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The Magpie

Saturday, April 14th, 2018   |   137 comments

Dangerous Dogs: Jenny Hill’s Hidden Agenda Feud With The RSPCA Comes Back To Bite Her On Her Electoral Bum – Big Time.

With the flawless ineptitude we have come to expect, Mayor Mullet has added another spectacular misfire to her growing list of leadership bungles. The backlash has been immediate and as vicious as a Staffy on steroids, and our gal backflip with pike and twist is the envy of Gold Coast gymnasts. The ‘Pie has more damning background info, and proof that Jenny realizes she’s really cocked up this one. But what’s she really up to?

Also, a tale of two cities – separated by just 347.3kms, but planets apart, Cairns Council and the Cairns paper are showing how it can, and should be, done. And an ominous omen for Townsville Enterprise.

Also speaking of TEL … the hypocrisy of the Dudley Do Nothings … it’s all the Ps for our favourite poppet, puppet and parrot Little Patty O’Callaghan who gets the weeks Pure Poppycock Award for her two-faced take on air fares.

And has the Astonisher uncovered a Bruce/Caitlin Jenner gender bender sports spectacular … no, turns out, if ignorance is bliss, they’re in seventh heaven down on Flinders Street West,

But first …

The Mullet Isn’t The Only Fishy Thing About This RSPCA Saga.

Bentley’s on to her.

 Pound fin small

Things just keeping springing out at us from Walker Street … the sacking of a nationally recognised art curator, sparking with withdrawal of millions in dollars in art patronage, a spurious and faked public start to a far from settled water pipeline – add to that today’s news that the council will have to borrow tens of millions to keep to its promised construction schedule – the gift of $18.5million for that Adani airstrip, and now, all of a sudden, a nasty spat and a hastily arranged make-up between the mayor and the RSPCA.

What appeared to be a very high-handed approach to the RSPCA’s request for adequate funding for the valuable work they do has resulted in the clearly intended outcome that the council will take over the management of the animal pound and certain other animal management tasks – a situation that in the TCC’s chaotic state at the moment promises a looming disaster. They can’t even organize that wrong-headed kerbside rubbish collection.

But the mayor and council’s well documented  ‘culture of secrecy’ about this RSPCA saga instantly saw yet another protest demonstration outside the council chambers, and a social media firestorm of outrage. And that outrage could so easily have been avoided by talking the community through various stages of the issue and the perceived value of such a move.

If ever you needed proof that the RSPCA-TCC shit fight was a mess brought on by authoritarian arrogance , look no further than page 8 of Thursday’s Astonisher.

Screen shot 2018-04-14 at 11.01.37 PM

If Trump hides behind his tweets, then Mayor Mullet hides behind selective and dishonest full page spin, which by the way, is paid for by those very people she has outraged with this shoddy penny pinching plan for animal management and welfare.

But even if what mayor Mullet says is true … talk about cherry picking facts … why are we hearing about it now, after all the grossly negative publicity not just statewide but nationally (thanks you, News Corpse), especially the RSPCA assertion last week that they had been bullied by the council.

A informed Magpie reader, well positioned to know the truth of the matter, sheds further light on that claim and airs a popular conspiracy theory of the sort that is the inevitable result of the council’s ‘culture of secrecy’. He writes:

One of the conspiracy theories floating around the current TCC-RSPCA brouhaha is that TCC have a secret agenda to sell the land on which the shelter sits to one of the Gilded Few for development. Usually I don’t have too much faith in this type of speculation but now I’m starting to think it may just be true.

I know that over the last 4 – 5 years the RSPCA has been genuinely trying to reach some level of agreement with TCC over the security of their lease of the land on Tompkins Road.

In January 2017 the RSPCA submitted a development application to TCC to build several new kennel buildings and a new vet clinic building at their shelter the land. This proposal was an investment of a couple of $100K of  RSPCA money into improving animal welfare outcomes in a struggling city desperately in need of local employment opportunities.

TCC approved the proposal for RSPCA to build this new infrastructure, which remember is on TCC land and which would then become a TCC capital asset….(but here is the kicker)…on the condition that the status of the tenure of the lease is finalised with TCC! In other words, no security of tenure was offered in return for this considerable investment.

So let us look ahead and join the dots:

RSPCA cannot get any guarantee of security of tenure and so decides not to go ahead with this substantial investment in the city … eight or so months later, TCC  put out a new tender for animal shelter services with completely unrealistic requirements (see last week’s blog) … rather than being set up to fail RSPCA decide not to submit a tender and withdraw their services from the city …TCC take possession of the land, some time passes and then guess what? Hello, new housing development, with land and approval going to a chosen developer. And a new expensive pound to God knows where.

And just two final thoughts……

I see that over the last 8 months the RSPCA have almost totally rebuilt and upgraded their shelter in Cairns and it is due to reopen again very shortly. I wonder if this was the money they originally intended to invest in Townsville? Have our progressive northern neighbours trumped us yet again?

