Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Ogre is at it again - suppressing a hard news story not to his commercial liking, and rumours that a certain Kat is purring around a star council candidate.

Yep, yet another episode in the on-going saga of all the news that's fit to print but isn't, because it might upset the Astonisher's bottom line.

That's just one of the tidbits in a right old grab bag this week, ranging from the inconclusive (Mary Vernon to run for council? If she does, it will be under the funniest political slogan ever in this town) to the downright scurrilous - did Julia Gillard once confess to being what Mongrel the Barrister indelicately calls 'a rug muncher'?

The Silly Old Duffer award taken out by the naughtiness of former Astonisher boss 'Mad Max' Tomlinson: The Silly Young Duffer award goes to the Astonisher's new boy-editor Lachlan Heywood who applauds lawlessness - it's there in black and white; and photographic proof that the Nanny Staters are here, right in lil ol' Townsville.

It's all packed into the first of the silly season's nests,

First, the non-scoop of the day, will Mary Vernon have a tilt at a council spot as an independent? We could certainly do a lot bloody worse - and probably will.

In truth, it was The 'Pie who idly asked the question over the odd glass of White Infuriator, and Mary said others had also asked the same thing. She says she hasn't dismissed the idea out of hand, but seems a bit hesitant. It's not a silly idea - when it comes to Townsville and Magnetic Island, for more than two decades Mary has written about it, she has talked to people about it, and now, maybe she'll be able to do something about it. 

But just the idea resulted in the very best side-splitting political slogan. 

At Poseurs' Bar, The 'Pie overheard her talking to thesbian about town Ray Dickson, and when the cackling had died down, they said they had decided to form a mayoral/councillors team of their own to take on Jenny Hill and Dale Last with the slogan 'Up Hill and Down Dale'.

Just a joke, of course, but a bloody funny one. 

Now that's hard to top, best of the current political quips. You can do better? Please submit.

In other council matters, the rumour du jour - this blog's going upmarket - is that Bob Katter has been talking to popular copper and councillor-in-waiting Gary Eddiehausen.

The idea is that Gazza - who'd probably have a good chance for council in the Kirwan-Heatley division on the unfortunately named Last Team - would be an ideal tonic for the Kattertonic Party. Perhaps in Thuringowa (Cuddlepie looks like - and probably won't mind - losing his seat, he's got his pension, but he will go down swinging) - or even upset the LNP applecart by making it a three-way in Mundingburra with Crisafulli and ALP sparky Mark Harrison.

Alas, alack, me old conspiracy theorists, The 'Pie is assured by those who know, no such thing, and Gazza will be aiming only at Walker Street.      

Here's something that's been bombarding internet in the past 24 hours. Looks like it could be real, - maybe not, you have to read the last couple of lines to see the point of it.

But then, it is nasty times out there and it is only germane because of the same-sex marriage arguments of late. As a journo, The 'Pie is worried that in the several mails he has received, there is no mention of the publication in which it is said to have appeared, and those spaces in the third last line make it look like a doctored document. The font looks clunky and ugly, too - but then, that would befit a student political rag, really.

We will just have to wait until the lady herself is asked the question (but any former partner would surely have popped up by now). Wonder if this will be her answer?

Speaking of doing things over, we come back to the local scene for a small cautionary tale for those who haven't managed to pass Ethics 101.

October 24 just gone was a beautiful balmy NQ Sunday evening, and a small crowd of a few hundred had gathered for a poolside concert at Jupiters Hotel/Casino by little known US rapper Flo Rida - although to read the lead-up puff about the concert in the paper, Mr Rida was a 'megastar' - surely an overreach of a few light years. But Jupiters spends barrow-loads of dosh with the paper, so no real surprise.

By all accounts, the concert went well, and for those who like this sort of thing, they ...well ... liked it.

While the show was pulsating along and the audience were nodding their heads like walking chickens, police attention - and that of the Townsville Bulletin's reporter and photographer who had got a headline-making tip-off - was more focussed on a raid by the drug squad on the band's top-floor suite of rooms.

This raid netted all sorts of naughty drugs - including the wallopers' court mantra of 'green leafy material, yeronner' and a Viagra tablet (!?!) and all sorts of paraphenalia associated with a loser's idea of a good time. More seriously - depending on your point of view - a taser gun was also seized, and one of the Flo Rida entourage arrested and taken from the rooms that 'reeked of marijuana - yeronner'.

