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The Magpie

Sunday, September 16th, 2018   |   153 comments

Has The Worm Turned? Astonisher Editor Jenna Cairney’s Private Battle Between Policy And Principle.

Can Cairney break the golden shackles of politicians and advertisers’ powerful influence over the news pages … it seems she’s trying, as evidenced this week when she seemed to tacitly admit that a Townsville ticket tax for airport travellers isn’t a good idea. But she is so timid about it, she is tying herself up in knots. It’d be amusing if her job wasn’t so critical to the health of this city. The Magpie translates her iditorial for you.

Jenny Hill apologises to Clive Palmer, again … and again … and again. Why is Mayor Mullet still saying sorry to Novichok Palmer, making Townsville look like Hicksville right across the whole state? The ‘Pie has a theory.

Why even asking questions of our council could end up with you being prosecuted … no kidding, you could. The ‘Pie reveals the jack-boot law being used by the TCC to stifle legitimate debate.

Why The Magpie wishes he could change the name of our city … (because then we could change the name of the newspaper) …

Why the attack on cartoonist Mark Knight over his depiction Serena Williams is a good thing …

And this week’s Galleria du Trump …

But first …

Crocodile Café, Anyone?

During the week, a texter to the Astonisher took the pessimistic view of the proposed underwater art gallery planned for the waters just off The Strand, when they wrote:

Screen shot 2018-09-14 at 8.18.38 AM

Well, there are probably some clever solutions. Airport boss Kevin Gill will no doubt suggest that all sharks and crocodiles be subject to a stiff  ‘entry and food’ tax if they wish to cruise the gallery, but the ever-perverse Bentley thinks that the would-be diners themselves might be in for a painful surprise.

aquatic gallery fin 2

Want More Tourists For Townsville?  Then Let’s Get Down And Dirty

The annual Floriade Festival in Canberra has just kicked off, with one of the country’s most spectacular flower extravaganzas. And Toowoomba enjoys its most successful time of year when it stages it’s Festival of Flowers

So that has the flower festivals already covered, and it’d be a bit dicey if Townsville went all copycat, so how about this? A vegetable festival … with a difference. Vegetables have a habit of occasionally being quirky and often suggestively naughty in their final shape. So let’s celebrate the freaks of nature (the unelected ones, that is) so all hail randy rutabagas, cavorting carrots and tumescent tomatoes.

It’d be a big crowd puller … here’s a selection of what we could expect.


And as a grand finale, there could be an outdoor meeting of the full council in a local park, with stands for spectator seating to see the city’s most unproductive but quirky vegetable patch in action.

There’s Something Freakish Going On Down At The Astonisher, Too.

Have any of you hardy but dwindling band of Astonisher readers noticed the baffling albeit  welcome quantum shift by the paper of late? It would seem the iditor’s ‘protected species’ list is being trimmed. Over the past months, even Mayor Mullet has copped a genteel kick on the shins, and every so often, star columnist Shari Tagliabue goes out on a limb on a touchy political issue, but so far, that limb hasn’t been sawn off. And Tony Raggatt’s stories seem to be as he wrote them, to display how a real reporter goes about his work.

But the biggest surprise came this week with the treatment of the contentious – and hopefully dead – issue of a ticket tax on local airline passengers to fund an airport upgrade that ethically and morally is the financial responsibility of the owners QAL. In one hit, the paper has soured on its previous saccharine diet of Gill-boosting advocacy for the tax.

Here’s how all this unfolded during the week. First we had this ludicrous headline that had the whole town rolling about in mirth …

QANTASScreen shot 2018-09-08 at 10.44.01 AM

… a situation which gets the Abuse With A Wet Lettuce Leaf Award of the Year. On-line was just as risible …

Screen shot 2018-09-08 at 10.44.01 AM

Tony Raggatt did his usual well balanced story, particularly picking out pro and con points in the opening of the story – he usually does but previously, The ‘Pie has it on good authority that the paper have changed his copy to suit their ends, which has greatly and understandably enraged him.

The most succinct part of the story was this:


A Qantas spokeswoman said, “If Qantas agreed to the gold-plated upgrades proposed by airports across the country — like Gold Coast and Townsville — this would ultimately be passed on to customers through higher fares.”

Queensland Airports said its Townsville upgrade involved doubling the departure lounge capacity and establishing innovative check-in and automatic bag-drop facilities, while Qantas said the redevelopment included a 200 per cent increase in retail space, which should be funded by the airport.” Unquote.

And that says it all. Almost.

