Illustration: John Shakepeare.
FROM respected senior public servant to Sleazemaster-General, Max ''The Axe'' Moore-Wilton has fallen a long way.
In public service, Moore-Wilton climbed to the very top, becoming department head to prime minister John Howard in 1996.
These days the Companion of the Order of Australia plies his trade in the private sector, where he is chairman of both Sydney Airport and moral-free broadcaster Southern Cross Media Group, aka Southern Cross Austereo.
Moore-Wilton is paid $250,000 a year to lend his respectability to the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is Southern Cross, and it is he, and the rest of the board, who shareholders should hold ultimately responsible for the latest debacle enveloping the company.
He has been chairman since 2007 and during his tenure the company has perpetrated a series of outrages, most of them emanating from the Sydney studios of flagship station 2DayFM.
Remember the merry jape when ''Vile'' Kyle Sandilands and his equally culpable enabler, Jackie O, hooked a teenage rape victim to a lie detector? Or how about the hilarious time, just a few months ago, when Kyle called a female journalist a ''fat slag'' and promised to ''hunt her down''?
In the latest stunt-gone-wrong, Southern Cross has suspended all ads from 2DayFM following the suspected suicide of a British nurse who was collateral damage in a prank call targeting the royal family.
While the two DJs who made the call aren't completely free from blame, the real problem is that Southern Cross has a business model that involves teetering on the edge of a moral abyss. Although each so-called ''prank'' may carry only a small risk, their number makes eventual disaster all but inevitable.
And yet, somehow, management seems surprised each time they fall in the muck - witness the bleating from $1.3 million-a-year chief executive Rhys Holleran on Saturday that the company was ''confident we haven't done anything illegal'' and acted in accordance with its internal procedures. Well, that's OK then.
Atop this structure sit Moore-Wilton and a board of worthies - former Freehills partner Leon Pasternak, former regulator Chris de Boer, media veteran Tony Bell, former head of Macquarie Capital Michael Carapiet, adman Peter Harvie and Mirvac director Marina Darling - who in return for their wisdom are each entitled to a minimum of $125,000 a year.
When CBD called, Moore-Wilton deflected the blame in Holleran's direction.
''The chief executive officer is responsible for the operations of the organisation within the framework that the board broadly sets,'' he said. And he insisted that the company had taken action over previous incidents.
No doubt, but with 2Day's licence already subject to conditions, advertisers in retreat and Scotland Yard detectives investigating the death, clearly more needs to be done.
On Sunday night, the board was holding an emergency meeting to consider its next move.
While Moore-Wilton has so far failed to refresh the company's rancid culture, he could take one productive step immediately: resign. Don't hold your breath.
Heat on for Origin
THINK of it as a bottom-of-the-harbour scheme James Packer would be happy to embrace.
The gambling tycoon has been lobbying hard for approval to build a luxury casino at Barangaroo, a prime slice of Sydney being developed by Lend Lease.
Lend Lease, which won the tender on a promise to make Barangaroo a model of sustainability, is nearing a decision on a key component of its deep-green credentials - a centralised cooling plant using seawater from adjacent Sydney Harbour.
The hot tip is Dalkia, the energy services unit of French giant Veolia Environnement, will emerge with a major contract from Lend Lease.
A win for Dalkia may give it an edge on rivals such as Origin Energy, which is just dipping its toe into the potentially big business of heating and cooling whole districts rather single buildings.
BLOODIED but unbowed, the board of media and mining minnow Motopia survived an attempted putsch by major shareholder Wendy Symes last week - although it did suffer a strike against its remuneration report and couldn't get the 75 per cent needed to allow it to issue new scrip.
However, a return bout is inevitable. Following the meeting, the company acknowledged as legitimate a request for an extraordinary general meeting that Symes lodged back in November.
Motopia plans to lodge a notice of meeting with the exchange on Monday.
A SLICE of white-collar criminal history is up for grabs in Melbourne.
While it's not in quite the same bloody league as one of the Carlton locations where various dastardly deeds went down during the gangland wars, the cute little city bar has its own story to tell.
It belonged to an accountant with the Pratt family's Visy accused of stealing more than $3.3 million from the company.
The Victorian Supreme Court froze the property, in Little Lonsdale Street, early this year.
Both halves of the building are leased to hipster eateries, together bringing in rent of more than $150,000 a year.
Auctioneers Gross Waddell are putting it under the hammer on Wednesday at noon.
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