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Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas might have felt like he was walking into hostile territory on Wednesday at the Victorian Chamber of Commerce’s annual post-budget lunch event at Crown Southbank, what with the reaction of the business lobby to the Treasurer’s budget and “more bloody state taxes” as one corporate politely described it.
With plenty of corporate leaders in attendance – including Crown’s Keiran Carruthers, the University of Melbourne’s Duncan Maskell and Saul Cannon from the Port of Melbourne – whose outfits will pay plenty under the budget’s “COVID-19 debt, temporary payroll tax surcharge”, Pallas had good reason to be a little trepidatious.
Treasurer Tim Pallas said he handed down his most difficult budget on Tuesday.Credit: Eddie Jim
But it wasn’t so bad in the end, although Tim might have taken some of the sting out of the room by talking 10 minutes over his allotted time, and even managed a few decent zingers.
But the biggest laugh of the day was arguably one of Pallas’ many PowerPoint slides, the one hoping to refute Victoria’s title as the highest taxing state, by claiming that West Australians were paying more taxes to their state government than Victorians courtesy of the mining powerhouse’s resource royalty charges.
That could be a valid comparison, but only if a commercial iron-ore deposit appeared under Collins Street.
Meantime, more details are emerging of the premier’s gatecrashing of Pallas’ big budget day and of the general muscling-in on the process by Andrews’ all-powerful private office.
Pallas himself surprised no one when he admitted at the Crown event that the premier’s first appearance at a budget lock-up had been Andrews’ own idea, with his spinners teasing it in advance, telling selected Spring Street press gallery journalists to expect a “cute l’il surprise”.
We’ve heard Dan Andrews called many things over the years, but we can promise you that that’s a first.
Lawn-mowing mogul Jim Penman has his critics, but he’ll always have a place in CBD’s heart, even if he didn’t come good on his threat to declare his own country, seceding from the state of Victoria, a couple of months ago.
And never slow to spot an opportunity, Penman’s publicity team was out, barely 24 hours after Tim Pallas’ budget claimed it was going to give up to 4000 state public servants the chop, beating the drum for new recruits to the Jim’s franchising empire.
“My advice to the 4000 public servants that Andrews is about to sack is – join us,” Penman said on Wednesday. “We will never turf you out like Andrews is about to.”
Public sector workers are invited to a Penman careers open day at the Melbourne Showgrounds on the weekend, where no doubt they’ll get the full spiel. It’s unclear if recruits will be required to relinquish their Australian citizenship. All that probably gets worked out in the fine print of the franchise deal.
Former PM Malcolm Turnbull’s political career is assigned to memory, but his former son-in-law, ex-ADF officer James Brown, is looking a decent prospect for federal parliament, in with a shot of snagging the seat of the late Senator Jim Molan, who died in January.
Malcolm Turnbull with wife Lucy Turnbull, son Alex Turnbull, daughter Daisy Turnbull Brown and her then-husband James Brown in 2016. Credit: Getty Images
With a vote due this weekend, the once-crowded field has narrowed to a three-cornered race between Brown, a former RSL National President who is now the Space Industry Association’s boss; former NSW transport minister Andrew Constance; and state Liberal president Maria Kovacic.
Brown might seem a bit of a dark horse, but he’s secured a gold-standard list of references, which were distributed to preselectors on Wednesday, including the coveted endorsement of former PM John Howard, who praised Brown’s “exemplary” military service in a near two-page letter.
Howard might not be the campaign-trail asset he once was, but is probably the only former Liberal leader to still command respect from all corners of the party.
Former foreign minister Julie Bishop also threw her weight behind Brown, citing his experience in defence and national security. Not a peep out of Malcolm, though.
A piece of Melbourne’s silver-screen heritage has passed this month with the Jean family, owners of the much-loved Waverley Pinewood Cinema, calling it quits after nearly five decades.
Family patriarch Brian Jean built the cinema in the early 1970s, with the four-screen operation running as a family business until May 1.
The candy bar at Waverley cinema.Credit: Richard Cornish
The family has praised the loyalty of their staff over the decades, “many of whom were, and have been, at the cinema for 20, 30 and 40 years”, and Jean told us that, at 80, the challenge of rebuilding the business after the COVID slump was a bit much, and closure of the movie house was looking a real prospect.
Enter another family concern, Showbiz Cinemas, which operates four screens in Swan Hill and another six in Ballarat – they’ve swooped on the opportunity at Waverley Pinewood, their first Melbourne cinema.
Showbiz director Andrew Taylor conceded that there may have been a sentimental attraction to Waverley Pinewood, which was his local cinema back in the ’80s when he studied at nearby Monash Uni and where he would catch such classics as Three Men and a Baby and Cocktail.
No need for a retrospective, Andrew.
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