While campaigning against WorkChoices, Peter Garrett was seen recently wearing a suit that looked eeriely like one I saw him having made in a clothing factory-cum-sweatshop in Hoi An, Vietnam, in early 2005.

Some discreet questions are being asked as to whether Ten CEO, Grant Blackley, is up to the job. Unlike McGuire or Leckie, Blackley has managed to stay pretty much under the radar since being appointed in July 2005. But in the wake of contract disputes with Tracey Spicer and Jessica Rowe, the loss of the V8s, falling revenues, unrest in the sales department, some sloppy programming decisions and an uncertain programming slate, there are some suggesting that Blackley should be back running the Ten sales department answering to a more experienced CEO. Seriously.

The recent comment by Howard that the Feds should take over control of the coal ports has its origins in what happened when Babcock & Brown took over running the Dalrymple Bay coal terminal in Queensland. The contracts to load ships worked out at $1.55 a tonne when the Ports Corporation of Qld runs the coal terminal. B & B immediately applied for an increase to $2.65 a tonne. It took some time for the parties to come to an agreement; meanwhile B & B did not commence the expansion which was in the pipeline before they took over. They had some idea that they could shift 56 to 59 million tonnes of coal through the port, when it had never done 50 million, with the same equipment. Some equipment breakdown did not help them. The dispute was adjudicated by a Qld tribunal and the final result was $1.65 a tonne, a fair increase. Historically, the mining industry did not have any idea that a higher demand for coal was coming; in fact, they were in the process of downsizing and were caught totally unawares when the increase demand came. Remember that the original port Hay Point was built by Utah mining and was a temporary port built on the cheap with a short life span expected.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey