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The Magpie

Saturday, July 12th, 2014   |   97 comments

A ‘dinosaur’ returns – Senator Macca Macdonald goes rogue again with a controversial staff appointment of a man previously sacked from the position by the Prime Minister himself.

We also learn just how our mayor has come to be under the Crime and Corruption Committee microscope, the best headlines of the week, and a video of simply the smartest and most telling way to get a safety message across to blase been-there-done-that people – it’s truly brilliant.

But first.

Max Tomlinson-  telling it like it isn't.

Max Tomlinson- telling it like it isn’t.

The ‘Pie  has been mightily surprised to se the name Max Tomlinson popping up on media releases from Senator Macdonald’s office.

If the name rings a bell, here’s why.

Back in April 2012, Max, a former general manager of the Townsville Bulletin, was Senator Macdonald’s media advise in his Townsville office. That all ended when our boy wrote an antediluvian  bit of anti-feminist bilge after Courier Mail columnist Dr Carole Ford had called for more female representation in government.

It was a private email, so poor old Max must have been flabbergasted when Dr Ford somehow let the Curious Snail take a peek at it. (What a surprise for a savvy media adviser!!)

Macca was overseas at the time, so the then opposition leader Tony Abbott, already under siege for perceived anti-feminist sentiments, promptly sacked Max, describing his comments as ‘totally unacceptable’. This is how the Curious Snail reported it two years ago.

Screen shot 2014-07-10 at 9.07.56 AM

Fast forward to a couple of months ago, when Max’s replacement, the very capable (and far more circumspect) Mary Vernon was forced to take medical leave for a lengthy recuperation from heart surgery.

A couple of weeks later, The ‘Pie was bemused to see that Max had stepped into the temporary breach, his name regularly appearing on media releases from Senator Macdonald’s office viz:

MAX TOMLINSON Media/political adviser

Office of Senator The Honourable Ian Macdonald

Chair Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee

Suite S1.38 | Parliament House | CANBERRA ACT 2600 | P: 02 6277 3722 F: 02 6277 5914

131 Denham Street | PO BOX 2185 | TOWNSVILLE QLD 4810 | P: 07 4771 3066 F: 07 4771 3411

E: email hidden; JavaScript is required | M: 0419 782729

Is there some sort of timeline ‘forgiveness factor’ for transgressors of this nature? A sort of ‘did the crime – did the time’ arrangement, and now Max is being rehabilitated? Or possibly and plausibly, is this just another Abbott broken promise?

Senator Ian Macdonald

Senator Ian Macdonald

The more interesting aspect is that Senator Macca, a loyal and effective foot soldier for so long in the conservative ranks of ministers and shadow ministers, has made no secret that he is massively pissed off about missing out on a ministry in the current government, even to the point of criticising pet elements of Wingnut’s budget.

So is Senator Macdonald deliberately provoking the PM by re-appointing a person whom he had personally sacked?  Macca is no dill, but he is increasingly coming across as petulant. So he knows that with six more years in the upper chamber, and the turmoil in the Senate right now, he can do as he pleases without fear of any major disciplinary action. – under other circumstances that could include being kicked out of the party.

But one thing The Magpie will keeping a keen eye out for … the press release when Macca, through Max, decides to talk about the role of women in the growth of northern Australia. If Max could get away with it, you could reasonably expect the words ‘barefoot’, ‘pregnant’ and ‘in the kitchen’ to dominate.

This for the record.


“Like most women, you probably don’t possess the necessary drive, determination and decisiveness that men innately possess”

“It’s not a personal criticism; it’s a fact of biology. Where, for example, are the great female explorers, mountaineers, warriors, inventors, chefs?

“Blokes dominate most areas of human endeavour because Nature equipped them with something called testosterone.

“That was part of Nature’s grand design to enable men to be stronger, more fearless and more determined than their sisters. Sorry, Carole, fact not fiction.”

Dare The ‘Pie suggest, in this case,  ‘more stupid’ as well.

Moving along to local politics., and a suitable headline for it would be All Her Own Work.It’s a classic case of the biter bit.

You’ll recall that last week, The ‘Pie wondered just how our Mayor Mullet came to be dobbed in to the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC). Not all was revealed in Simpo’s Astonisher report, which tried to put a favorable light on the mayor’s plight. And no wonder when you learn the background, which is this.


