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Spin sin, ASIC failures, One.Tel and Natasha

Inspired by the deluded illusions of grandeur of an army of squeaky Fairfax MBAs BRW has of course taken inspiration from “the little entrepreneurs handbook” Fast Company. As a long suffering former .com-er and multimedia hack I would recommend fuckedcompany.com as a superior model for the kids in suits (smart casual is outre).

The fact is format and postioning aside BRW is dull and predictable.

anon

Crikey: I still subscribe and enjoyed this year’s Rich List but agree they’ve changed it far too much.


Crikey should know who is writing

Dear Stephen,-

R.J. Honnesucker picked up on Crikey’s anonymous sources and you, correctly in my view, replied that “sometimes (people) can only tell you how it really works using a nom de plume”.

I too believe whistleblowers and some commentators need the protection of anonymity, but the rest of us need to have some confidence in the reliability of the factual information (as differentiated from opinion) being passed on.

I don’t think that we, your loyal reader, need to know who these people are. But I’d sure like to know that you know. Then there’s some accountability in the system.

Keith Jackson

Crikey: This is a good point. I’ve got into strife a couple of times running anonymous hotmail stuff but if I know who is behind the material it is safer.


BRW subs should stop whinging

Those 50-plus subs at BRW have been whinging long and hard.

And true to form, they choose a public forum, the journalists’ gossip site, to take an anonymous swipe at a number of well-credentialled, respected journos who are have been on Struggle Street of late. Really gutsy – such courage; the stuff that Walkley’s are made of stuff.

The truth is, the magazine has been bleeding for years, well before Neil Shoebridge took it over. Should we blame Bob Gottliebsen for sacking David Uren (staff had bitched about him), and for putting golden boy Ross Greenwood up (who the subs said had no journalistic integrity) for the beginnings of the decline? Perhaps we can blame the Fairfax management, the sales managers, the marketing people, perhaps the mail room guy. Just so long as someone gets the blame.

A number of the BRW subs have been sitting at that desk for too many years. Stop bloody whinging, blaming this one and that, and put up a couple of POSITIVE, NEW ideas for how the magazine could be improved. And remember, it’s 2001, not 1981. Yeah, that’s right. Times have changed. And if you’re not happy in your job – leave. Everyone will be happier that way.

A former non-journo BRW staffer who really hates whingers

(name witheld because I really like some of those guys)

Crikey: Subs are naturally big whingers but who says that BRW insider Larry Trobe is a sub. Maybe he or she covered herself because there are only 8 subs on the Melbourne desk.


Will Costello challenge?

From afar it’s hard to make much of this Stone stuff. However, the line that Costello may have had something to do with it didn’t seem to get much airplay. Remember the Mother of All Leaks, the Ralph Willis set-up in the dying days of Keating prime ministership. That extraordinary classic has never been explained, but was probably Costello displaying leaking brillance. The question I ask myself is what would Costello be thinking as he surveys the political landscape. Only one answer: on current numbers, if he stays as deputy to Howard until the end he’s faced with a minimum of two terms as Opposition leader. I don’t reckon he’d fancy that. I’d be looking to NSW to see if there’s deputy leadership material making noises, and if there is I wouldn’t rule out a challenge before election time so as to reduce magnitude of the loss and therefore set up a chance for a one-term Moses. Could the mystery leak have anything to do with leadership gynmastics?

Crikey: Hillary has already said that Bruce Baird will be the deputy leader of the Libs under Costello.


I’m cancelling my BRW subscription

Stephen

Agree with your report on the BRW . As one who has subscribed for 20 years I am about to cancel -it is so boring,and dropping Peter Ruehl was the last Straw.

Re Stockers – your anti-Joe attitude may have caused you not to have considered the amazing spectacle of the Herald Sun being prepared to devote both front page coverage and 2 whole pages of its Saturday edition to the self -serving “Pollie -Waffle” of probably 4000+ words from Alan Stockdale about his role in an internal club footbrawl, in which to the outside observer, few seem to have behaved well.

