Monday, 12 September 2011

....seems to be a constant issue, in our neck of the woods. But it is not just the 'Ville struggling to keep a roof over everyone's heads. How do we find solutions, permanently? How do we address once and for all, the social issues faced by tropical areas - often prone to cyclones and heavy winds? 

We innovate. We use Bio Mimicry. Bio mimicry - put simply, is the use of nature's ways, to our advantage. If we work with nature, we have a much better chance at creating lasting living spaces, and global longevity. I must ask the question: If we destroy this planet, where are we going to live? 

As the warm weather edges towards summer, lets talk about SOLUTIONS, and focus less on problems. 

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Can you find the Townsville Bulletin?

John Sherffius says it all again.  Can you find the Townsville Bully in the trash pile? 

I though that it could be the red speck about 1/3 of the way up on the left but then it's way too big and it's the wrong colour! 

Any ideas?

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Andrew Bolt's next conspiracy story:

"It's all all a publicity stunt" or "It's all a result Julia's knifing"

Which will it be?

Friday, 15 July 2011

The funniest story on earth (as reported in the Townsville Bulletin)

Yes, I'm still here!  My apologies to any regular visitors for the 'little' hiatus in my posts - put it down to a combination of work and other things going on in my life and arriving at a point of total despair at the state of the mainstream media in Australia and locally.

So what would break me out of all of that and and lead me back to the blog?  Why, the funniest story for decades of course, the one which brings an instant smile to my face with every new day's revelations - the crashing and burning of brand Murdoch (and potentially his empire)!

While there are plenty of others writing about what has to be the best and biggest spectator sport on earth at present, I'm currently particularly enjoying watching the developing blood-lust in (all but Murdoch) media's reportage of the action - it's sort of like watching Frankenstein's monster feeding on the corpse of the dead Doctor.

And of course then there's the Murdoch press reportage of the biggest media story for decades.  And what better example is there of the Empire's commitment to truth and balance that our very own Townsville Bulletin?

Their coverage of the crisis engulfing their Empire over the last few days?
  • Wednesday 13/07 - nothing
  • Thursday 14/07 - a 7x6.5 cm piece on page 19 or 0.10% of the 40 page edition
  • Friday15/07 - a 7x6.5 cm piece on page 38 or 0.08% of the 52 page edition
And of course these little snippets are not available online and were hidden away in the "World Snapshot" section of the Bully - not so much because no one will notice it there but rather because when they do The Empire's local minions want the reader to be left with the impression that "the troubles" are restricted to quaint old England.

Surely there's nothing more pathetic than watching this blimp on the periphery of The Empire desperately protecting it's little patch while Rome burns.  And burns and burns and burns.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Do nothing to p*ss this man off anymore than he is already!!

Reading the news feeds and listening to the airways for the last two days, I get the firm idea that Stephen Smith is one very p*ssed off Minister.  I certainly wouldn't want to be the one in uniform who has to deliver any more bad news to him over the next few days or weeks!!

In fact, I have the strong impression that Smith has been getting progressively more p*ssed of with Defence since he came Minister and had to deal the constant fallout stemming from their appalling culture and abysmal budgetary, cost and other management performance (not to mention their media management). 

If he plays his anger right (with the Department and Defence Chiefs and publicly), we could see the makings of a great Defence Minister and a real contender for next leader of the ALP - along with Greg Combet who's ultimate (and equally as difficult) test will be to deliver a palatable Carbon Pricing package.

Recognition where it's due

A great article by Evan Morgan in today's Bulletin about local legend Brian Doolan - it affords him the position and space that he deserves and most importantly, it affords him the respect as an artist that he seems to have no trouble attracting in southern Europe but that has been a long time coming at home.

Source:  The Townsville Bulletin
Billy says it all really:
"The pride that came out of me when the respect was shown from halfway across the world ... I haven't experienced a lot of it here in Australia and to get it over there was amazing.
That my friends is one hell of an indictment of Townsville!!

And what a man - his plan to change a few Palm Island kids lives and world view by taking then with him on his next trip to Italy is fantastic and, I reckon, right on the money - I dearly hope it can be made to happen.

All-in-all, a much better effort than The Bulletin's last attempt to write about the man!  Worth a read.

The Non-visible Councillor Bell - Another Tool

Regular contributor Slim adds another to the Townsville's 'Bag of Tools'
I really can't recall the last time the ratepayers heard anything of any substance from the Non-visible Cr Deanne Bell. Well, other than outrageous travel and hospitality expenses. Every year.

Must be my recall facilities because surely the marvellous salaries we pay really bring out the best in our representatives, don't you agree?

The poor dear must be thinking she can get back the deputy dawg's spot if she can stick the boot into someone while David Crisafulli is focussing on Mundingburra and Dale Last is just looking for his next media opportunity.

So, who does she choose for targets in a newspaper article on 31 March but the city's landlords? Boom - one shot in the foot. But really it's a double barrell and a shot in the other foot as well - Boom. Landlords are ratepayers too, just like the most of the rest of us ratepayers.

Has this person actually got out of her office and had a look at the extreme drainage problems? In most cases caused by poor council planning decisions and poor council policies and requirements about stormwater.

We know we are having one of the wettest seasons on record and we know when we are being patronised and when arrogance shows its long nose and ugly face.

Has this person had a look at Deschamp Street; at McHardie Street; at Wotton Street; at Laura Court, just for a few examples - I have and I can see many houses abandoned for the duration of The Wet.

It's not such a bad idea to abandon your house and go and live with relatives in another state, for example, because the city is rapidly running out of land with reasonable drainage.

Nobody should be building houses on reclaimed swampland or river flats.

