Newman has failed to stand up for his own conscience saying it was “the death of liberalism” in the party.

    Queensland Greens are claiming credit for the move to introduce same-sex civil unions, but say it won't help with any Greens preference recommendation for Labor in Fraser's Mt Coot-tha electorate, saying that as state treasurer they "hate the direction they're taking the state economy."

    Ben Woodward says local activists in Cairns will continue to push for full marriage equality.

    "However, we are happy that Andrew Fraser has provided couples with an interim measure for being able to prove the existence of their relationship, something that was ambiguous under the previous de facto provisions,” Woodward said. “Relationship recognition would also give same sex couples the benefit of having family and friends celebrate and recognise our relationships through state-sanctioned ceremonies that were previously unavailable.”

    Woodward is asking the broader community to contact their local MP, presumably not Bob Katter, to support equality and fairness for relationship recognition.

    "The Cairns LGBTI Alliance has noted that in other states both the ALP and LNP were granted a conscience vote on the issue of civil unions and would hope that this is the same in Queensland," Ben Woodward said.
    • Cairns Rally - Friday 28th October. The Esplanade (front of the Mercure Hotel) at 12.30pm

    Premier Anna Bligh on Civil Unions...

    Kuranda garden has become a visitor attraction

    When Graham Payne and David Sturge purchased 100 acres of Kuranda rainforest in early 2006, they could never have dreamt that the property would be such an attraction.

    The two English gents bought with them extensive experience in horticulture and botany, so when the opportunity arose to acquire the unique property, that now contains three acres of garden, it was something they couldn't ignore.

    ''We looked elsewhere around Australia, including the Sunshine Coast, but the climate and location here are just perfect,'' Graham Payne told CairnsBlog.

    Last weekend they again opened up their garden to the public as part of Open Garden Australia. The national organisation opens around 600 gardens each year for public visitation. The two are also selectors for the scheme. Around 230 visited Kuranda Palms over the weekend.

    The property is located at the top of the Kuranda Range on the Cairns side of the Barron River, adjacent to the magnificent natural environment of the World Heritage National Park.

    ''We have created gardens in the temperate climate of England and also in the Mediterranean climate of Portugal, so we were keen to experience a tropical garden,'' Graham says. ''Over the years we have rejuvenated the garden, planting several beds of colourful exotics, which are alive with lush, vibrant colours of the tropics, palms, trees, shrubs, feature plants, and lawn.''

    Payne says that in the warm, moist tropical climate the garden has grown rapidly. A permanent creek with a waterfall runs round the edge of the garden.

    ''We are most fortunate that a previous owner was an avid collector of unusual palms and cycads, with the result that there are many magnificent specimens here today,'' Graham Payne says. ''There are fine stands of Alexander Palm which provide a spectacular backdrop to the view across the large lawn from the house. There are also several mature unusual cycads.''

    CEO of Open Gardens, Richard Barley from Woodend, Victoria, visited the garden in the weekend.

    ''I thoroughly enjoyed a visit to Kuranda Palms on the weekend. It was tropical, lush, and wettish. Perfect.''

    Kuranda Palms is home to many kinds of gingers, especially Heliconias, Torch Ginger, and Costus. Climbing through the Queensland Umbrella Tree, Flame of the Forest, and the spectacular Jade Vine, a flower that is unique of all colours in the plant world. About one third of the garden is planted with ornamental and fruit trees set in lawns, providing an extensive shaded area on a hot tropical afternoon.

    ''Our land is registered under the Land for Wildlife scheme, and we encourage wildlife to visit our garden,'' David Sturge says. ''We see pademelons, bandicoots, goannas, ulysses and Cairns Birdwing butterflies and of course our unique cassowary. The cassowary often feeds on palm seeds and other fruit in the garden and even brings his chicks to visit.''

    Both Payne and Sturge are active in Kuranda and Cairns, helping to co-ordinate social and non-profit community groups. They have assisted the Tablelands Regional Council with planting in the Kuranda township.

