What a tedious spectacle it is – the left and right tearing strips off each other over the ABC. The ABC won’t be privatised, nor should it be. An efficiency review though, as touted by Tony Abbott, is probably a good thing … well, surely a superior idea to the Royal Commission into unions fandangle.
The issue for the ABC is not the level of resources but the allocation of resources. The journalists are slaving away harder than ever, hammering out their content over multiple platforms: TV, radio, online.
Admittedly, the place is a bit Bolshevik but you know where you stand ideologically and, vitally, reporting standards are high. The national broadcaster performs its public duty, especially with its self-appointed watchdog, the hysterically self-righteous Murdoch press, yelping at it every day.
The fat at the ABC is not on the frontline but in its bureaucracy; its fiefdoms within kingdoms, useless committees and project teams, secretaries for secretaries, endless needless meetings, turf wars, sacred cows and all manner of frolics. This is a human resources paradise.
Bundy in, Bundy out, ciggie break, sickie. At one minute to nine and one minute past five, those ABC elevators are as crowded as any in the country. It’s no wonder they win awards for work-life balance. It’s not the reporters who win them though.
The other essential point about allocation of resources is that the ABC covers most things well but, sadly, business is not among them.
Economics coverage is fine, but the business coverage is best described as Business Lite.Despite all the resources, the corporate world is covered with a soft touch, and sporadically.
It is as if Aunty is still stuck in the 1970s when business was something for men, still slightly vulgar among the literati, mostly inscrutable, and conducted in the halls of the Melbourne Club or on the 12th at Royal Sydney.
Again, this is not the journalists’ fault. The tiny band of dedicated business hacks do a commendable job. A Four Corners expose or 7.30 Report business story is hard to beat.
In light of the ABC’s sprawling online capability, however, and its duty to report on matters of public interest, it could do better. Australia is a nation of duopolies. The competition and corruption issues are immense. There is more money and more conniving lobbyists contaminating politics than ever. The interests of the swelling corporate lobby are often inimical to democracy and the public interest.
And elsewhere, the finance media too often serve the interests of the corporations, before the broader national and public interests.
As for this laughable notion that the broadcaster should be patriotic, that’s dangerous 1930s Germany stuff.
The banks must be a tad cranky that Qantas and Virgin are carousing about their hallowed financial services turf with their mail out of 12 million Visas cards and MasterCards.
As the Qantas Cash and Virgin Global Wallet cards are unsolicited, the very mail out would have been illegal, contravening section 12 of the ASIC Act, had not the regulator stumped up a ”no action” letter. That’s what acts are for apparently: exemptions.
But the banks can hardly complain. They won yet another favour themselves in the quiet hours of Christmas when the implementation of the Future of Financial Advice reforms was conveniently stalled for another six months, costing savers a handy few million while saving big funds and their advisers the same.
It is a true comfort for the public, sorry, corporations that they are so affectionately protected in this country. But what of the rest? What of Coles and Woolies, QBE, Allianz, IAG and Caltex? They have big data bases and loyalty programs, too. Surely they will be in the market for a ”no action” letter. There’s money in money. Let the cards rain down.
Qantas’ banking partner is none other than Heritage Bank, if you have heard of it. Very strong presence in Toowoomba.
As for privacy and security concerns, if your teenager loses his or her wallet, the prospective terrorist or money launderer who finds it will need their driver’s licence to activate the card. There seems to have been some confusion with the ”no action” reprieve for the airlines, as ASIC talks about ”application” and the airlines are talking about ”activation”.
Once you have the card, it can be activated quite easily. No application needed. We did receive an email from a Qantas customer whose three-year-old daughter received her Qantas Cash card. This is yet to be confirmed.
Anyway, it all sits nicely with the government’s mantra, Open for Business. Over at David Jones they are so open for business that directors can trade their own shares, while the board is in possession of inside information, with impunity. Tops!
Perhaps the directors in question, Steve Vamos and Leigh Clapham – along with chairman Peter Mason who says he gave them permission – are in possession of a ”no action” letter. Certainly, the results of the regulator’s investigation are in the spirit of no action.
Perhaps now that the merger proposal from rival Myer – just before the directors bought their shares – has come to light, there may be a spot of action. Whatever the case, the fact a chairman has given a director permission to trade shares and potentially profit from inside information hardly seems a good excuse. Perhaps the government should change its mantra to ”open for funny business”.