Fairfax Media wiped 37 sub editors off its payroll last August and has pooled them so there are no longer any specialists. They may be subbing a recipe for Good Living one minute, the stars the next, followed by a terrifyingly complicated business story the next. No doubt a lot of subs would rather leave the complicated stuff till last and hope that someone else has to do it. In recent weeks the SMH has been running late hitting newsagents and news-stands because of deadline problems directly related to not having enough subs to shift copy at the end of the day. What is its solution? Hire more subs? Not on your nellie. Instead journalists have been given a raft of new deadlines, being asked to file as early as 2pm and no later than 5pm for most of the paper. It means copy gets filed before the story is complete. It is looking more and more like a late afternoon newspaper than a good morning read all the time.

The Iemma Government has launched an expensive taxpayer-funded advertising offensive to sell its Metro line plan to the highly sceptical general public. The $12.5 billion “bold new vision” to link downturn Sydney with the city’s north-west is part of a rescue operation – not for commuters, but for Morris Iemma and his deputy, Transport Minister John Watkins, the premier-in-waiting. Incredibly, a quarter page colour advertisement in today’s Sydney Morning Herald carries a photo endorsement from … commercial radio and television traffic reporter Vic Lorusso! If young, gushing Vic who spends his life in a helicopter calling Sydney’s traffic foul-ups is the best they can get, then the “vision” looks increasingly like a mirage.

Yesterday Virgin Blue flight DJ357 departed Adelaide for Perth 35 minutes late. Nothing too unusual about that, except for the reason. Apparently the Boeing 737 had taken on too much fuel and was too heavy to take off. The solution was to taxy the aircraft around Adelaide’s numerous taxiways and take the passengers on a tour of the airport. Once enough fuel had been burnt off, we taxied onto the runway and departed for Perth. I think I got a bargain for my $1.93 “Fly Carbon Neutral” offset levy. Thankfully the fuel miscalculation was on the safe side.

The Howard Government has been out of office for just four months but it appears to have resulted in a squeeze on the finances of the happy clappers of the Hillsong Ministry. The outfit’s franchised Gloria Jeans coffee lounge at Edgecliff in the eastern suburbs of Sydney has just informed a staff member that his $15 an hour pay will be cut to $11 an hour from this weekend. Let’s hope that Unions NSW and Industrial Relations Minister John Della Bosca, the plucky champions of the lowly paid, will investigate.

Tonight’s 7.30 Report has scheduled an update on the sale of the trade union retreat at Currajong on Sydney’s northern beaches to property developers Allen Linz and Eduard Litver, of Melbourne-registered Eco-Villages Australia Pty Ltd, for $15 million. The mercurial South African-born Linz and Russian-born Litver plan to build luxury homes and a marina at the idyllic beachfront site which had been a workers’ holiday home for more than 60 years. The same duo are currently engaged in a community battle at Bondi where they have bought the massive Swiss Grand Hotel with plans to turn it into apartments. They have appointed a well connected spin doctor to overcome objections to the development application – Eamonn Fitzpatrick of the Labor-favoring consultancy firm, Hawker Britton. Before joining Hawker Britton, Fitzpatrick was Premier Morris Iemma’s media minder and even earlier he worked for Michael Costa when he was Police Minister. Costa is, of course, the former secretary of Unions NSW who first proposed the controversial sale of Currawong and now wants to sell-off the state’s power business.

What is a Green preference deal worth? Well based on the result in from the Brisbane City Council elections, absolutely nothing. The Greens directed preferences in only two Wards: In Morningside Ward the Green’s “how to vote” cards stated (1) Greens (2) Liberal and (3) Labor. The booth preferences flowed this way 554 to Labor (34.7%), 183 to Liberals (11.5%) and 841 exhausted. In Holland Park Ward the Greens “how to votes” (1) Green (2) Labor (3) Liberals. The booth preferences flowed this way 787 to Labor (31.5%), 361 to Liberals(14.5%) and 1341 exhausted. The Labor candidate in Holland Park Ward did worse with green preference direction than the Morningside Labor candidate with an opposing Green Party direction. This is a clear indicator to both major parties that chasing Green preference endorsements are not only useless, but potentially counter productive. The Greens will rue this as another nail in the coffin of ever getting concessions from the real political parties in future elections. So while the Liberals may have won the Brisbane City Council election, the biggest losers were not Labor but the Greens. Results of numbers available here.

Hyped up investment vehicle “Bluewater” could be wound up by investors after three years of disappointing earnings. Westpac, as the investment manager, got lots of fees for doing virtually nothing. After three years with no investor dividends, a $1 share is now worth $1.04.

Tried to renew your passport lately? When filling out an online passport renewal application you must indicate the country where you’re currently residing. It reads like a Cold War atlas listing the USSR, FYROM, and the Ukrainian SSR just to mention a few. Memo to DFAT – buy a map. The world’s changed since 1992.

Underbelly should actually be shown after 9:30pm at night . Look at the classification.gov.au website. Underbelly’s DVD release has been rated MA+, which means that it should really be shown after 9:30pm. If TV had to be officially classified Underbelly would be on later, thus cutting ratings. Nine’s original argument that the content was OK for 8:30pm is false. Another Nine stuff up.

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