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The Magpie

Saturday, December 12th, 2015   |   88 comments

Is Vern Veitch Going To Be Our Local Billy Gordon (Sans Selfies).

In a campaigning masterstroke, Mayor Mullet (almost) cries for the cameras this week over the Yalbulu closure threat, (too gruesome to show you) but it was Jayne Arlett who pulled the political headscratcher of the week. Our deputy mayor could hold the balance of power in the next council. And a new twist to the old Aussie saying, who’s up who and who’s paying the rent … low jinx in the ‘Ville’s rental market, as The ‘Pie reveals the legal scam that preys on the vulnerable …

But first.

A Generous Jayne Arlett Appears To Give Her Rival A One Division Start

From a conventional political point of view, Jayne Arlett has been playing funny buggers for a few months now, with her will I-won’t I tease as a mayoral candidate, then the coy ‘drip tease’ of naming candidates. But even when her final line-up was revealed this week, the funny buggery continued.

Arlett team

Looking like a soccer goalie and four defenders ….Trevor Roberts, Gerry M<aguie, Gi Jayne A rlett, Tony parson and Muriel Bin Dol

Bentley is wondering when Gi Jayne will be ready to go into battle.

G.I. Jane fin small

But the matter to ponder is that although it was not a total surprise because she’d been snubbing him for months, it still raised some questions about the wisdom of refusing to have current deputy mayor Vern Veitch on her team.

Let’s have al look at this without the usual headline hysterics.

Vern Veitch 3

Veitch has been the putative community leader for the past term, and for all the destructive lying about a bitterly divided council from the rabidly pro-Hill Astonisher, the deputy mayor has shown a strong understanding of economics and the mechanics of local government, without any party politics to distract him.

Sure, the council was divided … there were eight Townsville First-aligned councillors (led by Veitch) against Mayor Hill’s three Labor-aligned grouping. It was mathematically divided only, with the majority running the show … that’s called democracy. And Veitch effectively led the sensible move against the populist and economically ruinous Hill promises of a water rebate, a rates freeze and kerbside rubbish collection, a triumvirate of financially unsustainable populist measures. He got caned in the pro-Hill paper for his troubles, but he stuck to his guns, and stayed mum even when Mayor Mullet had the effrontery to claim the annual surplus all her own work … the truth is, if she had had her way with her vote catching promises, it would’ve been a multi-million dollar deficit.

But let’s go warts and all here.

Vern Veitch can be an abrasive character who – to use a couple f well-worn political euphemisms – readily engages in ‘robust exchanges’ and ‘free and frank discussions’. It is now clear that some of his own team … particularly Parsons and Roberts, it would seem  – were no fans of his sometimes thorny style. But he is a popular and respected councilor who has worked hard for his division, a sitting candidate who, as things stand at this moment, seems certain to retain his place as in Walker Street.

But the back room boys, and maybe Arlett herself, look to have made the big political boo-boo of making a negative yardstick of personality over performance. (Even an A grade goof like Abbott could’ve made it if he halfway decent policies and negotiating skills.)

Look, you don’t ‘de-select’ an almost certain winner because he’s perceived as a cranky bugger. Put him on a short leash but no matter what, keep him in the tent.  But as things stand right now, this decision looks like Gi Jayne has ceded one council spot to someone outside her team, and for no good political reason that is apparent. Forget all that girly faux businesswoman meaningless twaddle about skill sets, and fit  and so on – accountants are a dime a dozen and very few make savvy politicians. Besides, the deputy mayor has proved to be no slouch on the economic front, which is more than can be said for the mayor. This is politics we’re talkin’ here.

Of course Vern is mightily miffed at this turn of events, but the bloke is no wrecker out of spite, he loves the ‘Ville too much. Two things loom large if he is returned as expected. He will be a true independent on this new council … and guess what? Gi Jayne has set up a situation where Vern Veitch could bec ome our own Billy BGordon (without the selfies)  – yes, it is not out of the question at all that he could hold balance of power in the chamber, no matter who gets the mayoralty.

And a footnote: the council chamber probably won’t need the air conditioning during the next three months …council meetings between now and the election are bound to be somewhat frosty.

But Maybe You Can Put Questions To Jayne Yourself This Week. Err, Maybe Not.

