Farewell Comrades

Fightback and Farewell

Cairns and Tropical Gardening » Fightback and Farewell

New Mayor Takes Office

Councillor Amy Eden overcame the odds to become Cairns second female Mayor. It was a strange campaign with a multitude of candidates. However, Amy backed herself as the leader of Team Eden and she won!

Mayor Amy Eden

New Council

The people of Cairns elected the following Council:

  • Division 1. Brett Moller
  • Division 2. Matthew Tickner
  • Division 3. Cathy Zeiger
  • Division 4. Trevor Tim
  • Division 5. Rob Pyne
  • Division 6. Kristy Vallely
  • Division 7. Anna Middleton
  • Division 8. Rhonda Coglin
  • Division 9. Brett Olds
  • Mayor: Amy Eden

A Little History

I also made a little history becoming the first Councillor to be elected to three separate Cairns Regional Council divisions (3, 2 and 5). It was also my 5th election win (4 as a Councillor and 1 as an MP).

More significant from a historical perspective was the victory of the sole Team Eden candidate to win a Division, Trevor Tim in Division 4. Trevor became the first Aboriginal candidate ever to be elected to Cairns Regional Council.

Standing Up for Palestine

The 21st century genocide against the Palestinian people by the Israeli government systematically targeted Palestinian civilians, aiming to diminish or eliminate Palestinian presence in certain areas.

This continued the historical campaign to abolish Palestine and was consistent with past events such as the 1948 Nakba, military operations in Gaza, and ongoing settlement expansions in the West Bank.

Palestine protest
Palestine protest

Fatima Payman

Payman crossed the floor to support a Greens motion supporting Senate recognition of the state of Palestine. Payman said: “What you just witnessed was the first Labor member to cross the floor in almost 30 years. My decision to cross the floor was the most difficult decision I have had to make.”

Then, she declared on ABC’s Insiders program she would do it again if necessary.

Senator Payman’s situation struck a cord with me (for obvious reasons). I did not believe you should be expelled from the ALP when you are voting in good conscience and in a manner that is actually consistent with what rank-and-file branch members believe and want.

I still remember the hatred and vitriol dished out to me when I voted against the Queensland ALP Labour Party in the state parliament.

Penny Wong used her own situation to condemn Payman when she said that she had voted against same-sex marriage (even though it was the wrong thing to do) because she was prepared to follow the party rules.

I thought her explanation was appalling. My view is Wong should have stood up on same-sex marriage (regardless of the ALP position at that time) precisely because it was the right thing to do!

Following criticism and bullying, Payman resigned from the ALP on 4 July 2024 and committed to seeing out her term in the Senate as an Independent. She did the right thing!

CEO Shenanigans

One of the most important decision any Council can make is who to appoint as CEO.

Mica Martin Departs

Mica Martin Resigned as the CEO of Cairns Regional Council.

John Andrejic Returns

John Andrejic returned as Council’s CEO.

A Tale of Two Cairns

During all my time as a Councillor I had always supported the idea of ‘universal service standards’. The idea that people living in different suburbs should receive different level of service was a concept I found appalling. So it really struck me when I was campaigning for Division 5 (Central Cairns) that some areas had received a much lower level of service than others. One such area was Brophy Street in Westcourt. However, neglect was not always Council’s fault.

The ‘Big End of Town’ Bites

Life in an Old Dog

The Tale of a Survivor: We will never know how Bella got out, but on the 6th of June she disappeared. The rest we can guess. On or around 6 June this old dog fell into a deep gully on Crowleys Creek (the creek separating Woree and Mt Sheridan). Unable to get up the steep bank, she dug a bit of a den to sleep in on the cold nights. Luckily she also found a trickle of water in the creek.

Over two weeks later on 23 June, Bella was spotted by a Good Samaritan in the creek.

Myself and Lisa (Cairns best dog washer) saw the Facebook post shared by Kylie Bock and others. Lisa and the good Samaritan got down the steep bank and lifted Bella (now several kilograms lighter) up the bank and back home.

Apart from the weight loss she seems to be in good condition. She was happy and Jasmine is over the moon!

Thank you to everyone, including those of you who looked in vain, reported other dogs by mistake, or just expressed their concern. After a fortnight of confusion, anger and frustration this is a tale with a happy ending. An old dog’s tale!

