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The Magpie

Sunday, January 7th, 2018   |   197 comments

Why Didn’t We Think Of It Before? The Answer To Our CBD Woes Is – Ta Da – Heavy Toxic Industry. It Could Be About To Happen.

It will if it’s true that a local developer has pulled off the deal of the century. The Magpie has the low down on the reported hush-hush deal, a deal which could see stadium costs skyrocket.

They really have picked on the wrong guy when the Walker Street Commissariate decided to tried to bluff, bully and threaten ratepayer Philip Batty for simply asking questions. The saga continues

New Year or not, it’s same old, same down in Flinders Street West as The Astonisher continues to … well, astonish …

But first …

A Cartoonists’ Cornucopia – The Playground Politics Has Become A Frightening Theatre Of The Absurd

If ever there was proof needed that Donald Trump is teetering on the edge of a full mental implosion, this week provided it, with his now infamous tweet about having a ‘bigger nuclear button’ than North Korea’s el lardo president Kim Jong-un.

Like many of the dismayed around the world, all Bentley can do is eloquently illustrate what all but The Trumpaniac see it for what it is.

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(Doncha just love Benters take on our defence capability!)

Trump might just as well have flopped it out on the table and challenged Kim with measuring tapes at dawn. Scores of humourists around the world have been of one mind on that score, like this.

Trump and Kim

While the New Yorker’s Kim Warp found a different twist.

Trump NYorker Kim Warp

“Worst-case scenario: he’s compensating for the size of his brain.”

But by week’s end, that was the least of President Chump’s problems.

Loose Cannon Steve Bannon Presses His Own Red Button

Neo Nazi and former presidential pal Steve Bannon has also had his own fit of holding his breath and going blue in the face.

fire and fury

In Michael Wolff’s tittle-tattle book ‘Fire and Fury’,  Bannon – himself a pretty distasteful piece of work – accuses Trump of everything short of honking his nose in the shower. His sums that everyone thinks Trump is a ‘child’, ‘idiot’ or ‘moron’, the latter being The ‘Pie’s bet, given that the technical definition of a moron is someone with the intellectual and emotional age of a child between 8 and 12 (with apologies to the kids).

One day it was like this …

images… the next …

Ben JenningsBannon’s claims in the book, along with Wolff’s own, more measured views of an onset of Alziemer’s, could see the start of a Robert Ludlum-style classic, perhaps called The Trump Descendency. But one of the most startling and not readily observable assertions is that in his year as president, Trump has put on over 45kgs. This is explained because of his morbid, apparently life-long fear of being poisoned.

So in a move worthy of King Mithridates (who took small doses of poison in the hope of building up immunity), Trump eats only McDonalds hamburgers! This bizarre situation recalls writer Robert Benchley’s reply when someone chided him that liquor was ‘slow poison’ –‘So who’s in a hurry’.

On your current toxic performance, Mr Trump, the whole world is in a hurry.

Back Here In The ‘Ville, ‘Toxic’ Has A More Literal Meaning ….

Back in October, the Astonisher carried this yarn about the future of the South Townsville Rail Yards. But it seems some rather pertinent details in which the public would most certainly be interested were not published – indeed probably not revealed to the paper. The following missive wafted into the Nest during the week, and because The ‘Pie trusts this particular source, he shares it with you now.

Pie, I heard a story last night that may bear some further looking into…

Apparently there are rail wagons that transport 100% sulphuric acid – for what I don’t know, but assume for use in the mining industry.  These wagons must be completely re-furbished every two years.  The re-refurbishment involves a complete strip down, sand blasting and re-welding all joins.  It is done by way of private contractors.  The contract is quite lucrative and, until recently, was done by a company somewhere near the Bohle.  They do a string of 13 wagons at a time and it takes six months to complete the string.

The Bohle company has lost the contract to Wulguru Steel, (but they) do not have the necessary facilities to do the re-refurbishment – rail lines into workshops etc.

