01 July 2015


When Tony Fung first blew into Cairns on his magic carpet, he filled the air with pixie dust and tales of riches beyond our wildest dreams.

Mayor Sleepy "Bob" Manning is still inhaling deeply.  

News comes today that the US$4B Baha-Mar project in the Bahamas has collapsed, with the resort 90% completed.  (Or 10% uncompleted, for you glass-half-empty types).

Cause of the collapse has been laid directly at the feet of the Chinese - the Chinese financiers and contractors.  The building contractor, China State Construction Engineering Corporation had never before built a resort of this scale.  Continuing delays have come in part due to failed inspections and faulty construction leading to Baha-Mar seeking bankruptcy protection.  Labor strife between the imported Chinese construction workers and the Bahamian workers also was rampant.  Unemployment hovers at about 15% in the Bahamas, and the Chinese workers were known as "the prisoners" in the Bahamas with them forbidden to go to the Bahamian beaches or towns - and also forbidden to spend their wages in the local economy.

China's model of shipping in workers for overseas construction projects (which is a possibility under the Tony Abbott "Free Trade" agreement with Mainland China) mean that it likely is not going to work everywhere.  

It's thought that the collapse has been at the hands of the Chinese government, who are also financiers of this project along with others around the world.

In fact the Chinese frenzy of development on these kinds of projects looks to be coming to an end, with the Chinese government looking to impose strict currency restrictions on travelers.

Keep breathing the pixie dust, Sleepy.  Your continued cheerleading for Fung (an the other Chinese developer failures in Kewarra Beach and Double Island) is stalling any REAL development in Cairns.

16 June 2015


Well, another rail vs. vehicle crash.


While we don't claim to know the facts surrounding this crash, the underlying cause is crystal-clear.  Despite years of level crossing crashes around the state and successive governments (ALP & LNP) both pledging to address the issue, it would seem the only level crossings that have received necessary upgrades are in the southern part of the state.

Funny that.

After the Cardwell Tilt Train crash in 2008 (who in their right mind has an unprotected crossing of a major rail line with the main national highway anyway?), the Blight government pledged to bridge this crossing.  Andrew Cripps, then Member for Hinchinbrook, acknowledged that Queensland is 'far behind the rest of the country' in level crossing safety measures.

Indeed, a year later, a truck driver was killed at an ungated crossing at Mundoo.  Blight said that a "task force" was underway to ensure that the most hazardous crossings were upgraded - especially those in urban areas.

Cairns has had crashes, including one serious crash just last year.  Kuranda train engineers tell of daily near-misses.

So how do the results of this "task force" get rural, south Queensland upgraded and something on a  major Cairns street gets nothing?


We all know the answer.  Years and years of ineffective and impotent representation by our local officials and a general attitude of neglect by all levels of government.

13 June 2015


The "Serves You Right" cafe explosion and fire is a terrible tragedy.  With one fatality, and many, many more seriously injured, the scars on the victims and the community will never heal.

The most common things we heard around town.  "Such a freak accident".  "One in a million".  The explosion was apparently caused by a ute that drove into gas bottles that look to have been sitting directly adjacent to the rear service entrance to the business.  The QPS have announced that they are "conducting an investigation of the driver".   An investigation that focuses on the driver without looking at the broader issue of LPG gas storage is shortsighted.

But was it a "freak accident"?  We don't think so.  But we've got an idea.

There is NO proper regulation of gas bottle installation, storage, and use in Queensland.  And when we started to make enquires after the tragedy about the regulations surrounding the commercial use of high-pressure gas bottles, we were met with government agencies all trying to point the finger of blame at someone else.

LPG (also known as propane) is used extensively commercially in Queensland.  With little reticulated natural gas available (a huge shortcoming in the Australian energy use profile), LPG is in demand by users that need high heating capability.  Restaurants, hotels, laundromats, and others use LPG. 

Gas bottle explosions are not uncommon, and increasing in frequency. 

A cursory look around the Cairns area has revealed the extremely dangerous situation that lack of regulation and/or regulatory enforcement has created.  Government again is asleep at the switch.


The Queensland Fire Service website, with thousands of pages of information, has NO guidelines on the management of LPG systems - either residentially or commercially.  QFS is responsible for safety inspections of businesses, aren't they?  They refused to answer this question for us.  How can this be?

Queensland State Development has a Planning Policy Guideline (apparently not compulsory) called "Guidance on Development Involving Hazardous Chemicals" - this includes LPG. The guideline is essentially a lot of finger-pointing at other agencies and lists of "self-assesible" uses.   Essentially it says "there are other international standards that specify example design and construction guidelines for such storage and handling systems and their associated safety design features".  They referred us to Australian Standard AS-1940.  

