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Media Flash - Aug. 20, 2001

Media Flash

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Last Updated: Monday, August 20, 2001

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Critics Take Fire At Murdoch

* FAIRFAX and PACKER media outlets are taking serious fire at RUPERT MURDOCH and his News Corporation this week. NEIL CHENOWETH, Fairfax's resident MURDOCH writer, took his biggest shot yet in The Australian Financial Review Weekend Edition with a yarn entitled 'How MURDOCH May Lose The Empire'. CHENOWETH argues that News future growth depends upon its global satellite network, and that rival CHARLIE ERGEN'S Echostar $US32 billion counterbid for Hughes Electronics, will stymie or delay News. He poses the question that Disney's MICHAEL EISNER could pick up 19.9 per cent of News stock for $US3.7 billion.

* KERRY PACKER'S Bulletin led with 'MURDOCH'S Cosmic Crunch', with a front cover showing an ageing RUPERT MURDOCH, teasing to a piece by IVOR RIES. Bully editor PAUL BAILEY notes: 'To complete the picture, MURDOCH needs a company called DirecTV, the world's largest satellite television operator and the dominant player in the US market. DirecTV is owned by Hughes Electronics and the plan was for Hughes to merge with News corp's satellite spin-off Sky Global Networks ... this is one deal News Corp can ill afford to lose.' RIES writes, in 'MURDOCH'S Holey Grail: 'A loss could wipe billions off the value of News Corp, in which the MURDOCH family remains a 16.5 per cent shareholder ... unless MURDOCH can put ERGEN out of the picture quickly there is a real danger that Wall Street will warm to the huge efficiency gains and competitive advantages that would come from an EchoStar DirecTV merger ... with the exception of News' financial crisis in 1991, MURDOCH has never faced a situation where the outcome of the deal has been so crucial to the value of his empire.'

* FOOTNOTE: News Corp shares rose on Friday after News Corp announced a $US691 million annual net profit. TREVOR SYKES, in Saturday's Fin Review, notes the term 'weak advertising environment' was used 10 times in the first five pages of the News earnings statement.

The King Is ... Brain Damaged

* GRAHAM KENNEDY, Australia's television 'King' for many years, is seriously brain-damaged ... and isn't sure if he is a hotel, a train or at home, according to extraordinary quotes from friend TONY SATTLER, in a GRAEME BLUNDELL piece in the Review section of The Weekend Australian. KENNEDY will require 24/7 nursing care.

* SATTLER'S revelations are extraordinary, based on the media protection he and wife NOELENE BROWN have given to the TV legend for many years. Now, the future care of KENNEDY, 67, is unsure: 'In July this year, (weeks) following his admission, he didn't know he was in hospital. The level of care is still to be determined. He will not be going back to his home.'

* BLUNDELL, who has been assembling a GK biography for the past 10 years, traced KENNEDY'S life off-screen for the past decade. BLUNDELL, who co-starred with GRAHAM in Odd Angry Shot, has continued in a career as writer, producer, actor and Government voice-over man. He says KENNEDY'S life over the past 10 years has included heavy smoking, drinking and diabetes. He also told of a recent private reunion between KENNEDY and BERT NEWTON.

Fire At ABC

* JONATHAN SHIER'S ABC TV and radio services were disrupted in New south Wales on Saturday night following a small fire at Gore Hill. Staff had to be evacuated, with smoke and water damaging areas including the newsroom. Saturday night's 7pm NSW bulletin was broadcast from Melbourne.

New Voice In Sydney

* KYLIE DAVIS, Village Voice Group Publisher, has launched another local monthly publication - The Drummoyne, Five Dock & Concord Village Voice. It joins The Balmain & Rozelle Village Voice and The Leichhardt, Glebe & Annandale Village Voice. The new paper ensures The Village Voice group now offers the most comprehensive coverage of any newspaper in the inner west with more than 60,000 copies combined with a trusted news coverage that offers the best readership quality in the area. 'Unlike other papers, we do not do rolling distribution or selective areas. The entire community receives a copy.' With its compact A4 format, and monthly frequency, Village Voice newspapers offer a stylish and affordable way for brands and businesses to reach a truly authentic local audience.

