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The Magpie

Saturday, July 15th, 2017   |   186 comments

Energiser Bunny Or Ratepayer Rabbits – Why The Proposed Battery Project Is Looking Drained


Also, another Northern territory cast-off joins the Impaler’s private wall of chums she is building around herself …

Unlike Donald Trump, who wants his Mexican Wall to be transparent … literally …

…and how many got the joke the French played on Donald Trump? A great payback for his crassness.

More woes for the beleaguered Hinchinbrook Resort , but the new owners have Big Bazza Taylor on the job …

But First … Bentley.

The Brown Nose Of The Week


The Aussie image took a bit of a knock this week.

Usually we see ourselves as a nation of astute gamblers, but we were witness to the worst attempt at two bob each way from our republican warrior and current PM during the week. We collectively cringed as Talkbull fawned over an elderly British citizen in a frightful frock who was sporting a poor attempt at a blue rinse. Bentley feels Her Maj and her sword may have missed a chance to do Tony Abbott a favour.

Loyalist fin

Whether or not you like old betty Windsor, (The ‘Pie does for her many admirable traits, so sadly lacking in all politicians), this republican PM of convenience made The ‘Pie’s toes curl in embarrassment.

When he settles down back home, it will be a very different doggy engagement when he next fronts Tony Wingnut Abbott.

boxing dogs

Building The Wall: The Impaler Gets Another Tried And Trusted Chum To Join Her Private Army.

TCC CEO Adele Young recently ensconced one Mike Chiodo as the acting Director of Infrastructure and Operations.

Michael Chiodo

Michael Chiodo

She has nattered on about the you beaut appointment: Mr Chiodo’s most recent role was Chief Executive of the Department of Local Government, Community Services and the Office of Aboriginal Affairs for the Northern Territory Government.  In this role, Mike was responsible for infrastructure provision, organisational reform and service delivery across urban, regional and remote communities.

Mike was also the General Manager of Infrastructure in the Northern Territory with responsibility for the delivery of all Capital Works, Repairs and Maintenance and Major Projects across the Territory.

Seems mystery surrounds his departure from the territory.

Chiodo NT News

What Adele Young didn’t tell you was how ‘Mike’ managed to get a job in her old bailiwick in Darwin in the first place … but the Sydney Morning Herald did when doing a report on the questionable shenanigans of one Michael Hancock. Seems Mr Chiodo is BFF with Mr H, and made a lucrative quid out of his friendship. Here’s the flavour.


There can be little doubt that The Impaler knew Mr Chiodo from her somewhat chequered Darwin days (when she was outed as a public liar, telling fibs on the ABC radio). Nice to know that the Townsville City Council’s top bureaucrat has such extensive contacts to be able to recruit the crème de la crème of to run our city.

Hinchinbrook Hi-Jinx But Reported From Afar

Port Hinchinbrook Resort

Port Hinchinbrook Resort

One of things The ‘Pie has constantly wondered about is the Townsville Bulletin ‘s failure to report just about anything substantial about the beleaguered Port Hinchinbrook Resort and the long and twisting road … and the twisters travelling thereon – to promised recovery . It is in their readership area, and quite a few Townsville people invested there, but they refuse to look beneath surface and just run highly biased stories of the ‘she’ll be right, mate’ nature.

It has been left to the Courier Mail, about 2000kms south of Cardwell, and a Melbourne writer in The Australian, to make the running on this story that affects us here in the ‘Ville.

Craig Gore

Craig Gore

The Courier’s Anthony Marx has been keeping tabs on the deplorable Craig Gore, and in fact, his report of the this unconscionable grub trashing the resort restaurant tipped off authorities to nab him as he tried to leave the country.

Now, Marx has scooped the Bulletin (admittedly not difficult but c’mon, really ….) with his story on Friday that there are now serious doubts about the ambitious plans for a $450million makeover of the resort. Marx reports: “A wind-up application against the developer, The Passage Holdings , has been lodged in the Supreme Court in Brisbane . The applicants are local residents who earlier this year won a legal battle against Passage and were awarded $55,000 in costs. They later served a statutory demand on the company in May. Passage, which has been ordered to pay $121000 in legal costs in a separate case, is also being chased for $350,000 in another matter that it is fighting.’

This is the crowd who had (until recently, but no longer, they unconvincingly say) employed Craig Gore as a consultant on the Hinchinbrook project.

Then in the Weekend Australian, further real investigative journalism (look it up, Bogan) came to the fore when business reporter Ben Butler revealed the extent of looming train wreck facing the Yasi-devastated resort, under apt headline: Passage to nowhere: Craig Gore intrigue grows.

So if you read this in the Bulletin today or henceforth, you’ll know where it came from, and will be in keeping with the Bulletin ‘s modus operandi of yesterday’s news tomorrow, from someone and somewhere else. Makes a joke of their back-to- front slogan, All The News, Half The Price.

