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The Magpie

Sunday, May 20th, 2018   |   120 comments

The Pride And Prejudice of Ewen Jones: He Was On Thin Ice Long Before Last Weeks Blunder

The Magpie looks behind the former member for Herbert’s desperate and disastrous attempt to bolster his slim chance of gaining LNP pre-selection for the upcoming Federal election.

One Rollingstone woman’s fight against her victimization by people trying to force her off her property could soon involve criminal charges. The ‘Pie reports.

And the Port Hinchinbrook Resort gets fumigated of at least one rat … financial fiddler Craig Gore’s final connection with the resort is comprehensively severed by a Queensland judge.

But first …

(Bentley’s taking another brief break,  off to see the world for three weeks, lucky bugger.)

In the meantime …. it would seem that Paul Zanetti has the inside info on what he sees as the excellent match-up between the House of Windsor and the House of Markle.

Zanetti on royal wedding

Love Chuck’s pot plant.

But the wedding has raised another modern issue. Overkill is an almost redundant word nowadays when discussing the media, but new life has been breathed into it by this royal (yawn) wedding. It is icing on the (wedding) cake for Rosen in the New Yorker.

Fllis Rosen in Th New Yorker

On The Local Scene, The Astonisher Never Misses A Hard Sell

The placement of advertisements in newspapers used to be a prime and sensitive consideration for editors, but the words ‘sensitive’ and ‘Townsville Bulletin’ are rarely – no, make that ‘never’ – heard in the same sentence. First we had a front page effort a while back featuring the Ingham floods next to a prominent full colour ad for a popular brand of recreational boat. This week, we got this …


Well, if tragedy was inevitable, at least you’d know where to go to reload.

And Just In Case, You Can Say You Heard It Here First

 Screen shot 2018-05-19 at 12.56.47 PM

In fact, hearing it here first is becoming a feature of the Magpie comments during the week, and even occasionally in the blog itself. With a modest blush, The Magpie can boast breaking the Ewen Jones story more than 24 hours ahead of the Astonisher, and ditto Peter Lindsay’s defection to the Libs after resigning in a huff from the LNP.

Also, the insidious bullying of a Rollingstone widow (more in a moment) in an effort to get her to sell her property cheaply hasn’t even been touched by Bulletin’s crack investigative team … they have apparently been too busy with their latest ‘Townsville’s Ten Best’ series. So far we’ve had the ten best pizza places, ten best pie shops, ten best electricians and the ten best places to get shit faced after work. So it would probably follow that as a reader service, this week it’s probably be public toilets.

Screen shot 2018-05-19 at 11.52.42 PM

So this rumour may not have any substance at all (so what’s new, goes the cry!) but there was persistent tattle doing the rounds during the week that the Townsville Bulletin had been sold to a financial services group. This held some credence following the recent announcement from Holt Street that News was selling off some of its regional mastheads. But no further confirmation has surfaced.

If it is on the auction block, The Bulletin operation will fetch a pretty penny … the Flinders Street printing plant alone is worth tens of millions, and has great earning capacity, but with the catch that the current print runs of the Courier and the Australian plus a host of other papers including the Cairns Post would have to go with any sale, or otherwise the swisho German press would be a white elephant.

Hmmm, one wonders ….

The Rumble At Rollingstone Is About To Hot Up 

margaret richards

Seems certain authorities are starting to take an interest in the bullying and stand-over tactics alleged to have targeted 76-year-old widow Sandra Richards. She is the owner of the Rollingstone property Moongabulla, where she agists cattle and has nurtured a pioneering and now valuable mahogany tree plantation.

Depending on the outcome of those inquiries by various authorities who are taking the allegations very seriously , it could lead to police involvement and criminal charges.

First, there are several matters going on on the northern beaches, so here is a satellite mud map to keep you in the picture. The area of Mrs Richards’ property in circled in red. (The yellow sjows the proximity of the Bluewater Airport, which we will discuss in a later blog.

Bluewater aerial

In a brief overview, Sandra Richards’ son Cameron, who does the public speaking for his mother, says his mother has been effectively locked off her property – certainly as far as vehicular access is concerned. He says this has been allowed to happen through an inexplicable and unexplained Townsville Council back-flip on a decision which led Mrs Richards spent $25,000 on a road upgrade, a road that could also be of valuable use to the rural fire brigade. Cameron also says his mother has been subject to night prowlers, threats and intimidation, all with the aim of harassing her into selling her property, in a ‘fire sale’ at below market value.

