4CA - Queensland's Home for Fake News

4CA - Queensland's Home for Fake News
4CA - Queensland's Home for Fake News Led by John "Cueball" Mackenzie

27 December 2011


Cairns has lost another heritage-listed building as the Rex Theater demolition is completed this week.  This is a loss that didn't have to happen.  The Mayor's threats to prosecute the Sydney-based developer, without a fuller analysis of the real problems will guarantee that this issue will recur.  It's clear from reading the Council staff report on the subject that the Mayor and councillors aren't being given a full picture of this incident.  

In the Cairns Post summary of the issue on 26 December 2011, the developer Eldav Properties P/L, hiding behind local lawyer Jason Briggs, claim that "they have endured their family business being vilified and tarnished".  In all the public documents at council, this "family business" is merely a corporate entity registered in NSW.  The family in question is David and Elena Shitari, of Peakhurst, Sydney, with David Shitari listed as the sole director - at an address owned by a business advisor, Lindsay Aitken.  You can't vilify a family business unless you know who the family is!  Welcome to the internet, Mr. & Mrs. Shitari!

Lawyer Briggs makes several claims that clearly don't stack up.  He has previously claimed, and a statutory declaration was proffered from David Shitari, that council staff gave them verbal permission to knock down the Rex.  Of course council staff dispute this claim, and offer a differing set of facts.  And as community leader Ross Parisi points out, the statutory declaration from Mr. Shitari regarding council's actions in this issue needs to be fully investigated and explained by the city manager.  The Cairns Council Development Department has had a long history of poor performance, lack of follow-thru, and plain old incompetence.  Resident complaints are routinely lodged and ignored by this department, led by Peter Tabulo.  Tabulo was felt by many community leaders to be Kevin Byrne's black hand as large inappropriate projects were pushed thru the previous council, and many in the community expected Mayor Shier to get rid of this guy after she was elected.  However a sleazy deal got Tabulo a new contract from the Byrne-mate city manager Noel Briggs, who was ultimately sacked as part of the MacKenzie "Cash for Comment" scandal.

How many Development Department staff and managers drove past the Rex for days on end, seeing the demolition proceed, and not putting stop to it?  How many councillors, for that matter!

So the Development Department is likely a witting or unwitting culprit in this matter, and the community needs to have the facts.  But let's not stop there, likely there are other culprits.  This property, along with the adjacent now-razed properties, were marketed for sale prior to the Eldav purchase by Australian First Realty on Bunda Street, director Robert Smith.  And the property is again being marketed by Australian First, and while they show the picture of the Rex Theater in the ad, it's listed as "Cairns Best Development Site"!  No mention in the ad of the building, the disputes, the heritage listing.  Nothing.  The site now being marketed, at over 3200m2, would seem to include the adjacent two vacant allotments which were previously also marketed by Australian First, and then razed.  

And the ad goes on to say "Owner will consider joint venture", and "Preliminary plans upon request".  So apparently Mr. Shitari has planned all along to pull the entire building down without regard to the heritage overlay, and went so far as to have plans drawn up for an undisclosed project.  And you can't pull this kind of scheme together without a cooperative estate agent like Australian First.

Estate agents are required to ensure advertisements contain "all material facts".  Why has the heritage status of the site been omitted?  And the potential for large fines and perhaps criminal action?  All would seem to be "material facts" that should be disclosed to a "joint venture" partner, don't you think?

Australian First has a long history around dodgy deals, according to council insiders. The Qld Office of Fair Trading shows no licence for "Australian First Realty".  Other sources close to this situation have indicated that the Shitari family were unwitting victims in a plan to illegally tear this building down for developers.  Requests for information from Robert Smith have had no response.  And Australian First's PO Box (1010) are shown on all the council documents as the address for Eldav, so they look to have been the instigators all along of this plan to demolish this heritage building.

Australian First also is marketing the failed Snap Printing business, believed to be owned by Cueball MacKenzie shill, Raj Patel - birds of a feather, blah, blah. 

And in an even bigger twist, the former MP DisHon. Martin Tenni is shown as "fully licensed" agent on several Australian First properties!  This despite the fact that Fair Trading shows NO real estate licence for Martin Tenni!  Guess Tenni figures white aboriginals don't need no stinking licence!

Quite a shit pile on Bunda Street!
Council needs a full, independent investigation into this matter.  Without it, the growing cloud of incompetence and fraud over Peter Tabulo and his staff cannot be ameliorated.  And without a full understanding of the role of real estate agents in the marketing of protected properties without proper disclosure, these events will continue with everyone pointing the finger at everyone else.  And if the David and Elena Shitari families came up to Cairns hoping to tear down a heritage building and make squillions on the rape of our community, they deserve the full weight of the law to drop on them.

