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The Magpie

Sunday, November 18th, 2018   |   21 comments

An Admission Of Arson? The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services reported to agree to pay almost $50,000 compensation to a widow for an apparent arson attack on her Bluewater property.

This seems to be an admission of sorts, but somehow stops short of the usual requirements:  the son of the Bluewater property owner Sandra Richards says although Queensland Fire And Emergency Services has now agreed pay compensation for damage caused by suspected arson to her property, the Service is unwilling to further investigate the man Mr Richard’s believes was responsible for the fire attack

The figures are out and the Townsville Bulletin – by it’s own reckoning – Is In big numbers trouble.The latest readership figures are embarrassing enough, but when News Corpse own skewed methodology regarding the disparity between readership and circulation is used, it must be panic station down on Flinders Street and in Holt Street HQ in Sydney. If it isn’t, then News Corpse has been caught out in an inconvenient BIG lie.

All in all, a rough week for the Astonisher in other areas, too, from . one of the hoity-toityest rebuffs to a prominent community figure,  to a tell-tale ad for staff … which they couldn’t even sub correctly.

Plus the usual look at Trumpistan during the week.

But first …

Dollar Diplomacy: Sweet And Sour On PNG Menu

The ‘Pie is compelled to venture far out from the Nest and fly northwards to look at developments that have been highlighted at the PNG pointless bun-fight formally known as the APEC summit, where delegates will all tool around the pot-holed highways and by-ways in Maseratis especially imported for the occasion by the busted-arse , totally corrupt PNG Government.

Australia’s influence in its Pacific neighbourhood has been challenged by China of late, with Bejing’s influence becoming more evident by the day. And that includes our former territory PNG itself. Australia says it will up the ante in aid and other programs, the underlying idea being to negate Chinese military ambitions, ambitions  they hope to achieve by basically ‘buying’ island governments through providing cheap loans they would never have a hope of repaying. The Chinese have been heartened by the success of this tactic in African nations, including Tanzania, where our own Mayor Mullet is counting in getting lithium for a local battery factory – which would be in direct competition with the Chinese.  Guess how all that’s going to end.

But not all Aussie idiots are in Walker Street. Canberra has always had its share of prize dunderheads. Now we’ve announced we will build a joint Australian-US-PNG  navy base on the strategically perfect Manus Island, to ‘counter the growing Chinese naval presence in the region’.


Now, to quote that nice Mr Loaf ’stop right there, before you go any further’.

That ‘region’ would include, let’s say, northern bits of Australia, specifically Darwin.  And Darwin’s strategically vital port was recently sold … to a company with direct links to the Chinese Communist Government. And hasn’t Australia been selling off huge chunks of vital infrastructure across the nation to Chinese companies for yonks? This ain’t xenophobia folks, this is an explanation of why the Chinese hierarchy are laughing behind the hands and giggling ‘Flucking Australian idiots.’

This is something that has been exercising Bentley’s mind something chronic of late. He particularly noted that the most popular arrival with the local PNG crowds in Port Moresby was the Chinese premier. Trump gave the whole thing the finger and sent his 2IC, who is a FIFO delegate, flying in and out daily from Cairns.

And that, according to Benters, explains in a nutshell why PNG loves the Chinese best.

Apec fin

And we all know how the Chinese love fireworks; given the Manus naval base announcement, there should be a spectacular display when the actual summit comes together today (Sunday).

There’s Got To Be More To This Than They’re Saying

margaret richards

During the week, received this from Cameron Richards, the son of the Bluewater property owner whose land was the subject of an arson attack.