Then the most astonishing volte-face on any issue in memory, came with this weekend cartoon

Bulletin cartoon

Now that’s truly astonishing, because in essence, that cartoon essentially labels as ‘whiners’ two of the paper’s hitherto darlings, Mayor Mullet (Qantas boycott, anyone?) and that grovelling goose, airport and TEL boss Kevin Gill – (with apologies to all geese). And make no mistake, cartoonist Harry Bruce gets his final riding orders from the editor’s office – he doesn’t even live in Townsville, he’s in Bowen at last report, and only knows of this city what he reads in the Astonisher or is told by the editor. So that airport cartoon also reflected the views of the current editor.

But Really What Are Those Views? So Far, Just A Timid Toe In The Water

While the news columns – particularly from Tony Raggatt – are reflecting the reality of the situation with the Townsville Airport, a tremulous uncertain iditor Jenna Cairney risks bum splinters from so much fence sitting. Still beholden to the advertising executives, she has penned one of the silliest of her two-bob-each-way iditorials which requires translation. The ‘Pie is happy to oblige and asks a few questions that arise regarding what she says and the paper’s general volte-face . Here’s the iditorial from Wednesday, with the ‘Pie’s comments/questions in bold.

Jenna Cairney 2

Townsville loses in airport stand-off

JENNA CAIRNEY, Townsville Bulletin

Cairney: THE stoush between Qantas and the owners of Townsville Airport, Queensland Airport Limited shows no sign of settling, and all the while, the city suffers with a substandard facility.

‘Pie: Just about everybody to whom The ‘Pie has spoken believes the airport is perfectly adequate, considering we are not some glitzy through-port on an international route. It is utilitarian , comfortable and reasonably efficient.

Cairney: The redevelopment of the airport has been stalled since Qantas, the airport’s major customer, rejected the plan to add a $3 contribution onto domestic fares in and out of the city.

‘Pie: The word is ‘tax’, in its generally accepted sense, but levy if you want to be a stickler, but contribution if only preceded by the word ‘involuntary’.

Cairney: In its submission to the Productivity Commission Qantas has slammed the owners and management of Townsville Airport for questionable practices and a sustained media campaign on the national carrier.

‘Sustained media campaign’? Err, that would be, umm, let’s see … YOU, Ms Cairney, no? Blindly parroting the dishonest arguments promoting the tax, suggesting – against all evidence – that you agree with Gill that ‘the whole community’ is behind the move, which it most certainly and demonstrably IS NOT. And then sinking deeper into disgrace by supporting our unhinged, hubristic and panicked mayor when she called for a boycott of Qantas. Not only have you disgraced Townsville with this stance and helped reap the clearly predicted consequences, you have made the once proud Bulletin a national laughing stock.

Cairney: Qantas, in particular, took exception to airport management putting seats outside the airline’s lounge, impeding access for customers.

‘Pie: Hahahahah – oh really, you’ve finally caught up with this, have you? It is simply a statement of fact that the only place where this childish and petulant response by Gill to Qantas’s refusal to implement the passenger tax , was in this blog. There has not been one single mention in the Townsville Bulletin news columns or iditorials of an issue raised by countless travellers. Photographs supplied to and published by The Magpie showed incontrovertible proof of this demeaning juvenilia, but no, Gill and his TEL boardroom chums had you firmly by the short and curlies, m’dear. Other mainstream media were also too timid to delve into this issue.

Cairney: The airline describes the airport’s redevelopment as “gold-plated” and that’s the fundamental point on which we can’t agree with Qantas.

‘Pie: Now this is an amazing – indeed, astonishing – admission. After all this partisan reporting, your name a single ‘fundamental’ objection that in essence is your admission of agreement with everything else in Qantas’s principled and widely applauded stand on this issue. Suddenly, it is just about, in your mimsy vacillating words, the proposed upgrade being ‘gold-plated’. You really have lost either the plot or your hearing, Ms Cairney because no one, including The Magpie, is opposed to a mildly needed upgrade – THE ARGUMENT IS WHO SHOULD PAY FOR IT … AND THE ANSWER IS A RESOUNDING QAL.

Cairney: The terminal is 40 per cent undersized and it’s completely inadequate as a gateway to the capital of the North. To describe it as “gold-plated” is as misguided as it is misleading and anyone describing it as such clearly hasn’t spent much time there.

‘Pie: Newsflash, luvvie … by the very nature of the facility, people don’t spend much time at airports, as little as possible, just long enough to move through and get out. There’s no “Hey, mum, , grab the kid, the dog and the tent, let’s spend a few hours out at the airport.“Oh, Fred you sure … can we afford the parking charges?’

