Wayne Swan at the AICD Budget Lunch in Melbourne earlier this week (Tuesday) tried to warm up the largely business crowd by talking AFL. Trouble is he apologised for Brisbane winning last weekend, and said it didn’t matter, it was only against Carlton. The groans that followed weren’t just from the Carlton supporters, well-represented as you’d expect at a business lunch, but also from everyone else at the ineptitude of not knowing that in that crowd you can make jokes like that at Collingwood’s expense but not Carlton’s. He lost them from then on.

With rugby union Super 14 TV audiences up over 19% maybe there is a stalling of interest in league or even a switching of preferred footy code – I’d like to think so as Union is my game of choice but I do wonder that rather than any fundamental change in the public’s appetite for League, perhaps more tellingly, record petrol prices, high mortgage rates, high rental costs and increasing food costs may be biting harder in the NRL heartlands in NSW than for other codes or than in Queensland. A minimum ticket price of $45 is going to be a tough ask for many. If that’s the reality, then the NRL is going to really run the risk of alienating its core fan base by berating them for doing just what the Rudd government are trying to achieve in cutting expenditure. Just a thought.

Meanwhile on the grassy, and credulous, knoll: Christine Milne and Bob Brown are secretly working on a new environmental levy. I saw an email between those two this morning, it was leaked by someone nameless in Milne’s office. No, it’s not really a new tax, just a really good initiative that needs to happen if we are to save the world. It doesn’t have a name yet, but from the details I have seen it resembles an “oxygen tax”. Seems some people are consuming more than their fair share of the world’s dwindling supply of clean oxygen. Apparently the CSIRO thinks it has merit. And Bob says he has sold the idea to Wayne who may put it out prior to next year’s budget, if they are a bit bare on new initiatives, which is likely.

Staff at Quest Newspapers have worked as long as three years without a pay rise according to several editorial staff. With the rise of living expenses, Quest has continually failed to support its staff – despite calls within the company for monetary reviews. Casuals are worst off, and not offered permanent employment and their pay remains the most stagnant. Many have resigned and all-round work attitudes remain low. Quest remains one of the lowest-paying media outlets and is very far behind its competitors’ pay-range and attitudes towards its staff. Although Quest prides itself on a “happy” environment, it is quite evident that only “fake happiness” exists within this company.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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