Saturday, November 12, 2011

Team Mullet revealed (sort of), more on Snooze and that boardroom barney at Dance North - and the Qantas dispute explained in a single picture.

The whole planet was asking just one querulous question earlier this week: YU, 55? Basically, the query was why a potentially earth-ending asteroid of that name would wish to threaten us at this particular time ... just when we have passed a goody-two-shoes carbon tax, the end of Anna Bligh is in sight, and bananas are again affordable.

As it turned out, YU55 was a near-miss that did no harm. But here in Townsville, a similiarly phrased question lingers, but we will have to wait until next March to find out the answer to -  YU Mullet? 

One supposes that the obvious answer is Y Not? Or perhaps, according to Labor bosses, Y Bother?

We'll look at the issue of Asteroid Mullet, including, as they say, the political 'maddies, saddies and baddies' along for the ride with her. Yup, like Gilbert and Sullivans' patter song man in The Mikado, The Magpie has a little list. And we'll see that the Labor hierarchy thinks she has no hope of becoming Townsville mayor.

We''ll also have a bit more on that riveting ding-dong at Dance North, plus a pictorial explanation - it's kinda norty - of the Qantas dispute.

All here as usual in The Nest at 

Yep, Jenny The Moaning Mullet Hill has confirmed she heading on an earth-shattering course towards Walker Street, where she intends to turn her considerable negative energy into death rays - fired from her own 'narkgun' - to create mayhem in the Townsville City Council ranks as our potential mayor. (Whatever happened to 'Lady Mayoress', but The 'Pie guesses that in this instance, that question answers itself).

An over-enthusiastic Mullet team member tried to give The Mullet a race start advantage by handing out flyers before Jenny had made her grand announcement, much to Bentley's amusement.

Of course, her trajectory may see her miss the target and head off into deep, dark and cold political space, dragging in her wake some if not all the assorted space detrius this sort of asteroid attracts and trails. If this comes to pass, then there will be many voters heading for the clean undies drawer while repeating this week's universal cry, 'Phew, that was a close call'.

As one twisted reader observed, 'Julia Gillard running the country, Anna Bligh running Queensland and Jenny Hill running Townsville - what could possibly go wrong?' And if we have a whole gaggle of perfumed purveyors of political porkies pulling the strings ( ... there will be no Carbon Tax under my government - no mention of state asset sales in the last state campaign - and, best of all, The Mullet's 'divisional (ward) voting is welcomed because it will get us away from this 'team' mentality'), there will no doubt be a lot of interesting surprises in store for us.

Speaking of which, fluttering into The Nest in the past 24 hours is a list of likely Team Mullet members. And damn good reading it makes, too, although The 'Pie will confess he always  tends to lean towards fiction. There are a couple of fascinatting names beyond the usual suspects like Les Messagebank Walker, Sandra (La) Chesney, Vicki Salisbury and perpertual 'saddie' and political fringe-dweller Alec McConnell, a former self-seeking meddler in student politics and bottom-rung factotum in running Snooze's electorate office.

Others unreliably mentioned  - and if the old bird is wrong, please let him know -  
* law student Belinda Jacklyn who is said to currently being making a ratepayer quid in the Townsville City Council legal department. ALP connected.
* Colleen Doyle, also in the TCC bureaucracy and also with an ALP background
* Tom Vaudrey, from Magnetic Island - he owns a carrying business there
* Catherine O'Toole, who has most appropriately for this election worked in mental health and now has an employment agency - not sure if her running is correct
* AND, if The Mullet's bladishments and batting eyelashes have worked, one of the most interesting team members, Shane Froling, ex-Suns and Crocs player, said to be a bit of a silver tongue and all-round decent bloke who would run a strong race.

The Magpie has taken all care but no responsibility for the above - as is usual in this weekly load of old cobblers. But he does know for sure Colin Edwards will NOT be on Team Mullet, and will be a lone independent.    

The Mullet faces a considerable about-face if she is to woo voters who are a tad tired of her narky moaning about everything as a self-appointed and truly tiresome 'opposition' councillor. Suddenly, though, our gal is in the running for a Janus Two-Faced BUMM Award (Barefaced UnMitigated Mendacity) with some of her dippy pronouncement this week, as you will see in a moment.

Sure, get stuck in about the current council's very real shortcomings but you'd better be ready to complement your traditional negativity with some sort of vision for the future.  Apart from 'I'll be betterer, honest'. 

And even here, you'll be pushing poo uphill with a bent safety pin, because when it comes down to some of your more complex porkies about council performance and how you'd change it, in a real campaign, it will be shown just how far you overstepped the mark of popular myth and political morality. 

Because so much of the responsibility which you have laid at your own council's feet should more correctly be wheelbarrowed down to George Street and dumped in great steaming dollops outside Premier Blight's ever-closed door. 

But me old Mullet, much to The Magpie's joy, you will be playing dirty pool politics from the very outset, you just won't be able to help yourself - the cliche about leopards and spots springs to mind. However, the old bird must admit, speaking as you often do as a Muddled Mullet, you're good for a hearty chortle. 

Take yesterday, when you told the Daily Astonisher that you didn't want your team bogged down by any party agenda. Err, beg pard??? Since when, just how did this epiphany come about? But even better was to come.

'The real concern I have is when the party becomes the focus rather than the policies and the issues,' quoth she, in one of the best examples of Pinnochio politics we've heard for a while.

Topping that off with a cherry of a chortle, our gal then said 'Party politics and local government do not generally work well together.'  HUH? Don't tell His Radiance, or he'll cry. And what, pray tell, have you been so faithfully doing in your own interests for the past decade or more - never, outside secret caucus business, challenging any Mooney or state party edict? You were even the Deputy Mayor of this town through a deal that was exactly nothing else but party politics. To some, your sentiment may not only look unreal, but also very ungrateful. A 180degree turn like this after all these years is hardly credible, and reeks of desperation.

Please explain - and while you're about it, also give the electorate an idea of just how bloody condescendingly stupid you really think we are. 

Seems the party hierachy has your measure, though, m'gal. What a political giveaway when this was reported in the Astonisher about why the Labor Party was not endorsing a team in the Townsville Council elections. The interview was with party poohbah Anthony Chisholm, ALP State Secretary, who was reported in the following way. 

'Mr Chisholm denied the decision not to endorse mayoral candidates was because its party members would have a better chance if they distanced themselves from the party.
"We just decided to sit this one out. There's no particular reason for it I suppose. We just didn't think this was our time," he said.'
'I suppose'? 'Our time?' Now, despite protests from people The 'Pie respects, that scrambling waffle can be read in only one way - that the Labor Party officially believes that their best chance in Townsville, Jenny Hill, won't and can't win. 

But you could, m'dear, no joke. 

If you play it with a straight bat, put forward an achievable imaginative vision for the city and forget the mud wallowing, this old bird promises to vote for you. And so will a lot of others who right now though, are rummaging through their garage junk for their 40-foot barge poles - poles that were stored away after being used to ward off Tony His Radiance Mooney at the last council election.

But Asteroid Mullet's magnetic field has attracted at least one well known political twinkler,  Sandra Chesney who imploded with Mooney last election. Chessa, one of many political fringe dwellers of all political persuasions lining up for the $90,000 first prize in the ballot box stakes, looks a cert to take on current Northern Beaches councillor Sue Blom. Now this would be a contest infinitely more interesting if conducted in a ring filled with jelly and baked beans, with both contestants decked out in be-tassled 1950s two pieces.  Heh, heh, heh, just try getting that image out of your head in a hurry.

Speaking of former politicians, here's an update on the Dance North and Capt Snooze's helmsmanship through choppy - nay, turbulent - boardroom waters. Since last week, the MagpieFone has been spilling all sorts of delightfully catty allegations into the feathered ear.

So here's a few facts and all the goss so far, none of which comes up to the test of proof required even by a News of the World hack.

It is a fact that four directors, the very cluey and very busy Mary Balfour, Dr John McGuire (a sports injury specialist), deputy chairman and well regarded local businessman Jim Read and Michelle Morton, a solicitor, have all stepped down. Remaining on the board with Snooze are coucillor Jenny Lane and music teaching whiz Christine Pulvirenti. JCU academic  
Stephen Naylor is also on the board pro tem, despite having moved up to Asia for work.

Now, depending on who you listen to, everybody resigned in high dudgeon because of Snooze's attitude, while other versions give different reasons for their taking their bat and ball home. For instance, it is said (not by her to The 'Pie) that Ms Morton resigned because if she wished to offer her legal services gratis to Dance North, she could no longer remain on the board because this would constitute a conflict of interest. Both Ms Balfour and Dr McGuire were said to be simply too busy, although both remain staunch supporters of the dance company.

Jim Read is reported to certainly be unhappy - the word ropeable popped up somewhere there -  with Snooze and his attitude and decided he had better things to do with his time. So The Magpie, to be fair to Snooze - damn it - is willing to suggest that the resignations just happened to coincide with each other and weren't all a direct result of Snooze's unique leadership style. But every single one of those who contacted The 'Pie said that Snooze 'talks too much', with each board meeting opening with up to an hour's condescending lecture on the Snooze method and history of doing things. That's hardly a hanging offence - although perhaps eit should be.

And in the case of Jenny Hill seeking a freebie use of the hall to launch her mayoral ambitions, (see last week) again The 'Pie must be fair to Snooze - Christ, The 'Pie'll start hyperventilating if this keeps up - when the board objected to such a suggestion, he was the one who agreed to knock it on the head. (He doesn't much like The Mullet anyway). 

Some made note of the fact that when Snooze took over as chairman last year, the previous financial year had seen Dance North make a profit of $140,000, but in the last financial year, the company posted a $40,000 loss. And is said to be heading into that same territory again this year. That will take some explaining, since Dance North gets $700,000 in grants from the state and federal government arts poohbahs, and the Townsville City Council helps prop them up with free rent of the premises, ambitiously said to be worth about $80k annually. That would be public money, folks. Individuals also hit the centre with a few considerable bob from time to time. Richard Ferry is said to be very generous in this regard, as is Mary Balfour.

But again, in fairness, (deep breath, hold steady 'Pie) despite a rumoured track record of trashing academic budgets and leaving a financial mess when he stepped down as Townsville mayor, Snooze cannot be held solely responsible for a situation caused by many and varied factors. Maybe he can, but proof would be a fine thing if this matter of public money is to meddled with again in this blog. 

The nub of all this upheaval is reported to lie with a kerfuffle between the general manager Peter Helft and the company's artistic director Raewyn Hill, who is understood to be a tough little turkey who takes no 'shut' (she's a Kiwi). The merits of this barney would be even more boring than the foregoing, so they can sort it out themselves. 

Or perhaps the chairman of the board could bestir himself enough to seek a negotiated consensus and get those very able directors back on board. Go on, mate, you've got those self-effacing skills, haven't you?  

See, as always, The 'Pie loves to end a serious issues with a joke.

Speaking of which, proof this week that the internet travels at asteroid speed when making satirical comment on current matters .

Like this pictorial example of the Qantas dispute.

Enough now, it is again away to Poseurs' Bar, where, if true to form, the old bird will endure another near miss with a close thing, when all he really wanted was a close thing with a near Ms.     





  1. Well 'Pie there are exceptions to every rule. Sandra Chesney and the Mullet a prime example of two negatives that would never make a positive!!
    Quote of the week from the Mullet. "I'm going to take Townsville back to the glory days"... bloody hell!!! does she mean like when she was deputy mayor and overspent more than $50 million to try to remain in office?? We're not mug voters anymore and won't fall for it again!

  2. Me thinks, if the old bird wanted to scratch in the Kiwi nest a bit further he would find the remnants of nine ex-employees, who were happy and productive in the Dancenorth team prior to the Kiwi's migration. But since her migration, all have either taken flight or been pushed from the nest.

  3. One could well question the use of taxpayer funds for Dancenorth. It is well lubricated in comparison to other arts companies considering its audience reach. However, the Board must ensure that the artistic quality is of such a high standard that people want to actually see (and pay for) what Ms Hill has created. Otherwise, the company loses money. So far in her 2 years no one has wanted to tour her work (despite trying the flowers and chocolate deliveries to festival directors) like they did with the previous management. Sorry Ms Hill, you need to stop the manipulation and surrounding yourself with only those who do as you say, like your husband, who was recently employed full time in a newly created position that so far has produced a flash mob (wow! that’s innovative and worth the investment). The Board needs to step up and make some tough decisions, otherwise the members will do it for them. Townsville needs Dancenorth, so don't let it collapse because of poor performance.

  4. The latest news from Dancenorth website is the promotion of a 'Friend's Circle'. From what you have written, with friends like the Chair and the Artistic Director, Peter Helft and the ex Board members could well ask, 'who needs enemies'!