"LET THEM EAT CAKE"

"LET THEM EAT CAKE"
"LET THEM EAT CAKE"

31 July 2015

CAIRNS JOCKEY CLUB - MILLIONS SQUANDERED WHILE INSIDER BUSINESS GOES ON AS USUAL


GAVIN KING SHOWN DIGGING HIS
OWN GRAVE WITH THE CAIRNS COMMUNITY 
We've got a racetrack that has had a $2m "upgrade" - and the work has made the track worse then before.  A search for the reasons has uncovered a hornet's nest of intrigue and dodgy relationships.  

On 21 March 2012, just prior to the ALP blowout election in Queensland, the Bligh government approved an estimated $2.2m in upgrades for Cannon Park as part of their Racing Industry Infrastructure Plan.  When Gavin "Don't Rape Me" King and his cohorts swept into power, Cannon Park management were stunned by the immediate actions taken by King to "give back" funds promised to Cairns - among them the CBD upgrade and Cairns Entertainment Precinct - over $100m in losses due to Gavin King.

While CJC management tried to get a meeting with King, backchannel word to them was that the money was pulled due to "austerity".  But an intervention by (then Shadow Treasurer) Curtis Pitt on behalf of the CJC saw the project then re-confirmed.  Treasurer Tim Nichols however arbitrarily limited the upgrade to $2m - despite costings that already showed the needed work slightly over the $2.2m original budget.

Then the amount got "chipped away" by the Newman government as they reneged on other commitments.  Only $1.6m was left for the work to be done.  King, in full LNP poodle mode, told Cannon Park to "take it or leave it". . . .and by 5 November, the Member for MacKenzie along with the Minister Steve Dickson were posing for pictures at the groundbreaking of work.  Work that the Cairns Jockey Club board KNEW would be inadequate.

So the upgrade was actually an ALP initiative, defiled by the LNP, whom then took credit for it!  This by King on his Facebook page.



Bloody typical!

Well, the work proved to be more than inadequate, as the big "grand opening" for 13 May 2013 needed to be cancelled - as the "newly rebuilt world-class track" was unable to drain 25mm of rain due to the cock-ups.

Ever the apologist, Gavin King told the media "it would have been foolhardy to have raced on the brand new surface".  Abject stupidity writ large.  Like saying you can't drive your new car in the rain.  The kind of ignorance that got him tossed by the voters.

Doesn't this kind of construction work have any "warranty of fitness"?  Why didn't the Cairns Jockey Club order the lead contractor, McMahons, to fix it?  McMahons continues to boast on their website that the project saw the "existing turf track completely rebuilt".  CEO Graham Thornton praises McMahons on their website, saying  "Race meetings at Cannon Park were constantly at risk of being cancelled, due to the rapid deterioration of the track when it rains".  

After a lazy $2m, Cannon Park now closes even in 15mm of rain!  Why hasn't McMahons and others involved been sued?

A racetrack that doesn't drain seems of dubious value in a tropical location.

So there would seem to be plenty of "blame" to go around.  Why would the Jockey Club board allow what everyone seems to agree was an inadequate plan to be executed?  

As the track struggled with the dud "upgrade", someone on
CHAIN GANG OF UNEMPLOYED PUT TO
WORK (FOR FREE) BY THE JOCKEY CLUB
the board had a bright idea - let's get some "free labor" by signing up with training group QITE, and get the unemployed to fix our racetrack for free.  If someone knows what the QITE connection is to the CJC board, please drop us a line.  We're quite sure the fix was in on this deal, too.


All of this on top of the Racing Queensland audit of the club, and questions surrounding CEO Graham Thornton's apparently no-bid operation of the food concessions at the track.

Bloody typical!

Enter Tom Hedley.



We all know Tom Hedley. The plumber who became a zillionaire pub and property tycoon, who saw the entire house of cards collapse leaving, by December of 2009, virtually nothing (apparently).  Hedley, who's companies dudded subbies out of millions in payments for work they did, snuck out of town, reportedly on a barge full of construction equipment, to work in PNG.

He's Baaaaaakkk!  Did someone forget the stake?

With mate John Piccone, Hedley is now looking to resume
JUST ONE OF THE PREHISTORIC DOGS
LISTED AS OWNED BY HEDLEY AND
JOHN PICCONE
his running of the track - although it's unclear if his massive corporate bankruptcy makes him ineligible to actually be elected to the board.  Hedley, who blocked a proposed move of the club (built on a swamp) to a more appropriate site in Gordonvale years ago, already looks to be protecting the contractors - quoted this week as claiming "no one is accountable" but he's back to "tidy things up".  


But the insider dealings continue unabated - with records showing some of these giant, prehistoric dogs being co-owned by Hedley and Piccone together.

Funnily, Gavin King has been uncharacteristically unwilling to step forward to take responsibility for this mismanaged LNP project.

Bloody typical!

30 July 2015

THE CASE FOR DREDGING THE CAIRNS PORT - OR WHAT OTHER GOOD INVESTMENTS CAN WE MAKE FOR CAIRNS WITH $400,000,000.00 IN TAX MONEY?

THERE ARE LOTS OF ALTERNATIVES
TO SERVICE CRUISE SHIPS  
You've got to give him credit.  When John "Cueball" MacKenzie gets a marching order, he keeps pounding his drum even when it clearly makes no sense.  Such is the case with his incessant spruiking for the Cairns Port CEO and mate Brett Moller - the only LNP operative still in place after the Newman decimation.

