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The Magpie

Saturday, June 25th, 2016   |   63 comments

Ssssh – Don’t Tell Anyone, TEL Is Trying To Keep It Quiet: The (Rumoured Forced) Departure Of A Most Senior Executive.  

First up, a housekeeping announcement … there will not be any Magpie’s Nest for the at least the next couple of weeks. The best way to explain this would be to tell you that The ‘Pie was flattered during the week to receive a special invitation to speak at a Rotary Club breakfast, to which he sent these apologies.

Alas, Stephen, while I’m flattered and most certainly would’ve gladly accepted your invitation from such a worthy club, the stars decree otherwise, as I am to  go into hospital on June 30 to have a cancer removed from my throat. The downside to that is that my vocal cords go west as well, so I will no longer be able to talk! Given the content of The Magpie’s Nest, that will send the sales of champagne through the roof in some quarters around here.  Besides, while I have heard that there is a traditional ceremonial taking of food called breakfast, I have never experienced it for myself, since it appears to take place before my regular rising time of noon.

However, if I become adept at miming the intricacies of Townsville Council policy, the wonderful achievements of Townsville Enterprise, the meaning of Bill Shorten’s zingers, and the award-winning qualities of the Townsville Bulletin, I shall contact you again to see if you’re still interested. You will note, given the above content, the mimed speech will be VERY short .
Genuinely appreciate the offer, Stephen, but …
Malcolm Weatherup aka The ‘Pie.
…but like Big Arnie, I’ll be back, laughing silently while humming The Sounds of Silence.  Comments will still be published up until next Wednesday.
But The ‘Pie is well and truly here this week, so to the summary …
Larf of the week is surely Astonisher iditor Ben ‘Bogan’ English taking on Qantas – yeah, really – he’ll go blind if he keeps it up …

The coveted and occasional Janus Two Faced BUMM Award goes to the hypocrite of the month …

The ‘Pie looks at that News Corpse/APN business deal revealed during the week, and asks why isn’t it an election issue …

 and legal matters are rarely laughing matters for the aggrieved, but solicitors, barristers and beaks love a good chortle on the side. The Magpie listened in over lunch this week … 

Au revoir and Auf Wiedersehen …

So the Poms have decided – as Aussies say –  they couldn’t give a continental and want to go it alone. They’ve have voted and not for the first time to retreat across the Channel.

The ‘Pie will leave the early running commentary to others but allow the old bird to dive headlong into hot water with a niggling whinge that has bothered him for some time. And that is the careless or worse, deliberate, use of the xenophobia, ‘the intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries’. The word is now used as abuse and insult, and is a prime example of the politically correct tactic of ‘reverse intimidation.’ This explanation of how the language is being done over by the PCers is worth the 2 minute read.

farage poster

It is widely assumed that the Brexit vote was inspired chiefly by racism, pure and simple, born of xenophobia. But is there anything ‘irrational’ about concern that large groups of people are illegally flooding into a country, the majority of whom openly declare that they wish to change that country’s traditional mores, values, freedoms and democratic processes? And purposely create ghettos? And that these groups pass through and are passed on by other countries that have a say in the running of the homeland of the disaffected locals ?

That’s hardly irrational, but it certainly and quite understandably invokes fear and a feeling of helplessness … and so a lack of political will ends up with the very dangerous precedent of Brexit. As a bit of an Anglophile, The ‘Pie sincerely hopes that this doesn’t mark the beginning of the fulfilment of Enoch Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ prediction, which will be inevitable if the pendulum swings too far the other way. And the irony is that xenophobia can be correctgly applied to many of those countries ans societies which want to change western democracies.

Of course, in our own election climate, Bentley is positive that here in Oz, it isn’t the likes of Pauline Hanson or Jaqui Lambie who are exhibiting ‘xenophobia’, both major parties are in a panic about our own special Aussie brand of it.

croweater fin

This is one time The ‘Pie happily admits to this sort of Xenophobia’.

Hard Lines?

Tracey Lines

Tracey Lines

This from a tipster.

‘In case you hadn’t heard – you might find it entertaining to ring TEL and ask to speak to Tracey Lines. She was marched out of the building late last week. Obviously not enough room for two queens in the castle – especially if only one has any real knowledge of regional development.’

Disregarding the final sentence – although knowing the ultra ambitious Ms Lines form, it has a ring of possibility about it – why haven’t we heard of this in the Astonisher? Or has The ‘Pie missed it? To ask why the paper would trouble to inform us of what on the face of it is such a minor one-off matter is to miss the serious implications for the community.

