Today is the state funeral of Nancy-Bird Walton, attended by the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. The funeral is to be held at Sydney’s St Andrew’s Cathedral. A state funeral is a fitting memorial for the lady who blazed a trail for other female flyers. Even Charles Kingsford Smith was sceptical that a female — especially one who had to sit on two pillows because of her diminutive stature — was capable of flying a plane. Nancy soon disabused him of that notion. The only sour note in the proceedings is the decision of those icons of religious tolerance, the Sydney Anglican fraternity, to refuse permission for Nancy’s two favourite songs to be sung in their hallowed cathedral. It appears My Way was too radical for the Jensen brothers but their refusal to allow Kamahl, accompanied by the Australian Chamber Orchestra, to perform Wind Beneath My Wings is inexplicable. Surely this uplifting song would have been a fitting tribute to the grand dame of the air — and not too “lowbrow” for their cathedral.

What is wrong with NSW Premier Nathan Rees’ media release page? Click on the first article, about the school and TAFE teachers strike being called off, and it takes you to a “page not found” message. Three stories down is a link to a story dated 8 January 2009 about drought relief being provided to the Parkes Shire Council, click on the link and you get a January 2008 media release from Eddie Obeid’s office about a flood damage payment being made to the Parkes Shire Council to cover the costs of damage from a December 2007 flood! Does the Premier know what’s going on in his State?

Someone called Alan is consulting to Rudd and will advise the government to increase ministerial adviser numbers and pay.

Conspicuously absent from the list of sports to sign up to Kate Ellis’s new anti-drinking code, which applies to amateur as well as professional athletes, is Golf Australia. Handicaps will skyrocket among many afternoon players if they’re prevented from doing their warm-ups in the bar before teeing off.

Apparently Rio Tinto in Perth summarily sacked all of its HR people last week, with that role to be outsourced. Hopefully the ex-Rio HR people have been speaking with the right agencies.

Is ABC management ignoring Australia’s faith leaders? Apparently six national leaders, representing Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths, wrote to MD Mark Scott and Board Chair Maurice Newman in December. Concerned for the future of religious reporting, the group requested to meet with Scott and Newman BEFORE they finalised their budget proposal to the Fed Government. They were seeking some assurance that, despite the axing of the Religion Report, the ABC would commit to dedicated religious journalism in the future. Five weeks later and it seems no response has yet been received.

Meanwhile, another raft of journos has left the building, this time from religious TV program, Compass, INCLUDING the one and only religious journo on that program, Peter Kirkwood. We have sportspeople to report on sport; scientists to report on science; educationalists to report on education. Religion? It’s anybody’s game. Despite the snub, faith leaders could potentially rejoice — in the future they’ll be able to spin their faith any which way they want because the generalist journos won’t know enough to tell the difference.

I received the latest SMH Insider yesterday and wondered if the entire survey was a way for them to work out which columnists to sack next. I was asked which columnists and commentators I was aware of and then asked to rate how appealing they are.

What postal address can I send some material to? Crikey: You can send it to Level 7, 22 William St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Crikey/Media Monitors radio and TV rumour watch reports:

  • Caller “Docks” says a friend who works at the Melbourne docks suggested Australia may be headed for a worse recession than previously thought as ships are arriving with just 100 containers, as opposed to the usual average of 600 to 1000 containers. — 7.13am; 3AW (Melbourne)
  • It’s rumoured Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will be travelling to Hobart for the second time since becoming PM. The PM will be joining Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery to kick off Australia Day celebrations. — 8.00am; HO FM (Tasmania).

Peter Fray

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