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We wrote last week of the field gathering to contest the race to replace Ita Buttrose as chair of the ABC. This prompted reader Frank Merlino to pull us up for overlooking the person he believes is an obvious choice – former Melbourne ABC radio mornings fixture Jon Faine.
Hear us out. Merlino cites Faine’s 23-year stint on the vital morning shift, including The Conversation Hour; his work on Radio National’s The Law Report, ABC TV’s Investigators, First Edition and Wise Up; and, of course, a weekly column for a while there in our very own Sunday Age, as obvious and compelling credentials for the job.
Former ABC Melbourne host Jon Faine.Credit: Eddie Jim
“There is no better qualified person in Australia who could make a solid contribution to the vision and administration of the ABC,” Merlino reckons.
The retired school principal concedes a certain partiality in this matter: he taught Faine at Melbourne High back in the 1970s, remembering young Jon as an outstanding and “highly inquisitive” student.
Faine describes his old teacher as a gentleman and recalls clearly his days under Merlino’s tutelage.
“He regularly threw me out of class for being disruptive,” the former broadcaster told us. “My school report read: ‘There are few boys in this class that need regular disciplining … Faine is one of them.’ ”
And what about that job, Jon?
“I didn’t nominate for the ABC board and I am not a fan of ex-staff being on the board … too much baggage.”
Glad we cleared that up. And while we’re here, Kim Williams, a former News Ltd chief whose name often comes up when talk turns to that ABC chair’s gig, gave us a shout from New York to scotch any “idle speculation” linking him to the job. Duly noted, Kim.
NO YORK, NO YORK
Glancing at federal Labor backbencher Rob Mitchell’s Facebook, you’d be forgiven for thinking the member for McEwen, on Melbourne’s fringes, was hard at work campaigning for the Voice.
“He’s Here for Us,” reads Rob’s front page ad in his local paper, the Whittlesea Review, right under an article on the referendum’s defeat (McEwen went about 60 per cent for No).
In fact, Mitchell has been off in the United States since mid-September on a parliamentary delegation with Coalition MP Andrew Wallace, a long way from the referendum action.
A former Speaker in the House of Representatives, Wallace was prolific with his pro-No content on the socials, although his posts made it clear he was supporting the cause from afar.
The Dallas Cowboys took on the the Los Angeles Chargers this week.Credit: Getty Images
Mitchell was good enough to return our calls from New York at halftime in the Dallas Cowboys game on the TV to tell CBD the trip was two years in the making, and that he was honoured to be pushing the national interest Stateside despite missing all the referendum action back home.
“It’s a rare opportunity to be smack bang in the centre of it, adding our bit to the nation’s team at the UN and over in DC,” he said.
The Qantas Pathfinder Revue has been showcasing the singing and dancing talents of the airline’s staff since 1967, but we reckon the carrier’s in-house entertainment troupe has never had so much material to work with.
The Qantas review.Credit: John Shakespeare
So this year’s show, Qaronation, the Changing of the Guard – which promises a gentle send-up of the handover of power from the carrier’s former chief executive Alan Joyce to successor Vanessa Hudson – might be worth a couple of hours of your time, and it’s all for a good cause.
“Hear ye! Hear ye! Queen Vanessa, the first she/her of her kind has ascended to the Qantas throne in the street at Mascot,” goes the blurb.
It all looks like good clean fun – it’s an all-ages show in Sydney from October 31 to November 4 but organisers did not respond to our hopeful inquiries about possible Melbourne dates. Don’t expect the airline’s management to cop the type of roasting they regularly suffered from the recently stepped-down Joe Aston’s Rear Window column in The Australian Financial Review. But then, Joe doesn’t sing or dance.
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