The official launch of what the Mullet camp sees as GI Jayne’s somewhat quixotic tilt at the Walker Street windmill will be launched at a function at the Palmer Street restaurant Jam Corner this Thursday. Eight days before Christmas is itself an … umm an interesting tactic. But having heard all the rhetoric about transparency, inspiring leadership and inclusiveness, The ‘Pie is assuming you can rock up and cheer our hopeful on.

Oh, sorry, what’s that? It’s invite only? Oh, the folks out there seeking a new political morning will be disappointed not to be there at the dawning of the Age of Arlettiness.

It seems the guest list at this point features names like Tony Ireland, Pat Brady, John Carey (his wife will be pissed off … she owns Michels just a baguette throw down the street) Ashley Scott from BOQ, and just about all other prominent bizzoids from around town. There’ll no doubt be a Guides, a Mcmanus, a Lancini and a Carmichael on this little list.

Sounds like it could the start of a beautiful chumocracy.

BTW, it would seem a certain commenter owes The ‘Pie a bottle of Krug … you’ll remember a few weeks back, our man bet The ‘Pie a bottle of spirits to a bottle of Krug that Brent Tate would be running for council. Cough up old son, hate to think we have welshers in our midst, you’ll be named and shamed. (The Mullet’s unnamed candidate is a female businesswoman.)

A Short One On The Short ‘Un

The Federal Opposition leader is in more strife than the early explorers, including getting pinged for texting while driving . Mongrel the Barrister said he must’ve been getting in touch with his feminine side, since ‘only sheilas do that, don’t they?’

But with a preferred PM polling of a titantical 14%, low even his nightmares must be lonely affairs. Maybe this was one of them

Million Doillar Mate

And A Yabulu Worker About To Give Clive A Christmas Kiss?

 Clive Palmer - foreground we think.

The Astonisher Becomes The Megaphone For Islamaphobic Vandals

Good old Astonisher … (and local TV, including ABC). Perhaps they should all adopt a new slogan ‘ ‘The Islamaphobe Racist’s Megaphone.’

Reporting the vandalism by some sad little creatures on a house because it had a welcome plaque in Arabic over the front door (the current non-religious owners bought the house from a Pakistani family) is obviously an important story, and the condemnation has justly been universal.

Screen shot 2015-12-12 at 8.38.26 AM

But the Townsville Bulletin, and TV news reports, went on to lovingly showed and quote the vandals vile schoolyard graffiti, giving their twisted message exactly what they wanted … a public platform. Would like to hear the rationale behind this editorial decision.

Which Brings Us To – A New Magpie Award

The ‘Pie needs your help. He is compiling an end of year review of media, which will select the winner of his new media award The Golden Wankley. Send in any nominations … TV, radio, and of course print, illustrated where possible. The winner will get this handsome trophy for the mantelpiece.

The Wankley Award

Some Timely Cartoons From The Week.

Trump by Steve Bell 500

And if America’s got the NRA and Trump, France now has Marie Le Pen, whose far right party won handsomely in the first round of provincial voting. Because she won on the anti-Islam ticket, she was seen by opponents as a Nazi saluting sow. Which of course just depends on your point of view.

Le Pen French by Steve Bell

Rental Rip-off

Justice and the law are often seen as two different things … many see certain things that are legal but at the same time unethical.

Here’s a nasty little scam … right here in the ‘Ville, as a case in point.

Watch out for this mob …

Screen shot 2015-12-12 at 4.49.55 PM

… and watch out for the real estate property management crowds who use them.

Here’s how it works. Recently, some property management agencies in Townsville wrote to tenants, advising that the method of rental payments was to be changed, and now must be done through a Sydney-based mob called REConnect onecard. The tenant is advised to call a provided number to make the arrangements. When calling, the tenant learns that they are required to give their bank details to REConnect … a national company based in Sydney, about which they know nothing … and advise their bank of a Direct Debit Request (DDR).

In at least one instance, the letter implies there is no alternative, and you have to obtain the card to keep paying your rent.

But what the tenants are NOT told up front –at least not in the letters The ‘Pie has seen … is that every three months, REConnect will automatically debit your account an extra $10, for using the card to pay your rent

In other words, tenants are have to pay a fee simply to pay their rent … a private payment tax of sorts. And while it may not be a large sum to a big company, rent rolls here in the ‘Villet total in the thousands. One agency alone using REConnect has 700 rental properties … that’s a cool $28,000 a year from just one small agency. Think what the return is from the big city agencies.