I suggest that should any ordinary punter ask for more modest space, say 700 words, in the Herald Sun, to give their side of a public issue, or respond to a story run by the paper about that person, he/ she may be refused on the grounds that the paper does not surrender control of its editorial independence.

It seems inconsistent with that position for the paper to accommodate Stockdale with copious prime space to allow him his full partisan say, not even editing his overblown turgid piece to a size reflecting its relative importance.

Is this yet another case of one rule for the well – heeled and well -connected, and another for the rest of us?

Maybe Joe Gutnick is right -maybe it is him vs the Melbourne establishment.

PS I am a Roos fan so really don’t care who runs the Melbourne FC.

Hoggy

Crikey: I’m opposed to Joe because he’s a corporate disgrace with Centaur now having gone broke twice. More than $1 billion has been lost by creditors and shareholders. Stockers is a bright bloke who was a good Treasurer and religiously watches the Dees play most weeks. He’d be a good President, although his claim not to be from the big of town is garbage. Stockers, you’re chairman of Macquarie Bank’s infrastructure division and work out of the ultimate Tower of Power, 120 Collins St. If that ain’t the Big End of town what is?


Why no mention of Wooldridge

I must admit, I’ve been waiting for Australia’s favourite columnist to poke fun at Australia’s unhealthiest Health Minister. The opportunities abound, from his appointment of his landlady to a government board to his habit of fine dining (and drinking) at the taxpayers’ expense. Have I missed the Wooldridge baiting? Or is there some truth to the rumour about Hillary’s connections to the great man?

Crikey: Watch this space. I certainly lamented Woody’s once close relationship with Anna Cronin in a sealed section last week. His behaviour with Kerryn Phelps leaves the taxpayer exposed to any losses because he gets an indemnity. This man deserves to lose his seat of Casey and we’ll be working hard to this end.


PR man on the money

The Keith Jackson article was precisely the kind of thing I was looking for. He may have mad some suspect choices but he has an excellent grasp of the ethical issues pertaining to his profession. I will be interested to read any further contributions in this area. Thanks Crikey.

R.J. Honnesucker

p.s. Keith Jackson’s point about the non-use of names was particularly salient I thought.

Crikey: Yes, it is good to get an honest account from a PR heavyweight but sometimes they can only tell you how it really works using a nomme de plume, just like you Mr Honnesucker.


Blow $500m on One.Tel and keep squeezing the suburbans

Dear Crikey,

Hmmmm. So it finally happened. Did anyone seriously not see it coming for God’s sake?

Staff morale at News Ltd in Australia is low enough – especially at the little end of the chain (suburban newspapers, for example) – with staff freezes and expense controls. It can take up to 2 months just to get an approval out of Lachlan in NY to employ a clerical person on $22K a year – assuming he decides to approve a request that has already gone through 4 or 5 previous levels of management approval to get to him.

Spend a measly couple of million on a new press at Cumberland in Sydney and he’ll actually MAKE money out of the deal. But what happens instead?? Sonny boy spends bucket loads of money on bloody Onetel.

Is it any wonder there is a turnover of over 20% in staff – and 30+% in sales staff?

I won’t both to add to the debate about sacking the Lachlan and James for balls-ups that no manager should be allowed to get away with – it’s all been said by others.

Take at look at the latest News Corp Annual Report on their website www.newscorp.com. There you’ll see just how little the millions of dollars in profit that Australia’s hardworking newspaper employees actually contribute to the total turnover of Rupert’s Empire.

The day Rupert, Lachlan and co. start to care about there employees again is the day things will turn around – not before. They’re even losing long-term senior management because of their bloody mindedness and gross incompetence.

Unlike the workers at the coal face though, the John Cowleys of the world can afford to retire comfortably. And good luck to them too!

Regards, You sole subscriber! :-))

Crikey: Everyone felt the same through the Super League fiasco. Coked up frontrowers were getting 800k a year while humble hacks were getting squeezed left right and centre. I reckon Lachlan has stuffed up enough things that he should be sacked. James Packer deserves another chance because One.Tel is his only major disaster.


