Saturday, June 2, 2012

Forget Craig Thomson (if only we could), the burning political question is: should we fear for Mayor Mullet’s mental health? And the Miracle of Ogden Street – The Daily Astonisher pulls off a unique world first.

As a general rule, you can spot a political loser when they say things like ‘these people must stop playing politics’. Then you know the game is up, because Politics IS a game. But then so is Russian Roulette, and both can have catastrophic results.

While Mayor Jenny The Moaning Mullet Hill continues her wrestle with reality, The Astonisher continues to wrestle with the meaning of certain words. Maybe the subs are distracted by an ominous-sounding diktat due to be delivered from Sydney HQ later this week. Are more heads about to roll at paper? The ‘Pie will crystal-ball it.

Also, what Bentley thinks of the demeaning hoopla in Canberra during the week, all here in the nest at

First let us dispose of this week’s national nincompoopery  We were treated to the farcical spectacle of Tony Wingnut Abbott making a dash for the exit when he realized rogue MP Craig Thomson was about to vote with the coalition. Wingnut didn’t want to be seen voting with Thomson, since he had been belting Joolya around the ears for weeks for accepting the Thomson’s vote, even after being turfed out of the ALP.

The oily Christopher Pine was of a like mind to Abbott, and he made it out, but Abbot didn’t.

But, hey, it could have been worse, indeed a tragedy in the making. What if say Joe Hockey – or our own  Ewen The Dumbo Jumbo Jones – made a panting, waddling dash to get out before the doors were locked for the vote. The potential damage to life and limb let alone the furniture doesn’t bear contemplation.

As usual, Bentley sums up the situation in a few deft strokes. Is he surmising that Canberra is getting a re-designed Parliament House?

And speaking of the dreaded member for Dobell, this just in as his latest convincing denial on the prostitute saga.

Now to matters local.

It taint called The Astonisher for nothing.

 Last Thursday, the Townsville Bulletin published, as they normally do, the racing form guide for that day’s gallops meeting across Australia. But there was nothing normal on this occasion.  Underneath this particular form guide, the paper published the results and dividends of all the meetings above it! Now even the paper’s legion of naysayers have to admit that is service par excellence for the punting public.

But, as Magpie mate Percy The Punter points out, it would be a tad hard to find a bookie to take you on, because the form guide was that of the previous day, and the results were the one’s posted for same overnight.

No one at the paper noticed – except a whole gaggle of locals who jumped on the MagpieFone to share their glee. And The ‘Pie is told, the ABC’s Media Watch is aware of it as well.

But that wasn’t the only problem in the Ogden Street bunker this week.  Mid-week, the paper ran a screamer front page, lamenting the plight of a posturing Mayor Mullet facing a council majority which refuses to tug its collective forelock to her. And how this might mean that she could not keep her ruinous campaign promises about a water rebate and a rates freeze. 

Do tell.

All pretty correct, and one would hope so, given the following. What fascinated The ‘Pie was the big strap  under the headline ‘EXCLUSIVE’. There a couple things to be noted about this claim. The Bulletin is the only daily newspaper in town, so ‘exclusive’ to what?  TV? If that's the case, television news could legitimately plaster Exclusive tags on just about all their stories, because at the time of going to air, The Bulletin wouldn't have published the story. This 'exclusive' story was also largely a think piece, conjecture on behalf of the reporter Anthony Templeton – it must be some sort of tautology to call an opinion piece ‘exclusive’ or just a statement of the bleedin' obvious.

But the biggest problem with this spurious claim is that it was not exclusive. Not by a long shot. The Magpie has been visiting this issue, and its many permutations and possibilities ever since the election results were in, and even projected our current council make-up before the election.  (See blog posts May 3rd, 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th). 

So does the hierarchy of The Astonisher make self-serving and arbitrary assessments as to who is media and who isn’t, and if accurate information does not come from a News Ltd-approved source, it doesn’t count? A sort of variation on the emperor’s new clothes? That certainly is an interesting view of the social media revolution.

But distractions abound in Ogden Street just now, the latest one which has many editorial staff member biting the bottom lip and urgently clutching at the nether region in an anxious funk.
News Ltd CEO Kim Williams

Head of News Ltd in Australia, Kim Williams, is due to make a big announcement to all News Ltd staff later this week, and the word of the moment is ‘re-structuring’.  Coming hot on the heels of the Fairfax ‘restructuring’ decision to out-source 400 of it’s sub-editing positions to New Zealand (baaah-humbug to thet) to save money, William’s message may see the end of sub-editing here in Townsville. These local positions – up to 22 jobs – may be be taken up by a Brisbane sub-hub sweatshop. Those displaced will join the 40 or so already sacked by Michael The Ogre of Ogden Street Wilkins in the two or three years he’s been walking amongst us as boss of North Queensland Newspapers.

