Saturday, March 23, 2013

Joolya does her Monty Python Black Knight impression – and ‘yoof’ crime and consequences – The Magpie has his two bob’s worth and perhaps an answer.

And forget Jezzine cost overruns, it’s a different and bigger past matter that is rumoured to be about to hit the fan at Townsville City Council in a month or so.

And remnants of the silly season are still with us (apart from the hoopla in Canberra) where briefly it was ruled racist to call a Kiwi an Aussie and a man fined for laughing in his own house.

That and much more all seems to fit in well in a weird week at

Life is tough for those of us who try to tell tall tales for your amusement – the competition from Canberra is killing us.

But the week in politics brought echoes of elsewhere and other times.

One KRudd did the dirty on his mate Simon Crean, which put The Magpie in mind of Winston Churchill’s deadly swipe at Ramsay MacDonald.

'I remember when I was a child, being taken to the celebrated Barnum's Circus, which contained an exhibition of freaks and monstrosities, but the exhibit on the programme which I most desired to see was the one described as "The Boneless Wonder". My parents judged that the spectacle would be too demoralising and revolting for my youthful eye and I have waited fifty years, to see the The Boneless Wonder sitting on the Treasury Bench'.

Make that the Back Bench in Australia and we’re up to date. And Barnum’s Circus has nothing on the Canberra Carnivale.

As for Joolya, her continued odyssey down the political gurgler allows the latest political coinage from Britain – ‘omnishambles’ - to make the trip Down Under.

Bentley as usual offers his thousand words worth with a single insight.

Our error-prone Prime Minister’s  performance in the past couple of months could not inspire a better allegory than Monty Python’s limbless and legless Black Knight shouting after the departing King Richard ‘C’mon, is that all you’ve got?’ The dialogue is uncanny, have a look at the clip here

Other matters.

So who is going to be the first in Australia to grab this American number plate, spotted a Magpie pal in North Carolina?


The ‘Pie predicts a stampede of parents heading for the various Transport Departments around the country.

Fred Nile: he's got his own number.
But personalized number plates, when not amusing or clever, are a bit of a wank really. But you can bet NSW’s Jurassic bible-bashing politician Fred Nile won’t be rushing out to claim his new name for the bumper bar – he has allowed his ego to blind him to the ever present danger of unintended consequences. You see, the Rev Fred, a member of the NSW Upper House, the Legislative Assembly  to take the title ‘Senator’. OK, if you like, but custom has it that Senator is always abbreviated to ‘Sen’, as in Sen Brown or Sen Smith, so by apt serendipity, Senator Nile will become ….? For some, an ironic accuracy.

Our American traveller, noting The Magpie’s mention last week of the ‘Day’ days commemorating/boosting/lamenting something or other also reports from the same neck of the woods that the locals are having a 'Spay Day' in a local park – slogan perhaps ‘hope your doggies have a sense of humour, we’ll have them in stitches’ or maybe just 'bitches'n'stitches'.You can bet there’ll be a lot of pissed-off pooches and pusses who’ll never trust their owners ever again when called for walkies. No doubt Neuter Day - ‘Who said dogs never loses balls’ – is just around the corner.

And it turns out that the Vatican joke going around in the past month – ‘If pre-vote favourite Cardinal Sicola is elected Pope, is the world ready for Pope Sicola?’ and would Coca Cola sue? – is actually an old chestnut; it was doing the rounds in 2005, but then he was just a humble ‘father’.  Just in case you didn’t know. He didn't get it anyway.

A Reef Aquarium citizen screams
 in horror when he learns who's coming to dinner.
Mongrel the Barrister was at his worst (which is often his best) when he learnt that Mayor Mullet was to go diving with the sharks at the Reef Aquarium this week to support Earth Day or some such nonsense. The ‘Pie is unable to confirm that three of the sharks are receiving trauma counseling, and Mongrel reckons the mayor was never in any danger, the vicious predators would leave her alone out of professional courtesy. Yes, it’s an old lawyer joke, but Mongrel is an old joke of a lawyer anyway.

A more serious side to the law was exercising the intellect – or lack thereof – of all sorts of people during the week, that of juvenile crime. Yes, this is the bit where we stop laughing and start crying.

This issue can be a very circular argument, with competing views chasing each other endlessly nose to tail.

But two or three facts are clear. These dangerously anti-social little snots who seem to be teeming all over Townsville just now do what they do for one simple reason – because they can. Their parents let them and the current laws can’t – or aren’t allowed to - stop them. These kids also know that the law is an ass when they front often misguided magistrates and sometimes judges who place more emphasis on the little ferals tough lot in life rather than their often traumatised victims.

But the debate is heating up and in the right places.

Does Prof. Mark Kleiman have the answer to
our youth crime epidemic?
One of the best suggestions has come from a visiting American professor, Mark Kleiman, a specialist in public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles. Happily, Professor Kleiman does not share the shadow-flinching, unbalanced, social worker mindset that automatically makes every juvenile offender the victim of a cruel and unfair society – a mindset at the heart of this problem of juveniles flouting of the law. Making perpetrators into victims across the board is a dangerously stupid doctrine at any level of society, but when it is applied to children who are dealt with differently under the law, then that’s really asking for trouble - which is exactly what we have now got.

Professor Klieman’s argument is based on the premise that punishment is a cost, not a benefit, and is an unnecessary burden on taxpayers. Not only do these kids do (sometimes enormous) damage – actual and psychological – but then their victims, as taxpayers, have to pay to detain or otherwise ineffectively punish them.  (And any suggestion that court orders get these kids on the road rehabilitation is fanciful at best). So at the core of the professor’s solution is the maxim that increasing the severity of punishments doesn’t matter, BUT what does matter is making whatever punishment exists ‘swift and certain’, something strong and loving parents have known this for generations.

As Prof Kleiman says ' the perfect threat never needs to be carried out'.

The ferals have got to get it through their heads that whenever they commit a crime, they WILL BE caught, and they WILL BE punished.  Swiftly. The cops do their part pretty well,(well, as well as they're allowed to) but they so often feel let down by the justice system. Some changes to juvenile justice law will be necessary, but that is exactly what more and more community voices are calling for.

Interestingly, Professor Kleiman advocates that special teams – he doesn’t say so, but these may include specially trained magistrates or judges – target specific, manageable geographical areas. Like Townsville … or perhaps the Gold Coast. Once the objective of lowering crime rates is achieved, the team can move on to another area, leaving behind the legacy of ‘swift and certain’.

This is the briefest and incomplete summary of the professor's theory.

The award-winning economics journalist Ross Gittins, summarized in more detail Professor Kleiman’s pioneering suggestion in this excellent Sydney Morning Herald article a month or so ago. It really is well worth the read.
But it can’t be a one-size-fits-all theorem and there would certainly be some tailoring to Queensland’s specific needs.

And a good start to that would be the carefully worded but crystal clear address former Townsville and now Gold Coast District Court Judge Clive Wall QC.

Judge Clive Wall QC - looks at juvenile crime.

In a paper delivered at  the Gold Coast District Law Association last weekend, the outspoken Judge Wall, who has described himself as ‘working at the coalface’ was as usual forthright in his reasoning. This included the view that some magistrates were not sufficiently well equipped to handle juvenile cases in an informed manner. And reprimands don'y work.

But Judge Wall also waded into territory that will generate fierce legal, political and social debate, but thankfully, that has never bothered him.

The issue is fining or otherwise punishing parents who do not adequately supervise – or at least attempt to supervise and discipline - their children.

Judge Wall is no stranger to this issue; in 2005, he broke new ground when he fined the parents of two kids who set fire to a vagrant in Charters Towers ‘because they were bored’. A rigorous background report on the family life of the two offenders (they got two years detention each) convinced Judge Wall to become –to The Magpie’s knowledge – the first modern Queensland judge to invoke a little known section of the Juvenile Justice Act which allows parents to be ordered to pay criminal compensation that their children cannot pay. At the core of his ruling was the simple conclusion that when it came to discipling and parenting their children 'they just didn't try'.

The parents were each ordered to pay the victim $1000 each. The ruling never went to appeal, but it is doubtful it was paid … it is probably still with laughingly named State Penalties Enforcement Agency,(SPER) that under-resourced entity where many fines go to die of old age. The main thing here is that the ruling wasn’t in this instance challenged, and so could perhaps become more widely considered in many cases.

You can read Judge Wall’s reasons for the judgment here.

Justice in America has often (as elsewhere) been an oxymoron, but the fine and possibly jail sentence for a man who laughed too loud in his own house is a bobby dazzler.

Robert Schiavelli - one has to wonder who has the mental condition,
him, his neighbour or the judge.

This New York bloke, who has what is coyly termed ‘a mental condition’ literally ‘laughed off’ the derogatory comments of his neighbor by loudly guffawing at his insults from his window. The neighbor then made a complaint about Mr Schiavelli's loudness … and this was upheld by the judge. Don’t believe it? Read it here.

But the USA doesn’t have the field of judicial idiocy all to itself, the Poms make the odd championship entry. Like the woman in Chester City who was fined for calling her New Zealand neighbor a ‘stupid fat Australian’. ‘Stupid’ and ‘fat’ apparently didn’t bother Kiwi Chelsea O’Reilly, but she successfully argued that a drunken Petra Mills calling her an Australian was a racist insult ‘ because the woman knew I was a New Zealander and called me an Australian to offend me’.  The ruling and the initial fine of (A)$162 has since been thrown out for the twerpery it was.

Finally, can’t say too much y’know, but The ‘Pie hears that a report soon come before the Townsville City Council is going to make any Jezzine cost overrun look like small beer indeed. It is understood but far from confirmed that a botched project from His Radiance’s era is about to come back and bite us on the bum, apparently a politically-driven cock-up that could cost millions to rectify. Mayor Mullet was but a mere councilor back then, and it will be interesting to see what the record has to say about her stand on this matter. 

Can’t say much more just now,so suffice with this clue: the sh-t will really hit the fan.

Enough now, it is away to Poseurs’ Bar, where The Magpie will bebubble a suitable companion and explain to her that pointing and loudly laughing in the bedroom could possibly end up in  court - but then, she might counter-sue the old bird for false pretences.  


  1. Some American TV shows refer to personalised number plates as "vanity plates". This is one of the few Americanisms that I quite like.

    1. Always Good and always entertaining.

      Miss Lou

  2. Former Bully JournoMarch 23, 2013 at 8:39 PM

    What is all this rubbish in the Bully about being there for the community. They actively tried to destroy North Queensland, in particular Townsville, while I was there. No news is good news etc. The only good thing they have done is sack that twerp Simpo. I wonder where the fool will end up now he has been cut adrift from the evil empire.

    1. Err, bit off the mark there ... Anthony Simpo Templeton is still with the Bulletin and has NOT been sacked or resigned ... we have been mercifully free of his biased twaddle because he's apparently on a couple of weeks leave. Soon may be achieve his cherished goal of joining the Curious Snail as a state political reporter, something The Magpie heartily supports - Simpleton will quickly find what it's like to work under an experienced editor who is known not to suffer fools gladly (which is why said editor vehemently opposed Peter Typo Gleeson being elevated to the Townsville gig a few years ago).

  3. Always good and always entertaining.

    Sagely Yours,

    miss lou

  4. And you have to wonder about the Astonisher's Lucky Duck promotion. A friend duly cut out the coupons,entered, won a duck and rang the paper Friday wanting river location details to see the "race". She was told council won't allow the public along the riverbank for safety reasons and besides the "race" had been cancelled due to inclement weather (what weather?)and the winner was drawn from a hat. Hmm wonder what the rules stated? Besides it must be hard after all to get thousands of plastic ducks into and out of the river...hell just make it easy and draw the winner from a hat!

    1. Perhaps The Astonisher failed to 'REVEAL' that the Lucky Ducks had been canoodling with the Unlucky Fairfield Waters Ducks and were unfit - ie 'dead' - for the annual promotion.

  5. I heard from inside the Bully that they were too lazy to check that all the duck numbers were still there from last year so they always intended it to be a lucky draw.
    If that is true it is a bloody disgrace.
    In any case, the draw should ahve been done in public.
    I won't be going to all the trouble to enter next year.

  6. Happy Easter Pie. Rest Well and have fun to you, family and readers.

    1. 'Pie, quoting three instances of 'the cardinal newspaper sin' - incorrect edition dates - over the years, you've often said that the Townsville Bulletin doesn't even know what day it is. Well, here's further proof. The following is from 'the Weekend Bulletin' which hit the newsstands yesterday (Sat) morning. There was no Friday edition.

      At the bottom of the page 7 under all the Easter messages stuff, (just to confuse visitors) is a list of "What's happening this weekend" "Today" is clearly Friday and "Tomorrow" is clearly Saturday. Unless Dr. Who is now doing planning I'd guess that this was all prepared before they all cleared off for the long weekend.

      In an article regarding Tony Abbott's daughter's on page 12 a typo has changed the entire meaning of one sentence it should have been "To me" however it is written as Tome [sic] and I doubt if any of the definitions of Tome especially a classic fits the bill.