The Last Gasp is a wry take on the week's news, every week. This week, Glenn Stevens gets sick of the wait, the federal opposition runs for the hills and CBA’s failed ad campaign is a complete success.
Running out of ideas, chances and parliament
Federal politics got just a little bit sillier this week, when a vote from Craig Thomson against the government sent the front bench of the opposition running humiliatingly out of the House of Representatives. The Coalition, in a clearly well thought-out plan, was attempting to distance itself from the embattled MP, who still denies claims he misused funds while in charge of the Health Services Union. While most of the attention following the ordeal centred on Tony Abbott, shadow education minister Christopher Pyne also left the chamber for the vote. Unfortunately for all those involved, both later returned. Abbott told reporters the offending vote was an orchestrated Labor stunt. Experts have suggested if Abbott wants more decorum in the parliament, perhaps he should try not to sprint for the doorway like the star of a Benny Hill sketch.
The collapse of Hastie Group dominated business and political news this week, and a range of faces lined up to stick the boot into the company when it was down, including, oddly, the group’s own chief executive. Bill Wild was at least controlled in his criticism, tactfully describing the governance and growth strategies of the company he took over eight months ago as "completely flawed” and a "disaster", rather than something really nasty.
Commonwealth Bank unveiled an advertising campaign this week that left pundits frothing at the mouth, with detractors, particularly on Twitter, falling over each other in a race to hurl scorn on the lender. CBA has shaken its old ‘determined to be different’ slogan for a fresh, Toni Collette-faced campaign surrounding the word ‘can’. The rebranding was reportedly led by chief marketing officer Andy Lark and new creative agency M&C Saatchi. CBA is reportedly bitterly disappointed in the ad, which has failed so badly that everybody in Australia is talking about it.
Always bet on Jeff
Jeff Kennett has denied he has a conflict of interest after being nominated to serve as chairman at casino group Echo Entertainment. The proposal is a result of the feud between major Echo shareholder James Packer and current chair John Story, who Packer is attempting to remove. Story maintains his record is impeccable, despite those major, front-page scandals throughout his tenure. Ever the optimist, Kennett believes the role would put him in a position where he could help problem gamblers. Experts have questioned the logic of telling shareholders how he would use his position to advise people against using the company’s services.
When money sleeps
Reserve Bank of Australia boss Glenn Stevens hit out at his good friends the banks earlier this week, calling on local lenders to get up with the times in the area of financial transactions. The central bank chief believes monetary transfers that take as long as a full business day are not good enough, and need to improve to meet the demands of both modern technology and society. Lenders are expected to resist the suggestions, given the inevitable costs involved in implementing such changes and the unprofitable nature of the industry. An official response from the banks is rumoured to be expected within one working day.
Former prime minister John Howard has taken a swipe at the current Labor government, claiming the administration has hurt Australia’s relationship with emerging giant and key trading partner China. The comments will resonate throughout the government, given they came from a man who, in his time, oversaw exemplary Australian relations with countries around the globe. And two wars. Howard also dug up an old debate surrounding the length of political terms, suggesting Australia would benefit from four-year, as opposed to three-year, government terms. Unless of course Peter Costello makes his long-mooted comeback, he reportedly said, in which case, the shorter the better.
Proving yet again that the media brotherhood is alive and well, Fairfax Media and News Ltd ran contrasting yet similar stories in their broadsheets on the same day this week, concerning significant restructures of each other's editorial operations. News said Fairfax was considering scrapping the weekday editions of its newspapers, while Fairfax said News was likely to lay off 400 editorial staff. Both organisations were reportedly unfazed by the reports, noting that nobody reads either publication anymore anyway.
The financial Count down
The chair of financial planning group Count, Barry Lambert, has hit out at rival BT Financial Group, accusing the firm of unsporting behaviour through poaching Count employees. Which would be a legitimate complaint, if financial planning was a sport. Unfortunately for Lambert, it’s not. He told media that the poaching was "just not cricket”, and then compared it to the infamous underarm ball incident from the 1970s – which happened in a cricket game. The whole thing was very confusing.
– The Transport Workers Union has hit out at Coles over its alleged poor treatment of truck drivers. The supermarket giant has reportedly proclaimed its innocence, insisting the only people it is interested in putting the screws on are suppliers.
– Liberal MP Kelly O'Dwyer has claimed she was just joking after upsetting the Twitterverse with a comment on foreign workers. In hindsight, she should have just waited until the whole thing had played itself out and then well after the horse had bolted claimed it was an elaborate conspiracy against her. Otherwise known as the "Craig Thomson defence".
– And finally, reports late in the week suggested Telstra has shown some interest in acquiring the Nine Network. Given the current state of Australian television ratings, it may be the only significant interest anyone has taken in Nine for some time.