Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

October 10th 2012
How Nine makes "Crime Island" pay

On Monday night Channel 9’s A Current Affair program screened “Crime Island” a report with an intro reading: “Welcome to Australia’s crime island. Beautiful one day but a holiday hell the next”, and, “a nightmare of drugs and violence”. To the astonishment of many locals and past visitors, the segment was about Magnetic Island!

As a resident of over 20 years the description was wildly at odds with my experiences and, it seems, to many other locals who have been responding to the story on facebook.

A number of locals were interviewed who described anti-social behaviour centered around the former resort which is home to a wide range of people including owners, holiday makers and residents who are renting.

While ACA repeated footage of a man preparing marijuana on a table and cut to a number of people whose faces were also blurred speaking about punch-ups, heavy drinking and apparently lewd behaviour in front of school girls there was no attempt to tell us just how many people were thought to be involved.

And while nobody is condoning such behaviour it is hardly news that there are people on Magnetic Island who take illegal drugs, drink too much, suffer from mental health problems, have domestics and or may have been in prison. Cutting and pasting comments by anonymous witnesses and a scary, shaky hand held camera track past what, investigative journalist Chris Masters once described as, “guilty buildings”, made a strong impression that the old resort could be terror central.

See for yourself: (Click Here)

When one of the locals who were actually prepared to show their faces on screen, David “Crusty” Heron claimed, “There’s no rules for that place. None whatsoever”, we had to wonder whether there was a police force at all on Magnetic Island. The comment surely might have triggered an attempt by ACA to contact the police. But, no, nothing in the story at all except for a shot of a cop at a full moon party which was taken years ago and added into the mix in case the deviants at the International weren’t enough.

When Inspector Doyle from Townsville police told ABC radio yesterday, “They (MI Police) have had a couple of disturbances up there (former Magnetic International Resort) that they’ve attended recently but certainly nothing significant...” it seems clear that ACA never bothered with the cop’s view of “Crime Island” or, if they did, found that it didn’t fit the “nightmare” story they had planned, and edited it out.

Sadly, but not surprisingly the Townsville Bulletin (
Click here) tried the same cop-free approach back in September when they first wrote about the former resort and resident’s fears, “their community is turning into a crime hub,” in a story that probably first attracted ACA’s attention.

So what could have been gained by this story? What could our politicians, for instance, actually do to prevent private owners renting units to people willing to live in them and pay rent? If people break the law then the police are there to deal with it. If the police are not up to the task then let’s hear about that. From all that has come to light, in spite of ACA and the Bully’s cop avoidance, the story rests entirely on here say that is directed towards one financially crippled old resort and some, perhaps just a few, of its residents.

And what has been lost since this story? Well, if a copybook answer is required in terms of the Island’s tourist economy, then read the following letter from a Magnetic Times reader, Nicole, received today:

Dear Editor,
I watched A Current Affair last night and was shocked and saddened to see how scary and unsafe Magnetic Island has become. I am only glad responsible reporting has let us know. The older gentleman interviewed is clearly petrified living in complete fear of what is happening. Having been there I am surprised to hear that the police can obviously not control it. We have holidayed there several times and were completely unaware how dangerous it obviously is. No responsible parent would risk taking their children to such a place! We wont any more, we will be cancelling our next planned family holiday and be warning everyone we know to stay away!

One might hope that Nicole can be convinced, perhaps by reader’s comments below, that the ACA message ain’t necessarily so.

Just remember folks that ACA make their money by exploiting conflict or pretending there is a brawl happening because we humans are suckers every time and want to watch. Go post on their facebook page if you want but be aware it also feeds their plan which is to attract attention to their work and sell adverts.

But perhaps it can work the other way too. Magnetic Times believes that a tipping point occurred in the last week when Alan (The Parrot) Jones had all of his advertisers cut after his ridiculous and awful comments about the Prime Minister’s father’s death. It’s cost 2GB a bomb and Jones has (incredibly) screamed of “cyber bullying” by ordinary people who had had enough of him and finally organised themselves through facebook and other social media. It’s a time when digital social networks are directly standing up to the old analogue heads who have thus-far considered themselves almighty.

