Thursday, 30 December 2010

Yet another Townsville Blog

Following The Magpie's move to the blogosphere, Townsville now has another new blog on the scene.

Photoblogging $30 million at work in Townsville is an intermittent blog of pics taken of our dinosaur racing racing track built at taxpayers expense in Ried 'Park' on the other side of the Creek.

Posts will be completely adhoc and dependant on my going down Boundary St. and thinking to take a pic when I do.

Please feel free to submit your own pics - just email them to

Thursday, 23 December 2010

The Big Leak on Maggie or The Big Rip-off by the Townsville Bulletin?

I see that The Bully has this morning finally reported about the buzz on Maggie Island about building some sort of statue in tribute to the Island's one-time son, Julian Assange.

We reported on it here at length yesterday and earlier (about 10 days ago) here.  And we of course took our lead from Magnetic Times who first raised the idea in this story on 11 December and a week later developed it further in this story (including with the cartoon by George shown at right).

But true to style, in finally running the story, the Bully fails to give any recognition or reference to Magnetic Times (reflecting the old mainstream media paradigm of 'every other media outlet is a competitor and therefore shouldn't be given an inch').  In fact, when you read  the Bully's piece, you could swear that their hard-working journo, Anon, wrote it based on their own detailed investigative journalism.

Rather, The Bully ignores the originators of the idea (and the story) and instead focuses on "local island character" Crusty Heron.  Of course, in any small community such as the Island, "local character" is a euphemism for "local nut-job". 

Don't get me wrong, Crusty is a nice guy, good to wave at from the other side of the road and does quite a reasonable wedding (although I brought one from him and it didn't work).  It's just that you want to avoid getting into a conversation with him at all costs.  If you're wondering why, just have a read of his diatribes in the comments to these Magnetic Times articles here and here

But hey, he's a talking head who always answers his phone - making the 'investigation' by The Bully's increasingly familiar Anon all that much easier and providing the perfect out from giving due credit to The Magnetic Times.

Finally I really wonder whether the photo-shopped graphic with the Bully's story was really done by Crusty as implied in the article or was it actually mashed-up by Anon him/herself?  You certainly won't find it on Crusty's website, facebook page or from any google search I could think of!

PS: - Magnetic Times got eight weblinks out of this story and The Bully only one - a good score I reckon and one that won't help The Bully's google rankings one bit!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The real meaning of xmas

Via Planet Irf

Incredibly unimportant breaking news

Of Malls and Convention Centres

I finally had a wander down the 'finished' section of the Townsville Mall (or Flinders Street as it will soon be instantly recognised as around the globe).

Seeing no one is game to publicly bucket Council's latest little adventure in urban design (remember Flinders St East), let me be the first:
  • It's gonna be a bloody wet place to go shopping in the wet season
  • It's gonna be a bloody hot place to eat your lunch when it's not raining
On the plus side, some of Townsville's ugliest buildings are now fully exposed for the world's architecture tourists (and American boat people) to truly 'enjoy'.

More to the point, it seems that Council and the developer class about town have worked out that the renovation ain't going to work, ain't gonna make the Mall one bit more competitive as a shopping destination and ain't gonna be the $57 million incentive to potential investors in Lancini's Flinders Plaza development that it was designed to provide.

The building 'campaign' for Townsville's much mooted Convention Centre to be located within the CBD (read Lancini's Flinders Plaza ghetto)  is a great study in how these guys play the game (with the help of The Bulletin of course):
  • You simply start by someone with profile raising the suggestion - as CBD Taskforce chairman Craig Stack no doubt did in a call to Tony Raggatt who pushes the idea into play.  The same day the Bully's anonymous Editor does a support piece in his editorial - not too strident, gently, gently, place it second.
  • The next day you run a page-3 story (complete with front page header) in which, according to Raggatt, "the idea has been supported by Townsville Mayor Les Tyrell and CBD Taskforce chairman Craig Stack" (the previous day he had reported Stack and Tyrell as saying that the idea should be considered). 
  • While we're about it, let's introduce Lancini into play - carefully though, you wouldn't like to look too eager at the prospect of a $140 million key-stone tenant to kick your stalled development along.
  • And let's add a bit a bit of weight to the proposition by quoting an economist - and none other than local developer Carey Ramm
  • And for good measure, why not give Raggatt a 'Business Desk' opinion piece on the same day when he can invoke the ghosts of his father to argue that Lancini should have the subsidy Convention Centre.
In one sense, of course, they are all right - the only thing that will make the Mall work is more people!  However, no one is going to open a shop in the Mall on the promise of maybe lots of people attending a 2 or 3- day conference once a month for maybe nine months of the year.

And of course adding a few carparks (even at the expense of the hundreds that come to the precinct every day by bus - how dumb is that) is not going to make the CBD any more attractive or convenient or, therefore, competitive against Stocklands, The Willows etc

I'm afraid that population density in the CBD (both residential and office) is the only thing that will save The Mall and Council had their chance when they considered a proposal for the development of an Arts Centre (that could have also accommodated conventions) and office/residential complex on what is currently the carpark between Council and the Law Courts.  Instead, they chose to use the available funds to build the tack-on to the Civic Theatre which (coincidentally, of course) gave Les and the big boys a perfectly oriented balcony from which they can gaze down on Pitt Straight during the annual Ried "Park" dinosaur race.  Perhaps Raggatt should chase down that story.

A convention centre to save Flinders Street is a dumb idea - just like putting a road down the middle will prove to be.  But now that they've started the play, I'm afraid that we're all gonna have to watch it unfold over the quite holiday period when no-one is paying any attention to politics. After all, it might just lead to an extra $140 million subsidy support to the failed Flinders Plaza ghetto -on top of what is fairly obviously the failed $57 million subsidy Mall 'upgrade'.

Oh, did I remember to mention that Lancini is a gold advertiser with the Bully and probably the occasional supplier of free drinks to Tony Raggatt?

Magnetic Island's monumental marketing opportunity

As I've noted before, there is a bit of a buzz around about building a monument to Wikileaks founder and former island hippie Julian Assange. Magnetic Times editor, George Hirst has even offered a first design option although I must admit to being a bit taken by Rolf's suggestion of one of those "cutsie little boy peeing sculptures" (see comments).

Magnetic Times also has a poll at the bottom right of their front page asking Should Magnetic Island commission a sculpture to celebrate the achievements of Julian Assange? With 385 votes so far 98% responses have been positive.

And I see that The Magpie's Nest has seen some "ripper marketing opportunities" in Assange's association with Maggie island - including the tourism pitch: `Want a tan like Julian Assange's? Holiday on Magnetic Island - in the rainy season!' - an increasingly accurate xmas tag given the forecasts!

I reckon that both local scholars are on to something here.  If you consider the potential value in niche tourism Maggie Island could be sitting on a marketing goldmine (Checkout for example the 12-day Lord of the Rings tour of NZ).

But when you think of the types of people who might come to visit the childhood home of Assange, I think that any monument would need to be able to be visited in all anonymity and would need to include a free and highly encrypted wifi connection and highly secure server.  Sorry George and Rolf but I'm not sure that electricity and water are going to work!

PS: Don't forget to vote on the Magnetic Times poll.  You can also join this Facebook group if you're into that sort of thing.

Kids doing dumb things

This reminded me of a couple of stories from when I was a youth worker many years ago in the then outer southern suburbs of Adelaide.
The first was when a group of local kids got stoned one night and decided to break into the local supermarket to score some free fags.  They successfully got in through the roof but gave themselves away when, stoned and giggling as they fell over each other in the dark, they turned the lights on.  The supermarket was on a rise, in the middle of a car park and right on the main street into town and just up from the cop shop!!

The second was a car-full who went to the drive-in one night (remember them?) after dropping some Mandrax (remember them).  They of course all proceeded to fall asleep, including the driver who pushed the car out of gear setting in rolling down into the car in front!  They were all still asleep with in the coppers arrived!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Bulletin does good

Credit where credit is due!
I thought the headline on the Bully's story this morning about the horrific and wretched deaths on the cliffs of Christmas Island yesterday was both sensitive and respectful. 