Here's an idea for the Councillor, if that's the best she can come up with to get herself noticed, it is time. It is time all right for her to go and live in another state and leave us to look after our residences in the best ways that we know.

The Townsville City Council is not capable.
Cheers, Slim.
So many tools you could open a workshop!!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Nuclear Japan #2

The Bully is late again!

After yesterday's post in response to The Townsville Bulletin's story about Base Backpackers trashing Maggie Island, I discovered that the story was in fact first brought to light by The Magnetic Times the day before.
Editing Note:  This piece originally claimed that The Bulletin plagiarised the Magnetic Times article,but following a call from Honest George at The 'Times and the readers comments below, I accept that both articles were written from the same release.  My apologies to the Bully on that score - I got it wrong.  But it cant be all mea culpa - The Times did break the story late after all!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Base Backpackers - Questions that need answers

It was good to see the local Maggie Island Tourism lobby (TOBMI - the tourism operators group you set up because Townsville Enterprise aren't doing their job) finally having something to say about one of the negative aspects of their industry (and I suspect an operator who isn't a member of TOBMI) - Base Backpackers' monthly Full Moon parties. See today's Bulletin article here.

Base Backpackers post-Yasi. 
Repairs were started but were far from
finished before the last full moon party
Now I've blogged before (here and here) about this Base Backpackers mob and in particular about the way they manage trash the unique and privileged absolute beach-front location that they occupy on Maggie,  but today's Bulletin article has prompted me to put together the following list of questions for the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation, Townsville City Council and the coppers:
  1. Was there any inspection of the Base Backpackers site post Cyclone Yasi and before they started booking guests in to ensure that the site was safe?

  2. Was there any inspection of the site prior last weekend's to ensure that it was safe?

  3. Were there any special restrictions placed on the numbers that could be admitted to that Full Moon party given that the venue is essentially a building site?

  4. Will there be any inspection of the repair work currently being undertaken on the site to verify that it meets all relevant standards?

  5. How is it that since their early days in Ko Pha Ngan, Full Moon parties have been synonymous with one thing - getting stoned and dancing - and yet since they started on the island I've seen the sniffer dogs once - town-side at the ferry terminal checking people before they came over? Goddamn it - even this old fella knows that it's the best place to score!

  6. Is it correct that the Full Moon Party Friday is the busiest night of the month for the local coppers?  Every month?
And finally, a question for The Bulletin:  Could it be that you left the second sentence (in red) of the quote from the Chair of TOBMI out of your piece because Sunferries are major advertisers while Base Backpackers buy virtually none?:

Sunferries (also major profiteers from the Parties) are surely part of the problem and I know damn well you'd be up them if they followed the same practices on the Palm Island run!
"No tourism benefits flow from this event. Mostly the participants are inebriated before they arrive.  They continue to drink on the ferry from Townsville because the cost of the liquor at the event." 

Monday, 21 March 2011

What price for a Ponce?

So Ponce WWW has been and gone.  Although I promised that I wouldn't waste time on him again, I just can't help it - particularly after reading The Magpie's fantastic potted 'history' of the wonderful world of the Windsors.

While for days I've mulled over the writing of a tirade about the sycophantic treatment of the Ponce's visit by all of the mainstream media, I've decided to keep it brief.

The things that I noticed:
  • His 30 minute stop in Townsville to change flights probably isn't going to bring a flood of tourists

  • His 1 hour stop in Cardwell must have been a real fizzer for the locals and the hundreds that drove up from Townsville for a gander

  • That almost to a man (snide joke), Editors sent female journos to cover the visit

  • All of the still and video pics we see of the Ponce are set-up to maximise the "thronging masses" effect - turning 20 into what could be thousands

  • Most of those we see in those pics are women who seem to either be there for a perv or because they are trying to convince their little girls that yes a prince charming will really come along and make their life idyllic

  • None of the pics I saw had a black face in them - none of the mob that I know in the Hinchinbrook were to be seen

  • The BBC's coverage of this part of the Ponce's pre-wedding profile enhancing visit to the top disaster spots in the Commonwealth was brief, included the necessary happy snaps of the type mentioned above and was interspersed with dramatic file footage of the worst Yasi's rubble - not exactly the idyllic "back-in-business" images the Ponce boosters have been banging on about for the last couple of weeks.
And finally - I also noticed that the Ponce flew into Townsville on a RAAF VIP Jet and then out again (after shaking Les' hand) in a convoy of 3 Black Hawks which took him in a couple of leisurely hops up to Cairns for a bit of a crack in the Casino and to pick up the VIP Jet again to take him down south to the other disaster highlights of his tour. 

Which of course got me thinking about the cost of all of this.  Now, apparently, a VIP Jet costs $28,000 an to tie one up for the Ponce's 5-day visit of Oz's disaster highlights would cost something like $3.36 million!

And then there's the cost of the 3 Black Hawks for a day, and all of the security guys you see in the background, the coppers who are controlling traffic, the forward party who came through to check for terrorist danger spots and good camera angles, the Council crews that where were out the day before trimming the hedges, Anna taking a couple of days off work to hold his hand, etc, etc,

So... let's say the Ponce's publicity tour cost us $5,000,000 (conservatively I'd guess).  Somehow, I don't think that the report I saw on the BBC is going to result in 1,840 poms deciding to come on their own tour of recent Oz disasters - staying for 27 nights and spending $2,717 each (the national average for international tourists).

However, I am quite sure that millions watching the meeja dribble in England will no doubt be seduced by the images of a kind and caring future ruler/saviour - just what you need in the lead up to once-in-a-lifetime souvenir sales opportunity.

The reality is folks - you and I have just been milked (as has always been the way of the Windsors) in order lift the Ponce's profile (and pre-wedding souvenir sales) back home.

