Saturday 1st of November 2014

grand crappee greets grand crappor .....

grand crappee greets grand crappor .....

Prime Minister Tony Abbott may be the most famous of the old alumni who will gather with Rupert Murdoch on Tuesday night to mark the 50th anniversary of The Australian.

Mr Abbott will attend in his capacity as Prime Minister but the newspaper has proudly and often claimed him as one of their own.

In fact, he only arrived at The Australian after encountering problems as a feature writer with the Packer-owned magazine The Bulletin.

Mr Abbott's misadventures with a typewriter came to a head in 1988 when his editor, David Dale, asked him to rewrite an article five times.Advertisement

"Tony couldn't seem to get the idea that a feature for The Bulletin had to be fair and balanced," Dale said on Monday. "I told him if he kept going like that he had no future on the magazine."

Mr Abbott went on to work briefly in a concrete factory before joining The Australian as an editorial writer.

On Tuesday night – the 50th anniversary of the first issue – Mr Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will join hundreds of Murdoch favourites, editorial executives, past and present management, and Australians from politics, business, the arts, education, sport and indigenous affairs at a celebratory dinner at Sydney's Hordern Pavilion.

The newspaper started cheering its golden jubilee on April 2 with the words: "The Australian launched on Wednesday, 15 July, 1964, with Rupert Murdoch promising it would be a newspaper of impartial information and independent thinking; tied to no party and to no state, only guided by its faith in Australia and the country’s future.

"Fifty years later, The Australian continues to deliver on this promise. It reports fearlessly, holds governments and institutions to account, and has consistently argued for big policy changes whose implementation have benefited the nation, and its people, enormously."

For past and present editorial and advertising staff at The Australian who were not invited to the Hordern Pavilion dinner, the company plans a finger food celebration at Paddington Town Hall on July 26. 

Tony Abbott's old editor says he lacked fairness and balance

meanwhile ….

The Senate should investigate a scheme which saw $9.19 million of taxpayers' money wasted on a failed carbon farm that was supposed to make Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp carbon neutral, according to Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan.

His call came as Fairfax Media learned nearly $4 million of taxpayers' money will not be recovered from the $9.19 million originally outlaid to News Corp-backed company RM Williams Agricultural Holdings in a Caring for Country grant in 2011.

RM Williams Agricultural Holdings Pty Ltd had sought to use the money to set up the world’s largest carbon farm as part of a secret deal to provide enough carbon credits to make News Corp carbon neutral.

But the farm, on Northern Territory cattle station Henbury near Alice Springs, never eventuated and RM Williams Agricultural Holdings collapsed owing more than $50 million to Westpac, $30 million to News Corp as well as a number of private investors including a company associated with a wealthy Tasmanian based businessman, Piers Dawson-Damer.

Receivers last month reached an agreement to sell Henbury cattle station for between $6 and $7 million, with 75 per cent of the proceeds to be returned to the federal government to pay back part of the grant, Fairfax has learned.

The sale means that close to $4 million has not been recovered by the federal government.

entOn Monday, Senator Heffernan, who has been a long-time critic of the Caring for Country scheme, called for an inquiry to scrutinise the expenditure.

“I think it needs an inquiry, whether that would be a Senate inquiry or something else, it needs to be looked at further,” he said. “This [the Henbury deal] isn’t the only one. There are several of these including one I asked to be investigated at Bathurst. I’m not alleging any impropriety at this stage but these things need to be audited.

“This leaves a nasty taste in the mouths of a whole lot of Australian farmers who are fair dinkum about caring for the country and land care and they’d plant a lot of trees for nine million dollars.’’

Fairfax Media previously revealed that before RM Williams Agricultural Holdings collapsed, a row erupted within the company about allegations of secret shareholdings and dishonest conduct.

Documents sighted by Fairfax Media confirmed a 2009 deal for News Corp to receive enough carbon credits from RM Williams Agricultural Holdings to keep the media company carbon neutral for several years.

Since the deal failed, Mr Murdoch appears to have altered his attitude to climate change. Speaking during an Australian television interview on Sunday, the billionaire said climate change needed to be approached with “great scepticism” and Australia “shouldn’t be building windmills and all that rubbish''.

An Environment Department spokeswoman said the amount payable to the Commonwealth had not yet been finalised.

"However, the Commonwealth has ensured significant flora and fauna will still be protected at Henbury Station. It has negotiated a covenant in gross over part of the property with the Northern Territory Government and Henbury Station Pty Ltd,'' she said.

Senator Bill Heffernan calls for investigation into News Corp carbon scheme