Feeble ASIC lets big end of town run amok

Australia’s love affair with “high flyers,” flamboyant entrepreneurs, and wild west type corporate cowboys is costing the average mr and mrs citizen dearly. The breathtaking investment shift from property to volatile stockmarkets has produced the effect of an investor population moving from one side of a small ship, to the other, placing the economy closer to the danger zone. Our corporate watchdog ASIC, is soaking up $136 million per year whilst claiming “we are there to watch over the big end of town.” In reality, the prosecution list denies that statement. Whilst ASIC cannot (as yet) be blamed for One Tel, our cowboy regulator must accept the fact that corporate collapses are becoming a daily event, on their patch. Financial security is of paramount concern to mr and mrs citizen – ASIC is empowered to scrutinise trends and take action and make strong recommendations for change in the high flying sector. Meanwhile, our corporate watchdogs are continually “monitoring.” Monitoring high flyers? That is a lunchtime pastime. Perhaps our society has become so obssessed with “secrecy provisions” we no longer keep an eye on what everyone is doing? Message to ASIC: get on with it before we “roll over” into a banana republic!

The Dingo

Crikey:Well said Dingo. That ASIC jail list is pathetic for all the small fry they’ve fried. If they can’t lock anyone up over One.Tel and HIH then they really should give someone else a go.


Hoser deserves a mention

congratulations for giving Raymond Hoser a mention, I thought you may ban him, all the rest of the media has, to their shame.

arthur hawley

Crikey: Yes, self-styled whistleblower Raymond Hoser is up on more contempt charges in the Victorian Supreme Court over his Victoria Police Corruption books which certainly make some very heavy and unfair allegations against some well-respected Victorian judges. But, jailing a publisher is a big step and the mainstream should be reporting what is happening.


Wrong to defend Nine’s hidden cameras at Ray Williams’s house

i love the site and agree with most of the content, having said that here is my first whinge. I think the lynch mob should be left at the door rather than be encouraged to put secret cameras in brief cases, it’s too Mike Moore and only encourages them. The pressure from OzTam must be killing them and a cornered Packer will resort to any tactics.

All the best, Mark T

Crikey: Crikey copped some heat for defending Nine’s use of the hidden camera to get the tour of Ray Williams’s Balmoral mansion which is for sale. Given that it was empty and members of the public with a spare $8m were being shown around, it didn’t worry me too much. Afterall, duping a real estate agent and someone who has blown $4 billion is not a crime given the sorts of things they get up too. That said, hidden cameras and duplicity as a whole should not be generally encouraged so maybe they did cross the line in precedent terms and we shouldn’t have backed them.


Whinge, whinge, whinge

Your site is always very good at whinging, whining and focussing on the negatives.

Pity your website is not more proactive rather than reactive.

Your comments are invariably negative; the criticism rarely being constructive in its comments.

It’s easy to sit back and complain all the time.

Reactive people tend to complain and moan about things over which they have no control rather than focus on being proactive about things over which they do exercise some control. If you were more proactive, you would find your ability to influence issues would increase.

You seem to have a lot of passion….it appears to me you need to channel it more productively.

What value are you adding to the quality of the debate?

Graham

Crikey: Stop bloody whinging Graham, you seem to do nothing else. It’s time to be more positive and pro-active about Crikey and then we will be able to do our job of cutting down dodgy characters more effectively. But just to show we can be positive, we greatly admire and respect the following business leaders: John Fletcher, Gary Pemberton, John Cloney, John Morschell, Catherine Livingstone, Ziggy Switkowski, Frank O’Halloran, the Smorgon family, Peter Smedley, David Murray and Allan Moss. And we reckon the following are terrific journalists: Sally Neighbour, Paul Barry, Liz Jackson, Ivor Ries, Laurie Oakes, Alan Kohler and Ross Coulthart


If Colonial flops, how bad is Homebush?

Stephen,

If Colonial is in trouble (does it have that name forever, by the way?) how badly off is Homebush?

