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The Magpie

Saturday, May 13th, 2017   |   148 comments

The Budget Makes It Official: The Government Can Now Take The Piss Out Of The Unemployed

Drug test welfare recipients if you will, but some people are asking, if it’s good for the jobless, why not drug test politicians, too? After all, some of their behavior hints that there is more than a whiff of the weed around the …err, joint. The Magpie takes a long slow drag and holds it in … then blows it all out in the blog.

Medical researchers eye the Townsville City Council for a trials of a breakthrough to combat one of the most debilitating conditions of modern life.

Water For Townsville’s Boadicea of the Burdekin, Linda Ashton, seems a touch bamboozled at the moment, seeming to wonder at the best way forward now the hard yards of research have been done. Fear not, Linda, The Magpie is ever-ready to generously offer his invaluable roadmap for further success. (Seriously!)

Not for the first time, the question must be asked: how far away is a three-day a week Townsville Bulletin? The latest readership figures suggest that time is getting closer.

And a fed-up former Bulletin journo throws down the gauntlet, planning to launch an on-line news website shortly … and he wants to hear from anyone interested in jumping on board. And no, it ain’t The Magpie.

But first …

The smash and grab of the year goes to Treasurer Scott Morrison, who raided Labor’s grab bag of half-baked policies and made off with the ‘best’ of them. Bill The Short ‘Un is still swivelling his head, wondering what has happened. Even the Big Bank ‘tax’ ( referred to as a ‘levy’ by Morrison) seemed to go further than any Royal Commission so dear to Shorten’s heart would ever go. (A digression: The Magpie’s best effort on Twitter this week:

Townsville Magpie‏@TownsvillePie  May 10

PM says’We urge the banks not to put their profits ahead of their customers’.He then kissed the frog which turned into a beautiful princess.)

But the predictable headline grabber in the budget was the plan to drug test those on the dole. It’s not clear if this includes alcohol, but the populist and vastly overstated ‘dole bludger’ syndrome is enough to drive News Ltd journos into a foaming frenzy without the assistance of drugs.

The best suggestion of the week was why not drug test our politicians? Let’s face it, from hi-viz wearing senators (Macca Macdonald’s drug of choice is scotch) to Looney Tunes Senator Malcolm Roberts (who in fairness looks more IN NEED of special drugs rather than intervention), it’s a fair bet that all parliaments and even councils would give the average CentreLink office a run for its money in what the wallopers call ‘green leafy material’ and’ white powdery substance’.

Bentley reckons this political policy could get personal.

SWAB fin

If it ever gets to full body searches, there will be another reason to be thankful that Clive Palmer has left the House. And Gina Rinehart isn’t a member.

Remembrance Of Things Past

The mention of Palmer – and of illegal drugs – brings us to the subject of Alzheimer’s.

Researchers plan human trials later this year to test their preliminary findings that regular small doses of THC … the ‘whopee’ ingredient in cannabis … could halt or even reverse the effects of Alzheimers. They found that tests on mice showed it boosted the memory and learning in the older ones (‘Now where did I put that cheese? Ah, yes, that’s right, behind the fridge.’)

Researchers said that they will move their testing on to rats before trying it on humans.

Now, The Magpie has heard that the researchers have approached the Townsville City Council to enlist the mayor and councillors as the main subject group in the trials. A spokesman for the university of Bonn said the approach was made to the council for two reasons.

‘It is clear that all councilloers, and the mayor in particular, are wrestling with remembering things like campaign promises and political affiliations, so they are ideal subjects. And the other reason is that research funds were running low, and by getting people like the Mayor and councilor Paul Jacob into these tests, we will be able to skip the stage with the rats … here, we will get, how you say … two for one?’

We will know immediately if the tests are successful. The councillors will all be wearing baseball caps backwards, Mayor Mullet will open meetings with the salutation ‘Yo, dudes’ and all signal their vote on issues with ‘yeah, whatever, man, that’s sick, right on.’

Further Tales From The Council Crypt

Maybe the whacky weed is popular among council staff at the moment, and really, couldn’t really blame them. But The ‘Pie wonders if memory lapse had anything to do with an expensive little gaffe recently.

The ‘Pie is told by a reputable (sort of) source, that the council recently ordered 300 tonnes of bitumen from the local supplier for a specific project, but the tough financial times apparently caused the project to be suddenly cancelled. Naturally, the supplier still wants to be paid, business people who aren’t on the public tit are like that , and the going rate is $200 a tonne, meaning a bill of $60,000. Presumably the shelf life of bitumen isn’t an issue, but with a delicate balancing act of a bullshit budget from mayor Mullet on the horizon, it is money that would have been better undisturbed.

Where Now For The Astonisher?

The latest Roy Morgan readership figures landed during the week, and as has become usual, not much joy there either the Bulletin or this community that sorely needs a reliable, trusted and respected source of news. First two figures are previous and current M-F, the others Sat.

R'ships figs to march 17

Watching the Cairns Post gain readers and remain a country mile ahead in community acceptance while the Astonisher loses them doesn’t offer much joy for us either. The weekdays editions of the Astonisher are roundly derided ‘because there’s nothing in them’. (Well, nothing but tens of thousands of dollars worth of begging ads with giveaways for those who subscribe to the digital edition for a year.) The proof of that pudding will arrive shortly with the circulation figures, which now include digital take-up.

But the question must be asked whether the paper will finally drop two or three weekday editions, since advertising is down the tubes, particularly Monday to Friday.

The Saturday edition does well, thanks mainly to a small ‘greenies nightmare’ of a lost forest of insert magazines, all sold at a national level and farmed out for a few pence to the regions. And for all their guff about ‘property turning the corner’ and ‘ Townsville is the place to invest’, the once stellar money spinner Real Estate magazine is now a slim half its old size. Despite stories of a rosy investment and property environment.

Even when they lie, they give themselves away.

AN On-Line News Site Planned For Townsville’s ‘Real News’

Former Townsville Bulletin sports editor and marketing manager Doug Kingston believes the time has come for an on-line newspaper exclusively for Townsville.

Doug says he is disillusioned with the way the Bulletin is heading, and the community is ready for an alternate and balanced source of local news.

‘We will be demanding answers to hard questions, without fear or favour, questions that the Bulletin just refuses to ask,’ he says.

‘Given there are a lot of unemployed or retired journalists around at the moment, I’m keen to find any of them would be interested in participating in the new venture.’  To this end, Doug has organized a meeting at the Shamrock Hotel (in the rear bistro) this Thursday (May 18) at 3pm, when he will outline his plans and gauge interest.

‘You don’t have to be a journo, come along if your just interested.’

Doug will provide drinks and snacks (a dangerous course if it involves journalists) but for catering purposes he asks that anyone intending to come along text their name to him on 0417 762 190.

The ‘Pie assumes he doesn’t want much detail from you, just something like ‘I’m Ben, and I’m VERY interested.’ That sort of thing. Come to think of it, wouldn’t be surprised if the whole staff of the Astonisher turned up, for the booze if nothing else.

Senator Macdonald Suffers A Moment Of Lucidity

Senator Ian Macdonald in Hi Viz gear

A shovel-ready senator

Although he seems to spend most of his final lucrative years wandering around Parliament House wondering where he mislaid the plot, old codger Senator Macca Macdonald managed to succinctly nail Mayor Mullet’s Moaning Myrtle response to the Federal Budget’s failure to mention Townsville water security. And mischievously but accurately describe her council as ‘Townsville’s Labor council’.

He asked, what did Mullet and Anna Alphabet expect Canberra to do about our water security, since there was no proposal put to the federal government? In a ‘to hell with the niceties’ media release, Macca bluntly gave the lie to the political posturing of Mayor Mullet’s ‘Labor’ council and the State Government.

He said in part:

The 2017 Budget again confirmed the $500 million National Water Infrastructure Development Fund. Over the $247.5 million that has been committed nationally today, $170 million has been committed to northern Australia. This includes $130 million for the Rookwood Weir, which the Queensland Government refuses to get on board with.

The Budget also confirmed the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), which has oodles of money available for anyone who has a sensible, sustainable proposal for a solution to Townsville’s water crisis. And let us not forget the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) which will happily look at water storage proposals that include a hydro-electricity component, and has more relaxed co-funding requirements than the NAIF.

So why are those ‘oodles’ of money not digging us a new pipeline for our hitherto non-existent water crisis? That’s right, no one asked for anything. And just expected everything.

The good senator then delivered this nipple twist:

Under the Australian Constitution, state governments are responsible for water management. The Commonwealth can’t make these decisions for them – as much as it would sometimes like to. But the Commonwealth is doing everything it can to put the right funding incentives in place. If the Queensland Government or the Labor Townsville City Council were to make a sensible proposal, then it could have been addressed in the Budget, or it could be under review right now by one of the Commonwealth’s funding facilities.’

