Fairfax looks at debt. We hear growing speculation around financial markets that the flailing share price and gloomy advertising outlook at Fairfax Media is pushing the company towards some kind of debt refinancing. Watch this space.

Queen for hospital opening. Details of Queen Elizabeth’s tour to Australia in October are yet to be announced, but we’re told the monarch is set to open Melbourne’s refurbished Royal Children’s Hospital. The Queen and Prince Phillip will fly to Perth for the Commonwealth Heads of Government photo op on October 28-30 but the palace is yet to announce whether she will visit other cities.

A spokesperson for the hospital wasn’t aware of the visit, and Crikey hasn’t heard back from Government House in Canberra. But sources at the hospital are planning the November opening around the royals. The major benefactor of the hospital is Dame Elisabeth Murdoch — it sets up an interesting conversation between the Queen (whose grandsons’ phones were hacked by News of the World, triggering the recent debacle) and the Murdoch matriarch …

Matt Preston and the Qantas blue fin. A guest at Qantas’ lavish $390-a-seat launch of its new Epicure Club at Rockpool restaurant in Sydney reports:

“In attendance were all the MasterChef crew. The dinner started with a long speech from Alan Joyce were he went into great detail about how sustainable Qantas is and how much effort they go to. Nice start. On getting to the third course of eight what do we have … blue fin tuna, a fish which is critically endangered. Listed as such by WWF and IUCN, classified as threatened in Victoria and endangered in the NSW Fisheries Act.

“Having a not insignificant issue with this course it seems that someone approached Matt Preston and asked him how he and the MasterChef crew were enjoying the meal. It seemed that Matt did not believe it was blue fin so proceeded to review it in the menu.  It seemed it was a good question as Matt then set the person on to Neil Perry and bolted.

“Anyway, about 15 minutes later Neil got up and made a speech as had been approached by someone about the blue fin tuna. Taking about digging a grave. He went on to say that they were sustainable from South Australia, etc, and that they were accredited, etc. He also tried to wash it down with a speech on how Rockpool seeks out the best of Australian … nice as were were all served no doubt air freighted Italian mineral water!”

Qld principal stood down. Lots of rumours swirling around a Queensland state school principal suspended by the Education Department. The Courier-Mail reports Paula Passi, principal from Burpengary State School north of Brisbane, was stood down over matters the department says are “strictly confidential”. One insider details several complaints and says “many staff at the school are too scared to speak up for fear of being sued”.

DIY blood tests at the GP. One GP in regional Queensland is so disgusted with the excessive cost of pathology blood tests for patients on blood thinning drug Warfarin that he has purchased his own testing equipment, has been trained to use it and now does his own tests as part of the monthly consultation. And our tipster believes there are many others doing the same.

Peter Fray

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