To The Magpie:

“A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by the office for a Deputy Commissioner of the QFES (the one directly responsible for the Rural Fire Service). He wanted to have a ‘private’ chat – which we proceeded to have wherein he informed me there was some money to compensate my mother. I said that was fine but we wanted something in writing about the truth re: Michael Cossens dodgy activities, and he verbally agreed to assist. A week later we got an email putting in writing the offer to compensate my mother to the tune of any receipts she could provide in relation to fire damage to fence and roads etc. [although one fence still not fixed etc. and no receipts for lot of the repairs, yet she still should get $40-50,000 back] However it refused to add anything further about Cossens (saying  a privacy issue) – but the letter did provide copies of radio transcripts with names on relevant days plus a secret 2017 report done. 

It provided a basis for me to write my own report (after further investigations and speaking myself with some of the RFS directly involved, and triangulating all the events on a map). This is attached to this email if you want to take a peak at what I found our further. Even though I sent this to everyone of the RFS senior management from the Townsville office to state level (including the QFES Commissioner as well as deputies), I have strangely not received any reply to this.”


Mr Richards is clearly someone who remains incensed at the treatment of his mother, and of what he believes to be a cover-up by authorities.

Michael Cossens

That belief appears to be supported by the fact that the sacked local fire officer Michael Cossens was stood down ‘for administrative reasons’. The details of this administrative misdeed are laughable, and to The ‘Pie’s mind, eminently challengeable legally. But it seems Mr Cossens has accepted his fate so far, apart from a whinge to a fawning and totally clueless Townsville Bulletin. So one is entitled to surmise that Mr Richard’s suspicions about Cossen’s treatment of his mother are to some degree true.

But why won’t the authorities act? As usual, The ‘Pie is sure that now the Astonishber has been alerted to a real story, they’ll be on to it lickety split. (Hur hur hur, ver the funster, the old ‘Pie.)

But the paper has a few other problems … quite a few.

The Astonisher’s Astonishing Numbers Game

The latest readership figures for Australian newspaper to the year ended September have been released, and they raise a very interesting question with the Townsville Bulletin.

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 12.49.25 pm

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 12.49.03 pm

Nice to see a little up-tick in the weekend paper (well done, Ms Tagliabue), but it’s still a woeful number in a circulation area of almost a quarter of a million. And therein lies a fascinating conundrum. These figures are ‘readership’, a survey that calculates the number of people who actually see a newspaper, as versus ‘circulation’, the number of papers printed. (See the full Australian list here.)

Three years or so ago, News Corpse became exasperated extremely inconvenient truth being regularly published by the long-standing and well respected Roy Morgan readership research group, which has long been the trusted yardstick of the advertising agencies. So the geniuses in Holt Street decided, bugger it, they’ll create their own readership head counter. Thus was conceived the hilariously overblown trollop EMMA (Enhanced Media Metrics Australia). From the outset, the emphasis was clearly on the ‘enhanced’ part of the name,  and the astoundingly rosy figures EMMA churned out had the industry scoffing and guffawing away, before the ad industry basically called bullshit,  and returned to the more trusted – and independent – Roy Morgan numbers.  But here’s a little bit of EMMA’s fanciful mathematics that has suddenly become very relative … EMMA’s figures for the Townsville Bulletin claimed that no less than EIGHT – that is, yes, 8 – people read every single copy of the paper that was printed. The derision was loud and long, because when readership was compared to circulation, i.e figures provided to the Audit Bureau, this was patently absurd wishful thinking. The figures must’ve been massaged by a sumo wrestler.

News Corpse big sulk at this resulted in another brainwave – they simply stopped providing circulation data to the Audit Bureau, an idea quickly taken up by other publishers, particularly Fairfax. So now, no PROVABLE circulation figures were provided to the public or advertisers, who just had to take the papers’ word for the value of the ad dollar they were gouged by the sales departments. (Circulation figures to the Audit Bureau had had to be accurate under law, and heavy sanctions existed if they were found to be fibbing. But it was not compulsory to provide them.)

So … we don’t know what the Bulletin’s circulation actually is.

Or don’t we? Using their own metric, let’s work it out.

