Friday, 30 September 2011

Old Pubs have a history of burning down sometimes fortutiously

Historic Mossman pub burns down

Laura Packham
Friday, September 30, 2011
© The Cairns Post

M0ssman's historic Royal Hotel was destroyed by fire last night.

The two-storey building collapsed after it was engulfed by flames. Fire crews from Mossman, Port Douglas and Cairns battled the fire, which started about 7.40pm.

The pub was built in the 1930s. About 150 residents crowed onto Front St to watch the building burn. A number of gas bottles were also thought to have exploded, feeding the flames. Fire investigators will today try to determine what caused the fire.

A Mossman tradesman said the building was made from solid timber and provided the perfect fuel to feed the fire. "It was pretty wild, there were explosions, a big bang and then there was just the most roaring fire," he said. "It’s just an old timber frame hotel that’s been stripped out. It’s full of timber and old carpet so it was totally taken ablaze. "There was nothing stopping it."

Raine & Horne Mossman/ Port Douglas agent David Cotton, who sold the property in December 2009, spoke to The Cairns Post from outside the pub last night. "There are lights everywhere, ambulance, fire and a few police," he said. "The whole building, there’s nothing, just a little bit of the facade is left.

"The top is basically all gone. The rest is charcoal." Residents said the fire’s intensity melted the hotel’s roof and roller doors, before the iconic building collapsed in the middle. Last year, the hotel’s owner asked Cairns Regional Council for permission to demolish the building.

However, it was identified by the National Trust of Queensland and the Douglas Historical Society as a building of cultural significance for Mossman. Mr Cotton believed the owner’s renewed plans were to build around the famous pub.

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Thursday, 29 September 2011

Tanya Brooks-Cooper | Division 8 | Cairns Regional Council

Tanya is a long term Cairns resident, a dynamic and innovative community sector manager, wife, mum, student at JCU (again) and passionate Cairns community member.
Tanya wants to learn from those that have proudly lived here for generations that have worked to develop the region.  She would also like to celebrate the new arrivals that have set up home and those that are investing in Cairns for the future, either with skills, business or families, and understands they have much to share.  Acknowledging the traditional custodians, Tanya also cherishes her own culture and the diverse culture of her community.
Key issues on Tanya’s agenda include focusing on enhancing the unique character and feel of the different pockets in Division 8 and creating recreation opportunities. Profiling and highlighting opportunities to diversify Cairns’ economic base and making the region a friendly, open and safe place to live are also priorities.
 ‘I am passionate about Cairns, and getting the voices of Division 8 heard. I am listening and committed to making a difference. I’ve got my eye on the ball for issues happening in the Division and encourage people to get in touch with me as things arise over the next 6 months  as I’m sure the sitting Councillor will be busy focussing on her campaign for the Mayoral role.’ Tanya said.
 ‘I went to school and university here, all of my children were born here, and while we’ve travelled and I’ve gotten some great professional experience managing services across the state, I am at home here and I want to create and build the buzz around Cairns, the best place in the world to live.’
Representative roles are not new to Tanya after leading the Student Association at James Cook University for over 3 years, plus she drove the youth sector agenda and hosted a state wide conference in Cairns during her time at Cairns Regional Council. Coordinating communication, creating networks and driving sustainable solutions are all core business attributes for Tanya and things she really enjoys doing.
To find out more check out how Tanya is going to run her campaign please go to or find Tanya at  and at Tanyafor8.  
With a “can do” approach, Tanya Brooks-Cooper is committed to being part of the exciting future of Cairns region. 
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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Janet Albrechtsen | commentary on Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott, a warrior is not afraid to come out fighting

Nicholson cartoon
Cartoon by Peter Nicholson. Source: The Australian

IT'S a sad day when the leader of the Liberal Party backs off from a philosophical fight. It's even more disappointing when a Liberal warrior does so. Yet that's what Tony Abbott did last week when he announced that the Liberal Party no longer supported individual contracts. "We did once, but we don't now," Abbott says, pointing out that the focus should be on solving problems, not philosophical positions.

No one is talking about arcane debates among ivory tower academics. This goes to the heart of relations between employers and employees. Fixing problems is fine, but the best solutions depend on ideas that have been tried and tested. And those ideas form the philosophical underpinnings that explain the difference between Liberal and Labor.

Unlike many lightweight Liberals, Abbott has a proud history writing about the Liberal philosophy of the freedom of the individual and contesting the ideas of those who would stifle such freedom in the name of misplaced paternalism and big government.

Now consider the Prime Minister. Julia Gillard has little history of staking out what she believes. Her positions have been defined by opportunism. She was a member of Labor's left faction when it suited her rise up Labor's ranks. She has never penned thoughtful papers, let alone books, on her convictions. Just stump speeches devised by spin doctors to get where she wanted to be. When Gillard replaced Rudd last year as Prime Minister, she worked hard to mimic John Howard on strong borders because that suited her. In  Battlelines, Abbott explored the Liberal philosophy: "The task is to prioritise the country's most pressing problems and to devise practical remedies that reflect the party's enduring values and principles. The Liberal Party has a natural preference for freedom."

Yet now Abbott appears to be running away from a philosophical fight based on that freedom preference just when one is most needed. When the world is facing enormous economic challenges, the best practical solution is to ensure Australian workplaces have the flexibility to confront a looming economic downturn. Instead, the re-regulation of the workforce under Rudd and Gillard has left businesses hamstrung, returning Australia to the pre-Keating days of centralisation.

