Overpaid Bill Clinton

Dear Crikey,

I just heard a news grab that Bill Clinton is planning to spend the rest of his life redistributing the world’s income.

This fits in well with the report in the Australian on Monday that he got $700,000.00 for rehashing some of his earlier speeches ; also with the rumour that his fee for
opening the World IT Congress was $1 million — although the spin doctors were keen for this info not to leak out. Although with our exchange rate, this is probably enough
for some new pads on his old sax when tramslated into American dollars.

Regards, The Central Coaster

CRIKEY: It is just amazing how Bill is so money hungry in the way he charges for speeches but given that Crikey was once paid $3000 for a morning at a conference I can’t get too outraged.

Richard Carleton damages us journalists


It’s good to see an over-rated and over-paid Channel 9
reporter enhancing the standing of the journalists in
the community:

Barrister: “Did you mislead viewers, Mr Carleton?”
Carleton: “In the technical meaning of the word
misleading, yes.”

Barrister: “Did you lie to viewers?”
Carleton: “In so far as the meaning of the word lie is
taken (to mean) misleading, yes.”

Mr Carleton denied he had behaved unethically as a

Should see us placed firmly below real estate agents
and second-hand car dealers in the next survey!

Cheers, Glenn Moore

CRIKEY: Hmmm, I’m about to go through what Carleton is doing so might just keep my powder dry.

Where was Beattie on Darcy

I think that the hysteria over the G-G has a lot more to do with the man
than the issue. Although he has come across appallingly for a man so
experienced in using the media to advance his career, this whole issue seems
to be more a case of (a) he should never have been appointed and (b)
personal blowback (to use a current cliché).

His appointment was granted with underwhelming support from all sections of
the commentariat. Few openly criticised his appointment, as this is not
really done to a newly appointed GG without good reason. But it was obvious
that almost no-one warmly supported it. At the very earliest opportunity
(his complaint about the language used by rowers) the media subtly lampooned
him. People’s willingness to go after him for issues as small as that and to
go so amazingly berko over the abuse stuff is because they finally have a
reason to say he should never have been appointed although dressing it up as
he should now resign. How much of this is also a case of the person who
lives by the media dying by the media?

Another sidelight is that people like Peter Beattie and Jim Soorley, who
have no involvement in the issue, are coming out to call for his sacking.
The hypocrisy of Beattie is astounding. For purely political reasons
Beattie did nothing to Darcy – who was actually charged with child abuse
offences. He remained in parliament and took his super with mild
protestations from Premier Pete about natural justice and innocence until
proven guilty. Where was Beattie’s public outrage then? I’m sure that
privately he was appalled – but did nothing to take a stand against it
because it might get politically tough if he did. But he will happily call
for Hollingsworth – who is guilty of appalling judgement, being a product of
his day and dreadful self-justification – to resign. But then again,
Hollingsworth was famous as Archbishop for having media conferences to call
for others to be more compassionate, charitable and caring – hence the
blowback now.

Well that’s enough for this little rant.

Oh, by the way – referring to Tony from Brisbane, notice how many people
just “happen” to be listening to redneck radio?

Anon, of course.


Insurance madness must stop now

Hi Stephen!

This madness has to stop! Every week more businesses and professional people are shutting their doors because they cannot afford to insure
themselves, or because insurance companies will not renew policies!

My son, a chiropractor, says his Professional Indemnity Insurance has gone up 850% THIS YEAR. He has to see an additional 600 patients to break
even! One of his colleagues, an obstetrician for 20 years, says he has delivered his last baby as his professional indemnity insurance costs are

I know of one “not for profit” youth and lifestyle centre, who will have to close their operations tomorrow because they cannot get Public Liability
Insurance. Please refer to my attachment for further details. It will be a tremendous loss to our community.

We have lost festivals (eg Carols by Candlelight), sporting clubs, community residential services for youth, etc, and our lives will be poorer for it. People
who have run businesses (adventure tourism, horseriding schools and trail rides,camp grounds, publicans etc) even with no previous claims, have had
to close their businesses even though they have been paying insurance for years. Jobs are lost, homes are lost… relationships affected etc…. The
human cost is high!

It appears there is only ONE insurance company left in this country that even considers any Public Liability Insurance policies. Insurance costs have
gone through the roof.

Could we start a force of insurance clients who are prepared to move all their other insurances to the insurance companies that also offer reasonable
Public Liability Insurance and Professional Liability Insurance to companies that have good track records and are certified with risk reduction

Perhaps someone can think of a way to unite all the others who feel the rage that I feel about this problem, and use our collective power to get some
action quickly!

Regards, Christel Jensen

CRIKEY: Totally agree that this madness must be dealt with straight away and I tend to agree with Joe Hockey that curtailing the advertising of lawyers is one answer.

Unions and ruthless Fox-Lew to blame for Ansett


Here is my attempt at a short critical analysis of the whole Tesna debacle.

Fox & Lew with the assistance of the ACTU effectively bought themselves a 6
month option to pick up Ansett (or at least the parts they really wanted) at
a fire sale price. When they could not offload it at a profit, merge with
Virgin to form a real competitor or carve out some key property assets to
hold for capital appreciation (eg Sydney Terminal – more a small shopping
centre than an airport terminal), they let the option lapse because they
never really had the intention of running Ansett in its present form (they
are too smart for that). Fox & Lew then blame the Sydney Airports
Corporation, the Federal Government, the Administrators, Peter Hollingworth
and anyone else in sight for the sale not proceeding to placate the unions
(with whom Fox & Lew did a dirty deal in the first place) and to try and
save face with the Aussie public (as if Fox & Lew really care about them).

If anyone really thought that Fox & Lew were in it in the first place as
white knights determined to save jobs, save an Aussie icon etc then I have
the name of a good therapist. These guys did not build the empires which
they have by being charitable. It was all about the opportunistic
acquisition of some cheap assets for resale at a profit with the assistance
of the unions who now find their constituents (the Ansett workers)
completely screwed. The ACTU has been conned but will never admit it and the
anti-Government rhetoric will no doubt continue in order to take the heat
off the real culprits Fox & Lew (ruthless businessmen) and the ACTU (moronic
pawn in Fox & Lew’s profit game).

The irony of the ACTU supporting Fox and Lew in order to preserve ridiculous
entrenched work practices at Ansett with the net result of no work practices
at all will not be lost on most. It all begs the question as to whether the
ACTU’s primary objective is to preserve 19th century work practices at all
costs or to save jobs (albeit a few less of them)? Chris Corrigan must be

We will no doubt see how accurate this all is over the coming months when
more facts emerge.

Cheers, Brett

CRIKEY: Lew and Fox are absolute bottom fishers so it comes as no surprise that when the government refused to hand over the cash and Richard Branson refused to hand over his business that the deal was off.

Anderson caused this Ansett disaster


I do not claim to be an authority on the aviation industry however while everybody seems to be preoccupied about what the government did or did not do to help the Fox Lew bid, surely of more consequence is what the government did to sink Ansett in the first place.

The CEO of Singapore Airlines which of course was the largest shareholder in New Zealand Ansett Airlines had been warning for some time that Ansett was perilously close to collapse. Gary Toomey had told the Australian government that Ansett was losing up to $20m a week

Obviously there was a need for a major injection of funding to save Ansett. Singapore Airlines proposed to increase its stake to 49 percent which of course would have saved Ansett. Qantas’s alternate proposal was to buy Singapore’s interest in New Zealand Airlines and sell Ansett to Singapore Airlines. The only problem with that proposal was that Singapore had no intention of selling and had publicly and firmly said so.

Qantas immediately saw the danger to them of a much strengthened competitor in the region.

Dixon’s answer to this threat was to convince the hay seed Australian Minister for Transport John Anderson that Ansett’s financial circumstances were not nearly as perilous as both Singapore and New Zealand were claiming in spite of the fact that the government had been directly informed by Gary Tommey of their perilous financial state.

Dixon convinced Anderson that the Qantas proposal was the way.

Dixon provided Anderson with incorrect figures which showed Ansett was not in trouble in spite of the government having been told of its real situation by its owners, whom you would expect to know.

Qantas then packed up Anderson and sent him off to New Zealand to sell the Qantas proposal and to convince the New Zealand government not to allow Ansett’s rescue by Singapore Airlines. In spite of the fact that Singapore Airlines had no intention of selling, John Anderson flogged the Qantas deal to the New Zealand government. He even took the incorrect Qantas figures on Ansett’s financial position with him and used them to argue against Singapore rescuing Ansett. It worked a treat.