Postscript:  The Times has no mention of the Ponce or his Queensland visit on their site's front page and have aparently only published 4 stories about it in the last 7 days while The Sun (who make their money out of the celebrity con) has only published two!

Nuclear Japan

ByKap, Cagle Cartoons, Spain

The Townsville Bulletin - Murdoch's very own digital kamikaze?

(Too) Much has been written about the likely success of Murdoch's plans to turn his newspapers into online earners and I have to admit that for some time I've been meaning to add to that debate with some pithy localised comment like "the Townsville Bulletin can't even get people to buy it's hard copy edition - why would they buy its crap in digitalised form?"

But today comes the clincher.  The New York Times has announced its digital pricing strategy and it's gonna cost you just $15.05 (AUD) a month to read one of the most prestigious rags in the world over your breakfast. 

But, if you're still hungry for real news after reading the product of over 600 journalists and some of the best commentators in the world, you can also purchase a digital copy of our very own Townsville Bulletin for a measly $30 a month!!

Either the Bully's local management is just plain commercially stupid (we have written about that quite a bit - 97 times in fact - as of course does former 'insider' The Magpie) or Murdoch is setting them up to see just how quickly a paper can die in the digital age.

My guess is that it's the former.

Postscript: Should the Bully wake up and drop their digital prices anytime in the next year or so, I of course will take full credit :-)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Prince, Ponce or profiteer?

Ponce W.W.W. 
I wasn't going to post about Ponce Windsor Willy of Wales' (WWW) visit to this year's disaster spots in the white parts of the world, including of course our own North Queensland.  I didn't really want to draw any more attention to the bludger than he's already getting

But having to explain to my 15 and 12 year old who exactly The Ponce is, why anyone would care and whether anyone does in fact care, has lead to this.

While no doubt a few octogenarians will get a kick out of it, I can't help but think that the Ponce's visit is, in fact, nothing more that the royal souvenir industry's equivalent to the movie, book and music industry's pre-release publicity tour.

The reality is:
  1. the Ponce is getting married some time soon (I have no idea when but that is irrelevant to the argument)
  2. the Family finances aren't real flash and there's talk of cutting their tithe
  3. that wedding is gonna be expensive
  4. the Family is also coping heaps at home from the peasants as they get screwed by the new Tory Government
So......Souvenir sales in lead-up to the wedding are critical to The Family
So......Blanket coverage across the white world of the Ponce communing with the huddled masses has to be good for sales.

Of course, apologists like those journalists and politicians who cream themselves at the thought of getting a gig with a Ponce will tell us that it will help our tourism industry by letting the world know that North Queensland was open for business.

When was the last time you watched the evening news, saw some Ponce eating sausages in the rubble of a disaster zone and thought "I must book my next holiday to that place tomorrow"?

If you happen to see him while he's out and about - tell him to go home and get a real job.

Is this worthy of the Front Page? Actually, is this a story at all?

So let me get this right...

A punter calls the Townsville Bulletin to complain that her daughter is going to get kicked out of school because she wears a few studs to hide scaring on her ear.

Realising there's no chance of a classifieds sale here, the switch puts her through journalist Alexix Gillham who immediately spots a bit of a human interest story.

Being the true Murdoch professional that she is, Gillham checks the story out.  She discovers that:
  1. The kid isn't getting kicked out of school
  2. The school has a long established uniform policy which includes rules about jewelry
  3. That policy is based on sound health and safety logic.  That's, HEALTH and SAFETY
  4. The Parent and the kid both signed their acceptance of the policy on enrolment
Seeing the conflict (and even the human interest) draining from the story, Gillam goes back to the Mum in an attempt to bring the dying story back to life:  ..."teachers at the school had far more piercings than her daughter"  - avoiding the fact that everywhere in life there are (necessarily) different rules and different HEALTH and SAFETY concerns for kids and adults.

As for the pun headline, "Lobal warfare" - it's as p*ssweak as the story itself

For the record:  My daughter attends Pimlico.  We both think it's a great school.  She'd love to wear more jewlry too but, hey, we both signed the policy.

Monday, 14 March 2011

RIP Owsley "Bear" Stanley

If you don't know who "The Bear" is, you're either are too young or you had too much of his product in the 60's!

Think "Purple Haze" and listen to The Master's tribute to the man who help change the world's consciousness (or at least a generations'), inspire some many of rock-n-roll's greatest, and was largely responsible for the Wall of Sound:

Ah! - the olden days.

See also The Bear's self-penned biographical notes or browse through his essays.  If you're too lazy but still want more, his wikipedia page is here and the San Francisco Chronicle has a good article from 2007

Thursday, 3 March 2011

It's all about what's not said

Did you happen to see the piece on Palm Island artist Billy Doolan on the 7:30 report?  If not, it is well worth a look and Billy is certainly deserving of the national attention and recognition given the quality of his work and growing international reputation . (Transcript and video here).

Watching it reminded me of an unfinished post which I'd started in response to a Townsville Bulletin article on Billy back on 17 Feb. While that article also gave Billy local attention and recognition, at the time it annoyed me that the Bully tagged Billy as a "Townsville Artist" where of course he is a Palm Island man and that the article was run well back into the paper and not (for example) headlined in the weekly Arts Section. 

There was also something very familiar about the paper's pic of Billy which I couldn't put my finger on - until I found this piece by Chris Johnson in The Age.  As soon as I read there that Billy had been a resident of Happy Valley (for non-locals, Townsville's equivalent to a "fringe camp" or "town camp") the penny dropped.

I had met Billy at Happy Valley a number of years ago.  I now clearly remembered him as a strong and proud man, a leader - far from the image of Happy Valley itinerants and drunks that The Bulletin (among many others) are so fond of betraying.

And of course, while effectively regurgitating The Age article published 47 days beforehand, the Bully managed to exclude (airbrush) any reference to Billy's association with the Valley.  After all, we wouldn't want people to get the wrong idea about that mob would we?

Their attempt to appropriate Billy as a "Townsville Artist" (that is, one of our own) became all the more annoying when I read that Billy has been living in Melbourne for half of each of the last eight years (he's clearly a smart businessman too).

Oh - and I also discovered that Billy is in fact a "major Queensland artist" - certainly worthy of more than a throw-away piece in the local rag of the town that likes to claim him as their own.

While not really surprised by The Bully's approach, I have been particularly annoyed by what appears to me to be the complete ignoring of Billy Doolan and his international standing by the arts establishment in this town - and believe me there is one.  Search the Bulletin's site for "chamber music" and you'll get 67 results.  Search Billy's name and you get just one.

Say no more

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

He's done it again

This is getting to be a habit - The Big Ewe has just been warned again by the Speaker!

I bet that at school he was one of those want-to-be's who shouted insults from behind the real bullies

There's something fishy in Townsville's water

Click to open full-size
Today's report in The Townsville Bulletin on the federal Government's response to Townsville City Council's request for clarification about it's powers to change local water pricing answers one question but raises some serious others.

Clearly from the federal Department's response (right), that power rests with the Council.

Equally clear but far more revealing, the Council has failed (consistently since 30 June last year) to meet federal guideline requirements for them to submit a pricing implementation plan.  Of course, why TCC failed to submit their plan is totally unclear.

The other thing that is very unclear to me is why exactly the CEO of a Council would write to an Assistant Secretary over a matter of some significant financial and political import. 

These days, Assistant Secretaries are between 4 and 6 on Departmental food chains. So why would a CEO write to No.4 in the opposite structure?

Would Clive Palmer write to a TCC Exec Manager (No.3 in the food chain) to get an issue resolved? I don't think so!  In fact, given that Palmer is Owner and Chairman of the Board, he would write to his opposite number, the Minister - just as Mayor Les should have!

Or perhaps they were hoping for some wriggle room in the response they would get from some clerk down the pecking order?

All-in-all, a big c*ck-up and a very fishy tactic in response if you ask me.  It will be interesting to see how fast the want-to-be Member for Mundigburra, David Crisafulli, and the want-to-be Mayor, Dale Last, run away and hide from this one!!

Jenny Hill has her own questions too.  I reproduce her Press Release below because I don't expect it to get a run in the Bully:

The letter from the Assistant Secretary of Urban Water regarding Townsville City Council request for water pricing changes should raise the eyebrows of every rate payer in this city.

If this letter is correct and I have no reason to doubt its content then the Director of Water Ken Diehm, the CEO, the Mayor, his Deputy, and other councillors involved need to be accountable for the deception they have perpetrated against residents of this city.

It clearly shows (see second paragraph of letter attached) council failed to supply any information to the Federal Government on how it would charge for water as per the agreement. "The government can not tell council what to do or how it can charge because council failed to provide the required information to the Federal Government." Cr Hill said.

The questions that need to be asked is

1. Why didn’t council staff prepare a full report on water pricing options and discuss it with the Federal Government as per the agreement? What was the direction given by the CEO regarding this matter?

2. What did the mayor and deputy mayor know?

3. Was the pricing structure implemented more about revenue to pay our massive $400 million rather than complying with the agreement with the Federal Government?

4. Why weren’t council staff directed to look at charging methods and options and prepare a report to council on these options?

"We are paying our CEO and some of our directors more than the Prime Minister, hence not only myself but the community deserves better than the trite we have been dished that ,Its the Federal Governments fault. The Mayor needs to stay home and work this out, travelling to Canberra isn't the answer."

There is nothing in National Water Initiative pricing principles that states council had to implement the current tariff and methodolgy to its water and wastewater pricing.

No it’s not the state government, its not the Federal Government, Council determines its own fate in these matters. We have borrowed too much and now the only way this council can manage its massive $400million debt is to hike its rates and water/wastewater charges to the point that they are pricing people out of this city.


Another Big Day Out for The Big Ewe

I see that the Big Ewe made yet more contributions of note in our national Parliament yesterday:
And just to confirm, The Ewe got an additional mention yesterday - a warning from the Speaker during the Suspension of Standing Orders debate:


Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Well, well, well

Tomorrow's frontpage of the Bully:

I could say "I told you so" but rather why not another prediction instead?:

The next major sporting flop in North Queensland will be the V8's
And as Rate Payer of West End posted in The Bully's comments at 3:36pm today:
"What happens to the TCC's $1M guarantee then????"

The Big Ewe's latest contribution is....

I don't really know, but I do know that the Speaker's response in Question Time today was "The Member for Herbert is warned"

Slim's Pickens: BOM V GOD and another somewhat well-known Queensland tool

In follow-up to his earlier comment, regular contributor, Slim writes:

Staying with the parliamentary performance theme could provide some revelations about the fading career of one who is far less "representative"; a line you may recall in relation to 'swill' and Keating.
John Quiggin has been amused by events during recent Senate Estimates hearings: Perhaps I am more saddened by the discovery of another parliamentary tool, but the religious tool nearly made it all worthwhile.

"The idea that the Bureau of Meteorology is part of a global conspiracy to destroy Australia’s economy impose communist world government (or in some more prosaic versions, to increase itsfunding[1]) sounds like the basis of a bad comedy sketch. But, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, this claim is put forward, in apparent seriousness, by numerous anti-science advocates in Australia (Andrew Bolt, Jennifer Marohasy, and Warwick Hughes are leading examples) and implicily accepted by many others....