Snaps were snapped, the miscreant cuffed and the reporter well chuffed with the timely tip-off that had the paper in on the story first hand. 

The Bulletin newsroom was cock-a-hoop, possibly because for once, they wouldn't have to over-hype a genuine Monday front pager (rare indeed).  A splash on the front was set, with the neat headline 'Flo Raider' - chuckle, wheeze - and acting editor Clayton Smales had reason to be pleased with the effort. After all, it would make the management happy that the paper was on top of the war on drugs, the paper had been on the spot for an exclusive, and it would be herograms all round, right?


It appears that Jupiter's general manager Sean Knights was downstairs in the concert's VIP box when he was told of the raid. It just happened that sitting next to him was his guest, Michael The Ogre Wilkins, general manager of North Queensland Newspapers, owned by News Ltd. 

Now, although it is an assumption, it is safe to bet that Mr Knights was disconcerted - indeed, probably dismayed - that the drug raid would overshadow what had been a pleasant night and an agreed publicity coup for the hotel. And in no way is The 'Pie suggesting that Mr Knights - reputably a decent and honest bloke even if he is involved with a casino -  made any approach to Wilkins on the matter. Maybe The Ogre just decided to make his own big-swinging-dick swagger. After all, Jupiters spends a shit-load of advertising dollars with the paper - otherwise, they wouldn't have got such over-the-top coverage for a very minor act.  

Either way, Wilkins, who remember is in charge of business management, not editorial, rang the newsroom, and when told about the front page, vetoed it. This should not have been his call, and was met with some consternation by the editorial staff, who apparently baulked at first. But Wilkins, who does a nice line in quite menace with staff, was determined to bury the drug raid stuff way down the story, and run a puff photo of the concert and a lot of brown-nosing advertorial up front instead.

But this gets better, if the MagpieFone is to be believed. 

The 'Pie guesses that Smales, who had already demonstrated he was not lacking in ticker when confronting management decisions and opposing editorial interference, expressed disagreement with the Wilkins diktat. 

So a funny thing happened. Wilkins then targeted the number 2, night editor Julian Tomlinson, suggesting the drug raid shouldn't be prominent, it was such a fun concert, and the young people there shouldn't be tainted by this unpleasantness, and a lot of other irrelevant tosh for which he should be heartily ashamed.

It seemed The Ogre was not sure his marshmellow message had got through with sufficient force, so, presumably at his behest - how could it be otherwise - The 'Pie is told that young Julian got a call from his own dad, the old warhorse, Max Tomlinson, now spruiking for Senator Macca and LNP hopefuls.  

As a former general manager of the paper, not surprisingly, Max, who had unsuccessfully tried his hand dominating editors himself in the past, is said to have argued Wilkins' case to his son. To top that off, somehow - wonder how? - the disgraced and disgraceful former editor Peter Typo Gleeson rang Julian from the Gold Coast with the same direction. What this had to do with this tosser is anybody's guess, but ensured a more intense rodent odour over the whole episode.

Apparently, Smales was somewhat by-passed in all the to-ing and fro-ing, because he was the only one who might have dug in his heels. Given the phone calls, it seems The Ogre believed Julian could be be more easily convinced. In the end, under immense pressure - 'Well, he's the man who pays the bills,' he later told colleagues - Smales had little choice but to cave in and the story was buried. Reported but buried. There were plenty of unhappy campers in the newsroom that night.

Mr Knights must have been clicking his heels and The Ogre's swing was big enough for the full 360, hopefully into the celing fan.

The sad thing is that The 'Pie genuinely believes that Wilkins - a so-so reporter at best when in editorial - Max and certainly Typo Gleeson, - and also perhaps many others reading this - don't see a problem. But this is the world according to News Ltd - and we know where that sort of arrogance and ethical freestyling got them in England and the US. Nice to know our small community is not left out of the tender ministrations of Rupert's ethically-challenged world. From this paper, we will learn only what suits the business imperatives of The Bulletin - unless of course you don't spend money with them. Then you will risk being pilloried.

It's a print version of cash for comment. And it's disgraceful.