But Our Old Chum Bazza Taylor Is In There, Too

In case you didn’t go through the story in detail, here’s something we wouldn’t want you to miss. We previously reported that The Passage Holdings had retained Emanate, legal foghorn Barry Taylor’s outfit. But The ‘Pie had a chortle when he saw that the solicitor in charge of this lucrative little earner. The story reports:

‘Passage’s new lawyers, Emanate Legal, were also unwilling to answer The Weekend Australian’s questions. “We’ve got no comment on anything,” Emanate partner Venesa Gleeson said. “There’s nobody from Passage that is prepared to make a comment for an article that is to be published in The Australian or by News Corp.”

She’s going to be a busy gal, also being charged with doing over The Magpie for alleged defamation of Rabieh Krayem. Bazza will be busy, too, looking over her shoulder, since more than one local businessman has suggested that as a solicitor, Vanesa Gleeson would make a good hairdresser.

Expect reports on botgh matters in hubby’s dying Sunday Mail … but only if she wins, of course.

Mayor Mullet The Battery Hen: All Squawk But No Egg

The mayor’s touting of a lithium battery factory for Townsville sounds like a great idea, and there are those of the ‘Good on ya, Jen, you’re havin’ a go’ school of banjo backing who actually believe that 7000 jobs – seven bloody thousand, c’mon – will land in our beleaguered laps. That would be absolutely great, and a massive boost for our sagging spirits. So it is doubly cruel and doubly duplicitous because the likelihood of it happening is very long odds … around 7000 to 1 at the moment. And the mayor knows it, and if by chance she doesn’t, she should have, before she opened her politically driven cake-hole. Once again, we are being set up to be disappointed.

magpie peering copy

The Magpie bangs on about the lack of background investigation by the Bulletin, so he thought it fair if he and his crew (plenty of smart people on board around here) had a look at this proposal. To kick it off, nine days ago, The ‘Pie sent the following email to Townsville Council CEO, copied to the council’s legal doo dah. The mayor was also invited to reply.

Dear Ms Young,

I have some questions regarding the proposed battery factory and the council’s possible involvement on a commercial level. These queries are based o he belief that the mayor would not have made such an announcement had the council not satisfied itself with the answers to the following questions. Clearly, Commercial in Confidence cannot be argued, given the scope of the announcement so far. Personally, I would love to see this venture succeed, but there are certain gaps in the information of which the ratepayers – the ultimate shareholders – have not been advised.  Questions are pretty straightforward, there no no ‘trick’ questions here. :

The Council reportedly entered into an Exclusive MOU with a consortium led by Boston Energy to develop a battery factory in Townsville. 

  1. Was the Council approached by the Consortium, if so when, or was the Consortium approached by Council, if so when? Who in Council was first involved?


  1. Did the Consortium submit an unsolicited proposal to Council seeking an exclusive arrangement? Or, was the exclusive arrangement proposed by Council?


  1. What is the ‘exclusive’ arrangement actually in relation to? What are the terms of the MOU? Will Council release the MOU for public scrutiny?


  1. Are other potential battery manufacturers or competitor project proponents not able to invest in Townsville as a result of this exclusive MOU?


Council has determined to provide land in exchange for project equity


  1. How has the value of land been determined?


  1. How has the project equity value been determined? What proportion of equity will Council receive in exchange for the land?


  1. Into what legal entity is the land ownership to be vested? That is, who will own the land once it is “exchanged”?


  1. What is the nature of the equity that Council seeks / proposes, and in what legal entity is this equity in? That is, what kind of securities and in what kind of overall legal structure will council gain in return for the provision of land?


  1. Provision of land as equity is tantamount to an investment decision. Has Council seen an investment proposal and conducted its own independent assessment and Due Diligence of the proposed investment prior to deciding to inject equity by way of an exchange of land? 


  1. As lithium battery manufacturing is quite a specialized sector, what expertise has a Council drawn upon to conclude that the proponent’s project is sufficiently viable for Council to invest public/community equity?


  1. Will Council have rights to Board representation in the project vehicle in which it will have equity?


  1. What happens to the TCC equity should the venture not proceed or should it fail?

Is TCC liable for any other out of the ordinary concessions, contributions and such like as part of the MOU? Are there rates holidays, infrastructure charge discounts or deferrals etc.?

On the face of it so far, the council as an equity holder and also a key land use regulator,  could be faced with conflicts of interest.


  1. Should there be an alternate competing project emerge for development in Townsville, which could materially and adversely impact the value of Council’s equity in the Boston Energy-led Consortium project, how can the new entrant be confident that they will not experience delays in approvals from Council?


  1. Under the terms of the exclusive MOU are other similar or competing proposals forbidden from being provided with land-for-equity from Council?


Employment Claims – claims have been made that the project could create 1,000 direct jobs and up to 5,000 downstream jobs.


  1. Is there any economic modelling or assessment that demonstrates these employment impacts? Will the Council release the economic modelling that delivered these estimates? 


