Saturday, August 10, 2013

A clown AND a clairvoyant - Peter Beattie's spooky 2009 prediction - has an Oak Valley, Townsville resident made the best unwitting political statement of the campaign? … and it’s been just one of those weeks for an error-prone Astonisher.

Also, Townsville Hospital to start charging for parking – a callous cash grab or prudent management? (Yes, well, this is meant to be a humorous blog.)

... and Peter Beattie counts on electoral amnesia, to let him eventually have a shot at The Lodge … (Bentley has his say on that one).

All here in this week’s nest at

Has one of the most prescient comments on our colorful political times come from a proud property owner at … would you believe? - Oak Valley just SW of Townsville.

While nurdling about out there recently, The ‘Pie was quite taken with this blunt 'up-you-world' statement at the gates of a palm-fringed drive. It personified the old bird’s feeling about the current campaign hoopla. Two garden gnomes say it all about our political gnomes.

... and a-holes all round.
Bums ......

Now to the verbal Quotes of the Week, and the best never actually happened, but is too good to pass up.

Peter Dowling - looking for bigger and better things to slip into?

SMH columnist Mike Carlton's imagined headline for the bizarre story of the Queensland LNP MP Peter Dowling and his penchant for sexting pix of his penis in a glass of red wine to (a now estranged) mistress. Hell hath no fury etc.

Yeah, right.

'As you know, I've been humble all my life,''

Former Qld premier Peter Beattie, playing for laughs on the announcement of his candidature for the federal election, no doubt prompted by this front page...

Bentley has the same idea.

Kevvy already having second thoughts:
'Wonder if Anna is available'.
'I'll squeeze 'em harder, Peter, if you don't knock off KRudd as leader!'

I think that's a little bit too old to make a political comeback and there would be a funeral if that happened. It would be mine. I think my wife would murder me. I have no interest in going back into politics.

And yeah, yet again ... but let's face it, he is the story of the week ... Peter Beattie, two years ago, confirming that his wife was at the head of a very long queue here in Queensland. We can only hope that unlike her husband, she is a woman of her word.

In the past, Peter and I have had the odd stoush or two. That’s OK, that’s life in the Labor Party.’

PM KRudd with the understatement of the year, and unwittingly summing up the redundancy of the ALP’s theme tune Solidarity Forever.

This one is probably the most prophetic, given it was created in 2009.
Joolya wasn't availe to pose for the cover,
but lent the cutlery

Yes, it’s that Peter Beattie. 
And The Magpie cannot resist just one more on this subject, since the election seems to have come down to 'vote for Rudd, or vote for Rupert'. Social media went to town after the now infamous Sydney Telegraph 'Kick This Mob Out' headline. Two of the best were these mock-ups.

Eddie Obeid

''Eddie will use all his influence and money not to be charged [in Australia]. After all, money can make people bend on their knees.''

Evon Obeid, a cousin of Eddie Obeid, who lives in the Lebanese village of Matrite, where Eddie is regarded like The Godfather ... same name, same morals, too.

And that’s leads us neatly into the trials and tribulations of the Astonisher’s sports section this week.

It is well known and quite sensible that in the name of self-interest (sales) the Townsville Bulletin offers blanket coverage to the Cowboys, almost to the point of overkill. The paper knows full well that the ‘Boys sell papers, and that rare occurrence this year – a win, and at home – would have the bean-counters wetting themselves in warm delight. But last Saturday, the Iditor and his moneymen had more than a little of what those coy TV ads call ‘SBL’ – Slight Bladder Leakage, and it wasn't in delight.

Each weekend, the Astonisher puts together a handy little lift-out guide on behalf of the Cowboys (and no doubt charge a pretty penny for doing so) which among other trivia and (one supposes) interesting sidelight yarns, devotes a whole page each to the teams playing that weekend – line-up, jersey numbers etc -  … in this case, it was South Sydney at Tooth Fairy Stadium. Popular little publication, which no doubt feeds on to Monday sales, especially in the event of a local win. So league fans must’ve been somewhat discombobulated when they turned to the South’s team page to find this ….

