Thursday 31 May 2012

It's Cairns' famous 28 million dollar billboard

Here's the remaining memory of 9 years of Cairns Council arguing, at least 12 reports and procrastination. 

Bureaucratic bullshit and political pandering at it's best.  And let's not forget the cool $28,000,000 wasted on a 5 meter billboard on Wharf Street that we all now proudly own.

Thanks to Zach Bickhoff for the photo.

Friday 25 May 2012

Public protest at "third-world" Cairns Hospital construction site

The state of the building site at the Cairns Base Hospital has alarmed concerned local who claim it resembles.

A public protect picket will be held this morning to highlight a number of serious safety concerns and sloppy work practices.

Janine Aitken says that you will only see ''jumps'' this old in third-world countries.

"Builders on the Base Hospital construction site are ignoring fundamental safety matters with inferior products being used."

"I saw a worker throwing building materials including large bits of wood and metals from the top yellow platform over the edge," Janine Aitken says.

"I also saw another worker leaning right over the edge to drill something with no harness.  I then observed the same guy do some welding without any welding screens put up."

Aitken says she also saw another worker propped up a ladder with no safety measures.

"He climbed on down, no harness, no three points of contact, no safety at all.  The fact is our ambo's are going to have to find a way to reach these clowns if they are injured and there is no safety exits.  It's a joke."

The Cairns Base Hospital redevelopment is a $500 million dollar project.

"It's being done on the cheap," Aitken says.   "If we don't stand up for this, we will spend the next 20 years band-aiding it because it wasn't done properly the first place.

The construction is being undertaken by Abigroup, one of Lend Lease companies operating in Australia.   They were selected in 2010 as the managing contractor to redevelop Cairns Base Hospital which involves the new clinical services building and the refurbishment of the existing Blocks A, B and C.

Abigroup’s Queensland manager Steve Abson said at the time of being awarded the contract that Abigroup was committed to maintaining Queensland Health’s service delivery to the Cairns community throughout the delivery of the project.”

"The project will require detailed planning and coordination due to significant space constraints and the sensitivity of working in a hospital precinct environment," Steve Abson said.

Now there is an urgent call for building inspectors to intervene on the construction site.

"This construction is third world style, with inferior jumps, materials, and safety is being ignored with  workers being bullied," Janine Aitken says.

Bryan Law tells court glad he disarmed $80m Australian Army helicopter

Cairns peace activist Bryan Law, who disabled an Australian Army Tiger attack helicopter with a blow from a garden mattock during the Talisman Sabre war games last year, has appeared in the Rockhampton Court.

Bryan Law is defending himself and he expects the outcome of the appearance will be a "hand-up committal" to stand trial in the District Court at some future date.

He is up on two Commonwealth charges of willful damage and threatening an aircraft.

His accomplice, Graeme Dunstan, was committed to trial on a charge of willful damage on 10th May.

Law did the damage in the spirit of the Isaiah biblical prophesy to "turn swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks."

He is unrepentant.

“I’m glad I did it, your Honour," he told Magistrate Cameron Press.  “I’m glad that for however brief a moment that infernal helicopter death machine couldn’t fly. Couldn’t be used as a weapon."

"In a time of depraved warfare in Afghanistan and of military slavery to the US empire, I’m glad I made this witness to the prophecy of Isaiah and the promise of our saviour Jesus Christ."

"We must disarm."

The matter was committed to trial that is expected to be set in the next six months.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Rowing, Guide Dogs and Endeavour Foundation, big winners in funding allocation

The latest funding round from the Queensland Gambling Community Benefit Fund, has seen some local organisations receive support for new projects.

Ruth's Women's Shelter in Cairns has received $4,900  to install a solar electricity system.  YMCA Marlin Coast has been awarded $5,000 for a facility upgrade.

AFL Cairns Women's League will get $3,700 for a computer, and the Cairns Community Kindergarten and Preschool  $6,370 to create a new nature area.

The Cairns Photographic Society receives $2,900 to purchase AV equipment.

However the big local winners are the Cairns Rowing Club, who will build a new shed and purchase equipment with a $28,000 grant.   The Cairns Endeavour Foundation has been awarded $32,000 to construct an activity area, and $32,000 will go to the Cairns Branch of Guide Dogs.

A total of 34 Cairns and Far North Queensland community groups have received funding from the Gambling Community Benefit Fund quarterly allocation of $500,000.  The fund uses taxes from Golden Casket lotteries, wagering, keno and gaming machines to pay out grants of up to $35,000 to community organisations.

There are four annual funding rounds, with closing dates of 28th February, 31st May, 31st August and 30th November.

Saturday 19 May 2012

Saturday SoapBlog: Rob Pyne - Election wasn't referendum on Cairns Entertainment Precinct

Robert Pyne was one of only three Cairns Regional Councillors to be returned in the sweeping political change delivered at the recent local body elections.