This is something the property owners should pay, and only then if they get a reduction in commission from the agents. It is, quite frankly, a rip-off, leeches sucking at the wallets of some of the most vulnerable.

It’s a rip-off because it cannot be compulsoryThe regulations in Queensland clearly state that there must be AT LEAST one alternative method of rental payment.

  • A tenant cannot be required to pay using a rent card if they do not agree.
  • RTA website

And since those letters come from the property agents, they have a few questions to answer as well.

This is a national scam (there’s even web pages devoted to complaints about REConnect   ) In Townsville, agents using REConnect certainly include the Colliers spin-off Townsville Rentals and at least one Ray White franchise. The Townsville Rentals spokeswoman said this had been forced upon them because they couldn’t keep track of who’d paid their rent on time and which payment belonged to which address !!!

HELLLLOOOO, anyone there? Isn’t that PRECISELY what management agents do, isn’t that among their primary functions? And isn’t that why they charge property owners 9% commission on all rents?

When The ‘Pie spoke to Townsville Rentals, he was told that they no longer accept direct debit into their trust account, and that REConnect is now handling it. Only after a few gentle pointers about the regulations did the woman said well, yes, you could come in pay at the office in person, no cash accepted and if you used a card or a cheque a fee would be involved.

Too bad if you live at Wulguru or Bluewater.

When our rather put-out lady on the phone was asked what Townsville Rentals got out of it, she said indignantly ‘Absolutely nothing, they do not pay us a fee, we get nothing.’

Like hell you don’t lady. Every management agent has a ‘trust checker’/accounts person whose daily task is to go through the agency’s trust account to keep track of due payments. Such a role attracts a salary of not less than $50000, but REConnect makes that role redundant. So agents using this system are saving themselves at least $50,000 annually, and REConnect chases any backsliders and imposes suitable penalties for default.

So property management agencies might as well conduct their business from the lounge bar at the nearest pub.

Whether these savings are passed on to landlords is a very interesting question, which has already been asked by several property owners who have promptly taken their business elsewhere.

But the story doesn’t end there.

Once you sign up, the covering letter with your card tells you this:

Screen shot 2015-12-11 at 3.12.54 PM

So in fact, you didn’t have to sign up at all, and now REConnect reveals it is actually a rewards card – ‘The Ambassadore Card’ – one of those pain in the arse discount-in-more-than-a-thousand-establishments – ‘a free garlic bread with two main courses’ – that sort of marketing bullshit. What a great way to coerce people to take the card, AND get them to pay to have their rent collected. And of course, RECollect gets the real pot of gold … a data bank of tens of thousands of names; that’s the sort of data that attracts megabucks from other marketers and deal makers in this new media/marketing landscape.

Simply, iot’s grubby predatory behaviour all round. Nasty bastards, watch out for them.

(The name Reconnect is also the name of several reputable charity and community organisations, and the above should not be confused with them.)

Someone Else To Watch Out For

Always an excuse! This from comments during the week.

The Magpie

December 6, 2015 at 8:40 am  (Edit)

While reading the always funny and thoughtful Annabel Crabb in the SMH this morning, came across the word pellucid …’lucid in style or meaning; easily understood, of sound, clear and pure of tone’.

But how cruelly accurate language can be if we’re careless with capital letters and spaces … as in Pell lucid.

Lucid – showing the ability to think clearly, esp. in the intervals between periods of confusion or insanity.

Yup, spot on.

On A More Cheery Note

The week’s most cheering story was the Aussie Tech start up Atlassian which made the two founders billionaires overnight when floated on Nasdaq. It took the two Sydney men 10 years to get to that stage, so the following is a good reminder to hang in there.

image002

Meanwhile, In Canada …

…they’re getting used to Muslim immigrants, and even some locals are enthusiastically embracing the path of Islam.

ATT00001

That would be the local Moosque in the background.

Which Brings Us To …

… a video that reveals just how religion is at the root of so many of the world’s problems. Sounds a bit dry, but have a look at this clever experiment by some Dutch students … and have a think about it.

And To End

From today’s SMH online

Screen shot 2015-12-12 at 5.42.26 PM

Must’ve been an Italian school run by the Marx Brothers.

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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