Friday, February 11, 2011

The Astonisher Caught Off-Guard at Carmichael's Gutsy Public Counter-Attack

More on that shortly, but first the recent weather. If you say `what weather?', go back to your darkened, soundproof room and lie down again until you are called. By God.

It would be fair to say that cyclones are very instructive in ways we would never have before contemplated, and those who have experienced it, even those of us here in Townsville who got the whiplash tail of the worst storm to hit Australia, will be doing some deep self-evaluation and examination of lessons learned. 
For The Magpie, the biggest revelation was how quickly he learned how to pee by ear in pitch black circumstances. The technique of assuming the forward-leaning, one-fisted `flying superman' posture during the trial and error search for the right tinkling target was quickly if damply acquired. All this may serve The Magpie well as he ages down the years by saving on overnight electricity bills. The clean-out of the fridge was also instructive, with several use-by dates stamped `consume before AD happens', and a tub of tomato paste with a luxuriant black fuzz which alarmingly resembled rude bloke Benny Vernon the morning after a hard night (ie every morning).
But there are others whose self-examination may have to go somewhat deeper.

Chief among these are two locals; a `cowardy custard' Craig Cuddlepie Wallace, the state Minister for Mean Roads, (and mean is the word), and the other one is our old local Laurel and Hardy team down at the Daily Astonisher, Peter Typo Gleeson and his dancing master Michael `Shrek' Wilkins, the mass-sacking Ogre of Ogden Street.
But speaking of dancing, let's first talk about Cuddlepie.

 Before Yasi graced us with its presence, Cuddlepie did an amazing `dancing bear in a tutu' act when taken to task by the ABC radio's Paula The Mauler Tapiolas over the proposed flood levy tax and state of the Bruce Highway. Under the skilful bum-whipping of straight-forward questions, Cuddlepie was wobbling around  on his hind legs, twirling in stumbling and stammering circles as he tried to parrot the Labor levy tax line.

This was amusing enough, but he really lost it when the perfumed steamroller sweetly inquired if Cuddlepie thought it appropriate that the plans to flood-proof the Bruce Highway had been shelved and the money instead earmarked to help southern flood victims.

Now, assistance for the flood victims in the south-east corner is non-negotiable and a government duty at all levels, which can be achieved in a number of ways. But when the state government makes the idiotic, short-sighted and contradictory decision to target the long-needed flood proofing of the state's vital east coast's lifeline, one is at a loss to follow the reasoning.

But that question was the cue for one of the best blustering , bumbling public outbursts since Bob Katter's `there's no poofters in north Queensland' line. Cuddlepie became a bear with a sore head, almost yelling at the serenely unruffled Ms Tapiolas about the `poor bloody buggers who've lost everything down there' and making foam-flecked insinuations, in so many words,  about how selfish we folk hereabouts were on the issue. Like they say, a week is a long time in politics, ain't it, Cuddlepie?
All hilarious stuff at the time, especially in light of the lunch Cuddlepie had withThe Magpie soon after his election. At that time, he averred no ordinary politician he, he would be putting the people of Thuringowa first, and `I don't care if I'm only in for one term', local interests will be the priority. Bravo for this Home Hill boy, quoth The `Pie at the time. But then, the old bird will believe anything to be polite.
Fast forward to today, as weary people survey Yasi's handiwork. Generous help has poured in to the affected coastal region. But funny thing, supplies and manpower could have been here a damn sight faster but for the fact that the Bruce Highway was cut in several places  - by floodwaters. Time for some re-prioritising in terms of representing the people who elected you, Cuddlepie, instead of being a party sheep?

Fat bloody chance.
But y'know what, as rhetorical Rudd was fond of saying, the Townsville region seems to lose meaningful representation in Brisbane whenever one of the local members becomes a minister. Snooze Reynolds was a prime preening example, followed closely by Lindy Fly In Fly Out Nelson-Carr, the former Minister for Everything That No One Else Wanted.
Et tu, Cuddlepie?
Well, you'd better look into your political soul, old son, because next weekend, no less than four worthies have put up their hands for LNP pre-selection to have a crack at you. JP the Dentist, in town from next Saturday with the shadow cabinet, will lead the masonic-like incantations of pre-selection, with the result ot be announced on Sunday (Popular boozarium operator Wayne Macca McDonald probably has a good chance). And here's one for Ripley, you can believe it or not - while here, JP will anoint a new LNP branch - on Palm Island!!! Yo, bros!
On another local matter of note, The Daily Astonisher's ill-conceived attempt to be the North's Own Sydney Telegraph has got it into hot water with a really pissed-off major Townsville business (and advertiser), Carmichael Ford. The company was savaged in a front page story about docking workers pay over staff off during Yasi, and has in turn counter-attacked the Astonisher about low journalistic standards. (Only just noticed, boys?) .

And that, in turn resulted in a next-day grovel of sorts which clearly proves that the paper made a real balls-up out of a beat-up. Or as Carmichael Ford put it `…sensational and unwarranted allegations'. Indeed, one could interpret the attempted next-day make-good as exacerbating the original complaint, by trying to justify things with some quotes from civil rights bod Terry O'Gorman, for gawd's sake.
The problem arose last Wednesday, when the Astonisher, with the headline screamer `HEARTLESS', is said to have got it spectacularly wrong about Carmichael Ford's pay arrangements for staff who had to take time off before and after Cyclone Yasi. The story quoted a rather convenient 'disgruntled employee who asked not to be named' making all sorts of disparaging claims about the company's alleged actions. All of which were not correct, according to Carmichael Ford, which then went to the highly unusual length of issuing a media release to the business community explaining their side of the story and sticking it right up The Astonisher.