Back in October last year, the Senate’s Environment and Communications Legislation Committee agreed to table a letter from Cardinal Pell which quoted heavily from Heaven and Earth to claim there were “good reasons for doubting that carbon dioxide causes warmer temperatures”.

The Director of the Bureau of Meteorology Dr Greg Ayers has now responded at an estimates hearing, demolishing Plimer’s bogus claims and pointing to numerous scathing reviews of his trashy and dishonest book. Ayers is great value, but the real fun in reading the Hansard transcript comes from the frantic attempts of Senators MacDonald and Boswell to stop him talking...
It’s great to see the Bureau taking a leading role in the defence of science. Sadly, some of those who should be speaking out, most notably the Australian Academy of Science, have been missing in action. ...

It’s also amusing to see leading figures on the political right like Pell, McDonald and Boswell expose themselves as gullible fools, along with most of the rightwing commentariat. While not everyone on the right thinks this way (as witness Turnbull’s near-victory over Abbott a year or so ago), the number willing to raise their voices in defence of science remains tiny.

Footnote1. Advocates of the conspiracy theory tend to shift between global communist and grant-grubbing theories, in a manner reminiscent of the (possibly apocryphal) Tasmanian politician who promised voters that, if they supported Federation they would build a glorious new nation under the Southern Cross and get higher prices for their apples."
Quiggin's description of Senator Ian Macdonald as a leading figure of the political right is laughable, of course. But what is hilarious is the Hansard Report between pages 104 and 109.

Cheers, Slim

See also Tim Lambert and Graham Readfearn

Of intelligent policy contributions and short memories

I see that Member for Herbert, Ewen Jones, has made it another incisive contribution to the national debate on climate change!

Although Hansard doesn't record his actual words, you would like to think that he was perhaps interjecting with some new data on the rate of melting in the arctic permafrost or a science-based solution to the projected death of the Great Barrier Reef within the next 20 to 40 years.

To be fair, The Big Ewe did make one contribution of some substance during his day in the big house yesterday.  His speech on Warren Entsch's motion on the "Loss of the Malu Sara" was, at times, considered and compassionate.  Though, it is a bit of a pity that his only acknowledgement that the five deaths that is the "Loss of the Malu Sara" happened under the former conservative Government's watch was this little line:
"I do not excuse the Howard government for their role here, but..."
By applying the same logic used by Tony Abbott to vilify Peter Garrett over the deaths of pink-batt insulation installers employed by shoddy contractors, surely the least the Big Ewe could have done was clearly acknowledge that the Howard government was responsible for the deaths of Wilfred Baira, Ted Harry, Valorie Faub, Flora Enosa and her daughter Ethena! Or maybe even apologise for his Party's culpability?

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Ewen Jones: "The Townsville Tool" or just an idiot?

Slim writes in follow-up to my earlier post about The Big Ewe's contribution to the national debate and to creating a viable and sustainable policy framework for the our future
A different type of 'substantial contribution' may not make it into local print media.

On the Crikey web site on 23 February in a
report by Bernard Keane (behind their subscriber paywall) about Li'l Bil) Shorten's parliamentary performance the last three paragraphs of the report give a rather sad insight into the parliamentary performance of the Member for Herbert, Ewen Jones -
"It’s only early in the parliamentary year but a low point was plumbed right at the end of question time when Kevin Rudd rose to discuss the Middle East and, in particular, Libya, revealing the Libyan ambassador had been called in for a dressing down and that he’d spoken to the Bahraini foreign minister about the killing of protesters there.

This was, plainly, a matter of complete non-interest to a number of Coalition MPs who used the answer to offer doubtless witty advice to Rudd. Peter Dutton and Greg Hunt both heckled and interjected. And sitting up in the back corner, Queensland MP Ewen Jones spent the entire answer jeering and laughing as Rudd discussed Middle East protests, the slaughter of demonstrators and the presence of Australians in Libya.

What a representative of the citizens of the greater Townsville region!

Note to Slim: what exactly is the difference between identifying him as a 'tool' rather than as an (my preferred) idiot?  Both are equally dangerous aren't they?

Mind you, "The Townsville Tool" (or even better the "Tool of Townsville") has a certain ring to it.  But then, "Idiot" is a lot more to the point and "Schoolyard Idiot" would be even more descriptive....

Libya. Viva la Revolution!

Yet again, Mr Fish gets it in one:

There's important news and then there's REALLY important news

Just in on my RSS Reader. 
Ah!, priorities.

Ewen Jones - talking sense for Townsville

Parliament is sitting again, giving local representative, The Big Ewe, his chance to again contribute to the national debate and make his mark on the country's policy directions and priorities.

Checking for The Ewe's contribution so far this sitting, I was particularly taken by his first entry in Hansard for 23 Feb 2011:

To be fair, The Ewe also made some more substantial contributions yesterday:  There's a nice little suck-up to one of The Ewe's major sponsors, The Townsville Bulletin, and we learn that the Federal Flood Levy will be result in the death of charity in Australia

Perhaps today he'll get to turn his mind to more mundane issues like this prediction out today that the world's reefs (including North Queensland's pre-eminent economic and natural asset, the GBR) will be dead within 40 years - that is, by the time his kids are about as old as he is today.  We'll see.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The end of the bookstore (as we know it)?

Makes you wonder hey?

...and the coppers get it very wrong

'Poof' goes that warm and fuzzy feeling from my last post:
Quigley attacks WA police commisioner  By Josh Jerga, AAP, February 17, 2011 - 3:49PM

Western Australia's shadow attorney-general John Quigley has launched a blistering attack on the state's police commissioner for distributing what he calls "a litany of lies".

