Is the Immigration media blackout back? (19 March, item 6.) The answer is “yes”. But that is not all. Kevin Andrews’ appointment has sent shock waves through the department’s executive. No more so than the “People Services” area managed by Deputy Secretary Carmel McGregor who insists on approving 100% of all recruitment requests (internal and external). Clearly Ms McGregor has no confidence in her Division Heads, Branch Heads and Directors.

Fairfax has threatened to sue LexisNexis Group Australia (LNG) for — wait for it — using AFR headlines to refer to AFR articles. One of LNG’s business units, ABIX, makes brief summaries of AFR articles — and has been doing this for the past nine years. This has been something of a thorn in Mike Gill’s side for some time. It was ABIX’s trial of providing full-text AFR content via a deal with Rehame which seems to have led to Gill withdrawing the AFR from the CAL licensing agreement in 2006. The ban on headlines appears to be absolute. Reasonable efforts by LNG to suggest alternatives, such as providing a different headline on the top of summaries, with smaller text below reading “Originally published in the AFR with the headline …” followed by the text of the original headline, were dismissed by Fairfax.

Apparently Andrew Sisson and Peter Yates of Allco (who are both on Level 35, 101 Collins Melbourne) have been like oil and water for some time. Sisson is a reserved gentleman, while Peter Yates is the financial gymnastics barbarian who has a sense of young arrogance about him. Elevator chat has been less than cordial.

ACT Department of Health plans to introduce a “charge and barge” telephone system — this means that any staff member can listen into calls made to the mental health crisis line without the knowledge of the caller. Staff have expressed grave concerns. (See clarification below.)

TAFE NSW will soon be under the microscope again when it is officially reported that one of its curriculum centres is missing over half a million dollars worth of public assets.

ACT Health Minister Katy Gallagher writes: I refer to the article contained in the Tips and Rumours section of Monday’s Crikey concerning telephone calls to Mental Health ACT, where you state, “this means that any staff member can listen into calls made to the mental health crisis line without the knowledge of the caller”. The fact that such a practice would be at odds with the best interests of clients of Mental Health ACT and that it would breach provisions of the Privacy Act 1988 are among a range of reasons that that ACT Government has not, and would not, do anything of the sort. Had Crikey sought to confirm the accuracy of this rumour with my office it would have been informed that it was completely untrue. Publication of this story has led to considerable disquiet amongst clients of Mental Health ACT, their families and carers, and others working in the best interests of those with mental illness in the ACT, as you would imagine. I expect that you will ensure that the record is corrected.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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