Along comes Mr Peter Honeycomb.  He just happens to have the perfect piece of property for them.  The old rail yards –  built precisely for the purpose.  Now, I think it is common knowledge that PH purchased that land for $1:00 on the understanding that he was to clean up the toxic site and develop it into usages commensurate with and complementary to the neighbouring stadium.  However, the word is that PH has leased the yards and the largest workshops to Wulguru Steel for 5 years at annual rental of 2 MILLION DOLLARS!

If this information is correct, then apart from the foul stench of corruption, what price responsible town planning principles to allow noxious heavy engineering activities next door to a public amenity?  I cannot believe that even this bunch of thick-headed nongs would allow this to happen.

There are a number of potential complications.  The local business doing the steel fabrication for the stadium intended to fabricate the main beams in the very same workshop that PH has now leased out.  Having to do it off-site now means that the beams will have to be constructed in shorter lengths and trucked in to be assembled at the job.  Apparently, there are some very, very unhappy campers.

Further, Aurizon is mightily pissed off as they still own the tracks into the yards and PH did not bother to inform them of what was happening.  Now they want a cut of the action. There would have to be scores of permits and licences required to get this up and running – an EPA would be the first thing – but maybe not, if the land is already polluted with a restricted use.

The Pie’s source says he he was told this from a person he knows well as a decent bloke who is involved in an ancillary business hoping for some stadium work (but it not the company that lost the contract to Wulguru Steel, so there is no element of sour grapes).

So is this true? Not to worry, The ‘Pie is sure that Tony Raggatt down at the Astonisher will be on the BatFone to Commissioner Honeycombe first thing Monday. And of course, a lesser flunky will be on the mayor’s doorstep, checking that nothing untoward has taken place (oh, lordy, how The ‘Pie amuses himself sometimes). We await Raggers story with interest (no need for a spotter’s fee on this one, Raggers, take it as a late Chrissy gift from The Magpie).

But Not Much Point In Asking The Council Any Questions This Or Anything Else

The disgraceful attempt to bully, browbeat and otherwise intimidate Philip Batty and wrongfully threaten him with court action simply for asking questions has continued into the New Year. You’ll remember The ‘Pie has previously reported on this over the past couple of weeks. And Mr Batty is sticking to his guns, refusing to led the bureaucratic bullies like Adele Young and her cut-price in-house legal smartarse to intimidate him.

A short version (although The ‘Pie is keeping a full dossier for future reference) is as follows.

Mr Batty fruitlessly tried on more than 20 occasions to get the council to answer ssome basic questions about the mayor’s dealings with Adani over the airstrip deal. He then took his concerns to the CCC, who in turn told him that while one aspect of his complaint could constitute corrupt behaviour, his other questions should be addressed to the CEO. (Stop laughing, this is serious!)

This duly he did – again – only to get a high-handed letter telling him his ‘complaint (he didn’t make one, just asked some questions) had ‘;no substance’, and if he persisted in his inquiries, the council had the power to prosecute him (as the matter stands, they don’t actually, but that’s another matter).

Our Mr Batty is not one to be palmed off in such a disgraceful manner, especially when simple answers to the questions are both merited and deserved to a ratepayer. So the latest communication to the council is as follows – it is to the CEO’s legal flunky.

From: Philip Batty

Sent: Friday, 5 January 2018 11:39 AM

To: ‘Graeme Finlayson’ <email hidden; JavaScript is required>

Subject: RE: Your e-mail of the 27th December 2017

Graeme

Thank you again for your e mail.

It is evident that the councils will use any position, opportunity and excuse to not answer my repeated questions. If, as you have taken the position, my questions represent a complaint and not questions, then the CEO cannot be allowed to determine that the complaint is lacking in substance.

As my first question, and others, on my e mail of the 27th October and everyone since relates, to the responsibility of the CEO to update and maintain the register of interests for all councillors including the mayor then if this is now taken to be a complaint then this complaint must relate to the actions of the CEO.

Given this, the CEO must refer this complaint to the LGA Chief Executive for investigation.

I am sure now you will try to cherry pick which are questions and which are complaints but you cannot have this both ways. If it is a question then I ask that you answer this without delay and if it is a complaint then the CEO must recuse herself from any further involvement and pass this to an independent authority for review.

I again look forward to your reply.

