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The Magpie

Saturday, February 10th, 2018   |   192 comments

The Bulletin And The Barnbaby – Why The Astonisher Deserves An Award For A Headline They DIDN’T Write.

Or maybe they just didn’t know.

And the paper won’t be telling you about the latest readership figures …eeerrrkkk!!! … but The Magpie will.

… and that Townsville Council Development Corporation is seeking three PAID but mind you, oh-so-independent,  directors, in a further raid on the dwindling public faith in our governance. How high does the mayor think she can stack her re-election campaign?

… and The ‘Pie finds the one single explanatory paragraph that sums up the truth of that sensational book Fire and Fury.

Bentley’s still cavorting around in the world’s pleasure spots somewhere but should be home maybe next week.

But first, what else, some good old-fashioned  scandal, including a personal memoir from The Magpie.

Vikki The Vamp And That Barnbaby 

Vikki C

First the back story, in case you’ve just returned from being Malcolm Roberts holiday guest on whatever planet he comes from. The whole country is atwitter … literally nowadays … about a member’s private member. Barnaby Joyce has been playing hide the sausage with staffer Vikki Campion, who is now well and truly up the duff.

Vikki Campion preggers

But she appears fit enough, probably limber from all the social climbing the catty ones in her background say she is so adept at. (You know you’ve reached a mid-life crisis when social climbing involves Barnaby Joyce and a ‘barnbaby’ … although the conception may have been in more salubrious surroundings than a barn … at least the back of a new 4WD down the back of the Long Paddock).

But the fallout has been predictable and hilarious.

This woman, Independent Cathy McGowan wants to pass a law outlawing sex between MPs and their staff, or anybody else’s staff.

Cathy McGowan Ind MP for Indi


But no word on how that would work. No, don’t think about it, and it has puzzled Paul Zanetti too.


Then there is the very real question whether it is any of our business. The Magpie tried to answer that question in comments during the week.

The Magpie February 9, 2018 at 9:24 am  (Edit)

The fact that Vikki Campion was a staff member would only be relevant and entitled to public airing if – as Barnaby was asked by Leigh Sales – if public money had been used for transport, accommodation, food etc, solely for the relationship. Barnaby says no public money was involved, and that detailed searches had found no such links. Later, he said he’d paid back a small amount he deemed appropriate … possibly for the Big Mac he beseechingly promised in place of the usual après cigarette.

His marriage bust up is his matter alone, as it would be any other citizen, but things get murky on a couple of fronts. Note Mrs Joyce’s comment that she had welcomed Campion into her home with friendliness and trust. That means Campion was in the Joyce home solely because she was a staff member. And then there is the matter of the timing of the root that led to the pregnancy (let’s talk barnyard here, it is after all, a national member involved, or more accurately, a National member’s member). If Campion was guesting in the Joyce home while having it off with the boss, and/or visited said home in the early stages of pregnancy, that, apart from being basely grubby in the extreme, it leads us to the next consideration.

In both matters, it can be argued that the question goes to the supposed higher standards that are supposed to be met by our elected representatives who make the laws of the land under which we live (which of course is tripe … power and sex are forever intertwined and the cross pollination of semen in the national capital would make a DNA scientist go cross-eyed. As an interviewee on ABC Radio National said’If you brought a blue light (which makes semen traces glow) into Parliament House, it would light up like a Jackson Pollack.’ (It’s actually known as black light, but poetic license and all that.) That’s a sentiment with which larry Pickering hilariously agrees.


As to the feminist fancy-dress fringe yapping about he had the boss’s power to seduce Campion, well, that’s just serving a separate agenda in The ‘Pie’s opinion –Ms Campion although a journalist of just modest talent, was not going to be seduced by anyone she had no interest in, the boot would have been very much on the other foot.

The Magpie makes this judgment through the following personal observation.

The Astonisher’s Admirable Restraint

How did they resist the headline of the year that would’ve put the paper on the national stage?

Former Bulletin Journo To Have Barnaby’s Love Child’.

