Saturday, January 31, 2015


Pharisees and  money changers  don  sackcloth

Queensland ALP Leader   beaming after Australian political  history  was made   in the  David  versus Goliath  battle against  the  LNP  which  resulted in  Premier Newman losing his seat and  could lead  to  Prime Minister  Tony Abbott   walking the  plank in  his tattered  budgie smugglers  , a ghastly sight , and  ordered to  never return  by  a   Bondi  beach  inspector . The ban would automatically  apply  to the beaches of Manly, Freshwater ,  Fairy Bower, Bronte and  Coogee.  This  skimpy  blog  enjoyed  playing  a  wee   part in the demise of  three  sitting  LNP  members in Townsville, including  Cabinet  member David  Crisafulli .

LONDON ( True Blue Breaking News ).- A well known  Buckingham  Palace skinnydipper  is  lobbying  the  Queen to  appoint PM Abbott  Lord Warden  of  the  Cinque Ports,  like Sir Robert  Mingies (pronounced Meenies ), who  flattered  the  Queen when  she  was  Down   Under  during the  days  of   forelock  tugging   in  the  colonies, a recently  revised  sport  by  the  superior Flintstone  Club.   

Friday, January 30, 2015


Dracula , the  cute  Coucal recently released into the wild on Magnetic Island , has  been  spending  time  with  supporters  of   the   two  main  political  parties in  the  Queensland  election.  In  each  camp  he  demands attention  and  receives choice  tucker, including  Dutch cheese .  Magnetic  Island  ALP  branch  secretary , Linda Wootten ,  a  wildlife  carer , is  looking after  a  number of critters ,  including a Friar Bird ,  naturally   given   the  name  of the greedy  cleric  in  Robin Hood of  Sherwood Forest  fame , which  demands  frequent  attention  and  recently  enjoyed  a  bowl  of  tasty  flying  ants .  As  mentioned  earlier, Linda was recently  called  in to help remove  Death Adders  in  Arcadia .  It seems  the  rumble of  a washing machine caused  the  large Death Adders to move  off –but  to  where?


Moves to  make consumers pay  a new,  separate charge  for  reticulated  water  in   Ireland  has caused  an outcry,  massive  demonstrations and  a  rushed law  to protect  meter installers.  It could also bring down the government  at the 2016 election.     A Little Darwin  correspondent living  in Ireland  , an Australian , says there have been amazing scenes in Dublin and  in  his smaller   village .  Trucks  carrying equipment  and  men  to install  water   meters  have been  set on fire . Legislation  has been passed  making it  an  offence   to   go  within  a  certain distance of  meter  installers and  readers   in a bid  to  protect  them  from  angry   people .

The  cost of  the  water  supply has  been included in  general taxes. The imposition  of a specific water  charge  is regarded as  double taxation. Ireland  has been hammered by austerity  measures  brought as a  result of having to bail out six failed  private banks with loans of 85billion Euro  from  the European Financial Stabilisation  Facility  and  the  International Monetary Fund.  The austerity measures have  caused severe social repercussions  such as  home  repossessions, homelessness, cutbacks to  social services , unemployment and emigration. An independent  assessment  of  ways and means of  paying the loans  suggested  the  setting  up  of a separate water supply service , Irish Water, the CEO of which receives 200,000 Euros . The cash strapped populace  has seen the  gap between the  rich and poor grow by 11 percent  in the period  2007-2012. Water  privatisation  is  seen  as  an undesirable  growing  trend .

Thursday, January 29, 2015


Scoop  photograph  taken  at Queensland Media Club last  debate  in Brisbane on ABC shows Premier Newman   desperately  seeking  the  Green  vote  to  save  his  scalp  in  leafy Ashgrove .


The above  weird  email request  was  received at Little Darwin’s North Queensland  sanatorium from  notorious  American  gonzo journalist , Hunter S. Thompson ,who it seems has been sipping  soda  nonstop  since he  boarded  the Spirit of Queensland  train in  Brisbane on his way to  unsuspecting Townsville  to  do an exclusive  fear  and  loathing  report  on  the   Sunshine State’s  campaign  trail.

Tricky Dicky talked
baseball  with Thompson
His shoe phone, stolen from the CIA while he was  covering the  President  Nixon election , did  not respond when we urgently rang back to  ask what  the hell  he means ...shake  the  hand  of  the  famous  Townsville  Magpie ? 
In desperation , we  Googled  Townsville Magpie  and got what  seemed to be  a strong   clue to   the  feathered  mystery.


From 2002 to 2010, The Townsville Magpie was the most popular column in the Saturday Townsville Bulletin, with an estimated weekly readership of more than 20,000, almost half the Saturday paper’s circulation. It was christened The Magpie because the old bird’s gimlet eye was attracted to shiny little trinkets, both trivial and substantial – just like his namesake.

On his retirement in 2010 , The Magpie’s alter ego, journalist and columnist Malcolm Weatherup decided to keep doing weekly posts, with a slight change of character, offering a more edgy humorous take on politicians, the local council, Townsville Enterprise, and others near and far who would influence and regulate our lives.

Reader response was immediate and gratifying, and continues to grow steadily. The paper itself was one such organisation which merited hitherto impossible critical examination, and modern social media provided the ideal platform.

The spur for Malcolm’s personal ‘Media Watch’ came when the paper repeatedly published editorial lectures to local companies about the importance of jobs in North Queensland while at the same time stealthily sacking a third of its staff (almost 100 skilled people) to outsource jobs south and to India. None of which was reported in the paper. So Malcolm gave it detailed and unwelcome exposure, with an immediate response of both delight at the irreverence, general disgust at this behaviour, and howls of outrage from the Bulletin management.

His new independence allows him to continue to highlight some of the hidden roles of the paper itself, which at the time he left, was rapidly changing into a down-market tabloid. This was a move which he believes was a great miscalculation by a cynical News Ltd, and a grave disservice to the community from which the Bulletin derived so much financial benefit. Plummeting circulation and readership have confirmed his initial view – which he thinks is a crying shame for this city.

The Magpie’s insider knowledge of the paper’s functioning, management structure and editorial structure/policy has resulted in humorous posts which have greatly annoyed Holt Street HQ in Sydney, and prompted fruitless quasi-legal attempts to bully him (and even an uninvolved family member) into silence. No such luck.

Now entering his 48th year as a journalist, Malcolm intends to continue writing on all manner of subjects, not just the Townsville Bulletin, offering his unique take on all aspects of the community in which he loves to live.

Extra pages are being added to the Magpie’s Nest site to broaden its appeal. Hope you enjoy it and participate in the fun and information. You’ll need keep your sense of  both the ridiculous and your funny-bone well oiled.

After reading this , we realized we had solved  Hunter  S. Thompson’s odd  email   message  as  this  Weatherup  guy  sounds like  his   kind of  fearless  scribe .   Little  Darwin awaits  Hunter’s    arrival in Townsville  in a certain state of apprehension and has  arranged  for  an Irish  doctor  to  hit him  with  a  big  vitamin injection  when  he  stumbles  out  onto  the  platform , intent  on  hiring  a  fire engine red Cougar  and  speeding  around  to the  Weatherup residence , where parking is  a problem , and  present  him with a Pulitzer Prize   for real journalism.   Sounds  like  an interesting   conversation between  the  two  birds  is  in  the  offing .  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Pluck  of  the  Irish
In Townsville's  historical  litmus test  seat  of  Mundingburra  where  the incumbent LNP Cabinet  minister  David  Crisafulli’s  future  is  said to  be on a “knife edge” due  to the popularity of  his  opponent , right ,  Coralee  O’Rourke , of  the  Australian  Labor  Party , the   media  coverage  has  left  a  lot to  be  desired.  It  shows , like  Darwin,  the   disadvantage  of   having  only  one  newspaper  in  town .

In  yet  another  blinding  flash of  promises  featuring Crisafulli , it was announced that if the LNP  government gets  back, it  will  alter  conditions to enable  the proposed open  pit  Glencore  copper  mine at  Mt Isa , said to  employ   some 250 people from Townsville, 800  in the Isa , to  go ahead  and  operate until  2020.

Fair  enough.  However this  announcement  was  made  just  as  the price for copper  had  crashed on  the  London Metals Exchange. No reporter then  or thereafter   asked  obvious questions , such as  could   the  promise  be  premature  ,  the  operation  delayed , scrapped  because   of  the  crash.  A  similar crash on  the LME in 2008 had dire consequences  for  the  global copper  industry. The  price has  dived to a level where  only  some  mines  can  make  a  slight  profit.

You  expect  reporters, editors  to  be worldly wise , know what is  going on outside  the  local patch , events  which  could or  will  impact here  and  to  question  hand  outs  given  during   a  staged  election  event.

The  writer  of an  editorial in  the Murdoch Townsville Bulletin , obviously not a reader of the group’s  Wall Street Journal, hailed the Mount  Isa  promise , gave Crisafulli a big tick  for  lobbying  for the  go ahead  .  It also ran a photograph of  Crisafulli  with  a daughter on  his lap, saying he does not want to become “ the  election’s most  high profile  scalp.” Surely  Campbell Newman is  the front runner for  that  title.  

