Jonathan Strauss

Far North Queensland Stop Adani groups mobilised when the Queensland government announced its latest "governing from the regions" exercise would be in Cairns over July 10–14.

They wanted their message that the massive Carmichael coalmine must be stopped to become the main issue and not the government’s pork-barrelling.

Stop Adani groups are rapidly springing up in cities and towns across northern Queensland, intent on helping the movement against the company’s Carmichael coalmine.

Campaign roadshows have been springboards, including in Townsville and Port Douglas, with others proposed for Gordonvale and the Atherton Tablelands.

The Labor and Liberal National parties hope to slip in four-year fixed parliamentary terms in Queensland through a referendum being held at the same time as state-wide polls for local councils. A four-year term proposal was defeated in 1991.

James Cook University (JCU) management is proposing to make nearly 40 academic staff redundant in Cairns and Townsville as it starts a third year of job cuts at one of the largest employers in northern Queensland.

Under the proposals, JCU's Division of Tropical Environments and Societies would lose 10% of its teaching and research staff and Tropical Health and Medicine would lose eight workers.

Management's rush to reduce staff numbers, which could see academics sacked in the middle of teaching the semester, shows that this is an inept “balance the budget” exercise.

Do we need to debate whether Australia should become a republic?

After all, it is not just parties that say Australian society should be transformed (Socialist Alliance) or reformed (the Greens) that want a republic. The national leaders of the major capitalist political parties and all the state premiers agree on ending the situation where a British monarch is Australia's head of state.

I suspect this is in line with what most Australians think: who gave birth to you should not make you the head of state, even nominally. So why is there an argument about this?

Two examples of development proposals that put profit before people and the environment in Far North Queensland appear to have suffered defeats.

The Labor Party has enjoyed a remarkable recovery in the recent Queensland elections.

Three years ago, after Labor privatised publicly owned railways, ports and forests, the party was reduced to a 27% primary vote and seven state seats.

At the January 31 election, its primary vote rose to 38% and, with a stronger flow of Greens preferences, it won at least 43 seats with a possible total of 45 — the final result will be determined by further counting. Forty five seats would give the party an absolute majority in state parliament.

Treasurer Joe Hockey could not escape hearing the voice of the people when 100 staff, students and community activists rallied on the Smithfield campus of James Cook University in Cairns on September 18.

The rally highlighted the federal government's planned cuts to higher education and the rest of the budget.

The National Tertiary Education Union JCU branch called the rally because Hockey was speaking at a business conference at JCU before attending a G20 finance ministers meeting in Cairns.

What does it say about Australian politics when a mining billionaire who rides around in a Rolls Royce becomes the people’s champion in parliament?

The Palmer United Party (PUP), formed and largely funded by Clive Palmer, continues to disrupt the two-party game played by most politicians and their media supporters.

To them, the PUP is “maverick”, a label that fits after Palmer’s outburst this week about “communist” China trying to “take over” Australia.

In heritage-listed trees around Cairns’ main library, a colony of flying foxes has lived and bred for 30 years.

As evening sets in, thousands of fruit bats fly out across the city and Trinity Inlet in search of food. Tourists look up in wonder at this wildlife event in the heart of a city.

Fruit bats, or spectacled flying foxes, have been listed as vulnerable due to a decline in overall numbers.

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