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The Magpie

Saturday, February 3rd, 2018   |   181 comments

Why Some Townsville Investors Are Heading For The Hills, Shunning A New Prime Site Development On The Strand

You’ll never guess who’s scaring off investors from buying into the planned apartment block next to the Seaview. As if Townsville doesn’t have enough troubles, it seems the Council is just begging for more with a  welcome back to someone who left town in disgrace, and with a few diddled punters howling for justice. And in this instance, do we get two for the price of one? A Magpie EXCLUSIVE!!! (Just love sayin that!)

Also, more secret womens’ business down at the Walker Street Wankery … has Mayor Mullet and The Impaler, ignoring the lesson of the corrupt Ipswich council and Jenny’s bestie Paul Pissale, snuck through their own Development Company without bothering to tell us. Looks like it. See Magpie comments for this report.

And we talk rubbish (insert your own joke here) … the kerbside collection gets off to a rocky start.

But first, let’s dispose of offshore matters (which is where Bentley is, on another brief break)

It’s a rare day when The Magpie will agree with Donald Trumpet, but today be that day. That is, agree with his words, but not his meaning, when he intoned in his serious little girly voice ‘I think it is disgraceful what’s happening in America today’. Amen to that, brother, but OK, you were talking about your latest attempt to avoid being questioned by that Mueller bloke about how maybe you used the Ruskies to rig your election win. But along with a hoked-up and selectively quoted FBI memo – fake news if ever there was – The Trumpet, according to The New Yorker, also released another doctored document, heavily redacted but clearly showing him in his real light.

elly rosen

Kuper in The New Yorker

Also The New Yorker, Elly Rosen can see where this is all going … the Prez is going to the wall.


“I’m really looking forward to talking to you—just give me a minute.”

But are we sadly misjudging and wronging a man so clever we can’t see it. We really should appreciate him more, there are those … well, one person … who believe there’s ample reason to.

fir and fury

At the moment, The ‘Pie is reading with alarm THAT book, Fire and Fury, which is greatly overwritten and padded out for length but author Michael Wolff has clearly been sneaking around some interesting corners in the White House. Some say the book is baloney, but if only one tenth of it is true, we’re in strife, all of us.


But Now To The Leaky – err, sorry – Leafy National Capital

Play Skool starts again in the Big House this week, and PM Talkbull will be looking to improved economic figures to boost his stocks. But during the summer break, Larry Pickering saw some looming problems from the Opposition when Big Mal took to the northern waters.

on Barrier S

But both sides will be lying low over that astounding security secrecy breech, when a self-described ‘bushy’ found two filing cabinet loads of classified documents in his bulk buy from a government second-hand furniture warehouse. Both sides have to shoulder some responsibility, it appears. Some should … and are likely to get the boot over all this, but as they say one door closes another opens and a new job is created. Paul Zanetti reckons he’s got just the man for the job.

Zanetti on leaks

Is Persistance A Vice Or A Virtue?

That depends entirely on who’s doing what, and why, so The ‘Pie will allow you, dear readers, to reach your own conclusions in the following matter.

Recently, this glitzy sign went up on the long vacant prime block next to the Seaview boozarium, ballyhooing an apartment development on the site.

South Beach

The apartments sound very desirable, and like all come-ons in these sort of developments, the blandishments of the brochure are lavish and much to be desired. And you can register an expression of interest by plonking down a returnable $5000.

But what’s this?!?

Several folks have ponied up the readies, but at least two have demanded and received their money back, wanting nothing to do with the venture. And other interested parties might bear some looking into, as well. A little bit of detective work soon shows why. The sign went up soon after a company called Moon Shadow Pty Ltd was granted an interim development order by the Townsville Council.

Moon Shadow, eh? A simple search perhaps explains the reason why some potential buyers – those with good memories – suddenly became gun shy.

Screen shot 2018-02-03 at 10.40.44 PM

This is the sole listed shareholder.

Yup, our old mate from Watermark Restaurant days, Michelle McCracken.

michelle McCracken

She and her husband scooted town a few years back, leaving in her case unpaid debts, which later saw her go bankrupt for a period.

Screen shot 2018-02-03 at 10.41.54 PM

And husband Jarrod proved to be a man with the business brain of a Rugby league player, who inter alia left some of his shoddy work on the Watermark apartments as someone else’s expensive problem. McCracken too went bankrupt and still is, although didn’t stop him breaking the rules and helping set up Rambutan in Flinders Street East. for which he is in court again, as well as leaving the country without permission from his trustee. Described as a ‘consultant’, McCracken’s track record in The Street was less than stellar, forced out of the execrable Consortium, in the process reported to have thrown a bad tempered and very damaging farewell party on the last night. There are unconfirmed stories that in his pique, he poured cement down the toilets.