Cairney: Queensland Airports, which also owns the Gold Coast airport, is not alone in its stoush with Qantas. In submission to the Productivity Commission, Northern Territory Airport has accused the national airline of abusing its market power and there are similar stalemates at Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide.

Yeah, like the airports don’t abuse the same monopolistic powers towards passengers as the airlines … and if you want to talk abuse of monopolistic power, check your own paper’s performance and ethics.

Cairney: That said, Cairns Airport last month announced a $55 million redevelopment of its domestic terminal from within its operating budget and existing passenger charges.

Airport management would argue that due to Cairns tourism, passenger figures are significantly higher than Townsville and the retail space is larger meaning the airport can recover more of the cost of the redevelopment.

‘Pie: And in one single sentence, you have destroyed any rational argument for passenger funding any upgrade which includes a 200% increase in retail space.

Cairney: But that’s when we start to lose sympathy for Queensland Airports, a company that made $14.5 million of profit last year.

‘Pie: At last, it’s sinking in … this is a swindle on the travelling public. 

Cairney: Whatever it takes, this upgrade needs to progress as soon as possible.

‘Pie: WHATEVER IT TAKES?  So, even if it takes a dishonest impost on the general public which has no business funding the bottom line of a swindling private business, that’s OK if that’s ‘whatever it takes’? Where’s your head at, woman?

Get off the fence, Jenna, or you’re gunna have a baboon-red bum from wriggling around on the splinters.

But Hey, It’s A Classy Publication, Is Our Paper

We were treated too this little piece of ‘what the fuckery’ during the week.

Screen shot 2018-09-11 at 2.54.27 PM

Interesting way to illustrate a serious criminal problem in our society – with a bucks night joke pic.

And still they wonder why the paper is going down the gurgler.


The Obvious Question No One Has Had The Guts To Ask About Serena Williams’ Tedious Dummy Spit.

It’ll get the banshees screeching from the tree-tops of the PC jungle, but The Magpie will ask what is a perfectly reasonable question.

To recap … ever since the truly annoying John McEnroe, we sadly are used to multi-millionaire tennis players stacking on bullying bad tempered hissy fits of gamesmanship (usually happens when they’re losing) but Serena Williams’ extended volcanic disruption in the US Open final makes McEnroe look like a graduate of Miss Manners School of Polite Behaviour.

The details have been raked over enough for you to know the story, which was just headed for the irrelevant talk show circuit when cartoonist Mark Knight penned this very funny cartoon for the Herald Sun in Melbourne.

Williams knoght

And with tedious predictability, all hell broke loose by the usual and not so usual virtue signalling axe grinders, who will need extra strength Voltarin for their jerky knees. The twin hot buttons of racism and sexism were trotted out through thin-lipped whines of self serving drivel. The Knight illustration depicted a petulant (and at the time losing) athlete losing emotional control .. it was not racist and had nothing to do with gender issues. And it was funny because it was so to the point.

The Magpie is mightily pleased at the outrage they vented on Knight, for the simple reason that whether their howling was confected or genuine, it highlighted how uniformly, wilfully and blindingly stupid these bandwagon jockeys are, with their desperate self promotion full of coded agendas.

But here’s the question not asked, at least as far as The Magpie has seen.

williams and baby

Could this outburst possibly have something to do with post partum depression? The text books tell that after child birth, mothers can often feel overwhelmed with responsibilities. This leads to anxiety and feelings of anger which easily constitute to postpartum depression. This problem is especially common with first time mothers.

Williams has wistfully said more than once that her return to tennis has kept her away from her child, and even cancelled out of one tournament to be with her kid, so if this is a gender issue, could it not be to do with this well documented and studied female phenomenon?

But of course, this wouldn’t suit the narrative of moralising self-publicists. And The ‘Pie will admit he is so ignorant of females clearly superior feelings, he finds it difficult to associate the word depression with a woman whose net worth is $190million.

So instead, let’s make her a faux heroine, like this …


Speaking Of Faux Heroines …

When it comes to apologies, Clive Palmer is like Oliver Twist … he wants more. And is getting it, at least from our hapless mayor, Jenny Hill. It was apparently agreed in an out of court settlement that Mayor Mullet would publicly apologise, and its been taken that she would also pay Fatso $50,000. This she duly did, with the apology appearing prominently in the Courier and less prominently well after the fact in out local rag (where it was actually reported as a news story).

This was all two or three months ago. So The ‘Pie was a bit mystified when browsing across a wide range of subjects in the Courier Mail this week , Mayor Mullet was telling Clive ‘sorry’ many times over.

