tip off

Tips and rumours

Backlash as ABC shrinks foreign offices … “community” protests against Melbourne airport expansion … don’t talk about erections at work, folks …

From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Backlash to ABC downsizing abroad. This from a mole at Aunty, who reports management is getting an ear-bashing from senior journos over its decision to realign foreign offices:

The Gaza crisis has revived feelings inside the national broadcaster about news director Kate Torney’s plans to emasculate the ABC’s foreign bureaus including the crucial Jerusalem office. A staff revolt — led by Tony Jones, Peter Cave and Greg Wilesmith — embarrassed Torney into abandoning many aspects of a foreign bureaus review. Torney and international head Steven Alward were on a hacking-and-slashing world tour when news broke back home. Fumble turned into farce when dozens of the ABC’s most distinguished broadcasters put their names to a 10-page protest letter. While their outrage was aimed at plans across the board, the paring down of the Jerusalem bureau caused much angst.

It wasn’t enough that Torney and her cronies were so myopic about the Middle East situation that they were cutting a correspondent job . They also sacked the bureau “driver” — a man who also acted as translator, fixer and, literally, a saver-of-lives advising his Australian charges in deadly situations. Correspondents past and present detailed to Torney and Alward how they owed their stories and their lives to such crucial support. Such was the fury that Torney had to re-employ the driver within 24 hours.

Plans to merge ABC bureaus with APTN went awry only when, for instance, the office space promised by APTN in London turned out to not be theirs to offer. Now, with the situation in Israel worsening, the ABC has had to rush Phillip Williams in from London to support Matt Brown serving a multitude of radio, TV and online outlets. While everyone loves Williams, senior staff ire has been reignited by the bandaid solution.

In light of the rapacious News 24 on top of traditional outlets, there’s a case more than ever in ABC history to have the usual two correspondents (with full bureau back-up) as well as a supplementary reporter like Williams. Syria, Iran, Jordan and now Israel-Gaza: all an indictment of the short-sighted bureau downsizings by Torney. Another staff missive is imminent.”

We’ve gone to the ABC for comment and will keep you posted.

Ministerial advisor a creep. Which former senior staffer to a state minister apparently left for “personal reasons” and is now back working for a different minister? There are claims he “commented to female staff about having an erection” at staff drinks in his previous role, and “belittled a male staffer for looking better carrying the minister’s handbag”. Is is true this staffer also got in hot water for allegedly bullying gay staffers? Some think this man shouldn’t have been rehired …

No such thing as community. Coincidence or conspiracy? Grassroots or astroturf? A well-timed “community” campaign driven by prominent trucking identity Paul Freestone, and featuring a slick website, and a media contact from one of Melbourne’s more costly PR firms, had tongues wagging at the announcement of Melbourne Airport’s new runway plans this week.

Freestone has railed against the airport’s expansion, calling for more public funds to go to Avalon Airport — which, of course, is owned by another prominent trucking magnate in Lindsay Fox. The key messages could be seen to be consistent with those of larger-than-life Avalon CEO Justin Giddings, who is seeking taxpayer dollars to boost the airport with pretensions to international greatness, and criticising Melbourne airport for being “all about profit for its shareholders”.

Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. Crikey readers are not impressed with Gina Rinehart’s new tome, launched in a veil of media secrecy this week. Northern Australia and Then Some — Changes We Need to Make Our Country Rich contains articles and poems by Rinehart, plus many photos, at least four of which involve cake (we’re just pointing out a fact, people).

Here at Crikey HQ we’ve tried our hearts out to get a copy but we’ve got nowhere. Can you help? If you’ve got a copy and would like to write a review, or drop a copy into our moles in Canberra, Sydney or Melbourne, let us know here. Have you seen the book for sale, and how much was it? Was it walking off the shelves? All Rinehart-related tips most welcome. Here are some preliminary reviews, based on the book’s PR guff:

What an awful example of book design Gina Rinehart’s cover is: it just screams self-published. Surely she could employ somebody to do a design that looked professional, rather than amateur?”

Why do we have the last scene of Gone with the Wind on the cover of Gina’s tome?”

We think that tipster might be on to something. There is something rather Scarlett O’Hara-like in Rinehart’s pose. Watch out, Rhett!

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

4
  • 1
    klewso
    Posted Friday, 23 November 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Simple as ABC?
    Get rid of these “Mr & Mrs Magoo’s” - and those that promoted them to positions “where they could do the most harm”?

  • 2
    klewso
    Posted Friday, 23 November 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    And what’s Gina holding on to that tree for?
    She’s about to rip it out of the ground?

    As for “Gone With the Wind”?
    Who can forget another line of Rhett’s, telling Scarlett: “A cat’s a better mother than you!”

  • 3
    klewso
    Posted Friday, 23 November 2012 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Amateurish - surely the more apt title could have been
    “In the Meantime
    (Northern Australia and Then Some  — 
    Changes We Need
    To Make Our Country’s Rich Richer,
    And the Poor get Poorer)
    In Between time,
    Aint we got fun!”?

  • 4
    AR
    Posted Friday, 23 November 2012 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    I will try to steal a copy if any chain(ed)bookseller is shameless enough to stock it.

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