Saturday, June 23, 2012

Smack down in Walker Street - will a fed up Ray Burton ask council for a vote confidence on Tuesday.

And News Ltd’s Kim William’s callous water torture – a restructure drip by drip that will make it bye-bye Bully – as we know it. We’ll look at wither the Astonisher – a hot topic stirring up apathy in a disaffected community.

A new name for the Sydney Morning Herald? And for a Victorian town.

And some interesting pics from the animal world showing how Paul Keating got it wrong (what, again?) and an amazing shot of a cuckoo finding an unlikely nest at Dairy Farmers Stadium.

Clever boy Bentley yet again sums up the main yarn with a picture telling a thousand words, all here in the nest at
Might as well start out with a light-hearted observations, cos it gets a bit lugubrious further down.

Wit of the week goes to whoever suggested that if Gina Rinehart gets editorial control of the Sydney Morning Herald, the first thing she’ll do is change its masthead to The Sydney Mining Herald. (Anyone remember when the Womens Weekley -  slogan: a week just isn’t a week without your weekly – decided to come out once a month but still retain the weekly title. That was probably just as well, because they’d never live it down if they changed the slogan to ‘a month just isn’t a month without your monthly’. It was also pointed out that it wouldn’y matter if the magazine became the Womens Monthly,  since was a periodical anyway.)
Larry and Curly hide behind trees to avoid Mo in MoeGeographic Inventiveness goes to the ABC radio newsreader who informed us that an earthquake had hit the Victorian town of ‘Mo’ neglecting to sound the ‘e’ in Moe. The Magpie knows exactly where ‘Mo’ is – it’s just to the south of Larry and just an eye-poke down the road from Curly. 

It’s also nice to hear that the ABC at least has got rid of the affected feminist construction of ‘fishers’ for those who dangle a line, and has returned to the sensible ‘fishermen’. Thus the ABC will avoid the Nine News confusion that reported that ‘Gladstone harbor fishes are furious with the government’.  Unless of course, there was a moody mullet deep in the murky waters, stirring up trouble among the finny denizens. Mullets have a habit of stirring up discontent, don’t they?
Funniest line of the week goes to the bloke in a seriously awful spy action comedy flick called Endgame (don’t waste your time). Said bloke gets his penis shot off by his would-be female victim. As he doubles over in pained surprise, he says ‘Oh, no, not again’.  Well, The ‘Pie thought it was funny.

And here's something you won't see anywhere else - a cuckoo bird amongst a mob of fat cats. Can you spot the cuckoo - we all know Cuddlepie, His Radiance, Messagebank and Bazza The Bagman Taylor (he is said to have successfully gone around with the begging bowl and a pertinent message to local businessmen about the perils of not backing The Mullet in the mayoral race - wonder how he feels now?) But to stretch the metaphor, is that a Kat amongst these Labor pigeons up the back behind Bazza? Politics, strange bedfellows and all that, also funny. 

Speaking of funny, Paul Keating was at his lofty best during the week, describing Tony Wingnut Abbott as an ‘obstructionist capuchin’ – it would never do to just simply say monkey. But the Lizard of Oz has got this one wrong. This capuchin looks a hell of a lot more like Julie 'Death Stare' Bishop than Wingnut, doncha reckon?
Now, the following is to be read with The Magpie’s egotistical slogan in mind viz ‘If what you read here comes to pass, remember you read it here first – and if it doesn’t come to pass, remember that also probably because you read it here first.  Heh, heh, heh.

So with that in mind, read on.
Our own obstructionist capuchin?
Mayor Mullet was at her egostical and deluded best during the week, egged on by the increasingly irrelevant Astonisher. First, when the new council’s first City Update newsletter landed in our mailboxes, there was a simpering ‘From The Mayor’ message from The Mullet. She seems to have been taking lessons in humility from Mike 'Capt Snooze’ Reynolds (I’m the mayor, y’know, very important position, that, and I get a car and a phone an’ lots of free things – why won’t people do what I say? They don’t seem to like me even if I give them an Iced VoVo.)

That aside, Jenny is a PR nightmare, everything is ‘I’ this and ‘I’ that, rather than the more inclusive ‘we’ that at least promotes a false sense of striving to work together. It grates. 

And when she departs from that sort of self-stroking, it is to deliver a patronizing lecture to fellow councillors. In the newsletter, she graces us with this little piece of sophistry: ”I am committed to developing a strong council team to serve the city over the next four years and it’s the obligation of each and every one of us to ensure that we work in the best interests of the community.’ Do tell. The clear implication of that little homily, m’dear,  is that those with ideas about what’s best for the community that differ from yours are disruptive elements who should toe your line, madam - even if the majority of councillors was voted in specifically because they opposed your two cockamamie core promises on water and rates. You do a nice line in genteel (read clod-hopping) insult, madam mayor.