At least Colonial has some numbers, I can’t recall anything at Homebush recently.

By the way – what happened to your 3LO (sic) segment tonight?

Regards, Malcolm S

Crikey:Stadium Australia are in an even bigger mess with a share price of just 8c but the Carr Government has just given them $12 million in a bailout to help fund the reconfiguration for AFL. Watch this space for more bailout of bankrupt and loss-making stadiums across the country. The ABC Melbourne permanent spot has been cut whilst I’m running for Melbourne Lord Mayor (fair enough) but they had me on the day after the decision to talk One.Tel and say this will happen occasionally on an issue by issue basis.


Dan is a nutter

Dan McNutt in his comments about the Government payout obviously has no idea about the differences between prisoners of war of the Japanese and those of the Germans. Contrary to his belief, there were two classes and he has obviously never had to listen to the horrors experienced by those POWs who were in Changi and on the Burma Railway. Certainly the POWs of the Germans suffered but they were not forced to work as slave labourers until they died. They did not witness the routine daily beatings and killings inflicted by the Japanese on Australian soldiers, using Australian POWs as targets for bayonet practice, tying them to trees for minor infringements until they died, or beheading they if they tried to escape.

My stepfather spent 2 years in Changi, followed by two years on the Burma Railway. During that time he witnessed unspeakable horrors each day as his friends and fellow soldiers died around him, suffering dysentery and other diseases, yet each day they were sent out on work parties that were smaller when they got back as many died while they worked. He survived but came back as a shell of a man, screaming at night as he dreamt he was back there again. He has passed away now but before he died he said he could never forgive the Japanese, nor forget what they had done to Australian soldiers. He could not talk to my mother about it, but he felt he had to let me know what had happened over those years.

Perhaps Dan McNutt may wish to compare the percentage death rates of the Australian soldiers captured by the Japanese as against the death rates of those Australians captured by the Germans. Then perhaps he might then realise there were different classes of prisoners. I can also assure him that the payment of $25,000 in no way really compensates for the horrors they faced and the sacrifice they made for this country. The only question I could raise is why did it take so long for the Government to recognise the sacrifice of these men, and why when most of them are dead do they now pay compensation.

If Dan McNutt wishes to make smart remarks about POWs, I suggest he keep them to himself until he has the misfortune to experience the same himself, or have a close relative who had has been through the same traumas as my stepfather. He should be thankful that in today’s society it is unlikely he will have the “opportunity”.

Napper

Crikey:All good points and Dan may return to this issue in future columns.


A hex on Wayne Jackson

Dear Stephen,

On behalf of all AFL Members I would like to wish Wayne Jackson a speedy recovery after his unfortunate accident.

We hope that the standard of care and treatment he is receiving during his stay in hospital is commensurate to the standard of care and treatment he has shown to AFL Members during his tenure as CEO of the AFL.

Kind Regards, Michael Agrotis

Crikey: Six broken ribs was a heavy price to pay. I’m curious as to where he got the cash for the farm because he ran the winemaker Hardy Brothers into the ground when he was the CEO and didn’t deserve any big bonuses from that exercise.


Shame Crikey Shame

Well, you should bloody well should think again, Stephen. Sixty Minutes’ performance was the sort of disgracefully hypocritical media behaviour that has brought public opinion of journalism down to levels well below politicians and the proverbial used car salesmen. It is utterly indefensible.

Isn’t this sort of thing, ie journalists misrepresenting themselves as something else to gain access to people’s houses, expressly forbidden by that much vaunted, but conveniently ignored, Journalists’ Code of Ethics? Who elected 60 Minutes, or you, as sheriff, judge and jury in the HIH case? Until he has been convicted by a court of law, Williams is guilty of nothing, and he and his family are entitled to the presumption of innocence and all that entails.