* DAVIS tells Media Flash: 'The editorial philosophy of The Village Voice papers is proudly parochial, ensuring only local news that is specific to each area is covered. From the readers point of view, it means there is no wastage. Everything inside each paper is about the community they care about."

Trust Me, I'm Peter Reith

* PETER REITH, Federal Minister, had difficulties last year convincing the Australian public that he could be left in charge of a Phone Card. Now REITH, Defence Minister, is trying to assure the Australian public that all is well with Australia's new defence telecommunications satellite.

* REITH says the C & W Optus deal with the Australian Defence Forces to launch a new satellite is still safe, despite C & W Optus being a takeover target for SingTel.

The Chase For Skase - 3AK Style

* CHRISTOPHER SKASE'S alleged death came through as news from Spain about 6.30am on Monday, August 6. Arguably, 3AK morning presenter DERRYN HINCH was first in Australia with the news on the program of his colleagues KEVIN HILLIER and KATHY BEDFORD. As HINCH said in The Australian: 'He had died in exile at his home in Majorca (only an hour earlier) and we broke the news on Melbourne's fledgling news/talk station 3AK's breakfast session a couple of minutes later.' Unfortunately, not many people are listening to 3AK; HILLIER and BEDFORD rate 1.7; the 9am-Noon period (HINCH goes until 11am) rates 2.4.

* DENIS O'KANE, the 3AK News Director who has been providing a Melbourne Macquarie Radio service from Sydney's 2GB, may not have heard HINCH'S exclusive either. A listener tells us the hand-fed exclusive failed to make the 3AK 7am bulletin.

* JOHN JOST, the one-time Canberra newsmaker for The Age, is CEO at 3AK. Times again appear to be a little difficult at the station. It is understood that a number of weekend casuals are no longer presenting their shifts at AK. For instance, ROZZI BAZZANI, partner of one-time 3AK CEO GREG FLOOD, was not on air on Sunday afternoon. She was replaced by BRETT DE HOEDT. Meanwhile, there is one man who is still on air ... MAL GARVIN, the former 3AK chairman, whose Fusion Media settled for 10 cents in the dollar, is still broadcasting on the 3AK airwaves on Sunday nights.

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Seven Wins Access To Telstra Cable

* KERRY STOKES' Seven Network C7 division has won access to the Foxtel network, following Friday's High Court decision. STOKES' company hopes to add the choice of new entertainment channels to consumers, but will be unable to access Foxtel's records of its subscribers, said by some to be as high as 740,000. Foxtel chief JIM BLOMFIELD has told media that the court decision may delay the introduction of digital pay-TV. DAMON KITNEY and ANNABEL HEPWORTH of The Australian Financial Review say BLOMFIELD has cast doubt over plans by Foxtel partners - Telstra, Publishing and Broadcasting, and News Corporation - to invest up to $1 billion to digitise the network.

* MIKE BOULOS'S TARBS is also seeking access to the Telstra network.

Behind The Oz Relaunch

* RUPERT MURDOCH'S chutzpah in creating The Australian newspaper in Canberra back in 1964, under the editorship of MAXWELL NEWTON, was eulogised at the weekend. Editor-in-Chief DAVID ARMSTRONG employed International Editor PAUL KELLY for a Page 2 wrap-around special on the national daily, which earlier had been named Newspaper Of The Year at the PANPA (Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers Association) annual knees-up in Melbourne. KELLY quoted new Editor MICHAEL STUTCHBURY: 'There are few if any nationwide newspaper of The Australian's ilk elsewhere in the world. If RUPERT MURDOCH hadn't invented it, the paper would not exist today. If it had fallen over during one of its lean periods, it's unlikely something would have sprung up in its place.'

* PAUL KELLY, AFL footy writer PATRICK SMITH, profiler KATE LEGGE, pollie watcher DENNIS SHANAHAN, 'Whispering BOB GOTTLIEBSEN', and cheeky columnist EMMA TOM were all used as front-page teasers. (Rather pathetically, the Sydney Morning Herald used a front-page 'PAUL KELLY' tease line as a spoiler to add some confusion to NSW Saturday morning newsagent sales.)

