It is understood that the Federal Government has included on its list of potential candidates for the appointment as Judge to the High Court, solicitor and Managing Partner of the Melbourne office of law firm Mallesons Stephen Jacques, Ros Grady. With Chief Justice Gleeson about to retire as he reaches the age of 70, one of the existing High Court judges is rumoured to be elevated to CJ. The Howard Government also considered appointing Ms Grady (as a replacement to Justice Callinan), but shied away as it was thought to be too controversial to appoint a solicitor, rather than a barrister or judge – as convention dictates – to the High Court. Ms Grady was also seen as a strong supporter of Bills of Rights, something that may have weakened her candidature in the eyes of the Howard Government, but has the reverse effect for the Rudd Government. However, the new Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, is thought to be more willing to experiment with new approaches to judicial appointments than his predecessors.

I was a volunteer for the 2020 Summit. I did it because I thought it was a significant event and I was pleased to have an opportunity to participate in contributing to something “bigger” for our country. Today, I read that the wife of a Labor staffer got the contract to run media and PR for the event. The Government paid $60k to her company to do the work that was, in fact, mostly done by the volunteer media liaison officers for the event, who were public servants like me. They actually brought some order to arrangements that were haphazard and poorly thought through. So, public servants do the job for free (and, to be frank, make it happen) while a hired hand takes home a cool $60k. I’ve gone from feeling proud about my involvement in 2020 to being rather disillusioned. Particularly by the fact that many of my public servant colleagues who gave up a weekend for free to do something good for the country now face uncertainty as the Rudd Government hacks into the public service.

ABC insider says: Outsourcing has got to a point of ridiculousness. Internal management is now so disabled that the ABC had to fly a Sydney producer down to Melbourne to cover the Anzac Day march there. No-one from Ripponlea had the expertise to handle the program. In fact, the Sydney producer was actually on extended long service leave and the ABC had to pull him in!

I’m a member of a leading human rights lobby group and at the end of the torch relay route we attempted to set up a low-key presence in Commonwealth Park. We were surrounded by the large pro-China crowd, who sang nationalistic songs, and were on the whole restrained, with the exception of a few hot-heads. We were then escorted away from the scene by the AFP, saying that because they were unable to guarantee our security we should leave. This was a fair call given the numbers. So that was the end our “Festival of Harmony” in the capital of one of the world’s real democracies.

Not only were Chinese students from Monash University expected to attend as part of the patriotic duty, other students studying in Melbourne’s other Universities were also expected to enjoy a trip to Canberra. Courtesy of handouts for out of pocket expenses coming from an Irving Road address… mmm.

Has the Nine Network News And Current Affairs director, John Westacott really hired an old mate from 60 Minutes who has a PR company, to try to improve the coverage of Western Sydney by Nine’s News. It seems so. Wilkinson Media, run by Peter Wilkinson, a former 60 Minutes producer, has got the gig. It won’t be the first time Nine has tried this. Anyone remember the Western Sydney News bureau at 2WS at Seven Hills or the roving camera teams in and around Parramatta and Liverpool? Whatever happened to news reporting and employing journalists and producers who could keep in touch with what was going on? Does the station still have someone who reads the free papers in the West, South West North West and North of Sydney, as well as the inner suburbs? Does anyone in management at Nine in Sydney know where the West is and where Nine’s audience lives?

According to the back bench at News Ltd Holt Street, there could be a change coming at the Sydney Sunday Telegraph after a flying visit last week by the proprietor, Rupert Murdoch. He was here briefly but took time to read and digest his local publications. The Sunday Tele was one that came in for the typical Murdoch treatment: it was scanned and then allegedly tossed across a desk with the comment: this is sh-t or words to that effect. And then he was gone.

More Fairfax cuts – The Sun Herald is cutting Hunter Extra – a supplement for Hunter Valley readers staffed by casual journalists in the Hunter. It will be gone in the next fortnight. Word is there was a bit too much angst at Fairfax headquarters between The Newcastle Herald and The Sun Herald weekend supplement over “exclusives” with the few part-timers on the Sun Herald regularly scooping The Newcastle Herald.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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