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The Magpie

Saturday, October 21st, 2017   |   298 comments

The Ratepayers Revolt But The Voice Of The North Gets Laryngitis 

That petition calling on Mayor Mullet to rescind the $18.5million council gift to Adani for a mine-site airstrip takes on a life of its own outside Townsville … but not in the Townsville Bulletin.

The numbers have been ticking over faster than Gina Rinehart’s calorie counter, more than 40,000 people have signed up. But has the petition been hijacked? Perhaps, but The Magpie argues that that can only be a good thing.

Despite that, could Jenny Hill have to answer to the CCC? The Magpie lays out a clear case as to why not only she, but Gautam Adani should also be hauled in to answer some tricky questions..

While the Adani airstrip issue overshadowed everything else during the week, there was some good news with a touch of dampness about the place – there is a medical warning now issued cautioning against an elpidemic of aquanesia. The ‘Pie explains.

EXCLUSIVELY REVEALED (cop that, Astonisher) one of Townsville’s most popular markets set to reopen next February – but CBD retailers and the council won’t be happy …

And The Townsville Bulletin prints morally wicked photographs … and is proud of it ..

But first …

In North Queensland, the term ‘living under a cloud’ can have several meanings. It can certainly mean different things to different people, as Bentley so succinctly sums up the week

Adani awash FIN SMALL

But Beware The Dreaded Aquanesia

And Bentley’s world view carries a double warning. If there’s significant rain in the coming wet season – here’s hoping – is there going to be a dengue-like outbreak of the dreaded aquanesia disease? Local authorities seem unconcerned about the possibility, and even welcome such an outbreak.

Medical authorities have been puzzled by this medical phenomenon which appears to be restricted to the immediate Townsville area. Danger spots for the vulnerable are voting booths and newspaper offices, but mysteriously, it doesn’t attack those under the voting age. Aquanesia is a type of amnesia, rare elsewhere but  commonplace in the ‘Ville. Particularly vulnerable are voters in local government elections; sufferers cannot recall any problems with local water supplies, previous claims that ‘there is no water crisis’, and believe that the issue is being resolved by those currently seeking re-election. This disease is often caused by substantial rainfall or even the upside of a drenching cyclone. Indeed, those suffering aquanesia are easily diagnosed because thy keep muttering ‘I wish this fuckin’ rain would stop’. Which it always does.

But there is very little that can be done about aquanesia, with successive councils up to and especially including the current one, failing to make any meaningful move against the sickness. When asked, baffled doctors simply shrug and say ’ got us rooted, guess you can’t cure stupid.’

So take care.

Even The Rich And Scheming Get Lonely

Gautam Adani

Gautam Adani

Gautam Adani is also puzzled – he cannot understand how his generous offer to allow a couple of Queensland councils to build an airstrip for him has run into such strident opposition. The ‘Pie has intercepted a handwritten message he gave to his Executive PA when he heard about THAT petition demanding Mayor Mullet rescind her nice little gift of $18.5million.


The Executive PA searched the internet and send back a note of advice.

try one more time

And you can bet this avaricious twister will do exactly that, because has already tried again and again after every possible set back. But he is up against it from an totally unexpected quarter now. This petition (click now to see the latest number of signatories) has morphed into something totally different to its original intent. It started out as a way for outraged ratepayers demand that the ‘gift’ of their money to an Indian billionaire be rescinded. It was tootling along very well, and by the third day was edging up towards 4000 signatures, quite impressive for a city this size, especially when you remember the thousands of government employees too concerned with backlash to sign.

Then on Thursday morning, just after 11 o’clock, the numbers started to climb at an amazing rate, zooming up past 5000 in a matter of a quarter of an hour, and didn’t stop there. So what happened?

Well, among other things, this happened.