He also alleges an arson attack which burnt down several kilometers of Moongabulla fences. This matter has been festering for some years now, without anyone except the Richards attempting to find a negotiated settlement. In documents obtained by The Magpie, Cameron Richards writes in his detailed timeline of events the following:

14/10/2015 Sandra Richards attends her property and discovers (a) 8 klm of boundary fence (and a telephone line along this) from the highway to Paluma hills has been wilfully burnt down – someone has painstakingly used a drip-flame for 8klms to wilfully burn straight into a fence so that it is hard to avoid conclusion that it was intentional . Also a bulldozer has done additional damage to roads and some fence sections. Burning logs block the access road and have to be removed. 

Picture supplied by Cameron Richards

Picture supplied by Cameron Richards

The scrub was still smouldering and start a new fire the next week which burn down the prime grassland of a large paddock on Moongabulla.

Although there is a later suggestion of a possible Rural Fire Service ‘burn-off’, there has never been any notice or explanation provided to indicate this, to explain or even to justify this. Cossens (a local RFS officer) was given a show cause a couple of weeks ago, and the RFS investigator has provided an interim report that they can find no legitimate explanation about this or the apparent cover-up that then followed.  

The Magpie is not privy to the nature or progress of the investigations by various authorities, but he understands that Cameron Richards has sent out Right To Information requests across a range of government departments. And the Townsville City Council.

Here are some of the people who may be interviewed in relation the fires and the decisions to empower the Richards’ neighbours, the Navarros, to effectively lock Mrs Richards and her caretaker off her property.

BUT PLEASE NOTE: The Magpie implies nothing illegal of any of the following people, and just states they may be interviewed to throw some light on events.

David Wadley and his son Tomas.

David Wadley has been involved in property sales in the area for some time, and has, according to Cameron Richards, incorrectly represented himself as the owner of a neighboring property. Cameron believes he is simply a manager/caretaker, and has never owned the property, and the real owner is the Sarawak identity Thomas Tiong (he is also involved in the proposed equestrian centre at Bluewater, more on that in a moment.)

Son Tomas (yes, Tomas) Wadley is the head of Bluewater Real Estate, and has worked closely with his father on several matters.

Bill Cusack, who Cameron Richards says is a co-manager with David Wadley of an adjacent property reputedly owned by Thomas Tiong’s company. Mr Richard’s says in 2015, Mr Cusack sent his mother an email threatening to block access and demanding $100,000. The reason for the money demand is not clear in the documents but it could be construed that it was payment for access to continue as it had done – for free in good neighbourly fashion –  for previous decades. Cusack has subsequently apologised to Mrs Richards and has severed all ties with the Wadleys.

Solicitor Connie Navarro - Emanate Legal

Solicitor Connie Navarro – Emanate Legal

Connie Navarro. A solicitor with Barry Taylor’s Emanate Legal in Townsville. Cameron Richards believes Navarro could be facing serious conflict of interest questions, and not just as a solicitor. Mr Richards understand Navarro is or was an advisor to Townsville Council committees on on land and property matters, particularly north of the city, but has other links that require some explanation. He writes today:

We have just been advised that she is on an advisory committee for the Department of Natural Resources for matters pertaining to road closures, stock routes, etc, in the North Queensland area. I have emailed the Dept asking them to clarify this and whether a Right to Information request is needed to do so.   

He is also seeking clarification from the TCC. 

Big Bazza Taylor

Big Bazza Taylor

Barry Taylor: The local legal fraternity’s gouger-in-chief, The Legal Foghorn is Navarro’s boss. Cameron Richards says a witness has confirmed to him that Taylor has been present at more than one meeting of a group of people discussing property matters and Mrs Richards situation. If that is correct, Taylor can and most surely will claim client confidentiality, which means he represents them to some extent, but the problem there for Taylor is that witnesses subsequently swear – which they might – that such matters as deliberate fire setting – in other words arson – were discussed at any meeting Taylor attended, ethical questions may – yet again – arise for this legal foghorn.

But crikey, The ‘Pie ain’t complaining about Big Bazza being involved , he tends to liven things up no end. It is well established around this town that things always get VERY interesting when he is involved in any matter, whether it be innovative ways to gain contracts to supply sand to the Strand beaches, his persuasive methods for raising money from business people for Mayor Mullet’s re-election campaigns, cruelly  gazumping a young woman out of a property sale because of an overheard a conversation on a social occasion, or even being a member of the Cowboy’s board of directors at a time when the club was trading insolvent under the management of Rabieh Krayem.