The New Zealand government which was already apprehensive about selling off a further stake in Air New Zealand, for whatever reason was influenced by Anderson. Singapore was blocked from pumping money into New Zealand Ansett Airlines.

The net result was that Ansett fell over and the New Zealand government had to pump nearly a billion dollars into New Zealand Airlines. Well done Mr Anderson.

Channel 9 “Sunday Program” of some weeks ago gave an excellent account of Anderson’s clumsy bungling unless you believe the outcome was the right one for Australia.


CRIKEY: You can’t escape the fact that Qantas is just too big and strong and one aspect of this is their influence over government. And their disgraceful cash for comment deals just show how low they are prepared to go.

Hetty’s cheap shot


Correspondent “Les” makes a telling point in referring to the G-G
witch-hunt selling papers. Fairfax just announced a whopping 58 per cent
drop in profit and Rupe’s still reeling from the $4 bill that Lachie et
al dropped in the past annus horribulus. It’s not much better in idiot
box world where the dumbest and cheapest shows ever contrived have
failed to hold viewers. It’s not smooth sailing on the airwaves either
with new competitors eating into audiences. Was it Nova or Jeff on AK
that sent Price packing? So, expect daily scandals and controversies
until the dickheads who run media finally wake up that their audience’s
eight-year-old kids are packing more smarts than your average news
editor and that sales are still plummeting. As for the dreadful Hetty,
who sparked this hysterical nonsense, she demonstrated that a
responsible media would show her nothing but the door by insisting on
Lateline that Hollingworth should be behind bars.



Janette won’t let PM sack Hollingworth

Hi Stephen

Three observations about Janette Howard:

1) It is hard to imagine two more ambitious – for their husbands – people than Janette Howard and Ann Hollingworth. To see them strutting about on official
occasions is not something that fills me with joy. Hence …

2) It is my theory that Little Johnny won’t sack Hollingworth because Janette won’t let him and that Hollingworth won’t resign because Ann won’t let him.

3) Glenn Milne merely reported the bleeding obvious, but nevertheless he reported observations made TO him, not BY him. It’s not often I will defend Milne, but
this is one occasion when he has my full support. Twice now, Janette has demanded an apology from him for this report: I’m not sure that, if he did apologise,
anyone in the Howard household would realise that he had…”sorry” is not a word that’s terribly familiar to them.

Keep up the good work, Bryan

CRIKEY: Interesting theory and certainly plausible.

Unions and ALP have a lot to answer for on Ansett


Now that the floundering wounded beast known as Ansett has at last
mecifully been put down, hopefully we will see some light shone on the
inept efforts of the ALP and the greed and incompetance of the unions.

The unions greed as well as hopeless management are what sent Ansett under
in the first place. They then got rid of the original administrator under
the guise of conflict of interest as he was talking to several interested
parties that included Lang Corp.

Bye Bye to the first 5000 jobs. Enter the ALP who turned up at every
available photo op but did stuff all else.Remember Fat Boy, Slimey Simon,
Heimi etc, at Ansett HQ when Fox/Lew first got involved, what a joke. As
soon as the election was lost they dissappeared.

Back to the unions who hijacked the creditors meeting and abused any
frequent flier who had spent thousands of dollars gaining points ( and
keeping unionists in work)from speaking up at the meeting. They were then
done over by Fox and Kelty during wage and condition negotiations.
(Bye Bye to another 2000 jobs!)

What an absolute goose Combet now looks, he has presided over the loss of
more union jobs than even Reith was able to manage.
What a sad and depressing time for all the workers and their families,
especially the “lucky” ones who were offered jobs with Tesna, they have
been shafted twice.

It certainly would make anyone think twice about pissing away hard earned
money on union fees in the future.

Bill Ibrox.