It's easy to forget Paul Keating's vision of industrial relations, which he explained in an address in April 1993 to the Institute of Company Directors: "Let me describe the model of industrial relations we are working towards. It is a model that places primary emphasis on bargaining at the workplace level within a framework of minimum standards . . . Over time the safety net would inevitably become simpler. We would have fewer awards, with fewer clauses . . . We need to find a way of extending the coverage of agreements from being add-ons . . . to awards to being full substitutes for awards."

When Keating introduced the Industrial Relations Act 1993, its stated objective was "encouraging and facilitating the making of agreements, between the parties involved in industrial relations, to determine matters pertaining to the relationship between employers and employees, particularly at the enterprise or workplace level".

Gillard has re-regulated the workplace, failing to understand that improved productivity is not achieved from a centralised system mandated by government.

As Liberal MP Andrew Robb said in 2005: "Productivity is not 'national'. It is generated personally or, at best, at the enterprise or workplace level. Centralised wage determination took from those who worked productively and gave to those who did not, discouraging the potentially productive from doing anything more than necessary. Rather than the productive or the innovative being rewarded, it was the industrially strong who received the dividends of the centralised system."

Gillard has taken the country back to this. And no one should imagine this is not a philosophical battle. The unions know it. The ALP knows it. And Abbott ought to know it, too.In Battlelines, Abbott observes that when Howard talked about political ideas, he didn't invoke philosophical concepts. Ministers didn't bring proposals to cabinet based on "conformity with any kind of orthodoxy". Proposals weren't categorised as " right-wing", "conservative", "liberal". "As long as voters could see the common sense in the former government' s proposals, the government prospered politically," he wrote.

As Liberal leader, Abbott's task is to explain the Liberal philosophy of freedom in the workplace where common sense dictates that employers and employees ought to be able to enter into individual contracts if that is the desire of both parties. And common sense dictates that a "no-disadvantage test" will protect employees.

Ignore those who say there is no real divide between Left and Right any more. Howard dragged Labor to the centre on many issues from border protection to indigenous policies. But one need only look at the workplace to see the divide still exists. And it has everything to do with ideology. Remember too that philosophical arguments aren't wrong because they are philosophical. They become wrong when they promote ideas proven wrong by history. By re-regulating the workplace, Gillard and Rudd sit on the wrong side of history.

That's why it's time for the Liberal Party to step aside from the self-imposed shadow that has hung over the party since the ACTU campaign against Work Choices. A similar campaign won't work as it did in 2007. For starters, if Work Choices alone explained Howard's loss, voters would have been ready with baseball bats. Instead, Australians had simply grown tired of a longstanding government.

Second, there is now a toxic whiff this year emerging from unions. The scandals within the Health Services Union have uncovered union greed, sloth and disregard for some of the country's lowest paid workers. No one imagines this is solely a scandal within the HSU. Just ask yourself why is the broader union movement so silent, when it should be asking questions of the long history of questionable conduct at the HSU.

Third, the rosy future imagined in 2007 is very different from this year's looming economic uncertainty.That's why Abbott, as Liberal gladiator, ought to gird his loins for a workplace battle with the ALP. If his intention is to introduce major changes after the election, he ought to ask for a mandate. If his intention is to do little as PM to return greater freedom to the workplace, he ought to think again.

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Will Queenslanders take note or have they turned off and waiting for the inevitable election?

Campbell Newman wife's family company sought $30m for flood contract

A Compant set up by Campbell Newman's wife and her family sought up to $30 million a year from the Queensland Reconstruction Authority in an unsolicited pitch to provide disaster recovery expertise weeks after the Brisbane floods earlier this year.
The company, which is 60 per cent owned by Lisa Newman's family and headed by her brother, Seb Monsour, also pushed for a position within the newly formed authority on February 7, despite having been in business for less than a month. Mrs Newman was secretary of the company for the first three weeks of its existence, while her husband was still serving as Brisbane's lord mayor and was yet to make the switch to lead the opposition Liberal National Party from outside parliament.

The company, initially registered as Invictus Solutions but now trading as Majella Global Technologies Asia Pacific, was registered on January 21, a day after it first offered its services to the Bligh government in assisting with the recovery from the January 12 floods. Majella has not won any work with the Reconstruction Authority, which has instead used existing Queensland government agencies to provide services similar to those touted by Mr Monsour, a businessman and former state Liberal candidate.A source said the "inhouse" services cost less than $500,000.

In documents obtained by The Australian, Mr Monsour offers a service, developed in the US, that uses "real time" communication and mapping technology that allows data and reports from the field to be sent to a centralised hub that then plans a "speedier" disaster response. Mr Newman, who has previously stated that he and his wife have no financial interest in the company, has been on leave for several days.

Last night, he issued a statement saying he had no knowledge of the $30m-a-year proposal and that he and his wife had no financial interest in the venture. "This was a proposal put to the Labor state government by Seb Monsour that I had no knowledge of and took place while I was Lord Mayor of Brisbane," Mr Newman said.

"I am not a state government decision-maker nor am I an elected member; therefore there is no conflict of interest. I can categorically state that Lisa and myself have not received any financial benefit and will not in the future receive any financial benefit from the operations of Frank and Seb Monsour's company."

Following revelations about the existence of the disaster management company earlier this month, Mr Newman bowed to pressure and publicly released his wife's declaration on pecuniary interest to the Brisbane City Council in April. Mr Newman also confirmed he was being paid $12,000 a month by the LNP.

Mr Newman has refused to update his pecuniary interest register, made while he was still lord mayor, saying his financial interests have not changed and it is not required under law because he is not in parliament.

Queensland's Deputy Premier and Treasurer, Andrew Fraser, who is in London on government business, said the $30m-a-year bid raised questions about the LNP leader, who will contest the Brisbane seat of Ashgrove at the election due in March.
"This raises more and more questions about a person who has still refused to disclose all relevant financial interests," he said.

