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The Magpie

Saturday, July 5th, 2014   |   53 comments

The hunt is on: who dobbed Mayor Mullet into the Crime and Corruption Commission – apart from her own silly self? Clue: it wasn’t Townsville First.

That is just one issue in a week for which the theme song has been Ricky Van Shelton’s ‘Somebody Lied’  including The Astonisher, an Astonisher reporter and – ahem – The Magpie himself.   The Brazen Bluff of the Week for Ingratitude goes to a spokesman for powerboaters, who won’t be getting a job in the diplomatic corp any time soon …

But let’s kick off with the story du jour. A lifetime of Harris gropery has ended with a stretch Harris pokery for Randy Rolf. Now the verdict and the sentence are in, others are emerging to claim the Harris fingerprint was left in all manner of places.   And it seems that many a claim may be stretching the bounds of credibility – or at least, Larry Pickering reckons.   image001 The reaction to the Harris verdict is proof of the old adage that everyone brings some joy into the lives of others, some by arriving and some by leaving.

So closer to home, Townsville Bulletin readers didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when two departures were ‘revealed’ at The Astonisher.   Iditor Lachy Heywood must be tearing his hair out –  behavior he can ill-afford cosmetically – when David Sparkes, one of the best reporters on the paper chucked in his job. And that doesn’t seem to be a fanciful term for his departure.

Moving on: reporter David Sparkes

Moving on: reporter David Sparkes

The ‘Pie is told that Sparkes had had a gutful of the sloppy, sweatshop atmosphere, and has done a ’Magpie’ – resigned without another job to go to. It seems this all happened a few weeks ago, (his social media page says two months) but we didn’t notice because it seems he’s done a deal to keep writing his weekly column. Interestingly, this bird hears that he’s still in Townsville, so it is reasonable to surmise that a bloke of his maturity and ability just might pop up in a plum PR role around the place. Despite spurning the reportedly wild-eyed desperate appeals from the Iditor,  Sparkes remains in the paper’s good graces, so a PR job would be feasible. We’ll see.

Autobiographer Kate Higgins

Autobiographer Kate Higgins

The other departure was that of Kate Higgins, whose loves, laughs, foibles and fears have been foisted on us weekly in an award-winning column. Well, OK, the award was the Magpie’s Tuggers and Self Touchers Trophy for self-mentions in a column, but hey, an award is an award.

Here’s how The ‘Pie reported how our Kate farewelled us in fine style.

The Magpie June 30, 2014 at 8:56 am  (Edit) A final masterstroke!!! As farewell’s go, it could not have been more stellar – Astonisher reporter and autobiographer Katie Higgins is leaving us, heading off into the wide world yonder, no doubt to further her self-exploration. But she leaves with a record that is likely to stand for eons to come. In a breathtaking champions effort, she managed a record 38 self-mentions in her final farewell column of just 23 sentences!!! The Pie knew he was witnessing history when there were no less than nine first person personal pronouns in the first three sentences – the tension was palable as he started the count, it was like a World Cup penalty shoot-out – miss one and glory is denied. But not our Katie. No doubt invigorated by her detailed chronicle of her coffee addiction and tardy walking exploits on Castle Hill( we’ll be talking about those for years, you scamp) Katie sailed effortlessly into the record books. And Katie, this old bird can read between the lines … you say ‘Most of all, I will miss the people’. The ‘Pie knows you mean him, and the feeling is mutual, m’dear. Bon Voyage. PS One can now only hope that The Astonisher does the right thing and engineers the return of Amanda Grey to fill the gaping first person pronoun hole in our heart.

And on the other side of the departure/arrival equation, Chief of Staff Jess Johnston is back from six week holidays, so some of the glaring oversights in following up stories to their outcome might be addressed. (Like last week’s yarn about million dollar beach side lots on Magnetic Island going under the hammer. They never were the stated million dollar material, one went to contract – probably for $850,000 – and the other didn’t reach it’s reserve of $650,000 but talks with the highest bidder were going on at last report. Just nice to know when the story is started by the paper, but not followed up.

That brings us to the fibbing mentioned earlier.  It’s old and possibly tiresome news by now, but the Astonisher’s circulation is heading south at a rate of knots, so one would conclude that readership is also on the fritz.  So what did we get from the The Astonisher? Just this stooped, hand-wringing Uriah Heep full double-page bit of highly selective baloney. 2014-07-05 17.11.46 The main point is that newspaper’s rarely, if ever, so this sort of thing. Traditionally, except under truly exceptional circumstances, it is a signal of defeat, that something’s amiss.  Yup, somebody’s lying, whether it be the EMMA survey people (owned by newspaper publishers) or a paper trying to preserve some sort of justification for their rip-off advertising rates.

Moving on, but not away from fibbing territory, today, we awoke to this front page.


Now, The ‘Pie is well aware that ‘he do carry on so’ about The Astonisher’s reporting techniques, but this is one silly on several levels. Simpo Templeton has tied himself up in knots of incomprehensibility in a vain effort to follow the established pattern of  ‘Mayor Mullet hums it and Simpo sings it.’

Jenny Mayor Mullet Hill

Jenny Mayor Mullet Hill

But the weirdest part is that a simpering Mrs Hill condemns herself out of her own mouth, in a manner that leaves us with the choice that she either trying to scramble back after realizing her untenable position – or our mayor is in fact as dumb as doggy dos.   This is the story, but if that a bit tedious for you, in a nutshell, in a committee meeting in April, the mayor declared that a matter before the committee involved a family member’s business interests. therefore, a conflict of interest.

Fair enough.

