Follow The Power

Brown and Milne cleared over Wood donation, Gerry Harvey's admits he's no great lobbyist

Is Paul Zahra out at David Jones? Speculation is swirling in business circles about just what David Jones will announce to the market tomorrow.

The company has gone into a trading halt ahead of its half-year profits announcement tomorrow, but there's speculation -- including on Melbourne radio 3AW this morning -- that chief executive Paul Zahra is out. DJs are denying the talk.

Is Gerry Harvey Australia's least powerful lobbyist? Retailing king Gerry Harvey isn't one to talk up his clout.

"I've talked to Liberal politicians, I've talked to Labor politicians and some others and I can honestly say I've never been helped by a politician yet, ever," he confessed to Lateline's Emma Alberici last night.

He certainly hasn't got his way on the issue of online shopping: Treasurer Wayne Swan has dismissed him as a "whinger" for wanting the government to close the GST loophole on online purchases under $1000.

But Harvey isn't giving up, telling Lateline that retailing profits will continue to fall, and jobs will continue to disappear, unless the overseas online shopping menace is tackled.

Toby Ralph: man of mystery no more: Freelance marketer Toby Ralph has shot to prominence since telling The Power Index last month, "I'll work for anyone who pays me. I'm a taxi: flag me down and I'll take you wherever you want to go."

The Liberal Party campaign veteran starred in an entertaining – if somewhat smutty – Q&A episode last night that was dominated by the issues of pornography, sex education and the war in Afghanistan.

If you still haven't had your Ralph fill, the spinner tells us he'll be a guest on SBS' Insight program tonight talking about the role of prejudice and racism in politics.

Greens in the clear over Graeme Wood donation: A senate committee has cleared Greens leader Bob Brown and deputy Christine Milne of any wrongdoing in their dealings with businessman Graeme Wood.

Wood, named last week as The Power Index's No. 1 Rich Crusader, donated $1.68 million to The Greens in 2010. Since then, Brown and Milne have raised the issue of the Triabunna woodchip mill, purchased by Wood last year, in parliament and the media, leading Liberal senator Helen Kroger to refer the pair to the Senate privileges committee last November.

Had Kroger's claims of impropriety been proven, Brown and Milne could have faced up to six months in the slammer.

Frank Gehry's vision comes to life: Speaking of political donors, they don't come any more prolific than the enigmatic Chinese-Australian property tycoon Chau Chak Wing.

Chau has donated more than $2 million to the major political parties over the past decade and helped fund trips to China for Wayne Swan, Kevin Rudd and other Labor heavies when they were in opposition.

And he doesn't just hand out dough to pollies. Last year, Chau donated $20 million to Sydney's University of Technology to build the first ever Australian building designed by esteemed architect Frank Gehry. Excavation of the Ultimo site is underway, with a completion date set for early 2014, the Sydney Morning Herald reports today.

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