On Friday 21 November Queensland’s Courier-Mail ran a story pointer on page 10 for an article by columnist Des Houghton that was supposed to appear the next day. It was titled “Questions over whether Premier Anna Bligh has had botox.”

The story never appeared — wonder why? Did an outraged Bligh hit the phone herself to keep the story from public view?

I’m not sure how reliable this is, but I was chatting with a guy last night involved in the film industry in the UK and the chatter over there is that Andrew Denton is set to replace Michael Parkinson. We already know that the two are good friends. Could it be that the latest interviews with stars Jolie, Eastwood and Stiller was just a bit of a screen test to show he can handle the type of fodder Parkinson would have on his show?

A senior Melbourne sports writer departs after having a blue over expenses from a recent trip to India. Marched out the door by security guards today … troubled times indeed.

It is rumoured that Julia Gillard’s Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations has put the husband of Barbara Bennett, infamous as the public servant who became the face for WorkChoices in 2007, in charge of negotiations for the DEEWR certified agreement. A convoluted and incomprehensible range of pay offers laced with sweeteners ranging from the generous for some, to nothing for others, have stymied negotiations which are being pushed through with few details and reduced conditions for many. The results of the negotiations have been complicated by the unfairness of the AWA system in the old DEWR where people sitting next to each other and doing the same work are being paid hugely different wages. In the Department’s anxiety to move staff off one unfair system the negotiators seem keen to move staff to another different but still unfair system.

One has to be a little concerned about the direction of the DEEWR Executive — at the Executive Pantomime, which was The Goose that lays the Golden Egg Secretary Lisa Paul played Jack (as in the beanstalk Jack) — an illiterate bogan who refused to go to school — hence his inability to get a job, then at the denouement of the pantomime it was revealed that the Employment Service Provider (played by Malisa Golightly, Dep Sec with responsibility for Employment) was testing Jack and if he had failed to show initiative would not have offered him assistance.

I’m a lawyer and I was retrenched from my job at one of the big firms last week after three years. So I was disappointed to see the firm talking in the Financial Review today about the new partners it’s made this year — with little mention of the lawyers like me who’ve been left behind. We didn’t cause this financial crisis but it seems we are paying the price for it, not the partners. I was given a package but that’s little consolation in the current job market. I was not the only person to go.

A view from the coalface. We are an upmarket retailer, selling beautiful high-end luggage, leathergoods, handbags, briefcases and the like in six stores across Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. I’d like to report that the death of retail has been somewhat exaggerated. Despite all reports to the contrary, despite endless doom and gloom, we’ve had a very good year, and for the first 10 days of December we are still a little up on 2007!

Crikey/Media Monitors radio rumour watch reports:

  • Presenter Jeff Richardson has been told by “a couple of different sources during the week” that Malcolm Turnbull will not lead the Liberals to the next Federal election and everyone should “keep an eye on Joe Hockey” — 7.26am ABC 774 (Melbourne)
  • Caller “Not Merry Jan” claims WA Opposition Labor Party members have been instructed not to wish their constituents a Merry Christmas as it’s not politically correct. — 07.12am 3AW (Melbourne)
  • Prime Minister Kevin Rudd denies hiring advisors to help him lose weight [The PM promises to take a break this Christmas to read trashy novels and watch trashy television and spend time with his wife, kids, friends and the family cat and dog]. — 10.31am 2UE (Sydney)

And meanwhile, on the grassy knoll: Has anyone else noticed a particular crispness to their notes, or a particular shine (and 2008 stamp) to their coins in the past six weeks or so? Does the Mint always print and cut money in great quantities around this time of year?