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The Correspondent July-August 2003 PDF Print E-mail
The Correspondent
(Journal of The Foreign Correspondents' Association)
July-August 2003


Newsletter Index AGM with a new spin & good spread by Christopher Zinn

I have a theory to explain why most journalists would rather watch choko being trained to climb up a dunny wall than willingly attend an annual general meeting. It is simply aversion therapy.
For many cub reporters the average AGM conjures up images of stale sandwiches, pompous speeches and plenty of other drivel.
Hence the AGM of even one's own association is generally held to be a platform for various losers, to waste your time as well as their own, despite the legal niceties of having to hold one at all.
So it is with a beaming smile I can report this year's FCA AGM managed to put a new spin on a very old format and lay on a good spread to boot.
Cynics might suggest it was the `free' handout of a rather digestible Jacobs Creek Reserve Shiraz; or the glamorous surrounds of a Circular Quay law firm (how the other half live) -- or even the spicy and exotic finger food which owed more to the Indian Sub-Continent than your average Chicko roll.
There's no doubt the experienced free loader would have found much to appreciate here but I prefer to reason it was a combination of less obvious factors which made our AGM, attended by almost 30 members, `click' as rarely before.
The lunchtime format was inspired; the modest addresses from the various retiring office holders and the gracious maiden offerings from their replacements (often the very same faces) were prompt, to the point, and largely predictable.
The fortunate coincidence of the number of vacant posts precisely equalling the number of willing candidates meant rather like North Korea we were spared the burden of even having to vote.
The only sad note was the absence of many older members (perhaps their cellars are already well stocked) but this loss was amply compensated by some fresher faces armed with the enthusiasm for committees needed to support the association in the future.
Such was the carnival atmosphere I'm sure some members were barely aware they handed over their ninety bucks in order to be invited the AGM next year. And one couldn't help wondering if we might have get-togethers like this rather more often than once every 12 months.
**For non-Australian members: the choko is a tasteless fruit which once grew in every Australian backyard; a Chicko roll was the high water mark of local finger food before multiculturalism.

Newsletter Index Jacob's Creek gets into Rugby Cup mode
Jacob's Creek, one of the FCA's most generous supporters, has been appointed the official wine supplier to the Rugby World Cup, being held in Australia during October.
The sponsorship will provide Jacob's Creek with exclusive rights at all RWC venues, the use of the RWC 2003 supplier mark on its wines, ground signage, match program advertising and access to tickets.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Orlando Wyndham, Mr Christian Porta, said the sponsorship capped a successful decade for Jacob's Creek, now the number one Australian wine brand in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan and New Zealand.
Mr Philip Laffer
Chief winemaker for Jacob's Creek, Mr Philip Laffer.
More than one million glasses of Jacob's Creek are consumed daily around the world. Last year, about 72 million bottles were sold worldwide.
Mr Porta said Jacob's Creek had led Australia's spectacular export charge with more than 80 per cent of its sales now occurring in more than 60 countries.
"Jacob's Creek, which a decade ago was mostly a wine enjoyed by Australians, is now the number one Australian brand in markets such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Ireland," he said.
Rugby's glamour 44-day event will unfold at Sydney's Telstra Stadium on October 10 when defending champions Australia clash with Argentina and conclude with the Rugby World Cup 2003 final before 80,000 fans and a television audience of hundreds of millions at the same venue on November 22.
Overall, 48 matches featuring the world's top 20 rugby nations will be played in 11 Australian cities for the sport's ultimate prize, the Webb Ellis Cup, which the Australian Wallabies have twice raised above their heads - in 1991 and 1999.
"It is very appropriate that Jacob's Creek will be enjoyed in conjunction with an international sporting event of this magnitude considering the international success our brand enjoys," Mr Porta said.
Newsletter Index The Taxman Cometh by Our Special Correspondent
Many members of the FCA enjoy on shore and off shore income. In the past the Australian Tax Office has been happy to sometimes overlook the odd payment made into, say, a European bank account.
Such latitude, and inability to check, has meant the various euros, greenbacks, pounds and yen have conveniently subsidised the occasional overseas trips without the appropriate tax being paid here.
It¹s a little known symptom of globalisation but you have to pay tax on, or at least declare, ALL foreign income and the ATO is cracking down. Yes, I know they threaten regularly but this time it is for real.
At least one FCA member received a courteous letter from a special branch of the tax collectors reminding them (all names and nations have been changed) that they failed to declare a financial year's worth of stories filed to The Albanian Sheep Trders Weekly.
The sum outstanding seemed outrageous until our genuinely mistaken member contacted his foreign organ only to discover legislation/ computers/policy meant publications had to reveal how much they paid and to who.
It seems the Albanians passed onto their Australian friends the entire dossier of deeply private and embarrassing information. Since our colleague had a distinctive name (not John Smith) there was no chance of claiming mistaken identity or diplomatic immunity.
The five-figure sum was payable at once plus the generous interest rate which was levied on the amount for the three years it had not been paid. The exchange rate it was all worked out in was highly unfavourable to our member and the interest was charged by the day until payment was complete .
The Australians got the lot. The Albanians must be hoping they get some in a reciprocal sting. And our member had to forgo the trip of a lifetime, a new computer and worse developed a life long paranoia that the tax office has him/ her in their sights for all eternity.
Newsletter Index Diplomat says 'Wake Up to the New India' by Neena Bhandari
Australia and India don't know enough about each other and simplistic stereotypes are blurring the larger picture, noted the high profile Australian High Commissioner to India, Penny Wensley, at a luncheon organized by the Asia Society AustralAsia Centre earlier this month.
Ms Wensley was particularly disappointment with Australian media's minimal presence in India.
"At present Australia has only one correspondent in the country, who is away mostly covering Afghanistan," she said.
Calling the Indian press `extraordinarily free, robust, lively and phenomenal', she informed the 150 guests that there were 400 English newspapers and many more regional and vernacular language press.
[Indeed! Some months ago this correspondent had a difficult time trying to convince a leading publisher in Australia that Press Trust of India syndicated news in the English language].
Penny Wensley
Australian High Commissioner to India, Ms. Penny Wensley
Speaking on `India's changing global and regional outlook', the Australian High Commissioner said the two countries don't appreciate the capabilities and changes taking place in the other country and society. They also fail to appreciate the complementarities.
Emphasising that there is a compelling need to raise awareness, she said, "Our bilateral relations have never been better in all areas except tourism. We need to recognise and welcome the reality of the deliberate and dramatic change in the Indian Foreign policy, which has pragmatism and national interest not ideology as the hallmark".
She felt the bilateral relationship needs a comprehensive, strategic and contextual approach.
Ms Wensley opined, "India's international outlook focuses on multifaceted areas and regions. It is weaving a strong fabric of dialogues, agreements and understandings. It is evident in the constant parade and array of international dignitaries coming to New Delhi".
Commending India on its handling of the Iraq issue, she said, "It has been fascinating to watch how India has dealt with the issue. Though in a low key manner, it made it clear that any action should be under the United Nations umbrella, it has been focusing on practicalities".
She gave a candid update on the emerging opportunities for Australia as a result of India's changing policies. "As India consolidates and defines its role as a superpower in South Asia and the region and India's `New Look East' policy gains momentum, Australia should be going to meet it across the Indian Ocean. We need to be much more actively engaged with India and Australia has to compete to attract New Delhi's attention. In its list of priorities, Australia should place India higher up", the Australian High Commissioner said.
Ms Wensley said the current bilateral trade at $AU 3.4 billion has the potential to increase. Australian companies should move into the niche market and look in the fields of minerals and energy resource, information technology, health services sector and education for business and investment.
"We are simply not paying enough attention, but with India on the move, Australia should be moving too", she added.
Ms Wensley has been in New Delhi as Australian High Commissioner since November 2001.
Newsletter Index 2003 Annual General Meeting Report
PRESIDENT´S REPORT - Agneta Didrikson:
We started out this financial year from a very low level. We hardly knew how many members we had or who they were. When Nina Fudala took office in August she found that only 23 members actually had paid their fees. Well today we know that as of June 30th we had 125 members, and even better than that is that about half of them have already paid their fees for the new financial year.
DIGITAL: I feel the most important thing this year has been that we have become digital. We took a decision in October to create a new web site and it was up and running before Christmas. It is still not perfect but we are working to keep it updated and interesting. Apart from a full member database it also contains the newsletter, The Correspondent. After Christmas we added the e-mail platform. It will get even better this coming year, as more of us will learn to work on the web.
HOME: A year ago we were desperately looking for a home. For many different reasons we did not want to sleep with DFAT and so, when the Sydney Media Centre asked us to come aboard we did so gladly. There were no costs involved and no strings attached. But it was too good to be true. A few weeks ago, the SMC moved out of the Park Street premises and now Kathie Melocco and Peter Higgins are looking for a new venue. Again FCA is without a physical home! And it will be one of the main objects for the new board to find one.
AFAA: One of the interesting - and not uncontroversial - things we did together with the SMC was to choose the Australian Face Abroad Award. This was an idea born within the SMC and so this, too, is under review.
