Saturday, March 2, 2013

Here’s a a little quiz; what is the difference between an Aussie soldier killed in Afghanistan while protecting the values of our society, a young child taken too early by an untreatable disease, a blameless road toll victim, and a cowardly, violent convicted young thug stupid enough to fatally injure himself while trying to rob a pub?

According to the Townsville Bulletin, there’s no difference at all - all of them are equally afforded front page eulogistic treatment.

As a community, we’re now accustomed to an intellectual slap in the face from the Townsville Bulletin, but this week, the paper gave the community an emotional kick in the crutch for which it owes its dwindling number of readers a public apology. 

You will never find greater proof that the Townsville Bulletin is a totally out-of-touch, confused ethics-free zone than the paper’s astounding, lop-sided – whether through incompetence or pernicious pursuit of an illusory audience – than the laudatory front page coverage of the death of the violent and cowardly young thug Reedon Jack Santo.

The Magpie follows this disheartening paper trail here in this week’s nest.

Also, a long-serving senior bureaucrat/business executive is leaving town (don’t get your hopes up, Mullet, it isn’t Ray Burton) and the scramble to get his (rumoured $200K+) seat on the gravy train has already started.

Overseas, the Pope pushes off, and in Australia, Joolya pushes on … deeper and deeper into the political swamp, prompting both Bentley and Pickering to exercise their delightfully poisoned pens ... it's all here at
Here is a disgraceful but perfect example of why I resigned from the Townsville Bulletin. It typifies the sort of story much beloved of News Ltd and of former editor Peter Typo Gleeson, but which I point blank refused to do. Remember this front page last week?

Yes, that same Townsville Bulletin which never tires of pompously telling us it represents and reflects ‘community values and expectations’, and is this community’s ‘opinion leader’.

It is also the paper that is making as much hyped-up mileage out of youth crime and associated law and order issues. It doesn't come much more hypocritical than this.

In case you didn't (or don't) read the Townsville Bulletin, here’s what has happened.

In the early hours of Wednesday, February 20, Reedon Jack Santo, 23, along with an unspecified relative and one or two other thugs, decided to burgle the Riverview Tavern at Riverside Gardens. It is reported they stole a car for their exploit.

But while attempting to enter the closed hotel, Santo had the bright idea of punching his way in through some plate glass, resulting in him suffering a severely severed artery. His mates panicked and scuttled  away, leaving him to his own devices. Santo managed to make it about 50m back towards the stolen car before collapsing. Unnamed relatives somehow got quickly to scene, and rushed him to the nearby hospital, but he had bled to death in that time. 

Yes, a tragedy by measure.  

The initial story (read it here) was fairly straightforward, and it was obvious that the reporter was, quite reasonably, going to concentrate on Santo’s abandonment by his mates.

But as always, the Townsville Bulletin style is to always go one step too far while milking a yarn for every last ounce of turgid bullshit. So this is the unquestioning story we got on the next day. But all this could easily have been let slide if inside the paper -  but, no, again that one step too far - the front page.

This from a paper which laughably styles itself the community’s opinion leader reflective of Townsville’s values and is – by golly, yes, don’t you worry about that – tough on youth crime.

If all this sounds a bit over the top, consider this.

At 23, Reedon Jack Santo was already well into a life of crime, including incredible violence – and The Bulletin bloody well knew it. 

What makes this such a travesty in just this.

It is this story carried in the Townsville Bulletin in 2009, and of which the reporter and editor would have been well aware (although it may have been missed by the sub-editors in Brisbane, who have no community memory of what happens up here).

It is a report of a sentencing hearing, when Santo was given a four year jail term for the cowardly unprovoked attack from behind on a couple walking along a Mackay Street at night.  Yelling racist insults, Santo continually stomped and kicked his victim. When the man’s partner tried to shield him, Santo’s mother challenged her to a fight and ripped off the woman’s blouse and bra. The woman still managed to reach her partner, throwing herself across him to shield the continuing stomping. Santo then started viciously kicking her about the head and body, failing to stop even when his own companions tried to get him to do so. Kind heart? Loving kid? Wrong crowd?

It is informative to note that at the time of the 2009 sentencing Santo was on probation AND a suspended sentence for previous crimes. It is possible he was on parole for these matters when he died. So much for ‘a kid with a heart of gold’ and other predictable, skewed (and cherry picked) comments. And, what, fell in with the wrong crowd?  The evidence is that Santo, and at least one of his closest relatives, were the wrong crowd.

