Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mayor Mullet's has her pants pulled down by the Crime and Misconduct Commission and The Townsville Bulletin drops its tweeds in sympathy - The Magpie introduces a new award, the Mayan Tell Us Another One Memorial Sun Dial, with two of the best thigh-slapping whoppers vying for top prize.

The thought of your mayor minus her dainties is an image not to dwell on, but at least it will make it hard for her pants to catch fire, as they no doubt will.

Allied to the CMC findings that Townsville Council CEO Ray Burton did no wrong is The Bulletin's excellent and unchallengeable claim to yet another Janus Two-Faced BUMM Award -BUMM (Barefaced Un-Mitigated Mendacity).

Down in Canberra,  political opposites - Treasurer Goose and Wingnut -  were vying for the honor of big fat fibber of the month. 

Rupert Murdoch cops the best 'gotcha' of the year for his hypocrisy over American gun laws - Malcolm Turnbull gets him fair in the goolies for his mealy-mouthed posturing.

Also, it's all the fun of the fair for Rupert's minions down in Ogden Street - The Astonisher loses (or as the paper would say 'looses') one of its best, Simpleton said to have chucked a spectacular newsroom tanty over his position with the paper, new senior manager Sue Willis plays sneaky Christmas Scrooge and the prospect of some entertaining cat fights with a new journo lumbering onto the scene.

Look, there's gotta be something in this Christmas stocking for everyone - there's also a couple of very handy hints on gifts and seasonal fitness, all here in the nest at

First, just in cased you missed it, Rupert Murdoch’s eyes are still watering after the Painful Twisted Tit Tweet of the year.
After the tragedy of the school shootings in the US, Rupert tweeted to his considerable following asking when gun laws will be reigned in. That was a bit too much for the Coalition’s Malcolm Turnbull, who didn’t miss the weasel words.

This is the exchange.

Rupert's far-right Fox News has always opposed even the slightest changes to America's fatally idiotic gun laws.

Breathtaking hypocrisy, and a tick for a politician willing to say so.  And as you shall see, hypocrisy is a trait that permeates through to even the farthest-flung News Ltd outpost.

But before that, the major local question of the week is:     
where does Mayor Mullet go from here?

The situation is that we have a mayor who has been flapping around like a landed fish ever since she became mayor, apparently under the misapprehension that she was actually elected a dictator ('my mandate', 'my policies', 'councillors must learn that ...', 'oath of loyalty required' ‘my’ and ‘I’ till the cow goes home … err… sorry that is, ‘til the cows come home’.) She was actually elected a minority mayor – that’s democracy, (see Canberra, 
The Year In, Dept of), but reality hasn't had a look-in with this floundering fish.

Now she is wide open to legal action by the libeled and slandered CEO Ray Burton. It's doubtful that he'll do any such thing, but no doubt it's also a nice big stick to be carrying while he talks softly to The Mullet in future.

Bentley reprises a previous effort to encapsulate just where we all are now.

But what of that report that started all this.

CEO Ray Burton commissioned  - as CEOs do - the $50,000 consultants report (with the council's knowledge) for guidance on possible economies within the amalgamated councils. This is standard operating procedure in local government, and the findings are not binding on him or the council (although he did act on quite a few of the recommendations). 

What he didn't act on was the soulless suggestion - which Mayor Mullet and her two Labor council colleagues Messagebank Walker and Colleen Doyle favored - to sack 270 council staff.

Mr Burton was not obligated to put the report before council, it came out of his allocated operating budget and was basically for his consideration. When he offered to put the report to council after being accused of shielding it from them, he withdrew that motion - at the request of the mayor!

This is what the Townsville Bulletin reported August 28:

'Cr Hill said she urged Mr Burton to withdraw the report because she wanted it to be discussed in an open meeting after the CMC's investigations were complete. The matter is going to be investigated by the CMC, and there shouldn't be anything that could be seen as prejudicial to the investigations.'

But now the verdict is in, where do we go from here? Betcha it's not to an open council meeting poring over the report - not now.

There was no evidence (NOT as the Bulletin insinuatingly spun it 'insufficent evidence', a phrase The Magpie understands does not appear in the CMC's conclusions - 'could not be substantiated' were the CMC words, which are legally a world away from 'insufficient evidence') that Mr Burton had done anything wrong.

