Day two of the great corporate defamation clash of the decade and it seems the Millionaire Factory have managed to hire one of their own critics to lead the charge.
Bret Walker SC is doing his best to skewer The Australian in the jury-free ACT Supreme Court for its coverage of Macquarie Bank’s controversial Beaconsfield gold mine bonanza, but the expensive wig hasn’t always been so enamoured with his client in the past.
Walker gave this lively speech to the St James Ethics centre in 2005, including the following:
Accountants are well-paid, too, and it may be that some are so well paid that they have encouraged commercial lawyers to feel their own value somewhat under-appreciated by their common clients. But perhaps the star turns which should never be emulated by practising lawyers, but have perhaps been the remuneration light on the hill for some, are the merchant bankers. Scarcely merchants, although very mercantile. Usually not really bankers, but rolling in money. With pieces of the action, capitalist venturers, and people the lawyers briefly knew at university. No wonder the published aspirations of many big law firms have much more in common with large accounting combines and dazzling millionaires factories, than with their legal colleagues in small firms, in the country and in sole practice.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
Now Walker hasn’t since set up his own little sole practice in the country, but is instead taking the coin of the very same “dazzling millionaires factory” that he seemingly derided in 2005. As the person who coined the nickname in the Herald Sun on 23 April 1997, I can vouch for the fact that there is only one Millionaire Factory. Not that Walker would now try to obfuscate about the comment.
Meanwhile, The Australian has again run the story on page one today, although The AFR has dropped off the story despite what looks like some fascinating evidence.
Interestingly, The AFR’s new Rear Window gossip columnist is one Andrew White, who was The Australian’s business editor at the time Michael West’s Walkley Award winning “Mine Shaft” feature was run. He’s yet to weigh in with an item on the case.
Whilst Fairfax is off doing a joint carve-up of Southern Cross Broadcasting with Macquarie Media, the story is surely big enough to justify assigning a business reporter from The Age/SMH to service the broadsheets.
Big companies just don’t sue each other like this in Australia and when it’s Rupert versus Macquarie over an alleged gold heist of sorts at the nation’s best known mine, the neutral media should give it a good run.
Kenny Rogers meets the Millionaires Factory in today’s Mayne Report videoblog.