Saturday, November 10, 2012

Jumbo’s jumbled agenda – yes, the Jones boy is at it again – Typo gets a touch-up from Media Watch – the gush-o-meter goes off the dial for the royal circus – and the final frontier: voting in America is only for the brave – and persistent.

Jumbo Jones has again lumbered inappropriately into a policy thicket where he has no place being … but wait, there’s more, as the steak knives man used to say – the Member for Herbert has penned a letter to a constituent in which allows his tortured mind processes to somehow link live sheep exports with Muslims extremists beheading hostages.

And the numbers game: for one Townsville family, their numbers came up, for the Townsville Bulletin – alas – their numbers went down. Again.

All here in this week’s bag of illicit booty in the nest at


Viagra have come out with a new pill to help promote the new James Bond movie Skyfall. They call it Viagra 007. Apparently it doesn't make you last longer but instead makes you Roger Moore.
And on a less coital note, a quote The Magpie reckons is the Quote of the Year, from one of his correspondents named Grumpy. (This is just in case you missed it in the comments on last week’s blog.) Grumpy is not impressed with tweeting.

Quoth he, ’If the eyes are the window of the soul, then Twitter must be the open roller door to the intellect – you can easily count how many empty bays there are in the shed.’

Another quote that caught The Magpie’s eye was in Hugo’s Weekly and was one for the ages from Albert Einstein.

"If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got."

Which swings us right back to the local scene. Sort of from Skyfall to pratfall.

You can’t beat Dumbo Jumbo Jones for a laugh when he gets up to his addled pranks and penchant for off-colour jokes in what passes for polite company in this neck of the woods. But it seems he’s expanding his horizons, and wants to be seen as serious.

Well, Jumbo, you’ve achieved that – your most recent efforts have elevated you to a serious problem. Perhaps that should be seriously silly.

If Ewen was the right man at the right time when he was elected, he has again proved to be the wrong man in the wrong place in his latest quest to be all things to all people.

Take the stoush about the proposed Pinnacles satellite city out Thuringowa way. In a nutshell, a big Sydney developer wants to build a northern version of the stalled Rocky Springs super-suburb, but can’t because the land is outside the allowable council boundary for such a development. A group of locals want the council rules changed to allow the project to go ahead; they cite the developer’s promise to spend mega-millions of dollars worth of sorely needed roads and bridges for the area, money that the council couldn’t and wouldn’t provide. Those seeking such an enticing outcome (you believe developer’s promises, don’t you, kiddies?) has so far failed to mention that the development would likely see land prices skyrocket and there would be many a financial killing to be made with land sales, smaller housing projects and unit developments in the area. And nothing wrong with that, on the face of it.

The other side of the coin - one that the council and Local Government Minister Kid Crisafulli have adhered to staunchly over the years - argues that if and when the promised infrastructure is in place, the cost to the council for on-going maintenance could not be covered just by those benefitting directly, but would have to be underwritten by all Townsville ratepayers. Needless to say, if this is correct. ratepayers across the city aren’t too keen on such an unfairly narrow outcome.

But the proponents have pressed on, and held a meeting to see if they could pressure the council to change the boundaries. Appropriately, Mayor Mullet sashayed along but wisely said she couldn’t make any comment at the time. Les Messagebank Walker  - he’s from distant Wulguru – apparently told the meeting they had his backing. No doubt the ratepayers in his division will thank him for that.

But then who waddles in but the Federal Member for Herbert, desperately seeking love. So when an almost unanimous sea of hands went up to approve a motion that a resolution be put to the council, he couldn’t help himself, volunteering that such a resolution could be handled through his office.

Eh? Err, couple of questions, mate. That’s a federally-funded office of which you speak, and this is wholly a local government matter – possibly going to state level if push comes to shove but no further. What the hell are you doing there, there is no way this is a federal matter?  And don’t you dare come on with some flapdoodle that this development would benefit the military, and is therefore in the federal sphere – any such suggestion from you would pong more than Via Vomitorium at 5am on a Saturday.

