Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Exclusive : "Real Estate God Father is a “Pussy Cat”

Troubles in the world of tabloid television : 
Those with long memories may remember the sad case of an electrician who was pounced upon by the then Kerry Packer owned station and program  A Current Affair over purported dodgy repairs to a radio in 1999 in a classic foot-in-the-door style confrontation. The electrician, a Vietnamese refugee committed suicide 2 days later fearing his life had been destroyed. Kerry Packer was said to be distraught by the matter and privately settled a substantial sum of money on the hapless man's family.

Fast forward to 2009 and the program finds itself in hot water over the alleged  hiring of a hit man by the former Mayor of Waverly and local Liberal Party heavyweight who wanted a male hustler given a hard time, tortured and made to do all sorts of sexual nasties

The station thought they had coup and instead have found themselves in the dock with young reporter Ben Fordham charged with breaching the Listening Devices Act for secretly recording conversations with the former mayor. The mayor's counsel says he is suffering from Parkinson's and has lost the plot. His sight must be suffering as well. Those of us who know Ben are perplexed how anyone could think the pint sized presenter could torture anyone. 

little Ben
But ACA is being rivaled in their efforts to prolong a perpetual silly season with an attack upon a popular Gold Coast realtor on the CH7 show Today Tonight :

Former top Ray White Salesman Rob Astbury has described his former boss Gary Gannon, the man at the centre of a Gold Coast real estate scandal as a “pussy cat”. He says the recent explosive Today Tonight report on the Seven network, that accused Gannon of real estate fraud, is a beat up, grossly misleading and unfair. The program can be seen here if you click on Trouble on millionaire's row.

Gannon (pictured left) was accused of being possibly the most feared real estate agent in Australia. Gannon and his senior sales representative Michael Kollosche, formerly Astbury’s assistant, were accused of price fixing, market manipulation and death threats to protect their patch known as Hedges Avenue, renowned as the most expensive street for real estate in Australia.

Today Tonight revealed complaints from two people involved in house sales with Gannon and Kollosche, a seller Adrian Slinger and a buyer Rod Lambert, who described proceedings as a scene straight out of the movie The God Father.
Astbury with a very large award
Both were disgruntled over dealings involving their multi million dollar beach front properties .Slinger  refused to pay the agents commission. Lambert, a former Gold Coast real estate agent claimed he was misled as regards the sales price of a house he purchased for over ten million dollars.

Astbury, who is a property developer now based in Thailand, received the award in January 2000 as Ray White's top selling agent in Queensland with sales over five years totalling $70 million says,
No matter what the pressure a buyer or seller are never forced to sign a sales contract.” He continued, “The real estate industry in Australia is controlled by very stringent laws and if an agent breeches the rules then he can forfeit his licence.’ 

“For years Rod Lambert was a very successful Gold Coast real estate agent before turning to property development. He knows the real estate industry and the official avenues that are available if he has a complaint. Why he would turn to the media, which has presented a clearly biased account of proceedings, is very disappointing.”

And another award-with his proud mum & Brian White
In a media career that spanned 16 years Astbury worked for all three commercial television networks winning many awards for excellence as an investigative sports journalist before turning to real estate on the Gold Coast..
In an exclusive interview Astbury told the Social Shuttle, “Today Tonight arguable took a large slice of liberty by including a recorded telephone interview between Gannon and a former employee Jade Grech.”.

Astbury says, “The dramatic conversation between Gannon and Grech was recorded by Grech a year prior to the Today Tonight segment which was supposed to be based on the dispute between Rod Lambert and Adrian Slinger.”

Astbury’s remarks appeared to be verified when Grech’s sister Sheree Neal told the Gold Coast Bulletin she was 'shocked' when she saw her brother Jade telling Australia in a 'fake' European accent he feared for his life after being threatened by Mr Gannon. Mrs Neal said that after watching the program, she believed her brother became involved in the Today Tonight feature story because he was motivated by money.

Gannon made the now notorious phone call over a year ago after learning that Grech, who owed him $8,500, was about to leave Australia in June 2008. In the call he says to Grech:   "Give me my eight and a half grand tomorrow mate or you're dead".

Astbury, who worked for Gannon between 1995 and 2000 said, “The telephone conversation certainly sounds threatening but, taken out of context, it is highly misleading.:

"From first hand experience I know how television current affairs television works and this is a classic example where the limits have been stretched. 

Astbury continued, “When the occasion suited, Gary’s abruptness and course language could be alarming and I have elaborated on this extensively in my autobiography “Twice as Hard, but make no mistake those who really know the man realized under his gruff exterior he is a very generous caring person who would not harm anyone physically. He really is a Pussy Cat. Kick it and it will bite you and that is Gary Gannon.

According to Peter Jess, who has been appointed to promote Astbury’s soon to be published autobiography called “Twice as Hard” the book has many revelations about real estate, previously untold AFL stories and especially television which Astbury describes as a despicable industry.
Rob has not spoken to Gannon, Kollosche or anyone from Ray White but his revelations will open a lot of eyes and certainly rock the real estate and television industries.” says Jess.