Fairfax Media CEO Bryan McCarthy is said to be planning a major restructure in a desperate move to be seen to be doing something in the eyes of investment analysts. Fairfax insiders say that the Sydney Morning Herald — once Fairfax’s “jewel in the crown” and headed up by loyal McCarthy lieutenant Lloyd Whish-Wilson — has been in and out of the red since April 2009. Melbourne observers are tipping that the head of The Age, Don Churchill, who himself has overseen a 50% halving of The Age‘s EBIT but a loyal McCarthy foot solider, will soon move north  paving the way for the restoration of The Age‘s fortunes in Melbourne.

Advertiser journalists in Adelaide have been told their daily paper with more than a century of tradition is unlikely to survive the next three to five years. The switch to online media has intensified and only last week their aligned online site Adelaide Now showed live internet vision of the election. Apparently all part of Murdoch’s push worldwide to have readers online rather than the daily paper.

The ATO story is a good one, but the angle about the refunds is only part of it. The bigger problem is that it coincides with the banks becoming more stringent about documentation for loans. Many now require not just tax lodgements, and other management accounts and BAS forms, but also the tax assessment from the ATO.

With a backlog of hundreds of thousands, rolling since before Christmas, there are many small businesses who can’t borrow to keep their businesses going or invest in new plant, equipment, etc, because they don’t have the tax assessment from the ATO. Many tax agents and accountants are saying this is really impacting on their clients, as the banks are reluctant to accept BAS forms and other current documents without the ATO financial year assessment.

Small businesses normally have until April or so to lodge their returns for the previous financial year. This is how credit squeezes happen — money is tight, the ATO is slow, the banks reluctant to lend and small businesses suffer.

Check out Rio Tinto’s annual report. A little cut and paste reveals some HTML worship of their CEO. The font is called RTAlbanese!