    The open weekend saw a large number of visitors enjoying the tropical gardens, deep in the rainforest.

    ''We both love the garden and enjoy sharing our results with visitors,'' Graham Payne says.

    Wednesday, 26 October 2011

    'Halt work on Entertainment Precinct' - Cr Rob Pyne

    With the local body election campaign effectively started, and the divisive and volatile mood around the urgent commencement of work for the Entertainment Precinct, Councillor Rob Pyne, who supports the project, is asked for a temporary halt under after the March 2012 election.

    Rob Pyne believes that the project is too important not to proceed, however thinks the caretaker period is not the time to continue work. Today he will move a motion at Council to not to enter into any site preparation or building construction contracts prior to the local government elections.

    "It is not every day one tables a resolution that could cost the Cairns economy almost $100m but with a majority of Cairns Councillors not wanting to proceed to tender and with the Council ‘Caretaker Period’ fast approaching, this is the only way I can see to stop what is becoming a ‘sad soap opera’ rather than a rational debate,” Rob Pyne told CairnsBlog.

    Pyne says it's his sincere hope that the State and Commonwealth Governments have sufficient commitment and support for the project that a three month months will not compromise the project.

    "The people of Cairns have the vision to elect a Mayor with the courage and conviction to see this project through,” Pyne says. "Should those Councillors who have been ‘white anting’ this project fail to support my resolution, we can only assume they lack any conviction on this issue whatsoever and are simply grandstanding to obtain a little kudos from the public gallery and talk back radio."

    "My rationale is so this gives the project some real certainty and transparency, not only for Council staff and Councilors, but also the wider community," Pyne says. "It will make a clear distinction as to what is operational and what is subject to debate and campaign policy."

    Rob Pyne is right. There's a practice when a government heads towards an election, it should not be engaging in substantive work that will commit a new administration. Its very likely the make up of this Council will change dramatically, and it is a dereliction of the current mob to set in stone agreements and plans so close to an election.

    Rob Pyne's motion...
    • That Council resolves in relation to the Cairns Entertainment Precinct:

      1. To continue to completion the architectural designs;
      2. To complete all work required for lodgement of a Development Application; and
      3. NOT TO enter into any site preparation or building construction contracts whatsoever prior to the local government elections of 31 March 2011.

    City Place campaign will be an election issue

    The battle lines over retaining City Place is becoming an important issue for the Council and State election.

    The Cairns Transit Network plan has been developed by the Department of Transport and Main Roads, not Council Regional Cairns, and the locals have effectively been cut out of some key decisions.

    It appears that Cairns Regional Council has absolutely no say about what happens in our city. The State department says that buses need to go through City Place in order to have good public transport. Of course this is nonsense. 77 inner-city businesses are demanding that City Place be retained and enhanced. Many of the businesses, over 75%, were not even consulted about the planned changes.

    They State Government intend to relocate City Place to a ''basketball shed'' in Shields Street.

    Tuesday, 25 October 2011

    LNP have ''have zero credibility'' on law and order in FNQ

    Australian Party candidate for Cairns, Darren DJ Hunt, has today slammed the LNP's policy on law and order, saying they don't even know where the prison is.

    The LNP said today that violence at Far North Queensland’s Lotus Glen correctional centre was "out of control" and minor assaults on staff had worsened since Labor watered-down discipline.

    ''Over-crowding was causing increased violence in Cairns’ prison,'' John-Paul Langbroek, Shadow Minister for Police said.

    Darren Hunt hit back saying he is out out touch with the local community.

    ''What a buffoon, he [Langbroek] doesn't even know that the gaol is at Mareeba, not Cairns,'' Darren Hunt told CairnsBlog. ''Is this goose really the shadow law and order spokesperson?''

