Monday 30 January 2012

Enrolment closes tomorrow

If you are yet to enrol as a first-time voter, or you details need to be updated, you have until tomorrow to do so.

Take a moment to check your enrolment.

Friday 27 January 2012

Wendy Richardson withdraws from Barron River race

Four-time political candidate, Wendy Richardson, has said she will not contest the Baron River seat at the upcoming State election, due to family matters.

Richardson, who won on the primary vote in the last State election, but preferences from the Greens favoured Labor's Steve Wettenhall, said it was a "very difficult decision."

“I have been very committed to providing honest, decent and hard-working representation in government, and I still have great faith that this can be achieved by the right individuals,” Wendy Richardson said. “However, my partner has new work opportunities away from Cairns for a while, and family rightly comes first in these considerations."

Richardson, who still has a working farm on the Atherton Tablelands, will continue to undertake her speech pathology services in the Far North.

“The well-being of the people of my home town of Cairns and its beautiful surrounding region will always be very important to me, and I will stay involved politically, though from the sidelines for the time being,” Richardson says. “I am very happy to see other worthy candidates running in the region and wish them well in maintaining their resolve to fight for the best for the electorate and the region.”

“Standing for election is far harder than most people imagine; it requires massive personal input of time, energy, resilience, and financial resources in order to even have a chance. But most of all, I believe it requires strength of character to withstand the public’s understandable skepticism about anyone putting their hand up for election.”

“I would like to see the public rally behind good candidates, helping them to maintain their integrity, not demeaning them before they even start," she said today. "However, I’m sure others feel too that it is high time for politicians and parties everywhere to lift their game; to do what they were elected to do – simply, properly and effectively.”

“Politics should be about a contest of ideas, not the contest of personalities we currently see.”

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Premier Bligh explains election date choice

Here's in Premier Anna Bligh's statement on the State election announcement, and how this will affect the Local Government elections.

The current Parliament will enter ''caretaker mode'' on February 19th and will seek to move the upcoming local government elections to late April or early May. The deferral of the State election was made after Bligh received a request from the Floods Commission of Inquiry for an extension of time until the 16th of March to complete the report.
  • "The Commission and the Commissioners have my full support in their decision to hold further hearings and in their request for an extension of time," Premier Anna Bligh said. "I established this inquiry because I wanted answers about the circumstances of the floods. I said I would leave no stone unturned and I meant it."

    "My family and the people I love, live in this city and, like every other Queenslander I want the truth about what happened last year. It
    had been my intention to call the state election for a March 3rd or 10th - after the COI report had been due for release, giving the public the opportunity to consider the report and the responses of the major parties to the recommendations."

    "It is not now possible to do that without denying Queenslanders the opportunity to consider the Commission of Inquiry Report," she said.

    "So, I intend to call the 2012 State election for Saturday the 24th of March – giving the public time to consider the findings of the inquiry. I
    intend to visit the Governor on Sunday the 19th of February to ask her to dissolve the Parliament and issue the writs for a 24th March election.

    "This would make the State election date just one week prior to the scheduled Local Government elections on March 31," she said.

    "I don’t believe that would be fair to local candidates or to the public and the LGAQ themselves have described the prospect of simultaneous state and local government campaigns as disastrous."

    "Local government is entitled to be consulted on this proposed change and I have instructed the Attorney General and Minister for Local Government to do so today.

    "But I will make it clear that the deferral of local government elections will be for the shortest reasonable period - most likely to be late April or early May and a final date will be agreed before the end of this month."

    "For local government, I understand that this will cause some political inconvenience and I regret that these unusual and unpredictable circumstances have given rise to this decision.
    However, for those who suffered in the floods and are still living with the consequences, there is much more at stake here than mere inconvenience.

    "What is at stake here is the truth about the cause of our floods and that matters to its victims. It also goes to the heart of the future safety of our State and its people."

Queensland election March 24, Council election late April

The Queensland State election has been called for Saturday March 24, with local Council election expected late April or even early May.

This will provide a long two-month election campaign.

Premier Bligh's announcement also suggested she wanted to go to the polls on March 3rd, however wanted to grant an extension to the 2011 flood inquiry to examine new claims that the Wivenhoe dam was mismanaged.

The decision to delay the flood report will anger many as it is very likely Anna Bligh and Labor will be dumped at the State election, well before the investigation reveals the State Government's serious management that exacerbated the death toll.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Former Val Schier candidate, Richie Bates, joins Bob Manning's Unity team

Trade Union and Labor activist Richie Bates, has joined the Unity team to contest the central city division 5 seat for Cairns Regional Council.

Bates will join a team headed by former Cairns Ports chief Bob Manning, who will contest the mayoralty.

"Cairns needs a collaborative and disciplined Council, one that will work together for the benefit of the region," said Richie Bates, who has been outspoken in recent weeks about the current Council's inability to work together over issues like the Cairns Entertainment Precinct.

Richie Bates says the Unity team represents a diverse group.