That’s the Broncos’ team from the previous week. Much muttering down the MagpieFone ensued, but the mutters turned to maniacal screams on Monday. The paper traditionally prints a half page of statistics for the weekend round, but last Monday, it seems Dr Who was doing the layout ….

… err, that, inexplicably, is the stat page for Round 4 – last year.

But look at the ladder and sigh wistfully.
 Another entry in the In-Credibility Cup.

Mind you, The Astonisher has competition for top points in this category. The challenge comes from our old pals at WIN TV News, whose comic genius extends beyond regular captioning cock-ups to the weather. For instance, it was not only a warm day in Halifax recently …

… but the whole town had magically migrated south to be somewhere around Douglas. And why wouldn’t you move a place that experiences a top temp of 118 degrees?

Also note, Townsville had taken a short swim across to Cape Cleveland and lucky old Ingham suddenly had ocean views for the first time since Yasi brought the ocean to them. Ah, the magic of television.

Other not-so-funny matters.

The Townsville Hospital is to introduce paid parking from October. Patients and visitors will be ‘slugged’ – to borrow from The Astonisher’s file of Favourite Loaded Words – a $5 flat fee.

This cannot be wholly justified, and is in part a callous, cynical and unnecessary cash-grab from mostly those who cannot afford it. But for some cynics, who know the price of everything and the value of nothing – e.g our hospital board and Hospital CEO, none of whom are familiar with financial hardship – the temptation to rifle the wallets of those you have by the nuts and over a barrel is too great to resist.

The spin is a bit breathtaking.
Townsville Hospital CEO Julia Squire.

Hospital CEO Julia Squire, a UK blow-in with an appalling fiscal history back in her home country tried to dress up the much-delayed announcement with just plain silly justifications. The worst argument of all being the ‘they’re all doing it‘ statement from Squire that ‘The Board has decided to implement paid parking in line with most other hospitals’

This is the nutty but popular thinking not exclusive to Ms Squire, Board chairman John Berne and board members. There are several reasons this is no reason at all to make the ill pay for accessing the services of the hospital. And is there any reason why we up here should not be a bit 'luckier' to have free hospital parking anyway.

For a start, ‘other hospitals’ are serviced by a decent public transport system, not the lame, busted-arse system in this town. And ‘most other hospitals’ aren’t out in the boondocks, a $50 one-way cab ride away for probably 75% of the population.

There was also the laughable faux-generous ruling that ‘the first 15 minutes will be free’. Sounds generous until you ever try doing anything at the hospital in 15 minute; in some cases recently observed, even reaching the front door. So there’s no benefit to anyone there, especially when in the same breath talking about expanded pick-up and put-down areas to handle quick in and out access.

Here’s a suggestion for the Townsville Hospital Board, remembering that this and other hospital boards were reintroduced  – so we were told - to reflect the community’s wishes in how the local hospital is run. (Funny, The ‘Pie must’ve missed those mass rallies with placards demanding that paid car parking be introduced.) 

What is wrong with ‘validated car parking’ for patients, especially those on various pensions, where $5 is an amount to be considered, particularly if two or more visits to the hospital are necessary each week. The system is simple enough; get your treatment and be given a stamped parking pass, with relevant info on it, time, department and name. This could also be useful in tracking the flow of patients through various departments. 

Ms Squire hinted in an interview with ABC Radio that this hadn’t been considered because it was ‘too complicated’. Ms Squire, if such a simple and widely used system – is it overstating it in this case to describe it as humane and fair – is ‘too complicated’ to implement, what ability can we expect from you on much larger and genuinely complex issues? Your legacy from your last gig in England – where you were forced to resign as CEO the Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, unable to answer criticism of your financial management and 20 million pound deficit – does not inspire confidence in any of your decisions for this community. Here’s a chance to turn over a new leaf in your new country.

Other matters.

Notice John Andersen in the Astonisher reported a Townsville woman startled by a helicopter drone outside her balcony taking pics  of her unit block. Bit light on details, and the lady conveniently didn't want to be named.  but then Ando tells us it that ‘It turns out that real estate companies are using drones to take photos of sale properties.’

