Saturday, March 3, 2012

Could the Townsville Bulletin be facing a hefty payout for a serious cock-up – and the possibility of a fine in the tens of thousands of spondooliks?. This is serious, folks.

You may recall, gentle reader, several previous revelations of news suppressed by the Townsville Bulletin general manager Michael The Ogre of Ogden Street Wilkins for purely commercial purposes – let’s not upset the advertisers even if the community has a right to know and so on. Those matters were reported under the headline All The News That’s Fit To Print But Isn’t.

But this time – oh, the irony – the story you won’t read in the pristine pages of the Daily Astonisher is brought to you under the headline – All The News That Wasn’t Fit To Print, But Was.

And the fallout could be very serious indeed.

Also The Magpie has collected a few of the better lines prompted by the Labor implosion in Canberra, Bentley and the legendary Larry Pickering put in their rib-tickling two bob’s worth, and read one of the single most stupid lines ever uttered by a TV reporter.

All here in this week’s nest at

Down in the national capital, Our Jules seems to be pursing her lips with a little more purpose after giving an unjustifiably cocky KRudd his comeuppance – and then some. A smackdown par excellence.

In a comeback which is the political equal of Kenny Rogers ditty Coward Of The County, our gal finally came out swinging. In Question Time, when Julie ‘The Death Stare’ Bishop (is this woman deeply demented or what?) challenged the PM to name her Foreign Affairs minister to replace KRudd, the pursed lips and angrily quivering buttocks were in delightful juxtaposition when Gillard put on best dead-fish stare and dead-pan delivery to say ‘ Mr Speaker, I will make that announcement when I am ready, but whoever it is will wipe the floor with her (Bishop).’

A small digression: since then, after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, Our Jules has appointed former NSW premier Bob Carr to the post, via the Senate seat vacated by the scuttling-for-cover Mark Arbib. The ‘Pie opines that Bob Carr, a clever politician and an intellectual – now there are words you don’t often see in each others company – could well turn out to be the best person ever to fill the post. And not all that cheering you can hear in the background is from general agreement with that assessment – to a one, the cartoonists of Australia are beside themselves with slavering joy at Bob’s return to prominence. They have so missed that almost slightly cross-eyed bespectacled gaze in a face that is reminiscent of a possum which has just been surprised with a carrot rammed up its fundament.

But back to Jules – she shares the honors for this week’s best one-liner. After Wingnut Abbott had harangued her about the ‘faceless men’ who call the ALP’s tune, she was almost Churchillian when she replied” Mr Speaker, the honorable leader of the opposition seems to have an unhealthy preoccupation with Labor’s so-called faceless men, when he really should be more concerned with the useless men behind him’.

Doesn’t advance the cause of the country much, but there is no denying the entertainment value. So who shared the best line of the week? None other than old Magpie mate John ‘Mother’ Hubbard. He was talking to the blog’s resident doodler Bentley, who was so taken with the gag that it is now his cartoon this week.

And Larry Pickering was also of the view that federal Labor is entering – shall we say – a period of adjustment, reassessment and harmony.

Briefly on the international scene, the yanks wonder why they’re sometimes not as loved and respected as they believe they should be. Well, here’s a bit of thoughtlessness that might explain that occasional attitude. The ‘Pie almost spilled his raspberry lemonade when he heard a female American reporter in Afghanistan talking about how Korans were accidentally destroyed after being confiscated from prisoners who were using them to pass messages. You’ll remember that Muslims hold the Koran in such high regard that they rioted, ripped and burned all around the place,  and a couple of American officers were murdered as a result. So what did this twerp have to say? Quote ‘ The Korans were accidentally burned with other rubbish’. 

Other?!? A seriously stupid and dangerous lapse. Words can be lethal, and this gal may find to her detriment that getting stoned in Kabul is very different to getting stoned in LA.

On other matters media, we move to the local scene. And it’s a fair bet that young Lachlan Heywood, the editor of The Daily Astonisher who is nicknamed Harry Potter, is relieved that this week is over. Indeed, he would probably be hoping for some magic of the sort possessed by his namesake, perhaps The Wand of Forgetfulness. But forgetting won’t help, because – technically at least -  he could be facing a couple of years in the slammer if the Queensland Attorney General takes the dimmest view of the paper’s most serious lapse in recent times (and boy is that saying something).

Here’s what happened.

Last Tuesday, the paper printed a run-of-the-mill court report about a kid – that is, a juvenile, 16 or under – who was sentenced for holding up a local servo. And despite mentioning that he was sentenced as juvenile, the reporter included the boy’s full name. And that is an absolute legal no-no, anywhere in Australia. 

Indeed, although this matter wasn’t of a sexual nature – apart from the fact that the kid f..ked up – it is exactly this sort of thing – revealing information that may identify, or directly naming , a juvenile offender – that sent Derryn Hinch to jail and got radio motor mouth Alan Jones in hot water. And as a matter of interest, even juries, let alone we the great unwashed, aren’t allowed ever to know of a person’s juvenile criminal record, even if that person is now an adult and on trial for an unrelated matter. That’s how serious the issue of is taken (and it applies to juvenile victims and witnesses, too, in most instances).