A year ago, MacKenzie was demanding that the long-delayed
Environmental Impact Study for the intentionally-mislabeled "Cairns Shipping Development Project" be released by Gavin "Don't Rape Me" King and the Newman Government.  MacKenzie thinks he's been the "powerhouse" behind this project for getting Newman to throw a lazy $80M at the project on the radio.  But by August of 2014, the Newman Government and Gavin King already knew the price tag for this little project would be prohibitively large.  We recommend everyone take a read through this EIS - because clearly few of our leaders have done so.

King, Michael "Hide the Backhoe" Trout, and Newman all then decided to "sit on" the EIS until after the election - believing that they could then kill it as "too expensive".  Unfortunately their little plan went awry when King, Trout, and Kempton all were tossed out of office for three years of profound inaction.  This left Palaszczuk with the bad news, although the ALP made no election promises with relation to this project.

We've been saying since the beginning that the cost of this project was going to be massive - way more than the lazy $80M that Newman tossed out to MacKenzie.  He knew THEN that the bill would be so large that no Queensland Government - LNP, ALP, Green, or Commie would ever get the Brisbane-area MP's to toss this kind of cash into FNQ. 

MacKenzie is new best friends with Bill Cummings.  His Cummings Economics cranked out a response to the EIS - that is wildly incorrect, both on the costings (CE says $108m) and on the economic impact to the region.  The current cost of porting a cruise liner is over $35k per visit - which CE cavalierly claims will face "little difficulty in raising charges to a level that would cover the capital cost of $100m and not be out of scale. . ."  This is just nonsensical - the reports by the cruise line industry to industry gatherings already complain that Australia has the highest porting charges in the world.  The same cruise ship coming into Cairns at $35k can port in Singapore for less than $12k!  The Cummings Economics report should be rejected by the government as unbelievably stupid.



The biggest fact left OUT of the EIS - THE INCREASE IN DEPTH (FROM 8.3m to 9.4m) is still considered inadequate by the cruise ship industry!  Two years ago, Royal Caribbean read the riot act to Brett Moller and his team - this includes a channel width NO LESS THAN 3 TIMES the width of the ship, and a minimum depth of ship's draft PLUS 3 METERS!  READ THIS REPORT HERE - (PAGE 20).

The proposal put forward by Moller and Gavin King is woefully short of these requirements.  Essentially, it's half-a-loaf.  Gavin King was the master of half-arsed projects during his brief time as Member for Cairns.  (We'll be reporting on another of these soon).  And now he's left MacKenzie holding this bag of shit - which MacKenzie continues to spruik with all the tenacity of a blind man copulating with an elephant.

Make no mistake, we fully support dredging the inlet and dumping the spoil - somewhere on land.  But we believe in the tooth fairy, too.  Changing Cairns into what it ISN'T won't come cheaply.  And it isn't something that governments, struggling with limited funds, should be spending our tax money to build.  Take a look at some of the terrific work done in other parts of the world, curiously with a cruise line company (Royal Caribbean) acting as Developer or Financier for these projects.  Falmouth, Jamaica.  Kusadasi, Turkey.  This in a presentation to the Australian "Cruise Down Under" Conference, which was attended by our Cairns Ports leadership.

The cruise ship companies all claim Cairns is an important "want-to-see" location by their customers.  That means WE'RE in the driver's seat.  Why are the taxpayers being asked to stump up the cash for this project?  If it's such a good investment, why aren't we looking for cashed up (Chinese) partners to come in and do it?  

We're already selling everything else off to them - why not our most northerly major port?  We can dump all the spoil in East Trinity and call it "ChinaWorld", and sell off the residences to them.   



Plus, there are a host of alternatives available to get the passengers off the boats and into our city.  When does someone put their thinking cap on and get real?

Cairns is what it is.  Cairns ISN'T Macao.  But I guess if you throw $8Billion at it, you can make it so.  Cairns ISN'T a beachy, surfing destination.  Who knows how many BILLION$ it would cost to make us Hawaii.  How about our leaders get serious about marketing all the GOOD things about Cairns - and fixing the shitty service and mediocre restaurants, lack of nighttime entertainment (other than strippers and doof-doof music), and forgetting the idea of letting the developers line our foreshore with tall, featureless unit blocks.  Sell our STRENGTHS, and forget the "quick-fix" merchants. 

And by the way, why hasn't our aquarium started construction yet - even AFTER all the Council concessions???


There is a long list of REAL infrastructure projects that would benefit the WHOLE Cairns community - not just a handful of CBD business owners and day tour operators.  The Cook Highway needs overpasses.  The Kuranda Range Road needs more lanes.  The Bruce Highway needs to be upgraded past Gordonvale.  Wind & solar energy projects.  A busload power station north of Townsville.  The region needs new water sources.  The list of long-neglected infrastructure investments by the government is endless.  Don't make any mistake -these kinds of projects will produce REAL, decades-long private investment in the region.  

Pulling mud out of the ocean to park slightly larger cruise ships will not. 

That's the fact.

HOW DOES THIS WORK - BUPA INSURANCE NOW ISSUING VISAS TO CHINESE?