Errr, how do you know that, old mate? Which real estate company (or did they want to remain anonymous – that’d be a first for a donga dealer? And how did your anonymous informant know it was a real estate drone?  But far more importantly, has your Chief of Stuff been asleep at the wheel. The Magpie expects – indeed, demands – a shock/horror invasion-of-privacy-what’s-the-council-doing-about-it screamer. Send Simpo – it’s rather fitting that a drone covers a drone.

But bugger the privacy issue, The ‘Pie is all for the South African’s innovative and highly commendable use of helicopter drones. The organiser of a music festival has created a phone app which will allow patrons in the vast outdoor arena to order beers by mobile phone, which will be dropped by parachute to the buyer, whose location is pinpointed by a chip in the mobile. Although The Magpie has his eye cocked at this one, too, decide for yourself … the vid at the bottom of the story shows a test run.

And finally, if the thought of a beer has made you hungry, fancy a hot dog? If so, DON’T watch this warts and all (maybe that's an ingredient) report  about how America’s favourite sports snack is actually made. You'll never eat one again. 

Enough now, it is away to Poseurs' Bar, where he will discuss that naughty Astonisher and it's wrong insertion ... a mistake he promises which he promises he will never make ... well, not deliberately, anyway, heh heh heh.


  1. latest polls have Rudd dropping 7%!people remember the promised but not delivered fuel and grocery watch and heres our GP super clinic funded by the Government 5 years late and unable to open because they cant find doctors and not able to use doctors from overseas.result GP clini( funded by the taxpayer) taking legal action against the system so it can open.Rudd logic

  2. It was always bound to happen - take heart, oh ye of faint Astonisher - even good papers (in this case the SMH) have some nice slip-ups.

    'Mr Robertson caused an outcry on Saturday when accused Opposition Leader Tiny Abbott of being a racist who wanted a return to the White Australia policy.
    "He's gone too," the source said.'

  3. Why The Magpie is an envious Annabelle Crabb fan. Best line on the Unholy Duo yet, and later includes the suggestion that Beattie's campaign HQ would be the Beattie Forde Clinic.

    Rudd/Beattie press conference. Like the birth of a two-headed kitten, this event was at once statistically unlikely and powerfully compelling. That two such colossal spheres of self-regard and deep, mutual hatred could be manoeuvred together for an outwardly friendly encounter tells you just how far we are from Kansas in this election, Dorothy.'

    Read more:

    The whole article is worth a read as a primer on xlt comic writing - The Pie is green with envy.

  4. Hospital Parking - my recent experience when a family member was dying where you don't even know how long you will stay at the hospital in order for a family member to be with your loved one 24 hours a day - just what you need when you emerge at 1 or 2 in the morning to be trying to pay for an 8 or 10 hour stint - mind u there is plenty of room there in the middle of the night but not when you arrive.

  5. Started to turn into an awards ceremony at the start there 'Pie, but drone on drone is what really got me going.

  6. Always good and always entertaining.
    Miss Lou.

  7. I can just imagine the Atonisher's political coverage! Sighs....

  8. Seriously, Kevin cheated. You don't have notes??

  9. p.s. I'm not suprised if The Surgeon's wife who writes and probably never has paid for a morgage suggested using the drone to get more advertisin.

  10. Now that Dickie Chesterman has handed down his findings in regards to the Queensland Health payroll debacle, it is clear that IBM has been somewhat less than a model corporate citizen.

    Whilst the breathtaking incompetence displayed by QH management comes as no surprise to anyone with experience of that turgid and bloated bureaucracy, the apparent level of corruption is enough to make a Tahitian Prince blush.

    Anyone with an ounce of sense would have known that the mess was a ticking UXB, ready to go off at the slightest prodding. And Campbell Newman was more than happy to give the thing a good kick in the guts.

    So…what the bleeding hell was Jenny Hill thinking when she accepted IBM’s largesse? Why on earth did she take a trip, funded by the very company that gave Queenslanders a right royal screwing? She knew that the ship was about to hit the sand (the enquiry had been announced when she took her trip). Where was the benefit to ratepayers? Jeepers – this is the stuff upon which the CMC thrives. Is the woman a total fool...oh, never mind.

