Saturday, June 9, 2012

Mayor Mullet gets her moneyman – but not the one she wanted and one that no one expected – and a startling bit of attempted illegal bureaucratic bullying can be revealed in of all places, Charters Towers.

Also, the Nanny Staters have been at their absolute best (means worst) in the past week, both here in good old Oz and in Pommyland, where public servants have been hauled over the coals for celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee. Here ast home. it’s the heavy handed Swimming Australia officials joining the boo-hoo brigade - resident cartoonist Bentley chimes in on that one, all here in the nest at

What is it about Australian swimming officials? Is it something in the water?

For as long as The ‘Pie can recall – starting with outrageous treatment of Dawn Fraser at the Tokyo Olympics when she shinnied up a flagpole and nicked the flag in what was no more than a high-spirited youthful escapade -  those  in charge of our swimmers, at all levels from club up to the Olympics, have consistently exhibited an authoritarian touch that even Pol Pot would envy. For some reason or other, until the latest silky smooth spin doctors came on the scene, all the florid poohbahs of the pool have sported luxuriant hair growth out of one or more facial orifices. That even includes some of the women.  This makes their pronouncements fall into that puzzling limbo of being even more draconian for their comic absurdity.

There seems to be a touch of ageing jealousy among officials, living lives of quite desperation and disappointment about never having been quite good enough in the pool.
Turkey shoot?

The latest to fall foul of this continuing regime are the infamous king hitter Nick D’arcy  and confessed liar Kenrick Monk. It is possibly because they’ve been in very serious hot water before that swimming officials have threatened them with everything short of jumper leads connected to their gonads, all because they posted a pic of themselves holding guns in an American gun shop. The Nanny Staters were soon in full cry, along with the sports officials.

Look, while both appear to be decidedly unpleasant little shits who have received well deserved sanctions in the past this harmless posed pic could – if one were mature enough to be generous – be seen as a reasonable moment of curiosity for an experience two young blokes will never be able to find in Australia (thank the Lord or more properly, John Howard). The commotion says more about Swimming Australia and the sensationalist sections of the media than it does about these two dopey youngsters. They may be a bit slow-witted on land, but they are among our fastest in the water. Those who are suggesting they not attend the Olympics for this quite legal and understandable bit of youthful braggadocio are in sore need of some jumper lead activity themselves.

Bentley believes all this doesn't bode well for the future.

The same applies to the Whitehall bureaucrat in London who banned flag bunting to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee in government offices. If this story is correct, the problem is the bunting can’t be taken down by those who put it up, because of workplace health and safety regs. They might fall off the ladder! Specialists will be needed to remove the offending decorations. Read it and weep.

But save some of those tears for the local scene.

Walker Street isn’t the only place that has undergone an extensive changing of the guard recently.

Out at Charlie’s Trousers, the Beveridge baton has been passed from father to son, with Frank Beveridge the new mayor and his pa, former mayor Brian now down among the councilor ranks.

Former Dalrymple Shire mayor Ben Callcott failed spectacularly in a bid for mayor of the now amalgamated entity Charters Towers Regional Council, coming in a fairly distant third in a four horse race. And it was Ben’s long and close friendship with council CEO James Gott that, for convoluted reasons best left to the local saloon bar Socrates, has been given the elbow, about a year before his contract was up. The acting CEO at the moment is a former Townsville City Council staffer Graham King.

All that is not freshly minted news, but what is somewhat different and hitherto unreported, is a pre-election email from the council CEO to all 400 or so staff. In blunt terms, the CEO expressly forbade any staffer to ‘discuss the forthcoming election or the participants therein with anyone in the community’.  

This laughable piece of nonsense – even funnier than Jenny Hill’s 'compact' which was almost universally spurned by Townsville councilors – was, on the face of it, illegal and easily challenged on several fronts. The ‘Pie hears that most council workers treated the edict in much the same way as a famous playwright who replied to an unfavorable review by telling the critic ‘ I am in the smallest room in the house and I have your review before. Very shortly, it will be behind me’. This little piece of rural idiocy gives deep meaning to the term ‘bumf’. Whomsoever though up this stunt is certainly a Charley.

