Jovial Fin Review reporter Andrew Main has been having a field day as the number-one “HIH expert” providing commentary to various media outlets after the Rodney and Ray sentences last week.
There he was giving a complicated three-minute uninterrupted explanation about reinsurance contacts on Sky Business Report on Thursday night and back on our screens on Sunday morning when Ross Greenwood used him for thisBusiness Sunday story. Then there was this story on Today Tonight last Thursday which talked about him “sitting in at the HIH Royal Commission every day for 12 months”.
Main was in fierce competition with The Australian’s former business columnist Mark Westfield to be out with the first HIH book. Westfield pre-empted the final report of the Royal Commission with HIH: The Inside Story Of Australia’s Biggest Corporate Collapse , which has sold about 11,000 copies and received this review in the SMH. But Main waited a few months before releasing his version, Other People’s Money, which is receiving a handy boost in sales with all the publicity at the moment.
So how did Wesfield lose his first-mover advantage, especially after runing a ferocious campaign against HIH before it collapsed and subsequently collecting the 2001 Walkley for business reporting?
It appears that moving across to the “dark side” of PR explains everything. Westfield was used prominently by the likes of Four Corners in 2001, as you can see here. But as a spin doctor for Cosway, he hasn’t been attending the latest court dramas. And also finds himself conflicted as he is now handling the spin for General Re, Warren Buffett’s naughty reinsurance company which could yet find itself completely kicked out of Australia for those dodgy reinsurance contracts with HIH and FAI in the dying days.
Crikey hears that Westfield’s PR bosses haven’t banned him from speaking out, but he was out of town last week when all the sentencing drama unfolded. He might be available for interview if anyone called, but it seems that Andrew Main now has that market tied up.
It just goes to show, you’ve got to be in it to win it. Being a spindoctor and a hard hitting independent commentator is not an easy double act to perform.