Is The Australian about to prove that its business pages are open to all comers, including highly paid former journalists now heading up a business lobbying operation for the Liberal party’s pollsters, Crosby Textor?

The idea comes from this story in The Australian’s paper’s Media section today:

Business weekly BRW has taken another hit with the resignation of chief business commentator Adele Ferguson.

Ferguson has been with the magazine for 11 years and has featured in its advertising. She finishes tomorrow and will become chief executive of CT Financial, a Melbourne-based subsidiary of Canberra lobbying consultancy Crosby Textor.

Starting on Monday, she will also be writing a weekly column for the business section of The Australian.

The idea that a business lobbyist would be allowed a weekly column in the  business pages of a serious paper has got a lot of people in the business media talking and quite a few journalists at The Australian upset.

One of Crosby Textor’s biggest lobbying clients is Australian Airline Partners, the nice folks who want to take over Qantas. They are being assisted by Sydney spinners, Cannings, now controlled by John Singleton’s media interests.

Ferguson will have to avoid any mention of Qantas, and any mention of any of the other deals the various partners are working on: Allco, Allco Equity Partners, Macquarie Bank, TPG and David Bonderman.

It should be a very constrained column full of declarations of potential conflicts of interest.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey