Harold Mitchell defends the mega-rich. Harold Mitchell’s report on philanthropy and the arts will be released by the federal Arts Minister Simon Crean today.

The advertising king, No. 1 on our Melbourne power list and significant giver to the arts himself, has been on the media trail this morning talking up his report’s key findings: including a unique proposal that the government offer tax breaks to living people who promise a bequest to the arts in their wills, among other things.

But he’s also used the opportunity to stand up for his fellow super-rich colleagues, those singled out by Wayne Swan as putting their own interests ahead of the nation. The treasurer was wrong to attack the billionaires in the way he did, Mitchell told Radio National’s Fran Kelly this morning, adding that “we’re a nation of people who aspire” and that those who reach the top should not be “hit on the head” for doing so.

As for copping criticism in public life? “I get it right through my life, you just have to get over it,” he said.

O’Farrell gets ‘room for improvement’ report card. Well, at least he passed. Barry O’Farrell‘s government has scored a 7.5 out of 10 from the NSW Business Chamber for its first year in office, but the premier’s been told to ramp up the reform agenda.

O’Farrell came in at No. 2 on the Sydney power list — behind infrastructure tsar Nick Greiner  mainly due to his glacial progress during his first few months in government.

Interestingly, one of O’Farrell best achievements, according to the report card, was his decision to establish Infrastructure NSW. That’d be the same body that Greiner chairs, and the one that’s given the ex-premier a platform to openly tell his boss to get a move on.

Where are all the women? Doing their own thing. Australian corporations have a long way to go on flexible work options if they’re serious about seeing women fill their senior leadership positions.

Because if a survey of almost 3000 women business owners by the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry is anything to go by, then plenty of women are forgetting the executive career path altogether, and starting their own businesses instead.

The study found that 78% of those questioned were in middle or upper management positions before they left to do their own thing, with many doing so in order to achieve better flexibility. It’s also a relatively recent phenomenon, with half of the 3000 surveyed found to have started their businesses since 2007.

Plum (grape?) job for former ASIC chair. The full details of Tony D’Aloisio’s life as a vigneron — his Oakridge winery is nestled deep in the Victorian Yarra Valley — are still largely unknown.

Last year, Fairfax papers reported that the then head of the corporate watchdog picked up the winery with wife llana Atlas from the receivers of the collapsed Evans & Tate, a West Australian public company that went into the red during D’Aloisio’s time as ASIC chairman.

At least with his new life as president of the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia, announced yesterday, he won’t have to answer any conflict of interest questions.

WFA’s media release boasts that D’Aloisio’s had “extensive dealings with business and government”. We’d say that’s about right. And it seems D’Alosio’s can also boast about his wine making efforts: Oakridge Wines won a Winery of the Year gong in Fairfax’s Good Wine Guide last year.

Megaphones Watch. Andrew Bolt on the abortion slippery slope, Miranda Devine hasn’t forgiven Stynes and Negus, Piers Akerman slams Sydney’s “provincial political pygmies”. Check out what Australia’s most powerful Megaphones have been up to over the past week … — read the full story here

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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