Thursday, March 10, 2011

Clicking For Candidates: Election Chaos Looms

The past week has been one to prove that being startled isn't the sole preserve of the leaping gazelle, and if not that, certainly one to induce deep contemplation.

A few things on telly have at least raised the eyebrow. Take, for instance, one Gail Kelly, the boss of Westpac Bank, who appeared on the ABC's Q & A show this week. When Ms Kelly was asked about her whopping $9.5million salary package, she replied `The first thing you have to remember is not to believe all the figures you are told'.

That this came from the head of one of the most gouging, wallet-whacking banks around was startlingly unusual, if inadvertently honest, advice. Should shareholders now wonder about the accuracy of the obscene multi-billion dollar profit result just announced?
Then there's a couple of TV ads running at the moment that give one pause for those of us who nitpick about language. Volkswagen have a commercial visually extolling all the new gimcrack and gewgaw accessories on various models, which concludes with the message:`The Germans have a word for it - Das Auto'. Err, that would be … umm, let's see …. two words? 

That may seem a touch pedantic, but The Magpie reckons a client who is stiffed hundreds of thousands of dollars to have cocaine-sniffing, latte-sipping yuppie whiffleheads sit around and devise wispy loads of old cobblers about how best to sell a product at least deserves an agency whose staff can count up to two.

Speaking of mathematics, The Magpie is a contented old bird nowadays, especially since he has just discovered the real value of high definition telly. Every night, he settles in before the box, steaming cocoa and a milk arrowroot biscuit at his elbow, turns on the ABC's 7.30 report and counts and recounts the freckles on Leigh Sales chest.

And then there is the spruiking for a new foodie show to be hosted by the delightful Ms Donna Hay. The promo ends with a vacantly smiling Ms Hay accompanied by the on-screen words `Donna Hay - fresh, fast and simple'. Is this a somewhat unflattering character reading of the gal herself? A conclusion which could lead dirty old cocoa-drinking, biscuit-eating birds to believe it wouldn't be too difficult to - ahem - `make Hay' while the sun shines. Ah, if only.

But for a truly Olympic-standard startled gazelle leap, we have to turn to our old chums in George Street, Brisbane, the shambolic Queensland Government.

You may remember last week The Magpie mentioned the Law Justice and Safety Commission report on proposed changes to elections and associated matters in this state. In all, the committee made 33 recommendations, to which the government has now given replies. The main focus was on the first one, which recommended a return to divided (ward system, head-to-head) voting in local council elections. The government said it didn't support this move, which, when he caught up with the issue some days later, resulted in a predictable foam-flecked editorial rant from Astonisher editor Typo Gleeson, railing against this stand on behalf of his local Labor overlords and Jenny The Talking Mullet Hill.

But when The `Pie started idly scrolling down through the other 32 recommendations, he started twitching like Inspector Closeau's boss Herbet Lom  in The Pink Pussycat movie when he came to recommendation 9. It read: 
`That the Local Government Electoral Act provides that the Electoral Commission of Queensland may, at the discretion of the Electoral Commissioner, investigate, and trial the potential application of new technologies to ascertain whether they can be safely and securely implemented and utilised, to better facilitate the efficient and effective conduct of elections by the Electoral Commission of Queensland. Any active trials are to be conducted in consultation with the local councils affected.
In other words, Premier Blight and her mob have given the green light to try out electronic voting. 

Yikes, that's computer voting, folks! 

This from a government that has done for computing what Ivan Milat has done for hitch-hiking, what Typo Gleeson has done for fair and balanced newspaper reporting, and what Michael The Ogre of Ogden Street Wilkins has done for employment in Townsville. 

This is a government responsible for the biggest computer (and pay) cock-up in Queensland history, and even a year down the track, still can't pay their nurses and other health workers properly. There have also been problems with the police QPRIME system, the weapons licensing system, the Queensland Transport system and several other payroll systems. Two senior bureaucrats brought in to sort things out have unceremoniously resigned, and the relevant minister has been changed twice but they still can't get it bloody right. ICT is meant to stand for information and communication technology, but this mob have made it in to Inept Cock-up Technology.

So just imagine - twitch, jerk - what merry mayhem they are about to inflict upon the voters of this state.

On the local scene, The Magpie must confess he has often wondered about Townsville Enterprise Limited, and what they do to justify their presumably expensive existence. The organisation appears to have some pretty competent people on board, but whatever their achievements are, they seem to keep them, well, sort of secret. Perhaps they have `made their chops', to use the lingo of another, somewhat larger Italian/American organisation, which also likes to keep its activities in the shade. (One trusts that TEL hasn't adopted that other organisation's business practice of making unrefusable offers.)

Well, whatever it is that they do, they will have to do in future without the honorary services of  one Tony Ireland, who has resigned as the chair of Townsville Enterprises's Economic Development Strategic Advisory Committee. The multi-millionaire jalopy flogger has cited the pressure of his expanding business empire, which sounds about right, since the new Tony Ireland site on Duckworth Street is about twice the size of the former Charters Towers Road frontage. 

Inevitably, the resignation started some idle speculation that TI chucked it in because of an alleged growing number of members resigning, but that doesn't appear to be the case and TI remains a member, still generously suppling TEL with a vehicle as his contribution.

The resignation gives TEL chairman John Bearne a bit of heartburn on two fronts. First he has to find a replacement chairman for TEEDSAC (sounds a bit like a little-known body part). And TI was also seen as JB's successor in the top spot when John decided to up stumps somewhere down the track. Candidates for both positions are somewhat thin on the ground, so it looks JB will just have to soldier on for a while longer - doing whatever it is that TEL does.

Enough now, it is away to Poseurs' Bar, where The Magpie will seek a suitable companion to whom he can extol and recommend those attributes ascribed to Donna Hay. And should the question of age disparity arise, the old bird will point to Gail Kelly's wisdom on this matter. But then again, gals have always disbelieved certain numbers - usually to do with measurements -  claimed by blokes on first dates.


  1. Good jab at TEL....

    It's baffles me why anyone would continue to pay TEL the outlandish fees they extract from their victims..... ah, make that "members." And who'd belong to TEL unless they're a very heavy hitter? Remember John Bearne's admission a while back about the membership fees? It boiled down to..."Unless you're paying us BIG BIG money every year, we don't waste much time on you."

    You have to admire their creative accounting, though. TEL's most inflated number-bodging has to be the V8 races, where they always count people two or three times. It makes the attendence look better, you see, and that impresses the TEL clients who can't count for themselves.

    And then there are the cruise ship figures. If anyone really believes that each and every cruise ship prisoner.... er, visitor... comes ashore to spend $1,000 plus in two hours, please contact me immediately. I have a unique opportunity involving a bridge in NSW we should talk about.....

  2. The Magpie replies to Bemused
    The old bird was not making a specific criticism of TEL but he does believe that the organisation appears to be somewhat modest about its achievements. Since membership is not the only source of funding - the ratepayers through TCC and taxpayers through grants from govt help keep things rolling along - then we are entitled to a little more transparency about the bang we are getting for our buck. The upper echelons of those power brokers who would determine our destiny need to be a little less modest about their no doubt stellar achievements.
    As for Bemused's other claims, others can refute or support them, The `Pie claims no knowledge in that area EXCEPT on the matter of the ocean terminal. - The `Pie has always been a vocal opponent of this city's ratepayers being swindled into this political charade being orchestrated by those who have little interest in the community's future (led by at least one opinion maker who won't be here much longer to his emanate his views).