Regards

Philip Batty

 

The ‘Pie too looks forward to Mr Finlayson’s reply, and so should you, folks, if you have any interest in transparency and open governance of this city. Mr Batty deserves our support in any way possible, because he is de facto acting in all our interests.

Honestly, They Just Make This Stuff Up

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Really, one can only conclude that the group-think at the Astonisher is all over the place, like the excreta of a mentally deranged female

Even taking into the consideration of the generous discount they give themselves, the Townsville Bulletin has spent tens of thousands, possibly hundreds, on trying to wheedle and bribe new subscribers to its digital edition. But this now embarrassing campaign of giveaways if you sign up – iPads, headsets, the Ferrari GT can’t be far away – is as shallow and well devised as Mayor Mullet’s latest thought fart du jour.

Complaints persist about slow load times, slow, if any updates, site maintenance to keep it fresh (The ’Pie’s fav is the build-up sports stories breathlessly hyping games long decided – the Fire’s decisive win against Sydney today being a great example … all the lead up guff is still there while the victorious outcome is top of the page) and technical glitches, persist. Not enough attention is paid to the product itself, a bit like the TEL tourism mantra of ‘sell the wonders that we’ve got’ when we haven’t really got any that are competitive.

A good example caught The Magpie’s eye a couple of days ago.

Screen shot 2018-01-05 at 9.07.16 AM

Two things: a lazy layout attitude features a stock photograph of a left-hand drive car, which is a small indicator of the care taken with the story. But worse, the headline is exactly 100% WRONG. Doubly so when the reporter – who presumably didn’t write the headline, but who knows? – tells us this way down in the yarn.

Highway motorists were left frustrated over drivers behaving dangerously on a stretch of the Bruce Highway where the speed limit was lowered from 100km/h to 80km/h as a safety precaution against the animals, claiming reckless overtaking manoeuvres were more dangerous than the threat of brumbies on the road.

So it was other drivers angry with other drivers, and nothing to do with angst about the speed limit itself.

But who said this? The cops? Main Roads? RACQ? A mate in the lunch room? Whatever happened to the golden rule ‘always attribute’?

It has always been a rule so that no one would think you’re making it up.

This sort of carelessness means the Townsville Bulletin is doing for journalistic credibility what Wolf Creek has done for outback tourism.

But at other times, the sloppiness can cost people – including regular advertisers – business. You know, business, the stuff that this busted-arse paper warbles on about lyrically while sacking its own staff (just like the council). Example:

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 9.58.44 pm

The Palmer Street restaurant? Touch of Salt, one of Townsville award-winning top half dozen nose-baggeries is nowhere near Palmer Street, but the owners probably know two things … the Astonisher management can be quite snarky when mistakes are pointed out to them, and anyway, the restaurant no doubt knows that few customers would result from among the paper’s dwindling readership anyway. So the well-oiled constructed social network of the restaurant decided to put things to rights … far more politely than The ‘Pie would’ve.

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The Week’s Parting Thought

The Magpie has long been sought out the right word for the right occasion, and serendipity found two for him this week, from the fascinating world of word warrior Haggard Hawks.

Last week, The ‘Pie had a whinge about the Astonisher’s cheapskate space-filling ploy inviting readers to send in their ‘brilliant’ ideas to improve tourism in Townsville. FFS indeed. Seems a clear admission that TEL hasn’t got a clue, as if we needed any proof. This turns out to be a clarion call to every ultracrepidarian within cooee … it’s a word that means ‘someone who gives opinions on subjects of which they have no knowledge‘. Yes, yes, just like The Magpie.

On a more uplifting but realistric note, the other word all Townsvilleans should adopt is one that takes the starry-eyed looks out of ‘optimism’ … AGATHISM is the belief that all things eventually get better, though the means of getting there may not be easy.

murdoch difference

Well, at least he called Trump an ‘idiot’.

Welcome to 2018.

……..

That’s it for this week, a bit patchy but it is the silly season everywhere. Join in the comments during the week on any subject that takes your fancy – and if your fancy takes you towards the donation button below, who is The ’Pie to argue with your excellent and generous judgment.

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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