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State MP's court date, veteran journo quits, Business SA "rejects false rumours"

Notes on Adelaide

In today’s edition of our new column, Notes On Adelaide, a new state MP is set to face a defamation trial this year, a veteran Adelaide news director quits, and Business SA launches a furious defence of its chief executive.

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State MP to face defamation trial

SA Best MLC Frank Pangallo is scheduled to face court in August in relation to a long-running defamation case, stemming back to his time as a hard-hitting current affairs journalist.

The proceedings, subject of a complex Supreme Court procedural ruling last Friday, will see the former journalist and his former employer, Channel Seven, defend their position against Benjamin Eustice – the subject of Today Tonight reports by Pangallo in late 2012 and early 2013.

Eustice – son of Andrew and grandson of SANFL great Ken – accuses Seven and Pangallo of a series of defamatory imputations in relation to his role as a car salesman.

While defending claims of defamation is not unusual for Today Tonight, nor Pangallo in his long career as a journalist, it is not an everyday occurrence for sitting MPs to face civil action in the Supreme Court based on their previous jobs in the media.

It’s been far more common in recent years for politicians to sue each other for defamation.

During the election campaign, Pangallo’s former leader Nick Xenophon commenced defamation action against Liberal leader – now Premier – Steven Marshall.

On the Eustice matter, Pangallo told InDaily: “We will let justice take its course.”

The trial is set down for hearing in August.

Seven’s veteran news boss steps down

Pangallo’s former long-time colleague, Seven Adelaide’s director of news and current affairs Graham Archer, is leaving the post.

Archer, who started in journalism in 1987 and has been with Seven for more than 20 years, will be replaced by his deputy, Chris Salter.

The news veteran, who was the founding executive producer of Seven’s current affairs program Today Tonight, is noted for his investigations into miscarriages of justice, including the Anna-Jane Cheney murder case.

His book on that matter was a finalist in the 2017 Walkley Awards.

Archer told InDaily today that he planned to focus on long-form journalism after leaving Seven.

“I hope I will still be involved in some of the projects I have been involved in over the years,” he said. “I have no specific plans but I do have a couple of books I want to write.”

He said the decision to leave Seven was “entirely my choice” and had been in the works for the past 12 months.

“It wasn’t something done suddenly and was done with the mutual agreement and support of the network.”

Archer’s departure comes after a similar change at Nine, where veteran news director Tony Agars was recently replaced by his deputy Jeremy Pudney.

Seven Network director of news and public affairs, Craig McPherson, said Archer had had an “extraordinary career” at Seven.

“As one of the founding state EPs of a new current affairs program launched at the start of 1995, Graham was instrumental in helping Today Tonight become the most watched current affairs program in Australia within a few years. He steered the program to dominance in Adelaide over two decades, along the way mentoring many.”

Business SA defends CEO after sacking report

Confidence – it’s a double-edged thing.

Business SA gave The Advertiser an exclusive first crack at its latest report into business confidence today, gaining it a front page for the alleged soaring levels of the stuff in South Australia.

Over in Murdoch’s national newspaper, however, the issue of confidence – or lack thereof – was directed at Business SA itself, particularly its high profile CEO Nigel McBride.

The Australian reports today that there is “growing speculation within Adelaide’s business community that he (McBride) could be replaced within 12 months”, in the wake of a damaging Supreme Court decision last year which meant Business SA could no longer claim it was eligible for charity status (and, hence, lose payroll tax exemption).

Despite the Oz reporting McBride himself saying that he retained the “full confidence” of his board, Business SA felt compelled to put out an aggressive statement this morning defending its leader.

“Business SA is concerned about a regrettable, misleading and unhelpful story which has appeared in the media this morning,” said Business SA chair Vincent Tremaine, interrupting his overseas leave to buy into the issue.

“As the peak representative body for business and employers in South Australia, which has not been afraid to stand up for the best interests of our members and the wider business community, we appreciate that we can be the subject of scurrilous, false and agenda-led gossip.

“Business SA is in the process of choosing a new Chair. The Chair will be appointed according to an agreed process and will remain confidential until a final decision has been made. We will not make any further comment on the selection process.

“The Business SA board has complete confidence in our Chief Executive, Nigel McBride, and it is deeply regrettable for him, his staff and our stakeholders to suggest otherwise.”

The statement notes that Business SA is appealing last year’s Supreme Court decision.

Notes On Adelaide is a new column telling the inside stories of Adelaide people, institutions and issues. If you have information that you believe should be noted in this column, send us an email: editorial@solsticemedia.com.au

We value local independent journalism. We hope you do too.

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