A mighty crowd-funding effort from friends and former colleagues looks set to make highly respected scribe Des Houghton’s dream of leaving Queensland come true … in a matter of days, in fact.
Albeit mostly in small donations found at the back of couches and under car seats, $2031 has already been raised to help send the frequent columnist for The Courier-Mail on his way following his emotional declaration in the paper on Saturday October 23, that “I don’t want to live in a hollow, hillbilly kingdom cut off from the world”.
Des began his tirade against the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk thus: “I feel ashamed to be a Queenslander and I’m seriously thinking of bailing out.
“I’ve come to the unhappy conclusion that I’d rather live in NSW than put up with the deceptions any longer. Sydney appeals. So does Armadale. So does Victoria’s Yarra Valley. I’ve rejected Melbourne as a relocation option for fear of being cut down in gangland crossfire.
“I just don’t want to live in a double donut anymore.
“I don’t want to live inside a socialist, fairytale fiefdom run by public servants, judges and magistrates who appear to me to be politically partisan nincompoops. Some of them anyway.
“I don’t want to live in a hollow, hillbilly kingdom cut off from the world. I don’t want to live in a state whose leaders openly ridicule their neighbours.
“I don’t want to live in a state that keeps many of its nurses, teachers, ambos and coppers on slave wages while it pays $180,000 to lollipop workers to wave around a Stop-Go sign.
“I don’t want to live in a state where people who have committed no crime can be placed under virtual house arrest.
“I don’t want to live in a state where grandmothers can be dragged away in handcuffs for attempting to meet relatives on the other side.
“I don’t want to live in a state where cops call the shots at media conferences and not their minister.”
With strong, brilliantly executed words, Des made it fairly clear he no longer wanted to live in the Sunshine State and, as it turns out, he is far from alone in that desire; a lot of other people too would prefer Des not live in Queensland any more.
The crowd-funding scheme was the brainchild of a former work colleague and friend of Des’s at The Daily Sun back in the day when those days were in the 1980s.
Asking not to be shamed, the scribe told The Bug: “In one respect, I was happy to see Des’s column because I’d heard that ever since the state election on 31 October last year he’d been curled up in a foetal position in a darkened room muttering: ‘Why didn’t the people of Queensland do what I told them to do’.
“With three more years of a Labor state government, I was truly moved by Des’s plea.
“He’s clearly had enough and I truly believe for his own well-being and mental health, he’s got to act on his promise to go – and act quickly. And he’s got to get as far away as possible.
“So over a few jars with other journos who worked with Des at the Daily Sun or up at the LNP’s Bowen Hills branch, we started the clown-funding (sic) effort using the hashtag #helpdesfuckrightoff.
“Now we had no fucking idea where this Armadale in NSW is that Des wrote about but by mid week, we definitely had enough in the pool to put Des on a bus to Melbourne, then a foot-passenger fare across to Tasmania on the Spirit of Tasmania and another bus fare to South-East Cape. You can’t get much further south in Australia than that.
“More money had since come in and Cape Leeuwin in south-west Western Australia would be further away and we can afford that now but that’s a Labor state and Des wouldn’t like that.”
“Other former colleagues of Des’s have recommended destinations way beyond Australia’s shores.
“But we’ll have to raise a helluva lot more money and international air travel would need to resume to places like Outer Mongolia, the Orkney Islands or anywhere downstream from the lava flow from Spain’s Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma Island before that can happen.”