Never a dull moment, he certainly livens up the town … at least, when he’s here, which ain’t often nowadays, too busy entertaining folks like failing Sunday Mail editor Peter Typo Gleeson or Mayor Jenny Hill at his $10 million mansion on the Noosa waterfront.

Geeing Up Bluewater

Now let’s talk about the blue circled area. Bluewater aerial

Down the road a bit, it would seem that Malaysian financial heavyweight Thomas Tiong is steadily moving forward with plans for a swisho equestrian centre on land at Bluewater. This top-of-the-line resort will be specifically aimed at Chinese and well heeled Asian tourists.

While thoroughbred racing is banned in China, the emerging middle class is still having a love affair with horses, but given the country’s other priorities and cost structure, it is often unrequited love. So it makes sense that Chinese gee-gee enthusiasts will travel to a well appointed equestrian venue overseas for a holiday.

Warwick Powell

Warwick Powell

Warwick Powell, who writes a regular and forward looking column in the smart DUO monthly, manages this project in his capacity as a general partner of Resource Capital International Limited, which is just one of the corporate hats he wears, all with deep connections into the Chinese business world.

Mr Powell read with some concern last week’s blog, and send The Magpie this email.

I’ve read the last 2 weeks’ Nest with interest, especially in relation to activity in and around the Northern Beaches. The situation concerning the Richards, the Navarro’s et al is news to me. I can only hope the situation is resolved amicably, but am not sure of the connections being made. 

The Tiong family land that we are project-managing is not located nearby. The proposed equestrian-based tourism facility they are involved with is in Toolakea and is based on a rezoning approval.  I – together with the team of planning, design, economic, environmental and engineering experts – have worked diligently for 3+ years to slowly shape up a project that has generational significance, but maintains the character of the rural lifestyle the Northern Beaches is known for. We are continuing to refine it as I write.

We’ve refrained from “making a big deal” of the project to date, in part so as to not give rise to irresponsible land speculation and we would hate to think others are taking advantage. There’s much work to be done to ensure the Toolakea project is ecologically sound, economically robust and financially responsible.  As we finalise details in the near future, more information will be provided.

So, a worthwhile job-generating project by the sounds of it, and as speculated by The ‘Pie last week, it may be a vital piece in a jigsaw of major tourism growth for the immediate region.

Some Call It Spin, Others Call It Deliberate Lies


This more or less settles it, the lie is exposed.

As a commenter Honkers put it during the week;

This once and for all exposes the Mullet’s false claims some months ago that the “deal” with Adani was done … it was typical blown-up spin. People are entitled to treat everything from her mouth with the scepticism that is now fully deserved.

Err, you mean you didn’t already, Honkers?

Oh Ewen, Watcha Bin Doin’?

Clowning around in The House.

Nothing much or smart is the unsurprising answer, and that is – in a nutshell – the real reason that Dumbo Jumbo has only himself to blame for squeezing what little air was left in his chances of a political revival.

There’s much more to Ewen Jones impending demise of his short-lived political career than was reported in the Bulletin follow-up more than 24 hours after The Magpie revealed exclusively Jones self-immersion in hot water. It’s a thin line between cynicism and realism …. and goofy Jones’ pathetic attempts to turn lead into electoral gold blur the line altogether, and cast serious doubts on his grasp of reality.

Dumbo Jumbo appears to have committed electoral suicide by breaking one of the most time honoured political strictures … pre-selection matters are never discussed in public, they are strictly in-house affairs. And of course, everyone knows the greatest sin would be open canvassing of pre-selection support from those outside the party – (well, any party apart from the dingbat fancy dress fringe).

Everyone, that is, except Ewen Jones.

A Background Recap.

Last week, Ewen sent an email out to an unknown number of business leaders, asking them to sign and email a pro forma letter he provided them with to the selection committee. to tell the LNP dingbats in charge that he was the best choice to be the LNP candidate for Herbert.

Ewen weirdly claimed that he had broad business community support as the LNP candidate of choice and was unstintingly generous in his self-praise in the proffered letter. Here’s what he wanted people to say.

Dear Herbert Preselectors,

It is our understanding that there will be a challenge to Ewen Jones contesting the seat of Herbert at the next federal election. While we understand the principal and respect the integrity of the LNP’s processes, we feel that you should be aware of the broad support Ewen Jones has from the Townsville Business community.

We need someone who can hit the ground running. Someone who has delivered in the past for the seat and region. We need to see the LNP put their best foot forward in their attempt to regain the seat of Herbert and we, the undersigned, believe that Ewen Jones is our city’s best bet to lead that charge.