We notice for instance, "which bank" is the main sponsor for the ACA web-based segment on “Crime Island”

But Magnetic Island definitely has some pieces to pick up and they are not just in tourist promos.

The challenge Magnetic faces as a community is that many residents of the International will now start to feel truly isolated and unfairly regarded for no other reason than their address. Fortunately we have a great community here with people who have already seen through the ACA games.

We note, with particular distinction, that last Saturday, expecting the social fall-out on the International residents with the ACA trailer already out, Lorna Hempstead A.M. and President of the Community Development Association, personally delivered invitations to the closing BBQ of the Magnetic Island Bay Dayz festival, to as many residents of the International as she could find around the complex. Some came and were made welcome.

This is the sort of Maggie Island behaviour that we’ve seen again and again when Islanders show their generosity of spirit. Think Australian records for Biggest Morning Tea cancer research fundraising, how so many of us got out and helped the old and disabled after Cyclone Yasi or the recent, amazing efforts to help one little kid’s big health problems with the Zac’s Back fundraiser.

Such gestures are a superb template for Magnetic to engage with friendship and understanding to the many terrific people who no doubt, reside at the International. Let's not forget that ghettoes start inside people’s heads when we think of the “others” instead of names and faces we start to recognise, know and befriend.

George Hirst, Editor

How Nine makes
David Crusty Herron
October 10th 2012
Some have have asked: "Everybody knows what ACA is like. Why did you agree to be interviewed??! Why defend yourself?

1. Why did I do the interview? I'll answer that. * I did not initiate the ACA involvement. more than 4 Island residents and some operators had a hand in that. * Initially I declined an interview. * The report was going ahead with or without me. * It could not be stopped.

* By Sunday several people, residents, operators and absentee landlords and a couple of Maggie International residents had already been interviewed. * What some of them said was mindbogglingly outrageous. I was not going to stand by and let it happen. The report would have been far worse.

* I stuck my neck out in an attempt to "contain" these proposed on air comments and to help bring about a more favourable balanced report. Simply this and nothing more. It worked a little.

* What would you or anyone else have done to lessen the impact?

* My interview content was carefully worded but grossly cut. As I knew it would be. I became 'the fall guy', the sacrificial patsy. But that is what the media is like.

2. As for defending myself? * I 'm not going to. I did what I could to lessen the impact. I stuck my neck out. Now I pay the piper. No one else had the guts to stand up to ACA.

As I already stated I had nothing to do with this debacle until Sunday.

I have been abused, vilified, accosted, subjected to one act of physical violence.

Can I PLEASE ask you to NOT assume that I support or even wanted this type of program to go to air about the island.

"There are two sides to every story aren't there? The truth is somewhere in the middle mixed up with the spin, and the delusion that exists in the minds of both as the struggle for peace, tranquility, and cooperation goes on."

Our police force have done all they were legally empowered to do. They are amazing. And as for these unfortunate people, it is a sad indictment on our government and the welfare system.

David Crusty Herron
jan phillips
October 10th 2012
thank you George for your wonderful article..and to all the beautiful people who posted on FB and the ACA link, supporting our beautiful Island...Maggie is a true paradise and i wouldn't live anywhere else.My 1st experience of Maggie was a 2 week holiday at the International,I fell in love with the island and all her diverse people, went home sold up everything and moved here..and have never for a moment regreted it ...thank you again George..kind regards Jan
October 10th 2012

Good in you George. that (last) resort was always a bummer.
October 10th 2012
A level headed, well researched and fair assessment as always - great work again George. I'll certainly be putting pressure on ACA - I'm not sure how they can class them selves as journalists.
October 10th 2012
What TV attack?
Why do these people think they can get on National TV and make outlandish statements and it will not be taken out of context.
Who ever made Crusty Herron or Lorna Hempstead spokespeople for the island? The answer is NO ONE!