This advertisement is being served to Mainland Chinese internet users - in both English and Chinese languages.

We don't understand how a health insurance company is able to "speed up" an Australian 485 Visa Application.  

A new Tony Abbott- Warren Entsch LNP initiative?



27 July 2015

GOVERNMENT MONEY DOWN A RATHOLE - JCU INNOVATION CENTRE A FAILURE BEFORE IT GETS BUILT

The big announcement today is the funding of a new building at the JCU Smithfield campus - tentatively called the "Cairns Innovation Centre".  We'd like to go on the record TODAY, long before this building is even completed, that it's the stupidest investment to ever grace the Cairns region.

Entrepreneurship isn't about shiny buildings and classroom courses.

Something's seriously wrong.

It's about creative people and MONEY.  Venture Capital.  The Holy Grail of Job Creation.

We've got our share of creative people.  The list of Australian inventions is impressive:  Wifi.  Airline flight data recorders.  Heart pacemakers.  Disposable syringes.  Box wine. (Which just celebrated it's 50th Anniversary).

All OUR inventions that saw venture capitalists from the USA, UK, and Asia take and make squillions on.  Along with the tens of thousands of highly-paid jobs that went with them.  Australia gets bugger-all.  

A nice shiny building at Smithfield isn't going to change the facts - Australia has the worst VC investor market in the world.  Shit, Paul Freebody couldn't even find someone with the cajones to invest in his little waterslide business (although admittedly funding the dreams of a dickhead isn't the best example).  

But here's some other facts to mull over.  


  • Australia gambles more on the Melbourne Cup in ONE YEAR than FIVE YEARS OF VENTURE CAPITAL
  • Australians invest 20 times more in negatively geared rental property than VC
  • Australians spend 4 times as much on luxury SUV's that are written off as business assets than VC
  • The Australian Tax System gives tax breaks to subsidise non-productive capital via "negative gearing"
  • Australia is exporting "future" jobs with this system
  • The New Zealand VC funds invest FOUR TIMES that of Australians
  • Australia is losing start-up entrepreneurs to the USA

The Australian banking system also is notorious for not supporting entrepreneurship.  Want to purchase a "going concern"?  The bank will still require you stump up your house, along with your cash, despite financials that show a profitable business.  "We don't lend on cashflow", the banking mantra.  In other words, they'll lend money if the money is leant at no risk.  So what's the interest being charged for?

ANZ Bank makes more business loans in Guam, a US Territory (with similar size to Cairns) then Cairns and Townsville COMBINED.

Something's seriously wrong.

The predictions of an improvement are stark, as governments avoid the "hard decisions" about our tax system and instead provide only lip service - hence the new JCU building.  A monument to government ineptitude.  A recent Commonwealth programme to encourage overseas investors by offering Australian residence has seen a flood of cashed-up Mainland Chinese, who've used their required investments to support other Chinese entrepreneurs in Australia.  Hardly the result that we wanted, but one that should have been expected.  Zero to no jobs flowing to Australia out of this scheme.  

A leading San Francisco-based venture capitalist earlier this year said, without any Aussie governmental intervention, "don't expect to see an Australian-based venture capital fund operating in five years' time.  And you can thank your tall poppy syndrome for that.  You don't value success enough and you don't risk much to get it".

Of any westernised country, Australia has the highest percentage of university-educated citizens living abroad.  A brain drain of epic proportions - the most highly educated (at largely taxpayer cost) finding their futures and building the economies in their adopted countries.  

Something's seriously wrong.

We're all going to see smiling photos of politicians standing in front of this new JCU White Elephant in a couple year's time.  Just remember that without aggressive and politically-courageous decisions to overhaul our tax system and end the rort that rewards risk-averse investments, this JCU Innovation Centre will be a monument to profligate governmental waste.

For this "innovation centre" to show any benefit, the first students should be our politicians and bankers, the current group of whom show bugger-all in the courage department.

We note however that someone here is obviously making a pretty-penny out of wine-in-a-box.  



23 July 2015

UBER AND AIRbnb MAKE CAIRNS MORE AFFORDABLE FOR TOURISTS - A GREAT THING FOR ALL OF US

Nothing gets people more riled up than having their golden ox gored.  Especially when their golden ox is a previously unchallenged monopoly.

Such is the tempest being created by the inevitable launch of ridesharing service Uber in Cairns.  Neanderthal John "Cueball" MacKenzie has led the charge against free enterprise and in favour of government regulation, giving his cabbie listeners spots almost daily to rail against the Uber arrival.  Just yesterday, MacKenzie claimed that the Compost survey of the public was "evenly split" between support and opposition of Uber.  

How are 10 supporters equal to the 5 naysayers?  Only in MacKenzie's fact-challenged world, that's how.

While there are clearly some regulatory hurdles to be overcome, there is no question that Uber will be operational in Cairns very shortly.

This kind of increased competition is exactly the kind of
practical benefit the public can reap from the widespread use of smartphones.  Need to get somewhere?  A couple clicks on Uber and you find a ride, get the estimated arrival time to your departure location, and pay a generally lower price in the process.  And when the ride is over, you're invited to provide instant feedback to Uber management about the driver, the vehicle, and the overall service. 

