IN TUNE: Cr Paul Tully, the race caller, and Cr Andrew Antoniolli, the singer, have had their first battle in the race to be Mayor.
IN TUNE: Cr Paul Tully, the race caller, and Cr Andrew Antoniolli, the singer, have had their first battle in the race to be Mayor. David Nielsen

Battle for mayor off and racing with fun

THE Ipswich mayoral showdown between the two councillors in the race has started with a bit of fun and frivolity and unearthed talents of the duo the public may not have been aware of.

On Friday, just before the announcement by the ECQ that August 19 would be election day, Cr Paul Tully and Cr Andrew Antoniolli were showcasing their talents on the local radio station River 94.9.

Cr Tully, the Acting Mayor, unfurled with a race call of the 1967 Melbourne Cup, won by Red Handed. Cr Antoniolli unwound in song with his version of Tony Bennett's 'If I ruled the world'.

Billed as 'Old Talent Time' the showdown broke the ice at the start of what will be a long campaign to find out who will ultimately replace former mayor Paul Pisasale. Gary Duffy is also in the race but the radio gig was designed to pit the two councillors against each other in a light hearted manner.

Cr Tully explained how the whole concept started.

"Andrew offered the other day to sing a song on the radio so they got onto me and said 'will you sing a song?'

"I said that my singing ability was somewhere between zero and nothing but if it was a bit like Young Talent Time I would use the repertoire I've got which is Joe Brown's call of the 1967 Melbourne Cup, won by Red Handed, which I learned at school.

"When we have a school reunion every 10 years it is the highlight of the night when I get up and call it from memory."

As a lad the teen-aged Tully, too young to bet, was fascinated by the Melbourne Cup and practised the 1967 call over and over until he had mastered it.


Red Handed winning the 1967 Melbourne Cup.
Red Handed winning the 1967 Melbourne Cup. Contributed

As he spoke to the QT Cr Tully gave us a stunning rendition of the call of the race over the last two and a half furlongs.

He also had cup winners at his fingertips.

"I know the exact finishing order of all 22 horses in 1967," Cr Tully grinned.

"I've always had a keen interest in the Melbourne Cup. I don't know every winner but I know a lot of the them. There was Archer in 1861 and 1862, Carbine in 1890.

"Then there was Light Fingers in 1965, Galilee in 1966, Red Handed in 1967, Rain Lover in 1968 and 1969. I know a lot of the double winners like Peter Pan in 1932 and 1934 but if you asked me who won in 1933 I wouldn't remember that."

His interest started well before 1967.

"The first winner I remember was Baystone in 1958, then Macdougal in 1959," he said.

Cr Antoniolli is an accomplished singer who has performed twice at the Brisbane Jazz Club and has sung with other bands around Ipswich.

"I love jazz and I love crooning," he said.

"I grew up listening to that music because my father loved it - everyone from Frank Sinatra to Tony Bennett, Dean Martin and Bobby Darin.

"I am a big fan of Michael Buble and some of the other artists who have branched off into swing lately like Robbie Williams.

"The reason I like that music is because it is cool and never goes out of style."

"When asked which of the above artists his own voice sounded like Cr Antoniolli had a chuckle and said "a blend of all of those...but probably not a good blend".

"I used to do musical theatre and I would play a character you could hide behind," he said.

"When you sing before people you are putting yourself out there. If you don't have a good day in front of the microphone you are judged harshly."

Cr Antoniolli said he chose the Bennett song 'I could rule the world' for a bit of fun.


Singing legend Tony Bennett.
Singing legend Tony Bennett. Contributed

"It actually is one of my favourite songs of Tony Bennett's because it speaks to what you would do if you could rule the world," he said.

"For me it is a song that says 'if I had the ability to change the world I would make it a happier place'."

Cr Antoniolli revealed his romantic side when he explained why he liked to sing certain songs.

"I love a lot of swing, but I really like the songs that I would sing to my wife...the songs that would make my wife's knees buckle," he said.

The two councillors have worked together closely for well over a decade and both said they were determined to run their campaigns in a spirit of civility.

"I am approaching it in a very civil and dignified way," Cr Tully said.

"That is what the people of Ipswich want. They have been through a turbulent time the last few weeks and now it is time to look to the future for the ongoing stability and governance of Ipswich City Council.

"There is nothing worse than boring election campaigns that you have at state and federal level. River 94.9 has done the community a real service by organising a little bit of fun and frivolity at the start of the campaign. The whole thing was a bit of fun."

Cr Antoniolli said he had a philosophy of always running a dignified campaign and that the 2017 mayoral race would be no different.

"This is about the future of our city not about individuals," he said.

"The people get to decide, not myself or Paul. We are putting ourselves out there. It will be a stressful few months but I truly hope that at the end of it, regardless of the result, there is an opportunity for us to work together for the benefit of the city." Cr Antoniolli thanked River 94.9 for starting the campaign with some fun.

"It was a real icebreaker," he said.