Unbelievably, The Bulletin has afforded a violent convicted criminal who died by his own hand during a pub break-in the same eulogistic treatment as courageous fallen diggers and blameless victims of life’s tragedies. 

(A small technical note: on page 102 of The 'Pie's News Ltd style book, under Honorifics, journalists are instructed that 'Mr' is not to be used for 'participating sportsmen/women, artists, actors, authors, musicians, convicted criminals, and the long dead'.  You don't become 'unconvicted' just because you're dead, and the story is the tragic outcome of a criminal enterprise.  

But let’s be straight about this, this is not speaking ill of the dead, Santo’s record speaks for itself. 

No, it is about the totally irresponsible poor judgment of a newspaper more and more disconnected from this community. Start to finish, a selective coverage which almost amounts to a soaring eulogy of which the paper should be ashamed.

The Townsville Bulletin owes a general apology to this community, and a specific apology to two people at least, over the undisguised spin of the reporting. Santo’s Mackay victims will live with his cowardly actions for the rest of their lives. The paper might even throw in a special mention to the person whose car was stolen for the Riverway robbery – why not, it’s one of those youth-crime-wave-stolen-car-shock-horrors that are beaten up daily in the thin-as-gruel news pages.

There may be those of you who reckon The Magpie bangs on too much about our only local daily paper, but until now the Bulletin had no one to examine them and expose their hypocrisy and addled-headed, arrogant, anti-community bumbling journalism.

Well, now they have. And The Magpie won’t be stopping his close examination of their poisonous stories. There are still some good people working for the Bully- certainly one who would make a fine editor - but when coverage like this is allowed to be blithely printed as serious journalism (ha!) then Paul Keating’s famous phrase comes to mind … ‘unrepresentative swill’.

Other matters.

Ken Diehm - going west ... 
The Magpie is told that long-serving bureaucrat Ken Diehm is upping sticks and heading west. The ‘Pie understands the boss of Townsville Water is the new CEO of the Geraldton Council., north of Perth. And good luck to the likeable Mr Diehm – he must be likable, he’s never featured in this blog heh heh heh – but of abiding interest to those of us staying eastside is his successor.

The job is worth – sorry, that should be ‘pays’ – somewhere in the vicinity of $200K+, so the scrabbling has already started. 

Dawson Wilkie - heading up?
The ‘Pie hears that a certain Dawson Wilkie, currently with the Townsville Chamber of Commerce amongst other chores, is panting heavily about the prospect and has shot his hand up already. Dawson is well entrenched on the public service/administration merry-go-round, and has a strong background in engineering. He worked a stint for John Bearne's former construction business. And if he is appointed, Mayor Mullet will no doubt be clapping her hands in pleasure – The ‘Pie is told that Mr Wilkie has in the past been known to offer her some sage advice in her political career. Which, given our winsome mayor’s erratic political history, leaves one to wonder if Dawson’s advice was dud, or she just didn’t take it.

Interesting news that Castle Hill has been named as the city’s oldest icon, The ‘Pie always thought that that honour went to Jack Wilson but even our former councilor Jazzman Jack doesn’t look quite 330 million years old. But he’s probably still just as hard to get up in the morning.

On the broader canvas The Pope has pushed off, and it has been revealed – to use The Astonisher’s favourite grown-up word – that his resignation was foretold in this German cartoon late last year.

The caption was the usual German thigh slapper along the lines 'Holy Moley, I'll resign tomorrow'. Quell droll.

According to some, Benedict buggering off (poor choice of phrase perhaps) is the good news; the bad news is there'll be another Pope along soon. The job ad is out already.

And to The Magpie's Catholic friends out there, just remember Salman Rushdie's words: 'No one has the right to not be offended'. (And look, Gonzo, The 'Pie is trying to do his best to insult everyone, but let the old bird know who he's missed).

The redoubtable Larry Pickering managed to savage two of his favourite targets in one hit with this.

And on the subject of Labor, Joolya has managed the tricky feat of pissing off people in two locations at once by giving both groups federal money.

In the strangest strategy she has yet come up with, her foray into western Sydney was about as sincere and genuine as KRudd’s infamous faux working class clunker ‘…fair shake of the sauce bottle’. 

Fairfax Newspapers funnyman Mike Carlton suggested that Joolya’s itinerary should include ‘a drive-by shooting at Whalan,  a two-hour traffic jam on the M4 motorway at Prospect and a stint as head chef  at a Bunnings sausage sizzle.'According to Carlton, a spokesman for the PM said, ‘The Prime Minister wants hard working Aussie families to understand that it’s not just Tony Abbott who can indulge in fatuous and condescending campaign stunts for the TV cameras’.