But a more interesting question is: why take sides in an issue which is, or may be, opposed by a greater number of people who voted for you (ie, Townsville ratepayers) than a highly self-interested group of a couple of hundred? You were elected to represent ALL of us, and not stick your beak (yet again) into local government matters where you have no influence and no right. But then again, The ‘Pie supposes you’ve nothing to lose. Oh, except votes, that is.

The second matter involving the member for Herbert is a bemusing letter he wrote to a Greenie=type constituent John Nutting, who had called for action against the company which exported the sheep that ended up in a pit in Pakistan, and asked that his member to vote to end live animal exports from Australia.

Mr Jones disagreed with criticism directed at the exporter, but his initial opposing – and reasonable - point of view seemed to suddenly spin out of control into a bizarre off-message conclusion.

Here is the reply to Mr Nutting from the man one unkind reader calls ‘Spewin’ Jones’.


Thank you for your email.

I watched the 4 Corners programme on Monday night and I saw a different side to the argument.

What I saw was the exporter doing the right thing. You certainly do not want sheep on the boat for an extended time. They were well cared for on the journey and were healthy when they got there.

What I saw was a bureaucratic bungle, not a live export bungle. As a country, we export over 4 million animals every year. This does not excuse what happened here, but it gives it some context.

I appreciate your point of view, but can I offer a story in reply. A constituent sent me a video of the Taliban beheading a number of people. I don't know how many, as I did not watch it. The constituent wanted all Afghan refugees expelled from the country as any race which could do that to anyone did not deserve to be in this country. I disagree with them on that as well. I do not believe that the vast, huge majority of people should be punished for what a very small minority has done - no matter how horrific.


Ewen Jones
M e m b e r  f o r  H e r b e r t

Two valid points for debate, but linking them? 

Other matters.

The travelling royal roadshow is mercifully chuntering off to patronize some other unsuspecting citizens elsewhere in the world, but not before providing a few unintended guffaws. The royal couple may be a pointless anachronism but they themselves behaved with impeccable dignity, forebearance and even some – ‘haw, haw, jolly good, that’ – humour.

It was that media gush-o-meter that bemused The ‘Pie, along with the po-faced official instructions to the local vassals and serfs. Much was made of a printed Miss Manners-style instruction sheet circulated around Longreach before the royal couple arrived. One gem was when to speak only when spoken to, and in the case of The Duchess, the first reference is Your Highness and thereafter ‘maam’ which the circular helpfully instructed ‘maam rhymes with jam’. At least one ABC bod was mightily miffed at The ‘Pie’s suggestion that Aussies should insist on our egalitarian tradition and call her Camilla - ‘rhymes with gorilla’.

The Headless Chook Award goes to ABC Radio’s weird overkill coverage of a two hour visit to Longreach, - and literally hours of lead-up guff - where the crossing between the million or so reporters they had there for the most part managed to be too early or too late. (Female reporter to child: ‘What can you see? Child: ‘Just cops.’) But the prize bit of reporting was the breathless intelligence that ‘it has been reported that at this afternoon’s barbecue, the Prince may remove his coat! And although it hasn’t been confirmed, it is rumored that he may actually roll up his sleeves’.  They sure teach ‘em tough down at Timbertop.

And no, The ‘Pie did not make up that piece of priceless reporting.

However, the most pause-giving moment came at the Melbourne Cup coverage, when Bruce McAvaney announced out of the blue that ‘The Prince and Camilla are now entering the mounting yard’.

Goll-ee, now that’s really is pre-race entertainment, thought The ‘Pie, his fevered mind wandering back to 1992 and the secretly recorded Camillagate tapes. But, bugger it, all they did was look at some horses.

In America, that two horse race has been run and won, with Bazza Obama sentenced to another four years in the White House. Bentley thinks it might have been a good one to lose.

Now we are treated to the spectacle of the Republicans and Rupert’s far right Fox News gnawing at their own political entrails, with one of the most vicious blame games since Donald Trump had words with his hairdresser.
Heath Robinson's potato peeler.
Seems he may have designed the US voting system.