And secondly, we are constantly told by TCC that the RSPCA have chosen not to submit a tender …what they have not told us is if they have actually received any tenders at all. After reading the tender specifications I don’t think anyone is beating their door down to get to the tender box! On the face of it, it would be financial suicide.

The Townsville Council (and the Astonisher) Could Learn A Thing Or Two From Cairns

The ‘Pie has always been of the opinion that it profits very little to promote the ‘us and them’ rivalry between Cairns and Townsville. Sure, it’s sometimes just jokey, and sometimes prompted by envy, but it usually is not constructive. But there are recent examples where Townsville’s governing hierarchy could learn a thing or two from our northern neighbour.

At the outset. The ‘Pie wants to make clear he isn’t donning rose coloured glasses in the following analysis; he is certain Cairns experiences as much intrigue, whispered back-of-the-hand arrangements and the sort of jiggery-pokery that flourishes around all QLGA councils. But as an outsider looking in, there are some glaring differences between the two communities, the main one being the council’s attitude to informing the community and the way in which the Cairns Post delivers that message.

For example, here is a recent front page from the Cairns Post.

Screen shot 2018-04-14 at 11.08.57 PMScreen shot 2018-04-14 at 11.10.08 PM

Now in your wildest, Chivas-inspired fantasies, could you imagine Jenny Hill saying something like that … and the Townsville Bulletin putting it on the front page? Mayor Bob Manning also guaranteed that the community would be taken along on the process when he said ‘We want the review to give us a report, whether its warts and all, or whether its all ticks – the report will be thrown open once we get it.’

This is in stark contrast to Mayor Mullet telling a protest meeting held after flooding in a Townsville suburb reputedly caused by earthworks approved by council for a new development that they were in essence whingers and basically, stiff cheese.

But there was an item on page 8 of the same Cairns paper which really caught the Magpie’s eye. Advance Cairns is or was that city’s version of Townsville Enterprise.

Screen shot 2018-04-14 at 11.12.24 PM

Key quotes from Mayor Manning include that the council did not need the ‘expensive help of Advance Cairns’ and ‘this is part of a program now of engaging directly with people and not doing it through second and third parties.’ Th council no longer ponies up the annual stipend of $300,000 for Advance Cairns, which admittedly got a bit up itself and took stands that directly opposed stated council policy.

This prompted The ‘Pie to contact Cairns Council ask if they had a council Development Corporation like the one just instituted by Townsville Council. No certainly do not have one, was the crisp reply.

Gill Young and Hill

Yet here, we have an elected council that gives TEL $750,000 annually to achieve God knows what (SFA is the popular belief) and has the mayor as deputy board chair (conflict of interest anyone?), has created another layer of obfuscation with a Development Corporation (mayor’s on that board, too, along with the CEO) and has encouraged and facilitated sharp-elbowed spivs like Pure Projects to join in the whole confused jamboree.

It is clear that in most cases, the Cairns Council takes the community along with its processes and admits possible fallibility. You won’t, as the old saying has it, want to be hanging by the left one waiting for that to happen in Townsville.

The Occasional Janus Two-Faced BUMM Award Goes To

From Magpie’s Nest comments on Friday.

The Magpie

The hypocrisy is breathtaking and can’t be far away from official corruption in the misuse of position.

TEL CEO Patrcia O’Callaghan tells the Astonisher that regional airfares are acting as an impediment to increased investment and – believe this! – goes on to say ‘Reducing the cost of Townsville airfares will not only support investment attraction and encourage visitation, but it will enhance liveability amongst our community’.

It doesn’t come more mealy-mouthed than that, given that Ms O’Callaghgan’s Board Chairman Kevin Gill is trying all sorts of juvenile tricks to lift ALL airfares at Townsville airport with a ticket tax for the sole objective of getting a captive public – passengers – to fund an upgrade that would only enhance his company’s assessment base at no cost. Qantas stands firm against such an iniquitous scheme.

hypocrisy |hiˈpäkrisē|
noun ( pl. -sies)
the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretence.

As If A Damaging Cyclone Wasn’t Bad Enough For Poor Old Darwin

Quick note from the trenches … mate tells the Magpie during the week that he and a couple of other people have been contacted by TV journalists from Darwin, asking what they knew about Townsville Council CEO Adele The Impaler Young being appointed CEO of Darwin City Council. Of course, the Astonisher could ring their sister paper NT News and check out what they know their end, and maybe they did but maybe honorary deputy editor mayor Mullet wants to keep it quiet for the moment.

Only time will tell if this is true, but The Impaler can expect hundreds to attend her farewell … to ensure she gets on the plane.

Don’t Speak ill Of The Dead … But Just Once, How About The Truth?

Social media, especially Facebook, has caused the exponential growth of that modern phenomenon known as recreational grief … displaying or being expected to display grief at the misfortune and mostly death of public figures and increasingly, complete strangers. Sometimes it is a celebrity, sometimes a local accident or illness victim, and sometimes the grief is genuinely heartfelt but sometimes … most times … it is feigned as opportunity for that modern stance called virtue signalling, posturing to make your ‘tut-tutting, what a shame’ enhance your own admirable human empathy when someone stranger’s bad news is made public. The term ‘recreational grief’ was first coined with the funeral of Princess Diana and – with a media knowing a good thing when they see it – descended into the everyday maudlin from there. We are not immune from cynical and wrong-headed recreational grief here in Townsville, led by a lazy and sloppy paper like the Daily Astonisher, whose first port of call every morning appears to be Facebook, Twitter, even Linkedin to check out the morning’s police splatter report.

Talk about modern mores getting it all arse about … surely, social media should be full of discussions about what has been said in the paper, not the other way around.

But that’s as far as checking often goes with this paper … there was the spectacular front page faux pas a few years ago when a vicious and violent convicted thug was stupid enough to kill himself on broken glass during a bungled break-in. The paper was in total ignorance of his considerable violent criminal past (although reported prominently once in the paper itself) put him on the front page as a fallen angel taken too soon – all based on favourable Facebook quotes from friends – when in fact, the whole community agreed they were better off without his violent menace amongst them.

The Astonisher is forever trying to ramp up teary sympathy in readers who are complete strangers to the person in question, whether it be someone ‘fighting’ cancer – a nonsense in itself, cancer runs its own race and either it succumbs to treatment or it doesn’t, – or some unfortunate accident victim. Now, don’t get me wrong, The ‘Pie is not denigrating or sneering at those unfortunate enough to meet an untimely end, and the grief of a family and friends is genuine enough, but their loss is a very private one and there is something very distasteful about a paper trying to profit from it. But what is known as the reporter’s death knock is a very old tradition.

Perhaps The ‘Pie would think differently if for once – just once – the Townsville Bulletin did an Aussie version of the fabled obituary page in the London Telegraph. The London Tele has become famous not so much speaking ill of the dead but telling their life story in unvarnished fact (the paper’ obits are so readable they have been published in several books).

So could we not for see a local story about, say, someone departed through an accident with quotes like:

‘I never liked the way he looked at kids.’

 ‘Ah, yeah, I knew him … he was an A grade knob-throttler since school – probably why he lost control of the car.’

Dead? Shit, he owed me $20 bucks.’

Bit of a prick really, always used to bring low strength beers to the barby and then drink everyone else’s booze.

That unsavoury bastard. I reckon if his dog could talk, he’d be up on charges.’

Of course, if The ‘Pie drops off his twig any time soon, he may well become the first dearly departed to get this ‘honesty’ treatment from the Astonisher, such is the esteem in which he is held by those at the paper and their honorary editor Mayor Mullet et al.
But Hey, You Can’t Say That The Townsville Bulletin Isn’t A Generous Publication

Discounts are an established part of all business is a standard tactics everywhere, from banks (multiple account discount)  to Harvey Norman (sometimes bloody everything). And the Astonisher has proved it is the soul of generosity when it comes to discounts.

A regular Nester needed to place a ‘help wanted’ ad in the Astonisher ($700 ta muchly) was so overwhelmed by the paper’s clever upselling generosity, the reader just had to share it. It’s the last line you want.


Classification:   Community Services & Development

Schedule:   BUL:14Apr2018

Cost:  $700.00

Publication/s: Townsville Bulletin

Inclusions: Your booking includes your print listing and an online listing.

Your online listing will be based on the content of your print advertisement. The online listing will run for 7 days but you can remove the ad by calling us if you fill the position earlier.

This quote also includes a standard listing on finda.com.au for 30 days.

If you would like to run this ad for 2 days it would bring the cost down to $699. Let us know when you approve the booking if you would prefer this option.

One supposes it would be churlish to point out that the saved dollar isn’t near enough to buy a single copy of the Townsville Bulletin.  

Does Tennis Australia Know About This?

Is Sam Stosur tired of being a gal and trying for a Caitlin Jenner in reverse? Davis Cup blooper

For the non-sporty types (and the Bulletin’s sub editor in Mumbai) the Davis Cup is only played by blokes.

Meanwhile Over In Trumpitania

The exodus of White House staff continues apace, and The New Yorker sees there is some truth in the standard reason given.


“I’m stepping down to spend more time with my actual children.”

Finally, Forgive Him Lord For He Knows Not What He Does – Yet

tit toucher


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The Magpie's Nest is now more than five years old, and remains an independent alternative voice for Townsville. The weekly warble is a labour of love and takes a lot of time to put together. So if you like your weekly load of old cobblers, you can help keep it aloft with a donation, or even a regular voluntary subscription. Paypal is at the ready, it's as easy as ... well, easy as pie. Limited advertising space is also available.

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