Why isn’t Rupert’s mate Eddo copping it over Ansett

Dear Crikey

I am rather amused at the current press treatment of where Ansett is at and
how it got there. Whilst all of the journalists concerned seem to have got
the basic elements of the story right (too many different aircraft types,
owners not really interested in the airline industry, Air NZ paying too
much for Ansett, weak balance sheet, loss of market share, etc) they have
laid the blame for Ansett’s state at everyone from Peter Abeles management
in the 80s to the Air NZ board over the past year. This amuses me because
they seem to have studiously avoided blaming the management of Ansett over
the years when Ansett went into the spin – from 1997 to 2000. During this
period Ansett was controlled by News Ltd and in particular managed by Rod
Eddington, now head of British Airways. When Eddington arrived at Ansett
their market share was around 55%, after three years at the helm he had
dropped this down to 42%. He had also introduced an additional aircraft
type to an already ridiculously mixed fleet. “Eddo” took three years to
implement a restructure which was supposed to focus on the business market
– the result of this wonderful effort was that over the three year period
Ansett’s share of the business travel market fell from 60% down to 30%.
Eddo also had Singapore lined up to buy half of Ansett – but Singapore
backed away after they completed due diligence in early 2000. Air NZ
desperately wanted to buy the second half Ansett, but unfortunately for
them Eddo was leading them astray at board meetings – cooking the books to
make it look as if he had turned Ansett around from the small loss it had
made in 1996/97. Of course the turnaround he claimed as his own was the
result of fuel and US$ hedging put in place by his predecessor when the AU$
was at 80cents US in early 1996. When the hedging ran out after two years,
Ansett’s losses began, in 1999/2000. But Ansett declared a profit of $120m
in 1999/2000, didn’t it? Truth is the real result for 199/2000 was close
to zero, which means about $120 million of the 2000/2001 loss for Ansett
belongs to the previous year. Yes, the AirNZ boardmembers should have
knwon better, but News/Eddo had executive control and the casting vote on
the board for all decisions. And now for something really amusing – a
couple of the senior management team involved in the Ansett debacle are now
running the two main airlines in the UK. God help them.

So why hasn’t Eddo copped any bad press? He is a News director?

Rebecca Cooper

CRIKEY: Excellent points Rebecca. Rod should be in Adelaide for the News Corp AGM on October 11 and this is a point that
should be made.

Adelaide’s battling but I love it

Dear Stephen,

Your vignette in the Sealed Section (07 September) about “Poor Old Adelaide” intrigued and saddened this South Australian subscriber.

What exactly do you suggest we do with this state ? Shut it down ? Sell us off to Victoria ? We could divide and shunt off our population between the thriving metropolises of Moe, Cabramatta, and Inala, perhaps ? Or maybe sell us off as white slaves, if all we are is “one big community service obligation”.

Having been here since 1985, I’ve never seen a state so badly served by its elected representatives as this one.

Our industrial base fell apart from the moment the tariff walls came down (not that they should have been there in the first place) The State Bank ripped the guts out of our finances. Losing the Grand Prix broke our hearts… especially the smarmy, arrogant way Kennett gloated in stealing it. But then we got Buffy via a palace coup, who couldn’t even get a majority of the vote at the only election he actually won !

Having sold off every government asset that wasn’t nailed down, especially the power utility… Olsen’s now lining us up for the killer blow when householders are flung into the privatised electricity market. Pasminco, whose smelter virtually IS the Port Pirie economy, is on the bones of its arse. (Its power bill has just risen by 7 million) And Mitsubishi in Japan still can’t lie straight in bed when it comes to a firm answer on the future of the motor and assembly plants here. And as for the bloody submarines !!!

Incidentally the only thing we’re realistically hoping to get out of a Labor Government is some degree of dislosure about how much of our tax money Buffy has spent setting up phone farms, and other subsidised jobs that he’s pinched from interstate.