THE BOARD: Consists of eight people, all with more or less full time jobs. We all like to be on the board, but you must understand that our work has to come first. We have an executive secretary in Nina Fudala but if she had to live on her pay from FCA, she would not get fat.
The 2003-2004 FCA board
The 2003-2004 FCA board (from left to right): Juergen Corleis(Treasurer), Neena Bhandari (Executive member), Jimmy Pozarik (Executive member), Agneta Didrikson (President), Mark Chipperfield (Vice-President), Nina Fudala (Executive Secretary), Mimi Chau (Executive member), Urs Wälterlin (Executive member) and Greg Ansley (Secretary).
Therefore we are always looking for new ideas from the members. We also want you to contribute to The Correspondent. This is YOUR organisation. But we have to work together. We may even try a model with working-groups during next year. In these groups we should have some people also from outside the board. So please fell free to tell board members that you´d like to take more active part in the FCA. I want to take this opportunity to thank the board and Nina Fudala for a good job during a tough year. And I do wish the new board all the best for next.
TREASURER's REPORT - Juergen Corleis
AGMs should not be held in the first days of the New Financial Year. Our accountant Judy Feyceni has not yet received the June 2003 bank balance. So the figures quoted are not those yet which we have to lodge with the department of fair trading. That said, Judy agrees that these accounts present a "fair picture".
Our statement of income and expenditure for the year ended June 30, 2003 shows that we have not only survived another year, we are indeed back on track. Our total income was $33,182, up from $24.771 the year before. And the total expenditure was $23,512. Less than the year before. This means we now have $10, 000 more in the kitty than a year ago.
e went into 2002/2003 with total bank reserves of $1233, after incurring a loss of $1500 in the year before. We are now going into the new financial year with about $11000 in the bank and no unpaid bills. We owe most of these good figures to Nina Fudala's work and a very successful membership drive. We are back to over a hundred members. Look at the joining fees and renewals: $19, 000. A large part of that sum is without question joining fees. That means income from renewals will be much lower. We have to consider this, and try to keep up signing up new members. $12500 we owe to Macquarie Bank's sponsorship which will run for another year. Fees and sponsorships are practically our only income. On luncheons and functions we lose. On the expenditure side we are looking at three major areas: Internet, Email and Website, around $6,300 last year. This is a service we owe to our members, we have been expanding it and we should continue to do so. Printing The Correspondent and Press Cards cost $6,400. We are not printing the newsletter any longer, which will save us a lot. Press Cards, of course, are an essential service. We will stay with the old system this year, and should prepare something more professional for next year. Our largest expenditure is secretarial services -- last year $7,730 (Nina joined us later in the year). We are paying $800 a month, plus expenses, approximately $11,000 annually. Considering the workload involved in organizing the FCA this is money well spent. As a rule of the thumb I would say membership fees should pay for the organization of the FCA and essential services. Unfortunately, the Sydney Media Centre failed. The FCA did not lose a cent, but we regret having lost a promising partner.
SECRETARY'S REPORT - Mark Chipperfield
Reviewing the minutes of the last AGM I couldn't help noticing that we spent a great deal of time talking about how to improve our internal communications.
Twelve months later it is pleasing to report that the FCA has a new website. More than a digital shop window the website is a platform for all sorts of activities such as online publishing and bulk email. Anyone who has had anything to do with the world wide web (and geeks) will realise that this is a great achievement and one that has saved the FCA thousands of dollars in printing costs. For the last five months I have been negotiating with a sympathetic Sydney company to provide funds so that we can expand and refine the website. I'm hoping this sponsorship will be available shortly. Twelve months ago the FCA was still reeling from the death of Ann Oakford. With Ann the organisation seemed to lose its driving force and, for many, its soul. Rebuilding has been a difficult process. But the results speak for themselves. Not only has our membership base been restored, the FCA has salvaged its finances, built a new web site and served up a robust calendar of events. During the year members had the chance to eat lunch onboard the new Ghan train, witness the Sydney-Hobart yacht race (and meet Sir Edmund Hillary), explore the wilds of Tasmania, meet the South Australian minister for tourism and spend an evening with novelist Thomas Keneally. Behind the scene, the FCA has been rebuilding its membership list and attracting many new correspondent and affiliate members.
Our thanks should go to Nina Fudala, our executive secretary, for her amazing dedication to this gruelling task. Getting money out of journalists is on a par with brokering a Middle East peace agreement. The new board inherits an organisation with healthier finances, renewed vigour and a more engaged membership. I think we can look forward for even better things to come.
(Please note: The above reports have been edited for space.)
