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With the nation’s total emersion in Swiftmania just months away now – global pop phenomenon Taylor Swift’s Eras tour comes to town in February – academics from around Australia and New Zealand are determined not to let the moment pass them by.
The University of Melbourne – in collaboration with the University of Sydney, Auckland University of Technology and several other tertiary institutions – will host a “Swiftposium” that month which, let’s face it, looks like the funnest thing to happen on the troubled Parkville campus in some time.
The call for papers for presentations at the three-day event is out and there’s a lot of ground to cover, when you start to get into Taylor’s true reach.
“Taylor Swift has emerged as a cultural icon of extraordinary influence,” the organisers reckon, and we say that’s a fair call.
“Swiftposium is a hybrid academic conference for scholars to engage in critical dialogue about Swift’s popularity and its profound implications for a range of issues including gender, fandom, popular culture, literature, the economy, the music industry, and more.”
We couldn’t get tickets to the shows either, but we’ll be angling for an invite to the Swiftposium instead.
ON THE CASE
For a cashed-up litigant of some note – as they say at the bar table – Clive Palmer has a poor record of actually winning in court.
The latest loss came this week, when a hare-brained federal court challenge brought by Palmer and his $110 million senator Ralph Babet – another of the billionaire’s eccentric projects – to get the Australian Electoral Commission to count X as a no vote in the Voice referendum, failed.
Justice Steven Rares of the Federal Court dismissed Palmer and Babet’s urgent request for a declaration, ruling that unlike a tick, “X” was “inherently ambiguous”.
Clive Palmer was last month revealed to be the secret funder of an anti-vaccine mandate case brought against Telstra.Credit: Matt Dennien
But never fear, the boys are back for more, with Babet vowing on Thursday to appeal the decision. Clearly, the United Australia Party’s money man was undeterred by another legal loss.
And there have been plenty of those. Just last month, Palmer was revealed as the secret funder of an anti-vaccine mandate case brought against Telstra. The billionaire’s efforts to keep his identity a secret failed.
Palmer did get a win, of sorts, when in 2022, the Federal Court found former WA premier Mark McGowan had defamed him, and ordered “State Daddy” to pay $5000 in damages.
Trouble was, the same judgment also found Palmer had in turn defamed McGowan, as the two men engaged in a war of words. Federal Court justice Michael Lee declared the whole thing a waste of court resources and taxpayer money. And in 2021, Palmer lost a High Court challenge to WA’s hard border during the COVID pandemic.
But wait, there’s more. This year, Palmer’s Singapore-based Zeph Investments brought a mammoth $300 billion claim against the Commonwealth over laws passed by the WA government to stop the billionaire’s earlier $30 billion claim over his Pilbara mine project.
Former attorney-general Christian Porter was recruited into Palmer’s legal team for that case, but dropped out after the Commonwealth raised concerns about him receiving confidential information about the matter while in government.
This leaves us wondering, who is Palmer going to sue next?
TWIGGY ON TOUR
While Billionaire mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has developed quite the global messiah complex, it’s been a turbulent few months on the home front.
Just to recap — three key executives in Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group, including CEO Fiona Hick, just six months into the job, and former Reserve Bank deputy governor Guy Debelle departed.
Throw in an 11 per cent drop in profit, and a coup in the resource-rich West African nation of Gabon spooking investors, and it’s enough to almost make us forget that Twiggy and his wife of 30 years, Nicola Forrest, called it quits in July.
Andrew Forrest and Joe Biden.Credit: John Shakespeare
But none of that could put a dent in Twiggy’s Mr Worldwide act.
Forrest took off on an international investor tour, with the American leg finishing up in New York this week, where the great man and his entourage dropped into the United Nations General Assembly, which held its 78th session.
It just so happened that world leaders like US President Joe Biden, Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan were also at the UN to offer their thoughts on the state of the world.
New Fortescue chief executive Dino Otranto and energy boss Mark Hutchison also joined the boss in New York for the round of hobnobbing.
Forrest didn’t get a chance to speak — but we bet he wished he could — and the Fortescue mob were more interested in the Climate Ambition Summit because remember, Twiggy is out to save the world with green hydrogen.
Just to remind everyone of this, Fortescue lit up the New York skyline with a drone show spelling out the words “Break Up With Fossil Fuels”. He then headed back to Perth by private jet.
Veteran pollster Gary Morgan reckons he’s sitting on a gold mine, well, at least seven of them actually, as well as other mineral deposits, as he moves to tackle the legacy of the reported $100 million or more he and his family have pumped into the Haoma mining company over the years.
But nobody should hold their breath for an end to the company’s five-year exile from the ASX, following a spectacular falling-out between the exchange and Morgan, the miner’s majority shareholder and chairman.
Gary’s polling business The Roy Morgan Research Centre Pty Ltd will take a big chunk of equity — at 27 cents a share, valuing the company at about $135 million by our calculations — in a capital re-structure, with other Haoma shareholders able to get a piece of the action, entitled to three of the new shares for each two of the existing stock they currently hold.
But Morgan told us that the exercise was largely aimed at clearing the $52 million in debt to The Morgan Group that Haoma’s balance sheet is carrying – call it a debt-for-equity swap – about which existing Haoma shareholders will have no complaints, Gary predicted on Monday.
The plan is to clear the debt and allow Haoma to crack on with its “many mining opportunities” in gold, lithium and other rocks, Morgan says. And he’s in no rush to get the mining operation back onto the Australian Stock Exchange.
“Some time we will, but it costs a lot of money to be on the ASX.”
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