The China conspiracy theorists will love this one! China’s international propaganda voice, CRI, is now broadcasting to the citizens of Canberra. Actually, I’ve heard the transmitter is in the shed in the back of the garden at the Lodge itself!

Budget leak 1. One thing to go in tonight’s Budget will be the uncapped “Meals & Entertainment” allowance available to those with salary packaging arrangements.

Budget leak 2. The word is out that solar power rebate will be scraped as soon as Thursday 14th May 2009 and not the promised cut off date of June 30th 2009. I hope this is not true as the solar industry is currently booming.

I work in PR for a charity. I approached a suburban Leader newspaper about a story of interest in their area. The journalist was indeed interested in the story, and asked me to submit it to their “You write the news” section online. You submit your own written story and photos.

So now papers aren’t even PRETENDING that they write the stuff that makes it from media release to newspaper. I wonder who gets the byline?!

They also include a helpful “Tips to Writing News Stories” … amazing. Journalism 101 online.

Perhaps they should become an RTO and offer a certificate in journalism while they’re at it. That ought to keep the bean counters happy.

Jenny Macklin’s blather about paid “parental” leave on Radio National yesterday morning included the spectacular logical contortion that it wasn’t “leaked” but “announced” because it was Mother’s Day. If it doesn’t start until 2011 no existing mothers will benefit from this scheme.

In relation to cutbacks at NSW Health. Staff and patients at Wauchope Hospital on the mid north coast of NSW have been told by their North Coast Area Health Service that the hospital will be downgraded. Patients are being told that they will need to travel to Port Macquarie to access acute care services. Chief Executive of the Health Service got a very stormy reception when he recently addressed staff and locals at Wauchope.

Balmain hospital emergency service closes now at 10pm not 7pm as in yesterday’s “Tips and Rumours“. The new signboard is already in place — but so it was when they tried to get rid of it altogether a few years ago. There will be a Balmain Town Hall meeting on the issue at 7pm on Wednesday.

Crikey seems to be interested in the fate of London’s newspapers. The Evening Standard is being relaunched today. They are paying a hoard of actors to travel on the tube and discuss articles from today’s paper and how exciting the new format is.

The Weekend Oz features David Herbert’s popular cooking column. They neglect to mention he actually lives in London — where his cookbook has received favourable reviews!

How long is The Australian Financial Review going to surf off other journalists’ efforts when covering major events? Contrary to its reporting in today’s edition, the AFR wasn’t the first to reveal that falsified loan documents were channelled through local Townsville branches of Commonwealth Bank and Bank of Queensland to Storm Financial clients (“Storm probe now a criminal inquiry”, 12 May 09). Lesser known trade mag Money Management had that story back in February (“Nature of CBA, BOQ’s links to failed group emerge”, 11 Feb 09).

The NAB is taking up to seven days to transfer funds between NAB accounts. The bank blames “an IT problem”, but what’s the bet the funds in question — which must amount to hundreds of millions of dollars each day — are earning interest on the overnight money market while customers wait.

Strange days at Reed Business Information — that part of the Reed Elsevier global media empire withdrawn from sale late last year. A less than stella internet strategy known by critics as “1,000 sh-ts” has been followed by the Australian arm of the business taking on the appearance of a back-packer hostel as sales desks are filled with young (presumably cheap) things from the UK while long-serving sales staff are retrenched. Apparently the old Australians don’t fit with the “fab” sales environment recommended by its little-known UK consultant.

It seems the cost cutting didn’t extend to the corporate party for “Cadbury Day” last week. To celebrate the finalisation of the shedding of Schweppes, all Melbourne staff were treated to a day that can only be dreamed of by most since the demise of the corporate largess of the boom. Albert Park Lake was arranged with the company donating $10 per person to a charity. All were then bussed to the Crown Palladium for an afternoon of entertainment followed by a lavish dinner and more entertainment in the city. To top it all off, all staff were then treated to a night at Crown Towers. Glad business is going so well for them…

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey