tip off

Erica’s office … lame gifts from the boss … pollies on The Shire …

From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Erica’s office. Crikey has been taking a keen interest of late in the goings-on in federal politicians’ offices. Now we hear from Liberal insiders of possible glitches in the office of Liberal Senator Eric Abetz. There are suggestions that the management arrangement appears to be not working smoothly, that Abetz may have “kids” employed as key advisers. We hear his office is celebrated within the party for being staffed by passionate party members (some other Liberal offices have few party members).  We’ve put the claims to Abetz and are awaiting a response. Is it true that Abetz tried to roll Senate Whip Helen Kroger a few weeks ago? Got the inside word on Abetz’s office — or anyone else’s, for that matter? We’d love to hear from you, and you can remain anonymous

Air Force’s “new horizons”. The second half of S-x Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick’s landmark report on women in the Australian Defence Force landed this morning, but the Air Force is already on the front foot. Special events and workshops are to be held on September 14 with staff to encourage a more open culture in the force. Originally the day was to be called “Culture Day” but it’s been renamed to the cringe-inducing “New Horizons”.

Candidate with itchy feet. Which federal Nationals’ candidate is billed as a family man committed to his region, but is actually asking around for an “easy $100k” job away from his electorate in a big city, and whose family comprises one pet? “The Nats are really scraping the bottom of the barrel,” our mole suggests.

Present tense. Yesterday we issued a shout-out for people’s best and worst gifts from the boss, and we got some amusing responses:

WINNER. I work for an NGO that preaches sensitivity and authenticity — which is why the gift our CEO gave to a colleague was so awkward. This lass from Darwin was rewarded for her service to the organisation with a staple-remover sporting a faux-dreamtime design. To add insult to injury, it was made in China.

I had a boss once who threw a barbecue for the clients on the front lawn of our office, a week or so before Christmas. The staff had to do a lot of entertaining, organising games and cleaning up afterwards. The boss then invited all the staff to a beachside barbecue on the following Sunday. Guess what the fare consisted of? Yes, you got it — leftovers from the client barbecue! To say the least, we were somewhat underwhelmed.

For Christmas 2011 Commonwealth Bank (CBA) gave its employees a book on the history of the bank and a double CD of Australian pop songs … there were great piles of them left around the office long after all Christmas cheer had evaporated.

Several years ago, one of my former employers asked all staff to pull late nights for a week, to work on a re-tendering document for their core business, a live-or-die situation. This culminated in an all-nighter on the day before the document was due. Eventually, they won the tender again, and their business survived, eventually going on to become an Australian success story in their IT field. What did they give us for all this extra, unpaid work? A card to a corporate discount program.

The late Edmund Rouse, former owner of The Examiner in Launceston, would hand out all-day suckers to staff for their annual bonus. With the way Fairfax is going this now seems quite generous.

Twenty years ago I worked stacking shelves in Sydney’s Grace Brothers (now called Myer). After a particularly long day preparing for the winter sale, our supervisor handed out lollies and stickers to those she thought had worked hardest. (I was probably just jealous because I didn’t get a prize.)

Back in the 1990s I used to work for a chain of arts supplies stores in and around Perth, and remember the owner’s idea of a Christmas bonus: one charity fruitcake per store. Luckily our branch only had three staff. Some of the stores had closer to 20 staff: and still had to share the one cake. Amusing for the lengths of the stinginess, it was also written off as a donation to said charity.

We were expecting some tips about getting wonderful gifts from the boss; a new car, year’s worth of free public transport, professional-scale capuccino machine etc. But it seems our bosses may be a stingy bunch. Have we got that wrong? Set us straight by telling us about your truly great workplace gifts here. Naturally this is all a cunning ploy by Tips and Rumours to secure better gifts to hard-working Crikey staff from our editor. (So far the editor is unmoved.)

Student party games in Queensland. On Monday we reported on the antics of the student union to the University of Queensland. Well Colin Finke, the Young LNP-linked union president drafted last year by campus Liberal powerbroker Brodie Thompson to sit atop the $16 million fiefdom, released a statement yesterday headed “Democracy alive and well at University of Queensland” in response to our story. But he’s still not answering questions over why his ruling “Fresh” party secretly registered the name of a rival group and then installed his brother as a candidate under that name for next week’s student elections.

Despite inviting follow-up questions, he has dodged direct queries over why Fresh had registered the name of Pulse — the established brand of the progressive opposition. When the real Pulse submitted its ticket it was told by returning officers that the name had already been taken. Andrew Crook has more online.

Not so exclusive. The battle continues between The Australian and The Australian Financial Review for the most “exclusive” tags planted in their hallowed, dead-tree pages. Today The Oz is firmly in the lead with eight “exclusives”, one of which reveals that: “The Transport Workers Union is supporting a bid to oust the leaders of the Flight Attendants Association of Australia after they refused demands to join the militant industrial campaign against Qantas”. Stop the presses!

Meanwhile the Fin has dropped behind; it only rustled up three “exclusives”. “Qantas Airways has won back two of rival Virgin Australia’s largest corporate travel accounts” was deemed exciting enough to earn the tag. Usually The Age doesn’t stoop to join the exclusive-chasing mob, but today they did with a page 1 “exclusive” on cricket coverage.

*Do you know more? Send your tips to boss@crikey.com.au or use our guaranteed anonymous form

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