But it’s a wonder there was a result so swiftly, given the confusing and disparate voting regulations, which vary from state to state and even district to district and town to town. It is a situation which would’ve inspired pommy cartoonist and designer Heath Robinson, who came up with impossibly complicated machines for simple purposes.

There are many fascinating and bewildering aspects to voting in the United States.

First of all, why always a Tuesday? This falls in to the category of those foolish and outmoded ideas, the folly of which won’t be changed because the passing of years gives it an aura of acceptability (a bit like The Saint graffiti on Castle Hill). It was in 1845 that Tuesday was selected as voting day, when America was largely a rurally based society. Farmers needed a whole day to travel to town and home again to vote. The weekend was set aside for worship and Wednesday was market day, so Tuesday was chosen.

Then there’s the question of who is in charge of voting. Unlike Oz, hundreds of local authorities in counties and states throughout the land control polling, in part because you’re not just voting for a president, senator and representative, but also the local sheriff, dog-catcher, librarian, police chief and just about any other elected official in the neighborhood. There is no single over-arching regulatory body like our electoral commission, which the Americans would see as signs of a socialist bogeyman.

Then there’s the method of voting, which follows a democratic policy of whatever suits a particular place … pencil an X on a paper ballot, touch a computer screen or punch holes in a pre-printed ballot full of choices before everything is handed over to whoever has been chosen to count the bloody things.

So what happens in New York (named for the then Duke of York and Albany in 1664) and in Twin Forks, Wyoming (named in 1833 by an early Irish pioneer who got lucky with identical sisters in Lil’s Saloon one night) is a very different process.

Indeed, it is a fascinating situation which is entertainingly reported by gal-about-the-globe Annabel Crabb in this article in The Age.

Back to the local scene,  great numbers for one Townsville family this week – more than 27 million good numbers – but the same can’t be said for The Daily Astonisher aka the Townsville Bulletin. The latest Roy Morgan readership figures out yesterday show a catastrophic drop in numbers for the flagship Saturday edition – the Saturday Bully in the last year has nose-dived from 102,000 weekly readers in 2011 to 86,000 in September this year, a hanky-wringing drop of around 14%. Monday to Friday average readership also continues a snowballing slide, down from an average of 71,000 readers in September 2011 to 64,000 in September this year. 

Don’t these numbers – which are well beyond what can be expected because of the changing media landscape – tell those in the Ogden Street bunker that they have got something dreadfully wrong? After all, these numbers going down while the population is steadily and rapidly going up is a dead giveaway. They could start by looking at the skewed stuff that Anthony Simpleton regales us with regularly, like today’s totally dishonest and twisted story about council credit cards. Absurd, intelligence-insulting twaddle which continues to influence public opinion – against the paper.

And a couple of notes on media ghosts from the past. Down on the Coast, Typo Gleeson got a nice little touch-up on the ABC’s Media Watch program, for allowing his star motoring writer Brett 'Crusher' Murray to use his column and motorsport features to operate his own print version of Cash for Comment, naming and plugging only those V8 racing teams which have signed up to his private PR company. There was the usual weak-kneed and evasive reply from Typo, which he won’t be able to get away with when he faces court shortly over a few atypical Typo front page headlines during the recent mayoral campaign. The term 'love rat' apparently featured prominently. Charming.

Yes, yes, The ‘Pie knows he does go on about Typo, so he has now decided that his attitude to Peter Gleeson will be that of Mark Twain to Cecil Rhodes – Twain was asked what Rhodes was like, to which he replied ‘ I admire him, I frankly confess it; and when his time comes, I shall buy a piece of the rope for a keepsake’.
Mick Carroll bags a plum job.

On a happier News Ltd note, sincere congratulations to Mick Carroll, former Daily Astonisher editor who was the last editor responsible for keeping the paper’s readership and circulation steady – it even went up a bit a few times. Mick has been appointed editor of the Sunday Telegraph, Australia’s largest circulation newspaper (million plus circ) after four years as deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph. Mick, whose shambling and cheery presence at The Bulletin belied a sharp eye for populist connection with the community, is tailor-made for the Sunday Tele. More power to him – hey, Mick, maybe you’d like The ‘Pie to return as your restaurant reviewer, an onerous task the old bird did for a couple of years on the Sunday Tele in the late 80s? No? oh, well ….

