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Cairns Councillors: Election Guide 2024

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Cairns Council Elections 2024

In the lead up to the March 2024 local government elections, I look at serving Cairns Councillors and other candidates. While I cannot predict the future, I try to spot which candidates have positioned themselves to win.

Cairns Mayor

Amy Eden (Team Eden)

Amy Eden

Amy Eden will be running for Mayor with her “Team Eden”. This exciting new team is completing recruitment and Cr. Eden would become Cairns second female Mayor if elected.

Eden fought to ensure residents right to use cash at Council venues and has been referred to as “Our Voice” by frustrated members of the public gallery.

Dennis Walls (Community First)

Dennis Walls
Dennis Walls

Denis Walls has lived in Cairns for 33 years and is a former education manager and university teacher. He is married to Stella and they have two adult sons. Dennis leads the Community First Team.

He is an active community member with extensive political, social and environmental experience. He has also been privileged to serve our local community through roles including former President of Edge Hill Scouts, soccer coach, President of Cairns Community Radio, a newspaper columnist and radio broadcaster, Spokesperson for Save Trinity Inlet and the Cairns Wetlands Park, President of CAFNEC, Spokesperson for Save Taylor Point and the Jack Barnes Boardwalk.

Dennis says, “For too long we have been let down by councillors more interested in secrecy, conflicts of interest and short-term planning, increasingly out of touch with the needs of everyday Cairns residents.”

John Kelly (Common Sense)

John Kelly is running for Mayor of Cairns as the leader of the “Common Sense Team”. The retired grader operator is regularly seen out on the campaign trail around Cairns. So far no Divisional candidates have been announced by Mr. Kelly.

Paul Taylor (Independent)

Paul Taylor
Paul Taylor

Former Queensland Police Service Deputy Commissioner Paul Taylor has announced he will run for Cairns Mayor in 2024, as an Independent.

Terry James (Cairns Unity)

Cairns Councillors: Terry James
Cairns Councillors: Terry James

Terry James is the longest serving current Councillor. He is the Deputy Mayor and the Councillor for Division 4. Cr. James is running to become the Mayor of Cairns at the 2024 elections. He will lead the Conservative Cairns Unity team.

Cairns Mayor Salary

The salary for the Cairns Mayor is $183,143 per year. This is the base salary (excluding any car allowance, etc).

Summing Up

Eden is a hard worker, with a number of strong candidates in her team and she is building momentum. However, Cairns Unity’s Terry James is the ‘favourite’ to become the next Mayor of Cairns.

The Community First team has announced late, but their candidate should get a solid vote. A double digit number would be a great outcome for him.

However, the ‘optional preferential voting’ system plays in favour of Terry James who will be happy to see Eden, Walls, Taylor and Kelly ‘split the vote’ of those looking for an alternative to Unity.

Cairns Council Divisions

Cairns Councillors: Division 1

Brett Moller is the Councillor for Division One. This area includes the towns of Babinda and Gordonvale and the developing suburb of Mount Peter. It also includes the communities of Mirriwinni, East Trinity and Fitzroy Island.

Cairns Councillors: Brett Moller
Cairns Councillors: Brett Moller

Summing Up Division 1

A high performing Councillor, Brett Moller has demonstrated a strong understanding of the Local Government Act and has extensive experience in corporate governance. He will be re-elected in 2024.

Cairns Councillors: Division 2

Rob Pyne is currently the Councillor for Division Two. This area includes the township of Edmonton and the suburb of Bentley Park. Rob will be nominating for Division 5 at the 2024 local government elections.

Division 2 includes the following suburbs:

Contender – Nikki Giumelli (Cairns Unity)

Nikki Giumelli
Nikki Giumelli

Nikki is a passionate leader in the business community and tourism industry in Cairns having owned successful marine tourism businesses and worked across various voluntary roles in her community. 

Contender – Stephen Lippingwell (Independent)

Stephen Lippingwell
Stephen Lippingwell

Stephen Lippingwell is a local school teacher who is passionate about increasing the engagement of all cultural groups in education, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait and Pacific Islander students. He understands that different culturally appropriate educational approaches are essential to engage all students in education.

Contender – Kesa Strieby (Team Eden)

Cairns Candidate Kesa Streiby
Cairns Candidate Kesa Streiby

A tireless community worker, Kesa is running under the slogan, “Renewal, Rebuild, Reform!” Kesa is focussed on three things – Work hard, Action, Outcomes!

At a personal level we love Kesa and her commitment to a multicultural Cairns. However, we are unsure as to the policy agenda she brings to the election and what she seeks to fix or change as a Councillor.