In state parliament, Mr Quigley criticised the role of Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan in "vilifying" an Aboriginal man who was tasered up to 41 times in a week by police and corrective services officers.

The behaviour of officers in arresting Kevin Spratt and his treatment at Perth lock-up was the subject of a Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) inquiry in December.

Mr Spratt's treatment came to light when a video was released last year of police tasering him 14 times while in custody at Perth Watchhouse on August 31, 2008.

Following the release of initial video, which pixellated Mr Spratt's face, WA police issued a flow chart to media outlining the events leading up his tasering and involvement with police, including charges previously brought against him.

Mr Quigley told parliament that when examined against police documents and evidence before the CCC, the flow chart was a "litany of lies".

He called on the government to get to the bottom of the creation of the document, which he said was compiled by the WA police internal affairs unit.

"What discussion (did they have) with Commissioner O'Callaghan and Deputy Commissioner (Chris) Dawson before they so willingly went out into a press conference selling these lies to the public of WA to vilify Kevin Spratt?" Mr Quigley told parliament.

"It is beyond imagination as to why they did it ... but it's got to mark them down as the worst commissioner and deputy commissioner in Australia by their conduct."

Mr Quigley told parliament Mr Spratt had complained to Mr O'Callaghan about his alleged vilification, but was told via a letter in October that police did not identify him.

He said that following the press conference in which Mr O'Callaghan released the flow chart, a Seven Network TV news crew went to the home of Mr Spratt's parents, who told them he was at work.

"The commissioner of police would want us to believe this eye-wash, that there was no communication with Channel Seven of the address or person ... that's just a lie," he said.

Mr Quigley said the flow chart stated Mr Spratt had acted violently and obstructed police at Perth lock-up before being tasered, and as a result had been charged over that behaviour.

However the CCC hearing in December was told Mr Spratt had not been violent and had been convicted on the basis of a misleading statement of facts.

"There's a day of reckoning coming," Mr Quigley said. on
Now, that's much more familiar behaviour from the coppers

The coppers get it right

News just in from the 7 News site:

Police officer sacked over alleged Indigenous alcohol breach  Kim Lyell, ABC February 17, 2011, 2:42 pm
A central Queensland policeman has been sacked over allegations he took alcohol into a 'dry' Aboriginal community.

The Queensland Police Service says a 44-year-old senior sergeant from the central region has been dismissed.

It has issued a statement saying the dismissal followed allegations he transferred an "excessive" amount of alcohol into a community subject to restrictions.  More...
It might not exactly balance the ledger but a damn good response (and a damn good message) I reckon

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Barney Joyce is an idiot - the proof

News from the Courier Mail this morning that Barney Joyce, representative of the man on the land and all things rural and agricultural "has written off an $80,000 taxpayer-funded four-wheel-drive after trying to drive through a swollen creek before Christmas."

This of course is the same idiotic practice that resulted in the deaths of quite a number of people in the lead-up to and during the Queensland floods.

Joyce's excuse?  "There was no flood indicator, the road was not closed and there was a sign saying ''drive slowly." 

In other words, "It wasn't my fault it is the fault of whichever Government is responsible for road signs."  Clearly the man is totally reliant on the nanny state to tell him what to do and what not to do and what is safe and what is not.

Despite not being in his familiar home patch (the incident happened in Burren Creek, in northern NSW) he failed the most basic farmers' test when confronted with a swollen creek - get out, roll your pants up (only if you're gentry, not a working farmer) and wade in to check the depth and strength of the flow.

Not only is this proof of what we've long known in our hearts (that the man is an goose), it also demonstrates that, while he might be a member of the Nationals, he isn't really OF the land.  Dare I say, it also shows him to be a bad example to little children, grey nomads and young ute owners.

Given his stupidity, I wonder if he has to pay the excess on the car insurance ?

Update: Just to highlight my point further, the Murdoch News site reports that he was actually driving through country very familiar to him - making him an even bigger idiot.  They also report that "... he said he didn't feel threatened by the flooded creek which was "more like a lagoon than a raging torrent" - a bit like a 19-year old ute driver who thinks he's infallible - making him a 44-year old idiot!

Update #2: Could it be - a Queenslander who is even more of an idiot that Barney?  While I feel sorry for this guy and his family, why would you use petrol to start a fire (he clearly was never a Boy Scout) and, if you did, why exactly would you choose stand next to the fire with the petrol can by your side?  And just like Barney, this idiot's family figure it's all the fault of Government

Monday, 14 February 2011

Cut everybody's welfare (but not mine)

It's good to see that the Business Council is acting according to script.  The ABC reports today that the BC (an appropriate abbreviation really) is calling for cuts to disability pensions and oversees aid to fund disaster recovery.  Of course no suggestion of any cuts to business welfare:
The Business Council says cuts to disability services and foreign aid should be considered as alternatives to the flood levy. its pre-budget submission, the Business Council, which represents Australia's top 100 companies, says the government should instead press ahead with returning the budget to surplus through short-term spending discipline.

Council president Graham Bradley says all current spending should be reviewed and disability pensions may not be the best use of government money.
Read on and you'll even find the word "incentivised".  Now I haven't heard that one for a while!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Stupid rich people do it in Adelaide too

Just to show that it's not just stupid rich people in Queensland who build homes in stupid places (and stupid planning authorities that let them), there's this from the Adelaide Advertiser's site  about the foothill slopes of the Mt Lofty Ranges behind Adelaide - a city where any property on elevated land is worth a absolute motsa:
Creek dams won't protect 3500 homes from floods
MORE than 3500 homes would be flooded in a 1-in-100 year downpour, even if two dams were built on Brown Hill Creek, a new report has revealed.

