From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours…
Wait, that Malcolm Roberts? The Financial Services Council’s Summit 2019, held next week, will be an opportunity for the brightest minds in the industry to come together after the bruising of last year’s royal commission. But this year, the FSC, the sector’s peak body, has thrown a wildcard addition into what is otherwise a fairly standard lineup of establishment politicians, fund managers and law firm partners — One Nation senator and conspiracy theorist Malcolm Roberts. The Queensland senator is set to appear on a panel on “financial regulation in the Morrison government”, alongside Paul Bloxham, chief economist at HSBC, and Bryce Doherty, CEO of UBS Asset Management Australia.
Roberts has a long rapsheet of factually dubious views. A staunch climate change denier (and unsurprisingly, a former coal miner), Roberts is perhaps best known for being utterly embarrassed by British scientist Brian Cox on the ABC’s Q&A. In 2011, he wrote a letter to Julia Gillard demanding he be exempt from the carbon tax because he was a “sovereign citizen”.
But Roberts’ most bizarre beliefs relate to the financial services sector, which makes his appearance at the summit all the more surprising. He believes climate change is a hoax perpetrated by a sinister cabal of bankers, who are in cahoots with the United Nations to create a world socialist government. Roberts has previously cited the work of Eustace Mullins, an infamous American Holocaust denier, as evidence for these views. While Roberts has denied he is anti-Semitic, he stands by all the other stuff about shadowy international banking families controlling the world. The Financial Services Council tweeted about Roberts’ place on the panel, and while that tweet has been deleted, Roberts remains on the online program for the summit. The council did not respond to comment requests at the time of publication.
Sydney caught on CCTV. There’s a lot of (justifiable) concern about China’s increasingly Black Mirror-esque surveillance state. But Australia isn’t faring too well on this front, and according to a new report, Sydney is the 15th most surveilled city in the world based on numbers of CCTV cameras. Sydney has 60,000 cameras for its almost 5 million residents, giving it 12.35 cameras per 1000 people. It’s a worryingly high number by any stretch, but it becomes more worrying when compared with other cities on the list. While the top 10 is dominated by China, Sydney’s numbers make it the fourth most surveilled western city. It has slightly more cameras per 1000 people than Baghdad, roughly twice as many as Hong Kong and Washington DC, and four times as many as San Francisco.
Battle of the business columnists. A decent year for the papers formerly known as Fairfax indicates Nine’s investment appears to be coming good. But it’s also prompted a spot of “I-told-you-so” gloating from Nine columnists. Today, The Australian Financial Review’s Chanticleer column unloaded on Terry McCrann, business columnist at The Australian who has long been sceptical of Ninefax’s health. Still, it was quite a savaging even by the Fin’s standards — McCrann was referred to as “ghoullish”, a “media doomsdayer”, and “the grim reaper of media commentary”. Still, the Fin’s correspondent isn’t the only one prone to a spot of editorial hyperbole — McCrann himself argued before May’s election that a Bill Shorten victory would spell “the end of the world”.