GASP: A Zahra can change his stripes

Big game hunters go after Paul Zahra, Domino's delivery lags and Cupid's arrows fly well past Canberra.

Earnings round-up

  • Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s chief backed Joe Hockey’s hard line on corporate handouts for underperforming companies. It’s unsurprising hubris for a man who just unveiled a first-half profit of $4.27 billion and is on track for a record full-year profit come June.

  • It seems a Zahra may be able to change its stripes after the David Jones chief told analysts that he had in fact not resigned, but merely signalled his intention to leave last October. While the retailer boosted its second-quarter sales by almost five per cent, the focus barely shifted from DJs’ board games – which is probably why Zahra held his analyst briefings via telephone.

  • Despite proclaiming to be at the forefront of technology, Telstra’s initial release to the market regarding its half-year results was nothing more than copies of a grainy fax. Twenty minutes later, out of the kindness of its heart, Telstra also released a ‘clean copy’ to the ASX. What gems!

  • Domino’s Pizza was quick to point out, alongside a lift in profit to the tune of almost 20 per cent, that it was on the cutting edge of new technology.

CEO Don Meij proclaimed proudly: “we are the first quick service restaurants in Australia and one of the first globally to utilise Snapchat for commercial activity as well as grow on other social media platforms including Twitter and Vine”.

Where it sits on a tally that includes slow service restaurants is apparently of no consequence.

Domino’s has been engaging “Snapchatters” for some time, offering free pizzas for the most creative snapchats.

However, if Domino’s forays into social media on the day of its results are any guide then the pizzamaker may have overestimated its customers’ online enthusiasm.

Domino’s tweeted out an invitation to followers asking them to upload a Vine of their favourite ‘Domino’s Moment’ for the chance to be part of Australia’s first Vine commercial.

The top responses to the #DominosMoment hashtag were not the upper crust of flattery Don Meij might have been expecting.

Graph for GASP: A Zahra can change his stripes

No sign of cupid in Canberra

Love might be in the air around the country this Valentine’s Day weekend, but the mood was anything but affectionate in Canberra as hostilities resumed this week.

Attorney-General George Brandis ribbed Labor as “West Wing wannabes,” Bill Shorten lashed the government’s North Sydney bias and “honest workers” cemented its place as frontrunner to be this year’s “working families.”

Many a censure motion was moved and defeated, while ever-reliable Clive Palmer tolled the bells of Armageddon for the AEC.

Later in the week, revelations about Nationals Senator Fiona Nash’s chief of staff’s ties to the junk food industry certainly framed the government’s $16 million lifeline for Cadbury in Tasmania in a sickly sweet new light. As the nation’s jobless rate lifted to a 10-year high, many in the nation’s capital called for the senior aide to join the growing unemployment queue.

But while Cupid may not have been a hit, arrows of a different kind were flying amid Royal Commission fever, as many an MP, not satisfied with merely shining “a spotlight” on union corruption, sought to extend the royal treatment to a selection of lingering question marks.

Suggestions came thick and fast for the next Royal Commission and included investigations into the cost of maintaining Speaker Bronwyn Bishop’s beehive, the likelihood of Ian Goodenough changing his surname ahead of the next election and settling once and for all whether Labor’s female MPs were given a bulk purchase discount on hipster glasses.

Over in the Senate, John Madigan and Nick Xenophon were left red-faced when the government declined to accept an $11,500 gift. The senators had sprung for a new 750 piece Australian-made set of crockery to replace the existing set used in the Parliament House Dining Room – made in the United Arab Emirates.

Sources told GASP the rejection was part of the Prime Minister’s ‘Stop the bowls’ policy, adding ministers were unable to comment any further on ‘in kitchen’ matters.

Tweet of the week

Graph for GASP: A Zahra can change his stripes

One-line wonders

  • “Sunshine is a very, very good antidote to corruption.” Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull on the Royal Commission into union corruption.
  • “When the union movement asks if he can dance, he takes out his dancing shoes and shows that he can boogie with the best of them.” Christopher Pyne on opposition leader Bill Shorten.
  • “It is the government’s obsession with secrecy that is tarnishing the Navy’s reputation.” Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
  • “It's not as if the government could have leapt in at the eleventh hour and said here's another hundred million or two hundred million dollars, please, please stay." Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Toyota.

The last gasp

The Abbott government’s Royal Commission into unions will present a unique challenge for opposition leader Bill Shorten, though if he can avoid being wedged on the issue, it may also provide a platform for him to showcase his political nous. For Shorten, whose power base is still deeply rooted in the union movement, there’s the imperative to be seen to support the weeding out of union corruption, while not alienating those who greased the wheels of his political ascension. How exactly does he do this? For one, he can stop resisting the government’s “spotlight”. The smartest play for Shorten would be to remind the government that an ‘access all areas investigation’ will turn up improper dealings between unions as well as companies. Large companies, the kind of big businesses that would likely support an Abbott agenda.

The spotlight will be on big business as much as it is the unions, and public opinion will often favour those who earn the least – look at recent public debates over SPC Ardmona and Toyota workers.

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