I subscribed to Crikey mainly on Paddy McGuinness’s recommendation. In particular, he praised your refreshing attempts to keep the media bastards honest. My continuing support depends entirely on you maintaining your high ethical standards. Hilary and other ‘contributors’ might strain to amuse themselves and other ‘reptiles’ with petty gossip and childish nicknames for politicians, but I suggest that your adult readers will tolerate this crap only so long as you, yourself, stay above it. Get down to that level yourself, and you’ve lost me.

Please don’t shit in your own nest.

Mike B

Crikey: Ouch, clearly some people don’t think the public interest arguments in showing the world Ray Williams’s arguably ill-gotten gains outweighed the ethical issues of pretending to be a buyer. I stress again that the house was not furnished and was open to members of the public who wanted to buy it. It was on public display but they were discriminating against journalists from having access. Crikey does not condone duplicity and the regular use of hidden cameras but you need to look at the circumstances and I don’t think it was such a dreadful thing. They’ll probably get a better price from all this notoriety so the agent’s fee will be bigger and there will be more available for HIH creditors when the class action against Ray and his mates comes through.


FNQ far better than Coastie’s world

“It is also dirt cheap to live here. Over the coming columns, the Coastie is going to delve deep into the Gold Coast psyche, and reveal what makes the coast (and by definition Queensland) tick. ”

— Gold Coastie, debut column in Crikey recently.

Agree with the first …… that’s why i can afford to be a bum in far north queensland and spend my time slanging off at Crikey like there would be no hope of doing in expensive Sydney ……. but the second …… great column but any ‘mexican’ turkey who thinks the gold coast is what makes queensland tick is a genuine wanker ……. the southern 4wd ladies and their male complimentary 40yo yuppy aspirants which feature in the Coastie’s column are a dead give away ……. this is the antithesis of what makes Queensland different !!!!!

As a ‘mexican’ (NSW) who spent most of their childhood holidays on the Gold Coast and the past decade as a ‘rationalist’ being totally exasperated by a life in regional Queensland the column was entertaining ….. and hope to see more …… but total bullshit if it pretends to represent ‘Greater Queesnland’ !!!!!!!

Hey Coastie ….. if you haven’t been here long enough to have voted against daylight saving in a referendum …… and you don’t know why it was great decision for Queensland by the people despite the southern ill-informed-smart-arsed-comments then what qualifies you to comment on behalf of ‘what makes Queensland tick’ …… in a word ……. bullshit !!!!!!!!!

Crikey: It’s on, 05we’ve got Queenslanders slagging each other. Anyone else want to dip their banana into this one? Crikey was born in Brisbane’s Mater hospital in 1969 but we got the hell out of Brisbane before the 1970s kicked in. It’s cheap as chips but give me Melbourne any day. We live halfway between the MCG and the top end of Collins St and we don’t sweat for half the year because of the humidity.


Fixing the pharmaceutical problem

Hi Stephen,

I don’t want this to go on and on but ….. I think you’re really looking at the wrong issue when you’re talking about the Australian use of pharmaceutical products. The driver here is Medicare.

As you probably know the rebate for bulk-billing medical practitioner is about $22. This has risen from around $18 when Medicare was introduced. As several medical practitioners have said to me “what kind of care do you expect for $22?”.

Regardless of what anyone expects, what you get is a prescription for a pharmaceutical product. The only way a GP can stay in business is by being a prescription factory – anything that involves taking time with patients has to be avoided.

As evidence we only have to look at the recent AMA statements regarding cholesterol reduction drugs. There is no question that the best way to lower cholesterol is to lose weight. Cost to taxpayer = $0. But for a MD this is very expensive. People don’t overeat because they lack willpower, they overeat because they have problems, because of their lifestyle, because of their upbringing. All of these can be modified with the time and care of a GP. Unfortunately, GPs can’t afford time and care – but they do have a script pad.

Who is to blame? Well we all are. Society thinks that medical care is the most important thing in the world, until you have to pay for it.

Regards, anon

Crikey: So we’re all addicted to drugs, legal and illegal. It sounds like there needs to be a greater price signal to consumers in the form of higher prices (lower taxpayer subsidy) and some form of incentive to stop GPs over-prescribing. Maybe the answer is to make visits to the doctor a little bit more expensive too (ie less taxpayer subsidy).


