It is no secret that ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope despises journalists. Just ask them at The Canberra Times. However, at the top of Stanhope’s hate list is News Limited/Telegraph‘s Chief Correspondent Malcolm Farr. Farr’s front page leader last year dubbing the Chief Minister as “Stanhopeless” really rankled. But revenge is a dish best served cold.

Farr is a board member of National Press Club and the club’s request to buy a block of land near Parliament House to build a new Press Club and a National Media and Journalist Museum was tossed out. The bureaucrats and process were an absolute farce by all accounts.

The developer offered $15m to acquire the block. Canberra Times journalist Megan Doherty reported in The Canberra Times on Tuesday that the block will go to auction in June and the Government only expects to receive $8m.

The developer after 12 months of frustration has walked and has committed project funds of $100m to a NSW project. Stanhope’s revenge on the journalists by any measure is an expensive indulgence.

ACT tax payers will not be happy losing over $7m in these deficit times — STANHOPELESS INDEED!

The first home buyers grant boom is breeding some amazing scenes. Desperate times breed desperate people as fee and business mad banks collide with the mad desire to own your own home. Why are some banks so desperate to write new business that they are lending people money on unregistered land in Sydney’s western fringes as a way of financing the customers’ desire to get the first home buyers grant for new homes? They won’t at this stage, if the grant dies at the end of June.

I hear that banks are lending money to people who have selected land in new developments on Sydney’s western and north western fringes that hasn’t been registered. Payment for the land happens when the land is registered, which at this stage will be well after June 30. People are contracting with builders to lay a concrete slab for the house as soon as they can after the land is registered. At the moment this has to be done by December 31 (to qualify for the grant you have to have laid a slab, i.e. started building the house within six months of the grant being given).

Such is the volume of land registrations that if these deals continue piling up, some people will be looking at early 2010 to get their land registered. If no change in the grant by Kevin Rudd’s mob, then no grant and no home and what happens to the land and loan? A 2010 bad debt problem, perhaps?

Is the key regulator, APRA condoning these types of lending practices?

Great to see the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service keeping up with the best in government speak. AQIS have published new rules to apply from August to documents presented for import cargo clearance. Where one used to refer to “General Requirements” for documentation, henceforth this shall be known as “Overarching Requirements”.

Another simple rule is that all “prescribed” info on a document must be in English, the only exception being a company letterhead — it doesn’t need to be translated into English but it must be in English characters.

It doesn’t get easier for international trade.

Vision Australia has just announced 150 job losses, 90 of which are in Victoria. Seems unbalanced in itself but what is possibly more interesting background is that I understand that when the Royal Vic Institute for the Blind joined Vision Australia, the assets of RVIB which were extensive and all predominantly based on bequests from Victorians was sucked into the head office coffers including the money from the sale of a very large piece of St Kilda real estate.

None of this money was quarantined for Victorian “users” and services have been steadily cut back ever since. And now they appear to have been hit with a disproportional share of the cutbacks.

I wonder if it’s time the Bleak City baton gets passed to Sydney. I ventured there yesterday — to Bondi Junction — Westfield was empty, taxis queuing around the block with no-one waiting at 5pm, the government looks and sounds like a basket-case, the public transport system didn’t work (two late trains), hundreds of empty taxis at the airport. If they still had trams I’m sure they’d be sitting idle the length of Pitt Street.

Whatever has happened to the Sydney Institute “Not quite as quarterly as it used to be?” There hasn’t been an edition posted on line since December 2008 — has it disappeared, or is it just on a hiatus?

Re. Your Media Brief about the unemployed journo posting a video and media release. Seems it may have paid off. I’ve heard through a guy that knows him that he has been offered a good gig already since posting the video. Fortune favours the brave!

Re. Yesterday’s tip about Sydney Airport. Who’s the fool that gave away the tip of parking in Krispy Kreme car park at Sydney Airport? Expect signs to go up today there banning this little trick!

Peter Fray

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