Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Mullet gets her man – albeit a recycled Mooney man. And have we seen the start of a ‘jobs for the boys’ political payback from the LNP, too? There are some juicy appointments floating about the place, but will the right people get them?

We also look at the inventive language of The Daily Astonisher aka the Townsville Bulletin – not content with making up stories, now the Ogden Street munchkins are making up language.

And that wicked doodler Bentley has a new – and most appropriate – nick-name for Premier Newman (hmmm, Premier Newman…  somehow, still doesn’t sound right, does it?), and a couple of eye-boggling headlines from the around the place, all in here in the nest at
 Shock, horror, stop the presses!!! 

Mayor Mullet has been caught out telling a truth!!

She has admitted she hasn’t a financial clue, and she needs some old Labor buddies to give her a hand.

Perhaps not in those exact words, but she has made it plain that she doesn’t have the faintest idea how to wriggle out of two of the several lies that landed her the job in the first place.

Amidst all the twaddle about cutting waste, saving money and delivering on impossibly irresponsible, fairytale campaign promises (oh, Townsville, what hast ye wrought?), what does our Mullet do? Our financial hatchet harridan spends  - at an informed guess - $150k hiring one Paul Askern as her personal sidekick ‘to help get the budget through’.

Paul Askern, the ideal Mullet Minder.

The Magpie is reliably told that Mr Askern, a seasoned Labor man, a former Deputy CEO of the council, and Mooney mate, will come on board next Wednesday. Some established council bureaucrats with long memories are said to be in deep and uneasy contemplation this weekend. Mr Askern is very much his own man with an well known aversion for bullshit, a fact that His Radiance found out whenever he tried to put one over on the former mango farmer from Alligator Creek. If Paul can talk some sense to The Mullet, he will instantly become Saint Paul in the eyes of worried residents. 

But it could be otherwise.

Jenny Hill now admits she is in desperate need of an unelected person on her side, not so much to help her shape her council budget, but to be her ‘divide and conquer’ agent, a person of the honeyed words Jenny so obviously lacks to talk around  the pesky Townsville First majority, led by Vern Veitch.

Well, she didn’t exactly say that, either, but read this yarn from the Astonisher earlier this week (and no, The 'Pie hasn't a clue what the headline means). Help is undeniably needed, because, as the pollies say, let us be clear on this - The Mullet’s budget of ruinous rate freezes and water pay backs will not be allowed to see the light of day by the Townsville First majority of councillors – unless ….

That is, unless one or two of the rats in the ranks of that loose Townsville First coalition take The Mullet’s shilling, a payment that Mr Askern will be asked to offer and deliver. And good luck with that.

However, The ‘Pie might be well ‘outa orda‘, about Mr Askern, who, whatever else is no dill; he may be just the bloke to talk some sense into a muddled Mullet’s mindset. You know, something along the lines of  ‘ Give up the idea, luvvie,  and we can blame these rotten, Tory, Green bastards for robbing everyone of  $103 pokie machine money, let’s move on, and see if we can get you elected again in four years time’.

And good luck with that, too, but what fun between now and then – unless an administrator is called in.

A quick but related digression: according to, hoteliers are reporting marked increases in pokie revenue ever since Gillard’s carbon con cheques started hitting mail boxes and bank accounts. Golly, really? But whatever you do, don’t get hot under the collar about this, you’ll only further raise global warming – which may lead to another Canberra tax.

Down at The Astonisher, it was a week of innovation, in both content and language. 

The Ho-Hum Meter started red-lining when The Bulletin featured a manufactured, nighty-ripping front page about Mackay trying to pinch the V-8 SuperPests event away from Townsville.  That was the spark for the start of a slew of faux inter-city rivalry stories, which is clearly non-existent except between The Bulletin and the Mackay Mercury, and the occasional ever-present knuckle-draggers from both places. Whipping up chauvinistic indignation is always supposed to be good for circulation, so you readers of the Bulletin – yes, both of you – can expect more of this embarrassing twaddle when it’s a slow news day.

But one small matter had The ‘Pie wondering if, like Gina Rinehart, the Astonisher had been given permission to import foreign workers – in the paper’s case, it appeared one journo was an imported banjo playing albino straight from Gomer Pyle's moonshine mountain home.

Reporting on businessman John Bearne’s ascension to the chair of the newly-created hospitals’ board (itself an interesting development, more on that in a sec) the Astonisher said Health Minister Lawrence Springborg believed Mr Bearne ‘brang’ great experience to the job. YeeHa! According to the three dickshunaries The ‘Pie brang to his desk, there is no such word, not even recognized slang.

But Mr Bearne’s elevation to the chair of a yet to be chosen hospital board– with a $660 million budget for all hospitals and services in the Townsville health region - sent the MagpieFone into meltdown. Callers were having a collective fit of the vapors about what most saw as a political payback appointment by the LNP. Mr Bearne is said to lean to the right somewhat, and is said to be a great chum of a certain retired bit of political royalty up this way who is still a powerful backroom party figure.

That would go into the ‘so what, they all do it?’ basket except for callers’ commentary on what they term as Mr Bearne’s less than stellar turn at the helm of Bumf House, aka Townsville Enterprise. All of them alleged that Johnny-boy’s interfering macro-management style as chairman and acting CEO sent morale at Enterprise House through the floor, and as one comedic caller put it, ‘resulted in the installation of a revolving door at the staff entrance’. Staff turnover during this period was noticeably high and this particular caller asserted that it was Mr Bearne’s alleged nosey-parker macro-management style that was a major factor in former CEO Trevor Goldstone’s abrupt departure for the fields of academe at JCU.

