Hugo Kelly has not held back in his assessment of some of the winners and grinners at last Friday’s Melbourne Press Club annual Quill awards.

A caption published on the Express page in Friday’s Age stated that a donkey is a cross between a mule and a horse. In fact, a mule is a cross between a donkey and a horse. Mules, not donkeys, are sterile. The mistake was made by an editor”.

The Age has published some ripper We Were Wrongs I’ve been responsible for some of them but this gem appeared magically on page five of Melbourne’s broadsheet the morning after this town’s biggest media show, the 2002 Quill awards.

Maybe Neil Mitchell and his team at the Melbourne Press Club should add a new award category next year; most bizarre correction, or biggest stuff-up in any medium.

As it was, the eighth annual Quills went off without a major muck-up. No one got clobbered like last year, there wasn’t huge controversy about the winners, the guest speaker was a hit and everyone got home safely despite heavy consumption by 600 thirsty industry types and hangers-on of the Press Club’s own label wines.

Last year we blasted the club for allowing a widespread infestation of the awards by the wary journalist’s natural enemy, the public relations industry. We wondered whether the PR types were capable of putting aside their hopelessly conflicted day jobs to judge journalists, and whether the media should be beholden to the PR industry in the first place.

On the face of it, very little has changed. A significant number of awards are still judged by PR types, and on the night the Grand Hyatt swirled with PR hacks working the room.

But the club’s committee decided after last year’s Crikey-generated controversy to appoint a probity auditor to oversee the judging process. The man in question? Everybody’s favourite Jesuit, Father Frank Brennan. While we didn’t run into Father Frank on the night, and we’re unclear on the role he played during judging, this is surely a move in the right direction.

Last night in Hollywood, Denzel Washington and Halle Berry broke through the race barrier at the Oscars. But last Friday in Melbourne, women were still the poor cousins at the Quills. While the male/female proportion was more even than last year, when just five of the 33 award winners were women, Melbourne’s media gals have a long way to go before breaking through the Quill awards glass ceiling.

Apart from the major prizes, which went to Andrew Rule for his “Geoff Clarke: Power & Rape” story, there were some interesting winners.

We didn’t know whether to cheer or cry when the Ross Brundett/Robyn Riley husband & wife team won the best columnist award for their weekly “He Says/She Says” column in the Herald Sun.

They won an award last year, and the prizes keep on coming for their Saturday slice of down home common sense. A Dad & Dave for the new millennium. And it’s proved a great idea: Get the Village Idiot and his wife to ruminate on the great events of the day. Multibillion-dollar franchises have been built on less.

So this is as good as it gets? In reality, there’s a paucity of good columnists in Victoria. The Hun’s Andrew Bolt has taken an interesting tack of late, and it’s been intriguing reading his bewildered complaints about the Howard Government. Like a spurned lover airing a scarlet letter in the town square, he is publicly working through his bitterness at the lies Peter Reith told him over those children overboard. A bit of honest anger refreshes, and it’s made him the most thought provoking newspaper columnist in Victoria.

Over at Spencer Street, most of the columnists are old timers and blow-ins from Sydney. The usual suspects; the Mannes (Robert and Anne), the Hendersons (Gerard and Sarah), Bone, Pearson peddle their wares.

At the opposite end of the Bolt spectrum, there’s Henry Bucks’ favourite customer, Shaun Carney. Here’s a Spencer St inmate who justifiably takes himself very seriously.

On Friday, Shaun wore a sombre pinstripe suit and shiny brogues. His are the shiniest shoes in journalism. The magic of Carney’s writing is its consistency. If you missed a particular column, don’t worry. Just wait a week or two and he’s bound to spin it past you again. There’s never a surprise when Shaun’s writing.

Having a regular newspaper column also gives you a chance to plug your latest book. This from Carney’s column on Saturday: “Last year, my biography of the Treasurer, Peter Costello The New Liberal posited that, were he to become prime minister, Costello would take a different approach on several issues, including the republic and reconciliation, from Howard.

“The title of the book, along with these observations, was taken by some to amount to a claim that Costello was somehow a Liberal moderate. He is no Liberal moderate. The “new Liberal” description was really an acknowledgment that he was the first Australian leadership prospect to be a child of the television age, blah, blah, blah, 05″

Well let me posit this, Mr Carney. To tell a story even an opinion worth airing – one must share at least a little information. Shaun, remember: self-promotion is not information, is not knowledge, is not wisdom. Repeat 10 times and try again.

We were jolted back into reality when the club presented hard-drinking Channel Nine news director John Sorell with a lifetime achievement award. Sorell delivered a few cheeky yarns, thanked his wife for all her support and reminded us all of his penchant for 16 year old schoolgirls.

St this point, we ran into our old Age colleague, Bill Birnbauer. Now Bill’s lengthened his byline since we last shared an ale – it’s now William Birnbauer. Looks good too. More Washington Post than Herald Sun. He should go all the way; how would “William Jefferson Birnbauer” look!

So what’s in a middle name? The last journo we know who augmented his name mid-career was the SMH’s excitable Richard Glover. Now Richard found himself posted by accident to Fairfax’s London bureau 10 years ago. And apparently, he discovered that somewhere in the English-speaking reporting world, there was another Richard Glover. So he elected to change his name, lest this other bloke be blamed for the Fairfax Glover’s banalities. His decision to adopt the moniker of his favourite author, Joseph Conrad, was suitably quirky. And so the journalistic legend “Richard Conrad Glover” was born. Sadly, this conceit didn’t improve his writing.

Back at the Quills, Gavin Anderson operatives circled the room like sharks preying on schools of fish. While MD Ian Smith stayed at home with Tasha and their fiesty pussycat in his sumptuous Melbourne pad, Anderson director and former Kennett flak James Tonkin and associate director Erica Borgelt did the rounds.

Fresh from helping put together the firm’s review of shareholder agitators like Crikey, Erica sat next to former Age hack and current RMIT journalism course director Matthew Ricketson. And Tonkin took Stephen Mayne aside for a piece of his mind, threatening to cancel his subscription if Crikey kept up its “obsession” with the Smith/Stott-Despoja pairing. (Ed – did he really say that? It was very late afterall.)

Peter Ryan, now with Porter Novelli, formerly IPR, was also there, along with Channel Seven flak Gayle Austen, Inside PR’s Mike Smith and the ubiquitous Frank McGuire.

Eddie’s brother Frank did his usual routine of staying relatively sober so as to make more sense than most towards the end of the evening. We took him by the arm at one point and introduced him to some movers & shakers god knows the fellow needs contacts; networks; points of access. Melbourne can be a cruel town if you’re an outsider.

Gore Vidal reminds us that after politics, journalism has always been the preferred career of the ambitious but lazy second-rater. So who better to address a merry barn of journalists than a former Prime Minister.

Guest speaker Paul Keating always loved spinning his own visions to journalists, and he was in his element among them on Friday, taking time to lampoon Fairfax’s CEO, Fred Hilmer, Kerry Packer and, of course, the political android who brought him down, John Howard.

Taking it just a little too far, his description of John & Jeanette Howard as latter-day Caucescus who would be dragged from power only by force all the while babbling defiantly before the firing squad was nevertheless a master stroke of bitter rhetorical bile.

As the Keating rhetoric gained momentum, you were reminded there is no one on the nation’s public landscape able to articulate a vision with verve and clarity.

If Keating’s crusade is to destroy Howard and smother his legacy, you have to admire his persistence. And on Friday night there was no doubt the passion was on the former PM’s side.

To compare Keating with Howard is to contrast a statesman with fire and flair, a leader, with a wooden political battering ram. HL Mencken was talking about Herbert Hoover the politician, not the vacuum salesman but his words ring eerily true 80 years later when applied to John Howard: “His principals are so vague and even his intimates seem unable to put them into words, 05He knows who his masters are, and he will serve them.”

On Friday, those Quill attendees who awarded Keating a standing ovation were remembering a time in Australian politics when the nation faced a discernable future, not a niggardly, mean spirited political vacuum.

Feedback, foldback and flak to [email protected]

What subscribers were told on Monday

Crikey shouted our legal team to the Melbourne Press Club’s Quill Awards on Friday night as a thank you for all their generous unpaid work during the Steve Price litigation.

We’ll be posting a substantial piece on Crikey about the night before Easter but are keen to get feedback from those who were there.

Importantly, there were no fights this year and Marco Bass, the head of news in Victoria was there but the man whose nose he broke at the Walkleys, former ABC industrial reporter Mike Sutherland, was nowhere to be seen.

Now you have to remember that much of the latter part of the night is a blur but I do seem to recall someone telling me that the investigation into this incident has turned around a bit and it may be Sutherland who could face a spot of bother for initiating the fracas at the Walkleys.

