New Orleans trip turns Aristocrats into po'boys

New Orleans trip turns Aristocrats into po'boys

For Jamie Odell's pokie machine company Aristocrat Leisure, taking a clutch of publicans to the Super Bowl in New Orleans must have seemed like a great idea.

Twenty publicans; the Baltimore Ravens clashing helmets with the San Francisco 49ers; the sights, sounds and smells of New Orleans; blues, jazz and po'boy sandwiches.

The publicans would have a great time soaking up the sport, culture and food, hopefully coming home suffused with positive thoughts about stuffing their pubs full of Aristocrat's pensioner-draining machines. Jackpot!

What could go wrong? A fair bit, CBD has learnt. One of the publicans was arrested by New Orleans police and held overnight. Another two were turned into po'boys when their wallets were nicked.

An Aristocrat spokeswoman declined to confirm or deny the arrest and thefts, telling CBD the company took a "considered and responsible approach to our corporate hospitality program.

"We do not comment on our interaction with customers at private events."

Too little too latte

A storm in a Canberra coffee cup has earned a robusta response from Mike Quigley's NBN Co.

A brews-ing encounter at Senate estimates on Tuesday saw Quigley put under pressure by Liberal senators in a bid to extract every last drop of information about the gigantic national broadband network, which is running latte. In an exchange that would have provided both sides with grounds to consult their baristas had it not occurred under parliamentary privilege, hypercaffeinated Minister for Communications Stephen Conroy, pictured, accused Liberal senator Bill Heffernan of being drunk after Heffernan espresso-ed the opinion that he was "full of shit".

Cat-calling Liberal senator David Bushby's question about coffee costs at the broad-band builder also saw Conroy frothing with anger, calling it an "idiot question".

It turns out NBN Co has bought 31 machines at a cost of $164,000, and burns through $4000 of beans a month. But in a statement mocha-ing the question on Thursday, NBN Co said its brew is cheaper than that on offer at the Canberra Parliament House institution Aussie's Cafe and Sydney's Citta Cafe (near News Limited's Holt St headquarters). It reckons its cups cost 16ยข each, compared with $3.40 at Aussie's and at least $3 at Citta.

Quantum of solace

It's been a big week for industrial operative Grace Collier, the former union official who now dispenses wisdom for the other side.

Collier, who writes a column for The Australian Financial Review, earned oodles of coverage after a spectacular judicial mention in the Federal Court on Tuesday.

After hearing that Collier wore a microphone in her bra to record a conversation with AMWU official Tony Mavromatis, Justice Shane Marshall asked: "Did she think she was in a James Bond movie? ... I have grave concerns about Ms Collier's evidence."

It's not the first time Collier has earned ire from the bench. She ran into a spot of bother during a Fair Work Australia stoush between the National Union of Workers and her client, Ross Cosmetics, heard by Commissioner Julius Roe in April last year. Sadly, Roe found bulletins Collier sent to Ross Cosmetics staff during the dispute were "misleading" and a notice sent out by the company "had the effect of confusing employees about the role of Ms Collier".

"It is understandable that some NUW members believed that Ms Collier was in fact representing Fair Work Australia or the government," he said. Collier ("glamorous" - Herald Sun) told CBD: "When you are a consultant you act on your client's instructions. You do not make independent decisions.

"I've received numerous calls from union officials congratulating me on my actions [in the AMWU stoush]." She declined to name them.

The jaws of life

Which bank is fourth best in Australia? Commonwealth Bank, according to its own analysts.

In a refreshing display of independence, Ross Curran and Jeff Cai of the CBA's equities research arm have given their order of preference of banking stocks as follows: "(1) WBC, (2) ANZ, and (3) NAB". CBD guesses this leaves CBA fourth (unless it's Bendigo Bank or Suncorp).

In the past there has been a perception around that Macquarie Group analysts generally slapped a buy rating on their own shop. No such luck for CBA's hard-hearted head teller, Ian Narev, with C&C rating the bank a "hold".

All this in a note delivered on Valentine's Day. But while it may not represent champagne, roses and frilly underwear, it's not as if the pair have no love for their employer. They did title the note "Quality never goes out of style" and reckon the bank has strong earnings, a loan book in good shape and "positive jaws" - the better to swallow up customers, presumably.

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