Mrs Newman was company secretary during the set-up of Invictus Solutions. She resigned several weeks later, on February 9, two days after Majella sought a position within the Queensland Reconstruction Authority.She remains a director of Majella's major shareholder, Frank Monsour Family Investments, headed by her surgeon father, of which she is a beneficiary.

Mrs Newman declared her involvement in the Frank Monsour Family Trust in her pecuniary interest register as the wife of the then lord mayor, but made no reference to the existence of the disaster-recovery business, despite detailing the real estate holdings of her father.

On September 14, Mr Newman said Mr Monsour sent an email to John Bradley, then director-general of the Department of Environment and Resource Management, saying: "We've got this product, it might be of assistance at the current time, are you interested?" Mr Newman added: "And that's the extent of it."

Documents obtained by The Australian show that, at the same time, Mr Monsour also sent emails to then deputy premier Paul Lucas and Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts. In the emails, Mr Monsour boasted that his company's products had been used after Hurricane Katrina in the US and the Haiti earthquake.

"We are the Asia-Pacific representatives of Global Relief Technologies . . . we simply belief (sic) our product can provide immediate benefit in the support of the recovery efforts in Queensland," he said in the email to Mr Roberts.

In further material sent to the Bligh government on February 18, Mr Monsour provided "two scenarios" for services that the company could offer. The first was priced at $6.7m in the first year and $5.2m in the second year. The second was priced at $29m, including more than $4m a year to cover employees' meals and accommodation expenses.

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Queensland Labor Government would be washed away

Anna Bligh stranded as post-disaster support surge washes away
QLD Newspoll primary vote
Source: The Australian

Anna Bligh is facing a landslide defeat at the Queensland election next March, with the latest Newspoll showing Labor's primary vote has slumped to almost half that of the Liberal National Party.

The record surge in popularity that Ms Bligh enjoyed after her widely lauded performance during Queensland's summer of disasters has been almost wiped out, with the government's primary vote now sitting at 27 per cent, just one point above its pre-Christmas depths when a leadership change was being mooted.

The state Newspoll, conducted exclusively for The Australian from July to this month, reveals that as the Campbell Newman-led Liberal National Party now holds a 22-point lead on a two-party-preferred basis, Labor could be left with as few as 13 seats in the 89-seat parliament.

After the distribution of preferences, the LNP is on 61 per cent against Labor's 39 per cent.

The figures show the ALP in Queensland is headed for a similar rout to that suffered by the party in NSW earlier this year. At a similar stage in the electoral cycle, the NSW Labor government led by Kristina Keneally had 23 per cent of the primary vote; at the election six months later, in March this year, Labor lost 30 seats in the 93-seat parliament.

Unlike NSW, Queensland does not have fixed terms of parliament, but Ms Bligh must face the voters at an election before March next year - the first government to face voters after the announcement of federal Labor's carbon tax deal.

The Queensland Newspoll also suggests that the newly registered federal MP Bob Katter's Australian Party is bleeding primary support from both Labor and the LNP.

Since the last Newspoll, published in May, Labor's primary vote has slipped from 31 to 27 per cent, while the LNP has slipped from 51 to 50 per cent.

The Greens have picked up only one percentage point to give them a standing of 8 per cent, but the biggest mover is the minor parties and independents, which have soaked up an extra four percentage points, which has most likely gone to Mr Katter's party.

Mr Newman, who quit as Brisbane's lord mayor in March to lead the LNP from outside parliament, continues to hold a big lead over Ms Bligh as preferred premier despite his lack of experience in the parliament.

Shortly after the Queensland floods, Ms Bligh staged the biggest comeback in Newspoll history. At the time, she was preferred premier over then LNP leader John-Paul Langbroek by a margin of 53 per cent to 26 per cent. Now, Mr Newman is leading Ms Bligh as preferred premier by 48 per cent to 34 per cent.

The was also a small drop in Ms Bligh's satisfaction rating, with a two percentage point rise in dissatisfaction to 52 per cent offset by a two point drop in satisfaction to 38 per cent.

The only comfort for Labor is that Mr Newman's dissatisfaction rating has risen from 22 per cent to 27 per cent, but even this has not translated into a direct problem for the ALP, with the wavering voters in this category reserving their views about Mr Newman rather than expressly changing them.

Mr Newman, who will contest the Brisbane seat of Ashgrove, has not made any major policy announcements since the April-June Newspoll and has been strongly attacked by the ALP over several weeks about his financial interests.

The poll results suggest the ALP attack is not having any impact on the electorate.

The Newspoll also shows the steady decline in the ALP's fortunes since the last election in March 2009, with the only pick-up being in the first quarter of this year.

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Cairns Base Hospital in financial pain

Ailing Cairns Base Hospital system cries out for lifeline

Kelly Burns
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
© The Cairns Post

Cairns Base Hospital is facing a shortage in almost every service it provides but the State Government denies the region's primary health facility is underfunded.

Public doctors and union leaders say the hospital is lacking either staff or resources in at least 16 departments, ranging from vital specialties such as dialysis, neurology and respiratory medicine to allied health services such as speech pathology, occupational therapy and physiotherapy/rehabilitation.

Hospital officials cited various reasons, including widespread shortages in speciality skills, lack of demand for certain services and the city’s close proximity to Townsville where relevant treatment is available.

Health Minister Geoff Wilson said the hospital’s executive team was responsible for such operational issues. "These are very clearly issues for the local hospital management and staff," he said in a statement. "The Government has provided record funding and a massive budget boost. "It is up to the district CEO (Julie Hartley-Jones), in consultation with senior clinical staff, to decide how best to spend it."