In an April committee meeting, the mayor noticed that Townsville First councillors had overlooked a technicality.  Although all the relevant donors were listed on the public record, it is a regulation that they pro forma be named when a contract assessment comes before a committee. The TF bods overlooked this, although all donors were known and declared on the appropriate register. TF went to the CEO and apologized for the oversight, which had obviously done no harm.

But Jenny Hill is nothing if not from the spiteful, point-scoring and time wasting side of anti-Townsville politics, so she hot-footed upstairs to ask CEO Ray Burton to report the matter to the CCC. Since he is obliged to do so under rules, this he did.

This is where you start laughing – or crying if you care about our community’s reputation further afield.

An investigation was launched into those naughty Townsville First villians, and it was only then that it was discovered that Mayor Mullet herself had breached the regulations in a far more serious way, by declaring a conflict of interest but then still voting on the matter.

So it came down to this – the mayor’s version of these ….

Amex tits

getting snared in this  …


Yup, a classic case of the getting your tits caught in the wringer when you’re trying to push someone’s head through it. Given the statewide publicity Mayor Mullet’s perceived transgression has received, it is an unwanted bitter blow to business confidence both here and for those contemplating starting up here.

So where will this go? Consider this.

The CCC is perceived to be a puppet of the Newman Guminit,  Mayor Mullet’s former and very effective council opponent Kid Crisafulli is now Local Government Minister, and the CCC’s forerunner, the then independent CMC, is as fond Mayor Mullet’s political shenanigans as Clive Palmer is of ABC interviewers. One wonders if the outcome of all this will result in a joining-of-the-dots exercise. It’s certainly dotty.

While we’re on the matter of the George Street bovver boys, how demeaning can it get when a government-appointed new Chief Justice is held in such contempt by his peers that his swearing in – usually a lavish ceremony awash with swirling crimson robes, ridiculous wigs and weasel words – had to be held behind closed doors, with just his family present, because his furture colleagues (and subordinates) all decided to have holidays away. Yeah, right. Bentley was underwhelmed.

Justice Holmes copy

‘Public’ welcomes for Chief Justice Carmody will be held ‘in due course’. Tim Carmody is going to find it a hard row to hoe, but so far, like his champion and appointer the Attorney-General, he shows no shame … or judgment.

Moving on

Ad lib of the week goes to the ABC finance waffler Phillip Lasker. Giving a round-up of the dollars fluctuations during the week last night, Mr Lasker opined that ‘The Aussie dollar has been about as predictable as Clive Palmer’. Quite.

Now we turn to, as we inevitably do, the media, and therefore our Daily Astonisher. BUT WAIT … before those of you not interested in The ‘Pie’s inevitable rant, this week, IT IS QUITE THE OPPOSITE.  As The ‘Pie is happy to lay in the slipper when the Astonisher deserves a little kickin’, he thinks it only fair that he looks at the other side of the coin from time to time. This week, the paper came up with not one, not two, but three top notch headlines, which weren’t a juvenile, undergraduate stretch for a laugh.

This one from today’s website.

Sheik rattled and rolled: radical preacher arrested

Sheik rattled and rolled: radical preacher arrested

UPDATE: RADICAL Australian hate preacher Musa Cerantonio has been arrested in the Philippines, exposing as lies his boasts of having joined a new Islamic caliphate in the Middle East.

And this one from yesterday, which one suspects would not normally be on the front page except for the clever and classy simplicity of the headline.


That’s neat.

But for the best one of all, we have to go back to Shari Tagliabue’s column last Saturday. She took a unique take on the kerfuffle surrounding the ‘bubbly’ RL twit Todd Carney and his micturating mishap. (For those not up with the cultural whirl, the new craze of ‘bubbling’ is peeing into your own mouth, something a mortified Magpie did by accident in the bath at age 4, and has had the good sense not to do again.)

Plenty to work with there, but the headline on Shari’s column took the piss beautifully out of this juvenile recreational urophagia (the $100 word for being your own soda fountain).


The ‘Pie notes Wikipedia’s handy background that  ‘drinking one’s morning urine (amaroli) was an ancient yoga practice designed to promote meditation’. Must be true – Todd Carney is thinking deeply about things about now.

But the whole idea leaves a nasty taste in the mouth …sorry.

Ms Tagliabue (Taggers from now on – The ‘Pied is tired of checking if he’s spelt the name correctly) is a bit of a surprise packet lately, and no less so in today’s (Sat July 12) Astonisher.