Yup, Vikki The Vamp would become Our Vikki if the Astonisher wasn’t so coy. She worked on the paper for a bit while The Magpie was there. And up front, let The ‘Pie say he found her a nice, effervescent colleague who brightened up an often po-faced newsroom.

Vikki graced the Bulletin for a year or so back in the noughties. And it would now appear she is the quintessential example of the old maxim ‘Be careful what you pray for, for God may grant your wish’. Not that Vikki appeared to be much taken with exchanges with the Lord, she was more into lording it over them at the Exchange, and elsewhere on the Strip on Flinders Street East

If there was a word to describe Vikki, vivacious would fit the bill. She was of modest journalistic attainment back then, but this bubbly gal was no ditz and she well knew she was never going to a Woodward or Bernstein. She also made no secret that she knew exactly what ammunition she had in her locker to follow her star, and at the same, made it quite obvious she wasn’t about to waste much of that firepower in Townsville – her sights were always firmly set south.

She always dressed to, let us say, titillate, and always had two of her best features front and center in order to …well, as said, titillate. The mumbling from any number of green-eyed female colleagues – especially the thin-lipped prissy chief of staff, Bettina Giardina, a well known party girl herself at the time who didn’t like the competition – formed a permanent background rumble but Vikki wasn’t fazed, the editor was amused and liked her style.

It wasn’t long before she headed off.

The ‘Pie’s last memory of Vikki was her in a white cocktail dress, shoeless and curled up fast asleep under the table in the interview room, after her farewell night down on Via Vomitorium. Which since Ms Campion had a day to go on Rupert’s shilling made an unforgiving Ms Giardina very huffy and self-righteous indeed, much to the amusement of the blokes in the newsroom, particularly down in the sports zoo.

And so the Campion trajectory was set from take-off, and it’s fair to say there is more than one News Ltd executive in Holt Street with subsequent fond misty memories mightily relieved see Ms Campion settled down into domestic bliss. In Canberra (whew!).

She can now look forward to all those happy Wonder Working Mum how-does-she-she-do-it stories in the Womens’ Weekly. But one doubts we will not see any such adulation from the Bulletin in the section that deals with all that stuff … it is mainly written by Ms Giaradina under her married name of Warburton.

Like Vikki could care. Anyway, The ‘Pie wonders if a couple of baby names at the top of the list would be Pistol or Boo.

And it all leaves The ‘Pie with but a single question.

Barnaby, Vikki, Barnaby Joyce? Really? Like they say, if want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

Too Little Too Late

With a truly eyebrow-raising three stories critical of the mayor in the past week, and a couple of others simply luke-warm waffles that had the air of giving madam mayor enough rope, there is a definite change of emphasis down at the Astonisher. Stay the course, there, Jenna, stout lassie. There’s still a lot of stories that raise more questions than they answer, but gift horses and gobs and all that, y’know.

However, as much as The ‘Pie recognizes that a strong community must have a strong inquiring local paper as one of its mainstays for progress, it would appear that is a forlorn hope for Townsville, according to the latest Roy Morgan readership figures. here arte the Queensland stats, for year on year 2016-17 and M-f first then Saturday.









The Sunday Mail







Cairns Post







Gold Coast Bulletin







Townsville Bulletin







The weekday numbers particularly are wrist-slitting stuff (32k readers on a weekday would, using News’s own metrics, could mean a circulation – issues printed – as low as 10,000 … truly sad), and while these are numbers for print media only, the word is the digital take-up is woeful for the Bulletin, despite the acres of space devoted to come ons in the paper. Not that we’re ever likely to know and advertisers will just have to take the paper’s advertising flim flam folk at their word … News publications are no longer making their circulation figures public from any platform.

Front Pages For Sale

twin papers

Anyone notice what seemed an odd coincidence recently when this Astonisher and Curious Snail ran with the same front page with a virtue-signalling beat-up about making It mandatory for Queensland school kids to learn how to swim. The hysteria could lead you to believe the bodies of the little snots were clogging up the waterways something chronic.

Well, it goes deeper than a coincidence, and deeper than actual news. This is a CAMPAIGN, see? Which a NOBLE thing right?