Now all this could be idle gossip, although such stories are widespread and have been around for a while, but again, so what, personal business style isn’t a hanging offence (although there is an argument for it in the case of Ogden Street and the Gold Coast Bulletin heh, heh, heh). However, if  the callers are correct, Mr Bearne’s selection of board members will be interesting to note. Because people qualified to help run a complex and vital infrastructure with a humungus budget will not be yes men and women, they would be independent professionals in their own right.  One could assume they would not be the sort to take kindly to any notions of a Little Napoleon on an ego and empire building exercise. Such an unlikely scenario would be disastrous for not only the public purse, but for us poor sods who just want a decent hospital system. The ‘Pie will watch with interest.

But a decent hospital system doesn’t look much closer, with the Townsville hospital forced to send staff on holidays to get rid of accrued leave – without replacing them. The health district is $12 million over budget, and that didn’t happen overnight. The cuts keep coming, but one has to wonder at this targeting.

As usual, the brilliant Bentley also has his questioning view of all this.

‘Can Do Without’?  Ouch, with the razor gang at large, that could stick. Nice one, Bentley.

Other matters.

The simple inadvertent placement of a full stop can cause havoc, so Newspaper Correction of the Year comes from The Australian, with this little pearler

Finally, a headline that defies anyone not to read on - unless at the breakfast table.
Guess what this bloke, a certain Zhang Bangsheng, is doing?

It's not snappy, but the header is clear about what happened although not why.
'Zoo Caretaker Licks Monkey's Butt To Help It Defecate.'

And even when you read here the 'why' of it, not everything is completely clear even then.

It might be prudent if old Zhang-boy, after arriving home and being met with a big smooch from the a doting Mrs Bangsheng, be very circumspect in answering her question ‘What did you do at work today, Snookums?’  Being paid peanuts is one thing, but the method of the picking up the pay packet is quite another.

Poseurs' Bar is closed for a paint job this week, so the foregoing provides The Magpie with an excuse to relate a schoolboy joke he has never been able to work into the column before.

An Aussie bloke and a Chinese man are sitting on the court house steps, having a smoke before being called before the beak.
‘What you do?’ asked the Chinese chap.
‘Punched a copper. What are you up for?
‘Ah, litty fire, eh?’
‘No’, replied the Chinese chap,’ Litty boy’.




  1. If the Daily Astonisher did a bit of investigative journalism and found out why John Bearne really got the boot from TEL it would be a front page story - and he would't be chairing any hospital boards.

  2. Paul Askern's return to the council should be hailed with delight by everyone in the city. In my many years of dealing with the great and not so great of North Queensland I met very few with the intellect and commonsense of Mr Askern.Best of all, he is no "yes" man.

  3. Had hoped you would see last week's "brang" clanger Pie. I was gobsmacked - but hell what was I thinking? It IS The Bulletin after all.

  4. "Brang"? Is that not the sound a a North Korean rocket makes shortly after lift-off?

  5. Always entertaining Pie.

    The Astonisher has three pet stories to fill its' online news service. Child workers surely help top up extra $$ for the GM's superanuation package?

    1. I'd like to think twenty something and work experience students pay for 'Attila The Hun's' self appointed payrise and her next of kin's..

      Fairfax have moved sub editors positions to New Zealand to cut costs. New Zealand workers are paid very little compared to Aussies. Sad it's resorted to offshore employment for useless news.

  6. "Imported banjo playing albino straight from Gomer Pyle's moonshine mountain home?"

    Harry Potter's child prodigys don't read newspapers. They prefer facebook updates.

    Ha ha, too funny Pie.

  7. Grown men licking butts and no Poo poo? No butts about it, this is the funniest article I've read all year. Thank you Pie.

  8. Paul Anderson of PimlicoMay 30, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    Another dropped clanger spotted in the (online) Astonisher last week: on top of the potential indignity of having his name stripped from the finial of the Regional Gallery that bears his name, apparently poor Perc Tucker died of a 'myocardial infection'. Your on-the-mark comments regarding the spun-from-thin-air 'rivalry' between Townsville and Mackay (a few years back it was Townsville and Cairns, I remember, which I think was more insidious than the present case because the 'battle' was fought out on the front pages of two News Ltd papers, which benefitted mutually, although at no time was the fraternal relationship disclosed that I could recall. Kind of like how the first lawyer in a town struggles to survive...until a second one arrives, and then they both prosper. At least the Mercury's owned by someone't it?) Whether or not Mackay gets the V8s, though (and as far as I'm concerned, they can have 'em), this touches on a larger issue of how appropriate-or-otherwise it is for a paper charged with impartial reporting of all things V8 (and Cowboys, and horse racing, etc) (which I'm sure it scrupulously does) to then dangle the possibility of VIP treatment at these events as an inducement to subscribe. Just one person's opinion that while I'm sure everything's above board, it all skates to within shouting distance of the line that separates success from failure of the sniff test. And what of the Sun's premature obituary of 4 (make that poor) Triple T? It'd sure be a shame to see that place go down the tubes... Not the same since John Hubbard hung up his cans, but still, it's quite often better than the focus-group-driven drivel served up daily up and down most of the rest of the Townsville radio dial.

  9. The Daily Astonisher has just pulled off the impossible: providing the winners of races along with the fields. In the Sports section pf today's rag (May 31)they have published race fields for meetings held yesterday - Bendigo, Doomben, Gosford, Belmont Park, and Balaklava. On the same and facing page, the results of all those races are printed. all we need now is to find a bookie who will let us on!!!!!!

  10. New Zealand sub editors will be editing The Sydney Morning Herald etc. They might improve the prose of both Bob Ellis and Phil Adams.

    Can't wait to read the Kiwi version of the Aussie papers.

    Kiwis? or Child workers? That's the question.