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

31 July 2015


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
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
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!


Anonymous said...

Not one penny of taxpayers money should be spent on this,TAB and others are making squillions out of dumb punters,TAB and others should stump up.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

If the proposal to shift south was done and the sub-divison of the Race Track completed. This club would be the envy of any country Club in Australia. It was workable,viable and wouldn't have cost a penny and by now the club would have been in the strongest financial position of any club.Yes the track is built on a swamp, so how many more millions are they going to throw at it and still come up with the same problems and who is going to pay, oh Tom, yea, right and with whose money. Is this club just for the small "click"of wealthy that enjoy watching their horeses go round on a Saturday afternoon, one wonders. I guess Bently could throw in a million or two.

Anonymous said...

You can find plenty of examples yet there is no way to keep them honest. If Cairns Post and Brisbane times are not interested then they will get away with one waste after another. We need a citizen jury or organisation in place of a senate.

Mickwow said...

The excess land they have should be sold to developers to establish an appropriate tourist venture or build apatments,rip down all the old buildings and build some modern facilities out there,including a state of the art track.
Most of all they need a forward thinking entrepreneur type to run the place not these group of locals who seem to run the place between themselves.

Anonymous said...

Gee Mickwow, I wish you were around before Hedley and Co.plus a few others, then we wouldn't be in this bloody ridiculous position.Some people can't see the woods because of the trees.I think the previous committee were on the right track, but some people have the tunnel vision problem and only listen to the spruiker who has the wrong agenda.

Anonymous said...

Anon 20:35 You could extend that observation across the the whole 'big end of town' in this sleepy little backwater. From the myopic regional council currently headed by a sleepy hasbeen LNP puppet to the self serving 'chamber of commerce' the Compost and the TTNQ junket, over the years, the more we rely on them to shape our future the more of a backwater we become. Hasn't changed much in the 40 years I have lived here.

Anonymous said...

How do we fix it? Seems a group of people think the public purse is their private ATM.

Hamish Krint said...

You will never 'fix it' because ordinary people, no matter how intelligent they are, don't have the influence or the connections to effect real change. Witness the recent Division 3 appointment - from 45 applicants emerges the wife of Money & Sleepy's best friend - fait accompli. Sometimes ordinary people do effect change e.g Bronny's demise, but that was helped along by social and print media. So unless you have heaps of time and energy, and MONEY (a la Clive Palmer) to try and get yourself elected on any of the power machines like Council etc., forget it. May I suggest, to raise awareness, every reader of this blog makes an effort to tell at least 5 friend's of the blog's existence, and then get them to tell 5 more friends, and so on. That would be a good start!

Hamish Krint said...

While I think of it - the Darwin Cup has just been held at Fannie Bay Race Course - now, it pisses down in Darwin (far more than in Cairns) yet that track seems to be OK. Maybe someone should junket to Darwin to check out how it was built, drained etc.?

Anonymous said...

Is that division 3 councillor actually still alive ? I haven't see or hear from her since she was given the job. And strangely enough no complaints from all the dickheads who are still constantly moaning about Rob Pyne. Strange that..

Anonymous said...

Just gotta drill a lotta holes to punch thru the impervious clay and fill them with 9mm aggregate.


Geotech Engineer

Anonymous said...

HBW - possibly that QITE gives racetrack free labour and in return gets paid per person by the government for doing so, QITE gets paid, racetrack gets free labour and the person develops some experience

Tony Hillier said...

If the current status quo (viz torpor) in Cairns is to change, a new set of councillors with progressive views and a mayor of clout will need to be voted in next March. God help this city if Mayor Sleepy and his obsequious, supine cronies are returned.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the new division 3 born again Christian try to hold a festival a few weeks ago to celebrate routine council maintenance? Then all the signs advertising the mamoth event were plastered with postponed. You couldn't make it up.

shanghai said...

again you pilgrims have it wrong cannon park should be brought up to a standard that it could be used as a quarantine station to house overseas horses to plunder our riches down south in the spring /autumn aka like Geelong race track yes the horses would like our climate and we are much closer to hk,singapore,japan and Europe and it would attract high value jobs and publicity to our city ie could you imagine the publicity if black cavalier was here for 4 weeks after her trip to pommy land even capt mannering might get a hard on

Anonymous said...

Tony Hillier That will not happen when the press demand we stay stupid. One person I can think of would make a great Mayor but will put their hand up because good ideas are ridiculed in the backward press. Does not matter how progressive,how smart we can only ever be as smart as the press because they are the messenger and our press are poor. The asst editor thinks climate change is a scam for heavens sake.

Next best idea, well my pick not far off really, is a Baird/Turnbull type Liberal. A right winger but one that is somewhat rational. But the born to rule boys club would reject such a person as they would not be submissive to bad ideas.

So when it comes to Councillors will depend on who buys airtime really,nothing to do with merit.

Anonymous said...

I agree bar fly (sorry, Tony)
Bring back KB

Bob R. said...

Haven't heard a fucken peep from our new Councillor since she was hand picked nor seen hide nor hair of her. Yet by Christ we all knew Rob Pyne when he was our rep.

Anonymous said...

Where did the money go? Who was looking after the project on behalf of the stake holders? Why is there no inquiry? I have just got back from Cambodia, one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Cairns looks lime one of the most corrupt cities in the world, are the citizens all brain dead?