No reflection on the reporter here, he went as far as he could with what material he had, and the decision to publish without proper balance was made, apparently, by Typo and Shrek. All in the interests of yet another negative splash headline.
And boy, have the gloves come off.
The flavour of the media release (which, strangely enough, will join many other matters of community interest that you will NOT see in the Astonisher, unless any inevitable settlement requires that it be published)  is set with the header `… our customers, staff and community deserve to know the truth about the unsubstantiated, false and misleading comments made by the Townsville Bulletin.'  
But if that first blast was an `ouch', the obviously furious company then delivered a `whaaa! stoppit, you're hurting!' with this: 
`Any inference that we have acted “heartlessly” in any way is false and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves against such a sensational and unwarranted allegation.We are working to get back into operation as quickly as possible for the benefit of all our staff and customers. This is a very difficult time for everyone in Townsville. We fail to see what value this poor level of reporting adds to a community that needs to focus on rebuilding ourselves, our homes, our families, and our community. Carmichael Ford has been a generous supporter of Townsville, its spirit and people for over 30 years. We feel this attack on our business is very hurtful and deserves at least an apology from the Townsville Bulletin. It is incumbent upon all of us to stand up to global conglomerates like News Limited whose only interest is making profits for its shareholders, certainly not the people of Townsville.'
Phew!!! And good luck with the apology.
But for The Magpie, the most interesting thing is that line about `the general manager' leaving a message.

What in the name of traditional newspaper lore does the general `ie business' manager of a newspaper have in sticking his beak into what is clearly an editorial matter? If such a call was made, did Shrek Wilkins seek have a chat which may have seen him order the withdrawal of the story? Like he did when Ferry Real Estate successfully lobbied to keep the spider bite trials and tribulations of Richard Ferry out of the paper because the advertiser thought `it might hurt Ferry's  business'?

Talk about the thin edge of the unethical wedge. And it is Shrek Wilkins who is hopping mad and ripping up his nightie about Carmichael counter-punching media release. The biter bitten indeed, and the whole imbroglio could well end up in a secret but lucrative settlement for Carmichael Ford.

Fear not, The Magpie will do his best to keep you informed, if no one else will.
Overseas, a couple of matters of note.
There is now an phone app (for both you oldies, that is application) which offers `confessions by phone' to catholics (and presumably anybody else with a sense of humour). This prompted the very clever New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd (herself of the faith) to pen the following:
Our Father, who art in pixels,
linked be Thy name,
Thy Web site come, Thy Net be done,
on Explorer as it is on Firefox.
Give us this day our daily app,
and forgive us our spam,
as we forgive those
who spam against us,
and lead us not into aggregation,
but deliver us from e-vil. Amen.
Ms Dowd then concluded `At least we know now that Nietzsche was wrong. God isn’t dead. His server may be down though.'
Quite so.
And then there's the Pakistani-born pommy immigration officer whose wife went for a trip back to Karachi. But he so liked the idea of being a bachelor boy again, he whacked his missus on the suspected terrorist list, and for three years, she wasn't allowed to board aircraft to return home. How was he found out? In order to fund his new uninhibited lifestyle, he went for a promotion, and a check found out about his wife. He was fired. We now wait to see if he resorts to that great sub-continent backyard recreation of  `chucking another bride on the barbie'.
And just in, a visual history of Italy.
Enough drivel, it is away to Poseurs' Bar, where The Magpie will seek to be-bubble some demure lass of the Catholic persuasion, and explain the new app the old bird has added to his phone. And should she be of a mind to meander home with him at closing time The Magpie will generously suggest she can use his new phone app. In the morning. Multiple times as is necessary.


  1. Love the blog. A few things you might be interested in: get hold of the just released Ray Morgan readership figures for Australian newspapers. Tvlle Bulletin is down a whopping 17pc on weekdays and 19pc on Saturday. This is against only modest losses in circulation. Anyone in newspapers will tell you such an anomaly means only one thing…dodgy circ figures, ie, papers dumped at football games, fetes etc. they’re getting rid of them, but no-one’s reading them. The figures are, by my reading, the worst in Australia. Secondly, the talk of Gleeson about to get a fat promotion comes from only one person…Gleeson. True, Harto does like him. But that may change if he keeps ringing all his old Gold Coast contacts and getting them to agitate for his return. Such back-biting extends to several Crikey articles seeking to undermine the current editor. He seems to think that if he wishes hard enough, it will happen. If a smoking gun links him to this campaign (and let's face it he's silly enough to See more...

  2. The `Pie replies to Rosebud:
    It's been known to happen in the world of newspapers, and the theory is correct, but probably isn't the case here. Why? Because, despite being the only game in town, The Astonisher has been on a fairly unchanged circulation for the past 10 years - in effect, not picking up barely any of the 50,000 new residents of the city and surrounds.
    Then along came Typo and ensured the new press won't make any difference - in 2010, he lost 15,000 in readership. A slow motion train wreck if ever there was one. But Harto, The Ogre and certainly Typo are all wearing the emperor's new clothes. Now try and get that image out of your head.