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The Magpie

Saturday, February 6th, 2016   |   55 comments

Is March 19 going to Townsville’s Independents’ Day? Looks like it could be. And the latest readership numbers continue the Astonisher’s Nightmare On Flinders Street West.

Take your partners for the Preference Polling Polka … the scene is set for three,  four – hey, even five – cornered contests in several council divisions, with plenty eyeing the starting line for the dash for cash. The Magpie examines the woodwork for likely contenders.

The ‘Pie has an exclusive report on the Astonisher’s exclusive reports during the week, plus a headline the ‘Pie would not have been game to write.

From the US, the motor-mouth who hadn’t heard the adage ‘ when you’re in a hole, stop digging’.

And from yesteryear’s  trivia chest, toys not to be toyed with …

But Undoubtedly, The Story Of The Week Was That Croc Hauled In Off the Strand.

The Astonisher was on the spot, and pantingly told the story in overblown purple prose, but what a ripper yarn it was that really needed no embellishment. Not surprisingly, and understandably, The Bulletin flogged this story to near death in the following days, but it ended up a national yarn. Of course, the downside to all that is a blow to Townsville tourism, such as it is anyway. But that can’t be helped.

Bentley thinks our one-eyed reptile is a bit miffed and misunderstood.

 croc o shit small

Editors May Change, But The Laughs Keep Coming …

As Frog Philosopher Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Kar once famously said plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’ ... which was famously translated by the warblings of the good Mr Jovi, The more things change the more they stay the same.

And thus, new editor or no, some of the old goofiness remains embedded in Astonisher-think. Particularly when it comes to the absurd use of the meaningless (in this one-paper town particularly) ‘exclusive’. (Not even they can surely count the illiterate TV News services as competition, can they?)

It’s always been a bit of a thigh-slapper in the Astonisher, but it reached new heights this week … not once, but twice.

On Tuesday, we were treated to this front page …


The ‘exclusive’ – God bless ‘em – was a think piece that said it MIGHT rain soon, and if it does we MIGHT not have to have increased water restrictions. So one guesses it MIGHT be exclusive


With this great organ shaking in our palsied hands, we read:

’but a last minute reprieve MAY arrive just in time, with the weather bureau PREDICTING monsoonal rains and thunderstorms will begin saturating the city from Thursday.’

Hmm, funny that ‘last minute reprieves‘ have an uncanny tendency to ‘arrive just in time’)

That the paper now trumpets it’s musing on possible weather changes as ‘exclusive’ was a blow-beer-out-the-nose funny, but the exclusivity ramped up on the back page on Friday.


Reporter Rohan O’Neil declared that ‘the Crocs problems are no more’, then makes a logically gymnastic leap to tell us that the Crocs ‘intend to kick on in the 2016-17 season, but NBL boss Jeremy Loeliger said ‘It ll comes down to a business decision and whether or not they think they can continue, and we will participate in the decision-making with them, not decide in isolation. In the end, if the Croccs’ directors don’t think it is viable, then they will reassess.

Umm, so what’s changed?

(Memo to The ‘Pie: See bank manager to explain that his problems ‘are no more ‘ and he will try to keep making those damn payments – if he can.)

And while we’re in this territory, it may be a generational slang thing, but …


… calling the spectacularly athletic Ms Batovic ‘a bat’ – in any context – is at least ill-advised; to her face, it could be suicidal if she decided to take justifiable offence. You’d sure be ‘gone when the morning comes’, as Mr Loaf hollered.

But The Latest Readership Figures Aren’t Funny

You can bet Editor Ben English wasn’t laughing when he scanned the latest Roy Morgan poll of newspaper readership which came out on Thursday … the Townsville Bulletin remains locked in a nosedive. These are the figures for year-on-year to last December.

r'ship14-15 qld

Of course, in a few days, Mr English will doubt unburden himself of one of his convoluted editorials quoting the latest EMMA figures that have 172 folks or something similar reading every printed issue of the Bulletin (well, that’s what his predecessor’s tactic). EMMA is the bastard love child of the publishing industry, which decided it didn’t like the increasingly disastrous Morgan figures so created its own polling outfit. Problem is that media buyers and associated media industries still prefer the more realistic Morgan figures.

And of course, soon we’ll have the hard-to-fiddle audited circulation figures that will give the lie to excessive claims. One prominent news agent told The ‘Pie this week that not so long ago, he was selling 300 Bulletins every day. He now orders one bundle of 80, and still has ‘returns’ left over.

But You Can Bet You Won’t Be Hearing A Word Against The Morgan Poll From This Gal …

Cath Webber, Editor, Gold Coast Bulletin

Cath Webber, Editor, Gold Coast Bulletin

Cath Webber, former senior journo at the Astonisher, was handed what seemed the poisoned chalice of the Gold Coast Bulletin editorship when rampaging and erratic Peter Typo Gleeson was shunted across to the (still dying) Sunday Mail. Typo got plenty of readers offside by first refusing to quote anything Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said because the mayor had said publicly that he didn’t read ‘that f…king rag’, then did a back room kiss-and-make-up deal that involved sponsored travel with a Tate trade delegation and God knows what other inducements. That had the punters abandoning the paper in droves.