Here in the ‘Ville, we shouldn’t be too smug about such things, not when the Moaning Mullet is loitering around her mayoral throne. The hi-jinks – less high drama than low farce – continued when Jenny sought to install former deputy CEO Paul Askern as her hired help on budget matters. 

Mr Askern agreed to the gig, but that damned ubiquitous fly did a graceful swan dive into the old ointment.

By tradition and local government law, there can be a position available which the mayor may fill with his or her own choice as an adviser and tea maker. (This was Cuddlepie Wallace’s role with His Radiance and it was his launching pad for his cosy career and subsequent cosy retirement.) 

But … and there always is one … the pay is by negotiation with the CEO. And this time around, the figure on the table was in the neighborhood of $100K equivalent per annum. But Mr Askern justifiably believed it too low, and dickied for $40,000 or so more to compensate for lack holidays, super, sick days, and the allocation of free Iced VoVos at council smoko time.
TCC CEO Ray Burton

The ‘Pie hears that CEO Ray Burton would not entertain such an increase, and to the consternation of staff within cooee of the boss’s office, what started out as negotiations of a civil order degenerated into a loud slanging match, with both blokes reportedly giving each other a free character reading. It is said that the word ‘obstructionist’ was peppered throughout Mr Askern’s  assessment of Mr Burton.

So, in this way, Mr Askern’s considerable personal and professional skills were denied to an increasingly desperate Mayor Mullet.

But finally, Mummy’s little helper turned up in the form of one Andrew Drummond. The irony here is that Mr Drummond – by all reports a competent numbers man – is a former finance officer with – ta da – Les Tyrell’s old Thuringowa Council. The irony is obvious.

Mr Drummond’s pocket money for this nice little earner is rumored to be in the vicinity of $30K for a couple of months work, so he should be able to supply his own pencils. And here’s a slice of ‘Pie’s advice, Mr D:  given The Mullet’s rubbery grasp of maths and finances, make sure the pencils are those with erasers at the other end.

Just while we’re around that bend of the river, here’s a question for young Jennifer:  do you recall your fib to an unquestioning Astonisher during the election campaign that you had ‘taken the council books home one weekend’ and went through them with a couple of accountants? (That had better be one of your well known rhetorical fibs because if you did, it was highly illegal – council ‘books’ outside what is freely available on the web, are not take homeable by anybody, especially not a candidate in a mayoral election.)

But the question is this: since you trumpeted in the vaguest of terms that you and your unnamed weekend chums had found where savings could be made to fund your fabulations about a rates freeze and a water rebate, why do you need someone now to help frame your budget now?  You already know where the savings can be made. Don’t you?

Finally, Michael The Ogre of Ogden Street Wilkins has gone about his merry way, ripping through the Astonisher’s staff ranks, with the news that veteran journo, the long serving and well respected Bruce McDonald has been given the heave-ho. Well, he accepted redundancy as inevitable, but make no mistake, the circumstances were engineered to make leaving a far more desirable prospect than trying to stay on. There goes another chunk of community memory and engagement from the paper, which is increasingly looking more like a day care center than the city’s only daily newspaper.

It should be mentioned that Linda Styles, a cheery (at least when The Magpie was there) and valuable Jill-of-all-trades for the past 12 years, has also been unceremoniously shown the door. (Hope the name is spelt right). Right now, morale is about as low as the paper’s circulation, and hasn’t been improved by a email to all News staff nationwide last Monday.