    Langbroek says that full and overflowing prisons make it more difficult for front line staff to manage dangerous offenders

    “Staff safety is being ignored and lives are at risk,” John-Paul Langbroek says. ''A leaked report revealed some shocking statistics including a huge increase in minor assaults on staff - 1 in 2008/2009, and now up to 23 as of March and a projected total of 31 for 2010/11.''

    Langbroek says incidents at Lotus Glen were far greater than Townsville Men’s prison which had seven assaults recorded in 2008/09 rising to to 24 2010/2011. Capricornia prison in Rockhampton reported no assaults in 2008/09 compared to three in 2010/2011.
    ''Given his party does not support increased penalties and mandatory imprisonment for assaults on staff like we do, what is he blustering about?'' Darren Hunt says. ''How is he going to 'protect staff'?''

    ''The LNP have zero credibility on law and order issues in Far North Queensland.''

    All Blacks. New Zealand needed this win

    Our World Champion All Blacks! from Jared Brandon Productions on Vimeo.

    Council community plan launched Wednesday

    Cairns Regional Council will launch it's community plan that was adopted last week.

    The ironically named report titled Imagine Tomorrow, will be presented to Alison George, Acting Regional Director, Department of Local Government and Planning by Mayor Val Schier and CEO Lyn Russell.

    Everyone is welcome to attend the launch, plus there's free cake.

    Imagine Tomorrow: Your Community Plan 2011-2031 is the accumulation of a year's work and input from the community and staff.
    • Wednesday, October 26th, 9am
      - Cairns Regional Council Courtyard, Spence Street, Cairns
      - Morning tea will be provided

    "Armed" man caused fear in Cairns, will be charged today

    A 34-year-old Mooroobool man has been charged with ''going armed'' to cause fear and will appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court this afternoon.

    He has been charged after he was seen walking around Lake and Grafton Streets this morning, carrying a replica hand gun.

    Police would still like to speak to anyone that may have witnessed the incident at around 7.10am. The man parked his white Daihatsu Charade in the Lake Street Transit Mall and walked around Lake and Grafton Streets whilst carrying a weapon.

    He is described as being of Caucasian appearance, tanned complexion, light brown short hair, 175cm, medium build with a short goatee. He was wearing blue shorts and a black t-shirt with writing on the back.

    Occupy Wall Street is so unfair for the 1%


    Queensland Minister for Woman slams Gavin King

    Queensland's Minister for Women, Karen Struthers, has again hit out at Cairns LNP candidate Gavin King, saying his victim blaming views have undermined the message of Sexual Violence Awareness Month and the Reclaim the Night.

    Karen Struthers has called for all members of State Parliament to help raise awareness of sexual violence and attend their local Reclaim the Night march.

    "[LNP leader] Campbell Newman has now likened himself to Gavin King, describing him as the 'Newman figure of the North. Newman and his northern counterpart are only reinforcing outdated victim blaming views that stop women reporting rape," Minister Struthers said.

    She was referring to an opinion column King wrote in 2008.
    • IF a woman drinks to excess during a night out on the town, is she partly to blame for being raped or assaulted?

      As uncomfortable and difficult as this question is, the answer surely is yes.
    • If a woman is flirting or wearing a short skirt or drinking too much she never deserves or "asks" to be raped.

      But women need to ask themselves if their binge drinking behaviour puts them at risk.
      The answer is yes, it does.

      So long as young women ignore this risk, and fail to report cases of rape because they were drunk, the number of horrific sex crimes will continue unabated.
      This Friday, Reclaim the Night rallies and marches will take place across Queensland, including Brisbane, Toowoomba, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Townsville and Cairns. It is expected that hundreds will gather in Brisbane's Square for the rally at 6:30pm and march to West End.

      ''It was vital [MPs] go along to show their support, particularly male MPs as this month's campaign slogan is 'ending sexual violence against women is men's business','' Struthers said in Parliament.

      According to the Queensland Police Statistical Review, there were 5,442 sexual assault offences reported state-wide in 2009-2010.