* MARK DAY, trusty MURDOCH ambassador for many years, was used in the paper's Thursday Media section to analyse (promote?) the use of Internet .PDF files on a daily basis at 3.30am to present the paper to readers at $US2 a pop. Readers must take an annual subscription, with unused bits promised to be credited back. (A free, three-day sub is available at The step of turning a PC into a news vending machine is probably a small one. However, WARREN BEEBY, News Group Editorial Manager, told PANPA and DAY that it is 'one of the most important developments in newspaper history'. ALAN FARRELLY said The Oz was the first newspaper to be published globally.

* PAUL KELLY, in lauding the paper's progress, interestingly observed that the national daily saw itself having a dual job - and a grand one at that: 'Its role has always been two-way: to interpret the people to the leadership and the leadership to the people'. The wrap-around reminded readers that The Oz employs Journalist of the Year PAUL TOOHEY (who recalled his story about petrol sniffing amongst Aborigines); LA correspondent ROBERT LUSETICH'S story on KERRY PACKER losing at Las Vegas, and Political Editor DENNIS SHANAHAN'S exclusive interview with 'KP'; plus its employment of business journalists ROBERT GOTTLIEBSEN and MARK WESTFIELD.

* HELEN ANDERSON, new Editor of the re-launched Weekend Australian Magazine, was taking herself a little bit seriously. Editor HELEN quoted GOETHE: 'Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.' We guess you can afford to do that - just once, on opening night. Boldly (and rightly), she dumped a few of the old mag's regulars. Boldly (and cleverly), she launched the opening act with ROY ECCLESTON'S feature piece on America's Route 66. Boldly (and profitably), there was 34 of the 68 pages for advertising: National Ad Manager IAIN SCHMIDT-WEICHART'S team sold major clients including Mazda, Land Rover, Commonwealth Bank (twice), Singapore Airlines, Citibank, Novell, Malaysia Airlines, Optus, Compaq, MBF, Brother, Ericsson, Centenary of Federation, VW, Farmer Bros., TD Waterhouse, Caroma,Harvey Norman, Minolta, Kingston Estate, BT Funds Management, Volvo and BMW. Boldly (and at the forefront), we guess there will be many more free CD'S (such as that on Saturday which included Australian musician PAUL KELLY), and sponsored by Telstra Broadband.

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Ten Gains A Quick $60 Mil.

* TONY BELL'S Southern Cross Broadcasting no longer has the Ten Network as a 14.4 per cent shareholder, following the sale confirmed this month. Ten scored a pre-tax gain of $59.6 million. KATE MURRAY of The Daily Telegraph quotes JIM CARROLL, Ten investor Relations Manager: 'It was becoming a more passive investment. We're not on the board there, and with the restriction the government places on audience, the level we had couldn't be raised.'

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Asia-Pacific Wire

* PETER FOSTER, convicted fraudster and slimming tea promoter, is in Fiji, and threatening to sue local media outlets over his backing of the New Labour Unity Party. Some say his contributions have exceeded $200,000. MARY-LOUISE O'CALLAGHAN, South Pacific Correspondent for The Australian, reports that 'political donations, whether from domestic or foreign interests, are completely unregulated in Fiji and there is no requirement to declare the source of party funds'.

* MAHENDRA CHAUDHRY, deposed Fiji Prime Minister, told The Courier-Mail's CHRIS GRIFFITH that he was suspicious that the FOSTER money may be from syndicate vying for Fiji's lucrative mahogany contract. Coup leader GEORGE SPEIGHT was Chairman of the government-owned Fiji Hardwood Corporation before being fired. The size of the donation made by FOSTER is alleged to have been leaked by Fiji Police to The Fiji Times.

Overseas Desk

* NICK SOMERLAD of Britain's Press Association news agency has married Irish pop singer SINEAD O'CONNOR. TONY WHITING'S Border Mail says O'CONNOR is known for 'her shaven head, lesbian tendencies (and) has two children from a previous marriage'.

