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Fallout from the disclosure of how much taxpayers' money the ABC spends on its senior staff and star broadcasters has put an unlikely organisation under pressure: the Institute of Public Affairs.

IPA boss paints himself in corner

Fallout from the disclosure of how much taxpayers' money the ABC spends on its senior staff and star broadcasters has put an unlikely organisation under pressure: the Institute of Public Affairs.

If IPA boss John Roskam honours an on-air pledge made earlier this year, he'll be revealing the right-wing think tank's top-secret sponsorship list to the world any time now.

With ABC staff unable to talk about anything else after publication of the list in Rupert Murdoch's The Australian on Wednesday, ABC Melbourne breakfast host Jon Faine went on air to say that the $285,000 next to his name was completely wrong. He said he'd had a pay rise and was now on $300,000.

"I had an on-air wager with John Roskam from the Institute of Public Affairs, and he said he would reveal donors to the IPA the day I revealed on air how much I was paid by the ABC," Faine continued.

This dates back to April 26, when Roskam was a guest on Faine's show. Faine read out a message from a Belinda in Macleod, calling for a plebiscite on revealing the IPA's funding.

"We'll do a deal, Belinda - we'll disclose our sources once we know how much Jon Faine is paid," Roskam replied.

Roskam has yet to respond to efforts at contact.



Idea didn't fly

Virgin Australia's annual shareholder meeting had plenty of fireworks in Brisbane.

A small shareholder said he had been putting up with the dilution of his shares for a long time, and pointed out that it had been a long time since the airline had paid a dividend.

"It seems like the Melbourne Football Club - full of potential and going nowhere," he said.

It led him to call for compensation in the form of discounted fares - that or a coaching clinic with new Melbourne onfield boss Paul Roos.

Virgin chief executive John Borghetti said airlines around the world believed the best way to reward shareholders was through returns rather than discounts.

Then he added: "I would think we are a bit better than the Melbourne Football Club. I am a Carlton supporter, so I am allowed to say that."



Super idea, not

And in Canberra, senator John Williams weighed in with his view on the new superannuation-backed media venture, The New Daily. AustralianSuper, United Super and Cbus have poured at least $3 million in members' funds into the digital news site, guided by Crikey backer Eric Beecher.

In a Senate estimates session with the corporate regulator, Williams broke discussions about foreign bribery allegations to raise some issues with the media start-up.

"Does ASIC consider this is a sound and safe investment for industry superannuation funds to be made?" the Senator Williams asked.

ASIC boss Greg Medcraft said he would take the question on notice. But Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos chipped in to query whether members had requested the investment. The senator replied: "Minister, why would members ask to set up a newspaper?" CBD plans an official protest over the insinuation.



Artful event

Who knew there were so many art lovers in Sydney? The Art Gallery of NSW was packed this week to view the latest exhibition, America: Painting a Nation. Westfield's Steven Lowy performed his last official gig as board of trustees president after eight years at the helm. He'll pass the baton to Guido Belgiorno-Nettis. Among guests were ANZ's chairman John Morschel, Premier Investments chief Mark McInnes, investment banker Trevor Rowe, fund manager Winston Sammut and Morgan Stanley's Australian boss Steven Harker. Property investment bankers were in full force including UBS' Tim Church and Citi's Simon Ranson, while property analysts JP Morgan's Rob Stanton, UBS' Grant McCasker and CLSA's John Kim were giving gallery director Michael Brand a lesson on cap rates.

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