Some believe Uber is unregulated.  This is false.  In many ways, Uber is MORE regulated than the current taxi system.  Ever tried to make a complaint about a dirty, smelly taxi?  Or a driver who didn't know where he was going, didn't speak English, or tried to overcharge you?  Good luck.  The "complaint" system is designed to protect the drivers and licence holders, not the public.  Time to get the government out of this regulatory task and require ALL on-demand transportation services to utilise the Uber regulation model.

Look at how Uber has already affected the taxi monopoly in Cairns.  Cairns Taxis has for the first time begun "ordering its 450 drivers to keep their service, vehicles, and uniforms a the highest standard".  Why wasn't this a requirement before?  Because as a monopoly, they don't really give a shit about the public.  Their substandard level of service has been a big black mark against the Cairns tourism market.  

The only argument being proffered by the taxi drivers?  "We're going to lose 500 jobs".  That's a good thing, if the fares drop and 1500 additional Uber vehicles replace them.  And look at these taxi jobs?  The drivers routinely claim that they can make as little as $8 and hour, with huge profits going to the actual taxicab owners.  Removing the middleman in this case is discounts directly passed on to the public.  It's a proven fact that lower, market-based pricing by Uber actually INCREASES the number of people desiring this kind of point-to-point transit.  A good thing for all of us.

Running under the radar in Cairns is also the internet-based accommodation service, AirBNB.  AirBNB shows almost 20 accommodation units available in Palm Cove, with growing occupancy rates.  Even mainstream providers like the Reef House and Sea Temple have units listed for rent on AirBNB - clearly seeing that expansion of tourism opportunities is a win/win for everyone.



Expansion of tourism infrastructure is of benefit to ALL of Cairns.  Taxi drivers and their protective granddad John MacKenzie are clinging to the past, to the detriment of the majority.  We welcome Uber to Cairns!

22 July 2015

HOW DID CAIRNS COUNCIL TAKE AN OCEANFRONT DEVELOPMENT SITE AND COMPLETELY FUCK IT UP?

Ask anyone who's moved to Cairns in the last 25 years why they're here, and they inevitably say "the lifestyle".  So important is this to Cairns, one of our home builders named themselves "Lifestyle Homes".  One of the perennial issues facing Cairns residents is the continual chipping away at the "Cairns lifestyle" - usually at the hands of our elected representatives, kowtowing to the developers and other commercial interests.

 IMAGINE BUILDING YOUR MILLION-DOLLAR
DREAM HOUSE NEXT TO ABANDONED CARS
AND BOATS.  THE CAIRNS LIFESTYLE!
During the imperial reign of Kevin "Hiding from the Pakis" Byrne, some of the worst damage was done by his development department - led by the now-CEO of Cairns (un)Regional Council, Peter Tabulo. A bureaucrat without peer, who kowtows like no other.  Byrne and Tabulo were responsible for the huge overdevelopment of units at Trinity Beach and Woree by the now-bankrupt Glencorp, run by Udo Jattke.  The prison towers constructed in the CBD by the now-bankrupt Hedley Constructions.  The tiny little house blocks jammed into the "family friendly" Kewarra Beach, where tinnies and extra cars are parked on the front garden as the streets are too narrow for anything else.  

All of these part of the "Kevin Byrne Legacy".  Goodonya', mate.

Another of these projects, Bluewater at Trinity Park, continues to generate controversy because of the lax development requirements and chaotic development done there by the developers.  Bluewater advertises itself as the home of the "Cairns lifestyle".  Hard to know what's desirable of the "Multiplex lifestyle", however.

The recently-constructed Bluewater Bar & Grill is a case in point, with the Byrne/Tabulo errors now compounded by the inattention of the current Council. 

The original Development Approval for this restaurant required 91 car parks.  Developers "rolled" Council on this requirement, getting the number greatly reduced to 64.  The we come to find that the restaurant and the developer, Multiplex, have been pledging the same parking spots for multiple uses.  And our idiot Council didn't notice this developer game of "hide the pea".  Or maybe they DID notice it, and just ignored it - like so many other Development Approval conditions.  

BLUEWATER - CAIRNS OCEANFRONT
LIVING AT ITS WORST

And as the situation has unfolded, the restaurant owner Peter Sayers has stupidly confirmed this serious shortfall, claiming that on weekend nights ". . . still there are cars parked on the street".  You've got to wonder about the sanity of a business that voluntarily opens a business with inadquate amenity for its patrons - who soon decide to go elsewhere.  The 91 carpark requirement was probably correct, but the Bob "Sleepy" Manning Council is easily rolled on parking requirements everywhere.  Impacting heavily the "Cairns lifestyle".   Council is now engaged in a "negotiation" with the parties, and in the process looking to deal-away the boat and trailer parking used by Cairns fishos.  Pushing their cars and trailers further down Reed Road, blah, blah blah.  

The entire Bluewater development however has been an enormous flop.  As developers got squeezed by the GFC, they sold off a prime site for public housing - directly across the street from this tavern.  While we fully support public housing being "dispersed" around the community and not just dumped in the three M's, the existence of this project impacted the perception of Bluewater quite negatively.  And with mains upwards of $30 and the cheapest glass of Cab Sav at $14, there is little chance the Bluewater Bar & Grill will be drawing any customers from across the road.

