CBD

Until March, he was in charge of overseeing Stephen "Red Underpants" Conroy's $27 billion national broadband network, but it has taken until now for Harrison Young to start enjoying one of the digital age's unique joys: social networks.

Putting it all on the (NBN) line

Until March, he was in charge of overseeing Stephen "Red Underpants" Conroy's $27 billion national broadband network, but it has taken until now for Harrison Young to start enjoying one of the digital age's unique joys: social networks.

But Young, who serves on the board of Commonwealth Bank and quit as NBN Co chairman in March, is making up for lost time when it comes to spruiking Partners, his book of erotic fiction.

"After years of refusing to join any social network, I have been persuaded that I must use LinkedIn to promote my book, Partners: love is a law unto itself," Young said in a group email (surely none dare call it spam). "I hope you don't mind. This seems to be what first-time authors have to do: build an audience online through viral marketing and then perhaps someone will bring out a physical version."

Young is certainly doing his bit to encourage data usage: in addition to LinkedIn, he has also started a Facebook page and the book itself is available for digital download.

He's also dealing with those saddened that the book, a collection of loosely connected short stories largely set at a top New York law firm, is not as racy as some of the internet's bluer corners.

"At least one reader was disappointed that it wasn't steamier, but a book has a mind of its own and Fifty Shades was not what it wanted to be," Young said.

There in spirit

It was that rarest of nights in Sydney on Saturday: a black-tie event without a single member of the Waterhouse family in attendance.

The occasion was the launch of Art Lovers, former Fairfax Media hack Judith White's history of the genteel NSW Art Gallery Society, by NSW Governor Marie Bashir.

While they might not have been there on the night, the Waterhouses do feature in the book. Back in 1968, the Art Gallery Society's members clutched their pearls in shock after learning one of their number, Rural Bank secretary Peter Huxley, was facing fraud charges after pillaging $5.2 million from the accounts of the society, Freedom From Hunger and UNICEF.

He was convicted of 22 counts of fraud in 1970, and sentenced to a record 20 years' jail. During the trial he admitted using a "big lick" of the money to pay off his gambling debts to leading bookmaker Bill Waterhouse, father of Robbie Waterhouse and grandfather of "TV Tom" Waterhouse.

White told CBD that although no one could be quite sure, it appeared Huxley took about $24,000 from the society.

"The Art Gallery Society now has immaculately kept accounts and now makes more than $1 million a year, which goes to the purchase of art works for the gallery," she said. Balances must be healthy: last month it splashed out millions to buy Gospel, a painting by US pop artist Ed Ruscha.

Next off the rank

Thumbs up to Bret Walker, SC, for providing such a fine example of the cab-rank rule in action last week. That's the ancient legal rule that says a barrister must take clients as they come, as if they were a taxi driver waiting at the airport.

On Thursday of last week Walker was at his eloquent best convincing the full bench of the highest court in the land of the lack of merits in the arguments of mining magnate Travers Duncan, who was trying to stop the NSW ICAC from making possible corrupt findings about himself and others including ALP powerbroker Eddie Obeid and his son Moses in a report due on Wednesday.

And on Friday, the fruits of Walker's advocacy paid off for his client Moses Obeid when the NSW Court of Appeal ordered a retrial for Obeid in his fight against the City of Sydney over whether he should have to pay any part of $16.6 million the City of Sydney Council claims he and his company owe for secretly selling the council's multi-function street poles overseas in breach of licensing agreements.

Got a tip?

bbutler@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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