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The Magpie

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018   |   139 comments

Stocks, Shares And Shonks … Looks Like Mayor Mullet Has Been Suckered Big Time

Courtesy of our hapless Mayor Mullet and her pal Premier Alphabet, it’s looking increasingly like we taxpayers have been right royally rogered. Southern auditors believe Magnis Resources, the company leading the consortium for the proposed battery factory project for Townsville, is on the verge of collapse, just when its been given a taxpayer gift of $3.1million for a ‘feasibility study’ for the project. There’s a massive coincidence about that amount, too. The ‘Pie reports on the latest chapter in this saga of politically driven idiocy.

Another Mullet mate who has suckered her,  Got’em Adani, is in a court battle in India as he tries to stave off corruption charges … and guess what? It’s all about coal imports, albeit from Indonesia.

The danger is writ large and the evidence is in – council development corporations are an invitation to corruption. Secrecy is the key. And it ain’t just The ‘Pie saying so … an expert weighs in.

They come, they go … another departure …. the Walker Street fright bats ought to consider replacing their staff entrance with a turnstile …

… and as the final curtain approaches for America’s Agent Orange president, we have a bumper pictorial file of his week as the noose tightens … with one of the cleverest musicals spoofs of Trump yet devised.

But first …

Letters To The Iditor … From idiots?

A newspaper’s letters column certainly attracts some who enjoy a different reality to the rest of us, leaving you to decide if they’re really fuckwits, or just funnin’. Sometimes more literate (not hard),  and less far fetched than the news and opinion pages (easy), letters to the editor can come up with a different … really different … perspective. During the week, Bentley was bemused by a writer’s suggestion that everything would be OK if crocodiles could be persuaded to turn vegetarian. Benters thinks that will confuse the poor animals no end.

crocs greens flat small

But letter writers occasionally have insights we lesser mortals know not of … like the link between droughts and …

drought letter

 Seems Our Mayor Shares A Different Reality, Too

Tricky language, English, in which a single phrase can mean more than one thing. For instance, take the term ‘material uncertainty’. That could mean a bride having trouble choosing her wedding dress, or an opinion of Steve Price’s choice of shirts … or, when used by a company auditor, it can mean that a company is so deep in the shit that it unlikely to survive.

Mind you, the official definition is somewhat more sedate.

“A material uncertainty is one relating to events or conditions that may cast significant doubt on the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern and that may, therefore, indicate that it may be unable to realise its assets and discharge its liabilities in the normal course of business.”

And that is exactly the verdict on Magnis Resources Pty Ltd, the mob with whom Mayor Jenny Hill and Premier Annie Alphabet have so eagerly hopped into bed, evidenced by the highly unusual circumstance of gifting the publicly listed company $3.1million of taxpayers money to ‘assist’ in a feasibility study of the proposed lithium battery factory plant for Townsville. That is rare enough – public companies almost always seek to raise capital though the open market, and generally, governments are loath to commit public funds in this manner. But hey, as the novel almost said, Queensland is a different country, they do things differently there.

But the Magnis gift – Anna Alphabet twee-ly calls it an ‘assistance’ … is doubly strange because the simplest of due diligence tests would’ve set off alarm bells. The Courier Mail’s Anthony Marx’s City Beat column heard the clanging during the week, aptly naming the item ‘Losing Proposition’.

bleedmagnisThat $3.1million loss in the December quarter is, by a massive coincidence, exactly the amount we the taxpayers have involuntarily stumped up to prop up a failing company. As Dame Edna would say, ‘Spooky, eh, possums?’

Screen shot 2018-09-01 at 11.37.56 PM

And it’s not hard to work out from this share graph that all the up-ticks roughly correspond to the council, or the Queensland Government, making meaningless but encouraging noises that are repeated by Magnis in reports to the ASX.

The Magpie reckons you’ve been conned ladies, well done … now about that Harbour Bridge I have for you down in Sydney … it’s a bargain.

But Just When You Thought It Couldn’t Get More Disturbing …

Should this deal wobble through to getting closer to reality, two things will happen. This sort of project could attract federal money through the Smart Cities deal with Canberra, which will add another layer of obscurity to what is actually happening. Like the cack-handed Townsville Stadium deal, which will easily out-do the empty V8 garage building on Boundary Street (btw, what happened to the proposed Farmers Market there, eh?) as a criminal example of poor planning and political expediency.

And the second thing will involve the council gifting land at Woodstock for the factory in return for God knows what return and any resultant financial exposure for the city, but we will probably never know until it is too late. BECAUSE it will all be done through the council’s newly minted Development Corporation with its convenient Commercial In Confidence shields to hide all sorts of scrutiny and transparency.

As Ipswich has taught us, council’s running Development Corporations can end in tears all round … and jail for some, most likely.

It’s All Political Jitterbugging

This move to DevCorps in local government was always going to end up a pan-parties stitch up, perpetuating all politicians wish to where possible operate in the shadows. Turnbull, the man who didn’t want a banking inquiry, designed the City Deals arrangement – with a caveat that to take part, a council development corporation must be created – to ensure that all sides of the trough were ready to support it. And not be examined too closely.

Well, The Magpie was pleased to discover during the week that he is not alone in his criticisms and warnings about council DevCorps.

Professor Paul Burton

Professor Paul Burton

Paul Burton, Professor of Urban Management and Planning at Griffith University sees flaws and clear dangers in the whole hurried political patchwork arrangement of City Plans and deals. In an Article in The Conversation, Professor Burton was critical of the way the City Deal agenda came into being … it was pure political pork barrelling. He wrote in part:

This goes to the heart of the deal-making approach to urban policy, or indeed to any central or federal government policy initiative based on deals. They tend to be opaque and to hide behind commercial-in-confidence clauses that deny the public (whose tax dollars are at stake) much insight into who is getting what from the deal.

Without principles of consistency and transparency there is often a suspicion that decisions about major infrastructure projects are influenced as much by pork barrel politics as they are by assessments that are both rigorous and transparent.

The A$250 million North Queensland Stadium is underway and is expected to generate around 2,000 jobs during its construction. There is no doubt such projects are having some impact – large scale infrastructure projects invariably provide a boost to the local construction industry – but we don’t and can’t yet know of their long-term impact.

This has always been a challenge when trying to measure the costs and benefits of long-term urban policy. The evaluative challenge is not only to assess whether the Townsville City Deal (under which the North Queensland Stadium is being built) has delivered more or less of what it promised

And the manner in which the whole arrangement was conceived does not inspire hopes of good governance … or intelligence, as one commenter on the blog wrote this week:

The worse thing about the Townsville City Deal is that it was actually a contrivance to provide a veneer to a bad decision RE a stadium. Because the ALP had committed to $100m, and the electorate was marginal, Turnbull in the end caved to match Shorten’s offer … the problem for Turnbull was that he couldn’t look like he was caving to pressure or simply copying Shorten; Ewen Jones was always hammering the line that the stadium shouldn’t be a Commonwealth responsibility … in this febrile electoral context, a confected public policy fig leaf was needed … and so we ended up with a light weight, vacuous “City Plan”.  Real issues such as “value capture” were ignored, and the benefits / cost equation for the stadium (which showed a big net negative for the community) was also ignored (contrary to the principles of city plans). 

And sadly, with all sorts of battery factory and other unicorns prancing about, we must paraphrase the old saying to ‘the worst is yet to come.’ As was said here a couple of weeks ago, in politics, being seen through is not transparency.

Oh, FFS, Jenny, Do You Have Any Straight Mates?

Your brown-nosing of Paul Pisasale when he was Ipswich mayor just before his fall from grace was more a matter of poor timing than anything else, but hot on the heels of what is shaping up as the Magnis debacle, news that your old chum Got’em Adani is in hot water back home.

Screen shot 2018-09-01 at 9.43.18 PM

Seems the bloke with whom you share an avid interest in aviation may have been a bit enthusiastic in his pricing policies, up to the point of possible massive corruption. The nub of the story is: ‘According to DRI documents, the companies allegedly used fake middlemen to inflate the price of coal they were importing from Indonesia. The scheme allowed the companies to charge higher tariffs by exaggerating their production costs, the DRI claimed.’

Good heavens, the rotter, bet he’s off your Christmas card list, eh, Jen?

The Australian Kennel Club Condemns Clive Palmer

Dear Mr Palmer,

On behalf of all those female canines we hold so dear, we wish to protest your use of the word ‘bitch’ to describe Townsville mayor Jenny Hill. As you know, dogs – especially bitches – are known as man’s best friend, and our inquiries among Townsville ratepayers have assured us that this is a description that cannot be applied to Mrs Hill.

Our bitches are receiving counselling.

Yours in disgust

Kennel Club President

Ima Barker (no relation to Fay).

So Ol’ Novochok Palmer (he gets on everyone’s nerves) continues his role as political disruptor, and knows just how to have Bulletin iditor Jenna Cairney clutching her pearls in outraged disbelief.

 Bulletin front clive swear

But an interesting fact has come to The Magpie’s attention. The public apology Mayor Mullet was forced to make to Palmer for calling him a crook came with a small matter of $50,000 in damages. It is assumed that council insurance covered it, but if it didn’t and the Mullet has to cough it up herself, don’t be distressed for her. She can afford it … and then some.