He says the dramatic change that voters delivered was less about the Cairns Entertainment Precinct debate and more about former Mayor Val Schier's inability to hold the disjointed Council together. 

I have been pondering the attitude that the election was a referendum on the CEP.  It was a small factor only.

People tell me that the reasons that Val Schier didn’t get re-elected was the perception that she had been unable to control a council of independents and that the Cairns Regional Council was dysfunctional.

This of course was not the truth, but it’s all about perceptions created.

Belief that new Mayor Bob Manning is an experienced businessman and will have the skills to create more jobs, reduce unemployment, stimulate business etc

The perception that Val Schier was a liar – she said she wouldn’t put up rates and she did, no-one wanted to know that every Council in Queensland had put up rates as well.

There was also a perception that she was too arty-farty and green and doesn’t understand about the economy.

Another perception was the poor image created by the first two and a half years from The Cairns Post and their anti-Val journalism with sustained attacks by former reporter-turned Cairns MP, Gavin King, right up until he resigned.  

4CA morning talkback host John Mackenzie mounted a campaign against Val Schier and the Council for four years, and also in his daily commentary during his weekly 7 News stint.

Then there was the undermining by councillors who constantly leaked information to the media.  It wasn’t until Andrew Holman’s term as Post editor and professional journos like Brad Ryan and Daniel Strudwick were employed, that there was fair reporting.  Holman created a culture that stopped the trivial tit-for-tat leaks that had been a feature of the first couple of years.

There was also some misogyny: “we’ve got rid of Anna Bligh, we’ll get rid of Val Schier and then we’ll get rid of Gillard;” “we’ve given women a chance and they’ve blown it.”

Some anti-Labor sentiment; “Schier’s a Labor lackey”

Other factors on a global level in Greece, the EU, USA, and national fear  about the economy and finances, drove people back to conservatives and stability.  They think that back to basics is the way to go and are afraid of vision.

Fear also generated by the CEP that we don’t need it and we can’t afford it; or 'It’s going to break the council,' all favoured a backlash against the status quo.

Then there was amalgamation.  Bill Shannon was one of only three mayors of the amalgamated Councils across Queensland who survived.  Brad Carter in Rockhampton and Peter Taylor – a conservative – in Toowoomba, each got only 15% of the vote and there weren’t any CEPs in sight in their area.

The majority of sitting mayors were defeated and they didn’t have large entertainment project on their books, which showed a general backlash against incumbents.

Val didn’t have a snowflakes chance in hell of winning and the Cairns Entertainment Precinct had very little to do with it.

Friday 18 May 2012

Tourist bus rolls on Mowbray River Road, Port Douglas, with multiple injuries

There has been a serious traffic crash involving a passenger bus on the Mowbray River Road, near Port Douglas, around 7pm this evening.

Police at the scene said it is a serious traffic incident where the bus rolled and confirmed there was have said there are multiple injuries.

The bus was enroute to Flames of the Forest, a popular night-time outdoor rainforest restaurant along the Mowbray River.

Between 20-35 passengers were on board.  No injuries are believed to be life-threatening at this stage and are currently being treated at the scene with some being transported to hospital.

The Mowbray River Road is situated about 20 kilometers south of Port Douglas, off the Captain Cook Highway.

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Mayor Bob Manning addresses new Cairns Regional Council

Newly elected Cairns Mayor Bob Manning, addressed Cairns Regional Council today.  Here's his full speech...

NEW TEAM   The new Cairns Regional Council  -  Mayor - Bob Manning OAMDivision 1 - Steve BrainDivision 2 - John SchillingDivision 3 - Rob PyneDivision 4 - Terry JamesDivision 5 - Richie BatesDivision 6 - Linda CooperDivision 7 - Max O'HalloranDivision 8 - Jessie RichardsonDivision 9 - Greg FennellDivision 10 - Julia Leu, with CEO Lyn Russell.    Photo: CRC

I recognise within our midst today Ron Davis AM, a former Mayor of Cairns.  Apologies have been received from Hon Warren Entsch MP Federal Member for Leichhardt; and Mr & Mrs Ron Ireland OAM – an outstanding citizen of this city and a dear friend and mentor.
I also recognise former councillors of the Cairns City Council, Mulgrave Shire Council and Cairns Regional Council; Citizens of the Year awardees; and a number of people who in a number of capacities have given sterling service to this city over many years.
I also acknowledge the family and friends of elected members who are here today to share in this meeting.

Firstly, on behalf of the newly elected Council assembled here this morning, I wish to thank you for attending this statutory meeting. Whilst this is a very significant moment in the lives of those people in whom you have placed your trust and confidence for the next four years, I recognise that this is also a very important and indeed an historic event in the life of this city and its people.  

It is important to celebrate events such as these. It is not just about pomp and ceremony, but about a declaration of trust. 

Today’s celebration reflects the importance of local government and its relevance in the modern political arena.  