All this is no done deal, we’ll have to wait and see, but The ‘Pie idly wonders if the policy of piling up more and more work on fewer and fewer people deliberately sets up a situation where the errors The ‘Pie so often reports are bound to happen. In this way, there is a ready-made excuse to move subbing south, because ‘ the local folk just can’t cut the mustard’. The words 'insidious' and 'unfair' come to mind, especially since this mob take an annual profit of $13 to $25 million a year out of the Townsville region.  It is also an odd fit for a paper that is ever eager to lecture other organisations like Ergon in editorials that ‘it isn’t all about the bottom, there are social and community obligations to be considered by multi-million dollar corporations’. 

This is a paper which has got the date wrong on the front page on more than one occasion, and as the industry saying is ’if you can’t get the date right, why should anyone believe anything else in the paper’.


Moving along to other matters.

Benjamin Franklin once famously said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.

This bodes ill for Mayor Mullet – she continues to fly in the face of reality, continually insisting that she’s the boss and the councilors opposed to her water rebate handout and rates freeze – ‘these people’ as she acidly calls them – have an obligation do her bidding. Her latest disconnect from reality came a couple of days ago when she tried an hilarious attempt at political blackmail.

Herr Mullet said the councilors had to sign an agreement – a ‘compact’ a word much beloved by Bob Hawke – that she could have her rates freeze and water rebate and in return, she would support any promises individual councilors had made in their divisions.

When everybody had stopped rolling around on the floor laughing fit to burst their boilers – everybody that is except The Bulletin, which didn’t see anything amiss with their heroine’s cunning Baldrick-like plan – The ‘Pie asked several councilors what they thought of the idea. Several proffered a message to their mayor of just two words involving sex and travel. One said he had taken legal advice, and that The Mullet’s call might actually verge on the illegal, by attempting to coerce councillors before debate on any given issue. The term blackmail has been flying around, but if it is, it is one of the most cack-handed attempts to turn the screw since Monty Python’s limbless Black Knight continued with his dire threats.

So, Jen, have a little lie down with a damp clothe on that furrowed brow, and listen to the soothing words of reality from this kindly old bird you so love and respect.  

You see, darl, you are only one vote of 11 on council, and getting less than a third of votes as mayor does not a mandate make – it meant two thirds of the community didn’t want you. Now, now, no tears, luvvie, and stop screwing up your hanky. Weirdly, many seem to think they were taking out some sort of political insurance, and soundly trounced all but two of your team – and Messagebank Walker just squeaking in at that.

And look, sweetiepie, those opposed to your promises were elected in because they opposed them.

And as for not supporting their own modest divisional promises if they don’t agree to letting you become some sort tinpot dictator ruling by fiat, so what? You are only one vote and can muster the support of only two others councilors eager to kiss your derriere. So the others don’t need your support, they can simply put a motion to the vote and pass it. 

Now The ‘Pie gently asks you, why is it that the others have change from fiscal probity, in favour of  your profligate promises? Aren’t you the one that should move on; you knew, or should’ve, that your campaign promises were populist fibs designed simply to get you elected?  So, all right then, you are now elected. Everyone knows that you are a consummate political liar, so no one is going to be too fussed if you ditch these sillly grandstanding proposals and just move on to just enjoy all the ceremonial posturing and preening so close to your heart. Now we’ve got that sorted, The ‘Pie will make you a nice cuppa. Fancy an Iced Vo-Vo with it? That’s the good gal, blow the nose and stop all that snuffling..

Enough now, it is away to Poseurs’ Bar, to check tonight’s form guide and be-bubble some delightful filly or mare who may look kindly on a bit of a gallop later on. But like The Astonisher, The ‘Pie reckons he knows the result already – scratched at the barrier, as usual.  


  1. Yes Pie! >60% of registered voters didn't want the Mullet.(ECQ website)
    80% of the Divisions didn't want her candidates.(ECQ website)

    Now she wants to blackmail Councillors so that the fiscally reckless policies she promised can be enacted as part of her MANDATE????? Gotta be kidding!!!

