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The Magpie

Saturday, July 11th, 2015   |   106 comments

Who’s a Silly Billy, then? Cathy O’Toole’s campaign director Billy Colless gets off to an hilarious start, forced to cancel invitations to a function that promised to be an out-of-control party.

Not that anyone could easily find it, as you will discover in the week’s best comedy of errors. But of course it was all the computers fault.

In fact, it’s been a bit of a trying week for local Labor, as well as for anyone doing business with the party in the ‘Ville. The Magpie presents the inaugural Dumb Dubya George W Bush Huh? What? Award for mangled English. – and it doesn’t go to The Astonisher (gasp … quick intake of breath!)

But speaking of which … is there a subtle whiff of insurrection in the air down at The Astonisher, or just a blissful unawareness of irony? The ‘Pie ponders … but first …

Corruption Inquiry Capers

The politician in the spotlight this week was Bill Short ‘Un, who fronted up to the union corruption Royal commission with all the chutzpah of a shoplifter returning an item for a refund. How he went in the witness box probably depends on your politics, and the Short ‘Un’s mantra in the media is now ‘it’s all a smear’. Well, Billy Boy, not if there are further revelations of creative arrangements between companies and you and your union hierarchy when you were the head of the AWU way back when.

Bentley noted that the Opposition leader was not able to behave like a politician in the witness box, which made his Wand of Waffle useless.

Speaking of waffle, ain’t it marvelous when the holier-than-thou make themselves look ridiculous (which is all the time … when is the last time you saw Fred Nile as anything other than a sanctimonious albeit randy old nitwit?) But this time, it was gay marriage opponent Senator Eric Abetz who might as well have painted a target on his chest. You don’t give that sort of opportunity to some like Larry Pickering, who didn’t miss him with one of his wittiest pot shots.

pickering abetz

Catch more of Larry’s work at http://pickeringpost.com/archive/news

(A digression: heard about the fat, alcoholic trasvestite – he just wanted to eat, drink and be Mary! Sorry, sorry sorry.)

But not all makeovers involve a change of sexual orientation. This from the comments during the week.

The Magpie

 July 8, 2015 at 5:46 pm  (Edit)

The old saying ‘the camera never lies’ is, to quote  a newer saying ‘dead, buried and cremated’ in this digital age. Proof is the cover of the latest Vogue magazine.

Death stare morphs into come hither stare.

What is it about Labor and computers?

Whatever the problem is., it seems it’s endemic. So from the folks who brought you the Queensland Health payroll disaster, (still costing millions and counting) we now find that the digital mental blank has infected the local ALP backroom boys as well. And even Labor Herbert hopeful Cathy ‘La Tool’ O’Toole.

Cathy O'Toole

Cathy O’Toole

While La Tool is no great shakes in the organisational stakes (wrong name of a visiting senator et al) one would love to be a fly on the wall when she catches up with her campaign director.

Billy Colless - O'Toole Campaign manager

Billy Colless – O’Toole Campaign manager

Late last week, our boy sent out this email.

On Behalf of Cathy O’Toole our Candidate for Herbert,Wanted to give you notice that our Cathy for Herbert Campaign Committee with be meeting this Friday the 10th of July at 6pm – We will be meeting at 62-63 Charles Street, Townsville 4810. Please see attached an agenda for the meeting.If everyone can please bring along their Ipads/or pens and paper, plus their innovation and thinking caps!

See you then, 

Billy Colless

Campaign Director

Cathy for Hebert


Despite Mr Colless’s obvious wrestle with grammar and punctuation, all pretty straightforward, you’d think, . But on closer inspection, you’d have to think again.

Just to kick off this comedy of errors, you’ll note that Mr Colless ‘s come-hither email suggests you popped along (last night) to 62-63 Charles Street, Townsville 4810. Only trouble is – according to the 2015-2016 phone book – there is no Charles Street in Townsville 4810. This leaves would-be attendees with a multiple choice game of where to show up … at Charles Street, Aikenvale (4814), Cranbrook (4814) Gulliver (4812), Heatley (4814), Kirwan (4817) and Vincent (4814).

But this is but a minor matter when it transpires that Mr Colless failed to have HIS thinking cap on when exhorting invitees to attend. A second email followed the initial one some time later.

Subject: Please Disregard Email invite – Campaign Committee

Hi Everyone, 

Pelase Disregard my email last night inviting you to the Herbert Campaign Committee meeting – It was a computer error, Which has been fixed, the email that was sent was not intended for you.

