Friday, April 8, 2011

Labor's 'Self Evacuation' In Mundingburra, And For A Glimpse Of The Townsville Daily Astonisher's Unhappy Future, Look To - Of All Places - Hobart.

Here's a stop press newsflash doo-dah thingamabob: Labor looks to have given up on retaining Mundingburra next election, and have - in the politest of euphemisms - self-evacuated at their own latest polling figures. Giving credence to this theory whispered down the MagpieFone, The 'Pie is informed that one Kiel Shuttleworth, a 20-something former gofer in Lindy's Nelson-Carr's office, is set to get the nod to be creamed by Crisafulli at the polls. While this was predicted by The Magpie about a year ago, intrigue surrounds the supposed anointing of Candidate Shuttleworth. One source said he didn't even stick his hand up.

Indeed, it would be a ponderable choice, seen even by some in his own party more as expendable cannon fodder than new blood, and there just to make up the numbers on the day. Two others are said to be in the mix for the honour of coming out of Goliath's corner against David. But if it turns out that young Kiel gets the nod, The Magpie will give you more on this former JCU student union prattler in the near future. 

Elsewhere, It's been a week of comedy capers all about the place, just about all of it unintentional -  including the letter-to-the-editor of the year, if not the decade.
However, before we get there, there's one very unfunny - and very intentional - matter that should be seriously noted in this neck of the woods. Not that you're likely to see the matter reported in the Townsville Bulletin, a publication very selective about what appears in its pages. (For instance, did you see anywhere in the paper - or any News Ltd publication for that matter - that last year, a Victorian High Court judge branded News Ltd CEO John Hartigan a big fat fibber in his evidence when being sued for improperly dismissing editor Bruce Guthrie? Bet you didn't. Nor the fact that the trial ended in an expensive loss for the company? Double bet you didn't.)
So for a new instalment of all the news that's fit to print - but isn't, read more here.

The current somewhat embarassing matter to be kept from you is concerns a sister paper in Tasmania, the venerable paper-of-record, The Hobart Mercury. 
In a new twist to the practice of sending jobs off-shore, News Ltd has announced that its latest penny-pinching campaign will be to sack all its Hobart-based sub-editors - more than 20 positions, some say more than 30 - and relocate their jobs to a `super sub-hub in ... Melbourne. That's Melbourne, Victoria, Yes, the one on the other side of Bass Strait. In Victoria, whose denizens have a marginal if any interest in the goings on in the Apple Isle. This move follows the sacking of 14 other journalists from the Mercury recently.
But down that way, the Hobart locals are vocal, and aren't taking the proposal lying down. Even politicians are involved now.  Get both sides of the story from the ABC  here and AAP here
And this sort of highly questionable centralisation is exactly what is planned for the Townsville Bulletin and other North Queensland Newspaper (NQN) publications, within the next year, with all Townsville sub-editors sacked and the jobs going to a Brisbane hub. This follows the sacking of 34 people from NQN late last year.
It will be interesting to see if the threatened Astonisher staff follow the Tassie example raise even a squeak over the two-faced attitude of management. Two-faced? Well, GM Michael 'The Ogre Of Ogden Street' Wilkins has been been on a charm offensive with local business groups, extolling a special relationship between business, the community and the paper, all the while planning to take many jobs as well as massive profits out of the community. And he's hardly been straight-talking with the staff either - a sort of smiling-you-in-the-back exercise that, while certainly not illegal, raises some questions of integrity, fairness and balance.
For instance, there was a very good and legitimate column piece by Tony Raggatt (sorry to keep mentioning you Raggers, but you're so quotable) about southern companies that close local offices and centrally control their operations. He wrote this week:
GLOBAL construction giant Laing O'Rourke has denied its commitment to the region has been downgraded but the fact is after winning hundreds of millions of dollars worth of work in the area it has closed its Townsville office and axed regional staff. How bad is that?
The change is understood to have flowed from senior management restructuring in its Australian division where the group intends to oversee its regional projects from Brisbane.
Other big companies which have significant work in the area such as Seymour White and Thiess maintain offices here so why can't Laing O'Rourke.
This kind of treatment of North Queensland, all too often in the past, is not good enough.
And so says The Magpie, but the old bird would have found it far more informative and interesting if Raggers had expanded his scolding to all southern corporations which take the money and run in this manner, like, say ... ummm ... how about News Ltd?
And this is where the unintended hilarity starts, with a faux-tough editorial by - one presumes - Typo earlier in the week. Not withstanding that being attacked in an Astonisher editorial is akin to being savaged by a dead sheep, Typo shook a defiant fist at the LNP, promising swift retribution for fibbing or indolence, declaring with a thunderous squeak '... if there's one thing North Queenslanders can pick a mile away, it's an impostor'.
Oh, yes, indeedy they can, mein editor, which may explain your plummeting readership figures, and the rumoured fact that Sydney is impatiently tapping its foot at The Astonisher's 20% lag in projected revenue for this year. Drat those rumours, that surely can't be the true situation for the only print game in town? Can it? The Magpie promises to print any statement from Ogden/Holt Street to set the record straight if the old bird is off the mark here.
Sticking with The Astonisher ( sorry, but it makes such good reading for all the wrong reasons) a letter sent to The Astonisher's on-line edition is an award winner for The `Pie. 
A bit of background: newspapers are seasonal creatures, and The Astonisher is no exception. The same stories crops up year after year, from the deserving (Anzac Day, Easter), to the cheery floss of the babies born on Christmas and New Year's Day, to the harmlessly inconsequential (First of August Horses' Birthday, the plight of pets during holiday periods). Then there is the grab bag of standard non-subjects, ever at the Chief of Stuff's elbow when the news day is a bit thin.
Nothing like appealing to the prurient interests of indignant readers by inventing an almost non-issue to stir some letter writing action.
In The Astonisher's case, they have just such an annual subject that has long since become passe in the rest of the land - topless sunbathing on The Strand. This is a subject with all the substance of fairy floss, but every year, when a stirring in the Chief of Stuff's loins reminds him it is time to revisit this hoary old chestnut, some poor bloody reporter gets lumbered with doing the rounds of the usual suspects, duly reporting the huffing and puffing on both sides of this weighty matter (nature has ensured there are two sides to this story). Letters to the Ed. ensue before the subject is tossed back in the grab bag until the start of the next tourist season. 
But this time around, this week's story resulted in The Magpie's inaugral Ain't That The Truth Award for Inadvertent Humour.
The honour goes to someone who identified himself as one Mervyn Ackers of Kirwan, and after careful consideration, The Magpie has decided that, even if the name isn't, the letter is fair dinkum as it would be far too subtle to be among the usual clod-hopping set-up letters so beloved by The Astonisher.
Here's what Mr Ackers had to say on the subject of The Strand becoming Hooterville:
 'I say hand out extremely heavy fines or jail time for all people who expose themselves to our children. It is an absolute disgrace this is allowed to happen in our backyard. Just because other countries are free and open minded does not mean we have to be!'

