Rampant speculation on Twitter that Malcolm Turnbull will serve out his term as an independent has been dismissed as “highly unlikely” by sources extremely close to the dumped opposition leader.

Which newly appointed shadow cabinet minister in the Abbott frontbench allowed anti-immigration lobby groups to use her electoral office after hours during her first term as an MP?

In a further sign of plunging morale and alienation of The Age‘s editorial team comes news that less than 10 editorial employees attended The Age Christmas Party at the Spice Bar at the Hyatt on Monday night. Unlike Melbourne’s free to air TV stations that had their big names celebrating the festive season, none of The Age‘s senior writers were present at the “I Dream of Jeannie” type surroundings in Collins Street.

Journalists were still unpacking boxes on Monday evening at their new offices when part-time CEO Don Churchill decided to hold The Age‘s Christmas function. In a Scrooge-like cost saving move Churchill refused to pay for drinks after 11pm. Meanwhile, The Age‘s editorial team has decided to have their own “pay your own way” party this Friday night. The Sunday Age is also having its own shindig. Age management have not been invited.

The hundreds of Virgin passengers stranded at Brisbane airport on Tuesday were told repeatedly over the PA that the reason for the delays and cancellations was because of a Telstra outage at the Melbourne airport.  Was this a very public and immediate attempt at blame shifting?  Some pretty horrible PR for both companies.

Former National Union of Workers NSW assistant secretary and lawyer Andrew Josephs has upset his former bruvvas by representing bosses in unfair dismissal claims against union members at Lindsay Transport. Although the NSW Union is standing by its man, a deal has been put forward to the National Office that NSW will cut Josephs’ retainer as soon as LUCRF (the NUW’s super fund) kicks Pacific Brands Employee Relations Manager Ted Eftimiadis off the board.

John Alexander, the Libs’ new candidate for Bennelong, will have to follow sitting member Maxine McKew’s example and move from the leafy North Shore (he lives in Lindfield) of Sydney. More importantly, now that he is a political candidate, will the Seven Network continue to employ him in its tennis coverage, especially the Australian Open in late January?

If it does, perhaps Seven would have to give McKew equal time? Alexander has had some odd business involvements. He lobbied Ryde Council for a big sports centre development at Ryde on behalf of a private company. It sits next door to the council’s aquatic centre. On its own it might not have been as attractive. He is still involved in the contentious White City development in Rushcutters Bay, a long way from Bennelong. And then there was these comments in 2007 about how a group of ”Jewish” businessmen were trying to take control of White City.

Things must be worse than we thought in retail.  At Big W a couple of days ago the check-out girl (apparently recently employed for the Christmas rush)  couldn’t find a pen for me to sign my credit card voucher.  (Yes I do have a PIN but their system doesn’t yet cope with  PINs for my particular card.) After much delay a supervisor brought her a pen and asked “Didn’t you bring a pen?”  Check-out girl said “I didn’t know I had to”, to which supervisor replied “Oh, you have to bring a pen at the beginning of every shift”.

Soon afterwards at Coles supermarket, the young check-out man enquired “How are you today?” in the usual way.  I replied as usual “I’m fine, how are you?” He answered that he would be better if he could be back working in his own department, but that the usual increases in staffing budgets for this busy time of year had been cancelled, with the result that no extra check-out staff were being employed.  Staff were simply being taken away from other areas.

Peter Fray

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