But given their history, it is fair to ask that if Michelle is into this market again, hubby ain’t far away, eh? He obviously doesn’t give a hoot about pesky things like the law. And may even angle to build South Beach himself for a tidy sum, with a nod from the missus. Might not be so easy, because it is clear there is other NSW money involved somewhere.

But here’s an even more interesting wrinkle in our join-the-dots roundabout. The application (according to the Bulletin, so make up your own mind) was lodged by Peter Cardiff, of Brisbane-based Cardiff Law, and a former Townsville City Council town planner. It is reasonable to believe he has had dealings and knows of the McCracken’s previous exploits under the previous regimes.

Here’s is an overview of a keen local property watcher.

Hi Magpie, 

My info is Mrs McCracken purchased land late last year for $3.8M with 3 month settlement and nonrefundable 10% deposit obviously put up by backers unknown. McCracken only purchased 3036m2 of land which has frontage to the Strand but doesn’t extend through to Mitchell Street, where the remainder of the site, still for sale is a further 3036m2.

Seller to McCracken was ISENAD investments of Erskineville NSW who purchased the total 6072 m2 (Strand through to Mitchell St) site, back in December 2013 for $3.08M.

McCracken will need 33 of 40 units (80%) unconditionally sold with 10% deposit on each, held in trust account, before any Australian banking institution will provide any funding for construction.

Normally larger main cities get away with 50% unconditionally sold to get finance to construct however regional towns, particularly towns doing it tough, need minimum 80%.

I’ve heard there may be a couple ‘under contact’ with the project spruikers indicating 11 or 12 EOI deposits paid however most of those may be project backers trying to falsely inflate the ‘strong interest’ in the project. At least two local EOI have got their money back after delving into the background.

TCC have given a DA on the project which is gobsmacking given McCrackens track record in this town and his latest foray to appear in court for breaching ASIC bankruptcy laws involving Rambuttan in Flinders Street. But…we’re not dealing with a full deck of cards in Walker Street are we…or maybe they’re plain bloody desperate and happy to be part of throwing local potential buyers under the proverbial McCracken bus !!

Let’s see where the forever honking Townsville Bulletin goes with this one.

But Wait Just A Moment There ….

Jenny Hill

So if there are to be tears before bedtime for this project, and if the mayor knew of the clear risks to investors, has she again put her own personal political ambitions ahead of the well being of the city’s reputation, as she was elected to do? Did she , for some reason, not the counsel prudence with this application? And if she didn’t know about Mrs McCracken’s involvement, why didn’t she? She must know Peter Cradiff.

It is irresistible to suggest that a nice glitzy new development like this would not be ready for a year or more at the earliest, and that would be just in time for some simpering lies about turning the city’s fortunes around singlehandedly in the 2020 council election campaign.

Just sayin’, ya know.

Let’s Talk Rubbish (again, insert your own joke here.)

street rubbish

Early days, but seems the unpopular kerbside hard rubbish collection is off to a stuttering start. That is because, claim some council insiders to The Magpie, the council is in such a financial nut squeeze that the best they could do was buy four clapped out second-hand trucks for the job. On the first few days, only two operated because the other two had to go in on the first day for extensive overhauls. insiders are claiming cheapskate economics. (More on this in comments sent to last week’s blog.)

Then in the initial suburbs like Kirwan, there were quite a few residents who didn’t even bother. But one guesses plenty did.

But guess what …

Street rubbish 1

… old fridges were not taken away, the truck’s design couldn’t handle them. Will the money be found to make a second run with a flat-bed or something to get these things off the street? Residents are awaiting developments.

But one thing is crystal clear, people everywhere want their free dump passes back. And The Mullet had better mull this one over, it isn’t just a few disgruntled ‘keyboard warriors’ on this site. Talk to anyone anywhere, madam, and they’ll tell in pretty direct language.

Will you listen? (Oh stop it, ‘Pie,  you clown.)

Bad Timing Of The Week

What with the trial of mega-grub Larry Nasser in the United States for his unspeakable crimes against national gymasts in his care, it was impeccably bad timing for the Astonisher to make this typo, quoting a local (male) coach about one of his (female) stars.

Come typoHope ‘Brooks’, whoever that is, sues, or at the very least, gets an apology.

But hey, they don’t care, haven’t for years.

God Bless Phillip Batty, He Keeps The Council’s Legal Monkeys Dancing.

Screen shot 2018-01-20 at 11.31.13 PM

Fellow keyboard warrior (and proud of it) Philp Batty remains an unhappy and dissatisfied chook. He continues to question Jenny Hill’s probity in declaring ‘hospitality gifts’ from Adani during her trip to India.

He at least forced the chief dancing monkey from the council’s Legal Department to admit to a website cock-up, which appeared to be fortuitous in the selected material that was deleted temporarily. This  personage then provides us with a legal/administrative rationale which, while no doubt correct, deserves the Sir Humphrey Appleby Award for official double talk. (As Jim Hacker said: But Bernard, this speech doesn’t say anything! Bernard: Oh, thank you, Prime Minister.)

There has been a long exchange of emails betwee Mr Batty and the legal department’s chief dancing monkey. Here’s a flavour, which would be hilarious if it wasn’t so embarrassing.

From: Philip Batty [mailto:philip.batty@bigpond.com]

Sent: Monday, 29 January 2018 7:58 PM

To: ‘Graeme Finlayson’ <email hidden; JavaScript is required>

Subject: RE: Statement of Interests.



Lets just say we disagree on the interpretation.

Interestingly this transcript from the 7:30 report also seems like a change of position from the Mayor.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Both the Townsville and Rockhampton mayors have accepted hospitality gifts of up to $1,600 from Adani. Mostly in airfares, during a trip to India with the Queensland Premier in March.

Earlier this year you accepted more than 1000 of hospitality gifts from Adani?

JENNY HILL: No, let me clarify that. Yes, we did. (Talk about Jim the yes/no talker in the Vicar of Dibley!) We accepted a gift to fly from Mumbai to see their solar plant because Adani are very keen to set up solar facilities in the North.

That was myself and I believe about seven or eight other mayors who are interested in those projects.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: In hindsight, given that you’ve signed off on this $18.5 million deal, was it wise to accept that hospitality?

JENNY HILL: I don’t think there’s an issue with that. It’s been properly declared and the community can see that – can find that on our website.

Thanks again

Philip Batty


Graeme Finlayson

Chief Legal Officer

 <email hidden; JavaScript is required> wrote:


Thank you for responding presumably on behalf of the CEO.

I strongly disagree with your interpretation of schedule 5 of the Local Government Regulations 2012 regarding this benefit but your position is noted.


Philip Batty

From: Graeme Finlayson [email hidden; JavaScript is required] 

Sent: Monday, 29 January 2018 5:02 PM

To: Philip Batty <email hidden; JavaScript is required>

Cc: Adele Young <email hidden; JavaScript is required>

Subject: RE: Statement of Interests

Dear Mr Batty

Thank you for your e-mail of 29 January 2018 raising some queries in relation to the update to the Mayor’s Statement of Interests dated 17 January 2018 and published on the Townsville City Council web-site earlier today.

My enquiries indicate that in updating her hard copy Statement of Interests, the Mayor has not removed any reference to any of the hospitality benefits previously contained in her Statement of Interests, including those relating to the benefits she received from Adani for the solar farm etc site visit in 2017.

Unfortunately, an inadvertent user error has occurred in the Council making updates to this section of our external web-site. As a result, the information previously contained in this section of the on-line version of the Statement of Interests for the Mayor was accidentally omitted from display. We have now updated the on-line version of the Statement of Interests and it should now display the information previously recorded in it for this particular section.

In the meantime, we take this opportunity to note that the hospitality benefits recorded by the Mayor from the trade mission in India in 2017 were not required to be included in her Statement of Interests as they did not meet the definition of ‘sponsored hospitality benefits’. The benefits were received by the Mayor in her official capacity as Mayor. Like a number of other regional mayors, these hospitality benefits were received by the Mayor in her official capacity as Mayor during the Premier’s trade mission to India last year.

Accordingly, these benefits do not fall within the statutory definition of ‘sponsored hospitality benefits’ under Schedule 5 of the Local Government Regulations (2012). The Mayor has chosen to voluntarily include these details in her Statement of Interests, notwithstanding these particular hospitality benefits were not required to be included. Based on the on-line Statements of Interest currently published for the other Mayors that also attended the trade mission in India and that went on the Adani site visit, Mayor Hill appears to have been one of a small number of Mayors to have disclosed this particular hospitality benefit in her Statement of Interests.


Graeme Finlayson

Chief Legal Officer

If we had real TV in this town, it would make a great series.

 And A Final Note …

… with which The ‘Pie can empathise.

unRetirement acct jpg……………………….

That’s it for this week, but comments are likely to be as lively as someone walking into a cobweb in the dark. Feel free to join in, more and more are doing so. And if you’re in a generous mood … or if The ‘Pie saved you $5000 this week heh heh heh …  you may weaken and offer a small donation of appreciation to keep the blog blundering along. 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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