So now The 'Pie believes our muddled and mendacious mayor is in a full flap of damage control, and it's odds on she will seek to have the report discussed behind closed doors - 'workshopped' - before a sanitised version of proceedings is discussed in open council. The other councillors will probably go along with this - except perhaps Jenny Lane, who all along wanted things out in the open.

But whether it be papers or porridge, everything depends on consistency - and boy, haven't there been a few lumps of glop left floating in The Daily Astonishers editorial bowl.

If ever there was proof that New Ltd's culture of hypocrisy and spin goes travelling all the way down from Shit Mounntain in New York to the mound of myna bird droppings in Ogden Street, one need look no further than the astounding way the Bulletin handled this issue, an issue with deep implications for just who represents this city, how they do it - and perhaps most importantly, how they are perceived.

It all started when cub reporter Anthony Simpleton was approached by the mayor to run the initial story of her unfounded allegation against Ray Burton, which he did, ignoring the legal implications of publishing a libel. Lachlan 'I Can't Wait To Get Out Of Here' Heywood chimed in with a bemusing editorial which sided with the mayor, including the jaw-dropping conclusion that no matter what the outcome of the CMC investigation, Burton should go. 

If the 'iditor' sticks with that policy, it seems he is now urging that we keep a liar as mayor, and sack one of the most respected local government officers in Australia, who didn't lie.

Nevertheless, at the time, it was front page screaming headlines and spin directed solely by the mayor for her chums at The Astonisher to loyally parrot.

So when the verdict came down against Mayor Mullet, it would be fair to give these important findings equal billing, right? Front page and all that - maybe employing the paper's latest favourite word 'REVEALED' with a strap 'The Mayor Lied'. Right?


We got a small item somewhere around page 7 the day after the announcement; they were slow to catch up with the news late in the day. And then the following day, a modest page 5 story, no pics, which still managed to give the impression that there was 'insufficent evidence' to prove what the paper clearly inferred – that there was some sort of sneakiness by the CEO.

Astonisher Iditor Lachlan Heywood
Then in a subsequent story, desperately trying to hand back the Steggles Award for Egg On Face, a headline  tells us the council has been 'warned' by the CMC about future matters of this nature - although the watchdog did no such thing, simply saying it would forward some recommendations on how to avoid the real thing in the future.

The final little service to our community on this matter  came from the iditor, who in an idiorial regally brushed the whole thing aside - 'everyone should get on better' - and then gave a slanted, inference-ridden history of the affair.

Top effort, folks, so drop around anytime to pick up your Janus Two-Faced BUMM Award, the best of the year. But BYOG.

More notes from the Bulletin bunker shortly, but first .... 

It may be that Canberra is always colder than sunny Queensland, but Wayne Swan's personal appendage has suddenly shrivelled alarmingly. 

After years of saying that achieving a budget surplus was one of his ‘basic fundamentals’, his basic fundamentals are now gently swaying in the economic breezes, less the size of walnuts. He is no longer the big swinging financial dick he has been swaggering on about over the past few years. Reality has at last dawned in those Kermit-like eyes. He's finally cottoned on to what just about all of us knew - that there would not be a surplus this financial year.

A squeaky Treasurer Goose announces the loss of his basic fundamentals
 But what is not clear is if he has genuinely come to realise the other thing that we, the great unwashed have known all along: a surplus is not necessary or needed, except to allow him to appear to out-pendulum Peter Costello in appendage-swaying stakes in the financial zephyrs of the times. 

But Treasurer Goose insisted all along until last Thursday that a surplus - a transparent hoax and political ego-booster - was one of the essential needs for Australia. That idea is now consigned to la-la land where it is tucked up with earlier bedfellows like No Carbon Tax Under My Government. God knows what bastard child will be spawned if those two ideas get canoodling under the blankets.

But in bowing to the inevitable and announcing there wouldn’t be a surplus, there came this entry in the Tell Us Another one lexicon: 'I don't care about political outcomes, I care about economic outcomes'. Eh!?!

Lor lumme, guv, larf!!! But there was no disguising
it, despite Penny Wong's blinking 'Emperor's New Clothes assertions otherwise - it was a case of what the Sydney Morning Herald's Lenore Taylor neatly summarised in' Swan eats crow, and about time'.

The fact that inevitably one follows the other - either way - makes his statement worthy of even deeper consideration. So our boy has lost his basic fundamentals, which may explain the squeak entering into his verbal delivery.  