We can also celebrate something many take for granted, and that is the ability for the community to instigate change. The recent elections on both a State and local level sends a resounding message from the community for a mandate to restore confidence and stimulate growth within our region and we do not take to this task lightly.  

On behalf of the team of councillors who sit in front of me, I acknowledge and accept the enormous trust you have demonstrated in us and on behalf of this elected group I commit ourselves to not disappoint you nor to let you down. 

At this early point I wish to acknowledge the contribution of the former Mayor Val Schier and her Council over the past four years. It is never easy to be involved in public life, let alone at a time when many unfavourable externalities impact the community. 
I extend to Val and the retiring Councillors best wishes in respect of their future endeavours.

Today’s meeting signals the beginning of a new administration.
There are a couple of points that I want to make very clear, and up front, in regards to the current make-up of the elected Council:

Firstly, the people of Cairns have elected a majority team to this Council and I will address that point a little more fully later.

Secondly, I am committed to leading an apolitical Council, and in this regard, my door will always be open to all. I recognise the democratic decision made by the electors of Divisions 1, 3, 6 and 10 and welcome their representatives as equals in every respect.

I believe the local government election result sent a clear message to us all. The people of the Cairns Regional Council area have spoken very clearly about what they expect from their Council over the next four years. 

Voters have told us that they will not stand for a dysfunctional Council; they will not accept lost opportunity; and they will not accept a divided Council which demonstrates internal bitterness and infighting.

We (each of us who have been elected) have an overriding responsibility to serve this Council to the very best of our ability, at all times placing our corporate responsibility before any personal, sectional or other interest. This concept is fundamental to everything we do and the manner in which we act.

Put simply, if we are true to this fundamental principal, then we will have done our best for this region and its people, and we will look back over this term of Council with a great sense of achievement and satisfaction.

During the election campaign, Unity gave five key pledges which will underpin Council’s operations and performance over this coming four-year term.
I repeat these pledges today because our compliance with these will be the yardstick by which we will be measured. They will also be the beacon by which we and management will operate –

1) To deliver a cost competitive Council with an emphasis on achieving a low cost base operation and efficient and friendly service delivery
2) The restoration of business confidence in our city and region with a view to attracting investment, generating business activity and creating jobs and opportunity for all – Australia and Asia Pacific will know that Cairns is ‘open for business’
3) Placing the highest priority on re-establishing Cairns as a safe and friendly place to visit and live
4) Working with State and Federal Governments, the private sector and other bodies to diversify our regional economy with particular emphasis for example on, tourism, defence, marine industries, aviation, international education, agriculture, mining, tropical expertise, retailing and sports tourism
5) The restoration of funding levels to properly maintain Council's assets

Implicit within the above pledges is a commitment to deliver our region a new performing arts centre during the term of this council. This will not be an easy task, but it will be done. I fully appreciate the disappointment of those who supported the Cairns Entertainment Precinct in its current form, the promotion of which became a divisive issue within the community. 

Your Council will work to address this matter in association with the State and Federal Governments, and with a view to ensuring a sensible and proper consultation process is undertaken, with the commencement of works as soon as possible - and in accordance with Council’s affordability. It behoves us all to now get on with this task in a new spirit of co-operation and understanding.

Similarly, Council will work with the State Government in not opposing the de-amalgamation of the former Douglas Shire should it be determined by the State Government that de-amalgamation is to occur. In the interim, Council will work closely with all residents of Division 10 in particular those within the former Douglas Shire, to ensure that they are not disadvantaged in any way whilst a final decision is being made. This will include a review of the proposed Port Douglas Waterfront Project in consultation with the Port Douglas community and affected stakeholders with a view to establishing a ‘go forward’ program and commitment as soon as possible. This project is considered vital to the future of Port Douglas and Tropical North Queensland.

I mention these two issues because they have served to divide this community like nothing I have seen before. As a Council and as a community we need to work together to resolve these complex matters. 

In recent years, this region has lost much of its ‘punch’ in economic terms. We have lost industries and many of our larger companies who were significant employers within our community. Our economic base is now far too narrowly focussed, and business confidence has suffered greatly. 

And yet we do have opportunities, and many of them, to re-establish and re-invigorate our regional economy. I am confident that with broad based support and co-operation, Cairns and Tropical North Queensland will again establish itself as one of the nation’s leading regions. The challenge for us is to not wilt, but to press on with a strong commitment to the task at hand. This in the past is what we have been known for.

This is a time for solid leadership and hard work, and I am totally confident that within our community we have this capacity. 

It's also a time for action and a ‘yes we can’ attitude by Councillors and staff as we join together as a team to work cohesively for the betterment of the entire region.

It is often the case that during challenging times good people rise to that challenge.

To my fellow councillors, and with you representative citizens of Cairns present here today as our witnesses, I say, let us together now resolve to get on with the job of restoring confidence and fostering growth which we have been given by the people of this great region, and let us be prepared to be judged in due course on what we do, and what we achieve.