In the week that brought to light television personality Eddie McGuire's “banter” about sports journalist Caroline Wilson, the voters of Leichhardt, covering an area stretching from Cairns to Cape York and the Torres Strait, have been treated to campaign signs depicting a witch.
On May 10, the MP for Cairns Rob Pyne did what many politicians in Queensland have claimed for the past 30 years could not be done: he presented a private member's bill to decriminalise abortion. While some members of parliament over the years have claimed to have had a private members bill in their top drawer ready to go, when it came to the crunch these bills never saw the light of day. But it was not due to a lack of evidence from medical, legal and public health experts, who supported removal of abortion from the Crimes Act.
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.
Two examples of development proposals that put profit before people and the environment in Far North Queensland appear to have suffered defeats.
“Down The Abbott Hole” By Zelda Grimshaw Download free A group of musicians in Cairns, Queensland, have released a song controversially calling for the head of Tony Abbott. “Down the Abbott Hole” refers to Abbott’s Australia as a bleak and sterile environment, in which fear reigns over logic, and the atmosphere is “cold as ice, black as coal”. The song can be streamed online and was being played by radio stations all over the country just hours after its release.
International Women’s Day (IWD) — originally called International Working Women’s Day — was first proposed in 1910 as an initiative of the socialist women’s movement. The following year, on March 19, 1911, IWD was marked for the first time, by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
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.
The Freedom Flotilla to West Papua departed on August 17, a week after the arrival of its supporters who had travelled in a land convoy from Lake Eyre. Aboriginal elders, West Papuan refugees, filmmakers, musicians and artists will sail the flotilla’s two boats to West Papuan waters, via Cooktown, Thursday Island and Daru, in Papua New Guinea.
A feminist performing group was initiated in Cairns in late 2011, in response to a range of issues, including male violence against women and the retention of abortion in the criminal code in Queensland. The members of this group are diverse — in age, background and previous performing experience — but all have a commitment to improving the status and rights of women in far-north Queensland.
More than 600 unionists and supporters rallied in Cairns’ City Place as part of the statewide day of action against the Campbell Newman government’s budget cuts on September 12. Larger groups of teachers, United Voice members, Ergon electricians, state public servants in purple Together Union T-shirts, and others, flanked contingents of ambulance officers and firefighters in uniform. The mood was sombre and intense, with people standing still and listening more quietly than usual to the speakers.
The campaign against the Liberal National Party Queensland government’s public sector cuts and suppression of alternative views is gathering momentum in the state’s Far North region.
As a tropical downpour loomed, about 400 people stayed put to spell out "SOS" next to a huge banner that read "Reef in Danger" on the city’s Esplanade on March 11. The rally marked the visit to the city of a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) commission, which looked at the possible impacts of the dramatic rise in shipping through the Great Barrier Reef expected over the next decade. UNESCO has responsibility for the World Heritage listing for the reef.
The Occupy movement has sprung up in Cairns, where street activities kicked off on October 15 in City Place. About 200 people took part. Since then, up to 40 people have met each Sunday. This will continue with alternating weeks of discussions about plans for Occupy, along with music, presentations and an open mike. Discussion among those involved in Occupy Cairns is increasingly turning to how to address not just local issues but national and international questions of corporate power. Fourteen working groups have discussed various issues and how the new group will work.
The outcome of a trial against a Cairns couple for procuring an abortion has turned the tables on the Department of Public Prosecutions and the Queensland government. The Cairns jury swiftly returned a “not guilty” verdict on October 14 and the question now being asked is “what real crimes are exposed by this case?” For many, the real crime is the fact that the anti-abortion laws from 1899 have not been repealed.
Green Left Weekly’s Angela Walker spoke to Carole Ford, a founding member of Pro Choice Cairns, about the upcoming trial of a young Cairns couple. The couple have been charged under Queensland’s 19th century abortion-procurement laws. How has the Cairns community responded to this case? With overwhelming disbelief. I'm sure when most Queenslanders first heard of the charges, they felt as if they had regressed in time.