Thursday, February 27, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG thinks the ALP should apologize for its unfounded attacks on the Australian military

John Singleton calls Fairfax chairman Roger Corbett a ‘prick’, and CEO Greg Hywood an ‘idiot’ in extraordinary radio spray on 2GB

Fairfax are slimy Leftists and Singleton is libertarian but also in this case Singleton seems to be backed up by key players in the matter

IT would have to go down as the spray of the year: Sydney radio tsar John Singleton unleashed yesterday on his one-time would-be business partners at Fairfax Media, calling its chairman a “pompous pr..k” and the CEO an “idiot”.

Just months after the larrikin millionaire horse owner blew up a lifelong friendship with trainer Gai Waterhouse in the More Joyous scandal, Singleton has now declared war on struggling Fairfax.

And yesterday’s 20-minute spray on Sydney’s top-rating Alan Jones program on Singleton’s own 2GB can only be described as spectacular.

The Macquarie Radio Network’s majority owner ridiculed Fairfax’s management and share price, saying the company had “deliberately misled” shareholders over the collapsed merger talks between 2GB and 2UE.

Singleton suggested Fairfax chairman Roger Corbett should be president of the “Avoca bowling club” and claimed CEO Greg Hywood was a “third-rater” who had phoned him “almost in tears” over the money in consultancy fees down the drain when the talks fell over.

Fairfax Media and Macquarie Radio have ended protracted negotiations over a $200 million merger of radio assets. The deal would have combined Macquarie’s powerful Sydney station 2GB with Fairfax’s Melbourne-dominant 3AW to deliver pre-tax earnings of $32 million.

Singleton accused Mr Corbett of professing Christian values while buying into pubs and poker machines as CEO of Woolworths.

“I don’t profess Christianity and I don’t bash the bible. Nor do I ring people on Sunday nights sounding drunk outta my head. If he doesn’t drink, he certainly does a really good impression late on Sunday night. Let’s assume he was just tired. I am not making any allegations there,” Singleton said on air.

“If you are a proper chairman, a decent human being, not a precocious, pretentious pr..k — I apologise for that word — precocious, pretentious little whipper snapper like Roger Corbett.

“Roger wants to be chairman. Give the little bloke his chairmanship … he’s only got a year to go and then he can be president of the Avoca bowling club or rotary or something, some self-important, pompous, puffed-up job for him.

Of Mr Hywood he said: “He doesn’t know what he’s doing so he just hires consultants to tell him what to do. Obviously he does nothing except do what they tell him.”

The tirade was unleashed on air to Jones — who owns 12 per cent of Macquarie — yesterday morning after Fairfax newspapers on Monday published a report that the deal fell over “after it became clear star Macquarie shock jocks Alan Jones and Ray Hadley would not be part” of it. Singleton suggested the story was “verbatim” what Mr Hywood had told a key executive advising Gina Rinehart on her $200 million investment in Fairfax.

Mr Corbett and Mr Hywood declined requests to be interviewed yesterday.

However, in a statement yesterday Fairfax said that without certainty on whether Jones and Hadley were going to be part of the merger, the deal could not move forward.

“Anyone who had the misfortune of hearing John Singleton’s deluded and self-indulgent sprays on 2GB and elsewhere this morning can only feel sorry for the man,” the statement said.

“Amongst the myriad nonsense and highly defamatory remarks, Mr Singleton also failed to mention that his fellow shareholder and Macquarie Radio deal-maker, Mark Carnegie, refused to facilitate meetings with Mr Jones and Mr Hadley and walked out of a meeting with Fairfax representatives.

“Mr Hadley and Mr Jones are the key assets of any value in Macquarie Radio and without an opportunity to meet with them there was no point in Fairfax Media pursuing talks with the highly volatile and emotional organisation.”

Jones and Hadley both denied yesterday being the cause of the failed merger.

Singleton claimed Mr Hywood had wanted $300 million in the deal, making it financially unviable for Macquarie and denied reports that he could not finance it.

“The shareholders of Fairfax have been deliberately misled,” Singleton said.

Jones said on air yesterday: “Fairfax radio could hardly negotiate from any position other than weakness. But to suggest that I wasn’t prepared to be part of a proposed deal and that I couldn’t be persuaded to be part of a ... ‘joint-venture controlled by Fairfax’, I thought was laughable.  “No-one at Fairfax has ever spoke to me. The story is, to use a harsh word, another lie.”

Hadley said yesterday: “I have never had a conversation with anyone either at 2GB or Fairfax about any such matter. I have never spoken to Singo about it. It is a downright lie. I can only assume the (Herald) reporter got it from his masters.”

Mr Singleton also questioned Fairfax’s assertion it is independent, saying Mr Hywood and Mr Corbett wanted to meet Jones and Hadley “because before they made a firm offer they wanted to make sure they would be able to get on ... that they could control them, despite the charter of independence that they go on about.”

Mr Singleton is a lifelong friend of Gina Rinehart, who owns a $200 million stake in Fairfax and has been critical of its poor share price, which closed yesterday at 94 cents.


Businesses, residents hit by NBN switch

Spiro Kourkoumelis was shocked to learn this week that the telephone services vital to the operation of his bicycle shop in Sydney Road, Brunswick, would soon be dead unless they were reconnected to the national broadband network.

Mr Kourkoumelis' business is one of 2800 premises in Brunswick that will have their analogue internet and phone services shut down when NBN Co decommissions Telstra's copper network on May 23.

The switch-off will occur in the 15 towns and suburbs across Australia that have had the NBN's fibre cables in place for at least 18 months. About 2200 premises in South Morang will be among those affected.

Mr Kourkoumelis, who owns Ray's Cycles and AvantiPlus, and who played football for Carlton and St Kilda, said he heard about the imminent copper switch-off only two days ago, when a sales representative from the Summit IT group told him that he would have to switch over to a new system.

"Either I haven't been paying attention or I'm just too busy running my own business," Mr Kourkoumelis said. "I'm going to have to look into it because I need to get phones, my business relies on it."

Of the approximately 250 businesses approached by Summit IT, about 90 per cent weren't on the NBN and were surprised to learn that their telco services would soon be switched off.

Summit IT director Greg Lipschitz said over the past month his organisation has targeted small-to-medium enterprises in Brunswick's NBN catchment area.

"The interesting thing is that people don't particularly want to change. People are either confused because they're under contract with an existing provider or they don't understand what the change means to their business - the cost, the contractual obligations," Mr Lipschitz said. "The reality is that people have overlooked, in its entirety, the fact it's going to deliver your traditional service."

Access to the wholesale NBN network is sold via retail telcos, such as Telstra and Optus, which will usually bear the cost of installing the utility box required to connect to the network.

It took Katerina Angelopolous nearly 10 months to get a working NBN connection for her elderly mother living in Brunswick.

Ms Angelopolous said that she first ordered a new fibre service in April 2013. Her mother Anastasia, 80, requires a fixed telephone line to support a Mepacs personal alarm, a monitoring device whereby users press a button to call emergency services.

Telstra said it would be installed by October but it wasn't until last Friday that a technician visited her mother's house. Ms Angelopolous said elderly residents, particularly migrants, weren't capable of navigating the red tape required to get an NBN connection.

NBN Co spokesperson Trent Williams said that since November 2012 it has advertised the shutdown via local media, community information sessions and direct mail, as well as engaging local council and advocacy groups. The company has more information about the steps residents and businesses need to take to switch to services provided over the NBN as well as a list of service providers here.

Telcos such as Telstra, Optus and iiNet are also embarking on their own marketing campaigns.


Big Queensland shark catch

RECORD numbers of monster sharks are being caught off popular Queensland beaches as controversy rages about Western Australia’s new shark cull.

About 80 sharks have been snared by State Government shark hunters off the Queensland coast in the last two months alone, including a whopping 3.8m great hammerhead caught last month at Miami Beach. That’s the same length as a small car such as a Nissan Micra, which measures 3.78m in length.

The 80 sharks caught in the last two months include 50 classed as “particularly dangerous” because they are more than 2m long.

While last year’s catch of 686 sharks was down on the previous year the catch included the highest number of these “dangerous” sharks in three years.

Among the haul last year were six white pointers, including a 3.3m monster caught off Currumbin Beach.

Sharks caught so far this year include a 4.2m tiger shark at Rainbow Beach, a 3.95m tiger at Kelly’s Beach (Bundaberg), a 3.85m tiger shark at Tannum Sands and a 3.8m great hammerhead at Miami.

Shark Control Program head Jeff Krause said the figures prove culling helps protect swimmers from potential man-eaters.

His comments came amid ongoing protests over the WA shark cull prompted by a series of fatal attacks in the state, including that of Queensland surfer Chris Boyd who was mauled to death by a Great White in November.

Mr Boyd’s partner, Krystle Westwood, revealed last week she had been subjected to “disgusting” online attacks from anti-cull activists. WA Premier Colin Barnett said he was shocked at the “violence, threats and intimidation” by some protesters.

But Queensland’s shark cull has been running since 1962 and tens of thousands of sharks have been killed.

Mr Krause said an average of 500 to 700 sharks a year were caught by the network of baited drumlines and nets running between the Gold Coast and Cairns.

“Human safety must come first and that’s why the Queensland Government is committed to the shark control program,’’ Mr Krause said.

“The combined use of shark nets and drumlines in Queensland is effective in ­reducing the overall number of sharks close to popular beaches, making it a safer place to swim.’’

Mr Krause said not all sharks caught were killed, with threatened and “non-dangerous sharks released where possible”.

But Australian Marine Conservation Society director Darren Kindleysides said the shark control program was “effectively shark fishing” – killing and trapping large numbers of sharks and other marine creatures including whales, dolphins, dugongs and turtles.

“Just because it’s been in place for a long time doesn’t make it any better from an environmental point of view,’’ he said.

“It’s an expensive program and not necessarily effective. It is certainly not a complete barrier between sharks and swimmers and there are better alternatives with less adverse environmental impacts, such as better beach patrols.’’

Mr Kindleysides said Queensland was the only state that used both baited drumlins and nets to catch sharks.  He said NSW authorities at least removed its nets in winter during the annual whale migration.


Greenie polluters

A FAULTY switch and instruction manuals written entirely in Japanese have been blamed in court for why a ship owned by conservation group Sea Shepherd dropped up to 500 litres of diesel into the Trinity Inlet.

The environmental organisation, whose Australian arm is chaired by former politician Bob Brown, yesterday pleaded guilty to the marine pollution offence in the Cairns Magistrates Court.

Defence barrister Tracy Fantin admitted the irony of the charge given Sea Shepherd's charter to protect and preserve marine life around the world.

She said the spill, which took place while the ship was moored alongside a wharf at the Cairns Port on October 13, 2012, happened after a crew member named Gabor Nosty failed to manually flick the "low level" switch during a fuel transfer, despite being aware the switch was faulty.

The court heard Sea Shepherd Australia had only bought the boat, named New Atlantis, from Japan a week earlier and had yet to translate signage and manuals or repair the switch.

According to court documents, crew members had been given basic handover information but the chief engineer had to work out the ship's systems "by his own devices" due to instruction manuals and other materials all being in Japanese.  All crew members were volunteers and were either German, Dutch or American.

The court was told a passerby noticed diesel flowing into the sea about 6.30pm and tried to alert crew members before notifying the master of a ship moored alongside who boarded the New Atlantis and told them.

"She noticed a strong smell of diesel fuel and saw liquid running from the New Atlantis into the water," the court document read.

"The smell was so strong the passerby had to put a jumper over her nose ... "

It was estimated between 100 and 500 litres spilled out.

Magistrate Kevin Priestly called the amount "not insignificant" and questioned why a crewman was performing the fuel transfer and not the chief engineer.

Department of Transport and Main Roads prosecutor Anne Roseler called for a penalty of between $15,000 and $30,000. Mr Priestly adjourned the decision to a date to be fixed. Charges against Mr Nosty were dropped.


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