Enough now, it is away to Poseurs’ Bar, perchance to have more luck than Mongrel the Barrister last week - he sadly relates that just when thought he was closing in on some close companionship, our aging and rotund roue suggested he'd died happy if he could her naked. She declined, because she suggested that if she saw him naked, she'd die laughing.




  1. Astonished Bully readerNovember 10, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    Mick Carroll was a bloody good editor. I believe the Saturday circulation when he was in charge was around 118,000. It seems that the News Ltd brains trust in Brisbane has decided that circulation doesn't matter any more. Cut the experienced journos, keep the young flim-flans, and concentrate on making money rather than publishing a decent newspaper.
    But the advertising rates continue to go up, while the circulation plummets. One wonders when the big advertisers are going to wake up that their money would be better spent on tv, or even radio.
    One also wonders how long it will be before a new local newspaper hits the streets. It is long overdue.

    1. Readership and circulation are two very different creatures.

      Circulation is how many papers are 'sold' - which is open to all sorts of rorting, like thousands of copies at cut price deals at the V8s and other major events, despite close checking by legal audits. Of course, those audits are influenced by jiggery-pokery figures, most supplied by the publishers.

      Readership is independent professional research (the Roy Morgan organisation) on how many people read each single paper - someone looks at houses, another sport, others fashion - or what passes for it around here - some even look at the news for a laugh, and so on. (Crosswords and photographs of drunks on Flinders Street East are biggies.)

      So simple maths links readership to circulation, as dodgy as that it is across all publishing organistations, but particularly News Ltd (locally known as North Queensland Newspapers).

      These wobbly numbers are directly commensurate to advertising rates.

      Times have changed, and someone isn't keeping up.

      A new paper hitting the streets? Doubt that - why would it? - but what News Ltd doesn't get is that a cyber paper with some money- and strong credibility behind it - is in the offing. Such an occurence won't kill The Bulletin, but the Bulletin's arrogance of monopoly and belief that they are still the sole gatkeeper of fair and balanced information is going down the tubes at a rate of knots. All you get on their website is the nonsense they publish on paper, a wrong-headed mindset that isn't keeping up with the times. Or the new challenges.

      But they still don't get it in Ogden Street. Or Holt Street.

  2. Should I be worried? - I can actually see the point of Ewen’s letter: if one group of Afghanis cuts off people’s heads without (one assumes) appropriate anaesthetic, should our Government condemn the entire nation of Afghanis? / if one group of sheep recipients culls the flock (in effect: cutting off their heads) without appropriate anaesthetic, should our Government condemn the entire industry? Most reasonable people would answer ‘no’ to the first question, so therefore the answer to the second question must also be ‘no’!

    Methinks you might be being a little mean this time, Magpie ... and (shudder) we get enough of that from the Bulletin!

    1. The analogy only works if you want it to. It's saying that animal cruelty is ok because there's someone else in the world that is even more barbaric than what was done to the sheep.

      And what would be the "appropriate anaestheitic" for a beheading?

  3. Conan the GrammarianNovember 10, 2012 at 7:40 PM

    I'm so glad you explained the origin of Twin Forks. Now what's the story of Twin Peaks?

  4. The Bulletin....It's going from bad to worse! When are they going to wake up to the young cubby reporters producing such unmitigated drivel day after day,that insults our intelligence? Take Friday's front page headline about "a proposed new walking track on Castle Hill..... hardly earth shattering news. Anyone south or west of the lakes couldn't give a rat's! But what is put atop Templeton's name???? in red and caps EXCLUSIVE!!! I suppose the cubby reporter was concerned that the Brisbane Courier Mail or Sydney's Daily Telegraph were going to pinch his big scoop??? It's infantile stuff like front page and editorial emotional grunge "the mayor's beloved HSV car and Our beloved Crocodiles" purely an inducement to throw up !