Full recognition that these were/are people seeking freedom and security and none of the "illegal immigrants" "people smugglers" or "queue-jumpers" we normally hear so much of from the MSM.  It also happens to be a beautiful construction. 

Well done to the sub-editor who wrote it.

PS: Compare the Bully's effort with this little trash piece from (surprise, surprise) Dennis Shanahan in (surprise, surprise) The Oz:   NO politicians wanted to be seen to be taking political advantage from the tragic sinking of the people-smuggling vessel.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Would you donate $5 to help build a statue of Julian Assange on Magnetic Island?

It had to happen - following the Magnetic Times article and our post in response, there is now the facebook poll!:
Would you donate $5 to help build a statue of Julian Assange on Magnetic Island?

Could Wikileaks take us here? (or are we already there)

Found this good post by  Johan Lagerkvist at* discussing the implications of how the powerful might responds to Wikileaks, including this quote

It can be foreshadowed that governments will craft laws that target citizen-journalist activities. Citizens’ unauthorised storing of leaked material could be made illegal. Another potential outcome could be state eavesdropping, monitoring and storing information on a broader spectrum of the citizenry than hitherto possible.
Chilling - especially when you've just read this story from Stephen Martin at The Mirror:
Boy of 12 hauled out of class by police over David Cameron Facebook protest
Scary!  Maybe the proponents of the Julian Assange Statue on Magnetic Island will need to re-think their personal security!

* Originally posted on YaleGlobal Online. Copyright © 2010, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, Yale University

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Of Magnetic Island, Julian Assange and a Statue

Further to my earlier posts about Wikileaks, Magnetic Times has a great piece on Julian Assange's connection to the Island.  The comments that follow are worth a read too.

I wonder what would happen if someone set-up a facebook donations page for a statue of Julian Assange to be erected on Maggie Island ...? 

I'd probably contribute - after all, he's the only man who I can think of who has taken on the prevailing power-structures on a truly global scale - and won, I suspect!

Also worth a look - Planet Irf's regularly updated WikiLeaks hysteria ... post.

A good news story worth recognition

News last week of the Federal Court's granting of native title to their Country for the Waanyi people is a real good news story.

I know a little of both the Waanyi's fight for their Country and Century Zinc's approach to recognising the claims of, working with, and providing opportunities for the Traditional Owners of 'their' mine site. I'm sure it wasn't smooth sailing for either party but the outcome really does seem to be a real win-win outcome that should be celebrated as an example of the resilience, determination and power of the surviving first nations and a mining operations intelligent (and as it happens, just) response to the traditional owners of country they want to exploit.

All I could find with a quick google were variations on this story by Darren Cartwright at AAP: Win-win for Waanyi people and miners.  If anyone can recommend a link with more on the history of the Waanyi people's struggle, please post it in a Comment.

Congratulations to the Waanyi people and particularly to Jane Ah Kit, Edith Medwin, and Glenys Saltmere – threeWaanyi women I had the pleasure of working with a while back.  I bet there were some good parties at Lawn Hill and in the Isa and on Mornington and across the North-West last week!!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

I can see the smoke from The Bully already

I reckon I can see the smoke coming from Bully Headquaters as they read the latest post over at The Maggie's Nest.  You see, the old Maggie has published the latest circulation catastorpie at the Bully under editor Gleeson's watch - a 4.2% fall in the last quaterly audit - on top of the previous 10% fall I posted about here.

I wonder whether, as a result, the old 'pie will get an editorial dressing down similar to the one I recieved?  Or perhaps 'Typo' Gleeson* will be too busy looking over his sholder for Murdoch's crack accountants death squad.

* The term "Typo" Gleeson is completely the invention of The Magpie and less demafitory than anything I could think of.  It is used with permission (I hope)

Friday, 10 December 2010

O Really?

What the?

Is Wikileaks making an ememy in Murdoch?

Isn't it interesting that the Fairfax Press seem to be doing all the running on the Wikileaks story - all of the Australia related leaks (Arbib the Cabinet rat, howAfghanistan scares the hell out of Rudd etc) have been reported first on the front page of The Age.

