Saturday, April 28, 2012

Has the CEO of the Townsville City Council labelled Jenny Hill a liar? Seems so.

The harsh term ‘liar’ isn’t used directly in the dignified officialese, but in an 11th hour intervention, council boss Ray Burton sent an urgent email to councillors around 7am yesterday (Friday) morning, flatly contradicting a claim about rate rises made by Jenny Hill in the Townsville Bulletin that morning.

The ‘Pie also looks at the mayoral race itself, and how things might pan out, in a poll that  Mongrel the Barrister  calls ’the battle for the best of a bad lot’.

And yet another Magpie exclusive: while The Bulletin desperately looks for some – any!! - Townsville connection to the Peter Slipper affair, the paper seems to have missed the fact that Slippery Pete went to school here.

Of course, Bentley is at his best, looking at the local government scene and summing up a poll-weary public’s feelings about it all. This week’s guano-dripping nest at

 First, good luck in the booth today, and Bentley is just as confused about the skirmish for King Les's crown.

Yesterday, The Daily Astonisher ran this story headlined  ‘Candidates Lock Horns On Rate Rises’, which began:
‘Mayoral contender Cr Jenny Hill claims her main rival, Deputy Mayor Dale Last has locked in rate rises of six per cent each year for the next four years.’

In the story, The Mullet was quoted as saying ‘ If the council is run in the same way, by the same people, we will need to have six per cent rate rises for another four years.'

She justified her claim with what she maintained were Treasury projections which led it to ‘expect’ such a rate rise through ‘key forecast assumptions’. Words that hardly justify the politically convenient porkie of ‘locked in’.

Sad to say, providing that Dale Last wasn’t selectively or misreported, he failed to make an effective political reply to the charge, although denying it. His ineffective grasp of the political point of the moment and ability to then shoot it down has dogged him throughout this camapign.  

No, the required short, sharp and authoritive rebuttal was left a most unexpected source.

What The Mullet overlooked was that in making such a dopey claim, she was questioning the honesty of not only Dale Last, her fellow councillors (and herself), but also Townsville City Council CEO Ray Burton.

Indeed, it was that fuzzy smoke’n’mirrors bit of shonky attack politics that led to the unprecedented move (at least in The ‘Pie’s experience) of a man in Ray Burton's position intervening in the campaign, urgently contacting all councillors almost immediately after reading the story.

His early morning email – the emphases are The Magpie's - read:

I need to correct some apparent misunderstandings reported in today’s Bully. Council’s 10 year financial plan referenced by QTC does not mention there will be 6% rate rises over the next four years. The QTC reference relates to rate revenue increases. Rate revenue increases are derived from two sources - growth in rateable properties due to our healthy population increase and increases in revenue from general rate increases. To reiterate my previous advices on this matter Council’s 10 year financial plan, adopted by Council last year, proposes general rate increases around the inflation rate.
Ray Burton CEO

Those previous advices would have been received by all councillors – including Jenny Hill.

And that can only make Jenny Hill either a fibber, or a fool for thinking she could get away with it. 

(While we’re about it, The Astonisher’s reporting of this campaign has been at best unhelpful to its few readers, even when not heavily biased. How come the more than the competent, award-winning Tony Raggatt hasn’t been swung into his usual political reporting role when an election comes around? The C word that should concern the editor of this deteriorating Murdoch moneymaker is ‘Credibility’.)

But The Mullet’s election eve woes didn’t end there.

During this campaign, the attack ads have been, by and large, devised by Jenny and her advisors, with Dale Last droning away with pledges, promises and platitudes.

But this week, an anti-Jenny crowd (and not necessarily Last supporters) decided to launch a radio attack ad aimed squarely at the gal herself, reasonably suggesting The Mullet is a Labor wolf all gussied up in an ‘independent' sheep’s clothing.

Placed with Prime Radio’s advertising bods down south - Zinc FM up here - The ‘Pie is reliably told the ad upset Labor folk who are still heavily involved in Jenny’s campaign.

So what has happened?

The ‘Pie spy tells him that the ad, although booked through to voting day deadline, was pulled on Thursday morning because Labor heavies pressured Prime Radio – presumably with threats of future financial retaliation – to drop it and refund any outstanding prepaid monies.

Getting Prime to refund money is a big ask once its gone into the piggy bank, so any pressure must have been considerable.

Now, it would be nice if you two readers of this column would remember that The ‘Pie doesn’t make the news, he just – sort of – reports it. And all the above happened after he so graciously, if ill-advisedly, deigned earlier in the week to give his lofty thoughts on the mayoral race.

So let’s see what’s the go.

It looks still to be a race between Jenny and Dale. Astonisher darling Jimmieson better look to his flank, with surprise packet Brendan Porter rapidly overtaking him and – dare we suggest it – getting in the mix to affect the outcome.  Harry Patel is free to join all the others of us wondering why he wanted to donate his deposit to the state.

Porter hasn’t preferenced anybody but Jenny has preferenced him – oh, no, Lord, it couldn’t happen, could it?.  Think about it – The Mullet beaten by her own preference call. Long bow, but think about the past few years of Australian elections …

Preferences are optional in this election, so it makes it hard to judge.

Perhaps we all are so election weary, continually asked to listen to lies, spite and crap while there is a dynamic city to be run and a future to be seized, that we will vote ‘1’ for someone - anyone - , and, to quote the kid with the broccoli ‘the hell with it’.

That would be unfortunate, but The ‘Pie said he’d give his call, so  (deep breath) it will come down to decision between Dale and Jenny, the result maybe not known for a day or so, with Porter taking the unexpected role of preference king. But then again, this column has always been full of old bird guano.

And who will The ‘Pie vote for?

Hmmm ... Jenny seems too political, and is in it for the Jenny Party, Dale seems not political enough and is in it for the Dale Party, Jimmieson is a man of straw and is in it just for the money, and Patel is a harmless political sleepwalker.

So, although his choice won’t get within cooee of winning, The ‘Pie will put his X next to that of Brendan Porter … it will be a vote for the future.

Now, a final note on the national scene, and which appears to be the latest thing the The Astonisher has missed in its desperate search for a Townsville connection in the Slipper Affair.

In a long profile on the deeply unpleasant Slipper, The Sydney Morning Herald’s backgrounder on this grub reports that 
‘Ipswich is Queensland’s oldest provincial city , built on coal mining but housing Queensland’s railway workshops when Stan and Joan Slipper returned in 1966. Stan had been promoted to senior management after a stint in Townsville.’

Yippee, we’re in the big time again. Gosh, we're playing with the grown-ups.

What the SMH didn’t say was that Slipper went to Townsville’s Town High for two years before going back to Ipswich to enrol in the local grammar school. One local who remembers him said he was most notable for his bad acne.

Now he’s more noticeable for his bad judgment.

Enough now, it is away to Poseurs’ Bar where the old bird will explore the possibility that some suitable companion is more interested in something other than rates arisin'. Maybe The 'Pie's companion could perchance be an Asian friend of his, who is always interested in an 'election'.  


  1. Magpie, perhaps best you read the QTC report yourself rather than rely on politicians and a CEO with an obvious vested interest. Has a few big words in it, but I'm sure you'll understand its hardly a glowing endorsement. Hint: the 6% rise in revenue is correct but unfortunately for Burton it will need to come from rates as assumptions on growth, land values, employee costs, materials, etc are all off the mark - or as QTC would probably like to have said "garously optimistic". Instead QTC confine themselves to bureaucratese, describing past rate rises, planned infrastructure, proposed productivity gains, etc as "significant". And in relation to Raggatt, his fluff piece in the Bully today comparing the debt and financial position to a household budget hardly exudes integrity.

  2. Not the first time that this CEO has kicked Cr Hill in the head in a most political fashion. If she wins he'll probably have to find another Council to cross "t"s and dot "i"s....

  3. well pie you disappoint me I though you had more brains than that.

  4. Brendan Porter has surpiised all that don't know him with his performance in his first effort. This gent has new found respect from his opponents, and also the media know all's. Good to finally see someone credible on the local political scene.