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Sydney Siders

* ITA BUTTROSE asked Terraplanet co-founder LESA-BELLE FURHAGEN to take a lie detector test, according to PILITA CLARK'S Good Weekend yarn. CLARK says of FURHAGEN and partner TOBY CRESWELL - 'if not the oddest couple in Australian publishing, then certainly one of the more intriguing'. CLARK details slowly paid cheques, and FURHAGEN going into competition with former husband PHILLIP KEIR, now of Next Media. The feature also tells of the undercapitalised pair going into debt with their printer, JOHN SPIRA of Diamond Press, whose own company went into voluntary administration this year. BUTTROSE lasted 52 days in the job. The pair have again control of Terraplanet, but have lost up to $700,000 a month. Bleeding is now down to $300,000 a month, they say, with $2.4 million cash left. PILITA CLARK says: 'In the end, anyone interested in having independent voices in a media industry like ours, so dominated by a few large companies, has to hope Terraplanet can survive. But, sadly, only the bravest would say it can.'

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Melbourne Memo

* JOHN HARTIGAN, News Limited CEO, will be one of the keynote speakers at the Melbourne Press Club 'Journalism 2001' forum being held on October 5 at Colonial Stadium. Topping the bill are BRANT HOUSTON, Executive Director of the Investigative Reporters and Editors Group (US); PETER EISNER, Managing Director of the Centre for Public Integrity, Washington DC; SENATOR RICHARD ALSTON, Federal Minister for Communications. Others touted as topliners are Age Editor MICHAEL GAWENDA; Herald Sun Editor-in-Chief PETER BLUNDEN; former Littlemore and Media Watch Executive Producer DAVID SALTER; media commentators BILL BIRNBAUER and MARK DAY; Text Media boss ERIC BEECHER; PAT INGRAM and PROFESSOR KERRY GREEN. More details are available:

* STUART SIMSON, one-time Age MD, has been appointed to the Board of 3UZ/Sport 927.

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South Aussie Snips

* RUPERT MURDOCH'S Sunday Mail also debuted a 16-page full colour Body + Soul liftout yesterday (as did PETER BLUNDEN and ALAN HOWE at Melbourne's Sunday Herald Sun).

Press Gang

* JENNIFER CAMPBELL is Series Editor for The Weekend Australian's six-week collection - Snapshot: The Nation's photo Album, which debuted on Saturday. Others in her team include Art Director SIMON PIPE, Production Editor LEE ANTHONY, Picture editor PAUL BURSTON, Picture Researcher CHRIS PAVLICH, and designers MARK NICHOLS, ANDREW BUNTING and LISA KAINE.

* JAN McGUINNESS, in the latest 192-page Melbourne Weekly Magazine, points out that alumni of the Melbourne Herald - eight years ago - had the Editorship of every Australian newspaper. Covering the 70th birthday of former Herald Editor JOHN FITZGERALD, McGUINNESS pointed out The Herald pedigree of GTV-9 News Director JOHN SORELL, Channel 10 counterpart DERMOT O'BRIEN, Age Chief Football Writer CAROLINE WILSON, Newsweek's TONY CLIFTON, LAWRENCE MONEY (Sunday Age), JOHN HAMILTON and TREVOR GRANT (Herald Sun).

* SUE MOSES is Editorial Co-Ordinator for the new At Home short tabloid mag in The Shepparton News. It is slightly similar to the Geelong Today mag in COLIN DUCK'S Geelong Advertiser. The Shepparton 44-page product was designed by DANNY RUSSELL, with LEANNE CATTANACH as Production Co-Ordinator, and ANNABEL THOMAS as Advertising Manager.


Air Waves

* GERALD STONE, 60 Minutes Executive Producer a long time ago, had some advice in The Sunday Telegraph: 'Memo to JESSICA ROWE, Channel 10: newsreaders are supposed to be seen and heard, not plain absurd. It's already hard enough to treat you seriously when you turn up at more openings than JACK-THE-KNIFE. Can it really be true that you may now appear in a celebrity version of Big Brother? Even without a shower scene, that kind of over-exposure threatens your credibility with a lethal case of frostbite.'

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Big Names Dept.

* ALAN BOND, one-time Nine Network owner, appears to have lost the poor memory and articulation that plagued him pre-jail. LENORE TAYLOR, in London for The Australian Financial Review Weekend Edition, quotes BOND: 'It's like going through a storm, or the eye of a cyclone in my case, and you come out the other side, and how you come through it is a measure of what you are and who you are. You look back and you see that you did have the strength to get through ... so this is a return for me both in a business sense and in the yachting world.' TAYLOR also wrote: 'Some of the 90 (Bond University) graduates who attended the (black-tie dinner0 event in the Old Hall of the 15th century Lincoln's Inn were astonished when MR BOND began his speech with a joke about his forgetfulness and the media attention it had received, apparently a reference to his trial defence that he suffered from memory loss and brain damage.'