Ms Hartley Jones said the hospital’s services had expanded since she was appointed chief executive officer in 2009. "We put the first public MRI in in August 2009, we have increased sub-acute beds, we opened the cardiac cath lab (and) opened radiation oncology in June this year."But she acknowledged there were shortages in some specialties, particularly urology, which she was working on making available locally. "Of all the services, that’s the one (urology) where I genuinely feel it is a service we need to have locally," Ms Hartley-Jones said. "And I’m working with Mater (Hospital) in Brisbane, who provide it at the moment, to look at transitioning services so that this year we can start services."

Cairns Base Hospital’s acting director of medical services Patrick O’Neill said many allied health specialties were suffering from a national skills shortage, not lack of funding as claimed by unions and public sector doctors. "Recruiting is a problem for everybody all across Australia," he said. "It’s not related to funding. "It’s related to finding the people and competing with a fairly wide audience to get those people up here." Mr Wilson said the Cairns Hinterland Health District received a budget increase of more than 20 per cent this
financial year.

But Cairns Physicians Group spokesman Peter Boyd said the funding had yet to be felt by understaffed or under resourced departments. "We’ve been told that but we’ve still got acute staffing requirements in areas where we need to move quickly on," Dr Boyd said.
"I haven’t heard anything about putting on specialists and closing that gap."

Ms Hartley-Jones said the Cairns district was expected to receive more money for its services when it was funded under a national model to be introduced in July next year.

Many of the needs in the district were also being addressed in a clinical services plan, which projected demand over the next 15 years, currently  being prepared, she said.

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Posted by: Lisa Robbie of Edmonton 9:29am Tuesday

We are in the midst of a global nursing crisis as the softer Y-geners choose to enter other less demanding careers. The age group of 50-54 currently has the most number of nurses and it is estimated that 90,000 nurses will retire by 2020. It is also estimated that we currently have a shortage of about 500 nurses nationally and that number will increase to 5000 by 2020. Knowing my 2 teenagers and their friends, it is my own opinion that those numbers are underestimated. On any given day at CBH, management struggle to fill vacancies that exist on rosters as well as unplanned leave - sick, bereavement and family leave. When those vacancies can't be filled by casuals the already overworked staff have to work double shifts to cover the shortfall. Bear in mind that might mean a nurse starts an afternoon shift at 2.30 and finish at 7.30am the following day! Situations like this where staff would have to work a "double" exist almost every day. This is not isolated to Cairns. Stories like this exist all around the country and entire hospitals are closing down. Just google it and see. So you can bang on about increasing services all you like, but who is going to care for the patients. And where are the nurses going to come from to staff the new D-Block. The solution? A complete change in health ideology. That will mean we need to become a tougher society and not rush to the GP with every sniffle & spew. Visit your pharmacist for advice & over the counter medications, increase Hospital In The Home services, flog Primary Health care & health promotion, and become a healthier society. Throwing money at hospitals and opening more beds and services is useless if there are no registered nurses to care for you. We have an aging population so build more aged care facilities and get those who are waiting for placement out of there. They can then be cared for by AIN's and EN's instead of the declining RN resource. I have sent articles to both State & Federal departments on this issue. I have had no response. The only ones listening at this stage are the Australian Party.
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Posted by: Dr Damian Byrnes of KAP Mulgrave  6:19pm Tuesday

How can the State Government deny the region's primary health facility is under funded when at the end of the article, Our Health District CEO says: "Cairns district was expected to receive more money for its services when it was funded under a national model to be introduced in July next year."We need to assess the competence of our present State government and Hospital Executive, when a "Cairns Base Hospital Clinical services plan (meeting the population's health service needs till 2021) was signed off by the Premier in Dec 2008, Yet less than 3 years later we are doing another Clinical service plan. As Lisa recommends, we need a complete change in health ideology - primary health, increasing aged care resources, 4 weeks post hospital care if required(not 2 weeks), pharmacists with increasing dispensing powers for certain conditions. And yes, patients should be given an appointment time and date for outpatient appointments and surgery. Waiting 21 months for cataract surgery - That needs urgent attention.

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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

What is usually in the mind is in the mouth...death by a thousand cut...oh Julia

Kevin Rudd blames jet lag for PM gaffe
Kevin Rudd
Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, in San Francisco today, says he does not foresee himself as prime minister of Australia again. Source: AFP

IT was the mother of all gaffes, and it couldn't have come at a worse time for Labor.

In a radio interview this morning Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd referred to himself as prime minister, before quickly correcting himself, and then blaming jet lag for the slip up.

"You know something, I'm a very happy little vegemite being prime minister ... being foreign minister of Australia,'' Mr Rudd told ABC Central West in Orange this morning.

"Your question was about being prime minister. There you've caught me, getting off the plane, jet lag. "And as for the prime minster, as I said before and said in the United States, I fully support the prime minister.''

Labor's poor polling, which shows the Gillard-led government would be swept out of office if an election were held now, has fuelled speculation the party will dump Prime Minister Julia Gillard and elevate Mr Rudd.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is in Port Macquarie this afternoon where he will participate in a community forum.

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Not all Entertainment Centre contracts awarded to locals

$1.2m stays in Far North after local companies win work in latest round of contracts for Cairns Entertainment Precinct

Daniel Strudwick
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
© The Cairns Post

More than $1.2 million of contracts for the next stage of Cairns Entertainment Precinct planning has been awarded to Far Northern companies or firms with partnerships in the region.

Locals tendered for 10 contracts and were awarded eight, including work for structural and mechanical engineers, heritage consultants and hydraulics experts.

But although the council gave added weighting to bids that came from local companies, some unsuccessful Far Northern contractors said the tendering process wasn’t transparent enough.

