Re. Alex Mitchell’s story Friday and his comment that the NSW senior exec service is not independent enough to deliver reforms NSW needs. On Thursday John Lee, new DG in Premier & Cabinet, put all his SES on three month contracts to “monitor their performance” — a number of them quit on the spot.

The City of Sydney council has spent over $15m upgrading Glebe Pt Rd, Glebe to revitalise the shopping strip to attract more up-market shops. The road works project has dragged on for over 15 months causing severe disruption to shoppers and shops. Many shops have lost money and gone broke. At last count there were over 20 vacants shops on the road. Shops owners were told they would not be compensated as they would rake in more money when the upgrade is finished. This a repeat of the footpath upgrades fiasco in Sydney prior to the Olympics which also sent many shops broke. They were also told the same story when asking foe compensation.

We believe the Fairfax media group is trying to manipulate local council elections. The Wimmera Mail Times, a Fairfax owned paper, has written an article that endorses seven candidates for the Horsham City Council elections.

CBA is set to cut 1,000 jobs across its Premium Business Services network. That is basically a sixth of the staff, this is due in a large amount to the new staff from BankWest (most of whom will lose their jobs) plus a severe slow down in lending. The banks credit and risk areas have brought down the shutters. As such there has been no new deals in at least six weeks.

Flying under the radar back in September — CBA shut its new law practice eCommLegal, sacking about 50 staff. Staff were told the money was required for “core” banking.

Credit criteria at the major bank’s is starting to tighten as a response to current economic conditions. CBA recently removed its concessions (previously up to 0.70% discount on their standard variable interest rate) for low doc lending over 60% lending margin. Prior to that St George had increased its interest rates by 0.35% pa on all low doc loans. Now ANZ has removed Low Doc lending with a lending margin greater than 60% all together and has reduced its maximum lending margin from 95% to 90%. They will also no longer capitalise mortgage insurance on top of their maximum lending margin (previously they would lend to 98% lending margin by capitalising the mortgage insurance cost on to a 95% lending margin loan).

I’m related to a firm that’s been chasing Coles’ advertising. I hear that they’ve just severed their main existing agency relationship. With no handover process. And no announcement of where they are going. They are apparently building their inhouse resources. Are the two related? Are the new UK imports about to try their hand at running a new advertising agency as well as rescuing an icon? (Many have tried and none have succeeded over the last 30 years in large Australian corporates). Are we seeing new people — or old people with new powers — playing with their new toys in the sandpit? Is anyone in control there and, if so, do they know what’s going on?

Peter Fray

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