Crikey has a colorful group of subscribers and one of them, Demtel Man Tim Shaw, joined us for a lively day at the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday.

There were literally hundreds of punters in the “general admission” area at The Cup who asked him for a set of steak knives or laughed uproariously when yelling “But wait, there’s more.”

As a distraction from half the people on his train carriage making steak knife jokes on the way home, he led them in a version of New York, New York.

After we attended a luncheon address at the Town Hall by Major General Peter Cosgrove on Monday, the chief of our army appeared to be acquainted with only Dame Elisabeth Murdoch and Big Tim after he spoke.

Then again, when someone spends $30 million on your face, it has got to change your life. He really is an amazing social phenomenon. “But wait there’s more” is a real part of the Australian vernacular and he owns it even though the last Demtel ad went to air in 1995.

I dragged him along to the weekly RRR spot at 7.45am this morning just for a laugh and he stole the show with a fine performance.

STEAK KNIVES IN THE BIRDCAGE

The Demtel Man works with car rental company Thrifty so we were in their tent in the Bird Cage for much of the day. The MD John Walker just happens to be chairman of MultieMedia, the company which boasts Steve Vizard and Eddie McGuire as shareholders and owns 22 per cent of AFL club website operator Sportsview, so it was lucky I didn’t front their AGM a couple of weeks ago.

With the rain pouring, the genuinely admirable celebrities were hard to spot as this paragraph from today’s Australian demonstrates:

“Famous faces who braved the weather included WogBoy Nick Giannopolous, Derryn Hinch, Eileen Bond, Sonia McMahon and lipstick queen Poppy King.”

Now if that is the best The Oz can do they weren’t trying very hard.

The Demtel Man was wearing a tie with polo horses on it which impressed Sigrid Thornton, who along with Marina Prior gets provided with a free Saab and consequently spent most of the day in the Saab tent.

Steak Knives also bumped into philanderer Michael Photius and his new squeeze – just back from Bali – and the lad also bumped into a very relaxed John and Colleen Fahey who were enjoying the Finance Minister’s last couple of days on the Parliamentary payroll.

John is down to one lung and has given up the fags but the wife still puffs away regularly.

Maggie Tabaret’s (sic) former handbag Richard Zachariah was looking extremely tanned and crashed the Thrifty tent for a while but when he went to say g’day to Derryn, the bearded one shunned him.

The average cost of the catering and provisions for a tent in the Bird Cage was about $60,000 for the four days of the carnival but there were some notable empty spaces and vacant tents.

One very odd tent was full of coppers, emergency workers and other uniformed types. A bunch of them crashed the Thrifty tent for a while and explained that they were on a leadership course and had come from 9 different countries.

TOOHEYS TENT

Even the girls hanging outside the Tooheys Tent were giggling away about “Steak Knives” when we bumped into Lion Nathan spindoctor Gabrielle McDowell and his PR mate Adam Kilgour, the former Nick Bolkus staffer behind the Labor friendly PR outfit CPR.

Tooheys got the best run in the press of all the tents and you’d hope so with 750 guests, the world’s longest sushi train and great views of the straight.

Russ Hinze’s New York-based progeny Kristy Hinze was the busty blonde patron for Tooheys who wowed all the blokes including ATSIC chairman Geoff Clarke who still gets the odd invite to get on the booze despite everything that has been said about him of late.

Adman John Singleton is that Aussie patriot who does the advertising for this Japanese controlled brewer so he was naturally on the Tooheys booze, presumably with his sixth wife in tow.

Little Lleyton was the big sports star attraction for Tooheys and naturally there were dozens of journos getting on the free booze to make sure this got a run in every paper.

Others names in the Tooheys tent included Gary Sweet, Max Walker, Deni Hines, reformed druggie Jason Donovan and even Wayne Carey.

Sworn music industry enemies Molly Meldrum and Michael Gudinski were also with Tooheys whilst the man who packages their beer, Amcor CEO Russell Jones, was naturally building those bonds with Lion Nathan’s Scottish-born CEO Gordon Cairns.

Most of the Victorian Labor Cabinet were on the course enjoying the perks of office but Simon Crean was the only Federal Labor frontbencher spotted taking time off from campaigning in the Tooheys tent chatting to Lion Nathan’s patriotic director Kevan Gosper, the only Aussie-born bloke on this supposedly Sydney-based Australian board.

You would all remember that it was Labor and the Democrats who rolled the government on the beer tax excise increase earlier this year so Crean and his cronies can expect lots invitations and free drinks.

