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

The Age of Calombaris. After seeing George Calombaris’ teary rehabilitation tour after underpaying staff to the tune of millions, readers might be interested in hearing who exactly is leading the former MasterChef host’s PR exercise. Mark “Hawk” Hawthorne may have made his name as a senior editor-cum-publisher back when Fairfax was still Fairfax but, since moving on late last year, he now leads the investor relations and financial comms division at Civic Financial Communications.

The appointment raised eyebrows at the time, considering The Age’s coverage of parent PR firm The Civic Group’s relationship to state Labor. Hawthorne’s work issuing press releases on behalf of Calombaris’ MAdE Establishment against “unfounded and false accusations in the media” would put him at loggerheads with some of the more virulent industrial relations journalists at his old work (i.e. Ben Schneiders).

Calombaris has also been seen everywhere from Good Weekend (also formerly Fairfax) and in a contrite if not revelatory interview with Leigh Sales on 7.30.

A win for the diggers. Congratulations to the annual Diggers and Dealers mining industry “conference” in Kalgoorlie, which kicks off today with a keynote speech by former prime minister John Howard.

Diggers and Dealers is well known for its female participation primarily being scantily-clad waitstaff in the town’s hospitality venues. But this year the speaking list contains a mighty three women in 53 speaking slots. This represents real progress from 2015  (zero women spoke) and 2017 (one woman spoke — Andrea Maxey, who is speaking again this year). Based on the current rate of increase, you can expect equal female participation at Diggers and Dealers some time in the early 2040s.

A bad night for the Broncos. The Brisbane Broncos NRL team was thrashed 40-4 on Friday night by the Melbourne Storm. It’s a result that will disappoint the club and its major shareholder, News Corp, which controls a 69% stake and at times still believes it controls the code. But it wasn’t the night’s only concern.

A few hours before the game came this release from the ASX-listed company Brisbane Broncos Ltd revealing a huge 57% profit downgrade for the six months to June. Seeing the company earned a pre-tax profit of $3.08 million in 2018 (it has a calendar financial year), earnings in the December half of the year will have to increase dramatically for that target to be reached. 

The bluebird strikes again. Finally, Sky News has decided to stop posting videos directly to Twitter in an attempt to both monetise content through other platform deals and, in the feintly hilarious words of The Australian, “stop the misuse of its journalism by anonymous accounts on the bluebird platform”.

Presumably, this refers to Sky’s online foe Sleeping Giants Oz, which has responded to some of the channel’s more regrettable segments by going after sponsors. The citizen activist group has been effective at publicly shaming advertisers such as Origin Energy and Huggies and gaining the ire of Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells. It’s unclear whether a switch to Facebook and YouTube will help Sky finally escape their ire or not.

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Peter Fray

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