I thought I would let you know of a brewing stoush between the NUW National office (run by Vic ALP President Charlie Donnelly) and the NSW, Queensland, WA and SA branches of the NUW. At a recent NUW National Council meeting Donnelly unveiled a grand plan to take over the running of the Qld, SA & WA branches under an umbrella of a general or expanded central branch, which would be answerable administratively and financially to the national office of the NUW. Donnelly says this plan is to minimalise the inefficiencies of the smaller state Branches. This would also mean all of the elected officials in those states would lose their positions and assets would flow to Donnelly as the National Secretary. Donnelly has planned a nationwide NUW plebiscite for October 17th — a rushed event to say the least. The Victorian Branch of the NUW is the largest, closely followed by NSW, so Donnelly being based in Vic would think he has the numbers to win the ballot. Of course, Donnelly has NUW Victoria’s Antony Thow on board but not Derrick Belan (NSW), Nick Thredgold (SA) or John Cosgrove (QLD). The general consensus with non-Victorian NUW people is that Donnelly, who’s national office has just built a $30 million Taj Mahal in Melbourne’s Docklands is worried because of the huge debt and needs access to the cash flows (and potential growth) of the various states, notably Queensland. The other line of thought is that the Victorian NUW crew is eying off one day having a crack at the NSW Branch, the most financially viable branch of all the states and the Branch that has the ear of Qld, SA and WA. If Donnelly loses in his high stakes take-over gamble he knows he will have a problem on his hands.

Labor Party HQ in the ACT has just frozen campaign funding for Mike Hettinger, one of its candidates for the electorate of Molonglo in the 18 October ACT Election. Hettinger, a former rocket scientist, narrowly missed out on being elected in the last election in 2004. In recent years he has been an outspoken activist on local educational and environmental issues, such as school closures and the controversial Gungahlin Drive Extension. It is understood that the latest action is a response to Hettinger’s radio and TV advertisements in the current campaign.

The Westfield shopping centre connection with the Art Gallery of NSW is now 20 years old. Westfield chairman Frank Lowy became president of the gallery’s board of trustees in 1988, courtesy of fellow Hungarian Premier Nick Greiner. When Lowy stepped down, the new president became David Gonski, a director of Westfield Holdings since 1985, and when Gonski drew stumps in December 2006, the job went to Frank Lowy’s son Steven, the managing director of Westfield. On Friday night, Steven Lowy will officially open the blockbuster Monet exhibition at the gallery in the swirling aftermath of Monday night’s Four Corners program “Tax Me If You Can” which detailed a whistleblower’s documents of a Lowy family account in Liechtenstein’s LGT bank. While the Lowys vehemently argue they have nothing wrong, the money trail is currently being investigated by a US Senate committee and the Australian Taxation Office. In urging the investigators to clear their names, the Lowy clan will be taking strength from Claude Monet (1840-1926) who once said: “It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”

On Saturday, 4th October, the answering machine at Malcolm Turnbull’s electorate office referred to him as “Shadow Treasurer” and made no reference of his new role as “Opposition Leader”. This may, or may not, explain why he’s doing almost all of the economic wind-bagging for the Coalition, and keeping his deputy in the dark…

Apparently the West Australian put in a hiring freeze last week. What’s going on over there? An overreaction to dropping ad sales, or are they clearing the decks for a new editor?

A creative way to cut costs at Fairfax: moving of its plush offices on Berkerley Square in London.

Reports that Fairfax withdrew from the Flemington Birdcage AFTER job cuts announced not true. Decision to leave Flemington made months ago. Lavish entertainment still going ahead this Saturday at Caulfield racecourse. Age employees angrily questioning cost justification and timing. Journos pointing to double standards of slash and burn Age managing director Don Churchill for approving party for himself and advertising lackeys the day after 50 editorial redundancies decided.

This is NAB/UBank crap/PR. Maybe the Crikey army could upload some videos to this NAB site that counter the bank spin.

Trying to log on onto E*Trade through St George yesterday at 2:46pm I was greeted with this message: “Scheduled Maintenance: We are currently performing scheduled maintenance in order to provide the most reliable and speediest platform to the market. Due to this scheduled maintenance the directshares Website and directshares Power will be unavailable from 6am AEST Saturday 15th to 10pm AEST Sunday 16th December 2007. We apologise for any inconvenience. Please try again later.” Come again? “Scheduled maintenance” at a quarter to three on a week day? Pull the other one. What’s the real story here and what’s with the dates?

What happened to Starbucks closing Australia-wide? Apparently I can still get wireless internet in the non-existent Canberra stores.

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.

 

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW