In regards to the article “Drug industry reveals its daily orgy of wining and dining“, I’m not sure if you realise or not but this is not confined to the pharmaceutical market, the device companies do this too, the orthopedics market is the worst with doctors regularly demanding overseas airfares and holidays for their entire family. Ask anyone who works in sales or marketing at a major medical device company — although they will most likely want to remain anonymous.

I’ve had a look at the “summary of events sponsored by Abbott Australia” on the website mentioned in you article about pharmaceutical companies. This is nothing compared to what really goes on. I have personally attended $800 plus per head dinners in Paris with a table full of doctors. (Obviously at a very nice restaurant and on more than one occasion). One company I know of had a bill for $97k for one night of wining and dining in Paris – admittedly this was for dozens of people.

OK. For drug company spending, you have to dig deeper. My ex gets funded to international conferences regularly: all travel, food, drinks, hotels and taxis paid for. And entertainment: standup comics here and big name acts overseas. They regularly have conferences at fancy resorts. Last year, it was on a cruise ship to the Antarctic. That was educational… If the money is spent overseas, it won’t show up on those reports. Which makes the figures in the reports look quite “reasonable”. As for education: well, maybe sometimes, but often it’s to tout the merits of their latest purgative. It’s advertising. I wonder if the gifts are added into the figures too. Binoculars, stuffed toys, stationery, dictaphones, PDAs, clothing… It used to turn my stomach to watch it, and to watch all the doctors with their snouts waiting patiently for their turn at the trough. I wonder how much is left off those reports too. The drug reps had a cash slush for buying drinks… no receipts there I bet. And the other thing about those reports… they looked like GP functions. There seemed to be a lack of specialist functions from the ones that I skimmed. The specialist functions are where the money is really spent.

Apparently TCN9 is looking at another shake-up of its newsroom that could lead to Michael Venus being made network news director, under John Westacott. Word is that he would stay in Melbourne with wife Kellie Curtain who presents newsbreaks (much to the annoyance of many in the GTV newsroom) and run things from down there. I wonder what then happens to Ian Cook. I can tell you there’s a growing feeling that he is well and truly yesterday’s man…

Regarding ABC redundancies: Although there is no doubt that ABC Production Resources has been long overdue for an overhaul and potential downsizing both as a cost saving measure and to clear the way for external production, the inside word is that the ABC will be overspent on its budget by next year by about $30 million which translates into around 300 jobs. Officially it sounds like that there will be only be handful of redundancies, and some redeployments (not a likely scenario in most cases) but the driver according to rumours is primarily budget related and the need to come in on target while negotiating the next triennial funding.

It appears the Bureau of Meterology hasn’t yet heard there has been a change of Government and it’s OK to like unions now. Rumour has it that new redundancy offers include a clause prohibiting recipients from showing the offer to their union.

In two weeks the first of many regional monitors working for Media Monitors will become redundant. Media Monitors has show only total contempt for its regional monitors after many years of loyal service. Even today they are refusing to supply separation certificates on the grounds that they are independent contractors and therefore don’t need to. This is contrary to what Centrelink says and there is even an item on the form “Reason for separation”… Let’s see what the Workplace Ombudsman decides.

There was a line in Margaret Simons’ story, “Scott delivers Aunty’s medicine“, which had me worried about the ABC charter. “Meanwhile ABC staff will be encouraged to market any spare capacity to outsiders.” I thought the ABC charter prevented the broadcaster from competing against commercial enterprise using Government funded equipment and staff. Is the ABC Charter about to change? Would that require an act of Parliament? Well established production companies (like Global) and commercial TV channels may have something to say about competing against ABC facilities for lucrative broadcasting contracts, studio hire and Outside Broadcasts.

You keep overlooking the mother of all KPMG auditing success stories … Westpoint.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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