Saturday, August 18, 2012

Like Robinson Crusoe coming across Friday’s footprint, The Magpie is delighted to learn he is not alone – there is another public voice raised against the unethical and downright dishonest behavior of the Daily Astonisher.

The Townsville Bulletin is lurching from ignominy to irrelevance at an ever-increasing pace – and has the plummeting readership and circulation numbers to prove it – but they steadfastly adhere to their unwritten slogan paraphrasing Dame Nellie Melba ‘ write ‘em muck, that’s all they understand’.  Proof follows.

In other matters, have we inadvertently discovered the real cause of violence on Via Vomitorium aka Flinders Street East? No, not booze, or drugs or the low IQ booze hounds (and houndettes) of our fair city, the answer is – well, you’ll never guess – so against your better instincts, you may have to read on.

And it’s time to stop Jumbo bashing – yep, Ewen Jones MP shows his humanitarian side.

And cartoonist Bentley believes there are some refugees just too-too, or at least tu-tu, eager to get to Townsville around about now, and take up Jumbo Jones' multi-cultural week exhortation to come and stay with us.

It’s all here at

First the good news in this Culture Festival week. The Magpie lauds Ewen Jumbo Jones call for Townsvilleans to take a refugee into their homes and give them a flying start in their new country.  This is good humane policy and Jumbo is to be commended for his magnanimous gesture on our behalf. Ewen, The Magpie has – some say – been unkind to you in recent columns, so it is only fair that when you get something right and show your true nature, that you are suitably praised. So be it, and to emphasise this branch of peace, The ‘Pie promises to do a full column devoted to you, your family and whoever the lucky one(s) is/are that you take in as an outstanding example of being a man of action, not just words. 

The ‘Pie is confident this will come to pass, because you certainly wouldn’t be asking anyone else to do something that you wouldn’t undertake yourself (unless, of course, it's child caring).

And how ideal is your position - well remunerated - a spacious house, why you could probably squeeze in two or three genuine refugees (unless you want to first get in some practice on some of Townsville's many homeless Australian citizens).

Best make the newcomers Muslims, Ewen, it could instructive for your women folk, because these boarders would graciously, without any coaxing from you, embark on enlightening your missus and daughters about their real place in the world. Of course, you’d have lay off the pork sausages of which you are so obviously fond, but we will all be making the sacrifices you ask of us and which you will be so amply demonstrating in your own domestic arrangements. 

Good on you, mate, The ‘Pie is now regretting those cheap cracks that your heart is in the right place, it’s just your brain we’re worried about. Humble apologies.

Resident doodler Bentley reckons this is exactly the time for some of our ‘unauthorised boat arrivals’ to seek out you and your generous offer. They will perhaps be in disguise, in order to hasten their claim for your hospitality.

To other more prosaic matters.

That throbbing little organ of public discourse over on Maggie Island, The (on-line) Magnetic Times, has been known on occasions to punch well above its weight, getting in ahead of The Astonisher and local television on several stories over the years, most notably being well ahead of everybody regarding Julian Assange.

Magnetic Times owners George Hirst and Penelope Sheridan
with their Telstra Website award.
Sadly, Editor George Hirst wouldn’t seem to have much of a future in modern journalism – he appears able to spell, his grammar is generally top notch, he cares about accuracy, his reporting by all reports is measured and balanced and he can deliver a thoughtful insight in his editorial style, unlike the trite daily offerings of another certain publication.

Now much of the Maggie Times is, by necessity, parish pump for the locals, it could hardly be anything else, but George can rise to the occasion when a broader issue ties in with the island. And on the issue of Julian Assange, which the island claims as a native son, George helped rally Assange supporters for a public show of backing for the embattled WikiLeaks founder.

But whatever you do, do NOT cross George, unless you’re ready for an eloquent comeuppance. And boy, did he take a big stick to The Bulletin and reporter Daniel Bateman, a reporter who apparently follows the News Ltd credo that ethics is a county in England.

In summary, Bateman rang George about the rally, and asked about the alleged proposal to erect a statue of Assange on the island. In no uncertain terms, George scotched that idea, which seems originated from a bit of local yuk-yukkery and leg-pulling over the fifth G&T. But Bateman, his leg stretched several centimeters, decided to run with the statue angle as fact, and despite an immediate call from George when the story was published, no correction, clarification or even acknowledgment appeared in the tabloid’s crimson pages.

Not a smart idea unless you want a stinging professional rebuke from our island man. He didn’t hold back, so it’s well worth an instructive read, click here.