Red neck radio sledges Hollingworth unfairly

I found myself listening to redneck radio (Brisbane 4BC) last Friday morning on my way to work. They have a talkback segment between 8:30 and 9:00am. I tuned in as a
woman was bleating about the whole Hollinsgworth business. She was outraged that Hollingsworth had something to do with putting a priest who had allegations of child
abuse made against him in charge of a boy’s choir (whether this was true or not I have no idea – the media it seems lost the facts a long time ago and haven’t bothered to
find them again). In any event she finished up by saying “birds of a feather flock together” – the implication being quite clear. At this the two announcers acted outraged
and basically said that it was wrong to make such an allegation on air. What really gets me is that all talkback programs operate on delay so that if someone says
something inappropriate they can be cut off before the comment goes to air. This did not occur in this instance. Which begs the quite legitimate question – did 4BC
deliberately air the comment just to be controversial?? One must remember that radio stations such as 4BC and other station that are part of the “Redneck Radio
Network” use controversy to boost ratings. Am I being too conspiratorial here?? Needs to be looked into further I suspect.

Tony Fitzgerald


CRIKEY: Fair point, that sort of comment should never get to air. Quite outrageous.

Cheryl did nothing wrong

Dear Crikey,

I have a mate who went to the school in question (St Leo’s), and was
there at the time of the incident.

His understanding from the rumours of the time, was that she hooked up
with the young gentleman after the HSC, and went to Queensland together
after that. He believes she never taught in his classes. It was a long
time ago, so my friend assures me this is best he can remember, and he
could be wrong.

If these rumours are accurate, suggesting the Cheryl was involved in
“child abuse” is a bit excessive.

I might add a final comment from my mate:

“You might want to add something about the fact that most of us
adolescent boys were balls of pure envy- she was *hot*. Ok, maybe not.”

Maybe I will!

Anonymous please…

CRIKEY: Fair point, I guess argument was just demonstrate the hysteria that sometimes surrounds child abuse.

Cheryl’s spindoctor a selective attacker

Hetty Johnstone has successfully villified the GG, and quietened even your site as few dare be seen supporting someone in any way connected with paedophilia. Even if
the support only comprises of saying that he is innocent until proven guilty – oops – nothing to actually charge him with.

So the bloke is left to cop it alone day after day. Not even a nutty civil libertarian to pipe up and question the attacks on him

Interestingly and wrongly perhaps is the fact that Hollingworth’s name can be published day after day. If he was actually charged with a crime of this nature the media
would be barred from mentioning his name – we In Qld remember this was well the case with ex Bill D’Arcy. So was Hetty on the news night after night demanding
changes to the law so the public could know who was out their actually charged ?- not that I can recall.

Is Hetty out lobbying our pollies for changes in the law so that the public can know the names of those found guilty of the crime of paedophilia? It appears not. So why
such relentless attacks on Hollingworth who acknowledges that he could have done better in handling a situation where someone else was the perpetrator.

Hetty is truly proving in all this that she is of the same Democrat mould as mentor Cheryl and the younger Gnasher. All for one and all for her.

I would suggest that if people like Dr Hollingworth are destroyed Australia will be worse off – he is essentially a good person (at least till proven otherwise). Destroying the
good but misguided will not make us better people nor make our nation a better place it’ll just free up more spots for the absolutely wicked bastards. We need to show the
same compassion to Dr Hollingworth as should have been shown to the children of the Toowoomba school, and indeed may have if he didn’t follow legal advice.

So I can’t help but think that the media is manufacturing a Constitutional crisis so it can sell a few more papers. Not to mention gathering up a number of non-Christians to
tell preach about what the Christian thing to do is – as if they would know.

And Premier Beattie wants good old Billy Deane to investigate the matter. Nice chap the ex-governor but hasn’t he had enough from the public purse already. Beattie
himself would be more credible if he did something to help D’Arcy’s victims. Does anyone blame the Qld Premier personally for ensuring his Government vigorously
defended the allegation of neglecting its duty of care against D’Arcy’s victims.

Hetty Hetty where are you?


CRIKEY: Interesting point. Hetty sure is going for her man here.

Suspicions about Admiral Chris Barrie

I am very suspicious of Admiral Chris Barrie’s behaviour and motives. In
1995 I did some consulting work for the, then Matirime Commander,
Vice-Admiral Don “Blinky Bill” Chalmers. Chris Barrie was then Chief of
Staff and a Commodore.

Barrie was promoted to Admiral in 1995 or 96 (I can’t remember exactly
when). He rose through four ranks in six years to reach the top job [2].