Paul Keating gave a classic speech whereby he defended his record to the last, gave John Howard an absolute bollocking and also tore apart the proposed changes to the cross-media ownership laws and especially Fairfax CEO Fred Hilmer for defending them. It went down very well even if still glosses over the outrageous way that he gave Rupert the Herald Weekly Times and 70 per cent of this nation’s newpapers just to shut down a right-wing media company and especially a Melbourne afternoon paper edited by Neil Mitchell.

Interestingly, Press Club president and long-time Keating critic, Neil Mitchell, had nothing to do with Keating who was greeted, chaperoned, introduced and thanked by The Age’s publisher and editor in chief Greg Hywood.

Herald Sun editor Peter Blunden was a surprise no show with RRR’s Serena Williams speculating yesterday he was protesting prematurely as the Hun ended up taking out 7 awards. Maybe it was the fact that Age editor Michael Gawenda collected the Grant Hattam free speech award for publishing Andrew Rule’s award winning Geoff Clarke Power and Rape epic.

You see Grant, who tragically died of cancer three years back, was the Hun’s long term media lawyer and this is a special Hun award so giving it to Gawenda would no doubt have riled Blunden who is amazingly thin-skinned and super-sensitive at the best of times.

The nauseating tribute to Hattam’s great free speech crusading was read out by his former underling at Corrs Chambers Westgarth Adrian Anderson, the man who brought defamation, contempt of court and mareva injunctions against Crikey on behalf of fellow free speech crusader Steve Price. Anderson it a Press Club committee member – something Crikey spoke out against last year.

And Crikey remains perplexed at how Hattam can be lauded as a free speech crusader when he sued The Age more than anyone else in its history. People like Lloyd Williams, Intergraph and Greenchip all used Hattam to sue The Age and now you have the paper’s editor receiving a free speech award in Hattam’s that should really have gone to Age lawyer Peter Bartlett. Afterall, Gawenda stood up and said that any editor would have published the material but the kerfuffle last year about Adrian Anderson, a lawyer, winning the award ruled Bartlett out of the running when he would have been a deserving winner.

Andrew Rule, a press club committee member, deserved to get either the Graham Perkin award or the Gold Quill but it was over the top for him to collect both. Afterall, Clarke is still chairman of ATSIC so the yarn, powerful and well-researched as it was, didn’t actually knock the perpetrator out of public life.

Wasn’t there anything else notable in Victorian journalism last year.

It was pathetic watching all the Channel Nine people leap to the feet when their long-serving and big drinking news director John Sorell got a life-time achievement award. The lad actually gave a reasonable speech and enjoyed telling Keating that he loves working for Kerry Packer.

That’s all for now but send in your snippets.

Feedback from a commended finalist

Stephen,

I received your sealed section on the Quills from a friend, who knew I attended. I was commended in the (censored) category and share these thoughts on the night with you.

While it’s true Mitchell didn’t have anything to do with Keating’s portion of the night it’s worth pointing out that neither did Ian Henderson, the MC.

And for all of his political bluster and his clear hatred of Packer (thank you 38 Minutes for that) Keating made some salient points about media ownership and the prospect that Packer and Murdoch could control virtually every media outlet in the wide, brown land (even if he let Murdoch swoop on HWT). The point is a line needs to be drawn somewhere.

Sorell’s speech was a highlight, particularly his reference to the biggest pisspot he’s worked with. Great yarn…

Also, I don’t think the fact Andrew Rule’s Geoff Clark: Power and Rape hasn’t knocked Clark off his perch should be a criticism of the story. I didn’t necessarily agree with the way the story was presented, in that it presumed Clark’s guilt, but it was a brilliantly researched and written piece and The Age showed plenty of guts to run it, rightly or wrongly.

But I reckon the fact Clark is still in the post is more a reflection of the leadership at ATSIC and in Aboriginal affairs generally.

Think about the reaction to Governor-General Peter Hollingworth’s murky past from within the Anglican Church. Look at the hue and cry from footballer Wayne Carey’s indiscretion, which occurred between two consenting adults.

The deafening silence from ATSIC and others makes Rule’s story even more powerful if you ask me. No-one has followed up these serious allegations and the matter has been swept under the carpet.

Also, it was great to see the little guys from Leader take out a few awards. I know you noticed because you were talking to our Young Journalist of the Year, Rebecca Urban. (Ed – wish I could remember this and several other conversations). It’s nice to know Leader, with its comparative lack of staff and resources, can still piss with the big boys.

Name Withheld

Pleased for Richard Franklin

Re the Quills – no goss, but I was delighted to see Richard Franklin get a gong for his terrific diary-style piece on Sept 11. Except for a brief dip into self-indulgence at the very end, it was the best example of first-person journalism I’ve seen in years, and one of the best (if not the best) colour piece on the event that I read.

Re Fairfax, this is second-hand, but apparently Greg Hywood called a big meeting last week and essentially said that all rumours were true – they’re looking at slashing costs wherever possible, there will be redundancies, all sections are under review and the survival of nothing is guaranteed. Books Editor Jason Steger (normally the most delightfully mild-mannered man) apparently did his nut – amid strong rumours that wanky space-wasters like literature, theatre, art will be “looked at very closely”. Also, I hadn’t realised – don’t know if you were aware – that in the midst of all this cost-slashing and dumping of experienced journalists, Marina Goh is being paid a lavish consulting fee to oversee special projects – including the disastrous relaunch of Sunday Life magazine. This info came from a mate of mine who’s on staff there.

God help us all.

Cheers, Anon

Hugo Kelly’s piece on last year’s Quills: Crikey at The Shandwicks

By Hugo Kelly

Phillip Knightly is one of the best reporters to start his career writing beautiful lies for the Truth.

He left home in the ’60s to discover the world in the great Aussie tradition of wandering minstrel journalism. Knightley’s latest book, Australia, is understandably an affectionate biography of his birthplace from cold, plague-ridden England.

And getting him as guest speaker at last Friday’s Quill awards, while on a promotional visit for the new book, was a nice coup by the Melbourne press club.

What would he make, then, of media awards in which half the prizes are judged by the public relations industry?

One particular influence peddler, the multinational PR firm Weber Shandwick (formerly IPR), has an iron grip on the Quills, the new and eager rival to the Walkleys as the nation’s premier journalism awards.

At the centre of the Quills takeover is Shandwick’s Australian chairman, former Age editor Mike Smith. He has used his position as press club committee man, buddy to club president, Neil Mitchell, and all-round Melburnian of influence, to stack the awards with his people.

Shandwick consultants were on judging panels for ten of this year’s 30 awards. Various other PR types were represented on five other panels. Mike Smith himself chaired four panels, his colleague, former ABC TV Washington Correspondent Peter Ryan, chaired three.

So let’s drop the pretence. These awards are not the Quills – they’re the Shandwicks.

Having dropped its old name – IPR – Shandwick is also cleverly trying to distance itself from the soiled “public relations” image. The global PR behemoth now describes itself as “reputation managers”.

And Shandwick boss Smith has been managing – for very fat fees – some pretty dodgy reputations.

Smith’s highest profile job has been feeding the media positive spin on the fugitive Mexican banker Carlos Cabal, who stowed away in Brighton a few years ago with millions of Pesos.

The Mexican authorities finally tracked him down and have lots of evidence to say Carlos is corrupt and they want him back. He has hired Smith and a team of lawyers to keep him and his photogenic family as far away from justice as possible. For his troubles, Smith’s outfit has reportedly been collecting $80,000 a month.

Smith has set up a fun website worth checking out: www.carloscabal.com. It contains some great propaganda, including a pretentious little editorial from Mike Smith’s buddy, Neil Mitchell, about the need for justice in the Carlos case.

Aside from the Cabal production, Mike Smith’s also being paid to use the media to convince Australians that whales aren’t cute, harmless, endangered species – they’re a plague that needs to be slaughtered and eaten by our Japanese friends.

I wonder if anyone told Knightly who was really running the awards? Probably not Neil Mitchell, who doesn’t let his press club presidency stop him entering – and winning – his own awards.

Last year, Mitchell won a quill for his “exclusive” interview with the father of a girl who contracted HIV from a blood transfusion. Who set up that interview? Mike Smith, acting on behalf of the family.

It’s a small media town, Melbourne, and deserves better than the PR boss and press club committee man feeding his mate, the press club president, an interview that goes on to win a press club award.

Has Mitchell no shame – or understanding of conflict of interest?

On the positive side, several hundred filled the Hyatt ballroom at $90 a pop for the award ceremonies. There is a demand for an alternative to the Walkleys, and the Quills’ problems don’t outweigh their potential.

The tone for the night was set by former Herald editor John Fitzgerald, who presented Hun hack Peter Game got a lifetime achievement award, and a fair roasting.