Please get in touch if you do want to be involved in the campaign, We look forward to having you on board at a later date.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

So the computer made you do it , eh, Billy?

Only if you’re talking about that imperfect computer between your ears. Because what you didn’t say was that you inadvertently sent the initial email out to a list of ALL the people who had contacted the Labor office and whose names and addresses you keep on file.

All 452 of them.

That file includes politically unaffiliated people who were simply asking a question of some Labor figure, or even some just letting fly with some colorful invective, during a free character reading of one personage or another. So it wasn’t just to the slavish faithful out there, amongst the 452 recipients. If a goodly chunk of them turned up, the cops would have to be called to an out-of-control party that was developing into some ugly confrontations. (Mind you, the cops might have a problem finding the place.)


Billy, when you sent the second email, that damned computer did it again … not only did you send it to those you’d accidentally misled,  this time you didn’t hide the recipients addresses, so there for all the world to see was THE COMPLETE LIST of those who had contacted the Labor Townsville office over one matter or another.

The non-Labor person who contacted The ‘Pie about this matter was in equal parts amused, outraged and err … a tad uncomplimentary, to say the least. The ‘Pie suggests you check out the legalities of publishing such a list, and The ‘Pie will let any disgruntled listees themselves gently point out the error of your ethical ways to you personally.

The ‘Pie, for reasons of both legality and regard towards others privacy will not publish the list, ( but he can’t resist a special hi to Sheila-Princess-Of-God and Leah Flirty Fairy) but rest assured, it makes interesting reading. There’s quite a number of business addresses in there, not to mention the eye-brow-raising 40 or so of jcu.edu.au addresses – hope no one’s been norty out at the uni, using VC Sandy Harding’s  hardware for political purposes (Lord preserve us!!).

It will surely make neutral inquirers think twice about again contacting you by email, if at all.

 … and still more (you really are he git that keeps on giving, mate)

You also thoughtfully provided recipients with the meeting agenda (which turned to be at the Solas Training Room on Charles Street in some suburb or other). It names the proud Labor Party office holders of the campaign, and the meeting’s general business.

Screen shot 2015-07-10 at 11.56.27 AM

One imagines that item 3.4 of general business would’ve heard some lively debate … yes, that’s the one entitled: ‘Brainstorm – how we can communicate best’. It’s a wonder it wasn’t ‘bestest’.

Perhaps the foregoing on how NOT to communicate will be of help, Billy.


It would seem that the candidate herself has displayed a certain lack of digital knowledge … and also of basic English.

On top of that, La Tool  literally doesn’t know what day of the week it is. Although in fairness, this looks like it had the fingerprints of campaign manager Colless all over it, too.

This popped up in the inboxes of the faithful a couple days ago.

Tool 2

And underneath, this little homily:

‘It is only Labor that believes that we should be teaching our children in schools how to code, computational thinking, the ability to use computers to understand and have the skills which will make them employable across the world in this country.

Which is why I am inviting you to attend a forum hosted by Bill Shorten on how we can build jobs for our future in Townsville.’

Note the date – that’s actually a Friday.

So soon, this one pinged in for clarification.

Sending you the new flyer and invite.See correction to date. Still on Wednesday – Just on the 15th of July.

tool 3

(NB That ‘text caption’ reminder is hers, not The ‘Pie’s.)

Phew, glad that’s cleared that up, thought it might be 18th but not Wednesday, could’ve been a Friday, but it will be the 15th, which is not the Friday, it’s actually the Wednesday.Maybe. OK?

Hope they turn up at the polling booths on the right day. But let’s for a moment just revisit the little homile La Tool graced us with in the first flyer.

It is only Labor that believes that we should be teaching our children in schools how to code, computational thinking, the ability to use computers to understand and have the skills which will make them employable across the world in this country. Which is why I am inviting you to attend a forum hosted by Bill Shorten on how we can build jobs for our future in Townsville.

That get’s the George Dubya Award for clarity. ‘… have (gain) the skills’? ‘which’ instead of ‘that’ and the fabulous ‘ … across the world in this country’. Cathy if this is all your own work, bugger politics, there’s a job at The Astonisher waiting for you right now.

A prize of a bottle of The ‘Pie’s finest cellared White Infuriator (vintage last week – nothing stays cellared around here for long) for the most accurate interpretation of this gobbledegook.

A stellar start to a fun campaign.

Is it ‘to the barricades’ at the Bully?

Crumbs, some people are so brave. Or are they just unaware of their knife-edge position?

The ‘Pie was bemused to read two columns in the paper in recent days that had a tiny whiff of bemoaning the current state affairs within the paper, and News Corpse generally.

Victoria Nugent, a pretty average reporter but not so bad as a generally well-reasoned columnist, took a big stick to sportswear mob Lorna Jane, for hiring some Size Whopper sheila as a model for the larger outfits AND as a receptionist. Ms Nugent was daintily foaming on about this double duty when we read:

‘It’s cutting corners to try to have one less staff member on the books and it probably happens a lot more than people realise.’

Umm, yes, quite so, a lot more, especially before your time at the paper, m’dear. But your approbation could have been dismissed as a bit too subtle for a sly dig, until a little later, we get:

Another recent example of uproar about a combined role was when Fairfax landed in hot water over a combined sales representative and journalist job. People were angry that these two roles were combined, not recognising that the skill sets needed to perform each job well were very different and in many ways contradictory to each other.’

Oh, Vicky, gal, the tightrope is wobbling, and the safety net of ethics has been ripped away by News Corpse. Try expressing those very correct sentiments to your Chief of Staff and the Iditor, who have to have all stories of a ‘senstive business nature’ approved by the commercial manager. And resist at your peril some of those banal advertorial stories (ad on the opposite page).

Shari Shazza Tagliabue

Shari Shazza Tagliabue

But in another eyebrow-raiser, old chum Shazza Tagliabue last week was either being high-minded or hypocritical (The ‘Pie will plump for the former) in her column about celebs becoming brand ambassadors. A daft idea, certainly, and as Shazza said, a turn-off for her and possibly many others. Her column breezed along, as always, in her jaunty style but then suddenly this:

Just last week on Media Watch there were accusations of certain publications taking the Brand Ambassador bait and running free advertorials in the guise of editorial on their pages, which is either lazy journalism, sucker-born-every-minute-ism, or a combination of both.’

The swine!!! Diluting the purity of the news pages with such dastardly swill as ‘free’ advertorials (nothing’s free, especially advertorials)! Unheard off chicanery of the lowest sort. Shazza, hope it doesn’t get you into hot water, but The ‘Pie is in complete agreement with you. Why, no self-respecting publication would do that sort of thing, you know, like a new eatery, frock shop or knick-knackery emporium being claimed the bees knees, and there follows a campaign of paid ads. Next thing, we’ll be hearing that certain news stories are not being covered because of commercial interests of the publication.

Thank heavens you work for a paper that is ‘for the north’ and is a champion for allowing the expression of all the views in the community.

Stadium endorsement, anyone?

Vale Jenny Minna Flores.

Jenny with her sister in Adelaide in April.

Jenny with her sister in Adelaide in April.

There are many forms of courage, and many definitions of it. One that stands out defines courage as ‘The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution;

This wise definition immediately sprang to mind when with great sadness I learnt of the passing this week of Jenny Flores, not only one of the warmest and nicest people I’ve ever met, but also the epitome of courage. I knew Jenny for close on 20 years as an unfailingly cheerful and friendly doer of good deeds. On hearing this week’s news, I tried to remember Jenny without that infectious smile and gentle self-effacing manner that endeared her to so many people, but I couldn’t recall a single occasion over the years where she was upset, angry or depressed. There may have been private occasions where this may have been so, but the many friends I’ve spoken too agree their memory will forever be of that disarming and charming smile, soft voice and interest at all times in others.

But Jenny proved it was no sham façade. She had been having arduous treatment for many years for a kidney ailment, but in company at least, was unfailing optimistic, uncomplaining and never spoke much of herself.

But perhaps her shining achievement that gave us all a glimpse of why Jenny was not only loved but admired came when her situation degenerated enough that a year or so ago, she lost a leg to the disease. Her posts on Facebook, in their matter-of-factness, positive outlook and complete lack of self-pity … both before and after the operation … were nothing short of inspirational.

And it was not long afterwards … ‘so soon’, I thought at the time … that Jenny was up and about, out of her wheelchair and walking. I bumped into her in the local shopping center not so long ago, and will be forever grateful I was given the opportunity to let her know that I – who was personally facing some relatively minor health issues – found her inspirational and amazing.

I swear she blushed in her genuine modesty.

There is another definition of courage which it is appropriate to quote:

‘Courage is to display grace under pressure’. This wonderful woman did that in spades.

My condolences to Michel, Camille and Eloise and all the family.

We have all lost a wonderful presence.

Vale Jenny.

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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