While we’re loitering around Mendacity Manor down in Ogden Street, The ‘Pie received an indignant email from a peeved reader, who had a very justified foot stamp at a bit of selective reporting. If you missed it, the email said” I’m amazed that The Astonisher would report (this asbestos threat story), but would not report their own asbestos scare in their building.’ Indeed, as commented on late last year, this saga joined the growing file of ‘All the news that’s fit to print, but isn’t’, and joins the in-house transgressions like not reporting the paper’s mass sackings while lecturing other organisations on their perceived social responsibilities and indiscretions in that arena. 

In fact, the only glancing mention of a shower of white dust that descended on hapless journos in the newsroom in late October last year was in  one of Mary Vernon’s final columns.

The management reply to concerns about the situation was that staff  - ‘if they wished’ - could get a check up at the company’s expense. A professional clean up and removal of suspect materials then followed. Now if this had been any other organization, The Astonisher would have been braying to the heavens in one of its occasional fits of sanctimony - but since it was about themselves, there was not a dicky bird.

In light of that more than cavalier approach to their staff’s workplace health and safety, The ‘Pie asks if this is another News Ltd cover-up, because you can bet the company knows well the timelines. The ‘Pie quotes the following from

What are symptoms and signs of asbestosis?
The clinical symptoms usually include slowly progressing shortness of breath and cough, often 20 to 40 years after exposure to asbestos. Breathlessness advances throughout the disease, even without further asbestos inhalation..

So 20 to 40 years down the track, any possible damages claim will be a tall order, with the company hoping the matter may be well dead and buried by then – perhaps along with a few of their unfortunate staff – possibly including The ‘Pie (‘YAY, bring it on - you beaut’ rings the cry along Ogden Street.) . But on the brighter side – sort of – maybe News Ltd will also be dead and buried by then. But that still won’t help any poor sod whose been infected.

On other matters, The ‘Pie, with his usual uncanny insight induced by a couple of glasses of White Infuriator, reckons he’s found a way to cut down on violence in the clubs and pubs down along Via Vomitorium aka Flinders St East.

The ‘Pie’s cunning plan was prompted by the news this week that the latest potentially deadly craze among kids who can’t get hold of paint to sniff is – would you believe? – sniffing deodorants.  Putting aside the bleedin’ obvious – that’s what deodorants are for, sniffing – apparently you can get a brain-damaging high if sniffing Mum’s roll-on in concentrated form.

As one ambo officer put it: ‘Because this type of substance abuse affects their brain and therefore their behaviour with the drugs leading to hyperactive behaviour, these kids - while under the influence - can be dangerous.’

And there it is.

It’s not the booze, it’s not the competing come-hither machinations of what were known in The Magpie’s youth as … err … ‘prick teasers’, it is not even getting high on a hooter full of illicit Peruvian Marching Powder. No, it is the air filled with the scent of Eau Du Armpit. Smother on the Lynx and you’re cruisin’ for a brusin’, slather on the Old Spice and your likely to get a belting out the back of Bullwinkles (well, that’s likely anyway), because, as the man said, it affects the brain. Visit the loo and freshen up with Speed Stick or Dove Power Roll On and those mad cows in The Mad Cow will attack like harpies.

So the answer is simple - ban deodorants for the strip’s clubbers, a sort of compulsory olfactory come-as-you-are regulation.

‘Sorry, mate, you smell like a trouble-maker, can’t let you in. And I’d clear out, if I were you, the Sniff Squad’s coming around tonight.’ Venues could start putting up signs near the door ‘C’mon in, we stink’. Err, actually, most could do that now anyway. Bully’s could become Smelly’s, and across the street, we could have The Mad Cow Pat. Flynn’s could morph into Fetid’s, even The ‘Pie’s den-of-choice, Poseurs’ could become Putrids- some nights, it’s halfway there anyway

This all puts the old bird in mind of funny gal Rita Rudner’s discovery of a foolproof female perfume guaranteed to attract the guys in swarms … it’s called New Car Interior. Or another great line of her 'I used to do ballet, but I injured a groin muscle - it wasn't mine'.

Enough now, as you can tell, The ‘Pie hasn’t much to talk about this time around, so it’s off to Poseur’s Bar, where he hopes to to bebubble a comely companion, trusting that she won’t smell a rat in the old bird’s invitation for a nightcap at home. The ‘Pie also trusts that if she quickly accepts the offer that he won’t detect something fishy in the air.    



    This will look astonishingly familiar for some of your readers. This might include you Pie. You might recognise this sign. Oh, the dreaded word.

  2. They did not notify any of the former staff about the removal of Asbestos either.

  3. Would Ewen accept illegal refugees into his home and let them live with his children for extra money? Would Juliar Gillard?

    Why would you let any single illegal man without a passport into your home? Hello Greenies?????

    How do you kick them out when they're found out to be economic bogan refugees and over 16 years old?

