Terry Television looks at the Sunday morning business shows on the small screen.

When television programs look at alcohol in the workplace, there’s always the pause to think about ‘pots calling the kettle black’ such is still the reputation for alcohol use in Teleland, even in these more sober times.

Business Sunday’s colour story was a look at alcohol use in the work place. A worthwhile story. But one which even the most socially-enlightened companies are loathe to admit on camera involves a bans on consumption at work by executives. And what about alcohol use at the top of companies, in and around the CEO suites and boardrooms?

But Crikey wants to know whether someone was having a quiet nip at Nine at the start of Business Sunday, or was it a quiet kip? Around a minute of an interview with Max Moore-Wilton, CEO of Sydney Airport appeared on the screen, instead of Ross Greenwood’s marketwatch on Telstra, the new chairman and election polls. Host Ali Moore recovered well. But they should have kept Moore-Wilton running.

He was more interesting and absorbing on the plans and dreams (outrageous they might be, but it’s a Macquarie Bank offshoot, isn’t it?) of the airport. In contrast Greenwood’s commentary on Telstra was, when it appeared, finally, unremarkable. Compared to Alan Kohler’s effort on Inside Business (ABC), it was pedestrian. More pertinent on Telstra were comments from Terry McCrann, looking more Rabbinical every Sunday, and Bruce Teele of Australian Foundation Investment Co. Tezza pointed out that the new Telstra chairman wasn’t that important a deal last week, Alan Greenspan’s comments were and Teele flatly said AFIC liked Telstra at these levels, even though he didn’t know the new man “well”.

Teele’s comments on the NAB were also interesting with a distinct sign of unease about skeletons and others buried in the NAB’s accounts. He wondered about the high level of spending on computer systems (a big favourite of Don Argus and his successor, Frank Cicutto). Remember the huge and expensive argument with Deloittes over IT systems? No wonder they missed the audit tender and we’re a little surprised they had such a big run at it.

Teele is meeting NAB CEO, John Stewart in a couple of weeks for a ‘getting to know you’ discussion. It will be important to both parties, with the NAB the third biggest holding in AFIC’s $3 billion portfolio (and Cathy Walter is very close to Bruce and AFIC, sharing board’s together). And Bruce Teele is one of the most powerful men in Melbourne finance, even with Goldman Sachs owning control of the old firm JB Were.

If Bruce goes off you, then you have a real credibility problem with the big end of your share register. It was also clear from the interview that Bruce wants to see some of those empty slots filled at the top of the NAB’s management ranks. Bruce likes to assess the ‘quality’ of the managers. And that’s what he will be doing when he has tea and biscuits with John Stewart.

The Max Moore-Wilton interview was notable for the claim that this monopoly(Sydney Airport) was actually competing with other airports overseas and in Australia, even as far away as London.

Seeing how the overwhelming majority of international flights end in Sydney, partly because Qantas’s headquarters is there and partly because many foreign carriers are only allowed to fly into Sydney and not other cities, Moore-Wilton’s claims were an amazing piece of sophistry.

So, Max, which overseas airlines don’t want to terminate in Sydney, and tell us how Singapore or Hong Kong are competing with Sydney for people wanting to fly into Australia?

If you and your Macquarie mates continue to screw up charges, quite a few will want to fly elsewhere. It will be your outrageous price gouging that will drive passengers and airlines away, nothing else. No wonder Qantas and Virgin Blue (noted gougers of some distinction, witness their fuel surcharges), are appealing the refusal of the Federal Government to ‘declare’ Sydney airport, that is, to designate it as a monopoly and subject to different rules.

Michael Pascoe on Seven’s Sunday Sunrise had not much in the way of interviews. None in fact except a grab from Bruce Teele and a long and amusing spray about who wouldn’t put their heads up last week. Because of having more limited time than Business Sunday the Seven program tends to go for big, more important interviews, hence Sunday Sunrise not having Max Moore-Wilton or a longer interview with Bruce Teele. The AFIC chairman would have sufficed because of his views and position in the Australian investment market.

But there were some amusing lines in Pascoe’s rave about Telstra, John Stewart, Roger Corbett at Woolies and Metcash’s Andrew Reitzer about the Woolies’ bid for Australian Leisure and Hospitality which you can read here.

It was the sort of commentary that would sit better in Business Sunday rather than the half-hearted effort at Seven. But then Pascoe is persona non grata at Nine because he dared speak his mind and Mr John Alexander doesn’t like that. Too tabloid said he of the ultra white leather couches.

On the ABC’s Inside Business there was a story on the iniquities of financial planners, legal actions and hurt investors. It’s an old, old story, not just limited to today’s super-driven pots of gold. Just ask all those punters who lost money in the Poseidon boom, the collapse of Patrick Partners, Estate Mortgage, Bondie and the like.

And a nice slagging of Telstra’s Ted Pretty for spending five or so hours on Thursday wasting the time of analysts and the like attempting to show that so far as infrastructure was concerned, Telstra was, well, doing nothing.

Ted is the last of the turtleneck internetters insider Telstra that still doesn’t understand what is happening, really happening elsewhere in the world. The man presents well, performs well, but delivers little. He should be long gone and maybe this is something ole waterfront Donald McGauchie can do given that Ziggy seems determined to protect his mate.

Peter Fray

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