The question that bothers me is how did he manage to get promoted so
quickly? Putting together his rapid promotion (to ranks that have a
significant political connect) and his current very political behaviour,
all I can think is that he has friends in high places. And he is now
returning the favours that got him promoted unusually rapidly.

Name Withheld

CRIKEY: The sycophancy in his current evidence would suggest he’s a political sympathiser.

Pollies should operate on private standards


Federal Trade Minister, Mark Vaile, has rejected Labor’s proposal for a code which stops former ministers taking consultancies related to their old portfolios for 12 months
after leaving office, despite this representing “world’s best practice” – a concept the Coalition is keen to force onto the private sector.

He is quoted as saying “…what we like to do is apply community standards to ourselves and our colleagues the same as the broader community expects to be applied to

Can we now look forward to:

* individual employment contracts for MP to replace their current industry award.

* no protection from unfair dismissal laws.
* a part of MP’s remuneration being “at risk” and subject to measurable performance hurdles.
* dismissal for non-performance on four weeks notice.
* no security of tenure for the four-year life of a parliament.
* non-salary benefits being “packaged” and taxable.
* superannuation arrangements in line with private sector standards.
* auditable expense and benefit administration procedures in line with private sector standards.

Vaile continues, “We’ve certainly increased the level of scrutiny and transparency in these matters since we’ve been in this office…”

Perhaps he may care to scrutinise the process by which Tenix hired Peter Reith the day after he left office. I know of no recruitment process in the private sector that
operates this quickly, so was Reith negotiating his new job from a Defence Ministry office?

Over to you for scrutiny Mr Vaile.

Cheers, Glenn Moore

CRIKEY: A fine set of suggestions Glenn. The Reith gig with Tenix is an utter disgrace and Howard should refuse to deal with Tenix as long as he remains on the payroll.

Time to get angry about the Queen’s visit

Stephen and the Crikey readership,

In less than a month our fair land will be soiled by the arrival of the self-styled “Queen of Australia”, Lizzie Windsor. This old biddy, who has demonstrated that she
cannot even raise a half-way normal family likes to think she is our head of state. No doubt her rude and ignorant husband will be tagging along for the free food too.

What I ask is this – where are the Republicans? I know that nice Mr Barns has had a lot on his plate recently but Jaysus And His Mother, it says a great deal about the state of the Australian Republican Movement if its supreme leader is more interested in Tasmanian pre-selection battles rather than the impending visit of the enemy leader.

Has anything been organised to protest her visit? Any marches? Petitions? Effigy burnings? Let’s face it, a foreign power is about conduct a tour of its dominion
and as a proud Australian who believes our nation has no head other than its people I find this unacceptable. Similarly, I do not accept the results of the 1999
referendum. Letting Honest Monarchist John “All Overboard Mateys!” Howard run a republican referendum is like letting Ivan Milat run backpacker tours. He manipulated it from the outset with all that “mateship” in the preamble water-muddying and his erstwhile “Republican” fifth columnist minion Peter Reith was only too willing to assist.

However there are some encouraging signs. I have noticed graffitti appearing around inner Melbourne lately saying things like “Not My Queen” and “Give Us A Real
Vote Johnny”. These messages are always accompanied by the legend “Australian Republican Front” or “A.R.F”

I am endeavouring to get in contact with these mysetrious direct-action Republicans and will update crikey if I do.

In the meantime, would those calling themselves Republicans please have a think about what it means to be a Republican? Is it just something to “chatter” about over
a glass of chardonnay or is it something real, a committment to a national ideal, a committment to a vision of an Australia very different to that which we have now
under the monarchists?

Remember this: if you want to, you’re already standing on an Australian Republic.

Cheers, Real Republican

CRIKEY: Barns certainly has been distracted of late and the ARM doesn’t seem to have much of a grass roots movement into protests and activism is support of their cause.

Reith’s Tennix gig against guidelines

The Rodent appears to be handballing responsibility for the fake “children thrown in the water” story to Reithy, who as an ex is clearly expendable.

However the PM can’t get off this one so easily, as its clear he took the story up with alacrity at the time when it suited his purposes.

Moreover Crikey is right to question the propriety of Peter Reith, former Minister for Defence now working as a consultant to the defence contracting company Tennix ,and
being accepted by Howard in discussions in the PM’s office.

My memory is bit hazy but I think that there are (or were) Public Service Guidelines proscribing recently retired senior public servants from acting in consultant roles similar
to that which Reith is doing.

If this is correct, why does’nt the Prime Minister insist on such conduct from former Ministers?

Also Tennix should be asked if they are happy to have on their payroll a man who the public record suggests is “economical with the truth”


CRIKEY: Reith has completely lost me. His ethics and morality are seriously damaged for good.

Evan Thornley on Aussie brands


a few additions to your non-US brands list:

For the Aussies, what about the wine co’s – we are kicking the world’s arse with the now combined Southcorp/Rosemount brands like Penfolds, Lindemans and
Rosemount and several other Aussie wine co’s are doing pretty well too incl. Fosters’ owned Mildara Blass.

Speaking of Agriculture, superfine merino wool is a global brand in all but … brand! Seems like we’ve missed an opportunity here to brand a global position that we’ve
clearly nailed down for a century and a half.

I think you can also give a big gong to the homegrown team at Lonely Planet – walk into any bookshop in the world and this little Aussie battler has plenty of shelf space
and easily the best product in the travel sections

And speaking of travel, how global do you need to be to make the list ? Flight Centre has a strong presence in much of the English speaking world – US, Canada, UK, NZ,
Sth Africa and do a bloody good job of it – beating out their Australian founded but sold-by-the-student-movement-for-a-penny-to-a-Swiss-multinational STA Travel which has
offices all over the globe esp. Europe and Nth America

In the spirit of “what do you mean global ?”, how about internet newcomer and the-expat’s-best-friend, cricinfo.com – it’s owned by some Poms and Indians and keeps the
global cricket community in touch. Hard for the Yanks to own this one I guess.

Can’t forget the fabulous Finn’s Nokia – matched and then beat their Scan mates at Ericsson and left the Yanks Motorola in the dust in the global handset market. Even the
Yanks are prepared to admit that it is pretty good – the only non-US brand in top 10 in Business Week/Interbrand’s Top 100 global brands –
http://www.businessweek.com/pdfs/2001/0132-toprank.pdf . Not bad for an old forest products company!

Does that mean I get my subscription refunded ? Better keep it in the kitty for your mate Mr Price. Good luck with the silks.

Cheers, Evan Thornley
San francisco


CRIKEY: And Evan’s own company Looksmart should probably be on the list too.

Sydney doesn’t need another shock jock


Just read your pieces on Pricey coming to Sydney. Good stuff, just what we need, another shock jock in Sydney.

With Singo giving the Parrot equity in the radio station, I wondered, following the Cash for Comment scandal,whether the Parrot was a fit & proper person to be part of the
company that holds the licences for 2GB & 2CH.

Perhaps we could alert Professor Flint & colleagues at the ABA about this arrangement , I am sure he would be only to pleased to conduct a thorough enquiry into the

Following Pricey’s comment regarding the Parrot being a millionaire & single while Pricey was married with 2 kids ( now found to be untrue), The Sun Herald’s apologist for
the Right, Miranda Devine devoted Sunday’s column to a puff piece defending the Parrot with one of the headline quotes stating ‘A blast from Alan Jones can bring the
mightest to their knees’.

The classic was the the breakout headed ‘Kids who bring a tear to Jones’s eye and stated ‘ For all his success Alan Jones wishes he could have his own children. He loves
families, has “dozens” of godchildren and is close to his 28 year old niece, who works for him, and her husband’.

Now 28 is not exactly a child is it, but it sounds that Michael Costa picked the right man for the job for the Police Boys Club Board.

The Parrot who could be described as a confirmed bachelor, goes on to say having children is something. ‘I would dearly love to have done in life. But these are opportunities that weren’t available to me & I can’t have them’

So Pricey has fired the first salvo and it looks like it’s goinggoing to be a long & dirty war, however we have seen it all before, just ask Derryn Hinch.

As you correctly state Sydney is a different city to Melbourne and he’ll be up against it but perhaps a crash course in Rugby League may assist, preferably by taking a wayward Rugby League player under his wing (a Parrot specialty).

Regards, Greg

CRIKEY: Pricey loves a dirty fight so expect him to try every trick in the book to undermine Jones.