Well not exactly, it was just a stunt aimed at making dough. Nothing wrong with that, news is a business like any other when it comes to money, but it’s the transparent PRETENCE that rankles. The Guardian’s Amanda Meade delved into th details.

News Corp Australia loves a campaign to drum up interest in its newspapers. In the last week or so it’s had two: a national campaign to revive the movie Crocodile Dundee and another one aimed at forcing the Queensland government to fund swimming lesson for primary school children. Forty-six News Corp mastheads ran the same front page to launch the SOS (Save Our Schoolkids) campaign.

Screen shot 2018-02-09 at 1.50.36 PM

The Courier-Mail editor, Sam Weir, said: “This is a unique stance we’ve taken to shine a light on the outrageous fact that Queensland does not include compulsory swimming lessons in primary schools.” The stories rolled out for days and featured politicians, Olympians and the parents of kids who had drowned.

But online and in the paper readers were swamped by ads for Rackley Swimming (a company which runs 20 swimming schools across Queensland), the Swimming Pool and Spa Association of Australia, and Optus, which supports Swimming Australia. Was it a paid content campaign without being labelled as such? The companies were referred to as “partners” in the small print. According to corporate affairs the campaign was conceptualised by the Courier-Mail editorial team led by the head of news, Melanie Pilling. News Corp told Beast: “It’s an editorial initiative that received commercial support.”

Therefore, The ‘Pie’s question is: would it have run without the ‘partnership’ advertising dollars?

And also, what’s wrong with saying to critics ‘ Of course we wanted to attract advertising dollars, but we had the socially responsible idea first and then went out and sold it’? Which is the way it has always worked and no one has complained. Why would they, business is business? But as always, News Corpse seems to want to deny they are first and foremost a business seeking advertising dollars, and somehow want us to believe their motives are totally altruistic and pure as the driven snow, campaigning news people and tough nuts. .

Will an increasingly cynical public buy that? In Time magazine’s famous reply to an equally outlandish Khrushchev boast in the 1950s’, ‘Shrimps will whistle first, Comrade.’

Hey, This Doesn’t Stack Up – Except Maybe For Mayor Mullet

A year or two back, Mayor Mullet signed Townsville up to the state/federal Smart Cities Deal, which provides money for projects to kick start the local economy. See here what Mayor Mullet had to say about suitable areas for expenditure.

Now The ‘Pie isn’t sure about this, but it seems that it is mandatory that council’s signing up to the deal have to create a council development corporation, an alarming prospect when we look at the goings on in DCs in Ipswich (they’ve been dumped because of corruption). It’s a set-up ripe for corruption, and internal pork barrelling. Why it is necessary is a mystery. But mystery and the Mullet go hand-in-hand, she seems addicted to it. It seems she doesn’t trust herself and her Mr Magoo vision for the city, let alone us.

So as The Magpie predicted some time back, a Development Corporation was created last November behind closed doors (mystery again, see, why on the quiet, FFS?) We only found out about through the diligence of people like Paul Batty. The initial directors are:

Birth Details: 19/01/1977 REDCLIFFE QLD
Appointment Date: 23/11/2017
Birth Details: 25/11/1970 COOROY QLD
Appointment Date: 23/11/2017
Birth Details: 01/09/1960 MELBOURNE VIC
Appointment Date: 23/11/2017
Birth Details: 14/03/1968 MBALE UGANDA
Appointment Date: 23/11/2017

CFO lives down south and CEO must live at the office.

The Mullet, Impaler and the council’s legal dogsbody Finlayson are there, and it appears that Thomson, whoever he is, is the CFO residing down south.

That looks a bit murky on the face of it, but today, we find this in the Astonisher.

Screen shot 2018-02-10 at 12.55.17 PM

PAID POSITIONS are an interesting words in this context, although not unreasonable. But paid positions like this can represent political gold (refer Anthony Mooney for proof of this theory) … you owe big-time if you are granted a seat at the trough, such a favour presumably bestowed by the other already appointed board members. So it will be most interesting to see who the ‘independent’ directors turn out to be. Dolan, mate, have you been tapped yet? All they need is one of their own, and there’s a majority on the board that will amount to an unelected council in itself.