Weekday readership is 35,000, so at eight people per copy, that means … oh, no, say it ain’t so … in round figures, the paper only prints around 4,500 copies!  A disastrous drop from the heady days of not long ago when the audited print run was in the tens of thousands, enough to justify a new $60million German whizz-bang press 10 years ago. And worse for their embarrassment, that figure  of 4500, if correct, isn’t much more than The Magpie’s Nest weekly readership heh heh heh. But no, don’t believe that … the truth is simple. The EMMA estimate was fanciful bullshit … everyone knew it at the time, but now its been proved. The Bulletin probably prints around 17 to 20000 copies daily. Maybe.

So Who’ll Be the Astonisher’s Mr Fixit?

This ad written by News Corpse HQ appeared on Seek during the week.

Screen Shot 2018-11-16 at 11.55.44 am

Eh, what’s that again?

  • The commercial management of the Townsville region, which includes The Townsville Bulletin and surrounding regional tiles. 

One could be forgiven for thinking that whoever wrote that was on the tiles the night before.

So who  ever the wonder person is who comes the Astonisher’s rescue will have his or her first mission: kick arse about sub editing, because they couldn’t even put in a mistake-free ad for a job in their own outfit And did you notice, that although the MD can fire anyone at the paper … and that includes reporters … there wasn’t a single mention of lifting the woeful editorial standards. In fact, not a dicky bird about news. So imagine if someone were to write a story that was critical of an advertiser, or someone the MD plays social footsies with for cosy deals?  But The ‘Pie shouldn’t bleat … that’s the way it has always worked.

And A Simple Question: Why Do hey Keep Making Themselves Laughing Stocks With Fronters Like This?


Very selective facts, and very selective logic … things are booming but everyone is selling up? And buyers will get bargains? The paper really has lost it.

Then there was this …

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 8.51.35 am

But that story was OK because Little Patty O’Callaghan thought it was a good idea. The best comment was in the paper itself. Someone named Ken wrote ‘I haven’t laughed so hard for ages. Thank you.’

But Pulling Figures Out Of Thin Air Is Catching Down At The Astonisher.

During the week, we were regaled with this riveting development.

Screen Shot 2018-11-18 at 12.19.48 am

The story started:

TOWNSVILLE’S best chips, pies and beers could all be on the “locally flavoured” menu at the new North Queensland Stadium. Stadiums Queensland has opened submissions for catering services for the stadium, urging companies to reflect the North in their proposals.

In its first year the new stadium is expected to sell more than 150,000 cups of beer, enough pies that when stacked end on end would be higher than two Mount Everests and enough hot dogs to stretch from 1300 Smiles Stadium to the new stadium site.”

Convinced that Ms Armstrong was pulling these figures out of her dainty derriere, The Magpie poked his tongue in corner of mouth in concentration and with calculator in claw, worked this out:

Average pie … 10cm (4 inches) across, which would be the measurement of a single pie stood on its end – if a circle can have an end, but hey, we’re talking a ditzy reporter and the Astonisher, so lets go with it, eh? Mt Everest is 8,848 m high ((29,035 feet). How many pies end on end needed therefore to reach a height of 17,696 m or 58,070 feet? It would seem to The ‘Pie that fans will be wolfing down 176,960 pies in a season of 12 games, eating almost half as many more pies than drinking ‘cups’ of beer?  Ya reckon? (“Geez, Nev, luv, you’re swaying’ all over the place, you been guzzling down those pies again? Hope you had some beer with that … you know what happens when you pie out on an empty stomach.”)

But it took the superior maths of Nest regular Mike Shearer to sort things out. He wrote:

10 pies = 1 metre therefore 176,960 pies are needed for a 17,696 metres high stack, which is double the height of Mt Everest.

Therefore 14,750 pies will have to be eaten at each of 12 games for the statistic to hold water.

And while talking about holding water, assume one “cup” of beer = 400ml.  Then 150,000 cups = 60,000 litres, or 5,000 litres per game.  Assume that beer in = pee out, that’s 5 kilolitres of pee to be flushed with 2.5 kilolitres of water.  Wouldn’t even fill a decent sized backyard pool!

BTW, the pies at each game would stack 5 times higher than Castle Hill.  But if they were stacked in a more practical way, that is sitting on their bases then the stack would be just about as high as Castle Hill.

But it’s obvious why Ms Cameron didn’t use Australia’s highest mountain … Kosciuszko is too hard to spell.

And interesting to note that this particular story attracted around 70 replies and texts, just about all of them forecasting the usual horrendous costs associated with Stadiums Queensland food and booze.

You Can Almost Hear The Gum Being Chewed And See The Hair Being Flicked

Astonisher reporter and scold Clare Armstrong

Astonisher reporter and scold Clare Armstrong

But Ms Armstrong took time out from these really important stories to put a minor issue in perspective … there should be no more debate on water supply matters, primly quoth our young miss, and one person in particular … Linda Ashton, spokeswoman for those pesky WTFAG shriekers …  should pull her head in. No more of that factual stuff, it’s all over for WFTAG and informing this community about boring old water things, we’ve got mountains of meat pies in a new stadium and roads to pave with hot dogs to occupy us.

Now The ‘Pie acknowledges – and has told her so – that Linda Ashton is a complete klutz when it comes to media smarts, and gets somewhat upset on behalf of the community for which she has worked so hard for so long when the Bulletin baulks at printing her latest missive. Now, The Magpie will also admit that Ms Ashton tends to lead with her chin in matters of publicity, and she really shouldn’t be surprised that after constantly publicly berating the paper on social media she gets her water cut off.

A rebuff is to be expected if the bear is poked too often, and a polite but firm, respectful and reasoned note from the editor to acknowledge someone who has put in so much time and effort for this community would not go amiss. But what is not expected is this low-level little chippy of a reporter, a finalist in this year’s Little Miss Self-Importance pageant who has infested us with her talentless presence for less than a year, writes this bumptious email to Linda Ashton during the week.

From: Clare Armstrong <email hidden; JavaScript is required>
Sent: Monday, 12 November 2018 9:06 AM
To: Linda Ashton <email hidden; JavaScript is required>
Subject: Re: WFTAG The next phase

 Hey Linda,

If you wanted a story published I don’t think CC’ing in so many people was a smart move. It just makes it look you’re trying to pressure the Bulletin to run it. 

I speak only for myself here, not Jenna, but as the journalist who has done most of the water reporting this year I have to tell you I’m not particularly interested in WFTAG’s next phase. 

I don’t see it’s news value as I don’t believe anyone is remotely considering or ever will consider the massive alterations to Stage 2 you’re propagating and I prefer to keep readers informed about the actual plan rather than muddy the waters with changes far beyond the scope of the project. 

I appreciate the work your group has done over the years but it’s pretty clear we’ve moved on from the lobbying phase to the actual building phase and what the public needs now are the engineers and experts actually in charge of building the pipe.



‘I’M not particulatly interested’ in anything further from WFTAG? ‘We’ve moved on”? No more news value in pointing out, as a paper of record (ha!) that a panel of highly qualified experts have alternate views of stage 2? Won’t bother asking anyone if they’re interested in an alternative point of view, you’ve just made a decision by fiat? Don’t want to explore broken promises about jobs and pipe factories made by the mayor?  Sounds like you’ve been TOLD to move on.

Clare, luvvie, you’re not half up yourself. The sooner you piss off somewhere else in the kingdom, hoping against hope you’ll meet Rupert and he’ll have a Lolita moment, the better for this town.

Mind you, Simpo would be heart-broken.

The Theory Of False Equivalency

There has been a lot of white hot barbs flying around during the week concerning The Magpie’s criticism of TCC CEO Adele Young and her careless, callous tweet regarding the murder of terror victim Sisto Malaspina.

