Lowys cleaning up on costs. From the restrooms of Westfield shopping centres in Australia (aka Westfield Retail Trust) comes the whisper that the Lowy sons are pushing their cleaning companies for price cuts of 20% to 25% for the 2012 financial year. We’re told the total amount spent on cleaning the 44 centres half-owned by the Trust and half-owned by old owner Westfield Group is between $120 million and $130 million a year. That’s a big saving for the Trust if it can screw down costs and get the $25 million or so in cuts for next year.

If that happens, our tipster poses, will the Lowys declare the savings from cutting the cost of cleaning, or try and skate over it in dealings with their tenants? “The big guys (Woolies, Coles, Kmart, Target, David Jones, Myer and Premier Retail Group) are on the case. They want the Lowys and the Trust to cut their outgoings charges (tenants have to pay a share of centre cleaning costs). Every time the Lowys try and push through a cost rise or a lift in rent to some of these big guys, they reply by telling Westfield they will send in auditors to vet all the accounts of the Trust for every centre. The Lowys usually withdraw their attempt and screw the small individual tenants instead.”

A campaign from the cockpit. Qantas pilots are taking their fight to retain jobs in Australia directly to passengers. One Melbourne-bound flier reports being delivered a message from the flight deck on landing urging passengers to support the campaign and directing them to www.qantaspilots.com.au. Quite a cheeky stunt with a captive audience. Qantas confirms it is happening — on long haul domestic and international flights — as part of the ongoing industrial negotiations. Apparently some customers have complained but Qantas is powerless to stop pilots from doing it.

Investing in the convoy. Did Gina Rinehart really offer to pay the petrol and costs of any truckies who wanted to go to Canberra to join the convoy?

Changes at RMIT journalism. A bunch of RMIT staff pointed out our tip yesterday — based on a report from its own students — that the uni had pulled the plug on broadcast journalism courses was wrong (you can read their responses in Comments and Corrections). But there are some changes coming. TV lecturer Jill Singer writes:

“I’m working on changing the curriculum for second-year television students with a view to possibly taping and broadcasting our Newsline material — perhaps online, perhaps on Channel 31. The reason for this is that I want my students to have more experience before broadcasting live in third year. There will be no reduction in production. I simply want to provide the students with a safe learning environment and feel that nine weeks is insufficient time for teaching and learning the skills required to produce a daily half hour live news program staffed only by second years. There is an additional issue in that with Channel 31 now broadcasting digitally it has a bigger audience and stricter production standards. This is why this semester I am working toward a shorter, live news bulletin for second years. The television courses I devise and deliver are constantly changing to keep pace with feedback from students and from our professional advisory committee.  They are also seeing industry approaching us as the first port of call when looking for young television journalists.”

Newspaper free-for-all (cont). A student captured these stacks of free Herald Suns outside the Union Building at La Trobe University in Melbourne last Friday. “The yellow bins are chockas with today’s paper,” they say. “There’s more added every day.” If they’re giving them away we’re only too happy to promote the cause — drop us a line if you spot a  bundle of local freebies.

The drinks are on Brumby. We liked this tip from the 3AW Rumour File this morning. Media Monitors records: “On the weekend, 10 mums from a local primary school went away on a trip and were all fighting and contemplating whether or not to get a Tattslotto ticket. She says former Victorian premier John Brumby walked past and told them to buy one and pick number eight. She says they won fourth division and were able to buy four more bottles of champagne, thanks to Brumby.”

Peter Fray

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