An issue is whether Godwin Grech communicated with the PM’s Office by Hotmail (not just the fake email). Such correspondence can be an attempt to escape the normal accountability measures that are associated with Departmental email systems. For this reason most Departments have in place guidance that makes it clear that hotmail correspondence with the Minister/PM’s Office is not consistent with the Public Service Code of Ethics — breaches of the Code are a sackable offense.

All departments have in place remote access facilities that enable senior public servants to send and receive emails remotely via the secure Departmental systems, so there is no need to use hotmail type systems. Questions that arise: Did Grech communicate with Charlton/and or others in PMO via hotmail and if so for what purpose? Are Swan’s and Rudd’s offices pressuring public servants to communicate by hotmail/ or other non-departmental mail systems? A Former Senior Public Servant.

Grech worked in PMC under Howard on COAG. Read the office structure in 2006-07 PMC annual report. Joe Hockey was minister assisting PMC and responsible for the public service. There would have been continuous contact.

With all the faux outrage from the News stable about Fairfax Canberra Bureau cuts, can someone explain why the Courier Mail‘s correspondent, who is arguably the best political writer in the country, is not in Canberra in this most extraordinary of weeks? Surely it is not cuts to travel budgets that is forcing him to watch and report parliament from the comfort of his Sky News subscription?

Does the Sydney Morning Herald have any vision as to what kind of paper it is? It seems that the SMH is now considering trying to flog its own insurance products to its readers. The “SMH Insider” questionnaire this month asked a whole bunch of questions about how willing you would be to buy insurance products from the paper and finished with the following question: “And finally, do you have any other feedback on how you feel about the SMH providing insurance products?”

Surely a better way to improve their bottom line would be to invest more in quality journalism rather than take up what is essentially door-to-door insurance selling.

The new Cityrail website went live on 21 June 2009 at a taxpayer cost of $4.3 MILLION. This is stage 1 of the project with a total cost of $10.3 MILLION for the final cost of their web presence. As a side note, the flash graphics and overheads of the website means that the front page is 330kb in size which translates to about 1.5mins to view the homepage on a 56.6k modem. This was deemed acceptable.

How does one spend $4.3 MILLION dollars on a website? My source tells me that over $500,000 was for hardware and the other $3.8million was spent on development. Ask how much it would cost to develop a website and most people will tell you thousands, maybe tens of thousands, but $3.8 MILLION?

And while we are reminding ourselves of dodgy dealings by pollies — a reminder of the good Sen Alston’s famous rolled-gold website: this was 2003, and my recollection was prompted by the mention of “Alston” and “probity” in the same breath… The Alston site eventually cost $3.4million over budget — and the budget was (by industry standards) ludicrously and suspiciously large to start with: see here, here and here. But the $64,000 question is: who won the contract?

Re. the appointment of a non-degree bureaucrat to the position of acting dean at RMIT. A E Housman may have been appoint to a chair of classics at Cambridge in 1911, but was not responsible for the appointment of teachers, researchers, course development and the supervision of research. So sad for RMIT — its reputation diminished as students will ponder the point of obtaining a degree if the university chiefs haven’t earned their stripes. Which dean is it anyway?

For SackWatch. At least sixty people have been let go from AMEX’s office in the CBD. They have done five rounds of retrenchments now.

Peter Fray

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