Month: May 2018

Media moguls biding their time

Illustration: David RoweThe competition regulator’s decision to block Kerry Stokes’s Seven Group Holdings’s bid to have a crack at James Packer’s Consolidated Media tells us several things that point towards another repositioning of media power in this country.Seven blocked – News Ltd set to snap up ConsMedia
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At first blush it tells us Stokes’s near two-decade battle for a foot in the pay television industry appears over.

Having spent millions fighting in court over the remnants of the failed C7 venture, Stokes won a seat at the table with a daring raid on Packer’s ConsMedia several years ago.

While many thought the logical outcome was that the pair would eventually take ConsMedia private, Stokes may not have counted on Packer’s willingness to sell.

Nor Rupert Murdoch’s willingness to buy.

With the ACCC blocking a Stokes counter bid, his pay TV mission appears over.

But in accepting News’s offer, Stokes will now have an ample war chest of some $500 million with which to consider buying more media assets or more earth moving assets.

Media assets are historically cheap but many remain deeply structurally challenged. Stokes may now choose to concentrate on free-to-air. Indeed, some suggest that Seven management has already made a clear choice of Australian free to air over pay.

Stokes also has the advantage of diversity with mining services investments via WesTrac. The China investment boom may be peaking but is by no means over. Seven’s diversity of assets allows Stokes to deploy the cash where he best sees fits.

On the other side of the fence, Murdoch’s News Corp is the gorilla in the room in pay television in this country. Alongside News’s 70-odd per cent control of Australian newspaper assets, pay television is now firmly in Murdoch’s grip. Telstra has 50 per cent of Foxtel and the chairman.

With the Australian assets including pay television set to be hived off into the old asset basket in the News Corp demerger, the only thing missing from Murdoch’s suite of assets in Australia is a free to air broadcaster.

Son Lachlan is battling to make a go of Ten Network which is struggling for regeneration as its traditional target of young viewers grow and the next generation of kids are watching downloads and tablets rather than free-to-air.

Telstra is the unknown in the equation. While it has a 50 per cent stake in Foxtel, News will control the sports rights.

Telstra’s media intentions remain unclear. Does it want content to support its sliding Sensis directories business? For his part, Packer has been freed up to deploy his spare cash towards his gaming assets.

The sale of CMH, essentially a holding company for the Foxtel stake and the sports rights assets, spells the end of Packer’s media interests for now – aside from a small stake in Ten.

Packer has been at the forefront of media asset divestment over the past five years, selling television assets at the top of the market and correctly spotting that the fracturing of the audience would make life tough for incumbent media organisations.

As the dust settles on the latest shake up, Packer is as good as out of media and cashed up, Stokes is sitting on his hands and cashed up, and News is restructuring to ride it out.

The biggest names in Australian media are nimble and waiting for signs of a moment to strike.

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OzPost aims for Christmas delivery of locker plan

Australia Post says it will make 24-hour parcel lockers available to most Australians by Christmas as part of a $2 billion strategy to future-proof the company against declining mail volumes and the boom in consumer spending online.
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The company today announced a $281 million group profit despite losing $146.5 million in its mail division – 15 per cent more than it lost last year.

Australia Post chief executive and managing director Ahmed Fahour said that the company would introduce 30 super stores and more than 120 locker locations by Christmas.

“Once this program is complete, four-out-of-five households will be within a 10-minute drive of one of these outlets.”

He said a $1.2 billion component of the strategy was its investment in courier company StarTrack, which he said would transform the company from being “largely a communications mail business into its biggest category now being parcels and express”.

“This will be one of the biggest investments in Australia Post’s history.”

Mr Fahour defended his company’s “two-speed” investment in both bricks-and-mortar retail and the parcel business.

“What you see is a balance between our retail business and our online shopping business,” he said.

“So if the consumer decides, ‘you know what, I’m not buying online anymore, I’d rather to go to the store’ – great. I’ve got 4428 scattered around Australia.”

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CMC slashed amid donations review dispute

Queensland’s corruption and crime watchdog has lost about 40 temporary and casual staff and will have some 30 positions cut, a budget estimates hearing has been told.
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Crime and Misconduct Commission chairman Ross Martin outlined the cuts, warning they would lead to “losses of capacity”, while Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said no government agencies were immune from the Newman government’s search for efficiencies.

Mr Martin said the CMC had had 44 separations as at July 1 and these mostly involved temporary and casual staff.

“We will have something of the order of 30 positions disestablished and … not all those positions are filled but there will be nevertheless real loss of capacity,” he said.

Mr Martin said there was some overlap between the 30 positions being cut and the 44 separations that had occurred, but he could not provide details as staff were yet to be fully briefed.

Focus on the cuts came as Mr Bleijie criticised the CMC for launching a review of the matter of political donations, insisting he did not believe it should be a priority.

Mr Bleijie announced his own review to look at ensuring the CMC was not used as a “political football” by elected officials referring complaints about their rivals and then publicising such investigations in an attempt to score political points.

The review – headed by former High Court Judge Ian Callinan AC and University of Queensland Professor Nicholas Aroney – came in the wake of Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney’s declaration the CMC had allowed itself to be used as a political tool in the lead up to the state election in March.

At a budget estimates hearing at Queensland Parliament today, Mr Bleijie said Mr Callinan had agreed to be paid “on the lowest level that a barrister would be paid by crown law” or about $150 per hour plus GST.

Mr Bleijie, a former lawyer, said when he left the legal profession he was charging $300 per hour plus GST which meant Mr Callinan’s rate was a “pretty good deal”.

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk asked Mr Bleijie whether his government valued the role of the CMC in undertaking integrity investigations, given the staff cuts.

“The government does value the work of the CMC,” Mr Bleijie said.

He pointed to the review he announced today, saying it was intended “particularly to make sure the CMC stops being used as a political football by politicians of all parties”.

Mr Bleijie said no state agency was immune to necessary cuts.

“The CMC has funding of approximately $50 million a year. Every Queenslander could expect and would expect the government when we are looking at fiscal accountability and responsibility [that we] look at all agencies,” he said.

Mr Bleijie took the opportunity to criticise the CMC’s recent decision to launch a review of political donations.

Late last month, the CMC announced it had found no evidence of wrongdoing surrounding a developer’s series of donations to the Brisbane City Council Liberal National Party team’s campaign fund ahead of the approval of a Woolloongabba development in early 2011.

On the same day, the CMC announced it would launch a review into the broader topic of donations to political parties.

It said the review by its research section would look at Australian and international laws relating to electoral donations “to determine whether the Queensland model is sound practice”.

Mr Bleijie said he was concerned about the CMC’s announcement of the donations review, especially given it came on the back of a finding of no wrongdoing.

Mr Bleijie questioned “using valuable resources” to review donations when it had not been an issue.

He acknowledged the CMC was “completely independent” of government but he felt there was a need to get the priorities right.

Mr Bleijie pointed to the CMC’s role in pursuing organised crime.

Under questioning by LNP MPs, Mr Martin again confirmed the CMC had found no wrongdoing by Premier Campbell Newman during his time as Brisbane lord mayor, as it announced about a week before the state election.

Mr Martin said the resources that had been devoted to examining the matters raised in the lead up to the election had been “quite modest” and the issues had not been “consuming the organisation”.

He said the CMC had a research role and was now proposing to undertake a review examining donations practices across the country and internationally to see how Queensland’s rules compared.

Mr Martin said he felt there was merit in doing the review.

Ms Palaszczuk asked Mr Bleijie to assure Queenslanders the review would go ahead, given the CMC was independent and its chairman believed the review had merit.

Mr Bleijie said he knew he did not have “some overriding responsibility” to approve or reject the CMC’s review but he simply suggested the review was not a priority for the CMC “on the back of an investigation that cleared everyone”.

Mr Bleijie said the CMC chairman had made it clear the review would go ahead and he would not interfere.

“I simply make the point I don’t think it’s a priority for political donations to be reviewed in Queensland,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s a justifiable excuse.”

Mr Bleijie said at the same time discussions with CMC were occurring regarding funding, “I just say perhaps some resources could be reprioritised”.

The state opposition sought detail about staff cuts at the CMC.

Mr Martin declined to say whether the cuts included senior investigative officers, saying staff had not yet been fully briefed on the changes.

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Four more for the road: Sharpe to play on

Nathan Sharpe has answered the mayday call from Australian rugby and will play on through the four-Test tour of Europe next month.
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It is understood the veteran lock and the ARU have come to an agreement that makes it possible for Sharpe to delay his retirement for a second time and finish his 111-Test career with the Wallabies against Wales in Cardiff on December 2.

Sharpe, 34, had originally planned on retiring at the end of the Super Rugby season but agreed to play through the Rugby Championship and final Bledisloe match after a career-best performance in the three-Test series against Wales in Australia in June.

The Wallabies’s second-row stocks were ravaged by Dan Vickerman’s forced retirement and a long-term injury to first-choice captain James Horwill.

Sharpe’s decision to play on past the Brisbane Test next weekend also helps fill a leadership vacuum in the squad left following injuries to back-up captain David Pocock and his replacement Will Genia.

Australia plays France, England, Italy and Wales on tour next month.

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It’s Monday madness gone mad

THE hysteria about whether Mad Monday should be scrapped is really just a matter of semantics.
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What do we expect our players to do the Monday after their season ends? Stay home and knit? South Sydney have simply stopped club-sanctioned Mad Mondays. They can’t stop grown men going to the pub and they probably can’t stop them dressing as Wonder Woman.

There are plenty of precedents in the wider world for parties on company property being a thing of the past. Even Christmas parties are dying out.

We have media Mad Monday every year but no one has ever suggested we do it at News Ltd or Fairfax or that those organisations fund our indulgences. We exchange texts and phone calls and decide on a convenient venue among ourselves.

Players will have to do the same, probably. Face it: life is just less fun than it used to be.


This week’s Discord comes to you from Townsville, where the Australian team trained in earshot of an earnest game of bingo at the Brothers ground today.

Everyone is in a good mood, it’s stinking hot and the game is sold out. What more could you ask for?

Last Sunday I saw the other end of the scale when it came to international footy, with a desperate defensive effort saw Cook Islands hang on for a 28-24 win over Lebanon at the Crest in Bass Hill.

The scramble to ankle-tap flying Cliff Nye 10 metres from the tryline with 10 seconds left was even more remarkable given that – in the absence of a scoreboard or ground announcer – the brave defenders had no idea what the score was and how important their feats would be!

On to Thailand on Monday for Thailand v Philippines – the first full rugby league international ever played in Asia.


AS A result of last week’s column, I’ve been on Twitter a lot this week. More of that later. One fellow yesterday asked for an apology given the findings of the NRL that the Bulldogs’ Mad Monday comments had not been directed at a Channel Nine reporter.

I’m happy to say I’m sorry or admit a mistake but I wanted to check what I was apologising for, first. There were six points regarding the Dogs in last week’s column.

Point one was about the conventions of covering Mad Monday – not affected by the NRL finding. Nor was point two about footballers getting more favourable treatment than other entertainers. Point three about the Bulldogs failing to generate goodwill with previous media engagement – no impact. I certainly won’t distance myself from believing clubs now have to deal with reporters they don’t know with as much respect as those they do.

Now, point five is the big one. If the comments were incorrectly reported by Channel Nine, then I do apologise for saying some good has come out of this. But the reporter involved still insists they were directed at her and not as presented by the Bulldogs. So it’s still hard to know on this point. I’m not in a position to call either party liars.

As for point six, about the absence of an experienced media manager, the NRL’s findings have no impact there.


NORMALLY there is a section at the bottom of Discord called Feedback, where we respond to the four, six or 10 comments people have taken the time to make about the previous week’s column. This week there were 101 comments.

I want to thank everyone for taking the time to write, even if you bagged the hell out of me. It’s good to think about this stuff enough to write something down and I must say for all the talk about ‘‘trolls’’, everyone I have engaged with on Twitter over the past week has been civil, even if they started off a bit hot under the collar.For this week’s feedback, I’ll respond to the ones that invite a response. If you just made a statement, I guess there’s not much more I can add.

Zeadney has been joined by many people in comparing this to the Kate Middleton topless photos. I think my argument to this is covered above – they were in their workplace. Would Kate Middleton stand topless in front of the window at Buckingham Palace?

I agree with JJ: sport is just reality TV that is very cheap to make, when compared to Big Brother. TV is buying personalities as much as athletes with their $1.025 million.

Ian Camlett, amateur sports are about staying fit and winning. Professional sports are about entertaining people. That’s why they get paid. The coach is in the job of winning, the membership manager is in the business of selling memberships and the media manager is in the business of dealing with the media. You wouldn’t let the membership manager coach the team any more than the football department should run media interaction. Rugby league does not feed me, journalism does. I SPEND money on rugby league. Who is paying for my hotel in Townsville, my flights to Thailand and onto Hawaii for rugby league? Not the Herald.

Vonnie, many others have suggested to me since last week that had there been better access the night before, electronic media would have got their shots of players in silly costumes on Mad Monday and gone away. I hadn’t really considered this. There was nothing but three all-ins from GF night for the only Sydney team in the grand final – the worst access in grand final history. The Bulldogs’ fine for this will be their fourth under the new media guidelines – and they only came in mid-season.

I agree with some of what Wendy said. Traditional media have become entertainers rather than informers and rugby league players plus clubs struggle to understand that – which is why media managers who understand this have become more important. Someone said ‘‘oh, so they need someone to deal with the chaos your profession creates’’. In a word, yes.

Rudy, my point regarding international football is that it seems a joke in the countries where those sports are popular. Oh, Canada playing cricket. Ha ha. But who cares what they think in those countries? Because in the case of rugby league, our most powerful country has little influence on world affairs. Why should we care as a sport about how things look from here? If 51 per cent of Americans one day understand there are two kinds of rugby, that will be an achievement to dwarf any television deal the NRL does. Your argument seems to be ‘‘don’t underline your weakness by addressing it’’. We don’t WANT to be the national sport. We would be happy to be as big in Thailand as ice hockey is in Adelaide. That’s better than nothing.

Amin, yes. I am saying ‘‘waa-waa’’. And I’m throwing the toys right out of the cot as well.

Spannaforce, see my comment above about the mainstream media being more about entertainment these days, which has happened to counter the internet.

Liklik, do you know how many things the sports media do every day, which other journalists would not do, to help clubs and players? We respect closed training sessions even when they are on open fields that the public can see into. We don’t approach players at airport carousels when we are told not to, even though they spend ages signing autographs and talking to everyone BUT us. Recently, I read, Des Hasler asked for footage of wrestling training to be taken off Fox Sports and it was, even though it was obtained completely legitimately.Would political journalists, police rounds reporters, or court reporters do these things? I think not. The rule we are supposed to work under professionally is if you can walk up to someone, see someone, take a picture of someone, then so can we – because we represent everyone else who is not here right now. If sports journalists started a work-to-rule where they used all the numbers in their contact book, went to everything any member of the public could go to and started asking questions of anyone, anywhere any time, just like you can if you want to, there would be chaos.

Behind the scenes, I have to take you to task on some of your points. Channel Seven may have CLAIMED they knew who said things but that has still not been established, a week and a half later. The Swans ‘‘managed’’ Mad Monday with some brief access – like most clubs do, but which did not occur on this occasion. My argument was that this contributed to the situation. Seven and Ten were NOT invited inside. The reporters have kept texts from the club saying they were not welcome. Who was mouthing off, and saying what? I’ve not heard that anywhere.

Antfit31, were you daring the Herald to publish your comment? Dare met, I guess. I don’t determine which comments are published, for the record. That is done in the office.

Kelvin, many people agree with you regarding reducing the number of interchanges. But the medical lobby will disagree and will probably be the main hurdle to this happening.

Of all weeks, I should have included the forum link last week. Oh well, here it is.

See you next week from Bangkok.

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Ricky Nixon’s legal battle to be heard in the Magistrates Court

The Office of Public Prosecutions has today dropped two of the most serious charges against disgraced former AFL player manager Ricky Nixon over the alleged assault of his ex-fiancee Tegan Gould when armed with a kitchen knife.
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Prosecutor Michael Robinson told the Melbourne Magistrates Court that charges against Nixon of intentionally causing serious injury and recklessly causing serious injury to Ms Tegan had been withdrawn.

Mr Robinson said the OPP did not oppose the case being dealt with in the Magistrates Court.

If the two charges had not been withdrawn, the case would have had to be heard in the County Court.

Nixon, 49, who appeared before magistrate Gerard Lethbridge today with his defence barrister Theo Alexander, still faces eight charges.

He is charged with unlawfully imprisoning Ms Gould and detaining her against her will, as well as intentionally causing serious injury, recklessly causing injury, threatening to kill, unlawful assault, unlawful assault with a kitchen knife.

Nixon is also charged with escaping from police custody; and resisting arrest.

Mr Robinson said a contest mention date had been arranged for October 31 so witnesses in the case could be sorted out.

When Nixon was first charged in July, he released a statement saying he wished Ms Gould well but there were two sides to every story. He denied his life was spiralling out of control.

The court was told at the time both Nixon and Ms Gould, a qualified dental nurse, had taken out applications against each other.

For legal reasons, The Age cannot give details of the applications.

The July 15 incident allegedly took place after Nixon arrived home from a party hosted by Carlton champion Chris Judd at South Melbourne’s Eve nightclub and reportedly found Ms Gould in his bed around 2am.

Nixon and Ms Gould reportedly separated in June, allegedly after he discovered she had been trawling through his mobile phone calls.

The couple were engaged on Christmas Eve last year with Nixon posting the news on Twitter, revealing he had popped the question over a meal at McDonald’s in Moe.

They later featured in an online reality series, Ricky and Tegan Get Real.

Nixon’s player manager licence was suspended for two years last year due to an “inappropriate personal relationship” with a young woman who had released nude photographs of St Kilda footballers.

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Armed robber hitting Hungry Jack’s

A thief who is hungry for money has robbed Hungry Jack’s restaurants on six occasions in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.
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In one daring robbery, the thief climbed through the drive-through window of the fast food giant’s Mount Waverley store and threatened staff before escaping with money from the till.

In another robbery he was armed with a stick and a knife when he jumped the counter before fleeing with cash.

Police believe the armed robberies at six Hungry Jack’s restaurants in the past 15 months have been committed by the same man, who struck late at night or in the early hours of the morning.

At what police described as his “favourite” restaurant in Burwood in February this year, the man had a scarf wrapped around his head when he threw a rock at the front door, broke the glass and crawled through the hole into the restaurant. He threatened staff members before running away with money.

The man has targeted the same Burwood restaurant four times, in each case using similar tactics. He jumped over the counter and used a knife to threaten staff, demanding that they hand him money.

Police believe the same man targeted Hungry Jack’s restaurants in Forest Hill and Mount Waverley. The last robbery occurred on August 24.

The man is described as being aged in his early 30s, between 172 and 175 centimetres tall, with a medium build and a fair complexion.

He was last seen wearing a black jacket, blue jeans and a black and grey scarf which he wrapped around his head.

Anyone with information about the robberies is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers南京夜网.au

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Warning from fishermen

TWO local fishermen have warned about the threat of sharks in Mandurah waterways.
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Jim Millsteed and his son Brendan have been fishing around Mandurah for the past 10 years and have only ever spotted two sharks.

However both sightings have been in the past few months.

“We’ve been fishing around here for about 10 years but the first time I ever saw a shark in the water was about three months ago at the eastern end of the Cut – the estuary end,” Brendan said.

Jim spotted what he believed was a bronze whaler shark about 5.30pm on Sunday.

“I was fishing down on the rocks when he swam past me,” he said.

“He was probably about a metre away from the rocks.”

Brendan said both times the sharks had been coming from the estuary.

“I won’t go past my shins in the estuary now,” he said.

“I’d rather stay dry.

“To have such big ones coming through here is pretty scary.”

Jim said despite the increased activity of sharks killing them wasn’t the answer.

“Leave them alone,” he said.

“We’re raping and pillaging the ocean, they’re obviously just looking for food.

“The Cut is manmade; we basically opened the door to them.

“People have to be aware though.

“There are big sharks going in the estuary.”

Jim Millsteed and his son Brendan are worried about the possibility of a shark attack in Mandurah.

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Social bowls season starts

CEDUNA Women’s Bowls started their season with threesuccessful mixed social days.
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On Wednesday, September 19 acharity day was held for Cancer Council SA.

Around 24 bowlers participated inthe event, raising $158.

Nancy Bubner, John Forster(visitor) and Laurel Kelly started their season well, winning all three games.

Runners up were John Ridge,Claire Trowbridge and Maureen Trowbridge.

The following week players’ drawshot bowling was tested in a Consistency Pairs day.

Trish Cragan and Ken Bubnershowed that they hadn’t lost their touch over the winter break winning with 136shots up.

Judy Goode and Mary Fox alsobowled well and were runners up with 133 shots up.

On Wednesday, October 3 ClubPatrons Gwen Betts, Ellen Irvine, Joan Warmington and Win Miller sponsored theday, this time the format was three bowls triples.

Gary Wright, Sally Benson andJeanette Bubner all bowled consistently to win both games.

Barry Trowbridge, Rie Nielsen andMelva Freeman also won both games to be runners up.

Aftera lovely afternoon tea, Gwen Betts on behalf of the Patrons wished all bowlersa happy and successful bowls season.

Winners and patrons: From left, Win Miller (patron), Ellen Irvine (patron), Gary Wright, Sally Benson, Jeanette Bubner, Gwen Betts (patron) and Joan Warmington (patron).

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Basketball starts next week

COLLIE’S 2012/13 basketball season willstart with the resumption of the fourth school term next week.
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The association has organised a roundrobin fixture in the first week for all players who have nominated. This willassist with a smooth transition into regular fixtures.

It isimportant that all players attend at the listed time, below, when teams will beannounced –

Tuesday, October 16: 4pm, Aussie hoopsboys and girls (born in 2002, 2003); 5pm, under 16 boys (1998, 99); 5.50pm,under 18 boys (1997, 96, 95); 6.40pm, high school girls; 7.30pm, senior women (roundrobin scratch matches).

Thursday, October 18: 5pm, childrenborn in 2004 or 2005; 5.50pm, under 14 boys (2000, 2001); 6.40pm, under 14girls (2000,2001).

All teams will require a manager/ co-ordinatorto ensure they work together successfully and individual players enjoy and areencouraged throughout the season.

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