It must be said that  the media  coverage  given to Carolee O’Rourke is bland,  especially  as The Bulletin  itself  early on  reported its  Galaxy poll  had    shown she  could  unseat   Crisafulli whose  face now  appears on a gigantic  LNP  poster  in  Townsville,   looking like something at the entrance  to  Wally World  announcing  that  it is  closed to holidaymakers  , much to  the annoyance  of  Chevy Chase and family . Even more surprising is  the fact  that  the uncle and  aunt of  Crisafulli  are helping O'Rourke  call voters .  That's  right, they are helping  the  ALP candidate.  The  Bulletin , somehow, buried   this  story  on  P5 .Surely  this was  a  front page story? Just  imagine  the coverage that  would  be given  to  close relatives  of  Premier Newman  supporting  Kate Jones, ALP candidate  for  Newman's seat  of  Ashgrove.

The  LNP has   poured  vast amounts of  money into the Townsville campaign  trying   to  save  Crisafulli’s  neck. So  who is  this  Coralee  O’Rourke, mother of two teenagers, who has the  Cabinet  minister rattled, his close relatives assisting her  ?   Surely worthy of  an in depth  article ?  Right  now  this  director of a community based early learning  centre at  Aitkenvale  is undoubtedly out door knocking in the torrid  heat. In  fact she has received accolades for her tireless  grassroots  campaigning.
It  is interesting to note that in  this week’s  explosive  ABC  TV 7.30 Report interview   by Leigh Sales of  Queensland crime and corruption  buster  Tony Fitzgerald he mentioned  how  the  seat  of   Mundingburra  had played  a part in  the   defeat of the  honest ALP Premier Wayne Goss and  his government .  So  Mundinburra  is  a seat which  deserved  a  better,  fairer , more questions asked ,  all  round  coverage. 

In the latest ABC  Media  Report there was comment about the media  coverage of  the election in Queensland.  Mention was made about the  event  after the LNP had  taken  another beating at the Stafford byelection  in July  where Campbell Newman made a  mea culpa statement  saying  the government had  taken the lesson onboard  and  would  listen to the people. He was  in a cluster of uncomfortable  Cabinet members , one of them Crisafulli , a former sports reporter , usually up front , in  the back row , head down .    


The Northern Territory branch of the  Maritime Union of Australia in a unanimous decision on January  27  voted   to  speak out against the  atrocities  being perpetrated   against  the  West Papuan people by  Indonesia . It also intends to support the  West Papuan struggle   for independence, both morally and publicly, beginning  with  a message of  solidarity. An  ABC  TV report  recently  showed refugees  from  West  Papua  living in a  makeshift village over  a drain  near Port  Moresby, in PNG, who struggle to  survive,  forced to move on by  authorities . There is a West Papua group in Darwin but  it  receives scant attention  from  the  local  media  despite the fact that  the city has had a long  link  with  the  American  Freeport  mining company  in  West  Papua involved in massive  gold  and copper  mining  ventures along with Rio Tinto  and  the Indonesian  government .

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


BRISBANE : With much fanfare, like the swearing in of  a  new Knight of the Garter,  Premier Campbell Newman, Treasurer  Tim “Slim” Nicholls  and Deputy Premier Jeff  Seeney  launch   election  costings .  Oops! There  is  a  $200million  “obvious typo”  in  the  document .

CANBERRA : Sir  Lancelot  says  Campbell Newman is a  strong leader , with strong plans , strong border  protection that  keeps   out  undesirables  from Canberra.

TOWNSVILLE : Enter  the  Tasmanian tigress , Senator Jacqui Lambie, who  sets up    a pill box  outside the Lavarack  military barracks and  reminds  the ADF  voters and passing motorists  to send a message  through  the Queensland election  that the Abbott  government   should  be  hung  high  and low  for  cutting  the  pay of troops .Onya Jacqui!

MOUNT  ISA : Out this way , the  hills  have  reverberated  for ages  to  the relayed  radio   comments  of  Sydney shockjocks. As a  result, the largely receptive audience is gunning for  Brisbane  and Canberra  and  Katter mark lll  of the KAP and dynasty  is riding high in the saddle . One of Little Darwin’s informants spends a lot of  time in the outback  and  said  Katter , not sure which one , walked into a pub at the “Curry”-Cloncurry- and said the  drinks were on him. As a result   Katter  is  king  out  in the parched  Injun terrain.  In this vast region   Federal Agriculture Minister  Barnaby Joyce  is  regarded as  usefull  as  tits on  a  bull and not  much  chop in a Canberra  Liberal  dominated  dogfight.