A drive around Bluewater shows how badly Multiplex has screwed up this "planned development".  Huge waterfront homes have been constructed cheek-by-jowl, normal for a waterfront development.  However the owners of these homes have discovered the high running cost of these homes - with huge and growing dredging levies from the CRC on their rates bills. 
A CONTAINER AND TWO BOATS
LITTER THIS WATERFRONT ALLOTMENT


And the existing residents have had no joy discussing the hillbilly-like atmosphere in the development.  Boats, caravans, and shipping containers litter the area.  Who would want to build a $2M-$3M waterfront home when your view is so compromised?  And there's even a "Bluewater Bed & Breakfast" operating along with some residences being rented using AirBNB.  If not afoul of Council regulations, obviously afoul of the neighbourhood amenity.

And the few current residents complain about the "live-aboard" boats that have also not been provided parking.  

Fully 11 of these homes have "For Sale" signs on them, along with perhaps 15 of the vacant allotments - almost 10 years after the project was green lighted by Kevin Byrne.  Seems like most want OUT of this blighted version of the "Cairns lifestyle". 

Council will undoubtably reach some "solution" that doesn't cost big business any money but will steal parking from the Cairns residents who use the Trinity Park boat launch.  And the residents of Riverside Drive (who were NOT part of this "planned development") continue to be socked with dredging they didn't ask for, and weren't consulted about.  

So much for the "Cairns lifestyle".    


20 July 2015

MANIACAL QPS USE OF SPEED CAMERAS NOW SEEN AS LIKELY CAUSE OF INCREASED ACCIDENT AND DEATH RATE - GOVERNMENT HAS BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS FOR THIS IDIOCY

IT COSTS UPWARD OF $300,000 TO TRAIN THIS RADAR
GUN OPERATOR, SQUANDERING HIS LAW
ENFORCMENT TRAINING TO ACT AS
TOLL COLLECTOR
Speed Kills.  Speed Cameras save Lives.  We've had this "big lie" parroted to us by politicians and government leaders for years.  So why is the death toll in Cairns (and all of Queensland) running at record-high rates, higher than a decade ago??

During the reign of Joh Bjelke Newman and the LNP government, the Queensland Police Service (QPS) was ordered to embrace the Victorian Police strategy on road safety.  As a result, the QPS has massively increased the use of speed cameras across the state, as well as making huge investments in more advanced technology that doesn't take photos, but just records video and identifies the speed of EVERY vehicle irregardless of road conditions.

Since full implementation of this strategy, Queensland has
seen a sharp and steady RISE in traffic accidents and fatalities.

The same is true in Victoria - fatalities up 2% this year, over 10% the last two years.

The truth is that maniacal enforcement of posted speed limits has nothing to do with road safety, and everything to do with raising money.  The crash statistics prove this without question.  Only 2% of the road crash fatalities in all of Australia are excessive-speed-related.  ONLY 2%!  This in no way justifies the huge investment in manpower and resources used to photograph and fine speeders.


PREMIER PALASZCZUK ORDERS
REQUIRED SIGNS REMOVED TO
ENHANCE REVENUE RAISING BY HER
QUEENSLAND POLICE
And the Queensland ALP government is continuing to exploit the lie in an even more blatant attempt to raise revenue.  With just over 600,000 infringements issued in 2010, the Palaszczuk government has ordered the QPS to increase this astronomically - to over 1,000,000 infringement notices this year, and revenue approaching $1B.  This comes at a massive loss in respect for the QPS.  Several Facebook and other social media sites are set up to mock the police seen hiding behind signs, squatting in bushes, and other dubious tactics in their money-raising function.  

This has been done by a host of measures designed to ensure more are caught.  The most immoral is the change to the threshold speed at which an infringement is issued.  In some cases, infringements are being given for 1km OVER THE POSTED SPEED.  This flies in the face of Australian Standards to which Australian-sold cars are required to comply.  These Standards allow cars to be sold with speedos in error by as much as 10%.  In other words, a car or ute can be displaying 80km on the speedo and yet traveling 87km - and be fully compliant with Commonwealth requirements.  Issuing infringements that exploit this innocent and unknown speed error is a provision ripe for challenge in the courts.

But this is just a trivial issue.

The reality is that this is a money-raising exercise that is KILLING QUEENSLANDERS.  The road toll in Queensland is fully 10% higher than last year due to this change in policing.  13 EXTRA QUEENSLANDERS HAVE BEEN MURDERED BY THE QUEENSLAND POLICE AND POLITICIANS.

The real causes for traffic fatalities are ignored.  NO formal driver training before letting kids behind the wheel of these death machines.  Little being done to stem the ever-increasing drink driving and drug driving profile of the motorists.

When the USA removed the artificial barrier to maximum speed on motorways (set at 55mph/88km in order to "save energy"), the highway death and injury rate DECLINED SUBSTANTIALLY as the average speeds increased.  The mantra "Speed Kills" is a lie.


INCREASE IN QPS REVENUE-RAISING
IN CAIRNS CORRESPONDS TO
MASSIVE INCREASE IN
VIOLENT AND PROPERTY CRIME
Even more importantly, huge numbers of expensively-trained police constables are diverted from CRIME FIGHTING to REVENUE RAISING.  Cairns has seen huge increases in crime this year because of this policy.  Assaults  UP 28%.  Drug arrests up almost 17%.  These are real crimes.  Speeding is not.

