The opening of the SMH’s splendid new offices at Pyrmont on May 8 was not the only thing on the minds of Fairfax management. Their plans for industrial relations even then were a high priority. The special guest that day was Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who opened the new premises.

Ron Walker, David Kirk and Brian McCarthy had a special private meeting with the PM to brief him on their IR plans. Rudd had no objections to their strategy. (Presumably this was around using the current legislation re employees on $100K and above). Might be worth asking the question: Was Rudd aware of Fairfax Media’s IR plans and strategies in May? Did he meet privately with the Fairfax Chairman, CEO and deputy CEO? Did he agree with their IR plans? Does he condone the strategy? Did he give any instructions or did he discuss the issues with his deputy, Julia Gillard? Has he since had further discussions with anyone from Fairfax?

Kim Carr decided not to release the Cutler report on innovation on Wednesday — but someone forgot to tell the media, and most of the questions at the Press Club lunch seem to have been written with the Cutler report in mind. The DIISR Secretary cancelled the all-staff meeting announced for the Thursday, too. It’s going to be re-scheduled. Rumours of a major shake-up continue.

I have been a career Firefighter for over 15 years in Queensland. I live in Cairns. After recently suffering smoke inhalation at a cane fire I decided to investigate the toxicity of cane fire smoke. It would appear that the cane industry is well aware of the very toxic properties of the smoke. In fact they are aware that the smoke produces particles in the smoke that are similar to the particles in asbestos and studies have been carried out on cane farm workers who have contracted mesotheliama. Traditionally this desease has only been connected to exposure to asbestos. Yet the farmers continue to burn cane around hundreds of towns and large centers such as Cairns.

Nickname for beleaguered Age CEO Don Churchill doing the rounds among Age news hacks. “The Ghost”. We never see him.

Kevin Rudd wouldn’t just be worried about the backlash against Labor in WA and the damage done to the Labor brand in NSW, he’d be more concerned that so many of his staffers hail from the decrepit and discredited NSW Labor government. Take a look around at the ministerial officers and the same people advising the people he shares a cabinet table were, until recently, working for Iemma, or his ministers, some now axed in the name of good government.

Regarding the disgruntled Daily Tele worker, I think you may find (and it is reasonably well-known) that all the people News Ltd employ in their radio rooms are disabled. They are all either in wheelchairs or have some other sort of handicap. I guess it all began as a sort of News Ltd gesture towards equal opportunity something-or-other. These guys really are now faceless … except for the people in the back corner on level three at Holt Street who see them occasionally. So the guy who abused the radio room person was probably abusing a bloke in a wheelchair… Not a good look.

Peter Fray

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