Check out how much The Oz editorial is over budget – $1 million this financial year already I understand, and bans on all travel (including PM trip to PNG and Solomons perhaps?)

Fingers are pointing, heads are rolling and bucks are shifting in the Queensland Government and the Brisbane City Council following the disastrous visit to Brisbane of the behemoth Queen Victoria this week. Greeted at a sodden, wind-swept and remote grain terminal, VIP guests aboard the Good Ship were less than impressed with the BrisVegas welcome, nearly 15 kilometres from the CBD. The ship, of course, is too big to berth at the new passenger terminal that was supposed to service such valuable contributors to Queensland’s tourism economy. The terminal lay empty as guests trudged through ankle-deep water to the metallic clang of wharf equipment and the bemused looks of grainy longshoremen. Among other questions, tourism types are asking whether the Port of Brisbane should perhaps be focusing on its core business of accommodating passenger and cargo ships, rather than speculative residential developments on prime river frontage?

CASA has refused to allow the Qantaslink 717 that was badly bent in a hard landing at Darwin on 7 February to be flown to Adelaide which has the nearest facilities for what will be a long and costly repair job. Qantas will now have to add to the cost of repairs by creating a special in-situ rebuilding facility for the jet which it is resisting writing off to avoid the stigma of recording its first ever hull loss of a passenger jet.

Fairfax CEO David Kirk, a Kiwi and the only All Black to hold aloft the World Cup, is being tipped to move back to NZ for the forthcoming elections where he will get a safe seat in the Nationals party interest. Helen Clarke is suffering Howard syndrome having been there too long and the Nats are ahead in polls. An added embellishment for the rumour mill is that he is being groomed as leader and is hopeful of being the next PM.

The appointment of Christine Bennett has astonished the heavies in Department of Health and cognoscenti. Her reputation for policy smarts is roughly equivalent to Kevin Andrews’ … Rudd and Roxon will regret this.

ABC Learning have exploited some loop-hole to markedly reduce Payroll Tax. If this loop-hole is closed it would further erode their performance.

The West Australian’s coverage yesterday of how brilliantly the Nine Network is now doing – they are still third, and appear to be permanently so – is lamentable, but laughable. No connection to Seven Network’s Kerry Stokes knocking on the door? Nah, never!

If you want to uncover another Queensland company skating on thin ice you might take a look at Ausenco. Ausenco provide engineering design and project management services to the mining industry. They were floated June 2006 with underwriting from Santo Santoro’s family trust. Wayne Goss is Chairman. The initial IPO at $1 rose to a peak of $16 within a year, despite the company having little assets. When Santoro resigned, there was nervousness within the company that his role in the IPO may be under scrutiny. Earnings per share were huge mostly due to bringing forward profits from the Lumwana Copper project in Zambia. Despite company assurances that the project is on time and budget, this is not the case and the project is unlikely to meet its completion date of 28 June 08, at which point huge liquidated damages come into play. The company has failed to win a project of similar size since Lumwana, so profits are likely to fall significantly at the next half-yearly report. One wonders if they will be savaged by the same bear that got ABC Learning.

Michael West at Fairfax reports that City Pacific made an offer for the management of the MFS Premium Income Fund. This is not true. No offer was made on completion of due diligence (which apparently took less than half a day) because the thing (PIF) is such a mess. MFS management don’t even know who the money has been lent to in some cases, and in many cases the money has been in invested in other MFS ventures, mostly in NZ issued debentures. It is a real train smash with no prospect of recovery. So CIY has better things to do with its cash than p-ss it up against the wall on a dead duck beyond redemption (pardon the pun). Who is feeding West this garbage? Ask the question would you. More to come…

Peter Fray

Save 50% on a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

The US election is in a little over a month. It seems that there’s a ridiculous twist in the story, almost every day.

Luckily for new Crikey subscribers, we’ve teamed up with one of America’s best publications, The Atlantic for the election race. Subscribe now to make sense of it all, and you’ll get a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year’s digital subscription to The Atlantic (usually $70AUD), BOTH for just $129.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW