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The Magpie

Sunday, May 13th, 2018   |   97 comments

Is The Townsville Council Up Corruption Creek In A Barbed-Wire Canoe With A Bent Safety Pin For A Paddle? Could Be.

It could be that the council is about to sink under a malodorous mire of its own making, and it all revolves around reported back flips on a secretive land grab deal on the northern beaches. There is a lot more … a hell of a lot more … to last week’s revelations about the disgraceful and probably illegal bullying aimed at forcing a 76-year-old widow off her Rollingstone property. The ‘Pie gives an overview.

Death by a thousand cuts. The latest yearly readership figures for the Townsville Bulletin are real wrist-slitters … likewise for the hapless goof Peter Typo Gleeson at the Sunday Mail.

And The ‘Pie poses a question for Chris Morris of The ‘Ville hotel/casino: everybody is mystified  – why are you spending tens of millions of dollars on a property which – in the present situation – will never return the investment? The Magpie has a theory.

Plus everything from a fist fight on the fairways to Nepal, a country where they laugh at things like ‘if its flooded forget it.’ And also … a new meaning to ‘just ducking out for a moment’.

But first …

The jaw-boning about the federal budget will continue for a while, but a pox on both their houses as far as The ‘Pie is concerned, the major parties are drunk on their own prejudices. For the Coalition, the cruel and discredited trickle down theory of giving big business – including those bastard banks – massive tax breaks in the hope – yes just the hope – that they will invest the savings into extra jobs (ha!) and/or wage rises (double ha!) is cynicism at its best. On the other hand, Labor’s witless ‘my tax cuts are bigger than your tax cuts’ is worthy of a debate behind the playground shelter shed – an typically uncosted debate at that.

Bentley believes Talkbull and ScoMo are channeling that latter day conservative twister and icon, Joh, with the tried and true policy of feeding the chooks … but in this case, we dumb clucks.

budget fin small

The Sandra Richards Saga: Criminal Or Corruption – Or Both?

margaret richards

The Magpie has been given information that strongly suggests the club-footed bullying of Sandra Richards, which she and her son are convinced is to force her sell her Rollingstone property below market value – is part of a wider campaign supporting a lucrative land grab in the area.

And the Townsville City Council seems to be involved with several unexplained reversals of previous decisions supporting Mrs Richard’s traditional right of access to her property.

In an extraordinary development in the past week, if appeals do not succeed, Mrs Richards’ is effectively barred any vehicle access to her property Moongobulla. In effect, according to her son Cameron, his mother is under siege by her neighbours the Navarro family, whom Cameron believes have designs on her land and want to bully her into selling.

Solicitor Connie Navarro - Emanate Legal

Solicitor Connie Navarro – Emanate Legal

Connie Navarro is an solicitor with Barry Taylor’s Emanate Legal, and is believed to advise the Townsville City Council on legal aspects of property matters.

The Richards indicates that attempts to have talks to settle the matter have been rebuffed, and cannot get a reply from the Townsville Council as to why they reversed previous support for Mrs Richards’ to have access. She relied on council assurances to spend $25,000 to have a suitable road graded on an access corridor.

This excerpt from Mrs Richards’ ‘please explain’ letter to the council raises many questions that the council MUST answer.

‘Last Sunday I was made aware of a new sign up indicating an additional new application to the Department of Natural Resources by the Navarros. This is not just to shut down my track along the dedicated Public Road Reserve which the Council initially approved, but also it seems an additional Crown Land section between the Highway and my property quite separate from the adjoining neighbour section. I am given to understand that the Council has also supported this application to apparently contradict not only earlier assurances and approvals given to help me find a solution but also your ongoing assurances about this as well in relation to both the water pipeline issues and also the ‘viable access’ issues. Can we clarify if this is the case, and if so what is the reason for this… if not for irregular purposes on the basis of possibly inappropriate influences and possible conflicts of interest? The council should be aware that especially if it is the case that you have actually supported such an obviously vindictive, profiteering and in some relevant respects illegal action – and especially if this has been done secretly and also in contradiction to the continued assurances you are providing me – that this will need to be outlined in relevant detail as part of a formal Objection to the Dept of Natural Resources due by June 14.’

The Magpie has been provided with a lot of relevant material and history of this disturbing matter, and not just by the Richards, but will not go into further details of the particular issue of access at this time to allow all parties time to explain themselves. Instead let’s look at the wider picture of what is happening in the area.

A Closer Look At The Players Involved

There is big money – and one reasonably guesses. big rewards – forecast for the Bluewater-Rollingstone area.