The entertainment precinct’s project manager, Linda Cardew, said creating jobs for local people was one of the key objectives of the $240 million development."It’s a real goal of the council, and I think we’re doing well," she said. "Tenders are assessed on a wide range of criteria and there is a weighting given to local tenders."

Five per cent of the council’s tender criteria on the recent round of contracts was based on office location, with more points awarded to Cairns-based bids. And Ms Cardew said the weighting could be even higher when construction contracts are awarded because of the ample supply and capability of local builders.

Shaun Hartley of Arup, which successfuly bid for $662,410 of engineering contracts, said local know-how was often needed on projects such as the entertainment precinct. "We’ve got the local knowledge for designing for storm surges and cyclonic winds and the general resilience needed for a tropical climate," Mr Hartley said.

But the North Queensland chairman of the Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, Greg McDonald, was disappointed a quantity surveying contract was awarded to a southern bidder.

His company, Beacon Consulting, was among three local firms shortlisted for the contract but missed out to WT Partnerships.

He said the council’s procurement policy would be more transparent if tenderers knew how much weight was given to each criteria before they made their submissions.

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Rudd | will Labor go back to him?

Kevin Rudd a golden opportunity for Labor
Even though a majority of federal Labor MPs still quail at the prospect, Kevin Rudd's resurrection would give them a golden opportunity to break free of the grip of the Greens and independents.

There are two people above all whose fate Rudd will have to consider most carefully and neither of them is called Bob or Rob. They are Julia Gillard and her deputy, the award-winning Treasurer Wayne Swan.

As for the rest, the independents have made clear they will work with any other leader as long as his name is not Tony Abbott. Barely able to disguise their contempt for him, nothing would suit them better than to keep minority government and their influence over it alive.

The Greens will stick with Labor even if Craig Thomson becomes leader. If he plays smart, Rudd will not go out of his way to keep them onside. In fact, the opposite. Rudd could immediately void the deal with Andrew Wilkie on poker machines, which he signed personally with Gillard and which he threatens will cost his support if it is not implemented by May next year. It is causing Labor marginal seat holders considerable grief, and any issue that can unite Hawks and Magpies, Eddie McGuire and Jeff Kennett in a war against the government should be feared greatly.

Rudd's best interests, and probably Labor's only hope, lie in an election in the first flush of his second honeymoon to seek a mandate to govern in his own right and deny Abbott the luxury of time to cut him down.

A mandate to do what, is something for him to tell us. Nothing too flash or grand, though, maybe as simple as keeping the economy fireproofed (this time without the massive waste), securing the borders, perhaps even pledging to give Nauru a try now that it is the tough and humane option and, finally, allowing people a vote on the carbon tax in recognition of the gyrations, including his own, that preceded its introduction.

If Gillard continues to show no willingness to change, not even her praetorian guard will be able to save her. The self-preservation instincts of the backbenchers will mow them down.
A month ago I said Gillard was dead woman walking. Now it's like a remake of Weekend at Bernie's, where two men who think their lives depend on it fool his friends and enemies into thinking their dead boss is alive.

Weekend at Julia's isn't fooling anyone any more. In response to questions about Rudd yesterday, Penny Wong said "the Prime Minister" was very secure and would lead Labor to the next election. Of course he or she will.

Watching Gillard trying to blame the opposition for the multiple failures of her multiple asylum-seeker policies is excruciating. She will succeed in stripping some skin off Abbott but at a heavy cost to Labor's self-respect.

Last week she threatened the opposition with divisions on her amendments to the Migration Act. "Every vote will be recorded by every member," she said, either forgetting or not caring that half the MPs sitting sullenly behind her are appalled by the prospect of history showing how she will compel them to vote. She couldn't have been listening when John Faulkner warned her not to breach either Australia's obligations to the UN convention on refugees or Labor's asylum-seeker policy.

This is no small thing she is proposing. Caucus gives its prime ministers considerable latitude to preserve unity. It tolerates overturning of principles for the sake of good government, but what she insists on legislating, when the party is bleeding votes left and right, will shrivel its soul.

It's now not just a question of how low she can go but how far down the party is prepared to let her take it before it puts a stop to it. Abbott's immediate victory on the asylum-seeker issue could turn to dust if it precipitates an explosion in Labor tensions.

A resurrected Rudd, if he has genuinely learned from his time in the foreign wilderness, will treat Gillard and Swan with respect even if he does feel they have done nothing to earn it. She should be given a senior portfolio. Swan's removal, also to another senior portfolio, would be problematic but probably essential.

His crowning as this year's Euromoney's finance minister of the year will not stop the mutterings about Swan and it is unlikely the award will suddenly transform people's opinion of him. If he's so good, why is the government getting no credit for it, other than a gong from a magazine most Australians have never heard of?

That's an easy one to answer. The economy is arguably the government's best story and the person charged with selling it is one of its worst salesmen. Second, if the economy goes pear-shaped people blame the government, and if it goes swimmingly the government rarely gets credit unless it is able to stamp its signature on the success with some authority.

Third, Australians hate it when they are told they have never had it so good or, in its subtler form, that they are so much better off than anybody else. John Howard found that in March 2007 when he added an unscripted flourish in answer to a stock standard Dorothy Dixer, designed to elicit a union bash and recitation of the virtues of Work Choices. Dozing MPs and staff woke up with a start when they heard him say: "Working families in Australia have never been better off." It cost him big time.

Gillard said the other day the Australian economy was the envy of the world. She and Swan are forever regaling us with tales of how much better off Australia is than the rest of the developed world. The fact is Australians are almost always better off.

