Morrison's Rinehart comments provoke board complaint
Despite not getting a recently vacant seat on the Fairfax board, Gina Rinehart has at least one supporter in the Fairfax camp, 2UE presenter Jason Morrison. On his breakfast program this week, Morrison criticised the Fairfax board for not giving Rinehart a board seat, despite the fact that she is now the biggest single shareholder in Fairfax Media. But the story doesn’t end there. In what might be considered editorial interference, The Australian reports that an unnamed Fairfax board member has complained about Morrison’s comments and an independent lawyer has been engaged to investigate the matter. Morrison has told radioinfo, "I stand by what I said on the air"
Rinehart took a swipe at Fairfax during the week saying: "We welcome changes to the board of Fairfax, as it is quite evident the market understands that the approach of the current board is not delivering for the owners of the company, and maintaining the status quo will not improve performance. Circulation for its mastheads has fallen for five years continuously, affecting revenue."
On Thursday morning Morrison said on air:
"The other issue to do with Gina Rinehart which needs to be mentioned relates to a decision today that's in the news. Fairfax, the board of the company, has decided not to grant a position on the board to Mrs Rinehart. You would remember that she purchased a fair chunk of the company some time back. 12 or so percent. Let me just state something here. This radio station is owned by the Fairfax company but that shouldn't stop me saying this. But it's important you know I am talking about my employer here.
I am staggered that a decision has been made not to include Gina Rinehart on the board. That's no comment about the person they have put into a spare seat, but why on earth would you not want to have on the team and in the room arguably one of Australia's most successful business people? I keep hearing it implied that a lot over there had some fears about the influence of the lady - editorially I presume. She is unashamedly conservative and has had one or two things to say about the mob running the country. But who hasn't and by the way, that's not a crime.
It is utterly ridiculous to fear that all of a sudden it's going to become the Gina Morning Herald. I'd love to see how many times directors of the company had wandered into the newsroom and dictated the angle of a story or gone through the CVs and picked the journos. Certainly has never happened in radio land. This is a massive company and it's had some issues in recent years. Why would anyone turn away the skills of someone who has been independently successful with achievements that rate on a world scale? I just work here and I like this radio station and want it and its owners to do well. And no, I am not a shareholder. But like a lot of people today I wonder why Gina Rinehart is good enough to make her own businesses successful but not good enough to try to help thia one along?"
The Australian reports “an unidentified male board member wrote a letter to Fairfax Radio about comments made by 2UE breakfast presenter Jason Morrison on Thursday. Industry sources said Fairfax Radio responded by hiring outside legal counsel, as it felt it would be compromised if it attempted to arbitrate in a matter between a board member and the actions of one of its staff.”