You are coming back to your best, Mr Carlton.

This is the same PM who adopted what The ‘Pie’s old Nana used to call a ‘ creeping jesus’ drone to declare she would not be campaigning until mid-August, and until then, she would be ‘governing’.  But even when she is obviously campaigning, she manages to cock that up, too.

She even pulled off the remarkable feat of  losing votes in two states when announcing she was giving them both dollops of federal cash. But what she did was  announce a piddling $120million in flood relief for devastated Queensland towns still under water, and $400million for western Sydney because that area ‘might’ get flooded – sometime in the next century or so. Queenslanders were disgusted – and as usual, Bentley nails it ….  

… while the good denizens west of Parramatta aren’t easily fooled, if at all, and they immediately saw all this hoopla for what it is … it was so ill thought out that the dangers of raising Warragamba Dam’s main wall were quickly aired. One Baldrick Esq must be her cunning plan strategist. It’s all so phoney, start to finish, and the smell of desperation is all about.

Julia Gillard now finds herself in the position of the military leader whose troops would follow him anywhere … mainly out of curiosity.


  1. Sat 2 Mar Rosehill race 8 # 9 Altered Boy.. A 7 yr old Gelding . Definately altered.... It won and paid $12.10 for the win $3.20 for the place

  2. Paul Anderson of PimlicoMarch 2, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    In seeking to carry out what they misguidedly felt was a community service, or (God help us) ‘comforting the afflicted’, the Astonisher with this ‘story’ committed what I view as the cardinal sin of giving these maggots publicity, which is about the only currency the criminal underclass recognises – to be able to say to his (or her) incredulous mates ‘that was ME’. The same happened in the UK when they introduced so-called ‘Anti-social Behaviour Orders’ (which quickly became known as ‘ASBOs’). These were seen as a badge of honour among the calibre of person whose imagination only extends to destructive pursuits, rather than creative ones.

    When I read the articles about the Riverside Tavern break-in gone wrong, I was viscerally offended. The more I read, the more I couldn’t believe it. They’re LIONISING this guy?? (And this was before I even knew about the Mackay incident…!)

    I do often wonder whether there might not be something in the Amish tradition of ‘shunning’ (and maybe that’s precisely what Mackay did to him and his family afterwards), and whether that couldn’t be tried up here…
    …for I squarely number myself among those who feel that sentencing in this town (at least as reported) is woefully inadequate. I’m very much in agreement with former UK Prime Minister John Major when he said of the James Bulger murder in ’93, that there needed to be more condemning and less ‘understanding’. Whatever’s the norm at the moment is manifestly not enough…

  3. Couldn't agree more the the tragic death of that grub! I'm at a stage in life where I am ignoring my mother's sage advice about saying nothing at all. And in today's Bully buried on page somewhere the Baxter story and mis-use of $6.7M in trust account funds. And Page 1 - the obligatory Jenny promo story! Yes admittedly the Baxter story was in yesterday's Courier Mail (so how did the Bully miss that for a page 1 on Friday?? Hmmm). Yesterday's news tomorrow or when ever is now par for the course.

  4. Ron Bairstow PerthMarch 2, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    Townsville's loss is Geraldton's gain with the departure west of Townsville Water's Ken Diehm. I worked with him and the board some years ago to get money from the State Government to fix big problems with the Ross River Dam. The effort was successful, due in no small part to Ken's tenacity and insight into the workings of bureaucracy.
    Geraldton is one of the most pleasant and progressive regional centres in WA.I'm sure it will get even better under its new CEO.
    Loved the ad for a new Pontiff. It was a great job description.
    Still on the subject of taking organisations backwards, the ill-considered eulogy on the Bully's front page may hopefully lead to a reprimand from the News Ltd nabobs in Sydney. Pigs might fly, too.

  5. The Astonisher's coverage is not honest in any way. Let's face it, they cover up their own asbestos situation, why not re write history to suit the paper?

    This paper is like the boy who called wolf.. Why believe them?

  6. Having been part of the Group that that was succesful in introducing 2 levels of rates for residents of Townsville i have always admired Ken Diehm To stand at a rally of over 700 people baying for blood and put the Councils point of view accross took a lot of guts (despite the jeers and cat calls from the crowd.. In follow up talks both about the rating system and other matters at Council meetings i have always got an answer without being put down or fobbed off Well done Ken..