''It is a team that is broadly representative of the community and ready to govern for all," Bates says. "Bob Manning has shown courage and passion by bringing together a cohesive team of people from a range of backgrounds and expertise."

"Unfortunately, independent candidates have not delivered the cooperative approach needed to restore confidence and prosperity to this city," Richie Bates says. "The Cairns region deserves much better and now is the time to return to a united team for the community, Unity 2012 is that team."

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Jetstar forgets Cairns again

Budget airline Jetstar has again left Cairns off their website.

Bree Haigh from Hot FM was trying to book flights today when Cairns as a departure origin point was not recognised on Jetstar's online booking website.

''The website is proving very frustrating today. Cairns doesn't seem to be a valid departure destination,'' Bree Haigh said. ''Whatever. You know what I mean. I have tried with [other browsers) and other departure points seem to be working."

Jetstar have responded and appologised.

"Thanks for letting us know. Sorry about that," a representative from Jetstar Australia said. "We've got our IT team currently working on this now.''

Another local has reported a similar error on Virgin's website with their happy hour discounts.

Jetstar have offered traveller a 'simplified version' of their booking site. Over the last three years, thousands of travellers have vented their airline goofs and mishaps on Don't Fly Jetsar.

Another embrassing error was exposed from the Jetstar website, in a write-up about Cairns, that has since been completely re-written...
  • Introducing Cairns

    Mangrove boardwalks and croc-infested rivers by the airport, busy retail areas bursting with Ken Done clothes and stuffed koalas, and a unique tropical air make Cairns a spread-out city of surprises.

    The beautifully designed and perfectly located lagoon on the Esplanade is an attempt to make up for the fact that waterfront Cairns doesn’t actually have a beach, and when the sun comes out so do locals and backpackers, creating a bikini-clad mirage in the city centre.

    Cairns can be a boom or bust town, depending on who’s flying whom in; Japanese and Korean tourists are well catered for, and everyone’s offered a good ol’ Aussie time in the nightclubs and hostels. It’s a city where the casino doubles as a rainforest, and you can walk straight from the nightclub to the pier and catch one of the many morning boats that make the daily island or reef, diving or snorkelling pilgrimage.
The same error occurred in April last year when Jetstar left Cairns off for a long period over a weekend from the booking system. They explained that the ''temporary issue'' was associated with the cutover to an improved website.

"We’re confident that all our customers will appreciate the improvements we've delivered to make the website even more user friendly while also giving it a fresh new look," Jetstar said at the time.

''It has now been fully repaired,'' Jetstar Australia said. Apparently not.

Thursday 12 January 2012

February Queensland State election likely

Party insiders on both sides of Queensland politics are predicting a late February poll for the State election, with bets on the 18th or 25th.

The early date is the most likely to avoid a clash with the State-wide local body Council elections that is expected to be held on March 31st.

Although the State election can be held as late as May or June, it is thought that Labor is now preparing for an early election ahead of the Council polls which could have a negative vote against Labor candidates, that would then reflect in the State election.

This will allow the minimum period to adjourn Parliament with a 26 day campaign, so an announcement next Tuesday is probable. Brisbane media have been tagging Premier Bligh in recent days as she prepares for her last visit to 168 Fernberg Road, Paddington.

Get ready for nearly three months of political election spin from what is brewing up to be a massive change of government at all levels with already a huge lineup of declared wannabee pollies.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Cr Lanskey will not contest Cairns Council election

First-term councillor for the south-side communities of Bentley Park, Edmonton and Mount Sheridan, Nancy Lanskey, has said she will not contest the March local body election, and that she wished to spend more time with her family.

The Division recorded one of the narrowest in the 2008 Council election race with just 12 votes between the Hambledon and Edmonton polling booths. Local hardware store businessman Jeff Martinuzzi, who ran under Val Schier's Cairns 1st banner, after preferences recorded 2,500 or 49.45% against Lanskey's 2,556 or 50.55%, a 56 votes margin.

Kaye Kingham was the only other candidate to contest the last election with 26.98% of the vote.

This year's election has already attracted a strong line-up for the division 2 seat.

Jeff Martinuzzi will again throw his hat in the ring along with Piccones IGA assistant manager Paul Drabble, who is seeking more accountability from councillors, CEO and Council staff. Drabble is a former chef and has a diploma in retail management.

Mother of three who has worked in retail for 15 years, with strong Labor party links, Leigh Dall’Osto, will also contest the seat. She has also worked as Victorian State Manager of Street One and for Gold Coast Gas and the Marine Park Authority.

Recently Nancy Lanskey bequeathed all her election sign corflutes to Leigh Dall’Osto, a signal that she intended not to run again.

''Nancy would have been difficult to beat as she had done many things right in her term on Council," Leigh Dall’Osto said. “She was involved in getting many of the existing parks in this area re-furbished and she attended meetings of all sectors in the community so that she could stay abreast of any potential concerns. She also worked very hard on plans for the Edmonton town centre.''

Division 2 is one of the fastest-growing areas in North Queensland and will require a representative who will give the community the attention and time it needs. Dall’Osto says that person also has to have the ability to work with the rest of Council to get better outcomes for the entire region.