Government gobbledygook that essentially says "we don't care".

Cairns Council says they don't do building safety inspections, either on new buildings (private certifiers) or existing commercial businesses.

So unlike civilised countries around the world, we're at the mercy of these bombs that have been installed with various levels of skill or concern.  Silently waiting to go off.

The photo collection here are ALL businesses in Cairns.  NOT ONE of these gas bottle installations complies with either Elgas guidelines nor AS-1940.  All of these bottles are within easy collision with a vehicle.  Bollards are insufficient or installed incorrectly.  Gas is adjacent to open windows or air conditioners.  Small cafes as well as some very large businesses (Dunwoody's, Manning's Pies).  

If readers see any other unsafe LPG bottle installations, please forward your photos to HillbillyWatch.

We are also calling for the lamestream media to focus their attention at the REAL cause of this horrible event, and call for a fuller investigation into this widespread problem.  Failure to act will inevitably result in further deaths and injuries.  That doesn't serve us right. 

12 June 2015


Sometimes, it's hard to understand what's got 4CA's John "Cueball" MacKenzie's panties in a bunch.

Faced with this head-scratcher, we always first look for the personal motivator.  Because at the end of the day, John MacKenzie's all about John MacKenzie.  He could give a shit about the rest of us.

And as sustained ACMA complaints that have confirmed MacKenzie's unfamiliarity with the truth, he's well-versed in "making up" his own facts.  Journalist, he's surely not.  You're entitled to your own opinion, Cueball.  You're not entitled to your own facts.  

One of his high horses began when Anna Bligh was ALP Premier.  He attacked the Queensland Government for lack of juvenile services.  Not enough jail cells.  Not enough punishment.  He was quick to jump on the Ruth Crouch bandwagon, supporting the call for more youth mental health services.

His illegitimate son Gavin did bugger all to bring any improvements to the situation.  With Joh Bjelke Newman more interested in chasing bikies and the appointment of grossly incompetent judges, things had no chance of improvement.

So as the replacement ALP government starts to get cranked up delivering needed infrastructure, we were pleased to see the announcement of the first mental health Youth Prevention and Recovery Centre in Queensland, on a quiet abandoned commercial property in North Cairns.  

So it was a mystery when John MacKenzie refused to have the Member for Cairns Rob Pyne, or even his LNP bootlicker unSir Bob Norman on the radio to discuss the terrific announcement.

Look for the personal connection.  

This one was easy, and exposes again why Australia needs stronger media regulation.  

MacKenzie invited a local resident, Darren Jolley, to shriek and shout that the "sky is falling".  He claims this area of North Cairns is a "quiet, peaceful area" that's now being used for "social services".    MacKenzie waded into the orchestrated diatribe, claiming that (a neighbour told him) the "ice (amphetamine) epidemic is worse there than "perhaps anywhere in the state".  Jolley then picked up the cue claiming that there have been several ice-related arrests in the neighbourhood. 

So I guess it ISN'T a very good neighbourhood.

This is a well-known fact for most people in Cairns.  The strip north of James Street has dumpy motels, cheap eats, and plenty of liquor available.  Sorry, but every city has this kind of neighbourhood.    

And MacKenzie should realise why these "social services" are being congregated around the Cairns Hospital - the hospital that HE twice fought to keep on the Esplanade despite it being on a high-risk, flood prone location.  It's only natural that the government put other allied health centres around the hospital.


The caller, Darren Jolley, lives in Cairns Street - just a few
doors away from John MacKenzie, who lives at 114 Cairns Street!  Jolley was warned before going on the air that he should NOT mention either his previous connections to John MacKenzie, nor MacKenzie's obvious bias by virtue of his residence on the same street - which abuts the site.

Did MacKenzie do any disclosure about his obvious bias and personal connection to this issue?  No, of course not.   His "voice of the people" act is complete bullshit, as usual.  OUR neighbours, told about this deception, regarded it as "lying by omission".  Something that the media does with impunity.

Neighbours all then clarified that they would NEVER listen to this psychophant.  Fair enough.

MacKenzie has previously used his media position to strong-arm Cairns Councillors.  Just after the last election he insisted that Bob "Sleepy" Manning get the council to block access to his street from James Street, for his own personal amenity.

The announcement for this badly-needed mental health facility should be attracting kudos for the Member for Cairns, Rob Pyne.  Many in the community are stunned at the about-face taken by MacKenzie, who's always complaining that Cairns isn't "getting its share".  

Now you know the facts.  MacKenzie again is only interested in himself.  Not the actions of a community leader, but no one is making THAT mistake!

11 June 2015


In his typical blowhard style, Warren Entsch yesterday bellowed "By crikey, I will give it 1000%" when asked if his Abbott government will be assisting with the finance of a new Cairns Theatre.

1000%?  This gives few in the community comfort.  How about 1,000,000,000%?  The result will be the same - the only thing we ever get from Entsch is the 000's. 

Entsch, also known as the Minister for Blogs, has been grossly ineffectual during his terms as Member for Leichhardt.  It's no wonder - his own party leaders including Tony Abbott threw Entsch under the bus a long time ago.  Entsch was at one time thought to be an up-and-coming leader in the LNP, but his big mouth, lazy persona, and drink driving conviction saw Entsch relegated to a position far, far away from the leaders in Parliament.  He's a cipher  A zero.  A placeholder.

Entsch's ignorant attitude towards us, the voters, was summed up in his statement on the theatre project yesterday.  He said "I don't know where we're going to find buried treasure, but I'm certainly keen to have a go".

Entsch actually believes that Cairns is looking for a handout.  He thinks we're a welfare case, with cup in hand, hoping for a few coins to be dropped into our community by HIS government.


It's already well-known that Cairns, and the Far North, receive far less in investment from the State and Federal governments than any other region in the country.  We send BILLION$ to the coffers of these two branches of government.  And get bugger all in return.  

Entsch is a lazy arsehole.  He knows that he'd actually need to do some WORK to get the paperwork in place to get our new theatre funded.  Easier just to call it "buried treasure".  No sense getting the community all excited when he's decided it's all too hard.

Entsch knows that HIS chance of getting a dollar out of anyone is like looking for buried treasure.  That's the sad fact of Warren Entsch as our MP.  Val Schier didn't have any trouble getting almost $100M for the community.  This was pissed away by the Manning Council and Gavin "Don't Rape Me" King.

Bob "Sleepy" Manning, who already has conceded that the Cairns ratepayers will pay the whole inflated cost in order to have something underway at the next Council elections, was told by local member and Treasurer Curtis Pitt that the current so-called plans for the project are grossly inadequate to even open an application for state participation.  Pitt is said to suspect like a growing majority in the community, that the $65M is grossly inadequate to build a theatre that takes the community into the future.

Entsch was quick to take credit for the Esplanade Lagoon, although it was John Howard that stepped up, and made the announcement after being lobbied by Tom Pyne.  

Entsch was anxious to announce he had "dinner with the Dalai Lama" along with his new beard, Yolanda (or maybe it's just a new moustache) - then claiming he was "spiritually recharged".  The Dalai Lama is a symbol of humility and enlightenment.  Entsch's "dinner" was along with hundreds of others. . .so much for the "humility" part.  Must have been dozing.


So the summary:  Bob Manning says we don't need the money, Warren Entsch says a return of some of our tax money to the community is like looking for hidden treasure, and our local MP and Queensland Treasurer demands proper accountability, refusing to get drawn into a bullshit exercise.

Bloody typical.  

05 June 2015


The key element used by Mayor Bob "Sleepy" Manning and his team of syncophants to attack Mayor Schier and her Council was the issue of their proposed Entertainment Precinct.  The Mayor said at the time "We will deliver a new performing arts centre, appropriately costed and sited, in the first term".

Clearly Manning NEVER intended to build this, or ANTHING.  The cynics among us note that this failure is now only being addressed as the next council election looms ever closer.

The most concerning part of this whole sordid incident is how arrogant and dictatorial Bob Manning has become.  The main promotional document (oddly provided secretly to Gavin King and his new attack blog prior to the official announcement), says "I'm writing today to tell you about The Precinct project which will go before Council for consideration and endorsement at a meeting to be held tomorrow".  Our so-called representatives, a council WE elected to represent US, are no more than a Soviet Politburo taking orders from a dictator.  Thousands of OUR dollars were spent on this glossy sales brochure with these words GUARANTEEING his sheep-like councillors will "aye" on cue, with nary a bleat from any of these gutless wonders.  It's shocking that democracy has so thoroughly been gutted in Cairns.  The electorate saw this kind of no-consultation, my way or the highway dictator at the state level.  The reason Campbell Newman and his ratbags were so quickly removed, most would agree.  With Stalin Manning holding only a dead carcass of a once-thriving company and a big government pension packet at the end of this term, "What, Me Worry?" is now the operative management philosophy at our once open and transparent Council.

So let's look what's being shoved down our throats.  And let's start by looking through they eyes of Cairns' own Joseph Goebbels, Gavin King.

