I was shopping in the toy department of Big W Macquarie Centre yesterday with Janette Howard… oh how things have changed. (She had no personal protection guards around — what’s going on there?)

NSW Premier Nathan Rees may have another by-election problem coming up. State MP for the seat of Blue Mountains Phil Koperberg is once again threatening to quit politics even before his first term is over. This time he let it slip in front of a local Liberal councillor and one of his supporters. Hoping to be gone by mid next year, he told his mates that his only worry would be who would replace him, an obvious reference to current Blue Mountains Labor Mayor and young barrister Adam Searle, who is hated by both Koperberg and former Blue Mountains MP and current Federal MP Bob Debus.

Searle, who did the right thing when Debus quit State Parliament to go to Canberra by not running against Koperberg, is seen by many as Attorney-General material, having been the Chief of Staff to ex-NSW AG Jeff Shaw. Locals are worried that Koperberg, Debus and the NSW Left boss Luke Foley would rather let the seat go to the Libs than give Mayor Searle a run. Nathan Rees may have a differing opinion.

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Following the redundancies from Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Deacons Lawyers have today called all staff together to announce cuts as well. Word has it that HR has booked out most meeting rooms in their Melbourne office to convey the bad news to mainly junior and less senior lawyers and support staff. Other firms have strongly encouraged staff to take extra holiday leave over the Christmas break.

The Australian National Academy of Music is funded at about four times the rate of all other music training institutions in Australia, because it was funded from the arts budget and not the education budget (NIDA is the same). It’s hard to imagine that you couldn’t be a bit more efficient than that, cut the admin and allocate the saved dosh to taking on more students. ANAM was already a company of the University of Melbourne. I would have thought a collaboration with Victorian Opera would make sense for a music institution.

The Opera company is now going to offer professional development programs for singers from AIMP. ANAM did not train singers. The University was already working on a young singers program with money left when the Melba Conservatorium folded last year. The Melba Bequest will fund the singers side of things not the Commonwealth. ANAM was only a finishing school. It offered a one-year non-degree course mostly for people coming out of B.Mus courses at Melbourne, the VCA and a trickle from interstate. These people go to Melbourne Uni or the VCA for three or four years then do a year at ANAM and suddenly ANAM is taking the credit for producing all the stars!

ANAM was given a poisoned chalice in the form of a brief to train just the very best and don’t worry about the cost. That is an invitation to bad management. They haven’t even published an Annual Report since 2005!

Training fees for Australian medical specialists just doubled. It will now cost a trainee physician $17,500 in direct college fees to become a specialist, and hence be permitted to practise independently. Doctors pay this money themselves, so why should the public care? Because the colleges can take advantage of the tax deductible status of the fees, and an educational reimbursement included in the contracts of most public hospital employees. So the state ends up paying indirectly.

There has been no appreciable change in service in the last two years (after the last jump in fees). I wonder what the doctor and the public get for paying more money to medical colleges?

Crikey/Media Monitors radio rumour watch reports:

  • Caller Alex says Cadbury are changing the packaging of their family size blocks from paper to cardboard. — 3AW (Melbourne) 8:10am
  • Caller Deborah says her friend has a job at Melboure Airport security and their code when an attractive woman comes through is “Can you do the Monday morning shift?”. — 3AW (Melbourne) 8:15am
  • Presenter Neil Mitchell hears Channel Seven sports reporter Dylan Howard — cleared yesterday by a police investigation into stolen AFL medical files — was advised today his contract is not being renewed. Mitchell has been told “a very grumpy Dylan Howard” “stormed out” of the meeting. — 3AW (Melbourne) 9:17

SPOILER ALERT 1 — Tasmania the movie

  • Callers claim the ending of the movie Tasmania is surprising as the ending is the ending originally rumoured to have been scrapped after test audiences complained. — Various


  • Meanwhile — in Gotham City — the “will Batman die?” saga finally ends. For anyone dying to know what happened:

In Batman #681, he is buried alive, escapes, finally turns the tables on the Black Glove — and then abruptly gets blown up in a helicopter. No body is found. Gotham is left without a protector, at least until next year’s series Battle for the Cowl, in which one of Batman’s proteges is expected to take over the role. Getting blown up in a helicopter might be a fitting end for, say, the villain of the next Die Hard sequel, but for the World’s Greatest Detective, it’s a poor show.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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