False Cape and free speech (cover article - 7 May 2005)
FutureOfCairns is considering its legal options. Mayor Kevin Byrne tracked down one of the supporters of FutureOfCairns through the internet and phoned him at his home. The mayor announced in his usual tones, words similar to the following; ‘Some of the things on the website are not true, and legal action will be taken against you. Being the sporting fellow that I am, I called you to let you know’. The person who received the call, fearing that his finances and his future were about to be destroyed at the hands of lawyers, fled from his house and is now in an undisclosed location. Was that the desired result? In the view of FutureOfCairns, the mayor’s actions represent a major attack on the freedom of the people of Cairns to contribute to a political debate.FutureOfCairns is as careful as possible to be honest and accurate so we do not think that the mayor has any genuine grounds for legal action. If there are any statements or images on this site that are untrue, they will immediately be removed and a notice placed stating the reason for removal and an apology made if that is required. If the mayor has a problem with the content of this site, he should e-mail FutureOfCairns and with evidence demonstrating why some of the statements or images are inaccurate. Alternatively, the mayor can publish a response in the newspaper or any other public forum. FutureOfCairns is quite happy to have an independent arbitrator determine the accuracy or lack of accuracy of any material on this site. If the mayor has any issues of substance, he should present them in public instead of using lawyers behind the scenes to try and stifle the debate.So far, all of mayors statements have consisted of scathing remarks and unsubstantiated attacks on our credibility. Claims that FutureOfCairns has produced distorted images and misinformation will be responded to with firm evidence, posted on this site for public inspection, showing why FutureOfCairns believes it is correct in these matters. The allegation of distortion of issues will be dealt with in a following article.The mayor’s behaviour shows that the proposed development at False Cape is a turning point for Cairns in many respects. The False Cape proposal will determine the standard of truth that is considered acceptable in developer’s development applications. It will determine whether the public can freely debate issues that are of great importance to our future without having a ‘legal’ gun held our heads. It will determine the public’s right to obtain development related information from the council or to examine any decisions made by the council. It will determine whether the State Government’s strategic plans such as Coastal Management Plan and the Far North Queensland Regional plan are effective, or can be swept aside by a council that chooses to ignore them. Finally, it will determine whether the environmental character for which Cairns is famous is protected or not. If it is possible to develop False Cape, despite all the evidence of the impacts this would have, there will be no stopping inappropriate development in other locations. The very future of Cairns will be determined in part by this project.