King's propaganda starts with a passive-aggressive attack on the man who defeated him as Member for Cairns.  King, who disappeared after the election in a pout and notably NEVER called his challenger, and winner of his seat, to congratulate him on his win.  By starting his explanation of the project with this manic-depressive attack, King confirms his comments are political.  He then calls "The Precinct" "sensible, affordable, innovative, to meet the needs of Cairns for the next 50 years".  So let's look at these adjectives and see if it really fits the bill.


The dictionary defines "sensible" as:  "done or chosen in accordance with wisdom or prudence; likely to be of benefit". Clearly there is little division over the need for the Civic Theatre to be replaced (except for a few real blockheads).  Is it sensible to replace a 670-seat theatre (built when the Cairns population was 30,000) with a 940-seat theatre now?  During the last two theatre consultations (Schier and Byrne), the same conclusion was reached that the new theatre should be in the 1200-seat range.  This took into account comments from the likely users (both local as well as traveling road shows) that 900 was too economically inefficient.  A theatre that’s too small for the road productions is worthless.  Terry James claims that “users tell them they want a smaller theatre as it is more intimate”.  That’s why the Schier Council project had two separate theatres, dickhead.  Explanation - FAIL!

Advance Cairns says that our population will be 340,000 by 2036 - just 20 years!  How "sensible" is it to build a theatre that most agree isn't even large enough for our current population? 



Well sure, what’s been proposed looks to be “affordable”.  But where are the costings?  And how reasonable are they?  

The Kevin Byrne Council did extensive planning work on a site on Sheridan Street in 2000-2001.  They put the cost at $95 Million for a proper facility.  Byrne decided that this was too expensive, and didn’t even bother try to get a state or federal contribution. 

So here we are some 15 years later, and some are willing to believe that a Bob Manning proposal at half the cost (after inflation) of the Byrne proposal is going to be a quality facility?  Even the architects, Cox Rayner, freely said to the previous theatre consultation that “A 1000 seat theatre is going to cost $100m anywhere in Australia”.  Clearly corners are being cut.  BIG corners.  

The current site sits just below the arrival path for the Cairns Airport.  Actors on stage in the current theatre routinely learn to pause as the planes thunder overhead.  It’s of course possible to design a facility in this location that minimises this noise - at a cost.

This sadly is the classic "small-thinker" mentality that is now driving Cairns.  These small-thinker apparatchiks inhabit much of the machinery driving our city.  Manning is the consummate professional in avoiding the moniker "tall poppy".

Our so-called tourism leaders claimed to have worked their
arses off trying to get an airline to service Cairns from Singapore.  Kevin Brown and the tourism groups failed miserably, time after time.  But everyone now agrees that it took a "big thinker" to move the airlines into action.  That "big thinker"?  

Affordable?  Doesn't look like it - if we're stuck with a turkey for another 30 years! 


NOTHING in the promotional documents from council shows anything “innovative” about this proposal.  But of course there is bugger-all detail in any of these documents.  We’re told that the project is underway, but only a handful of select, easily-manipulated few have been privy to any of the planning.  Even senior officials at the choral society claim to know nothing of the details, and yet their leadership has been coached to offer their support for the (still unknown) facility.  

What’s innovative about a new theatre that has no parking?  This area of the city is a parking backwater.  Why has no provision been made for parking?  How does Council even get a building permit when the Cairns Plan calls for a minimum of 400 car park spaces??

The only thing “innovative” about this proposal is the depths that Manning is trying to go to get ground broken without talking to ANY of the public.  He obviously didn’t learn his lesson from the Lake Street upgrade, but listening to him talk, it’s clear.  He just doesn’t give a shit.  


Bob Manning, spruiking the plan on the Cueball show, said a 2000 seat, open-air amphitheatre was included in the plan for the Munro Martin Park.  He then went on to say “it won’t be covered” (so it’s useless much of the year) and “it won’t have a sound system”.  He then boasted that we could have “orchestra concerts in the park”.  Sadly, few will be able to hear.  

We propose that it be named the “MANNING MEMORIAL SKIN CANCER ARENA"

As part of the “sales job” for this yet-to-be seen plan, landscape architect Andrew Prouse, who's apparently been contracted to design the botanic upgrade of the Munro Martin Park, was interviewed this morning.  Prowse kept referring on the radio to "the brief he received from Council".  A brief that has had NO public consultation.  He's planning to start work in September.  When were these contracts let?  Who's calling the shots??  Why are we letting huge contracts with NO public bidding?

But, as Bob Manning has told so many - he doesn't give a shit, him and Claire go to Brisbane or Sydney to see a show.  

Translation:  "Let them eat cake".  More like "Let them eat shit".  

04 June 2015


The "big news" being hyped by John "Cueball" MacKenzie yesterday is "The Precinct" - the Cairns (non)Regional Council's long-awaited answer to our pathetic community theatre situation.