Only twice in modern times has that not been the case, in the early 1980s and during the recession we had to have in the early 90s. When the US economy went into recession in 2001, it was the first time Australia did not follow it down.

So Australians are very well accustomed to doing better than their overseas counterparts. They compare how they are with how they were, not with how they are compared with Americans, Italians, Greeks or Libyans.

Labor needs a better story and better storytellers.

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Gillard more bad poll news

Labor behind in every age group, every state - now Julia Gillard has a 'women problem': Newspoll
Annabel Horne
Annabel Horne, 37 - in Coogee in Sydney's east with son Robbie, 5 - says she has been disappointed with Labor during Julia Gillard's leadership. Picture: Dan Himbrechts Source: The Australian

THE Gillard government faces the loss of more than half its seats in NSW - including four held by ministers - and a wipeout in Queensland, where Kevin Rudd would be the only MP certain to hold his seat.

For the first time since the election in August last year, the Coalition is in front on a two-party-preferred basis in all mainland states, with Labor having suffered swings against it of between three and nine percentage points.

According to a quarterly analysis of Newspoll surveys conducted exclusively for The Australian from July to this month, Labor's primary vote is now below 30 per cent in every mainland state except Victoria, where it has dropped five points to 32 per cent.

The advantage Labor and Australia's first female Prime Minister had among women and younger voters has been lost and support in the strongest Labor state of Victoria has crashed, along with personal support for Ms Gillard in her home state. At the last election, Ms Gillard led Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister among women voters by 52 per cent to 33 per cent.

Schools Minister Peter Garrett's seat of Kingsford-Smith in Sydney's east is one that would fall if an election were held now. Annabel Horne, who lives in the electorate, is among a growing number of long-time ALP voters who are questioning whether the party has lost touch.

Ms Horne said the Gillard government had disappointed her by defending offshore processing of asylum-seekers and with its attempt to introduce a carbon tax, which she believed would have negligible impact on the climate.

"This Labor government has failed terribly on the refugees; they should be treated humanely," she said. "It seems like the government's in a position where they're just grasping for anything they can get hold of. I like Julia Gillard but I didn't think Kevin Rudd was doing such a bad job.

"A lot of people I know are very disappointed with this government." Despite her dissatisfaction with Labor, Ms Horne said she was unlikely to change her vote from Labor at the next election, due in 2013. When April Noon, from Thornlands, east of Brisbane, cast her ballot at the last federal election, the idea of a woman leading Australia was one of the driving reasons for her vote. Now the lustre of the nation's first female prime minister has worn off for the 22-year-old bank operations assistant, who has become disappointed in Ms Gillard's leadership.

Ms Noon, who lives in the LNP-held electorate of Bowman, said Ms Gillard's failure to sell the carbon tax to the public and the constant bickering across the political divide had led her to consider voting conservative for the first time. Ms Noon said she did not consider either leader particularly likeable, and that her vote could be won with a leadership change.

She said she would happily support Labor under the leadership of Kevin Rudd, as she had in the 2007 election. "If Kevin came back, definitely - I love Kevin," she said. "I would be more inclined to vote [Labor]." Women voters' satisfaction with Ms Gillard showed an eight-point decline - the biggest single fall of any measure in the three-month period - from 38 per cent to 30 per cent and disatisfaction rose from 48 to 58 per cent.

At the election Ms Gillard's satisfaction rating amongst women was 45 per cent and dissatisfaction was 40 per cent - a net satisfaction rating of five. The net satisfaction rating is now minus 28 per cent amongst women. Satisfaction with Mr Abbott among female voters is 35 per cent and disatisfaction is 54 per cent, up two points, giving a satisfaction rating of minus 19.

Support for the ALP and Ms Gillard is now as bad or worse in NSW and Western Australia as it is in Queensland, which has been a disaster for the ALP and where Labor essentially lost its majority at the 2010 election.

Mr Abbott is now the preferred prime minister in every state except Victoria and leads Ms Gillard for the first time in NSW, South Australia, Western Australia, in regional areas and amongst older voters. Primary support for the Coalition is 50 per cent or more in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and among older voters and people outside the capital cities.

If Labor faced an election with support at these levels 16 MPs would lose their seats in NSW, including four ministers; in Queensland seven MPs, including Wayne Swan and Trade Minister Craig Emerson, would lose their seats and only the Foreign Minister, who won his seat with 58 per cent of the vote, would be certain to hold on.

In NSW the right wing would be cleaned out, including potential future leaders Chris Bowen and Tony Burke. The only frontbenchers to survive would be Left ministers Anthony Albanese, Tanya Plibersek and Greg Combet, as well as the right's rising star, Jason Clare.

Up to five MPs could lose in Victoria but it would remain Labor's strongest state with 17 survivors including the prime minister and ministers Martin Ferguson, Nicola Roxon, Brendan O'Connor, Simon Crean, Jenny Macklin and leadership contender, Bill Shorten.

The July-September period was dominated by the introduction of the carbon tax, the Prime Minister's negotiations on the Malaysian solution and local campaigns against restrictions on poker machine gambling.

Additional reporting: Jared Owens, Rosanne Barrett, Annalise Moore

Monday, 26 September 2011

Nature and Legal Rights

Extreme weather and Mother Earth: nature gets legal rights in Bolivia

Written by Jane Gleeson-White on 17-06-2011

Evo Morales

As extreme weather becomes the norm Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, believes that to fight climate change we need to recover the values of indigenous people.

Indigenous Australian writer Alexis Wright says something similar in her essay ‘Deep Weather’ in the latest issue of Meanjin. Noting the devastation of the 2009 Victorian bushfires, the 2011 floods in eastern Australia and Cyclone Yasi, as well as extreme weather events around the world, Wright wonders ‘what the traditional Indigenous caretakers of the land think about these extreme weather events of flood, fire and wind’ and asks why we’re not hearing their ancient stories about ‘how to respect the weather’. Her blunt reply? What Indigenous Australians say ‘is not considered relevant’.

