On Monday morning, staff at News Magazines Men’s Division (Alpha, GQ, Two Wheels, Live to Ride etc.) were sent an email telling staff that despite concerns about the financial crisis, they shouldn’t be worried about their jobs and that things were secure at News Magazines. On Wednesday morning the phones started to ring, and staff were called one by one to Level 2. About 20% of the division was told to pack up their desks and to go home. Casualties included the Production Manager, the Editor of Trucking Life and Overlander, advertising and creative staff. News Magazines CEO Sandra Hook remains.

I work at Blakes and we’re expecting the axe to fall on 100 or more of us today. No answers from management why the recession is hitting us harder than others. They say they’re closing roles where there’s no work but it seems more like performance management without the due process to the people I talk to. Wonder if the partners will keep their million dollar salaries?

Next month the president of the Australian Rugby Union Paul McLean will step down as his fixed term in the prestigious position comes to an end. The hot favourite to succeed him is Ron Graham — but there is a dark horse. Two weeks ago stockbroker Peter Falk suddenly resigned from the board of the Australian Jockey Club at Randwick which is under siege from the members over management issues.

Now some rugger observers believe that Falk, a Sydney Rugby Union veteran, may be a contender for the top ARU job. If Falk does make the transition from thoroughbred racing to rugby he will be following in the footsteps of Sir Nicholas Shehadie: many years ago Nick left the Sydney Turf Club at Rosehill to make a rousing success of the ARU position.

The Monthly editor Sally Warhaft’s response to those critical of the PM’s dense rambling essay about the evils of capitalism in this month’s edition, is that she only had 24 hours to edit it. Rudd got it to her only 48 hours before it went to the printers! Could this explain why it’s such a turgid read?

Apparently full-time paid CFA members are being sent on forced annual leave during these bushfires even though they want to work. This is when they are importing firemen from interstate and overseas.

The recent whinge in Crikey about Optus prompts me to mention Telstra’s Kafka-esque approach to ‘Returned to Sender’ mail. We have been returning mail to Telstra from a resident who no longer lives at our rented abode. Each time we advise on the returned envelope that Telstra should update its records and stop sending the mail. Still, they have persisted each month for one and a half years (obviously indifferent to this waste of postage).

Eventually, I jumped on Telstra’s website to tell them in case this had any effect, only to learn from customer service that I apparently have to phone Telstra to have incorrectly addressed mail stopped. Will Telstra pay my mobile bill if I’m in one of their notorious phone queues for hours to do this? Alternatively, I can drop into a Telstra Cente to have the mail stopped. Why should I even have to do this? How hard is it to acknowledge returned mail and change records? What if this was a dead person’s mail? For all we know, it could be.

Whilst red faces abound in Melbourne this week with news that the Southern Cross Observation Wheel probably won’t operate again this year, it’s been overlooked in the Victorian capital that its Chairman Fred Maybury was the driving force behind another unmitigated disaster back in 1987 when he ran the Joh for PM campaign. Fred, one of the Gold Coast’s best known “white shoe brigade” members, has kept a low profile since that debacle but with the Wheel now glaringly stationary on the Melbourne skyline due to mechanical and climatic reasons he’s again dropped off the radar.

The University of South Australia is getting all Web 2.0 in trying to attract students. One of their latest efforts is filming “students” going on about how great the uni is, how wonderful their courses are and how great the staff are.

That Simon Palombi character sounds rather chuffed with his uni experience — but then you’d expect him to be. While the university identifies him as a Bachelor of Arts (International Studies) student he’s actually/also part of the university’s marketing department. His university profile is here.

Shouldn’t the university:

  1. Identify that their ‘student’ is actually/also part of their marketing team and
  2. Be able to find someone who doesn’t rely on attracting students to the uni to spruik the benefits of the place?

Peter Fray

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