George Hirst
October 10th 2012
Just to clarify a point, Scarecrow. Lorna Hempstead is President of a widely respected Island body, The MI Community Development Association. As you may have learned, her comment was lifted from an old story about Full Moon parties which she noted on ABC radio this week was no longer a problem. There is no official spokesperson for Magnetic in my view but that doesn't mean individuals cannot or should not speak their mind about issues that concern the Island they live on. Whether you agree is for you but you get to put that out too, right here.
October 10th 2012
The story upset me, not only because it is a massive beat up, but because it showed a certain lack of compassion toward the people who reside at the international resort, many of whom are simply people down on their luck looking for affordable accommodation. I'm not sure how further stigmatising these people and making these people feel unwelcome and unwanted helps anybody? I think most fairminded Australians appreciate that in any community you will have all kinds of people, including shock horror those with a criminal past or who use drugs and/ or recieve welfare. everybody deserves a second chance and people have to live somewhere, and to their credit these so-called criminals have not created a crime wave on Magnetic Island
October 11th 2012
Have heard MANY people whinging about the new tenants at the resort. Gloss it over all you like, but there does seem to be a problem. The new residents may be "down on their luck" as Lulu says, but if they were all offered a job tomorrow would they take it (like many other people on the Island, probably NO). Maggie lost the "true paradise" tag a long time ago, but it's still a better place to be than so many other places. I applaud Crusty for appearing, even more so after reading his reasons for doing this (unlike the many long-time residents who have been complaining about this situation). I don't know the full truth of the situation, but villifying Crusty won't get us anywhere. I've always found him to be an honest person who truly loves the Island.
October 11th 2012
I agree with Lulu & Lorraine in a sense. "If offered a job, would they take it?" I have met one young couple with children residing in the "Resort" & I believe yes they would. They actively have asked about work & even made enquiries about volunteer work. We need to be careful not to generalise about all the Residents at this place. Even so, if a person is an ex-crim, doesn't that mean we should give benefit of the doubt they have left crime behind after paying dearly for their prior mistakes.
This issue is unfortunate, it needs to be addressed but why did other property owners have to suffer (one commented to me they lost 2 bookings the next day) over the mistakes of management etc in one previous resort (over many years). I feel for the owners now, but that was their investment, not other residents, tourist operators or accommodation keepers on the Island. Should everyone else have to pay for this debacle of failed property management?
Buyer beware and if it seems cheap than it probably is. Holiday makers looking for a cheap holiday at <$400 a week should surely be thinking ....too good to be true. Yes, most have so now you have private letting by owners looking to recoup. Who is right, who is wrong? Free choice and consequences, it's a tough world, one 99.9% of Magnetic Island residents, tourist operators have to rebuild, again after ACA did a number on us. Not David Herron.
October 15th 2012
.....These people have to be removed and have to be removed soon...Verbatim ,David Heron

.....They fight, they tresspass, they shoplift, interfer with people who walk down the street.......Verbatim ,David Heron

......We don't want it to become a dumping ground for these people..we do not want it to become a dumping ground and that's what it will become because it will become a GHETTO literally.....Verbatim David Heron

.......people may say we are blowing this out of all proportion-no we're not because everything starts small and it works up and we see this as the BEGGINNING OF THE END ON MAGNETIC ISLAND THE WAY IT IS..........Verbatim David Heron

David Heron did a number on us NOT ACA. Alan did you not listen to what Crusty said on that report. There is NO way Crusty was supporting the Island and the tourism and market values on the Island. You even said yourself that 2 property owners lost bookings.

Crusty's apologetic comments above just don't cut it-truely doesn't matter what slant he puts on the ACA report....those SENTANCES came out of HIS mouth.

At least that female resident ( I'm told she does have health issues and shouldn't be judged ) at the international didn't dramatise the demise of Magnetic Island, she was referring only to what was happening at the All Seasons.

I think Crusty Heron needs to take responsibility and not try and put a condescending slant on why he talked to ACA . The damage HAS been done and goodness knows how many accommodation homes and business' will suffer next year because people regardless of taking ACA seriously or not, have already passed judgement on Magnetic Island, lets hope not too harshley.