Screen shot 2017-10-21 at 4.19.57 PM

Ms Beachley (great name for a surfing champ) has 43000+ followers on twitter, and a goodly proportion would have an environmental tinge without being ga-ga Greenies. But that was just one factor – the rapid escalation of petitioners is basically network effects, catalysed by:

1.The petition being mentioned on news.com.au on Thursday (bet the Bulletin thanks its parent company for allowing that on an associated outlet.

2.The petition being mentioned in the Guardian on Friday

3.And to a lesser extent the original posting being reposted on Facebook and periodic promptings from The ‘Pie, and his readers’ own networks.

And as said previously, the numbers have been ticking over like Gina Rinehart’s calorie counter, and are still steadily rising. The 40,000 mark was passed early Saturday night.

Informed commenter Memory Man also advised The Magpie that iditor Ben Bogan English was overheard at the airport on the phone – apparently to Dolan Hayes – seeking crisis management advice. This is one gig Mr Hayes will probably steer clear of … of all the players in this bizarre situation, he is one of the few that is not a complete fucking idiot.

But whoever decides it, the next move from the playbook will be to rattle the “other side” – having got 20 business bigwigs last week to unwittingly and unwisely poke their heads up, watch for the unions being touched up to publicly support the rort.

Should Those Who Are Not Ratepayers Have Joined In?

Some have grumbled that the tsunami of outsider support has distorted and rendered the petition meaningless.

But has it?  Certainly not in The Magpie’s view.  The numbers have certainly changed some of the focus, but lending in-principle support is a great Aussie – and Labor – tradition. And many have obviously seized the opportunity to express their dismay in the absence of any petition directed to the Federal Government over the possibility that Canberra will cough up a billion dollars for a mine-port rail link – described during the week that in event the Carmichael mine opens and then fails, it will be ‘railway line to nowhere with an air strip at the end of it.’

While not ratepayers dosh, it is taxpayers money, and it is clear that across the country, people who perhaps couldn’t care less about coal or the environment or the state of the spinnakers on Mr Adani’s yacht, DO NOT WANT THEIR MONEY VIRTUALLY HANDED OVER TO THIS OUT AND OUT SHYSTER. And the easiest and most effective way to make that known was to use the Townsville Council petition as a surrogate to express their similar outrage. It also has the bonus of a short sharp reality check for the whiney unconscionable mendicants around here who think they are entitled to everyone else’s money.

You’re not.

End of story.

How It All Went Down –Why Not Only The Mayor But gautam Adani, Too, Could Be Hauled Before The CCC

It is a distinct possibility. Here’s a scene setter and a chronology is in order.

Jenny Hill took the gamble to look good as a job creator (she’s just sacked about 300 council staff) for a senate seat for which she vainly (in both meanings) hopes to be on Labor’s ticket. But it is probably just now sinking in what an idiot she has been, since senate voting is state wide, including those anti-coal fiends in Brisbane – not that the Labor hierarchy will reconsider her banishment from the nod after this shambles has gone so tits up. So Mayor Mullet left herself and the ratepayers of Townsville 100% exposed and compromised.

She (rightly) declared gifts from Adani back in March.


But crucially, she failed to declare any potential conflict of interest in October when she moved and voted in favour of gifting Adani $18.5m of ratepayers’ money for an airstrip that the company itself should fund. Ratepayers were – and remain – rightly furious.

How did we get into this sordid mess? It looks like what we have is something like this:

In February this year, Rockhampton Council announced its intention to cough up $20m of ratepayers’ money to fund an airstrip for Adani. Livingstone Shire and Gladstone both spurned Rocky’s overtures to share the costs. Townsville was panicked by this, and trumped up a campaign that sought to discredit the Rockhampton airport.