      "It is disturbing that 80% of sexual assaults go unreported," Struthers says.

      Cairns MP Desley Boyle says as it's approaching the end of Sexual Violence Awareness Month, it's very important people take a stand against sexual violence.

      "Events such as these support women to come forward and break the silence by reporting rape," Boyle said. "The victim blaming views of the LNP's candidate for Cairns Gavin King undermined the message of Sexual Violence Awareness Month and the Reclaim the Night rallies.''

      CAPTION CONTEST: Anna chats with the Queen

      Here's the Queen and Prince Philip with Queensland Premier Anna Bligh yesterday afternoon on the Brisbane River.

      What were they talking about?

      1. "With respect, my hat is much more queenie than yours marm.."
      2. "Oh Phillip, I really must not curtsy before dinner, plus Liz is kinda close."
      3. "So do the natives still throw spears and eat the whities in the mall Madam Premier?"
      4. "Well Ms Bligh, it's a shame that the people of Queensland are about to throw out your party. Seems like even a flood couldn't save you."
      5. "Ladies, the broken fly stand is best suited for gentlemen."
      6. ------your turn....

      Bob Manning joins the Mayoral race for Cairns

      Former Cairns Port Authority CEO Bob Manning is likely to contest the mayoral race at next year's Cairns Regional Council local body election, just six months away.

      With the addition of Manning, the conservative or ring wing vote, will be split in what is shaping up to be a dramatic race for the Cairns Mayoralty.

      Bob Manning, now business manger with Norship Marine, is expected to run under former Cairns mayor Kevin Byne's Unity Team, who have recently published a newspaper advert asking for potential candidates. Former deputy mayor and architect Terry James is co-ordinating Unity for the 2012 council election, and will himself run in division 4, the seat vacated by Kirsten Lesina who is contesting the State seat of Cairns for Labor. Unity plan to put up candidates across all divisions.

      As the former CEO of the Port Authority, Bob Manning has long been a staunch opponent of the cultural and entertainment centre being built on waterfront land.

      ''The city’s economic struggles are not a good enough reason for using the port space for the [entertainment] project,'' Bob Manning told a Chamber of Commerce meeting last September. "When times are tough, people will take any rope they can get. We need to take on a much longer-plan view."

      This is in stark contradiction to the current Port management who have supported and co-operated with Council to bring the project to fruition. Ports North CEO Chris Boland says the cultural precinct, if designed right, will satisfy all criteria.

      "It is unfortunate that despite detailed personal briefings on Port operations and plans to numerous organisations and individuals, including to the former CEO [Manning], that the debate continues to be ill-informed,'' Boland says. ''The site that is set aside for the cultural precinct, is a transitional zone. Port documents show that in 1994, the Cairns Port Authority identified and recommended that the precise site for the proposed Cultural Precinct be cleared of the molasses tanks as they were incompatible with the new Convention Centre. These documents show that the location in dispute today was identified in 1994 as a landscaped buffer zone.''

      "It is unfortunate that Bob Manning, a former Chief Executive Officer of the Port, has sought to incorrectly claim this is not the case. It is important to set the record straight in this regard," Chris Boland says.

      Besides incumbent mayor Val Schier, who has just launched her campaign website, other declared mayoral candidates include former Cairns Colonial Club developer Ian Thomas, who has recently returned to Cairns.

      Thomas says it's time for a change. "It's time that the people of Cairns gained some control over the current issues and the future of this great region.''

      Sitting Division 8 councillor and deputy mayor, Margaret Cochrane has also said she will contest the mayoralty.

      Former mayor Kevin Byrne says he has not ruled out the possibility of re-contesting.

      The Council election is likely to be held in the last weekend in March 2012, however the State Government may move this depending on when the State election will be called.

      Monday, 24 October 2011

      Councillor Pyne didn't ''walk out''

      I hate to be pedantic, but Cairns Regional Councillor Rob Pyne didn't walk out of last week's meeting in protest of Cochrane's motion.


