Sunday, 7 October 2012

Is the media more left or right ?

University of Western Sydney student and social media player, Debski Bebski, whose pages include "Julia Gillard - Worst PM in Australian History", has just produced a startling graphic of Australian media commentators.

When selecting media personalities to appear in this list, they were chosen on being the most read and viewed in Australian media and journalistic content.

The left-hand side indicates those in the media with a "left-wing" agenda.

Those on the right reflect those with a more "right-winged" perspective.

When you have a look at the overall media as a whole, you begin to see how one sided it really is, Debski says.  Particularly when the only "right-wing" programme on TV is Andrew Bolt where as the "left-wing" media have an array of political programs on most TV stations. For some people, TV is the only way they get their information.

Interesting observation.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Saturday SoapBlog - LNP's next target: what you say online

Just a few short months into the new Queensland State Government, numerous community agencies and advocacy groups, along with many Government departments, most notably Health, have been stripped of funding.  

The Environmental Defenders Office, Tenancy Advocacy, Association of Healthy Communities, FNQ Volunteers, are just some of those that are fighting for their financial survival.  Most of these organisations had contrary views to the conservative Liberal government.

Along with new attitudes to stamp their agenda on the political map, the Queensland State government is now looking at controlling how social media is regulated, including blogs, Facebook, Twitter and online discussions.  

Welcome to Joh Bjelke-Petersen Version 2.0.

Late last evening, as the early wet season rain cloud swept across the Cairns coastline, 30-year-old Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said that social media websites must be held accountable for removing content which has the potential to influence trials.

It comes as a working group was formed at yesterday's Standing Council on Law and Justice in Brisbane.

The group will look into what they call a "growing problem" of prejudicial comments in online social media. 

“This issue has reared its head in a number of high-profile cases and it is critical for the State and Federal Governments to act now to prevent further problems,” Jarrod Bleijie said. “Irrespective of the context or forum, nobody should be making comments which could have an impact on a trial before the courts.  The problem goes well beyond the individuals and rests with the social media sites that allow them to be posted."

Bleijie says he wants companies behind the website to work with the Government to help find a solution. 

“Creating laws in this space can be problematic as one blanket law is probably not going to suit every jurisdiction.  There is a real opportunity for these organisations to say ‘we will not let our social media sites participate in these activities’ and they should be proactive on the matter,” Bleijie says.

The announcement comes just days after local Federal MP Warren Entsch exposed the identity behind the anonymous Hillbilly Watch blog, that had attacked him with name-calling and a series of criticisms.  Whilst my CairnsBlog had also targeted Entsch in the past, I had always done this under my name and openly discussed issues that I wanted raised and exposed. My only concerns with online commentators and bloggers is that they contribute openly and transparently, and not behind the veil of secrecy  thereby diminishing their argument and losing respect for their position in contributing to the debate.

The Queensland Government has also expressed serious concerns about the time and cost related to making defamation claims against posts on social media.

“A real problem we have is that some organisations are based overseas and do not have offices in Australia. “This makes it virtually impossible for someone in Queensland to pursue defamation action, Jarrod Bleijie says. "There is a great deal of ground to cover in this area, but this working group is a good start in determining the initial plan of attack.”

Bleijie says the new working group will consult social media organisations, news media organisations, justice officials, law enforcements authorities and the courts, before making recommendations.  However this now concerted effort appears more about censorship and control, that will almost definitely attempt to stifle rigorous, free and open debate in the emerging arena of online discussion.  Politicians like Entsch, fear that social media is one forum with they no longer have control, like that have enjoyed for many years under the rules of the old Fourth Estate.

Cairns, for a long while, was dominated by one newspaper, and with print media steering doing the barrel of their own self-inflicted suicide, the rules and the game of public discussion and criticism have been rewritten without the establishment's involvement or sanction, and it's pissing them off greatly.

When I started CairnsBlog in 2007, there were no blogs or online forums with other views from the stable of NewsLtd, and traditional media hadn't embraced or worked out how to address the desire by the masses to share their views in such a dynamic and interactive way.  Now there's a plethora of blogs in Cairns that caters for everything and anyone, no matter how many brain cells you have.