Tooheys would have been delighted with the exposure that the $1 million giveaway generated. The 200,000 entrants had to spend $5 million buying their carton and then the winner was featured on both A Current Affair and Today Tonight pulling out his gold stubby live on national television.

The big question now is whether the market share figures for the December quarter will show Lion Nathan cracking 15 per of the Victorian market for the first time.

Former CUB managing director Nuno D’Aquino, spotted in the Aami tent on Derby Day, was enjoying the beginning of his retirement over the weekend and was relieved he never had to fulfil his 1996 promise of resigning if Lion Nathan ever cracked 15 per cent of the Victorian market.

FOREIGN OWNERSHIP

We’re said to have the best racing industry in the world, which is a wonderful accolade for the world’s biggest gamblers to wear. And whilst this sports loving nation can finish third on the Olympic medal tally, the pathetic performance of our corporate sector was on display yet again yesterday.

The most mentioned corporate tents in the press were all foreign companies – Tooheys, SAAB, Domain Chandon and Emirates. There really are just so few major Australian-owned consumer brands.

S11 did not reduce the numbers willing to accept freebies from Emirates Air with Steve Bracks, Trevor Marmalade, Sonia McMahon, Geoffrey Rush and John Landy however it is not clear that they all turned up.

Many tents in the Bird Cage were unbranded but this is the list of those who outed themselves and you can really see the strength of the foreign contingent from this:

L’Oreal, Bovva Boyer, Salinger, Qantas, Sleepmaster, Hilton on the Park, Virgin Mobile (complete with big photo of a half-naked bloke), Eliza Park, Wise Employment, Bending Coopers, Canon, Price Waterhousecoopers, Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners Association (TROA), Freehild Hollingdale and Page, ABN Amro, TNT, Teac, Emirates, Sodex Ho, Cadbury Schweppes, Bensons, Tabcorp, Moet Chandon, Australand, Saab, Tooheys, Menzies Group, Damovo, Telstra Mobile, UBS Warburg, Yallambe Stud, Macquarie Bank, Home of Festa Rossa,

THE CORPORATE BROLLY COUNT

With big names hard to spot, Crikey and Demtel resorted to another game in the Bird Cage yesterday, counting the corporate branded brollies.

If your hosts failed to provide a big branded brolly then they really failed the key hospitality test yesterday – keeping the guests dry.

In just one hour of counting, these were the brands we spotted on brollies:

NRMA, BankWest, Perpetual, Middleton Moore Bevans, L’Oriel, Rialto, Greg Norman, Merrill Lynch, Oakford, Freehills, Lufthansa, Hilton, Rosemount, Papa Giuseppe, Thrifty, Domain Chandon, Orix, Lazard, Financial Review, Rydges Hotels and Resorts, Davies Collison Cave, Knappstein, Amcor Carton Boards, Conquerer, Lindemans, Tego, Telstra, Lavazza Cafe51 Expresso, Damovo, Hocking Stuart, Aami Victoria Derby Day, ABN Amro, Crown Melbourne, St Vincents Hospital Melbourne, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Saville Star City, Steelbro, Biggin & Scott, Vodafone, CSR, Gogas, Sims Lockwood, Clemenger BDO and Barry Plant Doherty.

VRC COMMITTEEE

Having lunch with the VRC committee was fancied by several heavy hitters such as keen punter and multi-millionaire Michael Kroger, Bracksie, Sir Rupert Clarke and Sir Robert Sangster.

Andrew Peacock was hovering in the vicinity of the committee room with his date Penne Korth and must have been regretting the Kennett defeat in 1999 as he was poised to be appointed chairman of a new Racing Commission after the election.

Toffy VRC chairman Andrew Ramsden officiated during the presentations. He is the bloke who went on The 7.30 Report back in 1993 after Tabcorp float negotiations with the Kennett government had concluded and declared: “We’ve got more money than we could poke a stick at.”

Victorian racing industry distributions have soared from about $120 million to $200 million a year since then and the lads all have Merrill Lynch chairman Mike Tilley to thank for this largesse. Kennett and Stockdale were away overseas when Mike did this deal on the government’s behalf and it would not surprise if he was granted life membership of every race club in Victoria after that effort.

Feedback to [email protected]

* Crikey has 1880 subscribers who for $55 get a tee-shirt, 5 sealed section emails a week with this sort of material and access to our 2.4 million word searchable archive so why not join the Crikey army by clicking here to read the daily email updates with breaking news and analysis.

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

JOIN NOW