We'll be talking about this more soon.

However there are serious questions now being raised about changes in council transparency that have been instigated by Mayor Bob "Sleepy" Manning, with nary a word being raised by our sheeplike (DEAD?) councillors.

The theatre proposal was organised with NO public consultation.  Just like the Lake Street & Tobruk Pool Redevelopments, this project has been shoved on the table as a "fait accompli".  The hype organised (which saw the proposal given to Gavin King and his new attack blog FIRST) featured statements of support from arts professionals who are employees of the Council.  

The proposal is said to cost $65M, which includes several million for the Tanks and an upgrade to Munro Martin Park.  

It can't be done for this figure.  Not with any quality.  The Byrne Council estimated $90M almost a decade ago.   If it actually gets built for this price, we'll be stuck for another few decades with crap.  Welcome to Cairns.  

So how does the public keep their eye on the spending of this, and other infrastructure projects at Council?

It has been the longstanding policy of Councils (not just Cairns, but across Australia), to have an Infrastructure Committee who review the status of these big-ticket projects and report to Council regularly.


This policy at the Cairns Council was ended by Manning, and his finance bootlicker John Andrejic, in late July 2014.  This resulted in the shocking August result - "Nothing to Consider".  And the meetings, which previously had been detailed and well-participated by councillors interested in the details of our capital spending, are now perfunctory, do-nothing gatherings.  

So when before that, Councillors were given monthly reports on how ratepayer money was being managed, this oversight has been stripped from our already uber-lazy Council.  

And the first big project to be managed by this Council, the Tobruk Pool Redevelopment, is known to be riddled with serious problems and cost overruns.  And Council is hiding these facts from the public.  The ratepayers.   YOU.

ADCO Constructions has already discussed with Cairns Council the huge overruns that they are incurring and other malfeasance that will clearly push the project perhaps MONTHS past the completion date.  It is reported that in part ADCO selected a steel fabricator based only on low cost, with the fabricator going belly-up.  A sign that ADCO is being financially stretched by their bid for the project.

Why is Council now bent on hiding this information from the public?  Why are none of our councillors demanding financial accountability by Manning and his cliqué?  

02 June 2015


The release of the Environmental Impact Statement for the ill-conceived Cairns Port dredging project was the final step in the idiotic charade that was begun by radio host Cueball Mackenzie and ousted MP Gavin King as part of the 2011 Queensland elections.

The EIS clearly underscores both the environmental danger, as well as the clear financial stupidity of any government that would undertake such a project. 

MacKenzie has trotted out all the LNP losers in a feeble attempt to "BLAME THE ALP".  This just months after he daily attacked the LNP for their failure to release the report prior to the election.  

Spending hundreds of millions for an only short-term increase in cruise visits isn't a valid tourism strategy.  Current generations of ships being constructed won't even fit into a deepened port.  With or without this dredging, the number of ships able to access the port will continue to decline.  

Of COURSE the EIS was hidden by Gavin King and Campbell Newman!  They KNEW it would expose their years of lies to the Cairns electorate.  The invention of the "port dredging" as an issue, and its subsequent failure, is solely on the LNP, Gavin King, and Campbell Newman.  Full Stop. 

This was the only prudent decision.  The LNP, faced with a damning report, would have made the same call.  They cynically decided to hide the report from the electorate - with the results KNOWN by King and Ports North CEO and LNP bootlicker Brett Moller.  The tactic failed because Gavin King failed to realise how much he was loathed in the community.  

So unless a private company steps forward to take on the task with land reclamation the driving economic factor, Cairns needs to move on with what we have, and what we know.  This is going to take a concerted effort among all the community leaders.  Sadly, we don't have many.

Witness the Cairns unRegional Council.  While squandering millions on a relatively minor upgrade to Lake Street, they continue to allow our mostly absentee landlords to send the CBD "downmarket".  Buildings are still dirty and unpainted.  Footpaths are unswept, long ago needing a periodic program of power washing like was done under the previous council.  

And while we have large numbers of shuttered CBD retail spaces, the bigger problem is the spiral downmarket.  We previously noted the large number of "massage" locations
being put into Cairns Central.  These "massage" businesses, which generate huge negative press for Cairns at the Night Markets (where 18 of the stalls are "massage"), are now spilling out into the rest of the CBD.

The council also ignores the prohibitions against "banner" (temporary plastic) signs.  They're everywhere now.  Gives the CBD an aura of a city in collapse.  

