tip off

Tips and rumours

We critique James Packer’s fighting style … what’s Mirabella doing at Melbourne Uni? … Pyne’s HECS debt unpacked …

From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Packer’s fighting style. Ms Tips is only an amateur in the boxing ring, but those pics of Packer and Gyngell in a dust-up don’t seem too impressive. Where’s the technique and the finesse, and what’s with the grasshopper pose? So we asked Joe Walker from Sydney’s Joe’s Boxing Club for some expert commentary. This was his critique, after scrutinising those pics (cue News Corp watermark):

Packer shows all the smarts of a professional standing on David Gyngell’s bare foot while launching a punch at him a bit like a roadrunner cartoon. Apart from that, shows all the boxing skill of two fat ladies colliding in a  bath, although I would say James is a well-known boxing aficionado, friends with Jeff Fenech and the like, and I’m sure he has done some training along the way, and some of his poses indicate that.

I am no prude when it comes to violence, believing that good people should stand up for themselves, but no matter how much training people have it can all go terribly wrong with someone banging their head against a pavement. Even a bit of a biff even between mates could turn to tragedy, so I don’t in any way want to say it’s OK for the big end of town to have a swing, because violence between anyone can have tragic consequences.”

Very sensible, Joe. On the specifics, Joe commented that Packer’s use of the elbow was savvy; “in bare fist fighting the use of the elbow is smart as it is easy to damage hands without gloves on”. He described the style of the fight (it seems to be part-boxing, part-wrestling, with a few martial arts poses) as “a style all of their own”.

What’s Mirabella up to? Some academics at the University of Melbourne grumbled when Sophie Mirabella was recently appointed a public policy fellow — one told us the view was that Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis was “sucking up to Abbott”, and some suggested the appointment was aimed at luring donations to the uni via Mirabella’s Coalition prestige (the uni is her alma mater, too). Well, she’s started work, so we checked in to see what she’s doing.

She doesn’t seem to have a uni webpage or an office, and insiders told us she doesn’t have a decision-making role in the School of Social and Political Sciences. There’s a rumour she’s on $35,000 a year to work one day a week, which is not exorbitant.

The head of the school, Adrian Little, told us Mirabella wouldn’t be in charge of any subjects, but would give guest lectures at undergrad subjects on Australian politics. She’s also likely to crop up at “public-facing events” (seminars, panels, etc). Another source told us she’d already started giving lectures and seemed keen.

Nick Reece, a former Gillard staffer and current public policy fellow at the uni, says appointing people from politics to uni staff helps make universities “relevant and connected … The right sort of politicians can add a huge amount to universities — they need to have a passion for the academy and what universities do,” he told Crikey.

As to whether the uni might consider appointing well-connected people to staff — well, it’s possible. According to the uni’s annual report, funding from federal, state and local governments declined in 2013, while private donations more than doubled to $70 million (long-term donors include well-connected people like Harold Mitchell, the Pratts and the Myers).

There are plenty of other pollies who’ve landed gigs at unis, and we daresay some work harder than others. Julia Gillard is an honorary professor of politics at the University of Adelaide, Gareth Evans is the chancellor at the ANU, and professorial fellows at Monash include John Brumby, Petro Georgiou and Kay Patterson.

Pyne’s penury. Last night on the ABC’s Q&A (before being targeted by a “sustained and raucous protest”) Education Minister Christopher Pyne said he empathised with the modern student, and pointed to his own HECS debt. But a reader wondered if Pyne’s anecdote were entirely true, given that the Higher Education Contribution Scheme was brought in in 1989, when Pyne was 22.

“Did Christopher Pyne get it right … [on ABC’s Q&A last night]? Did he start university late, or just say it to show that he is like everyone else?”

Crikey found that Pyne graduated from the University of Adelaide in 1988 with a bachelor of laws at the age of 21, so no HECS there. He went on to complete a graduate diploma of legal practice at the University of South Australia in 1989. Pyne would have paid HECS for the latter (if he did the course now, it would be $7335 for a comparable one-year course at the University of Adelaide, as it is no longer offered at the University of South Australia). That cost is less than one-third of the average level of debt for a Commonwealth-supported student enrolling in 2013, at $30,000.

Not our kind, dear. British tabloid the Daily Mail (soon to launch in Australia) is an expert dog-whistler. We hear from an ex-Daily Mail hack that the paper was lamenting the difficulty brought about by gentrification and mixed-income housing: telling the reader that the subject of a story lived in a two-bedroom semi-detached in Brixton was no longer enough to identify if the person was “one of us” or “one of them”. An enterprising editor suggested a solution: when interviewing, ask a person’s name, age, profession, suburb and how much he paid for his house. Although we don’t think the directive ever became official editorial policy, we’re thinking it would have made quite a few journos (and interviewees) squirm during the trial phase. Perhaps the Murdoch tabloids here could have taken a leaf from the Mail’s book and asked Messrs Packer and Gyngell of the cost of their abodes?

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to boss@crikey.com.au or use our guaranteed anonymous form

6
  • 1
    paddy
    Posted Tuesday, 6 May 2014 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Re: Mirabella

    There’s a rumour she’s on $35,000 a year to work one day a week, which is not exorbitant.

    I’m not sure which is more surreal.
    Paying Sophie $35K for one day a week.
    Or thinking it’s not exorbitant.
    Cheers from the salt mines P.

  • 2
    leon knight
    Posted Tuesday, 6 May 2014 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I was a bit bemused by Pyne’s claim on Q&A last night that the average HECS debt is $16K - most students I know rattled up debts in excess of $30K, so I am wondering how many cheap degrees are out there for our erstwhile Education minister to be anywhere near correct….Fact Check anyone?

  • 3
    Pedantic, Balwyn
    Posted Tuesday, 6 May 2014 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Gyngell must now know why Packer paid $580,000 to Tony Abbott for Boxing lessons.

  • 4
    AR
    Posted Tuesday, 6 May 2014 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    Paddy - I’d like a sinecure (with no defined duties) which paid approx. $700 per diem.

  • 5
    Liamj
    Posted Tuesday, 6 May 2014 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Re Mirabella - 35k & some deluded baby tory’s is a small price to pay, consider the costs of other mercenary post-political liasons. e.g. Peter Tenix Reith, Andrew Boeing Peacock, Michael APCHL & Waubra foundation Wooldridge, …

  • 6
    klewso
    Posted Friday, 9 May 2014 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Unseemly as it was, I an understand their frustration?
    I thought it a bit rich Jones defining what constitutes “acceptable behaviour in a democracy” - when Murdoch’s been using his media dominance to shout down alternate opinion for decades, to sod all attention especially from other parts of the “media brotherhood”?
    When Fraser brought it up, on the show a few years back, Jones seemed more nonplussed at the very idea?

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