We need someone who already has the ear of Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, and Prime Ministers so we can drive our economy forward. We need the ideas to grow our economy to be the focus of the campaign, and not be distracted by trying to establish a profile.

We respectfully ask that you consider the business community’s opinion here and send a message to the community that Ewen Jones has the LNP’s unequivocal support to contest this seat at the next election.

We thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

Kind regards etc

His misjudgments started right there with the inexplicable blunder of choosing the most unlikely grouping from whom to seek support … the Townsville business community. This weird choice alone made Ewen’s apparently tenuous grip on reality stick out like prawn’s eyes. He even admitted he was probably no better than the lesser of two evils, when he said in his covering email ‘I will understand if you are uncomfortable about this, but I would suggest that you will be more uncomfortable if Labor retains the seat of Herbert for a second term and they form Government.

In other words, he wanted people to lie for him.

Many an astounded recipient was no doubt torn between laughing and crying at this panicked reaction of Jones discovering he was to be challenged by what is known in the business as ‘a young thruster’ in pre-selection. But his tactic of leading with the Jones jaw drew a swift and predictable response from one recipient., who – in polite but crisp businesslike fashion – enlightened him to his real position.

Dear Ewen

Thank you for inviting me to sign your pre selection support letter.

Unfortunately I cannot agree with its contents, in particular, “you have broad business community support”. It is my understanding that the broad business community of Herbert was extremely disappointed in your ability to represent them when you were the member for Herbert.

It is also my understanding the  broad business community viewed your last election campaign as dismal, allowing an enthusiastic but low level Labor candidate to take the seat of Herbert.

I wish you and your family well, but cannot accept your kind invitation for all the above reasons and more.

Kind Regards etc

Jones enigmatically replied to this with ‘Thank you, if it’s any consolation, you are the first to say no.’

The Magpie imagines not only was the writer the first to say no, he/she was probably the first and last to say anything at all.

But Dumbo’s Problem Started Long Before This Blunder

Jones chances at pre-selection were tenuous anyway.

He was already on thin ice when he lost the seat given how much money the party threw at Herbert through election commitments.  The embarrassment the party has suffered at the hands of Hill, the three blind mice and the Tool over the City Deal has been a constant open wound.  The ‘Pie is told that that more than anything is why the coalition won’t make a funding announcement in the city until they have a candidate. And they see to agree with the general business community opinion of an ABE candidate – Anyone But Ewen.

That thin ice got melted further when the party found out after the election that Ewen made the brilliant decision to not bother to get volunteers to man the booth on Palm Island.  Coupled with his refusal to door knock, airly explaining with a regal  wave of the hand “that’s what first time candidates do, not incumbents”, leaving a booth unmanned, and then losing by just 37 votes burns a lot of political capital.

Well, it seems Jones can give another airy wave of a lacey perfumed hanky as he bids farewell to what was an totally unremarkable political career.

The Malady Lingers On For Hinchinbrook

Craig Gore

Craig Gore

In a comprehensive judicial smack-down during the week, Justice Jim Henry sitting in the Supreme Court in Cairns, effectively ended swindler Craig Gore’s last connection with the beleaguered Port Hinchbrook Resort.

In layman’s terms,  Justice Henry ruled the Gore-associated company Passage Holdings claim that another company owed it several millions in loan money was not true … in fact, a purported loan agreement was a sham. Gore was a consultant to the company, and in his latter days in that role, it was probably an illegal and undocumented role because of bans imposed by authorities on Gore’s involvement with with companies and financial matters.

It was a tangled web of business smart-arse-ery, a mysteriously missing key witness and inept paper shuffling that Justice Henry had to wade through, and it would seem Hizzonner became somewhat peeved with all the fairly obvious dodgy white shoe brigade shenanigans involved.

You can read the complex case and decisions  here, but the damning language with which Justice Henry used to sink the slipper into Passage Holdings and its legal advisor catches the eye.

But the obese female of musical refinement hasn’t even cleared her throat yet for a final song on this sad saga, the legal battles of ownership of the resort will continue to be a lawyers picnic in other aspects.  But despite an appeal of Justice Henry’s ruling against a company associated with Gore, the shyster is well out of it now. And before anything more of this comes to pass, Gore has his own more pressing legal battles on separate matters of fraud. He is to appear in a Brisbane court next month to answer several charges of fraud on unrelated issues. The charges are so serious, Gore could be in for a lengthy striped suntan at one of the Queensland government’s rehabilitation resorts for naughty people.


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