Spend some money to synchronise the traffic signals.  Spend some money on overpasses at the failed roundabouts.  Get serious about REAL enforcement to increase road safety - mobile phones and idiots filming and photographing WHILE THEY DRIVE are a menace to society.





16 July 2015

TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF RUNNING A BLOG - EXEMPLIFIED BY PAUL FREEBODY

Car wash magnate and semi-literate former Cairns councillor Paul Freebody looks to have gotten his Adventure Waters waterpark project off-the-ground.



THE EXACT MOMENT WHEN PAUL FREEBODY
GOT THE IDEA FOR A CAIRNS WATERPARK
Finally.

We'd love to say "Goodonya', Paul" for showing tenacity in getting this project across the line.  But common sense prevents us from doing this.  

Freebody was one of the first foils for this blog when we started.  His losing reelection campaign was marred by campaign literature that looked to be written by a nine-year-old.  He was quickly removed as councillor after that election bungle, as well as his general poor ratepayer representation.  Residents in his division rightly perceived his business interests were taking up more of his time than his full-time council gig.

Along with the ill-fated Cairns Blog, we skewered Paul for his maniacal diatribe against the Cairns Council's first refusal of his plans calling the Mayor and female councillors "witches and bitches".  A classic meltdown.

You can't make this shit up, I tell you.

Then the Freebody family was tied to a Facebook page (still up, btw) attacking Mayor Val Schier.  

Really?  The actions of a business leader?  Someone looking for an investor to tip-in $18m, $21m, $22m, $27m, for a water park?

Really, you can't make this shit up.  

And then there were the several attempts by the Freebodys to sell their barely operational carwash, a saga too long and convoluted to recount here.  

And how about when Freebody was preselected by the LNP to run for the state seat of Cairns?  His big mouth attack wishing for a "JFK-like ending" to then Prime Minister Julia Gillard shortly thereafter saw him stripped of the preselection -  and an audio tape of his disciplinary meeting was "leaked" by him to the media.  This after he blamed one of his kids for the ill-fated remark.

Stunning?  You can't make this shit up.

Yup, Freebody is a piece of work.  The Freebody kids have all left Cairns for elsewhere in Australia.  Can you blame them?

Over the years the blog has received stories from "tipsters" about the Freebody shenanigans.  While we're always ready to believe any ridiculous story about Paul Freebody, these tips always smelled a little funny.  Or maybe a little phony.  A little internet checking found them to be "plants" - in fact one from a wifi system at a certain carwash on Reservoir Road.  The were the equivalent of internet "sucker punches" - print one and the Freebodys would be after you.

We have our integrity to consider.

So last Friday, Paul Freebody is all ginned up to take his "victory lap" on the Cueball show.  But he doesn't show.  Now that's odd. Never before has he shied away from the pseudo-limelight.

Today we find out that a regular, legitimate businessman, Chris Morris, has pledged $40M to build this thing in Smithfield.  That's right.  A REAL business success figured out that the Freebody figures were too damn low.  Insiders at Cairns (non)Regional Council tell us that his representatives have already met with planning staff and Mayor Bob "Sleepy" Manning to get the site expanded.  It's just too small, something we've noted since the beginning.  Especially if you're going to install a helicopter pad for sightseeing rides.
PAUL FREEBODY, TRYING OUT HIS NEW
ADVENTURE WATERS UNIFORM.

Chris Morris - $40M.  Paul Freebody - $0M + the "idea".

Who's waterpark do you think it belongs to now?  Chris Morris is quoted as saying:  "Paul is so passionate about it. . "  Now there's a pat on the arse on your way out the door, if we've ever heard one.  Freebody will be lucky if he gets a job working at the tuck shop.

There is no joy in Mudville for the Freebody family.

13 July 2015

CAIRNS BUSINESS GOING INSANE - A MONDAY POTPOURRI OF INSANITY

Government, at all levels in Australia, is struggling to balance the books.  Our "leaders" are all too chickenshit to actually explain that perhaps we need more tax revenue from individuals AND business.  So instead we're fielding comments about loss of government services, and business beginning to run amok.  Individually, these individual observations are just flotsam in our daily lives.  Collectively however they're starting to make an impact on the quality of life in Australia, and especially the Cairns area.  This kind of environmental degradation is a negative picture tourists take away with them, to our detriment.

Here's some of the submissions:


Every suburb of Cairns has one of these - the "pop up car yard".  Used to be before Joh Bjelke Newman, Main Roads authorised Councils to ticket and/or tow from these eyesores.  Not anymore.  Cairns Council refuses to lift a finger, and Main Roads is deaf, dumb, and blind.  And with some of these cars actually from commercial dealer lots, once again the people on the bottom of the car buying ladder are getting hurt the most.  


Another program slashed (no pun intended) has been the cutting and maintenance of the vegetation (we hesitate to use the word "turf") in the road reserves.  A similar situation exists with this service.  Main Roads stopped compensating Council for maintaining these road reserves during the reign of Gavin the King. King's answer to the issue was that "businesses adjacent needed to take some responsibility".  Fat chance that.  Mayor Bob "Sleepy" Manning then further cut council's contribution to making our city look presentable to the tourists.  The result is huge areas of road reserve that make the city look shithouse.  Here just adjacent to our "five-star golf resort", Paradise Palms.  Hard to understand why a multi-million dollar resort doesn't just suck it up and cut the weeds away from their entrance.   