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 7.33.40 pm The basic two points remain: the Melbourne attack … an attack on totally innocent strangers in a public place by a probably religiously influenced nutter .. should not and cannot be used to piggyback into another totally separate issue of violence behind the private doors of a coward’s castle. And the second point also remains: it was totally inappropriate for Adele Young to use the twitter feed she uses for council boosting cackle to enter this arena. It appears she must agree with this summation, because the tweet has now been deleted.

The right to feel safe in public places in Australia is the right of EVERYONE, not just women late at night, and it is an issue that is equally important for debate … separate debate … as DV.  Like it or not.

Looking Across The Waters To Trumpistan

Soon we’ll be having those dreary end of year reviews, cruelly forcing us to relive all the ghastly things that have happened (Bunnings wanting onion under, not on top of, the charity snags … well, we all know Bunnings is the place to find tools), but The New Yorker found a positive side to the momentous events of 2018.


“Say what you will about 2018, I haven’t been kept awake at night by the same fear twice.”

But the Agent Orange of the White House had a somewhat weather-beaten week, rain in France and devastating fires in California … he handled both with his usual selfless grace and statesmanship.

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 7.42.11 am cbr111218dapr-1 225_218184 jones_300 bramhall_8_0 217_218122 hatchfield_9 Mueller probe threatened varvel_7_0 Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon - tt_c_c181116.tif

And we lost a much loved fantasist this week … a man who fired many an imagination, and spurred creativity across modern pop art.



That’s it for this week, another one down and plenty more to go. Those comments are coming thick (some very thick) and fast, it’s your opportunity to bark at the clouds, so hop in and have a bitch about something, a laugh about something, or we even allow intelligent comment occasionally. And if anyone can lend a hand with a donation, it will be greatly appreciated, 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.


  1. Jenny Wren says:

    Hi Magpie, any gossip on Adele Young’s sick leave as reported in the Bulletin this morning?

    • The Magpie says:

      Nope, no whispers here, but there have been hints and unproven reports of previous interstate medical visits. The Magpie wishes Ms Young well, this blog’s jousting on the political battlefield never involves personal spite for sudden unfortunate personal circumstances.

      But in the unlikely event that this is a masked manoeuvre of some sort, this is a goldmine for conspiracy theorists. With the Astonisher reporting only a little of what it clearly knows, it is open for us to assume that the sick leave is a means to another end, and The ‘Pie’s ponders whether she has headed south, possibly to Melbourne, to be involved, possibly pre-selected, in the coming Federal election.

      Her time in Townsville, in itself seen down south as an undesirable posting, as a foul-mouthed Labor head-kicker has certainly seen her denigrated locally to the uncomfortable point where she’s been forced to be a FIFO CEO, out on Thursday afternoons and back on Sunday night/Monday mornings. Her political ambitions are said to boundless, so some sort of involvement with a federal Labor campaign is almost certain, one would think.

      Even if she is number two in the Astonisher’s ‘Back Scratchers Top 50′, most of whom belong to the circle jerk of the usual suspects, she got there on the vote of an ANONYMOUS PANEL OF JUDGES, THEMSELVES SELECTED BY THE BULLETIN.

      • Lord Howard Hertz says:

        Sounds like a planned stratagem to me, as predicted by you, wasn’t it, Magpie at least a couple of years ago … come in , do the damage and move, possibly in some way saving face for bigger and better things.

      • I'll be plucked says:

        Interesting Pie and the acting/fill in CEO is???

        • The Magpie says:

          Mike Chiodo.

          • I'll be plucked says:

            Ah, ha, formerly the CEO of NT Dept of Local Govt, who was reported to have resigned in ‘mysterious circumstances'; no doubt the Impaler knew him from her Darwin days. Looks like the nepotism goes on and on and……….when is this going to end???

          • The Magpie says:

            Well, shivering one, you are speaking in riddles. To whom do you refer, and although your use of ‘nepotism’ is technically correct, in general speech it is taken to mean giving jobs to relatives? Yes, the word does include friends, but this is more political jobs for the boys by the sounds of it. Care to enlighten?