  1. Employment impacts have been based on claims made by the Consortium. Has Council independently evaluated the veracity of these claims? If so, who undertook this assessment? Will Council make this assessment public?


The mayor may also wish to respond.


Yours Sincerely,

Malcolm Weatherup 

aka The Townsville Magpie

So far, no answer to a reasonably-asked series of questions from a Townsville citizen.

But nevertheless, we beaked around concerning the viability of proposal anyway, outside the question of any liability for the ratepayers.

Now, this is not everybody’s idea of Sunday morning fun, ploughing through a lot of po-faced information, so The ‘Pie will offer these links – this one, and this one,  and most interestingly, this statement to the stock exchange from the company Magnis of which Mayor Mullet is so enamored. voluntarily suspending trading in its shares (see Summary). To summarise, it all indicates that the Chinese are poised to swamp the globe with lithium batteries (remember their wage structure is VERY different to ours) , and have therefore pulled a bit of a financial swifty with Tanzania, crucial to such as operation the premier miner of graphite, the essential ingredient for mass produced lithium batteries. The Chinese appear to have put themselves in a position to manipulate the price of graphite.


And if that isn’t investigation enough for you, here’s a further matter to ponder, a chart of the share price of the company with whom Mayor Mullet is wanting a share of on our behalf.

Screen shot 2017-07-15 at 11.26.20 PM

It speaks for itself … unlike mMayor Mullet or Adele Young.

A Gallic Guffaw From Behind The Hand

Donald Trump is undoubtedly a vengeful God’s gift to the pisstakers of this world.

And that would include French President and granny fancier, M. Macron, who is to suave subtlety what Trump is to custard pies in the face.

It can be no accident that a during his brief trip this week to Paris for Bastille Day celebrations, Trump was treated to a spit and polish military band playing a medley of tunes by one of France’s most popular duos, who just happened to be called Daft Punk. Not that The Twittler got the joke, it is clear it went over his clueless daft head, while the French Prez and the local dignitaries clapped and swayed along to the joke.

This was a great ‘gotcha’ following Trump’s boorish ego trip a week before at the G20 meeting , where he effectively split the US off from the rest of the world over the Paris Climate Change accord. That was joy for cartoonists, one allocating him the ‘naughty corner’.

G20 cartoon

But it was the naïve Donald Jr that may have set Dad on course for an early exit from the White House., which, as Willy Shakespeare said, is a consummation devoutly to be wished. Don Jr is the git that just keeps on giving, seeping driplets of damaging information about Russian involvement in nobbling the US election in Trump’s favour.

The New Yorker sees it as a family disciplinary matter.


But the wide-eyed young Don gazes about him, wondering everyone is so excited and what the shit storm is all about. And shit storm is literally how the wonderful Steve Bell saw it in the Guardian..

Steve Bell shitstorm

But one of the big problem for those who choose to laugh instead of cry at this mentally disturbed egomaniac is that he is way ahead of them in absurdity.

This week, several reputable news outlets reported that he returned to the matter of the promised wall along the Mexican border.

Wall near Tijuana

In what must rank as one of his bizarre efforts, he said the such a wall could not be built with bricks or concrete, it had to be ‘transparent’.

This is the tweet that spelt out a danger no one else had considered.

One of the things with the wall is you need transparency … As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them – they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over. As cray [sic] as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall.

– Donald Trump

And he is still the bloke with his finger on the red button. Sleep well, folks.


Talk About Double Standards

Back on the home front, the Astonisher is getting itself into a bit of a pickle, unsure who to back for what. Today, they caught up The Magpie when they ran this silly headline and squeaking story.

Screen shot 2017-07-15 at 9.27.16 AM

Neither do any of News Corpse directors live here either, mate, yet you fancifully think you hold the fate of the city in your hands (gawd help us!)

Earlier this week, QAL board member Jonathan van Rooyen told the Bulletin he was concerned using taxpayer funds for Adani’s coal mine and rail project could hurt other coal regions in Australia, specifically Newcastle. Newcastle, where incidentally, his company also owns the airport.

… but on the other hand, van Rooyen thinks its AOK to slug passengers using Townsville Airport a ticket tax to fund a QAL benefit in the form of an airport upgrade which will do little else except add to the company’s bottom line. What a slime! This is one of the people putative airport boss and TEL chairman Kevin ‘Rhymes With’ Gill answers to.

And Mayor Mullet joins the two faced club. She told the Astonisher: “Anyone on a company board has a responsibility to support decisions that are in the best interests of the company,” Cr Hill said.

So you actually agree with the Qantas board, who believe they shouldn’t be robbed by the white shoe tactics of QAL and their sideline urgers like you, m’dear, eh?

That’s it for now, but lots of good info coming through comments, join in, its free and you can subscribe – also free – to ensure you get the blog each weekend. And if you can spare a bob or two to help the blog along, see the donate button below. Thanks.

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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