The Premier.

Let them eat cake.

There’ll be plenty to go round should Premier Marie Antoinette manage to push the pulp mill across the line.

The mill has become the cake according to the Premier.

I’ve pencilled in the day of the Premier’s State of the State address when she hopefully will reveal her vision for a replication of the glory days of the trickle down effects of industrialisation where benefits are overstated and costs ignored, particularly social and environmental costs.

An economist friend of mine once referred to this approach as a variation on the ‘horse and sparrow’ theory of economic development. Various models have been tried since the late nineteenth century in the United States. “If you feed the horse enough oats, some might pass through to the road for the sparrows”.

I can’t think of a more succinct metaphorical summary of the path the Premier has chosen for the State.

Abandon the innovation rhetoric of Jonathan West; ignore the intelligent vision so clearly enunciated by people such as Saul Eslake on a recent thread on this very website (Many times on TT, most recently: HERE.)

Let’s return to Electric Eric’s modus operandi.

Back to core values.

By the way what happened to Marie Antoinette? I had a feeling she didn’t last too long?

Who then?

As a wag said to me the other day, by way of a rhetorical poser, who’s two hung juries and a single heartbeat away from the Big Suite in the Exec building?

That’s the concern.

Will we see a repeat of Robert Cosgrove successfully fighting charges of bribery corruption and conspiracy in 1948 to return as Premier?

Or Spot Turnbull facing similar charges ten years later and surviving to end up as a Senator.

Tasmanian politics is unique in many ways, few of which give reason for pride.

The bête noir

Sometimes it’s difficult to keep abreast of everything.

I always thought that if a listed company has something of importance to say which may affect its market price then the ASX should be first to be told.

But I keep reading about Gunns’ CEO wanting to have meetings with all manner of people to explain how the revised mill will be the bee’s knees.
If it’s of any significance tell the ASX.

Tell them about all the changes that have been made since the IIS.

Tell them why when the IIS was done with an AUD price of 74 cents it’s still a goer a $1.

Tell them about the new flash effluent treatment processes.

Tell them from where all the feedstock will come from as few trees have been planted in the last 3 years.

Tell them who will pay for the establishment costs of trees if you sell your land to institutions as recently proposed. This surely must differ from the original plan.

Or is none of the above relevant information for shareholders?

Don’t bother having private meetings with Bob McMahon, just tell the ASX.

Tony Abbott’s must have been told. I read he regards the mill as a no brainer. Although I’m not sure whether that was one of his off-the-cuff remarks or one resulting from careful consideration of all the facts.

I was taught that continuous disclosure was mandatory not optional.

Isn’t that what Twiggy Forrest got pinged for? Lack of continuous disclosure. Admittedly in his case there was a bit of misleading disclosure as well.

I was going to write about Gunns’ latest results but I notice one of the TT bloggers has beaten me to the punch.

Suffice to say I used to associate with brokers in the old days before the profession was overrun with spruikers, goldminers and carpetbaggers and one lesson I learnt was to be wary of companies whose stated income always exceeded the cash coming in the door.

Enough said.

Banks own worst enemy

Used car salespersons’ relative credibility has leapfrogged a few rungs lately due to some professions, bankers for instance, willing to trade ethical standards in return for more money.

For them it’s just another trade I guess, just another short sell.

They’ll be able to buy back at rock bottom prices. The price of ethics won’t be heading north for a while.

This last week saw the launch of a campaign by NAB to attract mortgage customers from the other 3 major banks with an offer to pay any exit fees.

This was welcomed by the media as a sign of the breakup up of a cartel accused of acting in an uncompetitive manner with their interest rate settings.

ABC News reported:

“……it appears they are at war.

NAB published a break-up letter to its three main rivals that appeared to concede they do have a history of collusion.

“This is a really difficult letter for me to write. I think we all know that this has been coming. For a long time now my friends have all been telling me that I could do a lot better for myself. But they don’t like how I act when I’m around you,” the letter from NAB said.

The NAB’s break-up note is headlined: “It’s over between us.”
The advertisement is part of NAB’s marketing strategy to differentiate itself from the other big three.

It follows NAB’s announcement over the weekend that it will pay $700 of the exit fees of home loan customers coming over to it from Westpac and the Commonwealth.”

I like many others thought, spare me this disingenuous nonsense.

But it was worse than that.

At the same time as the phoney war was breaking out the Australian Government released an Exposure Draft Regulation setting out proposed prohibited fees on termination of certain credit contracts.

As Delusional Economist pointed out at http://macrobusiness.com.au/2011/02/funny-old-nab/ “NAB was promising to pay the exit fees of other banks which they knew they would be forced to scrap anyway”.

And they wonder why public opprobrium has become an epidemic.

Stop the presses

TT bloggers never miss an opportunity to vent spleens on the poor old Examiner, struggling to find a place for journalism amongst the ads, sport reports and death notices. It can get worse and probably will if its sister publication The Advocate is any guide.

Last Friday when other newspapers were leading with stories about Scott Morrison, the shadow Immigration spokesman, or with Julia Gillard’s response to Paul Howes and the union movement, or when around the world the contagion in Tunisia and Egypt was spreading to Bahrain, the Advocate chose to headline with BOWLS BIFFO, a story about an Ulverstone Bowls Clubber who was suspended for 2 weeks for headbutting an opponent.

Fair dinkum. May the god(s) be my witness.

The front page story featured a large photo of the bowler trying to shield his face from the prying Advocate photographer, and a smaller one of his alleged victim.

No-one owned up to writing the story which is hardly surprising as it’s unlikely to be nominated for a Walkley and the editor has so far refrained from posting an editorial comment on this important issue.

At a time when the region and the State require leadership vision and a mature debate, the Advocate‘s intellectually lazy sloppy journalism plumbed new depths.

The Examiner is a beacon by comparison.

First published: 2011-02-22 04:10 AM