Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Melbourne Cup TAB “vandals”

Many journalists and sub-editors across the land clearly need a refresher course in basic dictionary meanings – whatever the persons (I’m assuming the plural) who glued the locks in 25 separate Melbourne TAB shopfronts may correctly be called, “vandals” (= persons carrying out acts of random destruction) is not among them.

Rather, the destruction here was exquisitely sensible and targeted, in terms of gaining maximum media exposure for minimum property damage and related economic loss. The number and geographical spread of outlets affected by themselves made the story a nationally significant one. Only the AFR today had the chutzpah to not make any mention of it – despite its screaming relevance in this story – presumably using the rationalisation that there was no business metrics-provable indirect damage on the day.

That this was almost certainly the perpetrators’ intention not only eluded the AFR, however. The TAB shopfronts’ owner, a much-morphed, privatised former government agency now called Tabcorp Ltd (“the fifth largest gambling business in the world”, its website boasts) apparently sees the events as not even deserving of a media release.

Instead, TAB spokesman Bruce Tobin’s extempore sound-bite is left to stand for the official record:

"It was just a senseless act of vandalism probably carried out by people who don't appreciate the spirit of Melbourne Cup day"

A roaming gang of letterbox-arson hoon types, who also happen to be fanatical wowsers? Yeah, right – and the fact that Tabcorp rakes in duopoly rents from the cesspool of human misery otherwise known as the Victorian poker machine business can’t have anything to do with it.

In reality, most pokie venues operate 24/7, a circumstance that seems to have partially saved them from being the glued front-door lock targets of first-choice. The fact that any disruption to Tabcorp’s poker machine business would be immediately share-price sensitive fills in the rest.

Tabcorp thus has been elegantly both shown-up and stood-down – that is to say, offered a paltry bet which it has stutteringly declined to accept.

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