      Gavin King has got at least one vote from Walkamin

      Last time I checked, Walkamin, which is some 76 kilometers away, wasn't anywhere near the State seat of Cairns.

      I think the Post letters that Gavin scribes and asks his friends to sign, should at least live in the local electorate to look credible.

      However, a superbly-written piece of election propaganda all the same. Look out for the Lesina ones next.

      Na, na, na na nah!

      All Blacks captain Richie McCaw holding the Rugby World Cup. SO there.

      Thursday, 20 October 2011

      The Clayton's Katter: The MP when you haven't got an MP

      The Power Index reports that Bob Katter who now leads his own Australian Party, has been absent from parliament nearly 50% of all votes.

      Darren DJ Hunt is running for Katter's mob in Cairns, along with Brendan Fitzgerald for Barron River.

      Katter's new paradigm appears to be 'wagging parliament'...
      • "Every vote in a hung parliament counts", so the mantra goes – yet Bob Katter has been absent for almost half of all parliamentary votes since the last election.

        The maverick Queensland independent has been absent for 78 divisions, or 45% of all votes, in the hung parliament, according to a paper by the Parliamentary Library.

        By contrast, Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie did not miss any votes. Rob Oakeshott missed seven, Tony Windsor 15 and WA National Tony Crook nine.

        Bob Katter's acting chief of staff, Jen Eliot, told The Power Index this morning that she believed most of the votes were on procedural matters. "We don't play parliamentary games," Eliot said. "We don't involve ourselves in any of that rubbish with sessional and standing orders."

        However according to analysis by consultancy firm Hawker Britton, 45% of the votes that Katter missed were on "substantive" issues such as the passage of legislation and creation of parliamentary committees.

        Katter's staffers are still sifting through the data and will soon release a more detailed response. The Parliamentary Library study also reveals that, despite backing Tony Abbott to form government, Katter has voted with the ALP 49 times and the opposition 45 times over the past year.

        Katter, MP for the far-north Queensland electorate of Kennedy, voted against the government's carbon tax package today, but supported a separate bill that sets up a $300 million compensation package.

      Wednesday, 19 October 2011

      9-year-old pleads to Warren Entsch to fix Ellis Beach crossing

      Anyone who has driven north of Palm Cove to Port Douglas, will know the popular beach and cafe at Ellis Beach. Now it's taken a 9-year-old to wake up the dead at the wheel local Councillor, Sno Bonneau along with Federal MP Warren Entsch.

      Sophie Alcorn, who is a nipper with the Ellis Beach Surf Club, wrote to local politicians. Here's what she had to say when she asked for a safer crossing at the popular Ellis Beach road crossing on the Captain Cook Highway...

      • Dear Sir, My name is Sophie Alcorn and I am nine years old.

        I would like to inform you about the lack of safe road crossings at Ellis Beach Surf Club/ shops. Yesterday my friend and I tried to cross the road near Ellis Beach shops. We stopped in the middle of the road then we tried to cross the next lane.

        My friend was accidently hit by a car. She bumped the bonnet and bounced off. She hurt her two knees and got gravel rash on one leg. She had to go to hospital in an ambulance to make sure everything was ok.

        We all felt sad that my friend was hurt and knew that we were very lucky. I think that it is important to have a zebra crossing or pedestrian lights to make it safer for everyone to cross the road. Can you please help me fix the problem? Each Sunday there are lots of children at the beach for nippers.

        I don't want any of them to be hurt or have any of their friends hurt if it happens again.

        Yours Sincerely,
        Sophie Alcorn
      In a parliamentary speech, Warren Entsch read the letter from Sophie.

      Newsport Daily, who broke the story yesterday, said that Division 9 Cairns Regional councillor, Sno Bonneu has backed the move, but there has been no response to date from Minister for Roads, Craig Wallace.