But it was a cruel jest from the Treasurer coming as it did so soon after the other entry in The Big Fat Fibber stakes, that of Tony Wingnut Abbott, who had caused oxygen masks to be called out to heal the gasping, aching sides of the populace.  

His hesitation and ‘ummm - err – arr arr’ - ridden declaration that even a week after its release, he hadn't read the Ashby-Slipper judgment! Yes, that judgment, you know, the one that after could cost him not just a shot at becoming the 28th Prime Minister but even the coalition leadership heading into an election. Nah, that ol' thing, haven't had time.

But, batting away reporters questions like so many pesky flies, Mr Rabbit barefacedly declared because he'd been so busy overseas 'doing important business for Australia' (pssst, you're the opposition leader, Tone) that he hadn't read a judgment that could end his career.

He hadn't read it!!! Pull the other one, it yodels, as The 'Pie's old Nana used to say. When we'd stopped kicking our heels on the floor, it was inevitable Wingnut had been inducted yet again into the Political Porkies Hall of Infamy.

Now, a brief update on the internal shennigans down at The Astonisher.

Walkley Award winner Kath Skene is leaving, which is a shame for Townsville, The 'Pie has high regard for her and her professional reporting.

It might be added that that Walkley didn't come without some moxie from Kath - she and her photographers stared down several attempts to intimidate them when covering the Aboriginal Health Service rorts.

At The Astonisher, she was, to use playwright John Osborne's phrase about the Queen, 'a gold tooth in a mouthful of rotten teeth'. (There's still one or two gold fillings in Ogden Street, but not many.) 

Only problem for Kath is that she has succumbed to the blandishments of Typo Gleeson down on the Coast, where she will become news editor on the Gold Coast Bulletin. The 'Pie expects to hear more of this interesting professional coupling, since Kath's ethics and direct style are in direct contrast to Typo's distinct lack thereof. 

Good luck, mate, you'll need it.

The 'Pie hears that Anthony Simpleton believed he was up for Kath's chief reporter position, and said so. When the howls of laughter had died down, he apparently chucked a mega-tanty in the newsroom. Although it's a pretty meaningless title and no extra money, the Chief Reporter's title would surely go to someone like Tony Raggatt - in the unlikely event he'd want it - long before the the likes of Simpleton.

The manager of Marketing and Raking In The Dough from Anywhere, one Sue Willis, direct to us from Roma - a sort of Michael Wilkins Lite -  has quickly shown she's fitted nicely into the venal Bulletin mode. 

Since time immemorial, the staff have received a Christmas ham as a bonus, but Ms Willis decided this year that should end. What she did was have a Bulletin cheque handed to a charity - as the paper has done in the past anyway, but this time with the explanation that 'the Bulletin staff have donated the money for their traditional hams to charity'. Like hell they did, they were simply told that there wouldn't be any free hams this year. 

The sneaky, dumb ploy also angered the outlying folks in Ayr, Charters Towers and Ingham, as well as the weekly The Sun, the staff of whom are said to be mightily miffed that they have got no ham AND no credit for mythical charitable thoughts. 

You're headed for great things, Ms Willis, maybe you can take over from good old Ross Devine as head beancounter.

And harmony is hardly assured in the short term at The Astonisher. Iditor Lachlan Heywood is going on three weeks leave, and - har har har - can it be true?

One of these two to be acting editor of The Astonisher?
They say that Mickey Mouse aka former COS Lendl Ryan will be acting editor. (Small pause here while The 'Pie blows his beak and recovers his equilibrium). If that -ah, gasp, gurgle - be so, should be a great holiday paper - Mickey's favourite cry to photographers as Chief of Staff was 'Get some shots of hot chicks, and no dogs, right'.

Actually, The 'Pie's bet would be that Attila the Hen would be a more likely and capable candidate, returning to something she actually can do rather than the role as staff mauler that led one senior journalist to describe her as 'a toxic troll'. Golly some people are nasty.

But peace and harmony should prevail in 2013 - the new reporter replacing Kath will be former Townsville reporter for the Sunday Mail Samantha Healey. She's a good old shock-horror hand, and has a sweet and gently loving relationship with one or two of the current female journos at The Astonisher. 

It's going to be fun heh - heh - heh.  

