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Notes on Adelaide

State Budget media secrets; who owned Team Adelaide's vanishing website?

Notes on Adelaide

In today’s Notes on Adelaide, we reveal a few Budget lock-up media secrets, including which media organisation will get a headstart on their coverage, uncover who owned the secretive Team Adelaide website, and pull apart the latest local newspaper readership numbers.

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Beneath the veneer of the Budget lock-up

Until this year, electronic devices connected to the internet have been officially banned in the state Budget lock-up – that odd annual ritual where the state Treasurer, bureaucrats and spin doctors hold the media captive for four hours while they sell the financial blueprint for the coming year.

New Treasurer Rob Lucas has lifted the ban on the media having WiFi connections, iPads and smartphones in this year’s lock-up, to “assist in their preparation and workflow”.

The reality is that, despite journalists being required to hand over their phones as they enter the lock-up, many news organisations – including InDaily – have had access to wifi in the Budget for years. Many modern content management systems require internet access, so journalists have arranged – on the down-low – to maintain furtive access to the WiFi.

Journalists will still have to abide by a strict 3pm embargo before they can publish any material, or they might not be invited back. (The secrecy, of course, also seems odd given all governments have a habit of “leaking” their own key announcements ahead of the day.)

The lock-up concept was originally developed to avoid any undue influence on financial markets before the entire suite of information was made public. While this has relevance in the very strictly enforced federal lock-up, at the state level it is rarely an issue, if ever.

The lock-up, therefore, is more an exercise in media management and political theatre. The Treasurer can weave a narrative about the numbers without influence from outside. Journalists can’t seek a response – from the Opposition or stakeholders – to the data presented until the veil of apparent secrecy is lifted.

However, while Lucas has commendably dispensed with the internet connectivity charade, he will continue the habit of recent Labor Treasurers in giving the Murdoch press their own special pre-lock-up briefing.

“Consistent with the practice over several years we will be providing a short briefing to The Advertiser prior to the media lock-up,” Lucas told InDaily.

In the past, Labor Treasurers also offered a special pre-Budget briefing to ABC journalists.

When it comes to the Budget lock-up, all media outlets are equal – but some are more equal than others.

Who registered Team Adelaide’s vanishing website?

No-one on the Adelaide City Council wants to talk about a connection to a group known as “Team Adelaide”, which has been reported on extensively by InDaily over the past few weeks.

However, we can reveal today that an Adelaide marketing firm, the Muscle Group, had registered the domain name – – which is now up for sale. That’s according to a search of the WhoIs domain listing website, conducted by InDaily this month.

Adelaide city councillor Houssam Abiad, according to a number of media reports, was once connected to the Muscle Group. The Muscle Group is listed on Abiad’s Linkedin profile under the heading “interests”.

He hasn’t answered our questions about whether he is involved in Team Adelaide nor whether he has a business connection with the Muscle Group (the company does not appear on the council’s official register of interests).

The website was briefly live and featured images of Abiad.

He told InDaily in July that he was unaware of such a “team” – but that it would be beneficial for the council to work together. Asked whether he was aware of, or behind the website – which had featured images of the councillor, but had been cleared of content and later deleted altogether – Abiad said his website was

The Muscle Group did not return calls from InDaily today.

It is increasingly clear that something called “Team Adelaide” has had some sort of life, and that, at the very least, a loose group of potential candidates has been talking to Abiad and/or Lord Mayor Martin Haese (see this story from last week).

The question is: why won’t anyone involved talk about it?

Advertiser readership drops with sackings

The Advertiser suffered a significant drop in readership between May and June this year, according to the latest industry data.

In May, News Corp announced a handful of photographers and a large group of production staff were to be made redundant or outsourced at the company’s Waymouth Street headquarters.

Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, the following month the Tiser’s readership fell, according to emma (Enhanced Media Metrics Australia) data for June 2018, released today.

The data shows combined print/digital readership for The Advertiser in June was 1.33 million – down from 1.46 million in May. The majority of the readership loss was digital.

In June last year, emma reported The Advertiser’s total monthly readership as 1.59 million.

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

– additional reporting by Bension Siebert

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