Rockhampton airpotyReaders will remember the front page photo in the Astonisher showing the Rocky airport under water.The hyperbole and confected care was ignored by Adani. What Adani did pick up, however, was Townsville’s sheer desperation. And so, the company upped the ante when the Mullet was in India, in March – one month after Rocky promised the $20m. Rocky’s Mayor Maggie Strelow was on the same delegation with our Mayor Mullet, and there were harsh words exchanged in Mumbai when the two scrapped like alley cats over whose city deserved the FIFO Hub. By all accounts, it was a sight to behold. And a dead giveaway to a schemer like Gautam Adani.

What exactly happened on and after the trip is anyone’s guess. We sure weren’t going to get truthful reportage from the Astonisher, whose reporter’s expenses were paid for by the Townsville council, so the paper had been co-opted. Talk about conflict of interest / cash for comment!

We can, however, surmise that the Mullet panicked and Adani sent a message to her that she needed to stump up for an airstrip or they were Rocky bound. Adani knew the Mullet was on the ropes and the message would simply have been: no money from Townsville and Rocky gets the guernsey. By May, Toowoomba airport builder Dennis Wagner’s was in Townsville holding closed session meetings with the Council.

Hmmm, anyone’s guess what was on the agenda?

And $30million for 2000 metres of tarmac and a Nissan hut? That’s what other mines have, nothing more would be needed for 4 or 5 flights a week, so it seems once one predator spots prey, other hyenas are quickly on the scent.

Come September, a plan to secretly arrange to swing $18.5m from Townsville ratepayers to Adani was well in train. The Mullet had capitulated, having left herself vulnerable to having a gun held to her head. The sad part is, she can’t see how she has been 100% manipulated by professionals as a result of her pathetic desperation, and has left herself fully compromised by accepting the trinkets while in India.The Mullet obviously suspected the gift to Adani wouldn’t wash well with the public so continued to keep it a secret. The sorry saga, to date, ends with her moving and voting for the $18.5m to be siphoned via a special purpose vehicle at a meeting of council where she failed to declare the prior gifts from Adani and associated conflicts as a result.

If this is correct, three very serious issues emerge and deserve the full resources of an independent investigation by the Queensland Audit Office and the CCC:

  1. The extent to which failure to declare a conflict by Mayor Mullet (the gifts from Adani and her leading role in moving the motion to gift the funds) breaches ethical and legal requirements,
  1. The extent to which she compromised due procurement process by entertaining “in camera” discussions with Wagner’s, and by funneling the monies via a special company is able to skirt the procurement requirements of the Local Government Act, and
  1. The extent to which Adani and / or its agents directly or indirectly sought to extort the City of Townsville, threatening to withhold employment unless Council provided funds for the airstrip. Comments made by the Mullet in last week’s Astonisher to the effect that without the Council coming good on the funding Adani would have taken the FIFO jobs elsewhere is prima facie evidence that Adani engaged in blatant standover tactics.

For The Astonisher, The Story Never Got Started

Talk about confused panic!

Although The Magpie would never stoop to such crude and colourful imagery, one commenter suggested the paper’s iditorial and advertising management was as panic stricken as ‘two blind lezzos on a prawn trawler during haul out’. Whatever that means, but it sounds like panic.

Despite national coverage, even by other News Ltd outfits, there hasn’t been a single follow-up on the petition since an initial story last week. No matter where the numbers came from, a spotlight like this on Townsville is surely a story. Bloody sight better than renewed drivel about a new state.

A commenter calling himself Interested Observer, suggested the Astonisher would go to any lengths to ignore the petition to protect Mayor Mullet. That sparked off an entertaining and lively exchange in comments.

The Magpie

October 20, 2017 at 6:00 pm  (Edit)

Geez you’re a cynical bastard, IO. The Astonisher is committed to accuracy and looking after readers interests. They say so themselves on their website, Look and learn, oh ye of little faith.

“It is a genuine privilege to be associated with a community such as this one, which is progressive, vibrant, inclusive and warm. But with this sense of belonging comes an enormous responsibility to produce a newspaper which is a mirror of the values and ambitions of the twin cities and the people who live in them. We are committed to accurately recording the events that shape your lives: the highs, the lows, the laughs, the tears and the frequent successes. Through the coverage of local, national and international events, we aim to inform, entertain and lead public debate, always with an unspoken charter of looking after your interests.”

