The long gold handshake for Ian Ross. How paranoid are TV networks about poaching stars? Paranoid enough for Seven to extend news doyen Ian Ross’ non-compete clause to ensure he isn’t snapped up by a rival network. Ross — who was recruited by Seven to read its Sydney news, going on to thump his old network Channel Nine in the ratings — retired from the desk in 2009 with an agreement not to work for another network. That agreement expired in December last year.

But word is Ten, now led by ex-Seven sales boss James Warburton, began sniffing around with thoughts of putting the 71-year-old behind its Sydney news desk to add some gravitas to the 5pm bulletin. Seven got nervous and, rather extraordinarily, negotiated an extension to the non-compete clause late last year to ward off the rival. Seven’s spinner wouldn’t comment but we’re assured it’s true. Ross, we’re told, has no interest in returning to work — but no doubt his retirement just got a little bit richer.

Probe into magistrate welcome news. NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell yesterday referred high-profile magistrate Pat O’Shane to the state’s Judicial Commission after a string of complaints, the latest concerning her handling of the alleged assault of a paramedic. And there’s plenty in legal circles celebrating the decision. A lawyer who has appeared before her on numerous occasions whispers:

“On a good day, O’Shane is perfectly pleasant. On a bad day, she can be foul beyond words…I have no idea what the root cause is, but many lawyers in Sydney will be pleased to see action finally being taken.”

Jetstar cutting flights with no crew? Jetstar has been cancelling up to four flights a day because the Qantas offshoot doesn’t have enough cabin staff. That’s the word from a Jetstar employee in Sydney, who tells us:

“In an attempt to be as stingy as possible they only offer new cabin staff contract work with miserable call-out provisions (ie: to be on standby on days off). Since Virgin are offering full-time work the Jetstar crew jump ship to a better career and a better-run airline. They only have to give two hours notice. The geniuses at Jetstar haven’t quite worked this situation out. The passengers are the ones that suffer as Jetstar string them out promising them flights during the day then cancel them.”

No fracking way: banner torn down. Check out this video posted on YouTube last week. Protesters from the group “Lock the Gate” unfurled a banner at Adelaide’s Tour Down Under condemning miner Santos’ interest in coal seam gas exploration. In the blink of an eye, an official car arrives to rip the “NO FRACKING WAY” banner from the hands of protesters. Santos is a sponsor of the event and no doubt didn’t appreciate the adverse publicity. But did the company order it down? And where were the police?

Council’s pokies fight in Melbourne. We told you on Monday the City of Port Phillip in Melbourne had hired an agency to ring locals surveying their thoughts on poker machines. We’re still waiting on an answer from council as to why, but the local Port Phillip Leader reports the council is “trying to stop 40 new poker machines being installed in two hotels located close to public housing”. We guess that explains it.

Peter Fray

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