MAGNETIC ISLAND : The  ALP  island branch secretary ,Linda Wootten, a wildlife carer , has been  distracted from  campaigning  by a request from a woman to arrange the  removal  of  two  Death Adders. Trying to  remove  the  Newman  Government  is  a  mammoth  task ,  dwarfed  by  the problem of how  to  deal  with  an obvious  family  of   vipers  in   your  territory.A crocodile  has  been seen cruising about the island , Linda  draws the  line  at  tackling a  saurian .


Knighted  Cockie  going  nutty  on  The Strand .
Townsville's waterfront  area  known as The Strand is a  grand concourse, the jewel in the  city's  crown . On  Australia  Day it  was  alive with  a  merry,  happy  throng  of family groups, joggers, cyclists, skate boarders, dogs, a  flock of  screeching  Palm Cockatoos feeding  on  Asian  almond seeds, swimmers, café  habitués and a trio of  young  buskers , two of  them  rangas, the centre of much  attention .  Overhead  circled  the  Red  Baron  and  suddenly the   RAAF  C-17 Globemaster roared  by, grabbing  everyones attention .
An abiding memory this  writer took away from  The Strand was spotting an elderly gentleman , sitting on his  own in a  secluded spot, taking a selfie  of  himself  with  a koala  bear  soft  toy. Hmmm.  At  first I thought it was Mr  Bean .
Also noticed  were  many children and  adults  draped in flags , wearing hats with  flags on sticks . Some of the  small  Australian flag  face stickers  on  cheeks  and  foreheads were  in the  upside  down  position.  A flag flown upside  down  is taken  as  a  sign  of  a  ship  in  distress  at  sea . 
Talented musicians on The Strand
There was  evidence that somebody had  spat the  dummy  during the  day -there was  a repulsive  kid's  soother  on   the  main  drag.
Yummy dummy 
It is hoped it was  not recycled  as  a few  passing  dawgs  gave  it a lick. Hopefully the child  deprived  of  the  dummy  did not crawl into the grassed  area and  mistake the many strange mushrooms  that have popped up due to the rain and sucked  them  to  ease  the  teething  pain .
Hotrods, motorbikes and  LNP and ALP  election  signs on trucks circulated on  the  road  running along  the back  of  The Strand .  

Monday, January 26, 2015


The  late  and  great political humanitarian, Tom Uren , said enthusiastically  taking up  boxing  when  he  was  a  young  boy during the Depression  prevented him  from  getting  into  trouble. The  ALP  candidate  for  the  seat  of  Townsville in the Queensland election  is  Pimlico State High School principal, Scott Stewart, above, who has  used  boxing  to  help  pupils  overcome  frustration  and  control  anger.

He  took pupils who had difficulties  at school   to  a  boxing  gym  where   with  the  help of a  psychologist  they  discussed  problems, donned   gloves  and   even  climbed  into  the  ring  with   him  for  a round  or  two  to  let  off  steam . Being  able to  slug it out  with  the helpful teacher  surprised  the pupils and  had  positive results .  Stewart’s  novel approach  received  much  attention , favourable  comment  and   publicity .
A member of Rotary, he has also been involved in  that  service organisation  bringing  children  from  properties  out  west   suffering  difficult  economic and drought  conditions  into  Charters Towers  and  then   Townsville for a holiday which included a trip  to  Magnetic Island.  With more than 28 years in the teaching profession, Stewart  is  an  impressive   candidate  and  polls  indicate he   could  kayo  the  LNP incumbent , John Hathaway. One of the surprising  things Hathaway  is  promising , if  re-elected ,  is  the North's  first  breast milk  bank  , presumably  of  XXXX strength, and  a   groyne  for  Magnetic Island .NEXT: Will   Coralee  clobber  Crisafulli  of  Cupid's  Corner?


Worried  top of  the  tree  LNP  members , scared of  heights and  the outcome of the election , were told  to hang in there at a secret  pep talk  given  by  Premier Campbell  Newman  at  which  he  denied that  his stormy  aba daba  honeymoon  is  over .  Kingaroy  peanuts , Greek  worry beads  and  Vallium  were  handed  out  at  interval .

An indication of the  sheer  desperation in the Queensland government election is the claim by  Premier   Campbell  Newman  that  bikie gangs  are  backing the  ALP  with  donations  through  the  CFMEU.  Sound familiar ?   Remember the  voters of  Victoria were   recently  repeatedly warned by the Coalition  , state  and  Federally  , that  the CFMEU  were  running  the  ALP  in  that state and  that  the  union  monsters  were  against  the  grand  East-West autobahn .

