Gonski’s a tough act to follow. He’s got big shoes to fill: those of serial board member and recently anointed Future Fund chairman David Gonski, but Rick Holliday-Smith looks set to bring in a new era at the Australia Securities Exchange, where he was yesterday appointed chairman.

Holliday-Smith will steer the ASX to take on its new and growing rival, exchange operator Chi-X. He may not have the connections of those of his predecessor (which didn’t ultimately help in getting Gonski’s much desired SGX takeover off the ground), but he brings a strong derivatives background to the job, as well as experience in capital markets and venture capital activities. The Power Index will be watching with interest.

Costello gets a consolation prize. Still on Gonski, he caused Peter Costello much distress recently when he landed the Future Fund appointment. Now Costello has some cause to celebrate.

The former treasurer with the impressive surplus record under his belt will be delving into all things Queensland, having been appointed head of a new commission set to audit the state’s finances, according to The Australian Financial Review.

Costello will work with two other commissioners to examine Queensland’s financial health in the lead up to the LNP’s first state budget later this year, with an aim to deliver a plan to reclaim the state’s AAA credit rating.

Lawyers bad for business. This could be a lesson for mining maverick and rich crusader Clive Palmer, but we’re guessing he’ll choose to ignore it. It seems Palmer’s penchant for bringing in the lawyers is proving to not be so good for business after all.

According to The AFR, a number of conference organisers that have booked into Palmer’s Hyatt Regency Coolum are looking to take their events elsewhere, following Palmer’s decision to put the resort into voluntary administration and take Hyatt to court for alleged mismanagement.

Over at Coolum Hyatt’s direct competitor, Novotel Twin Waters Resort, business is booming, with the conference facility claiming it has recorded a spike in booked conferences and inquiries.

One to watch: MCA’s Elizabeth Ann Macgregor. Elizabeth Ann Macgregor doesn’t run the most iconic, or most popular, art gallery in Sydney — let alone in Australia. But with her gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Art, re-opening today after a stunning $53 million makeover, her star is burning brighter than almost anyone else in the Australian arts world.

When the flame-haired Scotswoman took over in 1999, the MCA was in crisis — starved of cash, widely perceived as elitist and suffering in a sandstone building too small to house a permanent collection.

Since Macgregor took over, visitor numbers have sky-rocketed, corporate sponsorships have increased and the gallery has now doubled in size thanks to the new Mordant Wing, designed in the shape of a stack of cubes.

Convincing politicians to allocate money to the arts is notoriously difficult — even when the economy’s booming. So it took serious chutzpah for Macgregor to wrangle $26 million of government funding during the height of a global financial crisis in 2009. — Matthew Knott (read the full story here)

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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