Malcolm Turnbull’s office is sweating over the Bradfield preselection. Concerns have been expressed in relation to Paul Fletcher, who previously worked for Optus and is now an independent telecommunications consultant. Fletcher is understood to have recently taken up a position as a consultant to the National Broadband Network, which Turnbull has condemned at every opportunity as a monumental act of public policy folly. Liberal hard-heads are worried at the trouble that could be caused in a by-election campaign if their candidate was not only a supporter of the NBN but also on its payroll.

Curious reporting of the Walker/Fairfax stoush in this morning’s edition of The Australian. Reporters Rebecca Urban and Clive Mathieson had Walker in Sydney for much of yesterday: “Mr Walker … had just stepped off a flight from Sydney to Melbourne when Marinya issued its statement.” They must have been following the wrong six and a half foot redhead. Walker lunched yesterday at Crown Casino’s Rockpool, well in Melbourne and well in advance of the mid-afternoon release from Marinya. He had the fish.

John Della Bosca’s staff have not been paid their salary or leave or redundancy payments — more than 10 days after being locked out of GMT. The staff, most of whom worked for the government (and Della) for many years, were locked out of the building after the Premier became upset about the Sunday papers. They were labelled “treacherous”. A big call from the man who did in his mate, Morris Iemma.

The lock-out came some six days after Della’s resignation. In the usual way, the staff continued to work for the acting minister and expected to do so until the re-shuffle. These matters usually take a few weeks and it is usual to have a hand-over period. Everybody wins with a handover period in these circumstances. It gives staff time to relocate to another office or make plans and provide information/advice to the incoming minister, as well as ensure continuity of government business in the portfolio.

The Premier’s department was able to shut down email accounts and building access in a matter of hours but has been unable to make any payments at all to the staff more than 10 days after the lock-out. Further punishment for their “treachery”? Will they get paid at all?

Fairfax’s veteran war reporter Paul McGeough may be entering a whole new type of conflict after leaving his wife, Walkley Award-winning business journalist Pamela Williams, for a Palestinian woman many years his junior. McGeough, 55, went to Washington earlier this year to promote his book about Hamas and became captivated by the long, dark tresses of the youthful Nadia, whose family live in Ramallah on the West Bank.

McGeough has been lobbying to replace Jason Koutsoukis as the Fairfax Middle-East correspondent for some time and the word is that although the SMH (his Fairfax tribal home) is willing, The Age has still not agreed. The issue for Age editor Paul Ramadge, apart from McGeough’s legendary expense claims, is how to deal with questions of objectivity and balance when one’s correspondent is in bed with one side of the conflict (so to speak).

While recently appointed Woman’s Day‘s editor Fiona Connolly employs her old Confidential stomping ground as a public forum for a peculiar verbal tirade against rival New Idea, her witch hunt to uncover the supposed Wiggles “mole” might have been better placed much closer to home.

For a quick glance on the media website of a national women’s business register — used as a public noticeboard for slack-arsed journos who can’t be bothered to do the hard yards and ring around their contacts — reveals the WD now advertises the “scoops” it is working on — to an audience of thousands, and way in advance! The media noticeboard of the Australian Women’s Business Network is one well utilised by ACP, but has become a special favourite for WD staffers, who feature most regularly on its media call list.

For weeks now a parade of recruits to the WD ranks, have been canvassing their story ideas on this virtual “stories are us” noticeboard urging talent to come forward on a variety of stories from women whose tooth-whitening experiences went wrong, to readers with relationship or organ transplant woes. These newshounds, hell bent on securing scoops, publicly announce everything about their scoops, from the headline and angle, to the content — even the photo suggestions. And in case you’re in any doubt, they’ll generally list the name of the flagship publication in whose pages the yarn will appear, complete with their names, titles, emails and phone numbers.

Regular users of this site so far include senior writer Katherine Chatfield, Jonica Bray and Jo Knowsley who have been thoughtful enough to nominate their story deadline  — leaving any bored newshound with time on their hands, to run up a spoiler and beat them to it. All fine when you work for a daily paper with a daily deadline and a yarn that will be out by morning, but absolute folly for a weekly mag with a long lead turnaround time and professing to up the ante while declaring war on their rival.

And while WD happily show its hand to the world and alert rivals to the stories they’ll be beavering away on for weeks, its new Ed has time to grizzle loudly in her old pages about outing a mole and surrounding herself with “trusted” News Ltd colleagues — who will no doubt soon join the line-up of hacks advertising for yarns in cyber “scoops are us” land.

Re: Andrew Crook’s story yesterday on the demolition of dance studios at the Victorian College of the Arts. Since the story has come out, it has been revealed the demolished buildings were generating sustained and long-term income for VCA through a rental agreement with dance schools at night. Music Theatre heads were recently told one of the reasons their course was suspended was lack of room (interesting, considering they just bulldozed the music theatre tap studios!).

In answer to a question posed by a WA ALP tipster on Wednesday, after her last tilt at state parliament, Jackie Ormsby served in two ministers’ offices, then, after a couple of years, got sick of the merry-go-round of having promises broken. She’s now working in the private sector, making good use of the network of contacts she built up in that time.

Pants down, get it: the picture that so tickled Wilson Tuckey:

Not only is Defence getting rid of many of its most experienced Reserve staff by simply not paying them, Army has just announced that as part of the “Reform” process, it will be “civilianising” 850 uniformed positions. Let me see … 850 … isn’t that the posted strength of one of the new infantry battalions that the previous Chief of Army managed to squeeze out of the parsimonious Howard government? No wonder uniformed personnel in general loathe all politicians with a vehemence that is hard to express in polite English.

The bean-counters will no doubt have a field day, gleefully striking personnel off the roll books — they will call this “re-balancing”. Others will know that this is a cynical attempt to save dollars by removing unfunded and unfilled positions across the board, thereby reducing military capability. But in the end, even if 850 positions are identified, will they actually all be filled by APS staff? No way!

Crikey got a mention at the farewell in Sydney last night for the departing head of ABC TV content, Courtney Gibson. It was held in a bar off Broadway, a block or three away from the ABC’s HQ in Ultimo. In a speech done as a series of email exchanges, the head of ABC TV, Kim Dalton, paid tribute to Ms Gibson and the fact that she was always on Twitter, emailing or any other method of communication.

One exchange included one from Ms Gibson who demanded of Mr Dalton who told Glenn Dyer of Crikey about a certain show that was advertised appearing on the ABC. Ms Gibson is heading to Southern Star where one of her first tasks will be to help the Seven network boost the faltering Deal Or No Deal. It is an Endemol format and one of the breadwinners worldwide.

In relation to your article about the cut data and copper lines impacting Telstra’s service in Sydney’s CBD. A heads up is that I’m sure Telstra actually log where there stuff is on the DBYD referral service etc … Telstra does not have the same data quality as that of energy companies. DBYD would have an interesting position on this.

It is highly possible that the offending contractor received info from all asset owners registered on the DBYD system in the search location and Telstra was not one of those. Was Telstra’s info on the system? I seriously doubt it.

Telstra has a standard response to all excavation incidents that is “you dug it up, so it is your fault”. However, it doesn’t  have the same commitment to DBYD as to that of the energy companies.

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