But much as we’d love to take your advice Stephen, and move east to fill your slums because we can’t afford your real estate prices… some of us just might stick it out here. Some of us enjoy having world class wineries an hour’s drive to the north and south of the city… beaches to the west, rolling hills to the east… and a city heart you still drive into and out of with relative ease. But please rest assured, it’s not a ghost town yet. As a left-wing journo down here noted recently: “We live in a community, not an economy”

Sorry we’re not contributing to the national wealth like we used to, but as I alluded to earlier… someone put our eggs in the wrong damn baskets. By the way, good luck in Port Augusta… you’ll be wearing your balls as ear-rings once the Mayor, Joy Baluch is through with you !!!


Peter, South Australian subscriber.

CRIKEY: All good points Peter. Make sure you watch Australia Talks this Thursday night to see how the people of
Port Augusta are feeling about life at the moment.

Fending off the union thugs

Dear Stephen,

I’m not sure if you can help me here, I am having a few hassles with unions
at a new factory we’re setting up in Melbourne’s west and we have had them down
there trying to recruit members with some rather interesting methods! I’m
simply wondering if you could point me in the right direction for advice on
the correct procedures, rules etc.?

Briefly, we have a few guys on site who were told a pack of lies about
entitlements, hourly rates, the boss doesn’t care about you, we are the only
ones who will look after you etc. They were given application forms and told
to fill them as well as direct debit forms without being told how much it
costs etc. This is all after the union people were politely requested to
phone the office and make an appointment, yet they still walked in and told
the workers they had to stop and talk to them!

I will be most grateful for any suggestions about who I should talk to for

Best Regards, anon

CRIKEY: Ah yes, aren’t factory tactics by Victoria’s militant unions they just terrific. Can only suggest you try VECCI or someone like that.
Stick to the award, maybe try your local Labor MP but they’ll probably be a former union organiser anyway. Meanwhile, whilst
most employer types are too scared to single out individual unionists, here at Crikey we reckon Martin Kingham, Dean Mighell and Craig
Johnston are industrial thugs who should be turfed out of their unions. Crikey is a very happy member of the moderate journalists union
known as the MEAA but Victoria’s blue collar union leaders are Australia’s most destructive.

BHP knackered by Don’t Argue


Don’t Argue (BHP chairman Don Argus) can add this to his teachings, “How to Knacker Australian Shareholders.”

BHP Billiton MD sold some 877,000 BHP shares to clear A$7.5m. Brian Gilbertson sold shares on August 23 at average price of UK 3.141 pounds each – $A7.5 million, according to media reports.

BHP defended Mr Gilbertson, saying he remains a significant shareholder in the company.

Could? there be a class action against (nearly) all the instos &, (nearly) all the broking houses who so effortlessly encouraged the BHP Billiton carve up & in so doing wiped a fortune from Australian BHP shareholders.

And again we ask, where was ASIC?

We never did get an independent valuation of the merger.


CRIKEY: Couldn’t agree more. First we’re told Billiton have great management then then finance director walks out within weeks of the merger.
Then we’re told Gilbertson is coming to run the show from Australia when he’s used the proceeds from his share sales to buy a house
in London. JB Were estimated the merger transferred $5.5 billion from BHP to Billiton and now Don’t Argue’s great Homeside purchase
has cost NAB $4 billion. Methinks it is time Don’t retired with his $40 million before he does any more damage.

Letter of the week: Howard’s game plan

Dear Crikey

It’s nice to see some passion in a journo, ie the Tampa refugees, but it is
a complicated issue which requires cooler thought and will not be resolved
by ranting (as it was late at night, you hadn’t been having a merlot or two
by any chance?). I don’t have the solution and whatever the outcome, both
short and long-term, will be complicated and not universally acceptable.
Such is life. My own inclination is to let them in, but the underlying
issues are perhaps more interesting and this is where I think Crikey could
have done better.