Bob Manning once said to me that it is always good to have at least one project on the go.

Of course councils have hundreds of projects happening at the same time. What Bob meant was that it is good to have at least one ‘feel good community initiative’ that people can see and relate to.

Just as the renewal and reuse to the old Cairns Courthouse had been that ‘one project’, the upgrading the old Mulgrave Shire Building as the Mulgrave Gallery had become the next ‘good news’ community project of the day.

Fightback and Farewell: Mulgrave Gallery
Mulgrave Gallery

AirB(n)B 

A never ending battle in my time as a Councillor was the struggle to have Cairns homeowners treated more favourably by the rating system.

During my first campaign in 2008 I promised to argue for a ‘rates discount’ on peoples principal place of residence (PPR), as existed in Townsville and many other local government areas. Unfortunately senior staff torpedoed my efforts, describing the category as an ‘administrative nightmare’, despite the fact the category operated well in other jurisdictions.

However, by 2022 council had new senior management and they  supported the Non PPR or landlord rate category. This meant landlords, which by this time including AirB(n)B properties. Apparently the proposal was no longer an administrative nightmare.

Unfortunately, the numbers can often be a bitch in politics. The Cairns Post campaigned against the category calling it a tenant tax. While I could not have cared less what the Cairns Post says I am sure their campaign influenced other Councillors who by majority voted against the new rating category. How anyone could be influenced by a small regional paper that no one read was beyond me, but that is how local politics works I am afraid.

Having resoundingly lost (again) to favourably treat ordinary homeowners on their Principal Place of Residence (as opposed to investors) I decided to have a final go on my last council. After all, the ordinary homeowner who is not getting a passive income, but using their property as a home to live in deserves a break.

A Green Template for Cairns

Over the complete time of my involvement with politics there was only one clear example of activism achieving real long-term political change. This took place in Brisbane, where Green activist went from holding no elected in positions in South Brisbane to holding council, state and federal office.

Credit for this political transition belong to many good people but you always need special leaders who will motivate and inspire others. In this case that leadership was provided by Jonathan Sri and later by Amy McMahon and Michael Bergman at state level. This was followed by the inspirational fighter for the disadvantaged Max Chandler-Mather winning the federal seat of Griffith.

It was my dream that this type of transition could also happen here in Cairns. One thing I do know is when there is a template you don’t bastardise it, you implement it. Fortunately by 2024 I felt the Greens in Cairns were finally ready to head in that direction!

2024 State Election

By the mid-2020s the Greens in Cairns finally has energy, enthusiasm and political structure to commence ‘growing a progressive movement’.

Generational Change

As I aged it caused me to reflect that our generation of progressive warriors. We had failed to save our environment from destruction and protect disadvantaged people in our community. However, the battles we fought matter,  even if we did not win the war.

These issues are all consistent with and in some respects dependant on success in the battle for Socialism.

The work we do is about standing up to the force of darkness, no matter how difficult the fight. In the words of Chris Hedges, “I do not fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists”. Tony Benn put it best when he said, “Every generation has to fight the same battles, again, again, and again. There is no final victory and there is no final defeat.”

Farewell

150 years after my descendants arrived in the Far North Queensland, there was more inequality than ever before. Our First Peoples remain deeply disadvantaged. Many minority groups still suffer under the heel of a capitalist superstructure that demeans and devalues them. As long as those in leadership positions continue to support capitalism and neoliberal policies, things will not improve.

I am proud of my record of political activism – on Council, in State Parliament, and in my community.

All Chapters

  1. Far North Queensland
  2. Growing up in Australia
  3. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People
  4. Queensland Political Culture
  5. Princess Alexandra Hospital Spinal Unit
  6. People with Disabilities
  7. Cairns Regional Council
  8. Conservative Cairns Council
  9. ALP Qld
  10. Abortion Law Reform
  11. Fighting Fossil Fuel
  12. Local Government Corruption
  13. Losing to Labor
  14. My Cairns Council Return
  15. Council Mayors Silencing Dissent
  16. Socialist Alliance and Fighting Fascism
  17. Jenny Pyne, Life and Pain
  18. Cairns Council Members Swing Right
  19. Fightback and Farewell

Struggle & Resistance in the Far North