The Oz has left what remains of the pack
eating its tailings on the best business story of the month, the Australian
Mining Investments run. In the process it has demonstrated there is no
substitute for a reporter on the ground, even in north-west Queensland.

The Saturday Oz scooped this particular
game by having a mining writer, Kevin Andrusiak, in Cloncurry chasing down AMI executive chairman
Wayne McCrae. Andrusiak was rewarded with a Wayne’s World feature that includes the following indulgent sledging of journalists and analysts who
don’t get dust on their shoes, as well as an explanation of the “where’s Wayne”
contradiction Crikey pointed to on Friday:

There is no room in McCrae’s comfort zone for journalists. Despite all the
hype and the buzz of Rocklands, he has kept a deliberately low profile in the
media, which has drawn the ire of some commentators. He instructed staff to
tell all journalists calling up seeking a comment that he was overseas and
unavailable. “If they want to talk to me they can jump on a plane to Mount
Isa and then drive out here,”
he told The Weekend Australian in an exclusive interview.

So far very few people have twigged as to his whereabouts – one metropolitan
newspaper was still insisting on its front page yesterday that McCrae was
“overseas and not available”.

Kevin! Fancy sledging a Murdoch stablemate
(The Courier-Mail)… best leave that sort of thing to Crikey. Besides, McCrae
and his company are simply admitting to lying. That’s generally considered a
less than honourable thing.

While Andrusiak was giving the colourful
McCrae a good run, his Oz colleague Robin Bromby
was providing the first allegations of an ASIC investigation into the AMI share
price spectacular.

The Smage
‘s Jamie Freed is playing catch-up this morning with a
nicely sceptical analysis of AMI’s sketchy disclosure performance, none too happy to have been duped
by the “overseas” story.

At least it should be on for one and all after
AMI’s EGM in Cloncurry on Wednesday. AMI is not so shy that it doesn’t have a PR
company on the payroll – David Tasker from Professional Public Relations is
handling matters. Only shareholders will
be allowed into the EGM but “AMI representatives” will be available for
interview afterwards and there will be a tour of the Rocklands project for
anyone interested.

It looks any other media wanting to get
closer to the truth of this story will have to contribute to Cloncurry’s tourism
industry too.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey