Nepotism has been big news in Tasmanian politics in recent weeks, leading to the (encouraged) resignation of Allison Ritchie, a well-regarded upper house Labor MLC. Ritchie resigned after it was revealed she had employed her mum and sister in her electorate office without subjecting her mum (Labor Senator Carol Brown’s sister) to independent departmental scrutiny. But Ritchie must be wondering what all the fuss was about, given the weekend’s revelation that Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim and Cassy O’Connor, one of his three Greens MP colleagues, are now apparently an item. Joining the Greens’ lovebirds in the House of Assembly are Tasmanian Liberal leader Will Hodgman and his septuagenarian father Michael and, if all goes to plan, missos union leader David O’Byrne will join sister Michelle in Labor’s ranks after the next election.

The Townsville 400 V8 car race is all set to go this weekend. While the local council and captains of industry and commerce bang on about the economic benefits to the Townsville community that such an event will provide, a more accurate indicator of what this event will bring to town can be found elsewhere. Word is that every police officer in the district will be expected to be on shift-duty for the weekend, with no leave being approved. The Women’s Centre will also be rostering their staff to provide a 24-hour sexual assault hot line and on-call counselling service for the duration. The real eyebrow raiser is the enthusiastic support allegedly provided from the V8 organising team to the Women Centre’s offer … The questions I have are, what sort of punter are they actually expecting at their gig and where does the organisers’ duty of care start and finish when it comes to the behaviour of their crowd?

Some doubt remains in the minds of some media writers that Chris Bath won’t get the 6pm Sydney newsreading gig when Ian Ross retires at the end of the year. She will. It’s in her contract. I repeat, it’s in her contract. If, for some reason she doesn’t get it, it’s because she and Seven have come to an arrangement. The clause was inserted in her last contract negotiation with Seven management. “When Roscoe retires I am taking over Monday to Friday … and Fergo will be doing weekends. That’s the plan,” Bath told 2UE’s Steve Price in Sydney yesterday “That’s what I’ve been told. I have no reason to disbelieve David Leckie, Peter Meakin or Chris Willis.”

Last night on The 7.30 Report the CEO of Dymocks said that Australians could buy Tim Winton’s Breath online from overseas cheaper than they could buy it in Australia. I went to Amazon and found the cheapest new copy at US$7.78. Delivered to Australia via standard shipping the total cost was A$26.65. Both Readings and Dymocks have Breath for sale for $24.95. Dymocks says their price is an “online price” what ever that may mean. I don’t know why the ABC didn’t check this statement.

It seems the Fin Review has been struck by the same syndrome exhibited by the Sydney Morning Herald and noted in Crikey last month: relying for its “world” coverage on agencies and syndicated pieces. In fact today (Tuesday) looked promising — four pages in all — but there was not one single contribution from a Fairfax staffer on any of them. Every single piece, from substantial stories to paragraph snippets, came from the New York Times (4), Bloomberg (15) or AP and AFP. Other pages also carried items from the Guardian and the Economist.

Don’t expect privacy from Optus Mobile’s voicemail system. When I tried to check my voicemail last week, I was instead treated to a collage of greetings and messages from the mailboxes of complete strangers. Without pressing a single button, I heard personal and work-related messages about things that really ought to have remained confidential. When I brought the incident to Optus’s attention, they told me that what had happened was “impossible”. I spoke with both technical and corporate affairs staff, and they all refused to acknowledge that this could be a sign of systemic problems with voicemail security. The only action they’ve taken was to reinstall my mailbox. This isn’t the first time Optus has been slow to acknowledge technical glitches: back in 2007 they took weeks to admit to a security breach which allowed customers to eavesdrop on strangers’ calls.