Friday, April 15, 2011

In Mature Media FAB Stands For Fair And Balanced - for The Townsville Astonisher Editorials, FAB Is Just A Laundry Powder.

Also this week, a stark choice faces the Labor pre-selectors as they rummage around for an opponent for Kid Crisafulli - a final field of three contains just one candidate who might make a race of it. But as it is with the faction-riddled party, merit and poll appeal are no guarantee of selection.

Details on that later, but first ....  

If The Daily Astonisher is to be believed (nothing like a laugh to start a column) one would have reason to wonder why we bother living here.

Newcomers to town who pick up The Astonisher (tens of thousands don't) could be excused for believing they have lobbed into a community teeming with paedophiles, violent drunks, deadly marine life, a hopeless council, rampaging teenage gangs, spitters, a hopeless council, arsonists, potential cabbie killers, noble Labor politicians, a hopeless council, bungling businessmen, and garden gnome thieves. And illiterate letter writers. Positive news is tucked away and it's a knee-wade through a sea of sensationalised dross to find it.

So just when the shrinking readership was resigned to the fact that it couldn't get much worse, there suddenly appeared last Tuesday's editorial.

The hypocrisy was breathtaking, the gall undeniable. To laugh or cry, read more.

On that day, Astonisher editor' Typo' Gleeson and General Manager 'Shrek The Ogre' Wilkins (forget about editorial independence down at The Astonisher nowadays) crafted an editorial where they presumed to lecture Ergon about where they should build their new Townsville HQ.

This effrontery needed more front than Dolly Parton at bedtime in its insolence, but that was just a minor irritation. Neither author can claim disinterest in the outcome, considering that both are up close and chummy with two or three developers who would give their aunty's undies to get the Ergon contract - who in turn, would give The Astonisher wheelbarrows chockablock with advertising cash. Nothing wrong with that, as the Mafia says, 'it is just business, nothing personal'.

The failed Lancini mall site - in which Lozza apparently, and with good reason, no longer has a stake - would be ideal for Ergon's needs as well as a boost for the CBD.

But it wasn't so much the basic argument - and one imagines we all agree Ergon in the CBD would be a good thing - or even the hectoring,  presumptuously arrogant tone of the editorial that got the Magpie's dander up.

No, it was the following bit of the jaw-dropping editorial double standard when Typo/Shrek deigned to lecture Ergon chairman Ralph Craven on his naughtiness in not immediately succumbing to the paper's demands. They wrote:

'For Mr Craven and his board, this shouldn't be just about the bottom line. Ergon is a highly visible community partner in North Queensland, a company that makes millions of dollars in profit each year. Yes, it would be financially safer and cheaper to base its new headquarters in the suburbs. But Ergon should be considering not only its corporate responsibility, but its social and community obligations to Townsville when making these types of decisions.'

Now, c'mon, you pair of buffoons didn't really think you could get away with that, did you? Tears of mirth mingled with those of rage are the likely result for any informed person reading this bit hypocritical cant.

To use a word much beloved of boofademics and acadills, let's 'deconstruct' this bit of double-dealing with a little substitution and re-writing. See if you can spot the subtle differences in this FAB (fair and balanced) version.

'For North Queensland Newspapers general manager Michael Wilkins and his Sydney-based News Ltd  board,  this shouldn't be just about the bottom line. North Queensland Newspapers is a highly visible community partner in North Queensland, a company that makes millions of dollars in profit each year. (Note: Just under $20million profit last financial year. `Pie.) 
'Yes, it would be financially safer and cheaper to base sub-editing and other behind-the-scenes jobs in an el cheapo central sweat shop in Brisbane. But News Ltd  and North Queensland Newspapers should be considering not only its corporate responsibility, but its social and community obligations to Townsville when making these types of decisions.'

There ya are, boys, that's a bit more accurate, nothing like a bit of FAB editorialising. Your rapidly dwindling number of readers deserve nothing less.

And if you live by the mealy-mouthed sentiments which you see as your clarion call to corporate responsibility and community pride, The Magpie then takes it that you, Mr Wilkins, will be recalling the 34 employees you peremptorily turfed out with no warning  and put on the dole queue this year - not to downsize but to transfer the positions to the Brisbane market. And of course, one can be confident you will also dump plans to sack all NQN (Bulletin, Ayr Advocate, Bowen, Ingham, Charters Towers and Innisfail) sub-editors within the next year for the same purpose.

You have already indicated that this will happen if the 'error rate' in the news pages continues at the current rate.

Or, regarding Ergon, in all your News Ltd cupidity, do you  believe it's a a case of 'Just do as I say, don't do as I do'?

There are some - plenty actually - who may ask how you southern capetbagging blow-ins dare to dictate to others in this community how to act when you can't raise a shred of the business responsibility with which you so willing use to browbeat others. Run your business how you will, but spare us this sort of sanctimonious hypocrisy. It has indeed become The South's Own Paper.

Don't be coy, c'mon Ogre me old son, tell us it ain't so. Your demoralised staff would dearly love to know, and, come to think of it, deserve some straight talking if you really want to be fair. And balanced. They too deserve nothing less.

Other matters.

The Magpie reveals that last week but not for the first time,  he fell foul of the Labor Party's factional testicle twisting, and airs the following.

