There is concern amongst members of the Cairns community after a political billboard was displayed in a Council organised community parade launching the Cairns Festival. The billboard was accompanied by people handing out political leaflets to the crowd.
Further controversy was fuelled when community members peacefully approached the billboard in a public park to take a photograph holding a small sign saying “Propaganda free parade”. They were aggressively accosted by pro-dredging lobbyists, and some of the exchange was caught on a YouTube video which is going viral on social media websites.
Note: You can sign a petition against Cairns Dredging here.
Community have raised concerns regarding rumours that the billboard was ‘parachuted’ into the parade after the normal process, by directive of the publically pro-dredging Cairns Mayor, who is the former CEO of the Cairns Port Authority.
What is certain is that Council have somehow directed that pro-dredging petitions be placed in Council libraries, in some cases against the wishes and better judgement of staff.
Soon after the aggressive incident that he caught on phone camera, Cairns And Far North Environment Centre Director Josh Coates said:
“I was shocked by the aggressive attitude and actions of pro-dredging lobbyists when we peacefully tried to photograph the billboard in a public park.
Using a Council community event like the festival parade to promote environmentally damaging new dredging of Cairns Port is just not appropriate. In the same way that Council should not have directed public libraries to collect pro-dredging political petition signatures, they should not have allowed or directed a political billboard of this nature to be included as a float in the parade.
Investigation is needed into this, is Council also using ratepayers money to promote this push to dig up our inlet for questionable reasons?
Despite what the pro-dredging bullies are saying the evidence does not stack up for environmentally damaging new dredging in Cairns. The risks outweigh the benefits and it is a small group of cashed up people that are pushing this. Half page ads in the Cairns Post and billboards on trailers are not cheap and are more than we can currently afford, but I hope the Cairns and far North community will not be fooled by the propaganda being pushed on them.”
Media contact / interviews: Josh Coates, CAFNEC Director, (07) 4032 1586, director [at] cafnec.org.au