Speaking of cockamamie (Dear Mystfied of Mysterton, it means ridiculous and implausible), an editorial in the Astonisher actually welcomed the news of an unforeseen multi-million dollar deficit in the council finances. Presumably after a long lunch,  Lachlan Heywood (we presume) picked up the editorial quill to suggest the deficit was great news for the paper’s favorite daughter.  This deficit, the paper squeaked, would allow The Mullet to get her ruinous rates and water largesse through council, on the grounds – wait for it, this is true – if we’re gunna have a deficit, let’s have a real big one, ‘cos deficit is deficit, so a bit more won’t matter. All this from the paper's temporary southern Fly In Fly Out senior management the likes of Lachlan Heywood and Michael The Ogre Wilkins. Sooner or later, they’ll be watching the carnage they are promoting in Townsville from a News Ltd bomb shelter down south. (More on that is a sec.)
Ray Burton
But back to The Mullet – last Wednesday, against all decent protocol, she went public with a massive spray at CEO Ray Burton, making the breath-taking inference on ABC radio that he had deliberately deceived her as regards the sudden deficit revelation. (That sounds almost actionable to The ‘Pie – if Mr Burton does too, and decides to do something about it,  then we’ve got an even bigger mess than we have now, and sacking the council may be the only viable option).

Jenny also said she wanted to throw open the CEO position when Mr Burton’s contract is up in December, to see if there’s someone better out there (read Labor sympathetic) than the man who managed to bring a $56 million deficit down to a manageable $5 million or so. He was a key figure in deflecting a straight-out threat to sack the council and put in an administrator if the deficit wasn’t reduced.  (And the wailing Greek chorus out there would really love an administrator, a person interested primarily in numbers and not services or rate rates, so as to speak. And doesn't have to worry about re-election, either.

One gets the increasing impression that Jenny Hill can't see a belt without hitting below it. 

Some see an attack in the media on a public servant as cowardly, because of the limited ability of the target to reply. 

But in yet another Mullet misjudgement, she’s picked the wrong bloke, a man rated one of the best council CEOs in Australia. 

He not only issued a statement outlining his successful efforts over the past four years, (read the full statement here) but The Magpie is very reliably told (remember, you read it here first) that Ray is so fed up with The Mullet’s ignorance and rudeness, he will seek a vote of confidence from the council this Tuesday, June 26. Which he is likely to get. 

And it seems if things remain as they are now that any move by The Mayor Mullet to put the position up for grabs in the hope of getting someone she can manipulate will also not get up, either.

Deputy Doo Dah Vern Veitch was so fired up with the attack that he told a Magpie mate that it would be ‘bloody silly’ to get rid of a CEO who took us from the Mooney-inherited financial basket case to the position of being named the best managed financial council in the state after Brisbane. He said he'd be giving his vote in favour of the CEO, which prompted Bentley to see the situation in terms of Wrestlemania.
All in all, The ‘Pie is reminded that when the Chinese say ‘May you live in interesting times’, they mean it not as a blessing but as a curse.

That applies in spades to the upheaval in the media this week, and Townsville will be anything but immune. But before we get to that – and this is relvant – some of us can remember back when our mothers would use the far-from-idle threat to us wrong doers ‘Just you wait until your father gets home’. The rest of the day was completely shot, as you wandered around in a funk of anxiety, desperately trying to think up fruitless excuses for your sins. Sort of exactly the same feeling as you sat waiting outside the headmasters office, knowing full well you were in for six of the best (ah, those were the days).

Well, News Ltd CEO Kim Williams is the company’s mother and headmaster, making the somewhat callous announcement this week that while he was planning a you-beaut, shiny new company structure, a whole load of you faithful servants won’t be enjoying it with us – you’ll be sacked. Thing is, he deliberately didn’t say who or when – or even a vague why.  Just lots of weasel words about forward looking guff.  

To the ‘Pie, this is corporate callousness at its most brutal, but perhaps it would be silly to expect anything else from News Ltd. But surely the plan could have been worked out in detail before any announcement, so people had a definite idea of their future?  The way it’s been done now leaves the entire Australia-wide News Ltd staff feeling like they are hanging on to a tiled wall with their fingernails.

Nice one, Kim, you have obviously slotted into the News Ltd culture very smoothly.

Here in the ‘Ville,  The Astonisher is in for it big time. At least staff-wise in the editorial ranks, but probably not in the sales ranks. Although you wouldn’t put it past them to demand that prospective advertisers fit a do-it-yourself model, being required to approach the only paper in town instead of the other way around, and presenting a cheque with completed advertisement.

There was an unwittingly truthful outline of the way things are at The Bulletin revealed on the Crikey website. Crikey said it was told by a Bulletin insider that the paper would go the thrice-weekly and just be digital on the other days. When Crikey made inquiries about this to Ogden Street, the site reports ‘
A spokeswoman for the Townsville Bulletin said rumours of the shift were not true. "We categorically deny it," she told Crikey, although when pressed she did add the paper would not switch to thrice-weekly "as far as we know".