Then this finishing kick in the cods:

But without any proposal coming forward, I’m not quite sure what more the Labor State and Federal members expect the Federal Government to do? Perhaps they would be better off urging their mates in the State Government and the Council to come forward with a business case for a sustainable proposal for water in Townsville. Then the Commonwealth might be able to fund it!’

’Of course, although they published a version of the senator’s media release, the Astonisher did not put any of the questions raised by the senator to Mayor Mullet, but gave her blame-shifting sob story prominence.

Jenny Hill

Seems The Water For Townsville Initiative Taking A Breather?

The so far dynamic WFT campaign seems to have momentarily stalled. Well, at least in attracting more crucial numbers to join them on Facebook. About 11000 are now signed up, and head honcho Linda Ashton is urging members to further spread the net.

But The ‘Pie has spotted the problem, and in a way, the thing holding back meaningful membership numbers paradoxically is the success so far.

So here’s what you should do Linda … may I call you Linda, Doctor?

You are daunting possible new members with the overwhelming amount of information you have collated. A 450 page report? Faced with this wall of information and technical stuff, along with some ill-advised byways like some Greenie rhetoric which is peripheral to your purpose, people are discouraged from your enviable aims. Really, I mean, that 450-page report, yes, yes, indexed and nicely done in the best bureaucratic/JCU manner … but there are people out there seeking a simple message as to why they should lend their name to this vital issue.

What your members need now, m’dear, is a simple one-page max document to put before other potential supporters. It should be a rousing, simple appeal to the core idea and its solution. All that information is there if they want it, but you can bet the majority –let’s say 99.9% – just want the short version of what you’re on about.

Here’s the plan, but of course in your own words … just tell newbies why historically we were fuct for water, why we remain fuct on the issue, and what the answer is to get unfuct. Nothing more, 3 or 4 lines on each heading max, brevity is always a winner (strange argument coming from this quarter, but it’s true). And a great slab of information, or no information with just links, can be a big turn-off, according to social media gurus.

In other words, right now, you are repelling rather than attracting support because what you have achieved has more than a touch of the zealot about it (which is how it got done so well in the first place).

Of course, just because The ‘Pie has been involved in journalism (the real version) and PR for half a century, counts for nothing if it doesn’t fit your MO. So, just as you don’t tell The Magpie how to present his blog, you are free to reciprocate regarding the above sage advice.

And a cheery final note: The ‘Pie has referred to you as a water warrior, the Boadicea of the Burdekin. Take heart in the fact that Boadicea’s name came from the Welsh/Irish dialect of Roman Britain. And means ‘victory.’

What lies Are Told When We Shuffle Off This Mortal Coil

The London Daily Telegraph is celebrated for its obituaries of those who had appeared in its news columns over the years. Indeed, not only well written but with a marvellous subversive sense of humour, the Obit Page became required reading. They invented a certain mischievous shorthand, referring to homosexuals (when it was illegal) as ‘confirmed bachelors’, and ‘convivial’ meant hopeless drunk. The high and mighty received the same treatment as the down and dirty, crims and social cads rubbed casket brass with aristocrats of the realm.

So popular were these pithy potted histories that two or more books of them have been best sellers.

But The Magpie is disappointed with the local handling of the passing of folks hereabouts, particularly those who meet a sticky end through accidents or illness. There is a lather of public recreational wailing, even if the departed one was not a prominent citizen and was not known personally. This is so cloyingly played up in The Astonisher’s news pages that it must surely verge on intruding into a family’s private misery while pretending to be of general interest. And one suspects many of the sentiments expressed in these stories, mainly because of the Bulletin’s lazy habit of depending solely on social media for their material.

Dare to be different, Astonisher!!!

The ‘Pie longs for the day when he reads the following comments:

‘Dead, you say? Shit, he owed me fifty bucks.’

‘He was a bloody bludger , always used to bring low strength beer to barbies then drink everyone else’s piss.’

‘Shame I suppose but I never did like the way he looked at kids,’

‘Hmmm, maybe his missus needs comforting, poor thing.’ Which is OK from a female but not anyone else.

‘Wonder how much they want for the car, was it badly damaged?’

This sort of obit would guarantee a lift in The Astonisher’s circulation for sure.

And its legal bills.

That’s it for this week, join in the comments 24[7 (but spare us the obits please). A donation to help meet the blog’s ever present costs would be greatly appreciated, the How To Donate button is below.

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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