That's enough enlightenment for now ... and possibly this year. Been a bit rushed, so forgive any oversights. The 'Pie has flown off to the bosom of his loving family in southern climes, and depending how long that familial description lasts, may give himself (and you) a holiday next weekend.

But, never fear, the old bird will be keeping fit over the break - hey, you can join in if you want. Here's the basic idea.

And while weapons are a sad unfortunate focus just at the moment, here is a perfect solution for those who love weapons and those who love our lost innocence.   

Thank you all for making this a fabulous year for The Magpie (15,000 pageviews per month) and the best for Christmas and 2013. 

A special thank you to Mayor Mullet, Anthony Simpleton, Ewen Jumbo Dumbo Jones, Dave The Kipper Kippen, Typo Gleeson, David Party Animal Moyle and all those others who have populated these pages of sweet reason during 2012 - without your entertaining and unique manner of doing busness during the year, The Magpie would be but a passing fark in the night.   


  1. Replies
    1. Hunky Robin! Can't wait to chat with you!

  2. If Mickey is acting editor, townsville has an arse hole working for the community.

    signed a former worker.

  3. Pie, this is the best Christmas present. What a laugh. Mickey might be editor. What would Typo think?

    Ms Skeen heading for tinsel town? She'll be driving back soon. Give it 6 months. Could it be she's sick of the office environment? Another journo drove back quickly and took part time to get back onboard. I don't know which would be worse.

    Junior Murdoch's renovations are still my favourite.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family Pie.

  4. I had to re-read your blog all over again. Well done.


  5. I look forward to the 'Pie crowing a bit more in 2013... Keep up the good work. L.B.

  6. Merry Christmas Magpie - have a good time and come back refreshed .... the 'Ville would be much the poorer without your commentary !

  7. Has anyone noticed that Wayne Swan looks like hamburgler? Just needs the cape and the eye mask ....

  8. Merry Christmas and safe travels to you, Old Man.

    Thanks for the many laugh-out-loud moments over the last year. Thanks also for the thoughtful insights you bring.

    It is always magpie season in the 'Ville - and long may it be so.

  9. Kathleen Skeen also had a few body guards, the photographers. That should be noted. I think they got the boot and got kicked out of the joint by Atil.

  10. All the best to you and yours for Christmas and the New Year, Malcolm.

    Look forward to reading more of your blogs next year. Should be a good one what with a Federal Election and all!!

  11. Merry Santa's Birthday Magpie and a good new year to you. Your blog is a valuable alternative view.

    We need political leaders now and into the future more then ever who won't compromise for their party but work for the people, before it's war over the last vestiges of food and water on this earth.

    Will it be Indonesia or China or both who attack over the next fifty years?

    Will Australians welcome the Oceania island nations when their land disappears due to global warming?

    How will house prices in Townsville be when the water level has risen a metre, it's five degrees hotter without taking into account humidity and the cyclone season doubles in intensity?

  12. Replies
    1. Must mean that you're up their goat Pie! Ha

  13. Conan the GrammarianDecember 24, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    ...and thank you, 'Pie, for an entertaining year.
    See you when I'm looking at yer!

  14. Happy Christmas Pie.

  15. I'll put my hand up for next year to explain to your readers how other Astonisher departments worked on a daily basis. I hope the readers enjoy my account.

    With love Merry Christmas you wonderful man!


  16. Yes, I can confirm that he requested 'hot' lifesaver chicks' for pictures and not 'fat ugly ones'. A former photographer.

    1. That's an interesting policy from a junior dunderhead. In essence, it means that a female lifesaver who has perhaps done half a dozen heroic acts but didn't fit Lendl Ryan's idealised body shape or had a plain face, would be ignored for a 'prettier' one, no matter what her merits as a lifesaver.

      Obviously a Page 3 ploy - made so famous by Murdoch's Sun in Britain - which has been aimed at the droolers and knuckledraggers the Astonisher has mistakenly courted in their fruitless search for numbers.

  17. The best of wishes to you and yours Magpie. I have enjoyed you musings for years and am so glad to many are still the voice of reason and rationality in an ever increasing cesspool of spin and twist in the media. I look forward to another great year. Keep up the fine work.

  18. Happy New Year Pie,
    Best Wishes for 2013

  19. The culture is systemic within News Ltd, both abroad and here in LiL Ol Ville.

    It may have been shut down in England but players are still playing Murdoch's game here but sent elsewhere.