Rumours are surfacing that Immigration chiefs are worried stiff this morning about overcrowding on Christmas Island on the back of Unannounced Boat Number 14 (UBN14*) just having been intercepted, and they’re whispering about chartering a ship and mooring it off the Christmas Island shore…

The return of The Chaser gave the nation’s second-favourite scandal a last burst of life. The Oz returned to cheap ABC baiting with a Media Dairy item noting that arrghhh shock horror, Courtney Gibson received a tape of the show before it went to air. Smoking gun? Not quite. Gibson is ABC TV Head of Content. She receives a tape copy of every Australian produced first-run show that goes to air (excluding news and current affairs, and children’s TV, which are someone else’s remit), as soon as an edit-for-broadcast is completed, as do half a dozen other people and departments. It would be impossible to watch it all, and do the job, and shows that are running smoothly in their third series are a lower priority. She may have watched it, she may not have, but a delivery of the tape proves nothing of itself and a bit of basic journalism by the Oz would have established that.

Meanwhile in today’s Green Guide in The Age there’s a special price on USB cabling from Dandenong Computer Warehouse. No wait that wasn’t it. Ah yes, has an article about the world of comedy production in the aftermath of the epaulette-tearing of Arts, Entertainment and (former) Comedy head Amanda Duthie. The general consensus is one of fear that ABC comedy will be permanently hobbled by the overkill reaction to the sketch — “at a certain point, the censor goes inside the head” as Czech dissident Josef Skvorecky remarked, cited by the EP of Nine’s “Funniest Dads Getting Kicked In The Balls Videos”.

Local producers talk about their concerns about the PM’s remarks, the Board etc. But no-one, even off the record, will say what really worries them — that ABC Managing Director Mark Scott is a Christian Hillsongesque happy-clappy put there by the Howard government in a last ditch attempt to change the culture, ie the culture of free thinking, enlightened inquiry, and uncompromising creative vision, for one that is instead circumscribed by some imaginary notion of “community standards”. PMs will always score cheap points by attacking ABC pointyheads, boards are part-timers and p-ss weak — the Managing Director is the one who holds the line for the organisation, and defends its staff and independence, even when they make a mistake. Had Scott stood up to the point-scorers, the Chaser thing would now be buried under the tyre-tracks of Utegate. Was it a one-off? Let us pray.

With the return of The Chaser Wednesday night, the boys might want to beef up their copyright clearances rather than worry about content. The Korean Film Commission (KOFIC) has announced it is providing funding for the international sale and distribution of The Chaser, a hit local comedy released in Korea last year. KOFIC says that means the film will be released in the USA and some other territories. Meanwhile it’s out in the weird world of the film marketplace. Perhaps aptly, the film, about a detective turned pimp, is described in as “Who’s It For? Adults who aren’t squeamish.”

ABC2 Business Today never made it to air today (9 am). No info on website, no crawl on the transmitted Australian Story, digital info says it was Business Today. ABC scheduling rep said it had “not been delivered” and not able to say whether it would be shown tomorrow.

Carmel Tebbutt may lose her Ministerial responsibility for Environment and Climate Change with the recent challenges of how well she is servicing interests in the recent Cox’s River contamination (or her lack of interest as is the case). It has also been found that she was asked on 12 separate occasions to look into the environment issues that have been reported in the suburb of Belrose on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

Public anger at her arrogance has also lead to Parliament questioning how she treats public questioned in Parliament about how she treats public correspondence and now Rees himself is starting to mutter changes because Labor see this issue as a political hot potato.

Once were the days that Rees regarded Tebbutt as the next Premier. Now she will be lucky to hold a portfolio. Rees doesn’t want to have another public back flip about who he supports and who is supporting him going into 2011 so now he is left to swallow the bitter pill and slowly move Tebbutt to one side by either removing Commerce or DECC from Tebbutt.

Your item in SackWatch regards 1800 positions in NSW Education is partly correct: the NSW DET is “reassigning” 1800 specialist Support staff to other job roles, claiming no staff will be cut. However the consequences of this action is far more dire than has been reported. Hundreds or thousands of school children will be severely disadvantaged and cut adrift to fend for themselves in a selfish act of “cost savings”.

DET is removing funding for all students receiving less than ~$5,000/ year in Support services. The reassignment of these specialist support staff and the cutting of funding for the services they provide and manage means that children who currently receive Teacher Support Aid and funding will get none. Thus children with Dyslexia, ADHD, Autism, or any of hundreds of physical, intellectual, behavioural and emotional problems, but who are able to remain and thrive within mainstream public ,schools will no longer receive the level of funding and support they require.

It is remarkable that NSW DET has been able to sneak out these radical and fundamentally flawed changes with so little attention, whilst Schools are flooded with the Federal Government’s funding programs that are occupying Principals’ time. The DET has clearly not considered the roles these specialist support staff perform, nor canvassed widely the school’s needs and support of the current program, nor the on-going costs in the level of training required to provide the knowledge and acquire the resources to deliver these services.

Worse is the deception to the public and relevant bodies, such as the Autism Council, of the impact of these changes on their members. The NSW Teacher’s Union of course is fully aware of these changes and their consequences, but perhaps under pressure from a struggling Labor state Government is prepared to let this play itself out.

Most significant and far worse, however, is the impact on the children and families, suddenly cut adrift from the very services that allow them to work within the public school system and the long-term consequences for their well-being, education and future job prospects.