In  another bumbling move , the voters of  Queensland have been  threatened  by the  premier that all  those super duper    projects promised  in the  electorates  could shrink  to  a few  core  values (  who  dat  used  the  expression in  a previous  Federal  Coalition regime ? ) if  the local Tory candidate  gets  the  boot . There is  a call by an  independent   for  the police to investigate  the premier  because  this  is  regarded  as  blackmail.

Premier Newman  failed to turn up for a major event in  his electorate of Ashgrove and his pleasant spin doctor, Mary Poppins , said he was  busy teaching   penguins to  dance and  fly, part of  the LNP's super colossal  new tourist  industry  infrastructure  plan  going forward  in  top  gear.

And  former Victorian Premier Jeff  Kennett committed a  political blue by  saying  Queensland  Premier  Campbell  Norman  is  doing  a stupendous    job .  No  wonder  the Newman  election circus  has  treated Prime Minister  Tony Abbott  like a  leper  after his  latest  blunder  which  saw him go out on a limb  and   make   the  Duke  an  Aussie  knight . With  the  head honcho in Bananaland  showing increased  signs of going  ape , who  needs  the  Mad Monk  in  town?  

After posing  with King Kong  next to the Empire State Building  in New York , Foreign  Minister  Julie Bishop  went  for a swing through  the Middle East  to Afghanistan to   be as  far  away  from   the  Queensland  weekend  rumble in  the  jungle  as  possible.


On  Australia Day comes  news of  the death  at 93 of  a true national hero, big in physique , vision  and  heart , Tom Uren . The  great ALP  figure , who  took part in  boxing matches in  Darwin before  going to  Timor  and   being  captured there  by  the Japanese , was  regarded as  a hero  by   Darwin resident  and  longtime  East  Timor campaigner , Rob Wesley-Smith, founder of the NT  Civil  Liberties  Council who, like Uren, opposed the Vietnam War .

Wes  met  Uren several times  when he was a  politician and welcomed his support  in  parliament  calling for  an  act of self determination  for East Timor  . Australia, said  Uren , had a  moral debt to the Timorese  for  their  assistance given  to  Australian  soldiers  in 1942. 

Wes   had  other  dealings  with  Uren . In his capacity  as  an agronomist ,he   attended a  dry range  farming conference in Russia and  was mightily impressed  by  the  layout of the city of Frunze in the southern province of  Kirgizia, with numerous roads, canals, grass verges . At  a reception there  Wes  made a speech ,  drank  the powerful local  brew, and  was  branded  a  son of  the city, who would  come  back  one day. 

On  returning to Australia , Wes made  contact  with Uren , then  responsible for  better  cities  through  decentralisation  in  the  Whitlam Government , one of those listed for attention being Townsville , and  urged  him to   go  to Frunze  to  get  ideas  for  urban Australia. Furthermore , Wes  said  he would be  only too happy to come along with Tom as his  guide , if  the  government paid his  fare  .  It   did  not  happen . Nice try though,Wes.

The  two met again in Sydney when Uren was courting  his second wife , a music student, who lived  up the road  from  Martin  Wesley–Smith , a lecturer at  the  Conservatorium  of  Music.  

In his autobiography, Straight Left , Uren described boxing matches in Darwin before being  shipped to Timor, capture by  the Japanese , work on the Burma-Thailand railway, brutal life in POW camps, working under  Weary Dunlop  and  being in Japan when the atomic bomb was  dropped on Nagasaki, only 80 kilometres   away,  the  war coming  to a  sudden  end.  

Other points of interest  from the book relevant  to the present day: 

*In supporting the Fidel Casto victory over the “cruel and ruthless criminal Juan Batisa”, Uren wrote that  Cuba and  Vietnam had become the Achilles  heel of the United States  and it  was  long overdue to normalise relationships  with  both .  President  Obama  is attempting  to  do  this right now in respect of Cuba  .   

*Hatred of  the Japanese, during the war, he wrote had been great, the propaganda  excessive. Now the same people who sent us off to  war were  trying to sell  off part of Australia to the Japanese ... “ Partriotism is  a  terrible thing.  You know what I mean – a band  marches down the street playing  patriotic songs and men follow it and respond  to  the  call to arms.  It  takes real courage  to stand up to this type of manipulation , but we really must  make sure  that we don’t  allow politicians and ‘statesmen’  to lead  Australian people  into  any  further wars.”