tip off
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Tips and rumours

Janet Albrechtsen appointed to role at ABC, SBS … Team Credlin scotches journo Rohan Wenn … truth about financial planners …

From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Albrechtsen to oversee the ABC and SBS boards? Crikey has been tipped off that conservative columnist Janet Albrechtsen is about to be appointed to a powerful role overseeing the ABC and SBS boards. The Coalition government is talking to Albrechtsen, who writes for The Australian, about appointing her to the four-person nomination panel that plays a crucial role in appointments to the ABC and SBS boards.

That would be an interesting development for ABC managing director Mark Scott, given that Albrechtsen last year used her column in the Oz to call for him to resign. As MD, Scott sits on the ABC board.

It wouldn’t be Albrechtsen’s first official role with the ABC. She sat on the board from 2005 to 2010 (she was appointed by John Howard).

The nomination panel was a Kevin Rudd initiative and was supposed to depoliticise the process of appointing board members to the ABC and SBS. The ” independent” panel considers applications then presents a shortlist of board candidates to the minister or PM. There are currently two vacancies on the panel; Albrechtsen would take one. It’s currently chaired by former diplomat Ric Smith. All positions on the panel expire by April next year, so the Abbott government can entirely remake the panel as it sees fit.

The nomination panel has some important decisions to make in the coming months. There has been some media speculation that the government was stalling on certain broadcasting board appointments because it wanted to stack the nomination panel with sympathisers.

Appointments that the panel will mull over include one new ABC board member (to replace Julianne Schultz) and one new SBS board member (to replace Elleni Bereded-Samuel). Two more ABC board members are due to leave next year (see the current board here). These decisions have lengthy ramifications as each new board member will sit for up to five years.

Meanwhile, SBS chairman Joseph Skrzynski has of course left the job (Fairfax reported Malcolm Turnbull wanted him to stay, but was rolled by Tony Abbott). It appears that the nomination panel will be involved in replacing him. Has the Coalition government been waiting to get Albrechtsen on the nomination panel before that decision is made?

This is not the first occasion where the Coalition government has appointed friendly figures to key positions. Columnist Gerard Henderson was appointed a judge for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, and Tim Wilson made a Human Rights Commissioner.

Expect to hear more on this very soon.

Team Abbott’s star chamber. There are still grumbles circulating about the heavy involvement of the PMO in hirings across the Coalition. We hear the star chamber, which has indeed been scotching nominations, is made up of Liberals — but is vetting Nationals appointments too. Interesting.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce recently told The Project one of his proposed staffers had been knocked back. Rumour is that was Rohan Wenn, former Xenophon staffer, who was with GetUp at the time (he’s now with A Current Affair). Joyce wanted to appoint him as a senior adviser, but the star chamber — aka Peta Credlin — said no. We put that to Wenn who said “Barnaby’s a good bloke, but no comment”. So was it Wenn’s links to Xenophon, or role with GetUp, that ruled him out?

For these people, you’re a “goldmine”. Let it not be said that the financial planning industry is just interested in looking after themselves or view their clients simply as a resource to be exploited. That, after all, would merely confirm the poor reputation the industry currently has in the wake of the Commonwealth financial planning scandal. Although we were intrigued by this tweet from March by the CEO of the Association of Financial Advisers, Brad Fox:

This is an industry that is trying — or at least some parts are trying — to become more like a profession and to regain the trust of the community, which was destroyed by rogue planners and years of conflicted remuneration and fee-gouging. But can you imagine a doctor or lawyer referring to their patients as a “goldmine” just waiting to be exploited?

Palmer observed. Poor old Clive Palmer is copping some tricky questions about how PUP was funded in last year’s federal election (ping Australian, Sino Iron). Turns out a Crikey reader lives just across from his Coolum resort and dinosaur sanctuary on the Sunshine Coast. Our stringer reported:

My take is that Palmer is really struggling financially, it is very visible at Coolum (albeit peanuts compared with CITIC and his nickel operation near Townsville). We live across from his resort and were once members of The Spa at the resort until he closed it down. Like our neighbours and the rest of the ex-members we have been asking for a refund since the closure in February.

There is simply no money in the tin. The golf course is trading as a shadow of its former glory. I’d say both the dinosaurs and Vintage Cars are lemons and the hotel has averaged about 4% occupancy for the past nine months or so.

He has cut the staff to skeleton numbers and is largely hated on the Sunshine Coast as a result of his staff cuts and  loss of the PGA which had a large flow-on for local hotels and businesses. He has turned a tourist icon into a laughing stock. Similarly on the Gold Coast with his two golf courses Colonial and Robina he is just mowing the grass and hanging on.”

If anyone lives near Gina Rinehart or James Packer, please email us your neighbourly observations (we’re nosy types here at Crikey). Ms Tips used to live near cricket legend David Boon; she sometimes spotted him waddling majestically through the leafy Sandy Bay streets, a six-pack under his arm.

Journo spat. Yesterday we told you that ABC journo Latika Bourke, the most prolific tweeter in the press gallery, had been poached by Fairfax (she’ll move up the hall in late July). While Tips suggested Bourke was smart and well-connected, Sky News host Paul Murray (no, you’ve never watched him) didn’t think much of Fairfax’s new recruit. That caused a Twitter stoush with Sam Maiden from News Corp’s Sunday tabs and ex-Fairfax scribe Mark Skulley.

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to boss@crikey.com.au or use our guaranteed anonymous form

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  • 1
    klewso
    Posted Wednesday, 2 July 2014 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Abbott’s habits :- Bringing the country together - with provocation?

  • 2
    Paddlefoot
    Posted Wednesday, 2 July 2014 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Janet to the ABC ? Stand by for the return of Godwin Grech. And who could forget her abandonment of the avuncular Howard just when he was reaching out for support ? A topic suitable for Caravaggio. Ditch the Witch indeed.

  • 3
    Marcusson Nicole
    Posted Wednesday, 2 July 2014 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Naww… Sounds like Paul Murray is just jealous of Latika’s number of Twitter followers…

  • 4
    Sailor
    Posted Thursday, 3 July 2014 at 3:03 am | Permalink

    can you imagine a doctor or lawyer referring to their patients as a “goldmine” just waiting to be exploited?”……..well, since you ask, for most but not all doctors I’d say “no”. For lawyers, though, especially silks, um, definitely not in writing.

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