      Monday, 17 October 2011

      Bob Katter serenades his Australian Party candidates

      Bomb A-listers arrive in Cairns for A-Bomb exhibition and peace events

      An impressive line-up of representatives from Hiroshima arrive in Cairns this week as part of the A-Bomb Exhibition at the Tanks Arts Centre.

      In a ceremony at midday on Thursday, Cairns Regional Council Mayor Val Schier will welcome Dr Hiromi Hasai, an atomic bomb survivor, and Ms Chizuko Kawamura and Ms Yasuko Okane from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Peace Culture Foundation.

      This is the first time the A-Bomb exhibition has visited Australia and is in Cairns as part of the Mayor's for Peace project. The War In Profile collection will be at the Tanks until November 16. Organisers warn that some of the exhibitions contain disturbing images of violence and war.


      On Thursday evening Kathy Kelly, a renowned peace activist who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on numerous occasions, will present a forum at the Council's meeting room.

      Kelly is a primary humanitarian relief coordinator and manages on-the-ground operations in Afghanistan. LNP candidate for Cairns Gavin King will be the MC. Many local and state politicians have indicated they will be attending.

      The talk, entitled "The cost of war: The price of peace", starts at 6.30pm on Thursday. Dr Hakim, a medical doctor working in Afghanistan, will join Kathy Kelly. The vent is supported by the Mayor's discretionary fund.

      Cairns Peace by Peace spokeswoman Marci Gryffyn-Spicer says that peace as an issue is far too important for partisan politics to get in the way.

      "63% of Australians want an immediate withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan,'' Marci Gryffyn-Spicer says. ''Kathy Kelly is an outstanding example of what ordinary citizens can achieve, and the people of Cairns can hear her eye-witness testimony about what is happening right now in Afghanistan and the USA."

      84 cites around Australia are participating in the Mayors for Peace campaign.

      Dear Cairns Post subby, what's a ''fool lover's paradise'' ?

      The email that Cr Alan Blake sent on Thursday

      On Thursday Mayor Val Schier sent a message to all Cairns Regional Councillors after Cr Sno Bonneau didn't advise when he was away from Cairns and neither the CEO or Schier was aware where he was.

      CBD division 5 councillor Alan Blake responded angrily.

      "Yeah, I get it. Advise when you are out of town and your political mongrels lodge a CMC claim against you," Blake wrote.

      I don't think anyone needs to wait until a councillor is away from town to lodge a complaint? Surely the CMC doesn't care.

      He went on to write...

      "None of us have any trust in the politics you introduced into this council..... Roll on March 31st."

      The outrage and public anger from Blake comes days after a Crime and Misconduct Complaint was lodged against the Division 5 councillor that is based on at least 14 occasions where he did not declare a conflict before voting.

      He at first called the incident "politically motivated", a day later Blake told the Cairns Post the votes had occurred during a "grey period" when the Local Government Act changed the way councillors declared their interests. He also said Cairns Regional councillors "were confused about their obligations to declare financial interests in the chamber because they hadn’t been properly briefed."

      The CMC investigation will reveal this of course. An almost identical series of complaints against Cr Sno Bonneau will be out within the next month and is expected to reveal serious misconduct, carrying penalties from substantial fines to a prison sentence.

      Both Bonneau and Blake have been a councillor for more than 10 years. Surely they know the protocol, and courtesy to advise the Mayor and CEO when they will be away from Cairns? On a $100,000 salary that we all pay for, and they can't even advise their "boss."

      Here's what Cr Forsyth sent last Wednesday evening...
      • From: Cr Diane Forsyth
        Sent: Wednesday, 12 October 2011 5:46 PM
        To: Lyn Russell; Val Schier
        Cc: Sharon Bennie; Kirsten Lesina
        Subject: Away from Cairns

        Dear Lyn and Val,

        I will be in Brisbane from Friday 14th October for a 2 day ALGWA Qld., executive meeting. I will return to Cairns on Tuesday 18th October, in the morning after taking the opportunity to travel to Sydney Sunday and Monday (to see my grandson and daughter).