New editor Lachlan Heywood, - he wasn't around when the above took place - seems to have steadied the ship quite a bit since Typo's departure (thanks also to Ray Anderson and Clayton Smales). Unfortunately, he seems to favour somewhat insipid and cliched editorials. It doesn't really matter, few people besides The Magpie have to or do read them, but the man they call Harry Potter will need a bit of quidditch training if he's to get on top of his game. 
Lachlan Heywood - Hogwart's graduate?

His attitude to the rule of law is rather interesting, if his editorial of November 30 is anything to go by. 

Heywood wrote: 'Riverway rapist Trevor James Benjamin deserves his 11-year jail sentence, and everything that happens to him as a result.'  (The Magpie's emphasis). That is a clear reference to the treatment which is - very illegally - meted out by other banged-up crimes to those known as rock spiders ie sex offenders and particularly paedophiles. And it is a clear endorsement of such arbitary and secondary punishment, often involving mutilation, sometimes even death.

Now that may be fine for the pub, dinner party or lunchroom, where the consensus is that it is fair enough that Benjamin will cop all sorts of unauthorised and brutal attention from fellow inmates desperate to feel superior to someone else.

But for a man who plonks his bum each morning in the most influential opinion-spruiking chair in Townsville, and is supposed to be a leading voice of calm reason and a champion of the rule of law, it is at best a dopey thing for the editor of our only paper to say. At worst, a bloody disgrace on this already shambolic newspaper. Surely, if that prison kangaroo court demi-monde is to be sanctioned, let it be put it into law.

A previous similiar complaint by The Magpie when at the paper was airly dismissed as 'just reflecting the view of the readers'. While it is an editorial's job to lead not reflect opinion, if in fact the paper's policy is to simply reflect the majority view, then The 'Pie is looking forward to reading about boongs, coons, lezzos, poofters, dole bludgers and 'old f....g c..ts who shouldn'rt be allowed to drive' - you see, these terms also reflect the majority opinion of the dwiindling pool of semi-literate readers of The Astonisher. 

Perhaps Mr Heywood could check with his missus about the rule of law - The 'Pie is told she is a Crown prosecutor, and as such, would, hopefully, have a different point of view. 

Let's go back and have another chat about Mad Max Tomlinson. The old Magpie mate - probably not after this - got himself into his own hot water just recently, when fund-raising for John Hathaway, LNP hopeful for the seat of Townsville, . 

The ever-enthusiastic Max was not so much mad as muddled when he sent out an email seeking buyers for 100 tickets in a raffle at $100 each - first prize a couple of grand or somesuch. Nothing wrong with that, stock standard stuff - and he sent it out to a emailing list of more than a hundred of the movers and shakers about the place. And to The Magpie.

Trouble was, he didn't use the email facility 'undisclosed recipient' or even BCC and the entire list of names and email addresses was there for everyone to see.

What many did see was red, not wishing to have a possible political affliation trumpeted about.

The 'Pie understands poor old muddled Max copped a bit of a shellacking, and finally got it right third time around. The 'Pie must confess that he was at first alarmed, thinking Max had used his parliamentary computer in Senator Macca's office for the mailout - raising political funds on Commonwealth machinery is a big no-no that could end up in the Big House. Phew, no, it came from his own laptop.

But then, all the emails were sent during weekday working hours. 

Crikey, hope Max was on his tea and Iced VoVo morning break.

Finally, a couple of mysterious public matters.

The Townsville Council has published a programme of council-sponsored events for 2012 in its latest City Update. Scanning the list came to an abrupt halt at 15/16 of May at the Civic Theatre where a ...a ... well, something ... is on called Buggerlugs Bum Thief. The 'Pie really doesn't want to know, but he feels a vague pride that he lives in such a pluralistic society.

And if you feel we are a world away from the particularly European idiocy of the Nanny State, bad news. A snapper mate was goggled eyed when he came across a sign at the Townsville Airport. The bit you possibly can't read says: 'Persons not familiar with escalators please use nearby lift. No unaccompanied children allowed on escalators.'

Not familiar with bloody escalators? Hmmm, in this day and age, anyone unfamiliar with escalators, which have been around for almost 100 years, probably can't read anyway. And same goes for any unaccompanied kids, and even if the little snots can read, they will show good childhood commonsense and ignore the sign. Why not just 'Lifts this way'?

As a rule, The Magpie as doesn't use bad language in this column, but he'll make (almost) an exception in this case (look away if you're delicate) ...


