Like a hungry midget in search of low-lying fruit, Fairfax Media has stumbled over its northern NSW border into the lush green advertising pastures of south-east Queensland with a new masthead – The Brisbane Times.

At this stage, it is not a real newspaper (they cost too much to print and distribute) but an internet newspaper called www.brisbanetimes.com.au. It was launched today by Queensland Premier Peter Beattie, Fairfax Media chief executive David Kirk and Fairfax Digital head Jack Matthews. This is a similar tactic to the one News Ltd has employed in Perth and Adelaide with PerthNow and AdelaideNow websites.

The news internet site has appointed Mitchell Murphy as managing editor. His usual day job is editor-in-chief of Fairfax Community Newspapers based in Sydney. But don’t tell the parochial banana-benders that www.brisbanetimes.com.au has anything to do with the “Mexicans” from below the Tweed River. It has recruited 13 Queensland journalists to give it street cred. with parish pump local news and high profile local celebs, John Birmingham and Rupert McCall, to give it sex appeal.

Fairfax Media’s The Brisbane Times is going to need a major marketing budget to break through the News Ltd monopoly in south-east Queensland. News Ltd owns the Curios Snail in Brisbane, The Gold Coast Bulletin, The Sunday Mail, The Brisbane News color magazine and on Monday launch a Brisbane edition of the ubiquitous toerag, mX.

While Premier Beattie prattled on about media diversity yesterday, Fairfax Media’s Captain Kirk said:

It is not a new newspaper with limited circulation, but a new online competitive publishing force instantly available to the one million-plus internet users in Brisbane, providing an alternative to what was, until today, the only game in town.

If Kirk is as good at his job as he thinks he is, Fairfax’s entry into the Brisbane market via a back-door website will only be phase one until the brand is established. Then, when the Rural Press takeover of Fairfax Media is complete, John B. Fairfax can “Trojan Horse” The Brisbane Times into full print production from Rural Press’ presses in south-east Queensland.

Now here’s a thought! Why don’t Fairfax make The Brisbane Times a local tabloid of about 24-pages wrapped around the national edition of The Canberra Times to go head-to-head against The Curious Snail?

I remember working on the original Brisbane edition of The Australian which was a local tabloid of about 24-pages wrapped around the big paper to give it a bit of oomph. That was 1972, and the whole object of the exercise was to take ads off the Snail which was the enemy then. Premier Beattie had media diversity years ago before Paul Keating gave it away. The Times might change that. I drink to its health …