I am just so mad at the injustice that is this report and the irreparable damage it has done to our fantastic Island.

…..I became 'the fall guy', the sacrificial patsy. But that is what the media is like …...

and YOU should have known better !!!! trying to make out in your above comments
that you are a courageous unsung hero of Magnetic Island !!!!
.....I was not going to stand by and let it happen. The report would have been far worse....

Far worse, yeah right...You ,Corina and that other lost soul---FAR worse!!!! ACA didn't deem so as they ommitted the "mindbogglingly outrageous" comments for your more succinct ones....

and less damaging.....NOT

October 15th 2012
Thats, right get in there and defend your left wing activist mates, it is what everyone has come to expect from your egotistical blog site. As a wannabee filmmaker you know it all??
The point is these people get on a national TV program like Current Affair appear to be speaking for all the island??? All these statements will be held in Nines archives and can be regurgitated at any time. Their actions are reprehensible.
There are plenty of associations on the island not just 1!!
Has the island heard an apology from all of you?

George Hirst
October 16th 2012
Ouch!! "egotisical blog site" and "wannabee filmmaker"! My ego is both shattered and emboldened. Why? Scarecrow, I get the feeling you want to be my own personal troll. How exciting, scary, spooky! But I just wish you made a bit more sense. If I get you, you are saying that nobody from the Island or anywhere for that matter, should ever talk to the big commercial media because they always mix things up to suit their interests. And, because some people like Lorna made comments about full moon parties years ago, she should apologise because she would have to expect she would be taken out of context months/years later. Hmm, that's a big call. And while I perfectly understand your distaste for the likes of ACA etc, where does one draw the line? ACA out, tick, Today Tonight out, tick, Townsville Bulletin, yep, tick, they really stuffed me around recently, ABC radio? Hmm, well, surely not the ABC? Nah, they must go too. You can't have rules for one and not the other. But then you say "there are plenty of associations on the Island not just 1!!" So would the situation be improved if all the associations spoke to the ACA's of this world and made them promise not to cut anything or ever use it again? Then you ask, "Has the island heard an apology from all of you?" Umm, do you mean all of the associations(?) or, all of Lorna and Crusty(?) or, all of me(?) - seeing you addressed your comment to me in particular. Well I can apologise for all of me and will do so herewith. I'm very sorry I cannot make sense of what you are saying Scarecrow, but Im hugely chuffed that I might have my own, dedicated troll. Maybe I could make a little film about it. I mean, everyone would expect that wouldn't they?
Peter F Hughes
October 17th 2012
Whilst I rarely watch the mainstream current affairs programs, it was with interest that I watched the program on Maggie Madness.
Shame they didn't show the landslide behind the building at the resort which in my opinion changed its value some years ago.
Ahh North Queensland, beautiful one day, reality the next. Interesting which people had their opinion aired on television, interesting indeed.
The damage has been done to tourism down here in Vico, several people commented to me about it the following day. It has presented a picture of Magnetic Island that has a place in potential holiday maker's long term memory.
Cairns and Port Douglas will benefit from the defamatory remarks on Magnetic island.
One disused resort in what I believe is the least attractive bay on the island has ruined your reputation for the short term at least.
But then again, we all know better than that don't we?
Peter F Hughes
Yarra Valley
October 31st 2012
Magnetic Island is unique and very beautiful. It is a shame that one of the resorts has got into difficulty and needs to lower their prices so much; but lowering prices does not mean you have to lower your standards. The tennants who are getting this cheap rent should have to sign a 'code of conduct' to be eligible to live there. If they don't abide by the 'code of conduct' they should be made to leave as, I am sure there would be a lot of other people out there who are in need of cheap rent, who would be happy to live there and abide by a code of conduct.
November 1st 2012
Gay, the place referred to in the article is no longer a resort. It is not the 'resort' that is lowering its prices it is the individual private owners of the strata titled units at what is now basically a block of flats. There is no central scrutiniser, no 'code of conduct' and no obligation for tenants to do anything other than their arrangement with the owner/landlord specifies.

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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