Good on yer, Merv, ever thought of becoming a newspaper editor?

On the state scene, we have had the unedifying spectacle of our Minister for Mean Roads last week losing the plot and, this week, apparently losing his marbles. 

You may recall that last week, our own personal dancing bear tried on a couple of ludicrous attempts at destabilising the (non-Labor) Townsville City Council. But despite the widespread horse-laughing and deserved public ridicule (good column, Skeney), Cuddlepie was like a dog with a bone.

During the week in parliament, it seems as though our man suddenly went off his medication completely, and launched into a foam-flecked, almost incoherent and illogical rant. It seems this unguided missive had the twin intentions of sticking it up Campbel Newman AND the Townsville Council. Cuddlepie became Muddlepie when he somehow made a link between Newman's work with the Brisbane City Council, and the spectre of sphincter-puckering rate rises in regional communities to cover perceived bungling in Brisbane. The longest of long bows, but giving Cuddlepie an arrow for that bow could prove to provide yet another self-inflicted wound. Read for yourself the record of the parliamentary rave.     

'Like Brisbane residents, whom he slugged with a 54 per cent tax increase, Newman will suck the life out of North Queensland taxpayers—
Mr Johnson interjected.
Mr WALLACE: And Gregory taxpayers as well. What does that mean in Mount Isa? The Newman tax will see householders in Mount Isa paying an extra $1,913—that is, $1,913 in Mount Isa for his failed pushbike scheme. What does it mean in Cairns and the member for Barron River’s area? It means $1,594 for his failed tunnel. That is not fair. Why should we in the north pay for his mistakes down here in Brisbane? He cannot build but he can tax. What about Townsville? It means $1,995 in Townsville.
Mr SPEAKER: Put it down.
Mr WALLACE: It means $1,995 in Townsville. That is what we are going to pay as a result if this Newman gets his way. We will not stand for it in the north. We had to fight the Brisbane line far too many times. We will take on this Newman. We will not stand for his $1,995. That council up there has ripped us off with water rates already. They will get some lessons from the deputy mayor about how to do it further. I will fight it every step of the way. I will not be paying his tax.'
Huh? The Magpie for one didn't know Campbell Newman had a failed tunnel, poor bugger.
The Magpie cannot confirm that at this point, Cuddlepie was gently urged out of the chamber with soothing words, lain abed in a darkened room, his collar loosened and a damp cloth on his forehead and was left humming snatches from Paul Simon's `Slip Slidin' Away', including the particularly appropriate refrain for a Minister of Mean Road
'We work our jobs,
Collect our pay,
Believe we're gliding down the highway,
When in fact we're slip sliding away'.
Particularly apt if it's a highway called Bruce and if you're the member for Thuringowa.
Enough now, it is away to Poseurs' Bar, where perchance to hook up with some  free and open-minded backpacker who may be partial to some centrally-located hub action, but unlike Rupert, shall ensure that no issue is forthcoming.


  1. Craig Wallace has become a total embarrassment! His maniacal outburst at the labor party campaign launch.......errrr sorry, water rally and his lunatic ranting in parliament shows he is unfit to represent any electorate in the house

  2. shall be interesting then if the Astonisher remains "the North's Own Newspaper"

  3. Re the Kirwan Pool- Bully and labor stooge Beat up.
    1.The contract is between the Council and the State Government... NOT with the School, P&C or anyone else.
    2. The contract is for 25 years unless varied by negotiation.
    3.The council was asked by the previous operators to close it due to lack of usage.
    4.That's when negotiations started (approx 12 mths ago)
    5.New operators have improved usage numbers.
    6.All the puffed up fools at the meeting the other night threatening legal action etc... were not part of the state government or the council so were talking rubbish.. but the Bully loves that sort of labor crowd illogical behaviour.
    7. So then the education minister gets into the action... threatening to sue the council.... HUH??? all the govt. needed to say was ..Council we have discussed with the residents and won't vary the contract..END of MATTER!!
    8. But that would not have made a Bully Council bashing story, would it!!!??

  4. If Billy Bunter-Wallace's speech patterns reflect his thought patterns, he is in serious trouble and should seek immediate help. The man is a blustering, foolish ass who has, as they say, only a passing acquaintance with the truth (in other words, a lying sack of ....). Worse still, his rampant narcissism is such that he truly believes that he gets away with it and is universally adored (ain't he in for a big surprise?). His election reflects badly upon my suburb and all who live within.