  2. J jones says:

    Are they drunk?
    “Ms O’Callaghan is well regarded as a strong and passionate advocate for North Queensland who has the uncanny ability to compromise and manoeuvre around challenges with relative ease. Her presence and delivery goes from strength to strength each year and people watch with interest what this young star will do next.”

    • The Magpie says:

      That is just one of the intriguing assessments by our panel of judges … who, if the paper wants to take a stab at any credibility, they must named. Sounds like Jenna, Clare and a few others around a bottle of Bailey’s for giggle.

      And again, for what it is worth, the iditor of the paper did not include herself, although every day she takes herself so seriously as being the head of the MOST influential organisation in town. You can bet Clare Armstrong thought about putting herself forward.

      More on this idiocy in the blog later today.

      • Concerned says:

        The way Townsville is the CEO’s of TCC, TEL, and airport should have been sacked a long time ago.
        They have failed Townsville.
        And hopefully at the next round of elections the Mullet, the 3 local State stooges, and the O’Foole are gone because they have failed us miserably and hopefully the smarter people of Townsville do hold them to account.

        • Dave Nth says:

          Would love to see that Concerned but frankly good people aren’t standing, family in Vic are aghast at the bereftness of talent standing today… Looks like Andrews will get another undeserved term.

          As for here why would you put your head above the parapet, just be shot off by Qld Labor & business leaders the likes of Lancini who like closed shops. Don’t even start me on the old boys networks in the private sector, had a few dealings with Peabody Energy lately and found the lack of competence of some key managers alarming for such a big organisation.

          On a lighter note, gawd! got hit with a wall of heat coming off QF978 at 2200hrs at night, yuk… Weather certainly changed quickly from when I went out Tuesday morning. Lucky to get out of Sydney as well, the ride out was hairier than one I did into Melbourne last year with 100km/h winds buffeting that airport.

          • The Magpie says:

            Am reliably informed that Townsville will rarely have a high wind problem at the airport … it is said to be Kevin Gill’s contract that he must stop talking when a plane is approaching.

        • Charlie Wulguru says:

          Concerned…. It was the ‘smarter’ people of Townsville who put the fools there.

        • No More Dredging says:

          Concerned, I imagine the smarter people of Townsville would get a kick out of seeing and hearing from just one or two opposition voices that make the slightest bit of sense. It doesn’t look like the Liberal or National party (LNP for short) can find anyone at all so are reaching out to One Nation or the Katter mob to find a grain of intelligent thought – which tells us something. Even the Greens make more sense than anyone on the conservative side at the moment. And it’s not for want of a supportive media. Where have all the flowers gone?

      • J jones says:

        Looks like news have told them not to include themselves. No editors of Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast on their lists either

        • The Magpie says:

          It was always the rule, which underlines the Astonisher’s devotion to Pommy PM Stanley Baldwin’s 1931 quote ‘Power without responsibility – the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.’ But isn’t it strange when something like a second stage pipeline comes along (thank you Linda, Bob Katter), or even mistaking a disaster in the making stadium, the paper beats its chest and claims glory.

          • Achilles says:

            I like Sir Humphrey Appleby’s version as this mob has no balls: “Responsibility without power – the prerogative of the eunuch throughout the ages”.

      • Inside TCC says:

        Call the influential 50 what it really is, the people who spend the most on advertising in the Bully. And angry Troll Beckett cant even get his job title correct, its head of office for the Mayor and while on Mr Midget if he’s responsible for keeping the council out of the spotlight for the wrong reason they they need to buy him a gag!

  3. SPQR says:

    WTF is going on?
    I’ve been forced to have my juice, weet bix , bacon, eggs, sausages, toast, & fruit compote without the Magpie’s Sunday droppings.
    Jesus F Christ. Are you okay mate?

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