CBD

Lew's new sales ploy targets Libs

Lew's new sales ploy targets Libs

Retail magnate Solomon Lew did not make it to the gala Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce event his Premier Investments sponsored on Monday for the man in the blue tie, Tony Abbott.

However, he did book four tables and had his chief executive Mark McInnes drop more than a few hints about the perilous state of retail in Australia, and in particular the unlevel playing field when it comes to the lack of GST on internet shopping imports.

It seems that after realising he was flogging a dead horse with the ALP, which did not seem much moved by his last campaign on the online GST issue in early 2011, Lew has turned to trying to bend the ear of the Liberals.

Abbott was introduced by McInnes, who took the opportunity to mention how the levy was allowing foreigners a free kick.

McInnes reminded the packed room at Melbourne's Crown Casino that the GST threshold in Australia was $1000 compared with £15 ($25) for Britain and $20 in Canada, while in the US there are state-based taxes.

If he was hoping to get a bite from Abbott, the best the Opposition Leader could do was say there would be an overarching white paper into tax. But no mention of the GST.

Abbott was on table 93, the top table, which was towards the back of the room, causing him to give some advice to the event that "it's hard to keep the applause going for a long walk like that".

Those he strolled by at the function included Australia's highest-paid public servant, postal chief Ahmed Fahour, former ANZ chairman Charles B. Goode, former Federal Court judge and media inquiry boss Ray Finkelstein, Andrew Fox and David and Ruvi Herzog.

Among the clutch of Liberal types paying homage were Joe Hockey, Michael Kroger, Alan Stockdale and Josh Frydenberg.

Left for lunch

Functions bringing together business types and the leftward side of the political spectrum seem much smaller these days, if a tete-a-tete at Sydney's Rockpool on Friday was any guide.

NAB boss Cameron Clyne, long regarded as one of the most Labor-sympathetic CEOs around, was spotted lunching with the AWU's top faceless man, Paul Howes. Our snout in the trough says there was no sign of Howes' squeeze, Qantas flack Olivia Wirth, and the two left together about 2.30pm.

Spruiking polls

If you believe the ad he bought on the front page of a Murdoch vanity publication on Monday, Arnold Schwarzenegger-touting financial seminar promoter Jamie McIntyre is a lock to win the lower house seat of New England at the upcoming federal election.

According to one poll cited, McIntyre, pictured in the ad in full finger-wagging flight, is a more popular choice to lead the country than Tony Abbott, Kevin Rudd, Clive Palmer or Christine Milne.

In another poll, a whopping 71 per cent of respondents said a "major third party" such as McIntyre's 21st Century Australia was needed to keep Labor and the Liberals honest.

And in a third, more people said they would vote for McIntyre in New England than his opponent, the National Party's Barnaby Joyce.

However, the small print discloses that the first two polls were internet jobs run on 21st Century's own website - indeed, there were just 69 responses to the "third party" question.

The third was also an internet poll of questionable scientific validity, although it was at least run by an independent party in the shape of Fairfax Media's Glen Innes Examiner.

And thanks to the editor of the 138-year-old paper, Donna Ward, CBD is able to supply an update. As of Monday, 110 people had responded to the poll: 43 favoured McIntyre, while Joyce had 35 votes.

However, "neither" is shaping as a dark horse, picked by 32 respondents.

Got a tip?

bbutler@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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