tip off

Richard Farmer’s chunky bits

As Australia’s first bookie to sponsor a football team (well, a coach, really), Richard Farmer has reason to think Tom Waterhouse’s ads must be profitable. Plus other political views along the way.

Rio Tinto, the rich and the poor. In Australia it is wealthy Hunter Valley horse stud owners complaining about coal mining companies like Rio Tinto ruining their lifestyle. In Mozambique it is 1429 families in coal-rich Tete province forced to swap their fertile land for new dry and dusty farming plots no longer capable of growing the staples like and maize and sorghum they used to survive on.

Spruiking the odds. I’ve been a bit reluctant to buy into the debate about Tom Waterhouse and his paid for television appearances. I don’t know him well but have worked over the years with both his father and grandfather in the bookmaking and punting business. And I guess I was the first bookmaker anywhere to sponsor a football team. Well, not a team really, but a coach. When the cameras zoomed in on Denis Pagan many years ago when he was the boss at North Melbourne there was the sign of the bookmaking company I was chairman of. These days it’s hard to watch a game of anything in Australia and Britain without signage that in retrospect makes my old lot look absolutely timid.

Well, now that disclosure of conflicted interests is out of the way and you can blame me for starting it all, I do offer one observation. You can be confident for two reasons that young Tom’s advertisements are working in building his business. The first is that no one would keep taking the shellacking he gets unless it were bringing in new customers. And the second is the alacrity with which his foreign-owned competitors are now urging that restrictions be placed on him.

The real betting scandal. Meanwhile in India, where they have no legal internet and phone sports bookies, and certainly no display of odds on television, they are in the midst of a real sports betting scandal. For seven days in a row now it has been front-page headline news in The Times of India:

Two for the price of one. The Hazel Hawke I remember was a campaign strategist’s dream. She was every bit as popular as then husband Bob — probably more so after his first couple of years as prime minister — and could deliver a message with a self-effacing good humour to all types of crowds. If he was on one side of the country electioneering, she would provide a wonderful photo opportunity on the other without appearing overtly political.

And when the PM was getting a bit tetchy and stressed, Hazel provided the perfect antidote. Bringing the first couple back together was the perfect antidote to preventing him getting off the tactical straight and narrow. Labor really did, back in those days, get two for the price of one.

A missed photo opportunity. What a pity there was no photographer at hand: former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing has revealed he was once jumped on by a panda when he dared himself to enter its cage.

Giscard d’Estaing, 87, told a conference, reports the BBC, he had been visiting Vincennes Zoo in Paris, where his daughter was on work experience, when he decided to test his “presidential courage”. A panda leapt on him and staff had to free him from its claws.

News and views noted along the way.

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