Such  moves by the State government should ring alarm bells for everyone that wants and encourages free and open debate to criticise, humiliate and debate of politicians without fear or favour and without the worry of the thought police knocking on our doors and telling us what we can say.  After all, it is us the people that own and run the internet, and we will continue to advocate and champion the fundamental right of totally free speech.

It's likely that if Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen were alive today, he would be arranging a same-sex union with Premier Campbell Newman and consummating the marriage on the first night.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Fires on Cairns Sunbus subject of urgent investigation

Here's some photos from today's Sunbus fire, near the corner of Airport Drive, on the Captain Cook Highway, Cairns. 

This is the second fire on a local Sunbus, in recent weeks, and the Transport Workers Union have launched an inquiry into the safety of local Cairns buses.

 During today's incident, about 10 passengers were onboard at the time of the incident.

Delfin Lend Lease ‘No corporate citizen’ for South Cairns - Cr Rob Pyne

Cairns Regional Councillor Rob Pyne has criticised Delfin Lend Lease for the failure to fully consult with the community in relation to the sale of their iconic sales office on Forest Gardens Boulevard. 

"I'm bitterly disappointed that the company rejected an offer from local community group, St. John’s Community Care, to purchase the building for community use,” Cr Pyne said.

”St. John’s provides support to the frail aged and people with disabilities as well as a range of home and community care services in the Far North.”

Delfin Lend Lease also owns and manages Cairns Central shopping centre in the heart of Cairns.

Theo Bacalakis of St. Johns confirmed their proposal was rejected outright.

"We submitted a formal offer to purchase the property, only to be advised that Delfin had declined our offer to purchase the property, in favour of an offer from a private developer," Theo Bacalakis said.

St. Johns is a not-for-profit charitable and benevolent institution, and doesn't rely on Government grants to provide the infrastructure necessary for its community services.  It does however receive substantial government funding to provide direct support to its clients.

“The Delfin Forest Gardens property is the ideal location for St. Johns,"  Rob Pyne says.  "It has good access for those people of the southern corridor who need to access the community centre for services, and to combat any social isolation that they experience."

"The property also has a building that would ideally meet the need of those people who would use the Centre.  I am sure Cairns Council would have considered supporting the St. John’s bid, but we were not given the opportunity," Pyne said.

Pyne says that the community benefit of St. John’s proposal would not have disadvantaged Delfin Lend Lease financially.

"The community benefit would have been considerable.  There is very strong support within the community for this centre to remain for that community purposes, so I certainly call on Lend Lease to reconsider the St. John’s offer,” Rob Pyne said.

LNP must declare views on Crime and Misconduct Commission changes

LNP MPs should publicly declare their views on Queensland’s Crime and Misconduct Commission, Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk says, following revalations about a private meeting between Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney and Mr Douglas, the immediate past chair of the Parliamentary CMC Committee.

“It is time all Newman Government MPs let Queenslanders know if they support the shadowy plans of the Premier and Deputy Premier to somehow interfere with the CMC or if they support the views of backbencher Alex Douglas who has said the CMC is operating well,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney says he plans to have a private chat with Mr Douglas who as the immediate past chair of the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee has openly expressed confidence in the CMC."

“The fact the Deputy Premier thinks Mr Douglas’s comments warrant a private discussion only adds to the air of uncertainty over the government’s plans for the CMC’s governing legislation."

“Why does an MP’s statement that the CMC has been acting fairly suddenly spark a private visit from his party’s deputy leader unless Mr Seeney is somehow trying to change Mr Douglas’s mind?” Ms Palaszczuk said.

The Labor Opposition says Mr Douglas was well informed on the status and operations of the CMC because of his service as chair of the PCMC during the last term of State Parliament.

“Mr Douglas was PCMC chair and had access to all the information the all-party parliamentary committee had before it when it conducted its regular review of the CMC,” she said. “It is well past time LNP MPs said where they stand on the CMC. We have heard from Mr Douglas now we need to hear from all the others.”

Bus on fire, Cairns airport road

The access to Airport Drive, the Captain Cook highway is closed due to a bus that has caught fire. The bus caught fire on the inbound lanes of the Captain Cook Highway near Cairns Airport Drive. Both inbound lanes are now closed. Motorists are urged to avoid the area and use the Cairns Western Arterial Road until the situation is resolved.