Saturday, May 5, 2012

This week, The Magpie talks of fellow creatures great and small, of lame ducks and mullets, of dark horses and of a certain dumbo jumbo.

So, it seems the ego has landed in Walker Street and The Mullet’s Mayoralty has (unofficially) started, but will she be a lame duck mayor? The behind-the-scenes power tussle that really counts has only just begun, as the conservative councillors start jockeying for the now all-powerful position of deputy doo-dah.  


In other matters, Federal boof-in-residence Herbert MP Ewen Jones still fails to grasp the First Rule Of Holes: when you’re in one, stop digging. But The ‘Pie lets him have his say.

And in the Told Ya So Department, The ‘Pie modestly refers readers to his idle speculation made a couple of weeks ago about the Slipper/Ashby affair: was it a set-up from the start? Looking more like it.

All this, and a beaut Bentley cartoon to boot, in this week’s nest

First, that Magpie exclusive of an art work dedicated to and depicting last Monday morning's reaction of Townsville populace to the emerging local council results. The city tried to get hold of the prescient painting in a telephone bidding war, but fell a tad short of the final price of $120 million dollars, the Perc Tucker Gallery dropping out when the bidding passed $17.45.

Oh well, we can always travel to Oslo occasionally over the next four years to look at it there and remind ourselves what we have wrought.

When it comes to words and not pictures, we have to look to American economist and diplomat John Kenneth Galbraith for an epithet to sum up this council election.

Responding to an essay titled ‘Politics: The Art of the Possible’, the pithy Mr. Galbraith said ’Politics is not the art of the possible: it consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable’.

You choose which is which, but it just about says it all about this council election, really.

Another old saying that is becoming apparent is that ‘it’s the winners who write history’.

Jenny meeting Labor's backroom boys for campaign funds.
So the Pinocchio Politics has already started with Jenny Hill declaring herself the winner – which is fair enough, because she looks about home, although preferences from Brendan Porter and Jeff Jimmieson are yet to be factored in.

But in a deeply mysterious conclusion, she has simpered that she crowned herself the winner because ‘the city needs to keep moving’. 
The hubris is breathtaking and the empty irrelevancy of such a statement is risible. While her elkevation to mayor may have given some citizens a 'movement', just how her announcement would affect this city’s ‘movement’ is as mysterious as the theory of relativity or Donald Trump’s hair decisions. Mongrel the Barrister chortled mournfully that, with her as mayor,  ‘a good part of the city will moving alright - south, or west, or north, anywhere’.

And a signal of the battles to come in the council chamber can be glimpsed in the early pronouncements from La Mullet.

The 'first person' personal pronoun has already been flogged within an inch of its life, with a self-stroking barrage of ‘I’, ‘my‘, ‘me’ and ‘mine’ strewn across the pages of the Daily Astonisher like a carefree maiden tripping across an Elysian field, throwing daisies all around as she wends her merry way.  None of that ploddng, prissy ‘we’ or ‘our’ for this self-fancied shot-caller.

One report breathed down the MagpieFone is that this attitude came to the fore at a victory celebration at local hotel, where The Mullet hoisted herself on to the bar and gleefully yelled to the crowd ‘I fucked them’ and a few other similar gloats. Mike ‘Capt Snooze’ Reynolds was there and is believed to have taken The Mullet aside and told herin so many words, to put a sock in it (her mouth, presumably).

The ‘Pie reckons Snooze could make a 24/7 job out of that for the next four years.

Now, while just about everybody is trying to work out how the hell we reached this weird state of play – a Labor mayor controlling just two other votes against the eight mainly conservative councilors – Jenny can take solace in one quirky circumstance to come out of all this. She won’t have to take the blame for two of her most outlandish and populist campaign lies never happening – those being a $103 water rebate for all households, and a rates freeze. If she had the numbers to get these two bits of political tripe through, The Mullet would be looking for some way to explain the inevitable disastrous result in a couple of years time. 

If the Team Last folk keep their word, both these ticking financial time bombs will be smartly defused. The Mullet has never explained precisely where the $15 million to fund these quixotic promises would come from – and for that matter, a fawning Astonisher never asked, either.  And when they’re inevitably knocked back, she then gets the bitching rights to moan on about a silvertail-controlled council bashing the battler.  She may become so peeved that she might drown her sorrows with Socialist Chardonnay on the back patio of her mini-mansion in Riverside Gardens.

Perhaps The Mullet should be aware of another Galbraith observation: 'If all else fails, immortality can be assured by spectacular error'.

But logically, it will be the Tribe That Lost Its Head – the seven or eight Townsville First councillors minus their head Dale Last – that will control the real power. 

And the backroom horse trading has already started.

But the maneuvering over this position is far from either clear-cut or expected. Two of the most eligible councillors for the deputy’s position – Vern Veitch and Trevor Roberts – have declined to stand for the job. Clr Veitch told The ‘Pie that he believes the deputy mayor should be the mayoral candidate at the next election, and he didn’t think he would be up to that, age-wise or otherwise. Clr Roberts, who has romped home on primary votes alone - the biggest winner of all candidates by the looks of things - couldn’t be contacted but is pretty sure not to run for reasons not yet known.
The Haystack
The Parsip

The Magpie hears that the eight non-Labor councillors are in two minds, split four and four, one group for Ray Gartrell and the other for Tony Parsons. Of course, that even balance between the two groups could be upset if independent Pat Ernst gets up against Team Last’s Natalie Marr in Division 5. But if the Townsville First team remains tight, whoever gets the post will be in a position of considerable power to effectively makes Jenny Hill a lame duck mayor. Probably not that they would, but that they could might make The Mullet change her Attila The Hen posturing.

Now a footnote on the matter of Mr Ernst, or more to the point, his goofy golfing buddy who also happens to be Federal MP Ewen Jones. 

The issue is Jones' support for Mr Ernst (who one guesses is totally blameless in this matter) over conservative councillor Natalie Marr. Mr Jones tells The Magpie that he owes no debt of loyalty to Ms Marr because she did nothing for him during his election campaign. Ansolutely nothing, he says. Ms Marr confirms that she didn’t do anything active because she didn’t think it right to do so as a councillor elected by voters to a different forum. But she supported him amongst the large group of her friends and like-minded voters, particularly up in the rapidly expanding and crucial northern suburbs. However, she is adamant that her only issue here is that Jones should have stayed aloof from this election, since he represents all the electors of the city.  

Ewen, sorry to have to bang on about this, old blimp, but you just don’t bloody get it, do you? Contrary to what you say, you DO give up certain ordinary privileges when you take money and time from a party that then plants your bum on a well-remunerated seat in Canberra.  Not that your bum stayed there as often as it should have; your favorite boys club yuk-yukery boast is the number of times (8 was it?) the Speaker threw you out of parliament for undisciplined, inappropriate and juvenile interjections. Perhaps while you were sitting on the khazi reading Golfing Digest waiting out your suspension, you might have thought that that was time you should have been in the chamber representing the people who elected you.

We all know the bullshit on alliances in the local government scene up here – Jenny isn’t Labor and Townsville First isn’t conservative – yeah, right. It’s a group thing, you know, so while the blokes at the golf club will now vote for you (well, maybe) the number of people – friends and associates of Clr Marr – that you have greatly affronted may well outweigh those dubious gains.

There was no ideological divide – quite the opposite - between you and Ms Marr, it was just that you wanted to be a big swinging dick in front of your mates in the clubhouse. That is a privilege you gave up when you went from low level real estate agent to Ewen Jones, Liberal MP. Politics is all about perception – and team playing. It’s the only way it can work (look at the mess the independents have allowed to happen).

You can dismiss The ‘Pie easily enough, but maybe you should take heed of those party luminaries who have rung you up and torn strips off you for this dopey disloyalty. You should have had the political nous to just simply stay out of it. As The 'Pie's Nana used to say 'pull your head in, they're looking for wood'.

Down in Canberra itself, this could be a bleak winter of discontent coming up for Jool-ya. Depressing for those us in Queensland, too, because The ‘Pie reckons a Federal election - another bloody election - is on the cards before the end of the year, with maybe Bill Shorten taking the reins of Labor’s dead horse.

This possibility is all tied in with Slipper/Ashby affair. The ‘Pie’s theory of a couple of weeks ago seems to gathering momentum. 

First the oleaginous private school head prefect Christopher Maurice Pyne (Lib) has been - well, basically lying about the circumstances of his little footsie sessions with Slipper accuser James Ashby (former LNP member). Those lengthy lounge bar conversations (Maurice wouldn’t be seen dead, or last long, in a public bar) took place well before Ashby decided on the double whammy of accusing Slipper of not only expense rorting but also some pretty stomach-turning texts that would be more at home in a gay version of Mills and Boon, or Man On Man Action magazine - if such a thing exists.

