News Ltd’s bearded business burbler Terry McCrann might have called me “a complete f*ck” last year, but yesterday he decided it would be smart to call Queensland Premier Peter Beattie “a completely irresponsible d*ckhead”. The column opened as follows:

“FIVE years ago I wrote that Queensland premier Peter Beattie seemed intent on proving he was a complete dickhead. It appears I was only half-right. He’s aiming to show he is a completely irresponsible dickhead – with his threat to wreck our national company and investments law.”

Not surprisingly, such childish schoolyard language was rejected by the News Ltd business editors in Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane where McCrann didn’t get a run. Herald Sun editor Peter Blunden blundered in not pulling McCrann into line. Check out what is still embarrassing News Ltd on the Herald Sun website here.

Beattie’s sin was threatening to pull out of the federal sytem of corporate law as retaliation against John Howard’s Whitlamesque incursions into areas of state responsiblity. McCrann seems to think Beattie’s counter-punch would “threaten the legal basis of companies that employ millions and throw the management of $650 billion of your savings into chaos?”

Can anyone remember that chaos when the states ran corporate law up until 1990? And has McCrann forgotten that he’s employed by a company that has just left Australia’s national system of corporate law and run off to the two-bit American state called Delaware. State-based corporate law doesn’t seem to be a problem in America for News Corp.

Glass jaw Costello is great at making deceptive claims. “It would mean that business would have to pay multiple sets of fees,” he said of the Queensland plan.

Hang on a minute. Isn’t Peter Costello the man who has almost doubled ASIC fee revenue, such that it now pulls in more than $400 million a year when the corporate plod only needs $175 million to operate.

I seem to get gouged by ASIC every other month. Last week they wanted another $500 fine for being late with some form. The month before that they charged us $330 just to change the name of a company. Any company search will cost you $32. If you’re a consumer activist trying to keep track of Henry Kaye’s 111 differrent companies, it will cost you almost $3,600 just to do a basic search of his empire.

Queensland prides itself on being the low-tax state. Business adminstrators would flock to Queensland if Beattie pointed out this Federal gouging and introduced a state-based corporate law sytem with much more affordable fees. How about a little bit of competitive federalism to stop the gouging by Canberra since they were given a monopoly over corporate law 15 years ago?

Finally, McCrann really is looking like a d*ckhead after his claim the rise in Virgin Blue shares to $2.03 on Monday last week confirmed his view that Patrick Corp boss Chris Corrigan was a genius spending $340 million buying another 17 per cent at $1.90 a share. Virgin shares have been sliding ever since and hit $1.735 this morning. McCrann’s silence has been deafening.

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.