Rio is hiring, not firing. I heard a reasonably sourced rumour that “Rio Tinto is hiring another 200 people” — on the same day I received a letter from Rio stating that the resources super tax will ruin Rio, the mining industry, and the Australian economy.

Entsch not popular in Cairns business circles. While some within the Canberra beltway are excited about the return of former Liberal MP Warren Entsch to recontest the federal seat of Liechhardt and have already given him the seat, the mood on the ground is very different. Not only is the LNP continuing to tear itself apart with volunteers and funds hard to find, Entsch is failing to gain the support of what some might see as his traditional support base — the Cairns business community.

Entsch addressed the board of Advance Cairns this week, the region’s peak economic development body, and his appearance was far from impressive according to those who where there. Entsch’s presentation, which included complaints that he had to answer his own phone and type his own media releases, went down like a lead balloon. After launching into a lengthy attack on the “lack of voice” Cairns had in Canberra, Advance Cairns board members pulled him up and asked if he was familiar with the success they had achieved in getting special assistance from the federal and state governments in response to the high unemployment levels with the assistance of Labor MP Jim Turnour. Entsch’s response was to complain that no one tells him anything, he was unaware and only knows what he reads in the Cairns Post.

It was pointed out to him that several board members had been in Canberra with Jim Turnour seeing cabinet ministers last week and several others are in Canberra this week lobbying ministers with Turnour. Board members we aghast at Entsch’s negative and uninformed stance on the key issues they had been dealing with the federal and state government in recent years. Entsch was sent packing after his address without even a smattering of applause from the top-of-the-town gathering.

The Underbelly of NSW politics. If the newspapers are right the NSW Department of State Development invested in Underbelly — but the sum remains “commercial in confidence”. But if a production company applies to ScreenNSW, the government’s agency for investment in Australian productions, the application is scrutinised carefully and the sum of the investment is recoupable against revenue and is published in its newsletter and annual report. The process is transparent.

So is the NSW government really running a separate and secretive slush fund here? If so how many other productions are receiving money via this route, and how much? How is it recouped? Is this yet another example of the not-so-level playing field which has so damaged and distorted commercial practice with the NSW government?

Peter Fray

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