Saturday, May 7, 2011

EXCLUSIVE: A Steal For Steel - Council Scrap That Is - Or How To Get Less Than 1% On Your Money - Two Senior Qld Pollies Let Slip Their Post Politics Plans - And Ozzie bin Laden's Possible Fate

If, at the time, you thought that the purchase of Jackson Pollack's Blue Poles was a dodgy proposition with public money, it was a rock solid investment next to Townsville's light poles.

Specifically, the Flinders Street East monstrosities installed a few years back and recently ripped out to all-round approval for the latest revamp of Via Vomitorium. They went under the auctioneer's hammer - which also pounded the ratepayers wallets - late last month. You may well have trouble believing the outcome, but The Magpie will shed more light shortly.

Also this week, pictorial proof that Anna Blight and Cuddlepie Wallace have all but given up on re-election - both are caught rehearsing together for their life after politics. The Magpie also falls about laughing with glee at the latest nickel-plated, rolled-gold spanner thrown into the works of Townsville's next council election. It's all here this week in the Magpie's Nest. 
Now, ratepayers of Townsville, steel yourself for this exclusive you haven't seen elsewhere, but will when others catch up with The Magpie. The spin in The Astonisher will be something to behold.

This pic of a pile of metal poles and other bits and pieces may not excite your interest at first glance...
but it will create a sphincter puckering quick intake of breath if you are a ratepayers/taxpayer. For this is some of what's left of those severely angular, correctional-facility-style lights which so disfigured Flinders Street East after the Mooney makeover a few years back. It was clear - partly from the universal condemnation of this urban design nightmare - that they had to go, and under the new Tyrell/Crisafulli regime, go they did.

Estimated to cost between $300,000 to perhaps half a million if you include installation and then removal costs, the redundant poles and their lights were stored in a (heritage - no really, it is a heritage... err... structure) tin shed down at Jezzine Barracks, historically an area more accustomed to brass than steel. 

Apparently the council was unable to find any useful new role for them, so the pile went under the hammer late last month.

Best and winning bid?


That is, just to be clear, twenty five hundred dollars. One wonders at the reserve.

The Townsville Show Society gleefully snaffled up one of the best bargains to go to auction in these parts in decades. The lights alone - and there were perhaps 40 or so of them, were each worth $1200 to $1500 minimum. The steel poles much more. In financial terms, this would appear to be insult (that a better outcome could not be found by the new council) added to injury (that they were installed on a willful Mooney whim in the first place). 

Moving along, The Magpie can shed some light (some light? oh, great segue, mate) on the state front. This column can exclusively reveal proof that the Queensland Labor Government has given up all hope of retaining office. Some MPs, including ministers, are readying  for their new roles in society after politics.

Even Premier Blight and the Minister for Mean Roads, Cuddlepie Wallace have been caught out, publicly practising for the lucrative contracts they'll take up after politics. 

Although exact figures cannot be obtained - but they would certainly be in the tens of dollars - the old bird is led to believe that a little-known organisation,  the Carnival Lessees and Owners Wagering Numbers Society, or CLOWNS for short, have made an most unrefusable offer. This is the crowd which owns the rights to one of the recognisable and loved fixtures of Australia's sideshow alley amusements, the swiveling clowns heads, into the mouths of which you stuff ping pong balls which roll into numbered alleys. You know the ones.

Well, The `Pie has heard that CLOWNS has signed up Premier Blight and Cuddlepie as star attractions at the next EKKA . Attendance records are likely to tumble when the crowds throng in to witness the fun and, as they always have had their chances as Queenslanders with this pair, they can try their luck to recover some losses.

And proof of what of this, and as a sample of what's in store, The `Pie is proud to offer this recent impromptu rehearsal from two of Queensland's leading lights.

The idea should be a crowd puller. The erstwhile Premier and Cuddlepie will be decked out in clown make-up and one-piece long-john underwear, complete with rear trapdoor flap. Punters will feed ping pong balls into their mouths, which will then emerge from the trapdoors - in the Premier's case with a dainty 'pop' and in Cuddlepie's, a resounding blurt, landing on numbered squares on the platform. 

As the official website proclaims, the same rules apply - 'Laughing Clowns – place the balls in the clown's mouth. Add up the numbers and see what you win'. 

So, c'mon, roll up, roll up, why, you might even win a secondhand state asset which was formerly owned ... by you! Or your very own hospital bed (this prize cannot be claimed for two and a half years). What? Oh, those prizes have already gone? Oh well, don't worry, we'll scratch around and find something else. Maybe a computer game where you become the bureaucratic bozo paying Queensland nurses; the game is called Now You Don't See It, Now You Still Don't See It.

Here in Townsville, what a hoot! That Council Watch crowd of political urgers and tellers of half-truths with water on the brain, led by a Bushland Beach wannabe Labor bloke, has decided they might put up a few candidates for council next time around. 

Talk about inviting in the Law of Unintended Consequences. (This law was explained to The Magpie by his mum, who used the young bird's birthday date and the one on her marriage certificate as explanatory tools. The surprising fact is that throughout his life, The `Pie has been described by many people with an accurate word, without even knowing his antecedents!).

