A new conservative PR force. Things are getting frantic in the re-birthing of the previously moribund world of Tory-leaning public affairs companies. It was interesting to see Bruce Hawker in The Australian today, positioning himself and opining on the outcome of the Victorian election. Having masterfully guided Labor into a weak, compromised minority federal government, having helped steer Tasmanian Labor out the door and no doubt girding his loins to ride the landslides in NSW and Queensland next year, the self-styled doyen of political strategy is distancing himself rapidly from the not-so-shocking ALP defeat in Victoria.

Meanwhile, while announcing the establishment of his new spin machine — which appears from The Oz‘s coverage to be about more appearances on Sky News than providing advice to clients — old Brucie is playing it safe and straddling both sides of the street, apparently having a hand in Barton Deakin, the Tory-friendly outfit featuring, among others, fellow Sky regular, the mercurial Grahame Morris. Possibly spawned in the Sky News green room awaiting yet another interminable cover-all-bases speculation session with David Speers, the rather pompously titled firm of old stagers is frantically running around Melbourne, seeking to make the most of its conservative pedigree in light of the incoming Baillieu government.

But with no staff and no office, and with the ink barely dry on their crisp new business cards, the old boys have their work cut out for them, with prospective clients (who tend to be rather loyal in old Melbourne town) so far showing not a lot on interest. But watch this space!

Premier cuts out the salt. Which Australian premier will take up a directorship with Aquasure Desalination within 18 months?

Foley and the late-night outing #1: The same journalist (Greg Kelton) who questioned whether it was appropriate for SA treasurer Kevin Foley to be out on the town at 3am was at the Treasurer’s 50th birthday bash recently. I wonder what time that little party broke up?

Foley and the late-night outing #2: Fancy The Advertiser‘s wowserism over Kevin Foley staying out late — I well recall sessions at a late editor-in-chief’s house where he was wont to say: “When people drink at my house, they don’t go home until the next day.” And woe betide if you were rostered to work at 10 and didn’t turn up on time. Drinking with the editor was no excuse! But journos are different these days. And these days, moderation is probably not a bad thing. Foley can make his own choices.

And hypocrisy from News Limited? The question being asked in Port Moresby business circles is why News Limited doesn’t send home Kevin Smith, its managing editor in Papua New Guinea, a highly conservative Christian country. Many well-known expats, who for the most part are very sensitive to the social and cultural mores of their host nation, are appalled at Smith’s behaviour. Admittedly his behaviour is in keeping with News Corporation’s reputation, but it is certainly well out of place even in the big smoke of Port Moresby.

Fairfax slow in the online world. Fairfax is having big problems in providing a quality iPad service. It is frequently late in providing the daily edition (today at 7.50am its phone complaint service is advising to “try again in one hour’s time”) — in comparison with  The Daily Telegraph and The Australian having been available to iPad subscribers (such as me) from the very earliest hours of today.

Meanwhile, in the inner-city area, The Sydney Morning Herald is normally on sale from roughly midnight onwards and yet the IT people cannot get their act together. Another problem for subscribers is that the iPad pinch/expand facility freezes the screen. The only solution is to trash and start another download. I frequently have to do that four or five times before I can get a workable copy.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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