Then there's our quasi-public telecommunications company, Telstra.  Every neighbourhood in Cairns has these little monuments to Telstra ineptitude.  Something broken?  Big hole in the ground where Telstra plant is located?  Telstra lickety-split sends a crew (yes, a crew, two people in a big truck) to place one of these barriers around the problem.  This one has been in place for 10 months.  


Have a business or event you want to advertise?  Too lazy to use social media and too cheap to put a proper advertisement in the newspaper?  Too easy!  Just throw up signs for your event wherever you'd like.  Used to be only three official Main Road-approved sign locations.  Now, you can put them up anywhere, and they'll stay there until you remove them (or until they blow away, whichever comes first).

So bad has the illegal signage become, Cairns (non)Regional
Council refuses to order this off-site billboard removed.  This is on the Bruce Highway entrance to the city.  I guess Maccas can do whatever they want.

Cairns Council also now routinely ignores ratepayer complaints as long as possible - sometimes forever.  Caravan parking on your street?  Abandoned cars sitting untouched for months?  How about this cretin - the
only one who won't bring his bins off the street after the collection.  No amount of prodding of Council to enforce Local Laws gets any attention.  

We told you previously about the explosion in "massage services" available in the Cairns area.  Some are just massage by untrained and unlicenced hacks who use the opportunity to stick unwanted
chinese medicine patches on you to extract more cash from the unwary.  The others are whorehouses or worse.  Locanto shows the 1st floor at this location as one of these unlicensed hooker dens.  So unafraid of the government and QPS they openly advertise:  http://tinyurl.com/CNSwhorehouse


We were shocked to find out that a haircut from Supercuts is now $30.  
2005 - - $19.  2015 - - $30.  50% in 10 years.  Has your wage gone up 50% in 10 years?  

We note that a haircut in Sydney is routinely $10 - $12.



The final indignity.  We've all seen these everywhere around town. Street lighting that NEVER goes out.  Expensive high-cost sodium-vapour
lighting.  Expensive bulbs.  Expensive electricity.  MONTHS ago Ergon's North Queensland apologist Geoff Bowes told the Compost that "they were waiting for a part".  And he made a point of saying that "we (the public) aren't paying for this electricity".  A government-owned company and we're not paying?  This doesn't pass the laugh test!

We've emailed Ergon's General Manager for Customer Service, a man named Peter Billing.  I swear, you can't make this shit up.





09 July 2015

**FLASH** - ANOTHER INTERNATIONAL SERVICE CANS CAIRNS

In the 13 hours since the previous story was written, we've now learned of another blow to the Cairns Airport and Cairns tourism.

United Airlines, who've been flying to Cairns since 1998, will discontinue service to Cairns on October 1, 2015.  This can easily be verified on the UA booking website.  United is one of two US "mega-carriers", and a key in the Star Alliance.  This leaves those frequent flyers who accrue points in this system with NO WAY of redeeming those points for a trip to Cairns.

This service was a major feeder for our Japanese tourism market.  United services Cairns via Guam from a number of smaller Japanese cities including Fukuoka, Sendai, Sapporo, and Nagoya.  United has been a major transporter of these Japanese to Cairns, and the loss of this service is going to dramatically decrease the Japanese tourist numbers in Cairns.

This has also been a popular service in bringing Americans, including the growing number of US Military in Guam and Hawaii, to Cairns for RnR.

United stepped up to help Cairns when Australian Airlines was closed by Qantas, and Qantas started stripping service out of Cairns.  United increased service from two to five services per week in a strong expression of loyalty to the Cairns market. 

United is thought to have been incurring huge increases in airport charges from CAPL and the service is no longer profitable or viable.

There would be many Cairns and other Australian residents who've booked ski trips using United to Sapporo for later in the year.  They would be well-advised to look for other arrangement now, although the options are extremely limited. 

But shit, we can always go to Bali cheap.  

CAIRNS AIRPORT FOREIGN OWNERS DEMAND INCREASED CASH RETURN, DERAILING NEEDED UPGRADES AND DAMAGING CAIRNS TOURISM-BASED ECONOMY

WE LOVE THIS PICTURE - ONLY IN CAIRNS
WOULD THIS BE CONSIDERED A
"SUCCESSFUL AIRPORT UPGRADE"
When the Anna Bligh ALP government sold-off the Cairns Airport to an investment vultures bankers consortium led by JPMorgan Chase, proceeds were to be used for redevelopment of the Cairns (non)Base Hospital and additional site purchase in the southern suburbs. 

Member for MacKenzie Gavin King pushed Campbell Newman to sell off the new hospital site during his mercifully short term as an MP.  While we don't believe he was successful, we've had no joy trying to determine the status from Treasurer Curtis Pitt's office.  

Due to the desperate nature of the Bligh government at the time, the airport was flogged-off with little oversight or review at a bargain-basement price - US$361M.  Most analysts felt that the State should have gotten closer to US$500M at the time.  Nothing like telling everyone you need quick cash, and then offering up an asset for sale.   

The CAPL seems to ignore one basic fact:  People don't come to the airport, they come to Cairns - to see all we have on offer, to experience all the businesses that generations have built here.  Without us, the airport is nothing.  However the CAPL's arrogant attitude towards the community and airport users is nothing short of the tail trying to wag the dog.

