Jon Stanhope is publicly spruiking his weekend “victory” in the Canberra election, but privately is feeling scorched after his personal tally of a dismal 12,000 votes. Given Zed polled 15,000 plus votes, at this stage the highest of any candidate, Stanhope is understandably feeling a bit peeved. And there’s more: Stanhope’s former Health Minister Gallagher polled about the same number as him, increasing the likelihood of a leadership challenge, according to rumour doing the rounds yesterday afternoon. One former minister has been openly testing the waters since Saturday and it seems quite a few of the Labor troops are sick of Stanhope and want change.

Is the National Australia Bank a slow moving dinosaur, or just a slow moving oligopolist with no regard to what its customers want? A friend is transferring cash from one bank account to a new account at a bank different to the NAB. It involves shifting cash held in Bank A, through their account at the NAB, and then moving it to the new account in Bank C. Moving it from bank A to the NAB was okay: it was a substantial amount. But when the friend tried using the NAB’s phone bank to move all the transferred cash (the NAB is the friend’s main transaction account for day to day dealings), they were told, “sorry can’t. We can only move $20,000 a day”. Max. So, there’s no limit on the NAB accepting cash transfers, but a limit on how much can be moved electronically in one go. Several excuses were advanced, such as “security”. The friend was told that they could go to the nearest NAB branch and transfer the amount, but they had to ring first to make an appointment. But, there’s no phone numbers for the branches. The friend was told to ring the NAB phone bank and they would get the number, ring the branch and help organise the appointment! Some new slogans for the NAB come to mind: ‘No Help Offered, Every Hindrance Suggested.’ ‘Your Money Is Our Money And Don’t Ask For It Back.’ The NAB yesterday reported cash earnings down 11% or so to $3.9 billion, but underlying profit was up 13.9% to $8.1 billion, or nearly 50% of revenues up just 4.5% to $16.257 billion. Poor things, they obviously need to hang onto every dollar than can get. Sorry, the are hanging on to every dollar they get, for longer than is justified.

Xavier College — much has been written and said in this latest debacle. At the centre of the school’s problems is its unwillingness to single out and deal with the actual perpetrators. In a previous year, a bully sent a bullet in the mail to another student as a threat. The bully was suspended for a short time. At the end of the year, after he returned to school, he was made captain of the cricket team. And they wonder why they have a problem!

My reading of Treasury papers is that there is NO charge for the guarantee on deposits. The charge will only relate to the guarantee for wholesale fund issues. Not sure any have actually happened yet.

Re. Fortescue Metals huffing yesterday about getting contract prices for all its tonnes shipped to China. Perhaps that spokesman can next tell us what FMG intends doing with the cape size ships they took on long-term charter, and re-let to entities now going out the back door (google Industrial Carriers for one). Three ships I hear, all on to Fortescue at rates way above the current freight market, and now coming back on their hands…

More job cuts reported at Alcatel, where Telstra has just slashed $200 million from its $600 million a year supply contract with the telecoms supplier. So all contractors and a few white collar managers are out.

Telstra decided this week that if you haven’t paid your phone bill in 21 days, no more Mr Nice Guy, the phone service is cut off and you’ll have to pay the bill and a reconnect fee.

Toyota and car importer, Inchcape, have just “restructured” with dozens of managers and ordinary staff laid off from head office in Sydney and Melbourne.

More jobs have gone at Citigroup here and around the world after retrenchments at rival UBS a few weeks ago.

Has anyone yet noticed the appalling editorial standards at ACP’s fledgling title, Grazia? If reports of the magazine’s imminent demise due to poor sales are anything to go by, probably not. Alison Veness-McGourty’s “Ed’s Letter” gets more atrocious and contemptible as each week passes. Impenetrable nonsense. Spelling errors abound — the launch issue installment was beset with errors, as was last week’s effort (presumably “Sparticus” should have read “Spartacus”) — and the poor woman clearly doesn’t know the function of a comma (“It’s this passion that draws you to these people — what Justin does is ridiculously completely brilliant, Jessica and Renya too”). And this from a former editor of Harper’s Bazaar magazine? Embarrassing. However, as poorly-conceived and woefully-expressed as Veness-McGourty’s editorials are, at least they are original material. Which is more than can be said for Edwina McCann’s Paris Spring/Summer 2009 runway show wrap from last week’s issue. Quite a few of her reports are suspiciously similar to those that appear on www.style.com. Recycling of the ideas of others doesn’t get much more brazen than this. Style.com, the online home of US Vogue, is undoubtedly the most widely-read fashion and beauty website in the world. What was McCann, an impressive writer and former fashion editor at The Australian, thinking? It is mystifying. Lift your game ladies, and stop playing us for fools.

Peter Fray

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