Thursday, November 3, 2011

A mayoral form guide, and their council stable mates.

Forget the Melbourne Cup field, here's a mid-week form guide to the current incumbents and their barrier draws for next March's Townsville City Council election. And it's not so much a case of fascinators as fantasyland  - all round. And a bonus from Bentley with several caricatures - some  so good, they're repeated. 

PS No proof reader for the moment, so forgive any cock-ups. 

So, a bonus load of doggy dos in a dollop from the Magpie's Nest at

How they stand and how some of them look to Bentley, starting top to bottom.

Les Tyrell


He's done the hard yards, weathering some pretty vicious personal attacks from the Labor-biased Townsville Bulletin (a much more balanced publication since Typo Gleeson's scuttled south). Les managed to maintain the dignity of the office even when taking the heat for the water pricing debacle - a text book lesson in how not to operate corporate media communications on a hot button issue - and, unlike his predecessor's last couple of years in office, has always been accessible to the public and the press. 

He also didn't flinch when he came under fire for overseeing the forced financial make-good of the the council budget which resulted in some hard but necessary decisions on rates and charges. The argument still rages about how much of this was forced on the amalgamated council by the favour-currying behaviour of the previous Townsville incumbent and Les's own few bob imported from Thuringowa. History will be the judge.

When Les announced his retirement, the ungracious comments and vituperative gutter-sniping by The Astonisher's regular wailing Greek chorus of letter writers said more about the writers than about a man who, for better or ill, spent three decades of 'doing' rather than composing sideline commentary (err, like The Magpie). 

The 'Pie hopes you and Pat have a happy retirement, Les, you deserve it.

David Crisafulli: 
Not standing.

The Kid had always said, and The Magpie believes he was sincere, that his political ambitions went no further than, at the most, becoming mayor of Townsville. With a young family, he had no taste for the Fly In Fly Out lifestyle he lived while working for Senator Ian MacDonald. 

But he had the LNP political heavies weigh in big time - and for a long time, offering all sorts of blandishments and lollies over the political schoolyard fence. It is said that among the urgers were several of the biggest of big swinging dicks from Canberra. After several months of having his political goolies ping-ponged about, our boyo finally relented and agreed to go play with the big boys at the other end of the playground. 

The Kid will be running for the state seat of Mundingburra on the Campbell Newman ticket, up against political tyro and ETU sparky Mark Harrison. If he wins, he is a cert to get a ministry, no doubt part of the promises package he was offered. Local government? Why not, Newman needs to quickly get back some regional cred in these parts. 

The Kid will resign as deputy doo-dah of Townsville when a state election is called, or be a non-starter if the council elections come first, which they probably will. 

Although Crisafulli continues to put in punishing 14 hour days, he appears to have stepped back somewhat from some of the council's unpopular, hard-sell issues - The Kid appeared to have found it prudent to distance himself as best he could from the water pricing cock-up. he knew it was a poorly handled disaster. But his inaction was a shame, because it was an issue where his experience as a former journo could have been used to better communicate the real situation, rather than let it become the Labor/Bulletin hootenanny of spin into which it descended. (Ironically, it is an issue that has turned out to be a big win for water users, who now have a choice of schemes - 20% have opted to go with the new scheme because it saves them money in their particular situation). 

But The Kid is a canny politician to his bootstraps. 

SO - The Magpie reckons
The name Crisafulli will become more and more prominent in state matters over the next decade, ending who knows where.

Dale Last: 
Running for mayor. 

This former walloper is seen as a competent first-time councillor who is known to be super ambitious to climb the slippery pole. His vaulting ambitions for greater public office seem are said to be a driven in part by his nearest and dearest. He is gathering a team of current councillors and some new blood for his tilt at the top job. 

Hmmm, memo, mate: Team Last really isn't a starter as a slogan - maybe you could reverse Bob Dylan's line to make it 'The last one now will later be first, for the times, they are a changing'.
A former Senior Sergeant, Clr Last has experience in handling modest budgets and being in charge of a goodly number of staff at the Townsville cop shop. He has come across as a bit of a publicity hound, occasionally seen doing a Jenny Hill, spotted hovering in the background of pics and TV news reports. But then, why bother being a politician if you're not going to push the profile? Seems to work for The Mullet.

A couple of areas raise some question marks about Clr Last's leadership ability in the civic arena. The Magpie has been told from several quarters that he comes across as abrasive and abrupt in dealings with council staff 'as though we are junior police officers' said one. He himself has admitted that he is 'forthright' in asking hard questions when presented with bureaucratic assessments of current issues. Maybe a little self-examination on this point wouldn't go astray, considering those in authority who are successful know how to wield it - in different ways in different arenas. The last thing (no pun) this town needs is another tinpot Wilson Iron-Bar Tuckey as mayor, and it is reported that Clr Last has been toning down the 'blunt instrument' approach of late. 