Mullet apology 2 Mullet apology Mullet apology 3 Mullet apology 4

So what the hell is that all about? Well, it is only a guess, but ever since this saga was broached with Clive formally starting defamation actions against The Mullet, one small detail has been mysteriously missing in action. The defamatory comments were published in the Courier Mail, and therefore as publisher, that paper was just as open to action as our loose-lipped mayor. (Trust The ‘Pie on this, he knows, he knows.)

But Palmer has never even hinted at any such action against the paper. So it’s a reasonable guess that being a political animal with ambitions to again gain public office, he did a deal in the settlement with the Courier that they would re-publish the apology several times on their various platforms, and he would leave them alone.

Smart. For an annoying knobthrottler, Palmer has his lucid moments.

Got A Beef With The Townsville Council? Keep It To Yourself

… or you might find yourself spending money on lawyers.

Here’s a legal scam – that is, it is legal but ethically certainly a scam – that has them laughing up their sleeves down in Walker Street.

Ask what happened to Magpie regular Philip Batty. He asked several questions of the council a while back, just seeking some answers to some interesting matters that hadn’t been fully explained by our transparent council.

His questions were to do with the council dealings with Adani, a ticklish subject for the fright bats – however, while they were only questions, the CEO and the mayor were not interested in answering them. Instead, Adele The Impaler Young let Mr Batty know – to his surprise – that he’d made ‘a complaint’ – he vehemently denies this and insists ‘they were only questions with no accusations’. All complaints to council are automatically the business of the CEO – and Adele The Impaler  had decided there was no substance to the ‘complaint’. And she loftily indicated to Mr Batty that was that. But not good enough for Mr Batty, who insisted he had not made a complaint and had just asked some questions, and would they please answer same.

But it turns out that really was that. The Impaler wasn’t about to waste her time with a ratepayer’s repeated pesky questions, so she wheeled out her legal parrot, Graeme Finlayson, who pointed out two things. He kindly supplied Mr Batty with an excerpt from the local Government Act, which in itself raises a serious question i.e had did a law like this come to be passed in a state that pretends to be a democracy? Finlayson wrote:Batty email

The interesting thing here is that under this law, if there really was a complaint, the CEO could simply rule – without explanation – that there was ‘no substance in it’, even if the complaint involved the CEO herself! And the courts have been completely sidelined in terms of any appeal.

As astounding as this is, Mr Finlayson then dragged on his jack boots, and crisply told Mr Batty that if he repeated his ‘complaint’ that had been ruled to have no substance, that was against the law and he could be prosecuted. Although he didn’t provide the section that mandated this fascinating bit of fascism, who is The ‘Pie to doubt a lawyer who works within a culture of secrecy (that’s official) in the council?

So Mr Batty then took his concerns and made them into a complaint, to the CCC and now the Department of Local Government is involved. As reported last week, that was almost a year ago, and Mr Batty is still waiting for the outcome of the investigation the department has undertaken.

Rubbing Salt Into The Wound

This story, initially from the Cairns Post, appeared in Saturday’s Courier, giving some further state-wide publicity to Townsville … of the sort we could do without.

Tradies cairns

The key quote from Masters Builders Queensland president Ralf Dutton spelt it out when he said.

“The commercial sector, anchored by Crystalbrook Collection’s three hotel developments, means builders will be in short supply.

“If housing goes as well, it is going to be even worse,” Mr Dutton said. “Townsville is very quiet at the moment and really just down the road.

“A lot of tradies will come from there, if they haven’t already left to other places.”

Ouch … but one supposes, quite accurate! Wonder what the Bulletin’s pet economic poodle Colin Dwyer makes of that … he seems to think things in Townsville are tickety-boo just now, or soon will be.

Property boomIt is convenient to ignore that the headline writer clearly confused ‘construction’ with ‘property’.

When Your Town’s Name Is A Real Bummer

A rare event in the US this week, with the launch of a new print newspaper, and the first edition is sure to become a collector’s item – all because of its name.

Screen shot 2018-09-14 at 10.26.30 PM

The full story is a giggle a minute … The ‘Pie is still snickering at the Guardian’s  pun-laden report. This title of course is more fitting for the Townsville Bulletin, since our poor old city has been described as a ‘shit-hole’.

From Uranus To His Anus … Trump’s Illustrated Week

And he’s outdone himself this time, declaring that the official 3000 death toll from the Puerto Rico hurricane last year is a lying plot by his political rivals … many of the dead, he said, died of old age and were just added to the list to make him look bad. Trump dems did it Trump maria Trump hurricane Trump deal trump spence Trump high chair Trumped boarded up Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon - tt_c_c180913.tif trump air quaity trump walls trump staffers trump big words Trump stable genius


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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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