Gina Rinehart’s hired help. Veteran spin doctor Ian Smith of Bespoke Approach has just landed one of the toughest, and undoubtedly most lucrative, media gigs going around. The spinner and No. 10 on our lobbyist power list has been hired by Gina Rinehart to handle the intense media speculation surrounding the mining magnate’s family courtroom drama.

While Smith told The Power Index he does not comment on which clients he works for, he did confirm he’s been assisting Rinehart with her media relations over the weekend.

Rinehart should get some good and much needed advice. Smith’s an ex-journalist, former media adviser to Jeff Kennett and once CEO at Gavin Anderson & Company where he led the government communications strategy for the Telstra 2 and 3 share offers, among other things.

Meanwhile, somewhere amongst the numerous documents expected to be released by a NSW court today concerning Rinehart’s dispute against three of her four children is a letter from Barnaby Joyce to Rinehart’s daughter Hope Rinehart Welker. Whoever wrote this soap opera at least knew to keep the characters interesting.

Andrew Bolt behind the wall. Our No. 1 Megaphone’s blog is still free to visitors, but his regular newspaper column’s been put behind the News Ltd paywall. The reason is simple, according to Bolt: “If we don’t charge for it after years of giving it away for nothing, eventually we won’t be able to afford to bring it to you at all.”

ACCC v Flight Centre’s Graham Turner. It’s not a setback, merely an “inconvenience”Graham Turner, the managing director of Flight Centre, told The Australian regarding a lawsuit filed by the ACCC against the travel company.

The competition watchdog has accused Flight Centre of attempting to persuade its competitors to establish price-fixing deals. It launched proceedings in the Federal Court in Brisbane last Friday, alleging six different occasions that the agency sought to prevent international airlines from offering cheaper airfares than it could offer itself.

Inconvenience or not, it’ll be tough battle for the two parties, with Turner accusing the ACCC of lodging a “test case” under the Trade Practices Act that’s “pure stupidity”. Dig the trenches, this one could last a number of years.

PwC gets a new chief. Global accounting behemoth PwC has appointed Luke Sayers as its Australian chief executive, to take effect from 1 July 2012. The Melbourne-based auditor takes up the role after current chief executive Mark Johnson said he would not contest a second term. The chief executive position is elected by the firm’s partners, and is a four-year gig.

He’s got an uphill climb ahead. The firm hasn’t been immune to the challenging global economy and like some of its competitors, has been forced to make a number of cost cutting measures in recent months, including delaying the start of its graduate program.

*To comment and for more visit The Power Index

Peter Fray

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