She neatly skewers that idiotic Townsville Enterprise tourism video advertisement which The ‘Pie railed against a couple of weeks ago. The derision has been universal, but for a comprehensive, funny and biting drubbing in one of the paper’s best read columns was a bit of a surprise, since the Astonisher has rented out space to the chief Dudley Do-Nothing David Kipping for his own column.

The ‘Pie recommends Tagger’s column (read it here) because it’s says everything he wished he’d said in the first place (dammit). It could be pointed enough for The Kipper to get off his well-upholstered, ratepayer-funded  arse  at Wishing Well House and head for the Iditor’s office with steam coming out of both ears.

By the by, even the wording is sloppy and amateurish, suggesting that it is Townsville itself which is alive with curiosity – well, suppose we are now, wondering just who is responsible for this clunking waste of ratepayers dosh (at least $34,000 +).

Shari 'Taggers' Tagliabue

Shari ‘Taggers’ Tagliabue

But Taggers offers a touch of mystery and invites slack-jawed speculation when she says –

‘Townsville, Alive with Curiosity’ and the accompanying DVD, manages to hit so many buttons on the WTF-ometer that watching it was like stumbling into a prickly pear bush on a dark night, barefoot and naked. ‘

This mishap is asserted with such authority, it suggests she is first-hand familiar with such a circumstance, making one crave more detail of where, when and why a buff Ms Tagliabue sans thongs came to have this prickly encounter. Was there a handsome, soothing paramedic on hand to tend to her wounds? Did they catch the mouse that initially terrified her into this painful adventure? And will she perchance be doing it again? And where. And when. Now THAT does make one curious. A tourism stampede would then be assured.

Reluctantly leaving those thoughts behind, let us move on.

Still in newspaperland, this recently appeared in the Charters Towers Miner classifieds.


Just what is it with large white greying males and dogs?

But the huh? Factor isn’t restricted to Oz, as this comment last Tuesday shows.

The Magpie July 8, 2014 at 9:44 am  (Edit)

Another ‘ouch!’ in the ageing process, as times move on by.

This from the NY Times, which obviously worries that younger readers need historical advice.

An Arkansas town wants to keep its phone booth. (A phone booth is a glass stall with a landline inside.) Page A10.’

But The ‘Pie bets plenty of kids were asking ‘what’s a landline?’.


Too late for last week’s blog, The ‘Pie was delighted to be contacted on Sunday by our favorite but erstwhile columnist Amanda Gray. The unexpected comment from her led to the following exchange, which could lead to a circulation boost for the paper.

Amanda Gray July 6, 2014 at 9:55 am  (Edit)

Oh me, oh my, ‘Tis I… And my name is Amanda Gray not Grey Mr Magpie


The Magpie July 6, 2014 at 10:25 am  (Edit) Oh, you, oh, thy, ‘Tis you I spy.

Humble apologies … The ‘Pie should’ve known, you’re no doubt a descendant of one Thomas Gray, noted for his Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard which begins …

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,

The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,

The plowman homeward plods his weary way,

And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

And that offers a wonderful opportunity for you, Mandy, m’gal … how about a weekly column in verse? Show off your antecedents with pride and pleasure.

The ‘Pie will give you a flying start, let’s kick off with your tips for folding the laundry.

Ode To Undies, written in a Townsville Laundrette

Take undies with forgiving elastic waist,

Each thumb and forefinger there to place,

Bring together for a shape sublime,

Fold up the gusset for a tidy line,

Verily inspect for skidmarks, them to banish,

Wonders performed with a spray of Vanish,

With happy heart, pop them into drawer,

Next week, socks, bras and lots more!

Go for it, gal.

Anybody else out there want to help Mandy with poetic suggestions?

Finally, one of the best to last.


The folks at Volkswagen have always been innovators, and now, it is not just their technology that is groundbreaking. Understanding how to get modern over-informed people to take note of the most basic common sense rules requires marketing smarts, which the VW people obviously have in spades.

This short video is simply the most brilliant way of getting a safety message across to those of us who are normally immune to such public pleadings, bombarded as we are with myriad messages about all sorts of things. Whoever thought of this truly clever idea deserves an award – it may have already saved lives.


Some housekeeping.

The ‘Pie repeats the best of messages of the week because not all readers are subscribers (where comments are automatically dropped in your in-box) which makes it easier to join in the banter during the week. Get on board now, it’s easy (see top of the blog); you remain anonymous although you must give yourself a moniker, and in most cases, even The ‘Pie doesn’t know who you are.

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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