Spence and Lake is one of the most historic corners in the Cairns CBD.  Boland Centre, Quaid Real Estate, and the Heritage (former Bank of North Queensland) occupy this key corner.  The fourth corner, long a tourism hotspot, is now - MASSAGE.  The down-marketing of Lake and Grafton south of Spence is now underway.  The withdrawal of ANZ Bank from Grafton, along with the post office moving, has made this area a ghost town.  The long-needed parking structure for the post office site, which was cued up for construction by former Mayor Schier, has died while Sleepy Bob awaits the arrival of a "Public-Private Partnership".  AKA as the tooth fairy. 

We also have begun to see the proliferation of "flashing light" signs, which are prohibited in the Local Law on Advertising - a law that the Manning council refuses now to enforce.  In addition to the giant sign attached to the Union Jack, we're now seeing the installation of even more annoying, cheap-looking signs to the Night Owl stores.  This defacement being done by none other than Cairns used car salesman and Chamber of Commerce board member Adam Adams. 


This "community leader" has taken over one of the most iconic buildings in the Cairns CBD, home of a longtime upscale restaurant and wonderful nightclub and entertainment space and started trashing it.  His approved plans to put in a 300 bed backpacker PRISON in the space upstairs is foundering only because he doesn't have the money to build it.  This Night Owl, primarily an overpriced sugar dispensary, is reportedly doing extremely poorly in this expensive location.  So he's done what any poor businessman does - he's slapped this hideous, overly large sign on the front of this building facing our #1 CBD tourism attraction, the Esplanade Lagoon.  Flashing its "get sugar here" message at our mostly horrified international visitors, who were expecting a much less intrusive, natural environment.

The same type of sign was easily rejected for the Night Owl location in the Port Douglas CBD, with the Douglas Shire council calling it:  "not representative of the high quality tourist image of Port Douglas as a seaside tropical resort town of international renown; does not complement the tropical image of the town, does not ensure that commercial and shopping areas are attractive through high quality design, and would compromise the high quality tourist image of Port Douglas and to detract significantly from the streetscape and the associated building."

Clearly there are leaders in Douglas Shire who understand who our tourists are, and what they've come here for.  Hence their CBD is full with tourists enjoying the relaxed, clean environment.

Sad to say this knowledge continues to elude the (very highly paid) leaders in Cairns.

29 May 2015


We give our rates and taxes to those we elect to spend for the good of us all.  

Bob Manning and his group of do-nothings took office after Mayor Val Schier on a policy of killing the Schier Entertainment Precinct, with promises to do something "cheaper and better".

They've done nothing.  That's surely cheaper.

But as Cairns residents shun the dirty inadequate Civic Theater (and the related restaurant and small business injection so necessary during the slack tourism months), Sleepy Bob has done bugger all to fix the problem.

So it's a mystery that he's touting a freeze on Council charges as a "big step" forward.  Announcing that Council is expecting a $7M PROFIT this year is a dog whistle to the ignorant John MacKenzie listener.

Oddly, the unspent $7M is almost exactly what the Val Schier-council project would have cost the community.  

Instead, we've had NONE of the parking structures built, we had an over budget and mismanaged Lake Street mini-fix, meanwhile welcoming projects in the CBD that were approved with too-little onsite parking.  Road work schedules have been cut as have parks and gardens - except for the tourists.  Manning's mates continue to be at the firehose end of our rates largess.

Dumb and Dumber are running Cairns Council.

Or sorry, we forgot the "new" Tobruk Swimming pool - $20M of swimming in a location where no one goes.


We've been on a rather lengthy, unscheduled hiatus.

Without going into too many details (which annoy the trolls), let's just say that a certain MP exercised his political muscle on low-level drones.  But by moving up the ladder to thinking, breathing people, the drones were found to be violating Google's core principle:  "Don't Be Evil".

Sure would be nice if said MP would spend his time on real issues in the community.  Like the broken homeowner's insurance system.

We welcome your comments as we get motoring again. . . .

20 March 2015


The tourism marketing machine is good at promoting new opportunities, in part as they all try to take credit for things they didn't do.  TTNQ trumpets the arrival of Silk Air, but is mum when Qantas cancels key international connections to US-originating flights.

But Cairns and Queensland were full of hope when, on the back of the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Hawaii-based resort hotelier Outrigger began a major expansion into Australia - an expansion that began in Cairns.  The newly-built esplanade hotel, now managed by Mantra, was the first acquisition by Outrigger.  And their quick expansion into Australia included hotels in Port Douglas, Airlie Beach, Noosa, and Surfers Paradise.  When Outrigger arrived this was seen as a vote of confidence in Cairns, and the Queensland tourism industry.  Outrigger is the largest operator of hotels in Hawaii and across the Pacific including the Maldives, Fiji, and Guam, and was positioned to be a major driver of North American tourists to Australia.  They were enthusiastic.  

It didn't take long for Outrigger to experience the reality of hotel management in Australia and they exited Cairns and Port Douglas within a few years, suffering heavy losses.  In part they discovered that Americans (and as we're now learning, the Chinese) expect hotels to have bellmen, room service and laundry.  The bulk of the Australian resorts are "self-catering" apartment-style properties, which make many tourists believe they're paying for space they don't need.  In fact Palm Cove has NO real hotels, a negative that TTNQ has learned from airport exit surveys.  And one of the reasons Tony Fung believes Aquis is suited to the Chinese market.

Last June, Outrigger appointed a new Australian general manager, the very experienced Sydney-raised John Garrard.  

It took Garrard only a few months to realize the obvious - Outrigger could not provide their quality product in Australia and produce a profit.  The nail in the coffin was the onerous labor rates and penalty rate system imposed by the federal Labor government.  As it's become clear that the Abbott government isn't strong enough to fix this system that is crippling the tourism centres, Outrigger threw in the towel last week and withdrew completely from Australia - selling the last of their resorts (Airlie Beach, Noosa, Surfers, and Coolangatta) for a mere $29 million.  

Insiders estimate that Outrigger lost over $100M on the Australian market in a little over ten years.

Other renowned hoteliers are experiencing similar problems in Queensland.  Singapore-based Shangri-La purchased the Holiday Inn Brisbane just a few years ago.  Suffering huge losses trying to operate this property as a full-service hotel, it's now been rebranded "Jen Hotel", with Silk Air-like service levels replacing the loss-making full service operation.

The proximate cause of these problems is the massive labor bills that Australian hotels have - making these hotels expensive and uncompetitive with our competitors.  This is why huge numbers of Australians make their holiday destinations Thailand, Bali, and Hawaii.  Even Australians know that service levels are low and hotel pricing is high.  Chinese resort investment plans in Cairns and the Gold Coast are rumoured to include large numbers of imported 457 visa workers under the guise of "language skills", when in reality people like Tony Fung understand that $60k/year salaries for unskilled workers is absurd.     

TTNQ and the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, both in the pocket of pollies on all sides of the spectrum, refuse to speak up on the real issues facing Cairns tourism.  The loss of Outrigger in Queensland needs to be seen for what it is - the continued slide in Australian tourism.

11 March 2015


Congratulations to Cathy Zeiger, new Cairns Division 3 Councillor.

A desperate and disgruntled Raj Patel, told that a woman was being appointed to the seat, said bitterly to mentor John MacKenzie: "If I knew they wanted a woman for the job, I would have gladly changed.  They didn't give me a fair chance".

NEW CuC Cathy Zeiger (in green)


The Cairns QPS PR machine published the results of a speed trap on the Cook Highway from over the weekend.  We all know the location - the two block section of the Cook Highway that to most drivers reasonably looks like "the end of town", with businesses off the highway and sight-lines expanded.

Virtually everyone we surveyed said that this area is clearly just a "speed trap".  The purpose of electronic speed enforcement is SUPPOSED to be road safety.  In most areas of the world, cameras and other devices are used to this end, and in many jurisdictions (most of Europe, Canada, and the USA), laws exist to prevent the police from setting up "speed traps".  

When 404 law-abiding citizens are sent infringements with
crippling fines generated from a low-traffic period on a SUNDAY, this to us smacks of money raising, not safety.

Not that long ago, radar guns were used by stationary police on the roadside, sometimes around a curve or over the crest of a hill, in areas where legitimate need to strictly enforce speed limits was obvious and important.  Near a school, for example.  

And when one was caught speeding, we were waved over and given the chance to both proffer an excuse, as well as view the evidence.  While the "excuse" part was not very likely to work, the interchange between the police officer and the violator was a useful and important element of driver education.  It affirmed the need to follow the law with the driver, and gave the police an important few minutes with the public.  And if the driver felt the infringement was unfair, he would have this moment to argue his case.  A system that worked well for decades, and was part of a strategy that saw the road death toll reduced numerically, and dramatically.

The "speed trap" however is threatening to undo all this good police work in Cairns.

Sending motorists an infringement weeks after it has occurred has no way of providing an educational moment to the drivers.  It's another bill in the mail to pay.  Unless obviously wrong (car owner interstate, or rego misread), that's it.  

Most professionals in the road safety business believe that intelligent road system design is one of the key factors in road safety.  The Cook Highway from the Airport Road to Kewarra Beach is a design travesty.  Over 20 speed changes in less than 16km.  This isn't an intelligent road design, it's a patchwork of "fixes" implemented by politicians, not any professionals.  