Owners CAPL and airport management led by Kevin Brown
have made almost no infrastructure investments in the airport, other than those designed to gouge more cash out of the public and Cairns residents.  These have included deliberate attempts to stop ALL non-CAPL car parking with both aggressive attacks on off-site car parking vendors, as well as blockade of all the airport areas where previously local residents waited for arrivals.  The CAPL has ignored calls for a "mobile phone" area (an almost universal feature at airports around the world) and has reportedly asked Cairns (non)Regional Council to block parking at the mangrove boardwalk.  Making the boardwalk useless.

Brown, head of the Edinburgh Scotland airport only a short time before coming to Cairns, introduced a European-first "passenger drop-off charge" of £1, along with his "free 10 minutes in the carpark" charge.  Only the second idiotic policy has been implemented here (so far)!

Cairns is the only international airport in Australia that doesn't offer at least some limited, free wifi access to arriving and departing passengers.  Instead the Cairns Airport has decided to gouge our guests, with pricing the equivalent of a home connection costing $4200 per month! Even the Edinburgh airport has free wifi for their guests.  Implemented by Kevin Brown's replacement, naturally.  

Despite the fanfare made by Kevin Brown for the Airport Master Plan approved over two years ago, virtually none of the promised $1B in improvements has yet to materialise.  And those upgrades that have been made (like a VIP covered parking area) are amenities for the big end of town.

And when the tragic death of Dinah Boughton brought the inadequacies of the only airport access road to the community attention, Kevin Brown got Mayor Sleepy to warn our tourists not to walk on this road!  A "free" limited-hours shuttle bus dumps passengers off on Sheridan Street was a sop designed to fail.  

THESE ARE BINDING REQUIREMENTS ON THE CAPL.  WHY AREN'T THEY
HONOURING THEIR STATUTORY PROMISES?
The lack of pedestrian and bicycle lanes on the airport access road looks to be a violation of their own Master Plan.  The plan says clearly:  "Sealed pathways for pedestrians and bicycles are provided in accordance with the design guidelines set out in Austroad Guide to Road Design".  And it goes on to require: "Direct paths of travel are provided TO AND BETWEEN FACILITIES".  (Emphasis added).  In other words, CAPL has committed to a bicycle and pedestrian track from Sheridan Street TO the airport.   Inquiries about this inconsistency have gone unanswered by the member, Craig Crawford.  Has anyone seen Mr. Crawford, BTW??  He looks to have returned Barron River to the "invisible MP" status it had during Steve Wettenhall days.

But the bigger question:  If Kevin Brown and the American owners of the Cairns Airport aren't willing to honour their promises on something simple like a pedestrian path, what else are they going to ignore as they plow forward?

We understand that the CAPL is now making informal inquiries about the conversion of the airport facilities along the Cook Highway to retail and accommodation facilities.  At first blush this looks to be a reasonable and compatible use for this land, as long as the current facilities (that employ hundreds) are retained on the airport grounds east of the terminals.  

One of the first retail contacts by the CAPL has been to Woolworths, which currently operates a 24-hour-per-day "Supercentre" adjacent to the Brisbane Airport.  However in the process of discussions with Woolies, it has been revealed that 24/7 operation would be illegal in Cairns, a violation of the Queensland Retail Trading Hours laws.  

And we understand this fact was in a report presented to airport management but withheld from the CAPL board, who have been "sold" on the idea of 24 hour trading on this land.

And even more importantly - the CAPL is currently in violation of the law by allowing their current retail vendors to operate outside of normal Queensland trading laws!

The 24 hour trading at Brisbane is allowable because the Brisbane airport sits on Commonwealth-owned land.  The Cairns Airport is on land owned by the Queensland Government, hence the requirement to follow Queensland law.

The current management at the Cairns Airport is not acting in the best interests of the Cairns community.  The domestic terminal travesty that forces long walks to/from the airplanes, down rat mazes and up ramps, is known to be a major annoyance to the airlines.  This idiotic arrangement requires additional staff by the airlines (to ensure passengers don't wander out into the tarmac, and get on the correct aircraft).  It puts four "gates" in the same tunnel creating chaos and limiting the number of flights (more so than the single runway configuration).  It requires many passengers to still walk outside in the rain to get to their flight.  It has required an increase in staff to manage disabled passengers who need a wheelchair in the terminal.  And more importantly, it has given the Cairns Airport the dubious distinction of the longest-required aircraft turnaround time in Australia.  

Not to mention the grossly intelligible public address system in a waiting area filled with grubby passenger benches and disgusting lavatories.  Fortunately the international terminal is much better - but despite cash incentives from the Queensland government, Kevin Brown has been grossly ineffectual in attracting new international flights to the airport.

The Cairns community grudgingly accepted the need to use the Cook Highway areas as commercial and related development when the airport was sold.  What we didn't accept was that the CAPL management was going to focus the bulk of their efforts to this cash cow while abandoning the proper operation of our airport.  

Stripping the airport and our tourist guests for  "profits" sent to the American owners while failing to operate our airport in a competitive and sustainable way is damaging Cairns.  Far more than changing the pub lockout to 1AM.  If they can't get here, or get financially raped just getting out of the airport, they're not going to spend very much in our pubs regardless of the time.