Kidmania pays big time for Murdoch

G’day Longfella,

did you see that piece about Nicole Kidman in the Sunday Age. All about her carefully stage-managed public relations and how the hacks dutifully fall into line. Apparently someone broke protocol at one recent “press conference” and had the temerity to ask about her little-publicised split with her man.

There was a stunned silence, and then incredibly, the rest of the hacks started booing and hissing! Makes one ashamed to say you’ve worked in the industry, don’t ya reckon? I hasten to add my wife pointed out the article to me. One thing the piece did clear up for me was regarding the bombardment of articles and drivel about the sexy mummer of late. Should have cottoned on earlier but her latest offering is a 20th Century Fox effort and we all know who owns that now, don’t we. hence the blanket cross promotion.

Crikey: Baz Luhrman is one of Lachlan’s untouchables (just like Collette Dinnigan) who none of his journalists are allowed to criticise. And given that Mark Day’s wife Wendy manages Nicole it is not surprising to see the run she gets in the Murdoch press. Then again, Tom and Nicole were THE Hollywood couple so you can’t be too cynical.


Natasha loves the big office

Ah Satan apparently loves the big office she inherited from Meg Lee’s and has been very vocal about it. Poor Meg’s fall from grace was softened by the offer from Aden Ridgeway for her to have the quite decent office otherwise due to him. He is such a sweetie and will make do with a broom closet which is all he really needs given Ah Satan’s decision not to allocate him any extra staff now he is deputy leader but to retain them all for her own use…… something about needing the extra body to waive a fan as she reclines. Of course it would have nothing to do with wanting to “clip the wings” of a deputy with far too high a media profile for any leader to be able to recline easily as she consumes peeled (organically grown) grapes.

Anon

Crikey: You’re such a bitch anon. Natasha has helped the Dems in the polls but she’s really copping it internally by all accounts. Hogging the staff and setting up a central media unit is one way to control recalcitrant senators but it certainly won’t make them happy. Be careful Nat. You’d hate to see a quality performer like Senator Andrew Murray defect to a fledgling outfit like People Power now would you.


What about the big fish ASIC?

Message loud and clear to David Knott: I am an avid reader of the ASIC Annual Reports and regularly observe each and every conviction. The pattern justifies our criticism. Note the amounts: $300,000 here $400,000 there!!! The big boys with the millions such as G Grubb ($22 million missing) were indeed the result of RECA blowing the whistle to the media in WA, years after ASIC knew what was going on. The latest from the liquidators of Triscott Troubles in Queensland (a Crikey scoop)- $39 Million invested by innocent retirees and only $19 million expected to be recovered. My trip to Qld members in December, exposed the efforts of Triscott and RECA members thwarted his spectacular attempt to leave the country on a one way ticket. ASIC are trying to take the credit. David should realise his officers admitted in Court they knew of Triscott’s 52 loans in default in June last year and forgot to mention a word to the public. Better race up to Qld David, another 12 solicitors exposed by RECA during the May tour. We expect similar figures to the above. Memo to ASIC staff. Stop picking up the little fish. For $137 Million per year we want you to pick up the big boys!! Go for it.

Denise Brailey, RECA founder

Crikey: Denise Brailey is a rolled gold Crikey hero. This single mum has done more on her own than all the regulators put together. When she tells Crikey there is $4 billion of rotton loans and investments tied up in solicitor loans, dodgy finance brokers and tax-effective schemes then we believe her and want the Federal Government to include this in its HIH Royal Commission.

Peter Fray

This crisis will cut hard and deep but one day it will be over.

What will be left? What do you want to be left?

I know what I want to see: I want to see a thriving, independent and robust Australian-owned news media. I want to see governments, authorities and those with power held to account. I want to see the media held to account too.

Demand for what we do is running high. Thank you. You can help us even more by encouraging others to subscribe — or by subscribing yourself if you haven’t already done so.

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Peter Fray
Editor-In-Chief of Crikey

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