Saturday, September 11, 2010

Gavin King....the diabolical villain.

Gavin King....Love him or hate him, the man is popular. This morning he expressed his views in an article in the Cairns Post which is sure to raise an eyebrow or two and cause spontaneous combustion in other's.

My confession is that (aside from the vitriol drivel he spouts about Val) I actually look forward to reading his caustic commentaries on anything local he feels worthy of attack. I often disagree with his opinions but if you can't clearly recognise the other side of an argument, it's not worth having one. Occasionally I actually agree with him, and I stress occasionally.

This mornings rant was rather disappointing though. It was simply a rehashed article comprising of various parts of similar arguments made all over the country about the political system during the past few weeks. That makes this article, at best, yesterday's news.

Much has been made about the fact (and it is 'fact') that the left side of politics is suffering from the 'political machine blues'. The Labor Party and the Greens have always been the parties offering hope, honesty and a straightforward approach. At the moment, the Greens are still doing that well, but Labor is not.

The Liberal/National Coalition have been broad in their scope in gathering their candidates and have stuck to the usual message that they can do it all better. It has always worked well for them, and continues to do so.

'The Drum' featured several panelists this week who all lamented the fact that Labor are getting too polished and are appearing 'out of touch'. They have stopped listening and they are worrying so much about themselves that they are BECOMING a community rather than REPRESENTING the community. According to the data, there are only two members of the elected Federal Labor team who are not previous staffers, politicians or lawyers. Does this mean that the community is not effectively represented? No. Someone said to me recently, who cares what you did before politics, it's what you do while you are there that counts. It does however, mean that for the Labor Party, it's time to look further afield for potential candidates so that 'ordinary' people feel more connected to their politicians.

For the Liberal Party, that's unnecessary, the core voters on that side are white collar business owners, and high income earners. Those demographics do not NEED to feel a connection to their representatives, just see that the job is done.

Blue collar workers, Unionists and low income workers form what used to be the core voting demographics for the Labor Party. These people NEED to feel a connection to the person they are voting for. They want to know that they are listened to personally, AND see the results.

Gavin King is right in that most of the elected politicians we currently have in our region, in all tiers of Government, are not well liked. The spin and the polish have distracted us from seeing the results. And there have been results. Last week the Council voted on some very important environmental policies that will ensure our region maintains it's sustainability amongst a herd of other great things, all obscured by the argument that Cr Lesina should not be able to vote on an issue concerning a second cousin's separated husband (are they kidding?).

Before Jim was knocked off, he spent over 2 years getting vital funds for JCU, approval for several key projects and many other newsworthy achievements, all of which we never noticed because the media were too focused on his personality, or lack thereof.

The Bligh Government were actually doing ok, travelling along nicely, until the introduction of the asset sales. The explanations and discussions over these are irrelevant. The simple fact is, the majority of people don't want them. As soon as you start to argue for something that most people don't want, they switch off.

So for all the parties, big and small, here is the simple message. Spin has got to go (yes, for you too Warren). The party machines have got to be switched off. The candidates and elected members need to get out more (with the exception of Curtis Pitt, who appears to be everywhere) and instead of just nodding heads all in a row....listen to what the public are saying (all of the public), take those views with you to caucus, and vote on THOSE issues. Stop considering each opportunity to achieve something, or discuss something, an opportunity for re-election, and start thinking of it as an opportunity to really engage with the public.

Lastly, .....encourage debate. Stop flicking the off switch when people from your own party are telling you that you are wrong. Opinions are many and varied, and no, you can't please all the people all the time, but why not at least take some time to explain yourself.

To the media, start printing (in BIG letters) the achievements from all forms of government, and from all sides of politics. Focus on what is being done, not what is NOT being done. Just try it for a few weeks and you will find that good things are happening, some ordinary things are too, but it's not actually as bad as you would have us believe. Politicians are accountable to the people, who are you accountable to?


  1. A very worthwhile comment Leigh with some relevant points!

  2. Hi Leigh, I'm with KS. What you're saying is the direction forward for our polity and society. I'd add that the LNP is just as machine-controlled as Labor, and the media issues are more complicated than simply good news v bad news.

    What we need at a grass-roots level is the reformation of community standards to rise above personal attacks and short-term expediency. Activism with conscience and a culture of cooperation.

    I'd be surprised if the political class initiates such a reform, so it's going to have to be done by us plebs.

    Tonight I got my first chance since the election for a long conversation with Gavin and his family, and a couple of other good friends, about contemporary politics. I think you and he would agree on about 90% of underlying principle.

    I first met Gavin in 2005, a year before he came to live in Cairns, and he's always kept his word about journalism, politics, and social values. Just like Mike and, I suspect, your good self.

    Sorry to be so agreeable.

