Illustration: Glen Le Lievre
On behalf of Mike Carlton Media International, I am delighted to invite you to join other discerning, high-wealth individuals who enjoy the privilege of membership in the exclusive Carlton Forum.
This is your opportunity to connect directly with one of Australia's best-loved and influential media figures. The Carlton Forum offers a suite of business and social engagements at which members can relax privately with Mike and interface on matters of mutual interest, going forward. There are three select levels of membership available:
SILVER (Annual donation, $50,000): Join Mike at up to four cocktail parties per year and the Forum's annual gourmet banquet created by award-winning chefs at a 3-hat Sydney restaurant.
GOLD (Annual donation $100,000): In addition to the Silver privileges, you will be invited to six luncheons or dinners over any one year; a Hunter Valley wine tasting weekend with popular Paul Nicolaou of the Australian Hotels Association; and the offer of front-row seating at the Allphones Arena for September's return heavyweight title fight between gambling mogul James Packer and television executive David Gyngell.
PLATINUM (Annual donation $250,000. Membership limited to a maximum of 25 persons). At this level you will be positioned to make regular input into Mike's columns in The Sydney Morning Herald, suggesting topics for the attention of his large and engaged readership. It might be that shopping mall development you are planning; a coal-seam gas proposal you are keen to grow with government; or simply your personal or corporate views on national affairs: confidentially of course, you can be assured Mike will be attentive to your wishes and keen to express them on your behalf in his unique style.
Platinum social events this year will include A Night In Old Chicago, personally hosted by Mike and the distinguished business figure Mr Nick Di Girolamo; It's All Greek To Me, an evening of hilarious Aegean-style fun with the inimitable Senator Arthur Sinodinos; and a week-long cruise of 5-star luxury in Queensland's magical Whitsunday Islands with Mike on board Octavia, the 82-foot superyacht of the Gazal family of property developers.
Naturally, your membership of the Carlton Forum will be kept entirely confidential. Should you desire, discreet arrangements for membership contributions may be made through the Banque Gnome Zurich et St Vincent/Grenadines de Caraïbes. I look forward to your early affirmative reply.
Bilal Obeid AO,
With the budget just days away, chaos reigns. The Tories are in such an unholy mess with their media management you'd think they'd hired Julia Gillard's spin doctor, John McTernan, to wrangle it for them. It's that bad.
Leaks from the cabinet spray around. The government backbench is in open revolt at the prospect of Tony Abbott's Great Big New Tax on the upper classes, frothing to any journalist who will listen. Liberal grandees of yesteryear have weighed in: Peter Reith said he'd been getting angry phone calls from loyal Liberals all week; Peter Costello – that paragon of budgetary excellence, the man who squandered the resources boom – went so far as to pronounce that the proposed tax "levy" has no economic benefit and would actually "detract from growth by reducing consumption".
Worse still – or hilariously, depending on your point of view – there is evident panic in the ranks of the government's media toadies, who are nonplussed as to how they'll explain Abbott's slew of broken promises on Tuesday.
Add to this shambles the dystopian miseries conjured up by Tony Shepherd's risibly Thatcherite commission of audit and you have an electorate which is thoroughly – and justifiably – scared and angry at the budget betrayal that is looming. The government's opinion poll figures are cactus, with worse on the way.
So desperate measures are needed. The McTernan format would be to release soft-focus shots of the Prime Minister knitting a penguin for Prince George, his remaining locks fetchingly awry in the blast from a studio wind machine. Peta Credlin, I think, will more likely roll out Margie and the girls again.
Much of the media heavy lifting so far has been done by the Belgian-born Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann, a figure utterly unknown to most Australians even a week ago but who has since captivated the nation with his uncannily accurate Arnie Schwarzenegger impression. Cormann would like you to "drust uz", as he puts it. Yes, they are that desperate.
By my count there will be three new taxes: the "levy" on the rich ; a "co-payment" to visit the doctor ; and a new slug in fees and HECS for most tertiary students. Plus, quite likely, a rise in fuel excise which will hit you at the petrol pump.
As ever, Abbott will try to bluster his way through. "I’m going to be able to look people in the eye on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning and say we are all in this together, we are all doing our bit," he droned this week.
People will look him in the eye right back and know him for the liar that he is.
Those pesky viewers
Judging by your emails, there are a lot of people angry at the way the ABC so crassly interrupts the end of its television programs to plug the show that follows.
I wrote about this last Saturday, after ABC1 managed to ruin the climax of the drama Parer's War with a pop-up promotional graphic at the perfectly chosen wrong moment. The complaints from readers have been thick and fast ever since, some in sorrow, some in anger.
It turns out that viewers who complain directly to the ABC get a syrupy form letter from one Matthew Galvin of "ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs", whatever that is.
"I am very sorry to read of your frustration with the promotions during some programs. ABC Television advises that viewing habits have changed rapidly in recent years," he waffles. Then there are paragraphs of guff about modern broadcasting, integral strategies and the like, until you get to the soapy conclusion: "Please do be assured that your concerns have been noted and made available to ABC Television management for their consideration. Your feedback, whether supportive or critical, is valuable to us."
Poppycock. Television would be such fun if only the bloody viewers didn't keep getting in the way.
email@example.com Twitter: MikeCarlton01