Let's get to the bottom of this mess!


PSI Tutor:Mentor said...

I agree further investigation is necessary. The heritage value is of value to Cairns community, I remember it as a roller rink from young days.

CBD Warrior said...

Great piece, Mr. Hillbilly! Why can't we get something approaching journalism from the Cairns Post? Oh, I forgot - NO JOURNALISTS!

And I'm planning to lodge the complaint with Fair Trading about that Martin Tenni. He needs a good spanking.

Ed in Edge Hill said...

If you take a look at Robert Smith's Lexus 4WD, you'll see he's got NSW rego plates on it. He's never had Qld registration on this vehicle, which I've seen him driving.

What kind of scam comes from using a NSW rego in FNQ?

Tony Hillier said...

Let's hope the historic Herries building in McLeod Street (opp. the old graveyard), which is currently only protected from the elements by plastic sheeting, does not suffer the same fate as the Rex. I'm sure the owners/developers would like nothing better than to raze this heritage-listed edifice.

Anonymous said...

shit this city is so corrupt and all the coucilers are in on this shit if what you say is correct.

bogan said...

Yer well I dunno bout the old Rex. It doesn't do nothing for me. Id rather we had saved the old Burns Philip Building or the entire Barbary Coast of hotels.

Kay said...

I personally don't think the "heritage" value of the Rex can compare with the "heritage" value of the Cairns Yacht Club. That demolition was a disgrace.

observer said...

its not heritage listed, you moron. council PROPOSED to have it heritage listed, on their own register, but that was after demolition had begun. and agents don't have to be listed with OFT. they have to be registered with REIQ.

Frank said...

According to A Thematic History of the City of Cairns and its Regional Towns 2011, published on the Cairns Regional Council website: “The Rex Theatre in Sheridan Street was designed by the architect V. M. Brown and was officially opened on 11 March 1939. The theatre was equipped with Western Electric Mirrophonic Sound and had a ventillation (sic) system that 'assured comfortable atmospheric conditions’, including louvres which ran the length of the building. The theatre initially accommodated 600 patrons in easy canvas chairs. It was owned and operated by Northern Theatres, which was known as Far Northern Theatres after World War Two. Far Northern Theatres owned four cinemas and a drive-in in the Cairns area –the Rex, the Palace, the Tropical and the Plaza (1942-43) Cinemas and the Coral Drive-In, Woree (1961). The last picture was shown at the Rex Theatre on 3 March 1978 and the building was sold in the same year. This theatre building however remains as a remnant of cinema architecture in Cairns. All four of the Far Northern Theatres' cinemas in Cairns were sold to Birch Carroll & Coyle, who closed them to eliminate competition for their more modern Odeon Cinema.”

Brett Hitchens said...

Hmm not sure if the CRC knows its own history very well if they think the Palace Cinema - (now palace backpackers) was ever owned or "shut down" by BCC. Until its present configuration The Palace was owned by Peter Cominos, operated by KIm and Andrew Gunst as an independent cinema in competition with BCC. After it closed End Credits Film Club hosted regular screenings there until the Cominos family sold the building i the late nineties. At that point Cairns lost it's last independent film screen venue.

Anon No. 4 said...

The best startiong point for an investigation is to demand of Council and your local councillor a copy of the complete file relating to the land and any permits/applications etc, and a full and detailed explanation of what has occurred. the CEO and mayor like to boast of what a wonderfully transparent operation they run. Start with them and report every word they say.

Anonymous said...

Peter Tabulio is just a puppet to his side kick in Planning Kelly Reaston - real nasty piece of work that does not give a dam about preserving Cairns history. The whole department needs a clean out.

Anonymous said...

I have driven past the old Rex Theatre a number of times since the front facade was removed. I was grealy surprised to find that behind this facade is masonry block bricks which appear to be holing the front of the building up. Masonry block bricks have only been on the market since the middle 1960's. I think that the "heritage" value of this building is a load of crap. You can clearly see the building has had a number of makeovers which in my opinion reduces the value for the building to be heritage listed.
Lets pull the building down and move on. These do gooders who go about wanting to heritage list everything that looks a bit old need a reality check. Why should the owners of these building be forced to pay to keep a building to the style "Heritage " listing requires? Lets see those that support "heritage listing" put up as much money as the noise they meke to keep such buildings.