  7. Sorry, "Pie, but I don't consider that Santo's death was a "tragedy by any measure". By my moral yardstick, I consider that that the circumstances in which that little grub winked out of existence was befitting and appropriate, although more pain would have been nice. Our community is a much better place without that ant-social, violent psyschopath. Call me cold and heartless, but his family can go to hell as well. Did they think to offer their public or private apologies for his crazed and mindless violence upon that young couple in Mackay? No? Then they have no right to claim public sympathy for their "loss". Good thing that his kid will not have a role model such as him in its life.

    I'd wager that there are some shop owners out there who are thinking, "I wonder what type of glass that door was made of and where can I get some?"

    But I get your point about the lack of ethics exhibited by the Bull-Tin in reporting this issue in the manner in which they did. Lazy and irresponsible journalism. Did not someone think to do a quick search on their internal data base?

    Was it a ham-fisted attempt to stir up community debate in their Text to the Editor page? Although, given the average apparent IQ of their regular texters ("Honkey" thinks Mao and Stalin were right-wing extremists), I don't think any of society's ills will be cured in that forum.

    JayJ - I share your bemusement as to why the Baxter story was buried so deep. If a local bank manager made of with $7 million-odd of customers funds, I'd bet that there would be a different response. Tad fishy...

    Remninds me of the days when the local lawyers would arrange to have the DUI charges against them heard at 3:00 pm in the afternoon in an attempt to escape Malcom's notice.

    1. Harsh words, Grumpy, and extreme. The Magpie for one will never cheer anyone's death.

      There are many who have read about this who will see a certain 'poetic justice' in the outcome, but The 'Pie never wants to go to the other equally unfair extreme to the Bulletin, and actually cheer the death of a kid who probably didn't have a chance from day one. It simply should have been reported and left at that, but fat chance with The Astonisher, which should perhaps be re-titled The Headless Chook.

      And you miss The 'Pie's point - this kid's whole life was a tragedy, start to finish. How can it be anything but a dysfunctional upbringing when a mother joins in the unprovoked attack on the couple in Mackay? What were the lessons he learnt at home from an early impressionable age? As they say in court, that may explain but doesn't excuse.

      And just for the record, the two heroes who ran away from their fatally bleeding mate, weren't just his mates - they were family - one was his brother and the other was a cousin. Santo's mother and sister are the ones who went to the scene and took him to hospital.

      One wonders if - in amongest the genuine grief the family feels - there is any introspection and self-questioning about what influence they had on Santo's death. Unfortunately, there are segments of our society that live by their own mythology and their own morality, and have a defiant feeling of false entitlement which ignores the law and decent conduct generally. This is fostered by soft-headed people - usually far removed from the reality of the situation they choose to influence - who are blind to their role in urging this attitude on to certain groups.

      But all that said, we do not have the death penalty in this country.

      And it is worth emphasising - the blog was clearly not about Santo per se but about The Bulletin rubbing the community's nose in it.

      And they wonder why they're such a slow-motion train wreck!!

    2. Malcom. I cheered when Osama Bin Laden was exterminated. I will cheer the death of that Quisling coward who shot down three unarmed Diggers. I did NOT cheer the death of Santo. My initial reaction was a mild appreciation of the sweet irony of it all. I simply have no sympathy for him - or his family.

      Of course there was no introspection - for that you need a sense of responsibility and insight. I am willing to bet that amongst the family's initial thoughts were how to make a buck out of the situation. What compensation they could get. God knows there is an ambulance chaser out there who is willing to take on the owners of the hotel for not foreseeing that some idiot would punch the glass.

      And, before you say it, I know only too well the pain of losing a child.

      And don't give me this "didn't have a chance" nonsense. That little animal would have had every opportunity to lift himself out of that cesspit he was born into. At school, in Stuart, from his job provider through Centrelink. He choose not to avail himself of those opportunities. The taxpayer throws a staggering amount of money into projects and schemes aimed precisely at helping out disadvantaged kids. The efficy of those projects and schemes is entirely another matter.

      Nah. Much easier to bludge off society, steal, bash those weaker than yourself and spend your days on the couch and your nights prowling for prey.

      Our history is littered with leaders who raised themselves from desperate circumstances. From poverty so abject the Santo family would have no comprehension. And that includes indigenous leaders.

      I did understand the thrust of your blog. Not the sharpest tool in the shed by a long shot, but not entirely dense either. I just took the ball and ran off in another direction.