    Australia, your taxes Your County.

  4. Clever cartoon Pie. or

    The good times roll for our illegal Sri Lanka seekers. Looks safe to me over there.

    As for our working families in the Astonisher? Sorry for your future illness.

  5. Say that again? Mr Hirst pontificates about the sanctity of diplomatic immunity. Yet at the same time he lauds Assange for exposing communications between diplomats that were, by definition, also immune? Aside from the fact that he recklessly endangered the lives of soldiers in the field?

    The hypocrisy is breathtaking. Fair and balanced? Thinking not....

    Assange may be the darling of the Loony Left and the adopted son of the Maggie Island Crackpots Cooperative. However, to the more thoughtful world, he is a dangerously troubled boy with significant personality disorders. He may well be a rapist as well - Georgie, me lad, have you bothered to read the accounts of his alleged victims? Or is that just another US/GB conspiracy as well? Would it make a difference if one of them was your daughter?

  6. Last days for the Sub Editors in Townsville. Brisssy can get their dirty little hands on it now.

    Fun and gay pictures have been published on facebook of the night. Mr Vernon, you're one of the good ones. Another bites the dust and I wish you well in the future. Try music mate.

  7. We also have to ask, why did it take so long for the asbestos to be removed? Why did the safety officer ignore queries by saying it checks the air every year when they've been major cyclones within the area? Shrek must have known and former GM Jason would have known? Atil would have known and so would Typo and Webber.

  8. Sad that new mummy's like Megs, Penni, Niki etc might have been exposed by a particle or two while working in there.

  9. Whoa, Grumpy, go easy on the pink lemonade.

    The 'Pie butts in simply to cut off at the pass any implied suggestion that giving Mr Hirst his day in the Magpie's modest sun was any endorsement of his stance on Assange. The 'Pie is happy to agree that Mr Hirst's assessment is thoughtful and reasonably argued - as is yours. But it should be obvious that in this case, The 'Pie's purpose was somewhat more prosaic, that is, amplifying Mr Hirst's quite understandable and believable beef about the Bulletin's behaviour in reporting the matter under question.

  10. The magnetic times is a small community info rag that is spoiled by the egotistical moralising of george hirst. It is the mouth piece for a gaggle of like minded individuals that rubbish any Maggie initiative that they themselves cannot pretend is their own. But...the piece on Assange was interesting now you've pointed it out.

  11. Wow, Ville's mayor has hit the big time on Sunrise.

  12. I've heard a rumor in email that another wave of retrenchments within news ltd will hit again soon. Eastern side, shooters and scribes.???

  13. News Ltd will finally become socialist/communist due to staff cuts and Australia's individual choice in reporting will be drastically reduced. The doors will only be open to a few and the masses have to try to believe the reports...

    Murdoch's old empire will fall eventually as it's journalism is reduced to five press releases a day.

  14. I've heard a rumor in email that another wave of retrenchments within news ltd will hit again soon. Eastern side, shooters and scribes.???

  15. Yes, Outraged, it has already happened.
    And how does The 'Pie know this? In yesterday's Astonisher story about the proposed Telstra call centre firings, buried way down towards the end of the yarn was this briefest of statements:
    'The Telstra restructure comes on the same day as the Townsville Bulletin announced its classifieds call centre would migrate to Brisbane in October.
    As part of the change, 17 positions will be affected, although staff have the opportunity to be redeployed in Brisbane or other areas of the business.'
    The way it is written makes it easy to miss ... no screaming headlines 'Local paper axes another 17 jobs' or mention that it brings to more than 60 sacking from the paper in the past two years. Cretinous behaviour that is nothing short of treachery towards a community out of which the Bulletin gouges up to $25million profit every year.

  16. I suspect thatTownsville was paying for the wages and superanuation in Sydney office. etc.

    Less journo's and photographers means less choice for readers that means less democracy.

    There's too many corporate heads in the joint thinking that they're important and they 'aint' without the ground staff they have nothing. P.s. They pay ground staff very little as compared to Human Resource etc.

    I agree, if safety officer declared that they did air quality checks once a year, what about the wild weather that they have over the years? The sign on the roof clearly says danger.. If any contract the disease then I'd say it's murder in the making due to negligence.. in my opinion.

  17. I hear it's not only the Astonisher. It's all across the east coast. A redundancy program is also underway at News Limited, including up to 45 photographers across the company and 20 staff from The Australian.

  18. Has anyone noticed the Astonisher's video section has been replaced by News Ltd's Advertising on the right hand side of the screen? Pure padding and seinfeld advertising. ho hum


    Courier mail subs are slowly introducing more stories which are not local or just fillers in the Aston.