Others like Mayoral aspirant Ian Thomas haven't even lived in Cairns for over a decade, instead carpetbagging into Cairns with most residents finding suspicious his motivations for suddenly interfering in our local election. Given the widespread suspicions that the developers are opposed to the Entertainment Precinct site on the waterfront purely so that they can get their grubby mitts on it, a blow-in ex-developer running on a "Stop the Entertainment Precinct" platform isn't exactly a mayoral shoe-in.
Most of the other candidates are political novices, and while I'm sure most have a close cadre of friends/workmates/drinking mates/, evaluating them is an onerous task. With over 8500 voters in each division, a candidate walking their division, spending a mere 5 minutes with each voter introducing themselves and asking/answering questions, would need over 700 hours between now and election day. Hardly do-able for a council candidate, and mere election fluff for Gavin King running in one of the physically largest parliamentary divisions.
So, the candidates turn to advertising, and advertising requires money. Big money. And for this, most candidates turn to donors. Even those with personal financial ability rarely use their own money for their campaign. Funny that.
So, ultimately, one of the best gauges of the candidate's motivation and interests is their list of campaign donors. And yet, under Queensland electoral law, this donor list can be withheld from the electoral commission and the public until "24 weeks after polling day". AFTER THE ELECTION. Funny that.
Byrne withheld his donor list from the electorate prior to the election, despite Val Schier making her list public. However in one of the all-time stupid election tactics, Byrne confirmed what everyone suspected with a billboard at Smithfield paid for by his developer mates - a daily reminder for everyone north driving into the city including those in Douglas Shire who were shuddering at what would happen to their idyllic town with a Byrne open-slather Unity Team administration. Port voted over 61% in favour of Val Schier.
The solution to this conundrum is simple. The candidates need to agree to the Hillbilly Watch Campaign Challenge:
ALL COUNCIL AND MAYORAL CANDIDATES VOW TO PUBLISH WITHIN 48 HOURS ALL DONORS, PLEDGES, OR "IN-KIND"
This can be done on their own websites, which most of the candidates have already launched, or via Facebook which some of the candidates seem to be using.
While whingers like John MacKenzie claim that this "all independents" council has been dysfunctional, unaffiliated candidates are in fact the way of the future for local government elections. The day of the "team" is over. Ratepayers want councillors to reflect their interests, not the interests of their team or party. Cairns in fact is the leader in this local government strategy, and several of the "team" candidates are already lamenting their hasty decisions to sign on.
The voters have a right to know what business and commercial interests are backing all of these so-called "independents". ARE THEY REALLY INDEPENDENT? OR HAS SOME SPECIAL INTEREST CO-OPTED THEM?