Here's how an unbiased old bird sees these lambs to the slau ... err ... exciting emergent group.

The Labor-led leadership of the Water On Brain (WOB?) people have invited anybody, but specifically  'politically connected' folk (oh, the sides just ache) to join their push for council seats (oh, gasp, spare us). Now, an invitation like that conjures up thoughts of rats up drainpipes because Labor will be in there like Flynn, and given the WOB? leadership, probably welcomed with open legs. Yes, legs, because guess what Labor 'I'm-just-a-ratepayer-Tyrell-must-go' infiltrators are going to do to this lot of genuinely concerned locals then and there. 

However, there may be some trusting souls who genuinely believe that WOB? is the non-partisan way to go for better ratepayer representation on the council. So they may be able to nominate some of their own who are not of the ALP persuasion, and suddenly, it will be three cornered races in the returned divisional ward set-up (oh, yes, that's going to happen for sure - seriously).

It is then that the fun will start, with the Labor infiltrators of WOB? scrambling and gouging to persuade these 'naive' people - ie not in the thrall of the party - to stand aside. 

Heh, heh, heh, The Magpie will be watching, listening and laughing. Not the least at how Typo, the editor of Townsville Pravda and who has been given WOB? unmerited space to push his anti-Tyrell agenda, handles this one. If he's still here. What fun!!  

Finally, that elephant in the world newsroom this week, the elephant Ozzie bin Laden wasn't able to hide behind to delay his execution.

It is said that history is written by the victors, and in this isolated but pivotal skirmish, the Americans came away with the bragging rights. And it is those bragging rights that rankle more than anything else.

OK, so maybe the Navy SEALS hit squad was less than enthusiastic in taking their man alive rather than bumping him off as they did - or maybe not - but in that famous analogy about Rugby League from legendary coach Jack Gibson 'You don't hold a committee meeting out there' rings true  and bears consideration. And it would seem a burial at sea had already been planned and ready to go even before the SEALS took off on their deadly house call.

The Rule of Law crowd have had their say, conveniently ignoring the new realities that terrorists have forced on even the democratic ideals of otherwise law abiding countries. The 'kill to save lives' doctrine will always be open to abuse.

But in this case, an argument can be made that plugging this particular bastard instead of  capturing, jailing and putting him on trial - and all the attendant deadly retaliatory threats that would entail -  may in all likelihood have saved hundreds if not thousands of innocent lives. Besides, why have a trial when bin Laden has openly admitted and boasted about his crimes, and at every turn, rubbed his foul salt of hatred into the open wounds of the western world - including Australia? A trial must surely carry the possibility of a not guilty verdict, even by virtue of insanity. Fat chance for the late Ozzie bin Laden, you betcha, waste of time, money ... and risk.  

But all that be as it may, The Magpie was extremely uneasy about the American street celebrations when the killing was announced. It looked like New Years Eve or The Royal Wedding across the country, not the death of an - admittedly monstrous - mass murdering sociopath. It was the lack of dignity, the depth of ignorance and total absence of introspection of the American celebrators that was so unsettling. The Americans, as deeply wounded and offended by 9/11 as they rightly are - looked just like a Middle Eastern mob celebrating a suicide bomber's murderous actions. They mimicked precisely (minus the air shooting except in Texas) the actions that take place regularly in those societies that they so readily look down on as medieval and less perfect than the 'upright' American way.

At least President Bazza Obama restored some dignity in refusing to issue pictures of the body, although he clearly contradicted reality when he said that '(Americans) don't spike the ball', a reference to the practice of grid iron players slamming the football into the ground in an opponent-baiting touchdown celebration.

As for The Magpie, all he quietly hopes is that bin Laden is met at the gates of paradise not by 72 virgins with big breasts, but 72 vegans with bad breath.

But as The Magpie wends his weekly way towards Poseurs' Bar, he harbours only the humble ambition of be-bubbling just a single delightful, sweet breathed companion, virgin or no. But hopefully, an omnivore, of course.


  1. The price that the light poles were sold for is extremely low. You might think that they had a higher value. But as the multi million dollar salaried CEO's of Lehmann Bros, Bear Sterns et al found out, the CDO's that they thought were valued at say $20, when put up for sale they were found to be worth nothing... because no one wanted to buy them (at any price).
    (CDO = Collateralised Debt Obligation)

  2. You're broad theory is right, but ....the thrust of The `Pie's comments was twofold: highlighting the wrong-headed decision to install in the first place, and then the question of what efforts were made to sell these items to likely buyers like other cities or towns, venue owners et al. Also, was the possibility explored of offering them for free to anyone who wanted to remove from them Flinders Street East - the labor and logistics for the council to do so would have been a vastly more than $2500. And the markets for speculative pieces of clever-clogs paper is completely different to that of steel lights and light poles. However, the theory is right that the marketplace ultimately decides value.

  3. Bottled of BluewaterMay 7, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    It would be interesting to see what price scrap steel is bringing in today's market. I'm sure that lot would command a better price from Wanless or Sims Metal than was paid.Given the latest circulation figures of The Astonisher,they probably didn't see the ad.