Wednesday 17 August 2011

Council Candidates galore and more to come

Lt-Col Steve Brain signals Cairns Regional Council bid

Daniel Strudwick
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
© The Cairns Post

Ready for action: Lt-Col Steve Brain, (left) commanding officer
 of 51st Battalion in Cairns, is making a bid for local government
with Cairns Regional Council.

He commands a battalion of 520 people, manages a budget of more than $200 million and has spent 22 years coming up with strategies to protect the community.

Now Lt-Col Steve Brain is taking those credentials to the grassroots.

The commanding officer of the Far North’s 51st Battalion has announced he will run in the Cairns Regional Council election as a candidate for Division 1.

"The council needs some strong and effective leadership to get things moving and it’s the leadership that needs to represent the people," Lt-Col Brain told The Cairns Post.

"It’s the sort of leadership that we’ve been trained in for years in the military and I think I’ve got a proven track record in that area to help get some of the bigger issues home."

Although the election isn’t until March 31 and nominations will not open until next year, Lt-Col Brain is the second Cairns resident to announce his candidacy.

And council insiders have listed up to 36 people, including current councillors, expected to come forward when nominations open.

Rumoured candidates include former Taipans player Matt Smith, ex-councillor Annette Sheppard and local blogger Leigh Dall’Osto.

Earlier this month, Nick Thompson, a case worker at Link-Up Aboriginal Corporation, was the first person to announce his candidacy to the public.

Mr Thompson and Lt-Col Brain will both stand for seats vacated by the incumbent councillor in 2012, with Division 1 stalwart Paul Gregory retiring and division 4 councillor Kirsten Lesina tilting for the state seat of Cairns.

With Deputy Mayor Margaret Cochrane expected to run for the mayoralty, at least three of the council’s 10 divisions will be represented by new faces after the election.

Those divisions are tipped to attract the most candidates, along with Division 2, currently held by independent Nancy Lanskey.

Outside the Cairns region, Cassowary Coast and Tableland councillors insist they are not yet in election mode.

Cassowary Coast Mayor Bill Shannon does not plan to announce his intentions until he is required to nominate.

And Tablelands Mayor Tom Gilmore’s official stance is that he has yet to make up his mind.

Additional reporting by Tony Stickley and Natalie Dixon.



Local Government is the engine room of our local community and it is the place where impetus for community growth and life style is generated and put into practice.

Cairns Regional Council as our community custodian is looked upon for guidance and direction garnered from its representatives listening to its people. 

Mayor Val Schier was elected for a number of varied reasons which were relevant at the time. I supported Val for the Mayoralty because I believed Cairns needed a breath of fresh air and a Council where its residents made a difference through consultation.

Unfortunately, because of her political allegiance to the ALP, the Conservatives residual elements on the Council and several media outlets saw red and did not take to her election with any appreciable grace and never accepted her legitimacy. This sadly still remains the case today. 

Instead of leaving their political views at the Council Chamber door they brought them inside and gave them oxygen. Consequently what Cairns has witnessed is a Council that can best be described as a rabble, disunited, disparate with personal agendas.

I can well understand, because of the image of a bad council, there will be wholesale changes. Indeed there is every chance that all current Councillors will be turfed out. 

In any successful democracy, I believe elements of continuity should be there to graft the new stock on. Change is healthy but wholesale change is not, as this invariably leads to  instability and bad decisions.

My solution is as follows:

I cast my memory back to the days of the 'Keith Goodwin Alliance' of the 80's where the residents of Cairns were presented with a team of people that were not there to represent their political allegiance, they were there to represent the people of Cairns because they were in love with Cairns. 

I also remind myself of the grand old days of the Mulgrave Shire Council under the leadership of Cr.Tom Pyne. I was so fortunate to be part of that team that when amalgamated with Cairns City Council had $38 million in kitty and lead the way in community participation.

Today, Cairns needs an Alliance moulded on the above principles under the current Mayor. The people of Cairns deserve to see a Mayoral team of committed Cairns people before  election day and not disparate candidates that once elected will hopefully come together to form the Cairns Regional Council.

Ross Parisi


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