    3. Grumpy - harsh words also about the Text the Editor at Bulletin. You talk about 'stirring up community debate'.

      If the Bulletin allowed all texters of differing viewpoints to be published, it could be a valid forum.

      Unfortunately it is the Honkeys and Biltons of society that drive their message.

      If the Bulletin cannot be trusted to provide such a forum, your comments re the IQ of texters is valid.

    4. Wonder how the coppers will feel about the Bulletin's next story about shocking youth crime now.

  8. You're all over the shop pie. One consistent message please

    1. Ignoring the temptation to re-name the blog The Pie Shop, your point is what? Have you found some inconsistencies in the blog, the comment today, or both?

  9. @1830 in Townsville (or 1930 in Melbourne ) 2 hours ago The Townsville Fire won their way into the Womens Basketball Grand Final. The Bully website makes no mention of this even the Fire website has been been updated,and also (my home page Nine Msn. It was shown live On ABC (who knew) on a one hour delay.. While Barrier Reef Basketball Gang have taken a killing and lined their pockets on the the Suns/Croc the Fire operate on a shoe string and several players play for sweet nothings . Congrats to Mike Carney and Escape Travel and all their other sponsers. It shows what can be done without some of those who are into the Croc for their own self stroking benefit I would Guess that Townsville Enterprise will claim they had a Hand in the win.

    1. Love the Fire. They don't really give a hoot about the ladies basketball shooting hoop. It was a good match too. Congrats girls.

      bty, why would the Astonisher give a hoot about coverage and reporting. I agree a paper which cannot expose its own asbestos publicly (hint even the public entered the building to place advertising) should be very accountable but they don't.

      Love your work Pie.

    2. They only care about Lancini's Cowboys. What's tennis, they ask?

  10. Refer page 18 T/B mar 4 Even the ding bats can't print the correct Fire winning score.

    1. Hmmm, thoughtful to engage readers with multiple choice scores ... three correct, one not - just a shame that the wrong one is by the reporter who was at the match (one assumes) - or was it those dreaded southern subs making merry with us yokels?

  11. Hi Pie, Always good and always entertaining.

  12. As my granny used to say;
    'if we have free contraception and abortion on demand, these kind of grubs wouldn't be able to be around, to do these horrible crimes ...'

  13. Golll-eee!! No wonder the Bligh Govcernment was down the tubes financially, letting the Port of Brisbane go on a 99 year lease for just $2.1 million. A snip.
    At least that's what a clearly over-worked and under assisted business editor Tony Raggatt ( a bloke who in this case is certainly not well served by his sub-editor) told us today on (prophetically) page 13, with the yarm '"Terrible' To Sell Port'.

    Quote: 'The former state-owned Port of Brisbane was sold to the Q Port Holdings consortium, involving state, national and international fund managers for $2.1 million'. Unquote.

    One would think no wonder they jumped at it, but in fact, the real price was $2.3 billion. And there plenty of people who thought that was way to cheap at that.

    Pifling error, you might say (and undoubtedly a subbing blue - that's what they're there to catch) but remember, the Townsville Bulletin is a News Ltd paper, and News Ltd hold the bandwagon reins when Swan or Gillard or Hockey or Abbott make the slighest financial error (although slight does not apply Treasurer Goose). Front page stuff.

    So what is good for the goose is good for the gander - and for News Ltd.

  14. As we all agree, what's the point of having the Astonisher when all the good journalist and shooters have been kicked out?

    I agree Pie and recently, council were highlighting that Townsville port could help us lose its Sovereignty. how much are they selling that for? And will Chinese purchase this. What do our military think of this key location in this military town?

    It appears the labor govt. is slack arse.

  15. Pie, Great blog, and good to see you take on the Bully where others would fear to tread. I dips me lid to you, sir. Gonzo.

  16. Correction: The Astonisher's Sports page is the paper's prozac which is used for the public's entertainment in the paper. Sport is like 'medication' it makes you feel good and what you 'don't' know doesn't hurt anyone? Just ask the Sharks. Miss Lou

  17. Hmmm, Lou, m'gal, 'makes you feel good ...' you obviously haven't heard of the Crocs.

    1. Ha ha Pie....The NRL season is a shame just like the Melbourne Storm. The Crocs are good value. I hope they do well. Not much scandal with basketball players and I love the Fire. You rock girls!!!!!

    2. Oh my Pie, check out the back page. Soccer is on the back page, it's the only time apart from Robbie Fowler that I've seen soccer on the back page. They(the astonisher) must want their advertising or want to make themselves appear 'wholesome'.