While it is good for your subscribers to know your editorial policy, you do
not need to overstate it, or make it the centrepiece of the product. You
need to play to your strengths, and Crikey’s is getting some inside goss,
spelling out what the papers won’t say, and providing incisive analysis.

After some temporary discomfort, the refugees will ultimately be looked
after one way or another. They have received enough global publicity for it
not to be otherwise. The real story for Crikey behind the issue is John
Howard’s determination to deliver a third victory to the Coalition, whatever
it takes. It informs everything he says and does. In spite of attempts by
the media and party apparatchats to make the impending election sound like a
contest, until last week the govt can have been in no doubt it was on the
electoral nose, holding too many marginal seats and spurned in the bush.

As ever, Qld remained a problem. And as if One Nation was not enough, the
Qld libs were fighting amongst themselves (as regularly updated by Crikey
and today’s Fairfax press) while the ALP sprung the Macfarlane/GST/Groom
ambush. A very unlovely set of numbers. Then along came the Tampa.

John Howard has always been a three dimensional pollie – and his dimensions
are industrial relations, tax cuts, and immigration/race. His actions over
the past year illustrate it. Abbott the zealot was brought in to kick union
heads, Costello and Howard have played the tax cuts card, and now the
trifecta is complete with immigration (read xenophobia and religious
bigotry), dressed up as national sovereignty. They’ll love it in the bush.
(Wonder if Howard will award SAS diggers with campaign medals for this one.)

CHOGM has now become a nuisance. There isn’t enough time for an election
before HM QE2 comes (don’t forget Hyacinth is so looking forward to hosting
tea and scones) and it would be unseemly to be actively campaigning during
CHOGM, so the earliest they can go to the polls will be 17 November. Let’s
see how they spin the reffos out until then.

Was it Keating or Hawke who said “Always back self-interest, it’s the only
horse with an honest jockey”. Traditionally, the pundits reckon the
hip-pocket nerve is the touchiest one in the electorate, but really it is
only a symptom. The underlying condition is self-interest (aka “wedge
politics”) and, in a conservative electorate exhausted by change and afraid
of the future, self-interest will be nurtured with all available fertiliser.

The stakes are high, the egos rampant, and electoral memories short. I
can already hear the approaching cacophony of non-core soundbites. Howard
is going to play very hard ball for the next 3 months – Beazley (as Peacock
was unable to do) is going to have to ask himself how much he really wants
the job. Paul Kelly was on the money on the “Insiders” last week – Beazley
has to stay focussed and disciplined.

So how does he counter the “Muslims under the bed” campaign? Tough call,
but he has to remember self-interest is the key. He was on-message with
health and services, he has to stay there and remind the electorate not to
let the last week wipe out the memory of the last six years. He has to make
Howard and Costello scarier than Muslims.

Meanwhile, I hope the professed Christians in the Coalition, especially
Kevin Andrews and his mates in the Lyons Group, pray very hard for goodwill
to all men this December. If he is still Prime Minister come December, it
will be Merry Christmas Island, Mr Howard.

signed, Anonymous Subscriber.

PS This was drafted before the Saturday papers, which cover much of the
analysis in similar fashion, and also before the announcement about Nauru.
Talk about a win-win on that one. Honest Howard keeps the Muslims from
under the beds in the bush and Qld, and Nauru, which is broke, gets
Australian dollars pouring in once again. Wait till the taxpayer finds out
how much it is going to cost. And from where will the money come –
Immigration, AusAID, the Govt advertising budget, Sneaky Pete’s surplus?
The charter of Budget honesty, or whatever it is called, that must be
released at the start of the election campaign, is going to be a must-read.

CRIKEY: Very incisive analysis here and fair criticism of Crikey as well. The three dimensional stuff on Howard is very
interesting and rings true. The comments on Asian immigration in the 80s were from the heart it would seem now.