If any of those Pure Project hustlers, cut’n’paste purloiners of ideas from elsewhere for an on-the-cheap plan for Townsville, get anywhere near this board (surely Thompson the CFO isn’t one of them?) authorities should be … indeed will be … notified.

And by the way, that titled bestowed on Pure Projects of ‘city placemaker’ … just what the fuck does that mean, its nonsense.

Another Mystery Of The Week

Screen shot 2018-02-11 at 9.20.42 AM

Clive Palmer is suing Mayor Mullet, who called him a white collar criminal. OK, but what is he suing her about?

And good old sloppy Macsloppy Face at the Courier gets the headline wrong … it has the mayor suing him.

A Brief Book Review Of Fire And Fury

Seems the fatso with the funny haircut in North Korea has impressed Donald Trump in one way … the Trumpet now wants to order up his own military parade. Steve Bell in the Guardian has given us a preview.

Screen shot 2018-02-09 at 2.01.01 PM

But that latest bit of public willie wanking was too late for the book, but never mind, plenty else in there.
fir and fury

The ‘Pie mentioned he was reading Michael Wolff’s about Trump and his trumpkin cavalcade infestation of the White House. And if Wolff’s page after page claims of astounding carry-on at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – particularly nepotism – are even 10% true – and in truth, discounting much of the hyperole, you’d have to believe 80 to 90% would be closer the mark – then we are into unique and deadly dangerous territory indeed

There is the old theory now gaining new meaning called The Fallacy Of Transferred Authority; the possibly uninformed opinion of a celebrity is given wide media treatment and thus gains more weight and credibility than it should -Tom Cruise and scientology, Charlton Heston on gun laws, and here in Australia, boxer Anthony Mundine’s untempered racist rants are examples.

Well, as we did to a lesser extent with elevating Pauline Hanson, America has elevated a self-obsessed celebrity of clear low intelligence and soaring self-regard to one of the most precarious positions on the planet.

And because Donald Trump is president, everything he says is accepted as meaningful rather than moronic by more than a third of the population – and generally, none of the rest of the world.

Michael Wolff

Michael Wolff

Much will be written elsewhere about this somewhat laborious read (it seems to be padded out for length at the publisher’s behest) but on page 205, Wolff comes up with a truly helpful insight explaining the confusion and frustration with which the world views Trump. He writes:

But before moving on to the next episode on ohmygodness, it is worth considering the possibility that this constant daily, often more-than-once-a-day, pileup of events – each one cancelling the out the one before – is the true aberration and novelty at the heart of the Trump presidency. Perhaps never before in history … not through world wars, the overthrow of empires, periods of extraordinary social transformation, or episodes of government-shaking scandal … have real life events unfolded with such as emotional and plot thickening impact. In the fashion of binge watching a television show, one’s real life becomes quite secondary to the public drama. It was not unreasonable to say whoa, wait just a minute, public life doesn’t happen like this. Public life in fact lacks coherence and drama. (History by contrast attains coherence and drama in hindsight.)

In this disorienting place – down the rabbit hole – all public artifice, pretense, proportion, savvy and self-awareness had been cast off – possibly a result of Trump never really intending to be president – never really figured into the state of being president. This constant hysteria does have one unintended political virtue. If every new event canceled out every other event, like some whacky new-cycle pyramid scheme, then you always survived another day.

If that doesn’t send a chill down our spine, you are either not a sentient being or are Ted Eamonn Lindsay, an unabashed Trump booster and admirer. Oh, well, at least that’s one bullet we dodged.

But one has to wonder if, when the history of the Trump Calamity is written, will there be any coherence to go with the drama? Even more frightening is Churchill’s self-evident dictum ‘History is written by the victors’.


Finally, A Couple Of Things To Prove That A Policeman’s Lot Can Be A Happy One

cocaine in semen clown assault


That’s it for another week, but the comments continue 24/7, have your say, inform us, or just help us all laugh in a grim world. Hey, tell you what, a donation will make The Magpie laugh, he could do with it to maintain the blog in the manner to which you have become accustomed. 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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