Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sure, politics sometimes makes for strange bedfellows, but ya never gonna believe who’s between the sheets with mayoral aspirant Dale Last.

Also, a debate about a debate sees The Astonisher score an embarrassing ‘own goal’.

We also have the latest score from Word Wide Wrestling, that perpetual genteel tussle which this week sees ABC 3ish, The English Language 0.

All here in this week’s nest at

The first anniversary of Cyclone Yasi has come and gone, but its heartbreak and grief lingers on, even for those whon didn’t suffer any property damage or injury. Bentley makes the point – very pointedly.

Says it all, really.

Next,  our mini-media patrol, which The ‘Pie, in a moment of sickening cuteness, calls the Watch-Your-Language report.

Last year, it was mainly the ABC flood reports which brought us the pause-giving phrase ‘self evacuation’ – as The Magpie said at the time, a good description of an understandable reaction to seeing a wall of water descending upon you. It originated as official jargon, but was then taken up into the language as a general phrase.

This year, that phrase has been updated to ‘voluntary evacuation’ . But that just makes one wonder just what is the opposite of ‘voluntary’: ‘induced’ would be a bit too Laxsette-ish, while ‘assisted’ conjures images that may result in the involuntary upward evacuation of one’s breakfast.

But the best of the week was the demure lady newsreader who on Tuesday, advised us that the ‘low lying residents of Charleville’  were anxious and were being told to move. Now, most low, lying folks are anxious, but mainly about being found out, so were we meant to assume from this report that perhaps there were no floods at all - that some residents whose word was not to be trusted were having a lend of us with a sly, attention-seeking joke? Or was it just a sweeping judgment on certain elements of Charleville’s population, a festering judgment which bubbles just beneath the surface of the hail-fellow-well-met face of all small rural communities? We’ll never know.

But stories about floods seem to be filled with verbal snags for the ABC newsreaders – just yesterday, The ‘Pie was surprised  to hear the tautology he learnt as a cadet journo to avoid at all costs – it was the phrase ‘the floodwaters inundated ….’  Err, that’s what floodwaters do, they ‘inundate’ because that what inundate means ‘ to flood’.

While we’re in this linguistic neck of the woods, here’s the thigh-slapping Irony Award of the week It goes to the court reporter and subs at The Astonisher. It shows a great deal of arrogant indifference to legal protocol to refer to a judge in any court above magistrates as ‘Mr’ – a bit like addressing Her Majesty as ‘luv’. But, despite what it says on page 109 of The Magpie’s edition of the News Ltd style guide, this story managed it. Three times. Surely a first even for the News Ltd empire.

The irony? Well, the yarn was about an aboriginal couple who decided that they didn’t accept the law of the state, asserting it was only Murri business if they went around belting up and stealing from members of rival families (read tribes). In a novel ‘nice try’,  they maintained it had nothing to do with a white man’s legal system. As the entertaining yarn said:

But the hearing did not go as planned for the Smallwoods.
Ms Smallwood first tried to strip Judge John Baulch SC and senior crown prosecutor Jessica Goldie of their titles and referred to them as "public trustees or public servants". She then appointed herself "director of proceedings" and ordered the judge and prosecutor to answer her questions.’

But when Judge John Baulch  told Ms Smallwood she was in error – that is legalese for “you must be  joking, kindly bugger off and stop wasting the court’s time’ – it was then that The Astonisher’s court reporter effectively did what Ms Smallwood failed to do. That is, strip the judge of his proper title and office by referring to him as Mr.  As said, three times.

Ah, well, Ro, at least you haven’t aborted any trials, it takes real Magpie-style dedication to do that.

Other matters.

Yes, it’s now more or less official.

What is grandiosely referred to as the Big End of Town (a term The ‘Pie’s Current Companion of Choice  uses to describe the old bird’s  ungracefully aging  bum) has given up trying to find a mayoral candidate from amongst its own and have thrown its financial weight behind the former walloper and fitness fanatic, Dale Last. A sum of $200,000 is being bandied about, but The ‘Pie would be surprised if the backing reached even half that.

This was a done deal at a recent ‘forum’, where the 20 or so of the moneyed folks of the town (Lozza Lancini, Richard ‘Spiderman’ Ferry, Graham ‘The Jeweller’ Jackson  and other such luminaries… dunno about Big Bazza Taylor, but he’ll be sniffing the air somewhere nearby)) came together at some under-the-radar gathering to indicate their support for the former Senior Sergeant and his team.

Nothing really unexpected in that,  but there were a couple of surprises among the those attending. 

AND there are a couple of very serious ethical questions arising from this little hootenanny.

First surprise was that  Lozza L dragged along his good mate, Chris Biffo Condon.

Condon, known personally to The ‘Pie, is a man of straight forward opinions and does not shirk from airing those opinions directly, telling people to their faces what those opinions are.  He’s the sort of bloke who calls a spade a bloody shovel. The ‘Pie isn’t suggesting he’s always right, but he’s no back-bar  whisperer , ( possibly because he drinks little if at all).