        I will have my landline transferred to Sharon Bennie and will be available on mobile and email. I will be away two working days, however, if there is an issue needing urgent attention Cr Lesina can be contacted to assist.

        Kind Regards
        Cr Di Forsyth

        Division 7 Councillor
        PO Box 359, Cairns Q 4870
        P: 07 4044 3077 M: 0438 729 407

      Here's the Mayor's reply, that she copied to all Councillors...
      • From: Val Schier
        Sent: Thursday, 13 October 2011 09:28 AM
        To: All Councillors
        Subject: Re: Away from Cairns


        This is the type of notification that some councillors give me in relation to any absences from the city/region. It ensures that both the CEO and I are informed and that arrangements are in place to respond to any constituent enquiries.


        Cr Val Schier
        Mayor, Cairns Regional Council
        Phone: 07 4044 3083

      Here's Councillor Alan Blake's reply...
      • From: Alan Blake
        Sent: Thursday, 13 October 2011 11:28 AM
        To: Val Schier
        Cc: All Councillors
        Subject: Re: Away from Cairns

        Yeah, I get it. Advise when you are out of town and your political mongrels lodge a CMC claim against you .

        None of us have any trust in the politics you introduced into this council..... Roll on March 31st.

        Councillor Alan Blake
        Cairns Regional Council
        0414 708 529

      Friday, 14 October 2011

      Here's the LNP dirt files on Cairns' MPs

      Here's the infamous LNP dirt files scribed by outsed Labor staffer Robert Hough.

      Hough was paid $3000 to collect information on 49 of Labor’s Queensland MPs. Retiring Desley Boyle and Judy Spence were omitted. When The Courier-Mail published the list, they removed references to the sex lives of MPs; names of their children and schools; allegations of drinking problems.

      Personally, and as a former political staffer in the New Zealand Parliament, this is business as usual. Of course each party wants to know the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents. Newman should have stayed mum on this, as you can bet that Labor have amassed files on Gavin King, as we've seen in the last two weeks. They certainly had a large file on Paul Freebody, mind you, to be fair, a lot of people did.

      I think there's a lot more we could add.

      JASON O’BRIEN Member for Cook
      Faction: Left
      Union: Was ETU

      * Was electrician in the Navy
      * Was member of the ETU but has now been expelled over privatisation
      * Rugby union referee

      * Well known across electorate, travels widely
      * Willingness to use social media, particularly Twitter

      * Can be scandal-prone and gaffe-prone. For example: Winegate, Twitter about child safety. His office has been shot at
      * Can be willing to upset ministers and Caucus colleagues
      * Has not risen up the ranks, there is a level of frustration
      * Not active in Parliament. Sees it has a good place to have a drink

      * Relationship with indigenous community still rocky
      * Service delivery, or lack of it, including infrastructure – particularly roads

      STEVE WETTENHALL Member for Barron River
      Faction: Left

      * Is a qualified solicitor, had own business in Cairns
      * Violin player, plays in local folk festivals
      * Bushwalker
      * Has just done bungee jump in Cairns

      * Will be public face of all good news announcements that Bligh Government does in far north Queensland
      * Presents well and speaks well
      * Preferences from the Greens

      * Bad relationship with ETU, has now resigned over privatisation. Described by ETU as “a monkey”
      * Not seen as a strong member; called “wet” and “no balls”
      * Not particularly active in parliament

      * Will become public face of Cairns economy from a State Government perspective
      * It’s time for a change
      * Aligned with the Mayor

      CURTIS PITT Member for Mulgrave
      Faction: AWU
      Union: QPSU

      * Son of Warren Pitt, former Minister for Main Roads and Local Government in Beattie and Bligh Governments
      * Bachelor of Arts (Politics) from James Cook University
      * Was regional marketing manager for Birch Carroll and Coyle
      * Has photo on website partying with stars of American Pie
      * Was manager of indigenous jobs committee, which was another State Government unmitigated disaster
      * Plays competitive tennis