Fitzgerald treated us to a rundown of the glory days of the Herald in the 70s, when Melburnians religiously picked up a copy of the Last Race Extra before jumping on the Glen Iris tram for home, and the beating heart of the H&WT empire lay in the chief-of-staff’s safe – a few dollars petty cash beer money and a black tie speckled with chunder suitable for those formal occasions.

Back then, when lifestyle journalism consisted of cooking with Margaret Fulton and the technology section advised readers on how to lube up the Victa Mower, the young bucks on the up would vie for the shipping round.

The best things came by sea, including the young lady Phillip swept off the wharf and kept in his apartment, apparently for the enjoyment of sundry journalists. Or at least this was the drift of Fitzgerald’s rambling reminiscence.

When Knightly got to the podium he reeled out a couple of familiar yarns, including the one about his days at the Truth spent inventing – and helping capture – the notorious public transport pervert, The Hook. This tale gets better with age, and now sounds so apocryphal it’s probably true.

He gave a great speech a week earlier to launch the C.E.W Bean Foundation, drawing attention to Australian journalists’ record on the war front.

It was the Herald Sun’s night. Their people won 10 awards. Michael Harvey and Andrew Probyn won two, including the Gold Quill, for keeping the Peter Reith telecard story rolling.

Now, we sledged Michael last year as the “Costello candidate”, but on Friday he was kind enough to put bygones behind us and accept our handshake of congratulations.

Katrina Beikoff rightly won best sports story in any medium for her exclusive report on CJ Hunter’s positive Olympic drug test. It was a scoop that shook the Olympic world – not that the Hun news desk thought so at the time. Bizarrely, they ran it on page three.

We had a brief chat with Hun editor Peter Blunden before he ostentatiously turned his back on us after learning our Crikey connections. His former secretary, Anna, now his wife, had a few quiet words to us about the point in question: we ran a piece last year revealing their relationship. As I recall it, Stephen wrote the piece in response to the Hun leading the media charge to unveil in salacious detail Dick Pratt’s private affairs.

It seems to me that media types who object to their personal lives being aired had better be careful about how they use their own privileged positions to dissect the private lives of others. But confronted by Anna’s genuine distress, I had to admit it seemed a little harsh on her.

Not surprisingly, Peter Blunden was upbeat about his paper’s award winnings, and his own. Apparently he had a big win at Club Keno the previous night.

“230 to 1 it paid, two hundred and thirty to one!” he told anyone who’d listen. Well, they’re about the odds of Peter taking over from Michael Gawenda as Age editor.

Michael’s poor health has cruelled his pitch and the word at the Shandwicks was that he will stand down gracefully inside the next two months, possibly to take up a writing role.

If he does stand aside, he will go down as a solid performer who, like Mike Smith, probably didn’t have long enough in the job to truly make his mark.

The question is whether new publisher Greg Hywood will seize the day and bring in an outsider and a cultural change at Spencer Street.

Another Age editor also missing on the night was Creighton Burns, who is also in poor health. Creighton, and fellow judges Jennifer Byrne and Eric Beecher, made a popular choice in awarding the Graham Perkin Australian Journalist of the Year to the Oz’s Darwin correspondent, Paul Toohey, for his series of reports on the devastating consequences of Aborigines sniffing glue in the Top End.

The Graham Perkin

Perkin, we were reminded, time and again throughout the night, was the superhuman Age editor who changed the face of Australia’s media and without whom we would be working in a barren industry dominated by matey nepotism and the public relations industry…

Perkin’s life is fast becoming a media fairy tale. This, from the quills program: “…until the night he died, not long after the first edition went to bed, he remained passionate about (the Age’s) history, its people…” etc, etc.

Another small point. The Perkin award is for newspaper and magazine journalists. How can the Perkin award be the “most prestigious annual recognition of journalistic excellence” when it excludes the electronic media – radio, TV, the internet…?

Press Freedom?

While most of the prize winners were not controversial, Crikey had to blow the whistle on one piece of pettifoggery.

The Grant Hattam award is “presented to the person who makes the greatest contribution to journalism or press freedom through courage and determination against the odds”. Peter Blunden, Mike Smith and Steve Price gave this prize to a lawyer, Adrian Anderson from Corrs, who is currently suing Crikey for defamation and attempting to have him punished for contempt of court for continuing to talk about Steve Price’s case.

Now this fellow, Anderson, the fearless defender of media freedom, is acting on behalf of …Steve Price!