  2. Exclusive and entertaining Pie.

    " The words 'insidious' and 'unfair' come to mind, especially since this mob take an annual profit of $13 to $25 million a year out of the Townsville region. "

    What this organisation fails to see here is, that the culture is no different to News Of The World's.
    The key players still inside have a lot to answer for as there have been so many lies which have been covered up.

    Hey Mickey mouse? You know.

  3. Could this business with the Mullet,trying to coerce the Councilers also be called a bribe? Do this for me ,and i shall do this in return.This has the smell of offering a bribe.Could we ask the Minister for Local Government to have a look at this.Poetic justice?...Could we find out if the Mayor will be going to the V8's.The last couple of years,she has made a big song and dance,about saving money ,and has given her Council alloted tickets away.The Bullshit in has been behind her and has run a headline or two,saying how frugal she was,only to find her next door in the State Government box,sponging off the taxpayer.Some how i dont think she will be invited into the Government box this year.She has a very short memory.

  4. Apart from Ray Gartrell, Jenny Lane & Les Walker there is not much there to get excited about.

  5. Astonished, Fairfield WatersJune 3, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    That cock-up with the race fields in the Bully is not an isolated case. In a small correction printed at the bottom of a sports page last week, the editor put it down to "human error". It seems that these days there are a lot less humans at the Bully, and a lot more errors. That probably explains the readership figures they trotted out this week. If you check the records, readership is down about 25%, staffing is down by 30% (with more to come), but the advertising rates keep going up. Nice one, Rupert.
    Maybe its time for an opposition newspaper in this city that is prepared to print the facts (think the Jupiters Casino drugs affair and dubious V8 Supercars benefits).
    There are heaps of real estate agents and car dealers who would welcome the chance to advertise at a less exorbitant rate, and given the staff that have been cut in recent times, there is a very experienced workforce out there very willing to help publish an alternative newspaper.

    1. Attila the Hun. The Human resource department which shifts employees out to justify their own positions. The Astonisher has a culture of fear and bullying. Atill of The Hun is a good example. That's for another day. I wonder what words they've spelt on the fridge this week?

  6. It would seem to me that it may be time for an alternative daily tome to step up and challenge the Bulletin - finding a workforce should not be too difficult as there will plenty of newspaper types looking for a new job pretty soon

    1. There's plenty of dosh to burn
      Rupert Murdoch's News Corp (NWSA.O) has taken full control of its Asian joint venture ESPN STAR Sports (ESS), buying out Walt Disney Co's (DIS.N) 50 percent share to end a 16-year partnership in the region.

      Happy Mickey Mouse? News Ltd is a big theme park.

  7. Errr, that would be Attila the Hen, our hillbilly version of Margaret Thatcher's sobriquet.

  8. Pie, I'll nominate you for the Pride of Australia medal for your community spirit in exposing The Astonisher and pretty pollies and pretty newspaper medals. or should I say? The Pride Of Pie medal goes to?

  9. Quick note Pie, Your readers should be aware The Pride of Australia medal is proudly sponsored by Murdoch's TV Ten, News Ltd etc.. Why should a media organisation conduct giving out medals? Exclusive stories?

  10. Quite happy to confirm there was a culture of bullying by mgt at the Astonisher.

    1. You mean it's stopped now? Seems unlikely.

  11. Hmmm, The 'Pie guesses thanks to anonymous about bullying, but the past tense was used, so the impact of your statement is lost a bit when it is signed 'anonymous'. However, the old bird is amused (sorta) to note that The Astonisher - maybe all of News Ltd - no longer has a department called HR (Human Resources); it is now called - oh, the irony - PAC, as in People and Culture. A morbid sense of humour here, since PAC does the same smarmy, genteel shafting job on those deemed surplus to requirements as HR has aleways done, so the vague cuddly, fuzzy feel about the title is, as usual, brutal window dressing. But full points to whoever came up with the title, a person obviously not from ranks of the Astonisher, otherwise it would have been PAK - Peeple and Kulture.

    1. Pie, PAC are cunning enough to get elected in next year's election. PAC should know that they are not the media. PAC have built their own castles of poo bah. The Media's role is to uncover the truth. The truth is PAC covers, management covers and good journos leave.

      Mickey Mouse, have you spelt 'sadonic' on the staff fridge this week?

  12. Pie, Is it true The Editor of the Sun newspaper has been made redundant too?

  13. Yes, it is. More on Saturday.

  14. Don't forget that townsvillenewsonline has been on the scene for the past two years...not as big or rich as the bullytin but still a proud independent local.