Notwithstanding her ambitious nature (she tried an unsuccessful office coup for the top job at Townsville Port a few years ago), Ms Lines is someone with solid experience in her area of regional development, and who, The ‘Pie is told, doesn’t suffer fools gladly (which means she would’ve been permanently glum down at Wishing Well House). As the Economic Development Manager for TEL, she was also in the supposedly key position of driving forward Townsville’s wider expansion, facilitating business opportunities and thus creating jobs, something of a critical nature right now.

Townsville Enterprise

If this is dismissal, redundancy (hardly!) or a resignation, it is something of which the community should have been informed. Which it now has.

And if Iditor Ben Bogan tries it on that he didn’t know of it, aim the nearest fire hose at his smoldering bum. He would’ve known immediately and appears to have made the conscious decision to stay mum about it, since The Astonisher and the Dudley Do-Nothings go hand in glove –when was the last time the ever dwindling readership saw any critical or questioning comment about TEL in the paper? North Korea, the Hermit Kingdom, has nothing on TEL when it comes to publicity and facts, but trying to keep such a pivotal staff shift quiet is optimistic, ill-advised and definitely NOT private in-house business. Not when you’re dudding three quarters of a mill annually from the put-upon Townsville ratepayers, it ain’t, folks.

Melissa Van der Haak

Polite question: just what is it that you actually do, Ms Van Der Haak, since you proudly sport the title of Media and Communications Advisor. One assumes the answer to that is ‘as you are told’. (A journo named Haak suggests certain jocular comments which we won’t go into right now, but it would put you in the running for a job at The Astonisher if you ever follow Ms Lines out the door.)

But in a rare swift and telling move, Ms Lines name, title and pic have been removed lickety split from the TEL website … if only they could keep the rest of their website similarly up-to-date. Keep an eye out for ads for a replacement.

Still With The Dudley Do Nothings …

Board Chairman of our ‘peak marketing body’, putative airport boss Kevin Gill looks to have been sidelined by his own management at Queensland Airports.

Airport boss and TEL chairman Kevin Gill

Airport boss and TEL chairman Kevin Gill

After much honking on recently about Virgin Airlines agreeing to let the airport stiff passengers for a $3 surcharge to let the travellers fund the airport’s lucrative expansion plans, – the Astonisher mindlessly leading the cheer leading – Qantas is adamant it will not come to the party. This of course has not stopped southern blow-in iditor Ben English from trying – oh, stoppit, my aching sides – to shame them into submission with a plea on behalf of the self-seeking Queensland Airports. ‘Qantas Should back upgrade of our (?) airport’, he squeaked on Thursday, suggesting obliquely inter alia a possible passenger boycott of the national carrier! And the biggest onanistic statement: ‘It would especially be a shame if Qantas … has to be dragged kicking and screaming to support our city’.

That’s just straight absolute bollocks on several levels. Like just who is going to be doing that kicking and dragging, you nincompoop? You? Talk about getting carried away. Really, Ben The Blindman is not the best of nicknames for an iditor, but it will happen if you keep this up, mate.

But the interesting thing is that Gill (rhymes with???) has had nothing to say and appears to have been told to keep his errant mouth shut.

QA Chris Mills

QA Chris Mills

The Queensland Airports Big Cheese from down south, Chris Mills, has been wheeled out to add a note of high-level wheedling to the proposed gouging of the public to underwrite and supply the money which will solely benefit his private company. Mills said the $42M development hinged on Qantas (and Jetstar) agreeing to this totally unnecessary impost on the Townsville economy – he didn’t say that last bit, which would’ve won him some sort of award for brutal truth if he had.

His line was that that’s how it’s been done everywhere else, ignoring both economies of scale and the dubious necessity for such expansion. And because everyone else falls for it, so we should? Try that argument with – ummm – let’s say Daylight Saving. Or annual vehicle testing before registration renewal. They’re all at it elsewhere, ain’t they?

This point about the lack necessity of an extensive upgrade is driven home by a Qantas Group spokesman who stated the bleedin’ obvious when he told The Astonisher: ‘A $3 levy would add up to 4 per cent to some domestic fares, which we know from experience has an impact on customer demand. Qantas Group believes the airport should keep its upgrade within the realm of what is necessary. If the airport believes so strongly that the complete package of works is needed, it has the option to fund at least some of it through its own profits,” he said. That’s how most businesses pay for new things.”

