Dear diary: What the government’s first meetings reveal about power in NSW

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Dear diary: What the government’s first meetings reveal about power in NSW

By Angus Dalton and Simone Fox Koob

As the Herald reported on Wednesday, the opposition targeted NSW Transport Minister Jo Haylen after the first ministerial diary disclosures of the Minns government revealed she’d met Josh Murray, former chief of staff to Morris Iemma, shortly after the election and hired him a short time later.

But the diaries also revealed some other juicy tidbits that shed light on who NSW’s new head honchos sought to court in their first few weeks in power.

The Minns government has released its first ministerial diary disclosures.

The Minns government has released its first ministerial diary disclosures.Credit: Nick Moir

On his first day on the job, Premier Chris Minns valiantly got his boots muddy on the banks of the oxygen-starved Darling-Baaka River in Menindee.

But a fortnight later, the appointments got properly down and dirty. He had a meeting with Channel Seven in mid-April and, a week later, he met The Daily Telegraph. Clearly not satisfied he’d made a good first impression, another meet-and-greet with the News Corp tabloid came another month later. Minns also met former prime minister Paul Keating two months after the latter’s savage spray against Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and AUKUS. To be a fly on that wall.

While Minns was flirting with print and TV, his Minister for Local Government Ron Hoenig was dispatched to win over the airwaves. Hoenig’s first meeting as minister was spent with 2GB’s Ray Hadley, discussing “matters relating to local government”. A month later, Hoenig was on the phone to billionaire nonagenarian and managing director of Meriton, Harry Triguboff.

Win Hadley, win the developers, and you’ve won Sydney.

And lastly, the final ministerial meeting disclosed by sacked skills minister Tim Crakanthorp was with an organisation called “Healthy Futures”. How fitting.


Many of our illustrious colleagues star in this year’s Kennedy Awards shortlist, announced last week. But CBD has since learnt that, over the years, a certain digital masthead has played a part in making the field a little less crowded.


Credit: John Shakespeare

Guardian staff have practised something of a boycott since 2015, several Guardianistas say, due to a spectacular blunder that clearly struck a nerve.

That year, Guardian photographer Mike Bowers was awarded the gong for outstanding photographic essay, Spirax trophy and all. But the wrong name had been sent to the engraver.

The actual winner was Nic Walker, a Fairfax photographer who’d swept the competition with a series on schoolies kids in Bali. When Bowers was announced as the winner, a video featuring Walker’s work started playing but was promptly cut “to minimise embarrassment for all concerned”, the Kennedy foundation said afterwards.

But it took five days for the foundation to muster up the courage to inform Bowers and his employer of the La La Land v Moonlight-style screw up.

There were no Guardian finalists in 2016’s awards and no gongs either in 2017. A Guardian Australia spokesperson told CBD there was no boycott, and it was up to staff if they wanted to submit entries, but former staff say it was considered a faux pas to enter among the ranks.

That feeling has since significantly softened, with one Guardian shortlistee in 2018 and a win in 2019, but many staff still don’t bother submitting to the awards. As famously put by The Australian Financial Review’s Michael Roddan, they are the Bogan Walkleys, after all.


The latest development in a 12-year legal drama involving high–profile criminal lawyer and one-time candidate for Clive Palmer’s United Party, Zali Burrows, is in.

Burrows has been ordered by the Federal Court to pay $130,000 in costs to Macpherson Kelley Lawyers, her former solicitors that she’s pursued since 2015 in a legal dispute involving six different judges.

Zali Burrows leaves the Federal Court earlier this month.

Zali Burrows leaves the Federal Court earlier this month.Credit: Kate Geraghty

Macpherson Kelley advised Burrows in a 2011 legal matter that resulted in a costs order of about $12,000 in Burrows’ favour. But she sued the firm in 2015, alleging it hadn’t enforced the order.

The NSW District Court dismissed the claim and ordered Burrows to pay Macpherson Kelley $130,000 in costs. Burrows appealed against that, and failed. Then Macpherson Kelley issued Burrows with a bankruptcy notice that she attempted to have set aside through the Federal Court. Once again, she was unsuccessful.

Now the Federal Court has ordered Burrows to deposit $65,000 as security for Macpherson Kelley’s potential costs within 28 days, and another $65,000 at least 42 days before the start of the proceedings’ final hearing. If Burrows does not make the payments, her claim for misleading and unconscionable conduct will be stayed. It’s the latest blow to Burrows in a decade-spanning, expensive saga.

In her own legal career, Burrows has represented former Auburn mayor Salim Mehajer, murderer Bassam Hamzy and terrorist Hamdi Alqudsi.

Melbourne Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece.

Melbourne Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece.Credit: Jason South


Melbourne media circles breathed a collective sigh of relief on Wednesday when the ABC announced it would scrap its plan to implement a national Sunday night news bulletin, which was set to be broadcast out of Sydney.

Among the many who had made their displeasure known about the cost-cutting measure were the premiers of South Australia and Western Australia, Peter Malinauskas and Roger Cook.

But none were so colourful as Melbourne’s Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece, who dialled up the Sydney/Melbourne rivalry in a number of recent remarks, railing against the proposed change.

Last week, at a book launch about the life of Edmund Finn, the pioneering journalist who wrote under the pen name Garryowen, Reece said the founding fathers of Victorian journalism would be “turning in their graves” if they were around to witness the loss of media activity from Melbourne to Sydney.


“The Ultimo Untouchables at ABC HQ in Sydney have no idea what is happening in the rest of Australia,” he said.

Reece argued that, if the ABC was hellbent on forging ahead with a national weekend TV news bulletin, it should broadcast out of Melbourne, not Ultimo or Parramatta, given it’s the country’s fastest growing capital.

It seems Reece got his wish. ABC managing director David Anderson told the national broadcaster’s employees on Wednesday morning that the proposed change to the Sunday night national bulletin would be reversed after listening to audience feedback.

When contacted by CBD after the decision was announced, Reece described it as a “victory for people power”.

“Well done to ABC management for coming to their senses on this one,” he said.

“Now we just need Channel Ten and SBS to introduce local weekend broadcasts, and then we might be finally free of news reports about hailstorms in Sydney and the latest intrigues at Barangaroo.”

With the ABC’s change of heart, we’re glad there is one less thing keeping Reece awake at night.

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