  3. Leigh, speaking as a former journalist, once upon a time, journalists took on the role of encouraging community discussions, acting as a mediator between community groups, and generally ASSISTING to shape and form community opinion.
    ENCOURAGING COMMUNITY DISCUSSIONS. That doesn't happen now. Both King and Mackenzie do not permit discussion. They take the omniscient approach - they know it all and they know best. They have locked the community out.
    Both Mackenzie and King have mounted a personal persecution of Val Schier, which has been totally unprecedented in this area. King doesn't even make the slightest pretence to corroborate his facts when writing a damaging story about Val. Mackenzie's ranting tirades have drawn comments from local psychologists who have branded him "obsessive".

    Take the matter of the Cairns Cultural Precinct:
    Both King and Mackenzie have gone all out to derail the project before it could even begin the community consultative stage.
    They should have invited public discussion on something as huge and as important as this, instead of using the project to demonise Val Schier.
    Had they bothered to ENGAGE with community on the project, they would have found needs and aspirations within the local population:-
    Needs and aspirations such as:-

    * The need for a Dance and Ballet Company for
    Far North Queensland..and a performing theatre for the area's young dancers.

    * The current Civic Theatre is old and in disrepair and unable to cope with the demands of modern theatre.

    * Tourists need more entertainment apart from pub bands and restaurants at night.

    * Having world class shows and plays performing in Cairns would assist the tourist industry, particularly with domestic tourism.

    * The quest for a modern museum in Cairns is at least 40 years old. The current museum is cramped and inadequate and unable to fully represent the area's cultural heritage.
    * Children in the area are missing out on valuable educational experiences by not having a modern museum with its inter-active displays.
    Museums oversee the science of paleontology, thus a Cairns museum would be able to participate in this exciting and growing field.

    * Chinese in particular are drawn to museums and like to see the Chinese pioneering experience.
    This is important as the number of Chinese tourists is increasing.

    Lastly, I have written about the benefits of having upgraded convention facilities. Currently we turn away around 300 conventions a year. The Cairns Cultural Precinct has plans to upgrade the current convention facilities plus linking them with the performing theatre gaining even more space. Our region can only benefit enormously from hosting international conventions such as ASEAN events, focussing on trade, agriculture, mining, technology, tourism and finance.

    Neither King nor Mackenzie have bothered to fully investigate the community's needs, nor the benefits accruing from a huge project such as the Cultural Precinct.

    Their combined actions are not only divisive in the community, but they are detrimental to the economic future of Cairns.

    Lastly, it is easy to scoff and jeer, to criticise and destroy, and it's easy to make a mockery of someone. It is all effortless for Gavin King. It takes a bit of effort, as I have done above, to bring as many points together for the attention of readers and discussion.
    As I said earlier, that used to be the role of a journalist.

  4. Leigh, Gavin King and Mackenzie between the two of them have forged a divided, intolerant and rancorous community, totally unprecedented for Cairns. I was listening yesterday to two Mothers with ballet dancing little daughters express in the most explicit language, what they thought of Gavin King's and Warren Entsch's scoffing comments directed at ballet. They will never raise their voices publicly unlike the people who were shaped by King and Mackenzie's scorn over the Ukulele Festival. Some of the anti-ukulele comments bordered on psychotic.
    Since publishing a letter in "The Cairns Post" stating that many of us in the community have waited over 40 years to have a modern museum in Cairns, I have been inundated with phone calls from people who are disgusted with the way in which King and Mackenzie in particular have demolished the entire historical lobby for a modern museum by using it as an attack on Val Schier, viz: "It's a valcano and a memorial to an ego." One woman was close to tears.

  5. I have figured out that few, if any, of these so called political reporters and commentators have a political science, or similar, degree or other education qualification that would enable them to convey in layman terms the gist of each policy release. To qualify as a commentator today all you need is complete political unawareness and an A+ in creative writing in year 11. After listening, sometimes in utter disbelief, to the constant gossip questions being asked at policy launches, hoping for that slip up for a head line grab. How are we (Joe Public) ever going to correctly evaluate policies that may effect us, our children or our grandkids if the press are more interested in descriptive names for a ‘Red Head’ or comparisons to a ‘VW Beetle with the doors open’?

    Just a note for Bryan Lawless,
    any reporter who starts an article or justifies political comment based on rumour, should be crucified by their peers. To begin with statements like 'Overheard in the men's toilets.......', anyone can write tripe like that, you know the old question ... 'I've heard you have stop beating your wife?' If Gavin was a sportsperson he would be fined thousands of dollars and sent to councelling to combat his bigoted comments. If he was sincere he would attack and name the people who reputidly make these comments, not use some veiled innuendo to make political milage.

  6. I think Gavin astute contribution to the political debate is very valid and timely Leigh.

    He has a unique perspective to view pollies without rose-tinted glasses of any colour.