Scroll to top

Another string to Downer’s colonial bow

The former foreign minister, now ex-pat, has found a gig close to his heart.

alexander downer

From the Crikey grapevine, it’s the latest tips and rumours…

Royal win. Our former man in London, (Lord) Alex Downer of Mayo has finally been graded as a top expat. His long awaited ascension to the chair of the Royal Over-Seas League (ROSL) has come to fruition.

You don’t become the top dog at the ROSL by being a card-carrying believer in an Australian republic. You have to strongly believe that a 93-year-old London based woman is the putative head of Australia and we have to follow everything she says and does. In 2008, Downer put it clearly on ABC’s PM: “I do hold the view, which I know you will all share, that long live the Queen.”

It’s not just queens of course. Last year Downer became the executive chairman at the International School of Government at King’s College in London.

Speaking of London, the ROSL is in fact a very nice place to stay, good food and great breakfasts — plus a very Australian cafe. The coffee could do with some improving, especially the coffee. But Downer has been away so long from Australia that he would have forgotten what good coffee is. ROSL even has a base here down under in Sydney for high falutin’ fans of the Commonwealth. 

How nice that a battler from Adelaide can clamber to the top of colonial society in London.

Taking a trip. Tourism Australia is getting a new managing director, not that you’d know it. The role hasn’t been advertised publicly. Job ads for such high profile positions are usually mandatory for statutory bodies, but Tourism Australia tells us that because it is a Commonwealth corporate entity it is not bound by rules requiring it to publicly advertise job positions.

Current director, John O’Sullivan, is leaving the government agency at the end of the week and will be replaced, in the meantime, by Phillipa Harrison — the executive general manager international. The “search is under way to find his replacement” according to a spokesman at the organisation. US-based leadership consulting firm Spencer Stuart have been appointed to undertake “what is an extensive and open international search,” which could take up to four months. 

Ghosts of the internet past. As the exodus of staff continues at The Australian, website editors might want to rethink the embedded Twitter feeds they include on each writer’s author page. Writers for the paper, past and present, each have an author page which includes a live stream of their tweets.

While most former writers for the national broadsheet still have their Twitter feeds on their author pages, some recent departees who’ve been critical of The Oz have their feeds missing (including Rick Morton and Anthony Klan). That effort hasn’t been extended to all ex-Australian writers, including Paul Cleary who took to Twitter to criticise The Australian (among others) for failing to credit The Koori Mail for breaking the story about the copyright of the Aboriginal flag

So The Oz was hosting tweets critical of itself, including one tagging the ABC’s Media Watch program and asking: “Can you believe the Oz claimed the WAM story as an exclusive?”.

Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected]use our guaranteed anonymous form or other ways to leak to us securely.


Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.
Not already subscribed? Get your free trial, access everything immediately

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

6 thoughts on “Another string to Downer’s colonial bow