Sunday, July 23, 2017


Townsville  Bulletin  torpedoed  with   extreme   loss  of  credibility . 

In  another major  waterfront battle , the Townsville Murdoch   paper recently  called  in  the   mighty U.S. Navy  in  an attempt to  blow  out   of  the water  yet  another group exercising their   democratic  right  to object to a project which will  affect   Magnetic Island   and  the   Great Barrier Reef ... dredging   the  Port of  Townsville to enable it to take bigger  vessels.

 In  doing  so , the  paper, claiming to be YOUR VOICE IN THE NORTH , despite a track  record of  belittling   organisations, groups or  individual  having  a contrary view to alleged  lucrative , you  beaut  projects like  Adani  ,  made  modern  American  naval commanders  appear to be  timid  compared  to  their   brave  WW11 counterparts .
On P4 of the Bulletin on July 18  was  a story headed  US NAVY VESSELS  HESITANT TO BERTH.  It  claimed   two  US Navy ships  "are refusing to  dock at   Port Townsville ."   Why ? Because , according to the report, the channel is too narrow , sparking concerns for the  future of tourism  and the defence gateway .
However, the  story muddied   somewhat as you read on ...Appearing to have inside  info , a leak perhaps ,  the Bulletin said it " understands" the  captains of the two supply ships  Charles Drew  and  Richard E.Byrd , were "too uncomfortable "   to   come  alongside , one of them anchored  instead  off  Magnetic Island .  
But what was the meaning of  this puzzling following   paragraph:  The supply logistics vessels entered the  port earlier  this  month .   This could be interpreted that there was  no problem  in  respect of  the channel on that occasion . Yeah,  but no, but yes .
This  situation  (  whatever  it  is ) , said  the paper , came a month after the State government  committed  $75million  to widen the channel, work that would be completed by 2022.
The Port chief  executive officer  Ranee Crosby   was  quoted as  saying     there had  been  berthing  applications for the  Richard E. Byrd , but   they  had been cancelled ..." Feedback we received was  the  width  of  the channel leading into the port was  considered very narrow  and  the captain preferred  to  anchor  and use  tender  equipment . "  On and on went the  report , the Department of Defence  not  making  any  comment .   
Naturally, the Bulletin ran an  associated  editorial broadside  under the heading US NAVY  PUTS  PORT SHORTFALL IN SHARP FOCUS, in which it was claimed the situation (if it really existed ) was  no less than an embarrassment  on the world stage for Townsville,  needing to be rectified as  soon as  possible  . The dredge spoil would be moved   to land   and the Great Barrier Reef   would not be affected, it  thundered . 
Furthermore , there was  a cartoon  showing a  defence vessel  named  ECONOMIC BOOST  blocked from entering the  port , some  gob  on  the bow  wanting  to know how much longer he had  to wait before he could  come alongside and get into the  rum and Coca Cola with the local girls, throw his  dollars about, feed the  widespread   cargo  cult   reporting  in Queensland papers in respect  of cruise and visiting  military ships .

 This   coverage  was  clearly designed to  bombard   into submission  those   persons , especially on Magnetic Island , already belittled  as noisy ,  and outspoken , in  a  previous  report.
But no . Out of the  media  smokescreen thrown  up  about   Townsville on many issues  , bearing  down on the  Bulletin  like  the  famous  WWll  battleship  USS Missouri  came  Magnetic Island  respected resident, H.O. "Charlie" McColl ,  with a very slight Viking connection ,  who  fired  a  letter at  the editor,  which  clearly  sank   the  paper.  It was  run by the  Bulletin with a  photograph of  the aircraft carrier  USS Boxer  in Townsville   bearing the high explosive  caption : No Issues.    Which  seems to completely   destroy  the  original  Bulletin  story and cartoon .  Nevertheless , the  paper  went  for a  confrontational heading  on  the  letter , DREDGING  UP  DIVISION, which  read :
The commanders of  the USNS ships  Charlie E. Byrd  and Charles Drew  who are said  to be "uncomfortable " about berthing at the Port of Townsville must be  cut  from  different cloth   from  their forebears.
Their  210m long Lewis and Clarke-class  supply ships, fitted  with bow  thrusters  and  assisted  by  tugs, are babies  compared with  some of the regular  port users .
For instance our oft-seen HMAS  Canberra and   Adelaide (230m) are in and out in a flash (if their engines are functioning  properly( ahem !) and  the mighty  USS Boxer  (257m) docked here for a  high time in 2005  with  no mention  of channel safety  issues.
It makes me wonder whether the managers of the port are cynically misusing   a contrived situation  to create a false  sense of inadequacy in the port at a critical moment  in the development  approval process? Remember the port expansion project requires years of  destructive  dredging  and reclamation (i.e. long term turbidity  and sedimentation of  World Heritage Cleveland Bay ) but also  thousands of  truck journeys through the  streets of Townsville  bringing upwards of one million  tonnes of rock  for breakwaters  and revetment  walls for  150 hectares  of reclaim .
And at the end of it , a 14 per cent   increase   in maintenance   dredging , all of which  will be sea dumped  in Cleveland Bay  next to  Magnetic Island and the  Great  Barrier  Reef  Marine Park .
After back to back bleaching  events and a  50 per cent decline in coral cover on the GBR , I wonder if our caring  and  courteous  American allies have any idea how inconvenient  and unsustainable  their claimed (or labelled )  discomfort really is ?
  UPCOMING :  The   battle  to  save  Magnetic  Island . What about  Cairns where  dredging is also planned ? Growing , widespread   opposition , across  the nation ,  to  Adani .