Last night's ABC Four Corners program exposed to Australians the rampant corruption and Triad (Mafia) control over the Macau casinos. While there is little evidence that the Macau regulators are interested in excising this corruption, the program highlighted the connections to the Packer-owned Crown Casinos in Melbourne and Perth, the now under-construction Barangaroo in Sydney, and the Packer investments in Macau.
No surprise to HBW readers, where this subject was first discussed over a year ago.
With the project under review by Joh Bjelke Newman and his rubber-stamp government, attention will soon focus on the lack of leadership being shown by Mayor Bob "Sleepy" Manning and his crew of misfits.
Just after the Aquis project was first announced, Manning and another councillor were asked during a community luncheon if either had ever even been to Macau. Neither had. Manning was asked if he thought it prudent for council to educate themselves about what was being proposed by Aquis by paying a visit to Macau. Manning agreed.
To date he, nor anyone else in Council, has paid a visit to Macau.
And despite throwing a few million into Lake Street, the shortcomings for transit access and the danger presented to pedestrians has caused Manning to admit that the consultation was a sham.
But the changes being wrought on the Esplanade are even more dramatic.
Council approved conversion of one upscale restaurant, Mangostins, into a Sports Bar. But since no smoking area was provided by the owners, Rattle n Hum, smokers piled into the space adjacent to upscale restaurant Kani's - which forced this restaurant to close. All while Council
officers stood by and did nothing. Can't even get all the illegal signs removed from the front of this rathole.
And now this iconic building that anchors the busiest corner in Cairns, at the corner of Shields and the Esplanade (anchored by Maccas) has been purchased by an investment group led by used car salesman Adam Adams. (With parents that obviously had a sick sense of humour.) Adams has trashed Kanis by putting a Night Owl overpriced convenience store where Kanis was. Complete with gaudy, all-night signs.
And the wonderful upstairs area of Kanis, and the former Johnno's Nightclub, both overlooking the Lagoon and Pacific Ocean? Bob Manning has approved (with no public notice) conversion of this space into 200 backpacker beds. With the plans showing 100 with no outside light, in "cells" that bring conjure up visions of the Childers Backpacker Fire. Council also approved this use with no additional parking, and not even bicycle parking!
One afternoon last week we saw that the gaudy signs on the corner of Shields and Aplin have been removed, leaving the mess that will welcome our G20 visitors. This along with bicycles chained up to any immovable object, and filthy footpaths that haven't been cleaned in years.
But while gazing at the increasingly downmarket filth being pushed into the Esplanade by Manning, residents and visitors looked overhead as they saw (and heard the roar), gleaming in the sun, Tony Fung's new, multi-million dollar 757 "high roller" aircraft. (Well, not really "new". It's 24 years old, and sat for seven years in an airliner graveyard until purchased by Fung). An airplane that is registered in Barbados - apparently to avoid Australian inspection regimes.
Fung has made a point of how he's "Australian" and has resided and invested in Queensland for a long time. And his first action is - avoiding Australian registration and inspection by hiding behind Barbados? But we digress. . . .
We were reminded again what the priorities are now in Cairns. The CBD and Esplanade no longer need to be the "jewels" in the Cairns tourist infrastructure. So Bob Manning has no problem putting backpacker prisons and tourism gouges on what was formerly our attractive waterfront area.
And despite being scheduled as a dignitary to be present at the opening festivities for the Festival on Collins, neither Manning nor anyone from his council appeared to show their support of this event. There's much too big a chance of being heckled, and worse, as much of Cairns has become aware of his rudderless leadership. Manning and his partner boast about attending "real entertainment" shows in Sydney whenever they want, and yet haven't once poked their heads into The Tanks - Cairns' award winning entertainment centre.
It's time to face facts. Manning just doesn't give a shit about Cairns, its citizens, and its future. He's satisfied to believe that the Tony Fung Aquis project represents the prosperous future of Cairns.
Without even taking the time to take a look at what's in store for us.