Saturday, 22 December 2012

Recipe for a "Disaster Cocktail":
1 rotten egg, liberal dash of Snake Oil, agitate thoroughly, serve in sugar-coated, rose-coloured glass...

Current-day "F Wing"...the only cell block accessible at the gaol.

"Silver and gold are not the only coin; virtue too passes current all over the world" - Euripides (c. 480 - 406 BC)

Welcome to a "special edition" article from the Haunts of Brisbane - the fact that you're now reading this confirms that the Mayan Gods postponed the impending apocalypse to allow access to this informative public brief...

As many of you are aware, the Haunts of Brisbane has been tirelessly fighting alongside the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society regarding the current commercial operating structure implemented at Boggo Road Gaol, & any future public access system the site may adopt.  The current Deed of License was issued despite numerous meetings with frequently-rotating Government Officials from the Department of Housing & Public Works, whilst Cameron "Jack" Sim & his posse of obscure "employees" sat in & stifled every attempt to engage in sensible & open negotiation - despite the unpalatable outcome, I'm proud to say that I was personally present at these meetings, helping to represent the position of the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society alongside current Historical Society Secretary Chris Dawson.  As such, & given certain events that have occurred over the past two weeks, I believe it's well within the public interest to address a number of unfounded accusations, insinuations & outright lies that have been perpetuated by Cameron "Jack" Sim in his attempts to justify the gaol's opening under his company's management...

For those who are aware that Boggo Road Gaol has re-opened under the commercial management of Cameron "Jack" Sim, you're likely asking yourself, "Why the hell did a Government Department give overriding management access, inside a publicly-owned historic site, to a small-time commercial ghost tour operator??"  Well...before you jump to the conclusion that Ghost Tours Pty Ltd were issued with a Deed of License to access the site (which you couldn't be criticised for thinking, given that Cameron "Jack" Sim hasn't even remotely attempted to clarify his business dealings), the Deed of License was issued to the independent company Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd - ironically also owned by Cameron "Jack" Sim, & staffed by the same motley crew as Ghost Tours Pty Ltd!

So...in order to address the current political situation at the gaol, let's focus on the happenings of Thursday the 20th of December (2 days ago) - on that day, 2 separate (yet connected) media events occurred, that went a long way in bringing this sorry state of affairs into the public sphere...


On Thursday night, Channel 7 News ran a story (above) entitled, "Fight over Boggo Road Gaol," in which Stephen Gage publicly aired the concerns of the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society regarding the non-transparent installation of a commercial entity within the site.  For the record, Steve Gage is a highly respected long-term ex-Officer of Boggo Road Gaol, authored one of only a few factual books regarding the working history of Boggo Road Gaol (Boggo Road Prison: Riots to Ruin), & is the current Vice-President of the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society...needless to say, he is a powerhouse of information regarding Boggo Road, & is very well placed within the Historical Society.  Steve eagerly attended the 7 News interview in front of the gaol on Thursday morning, & voiced some of the concerns that the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society have (as do many members of the public), regarding the 4 month interim commercial instalment at the gaol...& that's where things went downhill.  So...let's start with the 7 News article...

**Keep in mind that 7 News interviewed Cameron "Jack" Sim first, hence receiving their general information regarding the site directly from him**

We're informed straight away that Boggo Road Gaol "hasn't been open to the public in 8 years" - in actual fact, regardless of multiple public statements by Cameron "Jack" Sim in recent weeks, Boggo Road Gaol closed its doors in December 2005, 7 years almost to the day!

Next, we're told that Cameron "Jack" Sim started taking tours at the gaol almost 15 years ago - in actual fact, Cameron Owen Sim registered his new ghost tour business on the 5th of June 1998 (14 ½ years ago), started running basic walking tours through the CBD of Brisbane around August/September 1998, & finally gained access for tours at Boggo Road Gaol in early 1999 (just under 14 years ago) - amusingly, Mr Sim claims in the introduction to his book The Ghosts of Boggo Road Gaol: Ghosts & Gallows, "In January 1998 I tentatively walked up to the imposing gates of Number Two Division - the only section still standing of Boggo Road Gaol. I rapped on the gate, as visitors to this section of the prison had for over ninety years.  I was greeted by a man with a thick Yorkshire accent who introduced himself as the curator of the Boggo Road Gaol Museum.  [W]e sat down at a table and he asked me did I have my insurance as requested over the phone, 'Yes', I replied, 'would you like to see it?'. 'No', he said, 'we have a gentleman's agreement'. With that he handed me a large ring with a huge set of keys to the front gates of Boggo Road Gaol."  So...apparently, 6 months prior to Cameron Sim registering his new business (& organising his associated public liability insurance), he dropped by Boggo Road Gaol & secured a set of keys from the then proprietor Don Walters under false pretences/fraudulent business practice...or so he'd have us think!

Skipping Steve Gage's response to some of the major concerns regarding the commercial focus now placed on the gaol, we hit the first major issue of the article...whereby we're told by the reporter that "the decision to open the gaol under the private model, was made by then Public Works Minister Bruce Flegg" - after five weeks of fruitless meetings with Department of Housing & Public Works staff, a meeting was finally organised with the prior DHPW Minister, Dr. Bruce Flegg, at close of business on the 13th of November...during this meeting, Dr. Flegg made repeated mention of his enthusiasm for ongoing broad public access at Boggo Road Gaol.  Unfortunately, Dr. Flegg posted his resignation less than 24 hours later, during the day's Parliamentary sitting on the 14th of November...yet we're expected to believe that the outgoing Minister passed a decision to grant Cameron Sim a Deed of License over Boggo Road Gaol, in his final hours??  Sadly, in the three weeks proceeding Bruce Flegg's resignation, the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society made repeated enquiries, as did I, regarding the opening of Boggo Road Gaol, as we'd been told the Government planned to open the site on the 1st of December - when the 1st of December came & went, a further meeting was scheduled for the 5th of December to provide the BRGHS with "an update on how the plans for the gaol were progressing."  During that meeting, the shock announcement was made that a Deed of License had been issued to Sim, & the gaol would be opening in a couple of days...imagine our added surprise when we arrived home to discover on the Courier Mail website that the DHPW Minister, Tim Mander, had officially opened the site that morning - at the very same time our meeting had been taking place with DHPW Officials!

Ironically for Cameron "Jack" Sim, who wishes to claim that Boggo Road Gaol's been closed for 8 long years **FALSE**, that he ran tours at the site 15 years ago **FALSE**, & that Bruce Flegg issued a Deed of License for Boggo Road Gaol in the scant hours prior to his public resignation **FALSE**, there's far more to the story...stay tuned, as tomorrow night we'll expose further details about the current re-opening that will likely stand your hair on end, & help you all better understand why the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society felt they had no other option than to withdraw from the current commercial arrangements, & why the Haunts of Brisbane/Naked Zombie Radio/BRGHS Haunted Cellblock Tours are still pending...

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