Angus Taylor

Angus Taylor actually, literally, hides from the media glare; the flyers have started for Victoria’s upcoming state election; and an anatomy of how you wipe out $600 million in a single day. From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours…

Taylor not energised. With the recent knifing reshuffle, Angus Taylor has just agreed to guzzle from the poisoned chalice of the energy portfolio — or, in typically Scott Morrison ‘hardline conservatism masquerading as folksy common sense’ speak, the “minister for getting electricity prices down“. Taylor gave his first speech as minister yesterday at a small business summit in Sydney, and notably denied he was a climate skeptic. Apparently though, he was not so confident in his few policies that he was willing to answer any questions about them. A tipster at the event told us that, after his speech, he barricaded himself in the ironically named “media room” with all the doors closed for roughly half an hour before ducking out a back door as quick as he could. “Farcical” was how our tipster put it. 

Labor’s middle class pitch. The flyers have started to circulate for the upcoming Victorian state election. A tipster sent us through what they were handed by some Labor volunteers earlier this week at the Prahran train station, shilling for their candidate Neil Pharaoh. The seat has swung between Liberal and Labor before the Greens scraped home in 2014. Labor, hoping to claw it back for the first time since 2010 are offering “fairness and a more progressive society”, with an “Australia-first” medical cannabis program, plastic bag bans, and “Australia’s first equality minister” alongside more concrete policy positions like “record mental health investment” and “ambitious renewable energy targets”: 

All fairly inoffensive stuff, but a decidedly middle-class version of progressivism for the affluent and gentrified inner city electorate. Have any other Victorian readers been getting election material from any of the majors? Anyone from a more regional or working class seat getting different messages from your local Labor candidate? Let us know.

The numbers don’t add up? Regarding the TPG and Vodafone merger, the business pages of this week’s The Australian used some interesting arithmetic: 

A market announcement this morning will reveal details of the deal, with the merged entity to be 50.1% owned by Vodafone Hutchison Australia, while TPG Telecom’s stake will be 49.9%. The remaining stake is expected to be held by TPG Telecom’s chief executive, David Teoh and the teleco’s long-time backer Washington H Soul Pattinson.

Wait, what? Vodafone’s 50.1% and TPG’s 49.9% add up to 100%, so unless The Oz has invented a new form of maths, or there’s some serious rounding, then that second sentence can’t be true, can it? Teoh and Soul Pattinson will hold what, exactly?

Compulsory texts. The debate about what the fork a writers festival really is raging on as the Melbourne Writers’ Festival ramps up for its final weekend. It was certainly the hot topic at last night’s annual Text party, where there was a certain amount of sympathy for the book-worship side of the debate, but also plenty of love for Marieke Hardy and the MWF crew who have seen great crowds at many events so far. Who knew all you needed for a year of book-related controversies was a proud (shrinking) industry and some help from The Australian?

How to lose $600 million in one day. How? Just ask the board of locally listed satellite group, SpeedCast International, which was valued at $1.6 billion at the close on Monday and $1 billion at the close on Tuesday, as the shares sank from $6.71 to $4.20. Why? Well, there were higher profits and revenue for the six months to June, but the huge problem is that one of its businesses is broadcasting content and services to off-shore oil rigs and there are fewer of them floating around (because of the lingering effects of the great 2014-17 oil price slide and the surge in US oil and gas production).

So the revenue the company (and profits) had forecast have now been postponed to 2019 and 2020. That saw the full year (2018) forecast for earnings before interest tax, depreciation and amortisation cut from US$155 million to between $135 million and $145 million. Doesn’t sound much, but the company also revealed the $135 million purchase of a rival from private equity and an increase in its debt to pay for the deal — all no-no’s for investors, especially those in SpeedCast, who do not like one surprise in company earnings reports, let alone two or three. So down fell the shares, wiping $600 million from SpeedCast’s value. 

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