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The Magpie

Sunday, December 17th, 2017   |   135 comments

Secret Society: They’re Spending Our Money AND Running Our City In Secret – But Not For Long.

Want to know how the Townsville City Council has reached certain controversial decisions? Well, tough titty, they ain’t gunna tell you. The lack of transparency is astounding, and we all suffer in the name of cheap politicking, but The Magpie presents evidence that makes a CCC investigation look inevitable.

A new petition that Mayor Mullet won’t be able to ignore … several thousand signatures strong already, it will be heading for the CCC seeking an investigation into the council. So I you’re fed up … sign up. The ‘Pie gives you the link.

And The ‘Pie manages to join a couple more dots in the background shadows of our civic backroom boys … this time from outside our national borders.

At last an answer as to where that $18.5million ratepayers’ gift to Adani is right now … the answer will surprise you and raise some further questions.

News Corpse decides circulation figures are ‘soooo yesterday,’ and will no longer say how many papers or digital readers they reach. Advertisers will now just have to take their word for whatever they say, but you’ll never guess where they’ll get those stats from.

And a Magpie exclusive …. A former high level Australian government minister is the latest to confess to sexual harassment … but will charges be laid?

(Bentley’s still on a break).

Swings And Roundabouts

The immediate news of the day was the battle for Sydney seat of Bennelong, retained by former tennis player John Alexander. And while the Libs will see it as a rout of the opposition, it is really anything but – Talkbull would be wise not to be too cocky, with a swing of at least 5% against the government. Translated into a Federal election, he would be out on his arse and we would have a suspected rapist as PM.  But as with the Queensland election, it was the political game playing which became tedious, as the incomparable Paul Zanetti nailed in one.

Bennelong Zanetti

Personally, The ‘Pie was happy that John Alexander was returned for the simple fact that the reason for the by-election was pure bulldust anyway – surely a change that says that anyone with dual citizenship must renounce it the moment they are elected would save a lot of tiresome hoopla.

Some Rare Justice In Canberra

At least the turncoat has been turned out – dastardly Dastyari now has to take his Mr Bean impersonations elsewhere, no longer to snurffle at the Canberra trough ever again. If he’s taken it a bit hard, poor chap, he can always figure it was because he was born overseas, as he has claimed in a previous victimhood statement, and that it had nothing to do with him being a King Rat. Larry Pickering bgs to differ.

Pickering Dastyari

The Dasdard’s  future employment is going to both interesting, and given the way of politics everywhere, probably disgusting to the average punter. But at least there won’t be one option open to him.

Dastyari ASIO

The whole Dastyari thing gave inspiration to the eloquent Zanetti again, who summed up the last few months in a single wordless masterpiece.

Zanetti

But Speaking Of Chinese Influence …

There’s a very real chance that we here in the ‘Ville are about to be graced with some Chinese largesse, in the form of a somewhat hidden investment deal with the Townsville City Council. Pure speculation of course, but here’s how it goes.

An interesting addition to this blog’s favourite pastime of ‘join-the-dots’ popped up this week as Mayor Mullet continued her campaign of distraction, known as ‘redirecting the narrative’.

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Still smarting from the massive backlash about her monumental misjudgment about the Adani airstrip debacle, she put on her tap dancing shoes to witter on about a new hotel to built near the CBD stadium. The Astonisher did its duty and took a happy snap and wrote a delirious clappy-hands story along the lines of happy days are here again. In other words, Mayor Mullet’s PR work.

Now we know that the Jimeon look-alike bloke second from the right is Michael Graham, CEO of Focus Pacific. As mentioned in this blog before, Mr Graham is a Good Ol’ Boy fishing buddy of long-standing Mullet whisperer Dolan Hayes. Those dots have been joined here before, and but for the spurious secrecy with the TCC over this hotel development, nothing untoward there. But beaking around Focus Pacific’s website The Magpie came upon this interesting snippet.

Focus Pacific

For Townsvilleans, the key mention of interest here is the Shanghai Commonwealth Investment Company (SCIC), which unless The Magpie is wrong, is the shell company or at least employs one Craig Cuddlepie Wallace.

Craig Wallace

Yes, our old buddy, once member for Thuringowa and the former Queensland Minister For Mean Roads (or Minister for Potholes, take your choice), as well as Minister for Fisheries and – somewhat tellingly – Marine Infrastructure. A handy clutch of contacts there for an Aussie working for Chinese concerns. And in his day, Cuddlepie was a regular bush basher and barra fisherman taking holidays in the Gulf with Mr Hayes and Mr Graham, before he took himself off to China to live.