The message, quite hilarious to an outsider, was from top dog Kim Williams in Sydney.  He told staff that there had been rumors and gossip about redundancies, and that they shouldn’t believe these scurrilous slanders harmph harrumph. That’s a bit rich coming from a man in charge of Australia’s chief purveyor of rumor and gossip, much of scurrilous. Williams said he was completing a ‘restructuring plan’ and that the staff would be the first to know directly from him about the changes. He will tell them maybe in a couple of weeks, he said. So now the poor sods, including many in Ogden Street, have to whistle a happy tune for another two buttock-clenching weeks before they know their fate.

And just to reiterate a comment posted on last week’s blog, some mordant humorist has decided that News Ltd no longer will have an HR (Human Resources) department, it will now be know as PAC (People And Culture, for God’s sake). As previously stated, this bright idea in brutal windowdressing can’t have come from within The Bulletin … otherwise, it would have been PAK: Peeple and Kulture.

Enough now, it is away to Poseurs’ Bar , where The ‘Pie will seek the company of a suitable companion of the female persuasion, with a view to joining the old bird in recapturing some of that youthful exuberance of times past. Indeed, posing for odd pic or two may be involved, but there’ll be no guns to hide behind.     



  1. I pray G.H.U.A, Voltaire was so accurate about "common sense". If there are any typos it's coz I used the same spell(?) spelling checker as does the Bull(shit)in

  2. Disappointing pie. No comment on this weeks'golden handshake for king les's campaign manager and former executive manager of corporate communications Christina Pery in the "restructure". Well if 6 months work on said restructure which has resulted in marketing communications merging with customer service in a new dept "communications and customer relations" god help the mayor as media is now apparently not communication and is not in said above dept but corp governance.

  3. If only TCC could be so lucky with a changing of the post in the CEO's chair. Even luckier if that change included a few directors as well. We can live un hope that contracts arent renewed when the time comes.

  4. I sincerely hope we don't have to endure facebook entries of " sporting role models" posing with their cars, or, heaven forbid, motorbikes, which kill far more people than guns in this country. I just couldn't stand it! Anyway, who said sports stars were role models? They are what they are. Swim a bit faster,kick a bit further,shoot a bit straighter. Did I say shoot? Oops!

  5. PAK must have a similar 'athlete gun' picture hanging in their office. This policy pic is to ensure workers keep working through their lunch breaks with little of no pay.(so a little birdie told me).

    The redundancy in part is for youthful 'social and cultural engineering'. Lucky Townsville.

  6. How sad and disappointing to hear Bruce MacDonald has been PAC-ed off! The Astonisher's Townsville knowledge base is gradually being depleted and the remaining kiddy "journos" who use "brang" in their stories will surely increase. Some paper this city has (not)!

    1. Sad to read about Bruce leaving. As always, well informed and entertaining Pie.

  7. Sad to hear that Bruce Macdonald has been put on the scrap heap by a bloke who has a fraction of Maccas newspaper talent, and virtually no community spirit. I wonder who is now going to organise and run (in his own time) the Kid's Fishing Classic down at Pallarenda. I've taken my kids down there in recent years and it is one of those unheralded events that do a heap of good in the community. I know for a fact that it has been the basis for hundreds of youngsters taking up fishing as a hobby instead of sitting all weekend in front of a computer screen or playing video games. But it obviously doesn't earn any money, so it to will get the chop. A bit like the Townsville Bulletin Garden Competition and the Sportstar of the Year Awards, which were scrapped a few years back. Those events also cost money so they were put in the "too hard" basket by the blow-in from the south.
    And they wonder why circulation and readership is in free fall.

  8. Re Voltaire: the quote you refer to is 'Common sense is not so common', but, given the Bulletin recent election coverage -- aw, bugger it, almost ALL their coverage of anything - perhaps a more apt Voltaire quote would be 'Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices'.

    And thus we have Jenny The Moaning Mullet Hill as our lame duck mayor.
    Welcome to Goofyville.

  9. The Astonisher's mangagement is no different to working in a chinese sweatshop. As a former editorial worker, I was subjected to a daily dose of bullying not only from Mickey mouse, Typo and Til of the hun's hounds.

    We are forced to write untruths which suit the corporations agenda.