SA cuts to mental health help. Further to reports on neglect in the state’s mental health system, which South Australian government department is just about to close its support scheme for young gays and lesbians — another well-known vulnerable group in society with higher-than-usual rates of suicide?

Drug giants in a spin over legal action. David and Goliath? No, corporate bullying versus the small independent pharmacist. That’s what is heading for the courts in Victoria and NSW this week. Corporate spin doctors Gavin Anderson and heavyweight lawyers Blake Dawson are part of a fight between Australian Pharmaceutical Industries and independent Pharmacy Alliance (a grouping of 450 pharmacies). API has taken umbrage at Pharmacy Alliance taking its trading terms out to tender due to API’s uncompetitiveness and monopolistic stance, and communicated directly with the pharmacists offering them, among other things, a free jaunt to Paris and Barcelona.

PAL is 20% of API’s business and coupled with a previously ASX declaration that it has a $50 million “hole” and profit warning, API looks to have its backs to the wall. Major shareholder Washington H. Soul Pattinson must be incensed as the API share hits a rock bottom 29 cents. One wonders what the Canberra heavyweights, The Pharmacy Guild, are going to do — support the corporate bully or assist their members, the independent pharmacist?

More hurdles in business name registration. The draft business names legislation is out for public comment until April 24. It’s going national some time next year apparently, so I thought I should check it out to see what happens to my business. Have a look at the document “Business Names Registration (Availability of Names) Determination 2011” for a peek at how ASIC will decide which names should be allowed to be business names. There’s gonna be some unhappy campers when this thing comes out.

As a business owner, I think I’m all right, but I pity anyone who has to try and register a new name through that minefield. Going national would already reduce the names available, but there’s also a heap of dubiously related groups of words that seem to be counted as identical, so you can’t register one if someone else is using another word from the same group. There seems to be other lists they check against too, but there’s no sign of those. Knowing ASIC’s track record with other stuff, it makes you wonder what kind of mess they’ll make here.

Getting the rub on FOI dumps. Following on from your story on FOI document dumps: a Fairfax journalist worked his butt off for months to get documents about VicForests’ financial instability through freedom of information. When he finally secured them, some bureaucrat/ministerial staffer/VicForests’ spin doctor gave the exact same document to Murdoch’s Weekly Times to beat him to the story and emphasise a more “positive side” of their financial position.

Newspaper free-for-all (continued). Staff at Victoria University are able to have the Herald Sun delivered to their offices each day of the week, and to their homes on Saturdays and Sundays, for the princely sum of $20. That’s not per week or per month, by the way, it’s per year. If it’s being done at VU it must be happening at other universities as well.

Peter Fray

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