The airport management - yeah, yeah, insurance, workplace health and f..king safety blah bloody blah - look you should be f..king well ashamed of yourselves!

Christ, where's Dexter when you need him!?!

Ah, (pant) that's (pant) better. Phew!

Enough now, a calming drink is required, so it is off to Poseurs' Bar, where the old bird hopes the night's theme will involve discussion of 'up' and 'down' but will have bugger all to do with Jenny Hill or Dale Last.


  1. ahhhh, now I know why I only use the bulletin in the smallest room in the house.

  2. I've been trying to locate the origin of what looks like Gillard's advertising or a profile for the Australian Union of Students election of officers on March 29, 1982 ever since I sent it to you yesterday.

    I'm working on the premise that the profile, if it's legit, was part of her AUS campaign material distributed on campus and/or appeared in a student newspaper. Who else would print it? So far, I've found nothing conclusive, but the timing has narrowed nicely.

    "On Dit," the Adelaide student newspaper, in its April 5, 1982, edition, reports that Julia (by then at Melbourne University ) was elected as AUS Education Vice President. Since the election advertising did not list the veep position in the profile, it could not have been related to the later AUS 1983 election, when she won the AUS Presidency.

    Some, but not all, of the 1982 On Dit papers are available online, but I have not yet found the profile that may or may not be genuine. So far, I cannot find a Melbourne Uni student publication for the 1982, but will keep looking. If anyone wants to scour the net, please feel free to jump in.

    I can be reached by an email to

  3. Pie, You left a comment on my blog, so the least I can do is reciprocate. A long and entertaining post, but I expected nothing less from you (since you are an old mate!). The Jupiters Raid story and subsequent Bulletin coverage is also a fascinating yarn and I see you managed to get your old mate Typo into it. Just one thing I noticed in the Julia Gillard story. I have seen that item without any reference to a lesbian relationship and the last two sentences appear to be doctored, with extra spaces. And her last alleged sentence: "I ask for support thank you." should read "I ask for your support. Thank you." I doubt that Julia Gillard would have left out "your" and the full stop, and she certainly would have capitalised "Thank you." I think those last two sentences are fake. Good to hear from you again. Gonzo.

  4. Paul Anderson of PimlicoDecember 12, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    It's a sad fact of life that the Astonisher (and I'm sure it's not alone, by any stretch) would stoop to such a selective low with their coverage of the drug bust. One wonders how the collision of advertising loyalty vs vox populi would have played out if the proprietors of a certain recently (and spectacularly) failed 'wealth creation' institution had advertised more.
    Farther afield, when was the last time anyone read a negative review in the Cars Guide (Clarkson has spoken of this toxically symbiotic relationship more eloquently than I could), and closer to home, those risible restaurant 'reviews' shamelessly praised eatery after eatery to the hills.
    The crime here is twofold: its perpetration, and that subsequently everyone's defenses are just that little bit elevated, trusting less and less what's presented to them as 'impartial', even when it is.
    As to the PM's supposed outing (not, as Jerry Seinfeld so memorably put it, that there's anything wrong with it), it can't POSSIBLY be legit, for the simple reason that it's from a time when you just didn't admit to that sort of thing, especially (and it's pretty clear even at this early date that she did) if you harboured the faintest hope of political ascendence. Whatever her misguided policies now (and there are many), you have to assume that politically at least, she's no dope. With nothing to gain and much to possibly lose, this information would not have been volunteered, not ever ever ever. It wasn't long before that situation changed, but back in the early 80s, it was (I'm told) very much don't-ask-don't tell.
    Finally, in the 'Unfinished Business' dept, I had meant to comment at the time that Typo's follow-up e-mail to your daughter that her job was 'safe as houses' could very easily have been taken for another ominous threat, given the parlous nature of property speculation lately... Seriously, though, makes one shake one's head ruefully all the more why someone with so questionable a lack of judgment was 'kicked upstairs' to a larger market. Are there delicate pictures in a drawer somewhere, perhaps...?

  5. so Magpie, who bought the old Storm house on the hill? You must have heard by now?

  6. Did hear a rumour that the former Greek Pm was after it, bit alas, it seems he had all his drachmas tied up in Storm after meeting Manny and his missus on a Greek Island cruise.. But otherwise, dunno - yet.