If the walls of Labor's paranoid Masonic-like secrecy have actually been breached by The 'Pie's nosey parker mates, nominations have closed for the party's  pre-selection to choose who will put up their dukes in Mundingburra against hot favourite Kid Crisafulli, currently Townsville City Council's deputy doo-dah.

Such is the factional throat-ripping and scrotum squeezing among Labor's factions that when noms closed on Tuesday, The Magpie's unreliable information is that just three brave little soldiers have put up their hands .  And one Kiel Shuttleworth of last week's mention is not one of them. The bird is (again unreliably) told that Master Shuttleworth's intentions for a tilt at the seat on the basis of his work in Lindy Nelson-Carr's office mightily raised the ire of one Cuddlepie Wallace.  Our dancing bear carries a bit of clout in the party and for factional reasons wants his loyal staffer, Paul Fletcher to get the nod.

As Minister for Mean Roads, Cuddlepie has plenty of potholes in which to bury factional opponents

So young Mr Shutleworth shuttled off after being apprised, in political terms,  of the possibilty of losing several appendages of which he was somewhat attached to if he maintained his quest.  That done, it looked like the way was cleared for the time serving head-of-the-queue Fletcher was set to corner the role of cannon fodder for Kid Crisafulli.

But no sooner had Cuddlepie removed the battery-powered jumper leads from Mr Shuttleworth's nether regions than up pops a serious threat to these well laid plans, in the form of one Mark Harrison. And Mr Harrison, a patry leftie as opposed to Mr Fletcher's rightish inclination, might cause The Kid a few sleepless nights if he gets the nod.

Even on the face of it, Harrison has a lot going for him ... military background, tradie (electrician), young,  and a quick rise in the ranks of the Electrical Trades Union. He presents well as a family man with a couple of kids, all political pluses.

But a real kicker is the fact that he's an official with the ETU. And the ETU is the only union to actively oppose Anna Blight's back-stabbing  sell-off of state assets, a fire sale that has angered many on all sides of the political spectrum. This could be worth a barrowload of votes for Harrison, and would also be a reason why Cuddlepie, an asset sales backer who has some clout in the party, will do everything to get his man Fletcher up. Which the money says will happen.

The third rumoured candidate is believed to be businesswoman Deborah Burden, who is seen to be there to placate the jurassic feminists about the place - you know the sort of natter -  a woman should replace a woman, got to keep the sisters numbers up, quotas not merit, jawbone, jawbone, blah blah. Fair dinkum, it really is truly tedious nowdays, girls.

Not that The Magpie suggests for a moment that Ms Burden herself is saying all this, but there would be plenty of urgers in the party with that point of view. God knows, Labor has about a million former social workers in its parliamentary ranks. However, insiders give Ms Burden little chance of living up to her name for electors.

This is going to be fun!!

Enough now, it is away to Poseurs' Bar, where The Magpie will be offering his questionable assets for free in a (no doubt vain) effort to personally privatise them.  


  1. I guess the Hobart Mercury's treatment is the harbinger for all of Rupert's regionals. I think my subs end about June and I won't be renewing. On Cuddlepie, does he still hold the record for the most questions unable to be answered at a press conference by a minister ? Of course that was with the added complication of dehydrating via the sweat glands while suffering an attack of the Dunno's.

  2. I think I am glad I haven't renewed my membership. Same old same old.

    BUT you have to wonder about the big end of town and their pals at the TCC PROPPING UP CBD DEVELOPMENT WITH LARGESS. Big profits now for sellers of CBD property with generous concessions that were not there previous. New Mall bricks and roads don't prevent profit projections beyond the buy-up hype-up. We will do-do the Mall.... if if it's, tarted up before we develop....or ... maybe ...just maybe sell out...didn't tell Crisafulli that small detail. Better to ask for forgiveness than for permission....same old...thank you Father.
    Cripes have we been done over again?
    Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me?

  3. The Magpie published the anon comment about CBD development to clearly demonstrate that some issues around here drive people to drink or, as the wallopers say in court, GLM - green leafy material. Interesting prose style although not fully enlightening. Suspect the writer was Jim Beam.
    On a more, shall we say sober, note, the concessions offered to CBD businesses follow years of a swingeing (yes, the bloody word IS swingeing, look it up) rate impost even long after the Mall had died in the bum. So it's a sort of get square for the previous council's preferred form of screwing the punters.

  4. Thanks for the write up, I was actually waiting to cop a slandering from you. The only thing is I am not an official with the ETU. I am a State Coucil member which is made up of grass roots members, and also a very proud member at that.


    Mark Harrison.

  5. The Magpie to MH:
    Congratulations, you're the only one to spot The Magpie's deliberate mistake of the week And if you believe that, you WILL believe anything ... but then, you do read The Magpie's Nest. Re slandering: why, what have you done? Far be it from the old bird to broadcast your unnatural attraction to small furry animals, that you regard The Talking Mullet as a FAB jokester or that your hero is Peter Lindsay. Always happy to write it up ... The `Pie will even even make it up if you like heh heh heh.

  6. Young Mark is already disembling and spinning like a top in true Labor fashion. "Not an official, just a council member". Puhlease. I actually thought that the Old Bird was being extremely (for him) gracious and benign towards you - not in the slightest bit defamatory. But then again, what you say is (perhaps deliberately) somewhat ambiguous. Did you mean "I am grateful for the kind comments- I must say that I anticipated somewhat harsher treatment from you." Or something entirely different?