But Biffo has always been a man of strong emotions, and, despite being a Labor man himself, his billboard campaign as showground boss against His Radiance at the last council election is credited with greatly assisting Mayor Mooney’s departure from the scene.

Biffo knows this, and was planning a similar onslaught against Dale Last, mainly because Last is a former copper who had some dealings with the show boss.  Chris has been the subject of eight trips to court – he says mainly because of a vendetta by a senior cop named Wilson who’s now down south somewhere – and on all eight occasions, including a big appeal win, the cops have come up empty handed.

But it would seem it was kiss, cuddle and make-up time with former Senior Sergeant Last, possibly because of Lozza’s wise counseling. Doesn’t seem Mr Last has any billboard worries for the moment.

But there are two major areas of conflict from this forum.

One of the people attending was Michael The Ogre Wilkins, GM (that is, business manager) of the Townsville Bulletin. 

Now, it seems passing strange the man who would be king of Townsville, running the only real print game in town, turns up here … but not at Jenny Hill’s launch.  So much for fair and balanced, but we all know about that. Now, Wilkins in this town is like a dog sniffing bums to check wallets for cash to see whose leg he should hump for Rupert’s benefit. And this gathering was the moneyed end of  a one-newspaper town, so he decided to rock along and show his support for one particular candidate..

 Conflict of ethical interest?

Heavens to Betsy, you are a washed up old disaffected wanker, Magpie, go quietly into the gathering darkness, you decrepit  avian whinger!

Maybe The ‘Pie will, but not before he asks this question: did the $240K a year head of Townsville Enterprise, David Kippen, organize and orchestrate this get-together, whether he attended or not?  Well, Lozza’s on the TEL board, perhaps we could ask him. And if it be so, then ask if there is any conflict of interest or lack of propriety in the fact that the head of an organization which will be going cap in hand with the begging bowl to the new mayor seeking better than $700,000 of ratepayers’ dosh in the next budget. A goodly number of those ratepayers could be supporters of other candidates.

Gosh, love to be there if The Moaning Mullet  wins! She’s a classic Labor score-settler.

Yet again moving on.

The paper, a somewhat flaccid organ nowadays on which MD Michael The Ogre Wilkins keeps such a firm grip every morning, is looking somewhat conflicted when it comes to politics, too.  Is a battle of wills between editorial and management looming?

You see, given the aforementioned forum, The Ogre is boosting Dale Last, while the boy editor, Lachlan ‘Harry Potter’ Heywood,  continues the editorial bias towards Jenny Hill . With a strange soft spot for Jeff Jimmieson… and the ALP generally.

Here’s the thing. The Ogre, under the old established rules, has no final say in the editorial side of things, but such is his hubris (the $10 word for ‘up himself’) and News Ltd’s profit imperatives … well, Harry P, look for your invisible cloak when you see The Ogre looming - or make sure Hagrid sits in on every ‘casual’ chat.

Master Heywood probably wishes he was invisible for a different reason this week.

In a not entirely unrelated matter, in the sleight-of-hand world of legal affairs, there is a rule for barristers in court which goes ‘Never ask a question unless you already know the answer ’.

Behaving like a knock-kneed, crotch-clutching school kid needing a toilet break, Master Heywood has been dancing up and down orchestrating a campaign to have the paper organize a debate between Premier Blight and the Brisbane Bantam. The Ed became very thin-lipped and sarky when Campbell Newman declined to take the bait, (or, as they say in the American south 'de bate') which would boost the paper’s flagging sales.
This is NOT a News Ltd pic. Or if it is, fire the photographer.

At this stage, up steps new kid on the block Anthony Templeton, recently minted from journalism school down south. It would seem Mr Templeton’s course did not contain a unit for simple maths, since he claimed that `A poll on the Townsville Bulletin website showed that 70% of readers wanted Mr Newman to come to Townsville to debate the Premier’. But when you looked at the poll itself, it showed that 60% said ‘no’ to 40% ‘yes’, an emphatic kick in the teeth for the paper. And evidence that the reporter failed basic 'rithmetic The poll quickly disappeared with what would once have been called ‘indecent haste’.

Surprising result really, since it is certain that a fair percentage of the 464 votes would’ve come from Bulletin staff and their families; we were always exhorted  and cajoled into swelling the numbers of these dopey polls with the paper’s desired outcome.

Enough now, it away to Poseuers’ Bar , where the old bird will to bebubble the night away and perhaps indulge in some  low lying of his own concerning his residency, although he doesn’t expect to be inundated with a flood of offers.



  1. There can be floods - without homes being inundated, right?
    Parts of Townsville flood all the time, without homes being innundated. Thats how I interpret it...

  2. Are you sure that you have the 'real facts' and are 'truly correct'?

  3. Pie, I love your observation about the low lying residents of Charleville and hope they can eventually back into any homes they had to evacuate. It really is a sad situation in the region. I tried to answer the difficult question you asked on my blog. Hope all goes well. Gonzo