Contender – Matthew Tickner (Independent)

Matthew Tickner
Matthew Tickner

Managing Director of Progression Design & Development Matthew is well-regarded civil design and urban development specialist with a history of experience on urban development and civil engineering projects in Australia and New Zealand. Matthew shows initiative and if he was on the Cairns Unity ticket, he would be the clear favourite.

Summing Up Division 2

Nikki Giumelli may win on the back of the Unity vote. However, if Streiby and Lippingwell work together and exchange preferences, they may both be a chance. Even then, getting to 50.01 of the vote (between them) will require co-operation and hard work. Tickner could also win. This Division is that competitive that even I do not know who will win.

Cairns Councillors: Division 3

Cairns Councillors: Cathy Zeiger
Cairns Councillors: Cathy Zeiger

Cathy Zieger is the Councillor for Division 3. This division includes:

Cr. Zeiger will be re-elected to Division 3.

Contender – Heidi Healy (Cairns Unity)

Heidi Healy
Heidi Healy

The owner of Cairns Beauty Bar, Heidi Healy is certainly the most photogenic member of the Unity Team. Her energy and enthusiasm may see her elected in Division 3, but not in 2024.

Heidi is the daughter of the former Member for Barron River Micheal Trout. A solid performance in 2024 may position her well for a future run at Council level.

Contender: Liam Smith (Community First)

Liam Smith
Liam Smith

Cairns born and bred, Liam Smith grew up in Bayview Heights running barefoot through the rainforest. He went to Trinity Anglican School in White Rock, was involved in Bayview Heights scouts for 12 years, and lives at Mt Sheridan.

Liam works for Ergon and provides services across the region from Thursday Island to Birdsville. He has represented his workmates on a range of issues from
amenities in the field to safety investigations & has always been a passionate campaigner for workers’ rights.

As a keen mountain biker, he is particularly excited to see Cairns become a premier destination for the sport.

Summing Up Division 3

Cathy Zeiger will be re-elected, despite an attempt by the Unity Team to unseat her. She will top the poll.

Heidi Healy will come second on the back of her membership of the Unity Team.

Liam Smith will come last. If Cathy is not already elected, she will be after Liam’s preferences are counted.

Cairns Councillors: Central/West

Cairns Councillors: Division 4

Terry James is the Councillor for Division 4. Cr. James is running to become the Mayor of Cairns at the 2024 elections (see above). Division 4 includes the following suburbs:

The Contender – Shane Cuthbert (Independent)

Shane Cuthbert
Shane Cuthbert

Shane Cuthbert will be running for Division 4 at the March 2024 elections. He is a business owner and board member/volunteer working with so many of our beloved charitable organisations, recently nominated as Cairns ‘volunteer of the year’. 

Shane Cuthbert has worked hard to win election to Council in 2024. He believes in a ‘safer, greater’ Cairns and that he is the right person for the job.

Jeremy Neal (Cairns Unity)

Jeremy Neal
Jeremy Neal

Paramedic and Earlville resident Jeremy Neal is the Cairns Unity candidate for Division 4.

Trevor Tim (Team Eden)

Trevor Tim
Mr. Trevor Tim

Trevor Tim, a host on an Indigenous National Talkback show, is a great addition to Team Eden.

Mr. Tim has been a Cairns resident for 45 years and says if elected he would focus on solutions to meet the diverse needs of Division 4.

Summing Up Division 4

Shane is aware of local issues (having attended most local council meetings over the last 2 years). Indeed the enthusiasm he has shown and his capacity to listen would make him a good Councillor. However a dirt campaign against him has (however offensive) damaged his campaign.

Shane’s journey of redemption from a rough childhood (that included prison) to a successful entrepreneur and community advocate is something we should all celebrate. Just getting as far as the vote counting on election night will be another amazing achievement for him.

I don’t know much about Jeremy, but being on the Unity card should get him 30 per cent of the primary vote (just by showing up). He is not the strongest Unity candidate, so I cannot see him winning the Division.

Trevor Tim is very well known in the area, for everything from rugby league to broadcasting. His profile and personality make him more than an even money chance of winning Division 4. We believe Trevor will be the first Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person ever elected to a Cairns Council.

Cairns Councillors: Division 5

Amy Eden has performed strongly as the Councillor for Division 5. Cr. Eden is running to become the Mayor of Cairns at the 2024 elections (see above). Division 5 includes the suburbs of;

Cairns Councillors – Rob Pyne (Independent)

Rob Pyne
Rob Pyne

Rob Pyne says “My 10 years experience as a Councillor and 3 years as the local State MP will be of value on our next Council. With the Mayor and at least one of our most experienced Councillors not running again, I feel my experience will be useful.”

