Illustration: John Shakespeare.

Illustration: John Shakespeare.

THE respective employers of spring racing carnival lovebirds Paul Howes and Olivia Wirth are about to face off across the negotiating table, but apparently the romance, which has blossomed like the roses at Flemington Racecourse, will have no effect on the pair's day jobs.

Howes' Australian Workers Union has about 500 members at Qantas, where Wirth is head mouthpiece, and union and company are poised to enter delicate negotiations over a new enterprise bargaining agreement.

Wirth, the public face of the fleet grounding ordered last year by Qantas boss Alan Joyce, told CBD she had nothing to do with the negotiations.

''It has no effect on my work,'' she said. ''I look after media, government, corporate affairs.''

Howes declined to comment but it is believed the Qantas deal is too small to personally involve him.

By comparison, the AWU has more than 6000 members at the company formerly known as OneSteel, Arrium.

While Howes and Wirth declined to talk about their private lives, sources say the pair met because they travel in similar circles in the Canberra fishbowl. It's said they've only been dating for a few weeks.

 

Star wrangling

DID you ever wonder how it came to be that waif-like actress Mischa Barton was rubbing shoulders with the likes of Joyce and Kevin Rudd at the Emirates marquee on Melbourne Cup Day?

Or how the other international celebrities who have followed in the trail blazed by infamous party sisters Paris and Nicky Hilton back in 2003 have found themselves, champagne in hand, in the Birdcage? Obviously, there is money involved.

However, the man who has choreographed many a racetime tango between corporate and celebrity, More Entertainment owner Todd Tanguay, reckons there's more to it than that.

Celebrity whisperer Tanguay, who has the deep tan and crisp white teeth of a Hollywood veteran, fell in love with Australia on his first visit in 1988, when he was a US government protocol officer at Brisbane's Expo 88.

These days, in addition to star-wrangling for the races, he also does the Melbourne Grand Prix, Sydney's Fashion Week and promo tours including bringing out starlet Tara Reid for Mick Gatto's fave T-shirt brand, Ed Hardy.

Doing an appearance deal can take two weeks or a year, he said. ''It can really take that long. I'm negotiating, there may be some things going on for some other people in the Birdcage next year.''

Talk around the track is that appearance fees are often in the tens of thousands of dollars, but Tanguay said he would ''never kiss and tell''. ''The deals can encompass all kinds of things … there can be holidays. The value is not set in stone, it's very fluid.''

Tanguay sometimes amortises the cost of bringing out a star by touring them around the country for a series of events.

''It can be more affordable if you can find a really good American film star or TV who will say, 'Come on, let's go see Australia'.''

Tanguay says the hardest part is not reaching agreement on money or dealing with Hollywood managers, it's finding time.

''Right now in America it's episodic season, so most of the TV stars that you really want to see are filming their TV shows, so it's hard for them to get five days off - that's hard, let alone three weeks.''

 

Into a maelstrom

HURRICANE Sandy has blown itself out somewhere over Canada but the tropical storm into which top law professor Gordon Walker has walked seems only to have intensified.

Walker, who is chairman of commercial law at La Trobe University, was recently appointed to the board of Tangerine Investment Management, based in sunny Caribbean tax haven the Cayman Islands.

Tangerine has run into a spot of difficulty with its £117 million ($A179 million) Axiom Legal Financing Fund. On Cup day, specialist financial news website OffshoreAlert claimed Axiom appeared to be a Ponzi scheme, alleging millions of pounds have been stripped out through vehicles owned or controlled by former chief executive Tim Schools.

No such allegations are made against Walker.

''I joined the board in June 2012 [announced October 2012] to provide guidance on TIM expansion in the southern hemisphere,'' Walker told CBD.

''Initially, this was an access to justice project,'' he said.

''For example, one of the funded panel law firms ran the recent Mau Mau litigation [over assaults on Kenyans by British colonial authorities] in the UK.

''However, I have walked into something else entirely!

''The allegations go to matters prior to my involvement about which I have no direct knowledge. Needless to add, the allegations are deeply troubling.''

 

Knockout blow

FANCY a cut-price ticket to see convicted rapist Mike Tyson deliver a motivational speech next week? Me neither.

For those who do, tickets to the Melbourne leg of Mike Tyson's Day of the Champions event, promoted by agent and Myer marquee lounge lizard Max Markson, were on sale through group buying site Living Social yesterday at 77 per cent off. But CBD has absolutely no doubt that tickets are, as the tour's official says, ''selling fast''.