And she should then have absented herself … BUT THEN SHE STAYED IN THE METTING AND VOTED ON THE ISSUE!

And that’s one of the biggest no-nos in local government, or any level of government for that matter (well not during Joh’sd Jamboree, but that’s history).

But the mystery deepens, because the Townsville First councillors have all (to date) sworn they didn’t dob her in. That’s believable, because they’d have no hesitation – indeed, glee – in claiming credit if they had. But it must be said the dopes didn’t challenge her in committee at the time, either, although The ‘Pie understands the matter didn’t not require any deadlock breaking vote. So at least in the sense, nothing dastardly has happened. Independent Pat Ernst swears he didn’t go anywhere with it, Boo Hoo Doyle and Messagebank Walker are loyal mayoral footsoldiers, so the question is now being asked, did a  council officer attending the committee meeting to take minutes make the complaint? And that’s a pretty big question, too, in the governance of our city.   Simpo in his usual manner conveniently overlooked this side of the affair, not investigating who alerted the Local Government Department which formally put the paperwork to the CCC. He instead tried to highlight a similar but fuzzy charge against Townsville First councillors.

The CCC, in its former guise as the CMC, has clearly indicated that they are up to the back teeth with The Mullet, having already warned her in a previous election campaign against wasting their time with political point-scoring complaints. They took jig time to chuck out her last complaint against CEO Ray Burton with allegations that he withheld information from her.   Is another rap on the knuckles about to descend on a pudgy mayoral mitt?

Whatever, there’s a Reid Park concert turn in all this if anyone can be bothered. Take a musical break and sing along to Ricky Van Shelton’s Somebody Lied here, but let the mayor don her red vinyl jacket, take the mic, and belt out the first verse:

I know I promised baby

I would be the one to make our dreams come true

I ain’t too proud of all the struggles

And the hard times we’ve been through

When this cold world comes between us

Please tell me you’ll be brave

‘Cause I can realize the danger when forgiveness fades away

The swaying crowd of ratepayers and Labor diehards in the mosh pit can reply with the next stanza.

If you don’t love me – lie to me

‘Cause baby you’re the one thing I believe

Let it all fall down around us, if that’s what’s meant to be

Right now if you don’t love me baby – lie to me.

WARNING: don’t get too close to the stage, it could dangerous if not fatal if Mayor Mullet takes it upon herself to launch into a bit of crowd surfing – she’s been in a good paddock of late.

Will be following this one closely.

Last week The ‘Pie  harrumphed about affluent buggers who selfishly support kerb side rubbish collections, but the sense of entitlement challenge has hotted up with one Graham Fraser, named on the Bulletin website as Australian Offshore Superboats ‘resident’ – we suspect they meant President – taking the prize for hubris.


The powerboats, a noisy fish-frightener exercise involving an hour-long  event on two days of the year which attracts a small following of mainly locals up here, sought $12,000 council subsidy, and got $10,000, guaranteed for the next three years. So what does our Mr Fraser mistakenly threaten our quaking community with?

He gets the Cheeky Chappy Unfunny Trophy for Hubris when he suddenly demanded $55,000 to keep the event here!!

The paper reported: ‘Mr Fraser said if funding didn’t improve, the event would have to relocate. “The teams entering this year had to front around $3000 of their own money to have the privilege of racing.’ Kerrissst, the Magpie’s heart bleeds for these water-borne wankers, geez, fancy having to use their own money for a self-indulgent minority pastime that no one will miss around here.

Fraser also added, “The beautiful location is optimal for racing and also transcends on the national television broadcast.”   OK, then you pay US for the bloody privilege of using our ‘optimal location’  Otherwise, piss off as predicted, you grasping twerp, you can be sure Townsville ratepayers will spring a leak in any such funding plan, which not a single councilor in their right mind would consider. Oh, hang on a sec … .

Har- bloody – rumph!!!

Speaking of cranky, Bentley is up in arms and down in the depths about the shameful waste of the Australian Navy. He is incensed that they jettisoned million of dollars worth of intercepted drugs in the Gulf or somewhere thereabouts, when they could’ve been more imaginative. Like on-sold to help the battle against pirates, heh heh heh. He reckons even big sharks will be acting like clown fish soon.

hashish copy

Enough to stun a mullet.

This edition of the blog has been composed on a temperamental computer, which is quite frustrating given the pivotal role the machines now play in our lives. How pivotal? Welll ….


And those English soccer fans are a hard school bunch, who don’t forgive and forget.

Mail Attachment

Finally, The ‘Pie fessed up that he’d told a fib during the week. In case you missed it (lots didn’t), here is his tale of his computer wizardry (as bloody if) enabling him to intercept other people’s emails.


The Magpie has hacked a secret email exchange beween Prime Minister Tony Abbott and a senior executive in the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The snoops were quick to intervene, and The ‘Pie could only make a copy of the ABC’s reply, which, at whatever risk to personal freedom, The Magpie feels duty bound to now publish.

From the desk of Beryl Flange,

Executive Producer, Light Entertainment,

ABC Sydney

The Hon Tony Abbott, Prime Minister

The Lodge’ Canberra. ACT July 2, 2014,

Dear Mr Abbott,

Thank you for nominating your political colleague Clive Palmer as a suitable quiz master for our new quiz show planned for this spring.

Having reviewed your comments, Mr Palmer does indeed appear to fit the criteria we seek for master of ceremonies for the program.

However, before we take the matter up with Mr Palmer, we feel we should point out that the projected show is actually called Fact Hunt.

In light of this, we think it prudent to hear back from you before we approach the leader of the Palmer United Party about the matter.

Yours Faithfully

B. Flange

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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