This is not the case in Bolivia, where indigenous understanding of the earth is being applied to environmental problems in a radical new way. In January 2011 the Bolivian government enshrined the rights of nature (as ‘Mother Earth’) in law. The new law defines Mother Earth as: ‘the living and dynamic system formed by the indivisible community of all life systems and living things who are interdependent, interrelated and which complement each other sharing a common destiny. Mother Earth is considered sacred by worldwide communities and indigenous peoples.’ The law recognises natural resources as ‘blessings’, allows for a Ministry of Mother Earth and an ombudsman to advocate the rights of the earth. It grants nature eleven rights, which include:
• the right to maintain the integrity of life and natural processes
• the right not to have cellular structure modified or genetically altered
• the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration
• the right to pure water
• the right to clean air
• the right to be free of toxic and radioactive pollution
• the right to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities.
Speaking in New York on 20 April 2011 at a UN General Assembly, Bolivia’s UN Ambassador Pablo Solón said of the rights of nature: ‘to think that only humans should enjoy privileges while other living things are simply objects is the worst mistake humanity has ever made. Decades ago, to talk about slaves as having the same rights as everyone else seemed like the same heresy that it is now to talk about glaciers or rivers or trees as having rights.’

After all, 125 years ago we granted inanimate collectives of capital designed to generate profit (corporations) the same rights as human beings. In 1886 the US Supreme Court ruled that corporations were ‘persons’ and entitled to the same rights granted to people under the US Bill of Rights. Today corporations are legal people in most jurisdictions of the world and dominate the planet. It seems only fair that the planet be granted similar rights in its fight to survive the ravages of corporate profit seeking.

The Mother Earth legislation is Bolivia’s attempt to end the serious environmental damage it’s suffered at the hands of this corporate profit seeking, especially mining. Its glaciers, which were once the source of most of the country’s fresh water, have now disappeared.

Environmental lawyer Begonia Filgueira calls Bolivia’s Mother Earth law a legal milestone, ‘the only way to balance the rights that humans have with the protection of the planet and ultimately the human race’. According to Filgueira, the Bolivian law makes two fundamental changes to the legal status of the earth:
1. It grants the earth legal personality, which means it will be able to bring legal action to defend its rights as people and companies currently can. She predicts this will ‘drive environmental policy at the highest level’.
2. It characterises the earth as being of ‘public interest’. This is a major shift, given that ‘public interest’ is usually determined largely by economic standards, not the wellbeing of the earth.
In April 2011 Evo Morales took his Mother Earth law to the world, tabling a draft UN Environmental Bill to grant the earth an international Bill of Rights. Canadian activist Maude Barlow has high hopes for Morales’ Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth and says that one day it will stand as ‘the companion to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as one of the guiding covenants of our time’.

According to Pablo Solón, ‘Humanity finds itself at a crossroads: we can commercialise nature through the green economy or recognize the rights of nature.’ Bolivia has chosen the latter path. Solón rejects green economics because it attempts to bring the laws of capitalism to bear on nature. He also rejects technological solutions, arguing that: ‘The answer for the future lies not in scientific inventions but in our capacity to listen to nature.’

Indigenous knowledge of nature is also embedded in the ancient stories that thread Australia. Alexis Wright argues that treaties with Indigenous Australians might go some way to fostering the respect and trust required if their stories of our land are to be shared. In these times of extreme weather, maybe we should follow the Bolivian example and allow Australia’s indigenous people to contribute their knowledge to solving the various climate and natural crises we face. Maybe we should find a way to start listening to ‘the ancient stories of this country – that knowledge that goes back thousands of years. This is where you will find the weather charts, the records about the climate and how Indigenous people learnt to survive on this continent.’

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The experts have got it wrong: Gillard was not disloyal to Rudd

Bill Leak
Illustration: Bill Leak Source: The Australian

There are, the experts claim, many reasons to vote against Julia Gillard at the next election. Topping the list is the allegation that she conspired against Kevin Rudd in the greatest act of disloyalty to a leader since caucus elected John Watson in 1901.

They allege voters were disgusted at the "assassination" of Rudd and, while recognising he made mistakes, he had done nothing to warrant his removal. Caucus had usurped the role of voters. How, the voters asked, could caucus replace the leader they had chosen without consulting them? It was unheard of, and it destroyed the credibility of the new Prime Minister. The theory has one flaw. It's bullshit. There have been numerous challenges for the Labor leadership since federation. None were made by voters.

I was seeking preselection for Robertson when Jim Cairns challenged Gough Whitlam in April 1968. Cairns failed but others followed. Bill Hayden challenged Whitlam, Bob Hawke challenged Hayden (twice), Paul Keating challenged Hawke (twice) and Kim Beazley and Mark Latham contested the leadership on December 2, 2003. Latham won by 47 votes to 45 - unfortunately.

In none of the ballots was the public consulted. Its turn came when the country went to the polls. Liberal MPs involved in challenges - William McMahon, John Howard, Andrew Peacock, Brendan Nelson, Alexander Downer, Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott - didn't ask voters either.

Now to the question of disloyalty. Not one caucus member I have spoken to believes Gillard was disloyal. Rudd was sacked because he was loathed by most of caucus, which begs the question: how did he get elected in the first place? Simple. Labor had shown that with the right leadership it could hold office for long periods. Five successive election victories - 1983, 1984, 1987, 1990 and 1993 - had proven that. However, the Howard era ushered in a series of defeats that caused Labor to change leaders repeatedly - Beazley, Simon Crean, Latham and Beazley again. They went close a few times but none quite captured the voter's imagination.