Madam Mayor stiffs the public purse for annual take-home of $191,966 for her bumbling role as our civic leader (about half what The Impaler tucks into her socks when she gets home). But our Jenny isn’t dependant on that measly stipend, and she picks up about half as much again – somewhere in excess of $100,000 of public money for a few days work each year.

You see, ths battler’s mayor picks up the extra as one of just 4 board directors of the Local Government Association of Queensland. Actually, given her limited understanding of anything fiscal or having any discernible vision for community welfare and good governance, she probably gets it for just turning up to that particular trough. See the first item under Other Expenses and divide by four … or even five if the board president’s $120,000 comes out of that figure. (And try to to goggle too much at the consultancy fees just below.)

 Screen shot 2018-09-01 at 8.41.44 AM

The $575,055 figure inthe latest -2017 – the next is the previous year … and that in itself leaves one wondering why an extra $210,000 – more than a 50% increase – was thrown into the trough,

So Mayor Mullet, who is party to a rumoured (non declarable) bulging family share portfolio, a couple of local houses,  and a nice little inheritance on her ancestral Malta, can easily stump up fifty grand for Clive, and maybe throw in a few extra thousands to bring nephew Clive Mensink home to face the music.

From Comments During The Week

Critical

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138.130.52.23

Submitted on 2018/08/28 at 7:45 am

WTF is going on at Qld Fire and Rescue. Emergency evacuation of Northtown on Flinders Street yesterday and fire brigade took over 25 minutes to arrive because it had to come from Kirwan as this was the closest vehicle. No trucks at South Townsville. Luckily it’s evacuation was a false alarm but what would the consequences been if this had been a real fire in Northtown or any of the other multilevel buildings in the CBD or the private hospital in Wills Street.

The ‘Pie replied:

The Magpie
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138.130.233.218

Submitted on 2018/08/28 at 7:55 am | In reply to Critical.

Excellent point, Crits, but The ‘Pie can see an upside if the Council Chambers caught fire … give the flames time to do a good clean-out job. (Probably started by the mayor’s pants on fire.)

The Owl

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1.128.111.8

Submitted on 2018/08/29 at 8:06 am

Buried on page 7 of today’s rag is a story from Raggatt about TCC doubling its “borrowings” for this year – $30 million now $60 million. Council’s chief financial officer said the need for the extra $30 million “had emerged with the closing of the 2017-2018 financial books”. That should have happened two months ago but ask any accountant and they will tell you the CFO should have been aware of the perilous state of council finances even before that. We don’t just need a new mayor and council, we obviously need a CFO with some accounting expertise.
Only one councillor voted against this outrage, Paul Jacobs, who Raggatt described in the story as a “new renegade”. So Tony, does that make the mayor an “old renegade”?

Hee-Haw

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101.162.84.81

Submitted on 2018/08/29 at 10:26 am | In reply to The Owl.

The matter of raising the borrowings provisions was not on the agenda for the council meeting yesterday, it was slipped in as a confidential matter as an Addendum which was not added to the website prior to the meeting.

Nice way of both slipping things in to avoid attention and also to keeping them confidential so none of us plebs know the truth.

Cantankerous but happy

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203.47.115.242

Submitted on 2018/08/29 at 12:53 pm | In reply to The Owl.

I have no doubt this is to cover the councils cash flow problems bought on entirely by its own decision to cut the discount for paying your rates on time, I know many who are happy to lose the now pissy discount and put council rates on the bottom of the pile, there is little action the council can take in the short to medium term to enforce payment so fuck them they can wait, just another dickhead decision by Queen Dickhead Jenny Hill.

This blog really is getting easier to write … our growing list of citizen journalists are doing the Nest proud.

But Wait, There’s More.

Proof that all people bring some joy into others lives … some by arriving, some by leaving.

Honkers

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Submitted on 2018/08/30 at 8:25 am

gerard Nelson

Gerard Nelson is the first rat to jump ship, or was he pushed? He was a great ingratiator, heading up the laughably acronymed DevOps pretending to be a leader in council’s smart cities strategies, policies or what have you over the past few years (the results speak the truth), and was for sometime the Impaler’s chief whipping boy and gofer, and – of course – a hander-outerer of ALP how to votes … and now, he’s off presumably to Brissie. He was either too good for the council or … well, I’ll leave that to your imagination …

Reply

  • Better the DevOps without you

August 31, 2018 at 5:58 pm  (Edit)

I’m sure whatever poor bastards have hired Gerard Nelson will be regretting their unfortunate decision in no time. I believe you will also find he’s the ‘architect’ behind some giant waste of ratepayers money projects such as the miserably unsuccessful implementation of ServiceNow. He is also the reason council has been declared a hostile client by organisations such as Optus and Adobe. And he has been heavily involved with some ever failing money pit dashboard project, which has been contracted out to an organisation called GWI. Mr Nelson has left a legacy of power games, backstabbing, undermining, insults, scheming, interfering, obstruction and wasting money. It is unfortunate he was walked out of Council 2 years too late.