And you, you ingrate, don’t believe them. Get outta here.


  • Parson Blossomnose

October 20, 2017 at 6:14 pm  (Edit)

Have just been informed that Damo Tomlinson has been locked in his office all afternoon consulting his principal style manuals – Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through The Looking Glass – as he seeks inspiration for his anti-petition, pro-Adani love-the-mayor rebuttal of popular opinion. So much for mirroring the values and ambitions of the ‘twin cities’ and the people who live in them.

Lord Howard Hertz 

October 20, 2017 at 6:03 pm  (Edit)

‘Twins cities’? We all know the Bully is a day late and a dollar short on most of its stories, but 9 years!?! Twin cities? Here’s a newsflash for you Astonishing folk … amalgamation was in 2008 … and that was the end of the twin cities.

Keep up or keep out, drongos.


October 20, 2017 at 6:10 pm  (Edit)

Who else but a blow-in would use the phrase ‘to be associated with a community’ etc? Before Murdoch bought it (with the treacherous connivance of Ron Shorty Mclean) the Townsville Bulletin was a paper that WAS part of the community, not ‘associated’ with it. It put probity and all those other now weasel worded sentiments (penned somewhere in Sydney probably) at the forefront of their reporting and service to Townsville.

And along with insulting pun headlines, what else except a barren cliche-ridden outfit would say something like “the highs, the lows, the laughs, the tears and the frequent successes”. For Christ’s sake!

Can’t believe a fucking word anywhere in the Bulletin.

The comments section during the week is getting as good as the blog.

Showground Markets To make A Welcome Return

Sunday’s Cotters Market in Flinders Street has been struggling of late, and things ain’t going to get better early next year.

Showground boss Chris Condon let slip that the popular and best markets in the ‘Ville will be returning next February. When contacted by The ‘Pie, Mr Condon somewhat insistently wanted to know who had spilled the beans (he didn’t find out) but then said because all the necessary repairs to ‘infrastructure’ were completed – Mr Condon referred to them as ‘buildings, shower sheds, dunnies, you know’. They has been damaged in cyclones and storms some time ago, which had forced the markets closure.

‘And we’ve got car parking which always made the Showground markets extra popular,’ Mr Condon enthused. He said stall or table prices would be probably lower than Cotters, not that he wanted too impact on them, it was just his business model, but realized that some effect was inevitable. He said he was ready to go now, but was holding off until after Christmas school holidays, so the Showground Markets will start up again  sometime in February.

The Magpie has always liked Cotters, but he loved the Showground markets for it genuinely recycled goods and oddities (along with goats meat from Charters Towers – hope they’re back). And books galore.

NB During our exchange, The ‘Pie carefully refrained from calling Mr Condon Biffo, as the old bird had unwisely done once up at the court house – note: once.

Following our chat, The ‘Pie has wondered if Mayor Mullet might make some clumsy attempt to hinder him and protect the council interest in Cotters. She might find that difficult, because as far as The ‘Pie is aware, the Showground is under the control of the state government. And even if they are besties, it is highly unlikely that Anna Alphabet is going to further alienate the good burghers of the ‘ville.

What Are They Thinking – If They Are At All

Blood sucking burden on the public purse Aaron Harper and the Astonisher have one thing in common apart from being useless … both really don’t think things through. On Monday, some tame graffiti on Harper’s electoral truck was described as ‘vile’ – a word which means morally bad and wicked … and then they put up a large photograph of the ‘vile’  matter.!?!

The Magpie 

October 16, 2017 at 12:26 pm  (Edit)

The Two Bob Each Way Award of the Day goes to our own waffling bum warmer Aaron ‘Harpic’ Harper (Harpic because he’s clean round the bend) in this story.