The big bucks belong to the Tiong family of Sarawak in Malaysia, who have parlayed a logging business there into a diverse global enterprise worth billions, including palm oil, aquaculture, insurance, banking, publishing, shipping and much, much more – significantly for us, that includes real estate and property development.

The Tiong family interests in this neck of the woods include four companies … Landmark Investments, Landmark Projects, Landworth and Roxbrook … managed by Thomas Tiong and Kar Wai Chan. (These companies own Darling Harbour Harbourside shopping complex in Sydney.) The family has vast holdings throughout Australia.

Thomas also has Mango’s in Queensland through N.A.P Townsville Pty Ltd, which is based in Giru.

Now it is interesting to note that sitting with the Townsville City Council’s planning department at the moment are detailed plans for an multi-million dollar equestrian centre in what is believed to be Tiong-held land at Bluewater. The plans have been awaiting approval for a year or more. The idea is that this horsey venture would be almost exclusively targeted at the Chinese tourism market, and would most certainly be a major job creator, and not just for those speaking Manadrin or Cantonese, but locals as well, although down the ladder so as to speak.

Warwick Powell

Warwick Powell

This project’s interests in these early stages are looked after by well known local Warwick Powell, who has long pointed out the potential of the Chinese tourism market. The proposed Bluewater centre would be a major fillip to the surrounding property market, and it is rumoured that Thomas Tiong is buying up lots in the area.

The Magpie is in no way suggesting that Mr Tiong or his companies are involved in the behavior towards Mrs Richards, which is verging on the criminal. But there are persistent but unsubstantiated reports that other property owners have been ‘urged’ to put their places on the market. The name David Wadley is mentioned in this respect, along with his son, Tomas …

Tomas Wadley

… who runs Bluewater Real Estate.

Again, The Magpie makes no inference of improper practices towards the Wadleys, but he is certainly curious about any eagerness anyone is showing to have so many what are essentially scrubland properties on their books. Are the Wadleys expecting a sudden rush of Tree Changers to this rather bleak area, or do they already have a buyer waiting in the wings?

The same questions could be asked of th Navarros, given their role in the disgraceful treatment of Sandra Richards. Perhaps Connie Navarroi’s boss, Barry Taylor, might enlighten us … Cameron Richards is adamant that Taylor, who owns Emanate Legal both in Townsville and in Brisbane,  has attended several meetings of a local group interested in the sudden appreciation of local land.

Again, The Magpie makes no inferences against Mr Taylor, despite the popular aphorism around Townsville that the easiest way to get yourself injured is to stand between Barry Taylor and a bag of money.

But the confluence of events in the area certainly leads one to all sorts speculations. Both Mr Taylor and the Tiong’s already have separate interests in prawn farms, and maybe a defunct one near Rollingstone may be reactivated. That would be a nice little earner. especially if there was a contract to supply places that cater for Chinese tourists, one would think. There’d be a premium dollar there, you’d reckon.

And who knows, perhaps scrubland unsuitable for grazing and indeed much else could converted into a premium golf resort along the extensive beachfront that is available.

Of course, all this would require approvals from the Townsville City Council, and surely big business which requires certainty in its dealings, would be wary of dealing with Walker Street. Ask Mrs Richards, she could tell them how unreliable and prone to changing previous assessments that they are … without notification or explanation.

But wait A Minute, Could It Be ….

The Ville's Chris Morris

The Ville’s Chris Morris

Come to think of it, The ‘Pie has lately wondered about why Chris Morris, a canny businessman and no dill with a dollar, is pouring a reported $40millions into upgrading what is basically a rundown dreary casino for local no hopers, and a very ordinary hotel. Now such an upgrade will be welcomed by the whole community, but the question is, why the lavish investment? Surely it would be kinda obvious that even ignoring that Townsville Enterprise is in charge of tourism promotion, The ‘Ville could never hope to recoup such an investment, there is no foreseeable broadening of its customer base in sight.

Or is there?

Mr Morris also has interests in the much ballyhooed upgrade of Pelorus Island, presumably to luxury status. And he also has a helicopter company.

Now, let’s look at this, and start with a question: who are some of the inveterate gamblers in the world? Why, the Chinese of course. And what, as Mr Powell keeps telling the thicko at Townsville Enterprise, is the fastest growing and well-heeled market for tourists to Australia? Yup, China again.

So, is our canny Chris upgrading the casino and Pelorus so he can ferry lots of Chinese with jingling pockets to and fro for their tropical stay. Why, he might also get a heap of Bejing cowboys down from Bluewater when they have finished horsing around at the exclusive equestrian centre. There would even be a small but handy patronage from all the Mandarin-speaking staff on 457 visas from the resorts.

