As well as spruiking a reveal-all interview with
ex-Disney boss Michael Eisner in its Boss
magazine, today’s Financial Review leads with the burning issue of unpaid
and avoided tax. Tax havens are a key priority for the ATO, says the paper’s Fiona Buffini (not online), which this year intends
to raise more than $100 million from over 300 audits of cases involving evasion
and serious fraud. They’re also a focus of Treasurer Peter Costello, who told a
group of insurers 18 months ago that tax havens undermined the revenue base,
were unfair and had been one of his “top international priorities” for years.

Problem is, after this week’s revelations about Costello’s
Reserve Bank board appointee Robert Gerard’s involvement in a major tax evasion
sham, the community – and certainly the business community – might think that
such behaviour is not only what we’re entitled to do but that we might be
rewarded for it with a prestigious
government job or two, says the Fin‘s
Laura Tingle.

On matters Telstra, the telco’s message to the federal government
yesterday was stark, says Stephen Bartholomeusz in The Smage. Without intervention by
the legislators, there will be no $10 billion Next Generation Network and T3
will occur against the backdrop of regulatory and strategic uncertainty and a
lower-growth outlook.

Telstra’s entire regulatory case is based on an arrogant
belief that it’s above the law and should be afforded special treatment, says
Chanticleer’s John Durie. The telco has a sharp voice message for Communications Minister Helen Coonan and the
ACCC, set on automatic redial, says the Fin‘s
Jennifer Hewett. It’s going to keep the fight going – aggressively –
until the federal government and the regulator realise the error of their ways.

These men and women that run Telstra are not stupid, so one
has to assume they have a strategy, says Elizabeth
in The Sydney Morning Herald.
However, it’s not that evident. Perhaps the rationale is to find
some errant cabinet ministers with more sympathy and no history of having said
no to Telstra already. If this doesn’t work, maybe then Telstra will start to
engage in some argy-bargy and offer some concessions which will give the
Government some room to move in its direction.

And on the never-ending Coopers-Lion Nathan saga, now that the Brewery’s
directors have made a concession that would completely alter the dynamics
of Lion Nathan’s $420 million takeover, it’s extraordinary that the Takeovers
Panel is allowing the SA brewer to proceed with a shareholders’ meeting next
Wednesday aimed at killing off the bid, says The Australian‘s Bryan Frith.
There’s simply insufficient time between now and the meeting – which seeks to
prevent Lion Nathan from owning shares in Coopers – for target holders to take
advantage of the concession.

Pacific National CEO Stephen O’Donnell has chosen an
historic way to mark his final ten days as boss of the riven Toll-Patrick rail
freight operator, says the paper’s Matthew Stephens,
delivering orders for the first ever lock-out of Australian rail
workers. After enduring a national 48-hour strike, which coincided
with the ACTU’s 15 November day of protest, O’Donnell’s patience
cracked last Friday when he was told PN’s train
drivers and terminal workers in Western Australia
had called a strike for yesterday.

Meanwhile, it seems The
has also spoken to Michael Eisner, so, to share some (more) secrets of his
success, click here.

On Wall Street, US
stocks closed sharply higher Thursday after a raft of inflation-friendly data
sparked a rally in tech shares. Gold closed above $500, a feat not seen since
1987, and the Dow Jones rose 106.70 points, or 1%, to 10,912.57, its first triple-digit
gain since 28 October. MarketWatch has the full report here.