But Ms Webber who The ‘Pie reckons has just the right touch of the tabloids to turn things around without going overboard , seems to have pulled off the minor miracle of gaining back both weekday and weekend sales.

No other paper has managed that feat in recent years (although the Fin Review made some spectacular gains.)

So well done, that woman, as they say in the ranks.

Does It Matter Who is The Next Mayor of Townsville? Probably Not.

An interesting trend is emerging as the council election campaign limps along towards some sort of anti-climax. From The ‘Pie’s information, there is little fire in the belly of the two main sides which would normally inspire voters to become polarized.

The overwhelming response to door-knocking and mall face-to-face booths is parish pump stuff … indeed, rates, roads and rubbish, as the old saying has it, are by all reports, the things that voters are interested in. Not the grandiose vision things that Jenny says she’s been stopped from doing and Jayne says she should’ve done, the blah-blah blame game.

People seem to be waking up to the fact that council … any council … is very limited in tackling matters clearly beyond their control or influence. Like unemployment.

With this pervading mindset, The ‘Pie predicts an alarming development. With nominations closing in a couple of weeks or so, this bird predicts an avalanche of ‘independents’ will throw up their hands for a shot at the attractive cash on offer. No, The ‘Pie does believe many will have noble motivations about ‘serving the community’, more ‘helping themselves’.

Guy Reece and Joanne Keune have already started campaigning, and Deputy Doo Dah Vern Veitch, spurned by Arlett,  will be standing as an independent this time around.

But there will surely be others weighing up their chances. David Moyle must be itching to have a crack, and maybe that curate’s egg letters-to-the-editor Deborah Gibson might even chance her arm (curate’s egg because parts of what she says is good, other parts no so good). David Kippin could probably do with a quid, and it is suggested several associated with the sox’n’sandals morning tea village Glee Society known as the Townsville Ratepayers Association, may make honest people of themselves and not restrict themselves to the almost irrelevant Facebook rants. People like Peter Newey, Peter Aspland and Geoff Ward, whoever they are.

Paul Jacob is running for the Mullet’s mob, so the upside is he has shut up – relatively speaking.

The ‘Pie is predicting here, not encouraging, but when all sorts of candidates bob up, the big question is if there will suddenly be a lot of preference whispering about the place.

It can’t quite work like it did in the Senate, which gave us the likes of Lambie, Muir and other 2 per centers but preferences may play a role here. And fair dinkum, we could end up with a bigger factionalised council than we have had for the past term.

So The ‘Pie suggests this. If someone declares themselves an independent and then recommends a preference vote, steer well away from them … they are anything but independent. There will be a lot of stalking horses in among the assorted dingbats and northern beaches bag ladies. But if a person really is an independent, why would they suggest a preference vote, even to another independent?

Could a council of independents be such a bad thing? Possibly not, if councillors are committed to looking after their divisions. Talks will be had, alliances made, deals will be done … and we’ll call it …umm, let’s see, now … ah, how about ‘grassroots politics’?

So if that comes to pass, it doesn’t really matter who becomes mayor. And we’re still yet to see if a third viable mayoral candidate springs from the bushes, ready to offer us some luverly lollies before opening the overcoat and flashing us with a dazzling agenda.

Don’t hold your breath – or anything else.

Toys Not To Be Toyed With

You will recall the Nanny State edicts reported from Texas schools last week. Another kid has been hauled into the principal’s office for simply making a hand into a make-believe gun and firing it. He is eight.

But The Magpie has decided that sometimes, maybe a bit of Nanny State caution is required – although he still reckons toys of his boyhood era look like a helluva lot more fun than a Star Wars Sabre.

Wonder what those complete bluebag boofheads who seized the Crocs’ T-Shirt gun would make of this … they’d have a right old fit of the vapours – maybe literally.

Screen shot 2016-02-06 at 6.15.03 PM

Screen shot 2016-02-06 at 6.15.32 PM

Forget your double bungers and your sky rockets in a soft drink bottle … you could blow the bloody suburb to buggery back then.

Here’s the whole list which – depending on your sensitivities and sentimentality – will make miss those good old dangerous days.

The Art Of The Apology – Not.

Cannot resist quoting this headline from the American Mirror.

Screen shot 2016-02-06 at 4.55.28 PM

Ya just gotta love the Yanks, when they get in a tizz about words that are splattered all through their daily life and their public media … films, TV, websites – and then they delicately lift the hem of their editorial dress to step daintily over the great steaming word bombs.

In a nutshell, an otherwise sanctimonious boofhead was overheard saying that a reporter had nice tits, after he had just been interviewed about a meeting that discussed inter alia the use of the word nigger. When he got hauled over the coals for the tits remark, he then managed a ‘fuck’ or two in his apology for the – ahem -T word (blush, blush). Read it here.

The New York Post Says It All On The Front

daily news trump

We can only hope.

But Words Can Be A Touchy – and Dangerous – Choice.

cock suckers

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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