Ripped off by the unions at Ansett

Dear Crickey

I am a Global Rewards member with about 70,000 points, enough to have a quiet holiday with my wife in Singapore, or so I thought. And yes, I earnt those points with my own post-tax money, flying Ansett and using my Diners Card.

I too was present at the Ansett Creditors’ meeting on 29 January 2002, courtesy of Virgin Blue. Virgin left on time, arrived on time and the whole staff were friendly and cheerful. Ansett and Qantas could learn a thing or two.

I was astounded at the contempt shown by the “100 cents in the dollar” creditors towards the “less than 5 cents and going down daily” creditors at the meeting. It wasn’t as if the employees were ever going to miss out on their whack.

Global Rewards and Golden Wing members were heckled and any requests for clarification about the wonderful Tesna deal were met with groans and abuse. I was amazed that Ansett employees had such vile regard for the very people who made it possible for them to have jobs in the first place (and the future). No doubt the Ansett employees that Tesna takes on will show their future customers the same sort of malevolence that I saw at the meeting: customers are leeches who are not worthy of a voice, let alone a vote.

I’m sure that Crikey has been following the recent application brought by the two Marks to get
approval for the continued running of Ansett while Tesna sorts out its dispute with Sydney
Airports Corporation (and waits for the flat trading month of February to pass). The issue has
been well ventilated in the financial press, except for one interesting matter.

When commencing consideration of the two Marks’ application on 1 February, Justice Goldberg said that apart from hearing from the ACTU he would “be greatly assisted … also hearing from and having a particular non-priority creditor address the issues … that person [should] have the benefit of legal advice and be [legally] represented” (transcript page 9).

So what did the two Marks do? Find a creditor who voted against the Tesna sale on 29 January? Find a Global Rewards member who doesn’t think that they are doing a great job? You guessed it …

On 4 February Mr Whelan, counsel for the two Marks announced that Mr Wollan, a solicitor, who is a Global Rewards creditor, has been served with the papers and will be represented at the hearing by counsel at the cost of the administration (i.e. to further diminsh the funds for non-priority creditors) to bring a critical mind to bear on the two Marks’ proposal.

And guess what? Mr Whelan, counsel for the two Marks said: “Mr Wollan, as a creditor, does not actually oppose the course that’s being proposed (i.e. continuing to run Ansett at a loss of $6M per week while Tesna screws both the administration and SAC until they get a better deal) but frankly, your Honour, we don’t think! we would be able to find a creditor who actually did oppose the course” (transcript page 2).

So there you have it. The two Marks are asked to get another point of view to assist Justice
Goldberg. They don’t look for anyone who might disagree, but instead spend more of the
administration’s funds (5 cents in the dollar looking like 1 cent now) on getting someone who
agrees with what they want to do. Truly amazing. And Justice Goldberg’s response? “I understand what you have done and that’s fine”.

What a bizarre farce.


CRIKEY: Well said Kevin, if you appoint the administrator you get what you want and it was the unions who put the two Marks into the job and have been paid $10 million for their efforts.

Political donations, free speech and dodgy professionals

Dear Crikey,

It was an interesting weekend for news. I think 3 items in particular
warrant continued coverage by your site. All 3 will have a crucial role on
how our society shapes itself, and you can bet londaon to a brick on that
the axis of evil will win on each of them.

First, the coverage of the political donations. This is just a disgrace.
Anything short of making political donations illegal will be a disaster for
democracy. Any reasonable analysis will show that democracy barely even
exists when companies and individuals are allowed to donate to political
parties. And why can’t we regulate the media so that their licence to
broadcast is conditional on giving away free air time during election
campaigns so that the parties don’t feel so obliged to accept dubious
donations. I’d rather have a slightly distorted media market than lose
all pretence at democracy. I don’t think people understand how easily the
political process ignores them.

Secondly, the coverage of the Howard Govt’s legislation to gaol
whistle-blowers. This would be a significant blow to free speech and
consequently, you guessed it, democracy.