SO The Magpie's reckons: 
Early days, but Clr Last will have a good chance if it is just a mayoral gallop between him and the Moaning Mullet. He will need good political advisers, but he's got more going for him than against him. That said, any other vote spliters who enter the race could throw the whole thing wide open, but other serious contenders right now are as rare as rocking horse shit.

Now some others. 

Jenny Hill:

Running for mayor.

The Magpie was shrilly berated last week for suggesting she would opt for the financially safer path of standing for re-election just as a councillor, and put someone else up as the team mayoral candidate. This, The 'Pie suggested, would leave her the power behind the throne, or, as Pommy PM Stanley Baldwin once said ' Power without responsibility - the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages'. The Magpie hastens to add that he makes no personal reference here to The Mullet, who, as far as he knows, is a happily married and responsible mother, but the political analogy is irresistible. ( And The Lone Berater's nighty-ripping, foot-stamping email scolding of The 'Pie can be seen in the comments under last Saturday's blog).

But if the saying that nothing succeeds like persistence, you'd have to say Jenny is a shoo-in. She has put her hand up - and been walloped, both at state and federal level - more times than David Moyle has had different party memberships. 

This time, the Labor Party has - apparently - decided not to endorse a Labor team, which crucially means there'll be no campaign dough coming from them. This has left The Mullet free to run her own group, but they'll will have to fund themselves. She says that in any case, she doesn't care whether she is endorsed by the party, she will of run anyway, a desperate sounding plea sounding like a someone tired of rejection after standing at the head of the Labor employment queue for so long. Err, is there a message in there somewhere, m'dear?

By all accounts, Jenny has always been a good 'ward' councillor, always looking after the many issues raised by residents, and was always a loyal member of His Radiance arm-raising aerobics club in the previous administration, despite the personal enmity between the two. 

But there are plenty of voters who have become weary of her negative comments on just about everything the council does, and her stubborn insistence that she is 'an opposition councillor'. Opposition to what? To the overwhelming majority of councillors who were elected by an overwhelming majority of voters sick and tired of party politics in local government? And, with the exception of the departing Crisafulli, a council without one single councillor who is a member of the LNP? Or any party, for that matter? 

But this gal just can't help herself, she just has to play politics at every turn, sometimes so vicious and vacuous that the she was the cause of the CMC warning candidates last election to be careful about frivilous complaints to the Commission or they'd find themselves in hot water. 

Jenny has, just on her own party principle, voted against every budget of the current council, so now, she cannot claim any of the considerable financial success which the current mob can justly trumpet. (Readers of the Daily Astonisher over the past couple of years will be mystified by this statement, but the true picture will no doubt emerge during the campaign). She also is among those people who either don't know or wilfully ignore the crucial difference between debt and deficit, in her case to score cheap political points aimed at the ignorant. 

For many she is, in former US Vice-President Spiro Agnew's words, 'a nattering nabob of negativism', or as The 'Pie has it, an aspiring leader who could dubbed Joan of Nark.

SO The Magpie reckons: 
This is probably The Mullet's last chance at public office, because if you stand for mayor, you can't be elected a councillor at the same time. She knows this, and despite her declaration that a return to divisions - ie 'ward' voting - would rid the community of an undesirable 'team mentality', in typical back-flip fashion, she will lead a Team Hill into what is likely to be a desperate and dirty affair from both sides. Her apparent slogan: Vote Team Hill, Together We Will'. Whatever that rubbery bit of jingoism actually means.

Clr Ray Gartell:

Running for re-election.

The Walking Haystack is definitely going round again. He appears to be hoping to be anoited for the Last To First team, or as The 'Pie will now henceforth call, The Last Train, and he probably will be.

SO The Magpie reckons: 
An unspectacular toiler in the garden of Walker Street, seen as a solid citizen, Ray will have to depend on who he goes up against, but certainly has little or no baggage to hinder a return trip.

Clr Natalie Marr:

Going again.

Definitely hoping to hop on the merry-go-round again, but declined to say if she was either on, or would like to be, The Last Train.

SO The Magpie reckons: 
One councillor who really earns her money, and has showed admirable grit to overcome personal health problems to still put her community first. If there is any justice, she should get back comfortably.

Clr Sue Blom:

Going again.

They love her on the Northern Beaches, and you don't get loved if you're a dud. Vehemently opposed to party politics at council level -'it wastes so much time, achieves nothing and takes you away from the job of looking after the community's interests' - Clr Blom said any involvement with The Last Train is yet to be confirmed. 

SO The Magpie reckons: 
The fact that her stamping ground is also home to the more prominent members of the ersatz Labor grouping of water-watchers and other time wasters, and her opponent on the Hill team is likely to be a local Labor loudmouth, should not detract from her getting another well-deserved term.

Clr Vern Veitch:

Going again.

On available evidence before the last election, this bloke was shaping up as a one-issue (fishos and their boat ramps ) waste of space , but Vern seems to have grown with the job, and is now well respected, even by those who do not always agree with him. He now talks sense and contributes to arguments across the council spectrum.  He has been prone to the odd public hissy fit, but that now seems under control, as does his unfortunate habit of military-like barking at people - he's a former army major. Here, The Magpie must declare a sort of interest: when The 'Pie needed some post-Yasi advice involving a driveway on council land, Vern turned up 20 minutes after he was called - and his advice was sensible and spot-on. Others say they have had the similar experiences.

SO The Magpie reckons: 
An ardent Dale Last fan, Clr Veitch will certainly be on The Last Train. If he gets back in with Dale in charge, he could even have a tilt at the deputy doo-dah's job.

Clr Jenny Lane: 

Going again.

Another steady performer, who welcomes the return of divisions because she likes looking after her local area best. Clr Lane has considerable local government experience which she exercises with quiet aplomb. 

SO The Magpie reckons: 
Mrs Lane will probably align with The Last Train, but will remain very much her own woman and can be counted on to take the odd difficult 'conscious vote' if the occasion arises. Good chance of getting back.

Clr Tony Parsons:

Going again.

Young Parsnip was a victim of early confusion about who could do what outside the generous remuneration for being a councillor - he was a part-time sports caller, which The Mapie knows, having been one himself, isn't really work even if they do pay you. But he had to give it up (no guesses which nark insisted, and, fair dos, also The Magpie at the time) and Parsnip huffed and puffed about this briefly. A close examination of his other colleagues on this issue of outside income could be a bit ticklish, but in the end, he showed he was no vegetable and got on with being a reasonable council performer.

SO The Magpie reckons
Probably be on The Train, and depending on the new boundaries and lifting the profile a bit, in with a good chance. 

Clr Trevor Roberts: 

Running again. 

Got in easily in a by-election but has proved to be no media star blow-in, putting in a lot of hard yards in committee work. He seems to have one of the better grasps on economics and planning, and looks certain to be on The Last Train. 

The Magpie reckons: 
Clr Roberts is much respected in the far-flung bits of the electorate, from Maggie Island to Cungulla, where he has quietly and consistently kicked a few goals. If they don't play too much jiggery pokery with the divisional boundaries, the popular former newsreader could get back comfortably.

Clr Brian Hewett:

Standing again. 

Well, maybe. 
Said to be keen (read desperate) to get on Dale's team - or any team - but it seems no one wants Councillor Boof inside their tent. A bit of a plodder, Boof is also said to be unable to keep his hands to himself at public bunfights - or at least according to a couple of first-hand reports to The Magpie from contracted catering staff over the years. Indeed, at least two other councillors have suggested to The Magpie that he should retire with dignity now, rather than end his career on the low of a loss at the ballot box.

SO The Magpie reckons:
At 68 or so, might be time for Boof to hand in the chains of office. But if he's willing to stump up the $15-$20K required for a minimalist campaign, good luck, you never know.    

Clr Deanne Bell: 
Ding Dong's bell will be tolling no more in Walker Street. Possibly the wisest of decisions, since the general consensus is that she is way too nice, well mannered and fair minded to be any sort of politician.

SO The Magpie reckons: 
Good decision and good luck, thanks for your community service.

All the above is broadcast before the final divisional maps are finalised, which will have a bearing on who else from outside council will be approached to board The Last Train.  The boundaries issue is of course  in the hands of a  body still in the thrall of the George Street incumbents.  And The Mullet's team - 'team, what team?' - will be revealed soon. 

Ah, ha, but where will that announcement be made? Bit of fun and games there, too, check Saturday's Nest. 

Enough now, The 'Pie is away to Poseurs' Bar, where endorsement is rare by the lasses of the be-bubbled pre-selection committee, but he may find an opening somewhere.           



  1. one day you'll get your factoids right.

  2. LOL Hill has no chance. I feel bad for Vicky for running on that team. Eeek

  3. Don't forget about Stephen Lane for Mayor!

  4. Jimbo as Mayor - tell him he's dreaming. the longer he goes, the more dirt will come out. "...sobriety, social responsibility, fiscal actuity, voter appeal - particularly among the younger mug voters - and deep credibility." Tick none of the above. It has got to be some Labor tactics as this person has never been and will never be presentable for public office.

  5. I think Magpie better find some one else to pick on instead of David Moyle. He retired from politics in 2008. It seems that Magpie favours his mates and ridcules everyone else. It is a shame Magpie that you have been very easy on LNP candidates for a hell of a long time

  6. Opps, The 'Pie hopes that comment about David Moyle isn't from his nearest and dearest ... otherwise it will come as a surprise to her that not only is Davy-boy a paid-up member of the ALP but as recently as two months ago was sending out letters seeking expressions of interest for those wanting to run for council. Signing himself as from the MEC - Municipal Electoral Committee (of Labor). David, a decent and likeable bloke before the red mist of politics descends,is presumably waiting out the three years continuous ALP membership before putting his hand up for a crack at office. And The 'Pie an LNP booster? Keep reading, especially when they get into power - The Magpie swoops mainly on those in power, or about those who seek to have a serious chance of governing us.