Smaller Names Dept.

* VIC CARROLL took star billing to tell The Australian Financial Review story in its 50th Anniversary issue on Thursday. The roll-call of Editors were: JACK HORSFALL (1951-52), lasted eight months; LOU LECK (1952-54), who later rose through Fairfax company ranks; HARRY WILLIAMS (1954-60), Fairfax loyalist; MAXWELL NEWTON (1962-64), went on to be Foundation Editor for The Australian, et al; VIC CARROLL (1964-71), now retired; PETER ROBINSON (1971-74), now AFR columnist; MAX WALSH (1974-78), currently Bulletin Editor-at-large; FRED BRENCHLEY (1978-1980), Canberra correspondent for The Bulletin; PADDY McGUINNESS (1980-82), SMH columnist and Quadrant activist; TONY MAIDEN (1982-85), now writing from home at Lake Macquarie; ALAN KOHLER (1985-1988), seen often on the ABC's 7.30 Report; GERARD NOONAN (1988-1992), now SMH Education Editor; JOHN ALEXANDER (1992-93), Australian Consolidated Press Chief Executive; GREG HYWOOD (1993-95), Age Publisher/Editor-in-Chief; DEBORAH LIGHT (1995-98), Bulletin Business Editor; and MICHAEL GILL (1998-).

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Glass House

* ROS REINES' Sunday Telegraph column carried an embarrassing apology yesterday: 'In The Sunday Telegraph of April 25, 1999, in a piece entitled, 'Choice is a tad bizarre', ROS REINES commented on the appointment of KARIN UPTON BAKER as Editor-in-Chief of a New York magazine. MS REINES did not intend to convey MS UPTON BAKER was unqualified or unsuitable for this role and both MS REINES and The Sunday Telegraph regret any hurt or distress that may have been cause.'

* KAREN KLEIN, Australian Jewish News Special Projects Editor, published a special Kosher Living insert last week. The map of 'Kosher Sydney' covers Bondi Junction to Rose Bay only.

Long Shots

By Ash Long, Publisher, Media Flash

* 'SHANE WARNE'S talents with a turning cricket ball are nor matched by his proficiency with pen.' Sub-head to GIDEON HAIGH'S Bulletin article on the Australian cricketer's second autobiography written with RICHARD HOBSON.

* ELISABETH MURDOCH'S second marriage - to PR man MATTHEW FREUD - was scheduled to be held at Blenheim Palace, London, this week. We'd love to have the rights for any discussion between Mum ANNA MANN (MURDOCH) and former husband RUPERT MURDOCH. Especially on the topic of ANNA'S interview with DAVID LESER, published this month by KERRY PACKER'S Australian Women's Weekly.

* ANNA MURDOCH'S photographs were splashed in the AWW special, edited by DEBORAH THOMAS. Anyone notice resemblances between ANNA and MRS LACHLAN MURDOCH (model SARAH O'HARE)?

* FRED HILMER'S F2 division's (Fairfax) is dropping its broking account. Subscribers are being asked to contact Macquarie about ongoing services.

* LINDA MULLER, The Redland Times (Qld), wrote this week about the 70s-80s staff reunion which included former Editor ROGER PLASTOW, his successor MICHAEL SULLIVAN, as well as former owners (the FOWLER clan) BERYCE, JEFF, KAREN, KELVIN, LEANNE and GREG. Proof-reader HEATHER DEAN organised the night.

* VARIETY may make a TV comeback, according to America's 'MR TV' - MARK BERMAN of

Bottom Line

* 19 PER CENT return on revenue. Result for News Corporation's British newspapers, according to annual earnings statements figures released this week. The magazine and insert business yields 26 per cent. Television returns 14 per cent.

* 197: number of phone calls to the GTV-9 switchboard when SAM NEWMAN'S penis was exposed for 1.9 seconds on The Footy Show this month. More complained in WA when an edited version failed to show NEWMAN'S frontispiece on air.

* $6.3 MILLION: debts of Yost Technologies, a Canberra telecommunications firm that closed on Friday, putting 30 employees out of work. A Union organiser told DANIEL LANDON of The Canberra Times that there was an industry-wide squeeze on contract prices by Telstra.