“Consultation and collaboration are extremely important facets of the job. The ability to work well with other tiers of Government is also important as there are many areas within the region where sectors of Government overlap,” Ms Dall’Osto says.

Dall’Osto said that both "Paul and Jeff are good candidates, so it's going to be difficult to win, even without Nancy."

"I just need to concentrate on doing what I do best, meeting people and listening to them, working on solutions and getting my messages across."

She said that the campaign was in danger of turning ugly, but ''that's not me.''

''I have a great deal of respect for anyone who decides to run for election. It's not an easy thing to do and the commitment required is quite extraordinary,'' Leigh Dall’Osto said. ''Nancy went into this for the right reasons initially and community minded people are our biggest assets.

Local Labor Party member Chris Rollason, says Dall’Osto is ready to be a councillor.

"Nancy knew she wouldn't get in, she didn't want to look like a sore loser," Rollason said today. ''Leigh [is] going to win this election, and I encourage all residents of Division 2 to get behind her."

Paul Drabble has been an outspoken critic of the Cairns Entertainment Precinct.

''We need a council of strong, results driven people who are willing to listen to our constituents, who thrive on feedback and are willing to take a stand for those they represent,'' Paul Drabble says. ''It is about being able to work with our CEO and Council officers to break through the red tape and constrictions. It is about putting in place the future policies and budgets that are sustainable for our growing region.''

''I want to work with all areas of Council and look at simplifying our practices and removing or replacing those that are cumbersome or inadequate for the future of this great city.''

Drabble also questioned Richie Bates, who is running again in the city-based Division 5 seat, who says that independents are to blame for the present dysfunction of Council.

Bates says that the approach most needed from our elected representatives is a collaborative and collegiate approach to governance.

'' I'm still hearing very little from the independents as to how they will work together and
build a collaborative and collegiate approach to running this city. 'The current councillors have failed dismally at this, and it is this issue above all that has laid the foundation for an under-performing and dysfunctional council," Richie Bates said. ''The recent misconduct allegations against councillors Blake and Bonneau are testimony to this. Unfortunately, we risk more of the same when we re-elect independents who have no strategy, enthusiasm or understanding of working in a diverse team.''

Paul Drabble says the truth is pseudo-ALP and LNP independents are at the core of the problem

''True independents like myself who have never had politic party affiliations and are self funding, with polices to remove party politics from local council, decrease red tape and the bureaucracy, listen to the majority and have the skills to succeed.''

Paul Drabble says he will not be taking any donations from any individual, business, developer or party toward his campaign.

''All candidates donation lists should be completed three days before an election and publicly posted,'' Drabble says. ''Then maybe people would really see who is pulling the strings. Many Council candidates say they are independent but really when you look back past the frontage you find many are now unwilling to present as candidates for parties who now have the ire of the voting public, often wonder why do those who purport to be so morally right yet are unwilling to present with the logo of their party allegiances in their media.''

''The deceptive nature of modern politics is itself a failure of the system to regulate properly. One must always remember there is a fine line between the truth and a good story in politics in North Queensland," Paul Drabble said.

Talk to the community about City Place Queensland Transport

The opening of City Place to buses is a lethal danger to tourists and other pedestrians, the coordinator campaign to save City Place says.

Last Friday two Japanese women aged in their 20s were knocked to the ground on Lake Street by a Sunbus, with one woman suffering severe leg injuries and the other spinal injuries. One was trapped under the bus for some time. The windscreen of the bus had a significant dent presumably from the impact of the head of one of the women.

Machans Beach resident Geoff Holland is campaigning to retain pedestrian control over City Place says this is a timely and serious warning.

"Do not open City Place up to buses in what is claimed will be a 'shared space' between pedestrians and 'slow-moving' buses," he says.

The Woolshed and P J O'Brien's pubs successfully lobbied Queensland Transport to get rid of the plan to have cars turning left into Shields St in front of their respective premises because of the danger to their merry clientele.

"Why is the same criterion not being applied to City Place?" Geoff Holland asks. "Where the merry clientele wander across City Place between The Woolshed and P J O'Briens - two of three most popular venues for young backpackers in Cairns. These backpackers and other tourists are not familiar with traffic conditions here, and this proposal would create a very ambiguous and dangerous zone."

Geoff Holland says public comments suggest that Japanese tourists do not respect traffic lights.

"So are we going to run a crash course on crossing the road for each tourist landing at Cairns Airport, or are we going to minimise risks and make sensible planning decisions?" Holland says. "In this abominable plan to open City Place to buses by Queensland Transport, there will not even be a pedestrian crossing or traffic lights."

"The plan to open City Place to buses is unnecessary and has nothing to do with building a more efficient and user-friendly bus network in Cairns. It is about time decision-makers in Queensland Transport in Brisbane came to Cairns and talked with the community," Geoff Holland says.

"It is about time Councillors in Cairns stood up to pressure from State Government and admit that opening City Place to buses is a stupid idea."