Dee Margetts working on the double dip


Dee Margetts is no longer in the private sector – she’s back as an MLC
in the WA parliament and presumably working on a second parliamentary
super scheme (although admittedly the new WA scheme is significantly
less generous than before – probably the least attractive in Australia).
It seems as if, as Peter Walsh often notes, the general exhortation by
greens for us to lower our living standards does not apply to them. I
for one would rather have had her remain in the private sector as the
greens have the potential to drag the Government here leftwards in a way
we have not seen since Tasmania.

Regards, Charles

CRIKEY: But was she in the Senate long enough to qualify for one of those beautiful pensions. Can anyone help us on this?

The Price of refugee success


I picked up a piece of intelligence yesterday which I find fascinating. We are getting a
large influx of refugees from the Middle East partly because Minister Ruddock’s publicity campaign
highlighting the length of detention and the horrors of the centres has been too successful. The people-
smugglers have had to halve the cost, and we are now the least desirable, but most affordable,
destination, hence the increase in the number coming. Preferred destinations such as Germany
and the UK are twice the cost. The harshness of the system is having precisely the opposite
effect of that intended. While the smugglers get less per head, now, thanks in part to Minister Ruddock,
there are more heads!


CRIKEY: Interesting analysis. I still reckon anyone who makes it all the way to Australia from Afghanistan deserves a medal for
ingenuity. They’ll be the next Frank Lowy, sir Arvi Parbo or Dick Pratt if we just give them a chance.

Meanwhile, Howard advertises for more migrants

Hello there Mr Crikey,

Reeling with depression from the latest Howard/Ruddock/Beazley vom-fest
I thought I’d look at a few international newspapers and see if anyone
out there was giving them the bollocking they deserved. Unfortunately
the Times in London hadn’t updated their website, so they still had last
Saturday’s edition on line, but it did mean I caught an intrigueing
advert they are pitching at the nice, white, C of E home-counties Times
readership. Basically it said, “Do you want to become an Australian
citizen?” followed by a toll free number, authorised by Parliament
House, Capitol Hill, Canberra. No doubt Howard was fed up to the gills
with nasty little beige people with unpronouncable names being too
pro-active on the migrant front, time to redress the balance. Maybe
they’ve had the wit to stop running the ad by now, but if you went to
the Times archive for that day, you’d find it I’m sure.

I think ringing them up and recording the ensuing conversation for
posterity would be a nice idea.

Keep up the (mostly) good work


CRIKEY: Yes, but we only want educated, English speaking migrants from the mother country don’t we. They should love cricket, have
a white picket fence and eat bangers and mash. Isn’t a amusing how the government can’t reach their own targets on
skilled migration.

We’re not detaining them claims the government


Went to the Federal Court today to hear the Tampa case. The government
is arguing that the people on the Tampa are not being detained!

The government argued that the reason the rescuees do not leave the ship
is not because they are being held on the ship and not allowed to leave,
but rather because a) the ship is high in the water; b) the water is
shark infested; and c) they are 4 miles from the shore. The lawyer for
Eric Vodarlis called these reasons “something out of Monty Python”.

The Judge said the question of their detention could be tested by
offering them other transport. The government replied that the issue of
another way off the Tampa hasn’t arisen. This caused laughter in the
gallery, since, as the lawyer for Liberty Vic pointed out, the SAS has
closed the port at Christmas Island and no other ships have been allowed
to approach the Tampa. The question hasn’t arisen because the government
has stopped it from arising.

The other laugh came when the government lawyer tried to claim
diplomatic privilege for the letter from the rescuees to the PM that was
passed on via the Norwegian ambassador. The government lawyer said he
“wished people in court would not gasp in horror whenever I say

If you want to see more of my report look at:

Cheers, Paul Dyson

CRIKEY: Hmmm, armed troops stopping them from getting off at Christmas Island is certainly some form of detention.