'Vile graffiti'

First we are told that
‘Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said he strongly condemned the graffiti attack on campaign property.’

Yes, OK but then a little further on, he says:
“All members of the ­community should be free to express their opinions. No matter what side of the political divide you come from, you should be able to express your views freely.”

Isn’t that exactly what they did, Harpic?

And memo Bettina Warburton, Astonisher reporter and former newsroom scold (when she was COS).

Astonisher reporter Bettina Warburton

Astonisher reporter Bettina Warburton

The ‘Pie read with interest your opening line in the graffiti story viz ‘POLICE are investigating the defacing of a Labor politician’s advertising truck with vile graffiti on the weekend.’

Vile? A classic case of editorialising in the news columns, no? You can’t airily argue that all graffiti is ‘vile’ (Banksy ‘vile’?), the word represents your opinion only when offered with no quote marks. So this is either news or an opinion piece, it can’t be both … not in a proper newspaper anyway. And then you show the world a pic of this example of ‘vile’.  The vandals thank you for the exposure of their message. C’mon now.
Back in your scold days, you would’ve jumped all over such an error of judgement. Although you probably would never have seen it, because back then, you had skilled subs that would never have let it pass.

The ‘Pie makes this pedantic point as a bit of a heads up for you, Bets. If your neo-Nazi boss Goofy Tomlinson sees this, you could be in for a bollocking … not for the use of an adjective in a news story, but for using THE WRONG ADJECTIVE.

Given Goofy’s fascist tendencies and Harper’s socialist Labor agenda, he would’ve argued that the right adjective was ‘laudable’.

But There Are Better People Than The ‘Pie Doing Satire Out There

There is an old quasi-legal saying that you can’t sue for satire … not something The ‘Pie wants to personally test (his defence against Rabeah Krayem is truth, not satire.) But a clever crowd in Melbourne called The Juice Media took the piss out of the pompous likes of the George Brandis’s of this world with an a hilarious ‘truth in government’ TV ad after they had been threatened with legal action by Canberra.

Worth keeping an eye on … here is their piss take on Same Sex Marriage government double talk.

Bits And Pieces

Ben jennings in The Guardian

Ben jennings in The Guardian

Tweets Of The Week

‘#HarveyWeinstein wasn’t thrown out of Academy cos they found out about his behaviour, it’s cos WE found out about it.’

And on another matter, here’s an offer not hard to refuse

Screen shot 2017-10-20 at 10.30.43 AM

And Teet of the Week.

cow teets

Comment of the Week

From regular reader Kingswood.


October 20, 2017 at 9:45 am  (Edit)

With apologies to Willy Mearns…

Yesterday, in TCC fair, I met a CEO who wasn’t there,
She wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish, she’d go away…

When I came home last night at 3,
Pissed as a parrot from the Centen-ary,
The CEO was waiting there for me!
But when I looked around the hall
I couldn’t see her there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door….

Last night upon the stair
A bottle blonde who wasn’t there
She wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish she’d go away…

That brought the poet out in others.


October 20, 2017 at 11:27 am  (Edit)

Last week to great fanfare,
Adani began a mine that wasn’t there,
It wasn’t there again today,
But our $18.5Million has gone their way.

Finally, Oh The Karma

The ‘Pie cannot resist closing with a great quote coming back to bite the bum of the sanctimonious speaker.

I want all councillors to be more vigilant about disclosing conflicts of interest. I just hope this will be the last time this will occur in this council.’ -Mayor Jenny Hill, in the Townsville Bulletin, November 24, 2014, speaking after she had set up several Townsville First councillors on trumped up charges of conflict of interest for which they all paid fines for a technical breach.


That’s it for this week, folks, but as you can see, there’s all the fun of the fair in the comments during the week. Why not put in your two bob’s worth. And speaking of two bob worth, donations in modern currency to help the blog along are always 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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