    1. Shows the illusion and the Bull's agenda.

  5. I call it the Bullsheet

  6. 1. I went to the forum because I was invited. They are all constituents of mine.
    2. My first words were that I had no power here. I did not know nor could I influence what was a council decision.
    3. I then asked who was in favour of the development. All but 2 people there put up their hands. It was then that I told them to never waste a meeting; to always have a go forward position; to pass a resolution.
    4. I then offered the services of my office to assist them if they wanted to correctly word and submit a petition,or if they wanted help setting up a face book page or web page(one of my staff is a graphic designer).
    5. Never at any stage did I mention Defence. There is a major DHA development just down the road.

    On the live export issue, I responded to just about every email within 24 hours. I respond personally to each whether they write their own letter or simply cut and paste from get up or the RSPCA.

    The analogy, to me, is valid. There are people who would punish the vast majority for the actions of a few. I could have used the standard words issued by my shadow minister, but they do not come from me. It is something I have done since day one.

    1. Finally, a politician who's visiting this forum and posting. Thanks Ewen.

      They should be frequently visiting and posting here. I'm sure Grumpy would like it too.

    2. He would indeed. Although I suspect that they already visit regularly. As do the kiddies at the Bully-Tin. Young Anthony puts in a few not-so-subtle hints that he reads the "Pie's warblings.

      At least Ewan puts his name to his posts. More front than a rat with a gold tooth.

    3. I just watch channel 7 this evening and noted Ewans response to this labour lady. The Libs are already looking at jobs cuts. Is Ewan serious? Mr Jones, you had my vote last time. Mr Lindsay the time before that. But no more. Along with the Premier you guys are just crazy. Has our town not already suffered enough. Good luck Ewan, you are going to need it. Do yourself some justice and just look and smile at the camera.

  7. Fair enough Ewen.

    Just a couple of comments in reply.

    Points 1 & 2 ok, point 3 - good general information and advice from an MP.

    Point 4: this raises the question as to whether you will offer 'the services of your office' and your graphic designer if you are approached by a ratepayer group opposed to the expansion of boundaries because it will impact on them financially? They are also constituents of yours. Will you and your staff help this equally deserving group of your constituents to 'correctly word and submit a petition'? If the answer is yes, and surely it has to be, this will leave you in the interesting position of straddling the fence of a local govt issue over which you have no influence - which in turn begs the question why go that one bridge too far in the first place and offer the services of your federally-funded office in this arena. People could draw the possibly incorrect conclusion that you are just looking to be loved.

    Point 5: The 'Pie never made any suggestion that you had mentioned defence, the bird just made a pre-emptive strike suggesting you not do so.

    Your policy of replying to emails is laudable but is no more than would be expected from a paid servant of the public.

    The analogy is whatever people will make of it - and so far, there are some that agree with you and some, including the recipient, who find it bizarre. Using the risible attitude of a redneck racist ranter to confer some sort of sage probity on yourself is the sort of thing that gives your minders migraines.

    1. I've just recieved Ewan Jones Herbert report in the letter box today It states on the front page "IF YOU NEED ASSISTANCE WITH A FEDERAL ISSUE PLEASE CONTACT MY OFFICE " The key words are FEDERAL ISSUE Remember that when next you pre-empt State and Council Matters..

  8. Well here on Maggie Island, we have our own tiny Community News, which trust me on this, is a lot better read than "the Bully". And it has a weekly tv guide! Even the once entertaining "Weekend Australian" has stopped producing one of those (my main reason for buying the damn thing) and only gives the Sat/Sun TV listings. What cracks me up is that the Editors of big newspapers get on TV and whinge about low circulation? Give the readers what they want i.e a decent weekly TV guide, or they will abandon you in droves.

  9. Uh,oh, gremlins in the system. The above comment is of course NOT from The Daily Astonisher (as if), but from your ever-lovin' 'Pie.

    1. Strewth Pie I am sure mine was not the only face to recoil in shock when I read the poster above. My God they scared me, surely not The Astonisher an "open" fan of your warblings.