The 85th percentile rule is the core of speed enforcement in most countries, and the criteria for determining if a "speed trap" has been implemented.  It's the gold standard for road safety.  This standard is based on the science that the large majority of drivers are reasonable and prudent, don't want to have an accident, and desire to reach their destination in the shortest possible of time.  A speed at which 85% of the people driving select.  This works because unless there are unseen dangers, drivers can generally work out what speed is appropriate.

The 85th Percentile rule is NOT used in Queensland, where speed limits are determined not by a black spot history, or a nearby school, or even by neighbour complaints.  They're set by political processes and money-raising needs by the government of the day, an implemented by the brain-dead boys and girls in blue.

Even more enlightening is the Solomon curve, a long-accepted engineering study that shows not only that the most dangerous drivers are the 30% SLOWEST drivers, but the least danger is at the 90th Percentile.  Naturally, this is also not any part of highway engineering in Queensland.

The most unfortunate result of the current speed trap campaign is the decline in respect for the Queensland Police Service that is the direct result.  As constables hone their skills at deception and cunning (which we generally only expect from the crims), we will in the not too distant future see them donning tree costumes, hiding in trash bins, and perhaps even wearing croc suits! Continually reminding the public that the government has little interest in lowering the road deaths, but plenty of interest in more of our dosh.

Years ago, I got my first radar gun ticket near Freshwater Christian College.  As I came around the curve, a young copper waved me over and gave me the bad news - this electronic device had determined I was going too fast.  He showed me the radar gun and explained the problems they were having in the area.  Almost 20 years later I remember this incident like yesterday, and am reminded of it when I pass this spot even today.

But a high-tech speeding infringement today?  Three weeks after the fact the announcement comes in the mail not much different that the Telecom or Ergon bills.  A cursory glance (yep, that's my ute) and we pay it like the good little sheep we are.  And we can't even remember the circumstances surrounding, and we've learned nothing.  We don't even get the benefit of a sign after-the-fact anymore.  And that's how they want it.

The new TruCam systems CAN be fitted with a printer to
issue an infringement directly to the speeder, if the police were really interested in using this event to do a little road safety education.  Queensland passed on the printers.  Easier to bang out 404 video infringements in three hours. And that's how they want it.  

Just give us the money and STFU.  

27 February 2015


As reported in the lame stream media today, over 40 "hopefuls" have tossed their wallets into the Cairns unRegional Council blender, wondering what combination of words and hand jobs will secure them a cushy councillor position.

Bob "Sleepy" Manning, who insensitively attacked those who choose to walk to the airport (they were tourists when they arrived) and who may not have the financial resources of a business bankrupt like himself, has insisted the entire process for the new councillor is akin to a personnel matter.  He refuses to even disclose who among us is eager for this $100K/year gravy train, nor who might be involved in the selection process.

Turning what's supposed to be the most open of public processes - selection of the people's representatives - into a chapter of the Bizarro World.  No taxation without representation is alive and well in Cairns.

Many of the hopefuls have already taken to social media to spruik their qualifications.  Among these hopefuls are many who don't even live in Division 3!  Thus exposing another key un-democratic provision of Australian politics - the parachute job.

When Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt was gifted his position by his daddy, he was a resident of Brisbane.  But at least he had some bona fides in Mulgrave.  We've seen a previous Labor member for Cook who not only had no connections to this electorate, but kept living outside of the electorate even after elected!  To his credit the recently deposed LNP member for Cook, David Kempton, had long ties into the Cape.  A fact we pointed out three years ago when we supported him for this seat.

Bob Manning is proving to be the consummate "non-consultative" Mayor.  He rammed thru the upgrade to City Place in such a hurry that the job took double the time, screwing over the businesses in this area.  He then sent underling Terry James out to quell the mobs - a few weeks of free parking on Lake Street should be enough.  Let them eat cake.  Recent changes to the "General Policy" on Council-owned parks has seen neighbours in Aeroglen angry that unwanted and expensive changes to their park began to be implemented while a "consultation survey" was still making the rounds - with the area leaders clearly upset at this Manning sham.

Whoever the new Division 3 Councillor will be, they will have a big task to prove their worth to the residents. Divison 3 was previously serviced by the hardest working man in Council, and now Member for Cairns, Rob Pyne.  And by participating in this "secret committee process" the new councillor will be saddled with a kavorka of epic proportions - the only sitting councillor without any kind of mandate from the people.  Made even worse if they don't even live in the division.

People ask how could poor old Bob Manning have taken such a hugely successful business like Events NQ (the website still is up and taking orders) and run it into the ground, and finally bankruptcy.  Clearly it's because when presented with a decision point, Manning embraces the wrong action.  That's clearly how he ran the Cairns Port Authority, and clearly what's going on in this Division 3 replacement scenario.