Heavens, really? That Qantas spokesman must’ve been reading this blog for the past few months.

Meanwhile, Mr Gill might like to take the time out to explain to his deputy TEL chair, Mayor Mullet, this retrograde attempt at lining his company’s pockets with taxpayer money while damaging Townsville destination viability.

Why Isn’t This An Election Issue?

We learnt during the week that News Corpse has supposedly bought APN’s regional publisher Australian Regional Media (ARM). Well, with their usual arrogance, News tells us it’s a done deal, at a stroke sidelining the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission whose approval is yet to be given, and ignoring that their is another higher bid than News $36.6 million from a Singapore based company.

The Janus Two Faced BUMM Chalice

The Janus Two Faced BUMM Chalice

In the process of announcing the sale as a fait accompli, News wins The Magpie’s occasional gong, Janus Two Faced BUMM Award.

The deal will see ARM’s 12 dailies or Sundays – 11 of them in regional Queensland, along with 60 community mostly ‘throwover’ papers – will give News a stranglehold on printed information almost exclusively throughout the state. Here’s a list of the main ones in the deal.

ARM mastheads

While business is business, and from that point of view, News can hardly be blamed for becoming even more monopolistic if it is allowed to, it is a very dangerous thing indeed for one company, known to be avaricious and callous to the communities where it holds sway, to have this sort of near-total dominance for information and advertising. The ACCC, if it is fair dinkum about its job let alone its title, won’t think twice about giving this the thumbs down.

Manipulation of news and back-slapping ‘campaigns’ of whatever outsider blow-ins think is good for a community is bad enough, but advertisers should be wary more than most, as Townsville advertisers have already discovered. Indeed, the Bulletin is surely the reason for the booming success of Gumtree in this region.

And that Janus Award – BUMM being for Barefaced UnMitigated Mendacity?

Well, it starts with Euphemism of the Week, in the opening sentence of The Astonisher’s  (and all other News publications) blithe pre-empting of the ACCCC : ‘News Corporation will seek to extract significant printing and distribution synergies from its $36.6 million acquisition of APN’s News &Media’s Australian Regional Media newspaper business.’

By its very definition, ‘synergy’ has come to be a euphemism for sacking local staff including drivers, printers, office staff and journalists – in favour of cheaper (and shoddier) diminished or centralised services.

But News Corpse gets the Janus Award because – just like the Townsville Bulletin a few short years ago – they will be showing locals the door while trying to paint themselves as local heroes with spurious and risible campaigns like – for the love of Mike –local job creation – one source puts the success rate on that score in the ‘Ville at eight in almost a year, in what was little more than a cut-price booster for classifieds. And no mention of their own sackings

So Rocky, Mackay, Bundaberg et al, get ready for your own thrilling Day of the Jackal.

Just In Passing …

Read any good ‘cultural externalities’ lately? It is usually academia that comes up with some of the more absurd convulsions of English – the above example, Clive James tells us, is some acadil or boofademics’ description of ‘book’. As The ‘Pie said during the week, those who use these sorts of obfuscating euphemisms are just a bunch of Eolophus Roseicapillas, and if there was a law against it, they should have the ‘cultural externality’ thrown at them.

The Olympics Are Almost Upon Us

But not for Russia, as Zanetti points out …

zanetti russian olympics

The Secrets Beneath The Barrister’s Robe

 Came across this story during the week:

‘The Law Council of Australia has launched a national program whose aim is to give senior women barristers at least 30 per cent of briefs by 2020.’

Umm, does this mean that junior female barristers have to, as they say, ‘go commando’ until attaining seniority?

But there is a large element of chortling amongst colleagues in the legal ranks. At lunch the other day, a senior local legal man entertained the table with the unusually titled but real case name of Glasscock and Balls, from more than 100 years ago in the Victorian Supreme Court. Someone then drolly commented that the symmetry would be complete if the presiding judge had been the current one doing the local district circuit in Townsville at the moment, the affable and down-to-earth Judge Julie Dick.

But apparently Glasscock is not an uncommon name in England … which, as Alan Davis on QI pointed out, was a cruel burden for a schoolboy.

Legal firms, real and imagined, lend themselves to this sort flumgummerie – you’ve no doubt heard of Sue, Grabbit and Runne, but have you heard of this mob.


And the very real American firm of Dewey, Cheatham and Howe, only added fuel to their own  fire when they added the new partner to become Boyd, Dewey, Cheatham and Howe.

That’s it for a week or two, should be back just in time for the latest readership and circulation figures.


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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