    2. Err, Third, old mate, to what do you refer? No image came through. Try again.

  10. FYI Further to my post this week re Upper Ross Developement (Proposed) T Raggatt has a piece in T/B 7 Nov. Number of attendees about right Fails to mention that Ewan Jones said a few words and agreed that a resolution could be handed thru his office (i would have thought this really was'nt a Federal Matter ALL but 2 people agreed to have a resolution drawn up and once Jones saw the hands up number he offered his assistance I did not observe any from the T/B at the meeting I thought it was unusual that Jones would get involved it seems once he sees a group of people agree on something he senses a chance to make a hero of himself and become involved even if it is not in his domain J Hill did point out she could not comment at the meeting due to no Council Attendee from the Planning Dept. Cr Walker said a few Words supporting the change to the Urban Growth Boundry Cr Doyle remained mute I would have thought Cr J Lane would have attended (her Division) but did send apologies along with on Mayor Mullet becomes a flying fish - the untold story of her parachute jump this week – and a cautionary tale about the pitfalls for twits who use Twitter.

  11. Mick was a good bloke. Then, it went down hill into anarchy. We were left with Typo, Atil (The DING DONG red and stripe sock witch) and Mickey, DenyOmi and other dills who sat in the chief of staff chair at times.

  12. So, if the Astonisher went broke and disappeared forever,what then? I buy it for the outrageous stories,puts a smile on my face thinking what great minds must meet to circulate this daily rag.

    1. The point being: if you've worked for The Astonisher you'd find out that for some it's like working in a Chinese athletic shoe shop. You become a slave in a way. Do as you're told. For some managers it's 'Do what I say, not what I do'

  13. Pie, Love your blog and your comments on the Bulletin. I also remember your must-read restaurant reviews in the Sunday Telegraph. These days, nobody pays for reviews! Cheers, Gonzo

  14. It's just not the bullsheet if there isn't an amorous pregnant snake on the front page during an election.

    1. Note to readers of the Astonisher.
      As a photographer you had to put up with the cub journalist twaddle. They seem to think that Kelso takes eight minutes from the CBD when booking assignments.

      ps. How's your asbestos cough?

  15. Just a short while ago, we scoffed and derided poor little Rwanda for achieving a temporary seat on the UN Security Council. Apart from an appalling record of human rights abuse within its own borders, it is actively creating ugly mischief in neighbouring Congo. Quite a horrid little place, by all accounts.

    However, the leaders of that country have demonstrated that they relevant to the complexity of geopolitics and have shown a surprising depth of perception and insightfulness, despite being a bunch of brutal bastards.

    They cancelled Bob Brown's visa.

    1. Grumpy ; That would have to go down as comment of the week ;

  16. Pie is it true the Ogre of Ogden Street is leaving/has left??

    1. Reply to News Views: If you have a squizz at the June 30 blog this year, you will catch up on the Ogre's whereabouts and departure. But your inquiry is coincidental - his grim reaper visage was back in town for a private farewell a couple of weeks ago. Can't give any details - The 'Pie wasn't invited - which is passing strange, considering how the old bird was so often in Mr Wilkins thoughts much of his waking day. Heh, heh, heh.

  17. As the Royal Commission approaches for people to speak out against the church, they should consider those who have worked for the Astonisher.

    1. Yeah, I'll be in that.

      Mick Carroll deserves to have done well. He was the last human in the editor's chair and by far the best of the parade I saw go through from the mid-80s onwards.

      Unfortunately I have a lasting memory of him calling the staff together -- I presume you were there, 'Pie -- to tell us he was leaving. He said the next man in was a mate of his, and that although Typo had zero experience on the Production side, "you WILL like him". He said those four words more than once, and I had a presentiment that turned out to be right. I couldn't possibly have foreseen the scale of it!

      These days I occasionally pick up a copy discarded (in disgust?) by someone else, and I always wonder... who are these self-absorbed columnists? Then I remember every reporter has a personal diary / opinion column, and that all of them put together don't add up to one Mary Vernon. The only stuff worth reading now is by John Andersen.

      A cyber paper in the offing? I thought this was it!

  18. What they don't disclose to the reader while your reading the Astonisher is that 2011 was a horrible year. Dead wood floats and they're still there. They use the system and it's as if you 'have to do your time' pack mentality.

  19. Good Work Pie, Always entertaining.