Finally, I would love to see more coverage of the Accountants chasing the
lawyers for the title of most unscrupulous profession. Apart from the
Enron, HIH, auditors/consultants conflict of interest issue there is a huge
industry in creating blatant tax avoidance products which are undeniably
unethical, at best. The tax Dept issued a ‘tax warning’ on the weekend to
advise investors to be wary of another scheme whereby the individual
invests $100,000 in a website development project, $20,000 in cash and
$80,000 as a loan, get to write off $100,000 in income, pay interest
expenses on an $80,000 loan and receive a guaranteed $20,000 return on
their investment. It is so blatantly non-commercial tax cheating. Why
is their no professional ethical oversight of this pernicious industry.
Australia is bleeding because of these rip-offs. If everybody paid there
fair share of tax we probably could afford to have personal income tax
rates of 30%, but the big end of town seems to think that tax is what the
poor people are there to pay. The Accounting profession should be getting
bullets all year from you.

Best of luck, Andrew

CRIKEY: All very good points and issues we’ll be pursuing vigorously.

Hall of fame for journalists


Having just read the awful news that Daniel Pearl, WSJ South Asia bureau chief, has had his throat slit by crazy Pakistani militants I suggest that crikey keep a
running toll AND MEMORIAL of journalists who are “killed in action”.

Already this year we have had upwards of ten in Afganistan, including the Aussie whose, shamefully, name escapes me.

But I suppose that is my point. We should provide a memorial to these brave men and women and die so that we know the truth, lest their names be forgotten.

It sickens me that I can remember the name a seedy CIA agent killed in Afgan … Johnny “Mike” Spann, but not that of the journos who died doing, arguably, far
more good.

I expect that as the Zimbabwe elections grow nearer, such a list would only grow.

Just a thought.

Please don’t print my name as I have got a good job now.

Vale Journalists!

CRIKEY: Good suggestion. Might see if such a list exists on the web which I could plagiarise as a start.

Ansett’s two class airline destined to fail


The writing was surely on the wall for Tesna, when Foxy Lew announced that the Ansett phoenix would be a full-service, two-class, Golden Wing, frequent flyer airline,
competing with Qantas for the premium end of the market.

It seems that we Australians are yet again blind to size of our domestic markets, the limited opportunity for free market competition and what our needs really are as a
middle ranking nation on the arse-end of the world.

Nineteen million people living around the edges of a country the size of the United States. Twelve million of us live in eight cities spread some 4,000 kilometres apart.

Telstra used to claim that their old analogue mobile phone network reached 94% of the population –it did so by covering 7% of the land mass.

Given this geography, our transportation systems are a disgrace. We have some of the most outdated and undercapitalised rail networks in the industrialised world – in fact, some developing countries have better.

We rely heavily on road transportation – one of most inefficient, expensive and environmentally damaging means of travel.

We desperately need safe, affordable air transportation to overcome the tyranny of distance within the country.

We do not need another premium airline offering private departure lounges and plastic breakfast sausages in the name of competing with Qantas.

Our domestic airline market is simply not large enough to support two full-service carriers and a discount airline in free competition.

And anyway, as a country, we can’t afford to fly around the place at full-service fares – it’s yet another example of us living beyond our means.

One full service carrier and two properly financed and managed discount airlines may have a chance. Passengers’ preferences have changed and the growth airlines
overseas are the discount, not full-service, carriers.

Looking back over the past twenty years or so, it ought to be obvious that our attempts at privatisation and free market competition in some of our major domestic markets
have largely been unmitigated fiascos.

In banking, airlines, railways, electricity and telecommunications, to name a few, we haven’t introduced competition.

We’ve simply moved from monopoly government ownership, or highly regulated oligopolies, to lightly regulated oligopolies.

We’ve opened up previously controlled markets expecting enough players to jump in and create economically viable competition.

Gullible foreign investors rush in, championing their experience in overseas markets many times the size of ours, and where does it all end?

After paying through the nose to buy overvalued government assets, or incurring disproportional set-up costs, most foreigners retire hurt after several years of losses.

The market then settles down to a cosy oligopoly where regulation has been lightened because “market forces” will take care of any inefficiencies or non-competitive

This week’s subsidy to urban transport companies from the Victorian state government illustrates the point.

Australia is just too small, and too far away from anywhere, for the free market theories that apply in Europe or the United States to work here.

We need to wake up to this fact, and start shaping markets to suit our real needs and not those of some economic theorist.

And only then might we able to worry about a choice of flight lounges and plastic sausages as we traverse the largest island on the planet.

Depressingly yours
Glenn Moore

CRIKEY: Depressing indeed.