Today, we now learn that former Howard Government minister Mal Brough has weighed in, admitting he and his wife (there as witness and moral support, apparently) met three times with Ashby before he went public. Brough admits he suggested Ashby seek a lawyer and go to the police. Ashby is a former LNP member, and Brough is a bitter opponent of Slipper, and will oppose him at the next election as the LNP candidate for the Sunshine Coast seat of Fisher. 

Brough says Ashby was very upset during their conversations, but given our James background as detailed in previous blogs, that doesn’t ring true. The central question is the nature of those conversations with Brough and Pyne, and if there was a ‘Hey here’s an idea, what  say we …’ moment anywhere in there. Everybody says no to this line of thinking, but all involved are politicians. You know, those are the folk who say things like ‘No GST’, ‘No Carbon Tax’ and or conveniently don’t mention asset sales.  

Since perception is everything in politics, isn’t this whole thing is off like a bucket of prawns in the sun?

As Bubbles the Hairdresser says ‘you know, just asking’.

Finally, a short note to the Astonisher’s tyro council reporter Anthony Templeton.  In yesterday’s paper, you wrote:
After barely scraping over the line to secure the last spot in the Townsville City Council chamber at the 2008 amalgamation election, Cr Hill has now claimed the most important chair in Walker St.’

The Magpie’s love and devotion to all matters Mullet forces him to point out (and chastise himself at the same time for having said something similar in previous columns) Ms Mullet came in 10th out of 12 in the amalgamation election, and was just within a handful of votes of making 8th.

Ironically, number 11 was Tony Parsons, who shortly may be one of the most powerful politicians in in Townsville, and 12th was Natalie Marr, who proved to be one of the more effective councillors, but who may not have the opportunity to continue to be because of Ewen Jones’ boofheaded and ill-advised suck-up to her independent opponent.

Enough now, it away to Poseurs’ Bar, where old bird will be-bubble a suitable companion, hopefully reaching a conversational moment of ‘ Hey, here’s an idea, how about we …. 


  1. Was'nt Cr Parsons the Councillor who faced accusations he left a full Council Meeting early to catch a airline flight to Melbourne to call a sporting match fot 4TO-FM shortly after being elected.. Did'nt he claim his wife wes ill which waS later proved to be incorrect (He did resign from his sporting broadcasting)

    1. Regarding the Cr Parsons comment,may i ask if "anonymous"is in fact Lendl Ryan from the "bulletin" ?????

  2. Well hopefully with Dale Last being hot property the LNP will grab him first and run him in the federal elect and get the bumbling big fella out. Never understood why the hell they put him in, in the first place. James Kirt

  3. I reckon Peter Lindsay in life must be imitating Munch's art, thanks to Ewen's extremely embarrassing antics.

  4. Always a laugh a minute. This would have to be one of your bests Pie!

  5. Does the last statement continue " know, just asking?"

  6. Look on the bright side least with the Talking Mullet in the mayoral chair you will have more than enough amusing copy for your articles over the next four years!

  7. The story about Parsons skipping an imporant council meeting to care for his sick wife, and then hopping on a plane to call a basketball game is dead right. The Astonisher actually printed the story - not the whole story mind you, but a watered down version negotiated by one David Crisifulli. If the whole truth comes out - and with mention of Parsons being line line to be the deputy mayor it probably will - the fair sity of Townsville will be a laughing stock. Ray Gartrell would be a much better bet, but he would have to improve his wardrobe.

  8. James - The reason Ewen was pre-selected by the LNP was because he had the greatest ties with the community. We chased him and he was a bloody good candidate and is proving to be a great MP. This is unlike Dale Last who, like the self representing defendant who had an idiot for a client, decided to be his own campaign manager and refused to take advice. It should not surprise anyone that he lost while many of his candidates won.

    Former Cr Dale is not hot property and if the LNP were wise they wouldn't have anything to do with him.

    1. Chased him? Balderdash. More like he ran into your arms shouting "Pick me! Pick me!" What about the other 3 or 4 you approached first?

  9. Why would the LNP want Last to run at the Federal election. Fact is he couldn't even beat The Talking Mullet, so I wouldn't be backing him to win anything - not even a chook raffle,

  10. Ewen Jones is not a great MP if he cannot understand the difference between friendship and politics. As the Federal Member he should be prepared to work with whoever is elected by members of his electorate, not go into print and actively campaign against a team opposed to a labour council. He should have stayed completely aloof from the local government election.

  11. I wish I had been able to stay completely aloof from the local government election !!!

  12. Replace the artwork's head with Ms Hill's and you have a great artwork.

  13. Ms Hill said no such thing at the post-poll shindig.