tip off

Tips and rumours

New News supremo with Chinese army links? … Starbucks Australia and those pesky tax questions … Fleet Street comes to Hobart …

From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Fei chang hao. Robert Thomson, inaugural chief of News Corp’s soon-to-be-created news and publishing arm, has an interesting back story. A reader reckons he “started his career in 1979 as a junior reporter (general and finance) on the Melbourne Herald. He went to the paper’s Sydney office, from which he was poached by The Sydney Morning Heraldin 1983. Then, the world. He is married to Wang Ping, the daughter of a general in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.” Is that correct? (Wikipedia says it is, but someone could be mischief-making.) Rupert Murdoch tweeted that Thomson was a “special leader”; the PLA certainly knows all about that.

There’s a fascinating compare and contrast between Murdoch and Thomson, who are buddies, here (thanks to the New York Magazine). Same birthday apparently.

Walkley on the way? The Australian certainly stretched itself to find a first home buyer for its front page colour story today on the latest interest rate cut. Genevieve Toop – as a quick Google search makes clear — works as a marketing officer for her father’s Adelaide-based real estate agency Toop&Toop.

Speersy and Mearsy? They’re cleaning house up at Parliament’s press gallery committee, with respected and genial News Limited scribe Phillip Hudson standing down as president. Grey-haired gallery guru David Speers from Sky News is the hot tip to replace Hudson — gossip around the corridors is that The Financial Review’s youthful James Massola, who has been on the committee for a time and could have challenged, won’t be doing so. There’s talk that well-regarded Fairfax photographer Andrew Meares (who is already on the committee, and who you might have seen on Insiders’ Talking Pictures, where he is a fixture) will throw his hat in the ring for vice president.

Normally Tips would berate the good folk of the press gallery for s-xism at all these blokes destroying the joint on the committee, but with a female PM, GG etc, we’re going to cut them some slack. You’re welcome.

Would you like your double frappe mocha-latte with tax? Starbucks Australia has not yet responded to Crikey’s request for information regarding their tax contributions, in the wake of revelations that the company’s UK arm had been avoiding taxes. Disgruntled customers in the UK have been boycotting Starbucks, after a review by the House of Commons showed that Starbucks UK had paid only 8.6 million pounds ($13.2 million) of corporate tax over the last 14 years, despite earnings of 3.1 billion pounds ($4.8 billion).

Starbucks UK responded to the review by announcing talks with the UK government to discuss increasing tax payments on the weekend. However any positive press was checked by revelations that they would be stopping paid lunch breaks, freezing pay rises, reducing sick pay and cutting maternity leave.

In Australia the coffee chain isn’t as popular as it is internationally, with only 24 stores nationwide, compared to almost 800 in the UK. The ATO could not provide Crikey with details of Starbucks Australia’s tax contributions as it breaches confidentiality. If you know more, drop us a line.

Defenceless. Tips has been musing of late on what life’s like in the federal public service, as some cutbacks proceed. Seems not everyone at Russell is a happy camper (although we note the department is still so large that there would always be some complaints):

Morale in Defence is at rock bottom. People want to leave but there are no jobs to go to. Word is that the next round of redundancies is being stymied because of a lack of funds to pay for them.”

Hobart HQ. Forget Fleet Street — this is Salamanca! Hobart has a new media hub, with The Mercury shifting from its historic duds on Davey Street to the new, more modern (and smaller, after almost all the subs were shown the door) office down at the fashionable Salamanca strip. So handy if you want to pop into the markets of a Saturday to buy a crocheted hemp beanie. We hear staff morale, at a low ebb after various cuts, has perked up in the new space. AAP is in the same area, and now Sky News is to join the party, setting up a new Tasmanian desk in the same office.

While we note with interest Sky’s decision to wait until the very newsy 30-year battle for Tasmanian forests has just finished to start beaming out of the Apple Isle, we commend them for beefing up coverage of Tasmanian affairs. So who will be the face of Tasmania on Sky? Ricky Ponting is looking for work. Just saying.

Cancer sticks. So the new federal laws are supposed to have taken effect on plain packaging for cigarettes. Anyone noticed a retailer flouting the laws? Are all packs being sold in drab olive packs? And do they taste worse? Keep Crikey in the loop — and you can dob in a retailer anonymously. Best tip wins a pack of Benson & Hedges.

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

2
  • 1
    paddy
    Posted Wednesday, 5 December 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Best tip wins a pack of Benson & Hedges.

    LOL Sod you Crikey.
    You’ve got bugger all chance of a tip with that prize.
    It’s Potaroo Ultramild or nothing.

  • 2
    rodholesgrove
    Posted Wednesday, 5 December 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    The 11 April 2012 edition of The New Yorker has a good in depth article about Robert Thomson and his close relationship with Rupert Murdoch. The New Yorker also states that Thomson married the daughter of a Chinese Red Army general. Given the New Yorker’s fearsome reputation for fact checking the story must be correct!

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