So, with that in mind, let’s add into the mix that the proposed 175 bedroom stadium hotel will be built by Hilton subsidiary, the somewhat down-market DoubleTree brand. It turns out that many of the DoubleTree locations are operated by franchisees, not Hilton management itself.

So is it so outrageous for The ‘Pie to suggest, courtesy of Cuddlepie Wallace and Michael Graham, the new hotel that is making our mayor so moist will be a Chinese investment? Perhaps involving, say, Chinese management executives?

Now nothing wrong with that at all, indeed, could be a boon, but this is the nub of all the mayor’s problems … a lack of openness and sharing with her electorate. It’s as though she thinks something might be seen as amiss, but that only happens when she tries to hide things. Remember, this is the woman who told a secret council meeting that the she ‘didn’t expect much reaction’ to gifting Adani $18.5million of ratepayer money on a spurious airstrip scheme.  And we all know how that is turning out.

So … ‘Quo Vadis, Adani’?

Indeed, the question posed by the 1951 religious potboiler movie – which as we all know, means ‘where are you going?’ in Latin – would be the ideal title for the corrupt Indian conglomerate.

Seems they’re going to be re-investigated in India for jacking up power prices among other things. And this is just one of several corruption matters old Got’em Adani is facing.

Palaszczuk and Adani

Even the state NLP is now re-examining its support for the miner which virtually assures that there will be no Australian tax dollars on offer, which in turn – barring a miracle of financial stupidity by someone – certainly means no Carmichael mine, no matter what their twisters say.

So Where Is Our $18,5 Million?

Happily, the short answer is ‘nowhere’.

Persistence eventually paid off for several pissed off ratepayers, who finally received this reply from the Council this week (as usual, no names, no PD).

Thank you for your email on 8 December 2017 to the Mayor regarding Council’s joint venture with Rockhampton Regional Council to establish infrastructure to service fly-in-fly-out workers to the Gailee Basin, including those working at Adani’s Carmichael mine. The Mayor has noted your concerns and asked me to respond on her behalf. The answer to question is no, no money has been handed over. Assuming the transaction goes ahead, Council will be funding the construction of the airport built by Wagner, and pay Wagner directly. The Adani mining company will then be a customer for the airport.

Yours etc 

Please carefully note the bit about Wagners, which fits in with a matter a little further on.

But The ‘Pie reckons his original summation of ‘nowhere’ is more correct than you might imagine. There probably isn’t any millions sitting somewhere just waiting to be frittered off to someone somewhere. Once Mayor Mullet learns that the labyrinthian deals within deals have been successfully negotiated by Adani, it is most likely she and BFF CEO The Impaler would put in motion a move to find the money, probably from Treasury. Quite frankly, they have lied so much, it is impossible to believe the rosy tales of stashed savings tucked away in a bank somewhere.

But This Isn’t Going Away, There Isn’t Any Penicillin For This Political Pox

It matters not whether Adani falls over, the performance of Mayor jenny Hill, her councillors and to a lesser extent, the TCC CEO, will still be open to investigation. Just because they gambled and guessed wrong doesn’t mean any wrong doing is expunged.

Just because a projection on which they all based a questionable course of action doesn’t eventuate, the fact that they intended to commit what possibly amounts to corrupt behaviour remains indictable.

Another determined ratepayer, Phillip Batty, who has already approached the CCC, seems to have discovered where Mayor Mullet will come undone. Mr Batty – who is anything but – has been blocked and ignored on more than 20 occasions he has approached the council through various avenues, asking straightforward but polite questions.

So he sent in a complaint to the CCC, making several allegations, including one that there had not been any required tender process for the construction of the airstrip, and that Wagners had been arbitrarily appointed for the job. This is part of the reply received by Mr Batty from the CCC.

Allegation 3

An allegation o f a Council engaging a construction company to build an airport without following the

appropriate procurement process (deliberately, and for the benefit o f the construction company) as

outlined in the Local Government Act 2009 and Local Government Regulations 2012 would, if proved,

amount to corrupt conduct.

However, the CCC understands the Council does not hold ownership o f this airport and therefore is not

responsible for procurement processes related to its construction. In these circumstances, the

procurement requirements o f the Local Government Act 2009 and Local Government Regulations 2012

do not apply and the CCC is therefore unable to deal with the matter.