Newsletter Index Aussie sprint king, Multicultural by Mimi Chau and Chad Lee
Patrick Johnson, the fastest man in Australian sprinting, has a background so diverse that he should rank as a multicultural icon.
hen he was 17, Patrick was awarded a scholarship to St. Pauls College, Moss Vale, an international boarding college where the majority of students were from Asia.
At St Pauls he learnt to speak Cantonese and went on to study Human Rights and Asian studies at the Australian National University. A budding diplomat, who has qualifications in foreign affairs, Patrick is now proficient in a number of languages.
His colourful past includes being raised on a fishing trawler in North Queensland and living a nomadic lifestyle for his first 17 years. After the death of his Aboriginal mother, the budding athlete was raised by his Irish father, Patrick Snr.
Patrick started his athletics career in 1996 at the Australian University Games in Canberra, and won the 100m wearing spikes for the first time.
Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson at the Australian Institute of Sport.
On May 5 this year in Mito, Patrick Johnson ran the first sub-10 second 100m by an Australian with a time of 9.93 and becoming the 17th fastest in history and the 38th athlete to break the 10 seconds barrier.
Patrick attributes his success to "lots of hard work and being able to adapt your hard work to benefit yourself."
"You've got to look at the finer points of what you do to achieve the next level," he said.
A late developer, the 30-year-old Johnson has set his sights firmly on Athens next year.
"I want to make the Olympic finals in both the 100m & 200m events," he said.
His coach Esa Peltola believes the Australian sprinter can go right to the top:"I don't know how fast he can go, but he can go faster than he is going now. Patrick, as with most champions, has the ability to challenge himself and drive himself. He is willing to embrace new ideas in pursuit of excellence."
Patrick had a great season in 2000 including a competitive rivalry with Matt Shirvington --setting the fastest 100m time (10.10) ever by an Australian on home soil at the Melbourne Track Classic.
At the Sydney Olympics he was surprisingly beaten over 100m b Shirvington, but Patrick bounced back to take the national 100m title ahead of his main rival.
Currently training at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra, Johnson says that the institute is crucial in achieving world class results.
"If you want to be competitive with the rest of the world, you have to be excellent and 'excellence' is what the AIS promotes," he said.
In 1981, 800 athletes applied for a place in the Institute's first year of operation and only 152 were successful.
By 2002, approximately 700 athletes were on scholarship at the Institute in 35 separate programs across 26 sports supported by 75 coaches.
Newsletter Index It's a cultural hub, up North by Kenelm Creighton
After eight months in Tewantin village, near the Noosa river, Janet and I believe it was a shrewd to move from Katoomba in the Blue Mountains to the Queensland warmth.
Missing the arts and culture and attendant friends, we have become involved in a full and exciting life with new friends, and meeting old ones including journalists and others from Hong Kong now settled here.
Losing out on this year's Winter Magic Festival -- I was a founder member -- we now have the second annual 10-day Noosa Long Weekend (which ended on Sunday July 6).
The lofty presence of local David Williamson launched the event at a large cocktail party at Sails restaurant overlooking the ocean at Noosa Heads.
David, is president of the organising body of the Weekend which has Macquarie Bank (also backing the FCA) and Telstra as main sponsors.
The same night at the Arts Theatre saw the preview -- it will open in Sydney - of Williamson's new play Flatfoot. Starring the talented Drew Forsythe and Kelly Butler playing his wife and Philip Chappell as his producer, this two-act Roman comedy of bad manners is a delight and takes you back to life in the streets of Rome.
Bondi-born foreign correspondent and documentary filmmaker John Pilger spoke of the human cost of US-led wars -- in such movies as Killing the Children of Iraq, revealing how the impact of American-led sanctions resulted in the deaths of 500,000 children. He drew packed audiences at a breakfast at Ricky Ricardos and other restaurants. He called for a stop to what he called the "terrorism of great powers".
Other major players at the Weekend were writers Thomas Keneally and Peter Carey along with film director Bruce Beresford and Kristin Williamson (David's wife). There were enviro-walks, cabaret and acclaimed speaker Campbell McComas. Sexy Grace Knight wowed a 2000 strong audience who picnicked at a Tewantin park. It was quite a weekend.
Former Hongkongers we know here are Jacki Passmore, author of 28 books on cooking, who has just had a fabulous coffee table book 'Savouring China' published. She is food consultant to the Ginger Factory, the world's top producer of ginger goodies at Yandina in the Noosa Hinterland.
Another is Tim Birch. Tim was the controller of programs for Radio Television Hong Kong and later in a similar job with Radio New Zealand.
With many cycleways, I ride happily round the locality and have just been "welcomed aboard" the leading actors agency in Brisbane. So I hope for a few movie slots or extra work and at long last just starting to get into doing another book.
 
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