* $10 MILLION: gift from KERRY PACKER to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, which gave him a life-saving kidney transplant. The revamped transplant unit will be named the NICK ROSS CLINIC, in honour of his helicopter pilot who donated the organ. A KERRY PACKER Education Centre will operate at the hospital.

* NO MILLIONS: TV star GRAHAM KENNEDY is quoted to say that KERRY PACKER would look after the finances of the TV star if he fell ill. DI STONE, KP'S PA is quoted by GRAEME BLUNDELL: 'MR PACKER has considered his plight, he is unable to assist.'

The Last Word

* STEPHEN RICE, Sunday Executive Producer, says the Nine Network program may have been the victim of rigging, after conducting a phone poll. MARK BRISKIN of The Australian Jewish News says polling jumped 12 times higher than normal, with 67 per cent of 120,000 respondents voting 'yes' to the question 'Do you support Israel's policy of 'targeted killings of Palestinian militants?' 'He suspected that the site had been the victim of 'robotic devices' which voted repeatedly, penetrating the website's security mechanism, which limit votes to one per computer'.


* BIG BROTHER'S success as a TV series is owed to viewers' fascination with stalking and secret cameras. PAUL WESTON, gossip columnist for the Gold Coast Bulletin, reports 22-year-old SARA-MARIE returned this week to the Big Brother house at Dreamworld, but was strangely silent: 'Like many stars, she and her family are being stalked by a nutter.'

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Weekender - circulation 40,500*, readership 107,000* The fastest growing news magazine on the Sunshine Coast. An informative lifestyle publication offering comprehensive news, real estate, classifieds, entertainment and more. providing links to: From real estate and entertainment, to employment and trade directories - find what you need fast. Search all the Courier classifieds in one go - all in one place. In just a few clicks you'll find all the information you need to buy, sell or invest in property. The ultimate local guide to entertainment and things to do in Sydney. Searchable information on Sydney's best restaurants, outdoor recreation, cinemas and movie times, music venues, CD reviews, retail shopping, the arts, galleries, theatres and performance.

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The First Attack On The Independents: Albanese Hobbles The Crossbench
It did not take long for the new Australian Labor government to flex its muscle foolishly in response to the large crossbench of independents and small party members of Parliament. Despite promising a new age of transparency and accountability after the election of May 21, one of the first notable acts of the Albanese government was to attack the very people who gave voice to that movement. Dangerously, old party rule, however slim, is again found boneheaded and wanting... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Predictable Monstrosities: Priti Patel Approves Assange’s Extradition
The only shock about the UK Home Secretary’s decision regarding Julian Assange was that it did not come sooner. In April, Chief Magistrate Senior District Judge Paul Goldspring expressed the view that he was “duty-bound” to send the case to Priti Patel to decide on whether to extradite the WikiLeaks founder to the United States to face 18 charges, 17 grafted from the US Espionage Act of 1917... More>>

Digitl: Are we happy living in Handy's Age of Unreason?
In 1989 Charles Handy wrote The Age of Unreason. It's a book that looked forward to a time where telecommuting would be an everyday reality. We live in that world today, although we use the term working from home. The book contains other predictions that were on the money... More>>

Dunne Speaks: Roe V. Wade Blindsides National

Momentum is everything in politics, but it is very fragile. There are times when unexpected actions can produce big shifts and changes in the political landscape. In 2017, for example, the Labour Party appeared headed for another hefty defeat in that year’s election until the abrupt decision of its then leader to step aside just weeks before the election. That decision changed the political landscape and set in train the events which led to Labour being anointed by New Zealand First to form a coalition government just a few weeks later... More>>

Digitl: Infrastructure Commission wants digital strategy
Earlier this month Te Waihanga, New Zealand’s infrastructure commission, tabled its first Infrastructure Strategy: Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa. Te Waihanga describes its document as a road map for a thriving New Zealand... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Leaking For Roe V Wade
The US Supreme Court Chief Justice was furious. For the first time in history, the raw judicial process of one of the most powerful, and opaque arms of government, had been exposed via media – at least in preliminary form. It resembled, in no negligible way, the publication by WikiLeaks of various drafts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership... More>>