Since Mr Batty received that reply, our motormouth Mayor has clearly and publicly boasted that the council will own and operate the airport and Adani will just be a customer. She has also indicated that Wagners’ involvement will be for construction only, the question of them owning it has not been broached, and if it has or will be, that will raise a whole set of other questions for CCC.

Mr Batty has fired this information back into the CCC, and is awaiting a fresh reply. It is difficult to see how the CCC cannot investigate further given the guidelines they have provided.

Mr Batty has asked many other pertinent questions in this matter – including conflict of interest voting on the issue – and is like a terrier with a bone, although the CCC laughably suggested he refer other questions to the CEO. He has pointed out that he has done so unsuccessfully at least 20 times.

There can be no doubt we will be hearing more from Mr Batty in the future.

Your Chance To have Your Say

In the meantime, a new petition demanding a CCC investigation into the TCC’s handling of this matter was launched a few days ago, and at the time this blog was published, it was well past the 3000 signature mark. Mayor Mullet won’t be able to arrogantly swat this one away, because it will go directly to the CCC.

You can sign up for it here … naturally, The Magpie has, and recommends you promote it on social media if you agree with the call for an investigation.

My Rules Rule: Rupert Stomps Off With His Bat And Ball

Like boys behind the playground shelter shed, Rupert and his mates are now going to measure themselves.

In a surprise announcement this week, News Corpse announced it will no longer supply the Audited Media Association of Australia (AMAA) with circulation data. In a hardly disguised attempt to manipulate advertising rates, News argued that the time honoured way of measuring a publications reach in this day and age was no longer relevant because of digital platforms … strange logic, given that AMAA has included such data for the past year or more.

But guess where News is now going to get its figures from to convince media buyers to stump up big advertising bucks. Ready for a larf …

Screen shot 2017-12-16 at 10.02.02 PM

This swerve does include the very sensible economic decision to end what is known in the industry as ‘bundling’ … printing thousands of dollars worth of papers to drop at airports, hotels and schools for free, which are all valuable numbers when reporting circulations. But now that expensive rort is ended, saving tens if not hundreds of thousands dollars, the number of copies will not be publicly affected … because there won’t be any independent information available, now they will make up a number and that’s it, like it or lump it.

It is clear that the E in EMMA - Enhanced Media Metrics Australia – stands for the key word – enhanced. However, media buyers are tough nuts and not easily bullied, and already there is some resistance to this unilateral decision from a dying corporation. They are well aware that EMMA was invented and is owned by the industry heavyweights, particularly News Corpse, because they didn’t like the disastrous numbers coming from AMMA and the Roy Morgan group. So as said, they’ll be measuring themselves.

So no longer will the Astonisher have to put up with the irreverent humour of The ‘Pie every time circulation and readership figures are issued quarterly. We will just have to believe them. Won’t we?

Get ready to for the joyful news that the Astonisher now has 75,000 subscribers … ah, fuck it, let’s make that 200.000. And then who will care if people ask what the bloody hell does this oxymoronic offering in Saturday’s online Astonisher means.

Screen shot 2017-12-16 at 10.25.36 AM

property prices dropping through the floor, confidence through the roof … typical Astonisher stuff. And note that the lift-out real estate section on Saturday was – at a most modest 24 pages – the slimmest The ‘Pie has ever seen … and just 13 of those pages carried property for sale. A far cry of the regular 80-page money spinner of yore.

Henry Ford Said It … History Is Bunkum.

Things didn’t always happen in history the way they are popularly reported (no surprise to anyone who has read the Townsville Bulletin). It even applies to the most beloved stories of our culture, as told at Townsville’s Stable On The Strand.

Wide men ge44

EXCLUSIVE AND REVEALED!!! Another Sexual Harasser Owns Up

Fresh from the revelations about Don Burke …

Burke song

… and the likes of Dustin Hoffman, Geoffrey Rush and various American politicians, The ‘Pie can exclusively reveal that a much-loved former minister in the Whitlam Government has confessed to sexual misbehaviour. But he says he has learnt his lesson.

les P apologises

Sir Les Patterson

One For People Who Think They Have A Smart Dog

No matter how clever your pooch is, it will never match this fella, who acts for so many of us.

And In This Busy Travelling Season, Worth Remembering

That’s it for this weekend, but there’s sure to be a storm of comments throughout the week, feel free to join in (its free!) and have your say. And if you have anything left over from all that shopping a donation to help keep the Magpie aloft will be much appreciated. The how to donate 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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