tip off

Tips and rumours

Is it ok for spies to have affairs? … compulsory student unionism at Abbott’s alma mater … MP back from the dead …

From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Left the wife, married the intern. One Crikey correspondent reckons plenty of people around the world will be laughing over the resignation of CIA director General David Petraeus and the “nanny state requirement” to resign once an affair has been exposed. They relate an intriguing Australian example:

A former director of the Defence Signals Directorate eventually left his wife after having a long-term fling with an intern half his age. This went on for years in full knowledge of the entire Australian intelligence community. Did he resign? No, he dumped his wife and eventually married the intern. This was of course totally noble and deserved no wrist slap at all. I think the intelligence circles thought ‘half his luck’! Perhaps we are a bit more liberal minded than the US moral majority.”

No compulsory student fees! Sydney University’s St John’s College — the alma mater of Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey — has been in the news for all the wrong reasons of late. Reports of male students forcing a female to drink a vile concoction, putting her in hospital, got this tipster thinking:

The media have been remarkably circumspect in not mentioning Abbott’s period at s-xist St John’s. Another aspect: St John’s students pay a compulsory fee for parties and probably have done so since Abbott’s time there. How does this sit with the Liberals’ opposition to compulsory student fees?”

Good question! There’s a “student club fee” (aka keg levy) of $175 per semester, which goes to the College’s Students’ Club to run ”financial, cultural, sporting and social activities, which are inclusive, numerous and vibrant”. (Perhaps a little too vibrant?) That sounds not dissimilar to compulsory fees for university student unions, the anathema of the Liberals, who abolished the practice with VSU. The Gillard government brought back the right to charge compulsory fees; Liberal Senator Brett Mason said: ”This is a tax on students forcing them to pay for services that many will not or cannot use.”

So we look forward to Abbott speaking out on the iniquity of university colleges — including his own — forcing students to pay a tax for services they may not use.

Back to life. A caller to 3AW reckons Gippsland radio reported that ex-Nationals MP David Treasure had died; he was a friend, so the caller said she rang around acquaintances in shock — and eventually found he was still alive. It was apparently another ex-MP who had died.

That’s quite a mistake to make, Gippsland radio — and got us thinking, what are some of the all-time media clangers? Fox News — a bit of a Crikey favourite — famously got the call wrong on the Supreme Court’s verdict on Obamacare (watch the delightful footage here). If you have any Australian examples, drop us an email.

Unfare. Jetsetter Patsy Niklas got in touch to ask why, when booking a return flight online with Malaysia Air from Melbourne to Colombo, the amount she had to pay jumped from $889 (including taxes and surcharges) to $1,134 for no apparent reason. Before and after screenshots are below:

No explanation given for the discrepancy, and more than a little shifty. A glance at the Competition and Consumer Act looks like they’re in breach of sections 18 and 29 for false representation. But really… what did I expect from an airline?” Niklas said.

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

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