Perhaps Wikileaks are doing here what they are doing globally - that is, not providing a feed to any Murdoch owned press.  Globally, they  provide advances of what they will publish online to The Guardian, The New York Times, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and El Pais - not one Murdoch rag among them.

Smart man that Maggie Island kid, Assange.  Makes me wonder whether News Corp will be one of the global mega-businesses that Assange has warned Wikileaks has files on and plan to release soon.

Now that would be fun!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Is Mark Arbib just the tip of an iceburg?

I got a good chuckle out of this mornings news of the outing of Mark Arbib as a US sycophant - it could well be the end of his political career which probably wouldn't be a bad thing for either the country or the ALP.

However, there is a sub-plot in this story which needs a bit more exposure and that is about the role of the Australian-American Dialogue organisation in the Abib Affair and more broadly in Australian Politics over recent decades.

I first became aware of the Australian-American Dialogue during the Hawke years when a Cabinet insider explained their pervasive reach thought the labor party and union movement, the conservative parties and big business.  Their modus operandi was explained as targeting political up-and-comers early in their career, offering free junkets to the States and other general ego stroking in order to build their loyalty to the alliance (read, the US) and to build relationships which are able to be called on over the careers that follow.

Hopefully the Arbib-saga will shine a bit of light on this extremely well funded lobby group.  I'd suggest as a starting point, a bit of a trawl through the MP register of pecuniary interests.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

In case you haven't seen it

Doing the rounds in the blogosphere and no doubt soon to be seen in the email in-tray (The TSA is the US Transportation Security Administration - think full body searches at US airports)

Which reminds me - anyone want to take a bet on who the rich and powerful capture first - Osama Bin Laden (apparent cause of at least two wars) or Julian Assange (very apparent cause of much nakedness amongst the ruling class)?  Funny that - not!

The Townsville Bulletin's lead articles for January 2011 will be....

Did you see the Bulletin's "tell the editor" readers survey in last Saturday's Bulletin or here online?  We've seen this ploy from the Bully around this time every year for a while now - run a survey and then use the data collected to con advertisers about local consumer sentiment and to generate an endless stream of "Townsville residents think ..." and "Townsville residents outraged at ..." articles during the silly season when the Bully would rather have staff on leave.

In January you should expect articles on:
  1. How everyone loves the "new look Townsville Bulletin"
  2. An announcement on a change from Saturday to Friday for the publication of the Bully's Property Section
  3. How times are tough and people are cutting back on discretionary spending
  4. Voters demand the return of Council Divisions
  5. (more) Anger at Council over water rates / "sack the lot of them readers say"
  6. A report card (with ratings) on all the local pollies 
  7. CBD Upgrade has little impact on shoppers intentions / Shoppers prefer Myers at Stocklands over a road through the Mall
  8. Something about a shortage of GPs (interestingly, there are very few questions about the Townsville Hospital)
  9. Public live in fear of rampant hooliganism, hooning, cabbie bashing, rude drivers and bad neighbours
  10. Everybody loves sport and The Fury must be saved
  11. Most Townsvillians don't visit Maggie Island
  12. The Government isn't doing enough about homelessness and Townsville demands a mandatory detoxification program be introduced although  no one seems to know whether it should be for Flinders Street nightclubbers or parkies
And, believe it or not, you should also expect those old chestnuts:
  • Voters demand a separate NQ state, and
  • Maggie Is to become a tourism mecca if the bridge is built
Finally, I have no idea what sort of story they will beat-up out of responses to the question "Should council or business owners be responsible for the upkeep of heritage listed buildings?" but I'm sure a few developers around town (perhaps with interests in the Mall/Drive-through) will have written the article for have them.

Of course, all of this dribble that we will read over the holidays will all be meaningless, just as the survey is meaningless.  It will reflect the views of those people who buy the Bulletin or visit their website and choose to fill in a survey - nothing more and certainly NOT IN ANYWAY any kind of representative sampling of the local population (or even of the Bulletin's readership for that matter, advertisers take note).

I wonder what would happen if .....

I wonder if I announced here that I was going to bid for the domain name before the auction closes at 4:pm today, whether the Townsville Bulletin will put in a pre emptive bid in an effort to stop me???