Vizard sponsors youth scribe prize

Vizard sponsors youth scribe prize

Corporate joker Steve Vizard is continuing his rehabilitation with a little alms giving. His philanthropic vehicle, Vizard Foundation, is sponsoring one of the Melbourne Press Club's Quill Awards - the Student Journalist of the Year award to be exact - with a $3000 cash prize.

Given the state of the fourth estate at the moment, that would equate to a year's salary for the budding scribes, who would barely have a clue who Vizard is.

Both his Gold Logie-winning career - and the 2005 civil case that banned the former Telstra director from corporate boards for 10 years over insider trading - are ancient history to them.

The foundation itself attracted plenty of publicity at the height of Vizard's travails. His bookkeeper claimed it was a dodge to claim tax deductions on artworks he acquired. The courts rejected the claim.

At least Vizard's art dealings, which underpin the foundation, seem to be more successful than the share trading that led to his disgrace. In 2010 the foundation sold Sydney Nolan's First-Class Marksman, dubbed "the missing Nolan", for $5.4 million to the Art Gallery of NSW. It set a record price for Australian art at the time.

Vizard reportedly acquired the painting in 1992 for $400,000.

Our crate not junk

Crisis? what crisis? Qantas was not about to let Friday's downgrade of its debt to junk status raise any alarm among its various stakeholders.

"It remains business as usual across the Qantas Group," said the airline's chief financial officer, Gareth Evans.

Yes, Gareth, that is probably what everyone is worried about.

It probably doesn't help that he shares his name with a colourful former Labor minister who has a strong association with aviation.

The Hawke-Keating era minister for foreign affairs got his nickname "Biggles" after sending an RAAF spy plane in 1983 to photograph the Franklin and then telling a journo, "Whatever you do, don't call me Biggles," referring to the fictional British flying hero.

The same incident led to him coining the "streaker's defence", which has since entered the vernacular: "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

Qantas boss Alan Joyce thought the same last week when he announced 1000 job cuts and, in the same breath, attempted to wangle a sweetheart deal from the government. Somehow, a quote from Senator Evans' farewell speech to Parliament in 1999 seems appropriate: "It may well have been better if I had not threatened to garrotte Bronwyn Bishop."

Not there yet

Speaking of foreign acts of indecency: CBD was hoping to find out when one of his summer reading favourites - the Foreign Investment Review Board annual report - would be available.

Its December 20 release last year barely left time to stuff it in the Christmas stocking, but made up for the late arrival with uplifting guff like: "The general presumption is that foreign investment proposals will serve the national interest. This reflects the positive stance of successive Australian governments towards foreign investment."

The advisory body fended off tricky questions, mainly, when will the annual report be available? "Thank you for your email. The 2012-13 Foreign Investment Review Board Annual Report will be released in due course," was the reassuring reply.

"Treasury is not able to provide any further information on the release of the FIRB annual report."

Jackpot from Len

Not many can get a guaranteed payout from pokies, but it helps if you're on the right side of the business.

On Friday, Ainsworth Game Technology founder Len Ainsworth "disposed" of 388,549 shares for the grand sum of $87,423, or 22.5¢ a pop. The stock was trading above $4.30 on Friday.

The $1.6 million value gap reflects the Christmas bounty for AGI employees as they exercise options on a portion of Ainsworth's personal shareholding used for staff incentives.

The 90-year-old Ainsworth won't miss it much. His remaining shares are worth $765 million.

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