Fun and games on a plane: The PM’s staff have regular tussles with the RAAF cabin crew on VIP flights over prohibitions on the use of mobile phones, blackberries and laptops. The issue is that the PM’s super-keen staffers like to fire up their gadgets while aircraft are still in the air, sometimes as they are making their final approaches. This has resulted in less-than pleasant stand-offs, with at least one instance of a cabin crew member seizing a laptop, only to have it snatched back by a staffer.

The Chasers get whatever the Chasers want. Mark Scott agreed to let The Chasers take ownership from the ABC of all right to all series of the Chasers War on Everything. These rights were handed to The Chasers last month. These are programs that were fully paid for by ABC and taxpayers of Australia.

If the ABC’s executive head of content, Courtney Gibson is now overseeing The Chaser, she will be overseeing the series producer, Andy Nehl, who is her former husband and father their two kids…(Google found this). They have worked together, indirectly in the past without too much angst, so this shouldn’t be a concern, but the ground rules have changed, The Chaser has now become an intensely political program and the subject of much discussion in the ABC boardroom. But there’s a new issue that’s emerged, and no one is thanking The Chaser, or Ms Duthie for this one, especially at the top of ABC management.

The poor handling of The Chaser affair has allowed the ABC board to regain its balance and start pressuring CEO, Mark Scott and head of TV, Kim Dalton. The pressure is coming from chairman, Maurice Newman, a conservative and his fellow right winger, Janet Albrechtsen. They are very upset at The Chaser, as Right thinking folk should be. (They’ve never forgiven The Chaser lads from embarrassing the glorious APEC triumph of their hero, John Howard).

So they have started leaning on Mr Scott and Mr Dalton over the cancer kids skit and demanding “action”. From what’s being said around the world of the ABC, it’s an opening they have been waiting for. Thanks Chaser. Partly lopping Amanda Duthie was Mr Scott and Mr Dalton’s reaction to the pressure, along with the two week holiday for the program, which remains absurd. Pressure will continue for the closest scrutiny of the program when it returns, which will mean Ms Gibson will come under pressure from the board.

Public servants in the SA Government’s Transport department have been recruited as key players in the incumbent government’s electioneering. After the State Budget was delivered early in June a series of TV and online video ads have spruiked the “Jobs, jobs, jobs” mantra of Labor Premier Mike Rann (named this week by Nick Xenophon as being obsessed with spin). One of these ads is sprinkled with workers in hard hats and orange vests endorsing the Premier’s budget. One or two are middle management types from successful tenderers for a rail project (Thiess and Baulderstones). But at least three are Department of Transport staff. Paul Burns, Phil Agnew and Angelo Lanzilli have all been paraded in support of the Emperor. But what choice did they have? What would your job prospects be if you refused? And what happened to public service impartiality. Click on www.buildingjobs.sa.gov.au and see if you think it’s impartial. Hope they got a pay rise.

From the depths of ACP Magazines, more tales on inept and rotten relations with female employees. ACP Mags has been gutted by months of bloodletting in every department. Hardly a week goes past without crying, red eyes and people disappearing from their desks or work stations and not returning.

Magazines have been canned, their frequency cut back to save money, offices have been downsized and James Packer has more than doubled the rent at 54 Park Street.

The handful of employees still there have been horrified at how Pat Ingram, the long time life and soul of the ACP Magazines female division, has been forced out, without a thank you or a farewell function to celebrate her 21 years at ACP under Kerry Packer, John Alexander and now the clowns at ACP/PBL Media.

Then there was Louisa Hatfield, blindsided last week by management and forced out of her gig as editorial director of women’s and lifestyle editorial director (a gig Ms Ingram had). She was farewelled at the Art House pub in Sydney’s CBD last night, just round the corner from the Packer building in Park Street. Some are wondering whether her punting had any link to the Woman’s Day decision to invade Therese Rein’s privacy in a Brisbane gym in this week’s issue.

Crikey‘s recently been highlighting the degree to which Fairfax’s world news section depends on repackaged content from other newspapers. An extreme example of this in today’s Age: the full-page, in-depth analysis of Iran’s election (p 13) isn’t just a reprint of another paper’s article, it’s a greatest hits mash-up of three: New York Times, The LA Times and the Guardian.

Cronulla Sharks CEO, Tony Zappia has quit, but not before the Nine Network tried to wring some benefit out of a story they missed, telling Sydney media late yesterday that they had him on exclusively.

“MEDIA ALERT: TONY ZAPPIA INTERVIEW FIRST ON NINE NEWS TONIGHT AT 6.00PM” said the head line on the late press release.

He talked to reporter Danny Weidler, the reporter who sat on the Cronulla Sharks/Matthew Johns Christchurch s-x romp. But Mr Zappia spoke to Nine after going to Seven to listen to the tapes around 3pm. Seven interviewed him. From all reports from the Seven Newsroom, Mr Zappia was a broken man.

Last night Nine promoted the fact that Jacqueline Magnay, the SMH sports writer who broke the story of the black eye and Mr Zappia, was appearing on the NRL Footy Show. She works for Fairfax, so the obvious question is why promote someone from the opposition? Answer, Nine has been so far behind on the story that they have had to do anything to catch up, including telling the world that they reporters couldn’t get a scoop if they worked in an ice cream parlour.

These guys, Ray Nagin and Ed Blakely, were hosted by Sydney Mayor Clover Moore last night for a City Talk. They are clowns, as James Gill reports in the trailing press clipping sent to me by a friend at Louisiana State University. What’s wrong with Sydney?

From Crikey’s SackWatch desk:

  • Alcoa’s plans to cut jobs are more than just “mooted” judging by what employees are saying in Geelong. What will be the impact on a town that’s already lost a heap of jobs at Ford?
  • Borders bookstores retrenching all 25 Business & Education managers Australia wide, making store managers pick up the role. Also paring casual staff numbers.
  • 170 people from SUN Microsystems nation wide in April.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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