But hang on, there’s more in the Magpie imaginings. What if the upgrade of The ‘Ville and Pelorus is aimed ultimately at a sale, casino license and all … to Chinese interests.

Hey, that nice Mr Tiong might be interested, Mr Powell could do the translation and Bazza Taylor could look after the legal niceties for a smallish slice of the action.

Of course, the locals will have to press their noses against the window glass looking at all this, because if it should come to pass, there’ll probably be little it for Townsville, apart from a few menials jobs. Local businesses need not get their hopes up. The Chinese would be likely to indulge their usual travelling habit of doing everything on tick which is either paid beforehand or when they get back home … into a local bank probably owned by guess who?

All in all, it’s a great idea – for some. But hey, it’s all just a daydream, could never really happen. Could it?

Show Us The Money

This story popped up during the week, which stirred up massive apathy at The Astonisher and Walker Street.

Screen shot 2018-05-08 at 1.57.42 PM

If that is so, and the Jenny’s Carmichael ‘job factory’ vanishes, the question is where is out $18.5million for the now unnecessary Adani airstrip?

It is unlikely at this stage to have left the council coffers, but our proud keyboard warrior Philip ‘Anything But’ Batty, has an interesting theory which The ‘Pie would like to hear someone explain why it is wrong. Philip writes:

A liberal offer ... Mayor Mullet stuns us.

Mayor Mullet stuns us.

‘The mayor stated that we (TCC) would not be paying anything to Adani or any of its companies at all. 

Wagners have stated publicly that they have no involvement/contract with either council. So two things cannot happen:-

TCC cannot pay Adani which Wagners would have to invoice for the airstrip.

TCC cannot pay Wagners without a contract or an invoice to TCC from Wagners. 

Even if TCC put the $18m into EA2 development business (the council’s new and very sus development corporation) – Magpie) they still have no contract or invoice from Wagner so how they would justify the payment escapes me. All these facts are from public statements.’

Like The ‘Pie said, SHOW US OUR MONEY, MULLET.

Oh, Dem Numbers, Dey Am Disastrous•••

***This headline was written by a Townsviille Bulletin reporter.

The cross platform readership of several news publications actually went up over the past year, mainly in the metro areas. And the Cairns Post came in at number five in the top regional mastheads. But while some were breaking out the champagne during the week, Jenna Cairney, iditor of the Townsville Astonisher, was breaking out the hemlock.

R’ship (‘000s)

The first two figures are weekday from 2017 and then 2018, the second are weekend edition figures.

Screen shot 2018-05-12 at 11.59.05 PM

The Bulletin dropped 17% of its already depleted readership, with its weekday offering at just 34,000 and weekends at 44,000.

The full figures for all mastheads is here. The ‘Pie has mercifully run out of salt to rub into any wounds – in fact, he is actually quite despondent about the fate of a once fine newspaper – but have a look at the complete list here. The inept Peter Typo Gleeson continues to preside over the demise of the Sunday Mail, having turned off a further whopping 98,000 readers in the past year. (And going on TV regularly looking like and sounding like an oily used car salesman is a equally compelling turn-off, and doesn’t bode well for for hsi looming post-newspaper career.

Now For The Week’s Wandering Around Cyberspace

Golf is a above all game of honesty, where you polic yourself. And any departure from course etiquette is loudly tut-tutted … well usually, but not it seems at Colrado’s Fossil Trace Golf Club. Recently, a following player hit up too soon and his ball landed on the too near those ahead. Very big no-no. One picked up the errant ball – which was quite close to the hole – and threw it into the nearby lake. Whereupon, the owner of the ball approached the thrower full of sweet reason … and a straight right. But he picked the wrong bloke to have a go at.

Then there was the Riposte of the Week, which was just as stinging and hilarious without the biff.

31959640_604541679907300_7374846180267655168_n (1)From the file ‘If you tell the police, they’ll arrest you as a druggie’, this story from des Moine, made famous by Bill Bryson famous opening lne ‘I came from Des Moine – well someone had to.’ Seems another character was in a hurry to leave too.

Now Des Mone Ducky would not be subject to our local taboo of ‘If it’s flooded, forget it’ … and neither are some drivers in Nepal, where one imagines the concept of death is somewhat different.

And finally, just look. Bet you replay it at least once. I did.


That’s it for this week, and don’t forget, if you have any information or comment on these and any other matters, pop into comments, 24/7. And also don’t forget, if you have spare change in appreciation of this labor of love, you can help keep the Nest aloft with a donation. The How To Button is below.

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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