Just call yourself an asylum seeker

I had lunch with a fed MP today who suggested that all that was necessary for any of these people to claim refugee status was for any one of them to tap one of the SAS meatheads on the shoulder and say “Hey buddy I seek asylum,” and that was under Australian law. She also said that the dropping of leaflets onto the boat explaining this to the refugees was illegal, funny thing the law, but it might explain why communications between the vessel and the outside world have been cut since the SAS boarded the ship.

CRIKEY: Interesting, I wonder how many knew how to say this in English to gun-toting troops.

A global bollocking just to distract from a GST scam in Queensland

Re. this Tampa standoff, we need to declare war on Norway. We have/had adjoining borders in Antarctica so it would be a shame to waste this frontier, this can be the
site of the brouhaha, emphasis on last two syllables. Not leaving the bad puns for one moment, it would be a cold war, for the Amunsden – Scott memorial cup.

But how about the chain of causation here!? If Hannah Beazley’s appendix had behaved itself, Kimbo wouldn’t have blurred the boundary between family and politics
and had a dig at the Health Minister, then Beazley wouldn’t have been on the back foot and wouldn’t have had to crank up the leaked GST minutes scandal, and finally,
the Norwegian ship wouldn’t have had to become a modern day Flying Dutchman.

Just wondering if other people might have other bizarre chains of causation

CRIKEY: I can remember listening to the first question time after the Tampa rescue and Labor was hammering on the GST scam whilst
the Government took about 3 questions on Tampa and were very keen to talk it up. A polly in trouble will do anything for a
diversion so this sounds highly plausible.

Ageing dribbler takes the piss out of Crikey

Hi Crikey,

I am 50+ and still manage not to dribble too much. I am of Anglo-Saxon descent having come from the UK 27 years ago. I enjoy the pokies on rare occasions, dont take ecstasy which I guess you do, if we are putting age groups into pigeon holes or do you snort coke?? (Only joking) Surprise surprise I can think, doh!!!! What a shame you bring divisions into the way people think of different cultures and age groups. We could argue for ever and a day on what sort of ‘person’ supports John Howard, it is irrelevant and just shows your small ‘b’ bigotry. Guess what we can still think once we get past the big 50.

I personally feel ashamed to be Australian at the present moment and wish Kim Beazley had taken a firmer stand. Don’t let us be swayed by all the rhetoric, this is politically staged to get One Nation off the agenda and John Howard will win the next election unless Labour comes up with some smart footwork and brings the real issues back on the political scene. John Howard has orchestrated the ‘us against them’ mentality to a tee. The issue of taking in ‘refugees’ ‘ asylum seekers’ or should we just call them human beings, is a world wide issue and cannot be solved by a small nation wealding the big stick. It is a problem that will face us for at least the next 20 years as more regimes become more introspective, the Teleban are not going to go away. Most religious groups that have embraced fundamentalism have a shocking human rights record and it us up to the rest of the world to embrace the problem rather than confront it with stand over tactics.

Must away to my pokie machine, whilst wiping the dribble from my mouth and butting out my ciggie!! How do you use a mobile phone?????

Have a nice day!!

CRIKEY: Very good letter. Crikey got a bit carried away in an email to subscribers about the typical ageing, pension drawing, smoking, pokie playing
Howard supporter who reckoned we should send the Tampa packing. Okay, I’m now back in my place and shouldn’t stereo-type
like that. Well said.

Queensland banking scandal under-reported

Thanks for your reply. Not sure if you are now aware that Slater & Gordon and a few other solicitors have started a class action against all parties involved in this scam including action against the ANZ bank. The story was on Today Tonight on Friday 24 August 2001 over here, not sure if it went national. I cannot understand as to why a story as big as this is being treated in this fashion! Just cannot work it out.

Today’s Courier Mail started running articles where people have started bailing out by cutting their losses.

If Commonwealth Bank were caught up in a scene like this, their share price would have crashed, heads would have rolled etc etc.

Simply cannot work it out.


