An insider at The Australian
has sent through a detailed and fascinating account of life inside
Rupert’s national broadsheet which we’ll publish next week after
checking out some of the more controversial angles.

As a taster,
we can reveal that a major cost-cutting operation is underway and it
does appear to be connected with a blizard of litigation and legal
costs that editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell is being told must now come
out of his budget. No wonder staff are doing all sorts of defamation
and legal courses at the moment.

Many of these battles are well
known, such as the huge bills wracked up fighting Michael Mackinnon’s
FOI battles with the Treasury and assorted other government agencies.
But according to our insider, others are still emerging, such as the
writ that Macquarie Bank has lobbed over Michael West’s coverage of
Allstate Explorations. A correction has already appeared, and we’re not
sure which piece Macquarie is specifically upset about, as West has
written quite a few about Allstate and its Beaconsfield Mine in
Tasmania over the years. Here’s an example from 25 November last year:

At Allstate Explorations’ annual general meeting last year,
the managing director just upped and left mid-meeting, muttering about
the Australian Securities & Investments Commission needing to
inquire into the appointment of the administrators as he headed for the
door. This year’s shindig was fractious, too. Administrator Michael
Ryan again sat in the front row, `facing’ shareholders with the back of
his head, and flanked by not one but two lawyers from Mallesons.

All
other directors of Australia’s most profitable insolvent company had
decamped. That left a rather forlorn chairman and sole director, Rod
Elvish (and his lawyer), alone at the board table to explain how it was
that Macquarie Bank had … er … transacted a cool $50 million from
Allstate for a mere outlay of $300,000 – while creditors of Allstate,
such as workers and their families at the Beaconsfield Mine in
Tasmania, would have to wait years to get paid.

Stay with us, we’ve got a smoking email.

West has been one of Macquarie’s harshest critics over the years, and
it seems the Millionaires Factory has finally decided to call in
m’learned friends. Macquarie can forget about getting any future
corporate work from Rupert if they continue to play hardball. And let’s
hope they haven’t forgotten the damage that Alan Jones inflicted when
he declared war on the bank. The Murdoch tabloids could cause a lot
more pain if the attack order went out.