Well, this is awkward. Yesterday the Prime Minister had a go at the nation’s big banks, at the opportune venue of Westpac’s 199th birthday celebration lunch in Sydney. The former merchant banker said:

The truth is that despite the public’s support offered at their time of need, our bankers have not always treated their customers as they should. Some, regrettably, as we know, have taken advantage of fellow Australians and the savings they have spent a lifetime accumulating.”

It’s big news for some papers. The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review gave it front-page prominence this morning, The Australian put it below the fold, but still on the front page. The Age has it on page 2.

The Daily Telegraph figured the story was sexy enough to feature in a poster in newsagents and newsstands. But what’ll you see on the front page? Well, this …

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Today the Tele carries a four-page wrap-around ad for the big bank, as does the Herald Sun. And what did the Tele find most newsworthy about the lunch? Well, there’s also a page 4 story on it that trumpets Westpac’s investment in “the nation’s best and brightest”, complete with a complimentary quote down the bottom from the Prime Minister: “All business is about more than just a profit or a new product. It is about building opportunities for Australian customers and staff, making a greater contribution to our nation.”

westpacinvestsinbestandbrightest

As for the PM’s attack at the same lunch, that’s on page 48 in the Daily Tele and page 45 in the Herald Sun (both papers had the story leading their business sections). The Courier-Mail, which doesn’t appear to have carried the wrap-around ad, didn’t prominently report Turnbull’s comments either — an item in its business section quotes Westpac rejecting calls for a royal commission.

Only last week, we told you scribes at Fairfax regional were unhappy about foisting online betting advertising on communities they knew were harmed by it. In today’s revenue-challenged times, the queasiness caused by this kind of advertising is unlikely to abate.

Peter Fray

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