CRIKEY: Australia’s banking writers are notoriously captured by the PR machines of the banks and this is perhaps one reason why the
ANZ exposures to dodgy lending on the Gold Coast is so under-reported. It’s a great story and the Courier Mail’s Hedley Thomas
has done very well with it. Others should be chasing hard but for some reason they are not.

Send Mugabe and Malcolm Fraser fishing


The media reports rising concern about the visit to Australia of Robert Mugabe, the anti-democratic Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, to attend CHOGM. There could be protests. However, there is a solution to the problem. Why not pack Mugabe off with his long-time friend and supporter, Malcolm Fraser? Send the two of them fishing for a few days for mullet. Mal will love talking to his hero about the evils of world trade, colonialism and the Monarchy. Robbo can tell Mal about his support for a free press, ex-freedom fighters, multiculturalism, farmers and his concern for human rights. They’ll both enjoy it immensely. And so would the rest of us.

A.Irving, Brisbane

CRIKEY: Well put Mr Irving. I hope Mugabe suffers huge embarrassment from large scale protests.

Save the environment and cancel your newspaper

Some years ago I realised that my addiction to newspapers was that–an
addiction. Like you I had piles of unread papers everywhere that I didn’t
want to throw out in case I missed something. Yet when you read a month-old
paper you realise that you’ve missed very little.

It took a while, but about six months ago I went cold turkey, and stopped
getting all papers, except for The Australian on Thursday, because I like
its Media supplement (not least because it contains the week’s TV

It helped that I now have a broadband (cable) connection to the internet,
and work from home. So I always have the internet available. I check The
Australian, The Age and The AFR websites each morning, and the ABC and BBC
many times during the day. (I’m no fan of the ABC, but it has the only
halfway-decent local online news service that I know of.) For international
commentary I can go to the New York Times, Economist and many others.

Who needs dead trees?

(My advice to Crikey subscribers: keep up your subscriptions to your
favourite newspapers, but don’t actually read them until they are at least a
month old. Then you’ll realise how vapid and useless most of the “news” is.)

Best wishes, anon subscriber

CRIKEY: I’m trying my luck without newspapers for a while so am now down to only
The Australian because we can’t afford to resubscribe to everything at the
moment and there is about a tonne of old newspapers driving Paula around the
bend that I’m still yet to read. With Newsradio, the web and more than 100
emails pouring in a day, you can keep on top of things pretty well without
slavishly reading the products of dead tree journalism. Anyone else thought
of doing their bit for the environment like Crikey and this anon subscriber?

Sickening use of Lleyton for political gain

Stephen, not sure the PM actually allowed real TV cameras into the room to film him watching Lleyton win the tennis. I noticed recently identical footage on two different channels of the PM watching another aussie win an international sporting event. I suspect his PR machine is providing canned footage to all the TV stations.

It is sickening to see him milking the achievements of others to gain political benefit for himself.It is even worse to see the media allowing themselves to be used in this way.

John Hughes

CRIKEY: No doubt Johnny remembers the way Hawkie milked Pat Cash’s 1987 Wimbledon victory mid-campaign when
the current PM went to bed before Cashy had finished off Lendl. The more amazing thing about this is that
the PM stood up Colin Powell and Dick Cheney at his BBQ to go and pose for the cameras. That is what
really sucked.

Carr getting more and more arrogant


It seems to me that Bob Carr is following the Keating/Kennett lead and
becoming all presidential. Certainly he is enjoying the same one sided media
focus (self produced) and the same indignation at discourteous hacks who
deign to ask a question of which he disapproves.

Recent coverage of the police commissioner Ryan debacle is a case in point.
Carr basically changed the topic or did not comment whenever the heat came
on, in what is becoming an all too familiar tale with him.
Surely after all the loving at the last election he can’t be abandoning Ryan
now when the going gets tough? My question to you Crikey, being the
barometer of political information that you are, is how long is the lag
between this kind of despotic and non-accountable behaviour and destruction
at the ballot box?


CRIKEY: It always happen over time Batman, they just get progressively more arrogant, deluded and intolerant.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey