Saturday, April 21, 2012

All of a sudden, a consensus candidate for mayor steps up and impresses – want a date with The Mullet? - and Campbell Newman: Tinkerbell or Mary Poppins?

Also, The Astonisher demonstrates the danger of the unwise adjective, and the paper’s beat-up story about Mad Max Tomlinson’s gender ravings at least scores one of the best headlines for yonks.

And making compo money out of getting bonked on the head while bonking - a Nanny State special. Bentley and pickering also have their say.

All here in the nest at

Resident doodler Bentley is truly somewhat bent sometimes. While all and sundry, including The ‘Pie, are predicting that Bob Brown’s departure is the beginning of the end for The Watermelon Party aka The Greens, Bentley reckons it is Joolya who is in the real trouble unless Christine Milne masters the skills to handle the PM.

The masterful Larry Pickering reckons the Carbon Tax is our main worry.

Now to local matters.

Funny old thing, this language lurk.

First we had that hoary old beat-up, a male chauvinist dinosaur – in this case, old Magpie mate Max Tomlinson – taking on some feminazi acadill or boofademic over gender differences. This empty-headed argument – on both sides – is the meat and potatoes of the current Bulletin agenda of mainly lowbrow bubble wrap to fill those diminishing areas in between the ads.

Max, who suggests he Tarzan, you Jane and don’t leave the kitchen again,  says he is proud of the attention (and some support) for his views. 

One letter writer almost got it right, suggesting that because Max resigned from Senator Macca’s staff over the kerfuffle, it proved that  ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’. Given Max’s chest-beating, jungle yodelling views, the letter writer would have been closer to the mark if they had omitted the space between ‘pen’ and ‘is’. 

But at least some clever person at the paper came up with a bottler of a headline ‘Max Factor’. Neat.

In other Daily Astonisher matters, the question must be asked if the paper isn’t becoming a bit too personal when reporting on the mayoral race, something that The Magpie would never do - heh, heh, heh.

First they described The Moaning Mullet – for some reason, the paper calls her Jenny Hill – as ‘a slim favourite’. 

Now The ‘Pie will not be so ungallant as to challenge that  assessment, so does this make Jenny Hill a Jenny Craig candidate? And as versus what? A tubby shoo-in? A corpulent candidate? No doubt The Mullet was happy to accept the flattering description, one which The Magpie, ever the gent, wouldn’t dream of questioning, although blunt, brief descriptions to the contrary have long abounded in pubs, the North Queensland Club and Labor branch meetings.

But hang on a sec, here’s a great opportunity. 

NSW Labor has wheeled out a new membership drive promoting a raffle prize of a dinner date with Bob Hawke for some lucky (?) new member.

Now since local Labor has a ‘slim favourite’ in Jenny, why not do a similar promotion. God knows, the party could do with it – Townsville’s ALP ranks have slipped from more than 600 five or so years ago to less than 250 today. 

How about this for a tempting promotion: ‘Under the moonlight with the Mullet – a memorable evening of merlot, mood music and mud crab in a tinnie on the sylvan waters of Ross Dam’. The winner had better sign up over the après dinner chardy or they might not make it back to shore.

When The ‘Pie excitedly put this to Mongrel the Barrister, he suggested a first, second and third arrangement. ‘Yeah, first is a night out with Jenny, second prize is two nights out with Jenny and third is a night out with Jenny and Mike Reynolds … hur, hur, hur.’ No couth, that bloke, really.     

But as if a Mullet make-over wasn’t enough, last Wednesday when The Astonisher’s reported on the candidates’ breakfast debate, they went to the other extreme when they described Brendan Porter as ‘a massive outsider’.  The only slightly portly Mr Porter is a jovial enough fellow not to have been aggrieved, although ‘massive’ was somewhat – shall we say - heavy-handed. The wrong word? Well, we are talking about The Bulletin.

Massive outsider or not, it is Brendan Porter who has suddenly made people sit up and consider him as a genuine alternative consensus candidate. Observers found him the most impressive on the morning. Even The Astonisher was smitten, suggesting he seemed to have won the debate.
And the high octane BP continued his role as a surprise packet of a pollie the next day on Pat Hessian’s afternoon ABC radio program. He came across as a straight-shooter who is anything but a know-it-all, is completely devoid of smarm, and brings from his job as a senior mental health worker positive experience as a negotiator and arbiter. He also brings no background baggage.

When asked about his lack of a team, he replied in a soft Ulster accent ‘But I do have a team – they will be the councilors of any persuasion who are elected by the people of this city. I’m confident that as mayor, I will get all sides having rational and respectful debate on all the issues that so vitally concern the citizens’. 

A cynical Magpie might say good luck with that, but with the absence of a political crutch-kicker like The Mullet down in the council pit, you never know.

There is a convincing sincerity about Porter’s pitch for a council working together, and putting an end to the tiresome spectacle of spiteful and negative political point scoring across the council table. (And that sort of thing, of which the electorate is heartily tired, was inappropriately demonstrated at the breakfast when The Mullet and Dale Last started publicly swapping schoolyard jibes and insults on stage – including Jenny’s simpering ‘My slogan is ABL – Anyone But Last’). 

Very dignified. 

Both of you should know that that sort of personal bile is just the bilge that had a good deal to do with seeing off His Radiance last time. Don’t you ever bloody learn?

The Magpie believes that if Mr Porter had not come into the race so late, with little or no profile, and had solid financial backing, it would’ve given the two frontrunners a fright. Unfortunately, Jeff Jimmieson could possibly benefit from the other's breakfast performance, picking up a few votes by default. Which is a shame, because that’s hardly the way to select someone for the city’s top job.

On the state scene, The Brisbane Bantam has been off his southern roost, flitting about the north, like Tinkerbell one moment, flinging pixie dust promises all around, (a major commitment to fixing the Bruce Highway) before suddenly becoming a gently scolding Mary Poppins, warning his new charges that the days of ‘instant everything’ are now gone (no dough for a new entertainment center, at least not now).

He seems to be on the electorate’s wavelength right now, including his unequivocal promise to meet any council demands to get rid of those bloody bats in Charlies Trousers and elsewhere, creatures whose welfare Labor put above that of taxpayers. Hopefully, that sort of extreme Greenie bastardry is well on the wane, and we will see a long overdue change to the state’s environment legislation.

So far, so good. Almost.

The only question that has arisen in The ‘Pie’s mind is the promise to save on overblown consultancies and contracts.

This is another sterling idea which The Bantam used to belt Labor over the head during the campaign. So the premier should get a please explain about the appointment of Professor Sandra Harding to audit the Labor books, along with Peter Costello and a third commissioner, Dr Doug McTaggart.  Now, the vice-chancellor of JCU (seems they have a chancellor for everything out Douglas way) is well qualified for the gig, being an economic sociologist an’ all.  That’s why she earns something north – probably well north – of $300K a year at the uni. By all accounts she isn't a bad old duck, either, well liked by those who have met her.

So two questions arise.

First to the premier on your cost-saving scything through contracts and consultancies. How does your laudable public stand on this issue sit with paying Professor Harding a cool $ 2,500 – per day? If that was full time, it would be $12,500 a week and  $50,000 a month. But Professor Harding is expected to work just a few days a month, as will Dr McTaggart. Nevertheless, they will still share a cool $350,000 by the time the final of three report is handed down next February. That’s a pretty public penny, especially when one is told that there are perfectly well placed and well qualified senior, non-political public servants like the Auditor General to do the job. They are now left sitting around on their bronzers playing pocket billiards, all the while picking up their own not insubstantial full pay.

By the by, as befits the ‘best Australian treasurer ever’ Peter Costello is being paid $3,300 per day, and will pick up around $140,000 for working no more than one day a week over the next 10 months.

Put simply, this isn’t a good look in light of Premier Newman’s somewhat sanctimonious cost cutting pronouncements.

The second question is to Professor Harding. Will you be taking unpaid leave of absence from the university for those lucrative days while you’re working on this sideline of a nice little earner? If not, why not, since on those pay scales, neither job is worth it if you can do both at once. Surely you’re not going to take sickies? And, yes, it is our business, we are the ones coughing up for this whole exercise.

As a lady letter writer - probably a hairdresser - keeps saying between chews on her bubble gum ‘you know, just asking’.

Finally, on a completely different matter, if you’re ever wondering why your insurance premiums are through the roof (if you still have a roof), it ain’t just the big ticket items like Yasi to blame.

A NSW female public servant, staying in a country town motel where she was attending a conference,  has been awarded damages for an injury she received when a light fitting fell on her while she having sex. A judge has ruled that getting bonked by light fittings while bonking out of town and after hours amounts to being on the job when you’re … well, on the job. Read this Nanny State doozie here.

Enough, it is away to Poseurs’ Bar, where the old bird will bebubble a suitable companion, and make certain suggestions about possible courses of action later in the evening. But ever ready for rebuffs, The ‘Pie will try not to pout when he points out that ‘you know, just asking’.     



  1. University is totally transparent, Mr Magpie, go to
    and anyone can read what it has to say about outside consultancies.

  2. I agree with your comments about Brendan Porter. I haven't personally met him, but out of the all the mayoral candidates, his performances in the media have been the most impressive to date.

  3. Interesting comment about Sandra Harding and her "double pay". Same question should be asked about the recruitment of Liberal has-been Peter Lindsay by his old Labor opponent Tony Mooney, to act on behalf of a certain coal mining company, presumably to allow said company to "jump ship" now that Labor is a lost cause in this State. So, Peter, are you going to refuse your parliamentary pension for the period of time you are getting your hands dirty and your pockets filled with the coal miners? Or will it be just be a case of snout-in-two troughs?