Rudd arrived in Canberra in 1998, aged 34, after a period in the diplomatic service and as an adviser and later chief of staff to Queensland premier Wayne Goss. He was no ordinary chief of staff. He had been described by journalist Roy Eccleston in The Australian (March 1992) as the "state's most influential man", after the premier. Eccleston continued: "Nothing of substance in government policy is likely to happen without his [Rudd's] knowledge, consideration and advice. [Rudd] quickly developed an almost mythological reputation for power and influence. Rudd's influence on the government? Total. Our impression was all policies were coming out under his imprimatur . . . His objective is to ensure reforms create an enduring transformation in Queensland."

I learned nothing got through the Queensland cabinet unless Rudd approved it, and he had on occasion reduced cabinet ministers to tears. Apparently no one had told him his job was to advise ministers, not vice-versa. Rudd was a Jekyll and Hyde personality who changed when required. He could flash the cheesy, Luna Park grin, be "hail fellow well met" when necessary and be particularly charming to important media heavies. Once he had achieved his objective he reverted to Hyde.

The sign of what was to come occurred when he broke with a century-old tradition and announced that not only would he allocate portfolios, but the ministry. Stunned as the caucus was, with the polls showing Rudd would defeat John Howard, they didn't rock the boat. It gave Rudd more power than any Labor leader in history. He used it ruthlessly.
Not long after his stunning election victory, the "exceptionally nasty" side of Rudd surfaced. ; Eventually he alienated most of caucus. There is nothing new in prime ministers having enemies but they also had supporters. Rudd had almost none. The apex of his stupidity occurred when six senior backbenchers went to see Rudd to "discuss" the decision of the special minister of state, John Faulkner, to slash their printing allowance in half. Faulkner was right to do so but when "the magnificent six" entered the prime ministerial office they were met with a torrent of abuse and expletives that would make a bullock driver blush. It was the beginning of the end of Rudd.

Bit by bit he estranged almost the entire caucus. They became fed up with his insufferable behaviour. In a column in July last year I recounted how shocked I was, when dining with three senior Labor MPs, to learn how much he was loathed. Another told me: "He was an out-of-control dictator. Everywhere he went there was death and destruction." Rudd committed political suicide.

Throughout all this Gillard remained his loyal deputy. Of the many MPs and senators I spoke to not one suggested she had any part in a conspiracy to dethrone Rudd. He had survived for one reason: polls showed he would romp home at the next election. All that changed after a series of mishaps including the pink batts fiasco, the mining tax and, after Copenhagen, his loss of interest in climate change. Overnight Labor's support collapsed and the reason for keeping Rudd disappeared. His replacement was obvious. The faction leaders went to his deputy and told her to run. When she refused, declaring loyalty to Rudd, she was told, "If you don't run we'll find someone who will."

The rest is history.

There may be a number of reasons to vote against Gillard, but a conspiracy involving her in the "assassination" of Rudd and the usurping of the role of caucus is not among them.

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Sunday, 25 September 2011

'Gang of Five' flexes its muscle | Bonneau attended Council that day

Margaret Cochrane/Sno Bonneau and the story of the Marlin Coast Neighbourhood Centre

The Marlin Coast Neighbourhood Centre is an incorporated community-based organization. Our vision is to be widely recognised as an organization dedicated to promoting, supporting and enhancing community, family and individual well-being. We operate within the Social Justice Principals of Equity, Access, Equality, and Participation through: Professional support; A friendly safe and inclusive meeting place; Respect for the individual; A commitment to the community; and Integrity throughout the organization.

The Centre is funded through the Queensland Department of Communities.

The Marlin Coast Neighbourhood Centre first invited the public into our new building in mid-June, but it wasn’t until Thursday 18 August that we were officially declared open for business by Minister for Communities, the Honourable Karen Struthers. Members of the Centre’s management committee and staff welcomed dignitaries from both State and Local Government, service providers and epresentatives from the builders and equipment suppliers, as well as a large number of our members and interested local residents.

President Bob Stemp addressed the more than 100 Neighbourhood News September 2011 … page 4 people present, outlining the journey the Centre had taken over 21 years of operation. The past five years of planning and negotiations have culminated in what we are now proud to offer the community—a beautiful, custom designed facility capable of taking the Centre into the next 21 years.

State Member for Barron River, Steve Wettenhall and Cairns Regional Council Mayor Val Schier congratulated the committee and staff on their achievement.


The State Government has allocated $2,000,000 to build a replacement Marlin Coast Neighbourhood Centre and had previously negotiated with Cairns City Council to locate this facility on vacant Council owned land at 26-28 Survey Street, Smithfield. Recent investigations of this site have identified significant drainage issues that have necessitated a review of the options available for the location of the new Centre. At the 23 October 2008 SACCS meeting, Council resolved to further consult with stakeholders and investigate options for the location of the Marlin Coast Neighbourhood Centre

Ian Lowth: 1/59/13-01: #1857014-v3


That Council reject the request for relocation of the neighbourhood centre to the Smithfield Precinct and direct the applicant to the Survey Street site as approved.


The Neighbourhood Centre is and should be just what the name stated a neighbourhood centre, and should be placed in a neighbourhood and not in a sport and recreation precinct.

Council has no obligations to provide a site for this facility, but has a resolution of Council to provide the Survey Street site.This site is part of the approved Smithfield Masterplan and is earmarked for use as a Sport and Recreation Precinct, for now and into the future.

Carried:  Councillors Schier, Leu, Forsyth, Lesina and Pyne voting
against the motion

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