Leckie learns little, a whiteout of coverage of the Garma festival, and are there huge pay gaps at The Conversation? 

From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

A forceful Conversation. What’s going on at The Conversation? Following The Australian‘s column on The Conversation‘s $3 million grant from the Victorian government expiring, we’ve heard this is already affecting staff pay. A tipster tells us that staff pay has been frozen until the company hears about future funding prospects from the Andrews government. Further, we hear this has led to more scrutiny about pay levels in the company, which in turn revealed huge disparity between various employees’ pay rates: “They discovered, much to their dismay, that some of them were being paid a motza and some not nearly enough,” our tipster said. “Rumour has it the sizes of pay packets was partly based on who they were friends with at the top.” 

Know more? Get in contact.

Instant Garma. Well, the Garma festival has wrapped up for another year, and it was great to hear the stories coming out of it. Ms Tips couldn’t choose between the shock announcement that Jack Thompson was getting dialysis, or Julia Baird’s moment by moment description of what it was like to be at the Garma festival, or the wall-to-wall coverage of Richard Flanagan’s speech about whatever Richard Flanagan was speaking about. Garma is a place for stories and myths of ancient peoples, and none are more self-mythologising than Australian white liberals, the wandering tribes of the Whitlam era, who apparently can’t get over themselves.

And yes, Ms Tips knows it’s not those contributors’ fault and that other speakers were covered at the festival. Yes, Thompson was highlighting remote area mobile dialysis — provided by a charity, not the government, which is pretty disgraceful — but really … One of the topics at Garma — if you dig three layers down for the stories — was about the need for Indigenous voice. Yet they were given almost none in the media reports.

The lead stories from Garma were wall-to-wall white people and their feels. It seems extraordinary that no section editor or segment producer stopped to ask whose appearance or voice was privileged over who else’s. 

Filthy lucre. Filthy Rich and Homeless airs on SBS this week, centering on five people taken from wealthy, privileged lives and placed on the streets for five days to live like the most disadvantaged in society. It’s a perve piece. One of the five is Sydney charity fundraising queen, Skye Leckie, wife of the former Nine and Seven Network boss, David Leckie.

Her appearance on the show was the subject of a “Lunch with” appearance in the weekend edition of Australian Financial Review. You might have thought there would have been some self reflection on the part of Leckie or the AFR about the location for the lunch, but the choice of the Centennial Hotel in Sydney’s eastern suburb of Woollahra, which is owned by the Sydney hotel baron, Justin Hemmes, suggests not; the Centennial is like a staff canteen for many well-heeled ladies who lunch in Sydney’s east. 

Turns out pretending to be homeless for 15 minutes is nice work, if you can get it.

Presented without comment. Caleb Bond, The Advertiser, June 26, 2015:

[The ABC] knew of Zaky Mallah’s history and yet they still thought it would be appropriate to give him a platform that he ultimately hijacked to express his dangerous sympathy for terrorists. People were rightly outraged that Mr Mallah was allotted that time. 

Caleb Bond, The Advertiser, August 13, 2018:

If we choose to banish Cottrell and his ilk from the media — as many of the outraged would like us to do — how will we ever combat their views? How will we ever truly take them to task? How can we possibly expect people to listen to our view when we won’t even acknowledge the opposing one?

Argo read the news. Adelaide based Argo Investments is the second biggest investment company listed on the ASX with a portfolio worth around $5.5 billion and among its holdings are shares in the five major banks — Westpac, NAB, NAZ, Commonwealth and Macquarie. At July 31 those shares were worth more than $1.25 billion and made up nearly 23% of the value of the company’s portfolio.

So Argo are well placed to not only understand the banks and financial system, but to play some role in influencing policy. Hundreds of millions of dollars worth shares gives you a head start in getting access to the board and senior managers if you have concerns.

So Ms Tips was interested to learn yesterday — from the company’s full year results — that the Argo are shocked, just shocked by the revelations of the royal commission:

The scope and fallout from the royal commission is much worse than we or the market may have been expecting, with major repercussions for executive management teams and boards, reflected by the negative share price reactions in the financial services sector. 

Does Argo’s board and managers read newspapers or watch TV? Ms Tips remembers plenty of reports on dodgy advice, overcharging, not to mention the AUSTRAC money laundering case against the Commonwealth Bank. If the revelations from the royal commission are “worse than expected” Argo’s board and managers should get out more. They should also pop along to the annual meetings of all five banks in their portfolio, ask some pointed questions and vote against the boards.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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