Speaking Of Not Appreciated …

Shari Shazza Tagliabue

Shari Shazza Tagliabue

An Open letter To Ms Shari Taglibue

Columnist.

C/- The Daily Astonisher

Townsville

Dear Ms Tagliabue,

You write in last week’s column ‘(I was) wearing a just singlet, shorts and thongs , barrelling up the highway’ … or somesuch … You hussy! Couldn’t you wait for the slurred and heavy breathing late night phone call to ask what you were wearing, and breathily imparted that knowledge in what should’ve been a very private conversation? But no, you put the whole thing out there in public, you brazen trollop!!! Absolutely no regard for the misty-eyed, shuffling old hornbags who read your weekly musings, trying to remember why they had that lower torso tingling as they walk out into the traffic with your words bouncing around in their heads.

To openly give out that information in a column read by tens of … umm, thousa … err .. hund … well, I read it, is unforgiveable, and scanning your words as I left the newsagents, my fond imaginings were cut short by the strategic height of a supermarket trolley handle.

Have you no shame, no sense of responsibility for your tens of readers?

Watch it, girlie, just watch it – and it’s a long time since I said that to a sheila, it’s now more ‘look away while I turn out the light.’

Yours in Disgust

Disappointed of North Ward

PS Well what ARE you wearing as you read this?

In Passing …

As reported today, British band Chumbawamba have forced Clive Palmer to take down a YouTube video that used  their hit song Tubthumping, calling the political hopeful a “Donald Trump-lite egomaniac”.

The controversial mining magnate, who recenly announced a political comeback, posted a video to his personal Twitter page and to YouTube in June that showed a group of men singing the famous lines from the 1997 anthem: “I get knocked down, but I get up again.”

Wonder if President Chump will receive a similar demand from the Michael Jackson estate. This is one of the more clever and hilarious pisstakes of Trump, the precise editing must’ve taken days, with the lyrics taking on a even crueler edge than originally intended.

The Ever Decreasing Circles Keep Decreasing

Screen shot 2018-09-01 at 10.32.48 PM

Trump’s approval rating has slumped to its lowest level, with 60% of those surveyed unhappy with having an egotistical moron for a President. Only 36% of those polled stopped foolin’ with their sisters long enough to say ol’ Donnie was doin’ a damned fine job up thar, stickin’ it to them thar  goddamned lefties, poofs, and wetbacks.

Most interesting was that 53% of those who disapproved said they ‘strongly disapproved’, and that really does translate into votes. Moscow must be worried.

trump-putin-america-first

It is the first time a sitting president’s disapproval rating has passed 50%. The ‘Pie has one question of you doubting Americans – what took you so bloody long? Bit dim, aren’t you? Maybe you belong to Eamonn ‘Call Me Ted’ Lindsay’s Saturday morning coffee klatch down on The Strand.

The death of genuine war hero and political straight shooter John McCain caused the deepest embarrassment for a man who probably doesn’t possess the cognitive make up to be embarrassed, just peeved.  His dismissive attitude to the much loved senator led to a back down about the half mast flag on the White House being returned to the top way too soon. The outrage was national. But the wily McCain got him from the grave, and got him good, leaving instructions insisting that Trump not be invited or allowed to attend any memorial service. That was an opportunity not to be missed by American cartoonists

Trump funeral john mccain Trump petty

The net is tightening on this dangerous and mentally disturbed goof. But America’s satirists and those who write demo placards will kinda miss him, on suspects … Trump has been a great outlet for cutting humour.

trump-wives-immigrants-sign free-melania-sign dont-blame-trump-unfit super-callous-sign trump-make-country-small trump-tower-see-russia-1000x840 Trump stars and stripe Trump homework Trump rats Trump tariffs 3 Trump seal Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon - tt_c_c180826.tif tighten seat belts. -avi steinbergjpg Trump he said he said Trump mirror Trump penceAnd Back Home For A Final Note On National Politics … How It All Started

Fuhrer

Or ever, Darth Potatohead.

……………….

That it for another week, but got any reliable info that you know won’t make it into the Bulletin or elsewhere, jump into comments and become part of the solution. And if you enjoy these weekly maunderings, you might consider whacking in a few shekels to help cover the costs of running the Nest … the donate button is below (and thanks to those who have already helped out).

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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