By
Glenn Dyer

There
he was, in the bar being Eddie the Genial One, or is it Eddie the Footy Show
host once again, or Eddie Everywhere, or Eddie the Collingwood chairman. Is he
still Eddie the Nine Network’s CEO or his he now, to use an old football term,
Captain-Coach?

Last
week he was phoning AWU secretary Bill Shorten to lobby on behalf of Nine in the
media deal stakes, this week he was in the bar at Beaconsfield pub, slapping
backs, appearing on the Nine Network’s A Current Affair to announce a fund
raising special edition of the NRL and AFL Footy Shows on Thursday night (gee
fancy that impromptu decision), which he will host.

Imagine the amazing
consequence of Eddie and the ACA hosts and camera crew being in the Beaconsfield pub at the
same time on a Tuesday evening!

Anything it seems to offset the chilling sight of Seven
Sunrise host, David Koch being called to one of the ambulances at the mine on
Tuesday morning by Todd Russell, one of the miners rescued after 14 days
underground.

But
then there were stories being spread that the wife of the other miner, Brant
Webb, likes Tracy Grimshaw of A Current Affair (and
formerly the co-host of Today), so it could be even stevens in the media exclusive stakes.

By so
publicly leading Nine’s desperate lunge for an
exclusive deal, Eddie has set up some interesting scenarios: for example, what
happens if Nine gets an exclusive and the miner says ‘only with you, Eddie’.
What does Eddie do? Say yes and alienate his reporting staff, not to mention
undermining any separation between staff and management, or say no and lose
it?

All
this is rather unseemly.

The
Bulletin magazine (a publication of ACP, the magazine arm of Nine’s owner,
PBL), was spruiking the following story in the edition
on newsstands today.

“In an
interview with The Bulletin, to
be published tomorrow, Australian Workers Union (AWU) national secretary Bill
Shorten said it was important people realised the
rockfall was not a natural event.

“This is a man-made mining event,” he said
to the magazine.

“The union is concerned about the use of
the term ‘seismic event’ to describe what happened.

“This is not an event caused by the hand of
God interfering with the crust of the Earth.”

In the article, unnamed workers at the
goldmine also point to human error, claiming the mine was left dangerously
unsupported after pillars of rock, which contained ore that could be processed
for gold, were removed.

Because the pillars were necessary to stabilise the labyrinth of tunnels, blasting in the mine
resulted in mini-earthquakes.

The
Bulletin
said this was admitted by mine management in a letter
sent to local residents who complained about heavy explosions that cracked the
walls of their homes.

The instability the blasts created may have
led to a 400-tonne rockfall in October last year, 10m
from where Todd Russell and Brant Webb were trapped.

The unnamed miners also said to the
magazine the rockfall that trapped the two men on
April 25 was not the first collapse that night.

In the wake of the mini-quakes, workers
said to the magazine a new system of checkerboard mining, which involved
removing only alternating sections of ore, had been
adopted.

The report also said a young man, not a
thermal-imaging camera, first located the men after hearing their cries for
help.

Now
this sounds a lot like some of the script for Richard Carleton’s last report on
60 Minutes on Sunday night and it has been in other media, such as The
Australian, for example, so its not
new.

And
thereby hangs a tale of unrealised potential. 60
Minutes had planned to interview Shorten on Sunday on the expectation that the
two miners would be freed during the day and Shorten could speak uninhibitedly
about the problems at Beaconsfield.

But
that wasn’t to be, so the program was forced to go with a lesser story that
tragically was made poignant by the sudden passing of the reporter on Sunday
afternoon.