It has long frustrated me that so many houses in Division 5 do not have a proper footpath or channel and curbing. These houses have been paying Council rates for decades and in some cases over 100 years! They are entitled to better!

Division 5 is a cornerstone of my life and family history. James Pyne arrived here in the 1870’s and my grandfather was born in Kenny Street. So I reckon I qualify as a local and I will make a good fist of campaigning in Division 5.

My campaign is focussed on fighting for a Clean, Climate Smart and Corruption Free Cairns!

Nathan Lee-Long (Cairns Unity)

Nathan Lee Long
Nathan Lee Long

We are sure Nathan will draw strong support from the development industry and the wider business community. His links with Cairns ‘movers and shakers’ places him in a strong position to win Division 5.

Emma Gelling (Team Eden)

Emma Gelling
Emma Gelling

The charming Emma Gelling is a skilled entrepreneur, business owner and mentor. Her experience includes 16 years of industry exposure, a decade of business ownership, 13 years of motherhood and countless hours of personal and professional development.

Emma says, “One of my proudest achievements alongside motherhood includes being awarded CBWC Young Entrepreneur of the Year and IML Emerging Leader of the year in 2017.”

Summing Up Division 5

I believe Nathan’s personality and membership of the disciplined Unity Team will see him top the primary vote.

I am also confident that Emma and I will get more than half of the vote between us. If a ‘compulsory preferential’ voting system operated, Nathan would lose. However, this election will be ‘optional preferential’, which should favour Nathan (as many votes for Gelling and Pyne will simply ‘exhaust’ without a preference being given).

Division 5 will be close and the outcome will be determined by the strength of the Unity Vote. If Terry James romps in as Mayor, Nathan will be the new Councillor for Division 5.

Cairns Councillors: Division 6

Division 6 includes the suburbs of:

Cairns Councillors Kristy Vallely (Cairns Unity)

Cairns Councillors: Kristy Vallely
Cairns Councillors: Kristy Vallely

Kristy Vallely is the Councillor for Division 6. Further, Cr Vallely is a loyal member of the Unity ticket.

Nicole Sleeman (Community First)

Nicole Sleeman
Nicole Sleeman

As a GP, Dr Nicole Sleeman knows that health and well-being starts outside the doctor’s room. She is passionate about creating healthy communities, and believes we can be stronger and more resilient if we design our spaces and plan our initiatives more thoughtfully.

She is running for council because a public health voice is needed to protect and promote health, especially in a changing climate.

Shane Trimby (Team Eden)

Shane Trimby
Shane Trimby

Mr. Shane Trimby is a strong candidate. He is a co-ordinator of the Redlynch Community Markets and can be found under the bridge at the “Tunnel Of Terror” in Redlynch at Halloween. He is the creator and one of the organisers of the tunnel and has scared thousand of kids during halloween.

Shane loves living in the Cairns and Redlynch region and is always ready to share his knowledge and expertise with anyone who needs his assistance.

Summing Up Division 6

I am a massive fan of Nic Sleeman and her work on climate and health. Shane Trimby is a good community based candidate as well. I think many people voting for Nic will preference Shane and I expect him to be elected as the new Councillor for Division 6.

Cairns Councillors: Division 7

Max O’Halloran is the Councillor for Division Seven. After over a decade of service Max will be stepping down at the next local government election. Division 7 includes:

Contender – Ian Moller-Nielsen

Ian Moller-Nielsen
Ian Moller-Nielsen

Ian is the Manager at Cairns Agricultural, Pastoral and Mining Association. Always reasonable and personable, I have found Ian to be a good communicator and easy to talk to.

Contender – Matthew Calanna (Cairns Unity)

Cairns Councillors - Matthew Calanna
Cairns Councillors – Matthew Calanna

Son of former Cairns businessman and local identity Mario Calanna, Matthew is a pharmacist and business owner in his own right.

Contender – Renee Lees (Community First)

Renee is a community lawyer, active volunteer and mum. She is committed to building a smart, fair, sustainable and lively community. Her key priorities are housing, public transport, healthy nature, and safe and strong community.

Renee really walks the talk. In her work she provides free legal help to locals dealing with debt, eviction, family troubles and domestic violence. She previously set up and managed a local homeless legal service for 6 years. She has also been the volunteer president of a major local homelessness and domestic violence service for the past 4 years.

If elected, she would give residents more control through monthly Division 7 meetings, a local newsletter, online community polls, and measures to get vested interests out of politics.

Summing Up Division 7

Matthew Calanna will top the primary vote in Division 7. The Calanna name travels well in Cairns.

Ian Moller-Nielsen’s nomination makes things interesting. He is well liked and could finish 2nd or 3rd on the primary vote.

I support Renee and realistically she is the best chance of the Community First Team getting a candidate up. However Calanna is the favourite in 7.

Northern Beaches Cairns Councillors and Contenders

Cairns Councillors: Division 8

Contender: Jo Piggott (Team Eden)

Jo Piggott
Jo Piggott

Jo has engaged with her local community as a small business owner, surf lifesaver, triathlete, and avid hiker. She says, “I’ve always felt a deep sense of purpose when it comes to serving my community.”

“The thriving and inclusive community here in Division 8 has inspired me to become a dedicated voice for my local area. Whether it’s ensuring community well-being, fostering growth, or connecting with people, I’m eager to contribute in every way I can.”

Contender: Phillip Musumeci (Community First)

Phillip Musemeci
Phillip Musemeci

Phillip was born in Babinda and grew up on a local family farm where he did weekend work, like other neighbouring teenagers. He went to school locally before completing an engineering education in Townsville and Canberra. Phillip lives in Cairns with his wife and son, who attends a state school.

He is a research engineer/contract lecturer and has spent roughly half of his working life teaching computer science and engineering in Melbourne, Canberra, and Cairns. However, like most of us, Phillip’s experiences have shaped his view of the world – and how to make it better. 

Rhonda Coghlan (Cairns Unity)

Cairns Councillors: Rhonda Coghlan
Cairns Councillors: Rhonda Coghlan

The well known Rhonda Coghlan (Cairns Unity) is the Councillor for Division 8. She is well known and popular – especially in LNP circles.

Summing Up Division 8

I am confident Rhonda Coghlan will top the primary vote on the back of her incumbency and membership of the Unity Team.

Jo Piggott will come second on the primary vote (she has better people skills than Phillip). So the outcome may be determined by preferences.

I know Community First voters well and I don’t think they will preference Rhonda. Consequently, with hard work and an ounce of luck, Jo Piggott may be the next Councillor for Division 8.

Cairns Councillors: Division 9

cairns councillors
Cairns Councillors

Brett Olds is the forthright Councillor for Division 9. Division 9 includes the suburbs of Trinity Beach, Clifton Beach, Kewarra Beach, Palm Cove and Ellis Beach.

Cr. Olds has been outspoken on many issues and is a strong critic of the Palaszczuk State government. Indeed Brett is not afraid to call a spade a shovel. He has developed a cult following, not just in the northern beaches, but also throughout the wider Cairns region.

Carine Visschers (Community First)

Carine Visschers has lived in the northern beaches for 28 years, had a long professional career in the Department of Housing and community organisations, and raised two children.

Her decision to run for Division 9 was because current councillors have shown their incapacity to understand or protect our climate and future. Green spaces are being reduced or destroyed at a rapid rate in the northern beaches due to poor quality development.

Carine believes that our local council can be much more effective in helping our communities plan and adapt to a changing world. She knows can better meet residents’ needs with practical steps on the environment, housing, safety and public transport.

Summing Up Division 9

We don’t support Brett Olds, but we know one thing, ‘unlike his critics, he will nominate and campaign to win‘.

Going up against Brett can feel intimidating, but Carrine Visschers is one of the bravest people I know. She is also caring, smart and we hope she does really well.

Cairns Regional Council Division Maps

cairns regional council division maps
Cairns Regional Council Division Maps

The above map will apply at the 2024 local government elections.

Cairns Councillors Office

119-145 Spence street Cairns

Where is Cairns Council Office?

Cairns Councillors have offices in City Hall located on the corner of Draper and Spence Streets. They can also be contacted on 4044 3070.
Cairns Regional Council

Cairns Regional Council online services

You can access Cairns Regional Council online services any time day or night.

Cairns City Council complaints

You can use the above CRC link to register any complaints or requests you may have.

You can also get the official rundown on all the sitting councillors, their ‘Register of interests’ etc. from the official website, online at this informative page.

The first Council I served on choose the logo that has become synonymous with the organisation. Adopted in 2008, the design features the leaf structure of the Queensland Fan Palm, Licuala ramsayii, which is endemic to lowland rainforests of north east Queensland. The range of this palm covers the entire footprint of the Cairns Regional Council.

Cairns Councillors of the past

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