The report has reignited tensions between five local councils struggling to strike an accord to protect local homes from flooding along Brown Hill and Keswick creeks, the Hills & Valley Messenger has revealed.

With the April 30 deadline looming for the councils to reach a consensus, Mitcham Mayor Michael Picton has admitted it is unlikely the date will be met.

“It’s unacceptable to have so many properties without protection after over $100 million is being spent,” he said.

A draft report to review a 2006 master plan on flood management along the creeks was recently released by engineering company WorleyParsons.

It states 3500 homes in the lower reaches of Brown Hill and Keswick creeks would be flooded - even if the recommendations in the 2006 plan, including building two concrete detention basins in Brown Hill Creek, were implemented.
Forget about storm and tempest - God protect us from Local Governments and planning authorities!

ET brought a lemon - Stupid rich people and that Cyclone

Stupid rich people's toys.
Port Hinchinbrook post Cyclone Yasi
Most of my posts about Cyclone Yasi (and the SE Qld flood for that matter) have at some point discussed stupid rich people buying or building houses in stupid places (like foreshore sand dunes).

There is no better example of this apparently universal malaise (so energetically supported by planning authorities) than Port Hinchinbook just south of Cardwell.  If you're interested in stupid rich people getting sucked in by property developers to build in stupid places have a read of Critics predicted damage to Port Hinchinbrook by Matthew Moore and Tom Reilly at the SMH but note, their piece doesn't even begin to touch on the graft and corruption that enabled Williams to develop the Port Hinchinbrook site (think Jo and the White Shoe Brigade).

And if you need an example of how stupid stupid rich people really can be, check out this little report from the Nine News site on Andrew Ettingshausen's plans to return to Port Hinchinbrook.  Of course, no mention that he really doesn't have much choice given that he failed to sell his property in 2009 and that it would have been failing in value ever since (and would now be even more unsaleable).

The Townsville Bulletin and Magnetic Island. Again!

I hate to harp on about this, but this morning's Townville Bulletin has done it again. 

Their 32-page "Wrath of a monster" pictorial supplement (not available online) includes some 118 great pics and not a single one of them relate to Magnetic Island!!.

If you are interested in the Island (or not) DON'T visit The Bully's online galleries as it only encourages them - rather, check out these great island pics in The Magnetic Times or even those in my earlier Yasi posts here and here

The young people are revolting and their revolution is live

One of the interesting things about being largely isolated from the world and self-absorbed in the priorities of getting power, water and food during and immediately after Cyclone Yasi, was hearing snippets of information about the people's revolution in Egypt.

This morning our time, Mubarak as essentially given the people of Egypt the finger by installing his vice-president to "lead" the nation.

I suspect that today the real revolution starts in Egypt. 

Image: Tahrir square crowds, Feb. 11, 2011. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Watching all of this unfold this morning reminded me of the fantastic Gil Scott-Heron track The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.  Written for an earlier young people's revolution, it still hits the mark.  (I'd also argue as others have that Scott-Heron was one of the originators of rap and hip hop, or street poetry as it use to be known)

I love it when young people are revolting - after all, it is they who create change, not self-interested old men like Mubarak.  However, we know from previous revolutions large and small that, without a clear idea of and manifesto for the change you want to create, the revolution will be unlikely to achieve it's potential, let alone its objectives.

I fear the young people of Egypt aren't organised in this way and as such their organic revolution will either flounder or, in the long-run, result in a worse than status-quo outcome. 

I hope I'm wrong.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Finally, some great coverage about Cyclone Yasi's impact on Magnetic Island

At last, someone has filled the gaping hole in the mainstream media's coverage of the impact of Cyclone Yasi in this region and on Maggie Island in partcular.

The Magnetic Times has again delivered what The Bulletin and many others have failed to even acknowledge.  It's a great read with some fantastic pics including the one below.  Read it here

The Painic Bay Jetty walkway
Source:  The Magnetic TimesPhoto:  George Hirst

Yasi repair priorities

The Erosion Patrol article in today's Townsville Bulletin about repairing the city's beaches says heaps about both the Bulletin's ability to critically appraise the spin that comes out of Council and Council's priority setting for its Yasi clean-up efforts.

From the article we learn that:
  • Rich idiots built/brought a house on a foreshore sanddune in the city's northern beaches
  • The sea persistantly tries to reclaim it's dune
  • Nobody is responsible for approving the developments or choosing to live in them
  • All taxpayers are responsible for restoring these front yards (and property values)
You'd also assume that, after the Strand, these were the only beaches damaged by Yasi's storm surge.  Mayor Tyrell (or should that be Mayor-in-wanting, the very quiet Dale Last) and the Bulletin would be much better informed if they actually visited that other suburb, Magnetic Island.  If they did they'd see damage like this on the Nelly Bay foreshore:

By my reckoning, this part of Nelly Bay has lost about 15 metres of beachfront!
I would have thought that Tyrell or Last would have worked out by now that:
  1. Magnetic Island is Townsville's prime tourism asset and as such produce an economic benefit for the whole city,
  2. Part of the Island's sales pitch is it's 23 beaches,
  3. Beachfront mansions in Bushland Beach are of no productive benefit to the city or its economy
Naive me! 

I also learn in the Bully's hardcopy that Mayor Les has actually flown over the Island in a helicopter.  I wish I'd known - I'd have given him the finger back

Footnote:  I should also point out that, while the damage in the pics was caused by Yasi's storm surge, the reason for the damage is the reshaping of the Bay when the western end was blow-up, bulldozed and filled-in to make the Nelly Bay Harbour which you can just see the beginning of in the bottom two pics.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

What I learnt from Cyclone Yasi

While Yasi's winds here were equivalent to a severe Category 2 or weak Cat. 3 cyclone there are some useful things I learnt (or were reminded of) for next time:

  1. The wind follows the land - the gullies and valleys - just as fires and flash floods do

  2. Get a manual coffee grinder

  3. Solar houses don't have to wait for the power to come on

  4. Get an alternative mobile phone charger - car, solar, wind-up, whatever

  5. A surprising number of people build stupid houses in stupid places

  6. Building on or immediately behind the foreshore dune is dumb - it's a sand dune for god's sake! It has a purpose - to move, to replenish the beach! 

  7. The ONLY media that works/adds value in a crisis is local ABC radio and a battery powered receiver - it must be defended at all costs

  8. There is no such thing as too much duct tape

  9. Don't assume that because there's a cyclone, it's gonna rain - fill the bath all the way.

  10. Emergency alert text messages are great - if you have a mobile

  11. Charge the camera beforehand - taking pics on the mobile chews up battery time

  12. Tell everyone beforehand to only text you and not to ring

  13. Get more ice beforehand, fill the fridge up with it (unless you have a solar house of course)

  14. The Internet is invaluable until you lose power - but only because in enables you to track the cyclone closely. 

  15. News sites are hopeless and facebook is downright dangerous in the hands of a teenager who cant discern rumour from fact or possibility from probability.

  16. Print media is useless unless they can can get an edition out before the power comes on

  17. The BOM site is fantastic but I suspect most people don't know how to read the forecast maps

  18. Most people have no idea of the country on which they live or how it works

  19. Most people (and journalists) have no appreciation of the geography of Queensland

  20. Don't wait for the last minute to buy your beer supply and when you do don't forget to get extra for all of those chats with the neighbours after

  21. Always be nice to the Ergon and CityWater guys - they are worth their weight in beer at the very least.  They do an amazing job in appalling conditions
And finally, when everyone is locked down and until the storm passes, you are starkly reminded that ultimately in this world, you are on your own baby.

What is it with The Townsville Bulletin and Magnetic Island?

The Bully (like much of Townsville) has a funny relationship with Magnetic Island, just 3km off the coast and closer to the CBD than most suburbs in the town. 

Their coverage of Cyclone Yasi's impact on the Island since their first edition on Friday has been woeful and amazingly, they haven't even bothered to send a photographer over to capture the impact on the region's major tourism asset.  Then of course, the probably haven't sent one over for the last 6 months either.

But they are determined to make good - in their own inimitable style of course.  They've put Mary Vernon's phone pics up in a gallery (including one of her street number for some reason?) and Maggie actually made front page today!  And a humdinger it is too!  "They've all gone batty" is the witty little editor's effort to headline a story about a guy drinking at the Picnic Bay pub who got bitten by a fruit bat - no doubt because he tried to handle it or was so p*ssed that he fell or walked into it.

Don't bother following the link to read the story as it only encourages them, but to summarise, the innuendo is that Islanders are about to get raped and pillaged by marauding bats whose roosts and food trees have been destroyed or stripped.

Of course, I suspect that the real reason they ran the story (other than a rabid bat scare always sells up here for some reason) was that they finally had a professional Maggie pic (slightly p*ssed man with bandage against a lovely blue backgound) without having to send the photographer to the Island.

As I will expand on in a separate post at some stage, in a natural disaster the print media are a waste of space (as is social media pretty much). 

It's just that, with the exception of their first post cyclone edition which consisted almost entirely of pictures, The Bully is a waste of space most of the other time as well.

Cyclone Yasi hits Magnetic Island - the pics

A week after Yasi started getting serious, the Island is slowly being cleaned up.  For those who have enquired, here are my phone pics of the aftermath. (Not to self: Next time don't use your precious mobile charge to take pics!)
Picnic Bay after Yasi - looking more like the after effects of a super-drought or bushfire

Yasi's cruelest damage.  Picnic Bay Jetty, so familiar to all of those generations who's ferry trip to the Island started and ended with a walk down the Jetty.  If we are lucky, Council and the Port Authority will leave us with maybe half.  If we are really lucky they will cut off it's 'head'.  Given neither authority wants the burden of maintaining it, there is a real danger of losing it altogether

Picnic Bay - one street back from the foreshore. One old paperbark down
and the rest stripped of leaves and bark. Their trunks appear bright orange/pink the morning after.

Yule St Picnic Bay

Trees stripped bare on the Picnic Bay Golf Course

Our Place - Before and after the initial clean-up

Our Nelly Bay house - on the way home from the beach
on the morning after

Bob's Nelly Bay BBQ - the site of many a Sunday lunch, kids birthday
 and meeting of the right wing of the Townsville ALP

Almost high tide on the morning after.
Storm surge damage on the road to X Base and Picnic Bay

After the storm surge and high tide. 50cm of sand on the road to Picnic Bay

Lost!  The morning after and this Black Cocky (Red Tail) let me get within a metre.
The island flock seem to have got separated during the storm and spend a couple
of days after looking for each other.  The 10-12 strong flock seems to be back together again.

Nelly Bay Harbour.  The little boxes of ticky tacky survived but not their sales pitch

Nelly Bay Harbour.  Hard to see, but some people don't know how to tie up their boat.
But Johnny Elliton does - his recently launched, home built trimaran didn't move an inch

Hoop Pine down on the Picnic-Arcadia hill

Geoffrey Bay foreshore

High Tide Horseshoe Bay the morning after

Horseshoe Bay looking West - The storm surge was hours earlier
Horseshoe Bay looking West a few days later

Horseshoe Bay looking East towards the shops

Horseshoe Bay after the road was opened