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The Magpie

Sunday, April 29th, 2018   |   135 comments

Townsville City Councillors Say They Are Now Transparent – True, We Can See Right Through Them

While the council claims highly selective transparency, it is not where it really counts, The Magpie uncovers clear evidence that we are still victims of the council’s ‘culture of secrecy’.

The Magpie and his readers’ thoughts on Mayor Mullet and crew are well aired in this blog, but let’s pose a different challenge for ourselves … what would you do if you were mayor? The ‘Pie gives you special space to have your say.

The week’s most unsavoury headline …

And a wonderful coincidence from the wonderful world of words.

But first …

A Fine Bromance …

Time for a modern re-working of that 1930’s classic ‘A Fine Romance’ by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields. It could be used as the theme music for a doco on the visit of froggy prez Emmanuel Macron to the demented carrot in the White House during the week. And while the French are famous for their kissing and hugging, Bentley reckons Emmanuel unexpectedly copped some of the attention Donald Trump is famous for.

french  fin

But what’s a little ear tonguing between friends.

From The Townsville White Shoe Brigade Files


You may have heard of the sudden closure those three posh nosheries on Hope Island on the Gold Coast and inexplicable abruptness of the closing down, leaving staff short-changed. You can bet there’s more to be heard about this little caper.

Wonder if anybody here in the ‘ville remembers this bloke, who was involved in those closures.

Randal McFie

That’s one Randal McFie, who a few years back had some less than successful dealings involving the Willows Golf Club. He also owned a Townsville pub. Mr McFie has a colourful history, as several local folk can attest. Doubt he’ll show up around here again, But then, Townsville seems to be a magnet for , shall we say, ‘innovative businessmen’.

Could It Be, Oh Lord, Let It Be …

News selling?

But then, maybe the devil you know …

What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

This Townsville council continues to try to make a virtue out of doing what it was elected to do in the first place.

First we had the ‘Basic Blitz’ nonsense , a feeble attempt to convince the pissed-off citizenry this council under the management of the Fright Bat Twins was taking decisive action, when in fact, they were announcing they were to do what they are supposed to do anyway .. fix potholes, mow public lawns, and fix leaky water pipes.

Now we have this attempt to make a virtue out of what by any measure they should’ve been doing all along.

Screen shot 2018-04-27 at 10.15.02 AM

Obviously stung by the official finding that this council has fostered culture of secrecy, once again, a highly selective sifting of priorities has been trumpeted in an unquestioning Astonisher re-write from a media release (c’mon Raggers, you should know better than that). But the measures are what any half-way decent LG administration would be expected to do.

But did Raggers or anyone address the elephant in the room … transparency about the elected council’s actual decision making? That is just as important as it is to make high minded comments that blame staff and not the executive for citizen dissatisfaction, frustration and mistreatment.

Such decision making by the elected councillors is where transparency is not only required but expected – but is sadly lacking. The closed meeting to make the surprise selection of the water pipeline material is just the latest example. Whatever the virtues and suitability of this material is, the first anyone heard that it was even being considered was when the successful South Australian contractor was announced.

This very point was made in comment yesterday.


This council wouldn’t know transparency if it jumped up and bit them.

This pipeline is going to be an on-going source of pain for Mullet, the funding isn’t lining up with her electoral timeline which means there will be borrowings and interest.

No doubt she is hoping the current top off of the dam will see her through the next election well and truly before having to deal with such thorny issues as pumping costs.

Then there is the type of pipe selected which is against the recommendation of the water taskforce.

The problem is now one of credibility, Mullet and Impaler have led us up the garden path on so many issues why would we trust them on this one?

It may be this is perfectly fine as a material, but where is the transparency on why it was chosen over steel?

As always more questions than answers, and of course the Astonisher isn’t asking any questions just breathlessly reporting press releases as fact.

  • The Magpie

    Exactly, S, particularly the transparency issue. The ‘Pie has been pondering why the decision for the plastic pipe alternative was taken in a closed meeting. Now, certainly, this is a rare occasion when commercial in confidence m,ay well apply, but that does not mean that the council meeting could openly discuss relative merits in public before closing the meeting, then clearing the gallery as they do in rape trials in court (see the similarity there?) and discuss sensitive pricing issues among themselves.

But within 24 hours of all that transparency blather in the paper, they were at it again, when we are treated to this patronising bit of spin, which raises more questions that reassures.


The first obvious question is why is IPLEX presumably paying the Bulletin for a full page ad, the substance of which has already been slavishly reported in the news columns? It surely invites the speculation that this was part of the deal for IPLEX to get the nod – if they did in fact pay the several thousand dollars for the page, and not the council – because the unstated value to Mayor Mullet is that it puts her in a good light as a can-do leader. It fits so neatly with her recently introduced smarm offensive to gloss over her innumerable cock-ups on this and other fronts, as the election nudges closer..

But have you spotted the alarming little inclusion in there, Point 3 about the water security solutions where transparency shyly hides its head behind unexplained buzz phrase Community Transition Package. Alerted to this by an eagle-eyed reader, The ‘Pie again asks just what is our suddenly transparent council hiding from us this time? It’s a fair bet our reader is spot on when he writes:

Are they softening us to lose the water allocation and introduce a full user pays system? The same system that the Mullet and the Angry Ant (Paul Jacob) opposed so vehemently when introduced by the Tyrell administration?

The issue here is not so much a change in the way we are charged for water, but why we suddenly get a mysterious mention of the possibility in terms which on the face of it actually means nothing in everyday English but authorities can later point to it and say they flagged it to the community. This looks like another ruling by fiat, a change presented as a fait accompli without consultation or debate. Without these puppet councillors getting off their well-padded and well paid arses and actually discussing the issue with their constituents.

Jenny HillThe Magpie suggests that the mayor, the council and the CEO for that matter can look forward to facing their own Community Transition Package at the ballot box.

Now It’s OUR Turn To Put Up Or Shut Up.


You will have noted that you get a special bonus blog this week entitled ‘If I Were Mayor.’

The Magpie is aware that there some ill-informed folk who believe the Magpie blog is just a negative, nagging opponent of the mayor – those naysayers obviously do not distinguish between negative whingeing and exposure of secret agendas, abuse of office, possible corruption and just plain dumb populist ideas.

So now here is the challenge. Have your say what you would do if you were the mayor today, right this minute. No abuse, no low punches, just your policies for the governance of Townsville. Please remember, if you have your say, IT IS ABOUT WHAT YOU WOULD DO, NOT WHAT JENNY HILL HAS DONE.

Since this could get unwieldy, to be published the following guidelines should be observed.

1,Make it brief, relevant and readable. No War And Peace ranting diatribes will be published.

2.No abuse of the mayor, the CEO or their policies, or anyone else. But by all means name those matters that you would change e.g. Halt the kerbside rubbish collection, or rescind the $18.5million gifted to the Adani airfield etc.

3. Don’t restrict your policies simply to reversing things you don’t like, suggest new initiatives to help our city chart a bright future.

4. AND MOST IMPORTANT: All such comments should be posted on the ‘If I Were Mayor’ blog (look down the list on the opening page, and click there.) DO NOT post them to this issue of the blog.

The ‘Pie is well aware that this sort of thing can get hijacked by self-interested existing power holders, but the comments need to speak for themselves, and all comers abiding by the above rules wlll be published. If you like the idea and have some livewire friends on FB and other social media pages, by all means pass on the the Magpie address www.townsvillemagpie.com.au . In fact, please do.

The best of the bunch will be published in next week’s blog and on the Magpie’s FB page.

A Sample Of Change From The Magpie

To give you a starter idea, The Magpie offers up the following of some – by no means all – ideas that he thinks will improve the governance of Townsville and point to a bright future.

If The Magpie were mayor of Townsville, he would implement the following changes and initiatives.

  1. All councillors will be required to sign a ‘councillors’ charter’ that pledges them to reply within 24 hours to all ratepayer inquiries with meaningful replies on the issue raised, to post that reply on the council web page, and their own personal social media pages. Councillors will also pledge to set aside one weekend morning per month, to set up a booth in a suitable location and meet with the residents they represent, and subsequently publish on social media any concerns that are raised.
  1. The money gifted to the Adani airfield would be immediately cancelled, even if there is a penalty involved. The KPMG report that was the basis for this move initially will be made public, except where genuine and clearly justifiable Commercial In Confidence concerns exist. These will be redacted, but the modelling will be published.
  1. When a council meeting is closed, it will be required that the media be clearly informed why the meeting is not public, in as far as allowed to adequately explain why it is being held in secret. This explanation will also be posted on the council website.
  1. Emphasis will be placed immediately on the efficient day-to-day running of the city, and the amenity and service reasonably expected by ratepayers and businesses will be the focus of each annual budget, and given priority ahead of exploratory ventures of hopeful growth of jobs and image.
  1. There will be an immediate move to investigate and restructure Townsville Enterprise, and the council’s financial support of the organisation. In order to qualify for the generous ratepayer support, TEL will be required to publicly publish its achievements each quarter until a suitable restructure is decided on and such a requirement is embedded its new charter. If necessary, the council will stop financial support and use the money to create a more meaningful program centred on Townsville alone – and not a wide net of surrounding ares which dilutes the effectiveness of such a program. It will be directly controlled by the council.
  1. Explore the feasibility of buying the civilian assets of the Townsville Airport, and operating it in the interests of the city.
  1. Offer substantial rate credits and other council incentives to attract new businesses to the city, with the proviso that such arrangements do not disadvantage existing businesses. All approaches to organisations which the council is free to publicly canvas will be reported with restraint and reality.

Get the idea? There will be a lot of ratbags, but there could also be a lot of good ideas – and don’t worry, Mayor Mullet won’t pinch them, because its well known that if an idea isn’t seen to be hers, beneficial or not, she won’t adopt it.

Other matters …

As if house auctions and property sales generally aren’t already enough of an ordeal. One could reasonably expect such property sales may prompt a thoughtful stroking of the chin, or a ruminating scratching of the head, but this?!?

Screen shot 2018-04-27 at 9.13.56 AMReally? How unsavoury.

The Wonderful World Of Words Continues To Amaze

The ‘Pie has long been fascinated by collective nouns, and indeed once ran a contest in the Bulletin to find collective nouns for nouns that hitherto had no collective name (The winner: a group of prostitutes – because they offer short term love in exchange for money, they are collectively Firm of Solicitors.)

And we’ve all heard of a murder of crows, and a parliament of both owls and –of course – magpies. But in his electronic wanderings during ther week, The ‘Pie came across a fascinating coincidence.

Screen shot 2018-04-24 at 10.57.15 AM

Now that’s amazin’, ain’t since, ‘coalition’ is also the collective noun for ‘cheaters’, especially those that live in this wild and primitive habitat.

Parl House Canberra

It’s A Different Problem In America

From the New Yorker

DC042618Well, maybe not really that different.

Finally …

While news terms enter the language all the time, there are some that are most unwelcome. Along them, revelations of ball tampering …


And believe it or not, there is a video doing the rounds that graphically features kiddy fiddling. Careful when opening this clip.


That’s for our double-bunger week, make sure to comment on your mayoral agenda on the special ‘If I Were Mayor’ blog, or anything in general on this blog, comments run 24/7. Nd a thoughtful donation to help the blog along and meet expenses will be greatly appreciated.

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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