      * Genuinely nice guy, who is very good listener
      * Will get AWU support and logistics. May get sandbagged to protect him now that he is a minister

      * Part of political dynasty, following in the footsteps of father
      * Well liked in Caucus, though his promotion has ruffled some feathers in the AWU faction such as Kiernan and Choi, who believe they should have a promotion

      ...and here's the dossier on Anna baby...

      ANNA BLIGH MP South Brisbane
      Faction: LEFT
      Union: ASU

      * Got degree from University of Queensland: Bachelor of Arts, majoring in social sciences
      * Ran student election team known as EAT, became vice-president of QLD union, part of team was Rod Welford
      * Protege of Anne Warner, Meredith Burgmann and Peter Beattie
      * Married to Greg Withers. First met in Sydney. First date was Leonard Cohen concert. Greg was a union official in Sydney and flatmate of Greg Combet
      * Eldest of four children, father was alcoholic who left when she 13. Father died in 2002 on Bribie Island. She did not attend funeral
      * Runs marathons, active cyclist
      * Worked as senior policy officer in Department of Education and training involved in EBA negotiations
      * Current ALP federal president

      * Still best person to lead ALP election team, no clear successor
      * Very strong media performer
      * Strong parliamentary performer
      * Loyal ministerial office, good staff relationshi
      * Relatively loyal Caucus
      * High recognition factor
      * Polling had bounced back
      * Union official ASU and LHMU in Sydney
      * Greg Withers is a senior public servant, was also Goss government adviser

      * Government has been in 20 years
      * Relationship with own faction and unions in it including ETU and CFMEU
      * Asset sales
      * Her ministerial record, asbestos in schools, child safety
      * Hospital payroll
      * Federal president of ALP in a conference year
      * Holidays in Sydney that were not declared
      * Financial position of the state
      * Flood reconstruction and flood inquiry
      * Seen as being tricky and liar
      * Can be very volatile, not strong under pressure has tendency to lash out, though she managed the flood issue well

      Wednesday, 12 October 2011

      Racial election billboards installed around Cairns mark election start

      The arrival of massive billboards around Cairns, and across the State, signals the beginning of the Queensland State election.

      The pro-Labor Wilderness Society, that has campaigned for the last three years to support the Queensland Government's Wild Rivers legislation, has fought plans from both LNP and Abbott to overturn the Wild Rivers Act.

      The arrival of the election billboards this week indicate that Labor may call an early election, ahead of a March 2012 date, that will also coincide with local Council elections.

      The regulation and access to Wild Rivers on the Cape York Peninsula is a dividing issue, not so much for those cosy in the city of Cairns or South East Queensland, many who would not even have seen the remote wonderland of the Cape or even tripped over an Aborigine.

      Last year I trekked north to the very tip of Cape York, and spent time talking and listening to the locals, including Mayor of the Northern Peninsula Area, Joseph Elu, who expressed anger at how the State Government had not engaged his people in the process.

      "We're the first people in Queensland that say the Cape rivers need protection, but protection doesn't mean lock up," Joseph Elu told CairnsBlog. "Wild Rivers is very much a lock up situation."

      Mayor Elu said they have river protection covered under conservation covenants and national parks, which is enough protection. He warned that any lock up will only damage the river systems, with many feral pigs and cane toads. He was scathing about the lack of negotiations by the State Labor government over the proposed Wild Rivers legislation.

      "Their way of consulting, is telling us what's going to happen," Joseph Elu said. "They did not come to us when the crucial decision on Wild Rivers were declared. They did not come to us and say why they are doing this. They did this behind closed doors."

      CairnsBlog author, Michael Moore, talks with Northern Peninsula Mayor Joseph Elu.