And as far as you know means you know nothing – especially if it was Attila The Hen to whom Crikey spoke, or even Peeple and Kulture (PAK - as HR is now known) gofer Debbie De Kroo, who would be, at this stage, even deeper in the dark. Watch out Deb, they might not need your department much longer, not in Townsville anyway, not that would fuss a FIFO like you.

But The Magpie agrees with the unnamed spokeswoman, it won’t go thrice weekly … probably, within a short time, a couple of years maybe, it will be a single edition just once week.

The ‘Pie reckons it’s possible that for this regional paper – other similar ones in the News Ltd stable too – will be designed after the pioneering move by the world-renowned American paper The Christian Science Monitor. A year or so ago, the CSM went entirely digital, except for a single Saturday edition which was also printed in hard copy.

This model for the Astonisher would make sense - not for the community for certainly for the bean counters. 

The paper would be reduced to bureau status, manned by five or six reporters, who would send their stories south to be subbed and slotted into the digital site and laid out in Brisbane for the Saturday print run. The end product is sent back electronically and printed here.  Thus – this really is neat – The Bulletin sheds those pesky damned employees, and while making those massive savings, they don’t miss out on gouging all that lovely lolly they make from the property and cars edition on Saturday. The freebie Sun, which it has been suggested is lately making more dough than the Bulletin, will probably still be flung about the place mid-week. By the by, departing Sun editor Bruce McDonald has been replaced by the excellent sub and section editor Di Kennedy.

Here’s a thought. 

Keep an eye on the papers in Mackay and Rocky, they have no plans of massive disruption to suit metropolitan whims and tastes. Bet they’ll still be going strong long after The Bulletin has disappeared into the digital ether. One can’t help wondering how it would be now if about 20 years ago, a treacherous executive hadn’t taken the Murdoch shilling and slyly engineered the sell out. How would things be if the Bully was still in the hands of local shareholders and the profits and the jobs by and large staying in the town – it would surely be a paper held in community respect and affection, like papers in other (non-Murdoch) towns. 

Enough now, it is away to Poseurs' Bar, where the old bird will as usual be-bubble a suitable companion. The 'Pie will be hoping for a better outcome than last week, on which occasion, after a glass or three, he ventured what he thought a clever line to his companion viz ‘How do you like your eggs in the morning heh-heh-heh?’ Said companion suddenly gulped down her drink, arose, gave the old bird a peck on the cheek and whispered sweetly ’unfertilised’, before disappearing into the night. (Sigh).



  1. Why don't they use Tuesday as an opportunity to cast a vote of no confidence in the Mullet and get the moaner out.

  2. Message for Magpie: not to be computer illiterate, but I would put my name to it but don't understand your Comments options. I have no idea what a URL is.
    By the way, I am sure you know she has promised Mooney the CEO role, and Ray has had a gotful and will probably go anyway. Wouldn't it be great if they voted in Dale Last instead!

  3. Even after Wallace and his cronies were flogged and the people of Townsville threw out the majority of Labor Council candidates, the Bulletin continues with it's relentless anti-LNP editorial campaign.

    It is extremely difficult to have a letter accepted if it is critical of Labor.

    The feds are shitting themselves about Gina and Fairfax printing the facts about issues and yet we cop the bias of the Bully daily.

    Is it possible to find enough backers to print a viable Townsville newspaper (together with web access) with advertising income and a staff of journalists who truly inform our residents?


  4. How did we make social apathy such an easy option?

  5. Re posting comment names. After composing comment and trying to get the speling roight, just go to the drop down menu next to 'comment as' , go to URL and type in your real or pretend name (anonymous is soooo boring), click continue and then follow the next prompt. On the other matters mentioned in that comment, The 'Pie is positive Mooney is a non-starter - if for no other reason that Jenny and Tony can't stand each other ... in fact, she'd be better off with Ray - His Radiance would out-gun her any day, as he always did.

  6. Nice obituary from the of confidence or not!

  7. My bet is that the Astonisher becomes a wrap around a shell of a newspaper produced in Brisbane and containing international and state news, the stock markets, racing guides etc. The first couple of pages would be local news, produced by a skeleton staff of, say, 4 local journos, and the back couple of pages would cover local sport and the obligatory births, deaths and marriages. So all of you loyal Bully employees who think you are going to be safe from the manpower cull should think again.
    And as for Bazza and his band of mates in that photo, did anyone else notice that they were mostly has-beens, failures or crooks - including cut snake Katter.

    1. Oh yes, indeedy - but didn't most of them make the "most influential" list a few days ago? Or rather, "the list of the arses we feel that it is in our best interests to kiss".

      What unmitigated load of pretentious, self important, pompous crap that is - and the same could be said for the occupants of that box.

  8. I like the sound of The Sydney Mineral Herald!

    Debbie 'Karoo' is Atil's god fearing goffer. Boring piece by Atil this week, she must have fired too many reporters this week.

  9. Last newspaper I worked on was training reporters to put their stories into the page and write headlines on top. Now if The Astonisher can only get the Mumbai bureau to start churning out 'colour' columns about motherhood, mining and meditating on one's navel...