How much “courage” does it take for a big city law firm to use Australia’s repressive defamation laws against a small independent outfit like Crikey? And how courageous of Judge Price to give the prize and the money to his own lawyer!

Mates, etc

Even some of the more deserved award winners were not necessarily clear-cut. For a start, there’s the David Wilson-Lindsay Murdoch connection. These blokes shared many a byline on the Age’s now defunct Insight team. Now Wilson’s working with his mentor, Mike Smith, at – you guessed it – Shandwicks. He was on the panel which awarded Murdoch the prize for best international or national report in any medium.

Hard-living Murdoch, who has been enjoying his posting in Bangkok for the Age/SMH for some years now, won for award reporting on East Timor. Did David Wilson excuse himself from the selection process when his old mate was shortlisted? Of course he should have.

And then there were the awards that just went wrong. Jason South is a fine lensman who rightly won a Walkley last year for his outstanding photos from East Timor. But his winning feature photo, “Where’s the remote?”, is pretty derivative and – albeit unconsciously – a patronising whimsy.

Capturing two tribesman in a TV store, one holding his bow and arrow while peering at a screen, South’s photo belongs back in the old Australasian Post. Age old-timer John Lamb was the master of the “native-meets-white man’s magic” genre, which enjoyed its heyday in the 80s and should have stayed there. Lamb’s best pic of this type featured two Aborigines in traditional costume trying to figure out the wiles of a telephone booth planted out in the desert.

The winning entry reflects the world view of a veteran photographic judging panel. Former Hun pic ed Terry Phelan, revered ex-Age pic ed Ray Blackbourn, and retired Herald and News Ltd editor, Bruce Baskett, make this panel a little heavy on the nostalgia factor and light on contemporary ideas.

Age resident crimefighter John “Sly of the underworld” Silvester’s dad was a copper, and when he shuffled on stage to accept his award for best investigative report, looking every inch a detective sergeant from the armed robbery squad, the old man would have been chuffed.

Silvester and Age court reporter Steve Butcher won awards because they know their beat inside out. Butcher revealed the Melbourne magistrates’ uprising against their boss, Michael Adams, and Silvester won for his feature on police whistleblower Lachlan McCulloch.

The Quills suit the big papers because they always get a slice of the action and it’s an easy chest-thumping exercise. No wonder no-one’s rocking the boat about the PR infection.

And reading the papers on Saturday was no exception. The Quills were a triumph for the Age – in the Age. And the Hun scooped the pool – in the Hun. This “something for everyone” grab bag prize pool suits all main players…

At least the Age had the good grace to acknowledge the achievements of rival winners. The Hun whacked itself silly, filling page two with self-praise. Under the heading “We scoop the Quill awards”, it highlighted 22 staff who had won awards or received commendations. Didn’t even mention who won the Perkin award.

Then in its sports section, under the modest heading “We’re the best”, they went at it again: “Herald Sun sport scooped the pool at last night’s prestigious Quill awards…”

Now, we’re not impugning the integrity of the Quill judges. It may be that the PR types are perfectly capable of putting aside their hopelessly conflicted day jobs. It’s the perception that counts, and the perception is that if the Quills want to grow as a recognised arbiter of media excellence, they’ve got to lose their PR baggage.

Journalism awards should be characterised by independence and transparency. Let’s disclose the criteria for selecting judges. They should be chosen from a broad cross-section of the community, not a narrow section of the PR community.

So what are we going to do about it? For starters, Crikey plans to nominate for the press club committee. We’ve done some PR spinning in our time, so surely they’ll welcome us with open arms. Let’s give this thing a shake up from within.

Crikey, meanwhile, has awarded its own prizes for the night.

Dancing Queen:

A tie between ABC bella Giulia Baggio and Channel Ten “10” Mignon Henne.

Karaoke King:

Michael Harvey – never have the Bee Gees sounded so good.

Fight of the Night:

Lamentably, only one flare up. Channel Nine’s deputy news director Michael Venus pushed a well lubricated Seven news director Rob Olney after a bit of a verbal warm up.

Embarrassed silence of the Night:

The air was cool when Neil Mitchell collected another prize and cheque from the club he chairs.

Speech of the Night:

John Fitzgerald. A groovy 70s flashback. He deserves a cameo in the next Austin Powers movie.

Presenter of the Night:

Terri Bracks. Turned MC Ian Henderson into quivering putty just by stroking his trim new haircut.

Peter Fray

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