    Has she ever given a report to the Council? She should – right bloody now – and explain why she was supping with the devil, and using a very short spoon indeed.

    Importantly, where is the press? They should have been all over this.

    On other matters – ‘Pie, I have a spare one of those “Ineptocracy” tee shirts. Size XL. I bought it for a socialist mate of mine. He refused my gift – rather rudely so. I’ll gladly donate it to the cause – perhaps if you select the best post of the month (no “Anons”, please).

    And the parachute beer. Looks rather inaccurate to me. Imagine trying to pinpoint one patron at Lang Park on a windy State of Origin night. Imagine trying to claim it if it missed the mark…

  11. Grumpy, sad that here I am yet again defending Mayor Mullet - but here goes. Council has had a relationship with IBM since at least 2007 on this innovative sustainable green thingy whats -it. As I understand it, it is a separate part of the IBM behemoth and was not linked to the Health payroll debacle - except by name only. And there were reports to council and even the Astonisher reported on the IBM tech and sustainability experts who came to Townsville to impart their knowledge to council and other companies. I was drafted into attending!

    1. Sorry, Bully Boy, again we must disagree. Hill sold the trip to the USA as being part of a push to encourage IBM to set up a “service delivery centre” in Townsville. This was pie-in-the-sky nonsense. It was an ill-advised junket, pure and simple. The Smart City concept was an IBM marketing plan (who do you think we were going to buy all them smart meters and associated - expensive - software from?).

      She was supposed to report back to Council upon her return. To my knowledge, this never happened (John N – you were watching this – has she given a report?). If not, why not? What, precisely did she achieve? Are we actually going to get a "service delivery centre"? Who went with her (apart from that raving greenie, Greg Bruce – I thought that the Greens were above that sort of thing)? Did her family members accompany her? Who paid for them? Where is her official diary of the trip?

      To suggest that there is a “good” IBM and a “bad” IBM is a little disingenuous (and naïve). Despite its size, it is the one company – and one with a toxic culture at that.

      Regardless of all that, one has to ask whether Hill has hopelessly comprised herself in any future dealings between Council and IBM. He who pays the piper…

  12. A NEW RECORD!!

    The word 'selfie' is now pretty well established in our society, probably because of the culture of self-obsession now dominant in Generation Tuggers and Touchers - reinforced by a political candidate painfully trying for the yoof vote.

    But it would appear 'selfie' goes beyond Instagram pix of oneself, and there is a major infestation of the phenonomen in the written word of columns of certain papers, particularly News Corp's publications. (Even The Astonisher comes second behind Sydney's Terror Graf in this area.)

    So it seemed appropriate to establish some sort of 'selfie watch' award, and to keep it local, we'll start by keeping The Astonisher under review.

    The judging rules are simple: just count the number of times local columnists use the first person pronouns 'I', 'me' and 'my'. The one with the highest score wins that day's or week's Tuggers and Touchers Trophy (a pocket-sized mirror which will always be on hand in case of panic attacks on self-esteem). Feel free to help out in the judging, folks.

    So the inaugural award was set to go to Astonisher newby David Sparkes, bit of surprise because he writes good clean news copy. He scored 20 'selfies' in his most recent column, 4 better than Julian 'The Other JT' Tomlinson's (16), even beating Pricey (who after all is paid to write about himself, being a celeb 'n all) who managed just 15. Kate'I can't Believe I'm Not Married Yet' Higgins scored 10 at the time of the initial survey, followed by Shari Taggers and Emily Emac on 9 each, Ando had 2 (and in the context of not so much about himself but where he was and who he was talking to) and Tony Raggers 0, although he uses The Pie's technique of a third person identity of 'Business Desk' a very educated piece of furniture since it is always 'thinking' an opinion about something or other. These last two disgraceful individuals actually talk about matters and people other than themselves, so a trip to the Iditor's office is on the cards.

    But Sorry, Mr Sparkes, you can't keep a good gal down (which is possibly why she's not married yet) so with Monday's column, Katie Higgers zooms up the leader board as a clear winner with a score of 26!!! Indeed, she signalled her intentions early with the second paragraph bombing us into rapt fascination with no less than 5, and a commendable 8 in the first four paragraphs.

    Can we be far away from 'Kate Higgins: The Cookbook' subtitle: ''How I Think I Should Cook My Meals For Me and How I Do It All Myself'. The very first Tuggers and Touchers Trophy is yours, m'dear, but the competition is fierce ... and give up all hope of holding onto it if Ann 'Attila The Hen' Roebuck gets back into the column game, with more fascinating tales of the tender mercies to which she subjects her family.

  13. Here's another example of the depths to which The Astonisher has plummeted.
    The review story on the Townsville Seafood Festival in Monday's edition was based on a phone call from the reporter to the event promnoter, so what we got was a glowing report on how thousands of people turned up and how wonderful it all was.
    However, the real story was revealed a few pages later in the same edition when the punters screamed "rip-off" in the Text the Editor section.
    The complaints continued in today's paper, reinforcing the truth that people who paid serious entry fees to eat seafood didn't see much seafood at all.
    In days of old a reporter would have strolled down to the Festival and had a look for themselves, but thanks to the staff cuts aimed at maintaining an outrageous profit to send to the USA for Rupert to pocket, all we got was a flim-flan review virtually written by the promoter.
    And they wonder why readership and circulation are in freefall.

    1. Pie, they ate the seafood diet. See food and diet.

      good work.

  14. I made an enquiry via my ex RAAF connections, apparently KRUDD & the first sheila’s trip to
    Afghanistan via a RAAF KC30-A A330 Tanker was specifically tasked for just him, wife & media visit to Afghanistan.
    The trip went via Perth and was a very quick over & back task.
    What a complete waste of taxpayer funds for a photo op with the troops, when we have a massive cutback in defence spending.
    This trip will not have come out of No 34 VIP Squadrons funding for Prime Ministerial travel.  The KC30-A Tanker
    belongs & funding expenditure is allocated by No 33 Squadron at Amberley.
    In effect he is stealing funding from defence operations for his own political purposes.
    Is there no end to this prick’s selfishness, self aggrandisement, waste and contempt to the Armed Services
    and the Australian Tax Payer?
    And this while most of my retired military friends are living impoverished lives on their 
    Labor Party deliberately reduced (Defence Forces Retirement Benefit Fund) superannuation indexation. 
    In my case it is minus $550 a fortnight since I retired and I was a Wing Commander most of the retired
    guys were Warrant Officers or lesser ranks and really struggling after serving their country all their working lives. 
    It’s a bloody disgrace! About $560 million would repay it all back which is about 2 weeks worth of illegal immigrants under Rudd!


  15. The 'HUH?' headline of the day -

    Alarming double meaning, given that the dough for many of bread, cake and biscuit 'baked on premises today' products of Coles and Woolworths are made from imported dough which has been ready-mixed in places like the Netherlands and Ireland.

    However, turns out it is just a punny line - Dominos is simply moving into the Japanese market to make money - 'dough' .. geddit, geddit , yuk, yuk, (sigh).

    1. Yes, 'Pie..I was, at first, most disbelieving of the story that the majority of home-brand cakes and bread in the major supermarkets is imported as premixed dough from Ireland.

      It was a real WTF moment when it was confirmed. Bread dough is basically salt, yeast and flour (with a few unmentionable additives). How on earth can they ship it half way around the world and still be cheaper than mixing it here? Not exactly high-tech...cup of flour, pinch of yeast, chuck in a pinch of salt and Bob's yer uncle.

      Sort of makes the "fresh baked in store every day" sales pitch a little less attractive, don't it?

      Please tell me the Paddies are not using Australian wheat to make the flour...

  16. or dough as in money.

  17. DOH! And so predictable as a headline!

  18. The Astonisher's 'Huh?' headline yesterday:

    'PM Not Invested in Super Stadium Plans'.

    And the paper not INTERESTED in checking their headlines.

    1. Hi Pie, I think what's frustrating is the fact there's no accountability. I'd like to complain to the press council but they seem slack arse.

  19. There are two sides to this. There is sloppy backroom work in production (a good non-text example is the until-recently unthinkable amateurism of production is page 32/33 of today - Thursday's Bulletin - Nicole Kidman has been literally cut in half by the placement trying to cover the centre area of both pages; somehow, half the pic is missing, making her look like a paraplegic amputee ... and down below, a sugary snap of (apprently) a just wedded couple cuts out all but sliver of the grooms back - funny in itself but not funny professionally.) That's just slapdash and no concern of any authority.

    Then there is the bias and spin in the news columns - recent examples are the Blakey's Crossing job-schedule story - a clasisic Townsville Whines story about a burger bar owner 'I fink it right criminul it won't be finished before the wet season' ,and the council's deal on the old TAFE building. These matters are just spin and bad reporting through selective publication of non-facts (qv Ratepayers Association self-promoter, pest and time waster Paul Jacob in The Sun making the unchecked and totally incorrect claim that the TAFE deal will mean a rise in rates). All this is hardly actionable except to further tarnish the already green-mouldy reputation of the paper. That toothles tiger the Press Council would be able to do little even if they had the bite of Mike Tyson. No the Townsville Bulletin is getting its come-uppance through public ridicule and the flight of readers.

  20. There is an economic message for our political leaders in the regions
    July 2013 Workforce data; give the Northern and North West its Fair
    Share of fiscal distribution.

    The regions workforce has continued to slide since May as the
    unemployment rate climbs to unacceptable levels. The workforce for
    the wider Townsville region dropped by 1,100 in July as the region
    lost mining and other jobs. The workforce remains 4,000 jobs below
    the regions long run average workforce size.

    Complementing that slide in jobs the unemployment rate has more than
    doubled since October last year. There are multiple reasons for this
    but it excludes most state government attrition as that occurred
    earlier in 2012.

    Finally, females UE rate climbed yet again and the overall
    participation rate dropped indicating a lack of confidence from some
    job seekers.

    It's time for Brisbane and Canberra to recognise this regions economic
    contribution and drive policy that promotes better and more
    diversified economic conditions.

    DSEconomics contributes to the local community including the 'Our Fair
    Share' campaign started 2006 ongoing

  21. Opposition leader Tony Abbott walks into a bank and asks the teller, “Could you please cash this cheque for me?"

Teller: “Certainly sir. May I see your ID?”
Tony Abbott: “Pardon? I’m Tony Abbott. I did not bring my ID with me as I didn't think there was any need. I am the Opposition leader of Australia!”
Teller: "Maybe so sir, but with all the regulations and monitoring of the banks these days I must insist on seeing some ID."

    Tony Abbott: “Look, young lady, just ask anyone here at the bank who I am and they will tell you.  They will all know who I am."

    Teller: "Terribly sorry sir, but rules are rules!”

    Tony: "Young lady, I am urging you to cash this cheque for me."

    Teller: "Look sir, here are a couple of examples of how we can fix this little impasse: One day, Tiger Woods came in without any ID, so to prove he was Tiger Woods he pulled out his putter and made a beautiful shot across the bank into a cup. With that shot we knew him to be Tiger Woods and cashed his cheque. Another time, Pat Rafter came in without ID.  He took out his tennis racquet made a fabulous shot and the tennis ball landed in my cup. Due to that shot we cashed his cheque.  So sir, what can you do to prove that you are indeed Tony Abbott, Opposition leader of Australia?”
Tony just stood there bewildered, trying to think.
    Eventually he said, “Honestly, my mind is a total blank... There is nothing at all that comes to mind.  I can't think of a single thing. I have absolutely no idea or clue what to do.”

    Teller: "Will that be in large or small notes, Mr. Abbott?” 

    1. Funny how the old chestnuts are revived at election time! When this oldie was last circulated with Gillard as the star, it was picked up by millions and re-circulated by trillions.

      I recently saw a comment by Larry Pickering stating that Rudd has not been circumcised - their is no end to the prick!

      I hadn't heard that since the Gough Whitlam days and I still agree with the sentiment.