This may have been missed or glossed over except that the boy’s distraught mother – whose ickle darling, the court was told, had led an otherwise blameless life with no history of naughtiness whatsoever – complained to her solicitor that she had received ‘about 20’ abusive phone calls, and had been abused in public after the article appeared. She also believed it was having an affect on her son's ability to put the matter behind him and get back on the straight and narrow (he received a suspended sentence).

Duly, a complaint was made to Judge Stuart Durward SC, a man who carefully considers everything that comes his way, and he decided that the matter should be referred to the Attorney-General to determine  what should happen. 

Now, The ‘Pie doesn’t intend to name the journalist because, really, if your going to have reporters with little or no court experience doing these sort of stories, then surely that is a ringing alarm signal to the Editor or Chief of Staff to ensure that his or her copy is closely checked. But it may be just good fortune that the state is in election mode, and the matter may well be ignored by politicians who really wouldn’t want to get anyone in the media offside – especially a great throbbing organ of such journalistic tumescence  as The Townsville Daily Astonisher .

Just for the record, should young Lachlan be spending his nights tossing and turning in a torment of remorse, shame, blame and regret, here’s something that won’t help matters.  Under the Youth Justices Act, an individual held responsible for such a breach can be fined 100 penalty points and/or 2 years in choky. But –ah ha – if it is a corporation, like say, News Ltd’s whole owned subsidiary  North Queensland Newspapers, publishers of the Townsville Bulletin – a fine up to 1000 penalty points can be imposed. What’s a penalty point worth? About $110, unless it’s gone up since The ‘Pie last idled his time away around the courts.

But what if this all went away like a bad dream? This bird will betcha that the kid's mum won’t. She is probably entitled to a barrow-load of cash for the 'pain and suffering' she has endured through what is essentially a criminal act by the paper. As they say in low rent black American TV sit-coms, ‘you go, girl, you go.’ And if you do get some recompense, madam, please don't sign one of those confidentiality agreements of which News Ltd is so fond. Under the circumstances, you won't have to, and then you can indulge in another activity much championed by the Bulletin - you can name and shame them.

But alas poor Lachlan, the week didn’t get better, although you can also bet that the following won’t be seen in the paper – The Magpie will humbly grovel if he’s wrong.

It was another court matter, a trial, the details of which don’t matter, although it did involve a juvenile complainant in a sexual matter, so it was emotionally draining for all involved. The Crown prosecutor in the case botched it up right royally, not being aware of certain legal intricacies, even when thrown a legal lifeline by the judge. Not even the late intervention of the local DPP’s top brass could save the day, and the matter was thrown out, at considerable expense to the taxpayer. The Magpie understands that costs were awarded against the Crown.

This of course was the sort stuff The Magpie thrived on while hanging around Walker Street, seeing it as his duty to inform the community about the occasional waste of their compulsory donations to state coffers.  But even if the paper knows of the matter, the story is unlikely to get a gallop. You see, The Magpie is told that the female prosecutor who stuffed up was a certain Ms Heywood, the editor’s missus.

Things could be a touch tense over the cornflakes and coffee in Chez Heywood right now.

Enough, it is away to Poseurs’ Bar, where The ‘Pie intends to bebubble the night away with a suitable companion who, in the hard cold light of day, may require her own Wand of Forgetfulness upon the dawn.





  1. I dunno, 'Pie. When I heard Joolya the Bogan Queen's comments you refer to, I considered them to be just plain nasty and churlish. The type of low brow jibe you would expect from the boofhead school bully for the benefit of his slack-jawed sycophants. The woman is totally devoid of charm or grace.

    Could you imagine Jim Killen or Diamond Jim behaving in such an unsophisticated and obnoxious manner?

    Tell you what, though - Tanya Plibersek is one of the most impressive pollies I have seen in a long time. Quietly spoke, measured and always dignified. PM material for sure.

  2. Mystified of MystertonMarch 5, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Again very informative and entertaining! Isn't Townsville fortunate to have such a wealth of information handed to them on the online platter each week.

  3. MAGPIE Whats happened to Cr Brian Hewitt I understand he's been shafted by Team Last First to old not required . Iunderstand that the members of Team First Last barely speak to him and that includes his committee meeting i hear tell he may stand as an Independant in division 6 rgds anon

  4. Any wonder that most of the good editorial staff left last year? Young Potter makes Typo's actions at the paper looks like liquid paper.

  5. ummmm.. Isn't the Chief of Staff Mickey Mouse's friend?

  6. "if you're going to have reporters with little or no court experience doing these sort of stories, then surely that is a ringing alarm signal to the Editor or Chief of Staff to ensure that his or her copy is closely checked." If only! But as Anonymous has pointed out, most of the good editorial staff have left. Apparently the remaining subs, justifiably anxious about their forthcoming choice of the southern sub-hub or the dole queue, have been told: "It's cheaper to keep you here." What that means, of course, is: "We don't want any more subs going until we're good and ready." Looking at the paper these days, one wonders if their absence will make much difference.